The Enchantments of Technology

The Enchantments of Technology

LEE WORTH BAILEY
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xckqt
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  • Book Info
    The Enchantments of Technology
    Book Description:

    In The Enchantments of Technology, Lee Worth Bailey erases the conventional distinction between myth and machine in order to explore the passionate foundations concealed in technological culture and address its complex ethical, moral and social implications. _x000B_Bailey argues that technological society does not simply disenchant the world with its reductive methods and mechanical metaphors, then shape machines with political motives, but is also borne by a deeper, subversive undertow of enchantment. Addressing examples to explore the complexities of these enchantments, his thought is full of illuminating examinations of seductively engaging technologies ranging from the old camera obscura to new automobiles, robots, airplanes, and spaceships. _x000B_This volume builds on the work of numerous scholars, including Jacques Ellul and Jean Brun on the phenomenological and spiritual aspects of technology, Carl Jung on the archetypal collective unconscious approach to myth, and Martin Heidegger on Being itself. Bailey creates a dynamic, interdisciplinary, postmodern examination of how our machines and their environments embody not only reason, but also desires. _x000B__x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09044-8
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Unthinkable Enchantments
    (pp. 1-40)

    Enchantment is a fascinating spell that takes over consciousness, a state of feeling that immerses the soul in dreamy reverie or fearful anxiety. You walk into a sun-drenched field in a forest and feel the wonder of that magic circle. You stumble upon a glorious waterfall, gaze at the immensely distant stars, float naked in a hot springs. You fall in love and are captivated by your lover’s charms. You are possessed by a vision of a successful career, a brilliant invention, a dazzling work of art, a passionate determination. You dance with the Torah in Jerusalem. You kneel reverently...

  5. 2 The Obtuse Object
    (pp. 41-57)

    Not infrequently in the history of thought, some concepts come to seem more real that the concrete realities that give rise to them. Such is the case today with the notions of object and subject. Human bodies are binary in structure, with pairs of arms, legs, eyes, ears, and a somewhat binary brain. Bodily structure must influence our thought—left/right, hot/cold, male/female. We have ten fingers, with which children learn to count. Is it by chance that we have adigitalten-based number system? Why have we divided the world into two fundamental parts and called them “subjects” and “objects?”...

  6. 3 The Bottomless Subject
    (pp. 58-82)

    “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you,” wrote Walt Whitman, intimating the underlying union of all selves (Whitman 852). Such poetry is merely trivial subjective whimsey, however, to the mechanical mind. Industrial society’s basic understanding of the subject is limited to the internal, biased, opinionated, moody, introspective, individual feelings, sentiments, and preferences that exist only in a person’s mind, unavailable for external verification. Science tries to push aside such subjective feelings to discover objective truth. In this metaphysical framework, the subject...

  7. 4 Streamlined, Sublime Speed
    (pp. 83-103)

    The world has picked up speed. As ancient Greek tribes trudged slowly across rugged landscapes, Icarus and Daedalus flew in their mythic imagination. Indigenous Inca and Iroquois runners prided themselves on their speed as messengers between communities. The Romans raced their horse-drawn chariots around hippodromes. Arabic sailors sailed before the winds, trading from Cairo to Indonesia. The nineteenth-century Pony Express raced to deliver mail across the North American continent at heart-pounding speeds, only to be replaced by the rapid-fire telegraph. The steam train stormed along like an iron horse. The bicycle rolled in a new horseless power for daring downhill...

  8. 5 Titanic, Utopian Triumphalism
    (pp. 104-121)

    Triumphalism—the assumption that modern technology has conquered most barriers and is an unstoppable, victorious, utopian historical force—is a major enchantment of our technology. Cultures understandably want expressions of optimistic hope for their goals, but what will be the fate of technology’s titanic triumphalism? We need to dig down into the archetypal utopian imagination to see.

    Early utopias populated world mythologies, such as the Garden of Eden, Hesiod’s Golden Age, Plato’s Republic, and heavens such as the Christian City of God. They demonstrate the global, archetypal pattern that still pervades a great deal of technological thinking. In each era,...

  9. 6 The Space Cowboy
    (pp. 122-154)

    In Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 filmDr. Strangelove,the pilot of the ill-fated B-52 that cannot be stopped from dropping its nuclear bomb is named “Tex.” He connects the enduring mythic cowboy of American legend with the hightech world of military bombers and their apocalyptic missions. This darkly comic warrior fulfills his fate by suicidally riding a nuclear bomb down onto a Soviet base waving his cowboy hat, yelling “yahoo!” This tragic image satirizes the enchantment of the cowboy spirit in the history of North American aviation and space technology, the space cowboy who braves new frontiers with the “right...

  10. 7 Robogod: The Absolute Machine
    (pp. 155-198)

    The robot is one of the most enchanting of ancient and modern machines. Ancient accounts of statues of gods that nodded their heads, lifted a hand, spoke, or made music go back to Egypt. The statue of Memnon, when illumined by the rays of the rising sun (the god Re), was said by several witnesses to have made sounds like a lyre (Cohen 15). Early Christians in Alexandria found Egyptian statues with hollowed-out spaces for a priest to hide and speak through a tube and respond to questions (24). In India there are accounts of wooden men who walked, sang,...

  11. 8 Being Enchanted
    (pp. 199-230)

    The painful paradox of modern technology is that it has succeeded wildly, yet it has failed miserably. We live in this paradox that questions the very meaning of being modern. Scientific technology has succeeded at making amazing machines, from power tools to rockets, at improving health and increasing life span, at producing better food, shelter, and an abundance of work-reducing life comforts. All these benefits depend, of course, upon your nationality, social class, and race, but they are rapidly spreading around the world. Modernism has brought many individual freedoms and human rights, for which we can also be grateful. No...

  12. REFERENCES
    (pp. 231-246)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 247-250)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-252)