Latourizing Jameson

This will be (even more than usual) out-of-the-blue/theoretical post. Apologies about that. Also, I’m in the middle (ugh, make it beginning) of seminar writing with a deadline-dementor just above my head. That’s to say I didn’t have the time to polish my thought.

Today I read the following passage:

[Jameson] argues that although we now actually live in an image culture, we have as yet no images that can represent all the technology which projects these images in our lives. He suggests that these technologies are actually very difficult to represent visually… Language, the predominant form of representation in modernism, can talk about itself. But can a photographic image be self-conscious, reflexive?
(Sociology and Visual Representation, p. 138)

While I disagree with Jameson about many things, I think there might be a way of accessing that paradox (other than art, that is). Because the minute I read that passage, I thought of this model, which you ought to be familiar with by now:

We have never been post modern either, I guess

This is Latour’s model from We Have Never Been Modern, which I’m not going to bother and explain at the moment but just direct you to go and read pages 10-12 in his book. Point is, there’s so much to do with this model and that can explain that paradox in Jameson’s Postmodernism. Right now, I’d go out on a limb and say that the two circles are ‘images’ and ‘languages’, and yes, we also use images and languages to translate our life as well. (This might, by the way, also to explain the art/science/fascination with typography). Maybe “postmodernism” is just when we do that – explaining and telling ourselves about the spheres (circles) by constantly translating and purifying them with themselves. And if that’s the case, that can be nice, I guess – but I’m here for science, not for teleology.

And that’s why I love STS more than I love sociology, in a nutshell. Because it can live with that “paradox”.


About this entry