Totalization and me

There are a number of theories that account for and explain modernization. All tend to isolate modernization in opposition to the pre-modern, traditional or ‘natural’ social arrangements, and one can see why: to understand an object or process, one must isolate it, however artificially, in order to focus upon it and analyze it. However, the work of isolation and focus has often been reified and projected upon modernization itself, as though the old order – however one describes it – is simply swept away, as though the epistemologically clarifying gesture reflects the totalizing character of modernity. This is not to say that modernity doesn’t strive towards being the total social fact that characterizes all societies locked in the universal history of capitalism. The institutional circles of the law, money, and education, which Simmel – to an extent – saw in the Philosophy of money, or – to name three other less institutionally bound signifies - industrialization, politicization and science, which form another total complex, touch everyone – even the lost tribe, the isolato. Above all our heads is the Van Allen belt. Within our bloodstreams there is plentiful testimony to the artificial paradise we have produced. But within our dreams and our gossip there are other murkier currents, there are pre-modern reflexes. Superstition rules the stock market, and favors, turn taking, and oddly earmarked symbols are traded between workers in the most rational of office spaces, where the halogen lighting creates its uniform zones of visibility and computer screens are monitored and monitor all actors. The great and little traditions – to use James C.Scott’s categories – do battle, or uneasily lay down one next to the other, not only in peasant tilled fields, but in the traffic jam and the service economy. .


michael e. said…
You should link to your gem of a post about the traffic jam.