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authors Coyne, R.
year 1999
title Technoromanticism - digital narrative, holism, and the romance of the real
source MIT Press
summary It's no secret that contemporary culture romanticizes digital technologies. In books, articles, and movies about virtual community, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, artificial life, and other wonders of the digital age, breathless anticipation of vast and thrilling changes has become a running theme. But as Richard Coyne makes clear in Technoromanticism: Digital Narrative, Holism, and the Romance of the Real, a dense but rewarding piece of academic criticism, we also get romantic about the new technologies in a more rigorous sense of the word. Whether heralding an electronic return to village communalism or celebrating cyberspace as a realm of pure mind, today's utopian thinking about the digital, Coyne argues, essentially replays the 18th- and 19th-century cultural movement called Romanticism, with its powerful yearnings for transcendence and wholeness. And this apparently is not a good thing. Romanticism, like the more sober Enlightenment rationalism against which it rebelled, has outlived its usefulness as a way of understanding the world, Coyne argues. And so he spends the duration of the book bombarding both the romantic and the rationalist tendencies in cyberculture with every weapon in the arsenal of 20th-century critical theory: poststructuralism, Freudianism, postmodern pragmatism, Heideggerian phenomenology, surrealism--Coyne uses each in turn to whack away at conventional wisdoms about digital tech. Whether the conventional wisdoms remain standing at the end is an open question, but Coyne's tour of the contemporary intellectual landscape is a tour de force, and never before has digital technology's place in that landscape been mapped so thoroughly. --
series other
email Richard.Coyne@ed.ac.uk
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