Archive for the ‘utopia’ Category
I’m fascinated by the new iPhone 4 promotional video, its juxtaposing of scenes of quietly utopian everyday life with shots of the human-free robotic production of the phones. What’s especially fascinating is the chaismus at play: wholesomely septic family life under neoliberalism, with its romping, drooling toddlers and hotel comforters that at least look clean, takes place at a distance. Dad’s in Hong Kong or Milwaukee, mom’s at home taking endless videos of the scrambling kid. They have family time via videophone - perhaps dad’s been away for a long time, christ perhaps they conceived the kid via some other newly released app that “will change everything, all over again.”
On the other hand, what is it – according to the logic of the video – that permits this touchless familial intimacy at a distance? An entire factory full incessantly and with inhuman precision machines that seem to be, well, copulating these devices into existence. All that clockwork contact, pressing and insertion. One sequence even seems to involve something of a moneyshot, the climactic interest of which at least in part is the strangeness of seeing a tiny bauble of goo amidst all this stainless steel sterility.
Static visions of yesterday’s Crate and Barrel lifestyle, Californian, with the single child and a job that shows dad the world, are subtended not simply by the magical products on offer at the Apple Store, but the laborless labor of the machines, fucking all day and night to bring us our A4 chips and Retina displays, our 18 month contracts with AT&T or O2 and our business trips to pay them out.
I write “awk: new word” sometimes in the margins of my students’ papers, despite the fact that I was told, a long time ago now, that it is a useless comment, very unhelpful. It is a bit unhelpful, but sometimes unhelpful is just what the students need in order to learn for themselves to become better writers.
Anyway, perhaps you won’t be as cruel to and/or pedagogically rigorous with me as I am with them. I need a new word. The word I am looking to replace in my vocabulary, perhaps forever, is utopian. Utopia might be able to stay; I am tired of the adjectival form. I spray it over everything – any intimation of anything good reflexively become utopian. I have utopian intimations, I see utopian glimmers, there are utopian promises and utopian specters.
I never really see anything all that utopian just laying around on the street. It’s the wrong word – even setting aside the tricky oscillation of it etymologically between everything and nothing.
Ameliorative is to tenative. Paradisal is too much and too theological. Salutary sounds neurotic. Socialist perhaps puts too fine a point upon it. What’s a better word for the good stuff that I see, peeking out from behind the debris-pile?