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Volume 19, 2018

Mark Coeckelbergh
Pages 39-45
DOI: 10.5840/glimpse2018194

Scientific Suspects, Romantic Witnesses?
Magic Technologies, Alienation, and Self-Destruction in the Anthropocene

As in the Anthropocene the fates of humans and the planet become increasingly entangled, we have a paradoxical problem of agency in the face of the changes: we at the same time create the problem and are impotent when it comes to solving it. It seems that we are reduced to bystanders, or worse, distant witnesses. To understand this problem, in particular to identify what makes possible this deadlock in terms of agency and knowledge, this paper uses the concepts of “Earth alienation” (Arendt) and romantic technologies (Coeckelbergh and others). It then explores some paths which may help to deal with this problem: direct engagement with material and natural things, artistic work, changing our understanding of science and technology and of their relation to culture and politics, and critically studying the language and images we use in our analysis and discussion of the problem. It is concluded that the problem under investigation points us to deeper problems and complexities of modernity, to which there is no magic solution.