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Which clippings match 'Progress Narratives' keyword pg.1 of 1
20 NOVEMBER 2016

Alex Gendler: how to recognize a dystopia

"The genre of dystopia – the 'not good place'– has captured the imaginations of artists and audiences alike for centuries. But why do we bother with all this pessimism? Alex Gendler explains how dystopias act as cautionary tales – not about some particular government or technology, but the very idea that humanity can be molded into an ideal shape."

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TAGS

Aldous Huxley • Alex Gendler • Animal Farm (1954)artificial intelligence • aryan • atomic energyBlade Runner (1982)brave new world • Brave New World (1932) • cautionary talecommunist systemconcentration campdemocracydepletion of natural resourcesDr Strangelove (1964) • drudgery • dystopia • dystopian fiction • dystopian literature • dystopian science fictioneugenicsfactory workerfascismfree willgas chambergenetic engineering • Gullivers Travels (1726) • H G Wells • humanitys future • impoverished masses • impoverishment • industrial ageindustrial revolution • industrial warfare • It Cant Happen Here (1935) • Jack London • Jonathan Swift • mass entertainment • mass media ageMetropolis (1927) • modern anxieties • nightmare world • Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)nuclear war • oligarchy • oppressionoverpopulationparadise • perfect world • political structures • povertyprogress narratives • resource depletion • science fiction • Sinclair Lewis • slumsocial rolessocial structures • space colony • space travelspeculative fiction • squalor • surveillance state • TED-Ed • The Handmaids Tale (1985) • The Iron Heel (1908) • The RepublicThe Time MachineThomas Moretotalitarianism • tyrannical oligarchy • tyranny of modernismutopia • V for Vendetta (2006) • Watchmen (2009) • We (1924) • Westworld (1973) • WW1WWII • Yevgeny Zamyatin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 JUNE 2016

The Materiality of Research: 'Woven into the Fabric of the Text: Subversive Material Metaphors in Academic Writing'

"In the social sciences, though, often we write about our research as if theories and arguments are buildings. Theories have frameworks and foundations and they need support. Arguments can be constructed, shored up by facts and buttressed with a solid line of reasoning. Sometimes they can be shaky and even fall down. But as well as communicating what we mean, metaphors structure our thinking. Or, at least, the metaphors we choose when we write can reveal a great deal about underlying assumptions. The theories-as-buildings metaphor always makes me imagine an enormous wall made of rectangular bricks, orderly and straight, progressing upwards and onwards. The researcher's job is to climb the scaffolding, find a gap near the top and make a brick to fill it, or to knock a few crumbling bricks out and replace them with others, strong and freshly fired. Or rarely, to grab a spade and start digging a new foundation, because this metaphor doesn't work like Minecraft: bricks can't float, unsupported.

Why does this way of thinking about knowledge hold such sway over us? For one thing, it offers a comforting sense of progress and control. Buildings have blueprints; their construction appears to proceed in a predictable fashion; engineers can calculate precisely where the load bearing walls and lintels need to be; construction workers know how to mix the mortar so it won't crumble. Making buildings is also something that happens in the public sphere; even with houses, the insides only become private when the work is finished and people move in. And though we all know full well that knowledge creation doesn't actually happen in the controlled and predictable way the metaphor implies, this is the structure that it imposes on our writing: an activity that is orderly, involves rationality over emotion and inhabits the public sphere not the private."

(Katie Collins, 27 May 2016)

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TAGS

2016academic writingaffordances • building metaphors • conceptual metaphorcreative practicecultural practicesfeminine voice • generative practice • integrative practices • Katie Collins • material metaphors • metaphors structure our thinking • needlecraft metaphors • piecing together • predictable fashion • progress narrativesresearch activitiesresearchersewingsocial sciencestitching • theories-as-buildings metaphor • theory building • thinking about knowledge • underlying assumptions

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 JANUARY 2016

Why Man Creates: the great (Western) progress narrative

"How unlikely that one of the least definable films from the last half-century would also be one of the most beloved. A favorite of classroom AV diversions, and an abridged presentation on the very first episode of '60 Minutes' helped make it the most viewed educational film of all time. 'I don't know what it all means,' Saul Bass himself admitted, and his 'Why Man Creates' (1968) is far more loose and playful than the rigid thesis its title might imply. In fact, it is the searching and open-ended nature of the various vignettes that perhaps makes the film resonate so strongly with viewers. Though an Oscar®-winner for Documentary Short Subject, the film is almost entirely invented, apart from recollections of old masters like Edison, Hemingway and Einstein, and brief encounters with scientists striving to innovate for the betterment of mankind. Creators invariably encounter problems, and have no choice but to persevere in the face of discouragement. If the film argues anything, it is that the unbridled pursuit of new ideas makes us uniquely human."

(Sean Savage)

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TAGS

1968Albert Einstein • Alfred Nobel • American Revolution • Ancient Greeceanimated filmArab • birth of civilization • cancer research • cave painting • cavemen • celebrating human achievement • creative inspirationcreativitydark ages • development of writing • dynamite • early humans • Ernest Hemingway • Euclid • Great Pyramids at Giza • Greek achievements • hand-drawn animationhistory of ideashuman civilizationinvention of the wheelinventiveness • James Bonner • Jesse Greenstein • Leonardo da VincilibertyLouis PasteurLudwig van Beethovenman • mathematical discovery • Mayo Simon • Michelangelo • nature of creativity • nature of justice • organised labour • origin of the universe • Paul Saltman • pioneering mathematicsprogress narratives • pursuit of happiness • religion • Renato Dulbecco • Saul Bassscience historyscientific progressThomas EdisonvignetteWestern culture • Why Man Creates (1968) • zero

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2013

The struggle for technology: instrumentalism versus culture

"This age–old conflict about social status remains at the heart of present–day struggles over the meanings of technology. On one side, defenders of technicians view technologies as creative expressions of human culture. In this view, technology is imbued with human values and strivings in all their contradictory complexity. I term this position the 'cultural' approach to technology. On the other side are those who see technological action as a narrow form of rationality that seeks only the best means for a given end. For such people, technology is something purely technical, essentially uncreative and devoid of values, subordinate to ends given by others. I call this second position the 'instrumental' conception of technology. ...

the discourse of technology favors the instrumental over the cultural. An entire tradition of philosophical critique is based on a reduction of technology to instrumental rationality. But technological enthusiasts also embrace the instrumental definition of technology. From their perspective, our modern technological civilization represents the embodiment of reason in the world, with new technologies as the vanguard of progress. Technological utopians like Kevin Kelly epitomize this instrumental perspective. In contrast, the cultural understanding of technology recognizes the creativity expressed in everything from steam engines to iPhones. But the cultural approach is definitely in the minority. This view is most common among people like me, historians of technology and other scholars who connect technological choices to specific aspects of culture and society."

(Eric Schatzberg, Rethinking Technology)

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TAGS

aesthetic creativity • aesthetic sensibility • aristocratic hierarchies • concrete material practices • contradictory complexity • craft skills • creative expression • creativity and craft • cultural concept of technologycultural practicescultural technologycultural understanding of technologyculture and society • Eric Schatzberg • fear of technology • formal knowledge • genius of the individualhuman agencyinstrumental conception of technology • instrumental means • instrumental rationality • instrumentalism • inventive genius • just a tool • Karl Capek • Kevin Kellylate modernitymaterial culture • means to an end • modern technological civilization • new technologies • non-technical qualities • out of controlprogress narrativesscientific knowledgesocial hierarchiessymptomatic determinism • technical elite • technical skill • technician • technological action • technological choices • technological determinism • technological enthusiasts • technological instrumentalismtechnological utopianismtechnology as neutral • technology discourse • technology is a tooltechnology neutralitytechnology transparency • transparent technologies • value ladenvalues

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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