About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Overcoming Technology Fetishism

The other day I overheard my wife’s Skype conversation with her mother. They were paging together through our internet-based photo-album from our recent mountain climbing holidays. At one point the software did not work as expected and my frustrated mother-in-law started to argue with it. I realized that the Swedish anthropologist Alf Hornborg is right.
    He claims that we really never became modern Cartesian people who reserve subjectivity to persons. For instance we give names to our automobiles, or we talk even to such fuzzy man-made realities as cloud-based software... in a word we personify inanimate objects. Let us be honest, we all do it, I know I do. And so while pre-modern people were animists who personified plants and animals, and perhaps rivers, springs and forests, modern people became fetishists (in a nonsexual, anthropological sense) who eagerly personify our own mechanical toys and electronic gadgets.
    We cannot help it, it is in our genes, and driven by our innate need to relate. Over several centuries we became alienated from nature and more and more we are becoming alienated even from one another. We hand ourselves over to our own devices (metaphorically but, sadly, also literally). We deny spirit to nature and project it to our own machines.
    On this Pentecost Sunday we will look for help in ancient scriptures; perhaps the liberating breeze of the divine spirit can reorient our wounded relating from machines to the living again.
    I do not know about you, but I am tired of all our modern alienating technological fetishism, I would rather be a postmodern Christian animist re-learning to relate to God, other people and wide nature through Spirit.


Christine Gorman said...

I think that is what grace is all about--getting a chance to recreate our relationship with God and others.

Andrew Stehlik said...

Yes, indeed, the Holy Spirit is unique and marvelous carrier of divine grace.
(Originally I wanted to write "vehicle of divine grace" and realised irony of such wording in this context. ;-)