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Exits to the Posthuman Future

Exits to the Posthuman Future

Arthur Kroker

ISBN: 978-0-745-68225-9

Mar 2014, Polity

224 pages



Exits to the Posthuman Future is media theory for a global digital society which thrives, and sometimes perishes, at the intersection of technologies of speed, distant ethics and a pervasive cultural anxiety. Arthur Kroker’s incisive and insightful text presents the emerging pattern of a posthuman future: life at the tip of technologies of acceleration, drift and crash. Kroker links key concepts such as “Guardian Liberalism” and Obama’s vision of the “Just War” with a striking account of “culture drift” as the essence of real world technoculture. He argues that contemporary society displays growing uncertainty about the ultimate ends of technological innovation and the intelligibility of the digital future. The posthuman future is elusive: is it a gathering storm of cynical abandonment, inertia, disappearance and substitution? Or else the development of a new form of critical consciousness - the posthuman imagination - as a means of comprehending the full complexity of life? Depending on which exit to the posthuman future we choose or, perhaps, which exit chooses us, Kroker argues that a very different posthuman future will likely ensue.

Acknowledgments vii

1 Introduction: Trajectories of the Posthuman 1

Accelerate 29

2 The Posthuman Imagination: Neuro-Diversity, Psychic Trauma, and History in the Data Feed 31

Drift 47

3 Code Drift 49

4 History Drift 60

5 Archive Drift 80

6 Screen Drift 90

7 Media Drift 97

Crash: Slow Suicide of Technological Apocalypse 109

8 After the Drones 111

9 Guardian Liberalism: Rhetoric of the “Just War” 122

Crash: Traversal Consciousness 153

10 Premonitory Thought: That Fateful Day When Power Abjected Itself 155

11 Thinking the Future with Marshall McLuhan: Technologies of Abandonment, Inertia, Disappearance, Substitution 173

12 Epilogue: Media Theory in the Data Storm 195

Notes 199

Index 207

"Kroker’s long-awaited Exits to the Posthuman Future presents us with a much more complex, and definitely more profound, analysis of the emerging posthuman condition. Motivated neither by a nostalgic yearning for what has been left behind nor by an unbridled optimism for what the fully realized technological society will bring, Kroker seeks to draw closer attention to the essentially elusive character of a future shaped by technologies that thrive on the liminal, the uncertain, and the indeterminate."
Cultural Politics

"With remarkable range and acuity, Arthur Kroker defines the posthuman condition of the twenty-first century as 'drift culture,' exploring its ramifications through genetics, data archives, and a variety of other cultural and technological sites. This is an exciting and crucially important synthesis of recent trends that anyone interested in where we are going should read."
N. Katherine Hayles, Duke University

"This book, on the thorny, arid issue of the posthuman, turns out to be Arthur Kroker’s most humane, personal, and deeply felt work. It is so vast, dark, mythic and oracular that every haunted page should be read aloud by the ghosts of Nietzsche and McLuhan."
Bruce Sterling, The Well

"Arthur Kroker is a founding figure of posthuman futural studies. He is philosopher of the vectors of speed, theorist of the live data feed, and thinker of our need to ‘drift’ beyond today’s codes, archives, and screens as post-historical mediators of a self-induced techno- catastrophe. A contemporary tour de force, Kroker’s Exits to the Posthuman Future helps transform our understanding of technopolitics and war, consciousness, and power as theoretical categories and futural practices of disappearance."
John Armitage, University of Southampton