High Networkism and Network Postmodernism

Hi All,

Back to general discussion topics for the final 4 days I'll be posting again. What makes a new art-historical period? I don't know, but on Artforum they said I hadn't earned the right to define it. However, it could be not earning but just noticing a basic something, such as fungus in the sink. Partly chance for sure.

But, you could say Modernism was the period of high industrialization, and Postmodernism a denouement of this or swirling out. Then, what after Postmodernism? Well professional interest tells all museums like the New Museum ("they helped discover Postmodernism") that it's still Postmodernism. Hence, once you get two main instances of new conditions i.e. computer networks and globalization, then you get a defaulting of the older period ideas into the new conditions, i.e. Network Postmodernism. That's the palatable default now, what Artforum likes, how to bring new media artists into the artworld i.e. supporting them as you could say, a mutual backscratching O halleluia.

But, really a new period after Postmodernism (radio-cyclically if not linearly after) is warranted by a) technology change (like industrialization) and other political stuff in globalization (compares to industrialized nation-states). So, what is the new period of computer networks and globalization? High Networkism. It will last for 100-500 years, similar to the items from 1500-2000. Not that all is homogeneous in globalization, but all is networked together. So dealing with all that is the real new art goal for 2000-2500.

As you may know ten years ago I proposed this and everyone said I was a bad person. Well, c'est la vie!

Any other comments on if we are in a new period, and if so what kind of period? You can also see the Yes/No project at my site in the Contents page, www.geocities.com/genius-2000


, Max Herman


Echoes Myron

per 2002



, curt cloninger

Hi Max,

Bruno Latour's "We Have Never Been Modern" (1993) seems relevant to the claims you are making. Latour claims that modernism is a myth that was never actually implementable. We thought we were doing something impossible (keeping nature and culture separate, keeping science and belief separate), and this allowed us to proliferate all sorts of hybrids without knowing it. "Postmodernism" as anti-modernism is the wrong reaction to modernism, since postmodernism accepts modernism's false claims about itself and ignores what modernism was actually doing.

Latour doesn't oppose the nature-culture hybridizations that modernism proliferated. He just opposes the cognitive disconnect between what modernism claimed and what it was actually doing. So what comes after modernism is simply an awareness that we have never been modern, a more self-conscious understanding of the hybrids we were creating, and a more purposeful determination of how me might want to proceed from here on out. His future is not deterministic. It leaves us with real agency to make a world.

Latour might argue the following: To name and define a new era that comes after "postmodernism" is simply to proceed according to the myths of modernism.

In the parlance of Deleuze's 'becoming animal" (or the Vapors' "Turning Japanese"), I think I am becoming/turning increasingly medieval. Or maybe, in the parlance of Latour, I have always been medieval.

Anyway, the Latour book is worth a read for a "science studies" perspective on modernism.

Hope you are doing well.


, Max Herman


Hi Curt,

I haven't read the Latour book but will check it out as time permits. I can agree that Modernism was not 100% correct and Postmodernism kept some of its inaccuracies intact for usefulness. I don't read that much theory anymore but I like Habermas who said Modernity didn't finish its process because as you say it needed to split apart various aspects of reason into separate branches–aesthetic, political, and science I think. Anyway, I think maybe my idea of Aesthetic Evolution fixes this. Per science the brain and other biology does have a belief element that interacts with the science facts (cells, ions, etc.). I feel that religion can be a dangerous topic but if Art and God are both seen as monotheism, then maybe secular and religious views can agree better without losing integrity. This might be viewed as modern medieval, which Shelley, Blake, and others also preferred to Popeanism. Networks of belief and networks of science fact are all relevant subjects under High Networkism. And, Strauss says that there is a overall historical process of "quarrel/querelle" between antiquity and modernity, which he also says compares to antiquity and Christianity. Or, religion v. philosophy. I think the idea of Aesthetic Evolution is really the main issue here. I don't just see High Networkism as the 3 to come after Modernism 1 and Postmodernism 2, but from a broader time frame too–overall human history.

Certainly I don't think High Networkism is crackpot. Is it dangerous to social conventions, like Socrates, and thus horrid? I don't think that is an a priori question. I.e. who knows. Thus, it peeves me when people say "oh you don't agree with Professor Blop? You must be a crackpot, and if you keep making a fuss, a criminal traitor." That to me just reeks of what they say all new ideas (Galileo, Joyce, Luther) have had to put up with, i.e. the contempt of fools. Which Blake said to accept as a kingly crown.

Not to say I'll go past 7 days and try to push for vindication on the Rhizome list, which is just folks and blameless. However, after 10 years if the verdict is still "no posting is needed for art" I want to at least punctuate "I disagree!" before switching completely to something else like regular books, sidewalk sandwich boards, local galleries.


, Max Herman


The other thing that bugs me is nothing I'm saying is rocket science by any stretch, it's just taboo obvious factoids. As Nietzche said, not speaking the obvious can be crucial, the ultimate act of faith and future-minded virtue, because the obvious is sometimes harmful. So on those grounds I don't see how speaking in public about High Networkism can actually help High Networkism, even if that is the goal! Dealing with your own issues yourself, that's maybe why Koons set up the vacuums as super-excellent–i.e., saying "you should revere the unexciting fact that the very best you can do is clean up your own area a little bit." I only say this because I never got how Koons could be so popular unless the art situation was completely broken and not functioning at all. So I can see the devil's advocate argument, but also the devil's advocate argument to that which is "sometimes it's OK to talk in public about taboo stuff." But Strauss says that second argument is always false, and truth be told I'm leaning toward that. So there's a good chance I won't try to advocate for High Networkism on list anymore, as a discussion topic, but rather try to learn more about it and then after a long time try to create something more traditional, less enraptured with open discussion.


After all, can open discussion save these doggies? They are some good pups. I am considering either adopting, or buying a purebred pup from celhaus.com. But if you hung out with Bear, Shadow, Sheba, Splash, Brindy, Titus, Tweety, Wheeler, Chloe, Maddie, Lucy, Ray, Hope, Cooper, Mickey, Max, Spike, Kair, and some of the others you'd agree you can't save all of them. So it's true there's just a lot of work to do, nothing public blurtings can incredibly fix. Still and all I'm not 100% convinced of this, but just leaning that way.


, Vijay Pattisapu

It's worth continuing to push for an idea, even in bad faith. Adversarial social activity / the contempt of fools can at times be better than the terror of silence.

, Max Herman


Hi Vijay,

Certainly could be, but how do you know when? I don't know if Luther for example helped or hurt the world and aesthetic evolution. He did take an adversarial tone, but also vacillated a bunch over time. The Oedipus trilogy seems to say it's OK to be assertive but wrong, because things come out in the wash. Socrates respected Athens' right to punish him, and accepted that rather than banishment as the more dignified choice.

Also relating to what Alex said, you have the right to live for yourself and that includes figuring things out for yourself. I.e., doing your own G2K or whatever theorizing you prefer and makes the most sense for you. Doing your own G2K is implicit in G2K! Also, Starship Troopers says "figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom any of us really have. Use that freedom."

I guess I lean toward not promoting G2K confrontationally any more because A) I've already done it a ton, B) I'm getting tired of it, C) I don't feel it's morally required of me, and D) Strauss says it's OK to only write between the lines about the most important things. I can't say yet for sure if I'll quit for good, but there seem to be good rationales for doing so. There's a lot of other good stuff to do also.

Then of course the devil's advocate says "sometimes it might be OK, necessary, or good to be critical." When is that, I can't generalize I don't think, and am confused about how to, but I'm not super-convinced that I need to be that way about High Networkism any further.


, Erika Lincoln

Hey Curt, Max, et al

On the topic of science studies there was a series on CBC Radio called "How to think about science"
It featured 20 or so interviews on such topics as you brought up about Latour, moderism and it's effects on thought processes particularly in scientific research.
Quite an interesting series.
here is a list of the interviews/interviewees

Episode 1 - November 14 - Simon Schaffer
Episode 2 - November 21 - Lorraine Daston
Episode 3 - November 28 - Margaret Lock
Episode 4 - December 5 - Ian Hacking and Andrew Pickering
Episode 5 - December 12 - Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour
Episode 6 - January 2 - James Lovelock
Episode 7 - January 9 - Arthur Zajonc
Episode 8 - January 16 - Wendell Berry
Episode 9 - January 23 - Rupert Sheldrake
Episode 10 - January 30 - Brian Wynne
Episode 11 - February 21 - Sajay Samuel
Episode 12 - February 27 - David Abram
Episode 13 - March 5 - Dean Bavington
Episode 14 - March 12 - Evelyn Fox Keller
Episode 15 - March 19 - Barbara Duden and Silya Samerski
Episode 16 - April 9 - Steven Shapin
Episode 17 - April 16 - Peter Galison
Episode 18 - April 23 - Richard Lewontin
Episode 19 - April 30 - Ruth Hubbard
Episode 20 - May 7 - Michael Gibbons, Peter Scott, & Janet Atkinson Grosjean
Episode 21 - May 28 - Christopher Norris and Mary Midgely
Episode 22 - June 4 - Allan Young
Episode 23 - June 11 - Lee Smolin
Episode 24 - June 18 - Nicholas Maxwell

All the episodes are avalible for download either from itunes or the cbc site.