war as text

Currently I am bit by bit re-reading Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (1993 [1991]). In one of the classes I am holding this term I am coercing the students to do this reading, and loyally I am joining in. Latour’s criticism of postmodernism induced an association inside me. Especially this paragraph:

When we are dealing with science and technology it is hard to imagine for long that we are a text that is writing itself, a discourse that is speaking all by itself, a play of signifiers without signifieds. It is hard to reduce the entire cosmos to a grand narrative, the physics of subatomic particles to a text, subway systems to rhetorical devices, all social structures to discourse. (Latour 1993 [1991]: 64)

This, and everything around, heavily reminds me of Neal Stephenson’s fulminant satire on some of postmodernism’s excrescent intellectualisms ;) embedded in his novel ‘Cryptonomicon’ (1999). It—said satire, not the novel—begins like this:

Avi’s telephone call, some eighty hours ago, arrived in the middle of a major interdisciplinary conference called “The Intermediate Phase (1939-45) of the Global Hegemony Struggle of the Twentieth Century (Common Era).” This is a bit of a mouthful and so it has been given a pithy nickname: “War as Text.” (Stephenson 1999: 50)

LATOUR, BRUNO. 1993 [1991]. We have never been modern: . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
STEPHENSON, NEAL TOWN. 1999. Cryptonomicon. London: William Heinemann.
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