Gebser and Cyberspace

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* Article: Cyberspace and Its Limits: Hypermodern Detours in the Evolution of Consciousness. By Ronald E. Purser.


Paper to be Delivered to: Global CyberTech & Integral Consciousness. XXV Annual Gebser Conference. October 21-24, 1999. Organized by the International Jean Gebser Society For the Study of Culture and Consciousness.


Michel Bauwens, 2003:

This essay asks if the emergence of cyberspace is exemplary of the shift to integral consciousness, or rather if it will lead to a hyper-modern detour of defective rationality.

There have been changes in perception and consciousness due to media before:

   - the shift from orality to chirography in the Middle Ages
   - from chirography to typography in the Renaissance
   - from typograpny to photography in bourgeois society
   - from photography to television in the modern world
   - from mass communications to interactive digital media now

  • With the invention of perspective in the Renaissance, space loses its quality and inner depth, and becomes an abstract and neutral vacuum, that humans can re-organize. Eventually, Nature came to be seen as something wholly other, we were no longer an unconscious part of it.
  • With the abstract geometry of Descartes, space could be re-presented without any reference to the physical world . It created a loss of contact and connection, a distancing. Time was similarly spatialized and "seen from the outside".
  • Cyberspace intensifies this distancing, this break with Nature and the Real. It is not a transformation into aperspectival consciousness, but a hyper perspective, leading to a ironic spectator-self, which sees only endless surfaces.

It is a deficient phase of the mental rational, as it excludes the other ways of knowing.

Virilio adds that it is also creating a tyrannical 'global time', obliterating the local and national time frame.

Whereas the Renaissance 'domesticated space', creating a global map and precise delimitations: the Information Revolution intends to domesticate time, by creating a global temporal framework, 'real time'. Within the hyperperspectival world, the map is the territory. Perspectivism gave us the lens to see a map of reality; but hyperperspectivism creates a new epistemic order.

An all-inclusive, global-cybernetic matrix is perhaps the final quest of the rational mode of consciousness. The foundation of this quest was Descartes' abstract geometry, an imaginary mathematical coordinate space for placing objects, which digital technologies 'materialize' in a virtual reality.

Hyperreality presents an image of a totally self-contained world that requires no grounding or reference in reality.

In the economy, we went from Fordism to Post-Fordism, based on flexible 'accumulation', to today's 'instantaneous accumulation'.