Circle of the Snake, The
Why are we more nostalgic in the digital age than ever before?
Shocked by 9/11, the Great Recession, digital anxiety, and ecological collapse, the West suffers from nostalgia. People everywhere yearn for a utopian version of the past that never existed. Desperate for relief, many long to escape from the present. Some will stop at nothing to achieve it.
In his essential new book, Grafton Tanner, author of Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts, argues that our nostalgia today is partly a consequence of the attention economy. At a time when historical literacy is crucial, and old prejudices are percolating into the present, Big Tech’s predictive algorithms are locking us into nostalgic feedback loops. The result is a precarious society with its gaze fixed on the good old days.
Spanning from the ancient Sophists to Black Mirror, The Circle of the Snake is at once a reckoning with the myth of digital utopia and an incisive analysis of nostalgia as a weapon to spread fascism.
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Whether it is dissecting the utopian fantasies of Big Tech gurus, revealing the political economy of the nostalgia industry, or uncovering exploitation in the global division of digital labour, The Circle of the Snake is just the guide we need to navigate, resist, and transform the online world. In precise, accessible prose, Grafton Tanner offers a much-needed vision of democratic alternatives to surveillance capitalism. ~ Vincent Mosco, author of The Smart City in a Digital World