To Afford Polyvalence
In Spheres III, I attempt to explain why we should not only purge the two portentous words revolution and mass from our vocabulary, but also the concept of “society.” It suggests a coherence that could only be achieved by violent asserting conformism. The conglomerate of humans that has, since the 18th century, called itself “society” is precisely not based on the atomic dots that we tend to call individuals. Instead, it is a patchwork of milieus that are structured as subcultures. Just think of the world of horse lovers—a huge subculture in which you could lose yourself for the duration of your life but which is as good as invisible if you are not a member of it. There are hundreds if not thousands of milieus in the current social terrain that all have the tendency from their own viewpoint to form the center of the world and yet are as good as nonexistent for the others. I term them inter-ignorant systems. And, among other things, they exist by virtue of a blindness rule. They may not know of one another, since otherwise their members would be robbed of the enjoyment of being specialized members of a select few. In terms of their profession, there are only two or three types of humans who can afford polyvalence in dealing with milieus. The first are architects who (at least virtually) build containers for all; the second are the novelists, who insert persons from all walks of life into their novels; finally come the priests who speak at the burials of all possible classes of the dead. But that is probably the entire list. Although, no, I forgot the new sociologists à la Latour.
In other words, the multiple personality on the one hand and the single networker on the other— those are the two options I see open to individualized populations. The way homo sapiens is influenced by the dowry from the days of hording is no doubt insurmountable, but because the explication of that old heritage continues simultaneously in various directions, the proto-social elements of the life of sapiens can be reworked. They lead to an electronic tribalism. In the dyadic motifs, by contrast, the intimate relationships are explicated to such a degree that intimacy can quite literally be played through with the technical media of self-supplementation. In the long run, human types arise that are fairly unlike what we have known to date.