Temporal Politics and Banal Culture
Before the Future
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This book addresses the absence of a strong alignment with the future in contemporary social life and explores anomalous temporal experience as a way to expand political imaginations. In the aftermath of the modern myth of progress, it argues we have entered into a kind of dystopia—brutal or seemingly benign—of the continual present that is resistant to systemic change but is nevertheless animated through cycles of novelty and obsolescence. Exploring a condition in which we are out of ideas and facing a ‘non-future’ of blind technical improvement and fear, the author examines the heterochronia of eerie atmospheres and temporal suspensions. Rather than a reinstatement of the great dream of The Future, a temporality of possibility is explored in strange dimensions of otherwise mundane sites: logistic spaces and ex-urban landscapes; boredom connected to digital media; and the material culture of a recently abandoned town. Drawing on contemporary social and cultural theory, as well as urban geography and media studies, the book develops its conceptual position through a series of vignettes of key sites and experiences. Through an elliptical and generative approach, it analyses zones where novelty collapses and where figures of defiance and possibility might emerge. A rigorous theoretical examination of contemporary life and culture grounded in a close examination of sites and material examples, Temporal Politics and Banal Culture: Before the Future will appeal to scholars of social theory, sociology, cultural geography, cultural studies and social philosophy.
Table of Contents
1. Into logistic grey zones
2. Obsolete wastes of time: Boredom by way of alien junk consciousness
3. The enigma of Kitsault
Peter Conlin is a writer and researcher based in Birmingham, UK. He is a Teaching Associate at the University of Nottingham, has completed postdoctoral research at the Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and is a co-facilitator of the Boredom Network research group. He is currently developing the Time Lapse podcast which is an interview series with theorists, activists and artists on temporal politics of the twenty-first century.