We use "post" to name a particular state of things that is somehow eclipsed but not entirely done with. Post-War period, Post-Watergate, post-modernity, post-fashion, Post-humanism ... post-bubble, post-finance, post-production, post-consumption.
Post implies that that something is gone, that it is in the past but that its residue, its after image in some way haunts us. It is behind, but it still organizes and supervises the period that comes next.
In any historical moment, we are in this post-something and pre-something else. That is is how the temporality of society works. But it seems to me that this particularly precarious moment is one in which it is both much less clear what is post and what is pre, and that it is much more important what is post and what is pre.
We are, we assume, we hope in a way, post-bubble. I don’t think we should presume to decide so quickly what went wrong. I think we will be surprised with future perspective, horrified perhaps, what it was all about.
This now is itself, pre-something that we don't know and can barely visualize. It's a matter of real concern what is and isn’t 'post'? post-American, post-leverage, post-abundance, post-secular, post-social, post-urban? What stays and what goes? What is already gone? What is only an after image? What appears to be gone but is really permanent?
After the bubble, after the financial meltdown, if we are in fact actually after it, if not still at the beginning of it, has the 500 year old America bubble burst? or just a Kondratievian real estate cycle? Is this accident permanent?
1946 was post-war. fine. 1989 was post-communism. probably. We don’t know what we are post, and what we are pre, but simply that we are in some historical interstitial. With 9/11 it was just named by the date because we didn’t know what it was, were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Now we are waiting for the anti-event - the bottom - or holding our breath to wait out the event, or simply for whatever happens next to get it over with and happen.
That is, we don’t know what we know and what we don’t know, and we know it!
We experience the present as something like a gap, but is the gap a void into which things fall, or it is more a newly cleared tabula rasa? More beginning or end?
Sunday, May 10
I read an amazing conference by Benjamin Bratton on the Postopolis event in Los Angeles. Here's an excerpt that I find very insightful: