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5/19/09

Commodified Intelligence

"This is an Age of Commodified Intelligence, a time of conspicuously consumed high culture in which intellectual life is meticulously measured and branded.

Equal measures success and hubris are to blame. By the end of the last century, exponential gains in science and in living standards made advancement seem inevitable, progress a matter of putting one scientific foot in front of the other. The intellectual horizon felt flatter, more intelligible, more accessible. A rise in intellectual exuberance is therefore unsurprising. Enrichment has certainly been on the march.

Facebook is devoted to cataloguing this cultural rebirth. Here people curate their personas and project them at the world. Characteristic of the younger generations, the mood strains for the eclectic while feigning nonchalance. The alchemist arranges lists in search of gold: Shostakovich, Dresden Dolls, Justin Timberlake, Miles. "Mrs Dalloway" is popular, perched between "Harry Potter" and, simply, “The Russians”. Status updates remind you that a friend has just returned from an “HD Mozart Opera” while another is “getting into Herzog films”. This is an achievement panopticon; the participants are its prisoners. More

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