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From Mobile Ontologies to Mobile Aesthetics

  Jos de Mul

We are living in a globalizing world, characterized by constant and rapid innovation. As we are inclined to go with this flow and its accompanying discourse of mobility, there is a danger that we overlook the persistence of cultural traditions. However, this paper argues that important differences exist between pre-modern, modern and post-modern traditions with regard to the form mobility takes. After a short discussion of the role information and communication technologies play in post-modern traditions, it is argued that these technologies transform our world, and not only our electronic files, into a global database and, as a consequence, generate a mobile stream of post-historic phenomena. In the conclusion some implications of the presented "database ontology" for the arts and aesthetic theory are discussed.

Key Words
cultural traditions, information and communication technologies, mobility, pre-modern, modern and post-modern traditions, post-history

1. The Dialectics of Mobility and Immobility

In the call for papers, the organizers of the conference Aesthetics and Mobility state "that mobility is a phenomenon that has major cultural and environmental influences and thus calls for in-depth analyses from many angles, including from the point of view of philosophical aesthetics, arts, and related fields." In this article I shall try to contribute to this task by discussing the mobility of cultural traditions and sketching the underlying ontology and anthropology.

Although I fully agree with the organizers that our present world is changing rapidly because of the increase in mobility, we should not forget that mobility is a fundamental characteristic of the human life form in a far more radical way than it is of other life forms on earth. The human life form not only is mobile, as almost all organic life forms are, but its mobility is characterized by a constant expansion of its domain as well as by a constant acceleration. From the very moment hominids appeared on the stage, some five to seven million years ago in East-Africa, Homo habilis, Homo erectus and, finally, Homo sapiens spread all over the earth in a very short time, at least when we measure it from an evolutionary perspective. Twenty-five centuries ago, in the so-called Ode to Man in Antigone, Sophocles pointed to the awesome (the ambiguous word deinon, which he uses in this context means both wonderful and fearful) power of mobility that urges humans to conquer the wilderness and sail the stormy seas.[1] In the time of space technology, the human odyssey moved to cosmic space and, with the emergence of information and communication technologies, another virtual domain of exploration and colonization, the world of cyberspace, has been disclosed.[2] Moreover, when we look at the development of mobility, we discern an exponential growth rate. What that means has become especially visible in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which witnessed the rapid development of new forms of transport (trains, cars and airplanes) and communication (telegraph, telephone, mass media and the Internet). Against this background, we are justified to call Homo sapiens Homo movens or Homo mobilis: mobile man.

However true as all this may be, the insight into the fundamental mobility of humans should not make us overlook the no-less brute fact that humans are also characterized by an opposing tendency, an innate inertness that might be called the "will to immobility." One fundamental expression of this will to immobility is human tradition. Tradition simply means staying in the same place, doing the same things and thinking the same thoughts again and again. The immobility of tradition is and remains a no less fundamental characteristic of the human life form than is the tradition of mobility. Therefore, we have to keep in mind the complex dialectics of the mobility and immobility of traditions.

Let me give an overview of my argument. In Section 2 I will continue with a short meditation on the inevitability of cultural and aesthetic traditions. Section 3 will discuss the difference between pre-modern, modern and post-modern traditions, focusing on the increase in mobility. In Section 4 I will consider the role that information and communication technologies play in post-modern traditions. I will argue that these technologies transform our world, and not only our electronic files, into a global database and, as a consequence, generate a mobile stream of post-historic phenomena. In Section 5 I will conclude with some afterthoughts about the implications of this "database ontology" for art and aesthetics.

2. The Inevitability of Traditions

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the tenacity and importance of cultural traditions. It is almost impossible to conceive of human life without the cultural heritage, customs, practices and habits passed on orally or by other means from person to person, from generation to generation and from culture to culture. Traditions orient our experience; they give direction to our thinking and to our actions. Traditions are justified by the simple fact that they already exist before we appear on the stage. We do not need to discover them because they are already present. Traditional knowledge is knowledge that is valid because it was previously valid; traditional customs are prescribed actions that are in force because they already were in force before; existing institutions continue to exist simply because they existed earlier. And we often judge particular works of art to be beautiful because they were experienced as beautiful in the past.

The tenacity, the inevitability of traditions is linked to the finitude of our existence.[3] Our lifetime is too short for us to acquire all the guidance necessary for us to live our lives. Imagine if every day we had to rediscover what is edible and what is not, how we should behave towards our fellow men or what is beautiful and what not. Our lives would be literally unlivable. Therefore we are always more our traditions than our choices.

The traditions within which we inevitably grow up are largely contingent. We could have grown up in completely different traditions, but because we do not have the time to arrive at absolute choices, we cling to the traditions into which we are contingently thrown. Furthermore, we cling to them because they ritually ward off the plurality and particularity of our experiences. We all will die, and that is a terrifying prospect; but by burying or cremating each person according to the same rituals, the shocking uniqueness of our individual death is somewhat relieved. Traditions are necessary compensations for our finitude.[4]

Traditions are not only inevitable and contingent; they are also artificial.[5] First, traditions are artificial because they are not innate but acquired. It is true that many of our traditions have a natural basis: for example, the human aesthetic cannot be seen separately from the design patterns we discover in the organic world, but they can never be completely reduced to this. They artificially supplement this natural basis, and in doing so constitute a second nature.

There is another reason for naming traditions artificial and that is that they are not original but are always derived from other contexts. This is also linked to finitude, in this case not only the finitude of individuals but also the finitude of cultures. That this derivation from other cultures is forgotten is also linked to our finitude. For example, when the tulip is presented as a traditional Dutch flower, it is generally forgotten that this traditional cultural good comes from Turkey. And when pasta is regarded worldwide as typical Italian food, we should remember that several centuries ago it was brought from China to Italy by Marco Polo. What we can learn from these examples is that cultures are no homogeneous, self-contained and unchanging wholes of traditions, values and norms. When elements are transferred from one culture to another, these elements are grafted into a new cultural context and acquire a new meaning. For those who quote the inherently citable elements of other cultures, these foreign elements soon become their own.[6] Italians certainly regard pasta as part of their cultural identity, but we have to keep in mind that pasta thanks its Italian-ness to the very differences that exist between the place it occupies in the Chinese and the Italian cuisine and culture respectively. Putting it in general terms, one could say that every culture is intercultural. The origin of our culture always lies elsewhere. The play of identity and difference is not possible without the dimension of the in-between.

The fact that even scientists researching into traditions are sometimes inclined to neglect their derivative character in favor of the myth of authenticity is illustrated by a story I heard a few years ago from a music ethnographer. He told me that many young music ethnographers studying the tradition of Senegalese griotes (traditional singers) ignored Dakar because they did not wish to record the songs backed by western electrically amplified instruments but rather the original versions in the interior of the country. They were somewhat humiliated, however, when they discovered that in the interior the musicians played numbers composed in the cities, and they only played them on traditional instruments because electric instruments were too expensive or there was no electricity supply. We are always in need of traditions, and when they are not at hand because they have been destroyed, as in postcolonial Africa, they are promptly created.

3. Pre-Modern, Modern and Post-Modern Traditions

It could be argued that my account exclusively concerns traditional societies and ignores the fact that modern culture largely appears to have come about from the destruction of traditional knowledge, customs, practices and habits. Modernity -- social, technological, cultural -- is characterized by a continuous break with tradition, and by continuous renewal, a renewal, moreover, which is accelerating at an increasing rate. Does what I have said about traditions not apply exclusively or at least predominantly to pre-modern societies, which not without reason are called traditional?

It is undoubtedly true that modernity has destroyed many traditions or forced them into the margins of society, but it must be immediately added that this is only half the story. There are several reasons for this. First, following Octavio Paz, it can be said that the modern break with tradition has itself become a tradition.[7] Paradoxically, in modern art, characterized by a continual renewal as in no other cultural domain, those who made the break with this tradition of renewal were denied access to the canon of modern art. Second, outside modern culture there has been no period so directed at maintaining traditions. Modernity, which has destroyed living traditions, is also the age of the historical consciousness that maintains these traditions. In the words of Odo Marquard, "No era has destroyed more of its past than ours, at the same time, however, no era has maintained more of its past: preserved in museums, maintained in conservatories, ecologically protected, collected in archives, archeologically reconstructed, conserved in historical memory." [8] In our increasingly intercultural societies, the number of traditions is even being continually expanded. In many families in my home country it has become traditional to supplement Dutch cooking with dishes from Chinese, Indonesian, Italian, Indian, Surinamese, Turkish and Moroccan cuisine. We listen to popular American music or alternative world music and dance the South American salsa. Our intercultural melting pot certainly might be confusing, but at the same time there is no question of an absence of traditions.

My provisional conclusion is that the tradition of being dependent on traditions is especially tenacious, as well. This does not mean, of course, that traditions always remain the same. On the contrary! Traditions are continually changing. For a large part of the Christian population in the Western world, for example, Christmas, once primarily a religious festival, has become a late-capitalistic consumers' paradise. This changeability applies to every tradition. The change is always a repetition with a difference.[9][10] This not only applies to the content of traditions; their nature, structure, and function also change over the course of time. If we recall the earlier-mentioned distinction between traditional or pre-modern culture and modern culture, we see that the traditions within them are essentially different in character. In pre-modern society traditions were simple. Because there were no alternatives known, they were clear-cut and not given much thought. In modern society, characterized by historical consciousness, traditions are no longer so obvious; we are conscious of the historical and cultural diversity of traditions, and therefore we have a greater freedom of choice, although this choice, because of our finitude, always remains a limited one.

Seen in this light, Osama Bin Laden is pre-eminently a modern traditionalist,.as John Gray recently argued in his book, Al Qaeda and what it means to be modern,[11] In contrast with the pre-modern Islamist, who still lives more or less in the same way as many generations before him lived and prays five times a day because everyone he knows has always done that, Osama Bin Laden is someone who has a good knowledge of modern culture. He enjoyed a technical education and makes use of advanced technologies and communication media to advocate a return to traditional Islam, a traditional Islam that in many countries where it emerges is quite new. And the fact that, on the basis of a historical consciousness of the distinction between traditional Islamic and modern Western culture, he chooses to live and to propagate a traditional Islamic way of life, makes him an extremely modern traditionalist.

The thesis I wish to defend here is that at this time we are again witnessing a structural change with regard to the nature, structure and function of traditions. Influenced by information and communication technologies, a transformation is now occurring from modern traditionalism to post-modern or, within this context perhaps a more appropriate term, would bepost-historic traditionalism. In order to explain what this is, I must first look a little closer at the historical consciousness that characterizes modern culture.

4. (Post)Historicity

It is not without reason that the nineteenth century is designated as the century of the historization of the worldview. Of course, this does not mean that before the nineteenth century there was no historical awareness or that the linear notion of history characteristic of the modern day only came about in the nineteenth century. In Western culture, under the influence of Christian eschatology, the cyclical notion of history characteristic before antiquity quite quickly gave way to the idea of an irreversible linear movement. However, what distinguishes the nineteenth century from the previous centuries is that in this period the concept "history" became the fundamental ontological category. For modern consciousness, which remained dominant until far into the twentieth century, the whole of reality can only be fully explained and understood from the standpoint of its historical development, and there is no longer space for any reference whatsoever to a reality outside or above history. In the natural sciences an evolutionary way of looking at things was developed according to which matter, life and consciousness can only be explained from the standpoint of the development which has taken place since the Big Bang more than ten billion years ago. But in the humanities and the social sciences, too, the reality studied, be it language, knowledge, customs and habits, art forms, institutions, forms of government, etc., is primarily understood from the standpoint of their historical development. The explanation of the nature and function of traditions with which I began my argument, is itself clearly a product of historical consciousness too, just like the very notion of tradition. .

For modern Westerners, this historical worldview is so fundamental and so obvious that we can barely imagine the static worldview that preceded the process of historization. But it is this characteristic historical consciousness which forces us to recognize that the historical worldview is of relatively recent date and reminds us that there is still a question as to whether it will retain its dominance in the twenty-first century. Within historical consciousness, we see another, post-historic, understanding of time, influenced by information technology both in the sciences and in everyday experience. I shall try to illuminate this fundamental transformation of the worldview with a few everyday experiences from the life of today's computer user.

Some time ago I wanted to check the date of a letter I had written the previous year to my American publisher. When the letter, which was written in Microsoft Word, appeared on the screen, the word processing program had automatically changed the date on the letterhead to that day's date. Luckily I was able to track down the original date because the letter had remained unchanged since it was written, so that the Windows Explorer program showed the date on which I had originally saved the document. However, this is no longer possible in my old e-mail file. A few years ago, when I converted my old Netscape e-mails to my new e-mail program, for some inexplicable reason they were all dated 1 January 1980. Inevitably, the typeface and layout of the e-mails were also adapted to my new e-mail program. The sense of history that can overcome us when we handle an old letter, with its yellowing paper and distinctive smell, seemed to have given way to a post-historic experience. The same experience was described last year in a column in a Dutch newspaper, in which the author compared his own e-mailed love letters with the decades-old love letters of his parents, which he had found in their legacy. The context in which this journalist presented his somewhat nostalgic reverie was the problem of digital durability. As everyone who works with computers knows, the lightning-fast development of operating systems and software and the volatility of the Internet create problems for digital filing that can hardly be overestimated. Here, however, I am not so much concerned with this problem, which is largely a problem of historical consciousness, nor am I concerned with a nostalgic reverie on the loss of the sense of history that springs from this same consciousness. What I am concerned with here is that the examples mentioned give us a first impression of the hybrid fusion of past and present that is characteristic of the post-historic experience opened up by information technology.

A second example can help us define this post-historic experience a little more closely. Several years ago I heard on the car radio a new single, "No More Trouble", that was a duet by reggae artist Bob Marley with the American singer Erykah Badu. ..It was a strange experience, because having a well-developed historical consciousness I knew that Bob Marley had died in 1981 and that because the track had a lot of hip-hop in it, it had a particular modern-day character. It turned out that the duet had been constructed by digital cut-and-paste techniques. Again I underwent a post-historic sensation. Just as in the case of the letter with the actual day's date, here we are concerned with a hybrid fusion of past and present. Of course, the listener still stands with one foot in historical time. "No More Trouble" was made at a particular moment in music history, and my listening experience took place in historical time. The result, however, was a post-historical representation. My search for the number with the aid of KaZaA, however, showed that tracing its origin was not easy. It appeared that there were various versions and remixes available, and it was only when I had bought the CD which contained the number that I knew with some certainty that I had the "original" version of the song. This certainty, however, was entirely derived from the fact that this number was on the CD I had bought. In the digital world built up of timeless bits, the distinction between original and copied files is not based on the physical characteristics of the digital medium but can only be established indirectly by means of digital archeology. This shows us that the fusion of past and present is not only hybrid, but also temporally ambiguous. This was nicely demonstrated by a girlfriend of my seventeen-years old daughter when they enter entered the room where I was watching a television documentary on John Kennedy. When the girlfriend saw JFK on the screen she screamed enthusiastically: "I know that actor, he also plays in Forrest Gump."

The fact that digital constructions often exist in multiple versions, like "No More Trouble," points to a third characteristic of post-historic experiences: virtuality. In this context the term does not so much refer to the illusionary character of many computer-generated images but to the fact that post-historic experiences concern only one particular actualization of a virtual series of possible experiences. Every digital entity is part of a database of elements which can be combined and linked with other elements in countless different ways.

This can be further illustrated by the star screensaver that is part of the Windows operating system. After a few minutes of inactivity, this screensaver changes the image on the screen into a star-spangled sky, which creates the illusion of moving through the universe at great speed. The user can establish the number of stars and the speed at which they move through the universe. Although the choices are relatively limited (the number of stars that can appear on the screen at the same time can range between 10 and 200 and the speed scale has 20 different values), the screensaver allows the user to summon up no less than 3800 (190 x 20) different universes. In other words, each configuration shown with the aid of this cosmic database is an actualization of a virtual compilation of 3800 star worlds. This virtual compilation can be termed post-historic because all 3799 non-actualized worlds are available virtually. These potential worlds lie not primarily in the past or in the future (although some, of course, could have been actualized in the past or could be actualized in the future), but are virtually present. This virtual compilation can also be termed post-historic because the sequence of actualizations is not temporally linear; the star worlds can be called up in any random, that is to say non-linear, sequence.

5. Post-Historicity as Database Ontology

Virtuality is not limited to the digital world of computers but has become a fundamental category of (our image of) our world and ourselves. The example of the screensaver is relatively innocent because it concerns a computer program that constructs worlds which are virtual in a different, often-used meaning; they are not real but conjure up an illusion of reality. It is different, of course, when computer programs are employed to intervene in physical and social reality. Abraham Maslov once remarked that for someone who only has a hammer, everything appears to be a nail. For someone whose main instrument is a computer, the world becomes a gigantic database.

We see this database ontology at workwhen, for example, information technology is deployed in the field of genetic manipulation. The gene pool of life on earth is then no longer primarily conceived as a contingent and factual evolutionary constellation, but rather as a database of an infinite number of virtual life forms that can be actualized at will. In other words, the artistic collage has become a reality-creating technology. In contrast with the virtual star worlds in the screensaverbiological computer programs that can simulate alternative evolutions are employed to create specific alternatives to reality. Not only can past life forms, , be revitalized in principle by information-technological manipulation but by contingent or intended mutations; : even future possibilities become objects of manipulation. Although not yet as in as spectacular a way as in Spielberg's Jurassic Park or in science fiction films such as Robocop, our world is increasingly populated with life forms created with the aid of informational bio-technologies.[12]

What applies to physical and biological reality also applies to social and cultural reality, rich domains for post-historic traditions. as pre-modern people did, we no longer follow, certain habits, customs and norms because there are no other alternatives (known); nor do we, as modern people did, deliberately choose certain options out of a deep conviction. Instead, these cultural genes (called "memes" by Dawkins[13]), are more or less randomly taken from the "meme pool" of our increasingly globalized and interculturalized world. I saw an amusing example of this last spring on a metro station in Rotterdam when a young, veiled Muslim girl came towards me: She was on rollerskates, wearing a Smiley T-shirt and talking, via her mobile phone, to a girlfriend in a remarkable mixture of Dutch and Arabic.

The virtual character of the post-historic tradition is not altogether new. I remarked earlier that traditions in pre-modern culture, and even more obviously in modern culture, are also composed of heterogeneous elements.[14] Modern art, for example in techniques such as collage which we find in the works of Picasso and others, can be regarded as an artistic foreshadowing of the post-historic and post-modern tradition.[15] The difference, however, is that where Picasso was still completely dependent on the historical worldview -- his collages are clearly assembled from elements of the historical world -- post-historic traditions are characterized by the same characteristics that I earlier distinguished as products of information technology: the hybrid fusion of past, present and future, temporal ambiguity and virtuality. We see thisoccurring in the post-modern movement in the eighties and nineties. A nice example of such Database-Art was recently shown in the Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art in Helsinki in the exhibition Love me or leave me. It was a work made by the Finnish artist Jan-Erik Andersson, entitled The Triangle, the Square and the Circle. Meet the Fast-Food-Boat (1988). The Fast-Food-Boat in this installation offers an interesting menu, consisting of plates recombining a whole series of icons of twentieth-century art. Those who are hungry for Fusion Art can choose, for example, Malewich Flakes with Kiefer Sauce, A Keith Haring Herring or A Sol le Witt Cube with Pollock Dressing.

The post-historic world I am sketching here should not be confused with the post-historic as it is used by philosophers and historians such as Belting,[16] Danto[17] and Fukuyama.[18] Following Hegel's secular version of the Christian eschatology, they use the term "post-historic" to refer to the end of a specific linear development in history. In the case of Hegel and Fukuyama, it refers to a specific political development which results in the completion of an idea (respectively the absolute Prussian state and politico-economical liberalism), after which a period of post-history starts in which important political events no longer occur. However, as the real existing history of international terrorism has shown us during the last decade, the idea of a post-historic world order in this specific sense is rather naive.

In the case of Benting and Danto, the same argument is defended with regard to the history of art: After the completion of art in conceptual art, everything has become possible, but no longer will any real further development take place. When we lookat the emergence of digital imaging, hyper novels, interactive movies, Net-art and the like, we have to admit that it is equally naïve to speak about the end of art.[19][20][21][22]

What distinguishes the post-history to which I refer from the neo-Hegelian post-history is its break from the very notion of linear development. If we can speak of an end of history at all, the phrase will refer to the necessity of putting an end to the use of the concept of "the end." This does not mean, however, that no temporal experience exists in post-historic consciousness. Should we wish to put forward an early representation of this post-historic temporal experience, we could think about the chance music of the American composer John Cage. When in response to one of Cage's compositions, a listener who had grown up in the classical, linear music tradition asked the composer if this aleatoric music actually had a beginning, a middle and an end, Cage answered that of course it did, but not necessarily in that order.[23]

Informational post-history differs from the Cage's early expression of it by the way it refers to the non-linear development that occurs in many dimensions at the same time. It is like playing all of Cage's aleatoric compositions simultaneously or playing all possible courses a game virtually can take at the same time. Or to refer once more to the intercultural dimension of our present world, it is like simultaneously living in many cultures at the same time.

For those who will populate this post-historic world, and I think this already applies to young people growing up in a world of digital multimedia, the historical consciousness that for a number of centuries has determined human experience will probably become as strange as the static worldview of pre-modern times had become for modern humans who had historical consciousness. For post-historic consciousness, linear progress as such will probably be an unimaginable category.

6. From Mobile Arts to Modal Aesthetics

Let me conclude with three tentative thoughts about the implications of the database ontology just sketched for the arts and aesthetics. The first regards the relationship between mobility and innovation. In the foregoing, I tried to make clear that art, no less than other cultural traditions, has always been characterized by mobility. However, as the processes of artistic mobility and innovation in pre-modern societies still took place rather slowly, pre-modern aesthetics often holds that aesthetic categories such as beauty have a timeless and even eternal character. However in modern culture, characterized by increasing mobility and constant artistic innovation, aesthetics also became historical, as we see reflected in the history of aesthetics since Hegel.

In modern aesthetics, mobility and innovation even became the key concepts in the understanding of art. In the post-modern aesthetics that dominates today, this is no longer the case. However, it does not mean that the concept of mobility too has lost its meaning. The post-historic aesthetics that is emerging today perhaps can best be understood by Nietzsche's concept of the Ewige Widerkehr des Gleichen (Eternal Recurrence of the Same). This concept refers to a universe that is built up of a finite number of elements that are constantly being recombined over an infinite course of time, inevitably leading to the recurrence of every possible recombination. Perhaps this concept can help us re-think mobility beyond the immobility that is inherent in the aforementioned aesthetics of Hegel and post-Hegelians such as Danto. It will help us realize that it is not so much art that comes to an end but rather the discourse about that modern event.

My second remark regards the value of the elements of the aesthetic database. Walter Benjamin has made a famous distinction between cult value and exhibition value.[24] The pre-modern artwork was considered to be unique in time and space. This made sense, since there was, and still is, only one Mona Lisa, and if you want to see it you have to go to the Louvre in Paris. It was because of its very uniqueness that the pre-modern work of art could become a cult object of admiration and even of worship. According to Benjamin, in the age of technological reproduction in which artworks such as prints, photos and movies can be reproduced infinitely, it is no longer the uniqueness of the object that determines its aesthetic value but rather its exhibition value: the way in which it appears as a reproduction. In this context Benjamin prophetically referred not only to aesthetics but to politics as well. Nowadays the value of a politician is predominantly determined by his or her exhibition value: ,the way he or she appears in the media.

In the age of the database ontology, yet another value comes to the fore. Aesthetic value will increasingly be dependent on an object's manipulability. Only those entities that are open to computer-mediated manipulation and recombination count as valuable. It is easy to see, for example, why the manipulation value of a digitalized library is much greater than that of a traditional collection of printed books. I expect that the aesthetic value of post-modern works of art will also increasingly depend on their manipulation value., Speaking of media as such, I guess that most people are of the opinion that the aesthetic value of the film is greater than that of the magic lantern because the former adds the dimension of motion to the aesthetic experience. We are entering an age in which the aesthetic value of digitally manipulative entities surpasses that of entities whose constitutive elements are chained in spatial or temporal necessity.

The database ontology not only affects the arts but reflection on the arts as well. Mobile arts require mobile aesthetics. Such an aesthetics will be mobile not only because it focuses on the hypermobility of its object but also because it will be mobile itself. We see a first glimmer of such an aesthetics when reflection moves to hypermedia environments. In these interactive environments, reflection no longer results in a linear chain of arguments but rather in a logical space that enables the user, who will be both a writer and a reader, to (re)construct his or her own arguments and those of others. This being said, it is the perfect moment to end this particular line of thought and hand it over to the reader of these web pages. Be fruitful and recombine!


[1] Sophocles and R.C. Jebb, The Tragedies of Sophocles (Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1972), pp. 332-372.

[2] Jos de Mul, Cyberspace Odyssee (Kampen: Klement, 3rd ed., 2003).

[3] Jos de Mul, The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).

[4] Odo Marquard, Apologie des Zufälligen. Philosophische Studien (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1986), pp. 117-139.

[5] Helmuth Plessner, Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch. Einleitung in die philosophische Anthropologie. Gesammelte Schriften. Vol. IV (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1975), p. 385.

[6] Jacques Derrida, La dissémination (Paris: Tel quel, 1972), p. 381.

[7] Octavio Paz, Los hijos del limo; del romanticismo a la vanguardia (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1st. ed., 1974)

[8] Odo Marquard, Apologie des Zufälligen. Philosophische Studien (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1986), p 93.

[9] Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode. Grunzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik (WM), in Gesammelte Werke I (Tübingen: Mohr, 1986).

[10] Gilles Deleuze, Différence et répétition (Paris: Presse universitaires de France, 1968).

[11] John Gray, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern (New York: New Press, 2003).

[12] Jos de Mul, "The Informatization of the Worldview," Information, Communication & Society, 2/1 (1999), pp. 604-629.

[13] Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (Oxford: University Press, 1995).

[14] Win van Binsbergen, Virtuality as a Key Concept in the Study of Globalisation (The Hague: WOTRO, 1997).

[15] Jos de Mul, Romantic Desire in (Post)modern Art and Philosophy (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1999).

[16] Hans Belting, Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte? (München: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1983).

[17] Arthur C. Danto, The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (New York; Guildford: Columbia University Press, 1986) p. xvi, p. 216.

[18] Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man ( London: Hamilton, 1992), XXIII, p. 418.

[19] Jos de Mul, "Virtual Reality. The interplay between technology, ontology and art," in Aesthetics as Philosophy. Proceedings of the XIVth International Congress in Aesthetics. Ljubljana 1998. Part 1: Introductory and Invited Papers, ed. V. Likar and R. Riha (University of Ljubljana: Ljubljana, 1999), pp. 165-184.

[20] Jos de Mul, "The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction. Some Remarks on the Transformation of the Avant-garde" in Art, Life and Culture, ed. B.-N. Oh (Korean Society of Aesthetics/College of Humanities, Seoul National University: Seoul, 2000), pp. 59-80.

[21] Jos de Mul, "Hegel, Heidegger, Adorno and the Ends of Art," Dialogue and Universalism, XIII, 11-12 (2003), pp. 23-41.

[22] Jos de Mul, "From Odyssey to Cyberpunk. Literary exploration of space vs. spatial exploration of literature," XPONIKA AIΣΘHTIKHΣ / Annales d'esthetique / Annals for Aesthetics, Vol.42 (2004), pp. 111-127.

[23] Hans Belting, Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte? (München: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1983), p. 195-230.

[24] Walter Benjamin, "Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit" in Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt a/M., 1974), pp. 471-508.

Jos de Mul

Faculty of Philosophy

Room H 5-17

Erasmus University Rotterdam

PO 1738

3000 DR Rotterdam

The Netherlands


Published December 21, 2005