Vorsprung durch Technik?

volume 2, number 1
February, 2002
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According to Heidegger the modern world is an image, a Gebild, a structured perception, which is put and held in place by the Gestell – TV and computer screens, stock-exchanges, business schools and automobiles, which enframe or emplace the world for us. The goings-on, the hustle, of this emplacement as well as its perception is technology, or maybe better, technics, as Heidegger suggests in his essay ‘Die Frage nach der Technik’ (‘The Question Concerning Technology’, or, ‘Questing After Technics’). Now, for Heidegger technics is not just technology: Tamagochi is never just an electronic toy, the Internet is not just an information and communication tool, a cookbook is more than a guide to preparing meals, skyscrapers are not just buildings to house people. The power plant does not just generate electricity, but is the concrete (em)place(ment) where modernity reveals itself as technics, not just in the form of power-generating technology, but also as a specific cultural, economic and political network effect. In other words, the power plant (Kaftwerk) brings forward a world, like a work of art (Kunstwerk), which puts its actors into a specific place: seeing a ‘natural’ landscape is to go for a drive through the country; buying goods is to go for a Sunday shopping trip to a Super-Mall at a motorway junction; relaxing the body and mind is to go on a holiday trip to Mallorca or Nepal, gazing at the other through tourist eyes, organised by a now global industry.