George Gilder’s digital rapture

Over the last few days I’ve been reading Linda Kintz’s 2004 article, ‘Performing Virtual Whiteness: The Psychic Fantasy of Globalization’, first published in Duke University’s Comparative Literature journal. While reading the article I was particularly struck by Kintz’s description of George Gilder’s understanding of digital technology. Kintz says that Gilder believes that mind and not matter is the ground of existance and that the point of digital techonology is to move human beings beyond the limitations of the body to become pure mind. To me this sounds a lot like the (relatively modern) Christian idea of ‘the rature’, a supernatural event where true believers are expected to be whisked away from the physical world into a spiritual experience of heaven. (I don’t believe in this, but I was exposed to the idea a lot when I was younger.)

Kintz is suggesting that the fantasy of being liberated from materiality tells us something about ‘white’ identity. For a long time I’ve been familiar with the idea that ‘white’ identity is a lack of ethnic identity (many people who identify as ‘white’ claim that they have no culture, no ethncity and no origin), as though whiteness is a default and other identities are deviations from whiteness. (I think this kind of construction of identity is very problematic, and that Europeans who have become ‘white’ need to rediscover their actual cultures and stories.) Kintz is claiming that the what Gilder is describing is a fantasy of ultimate whitness, where all particularity of material existance can be transcended.

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