Rana Dasgupta on Fri, 31 Mar 2006 19:42:41 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City

[sent this message 2 days ago but it does not seem to have shown up. 
again...  R.]

thanks for his, andreas.

actually i am not so interested in prophecy, and i am not trying to
suggest a teleology.

to me the "feeling" that the third-world metropolis may be, not a place
of sterility, but a place of fertility - and that it may produce futures
for the entire world - is interesting *as a feeling*.  it is revelatory
of feelings about the limits to the creative potential of the western
city.  it destabilises western narratives of historical development.  it
diminishes the western monopoly on modernity and gives birth to a plural
self that might acknowledge other principles.

in fact i might be suggesting a softening, or a broadening of the
existing telos of urbanity, rather than imposing a new one.  the fact is
that cities are already discussed with reference to a telos.  i was
trying to point out that many cities that do not seem to be en route to
that telos are imposing themselves with an agressive, but undeniable,

the relationship of such a "feeling" to actual historical unfolding is
complex however, and i do not mean to mistake one for the other.  if the
situationists envisioned a future in which all material problems would
be definitively solved and the main challenge would be to prevent
ourselves getting bored - it says much about 5Os and 6Os france, and
very little about any actual future, any "teleology".  the question to
ask of such a vision is not "did it turn out to be true?" but "what are
the conditions of possibility for such a vision?"

when i talk, therefore, about the rise of new asian corporate
formations, massive wealth, etc - it is not "triumphalism", nor is it to
suggest that the question of the future is solved.  [living in delhi at
the moment it is difficult to be unequivocal about such epic visions of
the future, which in their reality are terrifying.]  it is simply to
trace some of the conditions of possibility for this "sudden stardom" in
the media industry.  in part, those conditions have to do with sheer power.

the question of how "exemplary" the third-world city might be is very
difficult.  i think the fascination remains exotic: the third-world city
is not an ego ideal for the west, even if it might show signs of
world-changing, and even enviable, ardour.  but i think the heightened
"visibility" you talk of is certainly more than simple apocalyptic
euphoria [the third-world city as image of this collective disaster of
globalisation].  no matter how apocalyptic the situation feels, this
theme is about new creatures being born, so it is not an end.



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