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"Modern Primitives": The Accelerating Collision of Past and Future in the Postmodern Era

The idea of "Modern Primitives" is an interesting one.  I will not attempt to define it with any authority whatsoever.  To my eyes and limited exposure, it seems to intersect the notion of technology and body in a way that encompasses ritual, experience, definition, display and spirit.  I looked it up this morning, to see where I can bring this conversation into sexgenderbody.com and found this piece over at a Dr. Steven Mizrach's page at FIU.

Modern primitive

Today, largely thanks to publishers such as Re/Search and Loompanics, Autonomedia, and Amok Press, many people are familiar today with the "modern primitive" movement. They know that it involves some sort of strange juxtaposition of high technology and "low" tribalism, animism, and body modification - a kind of 'Technoshamanism,' if you will, at once possession trance and kinetic dance. In books like William Gibson's Count Zero , ultracomplex Artificial Intelligences (AIs) take on the personality of Haitian Voudoun deities, seizing the minds of initiates through neural networks, creating an ersatz technoreligion.

The idea of the "primitive" is of course one from anthropology's abandoned socioevolutionary past. While invented to simply function as a descriptive for temporal phases, it inevitably also functioned as an evaluative term, suggesting that those societies to which it was applied were inferior in terms of literacy, knowledge, technology, social organization, or moral judgement - in a word, they lacked 'civilization.' The notion was of course inescapably ethnocentric, since it assumed that all societies on the planet were on an undeviating climb toward the standards of Western culture with regards to religion (monotheism), marriage practices (monogramy), economics (the free market), governance (representative democracy), etc. The 'primitive' was at once reviled and romanticized, especially by Romantic artists fascinated with the taboo and the exotic, and philosophers swayed by the image of the unfettered Noble Savage.

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