Bruce Sterling has a knack for coining/adopting rich phrases to describe cultural sensibilities. I watched some of his recent (2017) talks, and I wanted to record some notes on them to share. I figured a good place to start would be on his earlier talks on the current cultural moment.
Bruce Sterling’s talks on “Dark Euphoria” span from roughly 2009 to 2012 or so. During this era, he coined some unique categories about our cultural moment and the activity of the Stacks (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), and while I won’t go into the Stacks bit here, a Youtube search on his name will bring up hours of engaging rambling.
I start with some concepts he has been tossing around for about a decade now, to set the scene, with some personal annotation and some tie-in to some great Ribbonfarm addenda. In a sequel post I’ll share notes on his more recent talk.
- According to Sterling, the twenty-teens are defined by Dark Euphoria, a cultural temperament of exhilarating unthinkableness.
- Sterling defines four broad demographics, the two larger narratives about the “Shock of the Old” (Crisis Capitalism among the old+global rich, and Development without Progress among the emerging semi-poor) and two new generational demographics under Dark Euphoria: Gothic High-Tech and Favela Chic.
- I tie these ideas to a thread from Ribbonfarm about life scripts that spoke to me, and a thread from Gurri about the Nihilist, which I think is still an underrated archetype.
- Within this cultural sensibility, it is worthwhile to examine our relationship with our work, with our government, and with our belongings.