I couldn’t help but read Black Box through the filter of our conversation on Tuesday. In sections 21 and 45, Egan discusses “New Heroism,” which brought to mind new media, especially since the story is full of technologies that fall into our definition of new media. I’m trying to flesh out whether new heroism is an embrace or a rejection of the principles of new media. We characterized new media as instantaneous, interactive, participatory, collaborative, accessible, and a creator of (social) networks. But we never discussed the estrangement from the physical body or the potential for dissociation from one’s identity through embodying and cultivating a digital persona – two themes evident in the short story. In the story, new heroism’s proclaimed goal is to merge with something larger than oneself, to throw off self-involvement, to renounce the American fixation with being seen and recognized, and to dive beneath the shiny persona (21). For new heroes, “our notorious narcissism is our camouflage” (21) and they should “transcend individual life…in favor of the dazzling collective” (45).
So here is where I’m torn. Is new heroism an embrace of the new media mode of collaboration, universal(?) access, and connecting with others through social networks, or is it a rejection of new media‘s tendency to promote self-involvement, mass recognition, and the cultivation of a shiny persona?
Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts!