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Douglas Rushkoff-- Present Shock and Presentism: Interview Transcript

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When you deny yourself your genuine organic social reality, you lose your social power - and your political power. We lose our home-field advantage against all of the abstractions that have attempted to repress humanity since the beginning of institutions! So I'm really calling for people not to abandon digital technology at all, but to make their digital technologies conform to their real lives rather than the other way around. To optimize technology to humans rather than optimizing humans to technology.

Rob Kall: Now, you talk about clocks a lot. You talk about the development of the technology of clocks, and you talk about biological clocks. You say, "The body is based on hundreds, perhaps thousands of different clocks - all listening to, and relating to, and synching with everyone and everyone else's." Talk a little bit more about that aspect of time and clocks, and how that applies to the book.

Douglas Rushkoff: Well, the Greeks had two words for time: one of them was k ronos, which is "Time on the clock; chronology." That's one's pretty easy, right? "It's 5:15." The other word for time they had was k airos, And kairos means "Timing" - like, "Readiness." It has nothing to do with the clock, and everything to do with, "Is this a propitious moment for something?" So time is, "What time did you crash the car?"


Timing is, "What time are you going to tell dad you crashed the car?"

It's not "4:16." It doesn't matter what time on the clock. You're going to tell dad you crashed his car after he's had his drink, but before he's opened the bills. It's a sense of timing that's human; and it's not defined abstractly, but through events and how we move.

The more I researched about time, the more I found out that human beings have been in one way or another denying timing, or controlling timing, or repressing human timing. Whether it's trying to shove people into the calendar systems of 1000 B.C. when we got text, or manuscript - writing, really - and we were able to write down time and contracts. Or when we got the clock, and we were able to start a "Time is money" society, where people worked hours instead of working to create value. Or now, in a digital society where we have digital clocks, that make every moment equivalent. They're all different forms of k ronos that take us out of kairos.

What I'm trying to do is to say that digital technology may be the first one that's uniquely poised to reintroduce us to k airos, because it's programmable; because we can program our devices to conform to human time, we can begin to rediscover all of the aspects of time that modernity and industrialization has hidden from us, or obscured from us. The one I've been playing with lately is the Lunar cycle. New neurochemistry and research is pointing to the possibility that the neurochemicals in our brains change over the course of a lunar cycle. Just as a woman already knows about a lunar cycle - definitely there is a biological reality to the lunar cycle. Just as it changes the tides, it tends to change our neurochemistry.

If we start looking at the four weeks of a lunar cycle, it seems that four different neurotransmitters tend to dominate our brain chemistry over the different four weeks of the cycle. So, the first week of the lunar cycle we're dominated by acetylcholine, where we're more willing to make friends and open ourselves to new ideas. In the second week we're in serotonin, which is great for getting a lot of work done and being very industrious. In the third week we're in the dopamine phase, where we now want to party, and relax, and thrill seek, and do our extreme spots. Then in the fourth phase we move into more of a norepinephrine- dominated state, where we do a lot of systems thinking; for me, it's good for organizing the chapters of a book, or it's good for drawing up a constitution, or doing structural analysis, sort of /

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