My glossary of hip terms is expanding. POMO means "post-modern." To me, such a term could be used only pejoratively. The only positive use of the post-modern project was the exposure of the Hegelian structure as the Oz that it was. Everything else in the project was like sinking philosophy in a sensory-deprivation tank. Think of my suprise when I read that some of my former colleagues in the evangelical church growth camp are now calling themselves "pomo" with pride.
But there are more terms. The New York Times has seen fit to brandish the neologism "metrosexual" (a term I refuse to countenance with a definition, because none exists for a mal mot that denotes doing and looking like whatever your favorite diva demands).
Another new term floats in Mark Taylor's Confidence Games, and it sounds pretty cute: BOBO. That is, "bourgeois bohemian." According to Taylor, this is the knowledge-as-power, techno-savvy, well-connected with the movers and shakers, handsome and cash-rich set. These bobo's are easy to spot: they're the ones celebrating the "de-materialized" new age of "info-capitalism." They all sound like they read Alvin Toffler's forgettable Powershift (1990), and actually believed it. They are the ones who try to make all fun hard work, and do their best to make hard work fun. Of course, they find that shifting the two is possible in Derrida's virtual reality, but not in, you know, the other, "real-er" one.
Eugene McCarraher does a fine job reviewing Confidence Games. He de-mythologizes the fizz of Taylor's Nietzschean boosterism. The Villanova prof pokes holes in the New Economy nonsense that forgets about hard, embarassing facts like the defense industry making up a rather large part of the not-so-new economy. Or like the information and entertainment sector only accounting for 2% of the gdp.
God, for Taylor, did not die, but has been "reborn as the market." That's okay, he assures us, and don't worry, because "market" is no longer that nasty industrial, smoky miasma, but it is the new and groovy information economy driven by computerized networks of growing speed, complexity and scope. It seems that such snazziness is perfectly acceptable for bobo god-hood. And where does an old-fashioned theme like "redemption" lie? "For the canny player," Taylor writes at the end, life is a "game of power." And since "one can never be sure that the chips can be redeemed, the best strategy is to keep the game going as long as possible."
Yeah, that's all right if you have a pension, health benefits, and a cushy job. What about the majority of the human race, who don't have a clue about what an information economy means? It appears that the bobo god doesn't have much use for subsistence humans. Only the cognoscenti are worth saving.
I smell Taylor's book, and I smell nothing new. It is the same old cloying whiff of dead Gnostics, still rattling their very material bones -- they just can't get that substantial clack out of their system. But I don't dismiss it. Taylor's book is a religious manifesto, much like MacLaine's book, Out on a Limb was inane in itself, but valuable in that it revealed the actual beliefs of many, many people.
Confidence Games doesn't cater to the Enquirer set like MacLaine's book did. Its audience is the self-anointed swimmers in exclusive think tanks. Look at this wild map of contemporary big fish, and see if you can find anyone familiar. Out on a Limb was loony enough to let go. Confidence Games is serious enough to worry about.
It's hard enough to work with human nature as it is, fraught with sin. Now we have humanity balkanized into new tribes, tribes like the pomo metrosexual bobo's.
Oh Brave New World.