September 13, 2004

Alan Liu’s Laws of Cool

by Scott Rettberg · , 11:46 am

After Twisty Little Passages and First Person, the academic book I’ve been most looking forward to reading is Alan Liu’s Laws of Cool, years in the making and just released by University of Chicago Press.

The Laws of Cool is a study of the relation of the contemporary humanities and arts to information culture, and of information culture itself to the now dominant business paradigm of “knowledge work.” What crucial perspective on knowledge do the humanities and arts still contribute when the primary mission of knowledge is business? Reciprocally, how do “knowledge work,” “lifelong learning,” “learning organizations,” and so on offer critical insight into the contemporary humanities? And finally, what is the mediating role of information technology as both the servant of the knowledge economy and the medium of the new humanism and aesthetics of technological “cool” (as it is so often called on the Web)?

Chapters in the fourth section of the book “11: Destructive Creativity: The Arts in the Information Age” and “12: Speaking of History: Toward an Alliance of New Humanities and New Arts (With a Prolegomenon on the Future Literary)” are likely to be of particular interest to GTxA readers. More once I’ve read it . . .