It is not you, tumblr. It is me.
The fact is that this is what society is and always has been: a symbolic action system, a structure of statuses and roles, customs and rules for behavior, designed to serve as a vehicle for earthly heroism. Each script is somewhat unique, each culture has a different hero system. What the anthropologists call “cultural relativity” is thus really the relativity of hero-systems the world over. But each cultural system is a dramatization of earthly heroics; each system cuts out roles for performances of various degrees of heroism: from the “high” heroism of a Churchill, a Mao, or a Buddha, to the “low” heroism of the coal miner, the peasant, the simple priest; the plain, everyday, earthy heroism wrought by gnarled working hands guiding a family through hunger and disease.
It doesn’t matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious, and primitive or secular, scientific, and civilized. It is still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning. They earn this feeling by carving out a place in nature, by building an edifice that reflects human value: a temple, a cathedral, a totem pole, a skyscraper, a family that spans three generations. The hope and belief is that the things that man creates in society are of lasting worth and meaning, that they outlive or outshine death and decay, that man and his products count. When Norman O. Brown said that Western society since Newton, no matter how scientific or secular it claims to be, is still as “religious” as any other, this is what he meant: “civilized” society is a hopeful belief and protest that science, money and goods make man count for more than any other animal. In this sense everything that man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible.”
Technology is both poisoning and curing. At its first appearance, however, it is poisoning. It becomes curative when you have what I call the second moment of epochality of technics—the process of appropriation of a new technical system by society and the development of new modes of psychic and collective individuation based on this technical system. So, the problem of disadjustment is what was called by Shakespeare “the time is out of joint.” What is creating this being out of joint? That is the question. And my answer is: the process of technical exteriorization.
For instance: at this very moment I am exteriorizing myself. Speaking with you, I am exteriorizing myself. And that means: I am technicizing myself. If I talk with you, I create new words. I very much like to create new words. A word is also a new technical object. The opposition between technics and speech for me is completely artificial.
Now, for a human being, to live is to individuate oneself. How am I individuating myself? By exteriorizing myself. And in the same way, I am interiorizing myself, because when I speak to you, I am listening to what I say, so I interiorize myself. Now this process of exteriorization-interiorization is the originary process of psychic and social individuation. So you can see very clearly that at the beginning of psychic activity you always already have technics, i.e., technical individuation.
Now, you might not be a professional speaker, like me, but you might for instance produce flint stones. Suppose you are a prehistoric man and you are producing stone tools. It is exactly the same thing. That is what I try to describe in my first book Technics and Time: The Fault of Epimetheus. When pre-historic man is producing flint stones, thereby exteriorizing his experience, he is in fact transforming his brain, his psyche.”