AGAINST THE MACHINE: BEING HUMAN IN THE ERA OF THE by LEE SIEGEL

By LEE SIEGEL

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As a result, Internet boosterism can conceal psychic displacement behind rhetoric about market opportunities. It can hide the commodifying of ideas and emotions behind hyperbole about liberating avenues of fantasy and play. David Brooks’s “Bobo”—short for “bourgeois bohemian”— was a very shrewd, perhaps even opportunistic crystallization of the Internet’s transvaluation. Brooks’s Bobos in Paradise, which appeared in 2000, helped legitimize the Internet’s new atmosphere even as it eagerly rushed to conform to it.

But shortly after that, Syndicus fell ill with cancer and Mandel abruptly withdrew from her. Wounded by his behavior, Syndicus privately broke off the engagement. She then took up with another man, whom she also had met on the WELL. Mandel retaliated. Ensconced alone before his computer, Mandel began persecuting Syndicus online, stalking her at online conferences and posting venomous comments attacking her. Finally, he found a way to delete all of Syndicus’s posts as soon as she made them. You would think that Brand, devoted as he claimed to be to the countercultural ideals of wholesome community and individual decency, would have immediately expelled Mandel from the WELL.

With the advent of the Internet, business culture has now strangely become identified with untrammeled mental and spiritual freedom—a freedom once defined by its independence from the commercial realm. The lineage of this idea about conventional society’s absorption of subversive notions goes back a long way. ” The American economist Joseph Schumpeter spoke, with a sober realization of the human toll involved, of B A I T A N D S W I T C H / 35 business’s “creative-destructive” energies. In the 1950s, Lionel Trilling wrote with an air of disapproval about the seeming absorption of avant-garde and “adversarial” values into the mainstream (he worried as much about the mainstream as about the fate of the avant-garde); and Irving Howe lamented the cooptation of independent intellectuals by government, academia, and commerce.

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