The third place, again
Indeed, it may be the iPod's role in constructing the illusion of a home away from home that is the most monstrous thing of all. As cultural critics are fond of pointing out, the German title of Sigmund Freud's famous essay on the uncanny, Das Unheimliche, translates literally as "the un-home-like." That's an apt description of the eerie feeling we get watching people who sit for hours staring blankly into space, ears plugged with music of their choosing, looking like they've lost the passage back to the place they were before. They are out in public, to be sure, but primarily to act out their desire for privacy. Maybe what these listeners want is to be seen wanting both company and solitude.
It's a paradoxical wish, but one that captures the peculiar anxieties of the postmodern era in their most acute post-9/11 form. In the end, the iPod is the ideal product for the era of homeland insecurity.
Really excellent piece on iPods from Alternet (via Sonic Truth, which, incidentally, is also very good on Kode9 and Spaceape). The piece articulates very clearly what I was groping towards when I posited MySpace versus public space; I hadn't previously been aware that the iPod was launched in the immediate wake of 9/11. That correlation now seems incredibly suggestive ...
Posted by mark at November 1, 2006 11:35 PM