The Circle of the Snake: Nostalgia and Utopia in the Age of Big Tech is out via Zer0 Books on December 11, 2020.
Shocked by 9/11, the Great Recession, digital anxiety, and ecological collapse, the West suffers from nostalgia. People everywhere yearn for a utopian version of the past that never existed. Desperate for relief, many long to escape from the present. Some will stop at nothing to achieve it.
In his essential new book, Grafton Tanner, author of Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts, argues that our nostalgia today is partly a consequence of the attention economy. At a time when historical literacy is crucial, and old prejudices are percolating into the present, Big Tech’s predictive algorithms are locking us into nostalgic feedback loops. The result is a precarious society with its gaze fixed on the good old days.
Spanning from the ancient Sophists to Black Mirror, The Circle of the Snake is at once a reckoning with the myth of digital utopia and an incisive analysis of nostalgia as a weapon to spread fascism.
“A much-needed vision of democratic alternatives to surveillance capitalism.” – Vincent Mosco, author of The Smart City in a Digital World
“By understanding nostalgia, Tanner lays bare our ideologies and confronts not only the historical development of capitalism but the particular condition of today’s digital corporate world.” – Alfie Bown, author of The PlayStation Dreamworld