PRINT September 1990


Notes on the Underground

Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society, and the Imagination, by Rosalind Williams. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990, 265 pp., 17 black and white illustrations, $19.95.

JUST AS the historian of religion Mircea Eliade argued that the Neolithic shift from a pastoral, nomadic way of life to a settled, agricultural civilization precipitated a phase of profound upheaval and spiritual breakdown, so Rosalind Williams contends in her new book, Notes on the Underground, that the apprehension of losing the natural world to a predominantly technological one has triggered deep mourning and anxiety. This loss is far from simple. In line with the thinking of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, Williams asserts that “environment and technology constitute not a dichotomy but a continuum” and asks “whether destruction of the natural environment might be culturally as well as physically

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