According to Henry S. Kariel, contemporary culture is increasingly governed by technological and market forces that threaten our ability to control our own destiny. Having entered the postmodern era, many people feel unmoored and uncentered in a world viewed as spiraling blindly toward oblivion.
In this provocative book, Kariel offers a pessimistic meditation on the postmodern art and aesthetics that have emerged in reaction to the oppressive structures of our society and that represent, he feels, a desperate effort to revive that which is deadened by technology and instrumentalism. Kariel identifies a pragmatic aesthetics that links playful activities in all domains, arguing that only by fusing spontaneous and instrumental action and by continually deconstructing, reviewing, revising, and regrouping our centering sources (rituals, beliefs, canons, social institutions, etc.) can we defuse the oppressive elements of our modern cultural landscape.