In this episode of ‘Imperfect World’, I speak with PC, a scholar and writer based in Melbourne, who has recently started a substack called, Living together, somehow. His work is not for the fainthearted: powerful, expressive explorations of the ambivalences of the contemporary Western condition, including embarking on a close reading of Freud’s Civilisation and its Discontents. Our conversation commences with two pieces he wrote on the experience of tailgating (part one: description; part two: explanation). We use this example and exemplar as a way of thinking about how technologies shape our engagement with each other and the world, the ways that different cultures can lead to different practices with similar technologies, the roles played by regulation and restraint in shaping our behaviour, how the logic of extraction is a fundamental part of contemporary societal relations, and the radical possibilities of love as a response to the challenges of living together.
In the 1980s, the scholar Melvin Kranzberg proposed six laws about technology, of which the first was: ‘technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.’ The pointed ambivalence of Kranzberg’s law captures much of what PC and I reflect on in this conversation. This is an open discussed based on a long friendship and working relationship, which brings out some thought-provoking reflections on what the good life can be like in contemporary conditions.