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The Way Things GoAn Essay on the Matter of Second Modernism$
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Aaron Jaffe

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816692019

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816692019.001.0001

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Risky Things

Risky Things

(p.93) Risky Things
The Way Things Go

Aaron Jaffe

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter initially tackles the story of No Impact Man in an effort to present a real-life version of the novelty without waste, or gain without risk ideology; a behavior which can be understood through Ulrich Beck’s theory of second modernity. According to Beck, the decisive shift between the two modernities entails a transition of cultural logic from wealth distribution to risk distribution. Under the first modernity, the past determines the future; in the risk society however, the present is (over)determined by the future. The chapter cites Fight Club, both the novel and the film, and Richard Powers’ novel Gain in presenting a dichotomy: the former depicts how the individual is fragmented by commodity culture, while the latter argues that the role of the consumer in the corporation is damage, involvement, and exposure to risk.

Keywords:   No Impact Man, second modernity, Ulrich Beck, risk distribution, risk society, Fight Club, Gain, Richard Powers

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