Mediated by transitory objects

I've recently been rereading parts of Marshal McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy while I continue to integrate actor-network theory into my mental models. Here's how I've been able to articulate the intersection of those two great conceptualizations in my mind thus far.

There's a pervasive world we can perceive that seems reversible, impermanent and symmetrical. It captures our attention by flirting with us, alluring us and captivating us. It does not hold still or stay the same in other ways either. This world makes sense to us as a cacophony of sounds, a jumbled up bunch of aromas or a tantalizing combination of tastes. It does not require that we pay focused attention for long on one thing and thereby miss out on all the other attractions. This world invites us to take it all in and let most of it remain unexplainable. We use it and it uses us. We are observed and observing or getting read and reading. Objectivity is inconceivable in this relational world. We feel our actions are getting mediated by transitory objects.

There's a modern world we can perceive that seems irreversible and asymmetric. Things that appear do not disappear. We're predisposed to perceive this world of persistent objects when we're adept at reading texts. Strings of letters on pages or screens do not sway in the breeze, bend toward the sunlight, fly like the birds or grow off the page or shrivel up at night. Texts also do not make a sound, give off an odor or leave a taste in our mouths. They privilege our visual sense to reign supreme over all the other four or five senses. They help us see the arrangements of things as linear, causal, persistent and ordered just like lines of text on a page. We do the observing, analyzing or reading, and the evidence gets observed, analyzed or read. It's never the other way around that would compromise our objectivity, detachment and "realism". We assume actions are getting mediated by persistent objects.

Bruno Latour tells us "we were never modern". The pervasive world has remained available for
perceiving, interacting with, relating to and experiencing immersively. This world makes the modern world of visual dominance seem unreal. Objectivity appears to be a setup to trash the environment, exploit the pervasive world and feel unrelated to surroundings. The concepts to explain tools, technologies and progress seem self serving, inconsiderate, alienated and hostile.

This pervasive, never-modern world got a foot in the door of the modern world via electricity. Starting with the telegraph, phonograph and light bulb, we've begun to change our minds. While we were getting modernized by ink on paper and mediated by persistent objects, we acted strangely. We're now coming back to our senses. We're getting mediated by transitory objects like the baby bunny at my door. We're immersed in film, television, computer games, and messages on handhelds. We're making sense of all those instantaneous and transitory inputs like we were letting in all those sounds, smells and tastes. It seems like a constantly changing flux of flirtations that needs no big explanation, just lots of fascination and relations.

So I'm like "whatever" when some modern dude gets all strung out on explaining some specific change, like everything isn't always interchanging or what?

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