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Dr. Fco. Javier Rabassó Rodríguez Dr. Carlos Antonio Rabassó Rodríguez Associate Professors, Rouen School of Management

SECTION ON SOCIOLOGY OF CULTURE (5) Playful Technocultures. Bart Simon, Concordia University (6) Roundtables in the Sociology of Culture. Jennifer Jordan; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. American Sociology Association, 101 st Annual Meeting August 11-14, 2006, Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Canada

Title: Hypertextual Technologies in Poststructuralist Transcultural Communities.

Transcultural identities and environments is an important subject of study in recent sociological and cultural departments of business schools and educational institutions. For the last few years our department of Languages, Culture and Society at the Rouen School of Management has been developing for the last few years a program on Cultural Studies and Cross Cultural Management. The subject presented in this lecture highlights some of the different aspects and ideas we are working on in an extensive research project. The point of departure is the new anthropological space proposed by Pierre Lévy in L’intelligence collective (1994). This will allow us to establish links between the hypertextual virtual practices of transversal communities and the tradition of molecular thinking as a challenge to mechanical and linear understanding of our environments. Intertextual relationships and non-sequential writings and communications will show us how the configuration of transversal communities is in the process of becoming a trend in our European “risk-prevention era”, quoting Jeremy Rifkin in The European Dream (2004). Finally, the web of relationships that transversal communities establish in our interdependent and self- transcending ecosystem will give us the possibility to embrace a revolutionary vision in this second European Enlightenment period. Our transcultural environments made of interdisciplinary nomadic multicultural identities, will give us the opportunity to envision the birth of a New World from the Ancient Civilizations and the national boundaries. The contributions of poststructuralist thinkers for the last 30 years in the fields of philosophy, cultural studies, literary criticism, art theory, film and communication studies will be considered as the theoretical corpus for this study. The emergence of transversal approaches for the configuration of alternative cultural models will help us to better understand the importance of transcultural communities. Our purpose, deconstructing traditional practices in the understanding of a unique model of management, is to demonstrate how a background in humanities and fine arts are necessary tools for the emergence of transcultural citizens. The very same notion of transculturality developed by Malinowski and reincorporated in anthropological studies by Fernando Ortiz (Cuba) in the first half of the XXth century (for the understanding of identities) will be highlighted in our transversal analysis. The break down of domains and specific areas of specialization in the XXIst century management studies opens up the enquiry for transversalists thinkers to establish interconnections and new identities in our business environments. We will study how transnational organizations and the proliferation of cultural diasporas


challenge logocentric models of understanding, and how systems thinking and chaos theory are also reshaping our European transversal community practices. Departing from the reflections developed by Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media (1964) we will examine the impact of new technologies on today’s individual skills. The techno-cultural revolution of the nineties resulting from the impact of Internet in our daily lives, with the contribution of post-dionysian underground cultures in Silicon Valley, California (the beats, the hippies, the cyberpunks, the new breed) will help us to understand the emergence of transcultural communties. As a recent field of study in cross cultural environments, we will examine a specific international language community –The Hispanic Culture- to illustrate some of the features of transcultural communties. In Latin America and the USA this community, like many African business relationships, is a fusion of heterogeneous components connected to the (super) natural worlds. We will see how they are undergoing a radical transformation due in large to the new technologies and their influence on global environments. The syncretic characteristic of Latin Hispanic Civilization will be related to other specificities of the “digital” world. The hypertextual and multidisciplinary universe of Hispanic Cultures, whose literary referent will be drawn from such cybernetic’ works as Hopscotch (1965) by Julio Cortázar and The Garden of Forging Paths in Fictions (1941) by Jorge Luis Borges, will be explored in light of the new strategies of communication that the cyber technological development is creating. In addition, different aspects such as cultural microspecificities, non verbal communicational signs of behaviour, and relations to the environment will be interrelated to a plurality of approaches that the Latin Hispanic Cultural Ethos offers to transcultural communties.

Key words: Anarchy, transcultural community, cultural studies, hypertext, molecular thinking, environment, logocentrism, systems thinking, chaos theory, European transcultural community, techno-cultural revolution, latin cultures, Hispanic culture, countercultures, cyberspace.


This is a paper with an interdisciplinary point of view on the nature of transcultural communities working in open organization environments. Part of our initial work was presented at the Egos Colloquium in Berlin in june 2005. Our reflexions on transcultural environments came from a web of literary, sociological, anthropological, philosophical and communication sources drawn from different cultures and literatures. We found the material of fictional literature just as important in understanding our contemporary transcultural environments as the essays and scholarly work of our intellectual community. The purpose of presenting this transversal approach to cultural sociology and transcultural organizations is to broaden the scope of our educational community towards human sciences and transcultural studies, areas of knowledge still poorly used in our educational and business schools, where disciplines such as management, marketing, human resources and so on supposedly include the mentioned humanist fields in their course outlines and seminars. We believe that for the intellectual development of our students and future managers or cultural entrepreneurs, it is vital that business institutions value the role of humanist disciplines of critical enquiry with independent multidisciplinary human sciences departments. Along this line of thought, we will see how different management and techno cultures respecting the peculiarities and/or the specific characteristics of each culture can contribute in the creation of open and transcultural organizations. We caution the reader about the contentious nature and at the same time the “lightness” of our interpretation in many parts of this work. This is in to encourage debate and break down preset notions. The excessive seriousness of scholarly works is something we try to avoid as much as possible. As a transversalist researchers we try to remain “on the the surface of things” allowing us to hop from one idea to another in the same way we click from one window to another in our computers anytime we find it necessary. This is “hypertext land” where finishing a line of thought or structuring certain parts into different categories to better understand them is strictly prohibited.

To understand how we develop a critical thinking approach towards the configuration of transcultural communities in poststructuralist environments, our study started by deconstructing one of the questions posed in the presentation of the section for the Egos Colloquium, Role of Culture in Unlocking Organizations, for the Unlocking Organizations Conference in Berlin: How open can a culture be without leading to anarchy? This question implied a presupposition that associated the term “anarchy” to something dangerous or negative in relation to the openness of a specific


culture. And within this culture I would include the role of transcultural identities. In certain cultures, anarchy is a driving force for creativity, self-management and direct participation in the organizations. In others, it threatens the very basis of a society. Therefore, from which culture can we consider the question posed by the Egos Colloquium? Ideological constrains are also implicit in the presentation of the term as something should avoid. Most readers and participants in the discussion will agree with the meanings and the implications of “anarchy” as a negative force and therefore, this assumption already jeopardizes the emergence of an open culture within a specific transcultural environment and their organizational practices. From this perspective most of the audience would belong to a collective mindset that shares common views on the meaning of “anarchy”. Another presupposition. The “educational habitus” (Bourdieu) 1 of the scholarly educational community would respond unfavourably to any participant that did not share the same world view of “anarchy” as something negative. Going even further, any participant at the Egos Colloquium that would consider him/herself as an anarchist would had be seen as a dangerous subject. A third presupposition. How can we discuss cultural differences if we are already entering an open debate with a term that by its inner potential meanings could create some hermeneutical disagreements in the audience? To any dissident thinker in our conservative educational and business environments these presuppositions reflected a logocentric approach to a concept largely misunderstood in our society, a word demonised by the mass media and most of our economic and cultural institutions. Instead we could change the question posed to understand how certain terms are closely related or intertwined in a web of relationships that complement each other. For instance, if we say, how closed can a culture be without leading to dictatorship? there is another negative presupposition that relates “closure” to totalitarianism as openness could lead to anarchy. Yet, considering these questions we are still in a tradition of linear thinking. We use certain concepts from a point of departure A (open, closed culture or organization) to a point of destination B (anarchy, dictatorship). We go from linguistic signifiers to signifieds without considering the change of referents in dynamic, interactive and “fuzzy” environments. Language and culture are directly tied to a community of speakers. Depending on the context from which cultural values are

1 “For Bourdieu it is through the habitus that social reproduction takes place. We discussed earlier how education, like any field, is comprised of complex objective relations and structures. These include the relations between teachers, students and the subject matter of the various disciplines to which they are exposed; the bureaucratic structure of the school and its relations with other schools and state agencies that support it; the class relations that pertain between different students, or between students and teachers, and so on”. Jen Webb, Tony Schirato and Geoff Danaher. Understanding Bourdieu. London:

SAGE Publications, 2002. 115-116.


produced, we often fall into the trap of binary oppositions, a western way of thinking where heuristic devices such as openness and closure are opposing categories that exclude each other, as anarchy and dictatorship are antonymous and conflicting terms. We tend to manipulate discourse according to the acceptance of its utterances in any context that is charged with ideological constrains. This brings us to a question that has not been posed when it comes to talking about the opening of a culture or of an unlocking organization in our 21st century transcultural environments. The question should have included the opposite term of “dictatorship”, as closure is the opposite term of openness. This term is “democracy” - a term which is something rare and extravagant in many of our “undemocratic” and self-centered economic institutions. The question

could have been as follows: how open can a culture be before leading us to democracy? Instead of the implicit fears that is carried by the first question (fear as another strategy commonly used by the mass media), the issue of democracy would force the readers and the participants to rethink another presupposition. This presupposition takes democracy for granted, as something already accomplished in our modern, advanced and technological societies. But if we do a close reading of the term according to the standard practices in the transnational companies that “govern” the world, we would be surprised to see how far from democracy most of our international organizations have

been and how close to other forms of government

outsourcing are commonly accepted today as the standard practice of companies to remain competitive. Both are the result of a shift of a diminished working force recycled into the service sector. Due to the lack of participation by workers in our organizations, manual and “brain” labour in most of our western organizations have been decreasing. When we talk about culture and openness we have to take into account the narrow minded discourse of our business, educational and media environments when it comes to dealing with terms such as “anarchy”. This would be considered by mainstream thinking as synonymous with chaos, violence, disorder, pandemonium, apocalypse and the end of the world. However, for a minority it could mean direct democracy, open participation of all the members of a community in the decision making process, direct control of design, production, distribution, marketing, communication and management practices in our organizations. We see anarchy as a poststructuralist, polyphonic discourse, heteroglosia 2 , a centripetal force of language in

For instance, downsizing and

2 “In this view ideology cannot be conceived as something to be avoided at all cost; it is inescapable in every moment of human speech. We speak with our ideology –our collection of languages, of words- laden-with-values. And the speaking is always thus more or less polyglot- it is a collection. Though some speakers may aspire to the condition of monologue, we have all inherited languages from many different sources (‘science, art, religion, class, etc.’), and to attempt to rule out all voices but ‘my own’ is at best an


a process of decentralization and exchange, an ideological dissonance open to performance, action and movement. It carries within its potential meanings an uninterrupted stream of ideas in an environment of “differance” 3 . It helps us to deconstruct everything and to challenge the ethnocentric views of our business and educational institutions. They impose closure where our Third Millennium invites us to apprehend the world without understanding its wholeness. We view anarchy as a phenomenological quest for intersubjectivity, a Dasein that “only ‘has’ meaning, so far as the disclosedness of Being-in-the-world can be ‘filled in’ by the entities discoverable in that disclosedness” (Heidegger, 193). The controversy over the possibility of sharing a similar “horizon of expectations” 4 about the terms we have referred to helps us to consider every institution, organization or society as another ideological construct that many times overlooks the common interest and the collective consensus. A very important task of our educational activity would be to show our future transcultural communities new ways of thinking that will question these presuppositions, offering new paths of “unlearning materials”. We understand education as another tool to enlighten our spirits in our classrooms and not as a strategy to impose ignorance or “apathy” to a “political class” that has been deeply indoctrinated 5 . If we take a look at most of our educational programs in our business schools there is very little space for critical thinking and too much for standard views. The presence of so many business entrepreneurs in our teaching staff confirms our suspicions. What matters for most of our educational institutions is to offer companies a fresh new troop of well trained young “white collar consumers” ready to work as many hours as necessary, even if they could live with half of the salaries offered by their employers. Nevertheless most of our companies do not listen to what

artificial pretense. We are constituted in polyphony”. Gary Saul Morson, ed. Bakhtin. Essays and Dialogues on His Work. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986. 151.

3 “Differance indicates the middle voice, it precedes and sets up the opposition between passivity and activity. With its a, difference more properly refers to what in classical language would be called the

origin of production of differences and the differences between differences, the play (jeu) of differences”. Jacques Derrida. Speech and Phenomena. And Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. Evanston:

Northwestern University Press, 1973. 130.

4 “Literary understanding becomes dialogical only when the otherness of the text is sought and recognized from the horizon of our own expectations, when no naïve fusion of horizon is considered, and when one’s own expectation are corrected and extended by the experience of other”. Hans Robert Jauss. “The Identity of the Poetic Text in the Changing Horizon of Understanding”. Identity of the Literary Text. Mario J. Valdés and Owen Miller, eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985. 148.

5 “The importance of ‘controlling the public mind’ has been recognized with increasing clarity as popular struggles succeeded in extending the modalities of democracy, thus giving rise to what liberal elites call ‘the crisis of democracy’ as when normally passive and apathetic populations become organized and seek to enter the political arena to pursue their interest and demands, threatening stability and order ”. Noam Chomsky. Profit Over People. Neoliberalism and Global Order. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999.



the educational elites could say about their behaviour. The “symbolic capital” 6 of our business schools and universities (the neurological and creative virtual matter produced in the classrooms, the libraries and the laboratories) is only taken into account when it serves the specific interests of the business community. As it happens in the military schools and after in the frontline, where no one could question the army’s principles and strategies, business schools have become training camps 7 , marketing diplomas in “packaging institutions”. Market fundamentalists do their job as teaching participants in the organization, and culture has been so far just a commodity. The need, as European scholars and transcultural practices, to rebuild technological “learned organizations” the way our ancient universities encouraged students to develop critical views about the environment is a must for the shaping of a neo-European Renaissance and enlightened business milieu.

Our transcultural community hypertextual project implemented in part of our courses goes towards a critical approach of traditional learning and “westernised” models of discourse. The need for transversal scholars from different geopolitical backgrounds to create links between disciplines and areas of specialization is a necessity in an open transcultural technological organization. For instance, the meaning of “open” is not easily understood by different language communities. The terms “open” and “closed” are not perceived in the same way in different cultural milieu. Transparency and opacity are semantic implications from the former concepts and are fully charged with cultural and ideological bias. We usually identify global markets with an open exchange of products and services while supranational communities such as the European Union or the North American Free Trade Agreement have closed territories in relation to the people and the merchandises coming from outside. We have witnessed

6 “Symbolic capital is a form of power that is not perceived as power but as legitimate demands for recognition, deference, obedience, or the service of others (…) Bourdieu understands symbolic capital as ‘a sort of advance’, extended by the dominated to the dominant as long as the dominated find it is within their interest to accord recognition and legitimation to the dominant”. David Swartz. Culture and Power. The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997. 90-92.

7 In France the business schools system, separated from the public educational system, is little understood by Europeans and North Americans. Once the student-recruit gets into the institutions, they rarely fail. 90% of the students obtain their final diploma after three years of “study”. This questions the credibility of the organization. In general “French companies” never ask for the marks. The diploma and the ranking of the business school are good enough for the recruitment of young managers. This is more important than the final marks. An A business student from the university is less consider by the companies than a C student from a business school. Most of the outstanding university students know that they have very little chance of becoming top managers in French companies. The endogamy of the privileged business institutions in France nurtures a lack of competition within the student community and a collective “apathy” and “indifference” towards learning and knowledge. This “lack of interest” does not exclude a demoralized senior teaching staff that most of the times does not know its real place and role in such an organization.


for the last ten years the double discourse of our economic and cultural institutions.

From one side they preach opening of closed markets and from another side they protect

their own products and services from outside competitors. Third World countries no

longer trust the philosophical discourses of open economic and cultural policies when

they see the unfair treatment they receive from the “preachers” of transnational


The “space of knowledge” presented by the communication and anthropological

scholar Pierre Lévy in The Collective Intelligence (1994) will allow us to establish links

between hypertextual understandings of the environment by transcultural communities

in our contemporary molecular world. Throughout the history of menkind, the Earth,

the territory, the space of merchandises and the space of knowledge have responded to

the needs of different systems of organizations. The four spaces develop endless

relationships of semiotic representations which in Hispanic cultures take the

geometrical forms of labyrinths. A fusion of the mythical and the real in a dionysian

“cosmopédie” culminate in a fourth space where the mixture of the “sacred and the

profane” invites us to participate in the spiritual quest for wisdom. Ritual that helps us

to build infinite trees of knowledge in a space where

des intellectuels collectives émergent, se connectent, se déplacent et mutent. C’est de la circulation, de l’association et de la métamorphose des communautés pensantes que naît et se perpétue l’Espace du savoir. Chaque intellectuel collectif sécrète un monde virtuel exprimant les relations qu’il entretien en son sein, les problèmes qui le mettent en mouvement, les images qu’il se forge de son environnement, sa mémoire, son savoir en général. Les membres de l’intellectuel collectif coproduisent, aménagent et modifient continuellement le monde virtuel qui exprime leur communauté : l’intellectuel collectif ne cesse d’apprendre et d’inventer 8 .

The dynamics of this intelligent transcultural and technological environment find its

starting point in an emergent collective vision establishing further inter-connections

within organizations (intelligent networking) to evaluate, to make decisions, to express

ideas and to listen to other alternatives within this neurological ensemble. This type of

openly direct democratic organization network functions as a post-cultural civilization,

as a cross-cultural global civilization (a trans-learned cyber-hypertextual world

8 “collective intelligence emerges, interconnects, displaces and changes. It is from the circulation, the association and the metamorphosis of thinking communities that the Space of Knowledge is born and perpetuated. Every collective intelligence secretes a virtual world that expresses its inner relationship, its problems that makes them move, the perceptive images from the environment, its memory and knowledge in general. The members of the collective intelligence continuously co-produce, adjust and modify the virtual world manifested by their community: the collective intelligence never stops learning and creating”. Pierre Lévy. L’intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace. Paris : La Découverte, 1994. 152.


encyclopaedia of infinite knowledge) and coexists with other categories in the

“noosphère”, the new convergence of the human world spirit 9 .

The “clash of civilisations” highlighted by Samuel Huntington a few years ago 10

does not confront cultural identities today but sets up the debate between closed

economic and cultural organizations (for instance, there has not been any women on the

IMF board of directors) that serve privileged elites and those who do not believe in the

ideological patterns of the global doctrine and their consequences leading to

consumerism. The third of the world population that belongs to the “consumer class” or

“consumer society” could be considered as a 21st century open “transnational consumer

civilisation”. Its set of values has very little to do with the traditional world views of the

closed cultural civilisations that existed up to the end of the 20th century. The notions of

openness or closure are losing their particular cultural meanings as this new world class

is becoming more concerned with “access” 11 and less with “belonging”. From a cross-

cultural perspective we can find examples in the Hispanic cultures on how the

perception of open and close linguistic utterances are related to the colonized and the

colonizing territories (the land, the body, the language, the moral values). As Octavio

Paz, Nobel Prize of Literature, told us in The Labyrinth of Solitude:

Chingar, then, is to do violence to another. The verb is masculine, active, and cruel: it stings, wounds, gashes, stains. And it provokes a bitter, resentful satisfaction. The person who suffers this action is passive, inert and open, in contrast to the active, aggressive and closed person who inflicts it. The chingón is the macho, the male; he rips open the chingada, the female, who is pure passivity, defenceless against the exterior world. The relationship between them is violent, and it is determined by the cynical power of the first and the impotence of the second. The idea of violence rules darkly over all the meaning

9 “Dans la cyberculture à venir, il y aura de moins en moins de distinction entre le marché universel explorant toutes les formes de biens, la médiathèque universelle explorant tous les pouvoirs, le laboratoire universel simulant toutes les expériences, le sénat universel explorant toutes les formes d’administration, le tribunal universel explorant toutes les formes de conflits et de résolution de conflit, l’école universelle enfin, proposant à l’exploration de chacun toutes les formes découvertes par les humains et dont les professeurs seront tous les gens désireux d’enseigner et qui voudront contribuer à l’édification et à la transmission de la culture”. Pierre Lévy. World Philosophie. Paris: Odile Jacob, 2000. 175. 10 “Alone among civilizations the West has had a major and at times devastating impact on every other civilization. The relation between the power and culture of the West and the power and cultures of other civilizations is, as a result, the most pervasive characteristic of the world of civilizations. As the relative power of other civilizations increases, the appeal of Western cultures fades and non-Western peoples have increasing confidence in and commitment to their indigenous cultures. The central problem in the relations between the West and the rest is, consequently, the discordance between the West’s – particularly America’s- efforts to promote a universal Western culture and its declining ability to do so”. Samuel P. Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. London:

Touchstone, 1998. 183.

11 “Some would argue that by steadily reducing the significance of place and elevating the value or relationships and experiences, we may slowly advance the human agenda to a higher plane. Others, however, might counter that in the new Age of Access, where questions of mine and thine begin to recede to the background, we risk losing our moorings and a sense of deep communion with the physical and biological ground to which we owe our very existence and being in the world”. Jeremy Rifkin. The Age of Access. London: Penguin Books, 2001. 132.


of the word, and the dialectic of the ‘closed’ and the ‘open’ thus fulfils itself with an almost ferocious precision (O. Paz, 77).

The Hispanic debate throughout the 19th century of a Latin American identity

misunderstood these concepts relating the idea of civilization to the open and that of

barbarism to the closed. Following the principles of the Monroe doctrine, anything that

came from the West (USA and after Europe) served as the aspiring model of progress

and modernity: the city, the factories, the working class, the white race. Barbarism was

identified with the wilderness, the indigenous traditions, the “campesinos” and the

“mestizo” (Sarmiento). It was after the revisionist work of José Martí in Nuestra

América (Cuba) in the late 19th century that the concept of civilization was related to

the traditions and the history of the natives; and barbarism to the invaders of an ancient

land conquered by the sword supposedly in the name of God but in reality for gold.

Slavery and capitalism helped to develop a self-indulgent Western Civilization that set

up the rules and national boundaries leaving behind the extermination of 70 million

Native Americans and 15 million Africans.

The tradition of great Latin American emotional thinkers, the poets and the

fictional writers, can help us to better understand the collective “brain frame” of the

Hispanic ethos in relation to the shaping of a technological and transcultural

communities “state of the mind”. We hope that our literary understanding of these

“heuristic devices” will help educational and business environments to reconsider

alternative humanist perspectives about the multiple identities of our organizations. The

work of the Mexican poet Octavio Paz and the Argentineans Jorge Luis Borges and

Julio Cortázar anticipated in their fictionalised epistemological enquiry the

configuration of several hypertextual models of knowledge. The fragmented and

polyphonic nature of their discourses gave us some cues about the emergence of a

transnational cultural identity. The concept of transculturality was developed by

Fernando Ortiz in Cuba in the first half of the 20 th century, after the anthropological

studies of Malinowski. For the Cuban scholar, this notion

expresa mejor las diferentes fases del proceso transitivo de una cultura a otra, porque éste no consiste solamente en adquirir una nueva y distinta cultura, que es lo en rigor indicado por la voz inglesa ‘acculturation’, sino que el proceso implica también necesariamente la pérdida o desarraigo de una cultura precedente, lo que pudiera decirse una ‘desculturación’, y además, significa la


consiguiente creación de nuevos fenómenos culturales que pudieran denominarse de ‘neoculturación’ 12 .

In terms of the transcultural nature of many organizations, it is crucial for cross-

cultural education to take into consideration several elements that are part of the specific

realities of each civilization such as national pride, ethnical differences, family types,

system of believes, artistic and literary backgrounds, spiritual values etc. One of the

features that unite most of Latin cultures is a humanist understanding of life detached

from material greed. The intellectual tools to interpret and to apprehend reality are

logic, dialectics and rhetoric. But what differentiates Hispanic from the Latin cultures is

in the way they perceive the idea of the real. The presence of hypertextual, fragmented,

open and decentered configurations of the real in the Hispanic ethos differs greatly from

the structuralist, closed, monochronic and rational entities of Latin cultures in the

Western world, which follow the French model of civilization. The dialectics of the

invisible (also very important in the African ethos) find in Hispanic cultures a hybrid

ally. The conceptual syncretism of European, Amerindian and African backgrounds

form singular understandings of the world which differentiates “latino cultures” from

their European Latin counterparts. However, Spain, a melting pot of languages and

cultures, finds in syncretism another way of expressing a multiplicity of mentalities in

the same national territory.

“We are and we are not Europeans, what are we then?”. In The search of the

present, discourse given by Octavio Paz when he received the Nobel Prize of Literature

in 1990, the question of the Hispanic identity was related to the awareness of the

distance expressed as a permanent attitude of the people in the history of Latin

American spirituality: “todas nuestras empresas y acciones, todo lo que hacemos y

soñamos, son puentes para romper la separación y unirnos al mundo y a nuestros

semejantes” 13 . This reflects a collective conscience in a permanent search of a

continuous present, of a “durée” in a Modernity of market economy which, following

Paz ideas, “es un mecanismo eficaz pero, como todos los mecanismos, no tiene

12 “better explains the different phases of transition between one culture to another, because this does not consist only in acquiring a new and distinct culture, which is what the English term ‘acculturation’ indicates. The process means a necessary lost or eradication of the precedent culture, what we can call a ‘desculturation’. It also means the consequent creation of new cultural phenomena, something we can call ‘neoculturation”. Fernando Ortiz. “Del fenómeno social de la ‘transculturación’ y de su importancia en Cuba”. Estudios Afrocubanos. Ed. Lázara Menéndez, Tomo I. La Habana: Facultad de Artes y Letras, 1990. 243-244.

13 “all our actions and accomplishments, everything we do and dream, are bridges to break down our separation from the world and the people”. Octavio Paz. « La búsqueda del presente”. Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos. Volumen XVI, No. 3. Primavera 1992. 385.


conciencia y tampoco misericordia” 14 . Before the perception of our democratic societies

perceived as “islas de abundancia en el océano de la miseria universal” 15 , Paz proposes a

philosophy of the present based on the poetic experience of the everydayness. This is

characterized by a simultaneity of time and presence charged with instantaneity and

transcendence, immediacy and “real time” hermeneutics. He offers us the possibility of

grasping a fractal identity of history which relates verbal time to “el otro tiempo, el

verdadero, el que buscábamos sin saberlo: el presente, la presencia” 16 . If Modernity

embraces progress, reason and technological metaphysics as an alternative to the

Christian God, for Octavio Paz the artificial nature of man takes away from its identity

the core of a spiritual quest:

The complexity of contemporary society and the specialization required by its work extend the abstract condition of the worker to other social groups. It is said that we live in a world of techniques. Despite the differences in salary and way of life, the situation of the technician is essentially like that of the worker: he too is salaried and lacks a true awareness of what he creates. A government of technicians –the ideal of contemporary society- would thus be a government of instruments. Functions would progress with great efficiency but without aim, and the repetition of the same gesture, a distinction of the machine, would bring about an unknown form of immobility, that of a mechanism advancing from nowhere toward nowhere. The totalitarian regimes have done nothing but to extend this condition and make it general, by means of force or propaganda 17 .

Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent explains how the Propaganda Model

functions in a democratic society. His analysis of the mass media in the United States

does not exclude the strategies and impact of the communication technologies on other

parts of the world. His study helps us to reconsider the way we use information as the

raw material of knowledge and the dangers of isolating it from discourse:

The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda 18 .

14 “is an efficient mechanism but, like all the mechanisms, do not have a conscience neither compassion”. Octavio Paz, 1992. 392.

15 “islands of plenty in the ocean of universal misery”. Octavio Paz, 1992. 392.

16 the other time, the authentic, the one we are looking for without knowing it: the present, the presence”. Octavio Paz, 1992. 393.

17 Octavio Paz. The Labyrinth of Solitude. New York: Grove Press, Inc, 1985. 68.

18 Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent. The Political Economy of the Mass Media. London: Vintage, 1984. 1.


Chomsky, an American linguistic and political thinker, shows the reader how the “essential ingredients” of the propaganda model, which he calls “filters” 19 , interact with one another to serve the interest of a specific class – “the political class”, more or less 20% of the population that has a role to play in the decision making process. The “knowledge class” of corporate power has opened up the process for a new social disparity - “the digital divide”, a technological inequality of “Internet-haves and have- nots” - that has increased the cultural and economic distance between the rich and the poor. But as Manuel Castells rethinks the notions of disparity in the New Information Age 20 , the last scandals of “corporate crooks” in Europe and the United States, as well as the financial crisis in Argentina (December 2001), illustrates the cracks in the international economic institutions. Ethical issues have been in the front page of business news as provocative thinkers and filmmakers have depicted the lack of conscience of downsizing transnational communities 21 .

The European transcultural citizen in the first decade of the Third Millennium fluctuates between different models of cross-cultural communities. The constructive critical understanding of the complexities of our new environments allows him/her to reinvent new roles. Mastering a diversity of languages and being aware of the different local idiosyncratic values, his/her communication skills encourage collective decisions from all the members of a neurological production “spiral”. In a world of “molecular” organizations there is no place for mechanical individualistic responses. The specific functions of the members of an organization collapse before the rapid creation of new activities and the immediacy of the strategies in a networked environment of a “collective intelligence”. If the fundamental nature of the universe is disorder,

19 “The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news ‘filters’, fall under the following headings: (1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (2) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and ‘experts’ funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) ‘flak’ as a means of disciplining the media; and agents of power; (5) ‘anticommunism’ as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another”. Chomsky, 1984. 2.

20 “Is it really true that people and countries become excluded because they are disconnected from Internet-based networks ? Or, rather, it is because of their connection that they become dependent on economies and cultures in which they have little chance of finding their own path of material well-being and cultural identity?”. Manuel Castells. The Internet Galaxy. Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. 247.

21 “Corporations are posting the biggest profits ever. All is well in America. Right. That explains why one out of every four children in America still lives in poverty, why more Americans filed for bankruptcy last year than ever before, why real income hasn’t risen in nearly twenty years, and why the number of people who fear being downsized, according to a recent poll conducted by the Federal Reserve Board, has doubled since 1991. The truth is that the richest 1 percent in the United States now own 40 percent of the wealth”. Michael Moore. Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American. New York:


complexity and chaos, instead of controlling the unpredictable with logic and dogmatic values, our 21st transcultural century will live with entropy, interplaying with a multiplicity of views that require feed-back from our quantum landscape cyber-realities. If the individuals of the past century were a product of the printing press where paper as passive information established the bureaucratic patterns of its activities and national languages forged its cultural identity; the transcultural community lives in new belief systems and cultural referents. If in our Postmodern era, “electric technology seems to favour the inclusive and participating spoken world over the specialist written word” 22 , the collapse of Western values announces the end of linear thinking and specialist domains. Thirty five years ago Alvin Toffler already pointed out the rapid change occurring within the organization itself: “Titles change from week to week. Jobs are transformed. Responsibilities shift. Vast organizational structures are taken apart, bolted together again in new forms, then re-arranged again. Departments and divisions spring up overnight only to vanish in another, and yet another, re-organization” 23 . A new “ad- hocracy” of mobile corporate workers and “task-force” project managers served temporary companies breaking down functional divisions and accelerating the transitional process in “self-destroying organizations” built to flip, not to last. A migration elite starts moving from organizational structures towards a frenzy “brain- drain” of virtual space. The birth of the Information Age anticipated, a few decades ago, our biotechnological revolution in cybernetic “post-human” technological organizations 24 . Hierarchy flattens, robotics take over routine activities and Weberian bureaucracies slowly disappear “marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing” 25 . Instead, we surf in a matrix of holographic environments, a “consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…. A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system” 26 . Hypertextual identities anticipate the “wetware” between our human nervous system to the computer hardware. This, as Timothy Leary highlighted in Chaos and Cyberculture (1994), will empower the

22 Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man. New York: The New American Library, 1964. 85.

23 Alvin Toffler. Future Shock. London: Pan Books Ltd, 1970. 123.

24 “The emergence of technology was a milestone in the evolution of intelligence on Earth because it represented a new means of evolution recording its designs. The next milestone will be technology creating its own next generation without human intervention”. Ray Kurzwell. The Age of Spiritual Machines. New York: Viking, 1999. 36.

25 George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Penguin Books, 1989. 77.

26 William Gibson. Neuromancer. London : HarperCollinsPublisher, 2001. 67.


individual against the brainwashing forces of the industrial slave driving and imperialist

expansion. The western Cartesian logocentric manifesto “I think therefore I am” breaks

into pieces before other ways of apprehending reality, already known in Hispanic

cultures which is much closer to Leary’s truism, “Think for Yourself, Question

Authority”. The one way individualist act of thinking becomes a speech-act of critical

participation where rhythm and emotion set the pace for understanding and developing

“fuzzy” thinking. In a poststructuralist environment being and belonging are

synonymous and are the consequence of sharing language and culture within a linguistic

community. The oral tradition of the spoken word opens up the act of thinking towards

a non linear hermeneutic strategy of explanation and understanding. The notion of

“take” (coming from jazz and used in literature and the arts) becomes crucial for

encouraging discourse and communication in a poststructuralist organization:

Why am I writing this? I have no clear ideas, I do not even have ideas. There are tugs, impulses, blocks, and everything is looking for a form, then rhythm comes into play and I write within that rhythm. I write by it, moved by it and not by that thing they call thought and which turns out prose, literature, or what have you. First there is a confused situation, which can only be defined by words; I start out from this half-shadow and if what I mean (if what is meant) has sufficient strength, the swing begins at once, a rhythmic swaying that draws me to the surface, lights everything up, conjugates this confused material and the one who suffers it into a clear third somehow fateful level: sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, book. This swaying, this swing in which confused material goes about taking shape, is for me the only certainty of its necessity, because no sooner does it stop than I understand that I no longer have anything to say 27 .

Chapter 82 of Hopscotch, written by Julio Cortázar, anticipates the hypertext as

the changing, polymorphic, and never-ending interactive textuality of our times as this

can be applied to the structure of the organizations and the activity of our transcultural

communities. Instead of developing linear strategies and preconceived methodologies,

our environment will help us to construct endless “tables of instructions” similar to

those suggested by Cortázar in his novel:

In its own way, this book consists of many books, but two books above all. The first can be read in a normal fashion and it ends with Chapter 56, at the close of which there are three garish little stars which stands for the words The End. Consequently, the reader may ignore what follows with a clean conscience. The second should be read by beginning with Chapter 73 and then following the sequence indicated at the end of each chapter. In case of confusion or forgetfulness, one need only consult the following list: 73-1-2-116-3-84-4-71-5-


27 Julio Cortázar. Hopscotch. Transl. by Gregory Rabassa. New York: Pantheon Books, 1966. 402.


and so on. There is a third way to read the novel: starting with the chapters we like the most. There is also a forth way: getting rid of the ones we do not like. There is even a fifth, a sixth, a seventh and many other ways…such as adding our own written chapters to the novel, or inviting other readers to add their own writings, readings, jazz standards, philosophical aphorism, pictures and film sequences etc. There are even visual and acoustic ways to rewrite the novel 28 where jazz music plays a very important part in the chaotic and playful spirit of the hypertext.

The “clicking” links of different (written, visual, acoustic and sensory) texts in metonymic relationships of contiguity is a common activity of almost 1 billion people using the World Wide Web. Hypertextual constructs are radical ways to escape from Western metaphysics (the closeness of interpretations, the search for the truth) and embrace other alternatives. Instead of going over the wholeness of a text from beginning to end, another phenomenological experience allows us to select meaningful “signs” on the screen (icons, symbols, indexes) and to continue experiencing the “passage” from one surface to another. The loss of the referent is also that of the message. This infinite “market” of signs referring to other signs without searching for meaning has also been the common behaviour of transnational organizations when coping with language expressions and attitudes such as being more competitive, making more profit and so on. Decisions were made without understanding the dangerous implications of speeding up the closure of space in our global territory (outsourcing). Nevertheless, as in business environments, hypertextual reading, poorly managed, becomes textual zapping where the viewer loses his/her conscience of comprehending reality (what is seen or perceived) the same way the traditional manager, a cog within the mechanical organization, loses touch with the ethical values and responsibilities (downsizing) that any institution should have with its participants. The eagerness of our times to feed our “neurological hunger” (information as nourishment for the brain) has overestimated the power of technology. People have been left behind in an emotional breakdown of human skills. Instead of getting rid of bureaucracy our organizations misunderstood the uses of technology worshiping the wonders of Emailing, Power Point and other communication tools. However, the dual discourse of our institutions did not fool their participants. Downshifting becomes the

28 There is a double CD that came out recently, Jazzuela, about the musical references (jazz mostly) in the novel. A film made in the late seventies capture the spirit of the novel with the participation of a real character, Saúl Yurkievich, one of the most important literary critics on Cortázar’s fiction, as an alter-ego of a fictional character from the novel (Oliveira).


norm in an environment where the frontiers between the public and private spheres are not easily recognizable and most of our managers end up receiving and answering messages at any time of the day or night which they cannot escape. The mental break down of many stressed-out business entrepreneurs unable to keep up with the ever demanding performance environment (they are forced to be fresh, fast and friendly) and the excessive use of prozac and other enhancing drugs warns us about the inefficient use of technology in the working place and confirms Huxley’s predictions 70 years ago 29 . The need to find alternatives to the stressful western management habits in our business practices is a necessity in our emotionally dysfunctional organizations. Cross-cultural management and critical thinking become a requirement in our educational and business institutions to save people from mental exhaustion and information over-load syndromes. Hispanic hypertexts can help us to reconsider the way we understand the diversity of cultures, for instance, to write in different languages. The importance of linear thinking is fundamental in English, and more so in German. In Spanish we tend to transpose the oral utterances into the text. The consequence is that the written language is less fixed. A spontaneous flow of ideas come into form without the limitations imposed by structure. There is already an implicit hypertextual presence within the text in polychronic cultures where people tend to finish later or “mañana” what they can do within the programmed schedule. Transcultural managers and educators in open organizations will have to understand that in the Hispanic and European everydayness, “time is the absence of money” 30 , meaning that a sacred value in our Latin and European societies is relationships 31 . Things more important than money and pure profit fulfil the interest of a business community open to dialogue and emotional exchange; whereas many western organizational practices prone to monochronic behaviour. Friendship and loving relationships (even casual encounters) within the organization are an extension of an “emotional management” morality, unacceptable in the puritanical male oriented Anglo-Saxon companies which consider them as personal interest and sexual harassment behaviour.

29 “Now –such is progress- the old men work, the old men copulate, the old man have no time, no leisure for pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think… there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gram for a half-holiday, a gram for a weekend, two grams for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon”. Aldous Huxley. Brave New World. London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1994. 49. 30 An expression coming from one of the characters from a Wim Wenders film, The End of Violence.

31 “In Europe, I see men and women lingering for hours over food and drink in the eateries and outdoor cafés. Although not unusual in itself, what’s strange is that I see them at these establishments at all hours, not just at lunch or at the end of the day, as would be the case in America. The first thought that crosses my mind is, Are these people all unemployed or just slow to get back to their desks and their assignments?” Jeremy Rifkin. The European Dream. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004. 75.


The term hypertext has been used since the beginning of the seventies. The

creator of the concept, Ted Nelson, saw it as “non sequential writing – text that

branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen. As

popularly conceived, this is a series of chunks connected by links which offer the reader

different pathways” 32 . The creation of this device allowed the readers to broaden their

views on the original text (like the original idea or point of departure), in a kind of

“mise-en-abîme”. There is an infinite combination of reading (sensory) material aided

by our memory which serves as a fundamental tool in the oral traditions and ancient

civilizations: “hypertext uses machine memory in a way that has no analogue in the

traditional text environment, where composition relies on the organization of human

memory. It is the organization of memory in the computer and in the mind that defines

hypertext and makes it fundamentally different from conventional text” 33 .

The novel of Cortázar demonstrates a felt intuition in the collective unconscious

of the Hispanic civilization: the failure of the ontological paradigm which proclaimed a

fixed model for understanding reality. Prior to the Christian vision of Creation as

something completed in its wholeness, Hispanic literary hypertexts offer another

reading of the universe where human nature is like a “ work in progress”, something in

the process of being playfully made and never completed:

En remplaçant le titre initial: Mandala par celui, définitif, de Rayuela (Marelle), Julio Cortázar dégrève son roman de tout excès sacramental. Il rend explicite l’axe ludique générateur du texte, qui le traverse tout entier (…) et privilégie la notion du jeu par rapport à celle du rituel initiatique (…) substitue le centre ou cercle suprême, symbole de l’univers et réceptacle du divin ; il substitue l’enceinte magique, panthéon, montagne sacrée, espace concentré, nucléaire, favorable à la prière et à la méditation (…) il substitue le temps, imago mundi, par sa version dégradée : la marelle 34 .

As McLuhan cites, if “electric speed requires organic structuring of the global economy

quite as much as early mechanization” 35 , Rayuela’s hypertext project takes us back to

organic technologies – a metaphorical “wetware” that overcomes the inevitable distance

32 Ted Nelson. Literary Machines. Swarthomre, Pa: Nelson, 1981. 2.

33 John Slatin. “Reading Hypertext : Order and Coherence in a New Medium”. Hypermedia and Literary

Studies. Ed. Paul Delanay and George P. Landow. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1994. 157-


34 “In replacing the initial title : Mandala by the definitive one of Rayuela (Hopscotch), Julio Cortázar eliminates anything excessively sacred in his novel. He renders explicit the playful axis that generates and covers the text in its wholeness (…) and privileges the notion of play over that of initiatory ritual (…) he replaces the centre or supreme circle, symbol of the universe and receptacle of the divine; he substitutes the magic wall, the pantheon, the sacred mountain, the concentrated and nuclear space in favour of praying and meditation (…) he substitutes time, imago mundi, by its degraded version: the hopscotch”. Saúl Yurkievich. Littérature latino-américaine: traces et trajets. Trad. Françoise Campo-Timal. Paris :

Gallimard, 1988. 243.

35 McLuhan, 1964. 306.


of technological men from Nature announced by Octavio Paz in The Labyrinth of

Solitude. In the Garden of Forging Paths, Jorge Luis Borges constructs a hypertextual

model of the endless, unaccountable and unnameable universe in a cyclical, cosmic and

cosmopolitan temporality. It is an expressionist’s universe of sensations and thoughts,

of genres and characters. From the simplicity of the plot (a detective short story) we are

transported ubiquitously and alternatively to a logical and metaphysical story. It is a

playful experience built up as a “mise-en-abîme” or a Chinese box in a continuous

temporality, gerund of modes and forms charged with Hispanic and universal

components. In this way the character-narrator tells us the story:

Después reflexioné que todas las cosas le suceden a uno precisamente, precisamente ahora. Siglos de siglos y sólo en el presente ocurren los hechos;

innumerables hombres en el aire, en la tierra y en el mar, y todo lo que realmente

pasa me pasa a mí

laberinto creciente que abarca el pasado y el porvenir y que implicara de algún modo los astros. Me sentí, por un tiempo indeterminado, percibidor abstracto del

mundo 36 .



Pensé en un laberinto de laberintos, en un sinuoso

Borges’ proposition rediscovers a transversal apprehension of the world lying in

the depths of natural men. This is manifested by molecular interconnections in

changing, multiform, interactive and hypertextual entities that belong to cross-cultural,

neurological and “disorganized” Hispanic and Latin cultures. The Garden of Forging

Paths (1941) anticipates the arrival of digital forms that question the limits of

temporality and linear thinking. The labyrinthical structures of language are at the

centre of Borges universe, characterized by a multiplicity of games, fictions and

encyclopaedic knowledge. All of them seduce the participant with its polymorphical

configurations in the act of textual appropriation:

Borges’s deconstruction of ending instigates a critique of narrative authority; it calls into question the chain of authorial decisions that ordain one outcome at the expense of others. Electronic hypertext treats this critique as axiomatic and embraces a multitude of variations, among which (in principle at least) none is privileged (…) the true innovation of hypertext lies not in its effect upon authorship, but in its transformation of reading (…) Readers of hypertext are already empowered to read interactively, making choices among a set of predetermined pathways and in the process becoming acutely aware of possibilities which the present network does not support 37 .

36 “After I thought that all the things happened to oneself precisely now. Centuries after centuries and only in the present did these things happened: unaccountable men in the air, on land and on the sea, and everything that happens, happens to me… (…) I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, a sinuous growing labyrinth that will embrace the past and the future and will include all the heavenly bodies. I felt, for an undetermined time, like an abstract perceiver of the world”. Jorge Luis Borges. “El jardín de los senderos que se bifurcan”. Ficciones. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2001. 102, 107.

37 Stuart Moulthrop. “Reading from the Map: Metonymy and Metaphor in the Fiction of Forking Paths”. Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Ed. Paul Delanay and George P. Landow. Cambridge, Massachusetts:

The MIT Press, 1994. 124-5, 130.


Over the last twenty years, an estimated 90 percent of written language has begun to appear in digital form. As a result, our whole psychic framework has been changing as we use computers and internet in a non-linear “hypertextual” way to read and write. Searching through the digital oceans of data alters the relationship of logic to intuition. Emotional thinkers, as are Hispanic speakers, develop thought after verbal or written utterances. Software restructures our thought process. We no longer formulate ideas systematically before writing. Computer users think on the screen and write while making changes without the fear of retyping or of making spelling mistakes, even without the linear roles of syntax. The criticism of Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac’s On the road was a premonition of today’s net generation users: “He does not write, he types”. And typing is determined by the “impulsive” beat Julio Cortázar wrote in the chapter 82 of Hospscotch. The notion of take, developed by Julio Cortázar in his concept of writing was already present in the “fast tempo” rhythmic typing of On the Road. Like his fictional characters, Kerouac was inspired by the “beat of the heart as the beat to keep” in an environment where nobody was bored to death (which seems to hve become the norm nowadays in many of our “constipated” educational and business institutions). We would like to see the transcultural managers of our poststructuralist organizations with the same “hyper and frenzy mood” 38 .

Typing instead of writing has become, with the help of computers, the “natural way”. We express ourselves today with hybrid hypertextual cut and paste “bricolage” of words typed on the computer screen of a computer with the help of the keyboard or “spit it out” with a microphone, earphones and webcams. Virtual slamming as standard emailing has become the common practice in most of our communication exchanges with the hypermedia. The epistemological implications of computer writing make word processing a different way of thinking. There is practically no distance between thoughts appearing in your brain as you see them on the screen (you have to type fast or to talk over the computer). Syntactic order is imposed after paradigmatic chaos. We are in the wilderness of hypertext territory. We rearrange, reorganize, change and play with our thoughts. The mystical “Third Eye” of Tibetan Buddhism has become the technological eye of the screen, a virtual wire connecting our brain to the Planet. The

38 “I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centre light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”. Jack Kerouac. On the Road. London: Penguin Books, 1972. 11.


gap between the collective oral traditions and the individualistic written practices has disappeared. But when oral words in a literate culture have little credibility, oral listening becomes a fundamental condition for associative thinking, a feminine quality which “searches for images rather than concepts, persons rather than names. Sense is made and organized around vivid images acting in context” 39 . Emotional thinking and rhythm is synonymous to African and Latin American cultures. Transcultural communities will have to learn to dance, to sing, to flirt (these cultures live in a permanent state of seduction) and to compliment, even if the things they say are not true. In general, nobody cares for the truth because what really matters in this “feeling trade type of environment” is to create a friendly and “jazzy” atmosphere to perform as well as possible. All of this is part of their cultural behaviour and theatrical habits. This is “their way” of understand things, sensing the “invisible field”. It is a kind of aurora borealis announcing with streams of light something appearing in the “collective hemisphere”, the aura of our open organizations. If the essence of the so-called “Third World civilizations” is based on a “skin perception” of things (sensorial data), the Western understanding of these “management sub-cultures” as the reservoir of telluric and spiritual knowledge has been so far very limited. Field theory and systems thinking as part of a recent new area in physics and sciences are trying to overcome our underdeveloped emotional skills which are a consequence of an overconfident Cartesian (mechanistic) view of the universe. As Carlos Castaneda in The Teachings of Don Juan as well as Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception 40 wrote, the role of psychedelic drugs, sorcerers and “marabous” is fundamental for the understanding of our collective unconscious. We can imagine our open multi-ethnic organizations of the future encouraging our transcultural managers to take “ESP

39 Derrick de Kerckhove. The Skin of Culture. Investigating the New Electronic Age. Christopher Dewdney, ed. London: Kogan Page Limited, 1997. 108-109. 40 As Huxley points out in his essay, “In a world where education is predominantly verbal, highly educated people find it all but impossible to pay serious attention to anything but words and notions. There is always money for, there are always doctorates in, the learned foolery of research into what, for scholars, is the all-important problem: Who influenced whom to say what when? Even is this age of technology the verbal Humanities are honoured. The non-verbal Humanities, the arts of being directly aware of the given facts of our existence, are almost completely ignored. A catalogue, a bibliography, a definitive edition of a third-rate versifier’s ipsissima verba, a stupendous index to end all indexes – any genuinely Alexandrian project is sure of approval and financial support. But when it comes to finding out how you and I, our children and grandchildren, may become more perceptive, more intensely aware of inward and outward reality, more open to the Spirit, less apt, by psychological malpractices, to make ourselves physically ill, and more capable of controlling our own autonomic nervous system –when it comes to any form of non verbal education more fundamental (and more likely to be of some practical use) than Swedish Drill, no really respectable person in any really respectable university or church will do anything about it. Verbalist are suspicious of the non-verbal; rationalists fear the given, non-rational fact; intellectuals fell that “what we perceive by the eye (or in any other way) is foreign to us as such and need not impress us deeply”. Aldous Huxley. The Doors of Perception. London: Flamingo Modern Classic, 1994. 53-54.


sessions”, “magic mushrooms treats” “yoga breaks”, “grass therapies”, “laughing and

clowning workshops”, “basic notions of witchery or magic tricks” and other kinds of

spiritually enriching practices. If such practices have not happened yet this is due to the

still uptight white male Cartesian population. It would be much healthier than the

excessive alcoholic “happy hours” or the caffeine addicted coffee breaks usually taken

by members of our business companies. Everything they do is important in a “time

money” oriented schedule.

The members of our recent Global Village of networking organizations see

themselves as participants of a fractal event where many of the principles of chaos grow

at very different levels of interaction. The extensive computer-communication network

functions as a fractal approach to human consciousness where feedback and immediacy

are the normal responses of the cyber-participants. The indirect vision of reality through

technologies gives a different perception of time and space. The new territory of our

lives, the cyberspace (the Matrix in Gibson’s Neuromancer) accelerates the emergence

of our new biotechnological bodies. The ubiquitousness and instantaneity of the

“nanoworlds” creates the most effective weapons of the 21st century, the

communication appliances. The Third Technological Revolution (first, the invention of

trains, plains and automobiles; and second, the computers, television and cyberspace)

are “nanochips” functioning as “intelligent drugs” being used daily by millions of

people to break down the notions of distance. The linearity of the left brain hemisphere

has been supported for centuries by the western alphabet and the straight lines of or

roads. Driving already conditions our Cartesian perception of the world. While the

monochronic behaviour of left brain traditional managers and car drivers is mostly

logical or rational, our right brain hemisphere transcultural communicators are convivial

public transit commuters in oral societies where simultaneous and transversal activities

and cultural milieu intertwine constantly in social time and space. However, revisiting

the former discussion about the closure and openness of the organizations, the

conservative and colonialist behaviour of many organizations is confirmed by a

paradoxical way the brain operates in relation to human societies:

Tribal, right-hemisphere “closed” cultures are holistic and entire and resistant to penetration by other preliterate cultures. But the specialist qualities of the left- hemisphere phonetic alphabet have long provided the only means of invading and taking over oral societies (…) The impact of alphabetic literacy is strong enough not only to break the tribal bond, but to create individualized (left- hemisphere) consciousness as well (…) The dominance of the left hemisphere


(analytic and quantitative) entails the submission or suppression of the right hemisphere. 41

We could liken the right and left hemispheres of the brain with the southern and

northern hemispheres of the planet to better understand the ideological colonialist

discourse presented in most of our educational, political and economic institutions

throughout the world. On the one hand, literacy could be regarded as a process of

westernisation, and communication is taken as a sacred value in societies where

individualism isolates people from a collective endeavour. On the other hand, if writing

has become an element of integration in the quest for progress, hyper-technologies

deterritorialize textual and linear realities bringing oral practices to the forefront. The

almost illiterate Play Station net generation of youngsters is telling us something about

the artificial-literate nature of our education. Moreover, if every technical advance

involves a loss of something, we can be sure that linear narratives and organizational

practices are in a critical condition. The idea of progress could backfire as Mary

Shelley’s Frankenstein warned us almost two hundred years ago about the dangers of a

techno-culture based on a linear accumulation of knowledge. This is what Paul Virilio

calls endo-colonization. It

happens when a political power turns against its own people (…) Totalitarian societies colonize their own people (…) There is no colonization without control of the body. We are here back to Foucault, evidently. Every time a country is being colonized, bodies are colonized. The body of the Negro, of the slave, of the deportee, of the inmate of the labour camp, is a colonized body. Thus technology colonizes the world, through globalitarianism, as we have seen earlier, but it also colonizes bodies, their attitudes and behaviours 42 .

This implies that transcultural communities dissent towards dominant modes of

discourse. They resist the implementation of a global “habitus” towards the use of

technological “communication weapons”.

The appearance of countercultures in the San Francisco area, not far from the

technological landscape of Silicon Valley, can help us to contextualize the neoplatonian

nature of our hypertextual networks of knowledge. The emergence of a laid-back

environmentalist generation of sarcastic psychedelic Zen explorers, anti-Establishment

and romantic bohemian was labelled as the Beat Generation. They were the only white

Americans to understand one of the most important American Cultural Revolution that

occurred in the 20th century. It was jazz. An Afro-American rebellion against “the

41 Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone. Essential McLuhan. London: Routledge, 1997. 372-373.

42 John Armitage, ed. Virilio Live. Selected Interviews. London: Sage Publications, 2001. 43.


Western Eye”, against its fundamentals such as linear thinking, textual writing and

contemplating as the main sensorial source of knowledge (the Napoleonic museums are

the sacred space for their knowledge worshipers). As Camille Paglia tells us in Sexual

personae. Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson,

the west invented a new eye, contemplative, conceptual, the eye of art. It was born in Egypt. This is the Apollonian solar disk, illuminating and idealizing (…) Egyptian images made western imagination. Egypt liberated and divinised the human eye. The Apollonian eye is the brain’s great victory over the bloody open mouth of Mother Nature 43 .

Bebop rhythmic improvisations take us back to nature, feminine listening and chaos.

And we worshiped with syncopated swing the immediacy of live performances. The

simulated artificialities of “artefacts” were overshadowed by the mystic rituals of Negro

and “mestizo” forgotten voices in reaction to the “reactionary whiteness” of modern

history without “Angelitos negros” (black angels). Western culture began its descent

into hell with a “heretic” demonised outcry (the female revolution) through the sixties.

The second American counterculture and the first global transcultural dissidency of

western values was the hippy movement.

The negative thinking of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Cioran showed this

spiritual generation of horny free-lovers other ontological possibilities for “simple

living” in a technological post-modern society. This generation, with the rejection of

absolute categories and the paradise of consumerism, found in the exiled scholars of the

Frankfurt School (especially Marcuse) the new gurus against a decadent western

consumerist society. The acceptance of the chaotic nature of the universe and their

pacifist attitude paradoxically resurrected the primitive vision of the founding fathers of

the Church. Like the main character in the biblical parable of Job, as enchained

Prometheus in the voracious hand of progress, the hippy movement taught us an attitude

of active resistance against the political, cultural and economic powers of the dominant

institutions. This parable has been closely studied by Toni Negri 44 as a metaphor of a

radical ontological change from a heaven’s closed paradise of promises to an open

cross-cultural inferno of daily realities. This first “downshifting” generation of cultural

activists rejected the puritanical vision of work as the main value for their daily

activities. They did not see our society as a general productive synergetic network of

working organizations but as a space for pleasure, freedom and self-expression. They

43 Camille Paglia. Sexual Personae. Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. New York:

Vintage Books, 1991. 50.

44 Toni Negri. Job, la force de l’esclave. Paris: Bayard, 2002.


questioned their identities as “the Chosen People”, looking back to European values as

an alternative way of life:

The American Dream puts an emphasis on economic growth, personal wealth, and independence. The new European Dream focuses more on sustainable development, quality of life, and interdependence. The American Dream pays homage to the work ethic. The European Dream is more attuned to leisure and deep play. The American Dream is inseparable from the country’s religious heritage and deep spiritual faith. The European Dream is secular to the core. The American Dream is assimilationist (…) The European Dream, by contrast, is based on preserving one’s cultural identity and living in a multicultural world. The American Dream is wedded to love of country and patriotism. The European Dream is more cosmopolitan and less territorial 45 .

The third generation of dissidents was also the pioneers of cyberspace. They

created the first bridges and virtual landscape architectures of our electronic

environments. It is the cyberpunk counterculture which started with the invention of

personal computers and the creation of the first digital network in San Francisco (ref.

The Well cited by Howard Reingold in Virtual Communities). Hip, downbeat, grunge,

informed, global minded, ecological, pessimistic and non-sexist, the cyberpunks lived in

“Cyberia”, a kind of “Interzone underworld” like in Naked Lunch of William Burroughs

(1959). It was a pre-cybernetic hallucinatory dimension where machines mutated into

creatures, and people, the “senders”, used telepathy to control their victims 46 . In this

novel “each word or turn of phrase can lead the reader down an entirely new avenue of

thought or plot, imitating the experience of an inter-dimensional hypertext adventure”. 47

However, the reference book for this generation is Neuromancer, written by William

Gibson in 1984, the very same year Steve Jobs commercialised the Apple Classic

Macintosh and the mouse, an interactive tool discovered by Douglas Engelbart in the

sixties. In Neuromancer, cyberspace is The Matrix, a neo-pagan virtual chaotic shared

consciousness where “cyberians interpret the development of the datasphere as the

hardwiring of a global brain” 48 . A cyberperson is fascinated by navigational information

and searches for theories, models, icons, paradigms that help to understand the new

realities. The term comes from Wiener’ cybernetics and was expanded in Palo Alto’s

new communication theory developed by Shannon and Weaver which united molecular

thinking, quantum physics and information theory in an interactive electronic system of

45 Jeremy Rifkin. The European Dream. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004. 13-14.

46 David Cronenberg made an adaptation of the novel in the early nineties with the same title, Naked Lunch. Burroughs was still alive and helped him with the screenplay. There is a close relationship between this film and two other films of the Torontonian director: Videodrome (made in the eighties) and one of his most recent films, ExisTenZ, an apology of video games and organic software.

47 Douglas Rushkoff. Cyberia. Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1994. 174-175.

48 Rushkoff, 1994. 5.


“collective intelligence”. In this new social order, “cybernauts” are consider as a “new

species model of human beings” 49 , the same way transcultural individuals will be seen

as a new species model of entrepreneurial self-management in networking

organizations. Like cyberpunks, a revolutionary type of business executives will apply

Leary’s TQYA manifesto to the letter. As a result, “the ‘good persons’ in the cybernetic

society are the intelligent ones who can think for themselves. The ‘problem person’ in

the cybernetic society of the 21 st century is the one who automatically obeys, who never

questions authority, who acts to protect his/her official status, who placates and politics

rather than thinks independently” 50 .

The last of the countercultures emerged in the United States in the early nineties

and has flourished in Europe for the past ten years. It is an alert, eclectic, self-confident,

internet, open-minded, “chaos designer” and an irreverent “New Breed” generation.

They are the mp3, ipod and napster addicts of our post-industrial societies. Their

philosophy is based not on political ideologies but on free and open communication

networks, “chronopolitics”, as the acceleration and change of their social habits and

systems of values through the use of hypermedia. Born in a transcultural territory, they

are polyglot and easily adaptable. Europe is setting the pace for the new model of

management in this 21 st century while the American Dream suffers as “the sons and

daughters of wealthier Americans grow up in the lap of luxury and come to feel

empowered and entitled to happiness and less willing to work hard, sacrifice, and make

something of themselves” 51 . More concerned about the ecosystem, they protest against

the introduction of GMOs in their natural eating habits in a “risk-prevention era”

threatened by chemical polluting products. The New Breed is a “risk-sensitive”

generation that does not trust the achievements of “risk-taking” American

individualism. They are systems thinkers that question Newton’s mechanistic views of

the universe:

The old idea that phenomena could be known by analysing the individual parts gave way to the opposite conception – that the individual parts can be understood only by first knowing something about their relationships to the whole within which they are embedded. In a word, nothing exists in isolation, as an autonomous object. Rather, everything exists in relation to “the other” 52 .

We see the planet as a living creature. We evolve with the planet, the planet evolves

with us. We are the system; the system is just a web of relationships. Man does not have

49 Timothy Leary. Chaos and Cyberculture. Berkeley, California: Ronin Publishing, 1994. 67.

50 Leary, 1994. 69.

51 Jeremy Rifkin, 2004. 56.

52 Rifkin, 2004. 335.


to adapt to the environment. The survival of the fittest is an obsolete ideological mechanism to justify inequality just as racism tried to justify centuries ago the exploitation of blacks for the benefit of whites. European transcultural communities can set the example for a new model of nature and society where everything is interconnected for the creation of an interdependent living organism.

There is a radical change in our traditional organizations when it comes to understanding this new model of management in an interconnected emotional, hypertextual, “Latin” and even “African” way of thinking. Even large companies are implementing “networking attitudes” amongst their white collar workers. This is the case of Danone. A “tree of knowledge” has been created for their 8,400 operational managers. To optimise the rapid reaction and performance of their 90,000 workers in a decentralized organization spread out all over the world, Franck Mougin, Human Resources general director, has given priority to the behaviour of the employees in “cette version latine du knowledge management (…) Nous avons tous d’abord abordé le problème par la technologie, ça n’a pas marché, les salariés n’étaient pas prêts” 53 . The project seeks to convince all the managers to exchange ideas and findings. To accomplish this, the company has gotten rid Power Point presentations. They preferred the playful and entertaining video clips made by the participants relating their experiences, accomplishments and failures within and outside the organization. There is a “giver”, a “taker” and a “facilitator” to make this exchange possible between Chinese, Italian and Argentinean managers for example. In this way, they can share their professional and personal knowledge. The “givers” give a presentation to the “takers” in an “organized chaos”. The participants have to simulate certain cross-cultural situations, getting even specifically dressed for the occasion. The company created 85 expertise units to coach an heteroclite universe where hierarchy and power control are much less important than solidarity and sharing attitudes/behaviours within cultural and multidisciplinary disparity. The transcultural behaviour of our organization is ready for interaction. The organizations will just be an extension of their enthusiasm and motivation. So let the show begins!

53 “this latin version of knowledge management (…) We first faced the problem by technology, but it did not work. Our workers were not ready”. Sandrine L’Herminier. “Danone incite ses salariés à échanger leur trésors de connaissances”. La Tribune. Mercredi 20 avril 2005. 30.



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