Mondo 2000 in today's context

Over at RU Sirius's Acceler8or, Dorien Zandbergen posted a fascinating essay about the early 1990s cyberdelic "New Edge" culture embodied by Mondo 2000 magazine in the context of today's schizophrenic, always-on culture. From Acceler8or:
 Wp-Content Uploads 2011 08 Mondocover41 Advanced technologies today don’t only appeal to ourselves as rational autonomous self-determined beings and as divine creators of our own fates, but also embed us in out-of-control worlds that act godlike in their totalizing powers, magical complexity, pervasive invisibility and unaccountability. In order to live happily in this world, we need to be able to use high tech tools to understand and act rationally in the world, but we also need to trust a system that we cannot understand and that is immeasurably bigger than we are. In other words, we need to both act as rational human beings and also as believers. It happens that, in western societies, these two attitudes have historically been seen as incompatible. “Belief” — the capacity to trust in a higher power and to give oneself over to it –—is generally associated with “irrationality” and “religion.” And religion has come to be seen as the absolute opposite of science — which is characterized by objective rationality; the idea that individual humans are able to logically comprehend and control their environment. To imagine a rational human being will believe in a system he cannot perceive nor understand is difficult, yet it is this paradoxical attitude that is being solicited from all of us if we are to live in this world without being continuously anxious and paranoid.

What made New Edge culture and its 1960s antecedents significant, I believe, is precisely that it accounted for these two different experiential dimensions of living in today’s world. And I suspect that we could understand the irony of MONDO 2000 as well as the many playful aspects of New Edge culture at large, as ways in which this is done.

"Combining Extreme Distrust and Spastic Bursts of Blind Faith… What New Edge Culture has to say about Today’s Schizophrenic Information Society"


  1. Mondo always oversold its ken, which of course was their chosen job, but lets not sugar-coat it. I read the last paragraph in the quote above as, “Hey, SOMEone has to invent the woo-woo!”

  2. “Today’s Schizophrenic Information Society”?
    Schizophrenia’s not really like that, and I hear tell that this metaphoric use of the disease has become offensive at best. 

  3. I miss Mondo. I was fresh out of high school and had fully embraced cyber/rave culture as my religion and Mondo 2000 along with a couple choice books by Douglas Rushkoff were my bibles.

  4. “we also need to trust a system that we [i]cannot[/i] understand and that is
    immeasurably bigger than we are. In other words, we need to both act as
    rational human beings and also as believers.”

    The difference is we can understand these systems, unlike religion where
    if you start asking too many “why” questions you hit the faith wall and
    everything unravels.

Comments are closed.