Andrew Sullivan compares several views on the role of Social Media in Egypt and Tunisia.
And Evgyny Morozov on the Net Delusion
It takes hold, grabs the mind, molds it, makes it blush – like a spark plug – in the distance between two disparate objects there is a leap of energy – a formation of futurity – a fig leaf torn away to reveal the nudity of perception – a freely floating feeling of friction – marking the territories of desire – masking tape falters – it cannot contain the forces of things – there is no one way street to truth – the raw motion of thought does not stop for signs of identity and stagnation – it meanders down the paths of its own reckoning – no melody or harmony – but a cacophony – the rhythm does not exist in a vacuous musical scale – but is always in relation – always surging – sending – melting and congealing – a sumptuous sort of sensation – these are the dream worlds of the everyday – the folding over and unraveling into – the sometimes and never – the always and not yet – this is the battle between to be and AND – it happens in the middle of things – on the literal and metaphorical grounds – and in caves within clouds – mimesis and imitatio – the anxiety of influence and the freedom of late style – where will be when the waters come crashing down – what happens when explanation no longer suffices – this is the stammering of the soul
Nussbaum’s analysis of Aristotle is insightful yet ironic. If it is true that “in avoiding emotion, one avoids a part of the truth”(317), why does Nussbaum come off so disembodied and dry in her writing style? Why does she simply present her reading of Aristotle in the typical academic form, yoked by the same enlightened criteria she’s attempting to sublate? Nikidion could very well be a robot with different emotional states which react to various programmed inputs and outputs for all I know based on her description.
If “philosophy is not self-sufficient as a shaper of souls” one can’t simply point to the aporia or gap and acknowledge its existence, rather it must be made manifest. Perhaps, the emotional tone of the excerpt is just the appropriate one given the academic context, or is this simply a rationalization? Nussbaum points to something like ‘structures of feeling’ or what Bourdieu would have referred to as the ‘habitus’ that mold the ways we react to a given stimuli or phenomenon; if her intention is to shift this should she not act in a way that moves beyond it? Changing the conceptual ideals and cognitive interpretation of Aristotle alone falls short according to her own account of the relationship between philosophy and feeling. With all of the work currently being done on affect studies and new materialism you’d think she’d hop on the train, perhaps with William Connolly, Ben Anderson, and Jane Bennett.
In order to break out of the confines of the current theoretical dispotif shouldn’t we experiment with new ways of relating to academic labor itself? Not some new idealism or fantasy of freedom, but rather an embrace of the lived materiality of comporting oneself to their life-activity of knowledge production. If the point of Nussbaum’s criticism is that a representational form of philosophy will not suffice, than the critic should let this feeling flow through their thought itself. To learn to affect and be affected suggests becoming attendant to the subtleties, intensities, and rhythms of thinking. A loosening of the ideological shackles, a withering of conceptual blockages, and a fomenting of forces that seem hardly perceptible to the naked eye. Nussbaum is still stuck within the theoretical methodology of Aristotle that we can truly come to know the nature of emotive impulses. She constantly chides characterizations of emotions as “mindless surges of affect” (311). While it is true that affective reactions are forms of judgment and discernment implying value commitments, it does not follow that the “rich cognitive structure” then becomes completely intelligible. Nor does it follow that we can comprehensively list the way particular emotional feelings arise, as if they were clearly defined states.
She points to the ways in which Aristotle gave a qualitatively different analysis of Anger and Pity based on the use of the Greek prepositions ek and epi, but is there not a larger question at issue here? Beyond Aristotle making a distinction by manipulating grammar, could we not also look to the ways in which our structures of feeling are themselves manipulated by grammar? It could be argued that part of the difference between modern and ancient ideas of anger could be imbedded within the differences in linguistic structures we use. In the ancient example, the preposition ek is used to describe a pain which comes out of a belief of impending evils, rather than epi which is a feeling directed at a pain someone else is experiencing. Today it seems that we direct our anger at structures, people, or a general state of things. Or perhaps the translation is fundamentally just incomplete and unable to grasp the difference.
Grammatron is a hypertext created by Mark Amerika. Amerika views himself as a “cyborg-narrator creating a discourse network that serves as a distribution point for various lines of flight to pass through and manipulate data linked together by the collective-self.” Inspired by Post-Humanism, specifically the works of Deleuze & Guattari and Donna Haraway, Amerika argues that hypertexts function as “an alternative to the more rigid, authoritarian linearity of conventional book-contained text.” The experiential aspect of reading a hypertext, supercharges the way in which reading and writing always occurs in the middle of things, the reader/participant is not constrained to what is immediately before them, but is free to pursue a multiplicity of connections and linkages through clicking “their way into new writing or textual spaces (at this point we would expand the concept of writing to include all manner of text, graphics, moving pictures, sound, animation, 3-D modeling, etc.).” Reading and writing thus ought to be conceived as machinic, as part of a process of assemblage and composition. Books and discourse in general always-already occur within a network, a specific milieu. We do not possess language rather it is given to us indirectly.
Amerika is making a descriptive more than prescriptive statement about the nature of texts that cyberculture hypercharges. Amerika writes; “on the net, nobody knows how sexy you really are, how bad the dog gets whipped, how crude the sadistic brute can be, how ambiguous the thought patterns generally are, what race makes you salivate, what gender makes you cringe, what age you first got laid, in whose biology you are now swimming, in what hospital you gave birth, in what signal you now divest.” Amerika’s point is that we need to “rethink representation.” The fact that what virtual documentation is “always already fictionalized” means that we are “moving beyond the knowing and entering a world of immersive topographies that open up unknown narrative worlds composed of unstable identities, ambiguously located intentions, and surrogate lovers.”
While Amerika’s work may seem overly abstract, out of touch, or romanticized, its force as an analytic nonetheless contains an immense potential for political liberation. Activist, performance artist and critic Guillermo Gomez-Pena crosses borders physically, academically and virtually through his work on multiculturalism and Chicano Studies. Gomez’s notion of the Cyber-Aztec in his work “The New World Border” views cyberculture as a resistant space that fragments and frustrates traditional identity categories and forms of hegemonic thought. Gomez is highly indebted to Gibson and cyberpunk in general, “The New World Border” narrates a science-fiction “gringo-stroika” about the future of the U.S. Gomez does not just unwittingly celebrate border-crossing but uses his works to point to the paradox of identity politics and resistance in a postmodern economy. Resistance must simultaneously occur locally and dispersed while retaining its trans-cultural or global aims in order to ensure the desire for fluidity does not compromise the necessity of strategic essentialisms. Capital simultaneously deterritorializes rigid forms of identification with the nation-state or race while finding ways to commodify the dispersion of identities.
Spencer Ackerman writes on the ways the U.S. military could have used its technological advantages to force internet upon authoritarian regimes.
In discussing deliberative oratory we have spoken about the relative greatness of various goods, and about the greater and lesser in general. Since therefore in each type of oratory the object under discussion is some kind of good – whether it is utility, nobleness, or justice – it is clear that every orator must obtain the materials of amplification through these channels (II, xix, 1393a 11-15).