Thursday, September 30, 2004

States and Strangers (Maria)



Nevzat Soguk. 1999. States and Strangers. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

The book is an exploration into the origin, development and employment of the concept of the “refugee” in the context of International Politics. Above all else, the book is a re-thinking of the traditional meaning attached to such politically-laden terms such as “border,” “citizen,” state,” “nation.” To begin with, he acknowledges that there is not one definition of “refugee” today that sufficiently encompasses all the complexities and multiplicities of refugee experiences. Thus, the epistemological base from which much theorizing on the refugee is done is already lacking in broad-enough scope and necessarily leaves our categories of people who do not fit within the neatly defined lines of Internationally-accepted conventions some fifty years ago. The lack of applicability thus creates the problem of accountability regarding the very organizations that are to take care of the person in flight. Soguk suggests that the discourse on the refugee is rooted in a hierarchical interpretation still, an interpretation that is blind to the refugee itself and that leads to a voicelessness that is “an effect of the refugee discourse” (9). Thus the central question in the book: “How is it that the discourse of the refugee announces itself as a privileged discourse oriented to helping the refugee yet all the while manages to afford no place for the refugee? This is, I would accentuate here, a question of power” (9). The answer to this question is to be found in the epistemologically and ontologically stable/sterile nature of the state/citizen discourse as it has been conceived by conventional International Relations scholars. Soguk turns his attention to the so-called paradox of sovereignty, deriving its legitimacy from the “premise that the modern citizen, occupying a bounded territorial community of citizens, is the proper subject of political life” (9) and thus, the paradox:
The state is understood to derive its powers from the citizens it represent,
the citizens who author the state by way of a covenant or social compact
that accords certain powers to the state, the citizens for whom, in return,
the state deploys law, force, and rational administrative resources in order
to guarantee certain protections. (9-10).
The community of citizens that empowers the state is the same community that the state claims to represent and by virtue of whose control the state authorizes its own use of violence, one outcome of which is the figure of the refugee. Neither theories of International Relations (realism and its derivatives), nor practices of International Organizations themselves made up of sovereign entities address sufficiently the question of the refugee as long as the latter continues to be seen as a challenge to territorially-defined authority of the state as well as to the security of its territorially-conceived citizens. The refugee is seen as a problem in the otherwise stable, orderly and secure realm of the nation state. In the context of state-ist discourse, the refugee is inscribed negatively as an outsider, an Other, a threat and at the same time, as the very thing that legitimizes the creation and justification of those very categories of exclusion. The dichotomized understanding of the modern state system cannot but perpetuate its claim to being the unproblematic authority that represents a territorially-bounded citizenry (12). In order that he uncover the paradoxical implications of the refugee, Soguk refers to “contingent moments of history when the presence of the refugees has become both a 'problem' to be addressed and a 'resource' to be employed in the service of discursive yet converging social and political practices of representation that constitute the realities of the sovereign territorial state” (15). In order to do that, Soguk follows the thought of Michel Foucault in uncovering how and why the refugee has been made “objects of acts of problematization” (17) affirming statist practices. As such, they legitimize practices of exclusion spanning from the unit of political organization that is the state to International Organizations' often hypocritical and orchestrated actions. Soguk centers his discussion around three puzzles:
The first puzzle centers on the question of whether it is possible to
retheorize the refugee discourse as one of the many boundary-producing discourses instrumental to the task of statecraft . . . how the refugee
problematizations might work in constitutions and representations of the
relations, institutions, and subjectivities of the sovereign state in local and
global politics. The second puzzle . . . how these problematizations might be
generated in a multilateral fashion, that is, through international activities of intergovernmental regimentation. And finally . . . how these activities of
intergovernmental regimentation are imbricated and bound up with the articulations of a number of fundamental projects and practices in life, including human rights, humanitarianism, security, and democracy and democratic practices. (21)
The figure of the refugee figures as a problem as well as an empowerment for both statist and international activities that perpetuate a rhetoric of regimented and methodical disciplining and inscribing of the “effective boundaries of sovereign statehood and citizenship in contemporary global life” (20). Thus, in conjunction with a call for the recognition of the multiple existing discourses on refugees, the book itself is a multifaceted exploration into the nature of the various theoretical as well as practical employments of the category of the refugee toward the creation of a “category of orchestration of global political life” (22). Chapter one engages the refugee as one of the multiple fields of statecraft in history. Chapter two offers a historical analyses of the evolution and emergence of the category of the refugee in relation to that of the sovereign state. Chapters three and four examine the various aspects of the so-called “international refugee regime” focusing primarily on intergovernmental practices as exemplified by the League of Nations and the United Nations. Chapters five and six examine “how contemporary strategic representations as sovereignty practices constitute strategic discourse on and of security, human rights and democracy, all of which are linked epistemologically and ontologically to the discourse on sovereignty” (25). Rightly so, the book poses more questions than it answers and opens the door to a more critical, certainly more liberating, interpretation and understanding of important issues that have been, to say the least, taken for granted and theoretically abstracted from the every day reality of the displaced human being dying somewhere on the border between two equally unstable, but importantly, sovereign, territories. To look beyond the state is indeed troubling but the only way to hope to see.

Chaosmosis: An Ethico Aesthetic Paradigm (Gacy)

Mathew Gacy 9/20/04 Chaosmosis: An Ethico Aesthetic Paradigm Indiana UP, 1995 135 pgs 1. Synopsis: In Chaosmosis, we find a proposal for new ways of understanding and producing subjectivity that are conducive to the refoundation of politics in a very broad sense. Félix Guattari advances a schizoanaytic modelisation of subjecticity as a necessary alternative to psychoanalysis and its reductive fixations on the family, structure, and language. Schizoanalysis instead is directed towards complexification, and divergent actualization. It recognizes the interaction between individuals, society, and institutions in the production of subjectivity as well as the heterogeneous construction of the Unconscious. This modelisation, or rather, metamodelisation utilizes the categories of material, energetic, and semiotic Fluxes, concrete and abstract machinic Phylums such as the steam engine, but also the writing machine, virtual Universes of value--more or less, value systems, though the concept is directed towards a recognition of their role in the production of subjectivity--and finite existential Territories, which are psychological, affective spaces created by an experience or situation. Throughout the text, we encounter the concept of the machine liberated from its common technological connotations and expanded to encompass living beings, partial objects, and more abstract entities. Guattari develops a machinism, with its connotations of dynamism and processuality, that he opposes to structure and with which he describes subjectivity and society. Guattari valorizes the aesthetic machine's exemplification of creativity and its involvement in the production of new existential Territories. The capacity for creation is not exclusive to the aesthetic machine, but it carries it farthest. For example, while psychoanalysis has affirmed its scientific status, Guattari claims that it would benefit from the adoption of an aesthetic processual paradigm such that it might "reacquire the creativity of its wild years at the turn of the century" (106). Regarding the production of existential Territories, Guattari writes that

whatever their sophistication, a block of percept and affect, by way of aesthetic composition, agglomerates in the same transversal flash, the subject and object, the self and other, the material and incorporeal, the before and after. . . In short, affect is not a question of representation and discursitvity, but of existence. I find myself transported into a Debussyst Universe, a blues Universe, a blazing becoming of Provence. I have crossed a threshold of consistency. Before the hold of this block of sensation, this nucleus of partial subjectivation, everything was dull, beyond it, I am no longer as I was before, I am swept away by a becoming other, carried beyond my familiar existential Territories (93).
2. Thesis: Guattari posits that new (schizoanalytic) methods of modeling subjectivity that are fundamentally based on heterogeneity and creativity are necessary to advance a general "liberatory" project. 3. Key words: --AUTOPOEISIS: refers to collective entities that engender and specify their own organization and limits and maintain diverse relations of alterity --FINITE EXISTENTIAL TERRITORIES: the psychological, affective space created by an experience/situation --FLUXES (material, energetic, and semiotic): expresses the dynamism of these entities --MACHINIC PHYLUMS (concrete and abstract): groups or families of machines, visible in both the steam engine and the writing machine --VIRTUAL UNIVERSES OF VALUE: value systems implicated in the production of subjectivity 4. School/ Discourse: French Post-Structuralist, Psychoanalytic 5. Thoughts Triggered:
There is a possible tension between the generally democratic and liberatory values that Guattari expresses and the more prominent, better developed valorization of creation, experimentation, and the actualization of virtualities. Elsewhere, Guattari does stress the necessity of a constant vigilance in the face of the potential emergence of micro-fascisms, but he fails to address how the constant becomings that he espouses might be guided and their potential ramifications monitored.
6. Context: Chaosmosis was published in 1992 and is Félix Guattari's final book. In many ways, it is a reinterpretation of Marx and Freud and continues lines of thought that he and Gilles Deleuze developed in Anti-Oedipus (1971) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980). The text is firmly situated within the French post-structuralist theoretical field. Guattari is influenced, most notably, by Nietzsche, Bergson, and far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics. 7. Applications
The text would seem to be of primary relevance for psychology and cultural theory. 8. Mapping of Text
Guattari, Felix. Chaosmosis. Trans. Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis. Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1995. 1 ON THE PRODUCTION OF SUBJECTIVITY 4 In such conditions it appears opportune to forge a more transversalist conception of subjectivity, one which would permit us to understand both its idiosyncratic territorialised couplings (Existential Territories) and its opening onto value systems (Incorporeal Universes) with their social and cultural implications. 6 [Daniel Stern] emphasizes the inherently trans-subjective character of an infant's early experiences. 7 The important thing here is not only the confrontation with a new material of expression, but the constitution of complexes of subjectivation: multiple exchanges between individual-group-machine. These complexes actually offer people diverse possibilities for recomposing their existential corporeality, to get out of their repetitive impasses and, in a certain way, to resingularise themselves. Grafts of transference operate in this way, not issuing from ready-made dimensions of subjectivity crystallised into structural complexes, but from a creation which itself indicates a kind of aesthetic paradigm. One creates new modalities of subjectivity in the same way that an artist creates new forms from the palette. 8,9** [provisional definition of subjectivity] 9 Subjectivity does not only produce itself throgh the psychogenetic stages of psychoanalysis of the "mathemes" of the Unconscious, but also in the large-scale social machines of language and the mass media--which canot be described as human. 10 My perspective involves shifting the human and social sciences from scientific paradigms towards ethico-aesthetic paradigms. 11 [modelisation] In a more general way, one has to admit that every individual and social group conveys its own system of modelising subjectivity; that is, a certain cartography--composed of cognitive references as well as mythical, ritual and symptomatological references--with which it positions itself in relation to its affects and anguishes, and attempts to manage its inhibitions and drives. 12** the crucial thing is to move in the direction of co-management in the production of subjectivity. . . Contemporary upheavals undoubtedly call for a modelisation turned more towards the future and the emergence of new social and aesthetic practices. I opted for an Unconscious . . .[FINISH] 13* How do certain semiotic segments achieve their autonomouy, start to work for themselves ad to secrete new fields of reference? It is from such a rupture that an existential singularisation correlative to the genesis of new coefficients of freedom will become possible. This detatchment of an ethico-aesthetic "partial object" from the field of dominant significations corresponds both to the promotion of a mutant desire and to the achievement of a certain disinterestedness. Here I would like to establish a bridge between the concept of a partial object (obect "a" as theorised by Lacan) that marks the autonomisation of the components of unconscious subjectivity, and the subjective autonomisation relative to the aesthetic object. [Lacan object a] [Bakhtin--> what Guattari call partial enunciation] [subjective autonomisation] 15 [existential refrains] Thus it it not only in the context of music and poetry that we see the work of such fragments detached from content, fragments which I place in the category of "existential refrains." The polyphony of modes of subjectivation actually corresponds to a multiplicity of ways of "keeping time." Other rhythmics are thus led to crystallise existential assemblages, which they embody and singularise. Thee simples examples of refrains delimiting existential Territories can be found in the ethology of numerous bird species. Certain specific song sequences serve to seduce a sexual partner, warn off intruders, or announce the arrival of predators. Each time this involves marking out a well-defined functional space. In archaic societies, it is through rhythms, chants, dances, masks, marks on the body, ground and totems, on ritual occasions and with mythical references, that other kinds of collective existential Territories are circumscribed. 16 To illustrate this mode of production of polyphonic subjectivity, where a complex refrain plays a dominant role, consider the example of televisual consumption. When I watch television, I exist at the intersection: 1. of a perceptual fascination provoked by the screen's luminous animation which borders on the hypnotic, 2. of a captive relation with the narrative content of the program, associated with a lateral awareness of surrounding events (water boiling on the stove, a child's cry, the telephone . . .), 3. of a world of fantasms occupying my daydreams. My feeling of personal identity is thus pulled in different directions. How can I maintain a relative sense of unicity, despite the diversity of components of subjectivation that pass through me? It's a question of the refrain that fixes me in front [17] of the screen, henceforth constituted as a projective existential node. My identity has become that of the speaker, the person who speaks from the television. Like Bakhtin, I would say that the refrain is not based on elements of form, material or ordinary signification, but on the detachment of an existential "motif" (or leitmotiv) which installs itself like an "attractor" within a sensible and significational chaos. The different components conserve their heterogeneity, but are nevertheless captured by a refrain which couples them to the existential Territory of my self. 17 [constellation of Universes] [example] The paradoxical concept of a complex refrain will enable us, in psychoanalytic treatment, to refer to an interpretive event, no longer to Universals or mathemes, not to preestablished structures of subjectivity, but rather to what I call a constellation of Universes. This does not involve Universes of reference in general, but incorporeal domains of entities we detect at the same time that we produce them, and which appear to have been always there, from the moment we engender them. 18 (and earlier) [issues of time, irreversibility] This is why I have opted for pragmatic interventions oriented towards the construction of subjectivities, towards the production of fields of virtualities which wouldn't simply be polarised by a symbolic hermeneutic centered on childhood. 19 In these conditions, the task of the poetic function, in an enlarged sense, is to recompose artificially rarefied, resingularised Universes of subjectivation. For them, its not a matter of transmitting messages, investing images as aids to identification, patterns of behaviour as props for modelisation procedures, but of catalysing existential operators capable of acquiring consistence and persistence. [poetic-existential catalysis] When it is effectively triggered in a given enunciative area--that is, situated in a historical and geo-political perspective--such an analytico-poetic function establishes itself as a mutant nucleus of auto-referentiality and auto-valorisation. 20 Beyond the poetic function, the question of the apparatuses of subjectivation presents itself. And, more precisely, what must characterise them so that they abandon seriality--in Sartre's sense--and enter into processes of singularisation which restore to existence what we might call its auto-essentialisation. . . . the three ecologies--the environment, the socius, and the psyche. We cannot conceive of a collective recomposition of the [21] socius, correlative to a resingularisation of subjectivity, without a new way of conceiving political and economic democracies that respect cultural differences--without multiple molecular revolutions. 21 A partial subjectivity--pre-personal, polyphonic, collective and machinic. Fundamentally, the question of enunciation gets decentered in relation to that of human [22] individuation. 22 So we are proposing to decentre the question of the subject onto the question of subjectivity. Traditionally, the subject . . . [MORE] Thus, we will start with the primacy of enunciative [23] substance over the couplet of Expression and Content. 23 I believe I've found a valid alternative to the structuralism inspired by Saussure, one that relies on the Expression/ Content distinction formulated by Hjelmslev, that is to say, based precisely on the potential reversibility of Expression and Content. Rather than playing on the Expression/ Content opposition which, with Hjelmslev, still repeats Saussure's signifier/ signified couplet, this would involve putting a multiplicity of components of Expression, or substances of Expression in parallel, in polyphony. [abstract machine] [Hjelmslev] 24 . . . to integrate into enunciative assemblages an indefinite number of substances of Expression, such as biological codings or organisational forms belonging to the socius. [machinic subjectivity] Expressive, linguistic and non-linguistic substances install themselves ast the junction of discursive chains (belonging to a finite, preformed world, the world of the Lacanian Other) and incorporeal registers with infinite, creationist virtualities [25] (which have nothing to do with Lacanian "mathemes"). It is in this zone of intersection that subject and object fuse and establish their foundations. It concerns a given that phenomenologists have addressed when they demonstrate that intentionality is inseparable from its object and involves a "before" in the discursive, subject-object relation. 25 We can trace this intuition to Bergson, who shed light on the non-discursive experience of duration by oppositing it to a time cut up into present, past and future, according to spatial schemas. [pathic subjectivity, before the subject-object relation . . .] 26** [pathic subjectivation] 28 [The logic of discursive ensembles vs. pathic logic] [MORE] The logic of discursive sets finds a kind of desperate fulfillment in Capital, the Signifier, and Being with a capital B. Capital is the referent for the generalised equivalence between labour and goods; the Signifier the capitalistic referent for semi- [29] ological expression, the great reducer of ontological polyvocality. The true, the good, the beautiful are "normalising" categories fro processes which escape the logic of circumscribed sets. Capital smashes all other modes of valorisation. 29 [ontological intensity] [MORE] 30 But maybe it's necessary to affirm both these positions concurrently: the domain of virtual intensities establishing itself prior to the distinctions being made between the semiotic machine, the referred object and the enunciative subject. It's from a failure to see that machinic segments are autopoietic and ontogenetic that one endlessly makes universalist reductions to the Signifier and to scientific rationality. 31 Note that the categories of metamodelisation proposed here--Fluxes, machinic Phylums, existential Territories, incorporeal Universes--are only of intertest because they come in fours and allow us to break free of teriary descriptions which always end up falling back into dualisms. The fourth term stands for an nth term: it is the opening onto multiplicity. What distinguishes metamodelisation from modelisation is the way it uses terms to develop possible openings onto the virtual and onto creative processuality. 2 MACHINIC HETEROGENESIS 33 [Humberto Maturana and Francisco Vareli] 34 [diagrammatic schemas] 35** [on abstract machines] [machinic assemblage] When we speak of abstract machines, by "abstract" we can also understand "extract" in the sense of extracting. They are montages capable of relating all the heterogeneous levels that they traverse and that we have just enumerated. The abstract machine is transversal to them, and it is this abstract machine that will or will not give these levels of existence, an efficiency, a power of ontological auto-affirmation. The different components are swept up and reshaped by a sort of dynamism. Such a machinic assemblage will hereafter be described as a machinic assemblage. 36 It is, then, impossible to deny the participation of human thought in the essence of machinism . . .What we need here is a distinction between on the one hand semiologies that produce significations, the common currency of social groups--like the "human" enunciation of people who work with machines--and on the other, a-signifying semiotics which, regardless of the quantity of significations they convey, handle figures of expression that might be qualified as "non-human" (such as equations and plans which enunciate the machine and make it act in a diagrammatic capacity on technical and experimental apparatuses. [MORE] 37*** [machinic vs. structure] 39 [autopoietic vs. allopoietic] The abstract machine passes through all these heterogeneous components but above all it heterogenises them, beyond any unifying trait and according to a principle of irreversibility, singularity, and necessity. 41 [great examples of different machines] 42 ["the delirious machines of Jean Tinguely] 45 [registers of machinic alterity] 47 [Heidegger's example of the commercial plane on the runway] 48 Why are we so insistent about the impossibility of establishing the general transalatability of diverse referential and partial enunciative components of assemblage? . . . distinctions between the different forms of semiological, semiotic, and coded linearity: 49 [a-signifying semiotic machines; example] [hypertexts] 51 And, here again, we need to rediscover a manner of being of Being--before, after, here and everywhere else--without beng, however, identical to itself: a processual, polyphonic Being singularisable by infinitely complexifiable textures, according to the infinite speeds which animate its virtual compositions. 53 . . . pure intensive repetitions that I have called the refrain function. 54* 55 [constellations of Universes of value] 56** 3 SCHIZOANALYTIC METAMODELISATION 58-9*** 58+ go over again 59 By making assemblages of enunciation open, chaotically determined, the concatentation of the four ontological function of Universe, machinic Phylum, Flux and Territory, preserve their pragmatic processuality. 65 [on universes and territories] [the emergent self] [processes of child development from birth onward] 67 [another use of the dialectic] [Universes of reference] 69 [the kitchen at La Borde] [degree of openness (coefficient of transversality)] 70 collective is not here synonomous with groups 71 [Universes, Consistency, partial analyser, a-signifying semiotic, network of nucleu of partial enunciation] 72 [Paul Virilio's "dromospheric" velocities of exchange] The Lacanian Signifier homogenises the various semiotics, it loses the multidimensional character of manyu of them. Its fundamental linearity, inherited from Saussurian structuralism, does not allow it to apprehend the pathic, non discursice, autopoietic character of partial nuclei of uninciation. One indicative topos refers to another indicative topos, without the trans-topical dimension of agglomeration--which charcaterise intensive Territories--ever emerging. 73 [Lacanian rereading of Fort/Da] 74** [assemblage of enunciation in Fort/Da] 76* The Unconscious of the dualist hypothesis of drives of life and death, like that of the transcendence of the Signifier--the murderer of the "things" of context--petrify chaosmic abolition, by aking it lose its immanence; they transform it inot deathly negativity, into a cadaverous object. It is true that a certain capitalistic, reductionist use of language leads it to a state of a signifing linerarity of discrete binary entities which smother, silence, disempower and kill the polysemic qualities of a Content reduced to the state of a neutral "referent." Isn't the task of analysis precisecly to recharge Expression with semiotic hetergeneity and to run counter to the disenchantment, demystification and depoetisation of the contemporary world denounced by Max Weber? 4 SCHIZO CHAOSMOSIS 77 . . . foundational intentionality of subject-object relations. . . 77-8 [the/ a Real] Psychosis starkly reveals an essential source of being-in-the-world. 78*** [Universes/ Territories] [semiotization] [somewhat earlier, discussions of consistency] 79 [on psychosis] [chaosmic existential stasis] Psychosis thus not only haunts neurosis and perversion but also all the forms of normality. . . . --the exclusive insistence of an existential stasis that I describe as chaosmic and which is capable of assuing all the hues of a schizo-paranoiac-manic-epileptoid, etc., spectrum. 80 [Derrida and differance] Why describe the homogenesis of ontological referents--and, by extension, the latent homogensis of other modalities of subjectivation--as chaotic? It's because, all lthings considered, worlding a complexion of sense alwas involves taking hold of a massive and immediate ensemble of contextual idveristy, a fusion in an undifferentiated, or rather de-differentiated, whole. A world is only constituted on the condition of being inhabited by an umbilical point--deconstructive, detotalisating and deterritorialising--from which a subjective positionality embodies itself. . . [MORE]** 81 And chaos is not pure indifferentiation; it possess a specific ontological texture. 83 So we are in the presence of two types of homogenesis: . . . [MORE] 84 The point of this is certainly not to make the schizo a hero of the postmodern . . . [MORE] 85 [the incorporeal Universes of art or religion] [more on chaos vs. complexity] [existential Universes] This, I repeat, stems from the fact that chaosmosis is not exclusive tot he individuated psyche. We are confronted by it in group life, in economic relations, machinism (for example, informatics) and even in the incorporeal Universes of art or religion. 86 Who speaks the truth? This is no longer the question; but how, and under what conditions can the best bring about the pragmatics of incorporeal events that will recompose a world and reinstall processual complexity? The idiosyncratic modelisations grafted onto one-to-one analysis, self-analysis and group [87] psychotherapy . . . always resort to borrowing from specialised langages. Our problemaitc of chaosmosis and the schizoanalytic escape from the prison of signification is firected--to compensate for these borrowings--towards a necessaryt a-signifying deconstruction of their discursivity and towards placing their ontological efficacy into a pragmatic perspective. 5 MACHINIC ORALITY AND VIRTUAL ECOLOGY 88 Lacan's full and empty speech 89** [oral vs. scriptral substances of expression] Speech empties itself when it falls into the clutches of scriptural semiologies fixed in the order of law, the control of facts, gesutres and feelings. The computer voice--"You have not fastened your seatbelt"--does not leave much room for ambiguity. Ordinary speech tries by constrast to keep alive the presence of at least a minimum of so-called non-verbal semiotic components, where the substances of expression constituted from intonation, rhythm, facial tgraits and postures, reinforce ad take over from each other, superimpose themselves, averting in advance the despotism of signifying circulairty. But at the supermarket there is no more time to chat about the quality of a product of haggle for a good price. The necessary and sufficient information has evacuated the existential dimensions of expression. We are not there to exist but to accomplish our duty as consumers. Instead we will begin with blocks of sensations formed by aesthetic practives before the oral, textural, gestural, postural, plastic ... whose function is to elude significations attachte to the trivial perceptions and opinions informing common sentiments. 90-1* [on the importance of art] In our era, aesthetic machines offer us the most advanced models--relatively speaking--for these blocks of sensation capable of extracting full meaning from all the empty signal systems that invest us from every side. 91 [ecosophy] This is to say that generalised ecology--or ecosophy-- will work as a science of ecosystems, as a bid for political regenera-[92]tion, and as an ethical, aesthetic and analytical engagement. 93** But whatever their sophistication, a block of percept and affect, by way of aesthetic composition, agglomerates in the same transversal flash, the subject and object, the self and other, the material and incorporeal, the before and after. . . In short, affect is not a question of representation and discursitvity, but of existence. I find myself transported into a Debussyst Universe, a blues Universe, a blazing becoming of Provence. I have crossed a threshold of consistency. Before the hold of this block of sensation, this nucleus of partial subjectivation, everything was dull, beyond it, I am no longer as I was before, I am swept away by a becoming other, carried beyond my familiar existential Territories. 94 [the enunciative consistency of Jazz] 96 [umbilical point] [hypertexts again] 97 [Pierre Levy-dynamic ideography] 6 THE NEW AESTHETIC PARADIGM 98 [territorialized Assemblages of eununciation] 98-9 [on archaic social life, art, etc.] 99 [on the transition to modern configurations] 99-100 [Universes of value] 101 [Duchamp] [Again, territorialized Assemblages of enunciation (which seem to be characterized by a "kind of polysemic, animistic, transindividual subjectivity")] 102 [discursive time (time marked by social clocks)] 103 . . . with deterritorialized assemblages of enunciation . . . 104 [materials of expression] 103-4** [modular individuation] 105*** [Capitalisitc deterritorialized assemblages] 106** [the value for psychoanalysis to move from scientific to aesthetic paradigms] 107** [3 tendencies of aesthetic processual paradigms] [the ethico-political implications] [scientific enunciation (with individual, collective, institutional, heads)] 108 [on the three types of enunciative assemblages] 109 [Being as an ontological equivalent] 111 [two types of ontological consistency] 7 THE ECOSOPHIC OBJECT 120 It is less a question of having access to novel cognitive spheres than of apprehending and creating, in pathic modes, mutant existential virtualities. 124 Exploding the hegemony of the capitalist valorisation of the world market consists in giving consistency to the Universes of value of social assemblages and existential Territories which situate themselves, in a manner of speaking, against the implosive evolution we are witnessing. 125 . . . The positionality of these refrains in the ordinary world will be effected, for example, as a derivative and a-signifying function of mythical, fantasmatic and . . . theoretical narrativity. 126 To speak of machines rather than drives, Fluxes rather than libido, existential Territories rather than instances of the self and transference, incorporeal Universes rather than unconscious complexes and sublimation, chaosmic entities rather than signifiers--fitting ontological dimensions together in a circular manner rather than dividing the world up into infrastructure and superstructure--may not simply be a matter of vocabulary . . . [MORE] 128 The primary purpose of ecosophic cartography is thus not to signify and communicate but to produce assemblages of enunciation capable of capturing the points of singularity of a situation. 131 The work of art, for those who use it, is an activity of unframing, of rupturing sense, of baroque proliferation or extreme impoverishment, which leads to a recreation and a reinvention of the subject itself. What is important is to know if a work leads effectively to a mutant production of enunciation. 133 Beyond material and political demands, what emerges is an aspiration for individual and collective reappropriation of the production of subjectivity.

Nietzsche (Cherie)

Name: Fredrich Nietzsche
Translator: Walter Kaufmann
Date: 1966
Title: Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future
Pub. Date: 1989
Length: 256

1) Synopsis: A historical critique which refutes that there is no single truth or authority of traditional power; there are only interpretations. There is no definitive version of truth in philosophy, religion, language, or science. Thus the Socratic quest for some way was/is futile.

2) Thesis: The "will to power" is the most basic instinct that an individual maintains. It is that will which incites one’s desire for self-preservation and allows superiority over weaker individuals. Ultimately the claim for "truth" is masked by the history of the life of the person proposing that particular "truth". It is the will to abound in self definition and seek out truth within the moment, one which is always evolving.

3) Key Words
1. Friedrich Nietzsche, Will to Power, Existentialism, Perspectivism, Zarathustra, Self-realization, Sublimation, Nihilism

4) School/Discourse
1. Existentialism - the desire to make rational decisions despite the existence of an irrational universe. The human desires for logic and immortality are futile, therefore humans are forced to individually define meaning.
2. Response to:
(a) Socrates – Search for truth; all men are equal in their search for living a moral and humble life.
(b) Kant - Empiricism and rationalism; knowledge is transmitted through the organization of space, time, and sensation. The search for absolute truth.
(c) Schopenhauer - Idealism; reality is a representation of the will and self-preservation.
(d) Hegel - German Idealism; recognition of consciousnesses through the recognition of mutual and distinct patterns.

5) Context: Beyond Good and Evil is Nietzsche’s attempt to summarize his philosophy of life. Nietzsche’s voice is very straightforward and often sarcastic, which can make this text at times confusing. One is often turned into thinking that Nietzsche is contradicting himself when really he is portraying a caustic view of another. The texts and its subdivisions are reliant upon each preceding section, therefore a careful read and a return to previous sections is helpful so as not to get lost in the underlying current of the moment that Nietzsche is attempting to capture. Throughout the text Nietzsche attacks Western morality and the interpretations of outward appearances. Vowing instead that humanity’s sensibility lies within its “will to power.” That is the shifting power that allows individuals to define everything for themselves. One truly fails to live if own does not take that risk or attempt to seize that recurring moment. Humans should cultivate the strong of will, becoming better and going beyond what it is at present. The only boundaries are those made by the past through enslavement to prescribed morality. The new philosopher is free from these bindings and seeks out its own truths.

The text is broken down into 9 core sections:

1. On the Prejudices of Philosophers – “…every great philosophy so far has been: namely, the personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir.” (p.13)
2. The Free Spirit - “Independence”: free spirit “is for the very few; it is a privilege of the strong.” It is “daring to the point of recklessness.” (p.41)
3. What is Religious - “The philosopher as we understand him, we free spirits—as the man of the most comprehensive responsibility who has the conscience for the over-all development of man—this philosopher will make use of religions for his project of cultivation and education, just as he will make use of whatever political and economic states are at hand.” (p.72)
4. Epigrams and Interludes – “The sage as astronomer.—As long as you still experience the stars as something “above you” you lack the eye of knowledge.” (p.81)
5. Natural History of Morals – Every morality is against nature since “one is accustomed to lying.” “…one is much more of an artist than one knows.” (p.105)
6. We scholars – “The objective man is an instrument… a mirror …that awaits content and substance in order to take ‘shape’.” (p.128)
7. Our Virtues – “As men of historical sense…we modern men, like semi-barbarism—and reach our bliss only where we are most—in danger.” (p. 153) “Our honesty, we free spirits—let us see to it that it does not become our vanity.” (p.156) (Side note: Some disparaging comments on the role and function of women; she is not “retrogressing”.)
8. Peoples and Fatherlands – “Perhaps Wagner’s strangest creation is inaccessible, inimitable, and beyond the feelings of the whole, so mature, Latin race, not only today but forever.”(p.198)
9. What is Noble – “The noble human being honors himself as one who is powerful, also as one who has power over himself.”(p.205) Self-preservation, Self enhancement, self-redemption. The Dionysian philosopher, who longs to reduplicate himself “trying to immortalize what cannot live and fly much longer—only weary and mellow things.”(p.237)

6) Applications
1. The role of the philosopher
2. Christian and Enlightenment social and moral systems
3. Religion and the “Death of God”
4. Socratic philosophy
5. Perspectivism and a look at meaning of truth

7) Other Works:
1. The Birth of Tragedy, Essay: 1872, (English, 1968)
2. Human, All Too Human, Essay: 1878
3. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Essays: 1883-1892, (English, 1961)
4. Beyond Good and Evil, Essay: 1886
5. On the Genealogy of Morals, Essay: 1887
6. Ecce Homo, Essay: 1888
7. Twilight of the Idols, Essay: 1889
8. The Anti-Christ, Essay: 1895
9. The Will to Power, Essay: 1901, (English, 1967)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (Callen)

Callen Shutters
September 20 and 27, 2004
Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative by Mieke Bal
University of Toronto Press, 1985
164 pages

1. This project is focused upon introducing readers to the field of narrative theory. Bal breaks down storytelling into three categories, which also correspond to three chapters in the text. These categories include Fabula: Elements, Story: Aspects, and Text: Words. The project of chapter one is to introduce the idea of the ‘fabula’ and to break down the story by the functionality of its parts. That is, Bal describes in detail how the narrative is broken down into events, actors, actants, time, and location. Chapter two focuses upon aspects of the story, including ordering, direction, possibilities, distance, and focalization. Also, Bal discusses the use of narrative techniques such as span, anticipation, achrony, rhythm, pause, frequency, predictability, and suspense. Within these subtopics, Bal gives examples of texts that employ each of these methods of embellishing a narrative. The final argument of this chapter is that “focalization is,…the most important, most penetrating, and most subtle means of manipulation” (116). Focalization accounts for the lens with which readers approach a narrative and considers the role of the reader in the relation of a narrative. Chapter three focuses upon an in-depth study of the many issues surrounding the distinct identities of the narrator and the author. Bal concludes her study by describing the relationships between primary and embedded texts.

2. Within narrative theory and the models of narrativity, there is a homology. That is, “a correspondence between the (linguistic) structure of the sentence and that of the whole text composed of various sentences” (11). In addition to the linguistic homology, Bal feels that there is also a structural homology “between the fabulas of narratives and real fabulas,” or the fabulas of life (12). By breaking down a story into categories of events, actors, actants, time, and location, these homologies emerge.


3. Chapter One Key Terms: Narratology: “the theory of narrative texts” (3)
Narrative Text: “a text in which an agent relates a narrative” (5)
Story: “a fabula that is presented in a certain manner” (5)
Fabula: “a series of logically and chronologically related events that are
caused or experienced by actors” (5)
Event: “the transition from one state to another state” (5)
Actors: “agents that perform actions (not necessarily human)” (5)
Act: “to cause of to experience an event” (5)


Chapter two key terms:
Aspects: a term that indicates that the story “does not consist of material
different from that of fabula, but that this material is looked at from a certain,
specific angle” (49)
Perspective: “the technical aspect, the placing of the point of view in a
specific agent” (50)
Point of View: “view from which the image of the fabula and the (fictitious)
world where it takes place are constructed” (50)
Chronological Order: “a theoretical construction, which we can make on the
basis of laws of everyday logic which govern common reality” (51)
Chronological Deviations or Anachronies: “differences between the
arrangement in the story and the chronology of the fabula” (53)
Media Res: “a conventional construction of a novel, in which the novel
begins by immersing the reader in the middle of the fabula” (53)
External Analepsis: a case in which “a retroversion (flashback) takes place
completely outside the time span of the primary fabula” (59)
Internal Analepsis: a retroversion which “takes place within the time span of
the primary fabula” (59)
Span: “the stretch of time covered by an anachrony,” can be complete or
incomplete (disconnected jumps in chronological fabula time) (61)
Achrony: “a deviation in time which cannot be analyzed any further,” an
instance where the “linearity of the fabula and the linearity of its presentation
to the reader no longer have any correspondence at all” (66)
*examples include a back reference, anticipation-within-retroversion,
retroversion-within-anticipation
Ellipsis: “an omission in the story of a section of the fabula” (71)
Iterative Presentation: “a whole series of identical events presented at once,”
the reverse of repetition (78)
Semantic Axis: “pairs of contrary meanings” (86)
*examples include large-small, rich-poor, man-woman, kind-unkind
Place: related to the physical, mathematically measurable shape of spatial
dimensions within the fictional sphere of the fabula” (93)
Space: “places seen in relationship to their perception,” places which are
linked to certain points of perception (93)
Focalization: the relationship between the vision and what is ‘seen,’
perceived” (100)
Focalizor: the subject of the focalization, the point from which the elements
are viewed (104)

Chapter Three Key Terms:
Narrator: “the linguistic subject, a function and not a person which expresses
itself in the language that contributes to the text” (119)
Implied Author: “the result of the investigation of the meaning of a text, and
not the source of that meaning,” “term used in order to discuss and analyse the
ideological moral stances of a narrative text without having to refer directly to
a biographical author” (119-120)

4. Structuralist. Bal describes elements “in their relation to each other, and not as isolated units” (45). The “assumption is that fixed relations between classes of phenomena form the basis of the narrative system of the fabula” (46). The approach relies upon a system of classification. Other theorists expanded upon and referenced include Barthes, Hendricks, Chatman, Bremond, Griemas, Souriau, Prince, Lotman, Genette, Hamon, Booth, Uspenski, Lodge, Friedman, Rimmon-Kenan, and Lanswer.

5. Since the text is a basic introduction to the elements of narrative, the text did not trigger substantial thought or analysis beyond the elements listed. Most importantly, it pushed me to think of examples of or exceptions to the structure of the elements listed in the text. Finally, the key terms used in the discourse of narratology will prove vital to the comprehension of other theoretical texts on this topic.


6. The book offers a broad view of the history of narrative theory while also breaking down the pieces of a narrative into easily navigable elements. Within these elements, one can apply the investigation to any narrative. In this respect, Bal’s analysis seems timeless.

7. This text has provided me with a sound base of knowledge of narrative theory and the many elements that go into storytelling.

Baudrillard, Simulations (Rachel)

Rachel Moe
September 28, 2004
Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
Publication Date: 1983
Length: 159 pages


Synopsis
Simulations consists of two main sections, the first titled The Precession of Simulacra and the second titled The Orders of Simulacra. Baudrillard’s focus in the first section of this book is to introduce the concept that the world in which we live consists of images and signs that have disengaged themselves from “reality.” The new postmodern world is made up of simulations that are not based on “reality” but are devised by our imaginations. For example, he believes that in the past a map was a representation of reality itself. Today it is too difficult to distinguish between reality and the image of reality due to simulation. This blurring of what is “real” and “unreal” is what the author calls “hyperreality.” It is substituting signs of reality for reality itself. He believes that there are four phases of the image. The phases include reflecting a basic reality, masking or perverting a basic reality, masking the absence of a basic reality, and bearing no relation to any reality (its own pure simulacrum).
In the second half of Simulacra, Baudrillard discusses the three orders of appearance, which include Counterfeit, Production and Simulation. Counterfeit is representative of the “classical” period from the Renaissance to the industrial revolution and occurs when a basic reality is masked or distorted. Baudrillard believes that in the Renaissance “the false is born along with the natural.” He introduces the concept of stucco, where castes and artificial signs bind society, where social power is created.
During the industrial revolution, signs did not have to be counterfeited because they were produced on a massive scale. He proposed that through this series of production and reproduction objects became undefined simulacra, one just a copy of the other. Reproduction masks the absence of a basic reality.
The third order, simulation, is the order of the modern world. One must use this model as a point of reference. Things can no longer be based on the order of production, and Baudrillard compares the third order to DNA and codes, where a point of reference no longer exists, where the structure of the sign is digital. He argues that science has become man’s thought process and that everything is presented to us in question and answer form. He believes the answers to the tests we create are predetermined. You can approach a subject at any angle to capture the mood or response you desire! The media use samples, for example public opinion polls, and manipulate “that which cannot be decided.” Any question asked already has a fabricated response. A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when one uses polling. The question creates the answer.
Throughout Simulations, Baudrillard focuses on media, society, and technology. Current media technology has changed how people think and function. The boundaries between the masses and the media have imploded and it is impossible to separate them. The media reach a huge mass of people, feeding them the same information. In return, the masses make demands on the media as to what they want to view. This exchange between the media and the masses blurs the boundaries of reality.



Thesis
In society, the vast number of signs and simulations blur the boundaries of reality.

Key Words/Terms
Simulation- the representation of a system that imitates reality
Hyperreality- substituting signs of reality for reality itself
Simulacra- images, signs and codes

School of Thought
Simulations belongs to the postmodern school of thought.

Thoughts Text Triggered
Reading this text reinforced the idea that the media are so intertwined in the reality of our lives that they have become a part of our reality. It is difficult to distinguish between news and entertainment, fact and fiction. Reality TV is simulation at its best, not even reality. This text encouraged me to think about the possibility that things exist in order to prove a reality that is not there. For example, people have created symbols (religious, etc.) to represent a reality that they cannot prove. Overall, this book has opened my eyes to the intellectual changes made by society and it has given me another angle from which I can study the media. Baudrillard’s cynical and somewhat dismal views of the world and the age of digitization are intriguing, leaving readers to ponder whether the reality they have created for themselves could ever be more insane than the reality in which Baudrillard lives.

Context
The context of this book is based in postmodern society and examines mass media and emulsion in the general population.

Applications of Text
Baudrillard’s ideas can virtually be applied to any area of modern society. One application of this text is to the interactions between current media and technology and society. It demonstrates the power of the media to effect changes in society. For example, in the past there was an instance where the media told people that there was an oil shortage. This affected society’s behavior when people reacted to this misinformation. The shaping power of the media is vast and should always be under scrutiny. Another application of the text is the numbing effect the media have on society. Some children, after simulating “reality” through video games, become numb to the violence in the real world. Children have resorted to gun violence without realizing the horror of what they are doing.

Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Aloy)

Book Report
Aloy Canete


The Consequences of Modernity
By Anthony Giddens
Stanford University Press, California, 1990, ix + 186 pp.

Synopsis

In this book, Anthony Giddens examines the nature and consequences of modernity by looking at major discontinuities separating modern social institutions from the traditional (or pre-modern) social orders. The disjuncture stems from the following: the pace of change (as in the unprecedented rapidity of change in modern technology), the scope of change (as in the extent to which change has affected the world), and the nature of social institutions not found in pre-modern societies such as nation-state, dependence on inanimate power sources, commodification of products and wage labor, predominance of urban life forms and so on, which, of course, are contingent on capitalism, industrialism, surveillance, and military power.

Giddens argues that modernity involves a profound reorganization of time and space in social and cultural life. This is spelled out in his discussion on “time-space distanciation” and “disembedding.” According to Giddens, social relations of pre-modern societies predominantly are largely confined to a face-to-face interaction in a given locale. However, the advent of modernity undermines social interaction in pre-modern societies by “fostering relations between ‘absent’ others, locationally distant from any given situation of face-to-face interaction” (p.18); in other words, it disembeds or lifts out social relations from local contexts of interaction and rearranges them across indefinite spans of time-space. Reflexivity is another defining feature that separates modernity from pre-modern societies.

In understanding the nature of modernity, Giddens dwells lengthily on the issues of trust in respect to disembedded institutions and the questions of security, risk, and danger in the modern world. Modernity, for Giddens, is a double-edged phenomenon if not paradoxical. One can see the benefits and advantages modern social institutions have created, which have affected the world on a global scale. On the other hand, modernity has led to problems that are increasingly becoming very significant today, such as the degrading nature of modern industrial work, the growth of totalitarianism, the threat of environmental destruction, and the alarming development of military power and weaponry. How far can we…harness the juggernaut, or at least direct it in such a way as to minimize the dangers and maximize the opportunities which modernity offers to us?—is the challenge we all are facing.


Keywords: modernity, time-space distanciation, disembedding, trust, reflexivity, juggernaut, utopian realism, post-modernity


Denzin , Images of Postmodern Society: Social Theory and Contemporary Cinema (Michael)

Images of Postmodern Society: Social Theory and Contemporary Cinema.
By Norman K. Denzin
Denzin’s book is a study of the postmodern self as it is represented in two places: postmodern social theory and a selection of contemporary Hollywood movies.


The book is organized into two parts.
Part 1: “The Postmodern” which is four chapters.
1. “Defining the Post-Modern Terrain.” A description of the post-modern contemporary world in all its aspects.
2. Postmodern Social Theory.” Where a post-modern theory fits among a current school of theorists who disregard it. “A certain nostalgia pervades contemporary social theory, a longing for a past which postmodern social theory says is over.” These theorists are in danger of being past over as irrelevant.
3. Takes on the Postmodern: Baudrillard, Lyotard and Jameson. The relevant, though flawed, theorists, in Denzin’s view.
4. Learning From Mills (or C. Wright Mills, who wrote Sociological Imagination, which was one of American sociology’s first treatments of the postmodern condition. Mills’s main topic was the relationship between personal troubles and public issues.)

Part II: In the second part Denzin works back and forth between social theory texts (Mills, Baudrillard, Barthes, Derrida, poststructuralism, post-modernism, feminist cultural studies, etc) and cinematic representations of life in contemporary America in six films: Blue Velvet, Wall Street, Crimes and Misdemeanors, When Harry Met Sally, sex, lies and videotape, Do the Right Thing. He uses the films as “readings of contemporary life in America, finding postmodern contradictions in them which mirror the everyday in the society and its popular culture.”

Denzin says that his goal is “to fit Mills’s call for a postmodern sociological imagination to Baudrillard’s reading of contemporary America.”
In the preface and the first chapter Denzin defines “postmodern,” post-modernism” and “post-modern self” often and in a few different ways. I think Denzin does this to get a handle on the sometime vague definition of postmodernism and also to try to show how vast and encompassing postmodernism is, in terms of the way it affects and defines culture and society.
Denzin talks of the postmodern self in terms of three cultural identities: class, gender and race. And, evoking Baudrillard he talks about how “the postmodern self has become a sign of itself, a double dramaturgical reflection anchored in media representations on one side and everyday life on the other.” And Denzin thinks that this double self is too often reduced to its markers of class, race and gender.

Overall, Denzin is interested in finding a new sociology that stays in touch with the experience of the late 20th century. He also wants to figure out how individual human beings can emerge from the things that define them: the signs, the reflections and the assignments of race, class and gender. I think this is a laudable, if ambitious and difficult, goal to achieve. But I worry about the things he worries about and I am happy to follow him and see what he proposes.
What is scary to see is just how much further down the road we are on the postmodern path that Denzin lays out in his book only 13 years ago. The world is so much more hypermediated and remediated, and people, especially young people, are so much more defined by image and reflection, while race, gender and class are still essentially what marks each of us.
It has been occurring to me lately—and this book has been part of the catalyst—just how constructed I am by the post-modern condition. I was at an art gallery the other night, a small one with students and artists commingling, sharing their work, and I realized I was resisting it because the media wasn’t validating their work. Sub-consciously I have come to believe that an actor is not a “true actor” unless he is on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, a painter, not a painter, unless her work is covered in The New York Times. My apartment is top to bottom with representations. My walls are covered with framed movie posters—representations of representations—and I see myself reflected in them. Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia—I have constructed myself, my attitudes of romance, adventure, philosophy in their image. What is real about me? Where is my essential humanness? Who would I be without these images, this postmodern society to form and inform me?
So I find the book readable and interesting if not attempting to be (so far at least) entirely original. Denzin does a very good job of situating theorist and theories in context and in providing summaries of theorist’s work.



Sontag, Photography (Victor)

name: Susan Sontag
title: On Photography
pub date: 1973
length: 208 pgs.

Sontag’s basic premise in this text is to define the meaning of photography; what it is. How it traverses from a non-artistic mimetic medium to a socially impacting/aware artistic form.

Is it an art form? Mechanical, soul-less, a violation, a method of control (government), acquisition, etc.? Yes.

Sontag runs the gamut from Arubs’ work on documenting/abstracting even further the “victims” of society, down to the differences between American and European photographic endeavors. A discussion on how pht is more wholly American in the sense that pht makes the now old, today yesterday, so on and so forth—“a less stable connection with history”.

“…you’ve lost your identity. You’ve fallen through the cracks of our quick-fix, one-hour
photo, instant oatmeal society”. – Lisa Simpson

Photography furnishes instant histories (and memories); a society becomes “modern” when it produces and consumes images; preferring image to the thing, copy to the original, the representation to reality, appearance to being (Feuerbach in the Essence of Christianity). It confirms and consumes reality.

Photography is not only a record of the world, but an evaluation, makes everything beautiful, even the humble, no one ever said, “isn’t that ugly”; yet it struggles between beautification and truth-telling.

Is a transgression not only upon the subject, but upon the spectator as well; robs the spectator from a deeper appreciation/connection of/with the “real” thing. The “real” thing fails in comparison to the feelings evoked by the “realities” of the photo.

Does not create the real, it merely recycles the real.

The camera is the ultimate too/weapon of the tourist. Photography/camera makes everyone a tourist, a voyeur. It is phallic, a predatory weapon, a fantasy machine.

Because a photograph is a fixed point in time, it becomes a message from the past. Giving rise to (photographic) memories, or memories dependent upon photos. Because a photo is a material object, by possessing this material object, the experience captured therein is possessed as well, an imaginary possession.

Photography = captured experience.


On Photography is a “perfect” example of how to understand photography, as well as thinking photographically. It also serves a primer of sorts to visual theory and culture. If you want a good read that won’t leave you going “huh?”, but will leave you going “hmmm”, then this is the text to pick up. Sontag covers each and every single base, with slight hints to her bias, but does so well. Even includes, as a final chapter, quotes on photography.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Connected - Steven Shaviro

Shaviro's text explores the socio-psychological effects of pomo networks. He uses science fiction as a means to explore a number of themes including metaphysics, gender, identity, sexuality, technology and biology. I suggest that if you are a science fiction fan and are interested in postmodern culture than this might be a good read. Shaviro sees science fiction as a prophetic discourse.
If you are not much of a sci-fi fan then it may not be worth the effort to dig into this for some pomo insights. They're there but are piggy-backed with a knowledge of contemporary sci-fi, especially Jeter's Noir. If you want more detail, email me.

How to Contribute - The Manifesto

Thinking Culture is a virtual book club. Its goal is to serve as a library for writers who review media dealing with the nature/theory of modern and postmodern culture. The idea began in a culture theory class at Arizona State University in 2004. Students were asked simply to read/watch five media sources that dealt with any aspect of cultural theory, everything from architecture to pomo zoo spaces, from theories of representation to Kill Bill aesthetics.

If you are interested in posting and sharing your readings of cultural texts/cultural theory, please email me at
coolpoint25@cox.net and I will give you access. Please respect the purpose of this site.