not digging political art

The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values. All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war.

Walter Benjamin, “The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction”

 

I’m not updating this a lot, but I’m doing things. Not into the idea that we need to appear constantly productive, engaged, profit-making, etc, either online or in the physical world. But for some reason I’m still compelled every now and then to check in to this site and make some sort of official declaration that

I’m plugging away hard as ever on things I find interesting, more concerned every day about the nexus of global ecological devastation and consumer capitalism, etc. A dissertation proposal, syllabus, some non-coursework essays, that kind of thing. Happy Summer ’17.

A lot of thoughts about data and control in particular. New writing from Rob Horning remind me that there are very useful departure points for my research:

“When we limit identity to consumer choices, it makes us more knowable to others in this datafied form than we are to ourselves. But being scored through our data also feeds the fantasy that we are essentially knowable, that we can know ourselves completely and totally, taking into account all the implications and ramifications of the various traits we possess. Algorithms promise a simple solution to the riddle of the self, should we want one. They promise the certainty that data alone suffices to make a self — just generate data and you are significant, a somebody, a unique identification number at the very least. One can accept the ready pleasure of consumerism rather than pursue the freedom of autonomy, which is always imperfect and requires boundless innovation in our techniques of resistance. We can learn the secret of ourselves, as long as we consent to be controlled.”

The rest is here: http://reallifemag.com/sick-of-myself/

Also I’ve been traveling. At some point I should post photos from Nashville, Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, and southern Virginia, AKA home for almost an entire year now. Time’s flying..

entertaining the fantasy of complete psychological self-sufficiency

“I conceived of a rather odd project: not the evolution of sexual
behavior but the projection of a history of the link between the
obligation to tell the truth and the prohibitions against sexuality. I
asked: How had the subject been compelled to decipher himself in
regard to what was forbidden? It is a question of the relation
between asceticism and truth.

Max Weber posed the question: If one wants to behave
rationally and regulate one’s action according to true principles,
what part of one’s self should one renounce? What is the ascetic
price of reason? To what kind of asceticism should one submit? I
posed the opposite question: How have certain kinds of
interdictions required the price of certain kinds of knowledge
about oneself? What must one know about oneself in order to be
willing to renounce anything?”

— Michel Foucault, “Technologies of the Self”

after life

“The invention of the Morse alphabet in 1837 was promptly followed by the tapping specters of spiritistic seances sending their messages from the realm of the dead. Promptly as well, photographic plates-even and especially those taken with the camera shutter closed-furnished reproductions of ghosts or specters, whose black-and-white fuzziness only served to underscore the promise of resemblance. Finally, one of the ten applications Edison envisioned for his newly invented phonograph in the North American Review ( 1878) was to record “the last words of dying persons.”

It was only a small step from such a “family record, “with its special consideration of revenants, to fantasies that had telephone cables linking the living and the dead. What Leopold Bloom in Ulysses could only wish for in his Dublin graveyard meditations had already been turned into science fiction by Walter Rathenau, the AEG chairman of the board and futurist writer. In Rathenau’s story “Resurrection Co.,” the cemetery administration of Necropolis, Dacota/USA, following a series of scandalous premature burials in 1898, founds a daughter company entitled ‘Dacota and Central Resurrection Telephone Bell Co.’ with a cap­ital stock of $750,000. Its sole purpose is to make certain that the inhabitants of graves, too, are connected to the public telephone network. Whereupon the dead avail themselves of the opportunity to prove, long before McLuhan, that the content of one medium is always another medium-in this concrete case, a deformation professionelle.

These days, paranormal voices on tape or radio, the likes of which have been spiritistically researched since 1959 and preserved in rock music since Laurie Anderson’s 1982 release Big Science, inform their researchers of their preferred radio wavelength. This already occurred in 1898, in the case of Senate President Schreber: when a paranormal, beautifully autonomous ‘base or nerve language’ revealed its code as well as its channels, message and channel became one. ‘You just have to Introduction 13 choose a middle-, short-, or long-wave talk-show station, or the ‘white noise’ between two stations, or the ‘Jurgenson wave,’ which, depending on where you are, is located around 1450 to 1600 kHz between Vienna and Moscow. ‘ If you replay a tape that has been recorded off the radio, you will hear all kinds of ghost voices that do not originate from any known radio station, but that, like all official newscasters, indulge in radio self-advertisement. Indeed, the location and existence of that ‘Jürgenson wave’ was pinpointed by none other than ‘Friedrich Jürgenson, the Nestor of vocal research.’

The realm of the dead is as extensive as the storage and transmission capabilities of a given culture. As Klaus Theweleit noted, media are always flight apparatuses into the great beyond. If gravestones stood as symbols at the beginning of culture itself, our media technology can retrieve all gods. The old written laments about ephemerality, which measured no more than distance between writing and sensuality, suddenly fall silent. In our mediascape, immortals have come to exist again.”

—Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

absence makes the heart

“Naming the ‘things that are absent’ is breaking the spell of the things that are; moreover, it is the ingression of a different order of things into the established one — ‘le commencement d’un monde.’

For the expression of this other order, which is transcendence within the one world, the poetic language depends on the transcendent elements in ordinary language. However, the total mobilization of all media for the defense of the established reality has coordinated the means of expression to the point where communication of transcending contents becomes technically impossible.

The spectre that has haunted the artistic consciousness since Mallarme — the impossibility of speaking a nonreified language, of communicating the negative — has ceased to be a spectre. It has materialized.”

— Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man

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ambivalence, flirting games, translating, seeing you seeing me

Gayatri Spivak commenting on and quoting J.M. Coetzee:

“It is this particular ambivalence in poems that seems exciting for this translator to access, as she makes the mistake of thinking the named subject is she. Thus the ambivalence seems to offer a codicil to that bit in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians that she had so liked: how does the other see me? Identity’s last secret. Coetzee describes the Magistrate describing his deciphering effort thus:

‘So I continue to swoop and circle around the irreducible figure of the girl, casting one net of meaning after another over her… What doe she see? The protecting wings of a guardian albatross  or the black shape of a coward crow afraid to strike when its prey yet breathes?’ ”

(An Aesthetic Education In The Era of Globalization, page 273)

2017 ASPECT Conference Call for Papers

My doctoral program has released the call for papers for its annual conference — see below:

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Across disciplinary boundaries, the 2017 ASPECT graduate conference seeks to address articulations of aesthetics, politics, and ethics within contested temporalities. Graduate students of any level and irrespective of disciplinary affiliation are encouraged to submit abstracts of approximately 300 words based on papers that engage topics related to artistic, aesthetic, social, political, philosophical, cultural, theoretical, ethical, and critical concerns. Trajectories of inquiry may include theoretical, critical, empirical, policy-oriented, and performative explorations of the conference theme. Particularly, we invite papers that engage issues of interdisciplinarity.

Possible paper topics may include but are not limited to: the body and politics; critical approaches to technology and aesthetics; ecological and environmental issues; gender and sexuality; geopolitics and international relations; identity politics; time and the city; marginalized knowledges; moral and political philosophy; new materialities; writing and history; postcolonialism; post-Marxism and ideology; race; religion and secularity; critical security studies; and violence and representation.

***

Confirmed Plenary Speaker:

Dr. Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawaii, Manoa

Abstracts of 300 words are due by Friday, December 2, 2016. We are using the OCS system which will require you to create an account and upload your abstract to this website.

For more information, email aspect@vt.edu.