Network List

Filed under: philosophy, event, difference, text, network — sdv @ 08:52:47 pm

The network society list i’m working with is listed below. I’m still unsure how useful it will be to think of it it in these terms but my ongoing research into the area suggests that these are the current lines of thought which are the most descriptive of the network society we live in. It is necessary to differentiate this is critically not to be considered in terms of a network society to come, nor as coming society, as a futurism but rather I think in terms of understanding the present. I freely admit that this line of thought has been caused by my experimental experience with twitter, which led me to rethink some of the lines of thought that in some sense references networks. Of course it remains provisional and still developing but I still think (I) we can begin to see the way that the paradigm of the network is mirroring the present and affecting the future.

So the following attempts to outline the epistemological, the social and political concerns - my own personal reluctance to say ontological at this point is because it’s not clear to me that a concept that derives its force from the technical should be considered as developing the way i\we think of the ontological, but even with this caveat it’s obvious how the ontological haunts the differing discourses below. Here at least I think that the two predominant ontological lines being the post-heideggerian line and the more material Spinozist-Marxist line of thought and flight.

The wide array of the discourses of networks has played an increasingly predominant role in the recent decades, to the extent that I would unhesitatingly identify it as paradigmatic. It has been used in evolutionary science, electrical engineering, systems theories, adaptive systems, mathematics, marketing, business theory and economic modelling of capital. What this thinking does is to challenge disciplines and our standing epistemological thinking, translating the implications of networks from its original fields into the new assemblages of social research, materialist history, nomadic thinking into the various posthumanisms to discussions of power and the gradual recognition that class exists.

The list then looks like the following:

The usual self-proclaimed gurus of network science, new global assemblage theory, Niklas Luhmann – systems theory, Deleuze and Guattari rhizomes and lines of flight, Annelise Riles network thinking, Bord and Somerville netocracy, Zygmunt Bauman reconceptualisation of the postmodern as the Liquid Modern, Manuall Castells theorization of the network society as the interbet galaxy, and manual de Landa’s assemblages and meshworks, Bruno Latours ANTs, Jean Luc Nancy’s ecotechnics, Negri and Hardt’s spinozist empire and the commons, and Alain Supiot legalistic idealistic return to Dogma, Mary Poovey and Lorraine Daston on philosophy of science, Serres Angels and accountability, Luciana Parisi abstract sex, Bernard Steigler on Technics, Pierre Levy’s digital virtual, Price’s Slow Tech, Elizabeth Grosz evolution, Malabou plasticy, Benkler’s neoliberal wealth of networks and David Edgerton’s revisionist history…

It seems important to say that the list does not make any claims for quality or even readability, let alone usefulness of the concepts they invent and co-opt. Nor can I know where the list or the research will take me …..


the break

Filed under: philosophy, event, difference, text, the political — sdv @ 06:21:48 pm

The earlier Serres quotes are from Conversations with Serres – in the section Wisdom – though equally I could have used related quotations from The Natural Contract (NC) which makes the same basic argument, founded on the recognition that we are living on the other side of an epistemological break in knowledge, a break which he constructs with more fear and trepidation than I believe is necessary. A break from the world of irredeemable laws, an unforgiving world where we lived in a universe in which everything was of necessity independent of us. It was a world where nearly everything reinforced the distinction between what depends on us and those that we depended on. The local, the neighbourhood, things close by depended on us but the distant, the masses, matter, the planet, the sphere of human necessity itself was always beyond our influence. After the break we have moved into a world in which we are no longer subjugated by the previously irredeemable laws, by global necessity. Since the break we have become the controllers of things that used to subjugate us – to the point where issues of life and death are now choices, where life used to be subject to natural events this is no longer the case. Where once it was wholly arbitrary why women and children lived and died in the act of having children – we have now moved to a state which hovers between the commonly recognized and known ‘can’ (we can choose the sex of our children) to the ‘must’ (we must decide the sex of our children).

In the Natural Contract what Serres produces towards the end is a logic of irreplaceability, which rather nicely rhymes with irreversiblity, with the clear realization that before our eyes ‘the whole world is objectifying itself, thrown before him’ object by object. This is not to suggest that Serres is making a version of the argument that accepts the philosophical argument that its is ‘objects all the way down’ and obviously all the way up, but rather that the world and we ourselves have become objects we can manipulate. Almost by accident and certainly by default we have become cosmonauts who have returned to Earth and found ourselves completely deterritorialized, on a strange territory and with the substantive difference that unlike Lem’s cosmonaut in ‘Return from the Stars’ we may never reterritorialize back onto the earth again.

Serres and consequently our materialistic and intellectual trajectory contains the perfect representation of the moment of the epistemological break – on the one side in the ‘Birth of Physics’ he talks about information theory (noise) and thermodynamics, and on the other side of it the clinamen, non-linear dynamics and the natural contract. It’s the material on this side of the break that is especially interesting because of the extraordinary extent to which it supports the very different relationship which we are developing with our locality. The ‘we’ does not contain everybody, for vast numbers of people still live in the coexisting worlds of the industrial and pre-industrial eras. They don’t yet live in the world in which “Everything depends or will depend on us, not just all things but systems as such, and totalities” but there is every chance that they will. In the present we who do are capable of all the good in the world, feeding, caring, educating, anything and yet equally we are capable of the most terrible destructiveness from destroying the planet, disrupting the climate, choosing to give birth to ideologically selected children, all boys or girls. Our sciences and technics for good or ill have invaded the sphere of metaphysics. Since the break we have finally become the masters of Earth and local space, but our mastery does not include the mastery of our mastery, we do not control our actions and the events. All to often thinkers construct metaphysics and understandings which are intended to avoid understanding the change that has already happened. This happened is crucial, not something that is about to happen but a historical break that has already happened.


e-books and text

Filed under: philosophy, difference, text — sdv @ 10:56:04 am

I think that the mistake here is in thinking that a digital text is the same media as a printed book. The underlying issue is a repeat of the 1950s panic in cinema over television. Are they the same medium ? will cinema vanish and replaced by television… and so on. Obviously I think this is fear is mistaken a new medium appears and the social relationships change. The nature of reading changes… But not as much as people imagine. Given my rather intense relationship with philosophy and text (in the Barthes sense) its perhaps not surprising that the notes don’t work for me, however interesting I find the discourse itself. So the explain…

I began reading Spinoza some years ago because of work of Toni Negri & Gilles Deleuze, realizing i knew nothing about the imediate reception of Spinoza and the historical context - I end up with an edition Stanley Clarke’s ‘Attributes’ the 1725 edition. It’s not a matter of fetishizing the physical text itself, but rather of pointing out that it’s 300th birthday is approaching… With all the implications that this has for the transmission of knowledge and the pleasure of reading.

E-books are a mass consumptive device, our socio-economic culture may find this well attuned to its deep capitalist culture but be careful what you wish for.


Quotes from Serres

Filed under: philosophy, difference, text, the political — sdv @ 10:00:49 pm

Individuals and groups of people crushed by irremediable pains live in my childhood memories and in the memory (now nearly illegible) of the humanities. At that time moral virtues formed a system of practical recipes (more or less effective) for resisting the bondage dealt us by the world and our debility. We no longer need such crutches…

This is really the end of a history, at least for the richest inhabitants of well-off nations. But the third and fouth worlds remain immersed in the era of my childhood and of the humanities….

We are now admittedly the masters of the Earth and of the world, but our very mastery seems to escape our mastery. We have all things in hand, but we do not control our actions. Everything happens as if our powers escaped our powers-whose partial projects, sometimes good and often unintentional, can backfire or unwittingly cause evil. As far as I know, we do not yet control the unexpected road that leads from the local pavement, from good intentions, towards a possible global hell.

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