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Questions for discussion on “Placing the Past”

November 2, 2009 Leave a comment

To David and Pete: nice posts! I’m still thinking through these questions so my post is a sort of list-argument:

1. What is at stake with editing time out of the picture of History? How can there be a story with out the dimension of time? How might this line of argument stand up to the physics notion that time is the 4th dimension? How and when does Ethington use the word “dynamic,” and is this suggestive of underlying figurative language concerning movement that his discussion of “emplacement” can’t avoid?

2. “Simmel’s signal achievement is the fusion of metaphoric and geometric spatiality in a single conceptual framework, one that successfully resists hypostatizaing or abstracting ‘space’ in the ways Lefebvre complains of.” (480) What is lost or gained in the conflation of the literal and the metaphoric in Ethington’s piece?

3. How might Heraclitus’ famous quote “you can’t step into the same river twice” help situate Ethington’s discussion of space and time?

4. How might we analyze Ethington’s own literal metaphor of “the spatial map” for its strengths and weaknesses–how would would it be effective or restrictive as a tool to think with? In other words, what registers of experience cannot be captured on a map (either static or dyanamic)?

5. As a follow up, IS the “abstract grid of ‘space’ ultimately a neutral frame, mere instrumental rationality, not to be confused with the value rationality of a particular instance of deploying it” (481) as Ethington claims? In other words, are maps/grids ever un-political, or is there something political (or at least, not “neutral”) about the act of creating cultural maps (of history, for example)? What about Ethington’s claim, “Anything that cannot be mapped is beyond the event horizon of consciousness”? (It seems curious that he metaphorically casts consciousness as some kind of black hole that has an event horizon, sucking all surrounding material into its gravitational depths…)

6. “However daunting may seem the prospect of ‘mapping’ such intangible topoi as love, greed, faith, ambition, racism, justice (and all the various forms of cultural cognition that historians must address), the task is unavoidable given that all human actions inscribe topoi, and every topos is simultaneously locatable and meaningful” (487). This seems rather controversial, begging further discussion at least about the way he makes the statement.

–> Here those familiar with Brian Massumi’s Parables of the Virtual might be helpful; I’ve only read the Intro and first chapter for Tim Lenoir’s class tomorrow, but it’s intriguingly critical of mapping practices and calls for “adding movement back into the picture,” for if a body becomes mapped (let’s say historically?), then “how does a body perform its way out of a definitional framework that is not only responsible for its very ‘construction,’ but seems to prescript every possible signifying and counter signifying move as a selection from a repertoire of possible permutations on a limted set of predetermined terms? How can the grid itself change?” (3 Massumi). For Massumi, “positionality is an emergent quality of movement” and spatial/temporal modes of reality “pass into each other” or fold into each other. For me this seems to be a more productive way of thinking about the relation between the literal and metaphoric as well.

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Some discussion Questions for Week 4: What does it mean to be a Rhizome

September 20, 2009 Leave a comment

1. Firstly, would it be fruitful to think of  a book as multiplicity and an assemblage in light of the discussion on ergodic literature as well as the ongoing contention by the likes of critics such as Manovich on the tension between the database and the narrative?  Can ergodic works be argued in terms of the machinic assemblage that may or may not be attributive (e.g. these attributions may be embodied by a series of tags that would inform the various algorithmic call functions of the positionality of the  search points within the metalibrary for categories of content)after it has been raised to the level of the substantive (when the functions are called, the content no longer exist in the registry as a metadata but is now a data that is made manifest and coherent). Would it be that ergodic literature is a body without organs because is a form of transient narrative  that is as much pre-determined as it is determined by the decision-making processes of both the machine and human user, which thus leads to a series of signifying practices that have alternating intensities?

2. Can we think of Talan Memmott’s Lexia/Perplexia (his discursive use of the I-terminal as representing the cyborgian self against the self-as-Other) and then his Self-Portrait as tearing asunder the classical notion of the rootbook where the arbitrary law is set by the taproot and to instead cede into seeing the book as the fascicular root. How would the strata differ between the root-book and the book of radicle root?

3. Taken from the Social-Tesseracting Part 2 posting

“1. Dimensionality defines working concepts of reality.
2. Theoretically, dimensionality can also expand to define a spectrum of nascent social actions.
3. These particular social actions encompass communication trends defined by synthetic interactions.
4. Synthetic interactions create social froth that can be produced geophysically or geolocatively. Both connection types depend on relevant electronic gesturing:

5. This mix of synthetic interactions and electronic gesturing provokes a descriptive framework of this aggregated sodality. This framework is termed Social Tesseracting.
6. In order to adequately formulate Social Tesseracting, contemporary theorists need to extend “valid” reality definitions based currently on the endpoint of the geophysical.”

How would we see this social froth, electronic gesturing through remote tweeting and social cloud that are defined in a multiplicity of dimensionality against the contention that the existing linguistic models are not abstract enough and could not connect the language to the pragmatic and the semantic statements and the collective enunciation of the assemblage.

…they do not reach the abstract machine that connects a language to the semantic and pragmatic contents of statements, to collective assemblages of enunciation, to a whole micropolitics of the social field. A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. A semiotic chain is like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts, not only linguistic, but also perceptive, mimetic, gestural, and cognitive: there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, slangs, and specialized languages. There is no ideal speaker-listener, any more than there is a homogeneous linguistic community. Language is, in Weinreich’s words, “an essentially heterogeneous reality.”‘ There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language within a political multiplicity. Language stabilizes around a parish, a bishopric, a capital. It forms a bulb. It evolves by subterranean stems and flows, along river valleys or train tracks; it spreads like a patch ofoil.* It is always possible to break a language.

down into internal structural elements, an undertaking not fundamentally
different from a search for roots.

4. What is the meaning of social-tesseracting in terms of a dimensionality that is always n-1 because “the multiple must be made, not by always adding a higher dimension, but rather in the simplest of ways, by dint of sobriety, with the number of dimensions one already has available – always n – 1 (the only way the one belongs to the multiple: always subtracted). Subtract the unique from the multiplicity to be constituted; write at n – 1 dimensions. A system of this kind could be called a rhizome. ” What is the significance of this form of multiplicity of subtraction.  Is this because of the necessity of  “flattening all of the multiplicities on a single plane of consistency or exteriority, regardless of their number of dimensions”? Is this to ensure that the subjectivity of the nature of the social tesseract is marked and defined?

5. Should we think of the cut-ups and stir-fried narrative as a “principle of asignifying rupture: against the oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure. A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines.” How is the passage below in the manifesto of Jim Andrew’s works:

It seems to me that there are a couple of things about the Web that naturally go with cut ups. The hyper link itself is wonderfully diverse in its associativity. The way that we end up going from text to text via hyper links makes for a cut up of sorts, cut ups not on the level of the word, as in Dali, or the chunk, as in Burroughs, but on a larger scale, link to link, text to text. The memory of surfing the Web, recalled later, is often of an intoxicating blur of diversely associative texts strung together by our own and the individual authors’ associativity via the provided links.

“…the rhizome by rupture; lengthen, prolong, and relay the line of flight; mak[ing] it vary, until you have produced the most abstract and tortuous of lines of n dimensions and broken directions. Conjugate deterritorialized flows.”

6. If a rhizome is a map and not a tracing, is the map a cross-modal platform?  Would it be “…connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways.” Hence the social connectivity, communication mapping across different modality of speech and exchanges, form a large tangle of rhizomatic mapping of user-streams.  Can we talk about this mapping in terms of the the forms of memories in the social technologies we’ve read, as well as the social text that engages processes more than engagement with the end result, and then linking it to the unconscious. Moreover, it is stated that the map constructs the unconscious through the fostering of connections without fields and removal of the blockages of the bodies without organs. I argue that the last phrase may be an allusion to the removal of the blockage of suppressed memories in the psychoanalytic sense. It would be interesting to try to discuss this in relation to the kinds of neuroses, psychoses, schizophrenia and obsession that social technologies could breed. Also speak of our obsessive need to attain resolution of the cut-up and fragmented texts.

7. So how would we compare the ergodic aspects of Talan Memmott text with that of Jim Andrews and then the social technologies discussed in the Augmentology blog?

1. Dimensionality defines working concepts of reality.
2. Theoretically, dimensionality can also expand to define a spectrum of nascent social actions.
3. These particular social actions encompass communication trends defined by synthetic interactions.
4. Synthetic interactions create social froth that can be produced geophysically or geolocatively. Both connection types depend on relevant electronic gesturing:

5. This mix of synthetic interactions and electronic gesturing provokes a descriptive framework of this aggregated sodality. This framework is termed Social Tesseracting.
6. In order to adequately formulate Social Tesseracting, contemporary theorists need to extend “valid” reality definitions based currently on the endpoint of the geophysical.

In assessing the growing ethological importance of Social Tesseracting, the following markers demand examination:

a) Social White-Space: Just as with the convention of white space in graphic design, social tesseracts manifest in habituated actions performed routinely over a substantiated period [think: responding to smartphone emails during geophysical-based discourse]:

Social white space exists in synthetically mediated consciousness via overlaying reality clusters. These clusters may exist outside of the geoloaded end of the Reality-Virtuality Continuum [ie the locatable “real person”]. Conjunctive or intermediary areas of connectivity mediate this “primary” reality state [think: Information Shadowing, the Network Effect and Warnock’s Dilemma]. Social white-space is currently effecting educative goals and is altering engagement within the workplace.

b)  Immediation: the instantaneous modification of remote events via the removal of geo-specific time lag. Immediation highlights the impact potential of synthetic connectors. Examples of Immediation in action:

c) Regenerative Comprehension: indicated by rapid shifts in the nature of content creation and absorption. A primary example is Twitter’s chronologically-reversed tweet reading order acting to modify awareness. Other examples include:

d) Process Centering: Social Tesseractions are marked by fluid, process-oriented engagement rather than rigid procedural structuring. Process centering prompts a re-evaluation of data formation and alters the entrenched importance of institutionalised categorisations. An emergent example of process centering is Google Wave. Google Wave uses an algorithmic variation of “operational transformations” [live concurrent editing] which occur through a process called transformation:

  • The server transforms the client’s request, resulting in the client manifesting the same transformed output.
  • The notion of concurrency is invariably important as it mimics geophysical conversational states.
  • Utilizing the server as a point of relay [when more than one client’s output is involved] assists in providing scalability and reliability.
  • The playback feature allows the server to present the document as a stream of operations that have occurred thus far in a particular wave/state.

Transformation relies on continual modification via process centering. This accent on process acts to rewire the notion of documents as statically defined “objects” and [by proxy] any information contained within. This has enormous implications in regards to such institutionally-governed categories such as literacy, media, the professional/amateur divide, narrative, and information construction.

_Social Tesseracting_: Part 3 will expand on these indicators through examining: Information Deformation, Attribution Modding, and the Decline of Silo Ghettos.