[-empyre-] unwired sustainability

Dale Hudson dhudson at amherst.edu
Tue Apr 22 23:22:58 EST 2008

Thanks to everyone for the interesting posts this week.  I echo Ulises¹s
apologies for not having posted as actively, as does Sharon, who was
traveling this past weekend.

I will also end with a few thoughts/questions on the month¹s themes:

I found the discussions about the links between oil and digital technologies
interesting.  In my own teaching and thinking, I¹ve focused more on issues
of labor, trade agreements, copyright, and human rights, though not as they
are linked to oil.

I am still interested to know the thoughts of more people on whether the
³arts² can contribute to these dialogues.  I¹m not sure that I agree that
they should be abandoned.  I¹ve found the work of the various artists who
were featured as guests this month to be very provocative, especially the
work that incorporates aspects of wired technologies.

I am also interested to know more thoughts on the ruptures or alternatives
to the wired and wireless networks, whether the unwired paranodality that
Ulises discusses, the hacked networks that Nick Knouf outlines in Fluid
Nexus, or other configurations.

Opting entirely out of systems is a tricky proposition, as is discussed in
much of the political and economic theory related to the current moment of
globalization.  I¹ve been interested in ways to communicate across
differences without collapsing (or flattening) them into the models of
solidarity from the pre-WWW era.  For me, that is a part of sustainability
as well.

Apologies for the informality of these thoughts.  Thanks again for having me
as a guest.

On 4/21/08 8:57 PM, "Ulises A. Mejias" <umejias at yahoo.com> wrote:

> My apologies for not having posted as actively to this list during my time as
> moderator this week (technology is partly to blame, but mostly it's my fault).
> I want to end by providing my own take on wired sustainability.
> I believe networked forms of production, collaboration, activism, and
> mobilization will be essential to figuring out how to engender more
> sustainable relationships with the world and with each other. However, in my
> own work I try to examine the very unsustainability of the network episteme,
> of this 'wired' logic.
> Since the distance between two nodes within the same network is zero, and the
> distance between a node and something outside the network is practically
> infinite, it follows that a node can only see the world in terms of other
> nodes. Something that is not a node is, for all practical purposes, invisible.
> I call this tyranny of nodes "nodocentrism." Nodocentrism is the assertion
> that only nodes need to be mapped, explained or accounted for. It is a
> reductionism that eliminates everything but the reality of the node.
> Nodocentrism informs a model of progress or development where things not on
> the network must and should be incorporated in order for them to exist (this
> is the ideology that informs the discourses of the digital divide, pervasive
> computing, etc.).
> In opposition to nodocentrism I use the concept of paranodality. Contrary to
> what is represented in network diagrams, the space between nodes is not empty
> or dead, but very much alive. In fact, this space--the paranodal--acts as the
> only sustainable site from which we can articulate a subjectivity separate
> from the network, from which we can unthink the network episteme. The
> paranodal is, as Ranciere would say, the part of those who have no part, the
> site where disagreement, not consensus, takes place (and hence, the locus of
> the political).
> Of course, to unthink the logic of the network is not to pretend the network
> doesn¹t exist, or to refuse to deal with it, but to re-imagine one¹s
> relationship to it. The relationship of the paranode to the network is perhaps
> like the one of the parasite to the host (and here I'm borrowing from Serres):
> the parasite inserts itself into the communication process, between the sender
> and the receiver, disrupting the communication by being ³noise², and forcing
> the system to adjust to its presence. In this context, the paranode can be
> described as a parasite of the network, an element that lodges itself between
> nodes, distorting or introducing noise into the information that passes
> between nodes, and forcing the network to adjust to its presence.
> I guess what I am suggesting is that perhaps sustainability is not wired, but
> unwired. What is subversive and creative is not the network episteme (wired
> logic), but the parasitical disruption that can provide a way to think outside
> the logic of the network, to disidentify from it, and to resist its
> nodocentric view of the world.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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