[-empyre-] Digital Delirium revisited

Melinda Rackham melinda at subtle.net
Sun May 25 14:03:57 EST 2014

Hi all,
 as a story teller not a theorist, 
I've been loving the lateral directions these conversations have taken.
 yet they feel like new growth on a tree, reaching towards different strong lights
strong potential, but sparse as foliage and flowers are still in their formative stages.

I think it would be telling to revisit in a year or so.
but for now
my branch is of truncation 
- physical and geographic excommunication.

Is this a "natural" evolution - a generational love affair with the network that has matured and dwindled,
a set of circumstance, a natural hiatus, a time to move on?
For me it  writing stories about people for print books made from trees, 
of interest to only a tiny fragment of society.
the narrowest of narrowcast.

It could be seen as a privileged withdrawal... the Duchampian retreat,
or it could be seen as a form of situated resistance...  living local.

Renate writes:

> Lovink insists that it is not necessary or important to parse new media theories through comparative geographic distributions. 
Yet it is particularly European perspective to Snowden. 1st rule of fight club is that you dont talk about fight club.
If one doesn't live in the gated network of USA, we already live in a states of excommunication, or perhaps ecstatic ex-stasis.

Of course im saying all of this without having read excommunication 
a position I take perhaps because I cant buy it in e-edition due to my geographical location in Australia.
Of course I do have a copy ive dipped into because the internet if for routing around.. 
but u know.. who we are, 
and who we are routing around has changed.

We knew the end was coming when
the moddr_lab at WORM in Rotterdam developed  
the fabulous web2.0 Suicide machine..

"sign out forever"
what a promise. 
5 years ago when I saw my 1500 best Facebook friends disappear before me 
I knew everything had changed.
some non-artist/academic contacts, contacted me to see if I was emotionally  ok?
 was I really suicidal?
 why would I deliberately unjoin the network?
6 months ago I moved to a mostly abandoned industrial area quiet close to the city centre, 
toxins buried deep, being gentrified with creatives as the shock troops.
Interestingly I have no fixed network connection.
I have been extra excommunicated by lack of infrastructure in a first(?) world city of 1 million. 
The fat optical rollout goes right past my suburb 
and its previously sparse low income politically unimportant demographics.

After the shock of being denied what I felt like was my god given right to fast connection, 
I started to like my very physical excommunication. 
I choose to tether to get on,
to jack in, as they used to say.
a delicious nostalgia for the 14.4k baud modem 
the sound of which will forever generate excitement
and the deliberate act of communing
rather than the constancy of familial relationship.


On 13/05/2014, at 12:06 PM, Renate Terese Ferro wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks Alex for talking a bit more about your usage of the word
> excommunication.  Also thanks to Christina for posting the interesting
> theological intersections.  My thoughts were running more in parallel with
> political theory in listening to your last post, most particularly Martin
> Luther King's notion of non-violent resistance or perhaps Gandi's? .  Put
> simply resistance by not participating, exiting the system, not "playing"
> any longer. I realize that in the book you conduct a pretty lengthy
> discussion about the use of the word "excommunication" a strategically
> theologically implicit word but what do you think about Excommunication as
> resistance?  
> Renate
> On 5/11/14 10:25 AM, "Alexander R. Galloway" <galloway at nyu.edu> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Dear Soraya & Co..
>> I guess part of the impetus is that I'm surprised--if not unnerved--by
>> the way in which networks have captured and eclipsed other ways of
>> thinking. A new pantheon of dot-com philosophers reigns supreme today,
>> ready to proclaim at every turn that ³everything is a network.² Mark
>> Zuckerberg: people are networks. Donald Rumsfeld: the battlefield is a
>> network. Bruno Latour: ontology is a network. Franco Moretti: Hamlet is a
>> network. David Joselit: Art is a network. Guy Debord: the post-capitalist
>> city is a network. John Von Neumann: computation is a network. Konrad
>> Wachsmann: architecture is a network.
>> Ladies and gentlemen, postmodernism is definitively over! We have a new
>> meta-narrative to guide us.
>> We might label this a kind of ³reticular pessimism.² And here I'm taking
>> a cue from the notion of ³Afro-pessimism² in critical race theory. Just
>> as Afro-pessimism refers to the trap in which African-American identity
>> is only ever defined via the fetters of its own historical evolution,
>> reticular pessimism claims, in essence, that there is no escape from the
>> fetters of the network. There is no way to think in, through, or beyond
>> networks except in terms of networks themselves. According to reticular
>> pessimism, responses to networked power are only able to be conceived in
>> terms of other network forms. (And thus to fight Google and the NSA we
>> need ecologies, assemblages, or multiplicities.)
>> By offering no alternative to the network form, reticular pessimism is
>> deeply cynical because it forecloses any kind of utopian thinking that
>> might entail an alternative to our many pervasive and invasive networks.
>> This is part of the mandate of this book, as I see it: to articulate a
>> logic of being that is not reducible to a metaphysics of exchange, to a
>> metaphysics of the network. This to me is the promise of excommunication:
>> the message that says ³there will be no more messages²; a logic of
>> relation, without the tired, old model of exchange.
>> So, yes, strategic withdrawal is at the heart of what interests me most.
>> Some are a bit skeptical about this notion of withdrawal -- often because
>> they see in a negative light as alternatively a surrender monkey position
>> (i give up! i'm outta here!), or a position of privilege (the political
>> equivalent of opening a bank account in the Cayman Islands). But I see it
>> very differently. I see it more as a withdrawal from representation. A
>> structural withdrawal. I see it as a way to conceive of a kind of
>> practical utopia in the here and now. "You don't represent us." "No one
>> is illegal." "I would prefer not to." "We have no demands." Yes I realize
>> utopian thinking is very unfashionable today; that's precisely why we
>> need so much more of it. So perhaps less a bunker mentality and more
>> about the reclaiming of a new experience of life and activity.
>> Re: obsolescence of theory -- perhaps it hinges on *which* kind of
>> theory? I don't agree with Latour and the notion that "theory has run out
>> of steam." Marxism, feminism, psycho-analysis -- they all still work
>> great if you ask me. But I do think that a kind of "vulgar 1968" style of
>> theory has run its course. Nancy Fraser has it exactly right: capitalism
>> co-opted many of the demands of '68-style theory. So now we have to
>> reassess and recompile a new kind of theoretical method. Because of this
>> I'm much more interested in a slightly different spin on the theoretical
>> tradition. 
>> -ag
>> On May 9, 2014, at 1:16 PM, Soraya Murray <semurray at ucsc.edu> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> I am intrigued by this discussion, and would like to acknowledge the
>>> posts by Alex Galloway, Geert Lovink and Renate Ferro. Greetings to all
>>> of you. 
>>> I keep circling back to the notion of strategic withdrawal, alluded to
>>> several times in the last few posts, as well as somewhat enigmatically
>>> toward the end of Alex's recent lecture here at UC Santa Cruz. For
>>> example, from his post:
>>> "This book is not about the world ³for us,² and not the world ³in
>>> itself,² but what Eugene calls ³the world without us.²"
>>> This, in relation to Geert's recent essay in e-Flux ("Hermes on the
>>> Hudson"): 
>>> ""This leaves us with the question of the mandate and scope of today¹s
>>> media theory‹if there is anything left. Are you ready to hand over the
>>> ³new media² remains to the sociologists, museum curators, art
>>> historians, and other humanities officials? Can we perhaps stage a more
>>> imaginative ³act of disappearance²? Are we ready to disguise ourselves
>>> amidst the new normality?"
>>> ...and which seemed to betray a similar anxiety around obsolescence of
>>> theory -- or a strategy of withdrawal? With respect, is this to be seen
>>> as an act of battening down the hatches? Is this disappearance/disguise
>>> a radical strategy to shift perspective as a means to generate new
>>> possibility? Something conceded, or something new gained?
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

More information about the empyre mailing list