warkk at newschool.edu
Wed May 28 11:01:47 EST 2014
Sorry to come in late. Just done with the end of semester. Have been
reading the various empyre threads for the month of May with interest. I
won't be able to keep straight who said what, and lists are a sort of
smeared authorship anyway.
The space of technology is always both blu-tack and duct tape, both a space
of things intentionally created for an instrumental purpose and things
hacked out of that intentionality for no purpose, or counter-purposes. Tech
is slightly exogenous to the social order.
So i don't see the current state of the tech ensemble that is the net as
pervaded by any particular essence. It isn't entirely of militarization, or
the commodity form, or whatever. Its not an expressionist totality. We
might be losing our toeholds, but that's no reason to start imagining it as
Here i don't see how Snowden changes much, other than perhaps clueing in
some publics in things that have surely been obvious all along? Surely
listserv veterans remember the revelations about Echelon? One only had to
follow the evolution of technical capacity from that point to grasp what
was feasible. And if a tech is feasible, one should assume the security
state already has it.
The Snowden moment happened when I was finishing The Disintegrating
Spectacle, and simply confirmed the theses about the state of the state to
be found in the late Debord. That (1) the security apparatus had achieved
autonomy from a state which had (2) lost its capacity to know and act
*historically*. That seems to describe the present quite well.
Its too crude to think that one could simply withdraw from such a
situation. That's why in that book i wrote about the tactics of the
'devil's party', which is neither hidden nor transparent, but pursues the
tactics of obscure presences, readable by those who need to know.
It is surely the case that the 'network' is at one and the same time *both*
a reality and pure ideology. Like the sun, it actually exists, it just
lacks the divine powers that its priests would attribute to it. Pointing
this out is no great breakthrough, but it seems to be where pop netkritik
is at the moment.
So one withdraws from representation, but to what? Are we not here still
playing out the tactics of modernism. That may be no bad thing, but here i
think there's more continuities than any grand break. Foucault once warned
of the dangers of always trying to see oneself as at the fulcrum of
history. This is now what counts as ordinary times.
I think i need to point out that for me (can't speak for Alex and Eugene)
excommunication is a *structural condition*, not something one chooses.
Communication needs to excommunicate in order to communicate. It has to
appear to sever the link to those who would take it upon themselves to be
their own authority. Authority over what i call xenocommunication, or
communication with the absolute.
Excommmunication may now be an everyday thing, maybe a micro thing. The
discussion of bots on the net makes me wonder if a spam filter is what
excommunication is today. That which decides which communication can be
Where i perhaps part company with Alex and Eugene is that i think there's
other paths besides the via negativa. Rather than a non-relation to the
absolute, one can have an absolute relation. This is the 'other path' out
of correlation signaled by Meillassoux: empirio-criticism, and its
descendant, the empirio-monism of Alexander Bogdanov, on whom i am working
I think its time to end the attempts by philosophy to control
xenocommuncation, the communication to the absolute. Rather, i think media
theory is that theory of the reality of media itself, of how media make
sensation, not out of nothing, not totally determined by the social or the
political or the discursive or whatever. But rather the media that are of
interest now are those which render the nonhuman perceptible via an inhuman
Here the techniques of climate science might be a good example. Without the
satellites and computers of the cold war (those inhuman media) the nonhuman
real of the Anthropocene is not visible -- even though, ironically enough,
our collective labor is what produced it. Strange how climate change
knowledge is produced by inhuman technical media that are duct tape in
origin but put to a blu-tack purpose. tech is always a strange space in
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