[iDC] identity, identity politics, and individualism

Sareeta B Amrute amrutes at u.washington.edu
Thu Oct 1 16:42:42 UTC 2009

Dear Michael,

I appreciate your post on identity, but I think there are some things that are getting conflated.  First 
off, social theory coming out of semiotic and also sociological traditions since the 1900s (George 
Herbert Meade, and later Erving Goffman) has suggested that we do all indeed 'need' identitites, if by 
identities we mean enacted modes of selfhood.  In fact, one way to understand social behavior without 
resorting to models that pit 'structure' against 'agency' is to recognize the performative nature of 
actions, events, utterances and emotions.  So here I would not want to separate the poor from the rich 
in terms of the importance of identity, and after all, being part of a collective is a kind of identity.  
Furthermore, identities do not have to be and most often aren't, in practice, singular.  What I think 
some of the other posts were objecting to was the way that our social identities have been and are 
being channeled.  Here, separating 'identit(ies)' as social facts from 'identity politics' (although I am not 
very comfortable with that term) is one way to mark the difference.  Identity politics might be defined 
as the conception of selfhood as singular, definable and representative.  Identity politics has a 
traceable historical lineage.  It emerges as a mode of disciplining identity so that identity seems to 
always already exist in stable categories.  The development of identity politics is coeval with forms of 
flexible, post-Fordist accumulation.  (I think this argument can be made without resorting to 
conceiving of capitalism the prime agent in all this).  Finally, one reason that 'individualism' as a mode 
of conceiving of identity, and thus as a metapragmatic category of selfhood, is so vital to us is 
precisely because it is part of our inherited toolkit of rights and duties developed in the age of 
Liberalism.  The idea of individualism as bound up with the idea of rights is at one and the same time 
a platform from which disenfranchised can argue for the creation of conditions for equality and a 
means of masking inequalities under the guise of the equal individual.

All best,

I strongly suspect that for most of the world's people,  however poor, identity remains of vital import, 
and so does some degree of privacy in some form.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'however poor' although I suspect you are

> It is true that fossil-fuel powered internal combustion vehicles and
> current personal computer technology are not environmentally neutral,
> but there is no law of physics that requires that either private
> transport or personal computing be ecologically unsustainable. New
> technologies are possible. (Buses are not necessarily better than
> bicycles.)  The need for socialism cannot be adduced on ecological
> grounds, but only on on grounds of equality and justice, once a large
> enough public becomes convinced that some humane socialism both is
> practicable and would allow the average person a better life. (I
> suspect that within our reach is a system of a much enlarged commons,
> ecologically sound, yet allowing a great deal of individuality and
> personal preferences. For instance, wiki commons do not preclude
> completely individual use of and even additions to the resource.)
> 2) "Private  property" in the Marxist tradition generally refers to
> privately held productive property, i.e. capital. This is only
> indirectly connected with identity, home life or anything else.
> Further, the English legal concept that one's home is one's castle
> included peasants specifically and dates far further back than 150
> years.  It was by no means restricted to a small set of bourgeoisie,
> although of course capitalists sought to strip the proletariat of
> personal identity, so that they would be interchangeable and thus not
> irreplaceable. I strongly suspect that for most of the world's
> people,  however poor, identity remains of vital import, and so does
> some degree of privacy in some form. Also, the public good may require
> a partial sacrifice of private property in the Marxist sense, but how
> much is not clear.
> 3) I am not certain I grasp what Sean means by  "identity...... poses
> itself as the obverse of community." How does an abstract concept or a
> complex internal sensation pose itself? Or, from what or whose
> viewpoint is it so posed? If this means that identity in fact is the
> other side of the same coin  as community, I would agree, in the sense
> that identity is significantly constructed from (overlapping )
> communities and vice versa. But I infer from context rather that Sean
> believes  identity is rather the "reverse"of community, not the
> obverse; otherwise why be so negative about identity? If so, I
> sharply  disagree.
> 4) Current forms of  identity are not primarily composed of state- (or
> capital-) imposed categories. For instance, the state hardly
> originated the identity of gay or bisexual. Nor  did either state or
> capital play a significant role in providing the very wide range of
> other adjectives that people commonly use partially to describe
> themselves, and still less did either shape a great many inner
> experiences on which the typical sense of identity and self-hood is
> quite largely based.
> 5) In my view, consistent with my notions of the emerging post-
> capitalist (but not socialist) mode of production that I have referred
> to for twenty years as the attention economy, privacy is still an
> important feature, even though its meaning has partially flipped. If
> you think of the older privacy in terms of  having windows composed of
> one-way mirrors, those mirrors worked to shield those inside from the
> gaze of outsiders., while allowing insiders to see out. Now,  the one-
> way glass is often reversed. Anyone can see in, but those inside  do
> not have to pay attention to those outside. Privacy in other words now
> means primarily the ability to focus one's attention as one chooses.
> Capitalist firms and others try to breach this barrier, but with very
> partial success at best, as various filters ? mental, political or
> technical ? reassert  it. {Let me reiterate stubbornly that my use of
> the term "attention economy," which I introduced in the 1980's, has
> little to do with advertising, and, by the way, Dallas Smythe, as far
> as I am aware, never used the term.]
> 6) The argument that we can only assert the public good by abandoning
> identity reminds me of the conservative view of socialism as creating
> a society of ants. This is certainly very bad propaganda for
> socialism. To call for sacrifice of identity as part of a political
> program strikes me as unlikely way to attract adherents. What happened
> to Marx's notion that "the free development of each is a precondition
> for the free development of all" ?  (Of course Buddhism and other
> religious practices call for the renunciation of self, but hopefully
> only for those who individually choose that path.) Let me also observe
> that the military and prisons try most assiduously to strip away
> identity. This is not to create genuine community.
> 7) It is not true that whistle blowers need anonymity. The best
> protection for a genuine whistle blower is publicity and lots of it.
> If Daniel Ellsberg had been anonymous at the time of handing over the
> Pentagon papers, he could have been easily discovered  and killed.
> Hiding behind anonymity allows the promulgation of all kinds of lies
> as well as of secrets.
> 8) Why accept 2001 as the time of the closing of the supposedly
> previously open web, rather than see that the Internet remains a
> vitally important locus of contestation,  newly open for many who
> could not avail themselves of its earlier more exclusive and therefore
> more closed operation? If a great many people now take advantage in
> myriad ways of the opportunities afforded by the existence of the
> Internet, that does not make their new actions primarily
> "opportunistic" in the pej0rative  sense Sean appears to me to imply.
> Again, possibilities of agency are shortchanged in this formulation.
> 9) I think the example of the non-existent "Luther Blissett" as a form
> of anonymous publishing is of quite limited value. True, it can  serve
> as a form of resistance to prevailing and often egotistic  or
> narcissistic academic practice. (An earlier and perhaps more
> successful  example was "Nicholas Bourbaki," the name adopted in the
> 1940's 0r 50's by a group of French modern mathematicians. )But could
> genuine dialogue  ?even on  this list? take place or be served by
> anonymous entries? Individuals still do experience and still do think
> in idiosyncratic ways, and to lose the distinctions for the sake of
> the public good, while it might damp down competitiveness in academia,
> would hardly be an advantage in developing good public ideas ? in my
> (admittedly private) view.
> Best,
> Michael
> On Sep 23, 2009, at 8:02 AM, Sean Cubitt wrote:
>> Arising from question and answer session at a talk yesterday at the
>> Pervasive media Studio in Bristol. The central topic was the
>> environmental
>> impact of digital media, but I threw in the thesis below. A very smart
>> questioner raised the question of anonymity. It took me several
>> hours to
>> work through just how important that question is. I think it has a
>> bearing
>> on the playground/factory issue. I hope so anyway. The de carolis
>> ref is to
>> Massimo de Carolis, 1996, Toward a Phenomenology of Opportunism in
>> Virno and
>> Hardt's collection Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics
>> Sean
>> Private property stands to the public good as identity stands to
>> anonymity.
>> We cannot achieve public good without sacrificing both private
>> property and
>> identity. Privacy is not a given but an ascription, whether
>> self-administered or provided by others. This is also the case with
>> identity, which poses itself as the obverse of community. Both
>> identity and
>> privacy are results of historical processes of capital, which
>> required the
>> individuation first of households and later of persons as units of
>> consumption and reproduction. This is the position we must start
>> from in a
>> socialist analysis of surveillance
>> Thesis: Privacy was only ever the privilege of a small proportion of
>> the
>> world's population for a brief period in history. For about 150
>> years, the
>> European bourgeoisie enjoyed private rooms, private water closets
>> and a life
>> distinct from the life of the street. That period is now over,
>> thanks to the
>> development of always-on, ubiquitous media. The only people left
>> with a
>> direct interest in privacy are wife-beaters and tax-evaders.
>> Corollary: The 'loss' of privacy is no loss for those who never
>> possessed
>> it. Privacy was born in the invention of the division between public
>> and
>> private, and remains dependent on that division. As capital has
>> moved from
>> production to consumption; as consumption has moved from mass to
>> personalised; and as personalisation has moved from choice to the
>> active
>> participation of prosumers and user-generated content, the distinction
>> between public and private has become harder to maintain. But the
>> publication of private information in blogs, social networks and other
>> convergent media has not been undertaken innocently either.
>> If on the one hand there is no naturally given privacy which can be
>> lost,
>> the social construct had been altered. In line with the post-marxist
>> tendency in contemporary theory, much analysis has focused on the
>> surveillant state. But the state has had relatively little to do
>> with the
>> formal principles of contemporary surveillance which, as Elmer has
>> argued,
>> is far more properly associated with commerce. The extraction of
>> commercially exploitable 'personalities' from data flows such as
>> online
>> behaviours also structures forensic data mining, but is almost
>> invariably
>> pioneered by commerce. Commercial surveillance is at least as
>> effective as
>> political in constructing concepts of the self attired in the
>> mystery of
>> privacy and identity. These two ascriptions are a pair. Privacy
>> expresses
>> the economic condition of private property; identity expresses the
>> political
>> construction of individuality in regimes of power. Both, being
>> historically
>> produced, necessarily have histories.
>> Antithesis: Anonymity is a tactic required of whistle-blowers, who
>> act in
>> fear of reprisal. Anonymity is the enemy of self-expression. The
>> publication
>> of the private self which is the ideological engine of social
>> networking
>> technology's user-generated content, is self-expression. Whether
>> undertaken
>> in your own name or under a pseudonym, the principle is the same. True
>> anonymity is not hiding behind a nickname, but abandoning the
>> principle of
>> self=expression in favour of speaking something other than the self.
>> That
>> act can be called 'speaking the truth'. (This is an apt label even
>> if an
>> anonymous whistle-blower is mistaken: they nonetheless wish to speak
>> truthfully of objective situations).
>> Self is the outcome of the governmental structuring of demography:
>> gender,
>> ethnicity, income, age and patterns of consumption. This kind of
>> self was at
>> the centre of the attention economy discussed by Dallas Smythe, when
>> groups
>> had become the target of advertising and public relations. The
>> micro-targeting provided by cookies and other commercial surveillance
>> technologies intensified this corporate gaze, placing the self
>> rather than
>> the group at the centre of the enterprise of commercial
>> communication. On
>> the one hand, then, self-expression is an opportunistic and tactical
>> response to the available resources. On the other, it is conducted on
>> grounds established not by the self, but by neo-liberal capital and
>> the
>> biopolitical governmentality with which it is now intimately
>> associated.
>> This is the form of pseudonymous behaviour developed negatively with
>> victimisation (race hatred, cyber-bullying) and positively by the
>> collective
>> identity Luther Blissett.
>> Such opportunistic tactics ? where tactics are the political means
>> available
>> to the weak, as opposed to the strategies of the strong (de Certeau)
>> ? are
>> not necessarily to be dismissed as unethical or valueless. de Carolis
>> observes that opportunism  can be seen as the continuous adaptation
>> of one's
>> identity to rapidly changing circumstances. On the one hand, this is
>> an
>> accommodation to conditions of precarity, while on the other it is
>> also a
>> skill, the ability to outmanoeuvre the imposed situation. It is then
>> both a
>> technique of continuous reskilling and re-identification developed
>> in the
>> interests of post-Fordist production, and at the same time escapes the
>> merely tactical sense of opportunism (petty crime, petty acts of
>> sabotage or
>> time-wasting) to provide the basis for major acts of autonomy, such
>> as the
>> pre-2001 world wide web.
>> Opportunistic anonymity arises then from consideration of the imposed
>> situation and from a resolution to work exclusively in it or with it
>> but
>> against it or in excess of it. This is the moment when the imposed
>> identity,
>> which is the place prepared fro the person in the imposed situation,
>> and s
>> there structural position within it, has to be abandoned if the
>> situation is
>> to be changed radically, rather than merely survived. Any post-
>> surveillant
>> condition requires that the object of surveillance ? identities ?
>> must be
>> abandoned. Both political and personal identities must be left
>> behind, since
>> both are functions of the same situation.
>> In the same way, public good requires abandoning private property.
>> This is
>> the lesson of the credit crisis of 2008-9, which was caused by the
>> actual
>> ownership of mney by a handful of people, and the illusion of private
>> property for a vast number of others. And it is the lesson of private
>> transport and the personal computer: neither of which are ecologically
>> sustainable models. Privacy is of one kind with privation: property is
>> definitionally what you may not have if I possess it: my private
>> property is
>> your de-privation. Our private property is the despoliation of the
>> planet.
>> Anonymity is the condition of the crowd. Psychology and sociology have
>> abandoned the fascination they once had with crowds and masses (Freud,
>> Reich, Ortega y Gassett) in favour of identity politics and individual
>> psychology. Pluralising the self (the schiz) is one aspect of the
>> potential
>> change; reducing the boundaries between self and crowd is the other,
>> the
>> route so far untaken. It is time to recover the crowd from both
>> hyper-individuation and from the tribalism, from user-generated
>> capitalism
>> and from the style-based subcultures which use consumption as a
>> means of
>> resistance.
>> Synthesis: It is on such a basis that a new sociology of solidarity
>> might be
>> built as a political platform no longer based on produsers and
>> prosumers but
>> on post-individuals who recognise their commonality first and their
>> personality second. This is not an austerity program, though it
>> implies an
>> end to endless consumption and waste. It is instead a move from the
>> valuation of the individual by what and how they consume and prosume
>> to the
>> values of sharing, and a remaking of shared values.
>> Prof Sean Cubitt
>> scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
>> Director
>> Media and Communications Program
>> Faculty of Arts
>> Room 127 John Medley East
>> The University of Melbourne
>> Parkville VIC 3010
>> Australia
>> Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
>> Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
>> M: 0448 304 004
>> Skype: seancubitt
>> http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/media-communications/
>> http://www.digital-light.net.au/
>> http://homepage.mac.com/waikatoscreen/
>> http://seancubitt.blogspot.com/
>> http://del.icio.us/seancubitt
>> Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series
>> http://leonardo.info
>> _______________________________________________
>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
>> (distributedcreativity.org)
>> iDC at mailman.thing.net
>> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
>> List Archive:
>> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
>> iDC Photo Stream:
>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
>> RSS feed:
>> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
>> iDC Chat on Facebook:
>> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
>> Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 13:03:41 -0700
> From: naxsmash <naxsmash at mac.com>
> Subject: Re: [iDC] The difference between privacy and anonymity
> To: Margaret Morse <memorse at comcast.net>
> Cc: idc <idc at mailman.thing.net>
> Message-ID: <A971AF9B-9CD5-49ED-A632-87DAEDD00B57 at mac.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=WINDOWS-1252; format=flowed;
> 	delsp=yes
>> Dear naxsmash,
>> I find your opposition charming.
> de nada
>>  I can't speak for anytone else but I think of myself as a little
>> more complicated than that--after I have studied philosophy,
>> including Derrida and Wittgenstein, who might be relevant here
> sure
>> .  However, I think in some profound way you are right.  The world
>> is a great mysterious other full of external objects in open sets.
>> However, the sets are never stable and they are established in
>> retrospect through constantly changing memories/new experiences and
>> in dialog or "social reality."
> this would be 'realism' I guess, in terms of its ancient (Greek)
> understanding.  See Lucretius and the swerve (de rerum natura) .
> I've been reading Levinas on alterity and transcendence these days .
>> I am not sure how "universal"  "second wave feminism" ever was.  I
>> was a grad student in Berkeley in the late sixties.  Women of all
>> types including angry ones like me feverishly gathered  trying to be
>> a part of what we knew was something very big.  I remember one
>> meeting in a church that was packed to the gills; many of the women
>> took notes in shorthand.  At that and further meetings, the
>> exclusions grew before my eyes as more and more women were counted
>> out of the determinations of what ultimately proved to a particular
>> sect.   The shorthand notetakers were soon gone as the group got
>> tinier.  The limitations of "second wave feminism" began for me in
>> some of those very first meetings.
> Naming to exclude.   Administration, bureaucracy, catalog, desirable,
> undesirables.
>> How does belief play into your opposition?   Does it matter whether
>> or not we believe (in) a "universal"?
> of course ethically it does, very much so.   See, for example Marge in
> the closing of "Fargo"  "it's a beautiful day"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmoYpJIUWhY
>>  I find that I live subjunctively; that is, I accept a life in a
>> realm of objects that are not entirely "real" but rather that could
>> be, might be, are contrary to fact, are hearsay, virtual, etc.
> Sappho, as translated by Ann Carson, is good on this.
>>  Those objects are also subject to the work of time. Then there are
>> those bolts from the blue that turn everything I thought I knew
>> completely around.  Does your opposition account for this instability?
> It does not; it is a binary-- it deserves to be exploded or detourned
> through critical thinking.  :-)
> =c
>> Thanks,
>> Margaret
>> On Sep 29, 2009, at 7:21 PM, naxsmash wrote:
>>> Observe a metaphysical stalemate:
>>> Sean and Brian are nominalists,  whereas John and Margaret are
>>> realists, therefore talking past each other.
>>> For example: John and Margaret appear to propose that
>>> "individuals"  as such exist, in the sense that 'individuals' are
>>> instantiated by a universal abstract object (the set of all
>>> possible individuals) -- about which we communicate linguistically
>>> through common examples or tropes, like subsets ( 'second wave
>>> feminism', 'people i know', etc etc) .  The 'realism' of this view
>>> assumes that 'real' includes many kinds of objects including works
>>> of art (Brothers K, Flaming Lips, etc), which may exist in many
>>> possible
>>> sets, whether they are perceived in the material world or on this
>>> list or not.
>>> By contrast, Sean and Brian appear to deny the existence of
>>> 'outside' abstract objects of this type.   They allow debate over
>>> abstractions as predicates, or what i might think of as  functional
>>> namings.  No such thing as 'individual' needs to exist as
>>> an abstract object within 'real'.  Universals of this type are,
>>> according to this view, a logical error, since universals exist
>>> only post res, i..e. after the fact   They therefore attempt to
>>> define certain spaces, particularly political spheres or domains,
>>> as real; and
>>> name within such spheres, which items will be called universal
>>> abstractions, or more simply universals. Thus it becomes possible
>>> to state, as in the snippel below,  that 'privacy' as such only
>>> matters to 'wife-beaters' etc.  : the linguistic operation is
>>> simply this: to state a sphere of the real, name what / who is in
>>> it; these names become the abstract universal predicates which in
>>> turn determine sets of possible operation.
>>> I am charmed by this conundrum.  Yahweh in Genesis 2 creates Adam,
>>> then observes him "to see what he will'  name items in the creation-
>>> space (garden, or sphere of real).
>>> A blithe gloss to this deviously appears as "H is for House," Peter
>>> Greenaway 1973.  http://petergreenaway.org.uk/hisforhouse.htm
>>> King James Version  Genesis 2:19 "And out of the ground the LORD
>>> God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and
>>> brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and
>>> whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name
>>> thereof..."
>>> " Our term "universal" is due to the English translation of
>>> Aristotle's technical term katholou which he coined specially for
>>> the purpose of discussing the problem of universals.[5] Katholou is
>>> a contraction of the phrase kata holou, meaning "on the whole".[6]
>>> Aristotle famously rejected Plato's Theory of Forms, but he clearly
>>> rejected Nominalism as well: ...'Man', and indeed every general
>>> predicate, signifies not an individual, but some quality, or
>>> quantity or relation, or something of that sort..    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominalism
>>> naxsmash
>>> naxsmash at mac.com
>>> christina mcphee
>>> http://christinamcphee.net
>>> http://naxsmash.net
>>> On Sep 29, 2009, at 12:25 AM, Margaret Morse wrote:
>>>> Dear  John,
>>>> Thanks for saying something I've been feeling.  So much has been
>>>> written recently on the list that I can't/don't want to address it
>>>> point by point.  My fundamental response is that distinction and
>>>> individuation are something far older than capitalism and its link
>>>> with commodities.  As someone from the beginning of second wave
>>>> feminism personally would feel utterly suffocated if I had had to
>>>> become less of an individual in order to become more of a group/
>>>> collective, etc.  I believe the contrary is true.  This doesn't mean
>>>> that I haven't had that oceanic feeling or that I don't embrace
>>>> social
>>>> relations and social reality.  For me, thinking about collaboration
>>>> allows a more dynamic and dialogic conception of the individual.
>>>> I have already made the point much earlier about having some
>>>> ground up
>>>> conversations--I believe this is a kind of theorizing too  This is
>>>> not
>>>> an attack, rather it is longing for more variety in my intellectual
>>>> diet.
>>>> With respect,
>>>> Margaret Morse
>>>> On Sep 29, 2009, at 12:25 AM, john sobol wrote:
>>>>> This thread confuses me.
>>>>> On the one hand I find in it many interesting ideas, quite
>>>>> brilliantly described, and many useful and fresh insights into our
>>>>> world. And I understand that these insights are designed to yield
>>>>> results; that they are in the service of justice and some form of
>>>>> revolutionary authenticity, or are intended to be, and I very much
>>>>> respect that. But the conclusions that are drawn seem to me so
>>>>> curious that i struggle to make sense of the disconnect. For
>>>>> example:
>>>>>> Sean Cubitt wrote:
>>>>>>> We cannot achieve public good without sacrificing
>>>>>>> both private property and identity.
>>>>> and
>>>>>> Brian Holmes wrote:
>>>>>> The first key  point you make is that the individual sense and
>>>>>> performance of a
>>>>>> private self is now deliberately (if rather chaotically) produced
>>>>>> to fit the needs of global corporate oligopolies...(snip)... You
>>>>>> draw an important conclusion: the focus on the
>>>>>> performative self and its "properties" is repressive.
>>>>> and
>>>>>>> Sean Cubitt wrote:
>>>>>>> Thesis: Privacy was only ever the privilege of a small proportion
>>>>>>> of the
>>>>>>> world's population for a brief period in history. For about 150
>>>>>>> years, the
>>>>>>> European bourgeoisie enjoyed private rooms, private water closets
>>>>>>> and a life
>>>>>>> distinct from the life of the street. That period is now over,
>>>>>>> thanks to the
>>>>>>> development of always-on, ubiquitous media. The only people left
>>>>>>> with a
>>>>>>> direct interest in privacy are wife-beaters and tax-evaders.
>>>>> and
>>>>>> Brian Holmes wrote:
>>>>>> under semiotic capitalism, your ultimate and perhaps your only
>>>>>> property is your personal name, your electronic signature. I am
>>>>>> what I
>>>>>> sign.... And what's more, since the flux is globally shared, the
>>>>>> signature
>>>>>> becomes the only really identifiable difference.
>>>>> What I find most problematic in each of these statements is the
>>>>> willingness to make bold statements about how other people live
>>>>> that
>>>>> are so at odds with the way real people really appear to live.
>>>>> Because the people I know do not have to sacrifice private property
>>>>> and identity to achieve public good. I will give you that
>>>>> sacrificing
>>>>> private property is often - though by no means always - part of the
>>>>> equation, but identity is rarely disavowed where i find people
>>>>> achieving valuable public good. Surely I need not give examples.
>>>>> And the people I know do not seem to believe that the way they
>>>>> dress
>>>>> or think or talk or play music or have sex or eat or walk or run
>>>>> for
>>>>> mayor or play soccer or participate in listserv discussions ? all
>>>>> of
>>>>> which involve the very intentional performance of identity ? is
>>>>> inevitably experienced as repressive, as manipulative, as
>>>>> exploitation. Now, do many of them understand that our
>>>>> experiences as
>>>>> consumers, as workers, as lovers and all the rest play out in
>>>>> relation to the visible and invisible architectures of 'global
>>>>> corporate oligarchies'. Yes, to varying degrees, they do. But are
>>>>> those architectures not ambiguously negotiated by thinking, feeling
>>>>> beings?
>>>>> Well, it depends on your perspective I guess. Obviously I think
>>>>> they
>>>>> are. Whereas, to my mind, the stance that you celebrate in the
>>>>> Tiqqun
>>>>> writings, Brian, while entirely suitable for a self-centred
>>>>> teenager,
>>>>> is not really a mature perspective that recognizes life's
>>>>> complexities or the more subtle forms of human agency. And I don't
>>>>> mean that as an insult because we need those youthful rants and
>>>>> ravings, the Jim Morrisons and the Brothers Karamazovs and the Sex
>>>>> Pistols etc., all of which one grows out of somewhat but which
>>>>> serve
>>>>> a very useful purpose. Like this quote from the Tiqqun text: How Is
>>>>> It To Be Done? (http://tarnac9.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/how-is-it-
>>>>> to-be-done.pdf)
>>>>> "In a squat. In an orgy. In a riot. In an occupied train or
>>>>> village.
>>>>> We get
>>>>> together again.
>>>>> We get together again
>>>>> as whatever singularities. That is to say
>>>>> not on the basis of a common affiliation,
>>>>> but of a common presence.
>>>>> This is our
>>>>> need for communism. The need for nocturnal spaces, where we can
>>>>> get together
>>>>> beyond
>>>>> our predicates.
>>>>> Beyond the tyranny of recognition Which imposes recognition as a
>>>>> final distance between bodies.
>>>>> As an ineluctable separation.
>>>>> Everything through which ONE - my boyfriend, my family, my
>>>>> environment, my company, the state, the opinion ? recognizes me is
>>>>> just that through which ONE takes me to be constrained.
>>>>> By constantly reminding me of what I am, of my qualities, ONE
>>>>> wants to extract me from each situation. ONE wants to extort from
>>>>> me, in every circumstance, a fidelity to myself which is but a
>>>>> fidelity
>>>>> to my predicates."
>>>>> But do you still feel this way as an adult? Really? And if I don't
>>>>> feel this way anymore is it because I have willingly sold out my
>>>>> youthful ideals, or because I am deluded about my supposed maturity
>>>>> which is really cowardice and conformity to the global oligarchy?
>>>>> Or
>>>>> is it because while I still respect the transcendent spiritual,
>>>>> sexual and social orgy, I also now (at my occasional best)
>>>>> understand
>>>>> better its power and how to use it judiciously, not as an
>>>>> egotistical
>>>>> imposition on others but as an enabler of transformative
>>>>> connections
>>>>> that are attuned to individual and collective needs, strengths,
>>>>> dreams and scars? That to me is the rightful maturation of this
>>>>> youthful freak-out-and-fuck-off energy. Because in my experience
>>>>> not
>>>>> everybody should take acid or be in an orgy, not every community
>>>>> needs a revolution. But we all need to grow and find our deeper
>>>>> selves.
>>>>> And the people I know do not think that privacy is passe or
>>>>> pointless. Has the Internet and surveillance culture radically
>>>>> restructured the practices of privacy? For many of us absolutely
>>>>> (though for many people in this wide world not), and clearly this
>>>>> is
>>>>> a vital trend and issue. But to actually argue that privacy is
>>>>> extinct and unimportant to anyone is just so bizarre. Sean, do you
>>>>> yourself no longer have a private water closet? You really pee in
>>>>> public?
>>>>> And the people I know do not think that their names or electronic
>>>>> signatures are the only difference between their identities. Let
>>>>> alone all the people in the world who have do not have electronic
>>>>> signatures at all. Does that mean they have no identities?
>>>>> OK, I understand that some of these positions may have been meant
>>>>> as
>>>>> speculative exploratory ideas. But if I have taken them at face
>>>>> value
>>>>> it is because they were all presented that way as well-considered
>>>>> critical positions by very smart people.
>>>>> And again, to preempt at least some of the criticism that is coming
>>>>> my way, should anyone care to take these points up, I am (really,
>>>>> really) not an anti-intellectual or antagonistic to revolutions of
>>>>> the body or the spirit. On the contrary. But I do think that we
>>>>> need
>>>>> our ideas about how to achieve such ends to be grounded in our
>>>>> lived
>>>>> experiences in order to have any hope of their gaining popular
>>>>> traction and to not remain perpetually (and often gleefully)
>>>>> marginal.
>>>>> Brian, from all of your posts I get the feeling that you must have
>>>>> had some really interesting experiences in various alternative
>>>>> movements in Europe over the years. And you are obviously highly
>>>>> passionate about both that past and its future. I wish you'd share
>>>>> more of that on this list. I'm sure it would be both fascinating
>>>>> and
>>>>> totally educational. In fact there are so many intensely smart and
>>>>> interesting people on this list I wish everyone would spend more
>>>>> time
>>>>> talking about themselves ? their important experiences, their
>>>>> mentors, their mistakes, their dreams, their challenges, their
>>>>> gifts.
>>>>> And for that matter about the places they live, the people they
>>>>> meet,
>>>>> the things they do, art they see and make. All the important
>>>>> everyday
>>>>> stuff that feeds the ideas. I feel like I'm almost the only one
>>>>> left
>>>>> here who is more interested in life than theory, which I don't
>>>>> recall
>>>>> being the case in the earlier years of this list. If I really am
>>>>> alone here in thinking that distributed creativity means more than
>>>>> distributed theorizing I will likely quietly depart one of these
>>>>> days
>>>>> and stop bugging everyone, but I hope I'm not, because this
>>>>> listserv
>>>>> has generally been a fascinating place and has the potential to be
>>>>> much more so...
>>>>> Anyway, once again, from the tumbrel,
>>>>> John Sobol
>>>>> www.johnsobol.com
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
>>>> (distributedcreativity.org)
>>>> iDC at mailman.thing.net
>>>> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
>>>> List Archive:
>>>> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
>>>> iDC Photo Stream:
>>>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
>>>> RSS feed:
>>>> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
>>>> iDC Chat on Facebook:
>>>> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
>>>> Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref
> ------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> iDC mailing list
> iDC at mailman.thing.net
> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
> _______________________________________________
> Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC)
> _______________________________________________
> www.distributedcreativity.org
> _______________________________________________
> The research of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
> (iDC) focuses on collaboration in media art, technology,
> and theory with an emphasis on social contexts.
> _______________________________________________
> End of iDC Digest, Vol 57, Issue 38
> ***********************************


Sareeta B. Amrute
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Washington
tel: 206-543-7796

More information about the iDC mailing list