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Re: <nettime> A Puff Piece on Wikipedia (Fwd)
text warez on Thu, 9 Oct 2003 08:13:28 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> A Puff Piece on Wikipedia (Fwd)


you completly misunderstood the role of an author. 
it's a job today, nothing else. freelancer, someone
who writes books and tries to sells them to publishers.
ghostwriters, those guys behind the president, who's names
only 1% of americans might know, those are the
"authors", functionaries of propaganda, organic
intellectuals, tactical mediators who only do their job.
they phrase the words.

celebrity has nothing to do with authorship, it has
to do with career and attention economy, a fanatically
opportunistic concept  which is
the economy of stupidity and redundancy. as a 
"good idea" it luckily died with the hear-say of 
consultancy in the dot com years. now, still some people
paddling in muddy waters waiting for the next BIG
wave. (might it be WLAN? how many books is
NET CULTURE still worth of? did you read my BLOG
lately?) cultural fashions come and go, the fashion of 
the attention economy is luckily dust for a while, 
thanks to the heavily struggling advertisment biz.

the author, that is, co-co-author. mumblings. false memories,
tokens. take nietzsche, reread derrida. get at least a glimpse 
of foucault before coming up with what was already 
a conservative concept in the 19th century, when 
goethe the german sat at table with heine the jew 
who was disgusted by the old man and his royal attitude. 
which just means, authorship is a function, like
grave-digger or who wrote kylie minogues last big hit? 

anonymity is part of oral culture, we're getting back
to that. corporations aren't persons. we're in the age 
of bush and arnie, the age of avatars. false
memories, fake history. even the attention economy 
is too smart of an idea to describe the
current state of forced mediocraty. the attention economy
and it's stock options on authors reputation
dances with other skeletons of the 90ies, 
concepts like "globalization", 
with it's big and nice boring world.gifs and 
dreams of world domination. 

today, there is only one america.
and as long voters do not change it, even those
half-ass concepts do not count any more. 
anoymous people are at least not in torture of
going into lengthy pseudo-debates about the
common values of todays free and humanistic press
and how it protects people who insult muslims
making a good buck by victimizing themselves. 
salman rushdy the whining looser. if he wouldn't play
the bad muslim his mediocre texts 
would never entered the public spotlight. 
this is attention economy, it's a tautology. 
and explains how cheap this business is.
but as long we're buying it...

There are four features of texts or books which have authors--or, in
Foucault's terms, texts which create the author function.

1. Such texts are objects of appropriation, forms of property.
Speeches and books were assigned to real authors, Foucault argues,
only when the authors became subjected to punishments for what the
speech or book said. When the writing/speech said something
transgressive, something that broke rules, then systems of authority
(like Althusser's RSAs) had to find some locus from which the
transgressive speech came; the cops and courts had to find someone to
punish. Foucault's example is that of heresy: when heresy was uttered,
there had to be a heretic behind the utterance, since you can't punish
words or ideas, but only the people who "author" those words or ideas.
>From this idea of locating authorship in someone held responsible for
writing or speech came also the idea of ownership of works, and the
idea of copyright rules associated with ownership. 

2. The "author function" is not a universal or constant feature of
every text. Some texts don't require, or create, an "author:" myths,
fairy tales, folk stories, legends, jokes, etc. It used to be that
literary texts could be anonymous, whereas scientific texts had to be
attached to a name, to an "author function," because the credibility
of the scientific text came from the name of the author associated
with it: Pliny says, Aristotle says, Hippocrates says, etc. In the
17th and 18th centuries, Foucault says, this situation was reversed;
scientific texts began to speak for themselves, to be objective, and
thus to be judged on the basis of the arguments presented (and the
reproducibility of results), and not on the authority of an individual
author's name.  Literary works, in this era, began to be evaluated on
the basis of the notion of the author--hence the emergence of the idea
of "Shakespeare" as "author function," not just as some guy who hung
out in London theaters in the Elizabethan era. In contemporary
society, we see this illustrated in the idea of an anonymous literary
work, like Primary Colors, where the goal is to find out who REALLY
wrote it--to be able to associate the text with an "author function."

3. The author function is not formed spontaneously, through some
simple attribution of a discourse to an individual. Rather, it results
from various cultural constructions, in which we choose certain
attributes of an individual as "authorial" attributes, and dismiss
others. Thus, in creating "Melville" as an author function, it is
important to his status as "author" that he actually did go on a
whaling voyage; it is irrelevant to his status as author that he
worked in a bowling alley in Hawaii (although both are historically
true).  

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