www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

Re: <nettime> 'post electric' (age?)
human being on Tue, 21 Oct 2003 11:22:11 +0200 (CEST)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> 'post electric' (age?)



  For the sake of ideas it is hoped reasonable to
  follow up on the ideas of this thread, which takes
  the form of a soliloquy, as clarification was in a
  private exchange and will be respected as such.

  Though at the same time a sense of what might
  be common in many threads now overlapping is
  of interest, if only an attempt to contribute.  And
  to do so without the destruction of imaginations,
  different ways of thinking, still able to question...

  One interesting aspect that keeps coming back
  with using what, at times, and in ways, may be
  considered language machines, is the role of
  defining of ideas in words. Having a tangential
  encounter with Wittgenstein's 'language games'
  this is the idea that returns, as a first step, is it a
  kind of trap. A loop of words. To attempt to share
  ideas demonstrates many relations to their power
  in language, and to its ownership, of words, of
  concepts, ideas. Another recurring question is
  if there is a proprietary aspect, in which a type
  of private consensus can be achieved yet which
  leaves public, peer review of ideas in jeopardy.

  On Nettime in particular, flags have been thrown
  as seeming penalties when words which have
  a more public exposure are entered into various
  equations: it may be energy, 'matter', information,
  it may be electromagnetism. The difference when
  using such words, it would seem, tends to be that
  they are not of the same genre of thought, that it is
  of a different order or of ideas of different sublimity.

  In this I disagree in a fundamental sense, yet this
  is not against a person, it is in relation to words
  and their use and relation to one another, and
  their weight or value, their truth if need be said.
  It is not that these words are better, universally,
  at describing certain things. And, for example,
  a word like 'electromagnetism' is, indeed, still
  a contested word, as an idea of what it exactly
  is, as is electricity, it only achieves some kind of
  approximation of what is going on, and yet, these
  words are 'public' and even open in definition if
  their refinement is what experience will require.

  And so, over centuries, even millennia, some of
  these 'scientific' words and ideas have been in
  a process of refinement, and this is just to share
  a story of these not to place a judgment on this.
  That is to say, lightning meant something to the
  early civilizations, and was recorded in culture
  accordingly. Static electricity and sparks, too. A
  lot of this is 'unrecorded' in current experiences
  as it was never 'recorded' from a modern view,
  it was always in a chaos of development, and,
  hindsight never came- the Internet did, though.
  And that is what and where people talk from...

  This could be likened to Plato's cave, in trying
  to get at things outside this (electronic) cave,
  made of computers, wires, routers, physics,
  information and communications theories put
  into practice, programming, and a lot of old
  technology and empirical understanding of
  the foundation which built this online place,
  which at its base, few could argue, exists as
  a result of our collective knowledge and our
  experimentation with electromagnetism, the
  development of it and thought systems, and,
  in an indirect (not necessarily intended) sense,
  expressed in form, whether it is a wi-fi PDA, a
  William Gibson book, a classroom, or artworks.
  There are infinite ways to approach something,
  this thing, this experience, yet it seems online,
  it is primarily in language, still written (though
  maybe somewhat oral if considering mailing
  lists as closer to speech in discussion/debate).

  And so Marshall McLuhan's work with media,
  and others, has had a great impact in thinking
  about these places and processes, and it is a
  way to conceive of what is going on. Yet it is
  also a question if it is also an upper-limit to
  what can be described, and maybe it is to be
  asking such questions as 'post electric media'
  and such things, yet language and meaning is
  complex, maybe even impossible, though there
  is a sense of ownership in terms such as 'media'
  and 'new media' that is not found so much with
  'electricity' besides those who developed it and
  were honored with units of standard measure
  named after them, or equations of discoveries.

  In this way, surely McLuhan and others are to
  be afforded much, and expert knowledge is in
  the realm of scholars, which will be deferred to
  instead of diluting areas of the ideas which are
  stronger than a limited understanding. Yet, may
  it also be called into question if, as Wired did,
  declaring secular Sainthood upon McLuhan,
  or whatever the exact story of the California
  Ideology may be, has become its own self-
  fulfillment, in making meaning standardized,
  it may thwart innovations by impeding growth
  of ideas that may differ, or challenge what is
  now the status quo centered around ideas
  that, just possibly, transmute into ideologies.

  That is, a keyword buzz of media, messages,
  mediums, ad absurdum, ad infinitum, in one
  infinite loop-de-loop that could cycle in upon
  itself, never expanding, only refining itself, as
  a bureaucracy might, at the same time that a
  similar system such as privatized government
  may begin to 'own' language, 'own' media and
  such. Is it possible that in the difficulty to even
  be able to discuss these concepts, going well
  beyond them, yet grounded in understanding
  from earlier works and experiences, is also
  possibly making 'new media' and 'language'
  and other terms impossible to use, outside a
  given context, a certain authority, and which
  is defended in terms of universalist theories
  of everything (i.e. the Internet, computers,
  ephemeral culture) that cannot themselves
  be questioned as ideas in a public realm?
  This is to say, to be interrogated for validity,
  for accuracy, for their respective refinements
  of earlier concepts to taken into account the
  new and conflicting scenarios, so as to more
  accurately model what is presupposed to be
  defined, captured, encapsulated. Yet even to
  question is to threaten what seems more like
  a house-of-cards, of ideologies less than that
  of free and open exchange of ideas, thought.

  McLuhan is interpreted as if a holy man given
  superpowers of interpretations which can be
  given the weight of holy writ, but they are just
  ideas, still, and ideas are not only instruction
  sets or self-help guides, but questions about
  what is going on, models, predications, and
  clues for how one may try to approach them.

  In this sense, yes, it probably could be argued
  successfully that, in understanding aspects of
  cultural development that persons like McLuhan
  and others have had impacts as great as those
  in business and sciences, in terms of language
  and its pragmatic use, and the innovations that
  can result by unleashing creative energies. The
  question may also be asked if this same sense
  can, itself, be 'canned' as in 'canning tuna', to
  be packaged in boxes or books, sold, resold,
  even to have insider trading in markets to drive
  up the value, not of the original ideas or in their
  intent (in an attempt for clarification) but for their
  value in further exploiting the market opened up.
  And, this is to ask if in some way the role of the
  exchange of ideas can be separated from its
  garnering of actual money, profit, from ideas
  which have become ideological and some of
  the magical aspects of original works may be
  but carcasses from a culture of vulture capital.

  For example, to question 'post media' is itself
  very interesting, in this regard. Though it seems
  that the word will be around longer than others,
  as may be another 'modern' in its omniscience.
  That is, like 'post modern', modernism prevails
  day after day, the longer at it, the easier it is to
  see the ideology which has driven, is driving.
  And this has always been a curious wonder as
  to the affiliate networks of this very Internet time.
  Maybe there is real lasting power in these ideas,
  and maybe it will take a long time to realize the
  changes, adaptations, and limitations they bring.
  Though if using one's sense of experience, it is
  possibly in the best interests of thinkers to be
  able to ask and consider questions without an
  answer readily at hand, or a universal belief of
  things related to words and language, religions
  make a point of this conundrum, and sanctity.

  The word 'media' is not a religious word though,
  nor is electromagnetism. Nor electricity. Nor is
  language, education, new, modern, unless it is
  made to be so, or is interpreted as such, as a
  'private language' and judged, possibly unfairly,
  as such, and thus distorts the ways ideas work.
  It is again like 'the modern' as a concept which
  can cycle back and forth, a sliding experience.
  While laser lights may be 'primitive' in terms of
  their development today, they are embedded
  in another system which is highly developed,
  which allows this 'new' to exist, and cannot so
  easily be separated from it. And this is like one
  saying that one can focus on digital computing
  in the universe (or a particular world view of it)
  and then to edit out the parts that muss up the
  theories, such as physics, energy, materialism.
  If such thinking which spans the whole spectrum
  of imagination could be brought into one view,
  a complex and contradictory one but also a
  refined, enriched and creative experiment of
  finding the commonalities of ideas, and the use
  of deferring to others and listening to others of
  particulars that may strengthen one's own ideas,
  even if through adaptation or adoption, to bring
  grounding to rigged votes of figure-skating juries,

  That is, of ideas, in exchange, in networks of
  relations and relationships, that maybe there is
  a system in place, it may even be an inheritance
  of thought systems, and working within and to
  find a way out of this, to a more accurate, fair,
  productive, imaginative way of sharing ideas,
  experiences, awarenesses, perspectives, yet
  without going back over and over and over and
  back into the swamp of unjustified, unwarranted
  legitimacy's defend as if by autocrats and elites,
  where power remains the first value, at any cost.

  Maybe it is unrealistic to believe in meeting in
  in-between realms, in the middle of bridges,
  even to offer or ask for trust, human intuition,
  lived experience as part of value, and worth.
  And to use this as a collaborative tool, for the
  mental constructs or models used as guidance
  systems in decision making, or something such.
  And yet, in terms of ideas, sharing, dreams, it is
  the realm of the possible which may suspend
  itself for a moment, and things can transform,
  as things change, slowly and beyond sight so
  quickly, that the field of experience begins to
  adapt to new relations, new structures, ideas.

  When the ruling ideologies themselves can
  neither be questioned nor publicly discussed
  for fear of their fragility, their sacred place in
  the realm of ideas, it is an indication the ideas
  are either not that strong, or they may be vastly
  overvalued for what they deliver in experience.
  Some may prefer this method, though thinkers
  may not, it is assumed they must recognize the
  limitations of language, and yet how to ever
  find a way beyond the morass of the infinite
  discourse? How to say, yes, ideas X1, Y3, Z9
  are it, ideas A2, B8, C0, could be refined and
  linked to these various systems and grounded
  based in realms I, III, VIII, and ideas 8 and 39
  are invalid and concede this and move beyond
  these, opening up the systems of knowledge,
  to intertwine and radically innovate with ideas
  and institutions, without the centralization of
  authors/authority figures, as if a net.pantheon
  is needed to justify consciousness in this day.

  Ideas should not be 'off limits' in these days,
  that is what is dangerous. Not protecting the
  questionable special rights of authors and
  institutional figures from checks and balances
  of their authority and power in what seem to
  be perpetually corruptible systems, which
  may be part of their charm, unless it is to be
  ignored, then it can become a great burden.

  [Whether it is the modernist architects who
  are schlepping the 'new media' crowd with
  mind-candy, or others who chose their own
  career over innovation in the field they serve,
  it is up to a passing of the torches, en masse,
  to get things moving, to enable action, change,
  to unleash imagination, not to try to control it,
  and extinguish it in the act of despotic power.]

  It is thereby proposed that, one, it should be
  possible to discuss ideas without having to
  pin them to one person's thinking or some
  special legitimacy to thoughts by those who
  are honored, culturally, though also put into
  perspective as one of a number of unique
  contributors to knowledge, so as to not be
  another limitation, it is conceivably one of
  the worst things that could happen to those
  who think, that the world would decide their
  thoughts are where things stand eternally.
  It is an insult to the thinkers, it is proposed.

  Also, this is not to discount the many very
  interesting aspects, to crush thoughts that
  vary, yet when taking unique ideas and
  placing them in a series of complexities,
  even one familiar as 'figure' and 'ground'
  to many in the design arts, well, reading
  this is dependent on perception and as
  such something like 'media' could be as
  a figure, like an interface for much larger
  phenomena, which is in turn the ground,
  or one of many grounds, and figures. It is
  quite difficult to try to write in such terms,
  yet to add that, basically (and with more
  accuracy than that of 'mediums) what is
  known as 'electromagnetism' does make
  up most of the ground for the 'new media'
  as it is defined, discussed, and related. It
  is not mentioned for PR purposes here,
  it is simply a fact of the known universe.
  One can, say, try to pin such a vantage
  on someone's trials and limit it to views
  of an individual, but it is exactly not this.
  It is as if saying someone owns lightning,
  an individual, in a secular religious sense.

  If one can concede that, yes, there is a
  fuzziness to language, to ideas, yet that
  many are working on the sane problems,
  situations, issues, with similar goals, or
  similar enough, intents, or aims, wishes,
  dreams, whatever it is, and to link up with
  these persons, as groups of effort to work
  on ideas that work together, and to do this
  in a way that does not require destruction
  of one for the life of another, ideologically,
  but some base respect for the validity of
  thought and ideas, in their exchange, in
  the suspended judgment, if ever judged,
  though pondered, critically, which can be
  painful to consider, to concede, yet it may
  be a way to an empiricism, where one can
  be both right and wrong, true and false, and
  still get along with one's neighbors, and to
  still share goals of some mutual benefit.

  This is why, when the networks of ideas
  are able to find new relations with another,
  new things may be possible and that may
  be part of the 'art' of the compromise, of the
  change, of the transition and transformation.
  More respect will be given to those who can
  share in the burden, then scoff at the conceit
  of those requesting assistance in their trials
  to make small, collective efforts, for the better.

  So it is in this realm of ideas, thinking, doing
  stuff, making, imaging, exchanging, valuing,
  giving, supporting, growing, fighting, fueling
  whatever future is able to happen here that
  can be made to happen, realized, it is here
  that it may be possible, if minds remain open.
  Networks of people, ideas, and relationships.
  The adage of no one is a center and everyone
  is a center is like being nodes in the networks.
  Ideas can circulate, none need dominate, yet
  there is some grounding to them, that brings
  them into relation- none are perfect, likely,
  all can be refined, adapted, but if they are
  confining, limiting, they need be questioned,
  it is too important to stop public thinking now.

brian

  bc microsite http://www.electronetwork.org/bc/
  ~e-list http://www.electronetwork.org/list/

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net