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<nettime> influencing machine digest [x2: stahlman, schmidt]
nettimes_trololo_guy on Fri, 14 Feb 2014 16:21:37 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> influencing machine digest [x2: stahlman, schmidt]


Newmedia {AT} aol.com
     Re: Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium (part One, #2.2)
Matze Schmidt <matze.schmidt {AT} n0name.de>
     Re: <nettime> A tribute to Stuart Hall

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From: Newmedia {AT} aol.com
Date: Sat, 8 Feb 2014 10:01:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: <nettime> Ippolita Collective: In the Facebook Aquarium (part One, #2.2)

Florian:
 
> What is really at the core of the issue: whether technology is a 
> cultural construct for which there can be political intervention 
> (a view that would unite enlightenment thinkers and even those 
> critical cultural studies people who see the enlightenment tradition 
> as a tool of capitalist and Western hegemony), or whether technology 
> is an a priori, with culture and politics as its products, and  intervention 
> as a hopeless form of naive humanism.

Or, it's mostly the  result of a particular historic contest in academia! 
<g>
 
There was, for those old enough to remember, a sea-change in the 1970s in  
the academic treatment of these issues -- coincident with the turmoil that  
accompanied the end of the Vietnam War and the funding changes that  
followed.
 
Much of social science had been funded by the Rockefellers from the 1920s  
to the 1950s.  This served them very well coming out of WW II, which had  
mobilized many psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists etc.  The  
"takeover" of the Ford Foundation, where "Individual Behavior and Human  Relations" 
became their "fifth" program, as described in the 1949 Gaither  Report.  
http://www.fordfoundation.org/pdfs/about/Gaither-Report.pdf lead  to the 
starting of the Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences  (CASBS -- 
the IAS for social science), got McLuhan his initial grant in  1953 etc.
 
Much of this was "seed" funding, with the intent of transitioning to other  
sources, particularly the US government -- where, from its founding in 1958 
 onwards, ARPA took up many of these plans.  The ARPANET, for instance, was 
 more of a "social psychology" effort than it was about "war fighting" --  
according to the guy who funded it, Bob Taylor.
 
All this came to a screeching halt in 1972 when the (second or third?)  
Mansfield Amendment to the DoD funding bill finally forced ARPA to be renamed  
DARPA and effectively plugged the loopholes that people had been using to  
"justify" their research as related to military efforts,  Among others,  
Heinz von Foerster got his "second order cybernetics" funding by the Air Force  
cut, so he retired.
 
http://www.darpa.mil/About/History/ARPA-DARPA__The_Name_Chronicles.aspx
 
This anti-war "politicization" of science funding in the late-60s/early-70s 
 forced a widespread change (over many years) in the staffing of sociology  
departments etc, giving priority to the "critical culture studies" types -- 
as  the "inmates" took over the asylum.
 
Those who were then denounced as "technological determinists" were often  
the same people who had been taking DoD/ARPA/CIA funding and this accusation  
became a part of the "tarring-and-feathering" of the older generation by 
those  who were waging academic warfare against them.
 
Nowadays it has become "dogma" (including by many on this list) but few  
seem to remember how/why it started . . . 
 
Mark Stahlman
Jersey City Heights

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Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 16:34:25 +0100
From: Matze Schmidt <matze.schmidt {AT} n0name.de>
Subject: Re: <nettime> A tribute to Stuart Hall

Hello,

and thank you for the open condolence letter, I mean it.

But I am not sure about the "us" here,

>the direction which Stuart did so much to help us move

and the "enormous political influence" Hall should have had.

>From my perspective the reference figures you have mentioned are
problematic -- for Hall of course and for this "us", besides the sorrow
you personally may feel.

Gramsci in his prison writings had to change the terminology he took
from Marx into code language (a sort of intellectual prison 'slang')
with the result of categories very different ... e.g. "class" became
"block". There the trouble begins. A logic that is draped by fear and
censorship of the power (who?) lead to a censored wording and meaning.
For structuralists a common place, since wording creates meaning. Only
does it fit real processes?
Of course "the real" is not there, what we have got is discourses with
the poles word and matter.

For Althusser the phaenomena are not the appearance of a whole
behind/below/above them, they _are_ the whole, the structure, the real.
This is crucial while leaving Hegel and idealism behind. But it seems that
a "intersubjectivite anthropologique" shows what falls behind Hegel and
the differentiation of aesthetics and epistemology.

With Althusser and Hall culture is no superstructure, no process
underneath determines them -- which is balm for all designers, social
practice people and last but not least anti- but still institutional
education and most important the _discourse as practice_.

The whole contemporary art scene seems to follow this culturalist (and
ontological) turn as protagonists seem to think changing phaenomena
changes structures. Or even more tight, they deny any unseeable
structure and stay with the seeable phaenomenons. This is then also
their "institutional space" which gives them a home (to quote and twist
your words). Discourse as practice means to change the practice by
discourse. But what is the discourse when it's codes only?

This home, or these homes -- to produce a syllogism -- function as
'factories' for now _practical_ discourses: One can produce meaning by
code. There is no ontological gap anymore between code/meaning and the
real. It is a immediatism in love with media as meaning machines. Or in
other words: If I say this is a stone, it is a stone (NLP). But this
test is =BBout-tested=AB with the polyrism and a rest of material(ist)
knowledge: A donut is of course not a stone, it may become one. But
stone and donut have a form.
Now, form and content are often considered the same in cultural studies.

The whole cultural etc. studies and its followers/practitioners see the
relation phaenomenon:structure like that, formulated in the formula
_changing the code and occupying the discourse is changing the structure
of the discourse_. But discourse begins in the head and the signifiers
first, which is pure idealism.

In the end the most important (national) signifier system is the
parliament-text-machine and its surrounding, the aim of the better
hegemony, better ruling ("governance"), not "no governance"; a
political party-socialism produced by better (left) thinkers.

When structuralism (post-, neo-, etc.) once had begun with the study of
a production of meaning (symbolic level), it turned this concept of
production into a materialist programme which made the assembly lines
become a coding and behaviourist social idea.

Regards,

Matze

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