Charles Baldwin on Sun, 22 Oct 2006 20:35:27 +0200 (CEST)

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

<nettime> Fwd: Hi - please pass on to nettime - I promise, the last -

I'm forwarding this from Alan Sondheim.

>>> Alan Sondheim <> 10/22/06 1:14 AM >>>

Thanks, Alan

I want to try again to comment on the discussion on nettime, which I
read in the archives on and off, and which apparently is entering the
third week. Sometimes I go over what "I'd write" if I were thinking
clearly - but I'm not at this point; when I was - for example asking
people to engage my work before criticizing it, or mentioning for what
seem to me (and others) to be obvious reasons why Kal is a bad reader
of my work, bad scholarship) - what I wrote, those two last posts
before I left - was primarily ignored, and at this point I'm still
nettime's blind spot or damned spot, take your pick.

So I will start by saying I'm not a feminist, and couldn't be, and
I still find Tal's position essentialist. When I wrote that I write
as a Jew - which is part of a long complex argument throughout the
texts I write - she derided me for it. But just as there are feminism,
there are cultural (and other) Judaisms. And yes, was influenced by
Fr. and continental feminism in general which apparently should be
reduced to labial writing - but being influenced and agreeing with
what, for some of those writers, were essentialist positions - are
two entirely different things. I can be influenced by, say, cultural
marxism - and am - but that doesn't mean I believe in all aspects of
marxism - or influenced by Buddhism - I am - but it doesn't mean I
believe in reincarnation.

But the feminist position on nettime is unassailable - and I find
it an ugly position, since it's neither discursive nor dialogic nor
healing, but condemnatory. And it's closure. So do I get any support
at all? Little, but some on the list and thank you - but a lot came
back-channel from list members, including some of the frequent writers
- who didn't support me on-list. I think they didn't want to get
involved; the short-circuiting which is characteristic of the purge
(again I can mention Lyotard's differend which no one picked up on)
was too rampant. And I should mention that I wrote to a number of
other lists I'm on - asking people to read the nettime archives, since
I thought they should know about this critique - and I received,
most on-lists, a few off-lists - support, from both women and men,
feminists and non-feminists, "lay" writers and academics. Not one of
the people supported the positions laid out on nettime; most were
appalled that my work hadn't been read.

Of course as pointed out nettime is a specal place dominated by male
theorists (many who don't seem to have engaged feminism or feminisms),
so the atmosphere is different - if anything, more phallic than ever.
But what of this and what of the left and what of what seemed to be
the derision over going back and analyzing the internet?

Speaking as a male - since I have no other identity, no other presence
on nettime other than a borrowed one - I do want to say that the
femnism espoused on nettime isn't the only feminism - that it ties
into what I (and others, but I'm arguing from my own position) as a
failure of feminism - a failure related to the children of marx and
coca-cola becoming the children of girls gone wild - to the fanatic
growth of the religious right and oppressive religions in the US - to
a neoconservative government which sends young men and women to Iraq
without a knowledge of the Koran or Islam or anything else about the
region - and so forth. When I was teaching - and this is far from
my own experience - I had to constantly argue that feminism _was_
important, was critical; none of - _none_ of the young women in my
classes either understood or "believed in" it. And I think that this
is in part because of the academic closure of feminism itself (you can
find stuff if I remember on leftist closure in general in What's the
Matter with Kansas) - which has been going on for at least a decade.
Why hasn't progress been made here? So I find myself attacked on
nettime, without a knowledge of my work, and attacked in such a manner
that any reply given is ignored or taken apart in such a way that
eventually I was purged. It's specious to think that these are only
words in this forum; words obviously carry power - the Moscow trials
were based on that among other things. And it's specious to think that
this is only a tempest in a teacup - if people are afraid to write in
(yes, some are) - then something fundamental has broken down here.

I know most of the (again obvious) answers to the above; I never did
know the answer to the attacks on feminism I've found in the classroom
- mainly from young women. At this point I see little difference
between Kali Tal and Ann Coulter - both know how to silence, how to
argue from innuendo - how to create havoc of dialog. Certainly if
Coulter is speaking as a women, Tal isn't. And I find it insulting
all the way back when Tal states if you want to know what a woman
feels, ask here. But which woman? The oppression of women in the US is
horrifying - not only girls gone wild, but the rise of bitch culture,
the backwards portrayal of women on television, even given the
exceptions, etc. - point to a situation out of control and dangerous
(its coupling with religion is also dangerous but that's another

I'll shut up now. I can't argue against Kal's authority on nettime -
which she may decry, but which has been performative - nor against
the peripheral support of Fusco, Rosler, etc. I _can_ say that what
I've seen in the past three weeks argues against the very essence of
nettime - which has moderated heavily when it wants to, but which
lets this go on and on. Arguing against the masculinist culture of
the list is necessary - but the personal attacks are not. I've never
seen behavior of ths sort on any other list - to the extent that a
number of people think that list culture is now "dead" because of this
kind of thing. I've never felt victimized on any other list - I've
had problems on some of them as a result of cross- posting, etc.,
but these have seemed civil. But here I do feel victimized, my words
stolen out from under me - and I can't keep saying "read the text"
or "you're misunderstanding" or whatever. It's a purge in fact - a
situation of silencing even in the guise of the dialogic - a situation
of ignorance in the guise of feminist-leftist sensibility - and it's
not something that I - or anyone else in this situation - deserve.
(And as other have written me, again off this list - why _this_ attack
when the country is turning so far to the right as to be frightening
on a much deeper level? If one is "educating a list" about feminism -
is this the feminism that is the most relevant? Or to put it another
way - thinking through the world outside the list - is the girls
gone wild generation fundamentally repressed? Or is there something
repressive as well in an academic discourse that is exclusionary - as
this discourse has been - no matter what side people are on? Because
there is feminism - but there are also feminisms - and Kali Tal - for
me - is a bad and destructive feminist - someone who is part of the
problem, not the solution, and someone whose scholarship - judging by
her positioning herself as an astute "reader" of my work - is simply
bad. These kinds of judgements wouldn't pass a Phd committee, nor
should they.

Finally, I realize I'm again setting myself up as a straw dog: I'm
male, I'm at fault or faulty, I didn't read the archive close enough
- not to mention that it's fairly easy to pick apart any one thing
in the above. My excuse is that I'm writing on very little sleep, in
part because of this attack, which continues to fester in the guise
of neutral discourse (per- haps), and I finally felt I should say
something, once again. I promise this is for the last time - as Ted
Byfield wrote me back-chanel - perhaps I don't belong on the list -
and I don't. I admire so many of the people here (including Rosler
by the way), but the handling and the playing out of this situation
has simply been more than I can psychologically handle. And the fact
that this sort of thing _can_ play out like this on nettime, for me,
_is_ indicative of the failure of list culture as well, the failure of
dialog, which is all too common in a neoconservative world.

(I'd end with some such "power to the people" - but at this point,
which people?)

- Alan

#  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: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: