Jordan Crandall on Thu, 31 Jul 2008 05:26:27 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Between Tracking and Formulating

I am very grateful for Brian's comments on my text.  Thank you, Brian, for
taking the time to bring up these points.  I have not given enough thought
to this form of address -- this "we."  It has become so normalized for me
that I do not think about it.

On 7/25/08 6:52 PM, "Brian Holmes" <> wrote:

> the "we"... addresses you where you are unconscious of what you do, it
> joins your proud egotistic self-mastery to the real social flow of which
> you take part. The "we" is critique from which there is no escape: it is
> the linguistic performance of belonging whether you like it or not, the
> illocutionary truth of our participation in the social order.

> After two generations of this kind of performance in academia, it also
> verges on total hypocrisy.

Over the last several days, since you wrote this carefully considered
response, I have been thinking about it, and I very much see your point. 
I see what I need to do:  to develop other, more subtle ways of touching
on a complicity, but leaving open a space, generating a productive
tension.  As you have done in your writing -- using "a set of metaphors
that provoke the reader to feel [an] unbearable proximity" rather than
corralling them in an artificial space from which there is no escape.

Looking back on my work over the years, you are right, it has "sustained
the same uncomfortable feeling of self-conscious participation in the
status quo."  But this is not really stemming from a need to protect my
career, as you suggest; rather, it is from my own divided nature, which
always flirts with, but ultimately retreats from, direct political
engagement.  An interviewer recently asked me about resistance, about the
possibilities of resistance that my work offers, and, after thinking about
it, I had to honestly answer that it offers very little.  Lately I have
had these little moments of crisis, concerning the value of my project.
The best I can come up with is that it helps to create awareness, and
there is a benefit in that. A form of creative model-building.  But in
terms of taking steps to "halt the worst," it does nothing.

> It is now time for American critics to put their tremendous knowledge
> into real and strictly pragmatic attempts to halt the worst, which
> includes the degradation of "our" consciousness to the status of a
> prescripted affect.

I very much understand the importance of this but in all honesty, don't
know what I could do in this regard.  In sincere response to that, I would
have say that in my work I am trying more to uncover the libidinous
investments one can have in that which one decries, and the contradictory
workings of affect, which can mix attraction and repulsion in ways that
don't even add up to an emotional reality, let alone a discursive one --
and as such I have no real value as a critic or an activist.

> Jordan, when people like yourself who have become the establishment stop
> saying "we," then there will be a chance to leave behind the horror and
> decadence of post 9-11 America. Now it is time to exceed the prediction
> and let the fuzzy object fall, in order to set another course for
> our collective existence.

I am certainly going to stop this "we." And in its place now unfolds a
complex space of overlapping fields with degrees of implication and
engagement, within which to situate actors including myself.  But if it
also means taking a stance, taking a position and plotting a pragmatic
course of action, then I wonder if I can do it, without shooting myself in
the foot.  You have been so influential in the course of my development as
an artist and thinker over the years, Brian, and your challenges have not
gone unheeded.  But this one... Well, time will tell.


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