Re: [-empyre-] Introductions and beginnings (October on -empyre-)
On Oct 7, 2006, at 2:35 AM, Renee Turner wrote:
And here is where, I'm not quite sure about pragmatism...(or maybe
you can elaborate more on this). I think if you asked anyone one
of us, there have been moments when we did not want to negotiate
our ideas and respective voices. But that is part and parcel of
the group project... you have to conceptually duke it out. So,
while collaboration may offer zones of comfort, it is not built
for speed and is founded on endless negotiation ;-)
yeah, the negotiation part is usually not part of the pragmatism of
collaborations - at least not from my experience! consensus can seem
very far from rational in many instances, especially when it involves
personal as well as professional relationships.
my interest in pragmatism is coming from concerns for the "empirical"
"immediate" and sometimes "tactical" (in the trad deCerteu sense of
the term, and the way it's applied in "tactical media").
In that sense, i think of the elements of collaboration that allow
for pragmatic results (pooling resources, skills, labor, etc). Of
course, the non-pragmatic elements are what make collaborating
worthwhile and also turbulent!
Monday night, Steve Kurtz gave a presentation here (at the U of
Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and the concept of tactics came up
alongside the acknowledged difficulty of consciously producing affect
-- that affect can often go either way, and is just as likely to
reinforce authoritarian tendencies as liberatory ones. There are many
examples of this...
But that is what i'm interested in regarding the sub-rational. It's a
way to not wholly give oneself over to irrationality -- that there is
some possibility for the rational/conscious and the irrational/
unconscious to crossover and overlap. It's also important to clarify
that i'm using the terms "ir/rational" and "un/conscious" in their
most generic sense, and not in some grand reference to
psychoanalysis. i am somewhat interested in the application of some
psychoanalytic ideas into socio-political theory, as the references
to Victor Wolfenstein and the Frankfurt School make apparent, just
not in the disciplinary sense. i'm not concerned with disciplinary
integrity, i guess is what i mean.
Steve also brought up the specific importance of affect and the
symbolic for fascists and the proto-fascism of the current neocon
order, which is very interesting.
i'm totally ill prepared to make many useful claims about any of
this, other than saying that i'm interested in somehow incorporating
an acknowledgment of these ideas.
To take us back to specifics and deGeuzen's work...
i think there are some very useful threads in their work from
Unravelling Histories http://geuzen.blogs.com/info/2004/07/
unraveling_hist.html to the works exhibited in Under Fire http://
that introduce a way of incorporating acknowledgment of a sub-
rational and rational process that also avoids those ideas as binary
oppositions that are sort of opposed to one another.
The incorporation of historical knowledge in a way that is certainly
not reducible to efficiency and simple logic is what i'm interested
in, that an engagement with politics may require a real tweaking of
the frame that usually keeps politics a specialized/spectacular
affair. It seems to involve a kind of opening up of "space" that
allows for politics to slip into our experience, and vice versa,
where it always already exists. Just about everyone that's used a web
browser since 2001 has performed a Google image search and has
experienced how images are instantly archived by some hidden
mechanism, so when that mechanism is made overtly political by the
use of recognizably political keywords and the implicitly political
through the revelation of the process of distribution, modification
and manipulation (through the process of montage, juxtaposition and
layering as translations of geopolitics [via language] and time for
example) there are several "inroads" there i think.
i think maybe a useful way of taking this further is to think about
what the "stakes" are... what are the consequences of different
tactics? Is there "failure" or "success"?
This is another place that my concern for "pragmatism" comes in... if
as Latour and others point out, our use of critique (negative
dialectics) seems to have largely "failed," what do we do? Of course,
i want to be careful to not take that assumption of "failure" as a
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