Re: [-empyre-] Re: TechnoPanic
Lichtenberg has an aphorism somehwere - i can't find it this morning - to
the effect that once a war has run for twenty years it may as well last
for a hundred. He calls it Polemocracy. War now is not an event but a
state, he says. The people who enjoyed peace are dying out.
the "realist" camp in international politics would agree: though the state
protects us from ourselves, at the international level Hobbes' war of each
against all pervades. What happens today is the declaration of war against
citizens, the elimination of the inside-outside distinction that used to
be the basis of wars over territory. As I understand it, this is what
Agamben observes: that the suspension of (elements of ) the constitution
usually used only in wartime are now permanently suspended.
The creation of panic is a key tool in getting people to accept this
permanent state of emergency - and if not a war of each against all, at
least of us against them.
And vice versa: technopanic tends to generate totalitarian moves - I think
of that particular kind of green politics that cries Emergency, and is
prepared to forego democracy and its inefficient debates and polemics, in
favour of action.
This kind of emergency action is for them something that the emergency
makes obvious. Any debate is merely time-wasting and should be shouted
down. I don't want to suggest that eco-terror is worse than any other, but
the example is closer to most of us than religious or military extremism.
It's true that argument is inefficient and slow; but maybe it was
efficiency that got us into this mess in the first place. The people who
remeber argument as a force in politics are dying out. The art of spin is
the art of shouting louder than the opposition that there is no
alternative. My taste for theorising on the head of a pin is probably of
little value politically, but it is engaged in discussion, communication,
and with an eye to the world changing - for the better. As Lichtenberg
also says somewhere, a cause needs an equal and opposite force if it is to
be stopped in its tracks, but even a trivial detail can alter its course.
Sometimes, in certain circumstances, clarity is more dangerous than fog;
or at least the belief that you and you alone can see with utter clarity
exactly what must happen.
> Some brief comments on technopanic;
> I am no expert on Agamben but it seems to be in his calculation, there
> are no states of emergency - only permanent emergencies with endlessly
> complex strategies for movement. The threat beyond the border
> constitutes the eternal disquiet which excuses the border's being. The
> means we use to overcome the threats and draw the borders, right down
> to the material, are but one subsystem of our network of instincts.
> The maelstrom that lies forever out of sight is where all the
> calculations take place; where we imagine the worst; futurity and
> futuphilia acts as a space of calculation and panic-production. The
> fog of war; the fog that belongs to war. Entire cultural narratives
> are sent into the fog and return armed with paranoia and panic.
> Reason is the outward-bound circumference of energy. - William Blake
> The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty,
> because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere
> twilight, which in addition not infrequently ï like the effect of a
> fog or moonshine ï gives to things exaggerated dimensions and
> unnatural appearance. - Carl von Clausewitz
> If there is any form of quantifiable relationship between the
> aesthetics of war and the aesthetics of computer technology then the
> articulation of panic could be traced back into this fog on the moor.
> In some senses the nature of it seems Rieminnian; a state and space
> where calculative acts enter and results leave.
> If technology's 'dead labour' produces ghosts of traditions, it could
> be here that the hauntings occur, leaving ectoplasmic traces of
> practices and textile realities consumed by the process of gathering.
> I am reminded of Microsoft's presentation on 'unknowable China', a
> country they are happy to put manufacturing plants in but unable to
> comprehend a culture of free-first software use. People unable to buy
> the products they produce is nothing new - but when the space becomes
> representative, perhaps software capitalism has a limit after all.
> Sean's comments on the dissapearance of materiality are very
> evocative; in the world of computer games (technopanic culture par
> excellence), the San Diego / Tijuana border was emblematic - at one
> point the most economically unequal border in the world was a
> software/hardware border as workers in Tijuana drilled screws into
> Xbox machines at a 50th of the rate software designers tinkered with
> the 'look and feel' of a software interface only a few miles away in
> San Diego. Each side experiencing a fog; authority and class power the
> fog of one, material feedback and abrasion the fog of the other.
> -Christian McCrea
> (Very appreciative to see Herzog make an apperance; his commentary on
> images as 'technical produce' in the sense of nutrition is still
> empyre forum
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