[-empyre-] Compulsion and control . . .
p.keilty at utoronto.ca
Sat Oct 31 02:49:00 AEDT 2015
I feel I am constantly concerned with compulsion and control by going off
the grid. The biggest obstacle to hunkering down and getting some writing
done is of course, the internet. Social media sites in particular are
perfect for gregarious introverts such as myself. I can interact with
people without having to interact with people. We often think of
distractions as problems of self-discipline. I am thinking especially of
Sedgwick's essay "Epidemics of the Will." Sometimes the only way I get work
done is by turning off my wifi. That's not quite off the grid, but it's a
step in that direction. I think what Natasha and others show is that
compulsion is not something that simply resides in the subject, but it's
part of a mediational logic, in this case, between human and machine. To
paraphrase Latour, I am a different subject when I interact with the
computer; the computer is a different object when I interact with it. Is
this a form of intimacy? Is mediation a form of intimacy? Maybe that's a
silly question now that I think about it.
Faculty of Information
Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies
University of Toronto
On Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 5:21 PM, Shaka McGlotten <shaka.mcglotten at gmail.com>
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks to everyone for a pretty amazing discussion so far. I’m grateful
> for the invitation to participate and am happy to be in the company of some
> intellectual friends.
> I’ve spent much of the day reading this month’s posts. Of course, I was
> interrupted—by phone calls, meetings, and the whiny demands of my dog to be
> taken out. She’s jealous of the time I spend in front of screens. If she
> were a cat, she’d walk in front of it or on it.
> Was my need to read everything first (and take notes and formulate
> possible responses) compelled? Is compulsion the same as repetition
> compulsion, or might it also orient toward something we might think of as a
> completionist impulse (collecting, bookmarking, endless browsing, ordering
> and organizing, academic rigor)? The many discussions about flow, its
> machine zone dark side, and their relation to neoliberal techniques that
> manage both labor and subjectification are apropos here. These days,
> temporalities of work and play alike seem extended; there are stretched out
> times of desire and pleasure (porn, gossipy phone calls, binge-watching
> Veep) entangled with equally stretched and suspended, if more quotidian,
> labors (all those fucking emails).
> For years I have thought of my computer as a sex machine demanding
> engagement in patterns of excitation-capital-frustration-excitation-capital
> (I am glad that Mathew added Preciado to the discussion, someone I’ve found
> enormously useful in thinking about desire and technology). And obviously
> my computer is a labor siphon, too, endlessly addressing itself to me,
> promising some other set of possibilities, like crossing everything off my
> to-do list, even while it exhausts me. If only I could put in just a little
> more time. On the days I do put in that extra time (every day it seems),
> there’s the f.lux app to make sure that I’m not too agitated by the
> emanations of blue light constantly working on my body and its rhythms.
> This activity, that is, this very post, had been planned (dozens of
> scribbled iterations on notes or reminders on my digital to do lists);
> deferred (I had to do that other thing to do first, and then that one,
> too); and then it became immersive, or as Gordon Calleja put it, I became
> absorbed, incorporated into what is still as much a virtual as a real
> dialogue, a enactment of potential interactions as much as real ones.
> Reading this, do you still feel lonely? What is calling to you right now?
> Are you compelled, impelled, both?
> When I finish writing, a whole host of potential activities await: 27 tabs
> open across two browsers of things to read, or maybe I’ll just stream some
> yoga from Yogaglo, or get in touch with the pot dealer and find someone who
> just wants to engage in an emergent structure of feeling particular I’ve
> recently encountered in social media like Yik Yak: “Netflix and cuddle.”
> If this post seems somewhat elliptical or obtuse, my apologies. Part of
> that has to do with the fact that my absorption in these threads has
> created many resonances with my past and ongoing thinking about affect and
> online sociality, as well with a concept I recently heard Jasbir Puar use
> in a discussion of Israel/Palestine at the Affect Theory: Worldings,
> Tensions, and Futures conference, where Natasha and I were also keynote
> speakers. “Computational sovereignty” isn’t Puar’s concept—Richard Stallman
> and others have used it before—but the ways computation is tied to
> violence, specifically to Israeli practices of stunting and maiming
> Palestinians, struck a chord.
> I’m interested in something similar in my new “Black Data” project, which
> brings together queer of color critique with network culture studies by
> examining histories of black queer fugitivity and contemporary queer of
> color arts practices and media ecologies (quirky or opaque web series or
> out of the way Tumblrs, among other examples). Part of the theoretical and
> political salience of this project involves thinking through things like
> data-based or algorithmic discrimination. In other words, whose bodies
> become the targets for affect-modulating games, apps, and other designed
> human computer interactions? Or, in what ways might different people
> differentially targeted? Are some bodies more apt to be compelled? And what
> happens when bodies are exhausted? Does the cycle begin again? Does it
> always have to?
> One of my upcoming talks will be about porn fasts, the practice of
> breaking porn habits in the search of greater intimacy with oneself or with
> others, a practice of self-making that has to do with subtraction, with
> opting out. Anyone else thinking about compulsion and control in relation
> to people going off the grid?
> Last spring, I had my students do a series of challenges that were part of
> the WNYC podcast New Tech City (now Note to Self) series “Bored and
> Brilliant.” Each day came with a new challenge—keep your phone in your
> pocket rather than in your hand while walking about, delete your favorite
> app, install an app to check the number of times you’ve picked your black
> mirror up. The idea behind these exercises was that our constant
> engagements (sensual tapping, scrolling, holding, caressing) of our
> computational extensions prevent us from just spacing out or being bored,
> yet another set of suspended temporalities that allow us to engage in
> certain forms of creative problem solving or long term planning about the
> kinds of people we might want to become.
> All best,
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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