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AMCrenshaw
03-31-2009, 05:38 AM
In light of a locked thread concerning "twitter" (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136282), might a discussion of Derrida's notion of "archive fever" prove useful? (For the record, ahem, I don't use twitter or facebook but I do have access to a myspace page. I imagine if/when I find a reason to use those websites I will.)

Programs like Twitter seems to me a way of affirming empty presence, or, present moments which are constantly fleeting, constantly being pushed behind us, into the past as history, to be "used" somehow at a later date (if one wants to speak about ideal practices, take it outside; there's a thread already about it and I don't want that discussion leaking here).

A former professor had once related a story about his brother who followed his video camcorder around, recording nearly everything. The professor asked, then, if we thought his brother was sort of robbing himself of the present moment. This archive fever in a sense replaces or substitutes, through sacrifice, this moment so that later in life we can recall an "experience" more "easily". But what experience, then? The person behind the camera, the person tweeting, isn't really doing anything at all. What are they really experiencing? Perhaps my rhetoric is steeped in hyperbole. Perhaps not.


So, in short, my own concern for "archive fever" in all its forms, from news tickers to facebook statuses, is two-fold, and much less in Freudian terms than Derrida: First, systemized theft of one's experience in the present moment. Secondly, cultural/historical amnesia: is the mainstream in danger of being utterly, irreparably dazed?

Again, if you feel the need to complain about Twitter or Facebook, take it outside. This is a discussion about archive fever in general...

AMC

Ruv Draba
03-31-2009, 12:07 PM
People don't want to die, they want to preserve their Now. Though largely forgettable, their Now is oddly sympathetic. Reality may not be terribly entertaining, but watching people wrestle with it is.

Higgins
03-31-2009, 04:57 PM
In light of a locked thread concerning "twitter" (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136282), might a discussion of Derrida's notion of "archive fever" prove useful? (For the record, ahem, I don't use twitter or facebook but I do have access to a myspace page. I imagine if/when I find a reason to use those websites I will.)

Programs like Twitter seems to me a way of affirming empty presence, or, present moments which are constantly fleeting, constantly being pushed behind us, into the past as history, to be "used" somehow at a later date (if one wants to speak about ideal practices, take it outside; there's a thread already about it and I don't want that discussion leaking here).

A former professor had once related a story about his brother who followed his video camcorder around, recording nearly everything. The professor asked, then, if we thought his brother was sort of robbing himself of the present moment. This archive fever in a sense replaces or substitutes, through sacrifice, this moment so that later in life we can recall an "experience" more "easily". But what experience, then? The person behind the camera, the person tweeting, isn't really doing anything at all. What are they really experiencing? Perhaps my rhetoric is steeped in hyperbole. Perhaps not.


So, in short, my own concern for "archive fever" in all its forms, from news tickers to facebook statuses, is two-fold, and much less in Freudian terms than Derrida: First, systemized theft of one's experience in the present moment. Secondly, cultural/historical amnesia: is the mainstream in danger of being utterly, irreparably dazed?

Again, if you feel the need to complain about Twitter or Facebook, take it outside. This is a discussion about archive fever in general...

AMC

There's an even stranger (to me, an old guy) side to this: what happens when you take things from other people's archives? That is to say when you appropriate something in some "archival" medium (photos, scans of photos, digital images of 20 different kinds)...Andy Warhol's printing of iconic people and objects was the perfection and domestication of this possibility...but to me it remains exceedingly odd.
Or even odder, what if you build a persona (online and elsewhere) that is constructed out of archival material? You use it alter it etc. You are cool if you do it well and a practioner of "outsider art" (which is another way of appropriating somebody else's archive: just pay them 50 bucks and call their insane crap outsider art) if you do it badly.
Anyway...very good and central topic

Higgins
03-31-2009, 05:05 PM
There's an even stranger (to me, an old guy) side to this: what happens when you take things from other people's archives? That is to say when you appropriate something in some "archival" medium (photos, scans of photos, digital images of 20 different kinds)...Andy Warhol's printing of iconic people and objects was the perfection and domestication of this possibility...but to me it remains exceedingly odd.
Or even odder, what if you build a persona (online and elsewhere) that is constructed out of archival material? You use it alter it etc. You are cool if you do it well and a practioner of "outsider art" (which is another way of appropriating somebody else's archive: just pay them 50 bucks and call their insane crap outsider art) if you do it badly.
Anyway...very good and central topic

this for example:

http://motionographer.com/tag/obama/

AMCrenshaw
03-31-2009, 07:51 PM
There's an even stranger (to me, an old guy) side to this: what happens when you take things from other people's archives?


Appropriating archives as personal memories, for example?


Or even odder, what if you build a persona (online and elsewhere) that is constructed out of archival material?

And I think we all do participate in this activity, in varying degrees of intensity. Ricoeur calls the phenomenon "citation"-- when we pull from pre-ordered meaning and appropriate it in the now, often without realizing it. For example, as a recent graduate, I still visit my alma mater and can't help but overhear how many people speak like characters from Buffy, Dawson's Creek, Seventh Heaven or whatever. How many people speak like hip-hop artists. How many use Grassroot Christian catch phrases or nuances one might find in Plato (among the more esoteric students).


But I can speak for now and say that now we have an astounding number of archival sources to draw from, I'd say 90% delocalized-- it's not just our parents, our newspaper, our elementary schools, the books we read or the films we watch. The internet alone really functions as all of these at once, and more; however, much of our interaction on the internet is practically anonymous, with either no identity or a largely fictive one.

What I think that does is obscure the sources we unconsciously cite. Quite dangerous...

(T.S. Eliot, in the Waste Land and other poems, used the gramophone to illustrate this idea of disembodied voices feeding us truths.)

AMC

Higgins
03-31-2009, 08:58 PM
Appropriating archives as personal memories, for example?



And I think we all do participate in this activity, in varying degrees of intensity. Ricoeur calls the phenomenon "citation"-- when we pull from pre-ordered meaning and appropriate it in the now, often without realizing it. For example, as a recent graduate, I still visit my alma mater and can't help but overhear how many people speak like characters from Buffy, Dawson's Creek, Seventh Heaven or whatever. How many people speak like hip-hop artists. How many use Grassroot Christian catch phrases or nuances one might find in Plato (among the more esoteric students).


But I can speak for now and say that now we have an astounding number of archival sources to draw from, I'd say 90% delocalized-- it's not just our parents, our newspaper, our elementary schools, the books we read or the films we watch. The internet alone really functions as all of these at once, and more; however, much of our interaction on the internet is practically anonymous, with either no identity or a largely fictive one.

What I think that does is obscure the sources we unconsciously cite. Quite dangerous...

(T.S. Eliot, in the Waste Land and other poems, used the gramophone to illustrate this idea of disembodied voices feeding us truths.)

AMC

Since I'm currently working with a lot of millenials and they are all constantly appropriating from all over the place, the dissolution of personalities into a haze of citation/appropriation makes me think that the apocalypse of narcissism has come. Maybe I mean the apocatastasis of narcissism:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01599a.htm

millenials and narcissism:

http://www.alternet.org/story/48834/

http://laurayoung.typepad.com/dragonslaying/2007/03/the_most_narcis.html

Williebee
03-31-2009, 09:21 PM
"Cultural Appropriation" has come up in the 'Cooler before. Not quite the same thing as the OP, but I wonder if one might lead to the other.
There is something to be said about the idea that recording our present might train our brains not to recall it.

After all, how many phone numbers have we forgotten because they are now just "speed dial whatever"? How many things in meetings are not held onto because "We can always refer to the minutes."?

Higgins
03-31-2009, 09:28 PM
"Cultural Appropriation" has come up in the 'Cooler before. Not quite the same thing as the OP, but I wonder if one might lead to the other.
There is something to be said about the idea that recording our present might train our brains not to recall it.

After all, how many phone numbers have we forgotten because they are now just "speed dial whatever"? How many things in meetings are not held onto because "We can always refer to the minutes."?

Its not so much the first use of a recording medium that seems problematic to me -- its the citational/appropriational/quoting/sampling. Technologies make this so seemingly unproblematic that you end up with a mass of "cultural" stuff and you have no idea how it got where it got except through a series of file formats. The trail of archives leads to some maze of replication and a certain number of obsolescent technologies. Real records and actual chemically-produced photos now have a totally different significance than they did before everything started being digital.

AMCrenshaw
03-31-2009, 09:30 PM
Since I'm currently working with a lot of millenials and they are all constantly appropriating from all over the place, the dissolution of personalities into a haze of citation/appropriation makes me think that the apocalypse of narcissism has come. Maybe I mean the apocatastasis of narcissism:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01599a.htm

millenials and narcissism:

http://www.alternet.org/story/48834/

http://laurayoung.typepad.com/dragon...st_narcis.html

I'd say that narcissism-- as a form of self-love-- can be quite a positive thing. But I should point out also that what we find here isn't self-love, but self-infatuation, a kind of hyper-neurosis. A nitpick, to be sure. Self-love in a culture where the self is dissolved into millions of web-particles, we should think, translates to love toward community, which the article points out a trend in fusing 'individual' creativity with concern for community (that group I'd say I belong to, honestly).

The internet functions of twitter and facebook and the like have within them the capacity to keep disconnected people connected. But when the individuals are sort of neither individuals nor other people but unwilling multi-schizos, it's hard to say who or what is kept connected!

I suspect neither complete apocalypse nor apocatastasis of narcissism is wholly imminent. First because I suspect we will invest even more time into our virtual second lives (http://secondlife.com/) than we do already. Second, the narcissism is not really an obsession or love with one's self, the way we typically think of it, but with a narrativized, archival, virtual avatar...

AMC

Higgins
03-31-2009, 10:00 PM
I'd say that narcissism-- as a form of self-love-- can be quite a positive thing. But I should point out also that what we find here isn't self-love, but self-infatuation, a kind of hyper-neurosis. A nitpick, to be sure. Self-love in a culture where the self is dissolved into millions of web-particles, we should think, translates to love toward community, which the article points out a trend in fusing 'individual' creativity with concern for community (that group I'd say I belong to, honestly).

The internet functions of twitter and facebook and the like have within them the capacity to keep disconnected people connected. But when the individuals are sort of neither individuals nor other people but unwilling multi-schizos, it's hard to say who or what is kept connected!

I suspect neither complete apocalypse nor apocatastasis of narcissism is wholly imminent. First because I suspect we will invest even more time into our virtual second lives (http://secondlife.com/) than we do already. Second, the narcissism is not really an obsession or love with one's self, the way we typically think of it, but with a narrativized, archival, virtual avatar...

AMC

Yes, I know. I was told most of this quite recently, but as a primordial Baby Boomer I find it mystifying. It seems to me that what you really end up with is a first life that is mostly a vicarious observation of a self that needs virtual life support just to remain in marginal focus, a self that is constantly rehearsing for non-events that never happen, that never can happen -- that are only images of impossible events. In Freudian terms the ego and the super-ego end up chasing each other around a circuit defined in pico-seconds. A reflective existence perhaps, but one in which the reflections flash by in less than an instant.

I was asked: "But what if it is the opposite?" ie, a positive cross-appropriative community as you suggest, undivided by individual desires since nobody has the reflective time to form an individual desire...But what is the opposite really? I suggested being isolated with the images of one's own dreams and nightmares...which doesn't sound good or even plausible.

AMCrenshaw
03-31-2009, 10:48 PM
I was asked: "But what if it is the opposite?" ie, a positive cross-appropriative community as you suggest, undivided by individual desires since nobody has the reflective time to form an individual desire...But what is the opposite really? I suggested being isolated with the images of one's own dreams and nightmares...which doesn't sound good or even plausible.

True. This is what sums up my concerns, too.

I'd add in theoretical terms only, a culture of narcissists (in the Freudian sense) would see themselves as being the local community, the greater society, the world, the universe, gods, ad infinitum. I'm being funny. But some might argue this conception is most accurate in some skewed aesthetic sense, so that cross-appropriative, cross-responsible narcissists who love their "selves", i.e., the universe and all its functions, are at least peaceful people. Irreparably dazed. But peaceful.


Switching gears slightly, the other interesting phenomenon is that of a culture of people who are fairly well-educated and yet still quite ignorant. I think it's the flashing, deafening bombs which stop us from hearing someone right beside us. For example, I wonder what this generation reacts more strongly to: A marital status update on facebook or the Iraqi war death toll on the MSNBC news ticker.

They consume the same amount of time, and, I think, the same amount of energy.

AMC

Higgins
03-31-2009, 11:42 PM
True. This is what sums up my concerns, too.

I'd add in theoretical terms only, a culture of narcissists (in the Freudian sense) would see themselves as being the local community, the greater society, the world, the universe, gods, ad infinitum. I'm being funny. But some might argue this conception is most accurate in some skewed aesthetic sense, so that cross-appropriative, cross-responsible narcissists who love their "selves", i.e., the universe and all its functions, are at least peaceful people. Irreparably dazed. But peaceful.



Funny, but I think absolutely right. This is what I meant by the narcissistic apocatastasis: an appropriative narcissism that claims its image in everything. And now there are accessible archives that show this actually happening from moment to moment.

The mezmerizing thing is...well it is fun to watch...and yet I'm not sure the practitioners have any idea what dizzying feats of appropriation/citation and so on are happening under the label of "a cool idea"...It's like the power is there, the magic is there, but the price it demands is a shadowy lack of awareness and context.

On the other hand, at its most extreme, there is a highly narrative awareness that seems to require moving the area of focus into somebody else's narrative. The key practitioner -- the one whose coolness suddenly markedly exceeds that of his fellows -- suddenly needs to be explained in the 2nd or third person, as if the price of maximal appropriation is that others appropriate you and offer you back to yourself as a narrative of how you got to be so interesting. I've seen it happen twice lately. Very funny. Highly ironic and curiously disturbing. Or maybe I'm just a good audience since I look on with a look of puzzled horror on my face at the news that Crane changed his shoe style when he endured suffering in Toronto. Perhaps the real news was that Susan knew all about Crane and his (let's face it -- improbable) suffering and his shoes.

Ruv Draba
04-01-2009, 12:04 AM
We're apes. We thieve. It's what we do. Our enlightenment deities are all thieves. We stole fire to warm our nights. We stole the beauty of flowers for our sexual power-games. We stole a boar's fierce countenance to replace our own in battle. We stole the noses and ears of dogs to guard our camps. We've always had personas; we just have better tools to craft and preserve them nowadays. And personas are always created through theft.

One thing we've left behind though, is grooming. Presenting our heads and backs to have our nits picked. But perhaps we miss that. Perhaps what appalls us isn't the behaviour (in which I can't see anything new), but our artlessness in embracing it.

AMCrenshaw
04-01-2009, 12:19 AM
Again I don't think it's that we steal or appropriate but the rapidity and intensity at which some of us do so, now. While we can refer to the fact we appropriated wolves' ears for our own, few can refer to the exact source of their personality-appropriations. I think that's largely due to the combination of archive fever, narrativized selves (self-referentiality, self-consciousness, etc), and technology which makes these things all the more conducive.

Most postmodern theorists (I think) would agree that identity has always been something largely external to the person. The millenial narcissist disagrees. But only on the grounds that nothing is outside of them.

ETA:


Perhaps what appalls us isn't the behaviour (in which I can't see anything new), but our artlessness in embracing it.

This is an interesting point. 5-10 years ago, I didn't see it coming. And all I wanted was the internet in my house. Now I got it and am afraid I rely/depend on it. (BTW, does anyone know about this global-computer-virus scare? There was an article in the New York Times about it.) I can't imagine having it since birth...

AMC

Ruv Draba
04-01-2009, 08:22 AM
While we can refer to the fact we appropriated wolves' ears for our own, few can refer to the exact source of their personality-appropriations.Perhaps there isn't a precise single source. Perhaps we clothe our personalities in personas stolen piecewise from our parents, peers, idols and authority figures. And perhaps we mythologise personas to make that task easier.

AMCrenshaw
04-01-2009, 09:05 AM
Perhaps we clothe our personalities in personas stolen piecewise from our parents, peers, idols and authority figures.

Right I think you're onto something: It's much more than that, but maybe only in degree: the thousandfold appropriation of ethereal sources might all still fit into these "categories" or Deleuzan "assemblages". That gets most complicated when there is a generation of people who seem themselves as their own parents, peers, idols, and authority figures-- but in a typical sense, these aren't sources, for that would differentiate between subject and object. One becomes the community, society, etc. At this extreme, as Higgins pointed out, the narcissist chases his or her own tail, knows only his or her own dreams and nightmares, isolated, in a room of flashing images.

Higgins
04-01-2009, 04:59 PM
Right I think you're onto something: It's much more than that, but maybe only in degree: the thousandfold appropriation of ethereal sources might all still fit into these "categories" or Deleuzan "assemblages". That gets most complicated when there is a generation of people who seem themselves as their own parents, peers, idols, and authority figures-- but in a typical sense, these aren't sources, for that would differentiate between subject and object. One becomes the community, society, etc. At this extreme, as Higgins pointed out, the narcissist chases his or her own tail, knows only his or her own dreams and nightmares, isolated, in a room of flashing images.

I've been mulling this (ie, the appropriative networking one witnesses in people who are very well connected in their fields of work and play) over or the last month or so. The relation of appropriation to digital "archives" and other mechanisms for technologically fast and accurate reproduction is what seems both interesting and strange. The strange thing is that appropriation (eg taking a photograph and making it part of something else) is almost a linguistic gesture, but in a language no one really knows, but that everyone speaks all the time.

It's rather like reading Zizek who "mimes Marx"...but in the case of continuous continual appropriation, its more like miming meaning rather than thinking it through. IT's enough to produce something that looks like it might mean something, rather than thinking through what the process of appropriation is.

The opposite is worse of course, ie...living with intense, non-communicable meanings that have no imagistic analogies....but I think that is not a social state, if it occurs very often at all.

Ruv Draba
04-02-2009, 02:07 AM
At this extreme, as Higgins pointed out, the narcissist chases his or her own tail, knows only his or her own dreams and nightmares, isolated, in a room of flashing images.The fashion industry has been with our civilisation since the Middle Ages; it's perhaps our most shallow, apish and sardonic industry, although the arts, entertainment and communication sectors aren't far behind. We invent our own excuses to be entertained by one another.

I really don't see the difference between shuffling links and memes around blog-sites, and copying liripipes -- or for that matter, churning out someone else's paranormal romance formula. Some get paid for their vain mimicry; for others the mimicry is its own reward.

AMCrenshaw
04-02-2009, 06:25 AM
I really don't see the difference between shuffling links and memes around blog-sites, and copying liripipes -- or for that matter, churning out someone else's paranormal romance formula. Some get paid for their vain mimicry; for others the mimicry is its own reward.

Except that it's not generally as conscious or even self-conscious. The self-awareness is awareness of a virtual, nebulous self, one whose characteristics are archived and appropriated in a matter of seconds. As I said, the difference might be in degree, not in essence.

AMC

Higgins
04-02-2009, 06:20 PM
The fashion industry has been with our civilisation since the Middle Ages; it's perhaps our most shallow, apish and sardonic industry, although the arts, entertainment and communication sectors aren't far behind. We invent our own excuses to be entertained by one another.

I really don't see the difference between shuffling links and memes around blog-sites, and copying liripipes -- or for that matter, churning out someone else's paranormal romance formula. Some get paid for their vain mimicry; for others the mimicry is its own reward.

The narcissistic side of living in an archive that is all about one's self has little to do with vanity. Indeed, when you look at what people make available about themselves on the web it seems a little egotism and vanity would have been a better plan than simply divulging themselves reading very bad poetry while showing images of their well-photographed minimalist textile art.

I guess its not so much the speediness of the aspects of the self that chase each other around short circuits as it is the clumsiness of the rhetoric in representing the self under such circumstances that I find puzzling. So "paradoxically" the problem of the narcissistic archive is that the self in the archive has problems imagining how to represent themselves since, well, they see nothing but themselves all the time.

Ruv Draba
04-02-2009, 10:25 PM
I guess its not so much the speediness of the aspects of the self that chase each other around short circuits as it is the clumsiness of the rhetoric in representing the self under such circumstances that I find puzzling.This is a writer's forum so of course we'll critique form. For many of us, communication is all art and all about the artifice.

But sociologically, communication is also about informing and grooming. Our most common greeting is a simple 'How are you' -- the hominid equivalent of the canine butt-sniff. I don't at all begrudge the Internetted populace presenting their butts, armpits, elbows and ankles for each other to sniff; it's better than being indifferent to one another, and no worse than the games that apes play with pretty stones and rustling twigs. And as posters in the original twitter thread pointed out, you don't have to play.

As a writer I find myself turning to such repositories more and more for character and even setting research -- exactly because the artifice is so artless, and you can harvest it so efficiently. Last week for instance, I skimmed an INFJ (http://typelogic.com/infj.html) forum for inspiration in how my social-worker MC might see her relationships. This week I watched an avid backpacker pontificate about axes vs bowie knives in wilderness survival and the moral obligation for responsible people to carry concealed weapons. I couldn't have invented those things but I could certainly use them in my fiction.

How can any fiction writer, sociologist or historian turn up the snout at free, abundant archival intimacy -- especially when it comes with capable search-engines? How blessed would we be had we such archives from sixty or a hundred or two hundred years ago?

98% of it might be an utter waste of time, but given search engines and cheap disk space, I'm all for it.

AMCrenshaw
04-02-2009, 10:41 PM
98% of it might be an utter waste of time, but given search engines and cheap disk space, I'm all for it.

I'm not so much "against" it as skeptical of its effects on the mainstream population. I understand that tools are 'good' in 'good' hands and 'bad' in 'bad' hands. It just might take a while to wrestle this one into better hands. Or to better, at least, the hands we have already. I don't know. I'm baffled.


AMC

Higgins
04-02-2009, 11:30 PM
This is a writer's forum so of course we'll critique form. For many of us, communication is all art and all about the artifice.

But sociologically, communication is also about informing and grooming. Our most common greeting is a simple 'How are you' -- the hominid equivalent of the canine butt-sniff. I don't at all begrudge the Internetted populace presenting their butts, armpits, elbows and ankles for each other to sniff; it's better than being indifferent to one another, and no worse than the games that apes play with pretty stones and rustling twigs. And as posters in the original twitter thread pointed out, you don't have to play.

As a writer I find myself turning to such repositories more and more for character and even setting research -- exactly because the artifice is so artless, and you can harvest it so efficiently. Last week for instance, I skimmed an INFJ (http://typelogic.com/infj.html) forum for inspiration in how my social-worker MC might see her relationships. This week I watched an avid backpacker pontificate about axes vs bowie knives in wilderness survival and the moral obligation for responsible people to carry concealed weapons. I couldn't have invented those things but I could certainly use them in my fiction.

How can any fiction writer, sociologist or historian turn up the snout at free, abundant archival intimacy -- especially when it comes with capable search-engines? How blessed would we be had we such archives from sixty or a hundred or two hundred years ago?

98% of it might be an utter waste of time, but given search engines and cheap disk space, I'm all for it.

There are a lot of problems with modeling archival appropriation and the narcissism of uncritically inhabitting such realms of duplication on simple animal behavior. For one thing, there really are very elaborate symbolic codes somewhere in the mix and there's no reason to assume they have no function at all.

So let's take it as more or less true that exchanging photos of one's social world with others in that same social world is the moral equivalent of mutual ass-sniffing...what if I take photos from an archive and alter them and send them to you. Is this still just ass-sniffing? Is it "cool" if done properly and the short-curcuiting of narcissism into an oscillation between superego and ego levels of relating the self to the world and desire if done badly? What position are you in if you try to figure out what is up with the use and/or alteration of photos from an archive? Are you sniffing or sniffed? Is the nature of the photo detached from its original context? Does that matter? Shouldn't you wonder where the photos came from and what happened to them on the way? What if the originals are actual negatives and the alterations were done at printing? Or at Scanning? Or in Photoshop? Are you still just sniffing or is there something else in the air?

Ruv Draba
04-03-2009, 07:49 AM
There are a lot of problems with modeling archival appropriation and the narcissism of uncritically inhabitting such realms of duplication on simple animal behavior. For one thing, there really are very elaborate symbolic codes somewhere in the mix and there's no reason to assume they have no function at all.I don't think they have no function at all. Grooming plays important psychological and sociological roles in hominid life, additional to its physical function.

I don't even know that it's necessarily narcissistic to blog about yourself. Narcissism is about how you approach your whole life. For all I know, some journal-twitters may be putting self-absorption out of their minds by writing about their little distractions. And other than publication, how does this differ from authors who keep daily journals, as advised?

what if I take photos from an archive and alter them and send them to you.What if I draw a caricature of the teacher in class and pass it as a hidden note? Or what if I hang my little brother's undwear from the school flag-pole? Or perform ventriloquism on my family cat and don't send a tape to Funniest Videos? Or graffito a wall in an alley? Or deface a billboard to make it satirical?

This is how we smart apes amuse ourselves, win attention, get groomed, earn accolades. It's our baseline. If anything it's this thing called art that's artificial.

AMCrenshaw
04-03-2009, 08:13 PM
I don't even know that it's necessarily narcissistic to blog about yourself.

It is narcissistic. That doesn't mean it's negative, either. It's good that people think they have something worthwhile to express to the whole world wide web. (wwww.)


Narcissism is about how you approach your whole life. For all I know, some journal-twitters may be putting self-absorption out of their minds by writing about their little distractions.


Maybe. But I've found that the trend is more obsessive than what you lead on. People spend sometimes 8 hours a day on the internet. When they have twitter and facebook, how much time is spent there?


And other than publication, how does this differ from authors who keep daily journals, as advised?

Well, for one thing, it is private. That's a big difference. An audience in today's society constitutes the self more than an individual does-- that is really one effect of archive fever. We rapidly (I can't stress it enough) archive our individual histories (blogging, twitter, etc) endlessly appropriate from essentially anonymous or sources which electronically pass through our consciousness, and construct our persona over and over again. People who have a facebook but no friends -- what do they use it for, I wonder.


What if I draw a caricature of the teacher in class and pass it as a hidden note? Or what if I hang my little brother's undwear from the school flag-pole? Or perform ventriloquism on my family cat and don't send a tape to Funniest Videos? Or graffito a wall in an alley? Or deface a billboard to make it satirical?


I can sniff that Ruv Draba is reducing a technological phenomenon to entertainment.

It's true that they must have something in common. There must be a dimension of entertainment involved. But archive fever-- as recording the present moment for one's history, to serve later as a memory, as one cause of all this rapid appropriation-- has more to do with people's fear of death than with entertainment.

The question Higgins asks, are you sniffing or sniffed, is really a good one: When we appropriate from the same source (which, in a narcissistic society, is each other), intensely, often, and in a matter of seconds, what does the self become? Who is sniffing? If disembodying the self, through artifice, is what you call entertainment-- OK, fine, it's all entertainment.

So who is entertaining and who is entertained?

AMC

Ruv Draba
04-03-2009, 10:12 PM
I can sniff that Ruv Draba is reducing a technological phenomenon to entertainment.I'd say that it's a sociological phenomenon; the technology is merely a vehicle. For comparison, consider the way that schoolkids embraced the mobile phone, or the way that chapbooks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapbook) appeared, following the printing press.

But archive fever-- as recording the present moment for one's history, to serve later as a memory, as one cause of all this rapid appropriation-- has more to do with people's fear of death than with entertainment.What do you imagine entertainment is about? Perhaps to make memories of ephemeral moments. To imbue them with emotion, significance and a dream of purpose not prescribed by necessity.

The question Higgins asks, are you sniffing or sniffed, is really a good one:We've grown up with generations of broadcast entertainments: books, newspapers, radios, TV, concerts, plays. But folk entertainments are traditionally participatory; Performers are by turns the audience. The fourth wall had to be invented before it could be dismantled, and I think that it's an invention of the professional entertainer class to mystify their craft and keep themselves in lucre. (Which I think makes it highly ironic when we -- either of that class or aspiring to be -- critique amateurs only slightly more amateur than we for dismantling the fourth wall themselves -- or else ignoring it entirely. :tongue)

When we appropriate from the same source (which, in a narcissistic society, is each other), intensely, often, and in a matter of seconds, what does the self become?The village self is a very different creature to the urban self. It's a unit of perspective in a woven tapestry of perspectives, birdcalls in a customary morning chorus. By contrast, the urban self is more of a lighthouse on a barren island -- searching, signalling or quiescent and brooding. Which does the blogosphere/twittersphere sound more like to you? Well, I'd say that it depends. In its formal mode it's a lighthouse. In it's informal mode it's birdcalls. Both I think, have great value.

Are the birdcalls in a morning chorus narcissistic? Maybe, but they also sketch a social topology in seconds that piecewise study might never reveal. And are birds more narcissistic than a lighthouse-keeper? That I have yet to see demonstrated.

AMCrenshaw
04-06-2009, 01:49 AM
Both I think, have great value.

I definitely agree. But with certain things (like these), whatever value they have is met by something dangerous; we both can imagine what these dangers could be, or turn into.

AMC

Higgins
04-06-2009, 09:56 PM
The question Higgins asks, are you sniffing or sniffed, is really a good one: When we appropriate from the same source (which, in a narcissistic society, is each other), intensely, often, and in a matter of seconds, what does the self become? Who is sniffing? If disembodying the self, through artifice, is what you call entertainment-- OK, fine, it's all entertainment.



To me it seems plausible that new technology introduces new ways of structuring societies and the self. It also seems likely to me that what gets encoded in various types of exchanges has something to do with the nature of the exchange itself. So in simple societies, cosmic myths are verbal tales of unlikely forms of incest because women are what ends up as the primary mechanism by which social exchanges are mediated and that hold the society together. The myths are about how to conceptualize the movement of women between small social units and incest has to be made relatively negative or the exchange of women can't be of much significance. See Levi-Strauss for how all this works in detail.
So what is exchanged in more complex societies? What are the comparable armatures of meaning? ie equivalent to myth? If information is what is exchanged then do all our myths have to be about the mental void where a lack of understanding can be isolated and kept as a precious commodity? Do our media have to show a lot of murders because that is as close as we can get to representing the desired state of mental vacuity that rests at the core of a world where information is exchanged? Does the void have to be a mental void or can the void where information needs to go be any void at all?

Ruv Draba
04-07-2009, 12:56 AM
To me it seems plausible that new technology introduces new ways of structuring societies and the self.In the new technologies in question I can see them retexturing an existing society, but not (yet) restructuring. The telephone has had a century to restructure us, and I'd say that it's main structural impact is that we've become more intimate with strangers when we earn our food, buy and sell services or find our mates -- though the phone wasn't solely responsible for these things. That trend continues somewhat with niche use of blogs etc... but more in the broadcast media sense where the Socially Important get to broadcast-blog, while the Socially Aspirant get to coo and comment. But we don't (yet) depend on blogging skills to earn a living or find a good mate the way we depend on phone skills -- it's a textural question more than structural.

What are the comparable armatures of meaning? ie equivalent to myth?In modern Western myth I think that we've put a premium on Choice as being the essence of Meaning. In our values-system it's what we choose that determines who we are -- not what happens to us or how we live with that.

All myth hinges on the quality of choice (e.g. Whom Shall I Seduce), but our culture has developed an obsession with quantity of choice, etiology of choice, pathology of choice or choicelessness. In addition we have national myths enshrining our protection and defence of Choice, and triumphal tribal myths extolling what clever little choosers we all are. Our current scientific creation myth itself can be viewed as the creation of Choice from Choicelessness. Our modern destiny myths (such as they are) are certainly of that sort.

Of the few journalling blogs I regularly read perhaps 80% of the entries are about choices won, choices lost, choices made, choices materialised, and choices reviewed. The balance of entries are cute or fun memorabilia, or memes. Structurally, the way blog-entries assemble into narrative seems to be quite different from fiction. In fiction, around 90% of the 'entries' are action-based. In blogs, around 80% of the entries are dilemma-based, with 20% pure character exposition.

Do our media have to show a lot of murders because that is as close as we can get to representing the desired state of mental vacuity that rests at the core of a world where information is exchanged?Mystery writers have long known that murders are the best mysteries to write about because they represent irreversible moral choice, an assault on another's right to choose. A stolen item can be returned, an assaulted body might recover, but a murdered person never can. Perhaps our murder stats are our most popular measure of choice gone astray.

Does the void have to be a mental void or can the void where information needs to go be any void at all?Choices blogged seem to be more perceptual than tangible to me. The fact that writers can blog daily dilemmas at all suggests to me that they're creating a lot of dilemmas from their imaginations -- and perhaps that supports AMC's claims of narcissism.

Inasmuch as our mythology needs a cosmic sink for its excess and origin, I think that Time itself serves quite well as a sink for choice and choice-reporting. All our dilemmas are at heart ephemeral; unlike action scenes, it seems that all dilemmas can be out-waited. If you dither around long enough deciding whether to buy a new Fiesta or a second hand Camry, both choices will disappear -- or you may not need a car at all. :)

Higgins
04-07-2009, 06:12 PM
In modern Western myth I think that we've put a premium on Choice as being the essence of Meaning. In our values-system it's what we choose that determines who we are -- not what happens to us or how we live with that.



I'm not so sure about the position of choice in current armatures of meaning. Can choices be exchanged? Does a non-choice have a negative or positive value?
I don't think choice operates like incest and the exchange of women in simpler societies, ie, it's not a fundamental and cosmic motif that relates to how the society is structured.
I think information exchange is a more fundamental cultural unit and its incestuous partner is ignornance or a mental void. This explains the fundamental position of ideological discourse in a world of information exchange:
ideological discourse is mental vacuity in physical form and as such it is the bedrock that sustains information exchange just as incestuous desire sustains the exchange of women in simpler societies.

Ruv Draba
04-08-2009, 03:35 AM
Can choices be exchanged?Absolutely! What is a loyalty or frequent flyer card but a transaction that says "Let me decide what you eat, or when you can fly, or how much you pay for goods, and in exchange I'll decide when you can have a free ipod!!" What is a prenuptual agreement but a contract in which I agree to forego certain choices now when I'm not tired of you, in exchange for you foregoing certain choices later, when you're tired of me?

Does a non-choice have a negative or positive value?Clearly non-choice has value to others -- else why have loyalty cards, lock-in phone plans, rent control, lean cuisine and pre-nuptual agreements? But whether you assign positive or negative value to non-choice might depend on whether you see life as a competition or the creation of something -- in other words, do you see it as positive or non-positive sum game?

And somehow you'd have to take into account that non-choice is a bit like atheism: everyone has an infinitely large set of deities they don't believe in, and only a small and possibly empty set of deities they do believe in. I've never undertood how Pascal justified giving offense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager) to an infinite number of possible deities to avoid giving offense to one... and in the same vein I don't know how you balance the value of choices you do make against the possibly infinite choices you don't. (Perhaps some clever economist could resolve this for us with a utilitarian magic-wand.)

I don't think choice operates like incest and the exchange of women in simpler societies, ie, it's not a fundamental and cosmic motif that relates to how the society is structured.I think that choice-exchange could be used to underpin feudalism, communism, capitalism and the creation of shaman and chief classes though. I'm not sure that chick-swapping can do all that (though maybe it can...:rolleyes:)

ideological discourse is mental vacuity in physical form and as such it is the bedrock that sustains information exchange just as incestuous desire sustains the exchange of women in simpler societies.The first part of that proposition is clearly provable in any pub. I'm still waiting for some cross-exchange rates though, where I can trade my hoarded vacuity for offerz of wimminz.

Higgins
04-08-2009, 05:42 PM
The first part of that proposition is clearly provable in any pub. I'm still waiting for some cross-exchange rates though, where I can trade my hoarded vacuity for offerz of wimminz.

Well since what is hoarded is not exchangeable (which is why there is an incest prohibition), you are going to have a lot of problems with that scenario.

Let's imagine our ideological king-of-the-pub trying to garner women in a simpler society.
First there's no pub. He has to network with the local savages to build up enough surplus to party. This pretty much wipes out his store of ideological vacuity since he has to have real conversations about real stuff with the savages. They freely exchange real information about the real world. ie there is no place for ideological vacuity in a simple society.
So he throws the party and recreates the pub for a day or two. Still no women. When he finally asks how he gets women the problem turns out to be he has no female relatives. Eventually his non-ideological virtues get him adopted by a descent group: but he has to stay away from his adopted female relatives (incest prohibition). after a few years he might acquire a woman from another descent group. But note that his ideological vacuity has not helped him at all. Only his exchange of real information and his avoidance of incest have done him any good.

Ruv Draba
04-09-2009, 01:15 PM
They freely exchange real information about the real world. ie there is no place for ideological vacuity in a simple society.Bummer. I guess I'd have to find people who only work four hours a day to subsist (a claim made of some indigenous Australian groups, and it may be true of other indigenous groups), and once I'd done that I could find the most socially powerful member of the community and ingratiate myself with him using my hoarded trove of ideological vacuity to inflate the sense of self-worth of him and his tribe -- I wager that he'd absolutely find time to listen to that. Rather than score me a chick or two (which is short term thinking), I'd seek to become match-maker for the tribe, and thus occupy position of middle-man, from which I could skim divers profits -- because people are willing to pay big for access to the best mates. To drive up the value of my position, I'd probably need to introduce some sexual taboos -- which I'd get supported because I'd have the ear of the Big Man.


Well since what is hoarded is not exchangeable (which is why there is an incest prohibition), you are going to have a lot of problems with that scenario.Well, because my new form of social capital is based on invention, I'd keep ekeing it out and subtly shifting the bar. New taboos, new standards of behaviour... once the ass gets walking, a carrot and stick should lead it just fine.

I'd call my new job 'shaman/priest class', I suppose... Unless they already invented that? In any case, my market offering is simple: give me authority over your social choices and I'll make you feel more important for the choices you have remaining.

Higgins
04-09-2009, 05:59 PM
Bummer. I guess I'd have to find people who only work four hours a day to subsist (a claim made of some indigenous Australian groups, and it may be true of other indigenous groups), and once I'd done that I could find the most socially powerful member of the community and ingratiate myself with him using my hoarded trove of ideological vacuity to inflate the sense of self-worth of him and his tribe -- I wager that he'd absolutely find time to listen to that. Rather than score me a chick or two (which is short term thinking), I'd seek to become match-maker for the tribe, and thus occupy position of middle-man, from which I could skim divers profits -- because people are willing to pay big for access to the best mates. To drive up the value of my position, I'd probably need to introduce some sexual taboos -- which I'd get supported because I'd have the ear of the Big Man.

Well, because my new form of social capital is based on invention, I'd keep ekeing it out and subtly shifting the bar. New taboos, new standards of behaviour... once the ass gets walking, a carrot and stick should lead it just fine.

I'd call my new job 'shaman/priest class', I suppose... Unless they already invented that? In any case, my market offering is simple: give me authority over your social choices and I'll make you feel more important for the choices you have remaining.

Should work. So in your view social change might arise from one visionary dude? That is certainly a documented possibility. Another possibility is that if everybody is busy circulating certain types of information, everybody is busy being their own narcissistic version of a visionary dude, all trying more or less unconsciously to convince everybody else that they are a visionary dude just like everybody else.