Dispersed, distracted, depressed. Weather? Term? Over-extension? I haven't done much on this blog besides remediate lately because of teaching and lecturing.
The good side of teaching is that I'm doing Capital for the first time in years (not the whole thing but more of it than I've done in the past). The challenging side of teaching is my digital networks class. It is completely labor intensive--extra layers of interaction on top of the regular class format, layers that are supposed to help students connect to and comprehend the readings but which don't seem to be having that affect. Together the two classes make me think about how much of a neoliberal subject I am, how I've incorporated the ideology that tells me that the more I am working the better I am, even when this is obviously false. I'm not better--I'm exhausted, disconnected, distracted, and confused. Also, the amount of work I do doesn't influence my pay and I have tenure. So I work out a sense of commitment, professionalism, all those things that bourgeois ideology convinces us are important.
My 12-year old daughter said this to me on Sunday, "You are easily confused." I was like, "really, what do you mean?" She's like: "see, like I said, you're confused."
When there is time, I want to finish the "What is to be Done?" series, discussion Marx's account of commodities with respect to the contribution in communicative capitalism, and look more closely at the Alliance of Youth Movements material with respect to the mid-east revolutions. This is a big deal, I think. It makes me think of the Cold War. This was never only and completely a bifurcation and stand-off. There were cultural and economic exchanges, opportunities the US used to try to reach Soviet intellectuals. And of course there was the US push to present its consumer culture as the standard of progress and successful living. Is not the push to format the revolt against extreme inequality as a mediated exercise in democrat but our own repetition of this imperialism?
For now, though, I'll just repost my latest entry from my class blog.
Celebrities and corporations
New media theorists (like techno-enthusiasts) have accepted the idea that networked communications are characterized by distributed, peer-to-peer, personal, immediate, ubiquitous communication (the repercussion here is that the internet is not like television and not like cinema). The basic idea: people use their networked personal media devices to talk about themselves and to connect with their friends. People want to know what their friends are doing and they want to tell their friends what they are doing.
The basic debate among new media theorists has concerned the political, economic, and cultural impact of these practices. So, theorists have taken sides over whether these practices are democratic (or whether they have liberal or conservative tendencies), whether they enhance the economic prospects of most people (who can make money?), and whether the culture is more heterogeneous or homogeneous, stagnant or vital.
Hearing comments in our class, though, I'm starting to wonder if our (new media theorists) basic assumption is wrong (or, another way to put this, I'm starting to think that my diagnosis of capture in affective networks is so right that no one even cares anymore or can even imagine that digital networks would function in any other way). Why? Because the default mode of (your? mainstream culture's? students?) thinking is in terms of corporations, celebrities, and consumption (or so it starting to seem to me based on comments in class). People seem basically to identify with the needs and desires of celebrities for celebrity and corporations for profit and consumers for consumer goods. For example, it never would have occurred to me think of Twitter as first and foremost a vehicle for the distribution and contribution of nuggets of celebrity, even as I recognize that the business of mass culture uses Twitter (and other platforms) to good effect (and even though I just saw the really great Justin Bieber where he uses Twitter to generate and connect with fans).
So, on the one hand, it seems that you assume that new media are primarily celebrity, corporate, consumer access devices. But I think there is another hand, that is, I think that you also assume that there is something vaguely democratic and free (liberatory) about networked media. If you think this, then it makes sense to worry about the effects/impact of the first hand (celebrity, corporate, consumer). But if you only think of new media in terms of the first hand, then you have to figure out what opportunities there are for critique, change, freedom, politics, etc. Differently put, if you think about new media only in terms of the first hand, you'll have to grapple with the repercussions for subjectivity. One site/cite for this is the notion of "whatever being" that I develop in chapter 3.