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April 24, 2005

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Alain

Jodi

I really enjoyed your piece on Blogging Theory. I think the issue that the neo nazis raised, "the risk of an encounter with the unwanted," of taking responsibility for who or what it is we wish to exclude, is central to many of the themes you raise. How do we decide what is permissable?

I think this touched on something that came up a while ago. You and I had an exchange about the possibility of political theory in general, on the common assumptions and shared ethos necessary for political theory, and politics itself, to take place.
Though I agree with you that the blogosphere is not a public space in the traditional sense, your experience reveals the political issue. Not only is it a question of taking responsibility for the standards of permissibility, but in the current climate how does one communicate when the assumptions are seemingly incomensurable?

I think this also ties in with the question of theocracy and the spectacle of "Justice Sunday." I certainly agree with your assesment that one does not participate in theory blogging in order to engage with everyone, or some abstract notion of a general public. But, from a theoretical standpoint, how does one engage, or what approach can we take, in entering political discourse with such a different approach? Perhaps this is not the right way to phrase the question, or perhaps it is the wrong question.

When I read about "Justice Sunday" I feel an overwhelming sense of despair. Perhaps politics is impossible now, but theory is something that can continue. At least that is my hope.

chris robinson

Jodi, I just read "Blogging Theory" and it has inspired a lot of thought. But, first, I saw your photo over at Kim Nicolini's and I think you dress just great. (I'm afraid I still feel this flush of deep anger over what White and friends wrote.)

We in theory approach politics with a sophisticated array of screens and surrogates. Many have noted the hostility and distrust of the city expressed in various claims to privileged knowledge or insight into "the political." How many arguments are there for why temporal and spatial distance from political life is necessary for theory to be truthful or untimely? Blogging, by comparison, is a plunge into politics and a lot of it is not pretty. Indeed, you have provided a good experiential justification for escapism or metaphysics.

But there is a screen built into blogging too. There is distance and anonymity and this permits cowards to act on their fantasies of domination, and for the thoughtless to objectify others and dismiss their (capacity for) feelings. Politics in real time, and in democratic form, involves what Levinas called the ethic of visual proximity. Face-to-face confrontation humanizes (most of the time, I hope). Kim's blog, because of her blend of self-effacing honesty and amazing creativity creates the atmosphere of a face-to-face (occasionally in-your-face)interaction. This is the role of the avant garde in any (relatively) new technology or communication medium.

Jodi

Alain,
Your comments triggered a little post--inadequate to your comments, but triggered nonetheless. Thanks for your kind words on the paper. I'm with you on Justice Sunday--it's depressing. It's an attack on basic practices. It treats the opposition as enemies to be defeated. I hope the Democrats dont' compromise or cave.

Chris--thanks for your nice comments and I'm glad and relieved that I am not forever stained as a bad dresser! (I'm so vain, that part really, really bothers me....)
What you say about distancing is really insightful and interesting. And, I think that I ignored that in the blogging theory piece and need to think more about it--really, I embrace uncritically the old assumption about temporal distance (you put that point very, very kindly!) instead of confronting the more vital, political sense of embeddeness. This is important. And now I wonder if whether theory can do that or if, as you suggest, that is strictly the role of the avant garde (that Kim does so very, very well).

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