September 11, 2005

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Unreal Link: Unlocked Wordhoard. An interesting reflection on mediation. The author, Richard Nokes, is considering his discussion with some Katrina refugees as well as his own reaction to CNN. His post raises questions of our epistemic relation to others: how does media produce these relations? Here, then, we have two different reactions. It seems to me that the Katrina refugee would have rejected CNN's version as "unreal," and accepted only his experiential knowledge as real. By the same token, if my family had been refugees from Hurricane Katrina, they might have felt that the experience was more real because of the widespread television coverage. What accounts for these opposing epistemic positions? It may be, as I alluded to earlier, that some some people really do consider "television images a sort of gnostic revelation, a kind of experiential knowledge," whereas other people are alienated from those images. Perhaps people feel that they can know a celebrity through the television not out of error per se, but because they reject the epistemic superiority of the physical person over the television-mediated personality. Maybe guys like me (and the refugee I was talking to) who see the television-mediated as ... well, mediated, only experience television broadcasts with a sense of alienation instead of connection. There are other options: we are fundamentally and necessarily alienated; alienation is an unavoidable condition of our being in language. Our very self image requires alienation from our bodies, sensations, perceptions. Does intensity overcome, perhaps momentarily, this alienation, making us forget...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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