Posts Tagged ‘postmodern


Hables Gray’s Cyborg Citizen

Chris Hables Gray
Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age
Area: Digital Media
Intro: Slouching Toward the Posthuman—Does Participatory Evolution Require Participatory Government?

•    We live in a cyborg society no matter how unmodified we are as individuals
•    Participatory evolution means we should shape out future through multiple human choices
2: “A cyborg is a self-regulating organism that combines the natural and artificial together in one system.  Cyborgs so not have to be part human, for any organism/system that mixes the evolved and the made, the living and the inanimate, is technically a cyborg.  This would include biocomputers based on organic processes, along with roaches with implants and bioengineered microbes.”
Chapter 1: The Cyborg Politic Body
•    “Technoscience”
•    Postmodernity is transitory, it is a crisis, and the choices we make will determine what will replace it
•    Modern war = modernism
•    Hayles: “The postmodern may turn out to be the equivalent to the posthuman”
•    Jameson: defines postmodernism as a problem of capitalism, not of the modern world
o    A return to the modernist myth of scientific liberation through intellectual and physical domination: Marxism
•    Linda Hutcheon: postmodernism is responsibility and tolerance
o    Must be critical of our complicity because we have the power as participants to shape reality
15: “In How We Became Posthuman [Hayles]  explains how posthumanism might recoup the best parts of humanism, by showing that posthumanism is both a social construction of what it means to be human in the present as well as the technological construction of a new type of techno-bio body in the near future through cyborgization.”
Chapter 5: Infomedicine and the new body
•    As more cyborgian technologies become available, who will have access to them?
o    Only the rich and well-insured?
Chapter 7: Enabled Cyborgs, Living and Dead
•    Quality of life is subjective.  Machine integration and declining quality of life might lead to suicide.
o    No clear line between survival and pleasure
•    Penile prosthetics
100: “Cyborg technologies such as these and the more widespread life-support machinery have lead to a sea change in the public’s attitude toward suicide, which is not seen by many as an exercise of individual autonomy and a right.”
Chapter 9: Prosthetic Territories: Cybercolonializations
•    The notion that bodies and persons are things that can be made
•    Cyborgization and politics is about bodies
•    Cyborg politics are about power => knowledge is power
•    Knowledge is situated; meaning is constructed
•    Systems achieve equilibriums but they don’t survive in stasis
o    It’s thrive or die


Johndan Johnson-Eilola’s Datacloud

Johndan Johnson-Eilola
Datacloud: Toward a New Theory of Online Work
Area: Digital Media

•    Users in these environments created and used rules on the fly
•    Postmodern collage: juxtaposition of elements that doesn’t’ merely link both, but deconstructs the stability of each other’s meaning
•    “The Whole is more than – and less than – the sum of its parts
•    Articulation: a “unity”; connection between two elements in certain conditions
•    What we though was noise in the channel turns out to be another signal
•    Contemporary parables emphasize power of vision to understand and control space and subjectivity (Clockwork Orange)
•    Breakdown = power = first phase of rebuilding
•    Articulation Theory: Stuart Hall; “a way to understand the complex formatting of ideological subjects in contemporary culture.  Most important, articulation theory offers a way to represent the possibility of resistance to dominant cultural formations.  Articulation theory represents a response to traditional Marxism, which tends to position citizens in capitalist cultures as completely determined by the ideological superstructures.  A.T. also responds to postmodernism, which tends to represent people as increasingly and overwhelmingly fragmented by the breakdown in symbol systems that constitute contemporary culture.  In other words, A.T. accepts the breakdowns of contemporary culture, but also insists there are contingently coherent cultures and ongoing, constantly under identities” (18).
•    Symbolic Analytic Work: Robert Reich; “describes the type of work done by a wide range of people in the burgeoning information economy. SAWers, as the title suggests, manipulate symbols.  This new classification comprises a host of cultural elite professionals: architects, systems analysts, investment bankers, research scientists, management consultants, and so on.  Clearly not every member of these professions falls within the ranks of symbolic analysts, but the subgroup across each of these professions excels at working with information—not merely simplifying information to make it clear, but working within information, filtering, rearranging, transforming, and making connections to address specific, specialized problems.  SAWers are people we might think of as technical rhetoricians working in the datacloud” (18-9).
•    Interfaces are cultural constructions
•    Articulation: a process of breakdown and reconstruction
•    In postmodern culture, subjectivities are multiple and conflicting
•    Hall: correspondences must be actively constructed
•    SAWers collect, rearrange, filter and connect bits of information for particular contexts and needs
•    Four key areas of education for symbolic analysts to reinvent education in a postindustrial age: collaboration, experimentation, abstraction, and system thinking
Critical Moments
4: “We live in a cloud of data, the datacloud—a shifting and only slightly contingently structured information space.  IN that space, we work with information, rearranging, filtering, breaking down, and combining.  We are not looking for simplicity, but interesting juxtapositions and commentaries.  This is the vague shape and erratic trajectory of the coming revolution.”
13: “One instant we are shown images of those who , have successfully managed to ride the wave (Microsoft’s ‘Where do you want to go today?’ promises to take us anywhere if we can just keep our directories and bookmarks in order) and the next instant we read stories of millionaires suddenly penniless when the edifices they built collapse (“What’s the big surprise? Their castles were built of information instead of brick and mortar!”)
16: “Datacloud occupies neither end of the continuum between utopia and dystopia.  Paradoxically, it also avoids simply sitting in the middle, paralyzed between two extremes.  Instead the situations and events I discuss here move back and forth between these poles, attempting to construct a three-dimensional space in relation to but perpendicular to the other two dimensions.”


Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern

Bruno Latour
We Have Never Been Modern
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Critical moments in the text

4: “This is why I will use the word ‘collective’ to describe the association of humans and nonhumans and ‘society’ to designate one part only of our collectives.”
10: “The adjective ‘modern’ designates a new regime, an acceleration, a rupture, a revolution in time. When the word ‘modern,’ ‘modernization,’ or ‘modernity’ appears, we are defining, by contrast, an archaic and stable past.  Furthermore, the word is always being thrown into the middle of a fight, in a quarrel where there are winners and losers, Ancients and Moderns.  ‘Modern’ is thus double asymmetrical: it designates a break in the regular passage of time, and it designates a combat in which there are victors and vanquished.  If so many of our contemporaries are reluctant to use this adjective today, if we qualify it with prepositions, it is because we feel less confident in our ability to maintain that double asymmetry: we can no longer point to times’ irreversible arrow, nor can we award a prize to the winners.”
10: “Modern designates two sets of entirely different practices which must remain distinct. […]  ‘Translation,’ creates mixtures between entirely new types of beings, hybrids of nature and culture.  The second, by ‘purification,’ creates two entirely distinct ontological zones: that of human beings on the one hand; that of nonhumans on the other.”
13: “The double separation is what we have to reconstruct: the separation between humans and nonhumans on the one hand, and between what happens ‘above’ and what happens ‘below’ on the other.”
27: “In other words, they are inventing our modern world, a world in which the representation of things through the intermediary of the laboratory is forever dissociated from the representation of citizens through the intermediary of the social contract.”
37: “Everything happens in the middle, everything passes between the two, everything happens by what of mediation, translation and networks, but this space does not exist, it has no place.”
47: “No one has ever been modern.  Modernity has never begun.  There has never been a modern world.  The use of the past perfect tense is important here, for it is a matter of a retrospective sentiment, of a rereading of our history.  I am not saying that we are entering a new era; on the contrary we no longer have to continue the headlong flight of the post-post-postmodernists; we are no longer obliged to cling to the avant-garde; we no longer seek to be even cleverer, even more critical, even deeper into the ‘era of suspicion,’ No, instead we discover that we have never begun to enter the modern era.  Hence the hint of the ludicrous that always accompanies postmodern thinkers; they claim to come after a time that has not even started!”
54: “Is not society built literally – not metaphorically – of gods, machines, sciences, arts, and styles?”
61: “With the postmoderns, the abandonment of the modern project is consummated.  I have not found words ugly enough to designate this intellectual movement – or rather, this intellectual immobility though which humans and nonhumans are left to drift.  I call it hyper-incommensurability.”
67: “Hasn’t history already ended?
68: “The moderns have a peculiar propensity for understanding time that passes as if it were really abolishing the past behind it.”
71: “People are gong to distinguish the time ‘BC’ and ‘AC’ with respect to computers as they do the years ‘before Christ’ and ‘after Christ.’
76: “It is the sorting that makes the times, not the times that make the sorting.”
Class notes (read with Freud’s “The Wolf Man”)
•    Inherited philosophical traditions
•    Psyche—different way to tell story/different method of history
•    Unconscious repository of past
•    The individual in modernity
•    Centrality of sexuality—contending with it
•    Method—narrative structure: historicize and circumscribe
•    Simultaneously real, social, natural
o    Discipline of psycho-analysis
•    What is a discipline? –both in Latour and DeCerteau
•    What are Freud’s goals?
o    Producing universal, usable models
•    Advent of psychoanalysis
•    Unconscious not in the present—understodd in duration
•    The overlapping—by chance (Proustian?)
•    Recollection v. construction
•    Pushing pack and forth: reversibility of time
•    The individual is universal: why it repeats
•    Temporality of urgency
•    Time of narrative—time of psyche
•    Trauma only happens retroactively
o    A return, rather than an event from the past
o    Retrospective determination: it’s attendant on everything in the present tense
•    Working through and closure
•    How does a narration culminate—the goal of a session?
o    Continual? Organizational?
•    A melodramatic whodunit
•    Momentary temporary closure
•    Withdrawal, misconceiving, mimetic relation time in narrative
•    Mish mash of temporalities
•    Strata of the later generations (origin of the primal scene)
•    Epistemological practice
•    Episteme and possibility: what is a discipline
•    If the origin is the primal scene
o    Originary event in the present
o    Timeless event?
o    History constantly mobilized
•    Normalize the subject—developmental sexuality
•    Ontogenetic recapitulation of phylogenetic ends with heteronormativity
•    Bersani: primal scene when one gets shattered into sexuality
•    Multiple frames, seemingly linear temporality
•    What is a modern reader? (forms of modern texts)
•    Passively consumed text: readerly text
•    Demands/requires intensity, active reading, consumption: writerly text
o    Requires the reader to do interpretive work
•    You become positioned through psychoanalysis as reader
o    Temporal, conjunctual, and driven from and by desires
•    As a subject of a text, can analyze myself as the object
•    Constantly reading ourselves
•    Relation between object and subject
o    Hybrid text as genre
•    The moment of purification—projecting onto the text
•    Gradualist—eternal revolution of the present
•    Pre-modern → Modern
o    In between: absolute break
•    Revolution (non-human) as temporal (human) disruption
•    The past is always present
•    Punctuated equilibrium→gradualization
•    No modern/pre-modern = amodern
•    Purification → mediation: method
•    Absolute rupture to which one cannot return
•    Producing and modulating each other
•    The very model produces other things
•    Networked individual
•    Autonomy is problematic
o    Compartmentalization of time
o    Accessing time through present designation
•    End of questioning of discipline
•    What’s the range of discipline
•    Historical amnesia
•    Distinction—possibility of transition
•    Rethinking geopolitics


Lyotard’s Postmodern Condition

Lyotard: The Postmodern Condition
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Theme: “The status of science and technology, of technocracy, and the control of knowledge and information today.”
• Two great myths: liberation of humanity and speculative unity of knowledge
• Not the disappearance of master narratives, but the making unconscious, or the going underground-ness of them
• Consumption of the past in narrative (*Jameson…); storage, hording, and capitalization in ‘science’ and scientific thought
• A narrative which must generate the illusion of an imaginary resolution of real contradictions
• Knowledge, its production, its consumption—the principle force of production
• What proof is there that my proof is true?
o Who decides the conditions of truth?
• Think: automatic trust of Parrhesiates (Foucault)
• What’s left of popular knowledge?
• Knowledge is founded on the narrative of its own martyrdom
• The states resorts to the narrative of freedom
• Acquisition of learning
o Deriving everything from an original principle
o Relating everything to an ideal
o Unifying this principle and this idea in a single idea
• Knowledge first find legitimacy within itself and it’s knowledge that is entitled to say what the state and the society are
• Knowledge is no longer the subject, but in service to the subject
• Institutions of higher learning: called on to create skills, not ideals (*see p. 48 )
• Knowledge will be served a la carte: promotions; learning add’l skills, etc.
• Memory banks (*p. 50)—disposal of knowledge
• Truth→ use: shift in questions of the modern student: performance oriented
o Best players are those who have knowledge and can obtain information
• New role of the professor: no better than memory banks

July 2017
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