The specatcle in 1995 - Niklas Luhman (1995)…

In 1995 Luhmann could say …  ” Transformation that are just spectacular can be named at the macro-level. The tremendously rapid development of international financial markets, the appearance of ever newer financial instruments, and the concomitant  volatility of all monetary investments have literally swept  from the market more or less profound  attempts at a socialist politics motivated by social ethics, reducing them in politics itself to residues of rhetorical controversies...”  That this is not a sustainable argument, that it is not reasonably rationality  20 years on … is crucial.
"Surveillance is the business model of the Internet. We build systems that spy on people in exchange for services. Corporations call it marketing."

Bruce Schneier, security technologist, in a presentation at the SOURCE Boston conference.

Via Security Week:

The data economy—the growth of mass data collection and tracking—is changing how power is perceived, Schneier said in his keynote speech. The Internet and technology has changed the impact a group can have on others, where dissidents can use the Internet to amplify their voices and extend their reach. Governments already have a lot of power to begin with, so when they take advantage of technology, their power is magnified, he said.

“That’s how you get weird situations where Syrian dissidents use Facebook to organize, and the government uses Facebook to arrest its citizens,” Schneier said.

Over the past few years, it’s become easier and cheaper to store data and search for the necessary item rather than to sort and delete. Email is a very good example of this shift in behavior. This change, spurred by the popularity of mobile devices and the push to move more data and services to the cloud has also made it easier to track user behavior. When corporations track users for marketing purposes, it seems benign, but the same actions come across as sinister when it’s the government…

…The government didn’t tell anyone they have to carry around a tracking device, but people now carry mobile devices. The government doesn’t require users to notify any agency about their relationships. Users will tell Facebook soon enough, Schneier noted. “Fundamentally, we have reached the golden age of surveillance because we are all being surveilled ubiquitously.”

(via futurejournalismproject)

…surveillance as spectacle…

(via tsparks)

fetishism (12) [the ruling]…. false binary structures…

  [The  ruling] ideology fulfils a perfect function in the social system, constructing the myths, the pseudo-reality and the joy of the social coercion that is so loved throughout the world. A pure fetishism. For individual people (singularities) inscribed into our current system, ideology and thus fetishism is a lived experience, one that we live without knowing “the motivating forces which set it in action”.  The mode of operation charecteristic of the ideological process is here, in the final instance, to ensure that the real motivating forces are forgotten or operate silently, with the intention of making sure that individuals and collectives cannot see, except in exceptional circumstances, the origins of the existing social order and instead individuals experience it as a natural order.That it succeeds in obscuring as in a ‘camera obscura’ the instruments of social coercion, the social media and the mass media. The machines and technological instruments are always already social, always ideological. The fetishisized technological instruments are inseperable from the ideological processes of commodification, consumption and production etc: [“Our tourism, our television, our changes of fashion, alcoholism and drug addiction and sexism, our consumerism under a barrage of advertising, etc.,  reveal an immense boredness in our society. What has brought this about? A society that produces death as never before, but death without the transcendental, and without the transcendental which is the only present, to be more precise: our life as a fleeting moment of emptiness before death…”] 

We can most simply say that any analyst of the ruling ideology,of the fetishisms it generates is going to be a partial critique because criticism and most forms of critique are parasitic forms. In this sense then the parasite is a microbe, an insiduous infection that takes without giving and weakens without killing. The parasite is also a guest, who exchanges his talk, praise and flattery for food. The parasite is noise as well, static in the system or interference in the communicatin channel. In these three variants criticism, analysis exists. 

In the sense touched on here there is little difference in the nature of the analysts critique. Whether its the partial critique of an identity politics, the partial structural critique of democracy and political economy, or the postmodern critique of actors and networks. The analyst is a parasite… Consider an analyst…(a parasite obviously)  Perhaps for the moment the example of the bourgeois discourse on youth which if the analyst disentangles the actuality of youthful existence, the framework from the myths, the analyst will discover a refusal on the part of the majority of readers to accept the  the results of the analysis. That is to say they will refuse to accept that the naked structures (of oppression)  appear on the surface. For instance, the mass and social media presents (problem) a polarized opposition between young people and adults, concluding after producing a series of false binary structures: immaturity-maturity, irresponsibility-responsibility, male-female, homosexual-heterosexual, subordination-hierarchy, submission-coercion — which will generate explicit calls for  either repression or an implicit/explicit call for rebellion by the citizens, who are urged by the ideological apparatus to demand respect and subservience  from youth because of its  status of dependence and subordination.  They are called university students if they are fighting for university reform, rioters if they protest on the streets, hipsters if they occupy the reactionary flanuerist positions inherited from the 19th century, or extremists if arguing for non-liberal positions against the dominant social order.  Those who refuse to accept that the naked structures appear on the surface,  will argue that the analysis, the construction, places representations in such a way as to reveal, foregrounds a mechanosphere that cannot be a true reflection of reality, primarily because it is the reality too which they are accustomed. The individuals and communities  cannot admit that the strategies of social domination  are revealed in the analysts texts. It requires too much of them. They cannot accept that the messages being circulated can be subjected to multiple methods of reading which can arrive at diametrically opposing de-codifications. For example there is the decoding which they carry out daily, a superficial one made up of all the information that is handed out to them, then from the other side there is the reading carried out by the analyst with the pure critique of the spectacle, searching for the lines of connection, the bond which is both  in the unconscious and submerged in the unified discourse and that situates the discourse in the interests of the upper classes. The principal also applies to the sender, the creator of the messages, who in refusing the analysts reading will offer as a fact that they always act in complete freedom from coercion.

In other forms of communication, a novel, film, social media blog, in which the communicator wishes to be ‘subversive’ ( to the right or left, though i am biased towards left-parasites)  the communication may well be recuperable by the system through the very apparatus of domination which it seeks to subvert through its representation. The communication will be appropriated because the (ideological) structures, representations and meanings,  are what enables the objects meaning to re-present the structures of the system which it aims to subvert. It is this which defines the difficulty of radical creativity within a social and historical space that is still owned by the upper classes.  In this sense every act of creation which aims to question the apparatus of domination is at risk of expressing and maintaining the nature of the system in which the producer finds themselves.  … Consequently then for a body of signs, of work used by a subversive writer (sender)  we must go beyond the surface meanings of the message or the form itself to establish the relations between this layer of meaning and the the the the unintentional structures of the production. (What spectacular noise is reproduced? does it matter what cannot be appropriated?) . These are the means we have of discovering how the social and historical occurrences and the structures interface with the created object. This disclose the fetishes, the fundamental structures of the mode of operation of the ideological structures of the system. The analyst suggest that the singularities, the individuals  who experience these representations are living within a system whose rules they cannot know. The aim may be to make the dominated aware of this to enable them to discover the rules.

The message sender forms a part of a (information) system in which they are both an operator and submissive reproducer. Their position within the the structure  is brought about by a framework of images and concepts (spectacle) which exist as much in their opinions as in the essence of the things produced. To determine the mechanisms of social domination (for example the laws of montage, the grammatical structure of texts, the matheme, the mytheme of intersection, the machinary of authorless theatre)… which is to say how the singularity  participates in the continuation of the system of exploitation and how they (individuals) are created as agents of their own exploitatin and alienation it will be  necessary to take a few extra steps. Let us then accept that its not about the intentions of the group,  for the upper classes do not think out the structures of domination, it experiences them just as  the dominated group absorbs and obeys the structures… [To repeat myself edlessly…] The ideological processes being touched on here are not the abstract constructions of an individual human subject  or a class.  It is rather that it is closely related with the mode of production  and a given social formation.  It is functional  to the social formation and permits its continued existance and the the the continued domination of the class and classes that support  this mode.  So that we should not be talking of  the creation of myths by this class, but rather of their management. Rather than sender and receiver we are parasites, the noise in the system…. a few extra steps…

philosophy is not democratic… fetishism (11)

Analia Hounie: But philosophy isn’t democratic| for a philosopher there is no equality of opinions and, even more, opinion is a different thing from truth, the proper theme of philosophy. There are, however, philosophers like Rorty, Habermas, and even Derrida, who search for the philosophical grounds for democracy -  does this mean they abandon philosophy?

Alain Badiou: Not exactly. We have to distinguish between a democratic state as a historical condition for the birth of philosophy and the political consequences of philosophy, which are not democratic by themselves. Surely we can find some philosophers that approve the democratic form of the state, but this is not a philosophical necessity at all. The strict philosophical necessity is to think the relationships between political activities and something like truth or justice which in no way requires the validation of a democratic state, The philosophical conception of politics isn’t a democratic one… (Lacanian Ink no 28)

The situation for readers of philosophy is different, for whilst this seems like an acute observation of the situation in which philosophers exist, it does not describe the situation of readers. For example reading Catherine Malabou and Adrian Johnsons ‘Self and emotional life’ it is utterly impossible for both to be true. Indeed the two texts can scarcely be in the same book together without coming to blows. The key phrase in understanding the situation for philosophers is that there can be ‘no equality of opinions’ and the proposition that ‘truth’ is the theme, and that the purpose of philosophy is to delineate impossible goals. Whereas for readers whilst it describes a broad enough meaning to be acceptable, I(we) can perhaps suggest that this is an inaccurate understanding… for readers of philosophy there is always a sense in which philosophy maintains an equivalence, an equality of opinions. 

Fetishism (10) The parasite and a hint of appropriation…

Michel Serres middle period epistemological work uses concepts of information theory, which is to say Serres makes notable use of the mathematical expressions of probability theory to structure the relationship of message and noise in the communication channels between sender and recipient.  It is the noise which especially interests us here,  notably the  question of how much  any noise enhances or diminishes  the informational value of the message as its is communicated. Michel Serres interest, which is our interest here, focuses on the channels where information and noise merge into a new unintended message. The mix of anticipated and unanticipated information, including of course ideology, myth and social coercion… The logic which is of particular interest is from The Parasite, which models the fluidity of noise though the notion of the excluded middle (introducing the fuzziness of logic)  where the middle/noise is no longer to be excluded. The excluded middle/third is analysed  from the perspective of a parasite who intrudes and disrupts… in this specific understanding disrupting the ruling ideology…

We can most simply say that any analysis of the ruling ideology,of the fetishisms it generates is going to be a partial critique because criticism and most forms of critique are parasitic forms. In this sense then the parasite is like a microbe, an insiduous infection that takes without giving and weakens without killing. The parasite is also a guest, who exchanges his talk, praise and flattery for food. The parasite is noise as well, static in the system or interference in the communication channel. In these three variants criticism, analysis exists. 

Multinational Corporations and the Control of Culture

Google has been identified as the No 1 Media company in the world to work for it has Annual revenues of : USD $50Billion
Apple has been identified as the most admired company in the world with annual revenues of USD $156 Billion
Hewlett Packard —-  with annual revenues of $120 Billion
Verizon Communications —-  with annual revenues of $115 Billion
International Business Machines — with annual revenues of $104 Billion
Microsoft — with annual revenues of $73.7 Billion
Pepsico — with annual revenues of $65 Billion
Amazon.Com — with Annual revenues of $61 Billion
United Technologies —  with annual revenues of $59 Billion
Dell —  with annual revenues of $56.9 Billion
United Parcel Services —  with annual revenues of $54 Billion
Intel —  with annual revenues of $53Billion
Google —  with annual revenues of $52 Billion
Coca Cola —  with annual revenues $48 Billion
Cisco —  with annual revenues of $46 Billion
Disney Coropration —  with annual revenues of $42.3 Billion
Ingram Micro —  with annual revenues $37 Billion
Honeywell —  with annual revenues $37 Billionm
Oracle —  with annual revenues $37.1 Billion
News Corp —  with annual revenues  $33.7 Billion
(figures from Fortune 500 list)

Twitter and its relationship to Television…

This image from 1750 contains the phrase “the old and obfcure words” which explains why I find Latour’s understanding of ‘modern’ both unnecessary  and wrong… [sadly i only have four of the six volumes….]

This image from 1750 contains the phrase “the old and obfcure words” which explains why I find Latour’s understanding of ‘modern’ both unnecessary and wrong… [sadly i only have four of the six volumes….]

Myth - Fetishism(9)

If you read the word myth  in contemporary terms it is as Barthes indicated so many years ago that; Myth empties any social occurrence/event of any real content, leaving the systems innocent and purified. The obvious extent to which it degrades the events,  emptying them of their historical  meaning and makes them part of the always already ideological ‘nature of things’. The myth therefore directly tames reality and appropriates it for the benefit of the pseudo-reality required by the mode of production, the reality imposed by the system. This reality foregrounds the premises on which the ruling ideology is constructed.  Which we might say at base is the myth that the upper classes are a universal. From this universal we can understand that one of the consequences of the recognition of myth and mythology is that we should not restrict ourselves to merely describing the relation of the systematic technologies and the ideological models to the society…
(acknowledging the work of Armand Matterlart)

spectacle badiou cinema, an admiration..

I do like Badiou’s Cinema text. This I hope explains why… “The general logic is different these writings are texts of political intervention. In terms of the the general logic of the spectacle, we organized a group…” “…philosophy is not a reflection on anything whatsover. There is philosophy, there can only be philosophy, when there are are pradoxical relationships, ruptures, descisions, distances and events…”
You don’t need to know of Badiou’s complex philosophical system to enjoy these writings on the cinema, indeed it may even encourage people to explore the increasingly deep history of the cinema.   It is an artform that helps us to partially understand the stereotypes, images and words and into the world of ideas. Cinema as thought. Cinema as a Truth-event, and who going regularly to the cinema doesn’t see the truth of Mizoguchi’s Crucified Lovers or Wender’s Alice in the Cities ? Perhaps its precisely because writing on Cinema is always a reflection on representation,  a representational system that a philosopher like Badiou who believes that “…philosophy is not a reflection on anything whatsoever. There is philosophy, there can only be philosophy, when there are are paradoxical relationships, ruptures, decisions, distances and events…” Within this text there is some fine writing on films and cinema whether it is writing admirably about the films of Debord Godard and Duras, a recognizably productive  engagement with their cinema, to the equally  useful writing on Schlondourf, Wenders, Antonioni and the standard misunderstanding of Hollywood cinema, why do people imagine it is so much better than it is ?  It produces those odd moments when you think ‘i really must see x ’ when reading of a particular shot sequence or… Reading a book that touches on the experimental process of cinema as you’ve lived it, recognized it as related to your own experience of cinema is quite bizarre. Touching even. The cinema which Badiou describes and which addresses our impure world and the situations (Sartrean reference intended by Badiou) is more familiar than i imagined, but shouldn’t have been surprised and then beyond the relationship with the cinema described, the films seen, the cinemas attended, perhaps in that obvious synergy it’s merely a matter of how much i like the book. There is no need when reading  Badiou’s Cinema to discuss or even understand the ‘democratic materialism’ logic, the philosophical logic of Being and Event or Logic of Worlds. I don’t think this is at all relevant to this text, for the implicit critique of the spectacle contained in the text (the partial critique of clichés and stereotypes, images supplanting thought and individual and collective particularisms) contradicts and refuses any reference to democratic materialism. Just as the admirably clear, accurate and sympathetic analysis of the cinema work of Debord and Godard refuses any such use of the concept. What emerges from the text is the importance of cinema as thinking, and perhaps equally importantly cinema as pleasure. From these moments Badiou uses cinema philosophically, and even (i hesitate to say it) autobiographically. Using Cinema as a way of thinking was quite normal for his generation of philosophically minded intellectuals. It seems almost banal to say that it’s an aspect of thought that has been superseded and made redundant by the eighth art of television, the ninth of games and so on. It is unknowable perhaps. And yet, the introduction is warm, caring and somehow so deeply humane it is important. Badiou presents the seventh art of cinema as somehow more appropriate as an art to describe and present (represent) our world, the situations (Sartrean reference intended by Badiou) and decisions we must make. I could speak of the confusions he suffers between ‘the standard plot of a terrifying exteriority, against which the hero rises up…’ and ‘Godard suddenly shows us the beautiful indifference of the outside world’, ‘the indifference of nature’. For Badiou though cinema is a ‘democratic emblem’, how cinema became educational, a bottom-up pedagogy “… an education in the contemporary,  cinema introduces a  certain number of young people - to something having to do with their orientation in the contemporary world, the world and its exaltation, its vitality but also its difficulty, it’s complexity…” The logical and irreconcilable contradiction that runs between the “general logic of the spectacle” and an “education in the contemporary” hardly needs to be pointed out or stated, but still we live within that contradiction at all times. Even whilst the logic of the spectacle is exposed we love aspects of it. The contradiction is exposed in full when Badiou says “Cinema tells philosophers,’All is not lost…’ precisely because it deals with the greatest abjection”. Badiou unknowingly exposes the tragedy of writing on the more recent arts, for within the spectacle to write of what you love is to condemn it…