All entries for Tuesday 13 July 2004

July 13, 2004

Blogging and subjectivity

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Did you read the recent entry on My Soapbox about the "issues of authorship and the writer's subjectivity" raised by the blogging revolution? She talks of the not entirely negative "schizophrenic existence for the writer" that blogs seem to promote, as they encourage "people to be viewed as being much more multi-dimensional" whilst at the same time providing a platform for those multi-dimensional elements to become interconnected. That is just such a pertinent observation. I really do think that blogging could have a dramatic effect on formations of subjectivity, and I think Felix Guattari would have agreed.

Guattari, as a both a teacher and a psychiatrist, could see just how harmful is the division of industrial existence into entirely seperate zones of experience and individuation. Along with his friend Gilles Deleuze, he studied and published some great philosophical works starting exaclty from that "schizophrenic existence for the writer". In his latter years he had started to talk, not just about how art and writing may help, but also about various technologies that would act to resolve these conflicts. It would be interesting to find out if his later works talk about the internet. I'm sure he had many insights that will allow us to get a better grasp on this new technology of subjectivation.

It didn't take me long to locate something relevant to this from his Chaosmosis: an Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm (Power Publications, 1995):

Through diverse modes of semiotisation, systems of representation and multireferenced practices, these assemblages managed to crystalize complementary segments of subjectivity. They released social alterity through the union of filliation and alliance; they induced personal ontogenesis through the operation of peer groups and initiations, such that individuals found themselves enveloped by a number of transversal collective identities or, if one prefers, found themselves situated at the intersection of numerous vectors of partial subjectivation.

And here's the bit that says it all:

In these conditions an individual's psychism wasn't organised into internalised faculties but was connected to a range of expressive and practical registers in direct contact with social life and the outside world.

Here Guattari is in fact talking about pre-industrial societies. He is critical of the way in which industrial conditions form a subjectivity that is in its exterior relations reduced to a single nomination, whilst dealing with the multiplicity of self through a set of 'internalised' zones. Keeping it in the family, the classroom (Kant's division of the faculties), the bedroom etc. In contrast to this repression and internalisation of the complexity of subjectivity, Guattari praises the social and cultural mechanisms sometimes seen in pre-industrial societies to mediate and externalise the many aspects of the subject.

It should be apparent now that blogs may also perform this function. Blogs both enable the formation and maintanance of seperate zones of a persons existence (work, play etc) and identities (blog titles), and through their technological platform (and that includes the techne of journal writing), encourage ressonances between these distinct experiences. This is revolutionary. Nothing quite like the blogs has ever existed before. The effects on the formation and operation of subjectivity should be examined further, along with the question: why now? why this technology? where is it going?