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?

- 3 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. I think this subject also sheds significant light on Lacan's observations on the split-subject. Blogging may actually be a way (inadvertantly) to explore the thousands of splinters of the "self." Maybe blogging will actually be the death of Cartesian outlooks and logocentrism? Where Lacan poked fun at "I think therefore I am" by saying "I think where I do not think to think I am thinking," ….Will blogging expose a more evident split-self?

    29 Jul 2004, 16:45

  2. Joseph Davies

    You ask:
    why now? why this technology? where is it going?
    JJ, look at what you are saying "[blogging as] a way to explore the thousands of splinters of the self".... because with this statement it sounds like you are describing a distillation of a basic form of rhetoric. So now, put this in a Marxist light, and look at the class struggle. D y G were interested in psychoanalys insofar as it helped better describe a Marxist critique of society. Blogging, the internet, free-media, etc…. it is a rhetorical spectrum. It just is. Just look at what is happening in the world right now, look at its rhizomatic connections….all of them… who's doing it, who's gaining from it and who's losing. There is such a thing as the Military industrial complex and one of the most important things that it has given us in the past decade is the INTERNET itself. In effect, they have given us a rhetorical mirror, and on the other side of it they can pursue their goals without physical interference.

    05 Jun 2005, 06:53

  3. Robert O'Toole

    I'm just about to re-read War in the Age of Intelligent Machines. It gives says a lot about e-learning, the internet and the military.

    06 Jun 2005, 15:09

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