Day 209: The Bank of Common Knowledge

Read about this in a Bruce Sterling piece. This is interesting and theoretically screwy in so many ways. Interesting concept, which, however, will once again illustrate the many similarities, yet the final political/practical differences between Hardt and Negri and viral marketing strategies. Let’s just call it “deliberative democratic capitalism.” What really happens to knowledge and its political “use-value” on the individual level if it is increasingly applied, disseminated and stored in a way that, as Lyotard suggests “externalizes knowledge with respect to the knower?” The very concept of “urban survival” becomes re-defined along the lines of this increasingly totalitarian form of alienation (of the knower from knowledge), transforming the networks of knowledge often thought to contain the possibility for creating democratic networks (directed at action) into alienated, exteriorized networks of knowledge, purely functional as a means of viral distribution, not connected to concepts of use as much as primarily and maybe singularly to the logic of exchange and reproduction. Take a look:

http://openserver.cccb.org/bck/

P.S.: “exchange and gift economy”–hee, hee! Yeah, as noble a transaction as the interaction between the knowledge-gift receiving person and the Astroturfer!

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Day 201: Hipster Olympics

Laughed my ass off when I saw this. Not only is it so wunderfully accurate, it also precisely describes the ugly underbelly of neoliberal capitalist logic and its social support system as it manifests itself in mass culture, of which counterculture is only one of many facets (i.e. the “counter” is really what defines the diversity of the “mass,” which as traditional mass culture as “mainstream culture” no longer exists). I may use this for teaching purposes. Nothing is as part of the mainstream as not being part of the mainstream. But it sure is funnier than the mainstream–until one realizes that the mainstream has died, of course.

Day 176: The Last Week

Dear all,

I have been a bad blogger again. So sorry. The reason for my longer absence was sadly not connected to sunshine, lakes and beer but to an insane writing load. I was a good boy, though and finished a dissertation chapter, began revising the first two chapters, wrote an article that will hopefully be accepted for an edited collection to be published in Germany and am at the moment in the process of writing another article for a collection and preparing an article that will hopefully be part of a 2008 special issue of Antipode. So, lots on my plate. The positive aspect of all this is that the article I am writing at the moment is on the TV show Lost (reading the show as a mediation and at times critique of a specific post-9/11 structure of feeling), which is a fun piece to write. I have to admit, throwing some theory at pop-culture every once in a while is quite therapeutic in between all the high-theory “high-culture” stuff I usually have to work on. This still does not mean that I generally condone the practice of cultural studies but I do see the necessity of engaging with mass culture on a very serious level, as culture in general is the realm in which political opinions and subjectivities are not only formed but also proliferated and contested. Such is the nature of contemporary capitalism as it dialectically interacts with its sociocultural dimension. (Hence, I do not disagree with cultural studies’ object of study–I disagree with the method–well, I can get on board with some Birmingham School stuff but US CS, as well as Australian CS, are methodologically, if not ideologically, often quite suspect.)

Be that as it may, I have not been sleeping a lot, haven’t been social (including blogging) and I think my dog is getting mad at me as well for not playing with him as much as I should. We usually start the day with a big fight in the yard (if you were able to see my forearms and my hands during the times I am home you would be able to imagine what that looks like). Since I have not been able to do that lately he is more and more often directing his early morning energy at my shoes (he does not destroy them, no, he’s a good, albeit passive-aggressive doggie–he just hides them in the garden). Today, however, I will allow myself half a day of social activity and since I have to be very careful in what kinds of activities I invest my precious time I chose one that is as “social” as it gets: after doing some more writing, my brother and I will drive to Worms, which is where Mainz is playing their first round of the DFB Cup today. Those two teams have been hating each other with a passion for decades now and it promises to be quite an event. Should be fun. I’ll take some pictures and put them on flickr tomorrow.

Oh and a piece of good news: I might be done with my dissertation fairly soon! (Well, relatively speaking–I mean the “soon” as defined by grad-student conceptions of time.) I kinda have a love/hate relationship with that thought, though. I like the idea of being done. However, being done soon is a result of my dissertation director telling me to drop the planned third part of the dissertation, as it is too long already. Part three, she says, could be extended into a separate project, which is a nice idea. However, I really wanted to write that part, had been looking forward to writing it since about February and had it practically all spelled out in terms of extensive notes etc. While I agree with the decision (I already have about 300 pages, excluding intro and conclusion, and have one more chapter to write) this is quite a change in attitude for me. Up until a few days ago my motto was: “I’ll write you–even if it kills me!” (yes, indicating a fight against my dissertation that has become quite personal and at this point resembles more some form of contact sport than a writing project). So, now I only have to write one more chapter, which will happen soon and then revise and polish the already completed ones. After that I’ll be done. Wow. Granted, the revision process will still be a lot of work, take a long time and I’ll be changing a number of things and adding theoretical texts, but it is still a very different feeling compared to the rush of constantly producing new stuff. Well, I am sure I won’t get bored. There is still the psychological torture-fest that is the job market, which will begin in the middle of September. No rest for the wicked.

Day 5: Prisoner

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Dear all, today (and this is only day 5) I am facing my first blogging breakdown. It was my rule to get up in the morning and post something, but my dissertation snuck up on me today and hit me with the deadline-stick from behind. I think Douglas Adams said somewhere: ” I love deadlines. I particularly enjoy the ‘whooshing’ sound they make as they fly by.” I am not sure I can subscribe to that today–too much existential anxiety (“I need to get a job in academia sometime–please, jobmarket, be gentle–it is my first time”). So I have been held prisoner by my dissertation and have been unable to come up with anything worth writing about.

Instead, I put up a picture of one of my favorite people: Ronnie Biggs (in a Prisoner of Rio shirt). There you go. Prisoners. Me. Ronnie. (and probably that woman they force to shoot these fitness infomercials with Chuck Norris [who, I hear, is apparently finally making it legal and will adopt “Fucking” as his middle name–I also hear there is no chin underneath his goatee but another fist!])

I do have one question, though: has anyone been watching the 3rd season of Lost? Have you noted the psychological and philosophical confusion as of late? Very Foucauldian behavior-modification (via panoptically induced paranoia and subjectivity based on pain-avoidance) in combination with classic behavioral science operant conditioning, allusions to the 60s series The Prisoner (has anyone seen that?? I might have to write about that tomorrow), as well as to A Clockwork Orange. Quite contradicting influences there. Any thoughts?