Archive for June, 2008

Bergson writes in Time and Free Will: “To say that the same inner causes will reproduce the same effects is to assume that the same cause can appear a second time on the stage of consciousness. Now, if duration is what we say, deep seated psychic states are radically heterogeneous to each other, and it is impossible that any two of them should be quite alike, since they are two different moments of a life-story. While the external object does not bear the mark of the time that has elapsed and thus, in spite of the difference of time, the physicist can again encounter identical elementary conditions, duration is something real for the consciousness which preserves the trace of it, and we cannot here speak of identical conditions, because the same moment does not occur twice. It is no use arguing that, even if there are no two deep-seated psychic states which are altogether alike, yet analysis would resolve these different states into more general and homogeneous elements which might be compared with each other. This would be to forget that even the simplest psychic elements possess a personality and a life of their own, however superficial they may be; they are in a constant state of becoming, and the same feeling, by the mere fact of being repeated, is a new feeling. Indeed, we have no reason for calling it by its former name save that it corresponds to the same external cause or projects itself outwardly into similar attitudes: hence it would simply be begging the question to deduce from the so-called likeness of two conscious states that the same cause produces the same effect. In short, if the causal relation still holds good in the realm of inner states, it cannot resemble in any way what we call causality in nature” (199-201). 

Now this brings us to some of the fundamental shifts that Bergson hopes to achieve in the history of philosophy. First, causality in nature is not the same causality of lived duration. Causality, the principle of logical necessity between cause and effect, is an abiding concern in Bergsonian theory, from Bergson himself through to Prigogine, Deleuze, Massumi, Hansen, Grosz, Delanda, Shaviro, and onward. One might pose usefully it seems to me the relation between Deleuze’s quasi-cause (as elaborated in the Logic of Sense) and Bergson’s non-linear causality of becoming. What is most important in this relation? First, time is an irreducible component of all physical and psychic being, its being in belonging to mixtures of co-evolution. Assemblages only happen in time, although time is not “of” an assemblage (by which we mean that temporal relations cannot give us “types” of assemblages, only statistical probabilities and their indefinable unfolding, patterned but stochastic). In that sense, non-linear causality helps us to pose becoming as an unfolding of resonant processes, which while statistically regular on large scales (robust to shocks), are nonetheless open to chance and mutation at other scales of interactions. This breaks with the notion that causes are fixed, unified, and predictable–they are none of those things in the short (human consciousness) and long (embedded timescales of evolution) run. 

But this brings us to a lingering problem in Bergson–at least in this text (we might usefully compare this to the much later Creative Evolution). Why does Bergson reduce pure succession to lived durations in consciousness? Many times, he insists that pure duration is only so for a consciousness which endures. But does this have to be so? Many today would argue that everything–from a sugar cube on fire or dissolving in a glass of water to the swirling hurricane-like vortex at Saturn’s south pole (see http://ciclops.org/view/2313/Looking_Saturn_in_the_Eye)–endures. Stuart Kauffman asks rightly by what criteria do we say such phenomena (he is mostly talking about dissipative structures like the vortex Great Red Spot on Jupiter, not sugar cubes! See At Home in the Universe 20-21) is or is not alive. There is a lively debate here on the nature of life, and it centers precisely on duration and non-linear causality. 

There are other relations to also keep in mind with the above quote. The insistence that no psychic state can have a predictable causal relation to subsequent psychic states is part of the larger project of grappling with the pure succession “by imperceptible steps” of intensive processes. That time cannot be figured (or pre-figured, as Bergson shows in his analysis of the future in present causality) as space–indeed, once it is figured at all, as symbolical representation, time becomes space–is the central thesis of this thesis (yes, this was his doctoral thesis, sheesh!). Time is a continuous, non-quantifiable multiplicity, and the aim of Bergson’s thought is to aspire to a form of intuitive rationality commensurate with time’s becoming. 

 

Some definitions: endos·mo·sis (en′däs mōsis)noun, in osmosis, the more rapid, inward diffusion of the less dense fluid through the semipermeable membrane to mingle with the more dense

Hylozoism is the philosophical conjecture that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter.” 

Thus, Bergson glosses a fluid, imperceptible transference as a habit of thought: “We have seen that, though our deepest conscious states exclude numerical multiplicity, yet we break them up into parts external to one another; that though the elements of concrete duration permeate one another, duration expressing itself in extensity exhibits moments as distinct as the bodies scattered in space. Is it surprising, then, that between the moments of our life, when it has been, so to speak, objectified, we set up a relation analogous to the objective relation of causality, and that an exchange, which again may be compared to the phenomenon of endosmosis, takes place between the dynamic idea of free effort and the mathematical concept of necessary determination? But the sundering of these two ideas is an accomplished fact in the natural sciences” (218). Bergson has just suggested that “Here again the mistake made by consciousness arises from the fact that it looks at the self, not directly, but by a kind of refraction through the forms which it has lent to external perception, and which the latter does not give back without having left its mark on them” (217). The aim here as elsewhere is to restore to consciousness pure duration, and to stop treating time “as a homogeneous medium” (220); the obstacle is consciousness itself in its habits of reducing pure succession to simultaneity, difference to the homogeneous, and thus spatializing what ought to be understood as enduring. 

“We have seen that, though our deepest conscious states exclude numerical multiplicity, yet we break them up into parts external to one another; that though the elements of concrete duration permeate one another, duration expressing itself in extensity exhibits moments as distinct as the bodies scattered in space. Is it surprising, then, that between the moments of our life, when it has been, so to speak, objectified, we set up a relation analogous to the objective relation of causality, and that an exchange which again may be compared to the phenomenon of endosmosis, takes place between the dynamic idea of free effort and the mathematical concept of necessary determination?” (218). One could easily object that what after all is “our deepest conscious states”–is it some kind of essentialism of consciousness, and even more troubling doesn’t Bergson assume that he has gotten (we readers) there? Like many of the problematic terms that Bergson uses–purity, for me, most of all–it seems that the deepest conscious state actually turns out to be a confused mixture of imperceptible succession. But, then, could free will be located in something so confused and heterogeneous?

“We can now formulate our conception of freedom. Freedom is the relation of the concrete self to the act which it performs. This relation is indefinable, just because we are free. For we can analyse a thing, but not a process ; we can break up extensity, but not duration. Or, if we persist in analysing it, we unconsciously transform the process into a thing and duration into extensity. By the very fact of breaking up concrete time we set out its moments in homogeneous space ; in place of the doing we put the already done ; and, as we have begun by, so to speak, stereotyping the activity of the self, we see spontaneity settle down into inertia and freedom into necessity. Thus, any positive definition of freedom will ensure the victory of determinism” (219-20). 

What is after all concrete? Does it have a difference resonance in French? We would need to check the French which I have not done…But strikingly freedom is a relation of a body (a perceiving, cognizing, multiplicity) to specific kinds of actions; but this relation is graspable not as a definition but a definite process with a definite, but non-spatial, non-repeatable, singular, and irreversible duration. 

“To sum up ; every demand for explanation in regard to freedom comes back, without our suspecting it, to the following question Can time be adequately represented by space ? “To which we answer : Yes, if you are dealing with time flown ; No, if you speak of time flowing. Now, the free act takes place in time which is flowing and not in time which has already flown. Freedom is therefore a fact, and among the facts which we observe there is none clearer. All the difficulties of the problem, and the problem itself, arise from the desire to endow duration with the same attributes as extensity, to interpret a succession by a simultaneity, and to express the idea of freedom in a language into which it is obviously untranslatable” (221). 

So what then do we do with this undefinable relation, this fact called freedom? It is to insist the the absolutely undetermined event must be the constituted outside of all relations, all actions of the brain or body, the embodied mind, are constituted by this outside folded into the repetitions of its intensities. But note then that the folding of freedom into a process without end, or foreseeable product, is to insist that the aim of life is to actualize this experience of freedom by giving oneself to a given practice. The outside becomes the most intimate, and even the very stability of subject and object breaks down in duration. The outside simply turns out to be the virtual proceeding of the actual. 

There remains the problem of adequation. Is the language used by Bergson–intensity, sensation, sympathy, duration, succession, freedom, relation, action, perception–is this the language which best expresses the idea of freedom? And if it does, has this language escaped the spatializing tendency of symbolical representation? How?

The obvious, if not quite fully satisfying answer, is that Bergson defines this language as without definition, without visual perspective, the done product grasped in vision as opposed to the imperceptible unfolding of the lived duration of an event: a kind of synaesthesia of time. So in that sense the formulation (as translated) of Bergson’s triumphant sentence last quoted has this double sense, of a thought that has not left the desire for adequation, and thus for space, and a dim realization of a method that has found a kind of transcendental empiricism as its practice. To grow old and young in the event at once, to discover the untimely in all things, at every moment as an affirmation of freedom. But perhaps the post-Nietzschean/ Deleuzian experiment with Bergson is our new spatialization (for an attempt to practice something like that for media assemblage theory see: Deleuze, Cinema, and Zen: Break the Motor)? Is it not possible that concepts once monstrous but now part of the machinery of capture and domestication, as they enter the world of philosophy, of sociology, or literary and media criticism inevitably ossify the durational into the spatial, become the product (with their own cultural capital accruing or waning) of that which has already escaped it?  

How to think durational movement without product, space, simultaneity–without telos (goal, aim)? How could such a thought make a claim to 1. thought, 2. politics, 3. the future?

A practical way to go forward here is to compare some of Bergson’s theses on duration to Suzuki on Zen. In his 1951 paper “The Philosophy of Zen” (Philosophy East and West, 1:2, 3-16), Daisetz Suzuki writes that “When I say that Zen is life, I mean that Zen is not to be confined within conceptualization, that Zen is what makes conceptualization possible, and therefore that Zen is not to be identified with any particular brand of ‘ism'” (3). I take conceptualization here to mean symbolical representation, that it comes out of life itself, or what Bergson calls lived duration. Suzuki goes on to say that the experience of Zen is best expressed–again we are to contemplate what forms of expression, language, indeed (non)conceptualization best describes the non-conceptualizable–by the doctrine of sunyata which “means emptiness” but has no direct equivalence in English. It is not a negative term, it “is a positive concept with a definite connotation, but it ought not to be considered an outcome of abstraction or generalization, for it is not a postulated idea. It is what makes the existence of anything possible, but it is not to be conceived immanently, as if it lay hidden in or under every existence as an independent entity. A world of relativities is set on and in sunyata; sunyata envelops, as it were, the whole world, and yet is in every object existing in the world” (4). Sunyata is the experience that reconciles the contradiction between immanentism and transcendentalism. 

When we are out of sunyata we experience the duality of object/subject, but in it we are “in Zen.” “To experience means to become aware of, but not in the way in which we become aware of the world of sense-and-intellect. In the latter case, we always have a subject that is aware of something and an object of which the subject is aware, for the world of sense-and-intellect is a dichotomous world of subject and object. This unique way consists in sunyata’s remaining in itself and yet making itself an object of experience to itself. This means dividing itself and yet holding itself together” (5). Clearly, sunyata would be an experience that would fundamentally call into question causality and non-contradiction, and in that sense Bergson’s notion of the qualitative multiplicity of lived duration before symbolical representation would help us to affirm this experience. But, on the one hand, Suzuki is too categorical in his dismissal of logic. Aren’t there different logics which proceed through the pragmatism of functional mixtures and dynamic thresholds? Topological reasoning would be one example, tactical media (see Race, Perception, and the Institutionalization of Networks) would be another. More, isn’t intuitional reason a kind of logic of sense? On the other, sunyata helps us to critically engage the desire for adequation that marks Bergson’s final passage quoted above. 

Sunyata can help us to focus, to stay focused on the interminable process of a method, that is like one continuous mistake. A practice of the false. “Reasoning defeats itself, finds itself altogether futile, in its attempt to reach sunyata, because reasoning, instead of trying to see sunyata itself in the process of reasoning, strives to reach sunyata as the goal of reasoning, that is, when all the reasoning comes to an end” (6). Suzuki’s Zen and Bergson’s duration converge here on the insistence that one cannot substitute analysis for process-practice without turning time into space. 

But we should not lose site of the fact that for Suzuki, in Zen there is the experience of “sudden enlightenment.” We should not take this too seriously, or too lightly. “When sunyata is awakened to itself or becomes aware of itself, which is ‘knowing and seeing’ itself, we have another name for it: sunyata is tathata. Tathata is everyday thought, it is “an affirmation through and through” (6). But tathata is sunyata, and sunyata is tathata. “A Buddhist philosopher declares: A mountain is a mountain and water is water before a sunyata-experience takes place; but after it a mountain is not a mountain and water is not water; but again when the experience deepens, a mountain is a mountain and water is water” (7).

Nothing special, like a frog just sitting. We are reminded here of another Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki who in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (New York: Weatherhill, 1970) wrote: “Zen stories, or koans, are very difficult to understand before you know what we are doing moment after moment. But if you know exactly what we are doing in each moment, you will not find koans so difficult. There are so many koans. I have often talked to you about a frog, and each time everybody laughs. But a frog is very interesting. He sits like us, too, you know. But he does not think that he is doing anything so special. When you go to a zendo and sit, you may think you are doing some special thing. While your husband or wife is sleeping, you are practicing zazen! You are doing some special thing, and your spouse is lazy! That may be your understanding of zazen. But look at the frog. A frog also sits like us, but he has no idea of zazen. Watch him. If something annoys him, he will make a face. If something comes along to eat, he will snap it up and eat, and he eats sitting. Actually that is our zazen—not any special thing. Here is a kind of frog koan for you. Baso was a famous Zen master called the Horse-master. He was the disciple of Nangaku, one of the Sixth Patriarch’s disciples. One day while he was studying under Nangaku, Baso was sitting, practicing zazen. He was a man of large physical build; when he talked, his tongue reached to his nose; his voice was loud; and his zazen must have been very good. Nangaku saw him sitting like a great mountain or like a frog. Nangaku asked, “What are you doing?” ‘Tampracticingzazen,” Baso replied. “Why are you practicing zazen?” “I want to attain enlightenment; I want to be a Buddha,” the disciple said. Do you know what the teacher did? He picked up a tile, and he started to polish i t . In Japan, after taking a tile from the kiln, we polish it to give it a beautiful finish. So Nangaku picked up a tile and started to polish it. Baso, his disciple, asked, “What are you doing?” “I want to make this tile into a  jewel,” Nangaku said. “How is it possible to make a tile a jewel?” Baso asked. “How is it possible to become a Buddha by practicing zazen?” Nangaku replied. “Do you want to attain Buddhahood ? There is no Buddhahood besides your ordinary mind. When a cart does not go, which do you whip, the cart or the horse?” the master asked. Nangaku’s meaning here is that whatever you do, that is zazen. True zazen is beyond being in bed or sitting in the zendo. If your husband or wife is in bed, that is zazen. If you think, “I am sitting here, and my spouse is in bed,” then even though you are sitting here in the cross-legged position, that is not true zazen. You should be like a frog always. That is true zazen.”

This is too beautiful not to quote in full, and in any case, as Patricia Clough and I affirmed to each other just before we saw Wall-E with As’sia, my daughter, we only aspire to bring together in a new diagram the force of innumerable quotes!

In any case, Daisetz Suzuki differentiates sunyata-tathata from pragmatism by radically de-linking practice from teleology, and Zen from time. “Time and teleology are interwoven, and Zen transcends time, and therefore, teleology also” (8). But what Bergson has shown throughout his life’s work is that time is teleology only after the done is separated from the doing, the product from the process, that is when time is spaced. But lived duration, and the intuitional reason that gives it its singular dynamism, its pure potentiality, is radically free, and also and for precisely that reason, non-teleological. 

But that is not all Susuki has to say here on time; indeed, he goes on to suggest that momentalistic Zen is not, because each moment has eternity in it. “To Zen, time and eternity are one. This is open to misinterpretation, as most people interpret Zen as annihilating time and putting in its place eternity, which to them means a state of absolute quietness or doing-nothingness. They forget that if time is eternity, eternity is time, according to Zen. Zen has never espoused the cause of doing-nothing-ness; eternity is our everyday experience in this world of sense-and-intellect, for there is no eternity outside this time-conditionedness. Eternity is possible only in the midst of birth and death, in the midst of time process” (8-9). So eternity is the difference immanent to process (of course in Zen Buddhism, eternity is inseparable from divinity). The (non)aim would be a kind of motionless duration, echoing with a future that will only ever remain potential. I would think this potentiality is divinity, if I needed divinity to make this thought, how shall we say, living. But the thought needs nothing, because it is isomorphic with the life it models, enters into mixtures with it, and emerges as multiform expression. Only certain of the expressive forms–narrative, sign, icon, figuration, discourse, metaphor, montage, syntagmatic unit, character–are recognized and legitimated through pedagogical institutions of gridding and exploitative value, even when they are part of movements of counter-actualization (anarcho-Marxism, ecofeminism, womanist anti-imperialism, Maoist postcolonialism, poly-sexualization). Couldn’t we think of a political practice of counter-actualization in various media–from literature to the screen to the cellphone–that begins with a new lexicon: attach and attack the grid in the grid, denaturalize it, and then radically naturalize it. Expressive forms are thus refunctioned, and the political becomes the untimely in the potentialities of co-evolution. By calling into question the stability of the category “political” itself, new gradients will emerge as a froglike practice reassembles media and their intensities. Strictly, nothing special. 

 

I don’t mean to fetishize Suzuki’s Zen, because we know of the use Japanese Zen buddhists made of their practice during World War II. Zizek speaks about this in his talk at Google, and his words are important to think about. 

 

 

 

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Media ecologies emerged in film theory as a critique of the technology, apparatus, aura, and circulation of the star. The present absence which reminds us of the hold, or the form of capture, which the photograph is: a present absence. I suppose what we might begin to understand is that the star was a proleptic branding technology. The star was a mode of connectivity across media platforms, a kind of variegated performance of value added. There is that great moment where Helen talks of opening a parlor in the Merchant/Ivory short biopic. Throughout those scenes we see Helen remade by her East Asian makeup artist, or remaking herself in the mirror. Her body, face, eyes become those image-connectivities that helped distinguish, make differences in her brand. This multiplication–both quantitative and qualitative, two forms of multiplicity, took its force from the potential contagion of media catching on. Its abstract diagram is what undergirds the proliferation of media streams from the internet to new FM radio channels to value added in cellphone services. Indeed, the cellphone is a kind of channel of and for the brand. These were thoughts sparked by the end of my recent film theory course. 

But the star was a kind of brand before globalization. A singular universal, a face–Garbo’s–a movement–Chaplin, Flynn–eyes–Keaton–that expresses through its absence. “The Waxing-Waning Brand Bachchan” the newsline read many years back now. What was it in Amitabh Bachchan that caught fire at a particular moment in the 70s, waned, and then toward the end of the 90s seemed to warm with every new innovation, product endorsement, hosting and acting role? Does something remain constant from that time, or have a confluence of factors–marketing, not least of all–contributed to Bachchan’s longevity. For instance, the tortured, yet fantastically enunciated Hindi that Bachchan speaks at interviews, providing such a contrast to the kinds of Hinglish his characters have made famous over the years–Anthony Gonzales, etc. The Hindi of the public Bachchan is the language of both politics (siyasat) and poetry (shair-shairi). It is as if this cosmopolitician who is so savvy about the streets, can be because he has synthesized the global and local–global ishtyle and local vernacular, but a deeper local, a local that stretches back into time. Such are the resonances of Brand Bachchan. 

But the cinema star was the first media assemblage in the information era (in the audio-visual content stream era). 

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Film theory has started again. I found my way through another first day, first show. I wonder what the students made of the shorts? I was oriented to this day through the useful conversation on the ExFM (Experimental Film and Media) group of SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies). The question was what are good “zero-degree” films. I though comparing Trip to the Moon, Arrival of Train at La Ciotat, and Un Chien Andalou a useful way to proceed on such a question. Recall that Gunning argues that Trip could conceivably be called the first narrative film. And Conley’s discussion of Andalou opens that text to the phatic questions of what can a film do?

These are the concerns that help us to situate film within a broader media history. Werner Nekes in “Media Magica (2): Belebte Bilder aka ‘Pictures come to life'” (1995) brings crucial aspects of this history together. He shows the experiments that were designed to give images the effect of movement. 

“About the Magic Lantern, animation on paper, object animation, illuminated panoramas and much more. Together with the research of perspective came the wish to awaken pictures to life. The magic lantern had already achieved the illusion of moving pictures and this was also used to project shadow pictures. The magic lantern is the predecessor of the film projector. This had already been described in the fifteenth century. Simple ways to create movement are also be found on paper, in the pull, push and lift mechanisms of comic picture post cards or movable picture books. Peep show pictures are perforated, pasted over and coloured from behind in order to make city views come alive through backlighting. Another simple way to create the illusion of movement are panorama pictures: picture worlds that pass before the eye of the motionless observer or where the observer himself passes along the picture, as in a carriage ride.” (psybafire, “Description” http://karagarga.net/details.php?id=29881).  

What is my aim in posing the “zero-film” question (what is cinema?) in this course? I hope to prepare the way for students to grasp what is at stake in thinking of media (film, peep shows, panoramas) as assemblages of bodies, perception, sensation, images, sound, and energetic and material flows. Information active in its entropic dissipation and self-organizing capacities. The forming of film form. When cinema is thought as a form coming out a continuous substance of media and perception we are confronted with the political economic questions of why this form, why this media at this moment? What enabled it, and what were its potentialities never actualized?

Which would place us within the understanding of a new media (cinema) that creates a meshwork of energy and matter flows such that particular dynamics (which are quickly revalued in the capitalist circulation of mass media) are amplified, synergies formed, and a capitalist machinery of capture built piecemeal learns again its truest lesson: It is in the “purple patch” (Horace) of sensation that value can be produced, and also pre-empted (which is a value of another sort!).  

Let us clarify to what point we have come thus far (8-28). We have presented a series of films from early cinema (Lumiere, Melies), and suggested that viral cinema, vermiculated images, self-organizing into a provocation–where a sequence can shock our grasp of, or our fixation in imagistic  (Odessa Steps), or an image can vibrate ambiguously and in that movement open itself to other desiring flows, platforms, and functions is an interesting thing to understand the relationship between an audio-visual image “catching on” or breaking, or jamming a habituation. By catching on we simply mean something whose circulation is caught and energized in a feedback between media, capital, and population-specific habituations. By habituation I mean a populational practice–a set of practices associated with the constitution of a human multiplicity: norms, pleasures, intuited reason.

In what way does one measure the habituation of Facebook (or any other social networking interface)? Time spent on it? By computers are on all the time now…Time spent attending to the informational feeds? Responding to email notices? Applications actually integrated into one’s life? In any case, habituations are racial not in the sense of biologically-fixed, but in the sense given to race by apartheid in South Africa and America: a technology of impossibly strict separation. Habits develop in mixtures with sensations, meanings, pleasures, and energy. But habituations are ways of capturing those mixing processes, and drawing out a yield of value-force. Perhaps we can say that viral media as developed in Hollywood is invested in a set of habituations that are today undergoing a phase transition, brought about by the very viruses that Hollywood spawned. 

Eisenstein as I show in On the Clinamen in Deleuze has a profound intuition in his notion of synaesthetic cinema. First, because cinema is taken out of its audio-visual moorings, and becomes an experience that causes one to pose the question of the body specifically in relation to the ecologies of energy and matter it finds itself in. A movie in a single-screen 1200 seater in Bhopal, India or a multiplex screen in Bangalore, India, or downloading it and watching it at home has everything to do with the kinds of ecologies of information and energy one finds oneself in. 

Second, Eisentstein’s notion of montage as collision, as progression, as dialectic. This is what is at stake in considering what it means to “make sense” in cinema. Sense is a collision between two potentialities (image 1 + image 2 = provocation). But it would be wrong to understand these images as representations first. Primarily, they are defined by the processes from which they emerge and in which they become (mutate). 

 

To understand what is a more or less effective practice in a given bazaar, one must have a sense of a set of functionalities that emerge in resonant unity in that concrete universal called a bazaar. There are many other names for the bazaar: informal economy, piracy networks, Linux (see: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/index.html), proto-capitalist trade, an essentially barter economy, one that has a negotiable relation to money. These names or descriptions are denotative and connotative at once, as Metz once said of the language of cinema. They refer to a set of relations, in continuous, pure duration, interpenetrative moments in pure sucession, without symbolic representation as Bergson reminds us. In that sense, regardless of the names we use to describe this fluid, or fuzzy set of relations what we must specify as rigorously as possible is the relation to rhythm of the ensemble of relations, as resonant unity. A student of mine Iskandar Zulkanain is writing interestingly on subalternity and priacy in Indonesia, and he notes what is clear from the history and secondary literature on piracy is that it produces a set of habits or capacities that are internal to the control modulations of global capital. The hegemony through piracy of Microsoft is an obvious example.

Let us return to the bazaar. What does it mean to attempt to diagram–and in what way does the diagram escape the circuit of symbolical representation, in what way is this circuit unescapeable in media studies, in philosophy?–the bazaar in its nonlinear processes, to see it as constituted by a set of resonant intensities, that are first and foremost pure duration, a paradoxical and pre-linguistic process unfolding, time without space. The bazaar is typically conceptualized as space. It provides Bollywood cinema with some of its most memorable scenes. Amitabh Bachchan’s product goes sour after his betrayal of Nutan in Saudagar (1973, S. Roy). The most memorable scenes are the moment of triumph and defeat at the bazaar. Always, a material force of communication and contagion, rumor works it way through the population, changing fortunes, confirming fates, but always and everywhere catalyzing mixtures of chance. But what narrative can only give us, by its very nature, is a symbolical rendering of processes that cannot be rendered, unless we reduce time to space. This is why Ranajit Guha’s notion of the transferences of power practiced through insurgent rumor is a theory of media assemblages. The rumor can be reduced to a few sentences at most, but the processes of its agency But to think the intensities of narrative as intimations of unbearable life, unbearable lives, that the utterly other inhabits this moment as pure potential, as affirmation, as pure joy, without forgetting its genealogy of tragedy, what more can we ask of a politics? What more can an ethics offer us if not this ultimately: that potential difference is the becoming undone of habit.

But to diagram movement through the trajectories, asymptotes, forces of attraction or synergy, the history of various resonances, and their branching, their co-evolution, and the emergent properties of the feedbacked interactions: this requires some time.

What is the relation between cell phone practice and perception? This is both a deeply cultural issue and a question of the body understood transculturally (but very much historically!). What would it mean to analyze cell phone practice, media pedagogies (institutions, and flow gradients), capitalizations, and value added schemes as a cultural and transcultural phenomenon at once?

Again, we are at the point of querying method (thanks Patricia): What are the objects here? At what scale of analysis do these objects relate or connect, at what scale is their connection lost or nonpertinent, what is the function, rate, intensity, feedback, distribution, and evolution of these connections? If these capacities-connections have individual and collective dimensions of change, how do we understand the political nature of such affects? This question also follows the understanding of the impact of a thought of virtuality on political practice. Directly on ethics.

(more…)