31 October 2006

Contagious Communication

In 1935 the cane toad was introduced into Australia to fight the pest of the cane beetle that was destroying agriculture. Where the initial population was 3000, the population now numbers over a million, is itself counted as a pest, and is increasing in population by 25% every year. In the absence of any natural preditors of its own, the cane toad has drastically changed the environment of certain regions of Australia, eating other natural preditors out of existence. It seems to me that the cane toad is a nice metaphor for how certain forms of communication proliferate and grow.

Every morning when I wake up, I have to remind myself that communication is not simply about something, but that communication also is something. It is very easy to lose the will to write, the will to think. I am unsure as to whether I have ever managed to say anything new or interesting. If I had my way, I would be a Hegel or a Deleuze or an Aristotle or Heidegger, a philosopher who makes the world rumble with my words, but it is unlikely that this is ever to happen. If I repeat when I write, if my writing is already what others have have already said-- and better, at that --what could the value of my writing possibly be? What is the value of a writing that only repeats? Yet this is to individuate a writing only in terms of what it is about, and not in terms of what writing is... A material trace of communication that proliferates throughout the world, offering further possibilities to be repeated by others, offering the possibility of communication that itself changes the very field of communications by creating networks that are now about something entirely different.

Increasingly I find myself filled with the will to repeat. If I come across an article that I find interesting or that says something important, I throw it up on my blog so that others might come across it and repeat it to yet others, contaminating established channels and furrows of communication and perhaps pushing them in new directions. If I come across a diary on another blog that I find important, I try to find ways to link to it in my own diaries or to frontpage it so that others might stumble upon these other paths and take it upon themselves to leave their own material traces of communication. I fantasize about sprawling and tangled networks weaving themselves across the world, producing entire communities of speakers leaving traces, pushing collective dialogues in directions different than current vectors. If someone makes a comment on my blog, I try to integrate it into subsequent diaries so that others might see it and so that it might form further networks and traces of communications, calling for responses, and producing furrows or speciations of their own. That is, I do my small bit to populate the world with material traces of communicative events that have taken place, recognizing that what has been said is just important than the inaugural saying. And perhaps, if enough murmuring takes place, there will eventually be a roar, new subjectivities will emerge, my own subjectivity will be transformed, and subjects capable of entirely new affects, speeds, and actions will rise up in the world. I thereby surrender myself to networks and treat myself as a radio tower, conveying traces of communication that have taken place elsewhere, in hope that I might have a hand in helping a new species of cane toads to emerge within our current political and social climate.

I recall Freud, Lacan, and Heidegger... These isolated figures who began with a small group of people with whom they communicated, perhaps on Sunday afternoons over coffee or a nice bottle of wine. These groups were outcasts, minorities, orientations that had no place and for whom, as Orla put it, there was no voice in dominant discourses. They did not fit the epistemes of their time and it is only retroactively that we can discern their necessity as they made their own necessity. Those communications exploded as each of those participants repeated, wrote, seduced others, and acted on the basis of what they heard. Some time ago I read a diary on Dailykos, written by a participant ashamed that he had voted for George Bush in 2000. This diary recounts how he came to completely change his political identifications, and how, in particular, a course he took entitled "Argumentation and Advocacy" significantly transformed his outlook, not by specifically advocating a particular set of political positions, but by teaching him about argumentative fallacies. On the basis of learning these argumentative fallacies, his perception of media phenomena was transformed as he increasingly saw them all over the place in the communications the administration engages in. This change would have never occured had not these fallacies been repeated to him by someone. The effects of what we repeat, of the distinctions we draw, of the concepts we forge, can never be anticipated save in one instance: when they are not repeated.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Nic said...

I found your site while engaging in some mild cyber-‘flaneury’. Maintain the infection, I actually understand some of what your talking about! Cheers.

November 01, 2006 1:32 AM  
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December 30, 2008 12:03 AM  

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