03 December 2006

Paranoid Fantasies

Being the narcissist that I am, I use a webtraffic service to monitor traffic on this site, which gives me all sorts of nifty information about how many visitors I have a day and where they are from. This provides me with some evidence that I exist, thereby supplementing the failure of Cartesian immediacy now that we know the subject is a perpetually displacing void. I'm gratified to see that the traffic on this blog has steadily increased since I began using the service two months ago, but also sometimes find myself disturbed by the websearches that led people here and, more recently, by certain repeat visitors. Don't get me wrong, repeat visitors are the true measure of any blog, but this visitor in particular has my mind awhirl with paranoid fantasies. About a month ago I wrote this post on Marx's Communist Manifesto, and ever since then I have been repeatedly visited by someone in Herndon, Virginia. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not prone to paranoid fantasies and have never gotten worked up about net deception, but this visitor is particularly interesting. You see, this visitor signs on without fail at the precise moment I sign on whenever I check my web traffic. They sign on at the precise minute I sign on. How is this possible unless they are somehow monitoring traffic to my website and perhaps my traffic in particular? Perhaps the webmap is simply recording my visits, but why would it record them in Herndon, when I'm located outside of Dallas?

Having done a little research on Herndon now, I've discovered that it is located outside of Washington, D.C. and is one of the emerging hubs of internet technology. Of course, this particular visitor doesn't seem particularly advanced technologically, as they're using Windows ME and have a monitor that measures 600 x 800 (don't worry, the webtracking service does not give me your name or personal information, nor does it give me much more information than what I've just listed). Anyway, being the self-important narcissist that I am, this odd occurance generates fantasies in my mind that I am now being watched by the government and homeland security for having written on Marx. Now, the important point isn't whether the fantasy is true (unlikely I think). This is, after all, just a fleeting thought that passes through my mind. Rather, when encountering a fantasy such as this, a fantasy of one's relation to the Other or how the Other regards you, the question to ask is what sort of desire this speaks. Returning to the theme of my name (here and here), I've sometimes wondered how the signifier "Paul" functions in my unconscious with respect to the Biblical namesake. I confess that I have a great admiration for Paul's revolutionary work in walking from one end of the world to the other, and the manner in which he was able to become nameless by being all things to all people. Wouldn't I need an oppressive empire to do such a thing? Perhaps part of the reason if find Lacanian psychoanalysis so appealing is that there's a genuine practice attached to it and a concerted effort to further its growth around the world, all of which feeds mightily into my Pauline fantasy. Moreover, is there a way in which such a dark fantasy-- a situation that could be very costly were it true --allows me some jouissance that I'm otherwise forbidden or punishes me for some jouissance that I already enjoy. When analyzing fantasy, the point is not to focus on the fantasy itself, but rather what the fantasy would render possible were it to take place. Often fantasies are extremely disturbing to those that have them and are not pleasant scenerios that make up the space of daydreams. The place to look in fantasy is not so much these masturabatory daydreams, but rather in the thoughts we have about how others are evaluating us and seeing us. Clearly there's something megalomaniacal in this fantasy, as it inflates my importance by seeing me as worthy of government scrutiny. But perhaps, were such a scenerio to occur, other things would become possible that were not formerly possible for me. Or perhaps I'm just punishing myself for not having yet responded to N.Pepperell's beautiful, challenging, and provacative recent posts (here and here). Certainly these are grounds for being sent to a secret European prison or Guantanamo Bay, and certainly such punishment would relieve me of some guilt.

I really must be mad to write these things on a blog. I hope no one is watching.

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Anonymous N Pepperell said...

I'm watching... ;-P But please, don't be anxious about whether you're responding to me in any particular time frame. I enjoy our discussions, but honestly I don't expect that you, or anyone else, will focus on my questions in any kind of time frame - I was just writing to AWB that what I like about posting to the blog is that it's not intrusive on other people's time and attention - that they can wander away and think about other things, and read and respond only if and when they choose... I'm hoping I haven't found a way to make myself intrusive, in spite of the protections embedded in the medium... :-(

On your Herndon situation... I don't know... Is there some possibility that this is just something like the host of your stat software, accessing your site automatically for some technical reason when you look at the stats?

December 03, 2006 5:35 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

That's what I'm wondering as well, but it's far more fun to imagine that the guberment is out to get me.

December 03, 2006 5:38 PM  
Anonymous glen said...

sinthome, could your isp be located in herndon? i know i register on my site stats as being in melbourne sometimes (when i am in sydney).

December 03, 2006 6:28 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Nope, Completely different ISP's and Virginia and Texas are hundreds of miles apart. Then again, so are Sydney and Melbourne.

December 03, 2006 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

I'm worried,now. Someone from Herndon watches me, too.

You are not paranoid if they are out to get you.

My location, and my ISP location,are about 5,000 miles from Herndon.

( I'm breaking my code of non-intervention-promised to you earlier-- but maybe this warrants it.)

Maybe this Herndon thing will turn out to be completely innocent, but I wouldn't simply assume that.

December 03, 2006 7:32 PM  
Anonymous N. Pepperell said...

That's what I'm wondering as well, but it's far more fun to imagine that the guberment is out to get me.

As you said, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean you aren't enjoying it... ;-)

December 03, 2006 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

I used to get infrequent visits from an air force base in Texas (to the same post on Agamben). They haven't been by in a while. The same one had some people from the US Department of Justice. While I too dream that my words are dangerous enough to attract the attention of the authorities (even if they are from a foreign government), it's more likely the case that these military and justice people came across the term "homo sacer" and why it was always been used in reference to them. Afterall, if the government wanted to spy on us, I'm sure they'd have better means than looking at every single website containing an obscure philosophical term.

December 06, 2006 6:08 PM  

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