Newmedia on Fri, 3 Mar 2000 17:59:18 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> NOTHING WORSE


Maybe this isn't such a new situation.  

What you refer to as the "symbolic order" is really just the "electric media 
environment", isn't it?  And, this has been going on for, oh, 150+ years or 
so.  Ever since the introduction of the telegraph and its spawn . . . the 

Afterall, the "Symbolists" are hardly a new idea . . . are they?

Pit Schultz posted a longish essay on some of this a while back.  "The 
Whatever Intellectual."  Or, whatever.  

In PoMo language this essay merely repeated what has been said a thousand 
times (better and shorter, much of the time) about the decline of the 
capacity for anyone to think and for anyone to speak and for anyone to create 
art and for anyone to . . . simply be a human being.  For, oh, 150+ years or 

It's interesting that you identify the "symbolic order" with a "tart."  I 
presume that you mean the "prostitute" meaning and not the "sweat-cake" 
meaning of the term . . . right?

How about exploring the connotations of "SELLING-OUT" as "tarts" are fond of 
doing?  Is that a reasonable translation?  When did the problem of 
selling-out -- in particular selling one's own mortal soul -- become a widely 
noticed problem?  

Could Goethe have anything to inform us about all this?  Is "Faust" at all 

And, what are we to make of the fact that Thomas Mann's "Faust" is all about 
the characters of the Frankfurt School?  With Adorno as "Faust" himself!  
Hmmmm . . .

Wyndham Lewis' 1926 extended-"pamphlet" titled "The Art of Being Ruled" is 
very informative on all these matters.  So is his 1934 "Men Without Art."  In 
fact, all of Lewis' work could be brought to bear upon these problems.  

And, more expansively, the problems of nettime itself.

In "The Art of Being Ruled", Lewis mentions:

"Everything in our life today conspires to thrust most people into prescribed 
tracks, in what can be called a sort of TRANCE OF ACTION.  Hurrying, without 
any significant reason, from spot to spot at the maximum speed obtainable . . 
. how is the typical individual at this epoch to do some detached thinking 
for himself?"

Could this possibly relate to the need to get your information in "motion."  
Or, to the need to DO SOMETHING, about which so many of us appear to be 
deeply hypnotized.

McLuhan (in an essay first published in 1944) describes what Lewis was up to 
when he says:

"The particular means by which Lewis has extricated himself from the 
ideological machine of our epoch with its inevitable labelling process -- 
'liberal,' 'socialist,' 'reactionary,' 'fascist,' 'individualist,' 'realist,' 
'romantic,' 'extrovert,' etc. -- is that of the painter's eye."

Ah, yes, ART.  As in "The ART of Being Ruled"?

Could it be that participating in the "ideological machine" is itself a form 
of SELLING-OUT?  Selling out one's own mortal soul?  For "winning" the 
certainty of one's own personal ideology . . . what is the price that you 
have to pay?

And, what is the relationship between wanting to move our information and 
earlier rituals of the worshipping of the machines?

Are we, once again, "Futurists" in search for our Mussolini?

If we can't think anymore, if we can't speak anymore . . . are we still 
human?  Are we to blame all this on the "symbolic order"

McLuhan (in his 1944 essay on Lewis) uses the old-fashioned term "Zeitgeist" 
and he offers:

"This sort of revolutionary simpleton, this beaming child of the 'Zeitgeist' 
is precisely the sort of ruler the modern world cannot afford to have at the 
head of is enormous machinery.  Lewis presents a massive documentation and 
analysis of the art and science and philosophy which manufacture the 
'Zeitgeist' -- the 'Zeitgeist' being the force which manipulates the puppets 
who "'govern'" us . . . As a preparation for intelligent action. Lewis 
advocates self-extraction from the ideological machine by an arduous course 
of detachment, -- the scrutiny of the philosophy of the past four centuries 
as well as of the art and science which that philosophy has engendered.  For 
success in this task very few are well equipped today . . . So with the 
ordinary artist and politician -- they are immersed in matter, in their 
'Zeitgeist', and they call it "'timelessness,'" or they appeal to the 
relativity notion of all human action as an excuse for sinking deeper into 
the brainlessness of matter."

Are we not ourselves to blame for the "symbolic order," for the "Zeitgeist," 
for being "revolutionary simpletons."

Is nettime itself "timeless"?


Mark Stahlman

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