Kevin Murray on Thu, 7 Feb 2002 22:16:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] FW: ::fibreculture:: RE: Variations on Wark in B Minor

Forwarded from Ken:

From: McKenzie Wark []
Sent: Friday, 8 February 2002 2:52 am
Subject: Re: ::fibreculture:: RE: Variations on Wark in B Minor

> > Today we no longer have roots, because the bonds of shared reading
> > material, sitcoms, movies, sporting events, and the like, _are_ > 
>today?s roots.


>This is going somewhere, I think. It gives a dialectical flesh to Ken's 
> >trope. It begins to sound more like a McLuhan position about the future 
> >restoring a lost tribalism.

I'm happy to see people play with the aphorism, but these are possibilities 
I already included in its formulation. And as
the K-Tel ads say: "but wait, there's more!" The appearance of
having 'roots' may always be a back formation, a secondary
cultural moment produced by having a present, made out of
'aerials', which may stand for whatever the technical means
of producing culture in a given historical period may be. If
one is to be a materialist in cultural studies, it means
treating culture as produced in real relations, not as some
sort of floating ideal.

At moments in which the technical form changes (vector...)
there tends to be a heightened anxiety about the transparency
of culture as process. The myth of tradition seems to lose
its power, if only temporarily. It's no accident there was
all that kerfuffle about 'great books' right at the same time
as the leap into cyberspace. As the tecnical infrastructure
of culture changes, an ever more vigorous assertion of a
cultural identity occurs, one which claims to exist independently
of its means of production.

The intellectual's role in relation to 'roots' has always i
think to be an ambivalent one. As Benjamin warns in 'Critique
of Violence', as soon as fidelity to an origin becomes the
mark of belonging, *violence is inevitable*. The violence
that polices the relation between the sign and its precursor.
This is where one turns materialist: signs don't have
precursors, they produce them. Roots are always an illusion.
But perhaps a necessary one. To be handled with care.

So long as intellectuals cling to 'culture', God has not made
his exit. It becomes a repository (again) for a lost longing.
The fearlessness of theory is passing. We are all Kantians
now -- using the most advanced techniques to shore up beliefs
of the most traditional kind.


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