on Fri, 17 Aug 2007 02:09:26 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: <nettime> personal life, impersonal writing (was: The banality of blogging)

I am glad you brought the blogging issue up in this expanded way,
Benjamin. It has been the main focus of my work for the last decade.

I abandoned a contracted textbook after writing a draft because
I could not place myself and my experience in it. The book I
subsequently wrote on money which was explicitly personal and became
the basis for a website which has lately been turned into a blog
( At first I thought I was exploring the
repersonalization of impersonal society as a result of the digital
revolution in communications, but I eventually discovered that I was
talking about a historical shift in the relationship between the
personal and impersonal.

Later I published a short book, The Hit Man's Dilemma: or business,
personal and impersonal, which took the issue you raised to be at the
heart of contemporary social contradictions, in the academy and more
widely. In the last year I have come to see money itself not just
as an impersonal institution, but as one of the principal means of
bridging the concrete particulars and abstract universals, a function
it shares with religion.

In my attempt to rethink anthropology as the study of world society,
I have been drawn to Kant's original example of seeking to place
individual subjects in history as a whole. Mauss's project in
intellectual politics has been particularly inspiring in this respect.
Above all, I look to Gandhi's example in developing a method for
scaling up the person and scaling down the world so that they might
meet on more meaningful terms.

So, in relation to the specific focus of your comment here, I would
say first that writing is always a process of exploring the dialectic
of inner subjectivity and its objectification as text. Second, even
academic work varies in the degree to which personality is excluded
-- one has only to compare the tradition of the humanities with
the failed experiment known as social science. Third, the need to
engage practically with the personal/impersonal pair reflects the
ongoing crisis of global capitalism today. So we should focus on the
corporatization of the universities, if we wish to understand why
the academy in some respects appears to be moving in the opposite
direction to some of the currents unleashed by the internet.

>Does it have to be this way?<

Well, it isn't really that way to start with, only in an ideal type
of limited empirical application. We do, however, have to work quite
hard to emancipate ourselves from such ideas if we wish to harness the
possibilities in actually existing society.


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