Newmedia on Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:34:23 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> They Say We Can’t Meme: Politics of Idea Compression/Geert Lovink & Marc Tuters


The *medium* (or what we now call psycho-technological environments) that generated “memes” is, of course, the same one that dominated people’s lives when they were “discovered” in the 1970s – TELEVISION.  Are you sure that’s how you’d like anyone to behave today?

That medium is no longer “in control” and, as the name “nettime” signifies, we now live in a very different *time* -- in which DIGITAL technology has become the “ground of our experience.”  However, following this archeology through with McLuhan (and his interest in Gestalt), what happens when the *ground* changes is that the previous “ground” (i.e. the one that generated memes) becomes a *figure* and, as a result, becomes “obsolete” – which is to say it becomes everywhere-in-your-face but no longer has the previous fundamental psychological impact (as discussed in the 1988 “Laws of Media”).

To presume that recent “populist” developments are the result of *memes* -- as opposed to this fundamental shift in underlying environments – is to succomb to the same “television” way of looking at things.  Are you sure that’s how you’d like anyone to think about such things today?

On May Day 2017 (illustrated with my favorite IWW graphic), some of us published an essay on this – yes, on the site called “Medium” – titled “The End of Memes or McLuhan 101” which might be of some interest hereabouts . . . <g>

Mark Stahlman

Jersey City Heights


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From: Geert Lovink
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Subject: <nettime> They Say We Can’t Meme: Politics of Idea Compression/Geert Lovink & Marc Tuters


They Say We Can’t Meme: Politics of Idea Compression

 By Geert Lovink & Marc Tuters

Originally published here:

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” Friedrich Nietzsche

In his torturous 2017 book Futurability Franco Berardi states that “we should go beyond the critique of the techno-media corporate system and start a project of enquiry and self-organization for the cognitive workers who daily produce the global semio-economy. We should focus less on the system and more on the subjectivity that underlies the global semio-cycle.” (1) In this spirit, let’s consider memes as one of many ways to understand the fast and dark world of the mindset of today’s online subject. We see memes as densely compressed, open contradictions, designed to circulate in our real-time networks that work with repeating elements. As the far-right have discovered, memes express tensions that can’t be spoken in the political correct vocabulary of the mainstream media. To what extent can these empty formats symbolize the lived experience of global capitalism? Is it true that the left can’t meme? These are the strategic questions faced by activists and social media campaigners today . . .


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