JIppolito on Fri, 6 Mar 1998 00:00:11 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> 1-2-3

The following message from Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and myself was posted
recently to the <eyebeam><blast> listserve. It's sort of a "conversation
compiled by email and turned into a chat document," except that we didn't
discuss our responses with each other beforehand. So perhaps it might
qualify under nettime's "12.8% more manifestos" or "nasty weird shit -
100%" categories.

I ______________ Jordan Crandall's "territory" post of 17 February

1. looked at
2. struggled to decipher
3. recently re-read

and found it to be to be _______________

1. not terribly original and/or readable
2. quite insightful once I took out my shovel
3. interesting

and was able to ________________.

1. sort of figure out what he was getting at after deciphering the jargon.
2. uncover the meaning hidden beneath the excessive verbiage.
3. connect its themes to the recent slew of posts on individuality versus

Jordan called for the net to become a "space for contestation" in which the
usual cliches of freedom and consensus give way to an "agonistic dynamic"
of  "vibrant conflicts of positions and interests." This sounded very much
like the claim that "Anytime a group of people presents a united front,
someone's perspective is being repressed," which Jon Ippolito
______________ in his "Emergence or Submergence" post (13 February).

1. discussed rather cogently
2. spelled out in p-l-a-i-n E-n-g-l-i-s-h (something that is sorely lacking
from a forum that aims to clarify an already cloudy issue)
3. was trying to get at

It struck me, however, that Jordan's message didn't deal with the criticism
of Jon's post from Brian Holmes (15 February), who wrote: "Negotiated
consensus is an inherent requirement of complex societies. For instance,
the notion that every individual perspective should have its sovereign
freedom of expression and action now forms part of a very strong consensus,
rather like the one that inspired George Bush when he insisted at the Rio
summit on the environment that the USA's mode of industrial development is
not negotiable. Today I think that the powerful rhetoric of
individualism...is often an extremely simplistic method for [keeping the
citizen-consumer] from engaging in the extraordinarily challenging effort
to construct a different consensus, and to build bridges between the
oppositional positions which do exist."

Brian's point ______________________.

1. is interesting; but I'm not sure I agree with him.
2. is obvious yet not very useful since it is an extreme example of the
most powerful (and definitely not the most intelligent) man in the world
speaking for the most powerful country in the world.  Not a position I see
99.9999...% of the population in any time soon.
3. in condemning the American cult of the individual is valid, but I draw
the opposite conclusion. The problem with cardboard he-men like Rambo, the
Marlborough Man, and George Bush is that they're not individual *enough*:
their roles are but minor variations on a script that movie producers, ad
men, and political handlers presume to be some kind of cultural consensus.

His critique of individualism ____________________.

1. is paradoxically odd in that it comes from an individual.
2. (if you don't see the irony in an individual attempting to make an
argument against individualism I'm not going to explain it to you)
3. , while well intentioned, betrays his inability to imagine a structure
in which conflicting perspectives collide and ricochet--instead of
flattening individual voices into a consensus that is ultimately
homogeneous, no matter how "different."

One way to deal with this problem is ______________________.

1. to puzzle out this dilemma by less solipsistic means.
2. to understand that negotiating the terms upon which to base a forum for
individual expression avoids the traps set by the extremes of unbridled
individualism or totalitarian consensus.
3. to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to speak, build a level
playing field for them to compete on, and invent a way of visualizing their
interaction that foregrounds conflict rather than hiding it.

Brian asks "Could there be a meme for intersubjective exchange? ....Would
that kind of meme qualify as art somewhere?" A good example of this
approach can be found at

1. www.three.org.
2. www.three.org.
3. www.three.org.

1. Best
2. Concisely yours
3. Ciao

Janet Cohen | Keith Frank | Jon Ippolito

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