Newmedia on Fri, 16 Apr 1999 18:38:43 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Beyond "Point of View"


As much as I dislike discussing *me* in these forums, Felix Stadler's
decision to post our exchange regarding "human rights" (with my
permission) and Pit's recent comments (for whom I have much affection and
respect) prompt me to try a brief clarification of my motives. 

My own task is to experiment with online forums to see if they can be used
to move some of us beyond "point of view."  Why?  Because I believe that
thinking tends to begin where "point of view" dissolves and that, in
general, thinking is good for us all. 

So, if some of you agree with me and others disagree based on what may
seem to be my own opinions, I'm not doing my job too well.  Also, if it
seems that I enjoy "pissing people off", then I'm also screwing up
somehow.  These reactions originate in trying to locate my "point of
view."  That is not my intent. 

As a "non-party intellectual" (like nettime's founders, in this regard), I
have no real axe to grind.  I also have nothing to defend as my own
"sacred cow."  Nothing is above (or below) questioning for me -- which is
understandably upsetting to many.  Is he a Trot? No.  Is he a Catholic? 
No.  Is he CIA?  No.  Is he an alien . . . 

Viewpoints are often a form of identity.  Identity is strongly guarded. 
Challenging identity easily provokes violence.  So, Pit is correct that
I'm experienced and ready to take the brickbats thrown in my direction
but, it seems to me, incorrect that I wish to see people so angry that
they have to start throwing things around. 

All I want is to figure out how to improve our collective ability to
think.  Honest.  That's my "project." 

Since I have no sacred cows, I read material from all sources and have
discussions with all comers.  I tend not to believe many of the "official" 
stories and find it useful to hunt around for the various
stories-behind-the-stories.  This openness leaves me open for the claim
that I'm somehow a "conspiracy" type.  I read that material too.  But I
find it generally boring, analytically handicapped and psychologically
crippled.  It's just not thinking, or so it seems to me.  Instead, it's
some very seriously warped "points of view."  It doesn't ring my bell. 

What does?  I get excited when people begin to sense that they don't
really know very much.  When the foundations of one's "point of view"
begin to seem shaky, then there's an opportunity for some learning and
some thinking to develop.  Discovery begins somewhere on the other side of
"ignorance", for most of us. 

This process of shaking up your foundations can be accessed pretty
reliably through confronting what appear to be paradoxes.  This Balkan war
is so ripe with these paradoxes that it's drawn me back to posting to
nettime.  My hope is that at least a few well-rooted "points of view" may
be shaken to the point of some openminded thinking in the process. 

What you thought you knew about "war and anti-war", "pacifism",
"human-rights", "national-soveriegnty", "fascism", "democracy",
"captialism", "socialism" and "world-government" should be seriously
shaken by these events and the reflections on them coming through nettime
and other forums.  But, that's just a start. 

My hope is that new institutions can be built on the Internet which will
encourage thinking.  My old friend Doug Rushkoff has publically dispaired
a little over this.  My old sparring-partner JP Barlow has asked Doug to
not "lose the faith."  I suspect that Barlow isn't looking for more
thinking, as I am, but he'll have to clarify.  That's all I'm doing. 
Looking to stimulate all the thinking we can collectively generate. 

Yes, I thought it was weird when my "human rights" post was blocked. 
Whether this happened because I came too close to someone's "sacred cow",
I really don't know.  Felix was very generous to work it through with me
and then to publish the exchange.  It feels to me like nettime is handling
all this pretty well, under the circumstances. 

I encourage all people who wish to think -- by which I mean move beyond
"point of view -- to stay engaged to the limits of their endurance.  And,
I invite any of you who wish to explore online structures which encourage
thinking to send me some private email. 

Thinks to all,

Mark Stahlman
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