Thursday, January 04, 2007

does the blogosphere have an unconscious?

Blah feme poses this fascinating question:
In short, the question might be reworked here to speak that which it really wants to speak – what are the limits, boundaries, horizons of this thing that we do when we log on to post another post?
I think what is interesting about asking this question in terms of blogging is that it points up the radical openness and indeterminacy of agency in the blogosphere. Or, at least, it shows how that indeterminacy is played out in the blogosphere in a particularly intense and extreme manner. The questioning of agency has many authors and its radicalisation in the last 20 years or so has been quite remarkable: gaming theory, theories of fields, institutions, habitus and, even, the sinthome – all these new theorisations have pulled the rug from under the Romantic construction of agency as in some sense always traceable to a small number of sources and addressing an ideal addressee.

The deconstruction (for want of a better word) of such notions is perhaps the place where the left has had most difficulty – a strong theory of political action is difficult under such circumstances, political engagement much more complex and the terms and scope of any kin of offensive action always much more difficult to determine.
What strikes me as potentially useful, though, at least for a short while, might be precisely the blogosphere's disavowal of simple (mono-directional) agency and its broader engagement with citing, pointing, referencing and quoting. One only has to subscribe to a small number of smart blogs like I cite, K punk or larval subjects, to get a sense of the radical potential for this kind of practice.

And, perhaps, the dreadfulness of the right's blogs does not have so much to do with its ideological underpinnings, but, precisely, with the extent to which the blogosphere is, dare I say it, ontologically at odds with modes of thought that seek to reduce, simplify or moralise the social field. At its best, blogging can and continues to hold the promise of refusing that kind of hectoring modality.
(see this post on the right and art)

Of course blogging encourages a rather full-on and belligerent style of writing sometimes, and often, if one leaves comments completely open, one can be deluged with heaps of mean-spirited or even obscene comments. But this is inevitable if something is to try to maintain a contentious relationship with mainstream journalism and pubic opinion.
Of course, the blogoshpere does not guarantee anything and we must in the end take responsibility for is shape and contest its colonisers and censors; and even then, of course, there is no guarantee that these kinds of engagement will of themselves make the difference we want them to.

But agency has a way of biting back, of digging in just when you think its all over, and it often does so when a number of ideas authored over a large time period are drawn together as a uniform resource: the blogoshpere might form a large part of that resource.
So does the blogosphere have an unconscious? And what might that look like? It is undoubtedly structured, undoubtedly disparate and undoubtedly marked by a radical incoherence.

An yet, we all know what blogging tends towards: we have all said it many times before – the egoing, the self-analysis, the unbearable drabness of meing that makes up much of the blogosphere is at least testament to its commitment to a certain discursive tone, a to a certain politics of the ego, to a certain figuration of confession as productive.

This of course brings us round to Ego be continued

image: Engineering News via bldgblog
[Image: Timothy J. Gattie, Boise, ID; "The $330-million Otay River Bridge in Chula Vista, Calif. rises into the morning mist. ].

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