Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Unjust Imprisonment and Impending Show Trial of Steve Kurz as recorded by Lynn Hershman Leeson

Even the YouTube trailer has me between rage and tears. I swapped mails with Steve the night of his arrest (I spotted the story on late night news in Toronto). They had even impounded his cat. One day this will be farce, but for now it is worse than tragedy: it is iteration without evolution. Check out
CAE Defense Fund

Thursday, November 22, 2007


In the relation between hardware, software and wetware, hardware is clearly technical (apparatus, technology, techne), software functions as the social (polis: a function, as in protocol). This creates the unusual position in which the human wetware is left with the remaining function, in the position traditionally associated with nature (laws of physics, instinct, blind necessity). The analogy would be with the 'database unconscious' - what databases by definition must exclude. The database unconscious is the flesh, embodied experience, and especially the kind of contingent body and behaviour which escapes control because it cannot be informationalised. The human returns as bodies and instincts, which in a Kantian frame would mean they are the force of necessity, in the same way the laws of physics are the force of necessity in contexts of survival. Here action – the characteristic of consciousness – ends up as the property of code, that is consciousness of a highly restricted kind, the terminus ad quem of enlightenment rationality. The wetware residue, which functions purely as a random number generator from the standpoint of the software, has the force of necessity but the actuality of contingency (ie already overdetermined but in such a way that its behaviours appear irrational, and so as random, rather in the same way as the weather). So the 'actor' is displaced from the human into the protocol/code; while at the same time, in conformity with the process, the human element ceases to be individual subjects and becomes the excluded obverse of the mass management of populations: micro-behaviours of the human biomass. One implication is that subjectivity as we have thought of it since Descartes (including Lacan), is no longer a critical concept. There is no inner life. Deleuze and Guattari may be right: there are concepts capable of generating possible worlds. Concepts, not people. What in this system generates concepts is not the human but the code.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Impossible Choice

In the monstrous reorganisation of society as population management, and of knowledge as data flow, we face an impossible choice. We may succumb to the slack-jawed immersion in spectacle, from Vegas to the Sydney Olympics., or accede to the fragmented and ephemeral world of connectivity. I characterise these two positions, respectively the hi-res and lo-res paths, as the impossible choice between the sublime and despair. To paraphrase Adorno, despair and the sublime are the two torn halves of a single oppression: the removal of the object of contemplation from the realm of what can be communicated. In the immersive sublime, what we gaze upon is other, wordless and worldless, beyond history or debate. In the connective despair, what we seek to communicate, the very content of cellular networks, is ourselves, but that is the one thing that cannot be communicated in a world of hyperindividuation. Choose, we seem to be told, between the cinematic spectacle of 9/11 or the connective mobile images from Abu Ghraib. Choose between the unspeakable, sublime icon created by Islamists whose faith does not allow icons. Or pick the degraded and degrading mobile images from Abu Ghraib, where connectivity becomes an extension of the humiliation which is the goal of torturers. The binarism of hi-res and lo-res takes us to the sick heart of the contemporary world.

The Hammer

Media are the medium of history, as a hammer is the medium of the blow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


All books are written in the present but read in the past. This unfortunate fact is also true for the author.

Seizure of the present

Newly invented as the moment of consciousness and of change, the present was almost without delay manipulated into the moment of production. (One might reverse this statement). Taming the vector, the future-orientation, which nevertheless is the absolute prerequisite, is the central activity of capital's drift from manufacture via service and finance to creativity.