communicado

Thinking about ‘hypercommunication’ suggests the project (already thematised by Bataille and Laruelle although I’m not very familiar) to develop aesthetics and practices of noncommunication, even to develop nonknowledge; ubiquitous data forcing us to develop a theory and practice of nonknowledge.

Deleuze comes to this attitude late in his life. In an interview with Antonio Negri from 1995 he talks about the open space of control society, a society no longer organised by hierarchised spaces of confinement and discipline, but ‘continuous control and instant communication’. In such a society, freedom does not reside in finding a voice, or making yourself heard. Your every word is heard perfectly, and obviously this doesn’t guarantee you power or freedom. Hence Deleuze suggests that speech and communication have been corrupted. How should we take this kind of diagnosis? How do you speak a corrupt language?

Deleuze points towards interventions against the communications infrastructure, to piracy and computer viruses, to creating ‘vacuoles of noncommunication, circuit breakers’. How do we act in a contaminated landscape? Where are the hazmat suits? What’s contaminated is the possibility of meaningful resistance. You find this in Baudrillard, the idea that resistance is recuperated and assimilated by the network. It’s like there is properly speaking no resistance to power because there is no longer a separation between the sovereign and the subject of resistance, only a system which engulfs both. The communications infrastructure which constitutes the society of control is impermeable to resistance. We are lashed by the creeping tentacular embrace of increasingly complex and integrated assemblages, like Amazon’s planetary distribution and logistics web, which as Adam Greenfield describes, is continually ‘creating ever tighter loops of response to desire’. (Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life 279) Like I’m pretty sure Amazon’s recommendation algorithm directed me to Greenfield’s book.

When Negri pushes him to talk about his conception of the subject (Negri always scouting out a revolutionary agency) in the context of new processes of subjectification in control societies, Deleuze suggests there are more pertinent questions. Rather than a subject ‘invested with duties, power and knowledge’, he reaches for the level of events. Echoing his and Guattari’s elusive final chapter of What is Philosophy?, he suggest

    Or we can simply talk about the brain: the brain’s precisely this boundary of a continuous two-way movement between an Inside and Outside, this membrane between them. New cerebral pathways, new ways of thinking, aren’t explicable in terms of microsurgery; it’s for science, rather, to try and discover what might have happened in the brain for one to start thinking this way or that. I think subjectification, events, and brains are more or less the same thing. What we most lack is a belief in the world, we’ve quite lost the world, it’s been taken from us. If you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space-times, however small their surface or volume.

To Deleuze, the brain is exciting because it hurtles towards chaos. Chaos, or in other words the virtual, which is to say, a field of possibilities, like the quantum field. True thought (which we might want to distinguish from the popular kid ‘cognition’) is unable to function without silence and empty space. In his polemic against the transparency society, Byung-Chul Han puts it like this:

Often less knowledge and information achieves something more. It is not unusual for the negativity of omitting and forgetting to prove productive. The society of transparency cannot tolerate a gap [Lücke] in information or of sight. Yet both thinking and inspiration require a vacuum.

In the cybernetic conception of things, ‘thought’ in Deleuze’s sense is basically nowhere. And cognition itself becomes impossible to rigorously distinguish from perception. Both are proximate nodes in the planetary circuit of information processing.

So what is the relationship between control and communication? How does participation in communication contribute to social control? How is the feedback loop between control and communication experienced? How is it represented? Or, better, how does it defeat representational strategies? Have we slipped from a crisis of meaning to the brink of ‘semantic apocalypse’? (https://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/what-is-the-semantic-apocalypse/)

I think of Stanislaw Lem’s novels about extraterrestrial contact – Fiasco, His Master’s Voice, Eden – which are really only about the possibility of a contact which first appears bright and tantalising before receding in the face of an immense opacity. In each novel, the desire of the human protagonists for recognition runs up against the recalcitrance of an alien other. Instead of being swept up in the ecstasy of communication, maybe we need to think about the withdrawn hand, the lips quavering with hesitation… blank, uncomprehending or or hostile refusals of contact. Lem depicts a humanity desperately unprepared for such reticence and lack of recognition.

How do we characterise the ‘planetary mesh of perception and response'(Greenfield) which has overtaken the world and (if we follow Deleuze) made us unable to believe in the world? How do we characterise the circuits of information which buffet and infiltrate human bodies? How do we grasp the displacement of the human driver from the wheel of knowledge? How do we theorise interactivity?

 

    We are now in a colossal multi-level game where reality and virtuality are treated as romantic and excessively nostalgic characterizations of a world that is well and truly over. Psychoses around the self and the other, secluded pacific islands, everything we know of, and even unexplained phenomena such as UFOs are connected, parsed, and curated by the data exhaust  generated by our participation in such a game: The more you respond to the game, the more surplus affect you generate. And, in this game, the more affect you generate, the more your surplus behavior becomes a game module, and the more likely it will become the brief for a new game level. This new level might be a nightmare scenario or a cognitive bedlam—the vision of hell in Doom 3. Yet whatever its nature may be, no matter how we see it politically, how we approach it at the level of our own micro-ethical injunctions, it nevertheless opens up an explorable terrain into which new personal experimentations can be plugged, and new players added. Such a multi-scaled game is, as a whole, beyond the judgement of gods, and definitely those of humans. The only thing we can judge is how far it allows us to do something exciting—in the broadest possible sense of the term—with our psychoses.

(Reza Negarestani, ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (Reading Applied Ballardianism)’ https://toyphilosophy.com/2018/08/09/mene-mene-tekel-upharsin-reading-applied-ballardianism/)

 

^just leaving this here

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