Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't Break My Mark

It's Friday once again, my Puddlers, and I am definitely looking forward to this weekend. I'm going to keep this preamble short by just saying you should all love your friends, feel bad for victims of the terrible tornados, know that the best place to be during a tornado is underground or in a natural ditch, and that when you are up 15 points in the fourth quarter with a chance to go up 2-0 in the NBA Finals, you do not stop running your offense and rely on "hero-ball" aka throwing up three-pointers.

That's it for me this week. Now, I leave you with the one man who can do what he does—Mr. Mark Jack.

High, Low and In Between

Mark Jack

What about the fact that we speak too greedily of ourselves? Are we too readily to see in this action a dilemma? Is it possible that we too arbitrarily suggest, by identifying this action as a dilemma, an ethics imperfectly followed?

What of it all?

Moreover, who has allowed the proliferation of such a voice, such an increasingly pedagogical voice, here? (Matthew!!)

There is some strange double movement, here, of democratic specialization. Perhaps it is merely a chaos of opinions imperfectly read as such and the problem of such misreading is due to this confused space. But what space?

Much of the writing I encounter on the Internet is decent at best, but the lack of hierarchical positioning renders our navigation of worth difficult as the decent manifests itself on the same level as the heinous and the sometimes profound. My ability to traverse the information as if perusing a schizophrenic quilt, in my mind, does not perform a revolutionary re-reading of knowledge or power, but instead, relegates language to advertisement. Reading the average blog, one quickly comes across a blue, underlined phrase that, if clicked, takes the reader to yet another page with its own set of blue links to more pages, ad infinitum. Moreover, all this linkage is surrounded by unapologetic advertisements.

In addition to this one may find that most posts are merely a re-rendering of popular culture as performed by the main players into the form of journal. By inserting the presence of the I into the happenings of the day, or some new record, we are asserting both our (meaning bloggers) individuality—as personal and yet non-specialist—and our expertise—as we may suggest, by hyperlink not our knowledge, which might be imperfect, but another’s, which, though possibly imperfect, is at a remove from us, and so deniable, making our assertions as expert via un-impeachability.

So what?

I do find it both discomforting and comforting. The ease with which I, earlier today, watched a music video of Dominique Young Unique and, then, watched a video of Elaine Scarry lecturing at Cambridge is, despite the joy I find in such an ability to access information, a bit disconcerting. Perhaps I am discomforted because I cling to the old forms of access as a means to power, perhaps in my unease I reveal the reluctance with which I approach the focus of much my liberal arts education, which was to challenge such limited access, and subsequently reveal my desire to remain privileged.

What I am actually concerned with here is not that one has greater access to information—that, I think is positive—but rather that varied information is given almost equal resonance. The discussion I might have in an academic setting may carry over to the bar, and I have been delighted when it has, but in no way should we confuse the alcoholic passion of the bar discussion with the rigor of the academic. Both have their merits, but we are given cues as to how much and what kind of attention should be given in the physical world while the internet largely erases such cues, which is why, perhaps, you are here, reading this. Sorry.

The Internet seems to operate spatially and yet I do not find myself using spatial vocabulary.

I have used the word “here” many times in this post and yet, even while my assumption is that here refers to the virtual space of this blog, I can’t help but simultaneously position myself in my bedroom where I am writing this and where I would most likely read it. Here, then becomes a spatial specific word but not a site specific. The word “on” is another commonly used word, which operates in terms of a spatial metaphor. As I write this, I am on a chair, but I am also on my computer.

These are not exactly profound realizations, but I think it is important to recognize the limitations of the spatial metaphors used for the Internet. The collapse of high and low culture is not new to the Internet and, I believe, a positive thing, a sort of continuation of the modernist utopian project. However, the collapse of notions of expertise is problematic. In addition to this, the boundaries of culture and language largely remain. Google searches do not routinely return results that are pages in different languages or that were created in other countries, even if English speakers.

There is a strange geography that we are routinely exploring, and as comfortable as we become and as dependent as we become upon this world we have yet to truly confront the ethics of this space in the same way we have in the physical world.  I look forward to the explorations and the critiques.



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