I’m still thinking about rhizomatic structure and narrative. Mainly because I’m not sure I understand it but even though that is not necessarily what is going on in Cyclonopedia I do wonder if a narrative can be constructed through an n-1 structure and if that would qualify as hidden writing. Much in the way that a concept can be defined negatively by all the things that it is not, it is possible to create an illustration degenerately by removing or corrupting material into the desired image. You can poke enough holes in a canvas to draw anything and even though it is easiest to describe the outline or borders of something negatively it is still possible to create or reveal details in a narrative through absence. Can a story be told wholly poromechanically or through ()hole complex without the disciplines, procedures and whole structures? The section on Hidden Writing seems to suggest it can but Hidden Writing isn’t devoid of narrative plots or structures it seems to reconstitute plot holes into plot with a deliberately constructed main plot for concealing the strata beneath it. The plot holes aren’t holes or absences at all but “indications of at least one more plot densely populating itself.” I suppose a rhizomatic or n-1 narrative wouldn’t be Hidden Writing as defined and demonstrated by Cyclonopedia but if it were possible, I wonder what would it look like?
We talked briefly about about the issue of immigration in class today. I think that a great deal of the cultural issues surrounding immigration are due to the ways in which immigration clashes with the American narrative. The American narrative is traditionally inclusive and integrative. The great melting pot. “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Yet every cycle of immigrants goes through a stage of unwelcome before assimilation (at least partial assimilation/acceptance). I think the current anxiety over the disruption of the American narrative is intensified due to a better understanding of how America is connected to the impoverished people south of the border. The cyclical creation, encouragement and subsequent rejection of the immigrant is widely studied and publicized. Due to globalization, the internet and the economic crisis Americans are increasingly aware that we are no longer the autonomous, transcendent nation at the center of our narrative.
It reminds me of a bit in Futurama.
Fry: What do we care? We live in the United States.
Leela: The United States is part of the world.
Fry: Wow, I have been gone a long time.
So maybe by the year 3000 we’ll have included the rest of the world in the American narrative.
It seems that in class and on these blogs we are having trouble defining authenticity (I know I am). Just like in class we have listed some of the ingredients necessary for the authentic but haven’t come to a specific denotation and what is encompassed by the label authentic seems to be expanding (Does the label itself become less authentic by doing so?). In the Natalie Portman example authentic takes on qualities of unique and original, which weren’t part of our authentic Mexican food example, as well as intimacy in iliveforschool’s example because the original action can be seen as less authentic given the massive audience capable of copying the action. The desire for originality is prevalent and the supposed difficulty in achieving originality has lead to the ubiquity of phrases like “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Even in this example, Andrew Largeman attempts his unique action and Sam jokes “I’ve done that one before” making his original motion less so. However, Andrew has never sat in that spot, wiggling his finger and making that noise so the action is original. Even if she had done that exact motion and exact sound his action would still be unique. We have to narrow the definition of unique to exclude the actor in order to deem his action unoriginal. It is necessary to similarly shrink context in order to label anything unoriginal. Even if Andrew were to perform the exact same action again it would still be unique because it would differ from the other by sequence and its place in time and space. No action can ever be exactly replicated if we include the context. Some say there is nothing new under the sun but the more expansive view is that everything is.
I liked your example, and I liked the irony in it too. It’s funny that in the film this is suppose to be an authentic moment no one else will see or ever copy, yet as a movie the whole purpose is that other people see it. I understand that in the story or the plot of the movie it is an original authentic moment. However the fact that this moment is in a movie seen by thousands of people taking away from the authentic-ness of it only being seen by one person seems ironic. It brings up the question of a viewer or a reader changing what they see or read, simply by seeing it or reading it. If I’m understanding everything correctly this kind of touches on some of the things we’ve talked about with Latour.
The topic of authenticity reminded me of this clip from the movie Garden State where Natalie Portman does a weird little dance complete with strange sound effects and tells Zach Braff that he has just witnessed a completely original moment in human history that no one will ever copy again throughout human existence. Is that a way of defining your authentic self? At least for a moment….?
Just to add to your question about what justifies the use of the word authentic I notice that myself and others have used authentic as a synonym for ideal but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case. You use rehab as an example of a tool that helps people find their authentic self and just to examine that a bit I think about the formation of the addict. People can have a genetic predisposition to developing addictions. So there is an inherent quality to addiction and I wonder if people are being more or less authentic by succumbing to this physical, unchangeable portion of themselves. Is the use of the term reserved only for the ideal or can you be an authentic asshole or alcoholic?
Your question about real symptoms and authentic experience reminds me of the virtual/actual dichotomy and specifically Marie-Laure Ryan’s Two and Thousand Faces Of The Virtual. The virtual can be illusion or falsehood but also can be potential. Frey created a virtual account of rehab that people became upset about when they discovered it was not “real”. The virtual as potential of the story was abandoned to focus on the virtual as illusion because some of the events did not take place in actuality. Still, as you suggested the book itself is real even if the story is not and the reactions to it are real. I have to wonder if some of the outrage is due to people being upset over the slippage between virtual/actual. A fake story moving people in genuine ways makes people question the authenticity of their emotions.
I really like this example for opening up a conversation on authenticity. I think that rehab, as a tool, helps those with complex problems break them down and simplify them so that they become more clear and workable. Rehabilitation encourages the addicts to find their authentic self through a series of soul searching and transformation (I know this wasn’t part of the original post but I find the irony too good to pass up).
To address your comment on fabrication and authenticity. I would like to question not what authenticity means but rather what justifies the name. If the experience simulates real symptoms, does it mean that the experience is not authentic?
The idea of authenticity made me think of this book, A Million Little Pieces. For those who dont’ know, it tells the story of a 23 year old alchoholic and drug abuser (the actual author) and how he copes in rehab. It received mixed reviews. Some thought it was great, others actually called in “inauthentic.” It received great publication when it was picked as an Oprah’s Book Club selection. People raved about it, claiming that it was so authentic. Several years after it was published great controversy came about. It was found out that much of the memoir was fabricated. So what really is authentic? Is it something that differs based on different perspectives? Was the book authentic to the author? But then… not authentic to the readers? Authenticity seems relative, which is somewhat contradictory. I dont’ know how to pinpoint the term.
Just thinking about our discussion about the difficult inherent in defining our authentic self and I originally thought that an authentic self does not exist because no part of my personality is created in a vacuum without the influence of my environment. Like any piece of language I might use to attempt to describe my authentic self I cannot be defined or separated from the network of associations surrounding/creating me. However, I’ve been thinking that perhaps there is a separate, transcendent self that would be knowable though indescribable. Perhaps an odd association but I think of the Buddhist tradition of Vipassana which is “insight” meditation. The goal of meditation is to cultivate mindfulness which is simply the quality of being present. People meditate to achieve of state of “no-mind” which separates themselves from the network of associations and judgments that surround and influence our cognitive processes. Ideally this would be a pure focus on reality/now without any sort of meta-awareness. This could be a glimpse of our authentic self which is the subconscious, unknowable palette behind our acquired definitions and social roles. The metaphor I’m thinking of is a bowl and the bowls contents are our social roles and even our understanding of ourselves/these roles but the authentic self would be the actual bowl. Our authentic self is that vessel which allows us to adopt and evaluate our roles. So the authentic self is not nothing but an individual’s authentic self cannot be described because doing so requires an effort of consciousness that is necessarily separate from the authentic self. Our authentic selves would also not be identical, though the differences would elude understanding, our “true” self would predispose us to acquiring certain roles, to making certain judgments and to performing certain actions that differ from others. #e5950 #english #authentic
A little late to the game but this is an article dissecting Cary Sherman’s response to the defeat of industry sponsored bills like SOPA/PIPA. MPAA spokesman Chris Dodd had a similar response in which he claimed sites like Google and Wikipedia were abusing their power by protesting the bills. As Shaviro states the corporations are themselves networks but in a network society many traditional corporations are finding their business models obsolete. The RIAA and MPAA are still operating on a model of scarcity in a world in which their products can be reproduced instantly, effortlessly, inexpensively and indefinitely. The established distribution network is an inferior option for many modern consumers. Both industries are deeply entrenched and are actively attacking their own customers in their attempts to stave off extinction. Rather than embracing the possibilities of the new networks they are trying to control and limit them. Younger industries, like video games, have already found ways to utilize the network instead of fighting against it. One of the most successful games of this generation is League of Legends, which is completely free to play. Money spent on League is for cosmetic bonuses only and players need never spend a dime to enjoy the full game. The game is supported entirely by cosmetic microtransactions. Offering your product for free is anathema to traditional business but has proven to be an extremely effective business model for modern entertainment. Offering the game for free takes advantage of the network and disseminates their product throughout the network as widely as possible. League has over 15 million active accounts. Riot has profited by acquiring customers that would never have invested the usual $60 to try the game. These plays may only contribute $5 or $10 towards the game but they are also customers that would never have played nor contributed without the free to play model. Many play the game without contributing but there are many who also contribute more than the average video game MSRP. Riot (League’s creator) has successfully expanded into Korea, SEA, West and East Europe and China. It is easy for League to acquire a new player base when the game expands because it requires no investment from the customer to get started. League’s closest genre competitor is called Heroes of Newerth(HoN). HoN struggled to gain ground in the video game market, with frequent sales offering their entire product for well below the typical cost of a full game. HoN switched to a free to play model and has grown significantly since, turning a profit and expanding. Many upcoming games are also planning on employing a similar business model. Traditional businesses are accustomed to competing on price but in today’s network society you have to compete with free and the RIAA and MPAA refuse to recognize this.
To go along with the video is a recent development called Twine that is a step in the direction of creating an internet of things. The link is to Twine’s Kickstarter page. I see Kickstarter as a way of expanding the liquid network that surrounds the creation of ideas. The realization of ideas is no longer fixed to a network of creators with specific training or interest. Patrons can financially contribute to the creation of products or art that they are interested in. It does not matter if they lack expertise or even general knowledge about the creation, demand fuels the innovation. By crowdsourcing the development finances the creator retains control and the interested consumer has their specific demand met. Products and ideas that might never see daylight in traditional development systems are being created daily, small scale production increases and the network of ideas expands.
The Varnelis essay brings up the idea of “The Internet of Things” from a 2005 report by the Iternational Telecommunications Union. The report predicts that we will enter an era of networking between humans and things (H2T) and connections between things themselves (T2T). I immediately thought of this video from 5050 with Seegert (A great class I cannot recommend enough). Reactions to the video are always varied, some find it creepy and foreboding instead of an inspired idea that would make our daily lives more efficient. How much control does “the master” of the house actually have over the appliances? In this fictional world does he have the ability to opt out or is the social web of things a requirement for his modern life?