Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive
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Blog Theory offers a critical theory of contemporary media. Furthering her account of communicative capitalism, Jodi Dean explores the ways new media practices like blogging and texting capture their users in intensive networks of enjoyment, production, and surveillance. Her wide-ranging and theoretically rich analysis extends from her personal experiences as a blogger, through media histories, to newly emerging social network platforms and applications.
Set against the background of the economic crisis wrought by neoliberalism, the book engages with recent work in contemporary media theory as well as with thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Jacques Lacan, and Slavoj ?i?ek. Through these engagements, Dean defends the provocative thesis that reflexivity in complex networks is best understood via the psychoanalytic notion of the drives. She contends, moreover, that reading networks in terms of the drives enables us to grasp their real, human dimension, that is, the feelings and affects that embed us in the system.
In remarkably clear and lucid prose, Dean links seemingly trivial and transitory updates from the new mass culture of the internet to more fundamental changes in subjectivity and politics. Everyday communicative exchangesÑfrom blog posts to text messagesÑhave widespread effects, effects that not only undermine capacities for democracy but also entrap us in circuits of domination.
150–3. 12 Dany-Robert Dufour has a similar discussion in The Art of Shrinking Heads, translated by David Macey (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2008). 13 Plague 150. 14 Plague 163. 15 Žižek writes, “In short, the properly dialectical paradox resides in the fact that the very ‘empirical’, explicit realization of a principle undermines its reign”; The Indivisible Remainder (London: Verso, 1996) 195. 16 Plague 155. 17 Indivisible Remainder 196. 18 Indivisible Remainder 196. 19 Plague 156. 20 My
empire’s northern frontier, by the early tenth century the prominence of the Insular authors identified with word separation such as Bede, Alcuin, Sedulius Scottus, Johannes Scottus, and the anonymous compilers of glossaries had waned. A new corpus of scientific knowledge, and with it a new impetus for the adoption of word separation, sprang forth in another linguistic frontier zone, that of Mozarabic Spain.52 A product of globalization, blogging similarly emerges at the intersections of
its choices. Žižek argues, however, that in fact the result of the Master’s decline is unbearable, suffocating closure.12 The online environment Second Life clearly demonstrates this closure: able to do or create anything (there aren’t even laws of gravity), the majority of users end up with avatars that are sexier versions of themselves walking around shopping, gambling, fixing up their houses, and trying to meet people (“meet” can be read euphemistically here). It’s not only boring – it’s
attempts continue but that they accelerate. Hardt and Negri acknowledge that the methods of anthropological exodus are the methods of Empire. But they don’t accept that their response is also Empire’s: do more, go further, radicalize, create something new, make tools into prostheses, migrate and mutate into information technologies. They write, “The will to be against really needs a body that is completely incapable of submitting to command.”22 An undisciplined body incapable of submission is a
Yet he also confronted an emerging non-knowledge or loss in knowledge at the level of the economy. Greenspan noted the complexity of “pinning down the notion of what constitutes a stable general price level.” If prices are necessary for measuring inflation, which prices matter? Do escalating stock and real estate prices pose a problem to economic stability? What about “the price of a unit of software or a legal opinion”? The combination of informatization and the post-industrial shift toward the