Mark Dery on Tue, 22 May 2001 18:06:55 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> no people.

McKenzie Wark wrote:

>>Those 'nature' documentaries annoy the hell out of me. They are part of
an endless reduction of the life of the animal to the human, the measure
of all things, apparently. The whole biological world is read in terms of
its mirroring of our vanity. All of which is much better expressed in Alan
Sondheim's 'no people'. I'm surprised that Mark would take objection to
this, of all the nettime texts. Its better theory than a lot of the
theory on nettime, as well as being better writing. Like a lot of Alan's
writing, its looking at the meshing of writing with other things, the
heterogeneous world in which words partake. Unlike a lot of literary
modernism, his work (to me at least) is not about language. Its to do with
words, and the work they do amongst other orders of things. Codework, i'd
call it. Which might not be a bad thing to be thinking about, in an age
when media make so many more worlds in which words and other codes get to
mess with things.<<

Ken, I almost always come away from your posts enlightened, not to mention
entertained, but in this instance I'm simply baffled. There's no debating
taste, of course; if Sondheim's writing sets your hair on fire, who am I to
disagree? Even so, I have no idea what you mean by the vaporous phrase "its
looking at the meshing of writing with other things." (Why the resistance to
using the correct contraction, rather than the incorrect possessive, by the
way? I don't mean to be catty, but my Inner Safire has always wondered.) What
"other things"? Inarguably, *all* writing, everywhere and always, has something
to do with things other than writing; one needn't be a card-carrying
Foucauldian to believe, as the old, bald devil did, that the "frontiers of a
book are never is caught up in a system of is a node
within network." In any event, onward: Sondheim's writing is about words, not
language. How does he manage the neat trick of disentangling the two? Last time
I checked, words and language were inextricably intertangled. Nor am I at all
clear on what you mean when you say his writing is about "the work [words] do
amongst other orders of things." *What* sort of work among *what* other orders
of *what* sort of things? Trying to pin down your meaning, here, is like trying
to hit a blob of mercury with a nail gun. I catch your general drift---that
Sondheim's writing considers or critiques words as an instrumental
technology---but beyond that, it's all ectoplasm to me.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: