nettime's literary critique generator on Wed, 23 May 2001 11:20:05 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> words,words,words; what use are words without people? <digest x3 - matt king, ken wark x 2>


From: "matt king" <>
To: "Nettime's Digestive System" <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> no people.(moderate me, I'm scared)
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 00:53:13 +0100

<<to most respondents to this th read>>
my brain your words
if ever connected would
 sleep lightly
 annoy the hell
from heaven anger would spill
 meaning power isn't yours
it is Alan's and mine
how quiet since the post
 has author been

I dug the poem
 you deconstruct

by the way I repeat as in an earlier "moderated" post
nettime is my f***ing spam
and that's how I like it

please re"moderate" the drunken unintellectuals
 to keep things smooth, That would kill this list;
 in fact I think that the accepted style of braininess it has,
 has made it alot more tedious than it should be
(point 103)
how many "net artists" actually make money
doing commercial IT; most I bet

I remember doing pages in the mid 90's when
it felt expressive,

never gave a shit about hits

this list is a bore APART from
things like Alan's poem
and the odd post I browse
like the Scientology trial

but I think its a great list
just keep this kind of stuff out

yours sincerely
a non-drone doing a job most of you
 brainy language worshipping freaks would balk at.

only very occasionally do these overlap
as the internet is only as stimulating as the
 authors behind it; fully (un)paid up(but there nevertheless) "net"artists
being usually
 the most tedious of the bunch

yoo finks I'm common incha?


From: McKenzie Wark <>
To: Doug Henwood <>,
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 23:09:28 -0500
Subject: Re: <nettime> no people.

Doug Henwood points out that 'nature' is often used as an explanation for the
social world, whereas I had made the opposite point, namely that nature
documentaries often treat the animal world as if it behaved according to human

A better way of putting it might be that there's a traffic in metaphors between
the human and natural worlds. Each locks the other into a certain notion of
'normality'. You sure don't see documentaries about multipartner homosexual
behaviour among monkeys as part of the norm.

I was reading recently about the rhizosphere, a biological realm made up of
fungus and micro organisms that can be found in the soil, and seems to play a
distributive role in relation to spreading nutrients among the trees that tap
into it. A biological welfare state.

Alan Sondheim's 'no people' is a useful text in just plain rejecting the
metaphorical baggage that connects the animal and human worlds, and rejecting
it from a speaking position in language that is, paradoxically, the aniaml's.
Sondheim uses the animal's speaking position to say no to what we would ahve it
speak. Kinda neat, i thought.

ken wark

> I'd always thought it was the other way around - that nature
> documentaries and such reduce the human to the animal: that they're
> little morality plays of the nakedly Darwinian red in tooth & claw


From: McKenzie Wark <>
To: "Mark Dery" <>
Cc: <>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 23:44:51 -0500
Subject: words and things

Mark Dery asks of words, and the work they do,

" *What* sort of work among *what* other orders of
*what* sort of things?"

which really is the question. What do words *do*? Ever since Sassaure taught us
to separate language from speech, and then to separate the sigifier from the
signfied, there's been a problem with the way 'language' is conceived. Notice
what Sassaure does. He peels off all the active parts of the process to leave
language standing alone as a structure. Arguably, what's been going on for a
century is the slow realisation that there is no such thing as 'language' after
all. It just doesn't exist. There's no transcendent structure hovering over the
process, calling it into being. The reverse is the case. The illusion that
there is language is an effect of the pragmatics of speech and writing acts.

So what's interesting to me in writing as a creative act is looking at those
writings which disavow 'language' as a transcendent entity, and look instead at
the pragmatics as a place for creating writing. Joyce and Burroughs were on the
wrong track, to the extent that there's a certain faith in language at work in
them, a faith in what, through a hyperpoetics or a cutu-up, might be released
from langauge as a kind of sacred double to the world.

It also means that a lot of hypertext writing was also -- to me -- barking up
the less interesting tree, to the extent that there was some faith in the link
as a means of tapping into the deeper polyvalent essence of language.

It may also be the difference between the way Deleuze and Derrida approach
linguisitcs. The former always seemed more interesting to me, as there's always
a mixing of words and things in the event, and the release of sense outside of
'language' in Deleuze. (yes, unclear i know, but its just a hunch at this

If one thinks, following Havelock, Ong, McLuhan, that technical changes in the
media are significant moments that can reveal the *functioning* of
communication, then it may be no accident that the current moment is one in
which questioning the existence of 'language' has its moment.  Words existed
for a long time before the concept of 'language', as i am using it here, became
so prevalent. Words have always had a pragmatics, but perhaps only in the mass
print era did they belong to 'language'.  It seems to me there's a fit between
print, education, 'language' and the grammar police. The extraordinary textual
productivity of the internet era is surely an affront to this.

These comments dovetail with the debate on 'englishes', many nettime lifetimes

ken wark

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