McKenzie Wark on Sat, 9 Feb 2002 23:05:47 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Vector, Site, Event

A dialogue on the politics of language in the internet age:

KEN:  We no longer have roots, we have aerials.

FELIX: Over the years, I have read this statement a couple of dozen times

KEN: Yes i keep repeating it, hoping to find a reader like you.

FELIX: Every time I read it, I wondered, what is this supposed to mean?

KEN: That is how an aphorism works. What Karl Kraus called a half
truth and a one-and-a-half truth.

FELIX:  Does it mean "will have aerials" in sense that we are in
>the midst of a historical transition whose outcome is already obvious to
>the truly seeing eye?

KEN: Maybe (think about it)

FELIX: Or, does it mean "must have aerials" in the sense that we should go 
>the program and adapt as quickly as possible since the world has already
>changed but some of us have not yet realized it?

KEN: Maybe (think about it)

FELIX: Or, is it really "have aerials" in the sense that we went through a
>transformation, waking up one morning, not as a giant bug, but as a new
>cultural species. The revolution took place over night and the simpletons
>slept right through it!

KEN: Maybe (think about it)

FELIX: I fear it might be all the above.

KEN: Why 'fear'? What's wrong with a little semantic instability every now
and then? It's where thinking comes from...

FELIX: Now I'm getting really lost.

KEN: Good. You have to get lost to discover any place new (or anew)

FELIX: But I think I'm going down the wrong track here.

KEN: No, you were on the right track. Thinking of alternatives, exploring
the virtuality that is language.

FELIX:  In the end, it doesn't really matter what it means.

KEN: This makes me sad. Making meaning seems to me the most
utopian thing language enables. The people make meaning.

FELIX: It's all about branding, the arbitrary connection of a commodity to 
>otherwise meaningless signifier for mutual enhancement.

KEN: Quite the opposite. Pepsi vigorously police their trademarks. They
suppress poetics. What i'm offering is an aphorism, which is the
opposite of a slogan, in that reader makes its meanings, not the
author. I might like some of what Felix unpacks from it more than
other things, but it is not for me to judge. Nor, incidentally, is it all
that meaningful for a reader to assign what they find in it to the
author. I am author of signifer, not the signified.

FELIX: Magic, somewhere,
>up there in the air. That's what we need aerials for. I want some too. Can
>I have them x-large?

KEN: No, not magic at all. Tha romaticises poetics. We need to politicise
and democratise language. Anyone can become a reader. It's just a
matter of pulling signs free from the author[ities] who claim to police
their meaning.

CHORUS: We no longer have origins we have terminals.

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