ed phillips (by way of pit@contrib.de (Pit Schultz)) on Sat, 22 Mar 1997 18:22:59 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Tidal pools, the other and listening. Levinas on the Well

>Date: Sun, 09 Mar 1997 01:40:42 +0000 [sorry hung in some pipe..]
>From: ed phillips <artlore@sirius.com>
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>To: nettime@is.in-berlin.de
>Subject: Tidal pools, the other and listening.  Levinas on the Well

Mckenzie Wark said something quite interesting about the Well, its
participants, and "listening."

It is also interesting that he quoted Levinas. Not only is Levinas'
effort to recover the "other" an as yet unrealized project for the hip
and post-ideological individualists of the Well, but it seems his
religious scholarship would place him on the slag heap of obsolete,
obscurantist mystics.

I don't want to be too harsh about Mr. Sterling's x-posted Well
politico-philosophical ramblings.  He writes in an entertaining and
witty way. But his prejudices and historical narratives are so
obviously "postmodern" in the pejorative sense of the term that he
only reinforces Mr. Stahlman's assertion that a kind of "postmodern
religious thrall" has seized our contemporaries.

Bruce's tour through history reads like a parody of an "enlightened"
grad student telling first year students how lucky they are. "No more
totalizing systems." Theory is for "totalizing" crackpots and
Pencil-holder wearing UNIX geeks like Karl Marx. After that last
system crash, we now no better.

"Totalizing?" If only those nasty modernists had known what we know
about self-organization and the art of writing code from the bottom

I could just focus on Bruce's remarks here, but I recall Manuel De
Landa's otherwise interesting forays into economic theory with their
rather disappointing overemphasis on "bottom up" modeling and computer
life-systems simulation as a way to avoid the pitfalls of classical,
theoretical (I'll avoid saying "totalizing" because De Landa shies
away from using that Foucault fallout) analysis.

You don't have to be newmedia to see a climate of opinion here. We've
also been around this block before. Adorno called it "nominalism." I'm
calling it the trash-mound of nominalism. Pile up all the messy facts
from the bottom up and you get a heap. If the heap doesn't hold
together, presume you are on the right track.

Mark Stahlman's appeals to "transcendence" are a relief, at least,
from the immanence and nominalism of the Charley Marlowes writing the
new code, who don't even need to work to forget.

One final, overarching, overreaching remark: Classicists or
mock-classicists are not the only ones who still "believe" in theory
and system. Zizek comes to mind as a contemporary writer. Fred Jameson
also comes to mind. Adorno tried to work both poles; both
"transcendence" and "immanence".

Present affections for the technical effects of computer simulation
might be combined with analysis, with system, with theory in any
number of ways.

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