Nmherman on Tue, 31 Aug 1999 18:19:01 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Web: Democracy in Action or the Death ofJournalism?(forum ...

In a message dated 8/31/99 5:22:18 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
mwark@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au writes: 

> But the significance of history isn't decided by those who think they
>  occupy the driver's seat -- whether they be politicians, generals, or
>  media proprietors. It was Kant who explained, some time ago now, the
>  dignity of what we would now call the passive audience. 

I like this vis-a-vis the Greek chorus, who decide what events become
significant, whose life becomes tragic literature.  There is something to
this appropriation of meaning from the protagonist at the heart of any
democratic way of thinking. 

The outcome of an
>  event might be decided by its protagonists, but the score is decided by
>  the witnesses. It is the armchair observers who observe what passes, who
>  decide who passed.

Here I would have to emphasize the "might."  There is a scholar working at
Oxford right now who argues that the First World War was the far from
necessary result of blunders, inflated egos, ridiculous incompetence,
chance, etc.  He emphasizes that things could have happened very
differently, i.e. there could have been no war, if even a few small things
had been done better.  This is the butterfly in Beijing theory, I guess,
on one level. 

On another level, the very fact that the protagonists act and the chorus
observes is far from a necessary state of things.  It is more
characteristic of proto-democracy or partial democracy, which is to say,
societies where many people live in poverty or slavery.  Tragedy is the
secular form of oracle or prophecy. 

Not only can people change the events we watch on TV, we may very well be
able to smash the monolith itself of viewer and viewed, provider and user. 
But how?  That's the tricky part.  I recommend chaos-based data-mapping
algorithms implemented in cognition-enhancing media.  Chaotic or fractal
concepts appear simple at first but in open systems take on great
complexity and depth. 

Max Herman
The Genius 2000 Project
Day of Demonstration Sept. 1

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