[iDC] operational theory

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Mon Jun 12 02:56:46 EDT 2006

Hi Jon!  A bit of musings after being off-list to deal with and look 
closely into death.

>I have to agree with the recent thread on this list about the 
>Internet as a potential distraction from the real world--it often is 
>(World of Warcraft and VictoriasSecret.com come to mind).

In this living incarnation that we alternately drift, float, and 
forge through, there is always the issue of interaction with the 
world through some form of mediation.  Starting with the body itself 
-- which 'stands between' the mind's reception / experience of being 
in the world and that dynamic energy flow that is the world 'out 
there.'  Higher levels of mediation come through tools that extend 
the reach of the physical body, then there are those that extend the 
reach of the body senses. These mediations might also be called 
technologies.  There is a relation between more intensive (or 
complete) mediation and alienation (vs simply distraction).

They are not distractions from the real world, as you say, more they 
are simply highly mediated re-presentations of that world AS DICTATED 
seeing the most banal re-presentation of the world.  Better to run 
out, and look at something with a young child. Doesn't matter what 
you look at, at least that it isn't a re-presentation, but the real 

Human interaction is necessary (and perhaps a sufficient reason?) for 
being in the world.  Those interactions are subject to all the scales 
of mediation.  It appears to me there is a sliding scale of how much 
we mediate those contacts.  From the f2f intimacy of flesh pressing 
re-creation attempts to passively watching two people talk to each 
other, one in London, one in Baghdad, as represented by the colossal 
social infrastructure of media.  In terms of concrete discoveries of 
what the Other is really like, what the texture of life really is in 
the moment, I know which end of the scale I prefer!!

Mediation is essentially a complex re-routing of energies that, say, 
in Tantric sex, are tuned to flow directly between and in the bodies 
of the practioners.  Mediation introduces pathways that adsorb 
possible communicative energies into the necessary maintenance of 
collective infrastructures.

(It's a bit obscure what I am trying to say, but maybe this example 
makes it a bit more clear:  Consider owning a mobile phone.  It gives 
you possibilities of speaking to and hearing an Other at great 
cartesian distance.  How much of your daily lived energy do you have 
to expend in order to have such a possibility -- what is the 
conversion of real lived energy cost into this possibility.  You have 
to work a certain amount of time, on a regular basis, you need to 
have a stable address perhaps, a bank address, an identity -- all are 
things that you have to expend time on getting.  Which takes energy. 
This energy is collected by such an infrastructure from millions of 
people, which subsequently allows the maintenance of entropically 
decaying system.  Imagine not having one of these devices, and 
consequently reclaiming that energy for your self and for 'spending 
time' with others immediately around you in less mediated 
interaction.  You avoid supporting large hierarchical social 
structures and instead create strong local bonds.

And when the shit hits the fan, which would you rather have?  A 
mobile phone to call your colleague in the next country or a neighbor 
who will share food and water with you?

It's all subjective.  But the practice you suggest has to go far 
beyond chatter and words on paper, it has to go deep into choosing 
how to literally spend one's life-time -- in front of the box, or 
with another human...

>So maybe we should stop trying to rewrite the news with Indymedia or 
>depose presidents with cell phones. Maybe once we recognize that an 
>undue fascination with nuts and bolts is easily debased to support 
>entrenched interests, we should insist on and
>maintain a critical distance between our research and our shiny 
>gadgets. Maybe the collective brainpower now wasted on building 
>networks could be trained on analyzing the broader trends affecting 
>society in our cultural moment. Maybe we should be
>penning new critical paradigms that can foment genuine political 
>change--a sort of "operational theory" that we can take out into the 
>streets with us.

start by finding out about your world as mediated by your neighbor -- 
someone with whom you at least have some possibility of fleetingly 
super-imposed points-of-view by the fact that you exist in the same 
corner of the world.  And the mediation, still not a simple matter, 
is perhaps only of (shared) mother tongue and body shape.


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