[iDC] The difference between privacy and anonymity

Dean, Jodi JDEAN at hws.edu
Mon Sep 28 13:11:30 UTC 2009

Brian writes:

But the difficult question is, how exactly
does a self become a post-individual?

Doesn't this de-individualization require an effort at least as
deliberate as that undertaken by the corporations -- and doesn't
it therefore entail sites, toolkits and processes of
experimentation, in opposition to the statistically configured,
profit-driven targeting procedures that characterize control
environments? These places, toolkits and experimental processes
form a kind of expanded artistic practice, against the background
of the society of control. The conundrum is that the shedding of
the self does not seem to occur through the simple revelation of
a recognizable and pre-existing commonality, but instead it
happens as a singularizing event, offering a specific experience
of intentionality in and through multiplicity. Simply put, you
transform into a collective singularity. Is it possible to
recognize a common transformative capacity operating in other
singular processes -- and to develop broad and effective
solidarities on the basis of egalitarian struggles for the
material and cultural conditions that would allow us all to shed
the capitalist self through singular experiments?

One way to approach this question is to note that contemporary socio-economic conditions have already done much of the work
of de-individualization. That is, contemporary subjects have much more fragile, mutable, unstable identities than, say, the subjects
of disciplinary society. Some of the work done on this includes Zygmunt Bauman and Dany-Robert Dufour (The Art of Shrinking Heads).
I've worked on these themes via Zizek in terms of the decline of symbolic efficiency and the collapse of symbolic identities (as opposed
to imaginary identities). Yet another approach to the same problem can be accessed via Agamben's 'whatever being'. Dominic Pettman
is very good on this (Love and Other Technologies). 

At any rate, these different approaches don't emphasize shedding the self but attend to the different shapings selves are taking (different
from the mythic subjects 'modern individual' or 'disciplinary subject.'). All emphasize that these subjects do not form in terms of stable symbolically
given identities (in terms of sex, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class) but take on more temporary, mobile, identities. For some theorists, this makes them more
vulnerable to the securities offered by fundamentalisms. Other theorists argue that this makes contemporary subjects less likely to be co-opted into
fundamentalisms. And for still other theorists the problem is that such subjectivities are too loose to be understood as capable of opposition to or
solidarity in the face of anything.

I would be very interested in tool-kits of commonality. I think, though, that an emphasis on singularity heightens already present tendencies that
lead away from collectivity.


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