[iDC] The difference between privacy and anonymity

naxsmash naxsmash at mac.com
Tue Sep 29 20:03:41 UTC 2009

> Dear naxsmash,
> I find your opposition charming.
de nada
>  I can't speak for anytone else but I think of myself as a little  
> more complicated than that--after I have studied philosophy,  
> including Derrida and Wittgenstein, who might be relevant here

> .  However, I think in some profound way you are right.  The world  
> is a great mysterious other full of external objects in open sets.   
> However, the sets are never stable and they are established in  
> retrospect through constantly changing memories/new experiences and  
> in dialog or "social reality."

this would be 'realism' I guess, in terms of its ancient (Greek)  
understanding.  See Lucretius and the swerve (de rerum natura) .

I've been reading Levinas on alterity and transcendence these days .

> I am not sure how "universal"  "second wave feminism" ever was.  I  
> was a grad student in Berkeley in the late sixties.  Women of all  
> types including angry ones like me feverishly gathered  trying to be  
> a part of what we knew was something very big.  I remember one  
> meeting in a church that was packed to the gills; many of the women  
> took notes in shorthand.  At that and further meetings, the  
> exclusions grew before my eyes as more and more women were counted  
> out of the determinations of what ultimately proved to a particular  
> sect.   The shorthand notetakers were soon gone as the group got  
> tinier.  The limitations of "second wave feminism" began for me in  
> some of those very first meetings.

Naming to exclude.   Administration, bureaucracy, catalog, desirable,  
> How does belief play into your opposition?   Does it matter whether  
> or not we believe (in) a "universal"?

of course ethically it does, very much so.   See, for example Marge in  
the closing of "Fargo"  "it's a beautiful day"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmoYpJIUWhY

>  I find that I live subjunctively; that is, I accept a life in a  
> realm of objects that are not entirely "real" but rather that could  
> be, might be, are contrary to fact, are hearsay, virtual, etc.

Sappho, as translated by Ann Carson, is good on this.
>  Those objects are also subject to the work of time. Then there are  
> those bolts from the blue that turn everything I thought I knew  
> completely around.  Does your opposition account for this instability?

It does not; it is a binary-- it deserves to be exploded or detourned  
through critical thinking.  :-)

> Thanks,
> Margaret
> On Sep 29, 2009, at 7:21 PM, naxsmash wrote:
>> Observe a metaphysical stalemate:
>> Sean and Brian are nominalists,  whereas John and Margaret are  
>> realists, therefore talking past each other.
>> For example: John and Margaret appear to propose that  
>> "individuals"  as such exist, in the sense that 'individuals' are  
>> instantiated by a universal abstract object (the set of all  
>> possible individuals) -- about which we communicate linguistically  
>> through common examples or tropes, like subsets ( 'second wave  
>> feminism', 'people i know', etc etc) .  The 'realism' of this view  
>> assumes that 'real' includes many kinds of objects including works  
>> of art (Brothers K, Flaming Lips, etc), which may exist in many  
>> possible
>> sets, whether they are perceived in the material world or on this  
>> list or not.
>> By contrast, Sean and Brian appear to deny the existence of  
>> 'outside' abstract objects of this type.   They allow debate over  
>> abstractions as predicates, or what i might think of as  functional  
>> namings.  No such thing as 'individual' needs to exist as
>> an abstract object within 'real'.  Universals of this type are,  
>> according to this view, a logical error, since universals exist  
>> only post res, i..e. after the fact   They therefore attempt to  
>> define certain spaces, particularly political spheres or domains,  
>> as real; and
>> name within such spheres, which items will be called universal  
>> abstractions, or more simply universals. Thus it becomes possible  
>> to state, as in the snippel below,  that 'privacy' as such only  
>> matters to 'wife-beaters' etc.  : the linguistic operation is  
>> simply this: to state a sphere of the real, name what / who is in  
>> it; these names become the abstract universal predicates which in  
>> turn determine sets of possible operation.
>> I am charmed by this conundrum.  Yahweh in Genesis 2 creates Adam,  
>> then observes him "to see what he will'  name items in the creation- 
>> space (garden, or sphere of real).
>> A blithe gloss to this deviously appears as "H is for House," Peter  
>> Greenaway 1973.  http://petergreenaway.org.uk/hisforhouse.htm
>> King James Version  Genesis 2:19 "And out of the ground the LORD  
>> God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and  
>> brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and  
>> whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name  
>> thereof..."
>> " Our term "universal" is due to the English translation of  
>> Aristotle's technical term katholou which he coined specially for  
>> the purpose of discussing the problem of universals.[5] Katholou is  
>> a contraction of the phrase kata holou, meaning "on the whole".[6]
>> Aristotle famously rejected Plato's Theory of Forms, but he clearly  
>> rejected Nominalism as well: ...'Man', and indeed every general  
>> predicate, signifies not an individual, but some quality, or  
>> quantity or relation, or something of that sort..    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominalism
>> naxsmash
>> naxsmash at mac.com
>> christina mcphee
>> http://christinamcphee.net
>> http://naxsmash.net
>> On Sep 29, 2009, at 12:25 AM, Margaret Morse wrote:
>>> Dear  John,
>>> Thanks for saying something I've been feeling.  So much has been
>>> written recently on the list that I can't/don't want to address it
>>> point by point.  My fundamental response is that distinction and
>>> individuation are something far older than capitalism and its link
>>> with commodities.  As someone from the beginning of second wave
>>> feminism personally would feel utterly suffocated if I had had to
>>> become less of an individual in order to become more of a group/
>>> collective, etc.  I believe the contrary is true.  This doesn't mean
>>> that I haven't had that oceanic feeling or that I don't embrace  
>>> social
>>> relations and social reality.  For me, thinking about collaboration
>>> allows a more dynamic and dialogic conception of the individual.
>>> I have already made the point much earlier about having some  
>>> ground up
>>> conversations--I believe this is a kind of theorizing too  This is  
>>> not
>>> an attack, rather it is longing for more variety in my intellectual
>>> diet.
>>> With respect,
>>> Margaret Morse
>>> On Sep 29, 2009, at 12:25 AM, john sobol wrote:
>>>> This thread confuses me.
>>>> On the one hand I find in it many interesting ideas, quite
>>>> brilliantly described, and many useful and fresh insights into our
>>>> world. And I understand that these insights are designed to yield
>>>> results; that they are in the service of justice and some form of
>>>> revolutionary authenticity, or are intended to be, and I very much
>>>> respect that. But the conclusions that are drawn seem to me so
>>>> curious that i struggle to make sense of the disconnect. For  
>>>> example:
>>>>> Sean Cubitt wrote:
>>>>>> We cannot achieve public good without sacrificing
>>>>>> both private property and identity.
>>>> and
>>>>> Brian Holmes wrote:
>>>>> The first key  point you make is that the individual sense and
>>>>> performance of a
>>>>> private self is now deliberately (if rather chaotically) produced
>>>>> to fit the needs of global corporate oligopolies...(snip)... You
>>>>> draw an important conclusion: the focus on the
>>>>> performative self and its "properties" is repressive.
>>>> and
>>>>>> Sean Cubitt wrote:
>>>>>> Thesis: Privacy was only ever the privilege of a small proportion
>>>>>> of the
>>>>>> world's population for a brief period in history. For about 150
>>>>>> years, the
>>>>>> European bourgeoisie enjoyed private rooms, private water closets
>>>>>> and a life
>>>>>> distinct from the life of the street. That period is now over,
>>>>>> thanks to the
>>>>>> development of always-on, ubiquitous media. The only people left
>>>>>> with a
>>>>>> direct interest in privacy are wife-beaters and tax-evaders.
>>>> and
>>>>> Brian Holmes wrote:
>>>>> under semiotic capitalism, your ultimate and perhaps your only
>>>>> property is your personal name, your electronic signature. I am
>>>>> what I
>>>>> sign.... And what's more, since the flux is globally shared, the
>>>>> signature
>>>>> becomes the only really identifiable difference.
>>>> What I find most problematic in each of these statements is the
>>>> willingness to make bold statements about how other people live  
>>>> that
>>>> are so at odds with the way real people really appear to live.
>>>> Because the people I know do not have to sacrifice private property
>>>> and identity to achieve public good. I will give you that  
>>>> sacrificing
>>>> private property is often - though by no means always - part of the
>>>> equation, but identity is rarely disavowed where i find people
>>>> achieving valuable public good. Surely I need not give examples.
>>>> And the people I know do not seem to believe that the way they  
>>>> dress
>>>> or think or talk or play music or have sex or eat or walk or run  
>>>> for
>>>> mayor or play soccer or participate in listserv discussions – all  
>>>> of
>>>> which involve the very intentional performance of identity – is
>>>> inevitably experienced as repressive, as manipulative, as
>>>> exploitation. Now, do many of them understand that our  
>>>> experiences as
>>>> consumers, as workers, as lovers and all the rest play out in
>>>> relation to the visible and invisible architectures of 'global
>>>> corporate oligarchies'. Yes, to varying degrees, they do. But are
>>>> those architectures not ambiguously negotiated by thinking, feeling
>>>> beings?
>>>> Well, it depends on your perspective I guess. Obviously I think  
>>>> they
>>>> are. Whereas, to my mind, the stance that you celebrate in the  
>>>> Tiqqun
>>>> writings, Brian, while entirely suitable for a self-centred  
>>>> teenager,
>>>> is not really a mature perspective that recognizes life's
>>>> complexities or the more subtle forms of human agency. And I don't
>>>> mean that as an insult because we need those youthful rants and
>>>> ravings, the Jim Morrisons and the Brothers Karamazovs and the Sex
>>>> Pistols etc., all of which one grows out of somewhat but which  
>>>> serve
>>>> a very useful purpose. Like this quote from the Tiqqun text: How Is
>>>> It To Be Done? (http://tarnac9.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/how-is-it-
>>>> to-be-done.pdf)
>>>> "In a squat. In an orgy. In a riot. In an occupied train or  
>>>> village.
>>>> We get
>>>> together again.
>>>> We get together again
>>>> as whatever singularities. That is to say
>>>> not on the basis of a common affiliation,
>>>> but of a common presence.
>>>> This is our
>>>> need for communism. The need for nocturnal spaces, where we can
>>>> get together
>>>> beyond
>>>> our predicates.
>>>> Beyond the tyranny of recognition Which imposes recognition as a
>>>> final distance between bodies.
>>>> As an ineluctable separation.
>>>> Everything through which ONE - my boyfriend, my family, my
>>>> environment, my company, the state, the opinion – recognizes me is
>>>> just that through which ONE takes me to be constrained.
>>>> By constantly reminding me of what I am, of my qualities, ONE
>>>> wants to extract me from each situation. ONE wants to extort from
>>>> me, in every circumstance, a fidelity to myself which is but a
>>>> fidelity
>>>> to my predicates."
>>>> But do you still feel this way as an adult? Really? And if I don't
>>>> feel this way anymore is it because I have willingly sold out my
>>>> youthful ideals, or because I am deluded about my supposed maturity
>>>> which is really cowardice and conformity to the global oligarchy?  
>>>> Or
>>>> is it because while I still respect the transcendent spiritual,
>>>> sexual and social orgy, I also now (at my occasional best)  
>>>> understand
>>>> better its power and how to use it judiciously, not as an  
>>>> egotistical
>>>> imposition on others but as an enabler of transformative  
>>>> connections
>>>> that are attuned to individual and collective needs, strengths,
>>>> dreams and scars? That to me is the rightful maturation of this
>>>> youthful freak-out-and-fuck-off energy. Because in my experience  
>>>> not
>>>> everybody should take acid or be in an orgy, not every community
>>>> needs a revolution. But we all need to grow and find our deeper
>>>> selves.
>>>> And the people I know do not think that privacy is passe or
>>>> pointless. Has the Internet and surveillance culture radically
>>>> restructured the practices of privacy? For many of us absolutely
>>>> (though for many people in this wide world not), and clearly this  
>>>> is
>>>> a vital trend and issue. But to actually argue that privacy is
>>>> extinct and unimportant to anyone is just so bizarre. Sean, do you
>>>> yourself no longer have a private water closet? You really pee in
>>>> public?
>>>> And the people I know do not think that their names or electronic
>>>> signatures are the only difference between their identities. Let
>>>> alone all the people in the world who have do not have electronic
>>>> signatures at all. Does that mean they have no identities?
>>>> OK, I understand that some of these positions may have been meant  
>>>> as
>>>> speculative exploratory ideas. But if I have taken them at face  
>>>> value
>>>> it is because they were all presented that way as well-considered
>>>> critical positions by very smart people.
>>>> And again, to preempt at least some of the criticism that is coming
>>>> my way, should anyone care to take these points up, I am (really,
>>>> really) not an anti-intellectual or antagonistic to revolutions of
>>>> the body or the spirit. On the contrary. But I do think that we  
>>>> need
>>>> our ideas about how to achieve such ends to be grounded in our  
>>>> lived
>>>> experiences in order to have any hope of their gaining popular
>>>> traction and to not remain perpetually (and often gleefully)  
>>>> marginal.
>>>> Brian, from all of your posts I get the feeling that you must have
>>>> had some really interesting experiences in various alternative
>>>> movements in Europe over the years. And you are obviously highly
>>>> passionate about both that past and its future. I wish you'd share
>>>> more of that on this list. I'm sure it would be both fascinating  
>>>> and
>>>> totally educational. In fact there are so many intensely smart and
>>>> interesting people on this list I wish everyone would spend more  
>>>> time
>>>> talking about themselves – their important experiences, their
>>>> mentors, their mistakes, their dreams, their challenges, their  
>>>> gifts.
>>>> And for that matter about the places they live, the people they  
>>>> meet,
>>>> the things they do, art they see and make. All the important  
>>>> everyday
>>>> stuff that feeds the ideas. I feel like I'm almost the only one  
>>>> left
>>>> here who is more interested in life than theory, which I don't  
>>>> recall
>>>> being the case in the earlier years of this list. If I really am
>>>> alone here in thinking that distributed creativity means more than
>>>> distributed theorizing I will likely quietly depart one of these  
>>>> days
>>>> and stop bugging everyone, but I hope I'm not, because this  
>>>> listserv
>>>> has generally been a fascinating place and has the potential to be
>>>> much more so...
>>>> Anyway, once again, from the tumbrel,
>>>> John Sobol
>>>> www.johnsobol.com
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