Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jameson and Networks

The Monads vs. the Nodes

Jameson describes the monad as the form of subjectivity during high modernism. The monad is the alienated artist who locks himself up in the room to paint with his unique gesture.
"Subjectivity as a self-sufficient field and a closed real, you thereby shut yourself from everything and condemn yourself to the mindless solitude of the monad" (15).

But this new postmodern subject experiences a decentering, a "death of the subject itself."

I thought this was interesting when looking at these dead monads in comparison to nodes within a network, these "heaps of fragments" (25)

Does Jameson ask for nodes within a network to become centralized when he asks for this cognitive mapping? I take an "intensity" to mean sending a chain letter, offering a job, talking- an act that is performed and communicated to other nodes. Obviously a link is what connects two nodes, so I assume these intensities are transferred along the links. However, with a fragmented subject, I take it to mean that these nodes do not know when a new intensity introduce itself and where it will wander to next, they circulate with only limited knowledge of the intensities end goal.

By cognitive mapping, are we seeing where these intensities start and stop, thus, are we centralizing the network (in what Jameson would call "struggle")? Or is this cognitive mapping just a reading of the network, not a directing of it? Perhaps we can view intensity as performance from last week's readings; however, what else can we think the network is circulating?

Weak ties as Pastiche

Jameson defines pastiche as the main aesthetic within postmodern culture.
"Pastiche is... imitation of a peculiar unique... wearing of a linguistic mask... but it is neutral in practice" (17)

I interpreted network analysis of weak ties as a call for greater pastiche, where bridge nodes can introduce the collage of distant, "local" aesthetics. However, I was not sure how to interpret linguistic mask in the above quote.

Jameson mentions that this postmodern uses something known as the preterite in other languages, a tense that "transform the stream of time and action into so many finished, complete, and isolated punctual event objects which find themselves sundered from any present situation" (24).

I the tried to connect this preterite as this new linguistic mask, where the separate objects introduced by pastiche lose all of their historical and social meaning, they are interpreted without depth.

Thus, a network of weak ties introduces information from distant nodes by erasing the previous context in which the past nodes used this "local" event (the events were completed in a depthless past to the pastiche maker). In this scenario, Jameson shows the referent as lost: "the past as 'referent' finds itself gradually bracketed, and then effaced altogether, leaving us with nothing as text" (18).

I was wondering if the weak tie really works like this though. Perhaps the desire for an increased number of weak ties allows for nodes to "see all screens at once" (31) in the larger picture of the network. From there, once the preterite events are short-circuited to resist "older type of social and historical interpretation" (23), a node acts as a "machines of reproduction" (37) of those events, passing them along to one another with strong ties.

All in all, a weak-tie node would establish its personal identity though "a certain temporal unification of past and future with one's present" (26).

What then would differentiate a strong-tie node and a weak tie-node in terms of identity? Are the weak-ties the makes of this pastiche, and the strong-ties the reproduction of these a-historical linguistic events within the network? Or are these two processes of pastiche making and reproduction one in the same, where every node does its equal part?

It seems like fragmentation is the very thing these nodes are trying to fight against creating weak ties to make sure there are no islands on the network, but it is also what they are composed of as an incomplete whole that cannot realize a personal identity without the use of pastiche.

Screwing the Man to Sell Out

How exactly do we make a critique of culture without becoming the "same general spatial object" (49)?

Jameson states that a band, such as the Clash, "can achieve no distance from" (49) the cultural system even though they were counterculture. This is due to the fact that "postmodern bodies are bereft of spatial coordinates and practically (let alone theoretically) incapable of distanciation" (48).

On a flat surface, I read Jameson as saying, how do you physically separate yourself from being one of the same as everything else. Every node needs to be equally capable of fitting within the giant trans-capital network in order to produce anything aesthetic. This is why artists are also capitalists when the "semi-autonomy of the cultural sphere ... has been destroyed by the logic of late-capitalism" (48).

Jameson looks at postmodern culture to alter it, to change it in some way, to "reflect more adequately on the most effective form of any radical cultural politics today" (6). A radical politics needs to incorporate space, to try and bring this distance between itself and the system it critiques.

In the network articles, network theorists obviously don't want to establish distance within the network (they want to capitalize on the network). There is a desire to predict how the network works to "predict differential capacity of communities to act toward common goals" (1377), but protesting the war in Iraq, petitioning the government, or seeing how to spread the next line of designer clothing all works the same way- there is no distance.

Two questions:
How does Jameson bring this necessary space to write about culture within his essay?
Is talking about spatiality enough to create distance?

Let's get spatial. What do we mean?

I wish to take another look at the concern of the spatial, since it is thrown out a lot but perhaps can mean the opposite of what we think about space (i.e., perhaps hyperspace is a no-space).

Again, Jameson says we need to look at space: "a model of political culture appropriate to our own situation will necessarily have to raise spatial issues as its fundamental organizing concern" (51).

He then calls for a cognitive mapping and discusses three stages of space:
Subject centered itineraries (52)
"Triangulation" + "geographic totality" (52)
"Representational codes" where we realize "there can be no true maps" (52)

And then he goes onto say, in my reading, that perhaps Althusser allows us to bring back a certain social or historical space that we efface so quickly within the depthless postmodern age:
"Althusserian concept now allows us to rethink of these specialized geographical and cartographic issues in terms of social space" (52)

So, thus, we try to map this social space "the individual social relationship to local, national, international," (52), but we realize we are back where we started with the elusiveness of this "very global space of the postmodernist" (52). I assume he means to say that we can map a social space, but I am not exactly sure why that is ineffective (perhaps we are back at square one in terms of critiquing the system from within the system).

Jameson then goes onto say that existential experience + scientific knowledge does not take into account the Symbolic. He says this Symbolic will help us deal with the "representation dialectic of the codes and capacities of individual languages or media".

This will all allow us to, within the aesthetic of cognitive mapping, to "act and struggle".

My question then, does this symbolic dimension deal with codes, language, and media?
And if so, does the symbolic deal with spatiality? How do these language codes and space relate to one another?

In the papers on network navigation, space was seen as something to navigate through as quickly as possible, something you try to ignore (a small world is only jumps away from being a completely connected world), hyperspace.

No comments: