Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I think what is key to Rafael’s argument is the act of repetition. There is at once a threat in the use of repetition. The ability for cell phones to circulate instantaneously messages that were forwarded give the act a feeling of viral-ness, of something that is uncontrollable or irrepressible in many ways. It is not in the message itself but in its potential to be disseminated, mass produced and transmitted that is a threat and the very power of the cell phone, a form of communication that held a messianic promise of sorts, according to Rafael. This leads me to an analysis of Rafael’s discussion of ‘the power of the text’ that was found in the cell phone.

“It requires … another power to legitimate the text’s meaning: and second that such a power is felt precisely in the multiple transmissions of the same text. The power of texting has less to do with the capacity to elicit interpretation and stir public debate than it does with compelling others to keep messages in circulation. Receiving a message, one responds by repeating it” (409).

The act of texting therefore returns back to ideas of circulation. What is being circulated exactly? Is it merely the messages containing information useful to protestors or forwarded messages? Or is it also wrapped up in “a desire for seeing in messages a meaning guaranteed by an unimpeachable source residing outside the text” (409). And Rafael would argue that it is in the crowd that these desires are facilitated and manifested. So does the desire for meaning outside the text reside the role of the crowd for Rafael? Does the crowd function as an interlocutor of desire? What tensions arise in these articulations of fantasies and desires onto the crowd, itself a “juxtaposition of contrasts, the proximity of social distances” (417) that attempts to embody “freedom and incalculable pleasure”(420)?


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