Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anonymous & The Uncomfortable

The Anonymous videos deeply unsettle me. And the fact that they are precisely meant to unsettle someone, or make them uncomfortable, and achieve that goal so easily with me, unsettles me even more. I think the main facet of Anonymous that serves to render the receiver uncomfortable is an invasion of space that directly makes the receiver feel exposed, vulnerable, and above all, strangely compliant.

As shown in V for Vendetta, in order for V to command the attention of 'the people', he must first literally take command of an avenue to broadcast his message from. In many ways, we can interpret V, or Anonymous, and the taking of space and the shunning of identity from a Marxist viewpoint: one must reclaim the means of production from those who abuse it by amassing an amount of personal capital before donning the Anonymous mask. Since there is an action involved that precedes a message from Anonymous, one must a priori be an individual with the means capable of literally taking over a venue for broadcast of your message. V has a particularly horrible background story, and the graphic novel strongly asserts that before becoming V, or Evey Anonymous, they both had to experience a rebirth that both stripped them of themselves in order to become a some newer, more fit for revolution version. I think we can extend this to the hackers that we can assume are behind many of the Anonymous videos too - in order for them to develop the skills necessary they must exert themselves as an individual capable of learning and excelling in programming and code. Paradoxically, one must attain this goal as an individual before you can take on the mantle of Anonymous.

The pirating of your space is distinctly experienced and felt by the receiver as well. Thrift claims that "Corporeal life is inherently susceptible, receptive, exposed; open beyond its capacities to comprehend and absorb" (Thrift 239), and in the case of Anonymous, I believe that these videos expose my susceptibility to being 'exposed', and 'intercepted'. Part of this lends to the power in assuming a mask to hide one's identity - there is safety behind a mask and, conversely, a bareness and vulnerability that comes along with watching Anonymous without a mask. In feeling weak, Anonymous assumes power, and therefore is able to subsume the space your body inhabits as well, for you become corporeally hyper-aware of the weakness and thus less able to exert your own affective, comfortable, presence.  But more so than the face, your entire body becomes entangled in a sort of affective standpoint, like being caught. Using Sarah Ahmed's terms, I feel both fear and curiosity, repulsion and attraction. Because I cannot tear myself away from watching the Anonymous videos, I cannot turn away from the object that produces fear in me, and so remain in a strange, affective charge (Thrift 223) or impasse.

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