I read the foreward to the recommended essay collection on Enculteration. But before that, I read an article by Mark Federman (also recommended by Dr. Brooks), which briefly elaborated on the dynamic nature of the tetrad. I’ve been doing a considerable amount of reading on Deleuze lately, who was mentioned ever-so-briefly in the Foreward. While I am becoming more and more appreciative of the enmeshed relationship of enhancement and obselescence, I am not quite sure if I agree entirely with one of Federman’s comments. He said, “Because of the tetrad’s non-dichotomous thinking, no one feels the need to take one side and defend it.” I definitely see some truth and utility in this statement–by acknowledging both sides, there is no automatic assignment of positions. No one belongs to one side specifically.
But I believe that this is too “utopian” a view of the tetrad. It might very well help to prevent certain types of assigned or ritual debate (what Ong called “agonism”), but I believe there is always some tension happening, or very likely so. Can both of the members in the dialogue think of the same notion of enhancement/obselescence? Can they agree on all the ways in which they happen? Might they not end up arguing simply for their own view of it? If it is dynamic by nature, then it probably isn’t easily compartmentalized and shared between the two… But I’m probably being too analytical, here.
This leads me to my most immersive readings of late–Deleuze and Guattari. Their “rhizomatic theory” seems to strike me as very relatable to the tetrad. In fact, one could almost see it as a tetrad of a tetrad (or a theoretical framework for theoretical frameworks… sounds impossible, though haha). They see the movements of communication across a rhizomatic plane as “deterritorializing” one dimension, while the other “reterritorializes” its counterpart. Both points are informing and informed by each other, while the same relationship happens to the system in which they are in (or “enframement” in Heideggerian terms). So, yes–each technology enhances and obselesces, but perhaps each mental instantiation of enhancement and obselescement also enhances/reterritorializes and obselesces/deterritorializes our very understanding (or mapping) of the technology. Okay, that’s a weird thought that is quite likely mistaken, but I like venturing into mistaken territory.
This (somehow magically) leads into the next bit of reading I’ve done. I read Ryan Omizo’s article “Vulnerable Video: A New Vernacular.” Maybe it’s simply the end of a week to a tired philosophy major (i.e. me), but this article struck me as an atrociously written piece with an assemblage of bizarrely conflated philosophical ideas… (I swear, amidst all the post-modern rhetoric, he introduces a “3rd term” that acts as a type of Hegelian synthesis). I couldn’t read the whole thing word-for-word, so I automatically lose credibility points. But his thesis was something to the extent that the persuasive power of vulnerability increases the proliferation of YouTube videos… But I probably didn’t use enough polysyllabic words to explain his thesis.
He discusses the “intimacy” and “risk” of YouTube vloggers. However, I see the event as extremely situational and subjective. And in terms of phenomenology (of which he also seems to dip into the rhetoric of), many would argue that there is no genuine intimacy experienced online, but only “the illusion of a biune, interfacial region” (as phenomenologist Peter Sloterdijk would say). Omizo argues that the “suasory” (an antiquated word for “persuasion”) function “depends on the degree to which it can be sublated by others.” Yes. Indeed. That sounds like a tautology to me (“the impact it has can only be measured by the impact it has”—> “A is A”).
Also, Omizo used as supporting evidence the comments of viewers. Yes, the comments were mostly sympathetic, except some people who were incredulous about the popularity of the video. But where were the “trolls”? I am confident there was at least one, and if not, I will write on the videos myself and actualize the potential disruptive comment. Whether or not this is integral to Omizo’s ultimate point, I think he is generalizing and obscuring the data. Surely, there is a pyshological appeal to seeing someone in distress and it can resonate with many people, but there are people to whom feel nothing in watching the videos. Perhaps they are mentally ill, or perhaps most of these “mundane” examples (as Omizo called them), are mundane to other people.
I’m interested in that opinion-of-least-regard. The one that trumps the general data in an unexceptional way. Or, as Malcolm Bull would say, the “subhuman.” If Omizo had dealt with this phenomenon more, than it might have ‘spaced-out’ or tamed his main points. Overall, I very likely didn’t give the article adequate attention and charity, but I thought it was horribly written and smacked of philosophical posturing that far exceeded his (and definitely my own) understanding.
Okay, enough for a Friday night of bitter blogging. Hahaha!