21. Multitudes 21 : Summer 2005

Multitudes : Summer

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Majeure : Subjectivation du Net : postmédia, réseaux, mise en commun

Emmanuel Videcoq et Bernard Prince. Félix Guattari et les agencements post-média
(L’expérience de Radio Tomate et du Minitel Alter)
At the turn of the 1980s, Félix Guattari became interested in the Free Radio movement (radio Alice in 1976 in Bologna, followed by radio Tomate in 1981). He then became directly associated between 1986 and 1991 with the Minitel service entitled “3615 ALTER”, initiated by the a collective including C31, an association of critical IT specialists currently editing the journal Terminal. Contrary to the traditional Left, Félix Guattari was less interested in a critique of the content of the media and of their political instrumentalization than in their form and mode of social organization. The proliferation of machine-arrangements was expected to make possible new technological articulations likely to generate innovative assemblings.

Bifo, Les radios libres et l’émergence d’une sensibilité post-médiatique
The independent forms of communicative agency which have emerged over the past years in free radios, mediactivism, telestreet, subvertising, etc. can be seen as the expression and prefiguration of what Félix Guattari called a “post-media civilization”. Their independence is a challenge to the powers that be. To understand its meaning, one needs to go back to the Guattarian notion of “collective assembling” and to reflect upon the difference between the concept of technical automatism that of technical arranging.

Brian Holmes, Libre Association : Internet et la recomposition réticulaire
What is an imperial infrastructure ? The article briefly retraces the military, academic and commercial history of the Internet, to show how its logical constitution achieves the integration of the largest possible number of machines, networks and users. It then enquires into the fold whereby this normalizing device helps unleash an original form of activist social critique. The military principle of interoperability gives way to an unpredictable dynamics of free association, marked by the organizational figure of the swarm. But the Internet remains a control technology, overwhelmed or subverted by constituent powers.

Biela Coleman. Les temps d’Indymedia
Indymedia is a network of activist media centers which appeared in Seattle in 1999. The free software let the technical experts of the beginning organize and teach a lot of new groups. The groups themselves become collective medias instead of asking mainstream medias to speak about them. For Indymedia free software technology enables free speech if it is used in a basic manner giving access to everybody. Still, Indymedia teaches its new members a common culture. A process of collective integration is thus made possible, although leftist and progressive groups are very diverse.

Jean Louis Weissberg. La crise fiduciaire des médias de masse. « Je crois parce que j’expérimente »
Belief in media conglomerates has been considerably altered by a movement that corrodes the legitimity of traditional media organizations under the effect a permanent suspicion. New models of direct production of information (like weblogs) as well as emerging forms of experimentation (like the politically realistic videogames described in the article) sketch an innovative media landscape: we are witnessing a joint crisis of representative democracy and of the mass media, both affected by the same corrosion of the pyramidal model of power. However, these two movements do not always push in the same direction. At opposite extremes, individual and collective positioning through comparison and confrontation of diverse points of view coexists with conspiracy theories that can be aligned on revolting forms of historical revisionism (as illustrated by Meyssan’s book on 9/11). It is crucial to measure the emancipatory power liberated by the shaking of the pyramidal model and, in spite of its dangers, to take stock in the post mass media era that is currently taking shape.

Julien Laflaquière. Les « autres » applications des technologies Peer-to-Peer
In the flow of information concerning Peer-to-Peer, it is difficult to get away from the apparently inexhaustible topic of (legal or illegal) music file sharing. This article invites us to refocus our attention towards the vast diversity of possible uses of the P2P technologies. After a survey of a few examples, the article denounces the ongoing confusion between an innovative and promising technology and the uses to which it can be subjected.

Aris Papathéodorou. Syndication, information nomade et médias intimes
Conceiving the media as something massive, solid, rigid, unilateral, opposing agents and viewers, makes less and less sense in view of the development of the internet. However the analysis of the mechanism known as RSS Syndication shows that it is the very notion of the media which must be questioned. If it is better to “become” the media than to “hate” it, as the slogan for alternative practices invites us to do, we are clearly led to ask : what media ? RSS Syndication allows us to transform information into practices of permanent production of subjectivity. Circulating automatically from blogs to blogs, from sites to sites, constantly renewed, archived, selected, personalized, enriched, information becomes the smooth fuel that feeds the individuals and the communities which use it. This article discusses the history and future becomings of such innovations.

Laurence Allard. Termitières numériques ou les blogs comme technologie agrégative du soi.
Blogs – websites dedicated to posting daily messages rather than static pages, and realized with tools of self-publication (Dot Clear, World Press, Blogger…) – tend in many ways to rearrange the genres of self-textualization. In a Foucaldian perspective of the “technologies of the self”, blogs actualize our current modes of subjectivation through machine-configurations. Our analysis of diaries of “extimacy”, written by video or music fans, will focus on the practices of automatic inter-blog quotations (threads of syndication or content aggregation) which are specific to this techno-semiotic format ; this will lead us to conceive the production of digital identities, at work in such configurations of writing of the self, along polyphonic and polymachinic lines, in the wake of Félix Guattari’s insights. As technologies of the self, often coupled with the practice of podcasting, blogs generate “small forms” assembling texts, sounds and music, in aggregations of files circulating on the web via P2P, in a movement of expressive linking between aesthetic subjectivities. From the point of view of an economy of creation and of a politics of cultural publication on the web, such “small forms” born out of the aggregation of tastes in an audience of aficionados represent one of the elements of the crisis currently affecting the industrial regime of exchange of symbolical goods. Like digital termites’ nests improvised from unlikely assemblages of bits of codes and contents adrift on the web, blogs and associated technologies play their part in the disintegration of the old dream factories.

Olivier Blondeau. « Syndiquez vous ! ». Mobilité et agrégation en politique
Political activism via the internet raises two problems : (1) the split between cyberspace and the street and (2) the dissemination and solitude of cyberspace. Electronic resistance can now overcome both difficulties, if only locally and temporarily. First, thanks to the use of cell phones, it is now based on technologies capable of “looping” the digital nets, where information circulates, with the urban space. Second, thanks to the syndication of contents, it is now capable of linking, of generating commons, without in the least diminishing the autonomy nor the singularity of the sites, blogs and subjectivities at work. The “media” perfectly deserve their name here, between the intimacy of the blog and the extimacy of the street.

Matteo Pasquinelli. Machines radicales contre le techno-Empire

More than an essay, this article is a type of brainstorming and an invitation further to reflect upon the relationships between post-operaist thought, the new forms of activism and the network culture – and more particularly upon the relationships that are currently taking shape between the new technologies, the collective imaginary and the body politic. The author proposes for example an innovative comparison between the concept of general intellect and the notion of open-source software, or between the foundations of the psychedelic culture and the literary intuitions of James Ballard and William Gibson. The original and full version of this article can be found at [www.rekombinant.org/article.php?sid=2257->http://www.rekombinant.org/article.php?sid=2257

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Myriam Van Imschoot. Rests in pieces

Starting from Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever this article traces back the debate on performance’s ontology and its implications for the notion of the archive in dance. The text accompanies the collection of dance scores that is published in this issue’s Icônes. The wide range of applications of scores challenge us to see performance as a complex aggregate of mediation and remediation within a plural field of technologies (physical, oral, written, etc), subjectivities and temporalities.

Mineure: Le matérialisme aléatoire et le « dernier Althusser »

Jean-Claude Bourdin. La rencontre du matérialisme et de l’aléatoire chez Louis Althusser
By proposing the notion of aleatory materialism, or Marxism of encounter, Althusser had three goals in mind: to give Marxism, finally in crisis, its philosophy; to identify this philosophy with an underground current starting with Epicure and Democritus; to provide the means to introduce points of heresy from which the crisis would gain intelligibility. This article purports to show that this form of materialism consists less in a new philosophy than in an ontology and a logic of the “not-much”, of the impoverishment of meaning and reason. The encounter is not a thesis on the materiality of the world, but on the conditions of thought of its very being: without origin, without purpose, without meaning, without necessity. By subscribing to such a thesis, one reintegrates within a reflection inhabited by emptiness, gap and difference, its outside, constituted by the singular practices of those who suffer and struggle in the emptiness and delinkage of the (capitalist) world.

Vittorio Morfino et Luca Pinzolo. Le primat de la rencontre sur la forme. Le dernier Althusser entre nature et histoire
Among the Althusserian writings of the 1980s, the authors focus their attention on the most significant one, “The Underground Current of Materialism of Encounter”, which deals mainly with the theme of encounter – rather than those of emptiness or nothingness, considered as secondary by the authors. In this perspective, it is paradoxically the work of Darwin which becomes a crucial reference, helping a Marxist theory of History to emancipate itself from any teleological paradigm.

Yann Moulier Boutang. Le matérialisme comme politique aléatoire
Is the last Althusser, that of aleatory materialism, below the standard of the maturity period ? Is it a mere case of self-destruction ? Has Althusser confused the aleatory with idealist indeterminism ? This article purports to show that, with this last turn, he meant to complete his thesis about the overdetermination of the contradiction. This aleatory position can only be understood in conjunction with the problem of the revolutionary rupture that establishes a break. If Althusser goes back to Machiavelli, it is because in The Prince, the Italian thinker confronts the problem of the foundation of a State from scratch. The aleatory corresponds to the fortuna without which the virtù cannot succeed. The fate of Cesar Borgia, the failure of the workers’ movement and Althusser’s absolute uncertainty towards time (his melancholia) coincide in a similar pattern. It is this coincidence and this repetition which provide its strange depth to aleatory materialism, beyond its lines of flight towards delirium.

Yoshihiko Ichida et François Matheron. Un, deux, trois, quatre, dix mille Althusser ? Considérations aléatoires sur le matérialisme aléatoire
“Aleatory materialism” does not merely constitute that which, in an overly linear perspective, one would call the “fourth Althusser”. Even if, in the last decade of his life, Althusser did indeed attempt to construct a “new philosophy”, seen as an alternative to “dialectical materialism”, one should rather perceive, behind the past arguments, so assertive and sharp, advanced by the previous Althusser, something like a discreet practical layer, self-conscious or not, wherein such arguments would have found their true point of anchorage. What is at stake in this philosophy “starting from nothing” is what has always been the most necessary and the most unthinkable question, that of political subjectivation.

Lien : Entretien avec La Cause Freudienne : Le calcul du meilleur : alerte au tsunami numérique
In this polyphonic dialogue, Gilles Châtenay, Eric Laurent, and Jacques-Alain Miller, responding to questions by Yann Moulier Boutang and Olivier Surel, ponder the consequences of the newest waves of digital processing of data related to the personal life, and of their increasing interconnection. In this “numerical tsunami” and in the political rhetoric that supports it by promoting maximal security and risk management, they identify a resurgence of utilitarianism, and, due to the technological power thus unleashed, a considerable danger for privacy. Against this trend of rationalized totalization of data related to identities, they call for citizens’ resistance and for a sustained public debate on the issue.