Saturday, 19 January 2008

The Politics of Definition and early 21st Century Capitalism

I meant to put this up on January 1st - somehow it slipped my mind, so with apologies, here it is:
It's 2008 and I find my thinking coming around to delving into the bases of the technologies I am involved in investigating. I use the plural form 'technologies' because originally I considered that I was investigating High Definition within Digital technologies - therefore a singular Investigation. However, as I began to understanding that digitality itself is an eventual manifestation of a new kind of mathematics derived from Fourier's 1807 wavelet transform proposition, this forces the realization that this is no singular investigation, because like everything in our world, everything arises dependent on everything else. In the western idiom this is characterized by the idea of relativism, and in the eastern idiom this is characterized by the Buddhist theory of dependent origination.

But, given my background is primarily western I see with western eyes and therefore note the series of ideas that then require that I reflect upon where capitalism now is being as this moment is a distilling of the governing set of parameters of 'democratic' societies.

And, in the west, we do like the notion of democracy, or at least the notion of liberal democracy, a Utopian construction where you get to speak your mind and consume as much as you like without any effect upon the planet. I am aware that notions of Gaia and ecology are of our time and therefore circumscribed by a set of unknowables that may make our descendants laugh at our naivety.

I should confess here also that I have read various tracts of Situationist literature and have in the past considered that set of thoughts as being insightful of the society that was being created at the time it was written and is now very profoundly manifest in TV programmes like Big Brother and slogans like Porn Star on a 5 year olds tee shirt. Owning Situationist literature used to get one raided by the police in my particular liberal democracy.

So the notion that everyone and everything is a subject of and an adherent of the need to spectacularise, to make spectacular ones own self and condition is now firmly embedded in early 21st century capitalism as an expression of the developing ego's need to singularize itself or individualize itself in a more defined way – even if the subject is profoundly boring and quotidian. This project of the second millennial self says "I exist therefore I require a spotlight to celebrate that existence". It needs a My Space to celebrate that it is worthy of having something that is worthy of being perused by others - and of course it is all the others that visit that space in a circular feedback motion that is of so much comfort to the gargantuan capitalist entrepreneurial egos that now recognize trends and fashions within the fast moving zeitgeist - every ready to harvest the negative ego as expressed as disposable income. Lucas’s Jabba the hut comes to mind to characterize the spiritual state of those beings and the use of my term ‘negative ego’ is formed because I believe that puffing up is not at all useful when an ego is trying to adopt useful behavior to exist in a ‘real’ way in the world.

But we have deeper ruts to furrow in search of the shape of advanced capitalism. I say 'shape' but actually I mean essential nature.

In using the term capitalism I do not mean to cast it in a negative light. One thing I do know in this ever changing world is that what you might consider to be Luciferic at one moment can be angelic the next. That's probably related to the fact that the Bringer of Light himself was of course an angel. Whenever one uses an analogy one should be conscious of all possible connotations and associations, but one has a limited field of view of course.

So I set off on the course of describing contemporary capitalism as technological capitalism and of course I'm mindful that there are intense and profound theoretical discussions around the idea of technology and whether or not 'man' in and of him/herself is a profoundly technological re-imagining of the creation myth circa early 21st century thinking. For myself I still believe the first technological act is not the taking of something outside oneself like a stone to crack another stone to make a tool - but the very idea exemplified by Joe Ape to come down out of the trees and actually get up on his hind legs, not as something to amuse his friends, but actually to take to this trick as a profoundly useful technological stance toward the manipulation of his own world. I think if this is in any sense 'true' then one can extrapolate from this back in time and realize that 'mother nature' herself was at play in this species in particular because like Sea Biscuit in the 5.40, 'the early hominid had a good chance of becoming self-realized through developing fire, the wheel, the spinning jenny and 3d holographic projection – and of course the early sea-slug, did not.

If you accept this proposition, then of course technology is the main means of realizing man's utopian tendency. Coupled with the gas/juice/fuel/motive power behind our reaching towards the stars themselves. They are after all placed where they are as part of the overall scheme, drawing us into a standing position and probably becoming dis-incarnate in the long run.

Please excuse my poetic excesses at this time - I have been on a long celebration of the Christmas period and I cannot abide despair in any form. Instead of despair we should celebrate the root of despair, the dark side, the path sinister, the left hand path, the path that looks least likely when contemplating the search for self realization and knowledge of our place on the spinning ball of dust, iron, nitrogen, human tissue and vegetable matter that revolves around a rather supreme expression of hydrogen to helium technology that is after all ubiquitous in our known universe.

The universe itself of course, is a technological entity, as are its self-conscious inhabitants.