Hin frjálsu sambönd

These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time. 

– Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Vitranir

Þar sem engar vitranir eru týnir fólk áttum.

Orðskviðirnir, 29:18 

Félagsbyltingar versus tæknibyltingar

Even more than overshooting technological achievements, however, it has been futurists’ failure to anticipate major social change, most egregiously the women’s and civil rights movements of the twentieth century, that has most seriously and justifiably damaged the reputation of the field. The bias toward predicting technological versus social progress has been and continues to be the Achilles’ heel of futurism, the next wave of gadgets and gizmos easier to see coming than a cultural tsunami. It is, as Arnold Toynbee has pointed out, ideas, not technology, that have stirred the biggest changes in history,

Lawrence M. Samuel – Future: A Recent History 

Biðfár

Það er óþolandi að sitja og bíða þess að bók, sem maður er búinn að skrifa, komi út. Ég hefði aldrei átt að klára hana fyrren á síðasta séns – hefði átt að skila handritinu í ágúst og fá hana út í byrjun september. Með klækjabrögðum og frekju.

Ég veit ekki af hverju ég hef áhyggjur. Mér var hossað nóg fyrir lífstíð vegna síðustu bókar – ég hugsa að ég myndi alveg lifa það af þótt allir hötuðu þessa (sem er ósennilegt, þetta er frábær bók!). Kannski leiðist mér bara; hef ekki alveg í mér eirð til að byrja á nýrri bók en ætli ég neyðist ekki samt til þess. Ég á líka hálfa ljóðabók hérna og hálfa plokkfiskbók, sem vilja báðar láta klára sig – en ég veit ekki hvort ég myndi lifa af að vera búinn að skrifa tvær bækur sem hvorug er komin út.

Reyndar bíða mín nokkrar greinar og fyrirlestrar; líklega er best að ég gangi frá því áður en lengra er haldið. Ég þarf líka að átta mig á því hvernig ég svara fyrir Heimsku – til þess, meðal annars, er þetta blogg. Það dugar víst ekki lengur að skrifa bækur maður þarf líka að geta lýst þeim. Spurningin ómar í höfðinu á mér, fyrsta spurningin sem allir spyrja: um hvað er bókin? Ég hef í raun ekki hugmynd, en það er heldur ekkert nýtt – ég hef ekki heldur hugmynd um hvað Illska er, eða Gæska eða nein hinna. Þaðan af síður ljóðabækurnar.

Mestu skiptir að drepa tímann. Framtíðin lætur ekki bíða eftir sér að eilífu.

Skilyrðislaust skylduboð gjallarhornsins

Shame is a negative, painful, social emotion that can be seen as resulting „…from comparison of the self’s action with the self’s standards…“.[1] but which may equally stem from comparison of the self’s state of being with the ideal social context’s standard. Thus, shame may stem from volitional action or simply self-regard; no action by the shamed being is required: simply existing is enough. 

-Wikipedia

Það truflar mig dálítið þegar fólk lætur einsog allt hið persónulega rými – það er, sá hluti manns sem maður kærir sig ekki um að deila með öðrum – markist svo til einvörðungu af skömm. Að eina ástæðan fyrir því að maður – sem einstaklingur eða hluti af hóp – geti kosið að halda einhverju út af fyrir sig sé að maður skammist sín. Við gerum þetta kannski sjaldan beint út – enda erfitt að skamma einhvern fyrir að eiga sér einkamál þegar við vitum ekki hvert einkamálið er – en við gerum þetta með eins konar ídólíseringu á þeim sem „opna sig“. Hvað sem líður öllu hatrinu á internetinu er jákvæð skilyrðing ennþá máttugasta valdatækið.

Nú er ég vel að merkja ekki mótfallinn því að fólk opni sig – það væri jafn fáránlegt og að krefjast þess að allir opnuðu sig um allt – en ég leyfi mér að efast um að slíkar opinberanir séu fyrst og fremst drifnar áfram af hugrekki og/eða nauðsyn. Rétt einsog teygjustökk eru opinberanirnar oft svaðalegar að sjá og veita opinberaranum áreiðanlega brjálæðislegt kikk – valdeflingu og sjálfshjálp – og rétt einsog teygjustökkið eru opinberanirnar yfirleitt hættulausari en þær virðast. Teygjustökk er áreiðanlega bráðhollt en það er kannski ekki ástæða til að búa til úr því siðferðislegt skylduboð.

Í nándinni er fólgin einhver fjarlægð (einsog teygjustökkinu!) – sem gerir bæði síník og fyrirlitningu mögulegri, eða í það minnsta auðveldari – en hún hættir samt ekki að vera nánd, önnur og ný nánd, fjöldanánd, sem við rötum kannski ekki um nema að litlu leyti (sem er ástæðan fyrir öllu taugaveiklaða fólkinu á internetinu; sem virðist samtímis fagna nýrri veröld og hata sjálft sig fyrir að taka þátt í henni). Við þurfum kannski öll að sætta okkur við að nú verður ekki lengur talað öðruvísi en í gjallarhorn.

Hið sjálfbæra stjörnulíf

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. 

– Wikipedia

Í ljósi þess að við búum í narsissískum heimi, við narsissísk lögmál („sá sem elskar ekki sjálfan sig er ófær um að elska aðra“), ætti það kannski ekki að koma manni á óvart að kraftmestu augnablikin skuli þá líka vera þau narsissískustu – bæði þau fallegu (einsog #freethenipple) og þau skelfilegu (einsog Germanwings), að ónefndum þeim átakamestu (einsog Hebdo vs. Kouachi bræður) sem eru álíka narsissísk beggja vegna borðsins.

Við lifum þess utan flest hálfgerðu stjörnulífi, erum okkar eigin papparassar, ofsækjum okkur sjálf og ættingja, vini og kunningja með farsímamyndavélum, töggum og vinabeiðnum og eltingum, til birtingar í persónulegum fjölmiðlum svo það sést til okkar hvar sem við erum og hvað sem við gerum.

Þrátt fyrir að við séum í senn alls staðar og hvergi.

Þráin og þráin eftir þránni

Zygmunt Bauman

It has become the folklore of social science to lay the responsibility for the `erotic revolution’ at the door of the `market forces’ (an address all the more convenient for the mystery surrounding its notoriously elusive resident). Eager to fill the void left by the Divine Providence and laws of progress, scientifically oriented study of changing human behaviour seeks a candidate for the vacant position of `main determinant’ – and `market forces’ are no worse, and in many respects better, than the others. I for once am not particularly worried by the void staying empty and the position remaining unfilled. `Market forces’ can be blamed, at the utmost, for exploiting without scruples the resources already at hand, and for exploiting them while being guided solely by their commercial potential and oblivious to all other, including the culturally devastating or morally iniquitous, aspects of the matter. Charging them with the powers to conjure up the resources themselves would be like accepting the alchemist’s authorship of the gold found in the test-tube: an exercise in magical rather than scienti®c reasoning (though, frankly, the difference between the two within social studies is far from unambiguous). It takes more than the greed for profit, free competition and the refinement of the advertising media to accomplish a cultural revolution of a scale and depth equal to that of the emancipation of eroticism from sexual reproduction and love. To be redeployed as an economic factor, eroticism must have been first culturally processed and given a form fit for a would-be commodity.

So let me leave aside the `commercial’ uses of eroticism, not really surprising in a society in which the care for whatever is seen as a human need is increasingly mediatized by the commodity market – and concentrate instead on the somewhat less obvious, and certainly less fully described and much too little discussed links between the erotic revolution and other aspects of the emergent postmodern culture. Among such aspects, two in particular seem to be directly relevant to our topic. The first is the collapse of the `panoptic’ model of securing and perpetuating social order. That model, as you know, has been described in detail by Michel Foucault, in reference to Jeremy Bentham’s idea of the universal solution to all tasks requiring the instilling of discipline and so obtaining the desirable sort of conduct from a great number of people. That solution, according to Bentham, was seeing without being seen, a surreptitious surveillance with its objects made aware that they might be closely scrutinized at every moment yet having no way of knowing when they are indeed under observation. Foucault used Bentham’s idea as a paradigm of the order-making activity of modern powers. Factories, workhouses, prisons, schools, hospitals, asylums or barracks, whatever their manifest functions, were also throughout the modern era manufacturers of order; in this lay their latent, yet arguably their paramount social function. Among all the panoptical institutions two were decisive for the performance of that latter function due to their vast catchment area. The two panoptical institutions in question were industrial factories and conscript armies. Most male members of society could reasonably be expected to pass through their disciplining treadmill and acquire the habits that would guarantee their obedience to the order-constituting rules (and later to enforce those habits on the female members in their capacity of the `heads of families’). Yet in order to perform their role such panoptical institutions needed men capable of undertaking industrial work and army duties – able to endure the hardships of industrial work and army life. Industrial invalidity and disqualification from army service meant exclusion from panoptical control and drill. Ability to work and to fight became therefore the measure of the `norm’, while inability was tantamount to social abnormality, deviation from the norm, alternatively subjected to medical or penological treatment. Modern medicine gave that norm the name of `health’. A `healthy man’ was a person capable of a certain amount of physical exertion, required by productive work and/or military exploits; the norm guiding the assessment of the state of health and the infinite variety of possible abnormalities was therefore `objectively measurable’. It could be easily set as a target; hitting or missing the target could be defined with considerable precision. 

Contemporary society needs neither mass industrial labour nor mass (conscript) armies. The era when factories and troops were the decisive order-sustaining institution is (at least in our part of the world) over. But so is, as well, panoptical power as the main vehicle of social integration, and normative regulation as the major strategy of order-maintenance. The great majority of people – men as well as women – are today integrated through seduction rather than policing, advertising rather than indoctrinating, needcreation rather than normative regulation. Most of us are socially and culturally trained and shaped as sensation-seekers and gatherers, rather than producers and soldiers. Constant openness to new sensations and greed for ever new experience, always stronger and deeper than before, is a condition sine qua non of being amenable to seduction. It is not `health’, with its connotation of a steady state, of an immobile target on which all properly trained bodies converge – but `fitness’, implying being always on the move or ready to move, capacity for imbibing and digesting ever greater volumes of stimuli, flexibility and resistance to all closure, that grasps the quality expected from the experience-collector, the quality she or he must indeed possess to seek and absorb sensations. And if the mark of `disease’ was incapacity for factory or army life, the mark of `unfitness’ is the lack of élan vital, ennui, acedia, inability to feel strongly, lack of energy, stamina, interest in what the colourful life has to offer, desire and desire to desire ….

Zygmunt Bauman – On the Postmodern Use of Sex

Maður, vertu nakinn (#freethenipple)

We seem to experience no joy in having secrets, unless they are the kinds of secrets likely to enhance our egos by attracting the attention of researchers and editors of TV talk shows, tabloid front pages and the covers of glossy magazines.  

[…]  

Provided it is not forgotten that what had previously been invisible – everybody’s share of the intimate, everybody’s inner life – is now required to be exposed on the public stage (principally on TV screens but also on the literary stage), it can be understood that those who care about their invisibility are bound to be rejected, pushed aside, or suspected of a crime. Physical, social and psychical nudity is the order of the day.

Zygmunt Bauman – Liquid Surveillance

Að þrengja ramma hins mögulega

Why is predicting the future so difficult? Over and over again, even our most highly educated guesses go disastrously wrong. Of course, the smart play would be not to try to guess what’s coming next. But that’s not how we’re wired. We desperately need prophets, even false ones, to help us narrow the infinity of plausible futures down to one or at least to a manageable handful. We look at the present and see the present; they see the seeds of the future. They are our advance scouts, infiltrating the undiscovered country, stealing over the border to bring back priceless reconnaissance maps of the world to come.

Lev Grossman – Forward Thinking