Where the Hell Am I? Some Remarks on the History of SR and OOO by larvalsubjects
From time to time people have raised questions about why SR/OOO might have arisen at the time it did. I don’t pretend to have a comprehensive answer to this question, but I suspect that it has a lot to do with the unique experience of our generation, especially as it pertains to the new technologies. Folks like Graham, Morton, Bogost, and I lived through a fundamental transformation of culture. We saw the first Ataris, then the personal computer, transformations in the telephone involving call waiting, caller ID, multi-party calls, the rise of cable television, the invention of the cell phone, the rise of the internet, the transformation of grocery stores and food, etc., etc., etc. We have lived through and in a transition between two cultures. As Jameson suggests in Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, such transitional lives between histories tend to generate a particular critical and speculative sensibility.
We have lived– as does the current generation that grew up in this ecology –in a world awash in objects of all sorts. Not only did we develop in a world of objects, we developed in a world awash in mysterious or withdrawn objects (here, for some reason, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive and Christine both come to mind as they depict a world animated by all sorts of mysterious, frighteningly lively machines). And what we discovered, perhaps, as we began our studies in the world of theory was that that theory was deeply inadequate in helping us to understand this strange new world we were living in. Roughly we were presented with three options: the linguistic turn focusing on signifiers, texts, and signs, phenomenology focusing on the analysis of intentionality and lived embodied experience, and the new historicists with their focus on networks of power and discursive structures.
Well apparently it’s been a banner day for interviews! Here’s another interview with me over at Figure/Ground. I talk quite a bit about Pedagogy and new media.
The internet changed all of that, especially with the emergence of blogs. Suddenly the relations between nodes in networks opened up significantly, leading to all sorts of surprising encounters among researchers. This has led to people discovering theoretical orientations and trends that they might not have ever otherwise discovered due to the relatively restricted nature of the earlier academic networks. Additionally, communication has intensified such that discussion takes place between people from diverse backgrounds on a day to day basis. As a result, theoretical shifts and development have intensified as a result of cross-fertilization. I now find that I have to think about a wide variety of other philosophical orientations in my own work that I wouldn’t have even been aware of in an ecology prior to the internet. […]
First, I’d say it’s important to value the process of writing for its own sake. A lot of students and people see writing is the end result of a process whereby ones ideas have already been developed. But that’s not really how it works; at least for me. The writing is the thinking, not the result of a thinking that has already taken place. The activity itself is what generates the ideas. It’s important to get into the habit of writing regularly to develop your ideas. This also leads to a diminution in the anxiety surrounding articles and conferences.
Second, participate and communicate with others. My experience online has been invaluable because it has forged relationships with scholars from all over the world. These relationships have not only created countless opportunities for articles and presentations, but have invaluably deepened and enriched my thought. There are a number of trajectories of thought that I would have never followed if discussions with others handn’t instigated them in me. No one knows that you exist if you don’t participate and communicate. While it’s certainly true that articles are more important on your CV, a mere handful of people ever read articles. It’s crucially important to get yourself out there and engage with the work of others. Not doing so both renders you invisible and denies you countless opportunities to develop your thought.
two Levi Bryant interviews just posted May 11, 2011