Friday, February 02, 2007

representational entropy

so yesterday there was all this buzz about this world-wide "global warming protest" where people were going to have a co-ordinated 5 minute shut off of EVERYTHING electric. can i just say that i absolutely loathe pithy, futile, mass-gestures? it's the triumph of the empty signifier. first of all, turning everything back ON after is going to result in even MORE energy wastage then if you'd just left everything on, especially if those koo-koos go and unplug the real energy monsters like the fridge and the heat and the air conditioner. furthermore, how many of these switch-off people routinely waste fossil fuels by driving their lazy asses around instead of taking more ecologically sound transportation? how about making changes to your lifestyle? how about using your dollar wisely? it's such mis-directed, mis-used, and mis-educated politics.

we had an interesting discussion the other night about the idea of the "artist" as figure, and "art" as a medium. somewhat predictably, i'm sure most of my faithful readers will know where i stand on this...i don't believe in the popular conception of the artist as an autonomous figure, or rather, i'm skeptical of the reception of art-as-thing and artist-as-figure...i basically see it as ego-centric solipsism and a self-fulfilling system of cultural-capital elitism, that generally denies the culturally and temporally specific nature of its own system of adjudication. i'm not saying that some people can't do some things better than others along predetermined and pre-agreed upon variables, but i do think it's the height of hubris to designate oneself an "artist". i want to punch those people in the 'nads. so the roomie goes, "would it make you feel better if more people could call themselves artists outside of the elite few, or if the no one called themselves an artist?" ie. would it be better if the term encapsulated more people, or just ceased to exist. i'm definitely more on the "cease to exist" side of obliteration. i'm a destroyer, a nemesis enforcer, if you will.

the same issue came up in my "surveillance and identity" class yesterday. we had just read a few articles about corporations data-mining, and keeping extensive dossiers on people and their spending habits, their car insurance, their flight information, etc. (aside: i FREAKIN LOVE THIS CLASS! it literally makes me pumped and excited and exhilarated). my point was that concerns over these corporations having information on us are:

a) grounded in a particularly capitalist-driven (and i would argue, enlightened-modernist driven) conceptualization of the "self" as an autonomous, totalized subject. are YOU the sum total of your purchases? the fact that you prefer lay's brand chips to hostess? the fact that you shop at banana republic? the fact that you go to cuba?
b) further to that, how much are we actively engaged in giving "power" to these corporations? how much are we subsumed by this "information"? to what extent is the value of the information predicated on our own false notions of "privacy"? if we remove the stigma, then the company doesn't have power over us. ie. i don't care if someone goes into my home and checks out cupboards, i don't care if people know how much money i make ($13.35/hour), i don't care if people know that i had sex last night, or that i have eczema in the winter-time. our feelings of being subsumed are in part due to our engagement with the notion of "privacy" in a limited sense that's rooted in capitalism and "liberty" (tip of the hat to sarah). this is a bit reductionist...but you can see where i'm going with it.

so i came up with a concept that i'm calling representational entropy, related to baudrillard and his simulacra. that each stage of re-presentation only furthers the implicit space between what is being represented and the meaning implied in the re-presentation, and this space builds and builds, to the point where what the canadian government has in their tax or census files about the letters "karl lagerfeld" is completely discoursively removed from me, karl lagerfeld-as-body. and it is in these spaces, that are the sites of negotiations over my own identity, and where there's a constantly shifting dynamic of potentialities.

wow. i wasn't expecting to go there today with my post. in other news, i read THE BEST ARTICLE EVER!!! it's called "a political economy of librarianship?" by william birdsall, a canadian. it's available here:
and it's about 1202020 different kinds of butt-kicking awesome. praxis! a critique of the current articulation of library and information sciences! here's a select quote: "again, librarians have increasingly narrowed their perspective, concentrating on how librarians as 'information managers' can contribute to the electronic transmission of information to the customer rather than on the role of librarianship in promoting access to knowledge in all its forms in the educational, cultural, social, political, and economic life of the citizen." !!!!!!!!!!!!!! effin A!

in other news, yesterday i had the (what i thought at the time) to be brilliant idea of toasting my bagel, spreading it with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and then packing it with me. it turned into a disgusting semi-soggy, semi-stale tasting mess, effectively putting to rest those of you who've ever wondered: "is it better to have toasted and sogged, then never to have toasted before???" no!!! i also found out about a graduate level course called "the social ecology of food" COME TO DADDY! i have a silly-long day today. two different shifts at two different libraries, then running around town to procure stuff for all the peeps i'm having over for various meals this weekend. tonight for dinnie we're having a jean's vegetarian kitchen feast: red curry with "duck", pad thai, padd see yew, singapore noodle, and maybe a green curry too. delish!


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