nerv clips (#1)

Ross expertly summarizes the discourse around the GCM affaire. From afar, I can only comment insofar as I have (1) knowledge of the person (GCM), (2) the platform (Twitter) and the ever evasive and highly disputed theme of (3) freedom of expression in both the Left and the Right. Therefore I can only regard the affaire as a discursive performance from various camps and indeed, even if there ever was such a danger of GCM being fired from his job for a tweet, the repercussions may evade me on a geopolitical case. Though there is the possibility that any of the institutions I am a part of eventually finds a quasi-edgy tweet and decides to disassociate/deport me altogether. This is, in part, why I despise institutions, despite being actively involved in some and ultimately aid in the construction of some. The tendency to rot is endemic.

With regards to (1) GCM, I attended his classes at The New Centre with a cursory understanding of many of his points in Building the Commune. I could only relate to them partially from my own, at the time, disavowed knowledge of the Peruvian context. Due to issues of openness with regards to books and publishing (see the ongoing discussion of this subject at The Charnel House) I chose to disengage with his online persona, which, like many, tends towards a polemical tone described in Ross’s post. This I do not mind. Insofar as we understand online personas as performances, they are acts, in the theatrical sense. Cue Goffman.

However, it is the engagement with (2) the platform, that complicates matters. Twitter is a platform built for discursive compression. The limit conditions the message. Short-form comedy thrives, whether the emitter is a comedian or not.  Furthermore, although one can limit the privacy of Twitter, turn it from Public to Private, the engine of the platform thrives on the Public. A comment gains traction via dissemination of interested and disinterested parties. The classical conversation between people where comments are made with added tone is not eliminated, but one has to take pains to convey the connotative dimension of speech. Add the limit of characters and the message has to be compacted. In this sense, platform novices may be taken aback by its capacity for misunderstanding and its enabling of snide. However, GCM’s message was designed to get a rise out of people. That it had the format of a joke, as most tweets do, does not mean that it was one. It can be simply inflammatory. If there was ever a political aim to this, it is personal. For better or worse, GCM’s profile has been raised. And marketing is what Twitter is ultimately about.

This leads to (3) freedom of expression in the Left and the Right. RF’s personal position is that you can say what you wish. There are, however, commitments and underlying ramifications to what you say. Ultimately, the infighting on whether to defend GCM or not misses the issue of narrative seizing. GCM crafted a response to the accusations in which he gestured towards this opening. However, the infighting gave way to the hole in the construction of a narrative. This is where the Right works marginally better on platforms like Twitter, which is to say, they gain ground in marketing. Whereas the Left turns the discussion inwards, the Right turns the discussion outwards towards the Outside. The first position is corrosive, the latter, fortifying. One can see where this goes.

Paul J. Ennis provides Bleak Theory. Paul’s writing is as lucid as ever here. Since he started writing on Medium I have found his articles both illuminating and entirely acidic in nature. According to Paul,

…I don’t have any answers: all clarity is a lie these days. I can only offer bleak theory as a way of seeing and perhaps a way of operating. It ‘works’ as follows: begin with confusion and shear away at whatever you can. Whatever is left is likely the closest thing approximating to what humans name truth. It will be strictly negative. Elimination of error is the best you can hope for.

This is close to what Dennett terms the “Universal Acid” of Darwin. And indeed, though the twenty-minute read might be bleaker than bleak for some, Paul’s position is that of theory as universal acid. One may take or leave the rhetorical pessimism, but the crux of the position is both signaled by continentals and analytics. However, I find Universal Acid more efficient when put to work in contexts outside philosophy, which on its own could use Universal Acid.