Not As a Trusted Guide

Halfway through Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects, one of the many wishlisted titles I picked up at last month’s Networked Humanities conference. Stewart’s slow jumps aggregate to an “idiosyncratic map of connections between a series of singularities” (4). A colleague, when he saw the book at the edge of my desk late last week in a place where I would be sure to remember to carry it home for the first interlude of Winter Break, characterized Stewart’s writing as “prose poems.” I can see that. Similar to ornamented essays, i.e., stylistically adven-turous felt-arguments.

And like I said, I’m only halfway through. Slow jumps read slowly. As much as by anything else, I’m struck by–affected by–Stewart’s reconfiguring of pronouns.

I write not as a trusted guide carefully laying out the links between theoretical categories and the real world, but as a point of impact, curiosity, and encounter. I call myself “she” to mark the difference between this writerly identity and the kind of subject that arises as a daydream of simple presence. “She” is not so much a subject position or an agent in hot pursuit of something definitive as a point of contact; instead, she gazes, imagines, senses, takes on, performs, and asserts not a flat and finished truth but some possibilities (and threats) that have come into view in the effort to become attuned to what a particular scene might offer. (5)

To write not as a trusted guide seems at first to go against professionalism and rhetorical ethics, but instead of turning into fanciful indulgence, because it finds gravity in description, it shifts ethos to ethos-oikos, a kind of redistributed or network-strewn, banal registry. A contagious style, Stewart’s.

He noticed frost on the Honda Element outside and put off a morning jog, wrote a blog entry, ground beans for pressed coffee. “March was always warmer than this.”

Hansen – New Philosophy for New Media (2004)

The foreword by Tim Lenoir, "Haptic Vision: Computation, Media, and
Embodiment in Mark Hansen’s New Phenomenology," lays out groundwork on the "deterritorialization
of the human subject" in terms of digital media, detachment and problems of
reference.  Lenoir touches on Hayles’ account of post-humanism (also Bill
Joy’s "Why The Future
Doesn’t Need Us"
), Shannon & Weaver’s signal-based model of information, and
Donald McKay’s alternative communication model.  Overall, it’s more than a
worthwhile thumbnail of Hansen’s project in the context of other works only
semi-familiar to me: Kittler’s Gramophone, Deleuze’s Cinema 1 & 2:,
and Henri Bergson on the body as image:

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