Baudrillard 1- Piaget 0
Cyberspace, Subjectivity and The Ascension
Insitute of Education
University of London
Subjectivity is, of course, a perennial problem and nowhere more
so than in the area of technology. To assert that subjectivity
is a problem, however, is not to claim that it is always recognised
as such. It sometimes appears that the world is divided into those
who do and those who do not recognise the problem. Arguably, this
is the root of 'technological determinism'. It is not so much
that those accused of determinism really attribute subjectivity
to technology, but rather that they ignore subjectivity altogether.
Those making such accusations are likely to ignore the fact that,
in order to establish subjectivity, it has to be located somewhere
and this is, ultimately, a matter of choice, or a matter of faith.
Presented as a public seminar, School of Education, University
of Cape Town, 24th April 1996
Blasphemy has always seemed to require taking things very seriously.
(Haraway, 1991; p. 149)
The central proposition that I want to explore in this paper is
that the nature of contemporary high technology-and, in particular,
information technology-is signalling a new order of relationships
which moves beyond the simple dualisms of modernity. This is a
claim which has been widespread in recent years and is expressed
imaginatively by Donna Haraway in her 'Cyborg Manifesto' (1991).
Haraway foregrounds feminist agendas. I am particularly concerned
with the transcendence of the intellectual/manual hierarchy through
the progressive subordination of both intellectual and manual
practices to a higher level of abstracted organisation. I shall
approach this, firstly, through a brief consideration of four
popular and/or, shall we say, cyberculture texts. These texts
variously locate subjectivity in the present, in future utopias,
or in past edenic states. Secondly, I want to discuss some approaches
that reveal subjectivity through their claims (stronger or weaker)
to suggest direction for progressive action. Thirdly, I shall
introduce an understanding of technological development-which
is to say, development in the division of labour-which will enable
the encoding, and hence, transcending, of intellectual practices
in terms of a hyper-intellectual abstraction. In the concluding
section, I shall recruit from the field of psychoanalysis in order
to suggest an interpretation of technology and, ultimately, of
all social activity as an arena for the establishment of a social
1. Subjectivity and popular and cyberculture
A recent advertisement for Microsoft products, for example, claims
... 3D Movie Maker has unleashed an awesome imagination on the
world. It allows me to write my own plot and dialogue, choose
sets, cast and costumes, shoot from different camera angles, play
with special effects and make 3D animated movies.The program, it would seem, facilitates an intellectual potential
that was somehow awaiting its production. The advertisement reflects
the tension: 'Is this software brilliant', in small, plain, yellow
letters, feeds into one ear of its character (an androgynous child
sporting dreadlocks); 'or is it just my imagination?', in large,
three-dimensional, orange and green letters of increasing size,
emerges from the other ear. As we might expect in an advertisement,
the politico-economic activities of the multinational corporation
that sponsors it lie very much in the background. Microsoft are
constituted as providers of tools which confront readers of the
advert as use-values. Subjectivity is located very much in the
here and now, with the individual user who grasps the tool in
order to realise this use-value in the elaboration of their own
(in Kids Out!, volume 2, issue 2, 1996)
This way of discoursing about the use-value of technology is common
amongst information technology users in communication with each
other. For example, the following is an extract from an internet
page celebrating 'New Tools for Teaching':
I'm not a techie by any means: I'm a working scholar and teacher
who has found in these new tools the most exciting possibilities
to enhance teaching that have come along in my twenty years in
front of the classroom. That's the perspective here--how to take
our academic 'day job' and do it better, improve morale among
faculty and students, and begin the transformation of our institutions
into the forms they will need to take in the information age.As before, technology is there to be grasped and utilised in the
existing projects of a clientele which is not dependent upon personal
technical knowledge. This time, the producer of the technology
is completely absent from the text, but the subject is, again,
in the present. Occasionally-perhaps not so occasionally-the celebration
goes further, constructing the internet and 'cyberspace' as potential
tools for more fundamental social transformation. On 11th February
1996, Alexander Chislenko forwarded to the internet mailbase,
Cyberspace and Society, a message from John Perry Barlow. Barlow's message (dated 8th
February 1996) begins:
(O'Donnell, J., nd)
Yesterday, that great invertebrate in the White House signed into
the law the Telecom 'Reform' Act of 1996, while Tipper Gore took
digital photographs of the proceedings to be included in a book
called '24 Hours in Cyberspace'.One of the principle atrocities seems to involve the possibility
of Barlow et al being fined for saying 'shit' online. His response
articulates a certain amount of abuse ('Well, fuck them') with
'A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace'. On the basis
of his subsequent contributions to the mailbase, Chislenko has
little sympathy with Barlow. It is certainly the case that the
'Declaration' is politically and sociologically naive. Essentially,
it weaves together members of the pantheon of American and European
liberalism with a claim to a technological realisation of the
Cartesian mind/body dualism:
I had also been asked to participate in the creation of this book
by writing something appropriate to the moment. Given the atrocity
that this legislation would seek to inflict on the Net, I decided
it was as good a time as any to dump some tea in the virtual harbour.
(Barlow, forwarded by Chislenko, 1996)
We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it
be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made
before'Barlow indexes his own cybernetic-colonist-which is to say, mental-identity
in the form of his world wide web 'Home(stead) Page' and admits
to a corporeal location in what he describes as 'Meatspace'. He
signs off with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson:
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth
can stand by itself.But whose truth? Jefferson's own Declaration of Independence did
little for the indigenous population who were scape-goated by
Samuel Adams et al in their Boston protest against British support
for the East India Company-a party alluded to in the first extract
above. John Stuart Mill, also applauded by Barlow, was himself
an official of the East India Company. Sins of the flesh (in meatspace)
versus the heady ideals of the intellectual utopia, perhaps.
Barlow is still constituting technology in the form of a tool.
This time, however, it is not a tool simply for concretising creative
imagination or for improving one's teaching. Here, it is a revolutionary
tool which enables the transcendence of the embodiment of mind.
Cyberspace itself is presented as a virgin territory awaiting
colonisation by subjects who will transform and release themselves.
Cyberspace is neutral. Power is eliminated and there are no aboriginal
inhabitants to be dispossessed. Subjectivity is a utopian version
of Descartes' cogito.
Fiction is not always so naive nor so optimistic. For William
Gibson in 'Johnny Mnemonic' (1986) the sundering of cyberspace
and meatspace is not so simple a matter:
We're in an information economy. They teach you that in school.
What they don't tell you is that it's impossible to move, to live,
to operate at any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly
meaningless fragments of personal information. Fragments that
can be retrieved, amplified ...This short story has now been recontextualised as a movie starring
Keanu Reeves. The original story is a virtuoso play on a number of dualisms which are fundamental
in western culture. The introduction of a cyborg dolphin, called
Jones, who [sic] had been in the navy and 'Lo Tek' punks with
dogs' teeth transplants, for example, picks away at the animal/human
distinction. Gender also comes under scrutiny. The 'Magnetic Dog
Sisters' are bouncers who guard the door of 'The Drome'. They
were originally heterosexual lovers who had been surgically transformed
to be almost identical-one black, the other white (another dualism
dismantled)-'I was never quite sure which one had originally been
male', Johnny remarks. Johnny's female bodyguard is victorious
in martial combat with 'Eighty kilos of blond California beef'
(meatspace) and a Yakuza assassin, both male, subverting the association
of masculinity with physical domination with respect to the feminine.
The central object of the story, however, is the Cartesian duality
(Gibson, 1986; p. 30)
Johnny has had implants in his head which enable him to store
and transport data on an 'idiot/savant basis'. He has no access
to or control over the content of this added memory. It can be
downloaded only upon the production of a code phrase of which
he himself is unaware. In the event, the data stored in Johnny's
head is bad data. It has been stolen from the Yakuza-a multinational
criminal organisation-who want it back and who don't want to leave
witnesses around. But the data itself appears only as a cipher
in the story. Its content is irrelevant. It has only an exchange
value which, like a blackmailer's note, resides in the necessarily
empty threat of its dissemination. In fact, blackmail seems likely
to be the means to be employed by the Yakuza in extracting this
value. Whether or not they succeeded (we do not find out), the
downloaded data ends up forgotten:
... waiting for Eddie Bax [Johnny's alias] on a shelf in the back
room of a gift shop on the third level of Sydney Central-5.Furthermore, lacking in any substance, the data can never be fully
concealed nor destroyed. The cyborg dolphin is equipped with ex-navy
detection devices called 'squids' ('superconducting quantum interference
detectors'). Using the squids, Jones can read the code phrase
which will enable the downloading of Johnny's data. He can also
read the traces of data stored in Johnny's head by previous clients
and long since removed.
(ibid; p. 35)
The data as disembodied mind, alienated from the body by the manic
cybernetic world of the 'information economy', is emptied of content.
But therein lies its immortality and its incorruptibility. It
can never be entirely erased from the prying 'squids'. Disembodied
mind is eternal, inviolable nothingness, simulated in the narrative
apparatuses of possession and threat. By contrast, the body is
vulnerable. Jones is not only a demobbed cyborg, he's a junkie.
Johnny's client-Ralfi Face-is dissected by the Yakuza assassin
who becomes a real threat to Johnny's own body, only to be killed
himself by the female bodyguard.
The assassin is not quite all body. He is a cyborg. The top joint
of his thumb detaches on a length of molecular thread which can
slice through steel. The assassin loses his last fight because
his opponent's affinity with the physical environment which is
the Lo Teks' 'killing floor' enables her to avoid the thread.
The assassin, unable to adapt, amputates his own hand and, disarmed,
dives to his death. He is killed not by superior weaponry, but
by 'culture shock'. The 'savage (embodied, culture-dependent)
mind' wins out over decontextualised technology. The severed hand-the artifactual component of the cyborg-is
never found. Disembodied knowledge is empty, eternal. The cyborg
is a monster, a chimera.
The play on Hi Tek/Lo Tek, which signals the resolution of the
mind/body dualism, appears in the first paragraph of the story.
Johnny has decided to use an ancient weapon-a shotgun-to persuade
Ralfi to pay up. But he has to make the cartridges himself. He
has to use a lathe and find instructions on hand-loading on an
These days, though, you have to be pretty technical before you
can even aspire to crudeness.Real knowledge, real technology is embodied, sententious. The
cerebral data chip and the assassin's hand represent disembodied,
empty technology-vacant mind. The body can be inscribed, but only
in meaningful ways. Cosmetic surgery has enabled Ralfi to look
like a rock star, Christian White; the implanting of dogs' teeth
is a style which means precisely subculture. Jones reads Johnny's data and speaks it in languages that Johnny
can understand. The code phrase is represented in coloured lights:
a blue cross, a mass of white lights, a red swastika-Christian
White and his Aryan Reggae Band; intersecting texts, not an empty,
arbitrary code. Jones reads the traces of the old data, but gives
it back to Johnny in a different form. It can still be used to
make money, but this time the threat is real; the data can be
used because it is now embodied. The process gives access to a
relaxed lifestyle, but:
(ibid; p. 14)
It's educational, too. With Jones to help me figure things out,
I'm getting to be the most technical boy in town.Barlow's Declaration of Independence imagines a utopia of the
disembodied mind. Gibson creates an alternative Eden for subjectivity.
One in which mind is (re)united with body. Yet this is no simplistic
Luddism. Gibson's argument is not with technology as such, but
with a particular form of technological development which alienates
mind from body in the production of cyborg monsters. Expulsion
from Gibson's Eden does not follow from the acquisition of knowledge,
but from its loss.
(ibid; p. 36)
In the Microsoft advert and in O'Donnell's Internet paper, technology
is presented as politically neutral tools produced and recruited
by mutually sympathetic human subjects currently alive and well.
Barlows' 'Declaration' also construes technology as politically
neutral, but now as facilitating the bootstrapping of subjectivity.
But Barlow's disembodied mind is precisely the objectification
which transforms subjectivity into property in Gibson's story.
In contrast to the other texts, Johnny Mnemonic raises the possibility of the politicising of technology. However
this is achieved, ultimately, at the expense of romanticising
the human subject. In the next section, I want to consider some
work, principally by Jean Baudrillard and Donna Haraway, which
constitutes subjectivity (though not always human subjectivity)
through proposals for progressive or critical action.
2. Subjectivity and action
Donna Haraway's postmodernist 'Cyborg Manifesto' (1991) stands
as a advocacy of chimeric alliances in a new order which disperses
the 'comfortable old hierarchical dominations' of class, gender
and race etc in webs of power: 'scary new networks'-the 'informatics
of domination' which is enabled by microelectronics. The new order
codifies, disassembles and reassembles, reconstituting individuals
and groups as dispersions of simulacra. Simulacra are copies without
originals, they are constructions, not representations. The search
for an essential subject which is represented informatically,
which is the object of oppression is, fundamentally, the projection
of an imagined original 'behind' the simulacrum; as a strategy,
this misses the point.
Jean Baudrillard (1995) makes a similar argument in The Gulf War did not take place. Baudrillard contends that there was no war in the Gulf in the
sense of an engagement between two sides. Rather, the virtual
war was an acting out of a predetermined script. The enactment
was accompanied by a succession of media 'decoys' presenting conflicting
truths. Images of the 'clean' bombing of military targets contrasting
with Saddam's images of the ruins of a milk factory. The story
of Iraqi soldiers running amok in a maternity ward contrasting
with the subsequent revelation that this had been a fabrication.
Saddam as the cruel and deceitful oriental contrasting with the
benevolence and ingenuousness of the UN forces, the latter displayed
in full and frank press releases. Far from confirming the reality
of the war, these images served to conceal the fact that there
was no war:
... throughout these seven months, the war has unfolded like a
long striptease, following the calculated escalation of undressing
and approaching the incandescent point of explosion (like that
of erotic effusion) but at the same time withdrawing from it and
maintaining a deceptive suspense (teasing), such that when the
naked body finally appears, it is no longer naked, desire no longer
exists and the orgasm is cut short. In this manner, the escalation
was administered to us by drip-feed, removing us further and further
from the passage to action and, in any case, from the war. It
is like truth according to Nietzsche: we no longer believe that
the truth is true when all its veils have been removed. Similarly,
we do not believe that war is war when all uncertainty is supposedly
removed and it appears as a naked operation. The nudity of war
is no less virtual than that of the erotic body in the apparatus
of striptease.Media images are paraded as representing the real characters and
events of an enacted, embodied narrative. They may be more or
less accurate or misleading and inaccuracies may be more or less
deceitful, but they are all strongly modal texts which lay claim
to a reality beyond themselves. In challenging this extratextual
reality, Baudrillard claims that the 'aims' of the non-war are
not concerned with the overcoming of an enemy, but with deterrence:
(Baudrillard, 1995; p. 77)
Electronic war no longer has any political objective strictly
speaking: it functions as a preventative electroshock against
any future conflict. Just as in modern communication there is
no longer any interlocutor, so in this electronic war there is
no longer any enemy, there is only a refractory element which
must be neutralised and consensualised. This is what the Americans
seek to do, these missionary people bearing electroshocks which
will shepherd everybody towards democracy. It is therefore pointless
to question the political aims of this war: the only (transpolitical)
aim is to align everybody with the global lowest common denominator,
the democratic denominator (which, in its extension, approaches
ever closer to the degree zero of politics). The lowest common
multiplier being information in all its forms, which, as it extends
towards infinity, also approaches ever closer to the degree zero
of its content.The apparatuses of striptease simulate the absent eroticism of
the body; the apparatuses of the media war simulate the absent
war; the apparatuses of democracy simulate the absent will of
the people; the apparatuses of electronic communications and IT
simulate absent knowledge. Whether we are duped by the simulacrum
or whether we challenge it as ideological, we are inveigled into
its game. This has always been the case with simulacra of past
events. Now, communication at the speed of light entices us into
a belief in the present.
(ibid; p. 84)
This sublimation of war in what is becoming a global hyperreal
order extends to all other aspects of life. Even death is no longer
real; it is:
...no longer where we think it is, it is no longer biological,
psychological, metaphysical, it is no longer even murder: our
societies' true necropolises are the computer banks or the foyers,
blank spaces from which all human noise has been expunged, glass
coffins where the world's sterilised memories are frozenThe hyperreal has, it would seem, already constituted what Barlow
desires: a cyberspace of disembodied simulacra without representation
in meatspace: no meat war; no meat death; no meat life. Far from
a utopia, however. The codification of life and death might be
referred to as 'the new social contract', but:
(Baudrillard, 1993; p. 185)
Since today this contractual demand is addressed to social authorities,
whereas before one signed pacts with the Devil to prolong, enrich
and enjoy one's life. The same contract, and the same trap: the
Devil always wins.Refusal to 'sign-up' to the social contract is effected by a claim
to a real death. The reclaiming of war is, presumably, the terrorists'
prerogative. The genuine terrorist must deny any codification
of their game in order to release it from its ludic status. There
can, in particular, be no distinction between 'hard' and 'soft'
targets. Really killing yourself and/or others are not really
options. The only subjectivity in Baudrillard is that of the cynic.
But this might just as easily be replaced by that of the optimist
of faith. St Matthew's gospel introduces the rich young man who
wanted to look behind the simulacrum of 'goodness' constituted
by the commandments,
(ibid; p. 191, fn)
The young man was not offered an option in verse 21. To be perfect
is to be God: 'One there is who is good' (ibid; verse 17; my emphasis). The rich
man cannot become that which he is not, but this neither gives
nor denies him access to heaven. What he lacked was not poverty,
but faith and no strategy is offered for the achievement of either.
(The Holy Bible, the revised version, Oxford: OUP; Matthew, 20, 16-26)
- The young man saith unto him, All these things have I observed:
what lack I yet?
- Jesus said unto him, if thou wouldest be perfect, go sell that
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure
in heaven: and come, follow me.
- But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sorrowful:
for he was one that had great possessions.
- And Jesus said unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, it is
hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
- And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to pass through
a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom
- And when the disciples heard it, they were astonished exceedingly,
saying, Who then can be saved?
- And Jesus looking upon them said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things
Both cynicism and faith constitute an exteriority with respect
to the codification of life/death in communications technologies
(of which scripture is an instance). They are, therefore, quite
rightly unanalysed by Baudrillard and in St Matthew's gospel.
Exteriority can be handled only in relative terms; the construction
of analytic subjects/objects of relationality would generate only
more simulacra. God, of course, creates/judges: analysis would
constitute post hoc creation or premature judgement.
Haraway's strategy entails the rearticulation of what she elsewhere
(1992) refers to as 'inappropriate/d others', the recruiting of
modern science and technologies in the subversion of the webs
of power within which they are engendered, the construction of
monstrous cyborgs in an oppositional and 'progressive' politics:
The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made
of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust. Perhaps that is
why I want to see if cyborgs can subvert the apocalypse of returning
to nuclear dust in the manic compulsion to name the Enemy. Cyborgs
are not reverent; they do not re-member the cosmos. They are wary
of holism, but needy for connection-they seem to have a natural
feel for united front politics, but without the vanguard party.
The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the
illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism,
not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are
often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers,
after all, are inessential.Haraway quite rightly refers to this strategy as 'blasphemy'.
In a later piece, Haraway offers the AIDS Coalition to Unleash
Power (ACT UP) as an example of a 'promising monster', the coalition:
(Haraway, 1991; p. 151)
... is a collective built from many articulations among unlike
kinds of actors-for example, activists, biomedical machines, government
bureaucracies, gay and lesbian worlds, communities of colour,
scientific conferences, experimental organisms, mayors, international
information and action networks, condoms and dental dams, computers,
doctors, IV drug-users, pharmaceutical companies, publishers,
virus components, counsellors, innovative sexual practices, dancers,
media technologies, buying clubs, graphic artists, scientists,
lovers, lawyers, and more.At the 'animating center' of this coalition is People With Aids
(PWA) which are 'the actors with whom others must articulate'.
This description of political action is entirely consistent with
the critique of representation: no one can speak for PWA because
to speak on someone's behalf is to constitute a subaltern as a
simulacrum which is, thereby, recruited to one's own project.
But it is also simply descriptive of the daily practices of political
action at all levels. All social interaction is political in the
sense that it comprises the recruitment of and alliance with (in)appropriate/d
others in the establishing of a position and in the distributing
of practices, which is to say, the (re)constituting of simulacra.
Barlow recruits liberal gods in his demonising of the meatspace
which they, too, have long since vacated. The cyborg Johnny Mnemonic
allies with the cyborg dolphin, his bodyguard and with a cyber-punk
community in the creation of a cyborg complex to their mutual,
but diverse, advantage. Saddam Hussein vies with the Western Powers
like two magicians in a computer game, hurling illusions at each
other (and themselves). My own experiences at dinner parties and
meetings can also be described in very much the same terms.
(Haraway, 1992; p. 323)
The list of partners in the ACT UP coalition begs rather than
answers questions, specifically, what are the principles of recognition
and selection that are employed in the construction of such a
list? What is it that enables condoms, dancers, and government
bureaucracies to be included in the same list? Clearly, my own
question is vulnerable to the same deconstructive strategies that
Haraway applies in other directions; but that doesn't stop me
wanting an answer. As long as Haraway is actively engaging in
the political action that she is associating with the ACT UP coalition,
it is probably correct to say that complying with my request would
be counterproductive to her project. It would be to solidify that
which she needs to constitute as fluid. However, she provides
this list in the context of a paper, the purpose of which:
... is to write theory, ie, to produce a patterned vision of how
to move and what to fear in the topography of an impossible but
all-too-real present, in order to find an absent, but perhaps
possible, other present. I do not seek the address of some full
presence; reluctantly, I know better. Like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress, however, I am committed to skirting the slough of despond and
the parasite-infested swamps of nowhere to reach more salubrious
environs. The theory is meant to orient, to provide the roughest
sketch for travel, by means of moving within and through a relentless
artifactualism, which forbids any direct si(gh)tings of nature,
to a science fictional, speculative factual, SF place called,
simply, elsewhere.But the absence lies as much in the promised theory-however vague-as
in the promises of the monsters-the 'elsewhere'-that Haraway introduces.
As is not uncommon in postmodern writing, the intertextual plenitude of the literary style, as
much as it is pleasurable, is itself simulacral. It is also frequently
contradictory. This is nowhere more apparent than in the finale
of 'A Cyborg Manifesto':
(ibid; p. 295)
This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel
heteroglossia. It is an imagination of a feminist speaking in
tongues to strike fear into the circuits of the super-savers of
the new right. It means both building and destroying machines,
identities, categories, relationships, space stories. Though both
are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than
a goddess.'Heteroglossia' recalls, perhaps, the sign as a site of struggle
(Volosinov, 1973) and the novel as a genre which admits counter-authorial
voices (Bakhtin, 1981, 1986). To this extent, 'infidel' is pleonastic
other than as an adumbration of the second religious metaphor.
'Speaking in tongues', if true to its New Testament origins (but
then, fathers are inessential), might refer more appropriately
to monoglossia: a single voice (of god), in this case, multiply
(Haraway, 1991; p. 181)
Haraway steps in where Baudrillard will not tread. She promises
a theory of 'progressive' political action. She rejects essentialist
strategies as denying the diverse and contradictory specificities
of experience. But in exchange, she offers us no more than we
already do. Haraway replaces Baudrillard's subject/non-subject
constituted by cynicism (or faith) with what is effectively a
Foucauldian subject constituted by power-and 'in Foucault power
takes the place of desire' (Baudrillard, 1987)-albeit dispersed
in the web. This is necessary in order to generate a 'progressive'
politics. The displacement of power is to be achieved through
the articulation of subjectivities constituted within the web,
the production of cyborgs. Such articulations disrupt the free
flow of information and hence the free play of power. This will
effect transformation, but the transformation can only be the
substitution of one 'psychotic' state by another because the eradication
of power would constitute the eradication of the subject. Power
in Haraway/Foucault is no more subject to analysis than cynicism
or faith: to claim that power constitutes the subject is to do
no more than to assert a faith that the subject is constituted.
The hyperreal is only a program which can be written with varying
degrees of complexity; it needs a god to breathe life into it.
Baudrillard's success lies in his refusal to engage in reconstructive
theory. Haraway's failure lies in her attempt to outdo both the
moderns and the postmoderns: to deconstruct progressively. In
the next section of this paper I want to return to construction.
This is a kind of construction which does not incorporate either
its constructor or its potential user as a part of its infrastructure.
This being the case, I see no need to apologise for the claim
that my theoretical resources are doing somewhat more work than
Griemas' 'clackety structuralist' 'engine' in Haraway (1993).
3. The Ascension of subjectivity
Since Wittgenstein (1958), at least, it has been trivial to argue
that we cannot grasp the uses of language within language itself.
Texts are always, to a greater or lesser extent, dependent upon
the immediate context of their production-the form of life, we
might say-within which they are written (and reading is always,
in this sense, writing). We may (again trivially) go further and
note that there are many practices which are elaborated with minimal
explicit organisation within language: gait, for example and pottery. There again, there are other practices which are far less context-dependent.
These are texts that enter into discursive relations with other
texts. Within the context of academic production, for example,
the collection of journals and books published within a field
might be interpreted as a space within which texts interact with
each other-scriberspace. This public interrogation of texts constitutes
an organising within language which is or which can be made more
or less explicit. Practices vary, in other words, according to
the extent to which they are saturated by discursive regularity.
In general terms, we can say that manual practices exhibit low
'discursive saturation' and intellectual practices exhibit high
'discursive saturation' .
Within the general field of manual practices, described in these
terms, we can propose a distinction. On the one hand, there are
those practices which are acquired informally. In contemporary
societies, these include everyday domestic practices, such as
shopping, cooking, gardening, and so forth. The social structuring
of these practices is segmental. That is, the division of labour
is simple, generally being organised in terms of the patriarchal
family relations of gender and age (and class, where domestic
labour is waged). The organisation of this region of the sociocultural
space may be described as being closer to mechanical than to organic
solidarity, in Durkheim's terms (1984). In general, there is no formal organisation of pedagogy with
respect to these practices which are acquired via a sharing of
strategies. In this mode, the principles of evaluation of the
practices reside with the acquirer rather than, or at least as
much as, with the transmitter. The structure of social relationships
within this mode of acquisition can be described as horizontal
(other than in respect of age). Other practices in this sphere
include those relating to care of the self and sexual behaviours
as well as illicit practices.
Within the same societies, other manual practices are elaborated within the context of
a more complex division of labour. That is, these practices constitute
regions of specialisation within the sociocultural. The acquisition
of these practices is associated with more or less formally organised
pedagogy, often through craft apprenticeship. This will entail
what Lave and Wenger (1991) have described as 'legitimate peripheral
participation'. Singleton (1989), for example, describes the process
of apprenticeship in a Japanese mingei pottery. For my purposes,
the crucial feature is the tacit nature of much of the pedagogic
action. The apprentice potter watches, copies, and has their work
rejected and (eventually) accepted with very little discursive
elaboration. Certainly, the process of acquisition within an apprenticeship
will include the informal mode whereby strategies are shared within
a horizontal structure, for example, between apprentices. Nevertheless,
acquisition always takes place within the context of the formally
hierarchical, or vertical, social relationship of adept/apprentice;
the principles of evaluation reside with the adept.
The development of these craft practices constitutes an internal
hierarchy, that is, between the adept and the apprentice. This
is a career hierarchy. In this sense, it is similar to hierarchies
associated with age in the patriarchal family, but distinct from
gender relations, which are not resolved via career development.
However, craft practices also inaugurate an external hierarchy
in relation to domestic production and reproduction. This is because
there is no selection with respect to domestic practices. Everyone
engages in them, but there is no selection and no formal pedagogy
in respect of their acquisition. Craft specialisation constitutes
regions of manual practice as esoteric The entry into these esoteric
practices involves a more or less extended period of apprenticeship.
In the course of the apprenticeship and in subsequent adept production,
the subject is required to instantiate aspects of what is, within
a manual craft, a tacitly regulated practice. These instantiations,
then, are simulated by the craft; they are simulacra. What they
achieve is the illusion of skill.
In his study involving becoming an apprentice to a Kenyan Tugen
blacksmith, Michael Coy (1989) indexes two kinds of 'insight':
... those relating to technology, and those relating to the smith's
social relations. Within the rubric of social relations I would
include those aspects of the smith's craft that are supernatural.
The supernatural activities of smiths are either services performed
for their community, as in the curse applied to thieves, or they
are protective and defensive in nature. In either case, these
supernatural activities are directly related to the smith's relationships
with others in his community.The curse denies the thief access to the tools that the smith
produces and which are needed for subsistence agriculture. Various
devices ensure that only a smith is able to produce these tools
and that the smith's services are regularly required. For example,
the bellows, which are essential to the smith's work can be made
only with access to the smith's technology; a set of smith's tools,
including the bellows, are manufactured by the smith and presented
to the apprentice upon completion of the apprenticeship. The axe
used for cutting the hot steel is the only tool that is quenched.
Unquenched steel is brittle. Thus the only smiths' products that
are available to non-smiths break very quickly.
(Coy, 1989; p. 121)
The Tugen blacksmith is thus established as an initiate into an
esoteric practice. Their skills and their goodwill are constituted
as essential components of the economy. Yet Coy's apprenticeship
lasted only three months. Undoubtedly, he spent far longer than
this learning to use a knife and fork at the dinner table and
longer still learning to communicate in spoken English. These
facilities are privately acquired, but they are privately acquired
by everybody. Their public display does no more than affirm this.
The blacksmith's tacitly regulated practice, by contrast, is acquired
secretly. Its public displays, however, do not represent something
acquired. This is because that which is acquired is-in respect
of both technological issues and social relations-concerned primarily
with the maintenance of the specialism, which is to say, with
the reproduction of the division of labour. The use of cutlery
and the nature of one's spoken English may also incorporate markers
of social class and ethnicity. To this extent, the public display
of both craft and quotidian practices constitute simulacra. Their
function is to conceal an absence. The public display of craft
practices conceals the absence of 'skill'. The public display
of etiquette and accent conceals the absence of 'breeding'.
I have described both quotidian and craft practices as 'manual',
that is, they exhibit low discursive saturation. I have contrasted
such practices with others which exhibit high discursive saturation,
that is, practices which are commonly described as 'intellectual'.
Alfred Sohn-Rethel (1978) associates the division between intellectual
and manual labour with class society. This association is valid,
at least in part, if we can refer to the opening up of an 'intellectual'
sphere of practice as an organising of manual practices which
operates at a higher level than the simple marking out of areas
of specialisation such that the hierarchy is not resolved by career.
With respect to material production, for example, the 'intellectual'
practices associated with management and with engineering may
be described as an objectification and organisation of the 'manual'
practices of production. Private sphere 'manual' practices associated
with the care of the self are objectified and organised by the
'intellectual' practices associated with medical knowledge. The
intellectual practices codify the manual practices which are abstracted
into systems of knowledge which are substantially self-referential,
which is to say, which are far less context-dependent in their
elaboration. These high discursive saturation practices organise,
but-by virtue of their context-independence-cannot facilitate
the manual practices. The hierarchy which is established is, of
necessity, a splitting-off of the intellectual from the manual.
The relations between these practices are, therefore, more like
gender than age, which is to say, they are 'class' rather than
The splitting is illustrated in the codification of manual domestic
practices by the intellectual practice of school mathematics.
Jean Lave (1988), for example, has illustrated the ways in which
decision-making in domestic shopping is resolved in situ by making
use of resources which are at hand. School mathematics, by contrast,
constitutes shopping decisions as resolvable via the codification
of data within mathematical formulae relating, for example, to
ratio and proportion (see Dowling, 1995a, 1995c). Neither shopping
nor mathematics facilitate the elaboration of the other. A decision
taken in a supermarket is no more than that, unless and until
it is codified by an anthropologist or a mathematics teacher.
A 'best buy' problem in a school mathematics text book simulates
Intellectual practices associated with the production of the mass
media (management, engineering, journalism, etc) and with governance
(the law, statistics) facilitate the codification and dissemination
of illicit behaviour. Thus a violent assault on a woman by a stranger
is sublimated from a unique event within a community to an instance
of a practice which is thereby reified. The intellectual extends
the effectivity of patriarchy by establishing a fear of rape.
In the UK, at least, it is men who are overwhelmingly the victims
as well as the perpetrators of violent assault by strangers, yet
it is women who are deterred from going out at night unless accompanied
by a man. The rape is a unique event. Its codifications do not
so much represent it as simulate a crime.
Intellectual practices are facilitated, in the first instance,
by the technologies of literacy. It is literacy that, for Luria
(1976), indexes the transition from 'primitive' societies structured
by individualised production to 'modern' societies organised on
the basis of collective production. Luria associates the acquisition
of literacy with the development of higher forms of reasoning.
Sohn-Rethel makes a similar (though more politically charged)
When we distinguished 'societies of production' and 'societies
of appropriation' we made the point that on the basis of primitive
communal modes of production, as they preceded commodity production,
the social practice was rational but the theory was irrational
(mythological and anthropomorphic), while on the basis of commodity
production the relation was reversed; namely, the social practice
has turned irrational (out of man's control) but his mode of thinking
has assumed rational forms.It is my contention, however, that intellectual practices do not
produce rationality. Rather, intellectual practices in general
simulate rationality, or rather, simulate knowledge. That is,
their products are simulacra the function of which is to conceal
the absence of knowledge.
(Sohn-Rethel, 1978; p. 133)
At this point, I should note that manual and intellectual practices
share this in common: they are, of necessity, both embodied. This
is to say, their elaboration is dependent upon acquisition within
formal or informal contexts. We might conjecture that the more
specialised the practice the more extensive and intensive will
be the process of apprenticeship that facilitates access to it.
This is, at lease in part, what 'specialisation means. However,
the spread of intellectual practices which codify and organise
the manual must constitute a diminution of the specialisation
of manual practices. This is nowhere more clear than in the development
of European industrialisation in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. The ultimate 'achievement' of 'scientific management',
for example, is the elimination of manual skills (see Braverman,
1974). However, to the extent that these skills are appropriately
described as simulated by the manual practices with which they
are associated, the development of the intellectual practices
of 'scientific management' constitutes not the elimination of
skill, but its elevation to a higher level of abstraction. That
is, the intellectual practices constitute the new principal site
for the production of simulacra.
Thus far, I have described three levels of practice. The quotidian
are low discursive saturation, which is to say, manual practices,
acquired informally and frequently within a horizontal structure
of relationships. Craft practices are manual practices within
a more complex or organised division of labour. Craft practices
are generally acquired within a vertical, career structure of
relations. Moving between a quotidian site and a craft site entails
an increase in the level of disciplining of practices. The exhibition
of disciplined craft practices simulates that which can never
reconcile the multiplicity of instances. This is the absence which
lies at the heart of craft practices, the absence of skill. Clearly,
subjectivity does not reside within the elaboration of regulated
practices; it must be located elsewhere. I want to suggest that
subjectivity is to be found in the constitution of challenges
to skill through original moves and combinations: subjectivity
resides in virtuoso, which is to say, original (but not random)
The third level of practice is at a high level of discursive saturation.
These intellectual practices codify the manual within discursive
regularities. Intellectual practices are acquired, again, within
the context of vertical structures of relations which may or may
not constitute career, but they establish a splitting from manual practices. The manual
practices are codified by the intellectual, rendering them subject
to disassembly and reassembly in managerial conformity. This is
the denaturing of the labour process described so effectively
by Braverman (1974). The introduction of the production line machine
signifies a higher order of organisation of the labour process.
The division of labour becomes more complex and hierarchical,
but its embodiment becomes simpler and more segmental. Original
moves and combinations are ruled out at the level of the manual
because their possibility is precodified discursively. Manual
subjectivity is eliminated in precisely the same way as war is
eliminated in the apparatuses of deterrence and choice is eliminated
in the apparatuses of democracy. The elaboration of discursive
regularities constitutes the simulation of rationality or of discipline,
in the sense of an academic discipline. Subjective intellectual
virtuosity is now precisely a challenge to this absent rationality.
Subjectivity/virtuosity has been elevated from the manual to the
We can now move to a fourth level of practice. This is the level
at which intellectual practices are themselves subject to a higher
degree of organisation, that is, cybernetic practices. Barlow
and the cyberhomesteaders constitute these practices as offering
a utopian release from the material world. But cyberspace is no
more virgin territory than was America prior to the European invasions.
This time, however, the colonising infrastructure is already substantially
in place. Barlow is not a pioneer, so much as an immigrant. Barlow
can post his message to discussion lists and I can post this paper
on the world wide web only because we have access to the internet
which is materially constituted and so is subject to the economics
of appropriation and exploitation.
For affluent intellectuals information technology looks very much
like a set of tools which we can grasp in facilitating and expanding
our activities. But this is because we are in a transitional phase.
Intellectual practices still dominate or, at least, are still
tolerated in certain domains. I am still paid to engage in intellectual
labour and my technology is provided free. But not, perhaps, for
very much longer. Increasingly, my work as an academic is being
called to economic account. Funded research is taking over from
personal research in the social sciences and research by competitive
tendering-essentially, market 'research'-is becoming more common.
Higher degree courses are modularised their contents tailored
to meet the requirements of the market which is becoming increasingly
global. Infinite access to information within an economics of
appropriation entails the automation of intellectual practices.
Intellectual products, like manual products, are beginning to
be corporately generated. The CD-ROM encyclopaedia presents a
transparent certainty which anticipates and excludes the possibility
of intellectual virtuosity. The game is no longer conceptual,
Cybernetic practices operate at an even greater degree of context-independence.
CD-ROMs and internet journals only transitionally stand in the
place of the contents of a traditional library. This is not simply
a matter of commodification, the products of intellectual labour
were commodified a long time ago. Cybernetic virtuosity is not
concerned with these products themselves, but with the modality
of their encoding, with the subordination of potentially all areas
of human practice to a single code. Haraway perceives a parallel
... communications sciences and modern biologies are constructed
by a common move-the translation of the world into a problem of coding, a search for a common language in which all resistance to instrumental
control disappears and all heterogeneity can be submitted to disassembly,
reassembly, investment and exchange.The binary coding of the digital computer is perhaps more radical
than the highly complex codes of the double helical DNA molecule,
but the move is, indeed, the same. All information must be numerically
realisable; the minutest variations in life must be traceable
to a genetic site. Cognitive science begins to make the same move
with respect to psychology. Chaos theory returns us to the security
of a universe operating according to simple laws. We are, perhaps, only just beginning to appreciate that the
productions of these fields are simulating a yet higher order
of absence, a mathematical code which, ultimately, organises all
fields of practice.
(Haraway, 1991; p. 164)
Each instance of the cybernetic encoding of intellectual or manual
practice is a simulacrum the function of which is to conceal the
absence of a universal rationality. This is the rationality which
facilitates the perfect flow of information, which eliminates
the hysteresis through which power enters, transforming the game
into reality. This is the rationality that is enshrined in the
military cipher C3I, referred to by Donna Haraway (1991). This is the rationality that Jean Piaget (1995) constitutes
as the mathematical utopia of equilibrium which awaits us at the
perpetually deferred end of the process of equilibration. This
is the rationality that Jürgen Habermas (1979) constitutes as
the linguistic utopia which awaits us at the perpetually deferred
end of praxis. The military dream constitutes an external 'control'
as the operator of the system. The liberal, Piaget, imagines an
absence of power as, strangely, does the marxist, Habermas.
The military dream clearly does not theorise the subject, it merely
externalises it. Cyberspace becomes a tool-perhaps a weapon-to
be wielded by this externalised subject. Piaget produces a liberal
reading of Marx whereby constraint is not constitutive of subjectivity,
but is an impediment to social equilibration. Constraint is thus
constructed as a primitive feature and its replacement by cooperation
is a prerequisite for social and intellectual advancement. Habermas
was influenced by Piaget's work on moral development (1932) and
by the recontextualising of Piaget's work by Lawrence Kohlberg
(1981). Habermas was also influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud.
Arguably, Habermas' interpretation of Freud was analogous to Piaget's
interpretation of Marx. That is, Habermas' understanding of repression
was as a pathological state rather than as that which constitutes
the subject. Thus emancipatory action is directed towards the elimination
of repression which, in a more conventional interpretation of
Freud, must effect the elimination of the subject. As I have argued,
Haraway reinserts a dispersed version of Foucauldian power into
what would otherwise look like a Baudrillardian self-referential
system. Baudrillard, himself, effectively externalises the cynical
subject, much as the military dream externalises the Prince and
the gospel of St Matthew externalises God. These positions align
as alternative states. Whether by externalising or internalising
it, St Matthew, Marx, Freud, Foucault, Baudrillard and Haraway
claim faith in the subject, which is to say, in power; Piaget
and Habermas constitute power as artifactual and so as capable
of being eliminated. Power is on or power is off; either way,
it animates the system, transforming the game into something rather
serious or transforming utopia into the real world.
Subjectivity is here in the Microsoft ad and in O'Donnell's 'New
Tools for Teaching'. Subjectivity is Barlow's wish in the utopian
future of cyberspace or a bereavement in the technological expulsion
from Gibson's eden. Subjectivity is present and therefore not
analysable in Baudrillard's cynicism of the present. Subjectivity
is absent in Piaget's equilibrium of the future. All reduced to
states of the same system.
To recapitulate The Ascension. I have described four modes of
social practice which relate to each other as levels of abstraction.
The specialisation of manual practices constitutes a verticalising
of pedagogic relations in careers. This marks craft practices
from the quotidian. The elaboration of the craft constitutes simulacra
of skill. subjectivity/virtuosity is displayed in challenging
these simulacra to reveal the absent skill. The higher level of
organisation of manual practices constitutes the intellectual.
The context-independent/context-dependent opposition established
between intellectual and manual practices entails that they stand
in a class relationship each other. Where intellectual practices
directly impose an organisation upon craft practices, the latter
are routinised and codified. Subjectivity/virtuosity within the
manual class is no longer possible and has moved up into the intellectual
sphere; skill is elevated to knowledge as that which is now simulated
and that which is challenged by intellectual virtuosity, such
Finally, the cybernetic organisation of the intellectual elevates
knowledge to universal rationality as the absence which is simulated.
Subjectivity/virtuosity is now displayed in the challenge to this
rationality to reveal itself. This subjectivity must be asserted
or denied but cannot be grasped in either its presence or its
absence. It has progressed from manual to intellectual to cybernetic
practices in its upward moves, in ever increasing levels of abstraction,
to be finally revealed as the binary code of electronic communications:
zero/one; yes/no; on/off. Who decides? Who throws the switch?
4. Technology and the production of the social unconscious
There are at least two difficulties with the description as formulated.
Firstly, we remain in a state of arbitrariness, not only with
respect to faith or non-faith, but with respect to the object
of the faith/non-faith. Ultimately, there is no avoiding the infinite
regress. Nevertheless, we can, at least, provide a name for out
god/non-god. Such name should serve to unify our field of enquiry:
to choose between Baudrillard or Piaget or to generate an alternative
coherent theory. Secondly, The Ascension, as formulated, is clearly
evolutionary. Even without ascribing ontological significance
to any characterisation of non-cybernetic societies, such characterisings
must of necessity constitute ascriptions of relative primitivity.
As usual, the domestic community ends up at the lowest point of
the hierarchy. This is precisely the difficulty with positions
such as that adopted by Vygotsky (1986) and Luria (1976). Unfortunately,
the alternative position taken by writers from Herder to Franz
Boas and his students, generates a new set of difficulties associated
with cultural isolationism, Nazism, apartheid, and so on. In this
section, I want to draw on the psychoanalytic writing of Ignacio
Matte-Blanco (1988; see also Rayner, 1995) in order to address
these difficulties. The proposition that I shall advance is that
social activity and its realisation in technology can be interpreted
as an attempt to establish a social unconscious. The motivation
for the social unconscious is the resolution of what Matte-Blanco
describes as the 'fundamental antinomy of human beings and the
I shall start with an illustrative narrative, as follows: a schizophrenic
is bitten by a dog and so visits a dentist. Such an action is clearly not to be resolved using conventional
logic. An initial attempt to make sense of the narrative might
constitute a chain of metonyms as follows: dog-bite, teeth, dentist.
This would enable the narrative to be interpreted in terms of
a displacement, but it would not explain the principles of selection
of the particular metonyms involved. Suppose, however, that we
make an assumption that the unconscious operates according to
an alternative logic. In particular, we might assume that, whereas
the conscious operates according to a logic which distinguishes
between asymmetrical and symmetrical relations, the unconscious
operates, at least in part, on the basis of symmetrical relations
only. Thus, 'dog bites person' is an asymmetrical relation, because
it does not imply that 'person bites dog'. The symmetrising unconscious,
however, would interpret these two statements as equivalent. The
narrative can now be interpreted as follows. The dog bites the
schizophrenic. This event is interpreted as equivalent to the
schizophrenic biting the dog by her/his unconscious. The dog-bite
causes pain, but this is now interpretable as the act of biting
by the person themselves causes pain. This provides entirely adequate
grounds for the visit to the dentist that concludes the narrative.
The schizophrenic of the narrative can be interpreted as acting
according to two modes of logic: asymmetric and symmetric. Her/his
action can be described as an alternating sequence of these logics;
it is 'bi-logical'. Matte-Blanco proposes that the very deepest
level of the unconscious does not operate according to differentiation
at all. In this sense, there is no thinking, only being. Asymmetric
relations are inaugurated by the earliest encounters of this original
state with the world; specifically, the breast may be offered
(good) or withdrawn (bad). At the deep levels of the unconscious,
symmetric logic identifies the good breast with every member of
the class of things which are good and the bad breast with every
member of the class of things which can be bad. Since these are
potentially infinite classes, symmetrising here constitutes an
infinitised polarisation of pleasure and discomfort. This identification
of a member of a class with every member of the class entails
that the unconscious operates in propositional form. That is,
the perception that mother is happy results in the association
of mother with every member of the class of things that can be
happy. Thus, 'mother is happy' is transformed into 'x is happy',
which is to say, 'there is happiness'. This, again, is a state
of being which contrasts with the state of happening which characterises
the differentiating action of consciousness.
Because the class, in the unconscious, is represented simultaneously
by many and potentially infinite elements, the mode of operation
of the unconscious can be described as multi-dimensional. Matte-Blanco
argues that consciousness must conform to a four-dimensional (three
dimensions of displacement plus time) world. There is, thus a
'fundamental antinomy' between the original, which is to say,
unconscious human being and their worldly consciousness.
Matte-Blanco makes a great deal of use of mathematical resources
to describe this fundamental antinomy. However, it may be more
appropriate to interpret mathematics itself as a technological
means of resolving the antinomy which can be described in simpler
terms. Essentially, the original human is constituted as an unconscious
being. This being emerges into a world which is populated by other
beings, interactions between which of necessity disrupt the symmetry
of being with asymmetrical thinking. The conscious human subject is constituted through the repression
of the unconscious human being.
The social is necessarily agonistic. The existence of social solidarity
in the face of an antagonistic social milieu is, of course, is
precisely the problem that Durkheim (1984) attempted to resolve
in The Division of Labour in Society. Durkheim's mechanical solidarity is constituted by a collective
social consciousness. However, to the extent that this consciousness
can be contained within the consciousness of individuals, it cannot
resolve the antinomy with being. Rather than constituting social
consciousness, I want to suggest that we can describe all social action as
leading towards the constitution of a social unconscious, that is, of technological forms which are capable of containing
the symmetric, multidimensionality of the individual unconscious
which is repressed by the very nature of the agonistic social
in the constitution of the conscious subject.
It is now possible to regard the ascension of subjectivity which
I have described in the previous section of this paper as progress
towards such a social unconscious. The ultimate binary code of
cybernetic practice corresponds to the good/bad polarisation of
the unconscious. Being both binary states of single potentials,
they both resolve to singularities: the individual unconscious
being and the social unconscious being. Between these two extremes
of unconscious reside the various levels of individual/social
subjectivity, which is to say, practice which can, to a greater
or lesser extent be contained within consciousness. This subjectivity
is now antinomical to both poles of individual and social being.
The subsequent practice of this subjectivity is, perhaps, appropriately
described as moving between two therapeutic states: psychoanalysis
and socioanalysis. This enables the constitution of a coherent
theory, which was the first difficulty referred to above.
The second difficulty concerned the dichotomy of social evolutionism
and cultural isolationism on which social theories have a tendency
to founder. The Ascension theory is one of social evolutionism.
Pre-intellectual and, now, pre-cybernetic societies are constituted
as relatively primitive. However, the construction of such societies
as comparatively simple should now be interpreted as jealous attributions
of a higher state of development in that simple and so stable
societies can be presumed to be closer to the ultimate achievement
of a social unconscious. This is an inversion of the more familiar
hierarchy of social evolutionism. Furthermore, this does not lead
to the alternative evil of cultural isolationism and apartheid.
This is because once subjectivity has been established, the antinomy
can be resolved only by the constitution of the social unconscious.
This applies whether the new subject is an individual or a social
subject. The colonial subject has constructed an unconscious other
and generated an other as subject. There is no return to eden.
Utopia may be other than we desire. We are now all caught in a
global construction programme in the ascension to the technological
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DOWLING, P.C. & BROWN, A.J., 1996, 'Pedagogy & Community in three South African Schools: a classroom
study', presented at Research into Social Perspectives in Mathematics Education, 13th June 1996
1. Internet address: http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists-a-e/cyberspace-and-society/
2. Though not the movie, if we are to believe the critics (see,
for example, Dave Green in The Guardian Weekend, March 2 1996).
3. The reference is to Lévi-Strauss (1972).
4. Hebdige (1979).
5. Having read Bruno Latour in between the writing of the two papers
cited here, Haraway eschews this term in favour of 'amodern'.
6. See, for example, Mauss's (1979).
7. See Singleton (1989) and the discussion in Dowling (1995a, 1995b,
8. See the discussion in Dowling (1995c, 1995d)
9. See the discussion in Bernstein (1996) from whom the horizontal/vertical
opposition is taken. See also Dowling (1995d).
10. Durkheim (1984) attempts to characterise societies in terms of
mechanical and organic solidarity. In his use of Durkheim, Bernstein
has described societies as hybrid. Bernstein (for example, 1977)
describes different class locations in terms of different modes
of solidarity. Johan Müller of the University of Cape Town (personal
communication) has been suggested that this effects an importing
of Durkheim's evolutionary model of society into the description
of contemporary society so that social class is aligned with social
development. This is at least arguably the case and clearly has
serious implications especially in relation to a society in which,
for historical reasons, racial hierarchies are closely aligned
with social class. In the present paper, however, 'development'
refers to the mode of establishing and maintaining social relations
which is not to be evaluated positively or negatively.
11. In the university, for example, the relations established between
the professor and her/his undergraduate students is only, in part,
a career relation. This is because the pedagogy entails selection;
only a small number of undergraduates will become professors.
Others are more appropriately described as being in a relay relation
(see Dowling, 1995a).
12. Cognitive science involves the construction of computer models
of mind. Chaos theory proposes that a simple system is capable
of generating chaotic behaviour. See Gleick (1988) for a non-technical
exposition on chaos theory.
13. C3I: Command, Control, Communication, Intelligence.
14. See the discussion in Elliott (1992).
15. This paper originally finished at the end of section 3, section
4 having been added shortly before the paper was actually presented.
Although necessary minor modification were made to the introduction,
this addition has necessarily reduced the overall coherence of
the paper. Since the developments in section 4 are very much in
the speculative phase, however, I have decided to leave this version
of the paper in the form in which it was presented, rather than
delay its availability unduly. A more fully developed version
will form the basis of a forthcoming publication.
16. My comments on and interpretation of this narrative are not those
offered by Matte-Blanco, who introduces the narrative in the work
cited. In particular, his interpretation is far more complex and,
presumably, more apposite within the context of clinical psychoanalysis.
Nevertheless, I am asserting that my analysis serves more efficiently
to illustrate the central feature of Matte-Blanco's theory that
I am introducing and, furthermore, is entirely consistent with
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