Entertainment Trauma Value

So we’ve had shock jocks for some time. Now we have trauma jocks.

AUTHORITIES are investigating a radio stunt which saw a young girl strapped to a lie detector before revealing she was raped.
The girl was peppered with questions about whether she had ever had sex before she broke down on the 2Day FM radio station hosted by by Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, revealing the rape ordeal she endured at the age of 12.
Under pressure from her mother Michelle to reveal if she had ever had sex, Rachel broke down and revealed she had been raped.
Sandiland’s first response to the horrifying revelation was, “Right, is that the only experience you have had?”
The 104.1 2Day FM breakfast hosts heavily promoted the segment which aired just after 8am this morning.
On their website, the station boasts: “Cheating, drinking, lesbian marriage – we’ve revealed it all as we strap Sydney into the dreaded Lie Detector.”
The segment has also seen people are hooked up to the machine, while their partner, friends or family quiz them on masturbation, threesomes and STDs.

2DAYFM gets 10% share, 60,000 people per day in Sydney. Audio. Be warned that it is traumatic to listen to as well, particularly when you have the foreboding sense of what is coming.

I really did not want to listen to it, and it has made me feel sick. Kyle Sandilands demonstrated a lack compassion by zeroing in for the ‘killer question’. It would’ve been perfect had she been a politician telling lies about something, not some messed up kid. The trauma of rape and sexual assault is a heavy burden to bear and puts a massive strain on families.

The way the girl blurted out the confession makes me think it was the sort of disclosure you make when backed into a corner when you’re 14 years old and in an inappropriate position like this kid was. 14 is pretend grown up, at 14 years old girls and boys don’t have the skills to comport themselves in socially acceptable ways under duress.

The mother is going to cop a lot of criticism for this. Clearly she needs to have a hard look at herself. It is unfortunate that she believed this excercise could end any other way. Trying to control a child that is perceived to be out of control through a confessional mode of parenting is not uncommon and could’ve been born of the trauma from discovering her child was raped. To get a child to admit to minor acts of delinquency as a way of confronting them and gaining power over them is tragically misunderstood as gaining power over the situations in which young people become victims. When you are a victim of sexual assault, you are a victim. You can’t control the situation. The confessional mode of parenting doesn’t ward off bad things happening and it doesn’t give the child the necessary common sense adult skills to avoid everyday misfortune, let alone situations created by others where the child is the victim. Instead of confessions there should be frank discussion.

The bigger issue is one of dignity. Violence should not be a solution to teaching Sandilands a lesson, even though my first response was that I wanted to beat Sandilands to a fucking pulp I suggest others do not go to town on Sandilands’s person. Victims of sexual assault work hard to find some dignity. Part of the work of family members and those that care for people who have been victims of sexual assault is to help and support victims find this dignity again. Sandilands is clearly a person who knows exactly what dignity is because he works extremely hard to take it away from people with such media stunts. Sandilands is therefore one of the most unethical people in the Australian media today. Do not reduce yourself to his level.

Lodge a complaint by downloading this form, printing and faxing off.
Reference the commercial radio code of practice or here for this clause for “program content and language” regarding “sex and sexual behaviour”:

1.5 (a) All program content must meet contemporary standards of decency, having regard to the likely characteristics of the audience of the licensee’s service.

I hope the advertisers of 2DAYFM pull their ads, I hope the listeners stop listening, and I hope someone sits down with both the mother and the child to help them get some perspective on what is yet another trauma.

Prince of Networks #4: Bergson

Earlier discussion here, here and here.
It is clear that in his book Prince of Networks on Bruno Latour and on his blog, Harman is trying to make room for a concept of time as a series of cinematic-instants. He argues against an allegedly Bergsonian conception of time in Deleuze’s work that is organised around duration. One of the things that struck me about Reassembling the Social was its distinctive Deleuzian tone. From Latour’s Reassembling the Social:

A terminological precision about network
The word network is so ambiguous that we should have abandoned it long ago. And yet the tradition in which we use it remains distinct in spite of its possible confusion with two other lines. One is of course the technical networks—electricity, trains, sewages, internet, and so on. The second one is used, in sociology of organization, to introduce a difference between organizations, markets, and states (Boyer 2004). In this case, network represents one informal way of associating together human agents (Granovetter 1985).
When (Castells 2000) uses the term, the two meanings merge since network becomes a privileged mode of organization thanks to the very extension of information technology. It’s also in this sense that Boltanski and Chiapello (2005) take it to define a new trend in the capitalist mode of production.
But the other tradition, to which we have always referred, is that of Diderot especially in his Le rêve de d’Alembert (1769), which includes twenty-seven instances of the word reseaux. This is where you can find a very special brand of active and distributed materialism of which Deleuze, through Bergson, is the most recent representative. (129)

This is here as a note to which I shall return to try to answer the question, If Harman presents a Heideggerised Latour, what would be a Deleuzian Latour?

potentially infinite scale without structural polarizations

The consequence of throwing out the category of class together with the logic of economism has not been to institute a new and more adequate model of analysis, but to abandon the field to the wilderness of stratification theory, for which, in Don Aitkin’s terms, class ‘is a concept of merely nominal value: it is simply the term used to subsume the manifold differences in occupation, income, prestige, residence, lifestyle and education that characterize a complex urban industrial society’. The implication of such a model is that these dimensions are quite disconnected from each other: that they are aggregated rather than structured, or that they form a continuous, indeterminate, and potentially infinite scale without structural polarizations, and therefore without any way of explaining consolidations of discrepant interests.” The very act of listing the ‘factors’ that make up social positionalities (age + gender + race + sexual orientation + …) assumes, as Judith Butler puts it, ‘their discrete, sequential coexistence along a horizontal axis that does not describe their convergences within a social field’. (102) John Forw Cultural Studies and Cultural Value

The Rotten Machine

Lazarus: You really think you’re making a difference?
O’Niel: [shrug]
Lazarus: Then why for god’s sake?
O’Niel: Because.. maybe they are right. They send me here to this pile of shit becaue maybe I belong here… I want to find out… well… if they’re right. There is a whole machine that works because everyone does what they are supposed to. I find out I was supposed to be something I didn’t like… that’s whats in the program, that’s my rotten little part, in the rotten machine. I don’t like it… so, I’m going to find out if they’re right.
Lazarus: You’re wife is one stupid lady… You want to go get drunk?
O’Niel: Yes.

In the above section of dialogue in the film Outland the Federal Marshal O’Niel, played by Sean Connery, is explaining to the doctor why he doesn’t just leave the remote mining facility on one of the moons of Jupiter and go back to Earth with his beautiful wife and son. There are obvious connections between Outland and High Noon. Although High Noon is a moralistic celebration of the individual will, Outland is somewhat dystopian. There is a typical resolution in the end of the film but the struggle of the main character is less between O’Niel and the drug dealers and assasins, or even an existential turmoil, but between O’Niel and the ‘rotten system’ where everyone does what they are ‘supposed’ to do.

Prince of Networks #3: Cinema for bugs and dogs?

This was originally written as a reply on Levi Bryant’s blog as part of the on going discussion of Graham Harman‘s book on Bruno Latour Prince of Networks. Please read the previous post first to get some context if needed. So, I was going to wait until I’d actually finished the book, but, hey, why not?

What I am trying to understand is how it is possible to have absolute instants and yet talk about ‘history’, ‘trajectory’, etc. Is an absolute instant meant to be a ‘point’? This is unclear. I ask because a ‘point’ has zero time-space, only coordinates, that was the quip about Zeno’s paradox and ‘no time’. The ‘cinematic’ view of a series of instants is a succession of zeros. If the ‘instant’ is slightly longer then it has duration, and we are not talking about instants anymore. Just to be clear it is Harman’s interpretation of Latour’s conception of time I was trying to describe, not what I think is Latour’s conception of time, which for me is far more Deleuzian than Harman and Levi allow it to be. ‘Deleuze’ in Prince of Networks is a bit of a straw person. So what is Harman’s interpretation of Latour’s conceptualisation of ‘time’, here are a few initial quotes for those who have not read the book:

“Just as with power, logic, and truth, Latour holds that time is merely the result of negotiations among entities, not what makes these negotiations possible. […] ‘Time is the distant consequences of actors as they each seek to create a fait accompli on their own behalf that cannot be reversed. In this way time passes’ (PF, p. 165). Or rather, ‘Time does not pass. Times are what is at stake between forces’ (PF, p. 165).” (Harman 30)

“And ‘to create an asymmetry, an actant need only lean on a force slightly more durable than itself’ (PF, p. 160). Finally, ‘“time” arises at the end of this game, a game in which most lose what they have staked’ (PF, p. 165).” (Harman 31)

“[In] one sense, Latour’s objects are utterly imprisoned in a single instant; in another sense, they burst all boundaries of space and time and take off on lines of flight toward ever new adventures. […] And if we are speaking of trajectories or transformations, then there is still no cryptic domestic essence on the interior of a thing that could endure across time—here a thing is still found on the surface of the world, but it is now a surface unfolding through a succession of various shapes rather than a cinematic frame of absolute specificity.” (Harman 65)

“[Latour’s] metaphysics of relations forces him into a twofold theory of time, now split into ‘linear’ and ‘sedimentary’ kinds. In his own words, ‘a year should be defined along two axes, not just one. The first axis registers the linear dimension of time […] in that sense 1864 happens before 1865. But this is not all there is to say about the year 1864 […]. There is also a portion of what happened in 1864 that is produced after 1864 and made retrospectively a part […] of what happened in 1864’ (PH, p. 172). And further, ‘if we skip forward 130 years, there is still a year 1864 “of 1998” […] maybe [including] a complete revision of the dispute in which, eventually, Pouchet is the winner because he anticipated some results of prebiotics’ (PH, p. 172). If you feel yourself resisting this strange conclusion, Latour says that your resistance is the result of ‘a very simple confusion’ (PH, p. 172) between linear
and sedimentary time.” (Harman 85)

The last passage reminds me both of Deleuze’s and Foucault’s respective works, particularly around the concept of the event. (For Deleuze the main texts are D&R, TLoS and The Fold, while for Foucault it is his review of D&R and TLoS and his inaugral lecture to the College de France published as The Discourse on Language as well as various interviews.) Bodies and the passions of bodies on one side completely ignorant of the human apprehension of microbes (‘linear’ time?) and the sense humans derive of their mixing on the other hand (‘sedimentary’ time?) for the microbe-event. Besides the difference in terminology, which I am not sure if it is accurate as Latour wrote in French, how is this different to Deleuze’s conception of time in the Logic of Sense?

The dominant Latour-event for me from my reading of Latour-academic’s work is derived from Reassembling the Social. I read the ‘social’ as an event, and not an object. Latour discovered the ‘social’ in the same way microbes were ‘discovered’.

“As we have seen, Latour does sometime speaks of actors as ‘trajectories’ that cut across numerous moments, and implies that an actor acquires a ‘history’ when its allies shift rather than that it perishes outright.” (Harman 104)

“The example of microbes in 1864 seems to require that humans had to learn about microbes before they could retroactively begin to exist in the past. This claim would enrage any realist, since it seems to deny a world apart from human perception of that world. But as already suggested, this should be viewed merely as a bridge too far, not as a central feature of Latour’s position. The reason is that he not only could have avoided such a theory of time, but even should have avoided it given his general views on actors. Latour’s main point is that reality is made of propositions, in Whitehead’s sense of the term—defined not as verbal statements by conscious humans, but mutual relations in which two things articulate each other ever more fully.” (Harman 125)

What does ‘ever more fully’ mean (“mutual relations in which two things articulate each other ever more fully”), if there was no potential or reserve? Harman’s mistake in interpreteting Deleuze’s conception of Bergson is that Harman is letting his Heideggerian side take over. Potential does not belong to an ‘object’, but more to what Harman is interpreting in Latour’s work as relations. Why ‘objects’? Not many objects articulate other objects. A rock does not articulate another thousand rocks (‘allies’) more fully to form a landslide. A rock forms a relation with another rock merely as a mass and a number of forces, humans and other animals witnessing a landslide articulate themselves and the other ‘bodies’ within the ‘landslide event’, but only humans will form relations with the landslide as what we call a landslide. Animals are different again. The landslide is not an ‘object’; it is repeatedly actualised in different ways as different ‘landslides’. An event and can be ‘more fully’ articulated relative to another differential repetition of the event, but I am not sure how an ‘object’ can be more fully articulated.

“It resembles the classic critique of intermediate points: the race staged by Zeno between Achilles and the tortoise. To reach one mediator we need another between them, but must first reach an additional mediator midway between those, and so forth. The same problem has often been raised concerning the theory of time as constructed out of instants, a doctrine I have ascribed to Latour as well. Such points are well taken. But they are merely problems to be solved, not outright refutations of the occasionalist stance. Note that the alternative theory of a primal whole of objects and primal flux of time is plagued with difficulties no less severe, since it cannot explain clearly how these wholes are segmented into distinct zones. The quantized world of occasionalism does have difficulty explaining leaps, but the continuum model of holistic flux or pulsations of intensity has problems explaining why the world is not a single molten whole, devoid of regions.” (Harman 145)

Well, string theory suggests it is all one flux! The simple answer to how a spatialised time emerges from the flux is that observers experience/engage with the world according to their capacities for experience/engagement. (Maybe ‘spatialised time’ is not sufficient for what I am trying to describe, perhaps ‘ordered time’ is better? This moment before that one and after that one, etc. The moments only make sense within a given event, as the ordering of time is produced as a function of the event.) Hence my first comment to Levi’s Flat Ontology post regarding affects. For example, and the only example I can provide, a spatialised time is an effect of the human perceptual capacity (+ tools and imagination) to arrest and backform time-space and therefore causality from the infinite flux. The cosmos is a single event at the same time it is an infinite mulitplicity of events. We have a perception of before and after (and causality) because our perceptual capacities allow us to delineate events around us. Hence cinematic illusions of movement from a series of still images, the rate of cinematic projection exceeds the human capacity for perceiving distinct moments. Other entities are capable of ‘folding’ the cosmos in different ways, ie representing it with the full capacities of their bodies (body-senses-nervous system-brain or whatever for humans, different for every entitity capable of folding the world). Cinema for bugs and dogs? A dog or a bug would have a different ‘cinema effect’ compared to humans, for example. For plants relying on the sun there are moments of sun and no moments, different seasons and so on, they each have their own temporality depending on the capacity for the plant-body to affect and be affected. Anything else is infusing a human-ordered temporality into the ontological conditions of the plant. Part of the becoming-plant of the gardener is to learn to appreciate and eventually assume the temporal rhythms of the plant to help it grow.

Latour’s philosophical practice, just like Foucault’s as Latour himself notes in Reassembling the Social, is excellent at tracing these emergent causalities along actor-networks, something seems lost when the focus is shifted to the objecthood of objects, so an event is reduced to be a condition of the object (when a thing is thinging) at the expense of events that cannot very easily be reduced to objects.