Semiotic Pilotage

(TC&S via Anne)

I think I am suffering from hyper-wired bureaucracy rage. My university has a subscription to the journal Theory, Culture & Society and the new issue is out. Yet, I can’t access the journal through the third party (or is it Sage’s?) journal database search engine CSA Illumina, because the database has not updated its holdings. This is particularly frustrating.

Anyway the latest issue of TC&S looks very interesting as special double-issue annotated glossary of sorts. Entries that I am particularly keen to read include those on the ‘assemblage/agencement’ (3 or 4 entries, but besides the obvious reading, I am not sure what ‘global assemblages’ is about, should be interesting), ‘market’, ‘complexity’, ‘archive’, and, of course, the ‘event’.

It is interesting that Karin Knorr-Cetina has written the ‘market’ entry as Knorr-Cetina’s work looks at the big national financial/stock markets and interactions between traders and this thing called a ‘market’ (online stuff here and here, that first essay was particularly influential on my early thinking for my dissertation), rather than ‘markets’ in the everyday sense largely pertaining to a population of consumers and correlative infrastructure (a market for something). This is going to be an important distinction in the clarifying work of my dissertation. (However, to add a clarification, Knorr-Cetina has certainly engaged with different forms of markets, however my focus will be mainly on the markets constituted by mass consumers and other businesses through niche ‘enthusiast’ media. The relationship between media and markets is my focus.)

I hope the authors of the entry on ‘assemblage’ have read Genosko’s book on Guattari, particularly about the importance of an understanding of the role of ‘transversality’ in the concept of ‘assemblage’. This lineage certainly puts a different spin on it than the machinic heroics of A Thousand Plateaus. Plus, I am not sure what level of scholar the glossary entries are pitched at (what’s its market? lol), but in the abstract for the ‘assemblage’ entry the authors write that the term “has been been derived from key sources of theory”… ‘Theory’? There are a couple of other entries that refer to assemblage, so maybe there is a productive tension between them.

Lastly, John Urry’s stuff on ‘complexity’ will be interesting to read after hearing him speak on ‘complexity and Marx’ in Sweden (and reading nearly all his work!).

Is this glossary an exercise of ‘taking stock’ a delineation of a set of heterogeneous elements, marking them under the territorializing sign of “Theory, Culture & Society” and consolidating this territoriality with the scholarly affects of a serious disinterest (or interested seriousness)? Is the ‘direction’ of editorial content in the journal an example of what Guattari and Alliez called the “‘homing-head’ of innovation” connected directly to the “basic diet” of capitalism: “the means of semiotic pilotage”??? (You know, not in a dissimilar manner to editorial content of magazines…)

If it is, then the journal database from which I am meant to have access is doing a bloody terrible job as part of the journal-scholar assemblage!!!

4 replies on “Semiotic Pilotage”

  1. I’m considering purchasing a copy of the journal – it looks like a decent update (so to speak) of Keywords. Short essays, rather than definitions, of key concepts.

  2. yeah, I agree about buying a copy. Having it in your hands lends itself to a different reading experience where you can flick back and forth, and you get a sense of the materiality of the reading. A bit like reading D&G’s ATP in a ‘rhizomatic’ manner.

  3. QUT is obviously doing a top job – I have access through the journal’s website to full text. Let me know if you can’t wait for a few papers and I can shoot them to you.

    On “the materiality of reading” – I’ve almost finished “The Myth of the Paperless Office” by Sellen and Harper. It’s from a fieldwork point of view (these were IT people in the field – “ethnographic” would imply, to me, some sort of overt analytical/philosophical stance) but very well done as it identifies many different kinds of reading (as in the physical act) that take place in an office environment. They also identify the affordances of paper that make it so useful for these different types of reading.

    I give it 8/10 but you can’t dance to it.

Comments are closed.