Posted by: glue | June 9, 2008

Conatus

Heuretics is the method of an experimental humanities. The invention of an electrate practice is aided by the use of the CATTt generator (a matrix of discourse sources: Contrast, Analogy, Theory, Target, tale). The Theory for the primary experiment conducted within this blog as tale comes from Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza:

No one knows ahead of time the affects one is capable of; it is a long affair of experimentation, requiring a lasting prudence.

The principle taken up from Spinoza is conatus (a Latin term): striving to persevere in one’s own being. Conatus refers to the life principle, the drive to live and thrive. It exists in a family of related terms, including Aristotle’s entelechy, the Greek daimon, translated into Latin as genius, Leibniz’s monad, Nietzsche’s will to power, Heidegger’s dasein. The Chinese notion of ch’i (shi, qi) could be included as well.

Conatus names the dimension of human potential specifically adressed, augmented, rendered virtually in the digital prosthesis and thus enhanced. Electracy does for the affective body what literacy did for the cognitive mind. The point to notice for this experiment is the shift in electrate rhetoric away from communication addressing or seducing others, to the auto-affection of the middle voice. This blog, in other words, to the extent that it is the tale of the CATTt for this experimental invention of Expression, is auto-affective, self-addressed, to experiment with my own capacity to be affected.

self-designating point

You will have asked yourself: what is that, for me?

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Responses

  1. Most versions of Roman Jakobson’s diagram of communication label the functions of a message in a way that masks a feature crucial to our experiment.

    ………………………….Context
    ………………………….Message
    Addresser ———————————-Addressee
    ………………………….Contact
    ………………………….Code

    An alternative terminology names Addresser as the expressive function and Addressee as the conative function. The functionalist terms are: emotive, referential, poetic, phatic, metalingual, conative. A counter-intuitive lesson for our practice is that Expression must be thought not from the position of sender (labeled “expressive” ) but the position of receiver (the conative position). This shift of priority applies to every version or variation of similar diagrams found in the works of post/structuralism.
    In electracy I compose from the position of receiver.

  2. If this is self-addressed or an experiment to being self-affected, written from the position of the receiver, I can’t help but ask, not “what is that, for me?” (though that question persists as well) but what am I, for this/you? What is my role here–if a role at all? Do I, as (other) reader/witness to this experiment, take up position of spectator (electrate spectator?) or is some other relation(s) with the digital prosthesis at work?

    I wonder, then, to enter/act here if I don’t need my own tale/experiment in a parallel world/blog and not to question/respond here, as this then becomes part of the auto-effective of the middle voice…

  3. This blog (any blog) has multiple layers, threads. It is not one, unified, organic, but is in process, in anticipation of self-organization. It includes a pedagogy (also self-addressed), that in no way excludes a dialogue (such as this one between us). At the same time, the imperative of the Expression experiment, as of the mystory, is: try this yourself! Certainly engage me here, but more importantly: seek what I am seeking, in your own terms, for yourself.

  4. I am hoping that you can elaborate a bit on the “middle voice.” I recognize the reference to Barthes (it is Barthes, right?) but am not very familiar with the concept. I’m also wondering if “auto-affection” is a reference to the work of Michel Henry. I’m reading the chapter on him in Mullarkey’s book on POST-CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY and came across that phrase in reference to his work.

  5. Here is a link to an essay that describes this feature of writing
    ( Middle Voice ).
    Most of the French poststructuralist refer to this voice, including Derrida, in his essay “Differance.” Barthes introduced into the theoretical conversation, drawing on linguistics (Benveniste). It is a useful concept for thinking about wreading, the blurring of borders between senders and receivers in cyberspace. Flash Reason, for example, is performed from the position of receiver (conative position in Jakobson’s list of functions).


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