The NY Times has a piece up called ‘The Busyness Trap’ which is half-good, half-typical-bullshit-NY-Times-op-ed. (“Not long ago I Skyped with a friend who was driven out of the city by high rent and now has an artist’s residency in a small town in the south of France” ugh fuck off) But there’s one line that is interesting as evidence of just the sort of thing I’m really interested in:
It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.
These kinds of pronouncements of collective failure, or failure-by-group are really weird. They have a weird mereology about them I think. Like which one is more real – individuals, or the collective? Or are you proposing a flat ontology? Which way does causality run, upwards or downwards; from individuals to collectives or from collectives to individuals?
One criticism of my analysis might be that I am ascribing too much perception to this shitty NY op-ed and to popular pronouncements of this kind in general. But I don’t want to privilege intentionality. Why can’t they accidentally (algorithmically, as a function of their own language and rhetoric?) stumble upon a popular flat ontology? That’s part of the beauty of autonomy and agency anyway, right? The accident and the surprise (serendipity) are its primary attractions. This is what I liked most about Michel Chion’s work on film sound, and why I wrote my undergrad thesis on it.
Sudden realisation: this same aesthetic (?) concern has animated most of my work since at least 2007 (and I’m now thinking of examples form even earlier! I wrote a chat bot in High School! I’ve been a Bot Love forever!!).