03 January 2013

Dämmerung


It is an interesting question the extent to which computationality requires an ideology. If it is indeed the case that computationality represents the incorporation of identity thinking par excellence, then where there is the slightest cognitive dissonance between reality and code, then anticipatory computing can take the strain of reconciliation of any jarring disparity. This false unity, structured in part by the hollowing out of human reason and placing it within algorithms, requires only the acceptance of the superior cognitive abilities of the computational devices that mediate the algorithms. How then would this be achieved, how could computational processes sustain such a hegemonic hold over the psychic life of the individuals and groups of a computational society?

Perhaps through the sheer quantification that computationality makes possible, and which is intoxicating to the human narcissistic urge to collect, store and keep; combined with the other side of the computational coin, that is the ability to "read" these huge data stores, archives, big data, and databases through the mediation of computational visualisation. The locked promise of personal histories and stories held within the frame of the computer, combined with the key of enchanted interfaces, perfect memories, and the paradigm of convenience that accompanies the digital. But this is a limited ideological screen, and easily identified through the instabilities, glitches, exceptions and crashes that plague our computational experience. Perhaps Horkheimer's prophetic words describing a world thrown upside down between 1926 and 1931 remain relevant today, when he says,
The more threadbare ideologies are, the crueller the means by which they are protected. The degree of effort and terror with which swaying gods are defended, shows the extent to which dusk [Dämmerung] has set in. In Europe the understanding of the masses has increased with big industry so that the sacred goods have to be protected... Whoever defends [these goods] has already [thereby] made his career: in addition to... systematically induced stupification, the threat of economic ruin, social disgrace, prison and death prevent this [newly established] understanding from violating the highest conceptual means of domination. The imperialism of big European states does not have to envy the stakes of the Middle Ages; its symbols are protected by more subtle apparatuses and more terrible armed guards than the Saints of the Church of the Middle Ages. The opponents of the inquisition made that twilight [Dämmerung] into the dawn of a new day, nor does the dusk [Dämmerung] of capitalism necessarily herald the night of humanity, though this seems to be threatening today (Horkheimer, Dämmerung: 225). 
Protected, perhaps, in computationality, by the more subtle apparatuses and more terrible armed guards of drones, algorithms, software and code.


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