AN INTRODUCTION BY BENJAMIN BRATTON
The model of the machine is always compatible with the model of the mind. From Plato's cave to Hobbes' Leviathan, from Freud's "internal combustion engine" to Foucault's technologies of space and to Deconstruction and Artificial Intelligence's more cybernetic approaches, the technologies of the mind and the technologies of the device appear to discursively spiral together as the distances between intention and affordance overlap through history. Accordingly, these *technological* knowledges by which the mind and the device can be differentiated, and simultaneously made similar, create their own procedures of monitoring borders. Modernity, at only the most simple level, carves this path through magic and science, magicians and scientists. But this cleavage is, as Bruno Latour suggests in questioning Modernity's segregation of the Humanities and the Physical Sciences, not only a matter of deciding methodologies, it is the basis of how Modernity could possibly claim that it had, ever, "dis-enchanted" everyday life. When Max Weber said that industrial Modernity had fabricated an iron-cage in which the logics of "magic" were systematically and discursively eliminated, he wrote *for* that process' self-image, not against it. Modernity and Industrialization did not assassinate enchantment, they modernized and industrialized it. To consider how is our interest in this transmission of _SPEED_.
"Schizophrenics" have a thing about technology, (so do Newt Gingrich and Alvin Toffler, but more on *them* later). That is to say, "schizophrenics" often organize their object relations through technological narratives with a regularity that suggests something beyond "mental illness" in terms of how people interact with the world(s) around them. The "voices" that tormented and inspired yesterday's "crazies" have gone high-tech and now haunt people through telephones, personal radio waves, menacing space ships hovering always overhead, surgically implanted microchips, ominous black helicopters, and secret computer surveillance; all incorporated into a conspiracy so vast and universal that no thought or action escapes the purview of the only partially-understood forces undoubtedly behind it all. Some are more benign and come into play as computers with names, "Holy Spirits" transmitted through television screens, ATM machines with "moods" or, even as television "psychic" Kenny Kingston suggests, through "Clar-Audio" frequencies that allow him to predict the future by phone.
A remarkable variety of personal psychological relationships to the world find their attempted resolutions in the transference of omniscience, omnipotence and magic to the device and the communications network. This "post-industrialization" of "schizophrenic" experience is not so different from many more pedestrian forms of relating to "enchanted" technology and cannot be considered only the strategy of the disengaged. It *is* symptomatic, but not necessarily of personal dis-ease. To a great extent, the "enchanted" character of the device, its mysterious ability to transform matter and re-arrange the world, was, to repeat, not fatally deferred by Modernity and industrialization, it was simply "modernized" and "industrialized." As the grand religious narratives gave way to the grand technocratic narratives, now giving way to less grand market narratives, the meaning of the transformative power of the technological required different vocabularies of location, and in so created different sorts of subjectivities (and different "manias").
This sort of "schizophrenic" misreads technology because s/he reads every effect that any technology might have in everyday life as being the intentional outcome of some *one's* project somewhere. There is always a "them" somewhere that intend every technology. This "paranoid style" reveals a more general problem with the "conservative" vision, that being that the "social" is the sum of all discrete individuals who intentionally approach the technologies of the "social" so that any effect has been intentionally motivated. There is no means by which this vision can conceive the flows of depersonalized history and social structure, and therefore frantically hopes to locate, in what one might call fantasy, the source of the always intentional effects.
This transmission of _SPEED_ does not address the "schizophrenic's" relationship to technology, as differentiated from that of everyone else. Rather, it asks the "schizophrenic" relationship to guide us through social and cultural productions for science and technology that do not consider themselves to be "enchanted" in any way and to show us how they, in fact, truly are. First, three points of clarification on our use of the term "schizophrenic": we do not intend this term in course with that popularized by Fredric Jameson, nor by post-Lacanian psychoanalysis, nor, certainly, with institutional psychiatry. Instead, we tentatively appropriate the late Felix Guattari and the social economics of reality that his work elaborates. We believe that object relations are always incomplete and that their is no politics above the politics of reality. For us, schizophrenia is a general moment. Capitalism and other ordering structures create certain kinds of schizophrenics, if only because it offers certain kinds of voices, ghosts, and terrains from which to haunt the psyche. Jameson writes that the "schizophrenic" experience is an acute form of a feeling of groundlessness and detachment generalized to a postmodern age. He rightfully wants to demedicalize the term schizophrenia so that it may be utilized as a broader term of cultural and social criticism, but wrongly, we feel, does so by *periodizing* its generalization. Schizophrenia, especially technologically narrated schizophrenia, is not more acute now than before. Vastly organized social structures formulate schizophrenic relations as do vastly disorganized social structures; what is different is that technology incorporates the politics of reality with a *kind* of vocabulary that it did not use previously.
Like Max Weber, Jameson seems to suggest a disenchantment of society during the heydays of Industrial Capitalism, only then can he claim a schizophrenic upheaval in the birth of Post-Industrial Late Capitalism. We differentiate our use from that of post-Lacanian psychoanalysis for two reasons. First, we do not want to make an argument for or against the variety of properly psychoanalytic definitions of schizophrenia, either as an over-produced or an under-produced ego. The answers do not concern this project. Second, what does concern this project is the re-reading of the technologization of subjectivity and how the schizophrenic's enchantment of everyday technology reveals alternative modes of understanding supposedly "normal" technological and scientific discourses and traditions and how they narrate "healthy" lives. Institutional Psychiatry wishes to differentiate schizophrenic experience from healthy experience for the purpose of eliminating schizophrenic experience, if not schizophrenics. Even Humanistic Psychiatry falls outside our project, for as it suggests that schizophrenics are really like normal people, we begin with the assumption that normal people are really like schizophrenics.
Recently Alvin Toffler's mechanical fundamentalism has found a welcome ear, one attached to Newt Gingrich's more broadly fundamentalist skull. For Toffler (and his vulgar McLuhanisms), the narrative of human history is a series of unaccountable "waves" upon which unaccountable technologies ride their ways into our social lives. For Toffler, a particular device affords a defined range of intentions for its elaboration in human life. As the device becomes a technology, the whole of human experience becomes transformed by this development. However, some persons, those who cannot adapt to the unstoppable newness, are made theatrically irrelevant by this difficult process of transition, they are those who cannot adapt to the new environment established by the new wave. A strange sort of Social Darwinism seems to update itself here. Now that there is no "nature" in which survival and adaptivity can function, the technological becomes its own terrain in which the fittest can prove themselves. The conditional arrangements of human machines, the mode of information, is reduced to a new kind totally naturalized environment. Hegel goes cyborg via Fukiyama's Hobbes.
A difficult dualism then begins to suggest itself, one which we would want to examine now in order to bypass later. On the one hand, the schizophrenic narrates her relationship to the device in terms of a peculiar kind of overstating of the intentionality behind the technology's effects; on the other, the device is thought to have a teleological, inevitable direction of development, a mechanical evolution to which one might only adapt and not intentionally direct. That is, a "they" are understood as intending every possible consequence that a technology might bring about, and at the same time, the device itself is seen as indicating its own unstoppable march to some sort of mechanical becoming. This confusion regarding the location of subjective intention proximate to the device has obscured an appropriate theorizing of technological relationships because it regards "intention," "subjectivity" and "agency" as necessarily home to one side or the other of an inappropriate analytical divide, blur the human and the machine. Either the device is *their* tool, or *we* are the tool of the tool. Since technology is, essentially, a tool that is intentional, we see it as (one of) the West's public religions, the sentimentalization of the contemporary; and *that* is a very political thing.
So, what *is* the "enchanted" relationship to technology? It is about narration and location. It is a basic social psychological arrangement, as mediated by the technological device or network wherein the construction of personal social subjectivity is lived through the mechanical construction of technical subjectivity. But is there any other kind? Perhaps not. Foucault demonstrated that even language works as a technology, as does architecture, and certainly then race and gender. By following Foucault back to the Greek *technics*, the craft of ordering objects together so that they might do more that each could do alone, we are lead by him to modern-day technologies of government. But if everything is technology, then what kind of place can be found for technological things in the common sense of the term, like the micro-chip implants that the "postmodern homeless" and the characters in Philip K. Dick novels are concerned with? The difference is a matter of distance not kind, a matter of extensional technology rather than administrative. The *bringing* of objects together so that they might do something different is the technology, not the resulting object--technology is an active social verb, not an inert objective noun. It is a procedure, not strictly a device. But now, the technologies of bringing objects together are performed more and more by machines "programmed" to enable certain tasks to be completed with little or no co-present human mediation. In this sense, the machine *is* the technology. This radically complicates the location of the human in the technological activity and radically transforms what a social criticism of technology should look like. The Heideggerian model of technology needs to continue to be complicated. No longer can we think of the tool as being specifically extensional of the intentions behind its use and of the affordances it offers in its use--the hammer in hand metaphor can no longer be thought of as central to a social philosophy of technology in an age when more and more "intentions" become themselves "affordances." Likewise, we can no longer afford to imagine that the toasters are evolving all by themselves.
In the compatibility of our mind/machine models, two sides of the issue of schizophrenia are established. As the term schizophrenic is used to describe both the over-production and under-production of the ego, so to do the mind-machine models described above collapse the complexity of object-relations into untenable extremes. Either a "they" intends all activity must be mapped, or "it," the machine, provides the total polis of a new Darwinism. Humanity is thought as both entirely present, where it isn't, and as entirely absent, where it isn't. Over-Humanism or Under-Humanism--they did it/the machine's doing it--repeats as a primary dualism. Between the two is where we want to be. But many things that are between the two do not necessarily command our interest. Self-described "neo-Luddite," Kirkpatrick Sale has recently outlined the six basic tenets of his Left-Critical techno-politics. But just as the former two (the schizophrenic and Gingrich) provides a basic structural mirror of conservatism's misrecognitions, the later, Sale's argument which comes in between the two, also requires a mirror to complete our little ideological structure. In a way, the thesis of this introduction would, in the context of thinking in-between the They/Device divide being met halfway by Sale, mirror Sale's argument. The preferred internal double of the basic dualism is here assigned. Or rather, the *that* which mirrors Sale's argument, and *as well* the chimerical combination of all four into pure situation, what could also be called "cyborg."
As a means of approaching that doubling, we will arrange ourselves next to each of Sale's six tenets so as to learn from his mistakes.
TENET 1. Technologies are never neutral, and some are hurtful.
Obviously. But what is a technology, and what is a machine? Certainly technologies are never neutral and some are harmful, and certainly machines are never neutral and some are hurtful; but to say the one is most assuredly not to say the other. Which does he mean? Perhaps he even confuses "machine," "device" and "technology." These are not the same. A machine is the apparatus constructed by a certain arrangement of animate and inanimate objects in a certain purposeful and symbolic pattern. Like Jazz, maybe. A device is a thing, an inert black plastic thing at the other end of the room. One makes machines with one's devices. One does not invent one's machines, one learns them, and inherits and performs and subjectifies those machines. This historical, social and *discursive* relationship one has with one's devices is a technology. Government is a technology. Sleeping is a technology. Shelter is a technology; and so is ecological politics.
Surely then, technologies can be hurtful or helpful. For someone in *specific*, a certain technology is never neutral, and therefore possibly harmful and possibly helpful. "Techno-Politics" is, as Sale would agree, a matter of deciding possible futures. The seemingly picky semantic stuff, by which we distance ourselves from Sale now, however, begins to take on a real importance. We, like Sale, are demanding a "Politics of the Technological." We understand that to demand such a thing is not to demand, only, an ultimatum on the role of the device in social life. Better to demand an actively integrated politics of the technological than to renounce the inorganic under that name. Like Sale, we think that there is no politics outside of the incorporation of the *technical* character of our present circumstance into our vision, plan and strategy. Unlike Sale, we think that critique, politics and strategy must take place within the logics of the technological, the machinic, and the device. Because, as Sale says, "(they) are never neutral"; and therefore have "potentials" for any project, even ours and his.
TENET 2. Industrialism is always a cataclysmic process, destroying the past, roiling the present, making the future uncertain.
The future is always uncertain. The past is always destroyed, politics is the act of making things previous now present. There are a million reasons to be "against" Industrialization, the worst in which for a Leftist to find *purpose* is that it changes things, makes them uncertain, up-for-grabs and complex. Without doubt, contemporary technologies have disrupted things in a negative way. To build a politics thereupon, is a very different thing than to build a politics upon a condemnation of a device that is, as Sale says, never neutral. Television *could* be anything. Sale would have you believe that *it* is what it is, only. Some politics! Modernity does in fact cause "all that is solid to melt into the air," but this predicament should not be read as a crisis of tradition and stability only. The issue is not that change happens, or even happens too fast. The issue is when change occurs that forces more power in the hands of the powerful at the expense of the powerless. This issue certainly pre-dates Industrialism, but Industrialism has continued and transformed that force. However, to reverse its flow would undoubtedly be a "cataclysmic process, destroying the past..."
TENET 3. "Only a people serving an apprenticeship to nature can be trusted with machines."
This is the crux of Sale's approach to the problem, and of why we dispute the trajectory that his critique follows. We don't believe that any *real* difference, outside of social construction, exists between the natural and the not-natural; he does. Social circumstances, discourses, and institutions, arrange a distinction between the natural and the unnatural in different ways, none of which is, in fact, "True" and none of which is without political ramifications. It is therefore precisely the point to say that the politics of social construction are the politics of reality. To suggest that "only those serving an apprenticeship to nature, can be trusted with machines," is no more appropriate a suggestion than "only those serving an apprenticeship to the machine can be trusted with nature," which it seems, is the defining principle of our enemy. To simply reverse the terms set forth is not to challenge the principles that they indicate, but to cede too soon our right to set the terms of the argument.
Better to re-align the differences between the natural and the machinic upon which the whole debate rests.
TENET 4. The nation-state, synergistically intertwined with industrialism, will always come to its aid and defense, making revolt futile and reform ineffectual.
Not always, and certainly not always in an era of Corporate-owned public space and time. Since Sale wrongly equates all technologies, machines, and devices with Industrialism, one would have to assume that he believes all such terrains are themselves under the purview of the Nation-State. This is hardly so. Althusser died lonely! Even Newt Gingrich understands that New Media in "the wrong hands" (the *correct* hands?) could undermine the effective power of the Nation-State. In Newt's case, via Toffler, the Corporate-Nation is the logical non-neutral outcome that contemporary technologies will inform and become, but why is it also Sale's and why should it be ours? Decentralization as a socialist ideal can in fact work, hand in hand, with Federalism when non-democratically established Power, the Corporate--Nation, defines the alternative. Current technologies, and more importantly current devices, can suggest potential machines in the realization of those logics of *true* socialist decentralization in ways that Sale's formula fatally dismisses. The Mode of Information defines its *own* Proletariat.
The Nation-State and socialist decentralization of power are (in radically different ways) both the ally and the enemy of new technologies; and are so for reasons that Sale, Gingrich and Toffler cannot conceive of, but we hope that we can. To cede an entire mode of process, the mode of information, to the enemy as unwinnable is to cede the entire war of power just because the war is now being fought with different ("inauthentic") rules. This is hardly a bargain that anyone with a real stake in the outcome would be willing to make. Apparently, however, Sale is.
TENET 5. But resistance to the industrial system, based on some grasp of moral principles and rooted in some sense of moral revulsion, is not only possible but necessary.
Yes...but what constitutes the industrial system is not the same question as what constitutes the political horizon of contemporary technology, nor, more importantly, the technologies of contemporary political horizons. *Upon* what should a morality be based? More importantly, upon what should the *revulsion* be built? For Sale, the "Ox-Cart Anarchist," it is the technology of Industrialism itself, not its mode of arrangement, not even its means of suppressing radical change, it is the radical character itself that perturbs him. Today, there is no "nature" to go back to. In an age of "managed wilderness" and human-induced "natural disasters," fundamentalism of any sort is ill-afforded and potentially fatal. Let the Right and their Militia try to find the road back, the Left should have better things to do.
TENET 6. Politically, resistance to industrialism must force the viability of industrial society into public consciousness and debate.
We agree, conditionally. Appropriate conditions concern the possible alternatives to Industrialism and the ways in which those potential alternatives refashion the socialist ecological vision such that it might remake contemporary politics *of* the technological by incorporating them into its strategies. The current construction of the machinic and the technological is unacceptable; for Sale it is a politics *at* the technological. His is also, despite his claims, a politics not *of* the social, but *at* it. His interest is not engagement and re-circulation, but rather *transcendence* and *authenticity*. By "public consciousness and debate," he imagines people putting down their tools and, in doing so, solving the problems of complication and injustice. We believe that socialism is complicated, and that lived justice usually has nothing to do with simplicity, if ever. However, we *do* feel that our political vocabularies need to catch up with our contemporary political situations. This process would definitely include a means to engage more critically the roles of technology in our public lives and a means to adjudicate their viability.
TENET 7. Philosophically, resistance to industrialism must be embedded in an analysis--an ideology, perhaps--that is morally informed, carefully articulated and widely shared.
We agree that a resistance to the alienating, utilitarian vision of the technological must be embedded in an analysis that is informed in care with the terms Sale suggests. For this to happen, the problem of misrecognition in the extensional mirrors of the machinic must be politicized. To do so is most certainly not to follow Sale's Romanticist, ruralist conservatism to its unfortunate conclusions. Rather it is to consider the geographies of paths that we have already taken but do not recognize having done so. Only then can the necessary vocabularies produce the necessary new forums of accountable publicity.
To conceive this is to go beyond facile organic/inorganic distinctions, just as surely as it is to go beyond enchantment/disenchantment diversions. This is precisely why a politics of enchantment is suggested. "Enchantment" is the basic mode of *technics*, the magic of putting together to make something else. Its procedures are knowable only from the outside, in space or in time, for it is surely impossible to think *without* technics. The point is not simply to "judge the machine." Judgment itself is a technics, and a politics of judgment is certainly our concern. The question is how to bring together a technics of judgment and a technics of the machinic. We think the interviews and articles that follow begin to provide some possible answers.