How's Every Little Thing?

(Jonah) Peretti’s article is an interpretation of Jameson’s “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” and Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, both of which use “schizophrenia” as a key part of their analysis.”Schizophrenia” here doesn’t have much of anything to do with the actual mental illness (as Jameson writes, “I’m not even sure that the view of schizophrenia I’m about to outline … is clinically accurate”), and in retrospect the use of an actual illness from which millions of people suffer as an abstract tool of cultural criticism is rather cringe-inducing. I use the term here since it’s the preferred jargon within cultural theory, but, for the record, it’s gross and they should have found another word.In context of the theory, both Jameson and Deleuze/Guattari use “schizophrenic” to refer to a person without a defined identity or ego. Jameson, for one, thinks “late” capitalism (which he said was beginning to emerge in the mid-1980s, as he was writing) causes that kind of schizophrenia. People usually build identities, after all, at least in part from cultural items (songs, movies, TV shows, advertisements, etc) they encounter. But Jameson thinks that if those items are presented in a scrambled, confusing way to people, they have a hard time forming identities, and run the risk of schizophrenia. That scrambling of cultural content was starting to happen in the mid-1980s, when Jameson was writing. Peretti’s favorite example of this phenomenon is MTV. Whereas variety shows and televised concerts in the 1960s and 70s provided context and structure to the music they presented, MTV instead gave viewers a rapid succession of wildly different sounds and visual accompaniments to those sounds, without any logic connecting one video to another. That, in Jameson’s framework, serves to confuse viewers, harm their ability to use culture to build identities, and increase the risk of people failing to build identities altogether — making them “schizophrenic” in his terminology. from Buzzfeed’s founder used to write Marxist theory and it explains Buzzfeed perfectly by Dylan Matthews

As many of you have asked,”S0OOOO where you been keeping yourself?”


The ancient Gnostics believed that we are all one small piece of information shy of total enlightenment. Stated another way, there might be something in the small print in the back of The Racing Form that might set anyone of us free or at least let us find out exactly what Yoda meant when he said, “Luminous beings are we.”

As some of you know I have long held this belief very close to my heart and I have endlessly sorted through volumes of information just to obtain that one small golden nugget that will take me up out of the primordial slime. What follows are a few data points and minutia I’ve found that proved to be dead ends. These are posted as public service to all of you who seek enlightenment.

Please stop making a spectacle of yourself, your hot tears of joy are thanks enough for the moment.

In no particular order:

– Speaking of Deleuze and Guattari I’m reading Piketty as if it were manga, i.e. back to front. French moderns seem to save it all up for the end. D&L can only be understaood by starting at the end. Therefore the last two chapters of these endavors are the meat and what comes before is an endless series compulsory exercises endemic to French culture. Currently there are some questions as to the math involved some of which is represented as graphs here. At this point I really can’t weigh in on either side of the argument, but I will say that it’s refreshing that it hasn’t turned into yet another tv hollering match because MATH!

– Oh yes, the current state and future of the media… I knew you’d ask, you always ask. Here comes the subset of my recent thoughts on the state of all things related to that.

– – For roughly five years there has been – supposedly – a conversation going on about the media.

This is not true.

Everyone has been talking all at once.

For five years everyone who has formed any kind of opinion on the subject hasn’t so much given voice to it so much as coughed it up without any regard. There have been panels and conferences on the subject where people speak in turn, as that is the social convention, but -all the same- they are all talking at once.

No one is listening.

– – In the previous entry I talked about living through an era of chaos as a traditional dialectic resolves itself. Having spent some time since that was written with MEN somewhat older than myself who hold high positions in the media I am now convinced they are all Cloud William. I’d engage them more, but I’d look awful in that piss yellow velour pullover.

– – WRT the ongoing issue of scale – we overlook the fact that there is a shock-and-awe component to scale. As Habermas points out – journalism began as the simple dissemination of discrete facts and then evolved into also offering opinion which he says was an attempt to gain influence over the public discussion. Granted, large scale media has lost the exlucsive rights to published opinion, but it is key to the discussion of scale. What goes unsaid is that if a media outlet does not grow large enough then it will not have any influence on the public discourse. Which assumes that the intent of any organization was to seek that influence. Never mind that any given organization can run out bare fact and little else due to the Internet’s ability to create a division of labor. The opinion people can do their thing and the infobots can do theirs.

BTW – and somewhat along those lines – anyone who uses the term ‘media ecosystem’ more than twice in 10 minutes should be taken out and shot.

– – Seeing as people will wet their pants on command for Facebook it then makes sense that the conversation about The Right to be Forgotten can only revolve around Google. Where it becomes problematic for the media is how Google responds and as some of you know Metafilter is already on the receiving end of this. Long term this could be the end of uniques and pv’s as an indicator of readership. Talking to a phd in th’ journalism on Friday night he said he and some colleagues were aware of this and were starting to think that more abstract notions of engagement might replace simple metrics in the long run.

Again – it’s all chaos and we should take a cue from how long it took the Romans to refine the Forum.

– – Also I prefer to think of the work as the creation of context instead of The Production of Meaning. If I were asked to be a keynote speaker to explain the meta that drives me I would simply introduce myself, show this eight minutes of video, thank the assembled for the opportunity, and sit down.

The only thing I really have to tell anybody in the business is that about once a week I want to sit down and have a good cry.

But they don’t want to hear that.

On a somewhat cheerier note – this page first appeared on the Interwebs 14 years ago this week. As most of you know it has gone through several incarnations and its upkeep has gone wanting for the past few years. (See also, have a good cry.) The platform is not dead and feels rather expansive when all you’ve used lately is social media. I only wish I didn’t have every thought knocked out my head by the demands of life these days as I would love to explore this space


  1. I took a course in “Media Ethics”. I got an “A”. And completed my degree some 30 odd years late. But I don’t think Media Ethics exists.

  2. Fearless Lieder

    Re: “replacing simple metrics”. You might want to talk to our Sista Barista. She’s working a lot on metrics as a tool for journalism. I told her that reminded me of the early scene in “Moneyball” where the old scouts are confronted by SABRmetrics and try to explain to Brad Pitt that there are unquantifiables in baseball.

    I can picture the same scene at a New Journalism seminar where the old guys with the press cards in the band of their snap brim fedoras try to explain about “instinct” and “a nose for news”.

  3. Dr. Erick Mabouse

    My encounter with the old guys was at a banquet. They really wanted to high five each other, but the bursitis wouldn’t let ’em.

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