With the readings for this week, I feel as if we have come full circle with some of the ideas put forth our very first week. Aside from the obvious traces of Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge moving through Ernst’s Digital Memory of the Archive, I saw those first readings playing an important part in our understanding of “Moving into the Archive.” In Empire and Communications, Innis warns that “civilizations can survive only through a concern with their limitations and in turn through a concern with with the limitations of their institutions” (section 2) and his warning seems to answer Parikka’s questions of e-waste management and the implications of electronic media apparatuses (in all material senses). The Media Empire cannot survive unless its limitations are acknowledged. And as of now, we still operate under “the black box nature of media technologies which are not to be opened up, fixed or reused” (Parikka) and not even acknowledged as waste. We hold on to these technologies because we don’t know what to do with them or we don’t understand them—they are black boxes filled with “sourcery of source codes” that shouldn’t be released into the world for anybody to access. They have become so veiled to the common user that (s)he becomes paralyzed at the notion of tending to its final resting place.
Parikka’s and Sterne’s materialist approach also brought me back to the historical materialism we discussed with Benjamin—history gets written, told, and produced through social relations and economics. If according to Parikka, “e-materializaton is likely to be the source of some of the biggest impacts the Internet has on energy intensity and pollution,” then the economics of information is currently writing our history in the future. Our current history is being written in a moment of “half-technologies” and “planned obsolescence,” which might mean that we are both our own thesis and antithesis. Can it be that simple? If Thesis and Antithesis oppose each other through economics and the material production and consumption of goods, then does that not describe our current production model for new media/computing technologies? And if (according to HM) social conditions are produced through the production, consumption, and reproduction of material goods, then does that mean our society cannot be divorced from these electronic goods? I think that Sterne, Parikka, Ernst, and even Guattari with his ecosophy would all agree with that they are inextricably networked and that through this Internetwork, our history will be written.
That’s all I’ve got for now.
Thanks for reading,