En visualisering af et Københavnsk musik-offentligheds-netværk af facebooksider

På det sidste har jeg eksperimenteret lidt med at hente og visualisere forskellige digitale netværk. Et af de forsøg der indtil videre er faldet mest interessant ud, er dette kort over like-forbindelser mellem forskellige facebook-sider relateret til elektronisk og alternativ musik i, og ud over, København og Danmark.

Netværket er konstrueret med facebook-siden for den København-baserede musikblog Regnsky som udgangspunkt. Herfra har jeg udtrukket alle de andre facebook-sider, Regnsky’s facebook-side liker, og et trin videre, de sider som de af Regnsky likede sider liker, samt hvordan alle disse sider på kryds og tværs liker hinanden. Dette gav et datasæt bestående af 2174 noder (facebook-sider) og ialt 16511 forbindelseslinjer (et like fra en side til en anden).

Ved hjælp af Gephi har jeg visualiseret netværket i et to-dimensionalt rum. Fordelingen af noderne sker efter et simpelt kraftfelts-princip, hvor noder bliver trukket mod andre noder, hvis de har en forbindelse med dem eller frastødt hvis ikke. Noderne finder således deres gensidigt deres endelige plads på baggrund af placeringerne af de andre noder, de er forbundet med. Størrelsen på noderne er et udtryk for mængden af forbindelser hen til dem, dvs. antallet af de andre facebook-sider i dette netværk, der har liket dem. Farverne viser klynger af noder, hvor noder med den samme farve er tilbøjelige til at være stærkere forbundet med hinanden end med resten af netværket, og aftegner altså som sådan noget, der kunne være en slags communities. Orienteringen af kortet er arbitrær.

Se kortet i højopløselig zoom- og træk-bar version

Hvad ser vi på kortet?

For det første er det vigtigt at understrege, at kortet ikke afbilleder et aflukket univers, men et udskåret del af et meget større netværk. Som konsekvens af fremgangsmåden er indholdet af kortet klart påvirket af det udgangspunkt, jeg har valgt. Regnsky’s facebook-sides valg af andre sider at like, bliver så at sige den erkendelsesmæssige prisme, jeg approprierer. Især fordi mit crawl går to led ud siger netværket dog ikke primært noget om Regnsky selv, men derimod noget om de miljøer, bloggen via sine likes definerer sig selv som en del af. Regnsky er baseret og engageret i København og fokuserer på elektronisk og alternativ musik. Dette er reflekteret i de sider, de liker, som er en blanding af danske og udenlandske bands, producere og pladeselskaber, samt spillesteder, festivaler, og andre musik-medier.

Roskilde Festival er et fælles omdrejningspunkt

Temmelig centralt ligger den største node i netværket, Roskilde Festival. Som følge af princippet for fordelingen af noderne betyder en placeringen i midten, at Roskilde Festival bliver trukket i fra mange forskellige sider, noget der peger på, hvad vi måske godt viste, at Festivalen er den måske største institution i dansk musikliv. Som en oplagt konsekvens af måden, netværket er lavet på, ligger Regnsky selv også ret centralt (lige ved det øverste venstre hjørne af R’et i Roskilde).

Midt for i den nederste halvdel af kortet er vi primært uden for Danmarks grænser med “mainstream-alternative” navne som Radiohead, Björk, Sigur Rós m.v. Ligeledes ligger eksempelvis det toneangivende netmedie Pitchfork og det britiske pladeselskab 4AD her.

Danske bands, medier og spillesteder

I den højre del af kortet, i den blå klynge,  findes en blanding af bands, spillesteder og medier fra Danmark. Det kunne tyde på en mild tilbøjelighed til, de mere indie/alternative ting ligger i bunden (Smash!Bang!Pow!, Passive/Agressive, Det Elektriske Baromenter), og de lidt mere mainstream ting ligger højere oppe (P6 Beat, Gaffa, Pumpehuset etc.).

Kulturinstitutioner og Københavner-fænomener

De turkise noder omfatter en del kulturelle institutioner, som ikke, eller ikke udelukkende, har noget med musik at gøre. CPH:DOX, Louisiana, Cinemateket, Vice, Politiken m.fl. er eksempler. Den største er Art Rebels, der linker videre til en del andre noder, der for de flestes vedkommende ikke har nogen forbindelser til andre dele af netværket. De røde noder forekommer i høj grad at være bands og festivaler med en vis mainstream-popularitet, men for manges vedkommende meget knyttet til specifikt Københavnsk univers (Distortion, Festival, Cheff Records, Malk De Koijn etc.).

Internationale elektroniske producere og labels

Den sidste store gruppe, som temmelig tydeligt klynger sig sammen og trækker sig væk fra resten af netværket, er en række elektroniske producere og labels, som ligger i venstre side af kortet og er blevet grønne. Centralt i denne klynge ligger bl.a. Detroit-producere som Moodyman, Carl Craig og Jeff Mills, samt forskellige europæiske pladeselskaber. Lidt tættere på resten af netværket har vi for eksempel onlinemediet Fact Magazine, en af de måske måske bredest kendte producere af elektroniske musik, Aphex Twin, samt Warp Records. Endelig er musik-delings platformen Soundcloud ret stor, og mens den ligger tættere på centrum, er det stadig interessant at den i community-udregnings-algoritmen er blevet lagt sammen med de elektroniske musikere og labels, og altså tyder på især at være populær i de kredse.

Spørgsmål

Der er en række spørgsmål i en forlængelse af det her, som det kunne være interessant at tale om og tænke videre over. Hvilken slags viden giver sådan en kortlægning og visualisering, som jeg præsenteret her? Hvad kan man stille op med den?

Især i kraft af inddelingen i communities med forskellige farver, kan kortet måske bringe mindelser om den slags segmentering, man også kender fra den franske sociolog Pierre Bourdieu’s klassiske korrespondance-analyse eller nogle af de utallige afledte pop-marketing versioner. Noget, min måde at beskrive det på i det ovenstående nok også har båret præg af. I dette tilfælde er det dog vigtigt at huske på, det vi ser på ikke er data om sammenfald i forbrugsvaner, men derimod tilkendegivelser af forbundethed fra kulturproducenterne (eller deres community managers) selv. Det er på et andet niveau, men hvordan vi fortolke anderledes på det og tale anderledes om det?

Derudover: Lærer vi noget, vi ikke allerede godt ved? Og hvis vi gør, er det så en type viden, der kun interessant, for aktører med bestemte mål? (marketing-folk er det oplagte eksempel, men hvem ellers?), eller har det en også en bredere appel? Og hvem til?

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Flere artikler i Informeren

Relateret til et nyligt afsluttet mini-praktikophold, har jeg på det sidste haft lidt artikler i Dagbladet Information.

Hvorfor venter vi stadig på p-pillen til mænd? Blandt andet fordi vi har arvet en ide om, alt hvad der relaterer sig til reproduktion er kvindens domæne, fortæller artiklen. Vi skrev en leder knyttet til artiklen, der slår til lyd for, det både kunne komme kvinder og mænd til gode, hvis/når pillen en gang kommer. Her er annonceringen af det australske muse-studie, med de lammede muskelceller omkring sæddelerne, artiklen kort omtaler, og her er en britisk mand, der har været forsøgsperson i en tidligere test, der fortæller om, hvorfor han gerne vil have pillen.

Varulven er erotisk på en farlig og dyrisk måde – om at varulve-figuren er ved at blive mere central i populære tv-serier, og om at det blandt andet er spændende, fordi den tilbyder nogle andre billeder på kvindelig seksualitet.

’Hvis min mor gik ind og kiggede, ville hun blive meget forarget’  – om Urban Dictionary, den brugerskrevne online slang ordbog, som samtidig med ofte at være temmelig vulgær og dum, også er blevet det bedste redskab til at få mening ud af ungt bastardiseret sprog. En ting, der ikke blev nævnt i artiklen, men som måske burde være blevet, da det understøtter dens pointe ret godt, er at siden på seneste faktisk nogle steder er begyndt at blive brugt i retten.

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Article on Science and Justice in Dagbladet Information

Today I have an article (in Danish) in the Danish Daily Information about the Science and Justice Research Center at University of California Santa Cruz.

Update: Science and Justice has put an English translation of the article on their webpage.

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Closing Times and the American Devaluation of Pleasure

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Recently California Senator Mark Leno proposed a bill that would allow cities in the state to grant selected restaurants and nightclubs permission to extend the serving of alcohol later into the night. The new suggested limit would be 4 am rather than the 2 am dictated by the current regulation. The bill, Leno’s press release stresses, would allow the California cities a fairer standing vis-à-vis other global metropolises in the economically important competition to attract pleasure-seeking cosmopolitans and their money.

Supporters argue that the bill would benefit the economy as well as provide cities with the traffic-planning advantage of being able to have different clubs close at different hours and thus spread out the flow of people heading home. The opponents, on the other hand, in dramatic images of blood, fire and sirens in the night, want us to consider risk, health and public order (“the streets of Los Angeles at 4 a.m. will look like a rerun of Demolition Derby”), as well as the economy, though this time in terms of the increased state expenses the escalated night-time ravage of the extended service hours would cause.

As a foreigner accustomed to going out in Copenhagen and other European cities, one of the most apparent differences in the flow of things, that I experienced subsequent to arriving in California last fall for a year-long study abroad was, indeed, the very abruptly ending nights out. Imagine something like having finally obtained the warm and buzzing sensation the combination that drinks and good conversations can facilitate, maybe having established some nascent feeling of connection with an interesting stranger or perhaps almost being ready to immerse yourself in the crowd of the dance floor just for the lights to be turned on and a resolute doorman letting everyone know it’s time to go home. Entire stages of the journey that is a Friday or Saturday night out are simply never even allowed to begin here.

And however much the supporters might imagine that keeping the taps flowing for two more hours would propel San Francisco and LA into the top of some global party circuit, compared to many European cities 4 am is actually still not very late.

One of cities that Leno’s press release imagines the Californian ones to be on level with if the bill is passed is Berlin. But in terms of alcohol laws Berlin is much more similar to Las Vegas in that there isn’t no such thing as a set cut-off time for serving. Thus, certain clubs are able to operate, and sell alcohol, continuously for several nights and days. The liberal laws of the German capital, together with other factors such as low rent and cheap airfare, have provided the conditions for an extremely vivid and cultivated scene for nightlife and club culture as well the establishment of an image of the city as the party capital of Europe, that allows its inhabitants and many visitors to drink and dance to loud music in sweaty rooms (or outside in parks, on boats, by lakes, or on rooftops in the summer) at any time of night or subsequent day for however long their bodies are capable of.

Compared to this, then, the bill indeed appears as a very modest proposition, perhaps suggesting something about how an American puritan legacy disparaging pleasure might still play a substantial role in conditioning and constraining the premises of political debate, even in California.

Along these lines, it’s worth noting that the supporters of 4am predominantly argue in terms of economy and practical convenience. (Admittedly these are principles that dominate many European debates too, though Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit’s 2004 designation of his city as being poor but sexy stands as a beautiful exception). What is largely absent from the discourse is how the diverse collection of aesthetic forms, interactions, sensations, feelings, and bodily movements encompassed in the term ‘partying’ might actually have cultural and existential values too, values that a societal debate could acknowledge as ends in themselves rather than merely means for economic ones.

When they work well, bars and clubs late at night can be very special spaces that give rise to unique situations and experiences, spaces that enable more overt expressions of affection and connection, spaces that allow playing with identity and self-staging, improvisation and loosening of boundaries, explorations of sexuality and intimacy. And they can be spaces of experiencing the body’s ability to gradually attune to and inhabit rhythmic movement facilitated by a collective of other bodies – often a process that can unfold over several hours if allowed.

And though drinking is not crucial to any of the above (indeed a lot of dance cultures utilize several other drugs, and perhaps even more so in the US as an effect of the strict alcohol laws), alcohol does often play an important role in transforming the situation into something distinct and different from everyday life, giving it a more ritualistic tone. And being allowed to serve does, in practice, seem to be what is necessary for most clubs and bars to stay open and keep the number of people required to hold the collectively charged atmosphere together.

Perhaps nightlife could be valued a little more – and the intoxicating substances involved in it be despised a little less – if we also think of it in terms of citizens sharing a quasi-public urban space, being able to experience one another as a sources of pleasure and communal ecstasy, and ultimately getting a strengthened sense of social commitment.

Photo by icanteachyouhowtodoit

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Presentation on cyborg music

Here are the prezi slides for a small presentation I recently gave on the music journalist/theorist Kodwo Eshuns accounts of alien/future/posthuman/cyborg musics.  It mostly consists of quotes from the introductory chapter of Eshuns book ‘More Brilliant than the Sun‘, spiced up with words from Simon Reynolds, K-Punk, Jacques Attali amongst others, as well as a two wonderful pieces of 90s electronic dance music.

Viewing the accompaniment of a presentation is necessarily going to be (even more) of a fragmented experience, but maybe it’d be interesting for some anyways. Eshuns style of writing, as exemplified in the quotes, is fascinatingly energetic in its resonating with the sensibilities of that of which he is writing.

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Various fragments on what sound can do

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On the occasion of taking a class on the anthropology of sound I spent a little time brainstorming with the collective intelligence that is the Internet on various examples of different contexts in which sound is doing something.
Sound can be shown to affect people physiologically. Here’s a (kind of strangely written) danish news article about acoustics in classrooms. The most interesting aspect of the article is a mentioning of a study demonstrating a correlation between the frequency of the heartbeats of the teachers and the amount of noise in the classroom. Thus in comparison in a room with 0.7 seconds decay the teachers in average had 10 more heartbeats per second than in a room with a decay time of 0.4. seconds. Also, it seems that it’s quite well established that classrooms with insufficient muffling of sound significantly worsens learning. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases this knowledge still haven’t managed to be materialized in the architecture of educational institutions.

Sound and health. Sound, as music, can also be shown to be made work in favor of (a certain definition of, re. the measurement scales) mental health and well being. Here’s an example of a study.

This study used a random control experimental design with a music-listening group and control group for 22 older adults undergoing hip or knee surgery. The experimental group listened to music at the bedside for at least 4 hours daily. The NEECHAM Acute Confusion Scale and the Folstein Mini-Mental State Exam were used to measure cognition and acute confusion. Findings demonstrate that the music-listening group had higher levels of cognitive function and less confusion than those who did not listen to music.

I found the very fact that a journal of the name Music and Medicine existed to be kind of interesting too.

Noise is also being utilized for health and wellbeing purposes. Thus, there’s a bunch of web pages and apps solely made for generating noise-sounds. Often you can choose between white, pink and brown noise, and sometimes you can have recorded sounds that approach noise too such as ocean or rain sounds.

One of those noise-machine pages lists a whole array of alleged possible effects of noise: “Sleep Aid, Enhance Privacy, Block Distractions, Mask Tinnitus, Pacify Children, Soothe Migraines, Increase, Focus Stress Relief“. It also offers a differentiation between the different types of noise in terms of uses and advantages. I especially think the aspect about enhancing privacy is quite interesting, serving as a case through which to think about sound and spatiality as well as possibly lending a new meaning to the term ‘wall of sound’.

The idea of certain sounds having very specific effects, also made me think of the quite curious recent appearance of so-called ‘sound drugs‘; sounds that are being sold as allegedly having effects similarly to psychoactive chemical substances. It could be entertaining to see someone do an analysis of the rhetorics and imagery of the phenomenon. Here’s a quite funny Wired article from 2010 mentioning how an Oklahoma public school actually banned iPods in response to the phenomenon.

Finally, talking about sounds and physiological effects, I need to mention ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) too, which I’ve had a small interest in for a while. The term covers a certain type of reaction consisting of a very pleasurable shivering, tingling feeling in the head and sometimes the spine some people report to have as a reaction to certain stimuli, including listening to other people speak in calm and whispering voices with lots of lip sounds often in relation to activities involving personal attention such as examinations or haircuts. Despite the medical-sounding name the phenomenon has not yet been the object of any form of institutionalized scientific research, but it has spawned a vast online-community (thus, the reddit-page devoted to it currently has 34,700 subscribers) and a trend of creating role-playing videos deliberately designed to trigger the reaction.

 Image in top by sam_jennings (slightly modified), CC 2.0-BY-NC-SA

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Test systems and learning

At the University of California Santa Cruz where I’m currently an exchange student I’ve encountered one aspect of the organization of university life that has been standing out to me as being remarkably far from my conception of what higher-level education entails: The way the grading and test system for some undergraduate classes is designed in an extremely rigid, inflexible and disciplinary fashion. Being confronted with this, I think it’s interesting and important to try to think about which attitudes towards learning are encouraged and which understandings of knowledge are performed in these systems. Which ways of being a student does the system enable and encourage me to pursue?

This is the way one upper division (which means the students have usually been to university/college for between two to four years) class was designed:

The final letter grade which is the one that will figure on the student’s transcript is generally translated from fairly meticulous 100-grade scale on which you during the course accumulated points. An array of different activities gave us these points. Each week we had 4-8 reading questions typically asking us to describe a certain concept from a text and compare it to something else. Each question had to be roughly a paragraph. All answers for these questions had to be uploaded on a webpage before a certain time in order to elicit points. It didn’t matter that much, we were told, whether the answers were actually good or correct as long as they were there and somehow tried to engage with the question. In the middle as well as by the end of the term we had two-pillar exams consisting of an assigned take home-essay and an in-class quiz. The midterm essay had two questions to choose from. An example of the form of one of them is:

“What is the relationship between concept 1 and concept 2? Discuss this through Author A, B and C (including citations), and give 2 examples each from Author D and E (with citations) to support your argument.”

The answer to this question had to be in three double-spaced pages. We were provided the rubric which the teaching assistant were to use to grade our papers, detailing how every inclusion of a requested article gave us a couple of points while a coherent argument gave a couple of extra points too. The final exam, in five pages, was a veritable puzzle and too complicated to explain here, but included three different quite broad ranging questions that all had to be answered and six lists of different texts from the course with us having to use one text from each list once, with all lists except one being tied to specific questions. The in-class quizzes had the form of a list of sentences with a blank spot in them in which we had to insert a concept from a list from the top of the page and write a small justification beneath it.

The design of a course can be thought of as an apparatus that works to create and/or sustain a certain conception of what knowledge and learning is. The particular class in which I experienced the test system described above was in addition also characterized by a fairly large reading amount, which at least for me (admittedly not a fast reader, but from talking to other students my impression was that many of those experienced the same) meant that it wasn’t possible to actually thoroughly read all pages of all the assigned texts, at least not without deprioritizing other classes simultaneously.

Here are some thoughts on what the design of the course in my experience did:

The actual practice of reading changed. The reading questions pointed out in advance what one should look for in the text, which meant that interpretation to some extend got uniformed across the class. Overall, Everyone reads after the same. My own experience was also that, due to the busyness I tended in a higher and higher degree to read with a purpose of getting a very superficial understanding of a given text in order to be able to answer the reading questions as fast as possible. This also strengthened a tendency to understand new texts through concepts and patterns that I already was acquainted with before starting to read the text (usually actually even before starting the course), thus reading for sameness rather than difference, the identic rather than the non-identic. I noticed that I started to disregard the types of analyses that were more ambiguous, complex or multifaceted, something I otherwise tend think of as important to pursue, in favor of the articles that to a higher degree allowed themselves to be reduced to what was entailed in an abstract or a conclusion.

The in-class multiple choice tests gives the impression that social scientific concepts are unambiguous and that they to a large extend can have a fixed meaning outside of a larger textual context. The fact that these quizzes count as an exam suggests that knowledge is primarily about memory, that being able to remember the (very simplified version of) meanings of concepts is an end in itself rather than doing something with the concepts. The reading questions and the prompts for the essays did in their formulation sometimes allow an approach that was a little bit more analytical explorative, but the extremely small amount of space and especially time for each of those meant that it in practice was very unlikely to get very far with them, and if you did end up spending too much time thinking about one of the questions and actually did an effort to answer it in an interesting way you’d have lost the time needed to answer the other ones and would end up getting lesser points in the end.

Thus in contrast to classes with exams based primarily on small research-like projects or more individually defined essays the test-design of this class had practically no mechanism to reward creativity or originality. This counters curiosity and creates a sense that more discoverous, groping reading/investigation is an ineffective way to spend ones time as a student. It also gives very little room to develop an individual flow of motivation and working style. I guess it that it as a contrast to neo-liberal demands of constantly being entrepreneurial selves could be argued to be somehow liberating to be allowed to feel less personally engaged. It can be stressful always to be creative and make decisions; this course had such a narrow scope for a creativity that it doesn’t matter anyway. One could be allowed to feel a bit of comfort in the oldschool experience of allowing oneself to be distant and despising of an inhumane and alienating system and a bit of joy in the hacking-like challenge of trying to formally meet the demands of the system with as little effort as possible. But then on the other hand it’d be hard to seriously argue that being able to accommodate so clearly defined goals could ever be a viable way of actually practicing social science. Thus the kind of skill and the kind of work the test-system encourages doesn’t point very far beyond being able to do well in this particular course. We are approaching something almost tautological: The primary goal of learning in the course becomes to be able to get a good grade in the course.

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Movements and awarenesses

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An ongoing inquiry: How our way of relating to (experiencing, perceiving, being involved with) the world, ourselves and one another is something that is being shaped, elaborated or produced through different practices we involve ourselves in.

A potential (academic) starting point to think/explore from could be the human geographer Nigel Thrift’s article ‘Still life in Nearly Present Time’ (pdf) in which he describe how contemporary life in western societies contain a series of systematized bodily practices and knowledges that work in a certain way on how we relate to time, slowing it down and stretching it out through recurrently directing awareness to present time. Several of the practices revolve around the sense of kinesthesia.

Here is a formal listing of the examples he gives. Most of these are knowledges and practices developed in the 20th century:

Thrift describe argue how these developments all affect consciousness:

“Each and every one of these four developments of body practice stretches out the moment, most especially by paying detailed attention to it. They expand, if you like, the ‘size’ of consciousness, allowing each moment to be more carefully attended to and invested with more of its context. Taken together, they may be seen as constructing a slow-down of perception, as much as a speed-up.”

All these practices and knowledges can be thought of as apparatuses that take part in producing our styles of embodiments and entanglements with the world.  For Thrift the latter especially relates to how nature is constructed for us:

“[T]hese contemplative and mystical developments which, taken as a whole, are widespread in modern Western societies, constitute a background within which nature is apprehended and which provides quite particular experiences of what nature is. They form, if you like, an ‘embodied unconscious’, a set of basic exfoliations of the body through which nature is constructed, planes of affect attuned to particular body parts (and senses) and corresponding elements of nature (from trees and grass, to river and sky).”

And further:

“[T]rees do not so much mean nature […] as they are present as evidence of a natural configuration that embodiment itself has produced: our bodies know themselves in such thinking. Thus trees become flesh by being bound up in a practical field.“

Photo by Shira Golding CC 2.0 BY-NC

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Reading with/against pleasure

A woman is sitting by a table with a book. She introduces herself, presents the book and starts reading aloud. As the reading gets along she starts having small twitches and jerks, at apparently arbitrary moments she displays half-suppressed smiles and every now and then she makes larger adjustments to the way she sits as if something is perhaps irritating her. While all these disruptions seem to be getting more and more severe she nevertheless strives to keep on reading. This goes on for five or ten minutes until she at some point has to stop reading, her breath getting heavier, her movements starting to tend toward rhythmic thrusts. She bends her head forward, the chair rocks, she moans, her muscles tightens and shakes. After some 20-30 seconds this is over. She smiles exhausted and as a conclusion she once again says her name as well as the name of the book she has been reading from.

‘Hysterical Literature’ is a series of videos by photographer Clayton Cubitt. The concept being that a woman reads an excerpt of a book of her choice while at the same time having an active vibrator in her vagina, working in/through her from beneath the table outside of our view.

Lots of aspects could be commented or reflected upon in relation to this project (an obvious one being notions of female sexuality/pleasure/orgasm as pointed to in the hysteria in the title of the project). I think one of things that I’m drawn to in the videos is how two different temporalities or dynamics – the reading and the stimulation – are intersecting and how the tension between them is manifesting in interesting ways in the bodily movements of the women.

To some extend the videos could also be said to be playing out a conflict between the speaking body and the sexually pleasured body (though I would like to think that a lot of the time, they are also complementing one another). Recently, I’ve been reading a bit of the french philosopher Michel Serres’ book ‘The Five Senses’. Serres seem to mourn how  language as a drug have prevented more direct, more embodied relation to the world. At some point he describes a situation where he’s stung by a hornet while giving a lecture:

One day I was lecturing to an audience in a marquee, as attentive to them as they were to me. Suddenly, a large hornet stung me on the inside of my thigh, a combination of surprise and exquisite pain. Nothing in my voice or intonation betrayed the accident and I finished my talk. I do not mention this particular memory in order to boast of Spartan courage, but only to indicate that the speaking body, flesh filled with language, has little difficulty in remaining focused on speech, whatever happens. Words fill our flesh and anæsthetize it. It has even been said, and written, that the word was made flesh. Nothing makes one more insensitive than words. If I had been looking at some image, listening to the sound coming from an organ, smelling a garland of flowers, tasting a sugared almond or grasping a pole, the hornet sting would have caused me to cry out. But I was speaking, balanced in a groove or enclosure, protected by a discur­sive breastplate.

In the videos – the hornet exchanged for the vibrator – the situation is quite the opposite. Discourse is recurrently disturbed or intersected by the sensual until it eventually happily crumbles into ruins by the means of orgasm.

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Some thoughts on writing this blog

To some extend this post is within a genre that I generally thinks it’s best to avoid: The self-thematizing blogpost. It’s a classical and quite prevalent genre. Bloggers writing about being bloggers, about not blogging as much as they’d like to, about not knowing what to blog about, about what they imagine that they’ll blog about in the future. I remember the first time I made a blog, about six years ago, starting out writing about cool web 2.0 tools, the social/political/democratic potentialities of blogging and social media etc. I guess – or at least I think that was what it was like for me then – starting a blog often coincides with a blooming fascination with the medium rather than any actual subject one would like to write about, the only present ideas for something to write about thus being the medium itself. An inwards spiral of self-referentiality is thus initiated. Most likely very boring for everyone else as virgin bloggers aren’t very likely to actually be able to say anything very profound, new or interesting about blogging.
Being aware of all of the above, the reason for writing this is thus all-overriding a part of a solely self-centered, self-indulgent project of lowering the thresholds of self-censorship. Sidetrack: For danish readers, Caspar Eric is a remarkable example of making the lowering of thresholds of self-censorship and allowing the emergence of an hyper self-conscious blog-persona into an almost conceptual project that by over-amplifying these tendencies might actually perhaps take them somewhere else. This is not really an attempt to make that the general direction for this blog, though, thus I hope, I’ll be able to limit the blog-blogging to this post for now.

An occasion for making this post now, is some thoughts on new mutations I plan for/hope will happen to the blog. (By experience, the actual way things happen often ends up betraying these kinds of declarations, but we’ll leave that aside for now).
One thing is that I want to start to try and write in English. So far all posts here have been in danish and maybe I’ll write more danish posts in the future as well, but for now, being in an English-speaking environment (I’m in Santa Cruz, California until next summer) it feels like it makes sense to try and start writing more in English as well. Writing things and publishing them for public access, for me relates to a desire for dialogue and exchange. This can take place just online but in my experience often some of the more interesting things happen in the mixing of online and offline dialogues. Thus blogging is also about the hope that people around me might sometime randomly bump into what I’m writing and be engaged by it and discuss it with me and thereby enabling us to create new ties and thoughts and common changing worlds.
Another aspect of writing in English is also to make it a part of a project – related to being at a English-speaking University – of being better to think with the English language.

Another ambition – that maybe, maybe not will actually be fulfilled – is post things more often. This is a quite recurrent one, I guess. It’s an interesting question though, how to make writing a more integrated part of ones daily practice, and, for my part relating to this blog, how to set up things in a way that makes it feel ok to post things that are not necessarily well-rounded or flawless in any way, but to the contrary can be a lot more tentative and ambivalent (and vulnerable?). The reason for wanting to do this again being the ambition to get into a state of being in exchange with the world around you, experience the resistance or creative building upoen other people might produce in relation to the modes of thought you’ve grown used to taken for granted with yourself.

I have some thoughts about how to enable myself to post more often (especially re-thinking what is enough to count as a post, though at the same time also very much acknowledging the need for some kind of quality criterium. I feel like I need to, however small, make some kind of comment or contribution to whatever I’m writing about or juxtapose something in a novel in order to make it justifiable as a post), but I’d love to hear someone else’s thoughts on the matter as well.
Also, as I’m not a native English speaker and I’d really like to get better, I’d love to get some spanking by some grammar nazis out there, if anyone would ever happen to feel inclined at that.

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