Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blog 2: Aim of Control Society, Wed. section

Of the readings, I was stuck on the passage in the Postscript on Societies of Control by Deleuze:

"The different interments or spaces of enclosure through which the individual passes are independent variables: each time one is supposed to start from zero, and although a common language for all these places exists, it is analogical. On the other hand, the different control mechanisms are inseparable variations, forming a system of variable geometry the language of which is numerical (which doesn’t necessarily mean binary). Enclosures are molds, distinct castings, but controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other, or like a sieve whose mesh will transmute from point to point (Deleuze, 4)."

As I understand it at this point, the disciplinary society as discussed by Foucault could be signified/represented by enclosed spaces (classroom, factory), in which one is physically categorized into a particular task. It is a very top-down structure. A control society, I believe, is one in which control is diffused throughout, is “variable,” but why is it that the language is “numerical”? Returning to Roland Barthes, he argued how language is a system (like any other) that conveys meaning, but called for it to not be “the locus and the norm of a primary, original meaning,” (7) so the switch from a “common language” to a “variable geometry” is perhaps an answer to Barthes, in which the numerical, codes, can be free from meaning, so the language no longer returns us “to the closure of Western discourse…to its centralized organization (which reflects what Foucault sees as a disciplinary society), to arrange all the meanings of a text in a circle around the heart of denotation” (the main hub of information) (Barthes, 7).

So then, in moving forward to a control society, protocol is described as being “against interpretation,” as described in Chapter 1 of the Galloway reading, “it encodes and decodes...but such transformations are simply trivial mathematics and do not affect meaning” (52). Why would one want to assert that the numerical is meaningless? It seems that the only reason to have protocol resist interpretation is so that interpretation can rest with the subscriber/user to the system, being a master over something that doesn’t strive to master itself.

And yet, if it is constantly moving, constantly updating itself, (as demonstrated in lecture,) there is no real way to grasp at control, control (power) is obviously coming from somewhere else. Protocol, in the end, seems meaningless, precisely because it doesn’t institute meaning itself. It just is, which seems to be exactly what makes a control society exist as well.

Overall, what I am wondering is: What is the end, the point, of the control society? Does it serve any sort of function, or is it simply a passive observation by which Foucault looks at society? By instituting numbers and codes as a means of simply receiving information sans interpretation, is it for the empowerment of everyone, or rather the rejection of power (nobody has power)? When everyone becomes a mass, can there even be an end goal to the functioning of society, with no one guiding principle (that would have established before by a head of power in a monarchal and disciplinary society). If there is backlash through viruses and noise, against what power are they fighting?

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