Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday 2pm Section

Sorry for the late post!

My question relates to Wark's utilization of the concept of the vector. Wark borrows the concept of the vector, his theorization of postmodern power (273), immanently exchangeable and interchangeable (269), which can encompass not only media, but people, things and other 'real' items (269-70), from Virilio noting that Virilio does not layer the 'natures' of the kinds of vectors operating in the world generating the vast network of power/commodity/real relations that Wark describes. Ultimately, Wark uses the vector for political reasons, enjoining us to "deploy tactics that display a certain ironic knowledge about how the vector works, and which attempts to reach that everyday interzone where, in the wake of the event, boundaries seem to dissolve, and irony finds its intemperate time" (273).

What is curious to me is how Wark's appropriation of a mathematical term articulates a certain kind of theoretical desire. I suspect Ang might also be keen to uncover what exactly it is that Wark literally wants to do with using a mathematical concept in a literally uncritical way; he imports the concept from math to 'real' life as if math qua geometry has ever really described anything in the real world. We understand that lines, points, perfect figures are all, strictly speaking, imaginary concepts, pure formalisms, which help us think through problems. However, we all know that there are no real lines or points or perfect squares. Geometry does not exist in a strict way, in a one to one relationship, with objects in the real world.

Suddently, Wark introduces the vector and briefly mentions that Virilio borrows it from geometry on a conceptual level. Or, as a metaphor for life. However, I would argue that Wark does this, reverts to mathematics, for its formal coherence which is only possible in a purely synthetic formal system with no real basis (I am thinking here of the uninterrogated and assumed axioms which form the base of geometry). This shows his hand a closet formalist, one who really believes in the ability of mathematics to map onto real life, even though we know that this occludes the ideological considerations and constraints that always accompany the use of a formal system. Any formal system, I would say, like mathematics, functions to obscure its ideological roots and actions by way of representing itself as the universal. Wark, as a good critical theorist and cultural reader, surely knows that any uncritical appropriations of mathematical concepts bear more than a cursory note to the implications of its use. The interesting question to me would be: why is there this strong desire towards formal ground on which to stand in Wark's work?

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