TOWARDS A DEMOCRATIC SEMIOTICS OF LATOUR’S DIPLOMATIC PROCESS

Bruno Latour’s AIME is no longer a project but a process, a performance converging towards a competence. The indicators of competence – technical jargon, one-dimensional timeline, academic diffusion – are increasing. AIME from project to process is crystallising as party. I have come out in favour of the project. I support it. I am a fellow-traveller of the AIME process, I am not a member of the AIME party. Who represents me and people like me in the diplomatic negotiation? The question of scale has become important: what diplomacy is possible between David and Goliath? On the AIME process the question arises: is diplomacy necessarily incorporation, engulfment? Can one be a dialogic partner without being engulfed?

There are some possible dangers of the AIME process that are worrisome in terms of its stated aims. I speak of David and Goliath, that is to say a potential “MOOC-effect” of

(1) non-interactivity at the base level. The AIME project has organised the diplomatic exchange in terms of a pluralism that does not clearly manifest itself at the micro-level.

(2) the individual being swamped in the ocean of large numbers. This is not necessarily a factor of suffering for the individual, but it may generate affective protest. The inquiry seeks to cultivate sensitivity to protest. Not all protest is suffering, but all affect is cognitive or veridictive (but not infallible, affect needs cultivation and potentially rectification).

(3) the existing hierarchies being strengthened rather than weakened by the process

4) a process of alienation or of disindividuation in which “negotiation” replaces dialogue. If one side of the negotiation has become a force of disindividuation there is no encounter.

(5) monistic pluralism: an auto-poietic pluralism that has no dialogue with other pluralisms (for example: Bernard Stiegler’s pharmakon project, Dreyfus and Kelly’s ALL THINGS SHINING project, François Laruelle’s non-philosophy project).

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3 Responses to TOWARDS A DEMOCRATIC SEMIOTICS OF LATOUR’S DIPLOMATIC PROCESS

  1. Philip says:

    I think this is fair. It does, as a process, seem rather top-heavy in a way; however, I am, like you it seems, inclined to be charitable about it in general. The word ‘experimental’ gets bandied about a lot in the humanities but this is truly an experiment. It will inevitably have its faults but demonstrating null hypotheses is also a useful activity!

    This is an interesting article on AIME (and Latour’s work generally) from an anthropological perspective that just came out (if you’ve not seen it — the issue has a number of interesting articles actually):

    http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau4.1.017

    I think it’s rather harsh in its judgements and misses the point of what AIME is trying to achieve, however it makes some valid points. It does point towards a tendency to reject any form or degree of systematisation or organisation as being inherently oppressive; however, doubtless AIME could have been somewhat more open and public than it has been.

    Like

  2. terenceblake says:

    Thanks, I have seen it, and it does make some valid points, particularly in its criticism of the non-user-friendly digital platform. Of course, some top-down organisation is necessary or some things won’t get started. Yet there is some incoherence between the goals and not just the means but the implementation of these means in terms of old hierarchical habits. I think that “let’s negotiate on my constrained, filtered, programmed terms” is not an invitation to dialogue. Reactivity is not dialogue either, as the temporality is not that of dialogue. But progress has been made, and I wish to encourage the whole process.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: DIGITAL IN-HUMANITIES: reciprocal closure as the bookish become MOOCish | AGENT SWARM

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