Monday, May 3, 2010


The idea of an assemblage as put forth by Jane Bennet seems to echo some of the notions we have explored previously in the class, specifically that certain "actants" in a scenario seem to "hang together" or that they are cohesive--but do not necessarily reinforce or cancel each other (to put it in physical terms).

It seems to me that this notion simply identifies the fact that any given system is prone to a certain amount of uncertainty--or to put forth another theory for further explanation, "Chaos Theory" might come in to the discussion. We can not predict an outcome within certain systems, and as a political result of such inabilities, we see corporations or "actants" either human or inhuman, blamed or praised because of the effects.

In Jane's Power Grid scenario, it was the unpredictability of the power grid itself that was blamed as an unforseen consequence of a deregulated system within which accountability was sought.

Also of note; Bennett goes on to talk about the Chinese tradition of "shi", which basically eludes to the notion that systems have a certain way of operating, and that one can either "go with the flow" or fight against it. This is congruent with other ideas I have interpreted in the past as "chi" or "shwei". Bennett defines it as "style, energy, propensity, trajectory, or elan inherent to a specific arrangement of things."

It is becoming more difficult to connect the dots for these readings, however I do see parallels with the work of Latour in that these things from different areas (alliances, representations, disciplines, and mobilization) are "hanging together" to form a larger "assemblage", and that by breaking it down into it's parts, we may be able to control, or massage information in order to pursue our own ends.

I think.

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