A strange and remarkable class. I don’t quite know what to make of it yet. I was so preoccupied when I left that I got on the subway and came halfway home before realizing what I was doing. I suppose I’ll just read at home tonight, though it isn’t my favorite thing to do.
I really want to keep reading for this class, to the exclusion of all the others. That is, I suppose, indicative of something very worthwhile being here somewhere, either in the subject matter or in the instruction. Very strange. Very historical in an odd way. We were talking about Marx in the context of 19th century haunting parties and magic lanterns.
The insight of the night is of course something that is more clear to me now—that for Benjamin all mediative technologies are really simply facets of the core of mediation itself, which is none other than the negative space of urbanism. In something strangely reminiscent of Derrida, for Benjamin mediation is nothing less than the presupposition of the “empty” (yet to be “filled” in each instance) proximal encounter that population density by its nature implies. Mediation at its core is thus not a technological or instrumental process, but is a categorical allusion, a deconstruction of the lexicon of assumed mutual presence in urban being.
I like Benjamin. A lot. I’ve always loved the critical theory guys, but the more I read Benjamin the more I think he alone was really on to something prognostic, as opposed to merely proscriptive. It seems as though Benjamin’s new historical ethos points to postmodern epistemology as a kind of willfully (skillfully?) dishonest anthropology of mediative unreality (the negation of the negation, as it were), which is precisely what the study of any modern topic can be called if one engages in it at a sufficiently deep level and indeed the only way to arrive at a sustainable claim in this epoch of universal (dis)information in which empiricism has run amok and gotten lost in a saturated wilderness of paradoxes and dominating-yet-orphaned efficiencies.
It is I think the sort of praxis Horkheimer and Adorno were trying to engage in with Dialectic of Enlightenment, only Benjamin’s got it properly (and, perhaps just as important, consistently) theorized. Do I have a paper here?
Yeah, looking back, I don’t understand anything I just said. I suppose that’s why I rarely make academic posts. But this class inspires me.
Why am I smarter at some times than others? So often I feel as though I’m walking around with a cloud around my head and all the thoughts have left me forever. People ask me questions and I look at them blankly. I go to the bookstore and I can’t figure out what I’m looking for.
Then, every now and then, I have a night where I feel as though I need to add sixty pages and a hundred notes to the monograph I’m working on, only there’s no such project because of the aforementioned cloud that’s usually around.
This is definitely an age thing, I used to be able to pass any exam on any day of the month with a six pack in me and no sleep for a week. Now I need six weeks’ notice, four naps, and a breath mint. Bah.
But at least I look cooler now that I’m older, hahahaha. Okay, not funny.
During class I heard a mobile phone vibrating (i.e. it was on silent and someone was calling). The sound came from the back of the room, approximately where my stuff was laying. I was sure it was my phone and it was someone from the family calling. I was incredibly annoyed that they were calling again and again, since even though it was on vibrate it was a bit loud. I was making mental notes about telling them not to call back if I don’t answer since it probably means I’m in class. When class was over and I got back to my phone, it turned out that it hadn’t been my phone that was ringing after all and suddenly I was a little let down and disappointed for no reason. And when I realized as much, I felt a little idiotic as well.
A nice little evening story.
Okay, long post already. Probably a way of keeping myself from reading, now that I’m at home and don’t really want to. Final aside: recently I keep running into people on the subway. This didn’t happen all last semester. This week alone at varying times of evening I’ve run into three separate people on my floor at I-House and two people with whom I have a class—not just passing-by meeting, but turning around in a subway car and saying “Oh, hi, it’s you, I didn’t know you took this train!” and then making smalltalk for the duration. Strange. I wonder what the hell is going on.