Hall 2016

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Hall, Gary. Pirate Philosophy: For a Digital Posthumanities. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016.

"Does the struggle against the neoliberal corporatization of higher education not require us to have the courage to transform radically the material practices and social relations of our lives and labor?" (1)

This book "explores how w can produce not just new ways of thinking about the world, which is what theoriests and philosophers have traditionally aspired to do, but new ways of actually being theorists and philosophers in this 'time of riots'." (Xiv)

"How, when it comes to our own scholarly ways of creating, performing, and sharing knowledge and research, we can operate in a manner that is different not just from the neoliberal model of the entrepreneurial academic associated with corporate social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, but also from the traditional liberal humanist model that comes replete with cliched, ready-made (some would even say cowardly) ideas of proprietorial authorship, the book, originality, fixity, and the finished object." (Xiv)

This book "endeavors to move the analysis of the human and nonhuman on by raising a question that is also an exhortation: How, as theorists and philosophers, can we act differently -- to the point where we begin to take on and assume some of the implications of the challenge that is offered by theory and philosophy to fundamental humanities concepts such as the human, the subject, the author, copyright, community, and the common, for the ways in which we live, work, and think? How, in other words, can we act as something like pirate philosophers in the sense of the term's etymological origins with the ancient greeks, where the pirate is someone who tries, tests, teases, and troubles, as well as attacks? Might doing so be one way for us to try out and put to the text new economic, legal, and political models for the creation, publication, and circulation of knowledge and ideas, models that are more appropriate for our postcrash sociopolitical situation?" (Xiv)

The Commons and Community: How We Remain Modern

Copyright and open access -- Creative Commons used by OA advocates, others in media/software studies argue CC is not really a commons at all, where the collective manages IP, but an individualistic model applied to digital age -- a continuation of bad aspects of copyright -- focused on creators not users

Richard Stallman, copyleft -- "Rather than supporting the ownership of private property, copyleft defends the freedom of everyone to copy, distribute, develop, and improve software or any other work covered by such a license" (5) -- but problems with this in that it feeds into neoliberal need for corporations to profit off unpaid "creative" labor

Roberto Esposito, Communitas -- what is "common"? What is "community"?

Academic life structured around questions of publishing but our critical theories rarely extend to it -- we continue to think "within the faded frame," as David Theo Goldberg puts it

"Nowhere is theory's thinking within the faded frame more evident, however, than in the way it continues to be dominated by the print-on-paper codex book and journal article, together with many of the core humanities concepts that have been inherited with them (which are of course not natural, but the result of years of historical development). The latter include a number of those concepts I have already begun to raise questions for in the process of analyzing the politics of sharing and the Commons, such as the unified, sovereign, proprietorial subject; the individualized author; intellectual property; and copyright. But ... they also include the signature, the proper noun or name, originality, the finished object, immutability or 'fixity,' the book, the canon, the discipline, tradition, even the human, along with the institutions that sustain and support them: the university, the library, the publishing house, and so on." (11-12)

"Indeed, if Western philosophy has forgotten that its origins lie with technics, if it has 'repressed technics as an object of thought,' as Bernard Stiegler insists, then many theorists and philosophers can be said to have also forgotten and repressed the technologies by which their own work is not only produced, published, and distributed but also commodified and privatized (not to mention controlled, homogenized, and standardized) by for-profit companies operating as part of the cultural industries." (12)

Those who champion the post-human or object-oriented philosophy (e.g. Graham Harman) continue to conceive themselves as Enlightenment human subjects when it comes to identifying and copyrighting their own authorship: "Thanks to the way in which they too have responded to the question of the politics of copying, distributing, selling, and reusing theory and philosophy, such 'posttheory theories' continue to be intimately caught up with the human in the very enactment of their attempt to think through and beyond it." (16)

"How can we operate differently with regard to our own work, business, roles, and practices to the point where we actually begin to confront, think through, and take on (rather than take for granted, forget, repress, ignore, or otherwise marginalize) some of the implications of the challenge that is offered by theory to fundamental humanities concepts such as the human, the subject, the author, the book, copyright, and intellectual property, for the ways in which we create, perform, and circulate knowledge and research?" (16) -- pirate philosophers

Not an "attempt on my part to invent an overarching theory or seamless philosophcyal system" -- no "fixed or predetermined meanings" -- "Rather, it is continually being generated within an extended meshwork of dynamic flows and interweaving relations concerning the human, the subject, the author, the law, the market economy" (17)

"Multithemed and polycentered" (17)

Barad, following Haraway; diffractive methodology -- criticism not as negative dialectric but affirmative process of building upon -- Foucault; critique as "an art, a practice, a doing" (21)

The Humanities: There Are No Digital Humanities

Mark Poster, computer science as first field established to solely focus on machine (iunstead of nature or culture)

Computational turn applies computers to humanities, but "might we not also benefit from more of a humanities" (27)

"computer science is not necessary the best equipped to understand itself and its own founding object, let alone help those in the humanities with their relation to computing and the digital In fact, counterintuitive as it may seem, if what we are looking for is an appreciation of what the humanities can become in an era of networked digital information machines and data-driven scholarship, we may be better advised to seek assistance elsewhere than from computer science and engineering, science and technology, or even science in general" (27)

Lyotard: science has always, since Plato, looked to narrativization of philosophy to legitimate its discourse; modern science appealed to metadiscourse like progress, modernity, the Enlightenment; this changed in the 1950s when "such long-standing metanarratives of legitimation had themselves become obsolete" (28) -- thus science turned to society, "especially the instrumentality and functionality of society (as opposed to, say, a notion of public service or common good)". Science was doing so by helping to legitimate and 'augment' the power of states, companies, and multinational corporations by optimizing the 'global relationship between input and output,' between what is put into the social system and what is got out of it, in order to get more from less" (28)

"openness" measures tend to support neoliberalization of work; companies can profit off "open data", "monopolizing the right to privacy for themselves" (35)

inability to escape data network -- even resistance measures "too often have their basis in a conception of the rational, self-identical, and self-present individual humanist subject -- precisely that which is in the process of being reconfigured by these changes in media and technology" (37)

DH profiting from this -- grants from Google, Twitter, to study big data

"At the very least, a question can be raised concerning the extent to which the adoption of practical techniques and approaches from computer science is providing some areas of the humanities with a means ofd defending and refreshing themselves in an era of global economic crisis and severe cuts to higher education, through the transformation of their knowledge and learning into (ideologically acceptable) quantities of information -- deliverables. But the computational turn can also be positioned as an event created to justify such a move on the part of certain elements within the humanities. In this case, it might be advisable to use a term different from digital humanities if we do not wish to simply go along with the current movement away from what remains resistant to a general culture of measurement and calculation. The idea of both the computational turn and the digital humanities seems to imply that, thanks to the development of a new generation of powerful computers and digital tools, the humanities have somehow become, or are in the process of becoming, digital. Yet one of the things I am attempting to show here by drawing on the thought of Leotard, Poster, and others is that the digital is not something that can now be added to the humanities for the simple reason that the (supposedly pre-digital) humanities can br seen to have already had an understanding of, and engagement with, computing and the digital (since at least 1979 in Lyotard's case)." (39)

long history of critical engagement with the visual in the humanities, e.g. Debora

DH's sometimes explicit repudiation of criticality places theory in awkward relation to time, suggesting "time for" theory is over, or "time of" theory is over -- but critical theory is exactly that which can help us context the sense of time invoked in the idea that critical theory is untimely (Hall is explicitly drawing on Wendy Brown, Edgework, here Brown 2005)

case/critique of Lev Manovich and software studies initiative -- attempting to apply methods from CS to "big data" of humanities; but cultural artifacts are treated as self-evident -- example of study of art history, computer analysis reveals that canon is "correct" but examples pulled from canon?

"Far from enabling him to avoid having to answer the kinds of questions often associated with the close reading by single scholars of a relatively small number of texts and that were dominant for so much of the twentieth century, could Manovich's Cultural Analytics approach to art history not here be said to be based on the assumption that such apparently untimely questions have already been answered -- to the extent that they now appear o be relatively unimportant and unproblematic issues, if not indeed a given?" (47)

"Cultural Analytics proceeds to treat these cultural objects and artifacts as if they constitute more or less identifiable, stable, self-identical, some might say essentialist forms that can be analyzed automatically by using 'image processing and computer vision techniques' in order 'to great numerical descriptions of their structure and content,' thus transforming these (sets of) cultural objects into data." (49)

"If we do not explicitly do theory -- because we either think we have left it behind or relegated it to some as-yet-unspecified point in the future -- we do not end up not doing theory. Every method and methodology contains theory (and this applies even to those that consider themselves to be theory neutral). If we do not explicitly do theory, we merely end up doing simplistic and uninteresting theory that remains blind to the ways it acts as a relay for other forces, including those that are part of the general movement in contemporary society that Leotard associated with the widespread use of computers and databases and the exteriorization of knwoeldge." (50)