July 28, 2006

This li’l blog is an attempt to define and examine the terms of our discourse.

Let me define some terms right up front.

“our” means, most immediately, anyone who’s reading this blog but, more broadly it means anyone who’s a member of a cohort that might be reading this blog. So – that mostly includes people with identity/ies coincident with mine: Americans; information-addicts and theorists; digitally-connected internationalists. Anyone interested in the changing notions of place, selfhood, and identity.

“discourse” means the conversations that we have here; the conversations that we have, in our daily lives; the conversations of which we are passive consumers (i.e., “the media”). These are of course several different things, though they overlap at times.

I hope to keep discussions here focussed on the “why” and “how” of our contemporary and emerging discourse and identities. There are plenty of places to find the “who” and “what,” and they will be linked to extensively, but I don’t fool myself that I can provide better (or even equal) first- or second-stage news or commentary. Not to get too awfully meta- or pretentious about it; just a bit. Also a longer way of saying this will be an ideas and discussion-based blog, not a “whatever’s happening” or “whatever’s on my mind” blog – there are, again, plenty of the former and even I’m not interested enough in what I’m thinking most of the time to justify the latter. Just some of the time, so this’ll be for that.

And as to the lead title of this blog: “Post-realism” is the name that I’ve been tossing around for our emerging moment. God I use that damn word emerging a lot. Anyways. See this post by Charles Stross – “What is the sensory bandwidth of Scotland?” for some of the implications of tehnology for the creation of a post-realist experience. Key thought of the post: “If you can control someone’s senses completely, you can present them with stimuli and watch them respond — voluntary cooperation is optional.” So how does this naturally (to my mind, anyhow) pair with my interest in identities? A few points.

For one: I just needed to invent a snappy term. Post-modernism is obnoxious but also useful but also, I think, not really able to engage with many of the more important facts of our world today. For one: I don’t find that post-modernism is that useful in a world in high degrees of armed conflict. Brutal warfare is a pretty pre-modern idea, but it’s still here. I will argue in greater detail later as to why and how I think that post-realism is an accurate framework for understanding many contemporary armed conflicts.

One more first thing – in two, four, six months when I or anyone else look back on this and following posts, it’s entirely possible that it’ll look like I had no idea what I was talking about. S’okay. I’m not seeking to be an authority (er, at least not yet), I’m seeking to figure out what it is that’s going on, and what it is I think about that. So change, and being wrong in the long- or medium- or even short-term can be good things.