New Criticals

Jara Rocha

In order to better understand the materialities of our (digital) present world-making, a speculative crossing of four topological vectors is proposed here for a (sintetic though) multilayered approach to the processes of social (often soft) mattering we are involved in.

Our ethic, politic, erotic and aesthetic systems, also from a technological point of view, are strongly affected by a dense repertory of gestures and agencies upon which we (humans) have only a tiny aprehension margin. This is why it might be interesting to first, when talking about these complex systems, declare a suspension of hierarchical cartesian judgement and storytelling (based on the subject-object dychotomy) and perhaps try to apply what ANT scholars have named the “principle of radical symmetry”. This will help on two fronts: 1) test de-anthropocentrified ontologies and 2) get away of essentialist approaches to somatic entities.

Also, and attending to the call of the Invisible Committee to think beyond civil liberties and go deep into the logistic composition of both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic equipments for life, a close look at infrastructures functioning can help us learn more about governance of the material world. Notions of scale and standarization in this vector are plausibly issues to deal with if an idea of autonomous shaping and caring of infrastructures is brough upon the table.

In realtion to infrastructures, there is a third tensor that clearly operates when dealing with power relations (in gender, class, race or species): that of the reproductive economies. Historically invisible, the tactics for sustainability, resilience and ultimate survival of communities are displayed by crucial agents who/which set up the basic conditions of possibility for life in its more radical materiality. Following that line of thought: how about talking about reproductive technologies in a wider sense?

Soft power is a key concept to understand relationality in our present ecosystems. This is why the notion of extitution brought up by Serres in Atlas can help in going beyond the inside-outside structuring of  institutions and perhaps test a connected-disconnected logic. Daniel López insightfully proposes to think of this vector in terms of processes of extitutionalization. This shift could be useful get rid of pre-established forms (strong identities, social organizations, geopolitical foldings, etc.).

What implications would it have to articulate this vectors in an applied-to-case/situtated manner? Would it help in challenging the imposed hegemonic regulation of social matters? Can we start practicing critical and active dispossession in relation to technologies?

Now, what would be the best way to identify and put into practice the potential in each of these topological vectors and their crossings? How can we both aprehend and be dispossessed from present semiotic-material establishment to unfold other common-world-making possibilities?