Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mirror mirror On my wall I am the fairest of them all

I have been writing the past three days about essentially social networks and narcissism but I have neglected to write about one important thing VOYEURISM.. this viewing and objectification of the people seems to of great importance to how social behaviour and social systems exist on the internet. If we look at through the lenses of Lacan we can see this interaction play out such as this anecdote by Carl Steadman “illustration: Two persons, man and woman, facing each other, holding full-length gilded mirrors on a theater stage. The man and woman holding the mirrors are slightly askew and ape-like, while each mirror holds not the reflection of the other, but an image of the "ideal image" of the holder, upright, handsome, but not relaxed. A spotlight is on the mirrors; the bearers are in the shadows. The man speaks "Hello," with his gaze on his mirror image; the woman says "How'd you do," with her eyes looking at her mirror-image. The mirror images are exchanging gazes. The word "mirror" points to each mirror with a mirror; the word "stage" labels the stage with an arrow.” What we are witnessing in social networks sites and software is just this, people interacting with each other while gazing at their own reflection. This may point to Narcissus again, we should remember the context in which McLuhan used the Notion of Narcissism, the mirror being technology, his gaze and what he falls in love with is the technology, what happens in the process is self-amputation. We can back track again to my entry yesterday concerning the website Last Nights Party and it’s host Merlin, we can view him as a Narcissus character ( and I mean this is in a kind way) having immersed himself within the mirror that he is holding. The reason for the Auto-amputation is the over stimulation of the central nervous system (something that McLuhan knew almost nothing about but wrote about as if an expert) when the nervous system according to McLuhan is over stimulated that must be redirected in other ways to compensate for the stimulation. In our hosts case, Merlin, his vision has been over stimulated and his eyes have been replaced by his prosthetic eyes that are now his digital camera that he brandishes to bring to life his perspective in every photograph on his website. His counter-irritant to create balance in his central nervous system is his website, the outrageous imagery on the website soon for the viewer becomes dull and senseless not even numb it eventually succumbs to the white noise of information that surrounds us. We can see the entire list of counter irritants within Merlin Bornque’s photos, Alcohol, Dancing ( McLuhan refers to Sports, dancing in this situation is sport), entertainment. We are still children trying to walk and talk amidst this new technology the internet.
The human child is born before fully developed; unable to interpret the complexities of outside world and the internal world the two are the same. so too it is with Digital Literate Humans navigating cyber space, never in human history has a society been able to foretell the implications of technological advancements and the displacement that takes place because of theses advancements. The Auto-Mobile changed the American landscape forever. For centuries even after the automobile is no longer used,we will look at the interstates, highways and roads and romanticize the age of the automobile. The auto-mobile freed us from mere bi-pedal means of motion and decreased the time involved in communication. The Auto became an emblem of freedom itself, but at what cost what was the pay out for the technology, as Paul Virillo said in his book Open Sky“ Humans have ceased to realize that they are centres of energy”. We are now walking on wheels, traversing vast expanses faster then ever before, going from Point A to Point B with out thinking of what is in between, The nervous system cannot deal with this new speed and must disconnect from physically space to create a virtual space. Rarely do we travel in the 21st century and mention the distance traveled in kilometers or miles we mention the time it took to travel not the distance. This disconnection creates with physical space creates a disconnection with our bodies as well and we see people driving short distances rather then walking. I have seen my neighbour drive less then 100 yards to buy a pack of cigarettes. This disconnection is further demonstrated when we look at the internet as now communication and distance can be traveled virtually not just physically, we can have a meeting with people in Japan just as easily as we have a meeting with people next door. In most cases we can have this meeting easier with people in a virtual environment. The internet further displaces individuals from their bodies, we have begun the process of self amputation of the entire human body.