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Bernard Stiegler “Care”

August 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Stiegler, Bernard 2012. Care: Within the Limits of Capitalism, Economizing Means Taking Care. – Cohen, Tom (ed). Telemorphosis. Theory in the Ero of Climate Change, Volume 1. Open Humanities Press. 104-120.

[…] transindividuation is the way psychic individuations are meta-stabilized as collective individuation: transindividuation is the operation of the fully effective socialization of the psychic. With the social networks, the question of technologies of attention becomes manifestly and explicitly the question of technologies of tran-sindividuation. (106)

What Husserl calls primary retention is this operation consisting of re-taining a word in another […] it is the operation consisting in retaining a word which however is no longer present, the beginning of the sentence having been pronounced and in this respect already past, and yet still present in the sense that is thus elaborated as discourse.

We must distinguish the operation we are calling primary retention from secondary retention. The latter is a memory: something that be-longs to a past having passed by (it is thus a former primary retention), whereas the primary retention still belongs to the present, to a passing present: it is the passage itself, per se, and in this respect the direction of the present—its sense in the sense of direction as well. Now, the second-ary memory is also what permits us to select possibilities from the stock of primary retentions: primary retention is a primary selection whose cri-teria are furnished by the secondary retentions. (108)

[…] that which allows such a discourse to be repeated, for example in the form of a recording in MP3 format, is a tertiary retention with the same status as the text I am now reading for you, which allows me to repeat a discourse that I conceived elsewhere, and at another previous time: this is what Plato called a hypomnesic pharmakon. […] Such a device allows, to be more precise, the control of retentional and protentional hook-ups in view of producing attentional effects. (109)

Tertiary retentions are therefore mnemotechnical forms of the exte-riorization of psychic life constituting organized traces into retentional devices […] that character-ize the systems of care, as therapeutic systems whose retentional devices are the pharmacological basis. (109)

[…] where the libido has been destroyed, and where the drives it contained, as Pandora’s box en-closing every evil, henceforth are at the helm of beings devoid of atten-tion, and incapable of taking care of their world. Libidinal energy is essentially sustainable, except when it decomposes into drive-driven energy, which is on the contrary destructive of its ob-jects. The drive is an energy, but an essentially destructive one, for the drive consumes its object, which is to say it consummates it. (113)

If consummation is that which destroys its object, libido is to the con-trary that which, as desire and not as drive, that, as the sublimation in-trinsic to desire,  takes care of its object. This is why the question of the third limit of capitalism is not that of the relinquishment of fossil fuels but rather the relinquishment of a drive-driven economy and the recon-stitution of a libidinal economy, that is, a sustainable one, given that this energy increases with the frequentation of its objects. (114)

An organization based on consumption, and constituted by its oppo-sition to production, is dangerous not only because it produces excess quantities of carbon dioxide, but because it destroys minds. The oppo-sition of production and consumption has as its consequence that both producers and consumers are proletarianized by the loss of their knowl-edge: they are reduced to an economy of subsistence, and deprived of an economy of their existence—they are deprived of libidinal economy, that is, of desire. This is why the fundamental question opened by the combi-nation of the three limits of capitalism is the overcoming of this opposition and of the proletarinarization it engenders structurally. (115)

Perhaps this deplenishment [of fossil fuels] is finally a kind of stroke of luck: the opportunity to un-derstand that the true question of energy is not that one, that the energy of subsistence is of interest only insofar as it contributes to an energy of existence—and is such in its capacity to project what I call the plane of consistencies. Now this is the true stake of what is today called, in an am-biguous expression, ascendant innovation. (116)

Ascendant innovation is a structural break with the organization of social relations in the industrial world based on the oppositional couple production/consumption. It is founded on motivations oriented toward consistencies, that is, toward objects of what the Greeks and the Romans called skholè and otium, which are very specific objects of atten-tion: the objects of knowledge (know-how, art of living, the disposition to theory, that is, to contemplation). (116-117)

The IP technology is on the contrary what allows the proliferation of new circuits of transindividuation, and that’s why it is massively invested in by social practices that were neither anticipat-ed nor programmed by any industrial or commercial strategy. It is thus that this technico-relational milieu tends to reconstitute associated and dialogical milieus (that is, where all those who participate in this milieu contribute to its individuation) by the unfolding of technologies of tran-sindividuation. (119)

This is not to say that these technologies cannot serve the cause of the short-circuiting of transindividuation. All attentional technologies (and these digital technologies of transindividuation belong to the group of at-tentional technologies) are pharmacological to the strict extent that, as technologies of the formation of attention, they can be reversed and upturned into technologies of the deformation of this attention, and short-circuit this attention, that is, exclude it from the process of transindividu-ation and signification: they can always produce dissociation. (119)