Hybrid Assignment 08

The word, “whatever,” in its popular use as a response today, denotes no preference or commitment to what has been stated. It does not quite ignore the statement since it acknowledges that it has been heard. But there is no gesture to attend to the message, so it remains unaddressed, undermining the sender’s position. Jodi Dean compares the utterance, “whatever,” to the famous response of Bartleby in Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener.” When asked by his employer to perform tasks, Bartleby would say, “I prefer not to.” His answer has often been seen as the resistance of capital control. Yet by refusing to refuse, he has acknowledged the request and stated his preference – he prefers not to comply with the request. He has preferences and they matter to him. In contrast, Dean states, “The term ‘whatever’ asserts no preference. It neither affirms nor rejects. And it doesn’t expose the subject as a desiring subject to whom something matters.” (170) Dean describes “whatever beings” as those who communicate for the sake of communication, without worrying too much about what they are saying. She speaks of their sense of “belonging” but not to anything in particular. The act of belonging is what is important, not to what one belongs to. The blogger’s purpose is to connect to someone, anyone, everyone. And while often trivial, there is bound to be someone who is interested in whatever the blogger is saying. As Dean says,” Every aspect of the ordinary and everyday matters to someone –for like a second (175).

Dean elaborates on the ways that mass media communicates with society in highlighting Susan Buck-Morss’s Dreamworld and Catastrophe. In it Buck-Morss points out how easy it is to manipulate the masses through cinema. During the Depression, Hollywood and the Soviet cinema presented film in starkly different ways. Both affirmed the culture that they wanted to preserve while denying their reality. Hollywood presented huge spectacles depicting luxurious lifestyles that “captivated Depression-era audiences and attempted to channel their desire toward fantasies of consumption.” (173). Soviet films idealized production and glorified collective projects. Both spoke to their own masses with their own messages. Blogs, on the other hand, do not address the masses and do not bring people together. Contrarily, Dean says, “[blogs] not only do not create such a space for a mass body but dissolve any sense of it.” (175)

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