Prof. Bullock’s response to Hybrid Assignment 08

In her essay “Whatever Blogging,” Jodi Dean (2013:) points to the affective spaces that are connected to the world of blogs and social networks, where we “express ourselves, share our feelings, and reach out with little hope that someone will be touched and reach back.” In this sense, as many of you note, Dean is registering an indistinguishable character that is joined to our participation in social networks, where “[t]here is belonging, but not to anything in particular” (2013:169).

As a form of communicativity, whatever blogging is described by Dean as a deflection of the effort to communicate. Dean suggests we consider our status as the recipient of a message such that, as a subject, we are exposed to the obligations of the sender. At the same time, she indicates this status is altered by the affective spaces online as we can alter the direction of the message and where communication has no register of affirmation or rejection. As she (2013:171) writes, “the only affirmation in ‘whatever’ is of communication as such. Another has communicated. This communication in no way obligates me to the recipient of the message. […] ‘Whatever’ asserts no preferences. It neither affirms nor rejects. And it doesn’t expose the subject as a desiring subject to whom something matters.”

If we believe the distinction between public and private life has always been somewhat artificial, as Diami suggests in his response to Dean’s work, a point I’m inclined to believe Dean would agree with, there is a question about the way computer processing and human experience are drawn together, such that cognition is embodied differently. This is a question that N. Kathleen Hayles takes up in her book How We Think (2012). R. Joshua Scannel has recently written a review of Hayles’s book that I think you will enjoy as he touches on many of the same concepts and readings covered in this class.

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