This is the first in an ongoing series of last-posts-of-the-month. Each of these monthly occasions will be used (A) to reflect on recent entries, and (B) to say something about Take 2 in relation to contemporary developments in journalism.
(A) Why aren’t there any hyperlinks from my posts back to the source material which I have drawn on in order to compose them? Because the aim of the exercise is to use digitisation as the opportunity to address a problem which also arises along with it, namely, the lightness of being prompted by an unending sequence of associated media packages in which one leads to another, and another and another (the ‘computer game’ war in Iraq in 1991 was an early example of this ontology-lite). The sequence is so indefinitely long that both origination and finalisation are all but defined out of existence. However, I am using freely available, online media content produced as part of this sequence, not to extend it but rather in the attempt to bring it to an end or at least slow it down. I am well aware of the widespread assumption that the people-formerly-known-as-readers are emancipated by opening up the media concertina so that each little packet of content, and the user who generated it, act together as mediators between the last person to have done this and the next person who will go on to do it. But in current conditions such a mediating sequence (one mediator leading to another), can only have the effect of containing our existence: it projects its own characteristics onto its subject matter, tending to prescribe all human activity as mediating activity, thus effectively proscribing activity of any other kind (just as fictitious capital broadcasts its serial character and militates against social production). In contrast, in my work the associations are not part of a series but contained within each, single post, so that, being all-of-apiece, each piece is the formal, literary equivalent of an associated world. Moreover, my formulation of these associations constitutes an effort to close the concertina; to make the mediated, immediate – not in the naïve sense of simply being there, nor in accordance with the faux naïve goal of authenticity. Instead I am seeking to arrive at the concrete, where ‘concrete’ is a return journey from the abstract. On this basis, January’s pieces are meant to take the people featured in them out of the mediating sequence which thins out their existence, making them fully human again in a thick description which gets the measure of their humanity.
Accordingly, these are adverts for human beings which jointly comprise an advertisement for being human.
(B) I leave it for others to decide whether they work as pieces of writing; but undoubtedly the level of composition they entail, is meant as a riposte to those such as corporate exec David Montgomery who insist that journalists and editors must stop behaving like ‘control freaks’ and learn to let users generate local content. Though Montgomery may well be eyeing the costs involved (user-generated content comes comparatively cheap), his plea for journalists to act as curators rather than writers is again dressed up as freeing up the people formerly known as readers. To the contrary, we must understand that the composition of news is an essential complement to the social composition of the public. Without composition, not only will journalism tend to decompose; but the people-formerly-known-as-readers will be condemned to remain disaggregated, aka the people-formerly-known-as-the-public. Conversely, we can expect the composition of news, i.e. the further fulfilment of the journalist’s historic role, to contribute to the re-composition of the public sphere.