The Demiurge of the Web

Image Source: Gods and Demons Wiki – Fandom

The internet is disruptive in character. It has disrupted the linear modes of communication. Non-linearity has become the order of the day. The linear modes of narration, description, exposition, argumentation and critique that profoundly belong to literacy are steadily dying in the post-literacy society. We can find that the texts of the internet are laid out in a linear manner but they are not consumed in the linear fashion. In fact, the texts of the internet are arranged in a rhizomatic manner and are accessed through search engines through a matching obtained with the operation of the principle of correlation. We can of course trace non-linearity in the hypertexts of the web which are not constrained to be text but contain graphics and videos.

The self of the internet plays in a non-linear fashion with the texts in the internet. This means the self of the internet engages with non-linear writing to consume the texts of the internet. There is less concern about the referentiality of the traces/ signs/ alphabets of the texts in the web. It is the dance of these traces/signs/ alphabets that is choreographed through the playful logic that thinks ‘between and beyond’ that is all that is required to generate and consume the cosmologies and semiologies in the web. This is why we have to agree that the playful and wasteful self of the internet both produces and consumes the cosmologies and semiologies in the internet. He/she has become a prosumer.

Derrida has proclaimed the end of the linear writing leading to the end of the book. The coming of the internet has given a body blow to the book and we can already feel the pain of loss of readership among us. The internet keeps everything interlinked and intertwingled and a kind of inter-mediated subjectivity is nurtured and nourished by the web. The texts in the web offer several paths for the self to take up his/her journeys of adventure. The linear progression of the print logic is internalised by the self of the web that constructs his/her narratives by following the different paths that are available in a non-linear manner.

The self of the web interacts with the texts of the internet and weaves his/her own narrative and consumes it with glee. This suggests that the path of the self is weaved or the narration is built as the self enthusiastically rides his/her way into the texts of the web. This indicates that the self of the internet composes or writes hypertexts and consumes the same with great enthusiasm. Thus, the playful and wasteful self of the internet spins his/her own web in the internet. It is a metaweb, a web in the web. It has a short life as the self of the internet in a hurry and does not follow the sluggish pace of the cognitive exercises of literacy. We seem to have entered a post-discursive age with the growth of the internet.

Strictly speaking, the internet functions like a database. This is why we need a search engine to excess its content. It is the database of the web that assists us to compose/write our texts in the web. The texts of the internet provide us ways to semiotize the traces/signs/alphabets and compose our meanings. The self of the internet acts like demiurge of Plato that creates the cosmos in the image and likeness of the forms from a pre-existing matter. But there is a difference, the moulds of the demiurge were fixed and geometrically perfect. Hence, the creativity of the demiurge is limited. The web seems to offer unlimited possibilities to the playful self to breathe meaning into the traces/signs/ alphabets of the internet. Yet on the scale of infinity, these apparent limitless possibilities are limited by the partial semiotic layers in the traces/signs/ alphabets of the internet as well the finitude of the self of the internet.

The non-linear writings of the self of the internet emerges within the open data bases of the internet. Thus, the self of the internet has displaced the separation between the author and consumer of the text. He/she embodies both the author and the composer in the web. The web seems to carry the work of modernity to its logical end by further isolating the already individualized self and locking him/her into the echo-chambers where he/she is able to listen to his/her own voice alone. Deleuze and Gauttari name this new self as dividual.

Writing with additive thinking on the web seems to have its downsides. While the playful self of the web is able to keep adding the texts, traces/signs/ alphabets of the internet and create its hypertexts, there is a dangerous shortfall that is afflicting our society. The self that adds the texts of the internet to compose his/her hypertexts in the web goes on subtracting real people, community moments, and environmental ecologies from its life. This is where the new additive logic embraced by the self on the web has to enable the self to open and add the real people and places with whom one lives and works.

The digital adding of the people to one’s writing of the hypertexts will not work. This can uproot the person from reality and cause conflicts, disruptions leading to health hazards like depression, aggression and the like. Therefore, while we celebrate the hyperactive self of the internet, we cannot lose sight of the growth of rootlessness that might convert us into couch potatoes who have lost all sensitivity to pain and cry of people and the earth. Rootlessness can make us ruthless in our ways and being caged in the web we might destroy ourselves as well as others and the earth.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao