Between Life and Web life

Walter Benjamin says when exception becomes the rule , law becomes indistinguishable from life. The biopolitical apparatus too has become indistinguishable from life. The processes of its policing and production of our self are invisible. The means of control has become micropolitically precise. Power does not operate top down. It is operates as an oceanic force of nature. It is everywhere. It is immanent. It is real and measurable force in our world. Power is a multiplicity of force relations This view of power is championed by Michel Foucault. As force relations, they operate on us and we also operate through them on others. Thus, resistance is not outside power. It is available to everyone. This circuitry of power is very much in the world of the web and artificial intelligence. In fact, Foucault’s world of enclosures (home, factory, church, school, hospital, prison) is opening up. We no longer require enclosures to discipline and produce docile bodies. We can produce docile bodies and submissive minds that can freely and infinitely travel both in the cyber world as well as the physical world. We do not have to confine humans to discipline them. It is while we are freelybgoing about living the business of life that we are perfectly controlled. One can live freely and be also fully controlled. Contol has become indistinguishable from life. It seems that we are thrown into what may be thought as ‘bio-political salvation’. Freedom , control and life have become indistinguishable.

Maybe we need Nietzschean semiotics to make sense of this . Fredrick Nietzsche teaches that ordinary systems of signs are transformed into dancing or floating signifiers through which one is enabled to perform one’s self. This performativity of the production of one’s self is part of several ableisms that the world of the internet is producing. It is through these set of ableisms that we produce our selves. Thus, in Foucault’s disciplinary society, we find enclosures, restrictions that discipline our bodies. In societies of control of Gilles Deleuze, we have several possibilities that bestow a sense of ableism upon us and lead us towards the production of self. This means there is no restriction or limit that disciplines us. The society of control opens us to a limitless world of self-indulgence Nietzsche has already informed us about the fact that we need signs to enter in relationship with exteriority as well as communicate with others. More than this relations to the exterior, we need the language of signs to sustained sense of an absolute stable self over time which Nietzsche calls an illusion. Thus self of narcissistic enlargement of self is performatively constructed to the possibilities or ableisms of the internet that are bestowed on us. It structures our consciousness and puts into words and other signs the dispositions of our body and mind. What is expressed through the body becomes coded into signs and language. It is through these signs that our consciousness processes the world and expresses our intention or will. Thus, language structures our life and our consciousness and in the same way our life and consciousness structures our language. This means language give us a sustained notion of the self and the world . It also brings us to ethical responsibility though the workings of our intention or will.

Actually, we are in a continuous flow of discontinuous states of consciousness which are given stability by the fixity of language. But we need this sense of stability, a blanket that we call culture and understanding. Often this blanket goes against our creative impulses and instincts and often constricts our deeper thoughts as well as hides the dynamism of the world. Thus, the systems of signs both limit and liberate us. This means the systems of signs are inadequate and cannot be fuller expressions of the self nor they and adequately represent the world. This is why we continuously need to be part of the sign systems. This is exactly what is getting us hooked to the worlds of the web and yet there is always more that we are looking for. Thus, the fact that we know that we are both assisted as well as constrained by the systems of signs or institution of language. We have to be aware that our consciousness can be captured by what Nietzsche would call herd instinct. Thus, instead of a falling into what Martin Heidegger would call the crowd or the ‘they self’. It is important to assert our individual uniqueness. This awareness is important as we can be locked into our echo chambers of identity, nationalism , caste , class or race though our interaction in the social media on the web. Thus, being aware of the possibility of us loosing our individual self as we gets hooked to the beehive of the web can enable us to work with it to register our uniqueness. Perhaps, refusing to follow the herd in the web is the first big step to resist the world of data analytics. Thus, we do not have to be copies or mirror images of each other. We have to find our own voice while we also do not lock ourselves into solipsisms. Thus, we can mime and not mimic the other. Finding our own voice is the challenge to become a heretic who has the courage to move away from the lures of the digital world. This paradoxical heresy can help us so that we can refuse and resist the customized adverts that are directed to us when we are most vulnerable. Thus, while refusing to mimic the world. we have the challenge to not submit to the dynamic and bewitching world of simulacra in the web. Perhaps, we have to the come to appreciate the natural world and mark our distance from the second best thing of the web. World of simulacra can stimulate us and therefore. it is difficult to resist. But an awareness that it is just a simulation can assist us to resist it to a large extent. Thus, marking our distance from the worlds of signs, we will be able to understand how the world of the web is indistinguishable from life. This will enable us to mark our distance from the life in the Web

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao