Objects and Networks

Bruno Latour in a tiny nutshell:

On actor_network theory: A few clarifications – Bruno Latour

I quote:

Put too simply ANT is a change of methaphors to describe essences: instead of surfaces one gets filaments (or rhyzomes in Deleuze’s parlance (Deleuze and Guattari, 1980).

More precisely it is a change of topology. Instead of thinking in terms of surfaces -two dimension- or spheres -three dimension- one is asked to think in terms of nodes that have as many dimensions as they have connections.

As a first approximation, the ANT claims that modern societies cannot be described without recognizing them as having a fibrous, thread-like, wiry, stringy, ropy, capillary character that is never captured by the notions of levels, layers, territories, spheres, categories, structure, systems.

A network is not a thing but the recorded movement of a thing. The questions ANT addresses have now changed. It is not longer whether a net is representation or a thing, a part of society or  a part of discourse or a part of nature, but what moves and how this movement is recorded. We cannot say that what moves inside networks are informations, genes, cars, bytes, salutations, words,  forces, opinions, claims, bodies, energy, etc. since ANT also wants to reconstruct nets before there is any distinction between what circulates inside and what keep them on track, so to speak,

This is all very cool and very useful and so is this:

To remain at this very intuitive level, ANT is a simple material resistance argument.

Strength does not come from concentration, purity and unity, but from dissemination, heterogeneity and the careful plaiting of weak ties.
This feeling that resistance, obduracy and sturdiness is more easily achieved through netting, lacing, weaving, twisting, of ties that are weak by themselves, and that each tie, no matter how strong, is itself woven out of still weaker threads, permeates for instance Foucault’s analysis of micro-powers as well as recent sociology of technology.

But when I read in his paper:  Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern

Now we have the benefit of what can be called instant revisionism. The smoke of the event has not yet finished settling before dozens of conspiracy theories begin revising the official account, adding even more ruins to the ruins, adding even more smoke to the smoke. What has become of critique when my neighbor in the little Bourbonnais village where I live looks down on me as someone hopelessly naı¨ve because I believe that the United States had been attacked by terrorists? Remember the good old days when university professors could look down on unsophisticated folks because those hillbillies naı¨vely believed in church, motherhood, and apple pie? Things have changed a lot, at least in my village. I am now the one who naı¨vely believes in some facts because I am educated, while the other guys are too unsophisticated to be gullible: “Where have you been? Don’t you know that the Mossad and the CIA did it?”

I’m asking myself on what planet does he live on. False flag operations shouldn’t be unknown to him.  He will be able to read details in 50 years time, when MI5, CIA and Mossad files will be made available to the public. Has he ever heard of  Gladio or the Gulf of  Tonkin incident, or of course about Bush’s WMD? I wonder what he would think about Wikileaks?

So either he is naive, which he isn’t (sic!)  or he is camouflaging something on purpose, which wouldn’t surprise me considering his background.  It is frustrating to see how some of the most brilliant minds of our days purport these ideological blindspots. Reading through the evidence clearly indicates that 9/11 was not what it was officially declared to be.

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Communications and Media Senior Lecturer at SAE Byron Bay Australia

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