6.24.2008

Natural Links, Linking Nature

I've been on a reading kick lately, and the author's name in John Urry. Funny that I did a Google search for "deconstructing nature" and can't quite recreate which text I found that referenced Urry's work The Tourist Gaze. I then checked my local library and found several other titles that really interested me in my project of theorizing journal writing in our post-human, post-process moment.

Lately, Urry has been working with complexity and mobility as extensions of his sociological viewpoint. What interests me is not only how he situates "tourism" as increasingly blurred into other life activities, not only how he stresses that structures promoting mobility for some also stress fixity and stasis for others, not only his overall thesis that sociology has been too long focused on "static populations," but that all of this mobility has "the effect of reconfiguring humans as bits of scattered informational traces resulting from various 'systems' of which we are unaware" (2006, p. 222). To me, this is of course social, but also socio-natural.

Taken alongside Plato's emphasis on arrangement in Phaedrus, a dialogue that puts Socrates in "strange" arrangements -- outside the city, as madman, as rhetor -- only to demonstrate Plato's critique of Athenian urbanity, Urry's work points up the importance of thinking through New Media not as just a techno-social project, but as a socio-natural one. In other words, a lot has been done already on the techno-social aspect of New Media. I'm thinking everyone from Anne Wysoki to Howard Rheingold, George Landow to Jeff Rice. But all of this seems overly concerned with social environments and new arrangements of social bodies via technology. If, following Bruno Latour, we need to reassemble the social so that what we previously called "nature" is brought into our processes and integrated with our "dwelling" on the planet, then we need to recognize that part of that reassembling means looking at our socio-natures.

I've already begun part of this.

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Not always theoretical... not even always academic.. but always written..