Many have been writing about this, but in disparate areas and under different keywords.  Some call it ‘blogging’, some ‘reality TV’, some ‘social networking’ but in the end I see them as all mainfest of the same movement: confessional culture.  We are dumping ourselves into the larger discussions where a few years ago the technology, and arguably the desire to do so, did not exist.  Most criticize this move and yet they embrace it at the very same time.  Yours truly, for example, has always derided Facebook and yet I cannot help but check it for updates and at times to even update my own status.  My derision only grows as I feel more and more naturalized with it.  Hell, this paragraph can stands as a testament to the confessional’s power.

Wendy Brown does a better job of explaining the danger surrounding this movement:

But if the silences in discourses are a site for insurrectionary noise, if they are the corridors we must fill with explosive counter-tales, it also possible to make a fetish of breaking silence.  Even more than a fetish, it is possible that this ostensible tool of emancipation carries its own techniques of subjugation – that it converges with non-emancipatory tendencies in contem-porary culture (for example, the ubiquity of confessional discourse and rampant personalization of political life), that it establishes regulatory norms, coincides with the disciplinary power of confession, in short, feeds the powers we meant to starve. While attempting to avoid a simple reversal of feminist valorizations of breaking silence, it is this dimension of silence and its putative opposite with which this Article is concerned.

In the course of this work, I want to make the case for silence not simply as an aesthetic but a political value, a means of preserving certain practices and dimensions of existence from regulatory power, from normative violence, as well as from the scorching rays of public exposure. I also want to suggest a link between, on the one hand, a certain contemporary tendency concerning the lives of public figures – the confession or extraction of every detail of private and personal life (sexual, familial, therapeutic, financial) and, on the other hand, a certain practice in feminist culture: the compulsive putting into public discourse of heretofore hidden or private experiences – from catalogues of sexual pleasures to litanies of sexual abuses, from chronicles of eating disorders to diaries of homebirths, lesbian mothering, and Gloria Steinam’s inner revolution.  In linking these two phenomena – the privatization of public life via the mechanism of public exposure of private life on the one hand, and the compulsive/compulsory cataloguing of the details of women’s lives on the other – I want to highlight a modality of regulation and depoliticization specific to our age that is not simply confessional but empties private life into the public domain, and thereby also usurps public space with the relatively trivial, rendering the political personal in a fashion that leaves injurious social, political and economic powers unremarked and untouched.  In short, while intended as a practice of freedom (premised on the modernist conceit that the truth shall make us free), these productions of truth not only bear the capacity to chain us to our injurious histories as well as the stations of our small lives but also to instigate the further regulation of those lives, all the while depoliti-cizing their conditions. (1996, 185)

These are not new ideas, however, combatting them will require a new move.  As discussed above with my own accounting, even though I feel this way I still desire to update my Facebook page. Google will be announcing a new social media tool later this week and I am enthralled for the announcement.  This movement cannot be combatted by simple criticism.  Something more affective is needed.  What is needed is something like the Hello Kitty logo.

I have not done the research necessary to validate the following reading of the logo, but it is consistent with what I know of Japanese culture hence more than plausible.  Japanese women/girls are not silenced as their western counterparts are.  Instead they are often called upon to speak and not empowered to hold their tongues.  The logo, then, is a piece de resistance of that impulse.

Hello Kitty is still caught up some translation problems, most notably the western confession does not seem to be specific to gender norms, see Brown above for reference to its once gendered liberatory potential.  What we should find is an image that can serve as a stand-in for silence.

Brown, Wendy.  (1996).  Constitutions and ‘survivor stories’: In the ‘folds of our own discourse.’  University of Chicago Law School Roundtable, 3

While speaking of things that won’t work… I am now juggling another distraction on top of my already distracted workload:  Flight of the Conchords.  Useless post, but that is how much I am enjoying this show.

These days I am making my way through season 1 of Deadwood. I am only on episode 5 and I must, literally ‘must’ as I do not want to admit it, say that I am hooked. Ian McShane is marvelous and I think he alone would make the show worthwhile watching. Another thing I really like about the show is its ambition. They speak of the show as depicting (actually, they speak in realist terms as though the show was really Deadwood, South Dakota and not a depiction) a lacuna of Law. The commentary with the show’s creator David Milch, however, shows us that he has a more realistic assessment: the show is not about an absence of Law but rather of the absence of law, attempting to cast the show as a study in other mechanisms of sociality. Too bad the show-sans-commentary does not impart this; the commentary is needed to realize the stated ambition of Deadwood is founded in a hubris.

I finished watching the episode where Jack McCall is tried for Hickcock’s murder and the in-show commentary, delivered by Ian McShane’s character, is wrong. The trial did not mark the introduction of law into Deadwood, precisely because everyone knew the law and civility of the trial was, like its outcome, a sham. What the show did was to show that Deadwood is not a lacuna of the law but that all of the US was lawless. Instead of the law there is only a mask of the law. Zizek sums it up better than I do (keep in mind that Carnivale was another HBO show):

[T]he logic of the social carnival brought to the extreme of self-reflexion: anarchist outbursts are not a transgression of Law and Order; in our societies, anarchism already is in power wearing the mask of Law and Order – our Justice is the travesty of Justice, the spectacle of Law and Order is an obscene carnival (Zizek 2008, 192)

In a strange coincidence (I should not be surprised to find an articulation between Palahniuk and Zizek) I am working on the new Palahniuk book and it is – I am only about a third of the way through the book so this my thoughts may change – also about this mask. At the moment I am meeting the characters as they speak about Cassie. What is interesting is that the characters are in a waiting room bidding time for their chance to be with Cassie, and Palahniuk has yet to introduce me to Cassie. Will he? Is Cassie a transcendental in the book? None of the characters think of her as a transcendental, they all have plans to affect her. But at the same time they all dismiss the others as in-affective, reaffirming her transcendental condition. Does Cassie even exist? Is she instead some mask, some fantasmic inflatable sex doll lifelessly willing to receive their intrusions?

I am not sure where Palahniuk will go with this, but there will be drama and action in the waiting room among the characters, and Cassie, the supposed structuring principle of the story, will be revealed to be an ineffective structuring agent.

Last night’s (November 5) episode of Heroes was an interesting one. I was able to successfully watch the show while doing some work, which means the show is not complex and not one of the better shows on TV (I would never try to watch an Aaron Sorkin show or Friday Night Lights in this manner.)

Another problem with this show is exemplified by what happened last night: there are too many “mutants” and their powers are too diverse. I place mutants in quotation marks because I fear the explanation for these strange powers will not all be mutations. This show is beginning to resemble a comic book universe with too many characters and too much going on, which is why both Marvel and DC have to periodically clean house by killing off some characters.

The other problem with these new revelations is that they are too convenient. We learn that a little boy has an ability to manipulate electronics at precisely the moment when he needs to call his mother and the pay phone just happens to be out of order. The cop can read minds but the power is not activated until the story needs a clairvoyant to find a little girl. It is just all too clean. It would make more sense for there to be a single mutation that several people around the world have, but some are more experienced in the use of the mutation. I think that would make for a better story and some more interesting scenarios. It would make for a greater constraint on the writers, which is what I (and I am guessing others) respond to, to see how the writers work there way out of problems. If there are any comic book illustrators out there, let me know as I have some rough drafts of books that need some illustrations for this plotline. I think it could be fun and entertaining and also a good seller.

Despite all of these frustrations, I will continue to watch Heroes because it is, after all, a good show. I enjoy some of the people and I am hooked by the mysteries they have yet to explain. I think there are ways to improve the story, most of these problems are not fatal and some can be uncorked, but it would require a more subtle touch than I fear the current writers possess.