signal, noise, emphasis

Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, p. 370:

"But on the other, the schizorevolutionary, pole, the value of art is no longer measured except in terms of the decoded and deterritorialized flows that it causes to circulate beneath a signifier reduced to silence, beneath the conditions of identity of the parameters, across a structure reduced to impotence; a writing with pneumatic, electronic, or gaseous indifferent supports, and that appears all the more difficult and intellectual to intellectuals as it is accessible to the infirm, the illiterate, and the schizos, embracing all that flows and counterflows, the gushings of mercy and pity knowing nothing of meanings and aims (the Artaud experiment, the Burroughs experiment). It is here that art accedes to its authentic modernity, which simply consists in liberating what was present in art from its beginnings, but was hidden underneath aims and objects, even if aesthetic, and underneath recodings or axiomatics: the pure process that fulfills itself, and that never ceases to reach fulfillment as it proceeds — art as 'experimentation'."

* * *

In my most recent post I jotted down a few notes on what I perceive to be the emerging outlines of a sporting imperialism, following the work set forth by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in Empire. I wanted to give emphasis to how far-reaching and powerful this form of imperialism is, and so I used the rhetorical flourish of hypertext markup language to communicate this (<em> being the markup tag for "emphasis" — often italicized — in HTML).

My goal was to communicate the expression "sporting <em>pire," a bringing-together of two different languages into one word without dissolving the tension between them.

1. Wordpress
However, to do this within the Wordpress publishing interface required me to "escape" the angle brackets so that it would not confuse the browser into thinking I wanted the following text emphasized — which I did by using the "escape codes" for the brackets, &lt; and &gt;.

Sporting Empire - Wordpress

2. sportsBabel
Because I had escaped the characters properly, my browser was notified that this was not in fact markup and "sporting <em>pire" was rendered exactly how I wanted.

Sporting Empire - sportsBabel

3. Feedburner
As with almost every blog and social media application today, when I publish a post it generates a syndication feed so that my content can be ported to other applications or communication services. My feed for sportsBabel is syndicated by the Feedburner service, which is owned by Google. After generating an XML file that was then processed through Feedburner's system, everything still looked as it should.

Sporting Empire - Feedburner

4. Google Reader
Here's where it gets interesting. I import my sportsBabel feed into Google Reader — a service from the same company! — and this "news aggregator" treats the <em> as an HTML markup tag and renders everything after it as italicized. And yet Google Mail, a different service owned by the parent company to which the same feed is emailed, keeps it intact as above.

Sporting Empire - Google Reader

5. Facebook
I also import my feed into Facebook, with each blog post becoming a new Facebook Note. This allows me to share my work with a diverse audience as well as leverage the Facebook "tagging" feature with friends. When this particular post was imported, however, the <em> was treated as HTML by Facebook and stripped out, simply leaving "sporting pire."

Sporting Empire - Facebook

Is this how an Empire declines and falls, one stone at a time: through language, translation, portmanteau, hybridity and (sportsbabelist) glossolalia? Or does this fragmentation and recoding of linguistic flows actually signal a strengthening of Empire's grasp?

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  1. laura says:

    i found myself looking for a like button.