An Excavation of Schismogenesis (Beyond Identity)

Ever since the concept of Schismogensis was rearticulated through Area Studies, as covered in the book reviewed here, I have had a concern about there being kinds of schismogenesis, in terms of a kind that digs dualism deeper, a schismogenesis of the stuck, or schizophrenia of the group as Bateson might have put it. A schismo(no)genesis? By contrast to a ‘transformative’ kind of schismogenesis.

I am still unsure what I am sensing here, but this article I think is tackling part this:

“The media does not know metamorphosis. It constructs and distributes mass-produced identities and requires everyone who comes into contact with it to show his or her papers. It challenges its users from series to quiz show to look at themselves on the screen. It has replaced the classic model, in which every individual could be socially placed on the basis of work and sex, with the identities market, where you can be anything you want, as long as you’re something and let it show. Activists figured out over time that you couldn’t stay permanently current, but that you could get back into the media, as long as you presented yourself time after time under another name and organizational form. Being elusive for press and police was achieved through playing off the media norm of name and intention against itself. Thus it also became less and less lucrative to appear as the squat movement, however staunchly loyal you remained to it in your own circle. This desire to become imaginary resulted in a knowledge of media-machinations, which became second nature, an automatism in which the action only exists once it’s been an item. The entry into medial space, to the neglect of the extra-medial, resulted in the forgetting of the possibility of metamorphosis, which was accepted without a thought by the squatters in the early days. One can consciously and at will switch over from one identity to the other. But metamorphosis has nothing to do with desire or consciousness, with choosing from myriad options. The transformation is possible when one enters the emptiness at the right moment in order to appear elsewhere as something different, without it being established what. The medium of the metamorphosis is the body, the matter itself, and not only its image, or identity.”

What has this got to do with crosslocations? Understanding less how people across locations construct identity in relation to each other, but more in how housing, homes, streets and inhabitance are made as locations of self organising or not, in relation to media, digital communications and ways of relating that relocate where and how we mobilise/demobilise and connect or separate from each other. How the social and material infrastructure of whether an encounter happens and how, is the subject matter of crosslocations. In other words perhaps there is a schismogenesis of identity politics (that I think might be deeply unfruitful when articulated as neoliberal representation games) that is not the same as a schismogenesis theorised as entangled with location.



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