Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Alienation from Interaction


From the Motorola Network, with philosopher Sadie Plant reporting:
As Erving Goffman pointed out, 'a conversation has a life of its own and makes demands on its own behalf. It is a little social system with its own boundary-maintaining tendencies; it is a little patch of commitment and loyalty with its own heroes and its own villains.' To overhear a conversation is to listen in to one of these worlds. To overhear just one of its sides is to be neither fully admitted nor completely excluded from its world. This can meet with many different responses. As a frequent and unwilling third party to other people’s mobile conversations, a young teacher in Chicago said that she found such enforced eavesdropping more frustrating than intrusive: she wouldn’t mind so much if she could hear both sides of the conversation, but instead found herself drawn into speculations about the missing the sides of dialogues in an attempt to fill the gaps. One commuter in Birmingham expressed irritation about all mobile calls she overheard, but her travelling companion said she was annoyed only by 'boring people and bland conversations': some of the half-conversations she overheard were better than soap operas on TV, and all the more engaging because they allowed her to speculate about the unheard and unseen end of the line. She had built up vicarious relationships with the people she saw everyday, and felt concerned and engaged with their lives. 'I often hope to hear the next episode', she said, 'and I’m disappointed when they get off the bus.'

From the The Theatre of the Barely Socially Acceptable:
Hi, it’s me. Did you tell him?
What’d he say?
Better hide his passport.

She’ll find it at the top of the medicine chest, behind the Paxil.
Ha! Yah, I know.
No, no, shave it off. Really. SHAVE IT OFF you fool.

He thinks he can get away with THAT?
[Looks at fingernails]
The Iraqis will never agree.
Tell him it’s his Christmas present.
[Laughs, looks down the aisle at the opposite end of the car]
No, I don’t think he’s here.

I hid it under the sink, behind the Draino.
Don’t let her see you. Right, shaken. Not stirred.

We just arrived at Cleveland Park
See you soon. Bye.
You’re funny. Yah, me too. Bye.

Comandante Presence has a few things to say about this too:
If you use instant messaging, you already know about "presence technology"--the mechanism that tells you if somebody on your IM buddy list is online, offline, busy, or away from their desk. But soon, phones and other mobile devices will have supercharged presence capabilities that not only provide details about your availability but also help make you, and those you connect with, far more efficient and productive.

At a simple level, you will be able to program presence capabilities so that the phone rings when specific people call while others are automatically routed to voice mail. These presence "rules" will be tied to your location--pinpointed by GPS capabilities in your mobile device--and will change automatically as you arrive, leave, or are en route to specific locations.

Chris, a partner in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory practice specializing in the wireless industry, is a believer. "The system will know, for example, if I'm traveling between my primary work location and a client," says Issac. "I will be able to set it so that if some people call at certain times, they'll go to voice e-mail, but if my wife calls, she'll get put through."

INEZ: Well, what are you waiting for? Do as you're told. [...] So come to me. I'm waiting. Come along, now...Look how obedient he is, like a well-trained dog who comes when his mistress calls. You can't hold him, and you never will.

GARCIN: Will night never come?

INEZ: Never.

GARCIN: You will always see me?

INEZ: Always.

GARCIN: This bronze. Yes, now is the moment; I'm looking at this thing on the mantelpiece, and I understand that I'm in hell. I tell you, everything's been thought out beforehand. They knew I'd stand at the fireplace stroking this thing of bronze, with all those eyes intent on me. Devouring me. What? Only two of you? I thought there were more; many more. So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the "burning marl." Old wives' tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS -- OTHER PEOPLE!

The final escape?
final escape
(for Ingmar Bergman)

how will it happen
the final exitus
will it be violent
will it hurt
or will it be quiet
full of silence
will the sordid images
that have haunted us
be suddenly erased
or will they be replayed
endlessly replayed
in virtual reality
will we fall
or will we rise
or simply pass through
as one goes through
an open door
to enter a room
perhaps it will be
an escape
another escape
from the little box
where it all started
among empty skins
but this time it will be
the final escape from the great cunt
of existence
and this time
without any gurgling
will the stolen sugar be
as sweet as the first time
and what of the moon
tiptoeing on the roof
will she smile upon us
or remain indifferent
will there be words
left to describe what
is taking place
words and silences
or will there be only
cries and whispers

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