Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Myth of the Private Individual

The privacy behind one's eyelids is only going to hold out for so long - pretty soon even that will be a branded secondary screen for social engagement. For the last few weeks these lyrics have been looping through my mind:
Andy Warhol got it right / Everybody gets the limelight
Andy Warhol got it wrong / Fifteen minutes is too long. - Source
Because you can't not reblog a joey in a diaper.
The lines are eerily evocative of the bentham-ic obsequious present granted us by the contagion of our intertwined cyborgian selves.* Privacy is what you write in your journals, at least when you're not wearing your google glasses. The myth that privacy is possible is partly what empowers the belief by a moral entrepreneur that the behavior they personally might find distasteful can be policed back into a private space - that individuals should be hustled off stage when they divest themselves of the trappings of heteronormativity. Privacy and the myth of privacy is used as a space to silence and smooth away any abnormality. The private individual is somehow fixed within an invalidating role, kept from the public sphere.

But to my mind, the private self and the public self are both performance pieces an individual embraces because of an inculcated awareness of the possibility of encountering the equivalence of a liquidity event - winning the social media lottery somehow. Being discovered. Going viral. Turning up as a meme - then embracing that identity as a platform to.. what, more public selfdom?

A show on MTV that ends up turning into a web show you broadcast from your hotel room while the Illuminati are after you. Or something...?

The only way to be private is to go to the land and listen for the dead. Go there, be quite, and find something that has meaning for you. Keep that meaning as a gift for your private narrative of self, and use it as a way to build that world as its own story you can gift to your lovers and friends. Creation requires these moments of quiet for new things to move into full consciousness. I have my theories on why this is so but.. honestly... they're private thoughts. 

The private self is the unrecorded self, the dreaming self. To carry dream from within to the public sphere - to enact myth from a private space for the public mind - that is the only future worth pursuing. I worry that this myth of the private self - coupled with the ridicule of the overly public - reveal a troll-like determination within the body politic to drag all individuations from their starlike array of difference into some statistical mean of undifferentiated gray noise

Privacy is what happens behind one's eyelids for now, at least until Playstation 5.

We ritualize the frames around the roles a public individual is encased - the recent rite of the Oscar, for example, where the role "actor" is performed by people who are performing themselves moving from and back into private lives, these individuals emerge from privacy stripped of directorial narrative frames. In this space actors are performing their public identity. Every mechanical act imbued with meaning is a ritual performance, at this level. 

In other arenas, politics, religion, business... various public individuals perform other rituals in their comings and goings, their addresses, and their staging of powers. Here to the moving from public to private and back again is performed without thought, yet privacy is constantly under the same encroachment at all levels of social class.

Privacy must become as valued as the public spaces we are all so driven to share within, by consumer, by social site, and by these devices we all publicly fetishize. This myth of privacy - it is what mythicizes the individual. Even the public individual is stamped with the myth that surrounds them in their comings and goings. It is in fact the coming and going which is wrapped with red carpets, with musical high notes, with proclamations and the drama of the press, demanding audience with the public individual. Without privacy the individual cannot conceptualize the self as a creative being.

I'm getting sloppy with my pronouns. Let me explain: identity is the story you tell with your actions and the frame with which others assign your actions a history. Identity is a powerful weapon - the history is the strongest determinant for an individual's future actions. The future is something a lot of people spend a lot of time and money trying to predict, control, and market. Seriously, it is likely that the only real industry is in making the future - all of human industry is devoted to making sure the next moment happens, and that next moment is predictable. Politics, violence, sex, money, drugs, surgery - nothing but the present, filled with people, making that next moment happen. 

Privacy and publicity are the same individual spectator lost in this sea of will to moment, desiring a prolonging of past experience, and some notion - guided or misguided as that notion may be - of how to achieve this desire. In the growing surveillance space, coupled with the omnipresent video eye of a billion global smartphone users, identity play is a storyworld where the main character is always your self-conscious performance of yourself. 

Like I said at the beginning, private doesn't need to mean secret - but it must be as valued as the public spaces we are all so driven to share within, by consumer, by social site, and by these devices we all publicly fetishize. The private self, as mythicized as it is, exists to be something other than a projected assumption by the body politic.
*They were written by T.I.S.M. Here's a wikipedia page. I'm blogging so that's good enough for a reference you can sort it all out on your own. I love the track, which means there's something seriously wrong with my taste in music. Anyone who spends too much time around me will tell you that I've got a kind of ambient field of disruption and mayhem fueled on noise - I dig up the T.I.S.M. only when there's serious demons and ghosts to lay to rest. While I don't want to subject you to the horror that is Jung Talent Time - something of a dated litany of monoculture, I do think that their more insidious video will do: "If You're Not Famous at Fourteen You're Finished" and "Thunderbirds are Coming Out"

[What counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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