Sunday, December 1, 2013

The argument from entropy

The last couple of posts reminded me of this Bryant blog post on the argument from entropy.* An excerpt:

"I find it amazing that concepts of work and energy are almost entirely absent in the humanities (and generally in the social sciences as well).  It’s as if we believed that being is composed solely of the discursive and things, and are then left– when raising social and political questions –left to ask whether it is the discursive that holds social relations together or things.  We forget that holding anything together requires work.  When I propose the concept of 'thermopolitics' (I don’t know whether anyone else has used this term), I’m suggesting that we need to attend to work and energy as additional mechanisms of power that lead people to tolerate oppressive assemblages (Reich’s, Deleuze & Guattari’s question). 

"It’s not simply because people are duped or stupid that they tolerate oppressive assemblages that act against their own interests, but also because they are dependent on certain assemblages for the calories they need to sustain their bodies, as well as the fuels they need to maintain their homes, transportation, and so on.  A similar point can be made about time.  When I propose the term 'chronopolitics' (and again, I’m not familiar with how others use the term), I’m referring to the manner in which the sheer structuration of time for people, groups, and institutions can become so overwhelming that they’re left with no additional time to try and change their circumstances.  Chronopolitics would be the analysis of technologies of time as mechanisms of power that 1) exhaust people physically and mentally, and 2) so fill the day that other forms of engagement are foreclosed."

* This is why Bryant needs to read Rifkin. Rifkin has heretofore not appeared in Bryant's blog. I emailed Bryant some Rifkin material and he responded he'll take a look.

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