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The Cospiracy Theories Issue

The Landscape of the Word

Today we inhabit our language technologies as they inhabit our spaces.
December 1, 2002, 12:00am

Precisely the kind of re-deontologicization so inescapable in today’s cognitive modern culture. Photo by Kelly Clark.

At the end of The Order of Things, Michel Foucault describes that harrowing, yet liberating condition of our epistemic moment: the erasure or dispersal of

on the horizon of history as comes into the fullness of its being-in-itself. Yet ever since Derrida, the ontology of language itself has been dispersed and deployed across the continuum of human life such that it can be considered the essence of technology-in-itself — the Ur-technology, if you will, of an hysterical subjectivity endlessly repeating the desire to represent the (phallocentric) Absolute within the certainty of a discourse (de)signed by the authority of the Logos. Hegel, during his Jena period, called this “the end of history.” Freud, “the unfolding of the drama of the death drive.” More ominously, Heidegger called this the “will to power,” citing the wildly transformative potential of National Socialism to bring about a new authenticity of “the thing.” Today we inhabit our language technologies as they inhabit our spaces, public and private, so that the horizon between the becoming of man and the ubiquity of language has merged, finally, in one last orgasmic rush of jouissance: a double helix which we have de/coded as the pre-gendered body of the imagination. In Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari called these “machines of flow and control.” The Wittgensteinian critique is rendered inert here, the language of space having dialectically inverted itself as the space of language thus making the notion of the normative function of the general speech situation as mercurial as the present-ness to which it clings for its identity. It is here that the contemporary consciousness finds itself abandoned (or liberated?) in the interstices between the in/side and the out(side). The mall, the airport lounge, the Blockbusters, the ones and zeroes of hyperspace — concretion itself has become virtual as the natural has long faded from the recesses of our collective idiolect.