to theatre as metabolism: an exchange of letters pt. 2

In the previous post I was discussing absences, the reader’s or spectator’s, who missed the revolution in the streets below his or her window, the theatre’s, my father’s, and mine. I was suggesting that the exchange of one begging letter for another at the top of the lefthand margin here on Square White World ought to have been marked, mourned, ought not to have passed without comment. But comment has a weight in the blogosphere. I’m not sure whether it’s a backhanded form of flattery that I receive very little to none, a sign that the bots are not equipped to pass comment on the material they parasitize or an indication of changing fashions on the world wide web, a shift in the patterns of online traffic and drift. It seems that there has been a move away from personal blogging to social networking, or, as Louise Desrenards has pointed out, to metablogging.

The concept is that metablogging comprises online societies, discussion groups with their lurkers, list-servers, based either on, around institutions, and their corporate counterparts, Facebook, Myspace, and so on. Twitter really follows the same model, although considering itself micro-blogging, the trailing ganglia of followers and their ability to interconnect via ejaculations of 140 letters, group effort, the sheer trend of it, a unidimensional show of numerical sufficiency, overtakes blogging, by encoding it, like so: (Note the cabalistic formula in the middle.)

I also have the impression that because blogs are now often indistinguishable from sites, the wiki as a proof, test, of the leveling out of private and public data, and because advertising is now often indistinguishable from criminal (and liminal) activities, like hacksterism, virus-making, online-event-holding, virtual hoardings on SL (Alles Über den Linden?), the whole and easily exhausted canon of online fine arts, metablogging offers the attraction of interstices, a fluid socially produced interface, between a multiplicity of subjects and a multiplicity of objects. Among the latter I would count the framing code, to which advertising belongs, or which is overtly resalable as advertising space.

This suggests when I was adding to “your issues” at AAAARG yesterday, the issue being “theatre” that I added, describing it as “practice and theory, between Deleuze and Badiou, between manifesto and rhapsody, between representationalism and theatricality,” I ought to have included a fourth wall, threshold, or gateway, Janus-faced: between performance and installation. Because of its framing function, the metablog installs the multiplicitous subject as a mode of content, places all the herms (his and hers), collecting and isolating us as actors. It is the social function which incites us to perform, with all the usual anxieties of performance and non-performance, the puffings and posings, the pouches, preening and, that wonderful sewing metaphor, threads, which when they no longer sparkle are worn out.

A fortuitous proof of the drift to this form of collective activity comes immediately in Louise Desrenards’s kind comment about a previous post, posted in Facebook. A proof of a counter-drift comes latterly in Dudley Benson’s August post to his blog/site:

Tēnā koe! Welcome to my brand new website. [here] Last year I realised that a certain right-wing media mogul owns Myspace, so I had no choice but to shut shop there and start something fresh. This will now be the sole online resource for information on my project, and I’ll be updating it regularly.

What strikes me, apart from the critical frisson of words like here for what is there, and the phrase “updating regularly” for what is anyway immediate, is that Dudley calls his site the “sole online resource for information on my project.” It is not that he is advertising himself and his project or himself as his project, but that the site assumes the existence of something which he is happy to call his project. On the face of it, in the context of the site, we have only his word to go on that he has a project about which the site is anything more or less than advertising. Perhaps in the context of Myspace it would have been less open to misinterpretation as to that in which his project consists. But then, in positing a project, there it is. We can only wait and watch the “sole online resource” for regular updates. What are we watching for? What do we hope to see? To be given a sense of and that there is a project? That something is happening or will happen? A difference, a virtuality?

Perhaps what accounts for the metablog metaphor is this sense: we happen to blogs in the metablog; whereas the blog happens to us. Does this mean we are part of the project? I still think the idea of participation as being a non-starter; I still think the idea of comments made, threads followed as not being participation: whatever happens, we are part of the problem. Transference. Project. Installation. Performance.