Essays on Cultural Blogging, Everyday Ethnography and the Postmodern Self

Essay, 2010

32 Pages


Table of Contents

Blog-Writing as Communicative Medium for Personal Ethnography of the Second Modernity

Moment of Ethnographic Writing as Departure Point of Recollection

Cinematic Memory as Second Modernity's Arcades

From Space to Time and Back Again on the Transit Lines of Memory

The End of Enlightenment from Derrida's Perspective on Sings: The Case of Artistic Archive

Documenta Archive as Structure of Allegorical Memory

Documenta's Relevance to the International Art Biennials as Instances of Dealing with Artistic Archives

The Position of Modernism in Between First and Second Modernity as Material, Social, and Discursive Process

On Baudrillard's Obituary: Front Page News From the French Intellectual Field

Spaces of Utopia Under the Theoretical Scrutiny of Post-Marxist Gaze

Marx and After in the Look at Theoretical Filiation from Marxism to Post-Structuralism

Spaces' Significance as Ruin of Their Signification: From Space to Theory and Back Again

New York as Predictive City for the Second Modern Moment


In this collection of essays I publish my postings into a blog that grew side-by-side with my other research initiatives in year 2007. As blogging goes mainstream, so grew my sense that what I have put together earlier on in order to follow through on my intuitions at the time may deserve to be published in an e-book format.

Blog-Writing as Communicative Medium for Personal Ethnography of the Second Modernity

In my mind there's a video clip that's stuck about a writer who credited her experience of writing with liberating her inner areas of memory. She called it therapeutic. It gives me a pause. I reflect on the word-choice of what liberating action can be pointed at. Suppression, blockage, tension, unease come to mind.

However, aren't all these things making us up as we are? Aren't our limitations are just lines that our experience draws on the sand of experience? Whether or not the contemporary literature, more properly said the literature of the late modernity, is in the service of the modernity's project of normalizing our subjectivities in the field of writing, society, and space, the successful critique of such project, or even its diagnosis, cannot but come through appropriation of its technique from the inside.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels come to mind in as much as their revolutionary writing while refounding the radical message of the French revolution, writing as it were at the heart of the British empire, which introduces its own ironies to their message, has attempted to speak to a wide audience of literate readers. The question that it poses is whether these readers through the institutions of writing, literature, literacy, press, public sphere, and privacy are not inscribing so constituted subjects into the modern symbolic order.

Mindful of the aporia of the avant-garde art and literature that owes its autonomy to the modern society finds its own undoing in the limits of its existence, I expect the ethnographic writing that I initiate in this blog to explore the possibilities of escape from the literary condition that any self-avowedly revolutionary writing pretends to escape.

In other words, second modern ethnography – ethnography of the fully urbanized self, ethnography of the cultural cartography that any city opens innumerable spaces for practice, ethnography of the documentation of the limit areas where theorization shades off into fictionalized accounts of the spaces that in their totality can be classified as belonging to Lefebvrian heterotopia – poses the challenge to scholarly project that cannot but become personal on its way to opening towards public.

Weblogging offers itself as the medium of its time in search of its conceptualization as theoretically disruptive technology of writing. To be combined with other enmeshments with space, writing, experience, infrastructures, and culture this creative assemblage waits for its exploration.

P.S.: It gives me pause, but I find no other place to leave this self-comment other than where it belongs. After leaving the blog, I see better how it can elvolve into a book length project or more. As in something that finds its way into everyday life. Mine in this case.

P.-P.S.: Perhaps what I am hitting at is how repetition and difference produce each other. As for subjects, I think second modernity characterizes itself by radical leveling of ontological playing field where subjects become equal to societies, with all that follows. Maybe it is about relations that are neither inter-subjective nor inter-societal but inter-systemic. Cartesial subject for me is more discursive fiction, albeit historically operative in some fields, than a question of ontology, since fictional or posited existence may more properly be described as virtual.

P.-P.-P.S.: And, after all, ethnography is about detailed observation. Once technology can do as much, the questions of whether or not subjectivity plays any role become mediated. Conversely, ethnographic account can limit itself to phenomenological account of its field of contemplation.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Moment of Ethnographic Writing as Departure Point of Recollection

Lefebvre says that there are moments that stand out out of the flux of points in time that construct their temporal space on the principle of homogeneity of one point with regard to another. He further contends that these moments fall into relatively finite number of kinds so that there are moments for reflection, moments for change, in other words moments for welcoming the qualitatively different into the eternal repetition of the same.

The infinity of the eternal, from the mathematical point of view, meets these moments as countable events that however many will always be less than the infinity against which they may impose structure on experience. Each moment of directed reflection, with all its eddies of recollection, blindalleys of mental maps, and dust of random words that our past pellets our minds with, can become just another such countable moment that stands out from its self-identical neighbor by virtue of its faulty repetition of the epistemologically privileged moments where ideal, or arche-, type, cracks into the surface of our lives.

There is something uncomfortably collective in generalizing, royalizing, plural pronouns that while extending the shadow of this text to more than the mind that authors it puts under doubt the very stand-alone qualify of this moment of reflective writing. In any case, the gaze of my memory is trained on the iMax marquee that looks over the artificial sea that rather than being oversize aquarium pretends to repeat the delirious realism of the next Disneyland one can reach from discreetly privatized spaces of international airports. Disneyland is also a virtual space say blanket billboards that literally cover horizontal and zigzagging at right angles surfaces of the local LRT.

Surfaces of our lives are entirely rented. That seems to be the latent message of contemporary urban advertising that semiotically carpetbombs our eyeballs wherever they turn. Retinal capitalism strikes back and forth in the movement of amateur flaneurs through the non-places of our late modernity. Our modernity of artificial flowers, mechanical animals, and preprocessed memories.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cinematic Memory as Second Modernity's Arcades

In the age of wired and wireless information everyone can bare whatever one chooses to. Some bare their thoughts, some their bodies, some their possessions. Blogosphere as eBay of the textual equivalent of soundbites provides everyone with his or her fifteen minutes of cyber-fame, microprocessed glamour, and individualized in the extreme image-making tools.

The question remains in whose image are the mass- and segment-mediated personas created. If Parisian arcades are created in the image of the modernity itself, its first incarnation, the second modernity may have resuscitated the architectual metaphore of arcades as farce of the post-imperial tragedy of restorationalist France.

Hyper-real shopping malls that resemble at one and the same time arcades, circuses, gardens, and towers remember the tragedy of the trajectory towards the second modernity in terms of erasure that everyday life in de-realized environments places on the farce of its terms. Monumentally white screens of movie houses, incorporated as it where into the shopping-industrial complexes of the revitalized downtowns, go black as the shadows of our manufactured dreams flicker on them into existence the ghosts that haunt places in search of history.


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Essays on Cultural Blogging, Everyday Ethnography and the Postmodern Self
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Essays, Cultural, Blogging, Everyday, Ethnography, Postmodern, Self
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Dr Pablo Markin (Author), 2010, Essays on Cultural Blogging, Everyday Ethnography and the Postmodern Self, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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