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[ Jointing ]

2. Routine

Returning to the discussion of the Post-Truth[1] Society in Naming, power systems under capitalism remain largely abstract because corporations and systems, such as the Internet, build up an illusion that all information is open and that there is a universal transparency within the construct of contemporary society. However, a lot of the institutional decision making is invisible and hidden by narratives that corporations and governments tell the public and from behind these they set the invisible rules that govern the spaces of people’s everyday lives. In Anna Minton’s, Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first century (2009), the author provides evidence of how the privatization of public space is often invisible but is very much there and in turn causes fear. Minton refers to Anthony Giddens work on Modernity to convey the effects of a society geared towards security:

In his book ‘The Consequences of Modernity’ the sociologist Anthony Giddens says that life is not ‘comforting and psychologically snug’. By retreating into safe havens, which substitute physical security and complex technological systems to meet emotional needs, this new way of living is in danger not only of dividing the landscape but of stymieing people’s emotional lives in the process, by creating the false illusion that life is ‘psychologically snug’ and perfectly safe. When forced to venture out of these environments, the danger is that people are far less able to cope with the ordinary risks that are part of healthy life than they were before.[2]

In Ground Control (2009), Minton provides evidence of how gated communities actually create more fear of the outside than communities built without security in their design. Therefore, the more security that is built into the town planning of modern cities, the more fear that they can create. It may appear difficult to refuse the government when they offer citizens a clean and safe city, through the ‘secured by design’ model, such as creating gated communities because they promise a safe environment.[3]  However, can every environment be completely safe and is a sanitized community enabling of difference of stifling? The principle here is much like that of the prison and/or classroom design in that the system aims to design out disorder or misuse. All of these designs are a form of pre-determined policing, as they programme out a suspected disorder in advance. They also construct a fear of the unknown or irregular by creating an illusion of safety or normative path.

-Artificial Natural-

Society is being shaped towards this monitorial model and education is used to make people fit into the shape that these disciplinary forms have created. We may think that we are able to shape who we want to be, but we are, simultaneously, surrounded with one-way mirrors.[4] We imagine and project how we think we should perform, as we are fenced in by these humanmade technologies and monitored through our use of this informational environment.[5] Like the CCTV in capital cities, this expanded monitorial system is used as a form of crime prevention, but it can also be used to record and keep data on our private everyday lives. This monitorial and security-based system produces a landscape of fences that are organized by invisible rules, with only the stories attached to these systems being made visible by corporations. As a result, we may be aware that the truth of these systems is being created and have to imagine what they require from us. This is because it is difficult to clarify the level of intervention from the outside and the motivations of the external forces that are relaying and framing the information that is being circulated.

In the interrogation chamber of the Internet, we encounter ourselves as we project them to be what we imagine our identities should be. On the Internet, we are represented by a projected identity that is mediated through materials, such as an online portfolio, social media selfies, consumer choices, curated experiences and lifestyle. These representations create an artificial image of ourselves on the Internet and this is partly why we are aware of the production of a Post-truth society, as we are party to our own construction of the ‘truth’. As Foucault has revealed, the contemporary moment is subject to a mechanism of social control, which he tracks as gaining momentum during the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle classes. In his book, The History of Sexuality (1978) Foucault names four particular strategic unities that he considers fundamentally important to social control:

a)  the hysterization of women’s bodies (hysteria was considered to be caused by a travelling womb, so women were likely to be more emotionally vulnerable), 
b)  pedagogization of children’s sex (policing of children’s connection with sex, coinciding with children having separate bedrooms to their parents), 
c)  socialization of procreative behavior (reproduction as being the sole purpose for sex) and 
d) psychiatrization of perverse pleasure (if you divert from normative heterosexual practice then you would be deemed a pervert).

Foucault suggests that the policing of sexuality is a form of soft power by introducing a moral code. A code or stylisation that people used to self-discipline their sex and sexuality in advance of a judgment being passed, and sanctions being made on their bodies. This is in part due to the rise of middle classes, which began to define themselves through a moral and ethical code, in order to separate themselves from the masses (as unlike royalty they did not have a bloodline). An ethical codes centred around hygiene, sex for reproductive purposes only and the cultivation of the appearance of being cultured and educated. The momentum produced during the Industrial Revolution, has continued to be perpetuated through the rapid twentieth century expansion of artificial images, texts and knowledge systems which further spread the modes of self-moderating explicated by Foucault. These systems are often presented as natural, neutral and reasoned, which is why they are perpetuated. According to Ahmed, such systems provide a well-used path, ‘Used can mean previously used, shaped by comings and goings; becoming used can refer to how an activity has become customary. A history of use is a history of becoming natural’.[6] A well-used path encourages habitual use that will only make it even easier to follow. This can trap users deeply inside this pattern of use and it becomes hard, and even discouraged, to locate an alternative path in a world which is built by repeating one point of view/path.

[1] Post-truth: Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

[2] Anna Minton, Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty First Century City (London: Penguin, 2009), 81.

[3] In Anna Minton’s Ground Control, she mentions the idea of crime prevention and neighborhood safety was based on the American principle of ‘defensible space’ a term that coined by architect and city planner Oscar Newman. As Newman argues that architectural and environmental design plays a crucial part in increasing or reducing criminality.

[4] One-way Mirror - In the previous paragraph, I analogy Panopticon as staying in an interrogation chamber encircled by one-way mirror. Prisoner could only see themselves through the one-way mirror, it becomes a self-suppression medium.

[5] Men-Made Artificial Information - At term that I had discussed in Chapter 1, that Jean Baudrillard states, in ‘Simulacra and Simulations’ (79:1994), ‘…we live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.’ If all human knowledge and understanding is based on the man-made text, it is doubtful that humans have the ability to identify what the actuality of other existences outside of our colonial and anthropocentric knowledge systems.

[6] Sara Ahmed, What’s the use? (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2019), 41.


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