Communal Memory for a Poetical Existence
Posted by Canto Rodado on August 9, 2006
Sharing Communal Memory for a Poetical Existence
Cyberspace is an underlining foundation to social alchemies. The opportunity of establishing K-lines and S-lines with the people you share interests and passions with leads to the creation of this tribe and to the simultaneous union with our physical and social environment. Lévy (1995, 2000) spoke about a “collective intelligence” and De Kerckhove (1997) of a “connective intelligence,” paving the way for a social structure with a more complex functioning that becomes a communal substrate and that allows people to communicate and cooperate; this is exactly what is already happening
within scientific communities that have actually created this communication network that is the Internet. The World Wide Web, we have to bear in mind, developed as a consequence of scientists at the CERN (http://www.cern.ch) in Geneva who felt the need to share a communal memory and to share individual memories. This basic structure becomes the foundation for a substrate of how social aggregations work and allows technology to favor connections and ties.
Moscovici (2002) reminded us that it is man’s nature to be a “myth maker”:We all take part in the creation of small daily myths and gossips, and we have to be able both to act and to rationalize our actions through speech. Our action, said Moscovici, would not have any value if we did not transform it into something that can be expressed
through speech: telling something to others and at the same time telling it to
In this sense, new interactive communication technologies distance us from the society of the spectacle that is typical of media. Or, rather, online technologies allow us to add the spectacular and participating dimension to this society. The society of the spectacle is not just a simple group of confused images but a system of complex social
relationships conveyed by media through images. And as Gilbert Durand has it, between the macrocosm and the microcos there is the mesocosm, an intermediate 322 s p a c e a n d c u l t u r e / a u g u s t 2 0 0 4
world, a world of imaginary and images that allows a sort of communion that leads to the creation of a social tie. According to Guy Debord (1967), “the life of those societies where modern conditions of production rule, is going to be like a huge sum of shows. Everything that was lived in the first person, has become a representation” (p. 4).
This relationship between what has been experienced and representation is evolving with online communication. The ecological approach to memory leads us to take into consideration a postmodern logic of the entertainment society in which the hypothesis we mentioned before can be true as well as its contrary:With interactive media, the representation is lived by every single internaut, by every individual. They createa memory by sending out information, accessing knowledge, and creating real tribe belongings. We therefore face the realization of a “responding” rather than “recording”memory. In this sense, not only is experience confined in representations, but representations are experienced in “the first person.”
The research carried out by Sherry Turkle (1995, 2002) shows how internauts in virtual environments, in the MUD or in other virtual communities, are the main characters; they experience and live different aspects of their personalities.
This form of online expressing and sharing of sensations and information shapes the communal and living memory of the community we belong to, and it allows in the last place to give a meaning to our existence: to create associations, form communities, and share common and shared emotions. If sharing a memory is one of the sine qua non conditions for the creation of a community, the ways in which this process takes place evolve together with the transformation of those means in which memory settles in. The ecological vision of memory allows every single member of a community to send information, thus nourishing communal memory. This approach also includes living and personal memory, that of access strategy and the communal one: different kinds of memory that derive from the synergic synthesis (and not from the
dialectic synthesis) of individual and common activities. The opportunity of nourishing the system emphasizes not only personal experience but also the issues concerning the present, the hic et nunc. The opportunity of accessing memory in public places allows the entire community to take part in this process, and the diffusion throughout the territory forms a new e-topia of the environment, which is both a social and urban habitat. This allows us, or at least this is what we hope for, to create what Edgar Morin (2002) called a poetical vision of existence. He reminded us that we have the necessity
of keeping a cultural heritage so that we can conquer the present, that is, to live not only in a useful and functional way but also in a poetical way. The several forms of empathy, from love to celebrations, from parties to communions, are paths that lead man to this state of poetical existence.
Therefore, among the birth of human relationships and cyber networks, we have a varied example of expressions coming from current cyber socialities, like pictures of a new social paradigm of the synergy between community, memory, and communication. Thus, “new technologies” are old man-made creations. Use and experience give them a value and a sense; it is the task of mankind to use them to make this poetical vision come true.