#96, make manifest the contingency of the social

April 25, 2017

President Trump and I both have five more days (til 100). I assume or hope we both have a plan for our last (mis)steps. Today the New York Times reports that “Trump Rejects 100-Day Test, Yet Seeks an A.” It appears “Mr. Trump [is] spending his final week before [what he states is] the artificial and ridiculous 100-day point of his presidency … With a flurry of action on health care, taxes and the border wall to show just how much he has done in the first 100 days — amplified by a White House program of first-100-days briefings, first-100-days receptions, a first-100-days website and a first-100-days rally.” We may have been too distracted to notice.

Meanwhile, here in my putrid and sometimes illuminating, often bleak and at times revelatory project of embedded, digital, parallel play, I have spent the last 50 days sharing literacy tools and projects, looking to the  inspiration of art, intellect and movements, and relying on the wisdom and nourishment of friends, colleagues, comrades, and family to help me get through and see beyond the noise on my computer and in my heart.

Just yesterday, my sister Antonia provided me with an optimistic #100hardtruths (#95: people actually DO get it“) about the people’s power to know and act, something we both believe in, and that we all need to remind each other about when we feel defeated or afraid. However, she had also tossed out to me another possible route for her contribution, a set of tweets about expertise. After some emailing back and forth, we decided to go upbeat, given the rather dark place the project had gone, what with all the bombing.

But there was a lot of wisdom and comfort to be had in Antonia’s second-choice, harder #100hardtruths. Expressed in two tweets, this was a call for the wisdom and comfort of the long form: read books, turn to those who think deep and hard.

#100hardtruths-#fakenews How to decode fake news? Read all the way thru. Check sources. Don’t base knowledge on 1 article. “Experts” r real. (@AntoniaJuhasz)

#100hardtruths-#fakenews Believe in expertise. There are people who know more than u do. Seek out. Build Trust. Rely. Then Doubt & Question. (@AntoniaJuhasz)

As I was anticipating my last 5 days, this was already something I had planned. I read some books. I sought some cheer, some understanding (I was on a late spring break too, btw, which is how I could read three books over a week!). My five day plan (even before Antonia suggested it) had been to share some of the insight I learned by reading some books, doubling down on expertise, and seeking and sharing not so much “truth” in the face of lies but thoughtful, careful time with other’s well-honed guidance. Thus, my last few #100hardtruths will map this one woman’s attempt to gain some comfort and knowledge from reading books even as my 100-day rival keeps building his evil empire.

Cauleen Smith: Human_3.0 Reading List, a new canon of humanistic literacy presented as a series of 57 drawings

In “An Introduction to Ten Theses,” Social Media—New Masses, editors Inge Baxmann Timon Beyes, Claus Pias explain that “media upheavals invariably entail the restructuring of knowledge cultures.” This is a clear (if complex) way to think about #100hardtruths-#fakenews: both what I found and shared but also what I did. My assertion that I would provide #100hardtruths about #fakenews was, of course, a sort of obfuscation in reverse, or perhaps a ruse, or just a prop. The problem was never really fake news, just as I never had the skills, chutzpah, or ability to provide a solution (in 100 days!) Rather, the project, as I began to show and express within it, became one digital manifestation of one citizen’s attempt (in real time) to engage in a connected and at times collective set of stabs at understanding or at least reflecting upon the experience of swimming in a sea of distractions, misdirections, reflections, misperceptions, and upheavals, some of them my own, about and as news as fake as that adorning Trump’s whitehouse.gov “President Trump’s 100 Days” website, reluctantly reflected above.

#100hardtruths-#fakenews is an offering of one format and its associated practice whereby a person could participate in a minor, situated restructuring of contemporary knowledge culture, attempting to manifest, online, in real time, and sometimes through and also against social networks, the daily politics that were unfolding in the first 100 days of this administration, as well as counter-approaches, tools, knowledges, art works, practices, and feelings that have been waged in response.

The ‘political’ here refers to making manifest the contingency of the social by way of gaps in, and ruptures of, the network of institutionalized apparatuses and practices. This includes the awareness and acknowledgement of current forms of control and surveillance, which in the digital age take an algorithmic or protocological form and work through the modulation of affects and atmospheres. (“An Introduction to Ten Theses”)

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One Response to “#96, make manifest the contingency of the social”


  1. […] think our way through (and within) #fakenews. One of these came late, by way of my sister Antonia—read some good books—that is take advantage of the depth of understanding, commitment, and expressive intensity that […]


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