|Sven G -- Tue 21 Dec 2010|
from the chapter in Understanding Media Theory (2004)
by Arjen Mulder
Analog consciousness searches for a single place from which to perceive and experience a reality; digital consciousness seeks an overview of all the places that make up that reality.
The self is the core of analog consciousness, while digital consciousness experiences itself as a distributed cognitive network.
Digital consciousness is fixed in all the machines, books, databases, archives, interiors, friends and acquaintances, courses of study, e-mail connections, cities, vacations and other things from which it derives its knowledge and through which it disseminates it. The self is one element in this network, but definitely not the principal one.
Analog consciousness regards this digital craving for the big picture as a lack of courage, a halfhearted wish to keep all possibilities open: digital consciousness stands for nothing. For its part, digital consciousness accuses analog thinking of glorifying its own limitations. Why would you have one opinion when you can have all opinions at your disposal?
Analog consciousness's answer: because the world becomes real only through that choice - it becomes my world, rather than a place for which I bear no responsibility since everything might as well be different depending on how one looks at it.
One test of both kinds of consciousness, or of both ways of experiencing the world-and-self, is the encounter with something utterly strange or inhuman, such as an incidence of light, a weather phenomenon, a strange people,
an animal's gaze or a vegetative feeling. Analog consciousness can register the unknown only in a language comprehensible to it, but because of this, the truly alien remains invisible and inexpressible. The "other" arouses longing for the familiar in analog consciousness.
Digital consciousness, by contrast, asserts that it can take in things that fall outside the personal, even outside the human format. An encounter with the alien or unfamiliar can rewrite one's inner programming. The result is that after reprogramming one is incomprehensible to the person one was before one got reprogrammed. The advantage is that one subsequently sees through the new and strange as well as the old and familiar.
In the empire of the digital there is no longing. "My" world is not that interesting: the only emotions worth feeling are those evoked by a seduction that comes from outside and is capable of transforming "me" (and vice versa).
FOR ANALOG CONSCIOUSNESS, THE WORLD TRULY EXISTS;
FOR DIGITAL CONSCIOUSNESS, IT IS A PLACE OF POSSIBILITY.