As I mentioned in my last entry, the end of the semester is one of overwhelming, seemingly unstoppable entropy. People and Professors are tired and to help move us through this thickness, I try to pick fun readings. Today I also had the opportunity to have a group of NYC-based Anonymous come to class today to give us a window into the politics of protesting Scientology and this of course worked magnificently against the end-of-semester-entropy.
In a nutshell: they did not fail or in their own lingo, it was an Epic Win. They provided a really nice set of presentations (and then also proceeded to collectively draw the lulzy image featured above) about their origins, their purpose and some of the tensions within the group. Then we had a class discussion about a number of topics, including their argot and “offensive” (offensive) [I am not sure whether to put " " or not] online language.
While I am still ambivalent about their use of “fag” and “nigger”, I greatly admire Anonymous for their politics of pleasure and aesthetic audacity (not to mention creativity). They insist that protest must be fun, must be wild, must go beyond simply rational discourse. If you are interested in this topic, check out Stephen Duncombe’s excellent (and very readable) book Dream, which I happened to be (somewhat randomly) reading right now and it helped give me a new fresh perspective about the politics driving Anon.
Duncombe is a professor at NYU Passionate (with a Capital P) about politics with a lot of real world political experience who examines the importance of desire, fantasy, and pleasure for progressives and leftists who tend to shy away or even denigrate such impulses. And it is certainly the case that Anonymous is experimenting, consciously and unconsciously, with these very questions and impulses which helps explain why many people jumped on board.
I hope to post the audio from the class a little later on.