“Ambivalence, then, is a process of slowing down and learning to inhabit a compromised environment with the discomfort, contradiction, and misalignment it entails” (114).
“Instead of an ‘either-or,’ network aesthetics more often yield a ‘both-and’ and a ‘what else?'” (114).
“[N]etwork aesthetics multiply the possible forms that thought itself might take. Thought need not be put in the service of perpetuating progress through innovation or yielding negation through critique. It can also be a state of experiencing, negotiating, affecting, inhabiting, and playing with the mixed feelings inherent in ambivalence” (116.)
Jagoda first works through the near ubiquity of networks as an analytic in present moment (“a dominant episteme and ubiquitous form of our time” (109). Jagoda moves quickly to Galloway who suggests that to explore beyond network models one might take an avant-garde approach or a “whatever” approach (in the simplest sense, opting-out). Jagoda argues for a third way through the framework of ambivalence.
I’m drawn to the moments in Jagoda’s excerpt that are captured in the epigraphic quotes above, and I’ll return to those in a moment. But first, I was drawn to re-reading this article because it implied a problem I had not considered: what happens when all we see is networks? I could list a series of questions here, but all evoke the commonplace sense of “when [x] is everything, [x] is nothing.” It looses meaning or force in it’s overuse or over-application.
The move toward ambivalence, then, is quite appealing to me intellectually and pedagogically. It does not seem to want to explain networks or argue for networks in what I think could be considered epistemological moves. Rather, a stance of ambivalence seems to me to seek a more ontological orientation, a stance Jagoda seems to capture by way of dwelling, but dwelling in networked spaces that are simultaneously in flux. I’ve been considering what it might mean to be rhetorically ambivalent, or put another way to dwell ambivalently in a rhetorical theory, moment, or space.
Pedagogically, I’m drawn to ambivalence as well. I begin to wonder at how a project or curriculum might be shaped through an attention to a stance of ambivalence. What kinds of activities might emerge from a pedagogical attention to ambivalence? How would a pedagogy shaped through ambivalence treat arguments and thesis statements? How could a stance of ambivalence contribute to writing processes, research writing, or to reflection? I sense those areas as most ripe for an attention to a stance of ambivalence.
Jagoda, Patrick. “Network Ambivalence.” Contemporaneity. 4.1 (2015): 108-118.
Networks, ambivalence, aesthetics
Artists: Sharon Molloy, Emma McNally, Tomás Saraceno, Chiharu Shiota
Lauren Berlant, “Thinking About Feeling Historical,” Emotion, Space and Society (2008)
Lutz P. Koepnick, On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary (2014)