All your data, all your base…
This study is a venture into the relationship between humanities/social sciences and the emerging technologies such as the software programs extracting and analysing Big Data in all its complexity. The name given to these complex data sets constituted by an inordinate measure of raw data intense in variety, massive in volume and high in velocity, Big Data might be described as what Kant called “the thing in-itself, the noumenon”, Lacan “the Real,” and Badiou “inconsistent multiplicity.”
The idea I had in mind as I was browsing the internet for such a postdoctoral research project that would enable me to implement and test the ideas I have been developing for about ten years was that the ideas are objects we are embedded in and embody at once. This ontological/epistemological principle would be the point of departure for a broader research into the developmental possibilities of a new mode of enquiry which would put social and natural sciences into a more interactive relationship with one another, driven not only by the dialectical process constitutive of methodological differences between natural and social sciences, but also by a unilateral interaction between the ontological and epistemological modes of being and thinking. As is well known to those immersed in research driven by this digital/ontological field, the analogical/epistemological instruments social and natural scientists have at hand to investigate natural and cultural phenomena play a very significant role not only in the analysis, but also in the production of the object/subject of study itself.
The nature of this study requires an inter-/trans-/multi-disciplinary and mixed-methodological attitude which goes beyond the opposition between merely conceptual/virtual and merely real/empirical approaches. It is based on a mode of enquiry which takes its driving force from a gap that opens paths to a new field in which various perspectives interact and form an intra-subjective dimension of theoretical practice situating psychoanalysis, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy in the context of cultural and critical theory. For the emergence of a new truth out of the old knowledge one must pose new questions concerning the workings of the human mind.
Imagine a peculiar (and even weird) string quartet, in which each player responds by improvisation to ideas and cues of his or her own, as well as to all kinds of sensory cues in the environment. Since there is no score, each player would provide his or her own characteristic tunes, but initially these various tunes would not be coordinated with those of the other players. Now imagine that the bodies of the players are connected to each other by myriad fine threads so that their actions and movements are rapidly conveyed back and forth through signals of changing thread tensions that act simultaneously to time each player’s actions. Signals that instantaneously connect the four players would lead to a correlation of their sounds; thus, new, more cohesive, and more integrated sounds would emerge out of the otherwise independent efforts of each player. This correlative process would alter the next action of each player, and by these means the process would be repeated but with new emergent tunes that were even more correlated. Although no conductor would instruct or coordinate the group and each player would still maintain his or her style and role, the player’s overall productions would lead to a kind of mutually coherent music that each one acting alone would not produce. ~ Gerald Edelman, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination, 49
The model of mind conceptualized by Gerald Edelman shows us that the mind is an embodied substance which has the ability to adapt to changes surrounding it. If we keep in mind that cinema, literature, art, and music show how the mind works at a particular moment in history, as well as the emotional state of that particular moment, it becomes clear why a mode of enquiry rather than a specific method is required for the analysis and critique of human consciousness and its relation to the environment surrounding it.
What the Big Data and Neuroplasticity softwares lack is an epistemological and empirical context, likewise what humanities and social sciences lack is an ontological and biological basis. A unilateral interaction between nature and nurture, organic and inorganic, empirical and conceptual, epistemological and ontological, transcendental and immanent, the objective and the subjective can break out of the closure not only of humanities, but also of social and natural sciences in the way of giving birth to the link which has come to be considered missing between the human and non-human entities.
The main themes constituting the three parts of this study can be summarized in the form of a series of preliminary statements as follows…
Art: Films and Books (Cinema and Literature)… Analysis of collecticve cyberemotions, sentiments and cultural tendencies generated by the social media… Analysis of the relations between the online social media population and cultural products such as films and books through a big data analysis of the social media platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, as well as blogs and streaming-online movie websites in the way of exposing the cultural and emotional tendencies of the online population.
Science: Digital Humanities, Health and Education… How is data being collected in Turkey at the moment? A survey of data collection, analysis and dissemination websites and institutions in Turkey… Which methods do they employ? Theoretical and practical limitations of the methods and tools employed… A list of suggestions for development in the techniques of data collection, analysis and dissemination… Developing a Comparative Data Analysis Method: Notes Towards the Construction of an Ontology for Analysing Collective Cybersense in Social Media through Big Data… Towards an Ontology for a Transcendental Realist/Materialist Analysis of Collective Cybersense in and through Big Social Media Data… An Ontology for the Simultaneously Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Collective Cybersense…
Politics: The use of English as Medium of Communication during the Gezi Resistance… A Big Data driven analysis of the use of English as Medium of Communication during the Gezi Resistance… Emergence of new networks in and through this process generating and generated by the process of creative resistance to the already established networks and dominant orders of meaning… The role of codeswitching in establishing new networks sustaining the dissemination of information regarding the public opinion throughout the uprising… The Ontology of Gezi Resistance and the shift in reading habits after it is established as an Event opening a gap between the past and the present out of which a new future and a new experiential relation to time emerges… The occupation of Gezi Park as the Event Splitting the History in Two and Generating the Space for Critique between the past and the present… The political situations in relation to which there is a univocity of sentiment and against which there is a uniformity of opinion within the analysed segments of society presented by the data set at hand… Analysis of collective emotional fluctuations in the face of particular political events can guide us in the way of presenting new policies.
It is important to note here that although the Gezi Resistance remained a failed attempt at overthrowing the government, nothing remained the same after this major uprising mostly driven by the internet… Presenting a new model of society for Turkey, the occupation of Gezi Park opened up a new contextual space for new modes of being and thinking, as well as creating the conditions of possibility for the emergence of new networks, new power relations, new collective subjectivities and forms of organisation… The investigation aims at establishing the truth of the Gezi Resistance by situating its meaning within the broader context of political and cultural struggles in history.
One of the most obvious difficulties of such a project is to access documents in English, as almost all of the datasets are in Turkish. A second difficulty arises even before solving the first problem. This second problem is the lack of data analysis softwares in Turkish. To solve these problems in one go, I have been trying to learn Python programming language, which specializes in analysing linguistic big data. If applied properly to the datasets at hand, Python can provide the means to overcome the langugae barrier as it is an open source programming language which can integrate any language if the correct commands are given to it. To operate Python we need Natural Language Tool Kit (NLTK) which provides the interface between the big data and the analysis tool itself, between the object of investigation and the software that extracts and analyses it.
Another solution to these two problems is to carry out a fieldwork using a qualitative method and then employ the appropriate software to analyse the dataset as well as presenting it in a form that can guide us in the way of developing new policies in the face of particular political and cultural events. The production of qualitative data will be carried out through fieldworks both in the virtual realm and in the real settings. A comparative interpretation of the information gathered in and through these processes and methods of enquiry will sustain the conditions for the possibility of a more realistic picture of the internal dynamics of the societiy composed of various communities, religious tendencies, political orientations and ethnic groups populating Turkey and constituting its people.
The Logic of Enlightenment
The relationship between the subject and power is a theme that has played a significant role in determining the direction of European thought since Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud weighed in on the scene. Both the Frankfurt School thinkers such as Horkheimer and Adorno, and the French philosophers such as Deleuze and Foucault have taken on this subject as one of the objects of their studies in different ways. Although I was deeply influenced by Adorno’s Negative Dialectics and Marcuse’s Reason and Revolution at the beginning, I later on turned towards Deleuze and Foucault to find tools for repairing the restrictive implications of the early Frankfurt School thought. I think post-structuralism and critical theory have a lot more to offer one another that can be used in practical critique of the predominant order in particular and nihilisms in general, than many, such as Habermas, suggest.
The point of departure of this investigation is the modern discourse on power that emerged with the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century. A response to metaphysics and Christian dogmatism, Enlightenment is a system of thought which proclaims itself to be governed by universal reason alone. In the Dialectic of Enlightenment Horkheimer and Adorno situate Marx and Freud, together with themselves, in this tradition. I situate Foucault himself in this same tradition of Enlightenment.
Enlightenment signifies the secularization of the authority of the Big Other, and erection of instrumental reason in the place of the absolute authority of the Bible. In this light Enlightenment appears to be merely a change of roles between the masters and the slaves; the problem inherent in the metaphysical world of representation remains the same. Walter Benjamin, for instance, warns against this trap set by the panoptic mechanism which creates a Leviathan within the subject. In his essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Benjamin argues that cinema can turn out to be a fascist propaganda machine if it falls in the wrong hands. Benjamin is not only against the aestheticization of politics but also the politicization of aesthetics. What remains unthought in Benjamin’s essay, though, is the ideology of representational and metaphysical conceptions of non-reason, which is itself the problem inherent in the structure of the system. I now return to Hobbes through Foucault, whose thoughts on health and death and their relation to the predominant power structure become relevant.
Foucault’s interpretation of the Panopticon and Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan become relevant here precisely because they present us with metaphors representing an idealized model of modern power structure. This power structure is not only still dominant, but also increasing its dominance as it decreases its visibility. It does this by making the subjects believe that they are governed by the reality principle when in fact they are governed by the pleasure principle. This situation causes a shift in the subject’s conception of health. I’ll come back to this in the future, but now I have to mention something else which is very closely linked to this shift in the subject’s conceptions of health and death.
The most important thing that Hobbes says in Leviathan, which I think is still relevant to a considerable extent, is that death is the absolute master, and the fear of death forces the subjects to adapt to the existing social order. Leviathan feeds on this fear of death, and it is Leviathan itself that instills the fear of death in people. If we keep in mind that in Western societies death is associated with nothing/ness, it becomes clearer why and how Foucault’s use of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon in Discipline and Punish as a metaphor of the modern power structure which has nothing/ness at its centre gains new significance.
At the periphery, an annular building; at the center, a tower; this tower is pierced with white windows that open onto the inner side of the ring; the peripheric building is divided into cells, each of which extends the whole width of the building; they have two windows, one on the inside, corresponding to the windows of the tower; the other, on the outside, allows the light to cross the cell from one end to the other. All that is needed, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower and to shut up in each cell a madman, a patient, a condemned man, a worker or a schoolboy. By the effect of backlighting, one can observe from the tower, standing out precisely against the light, the small captive shadows in the cells of the periphery. They are like so many cages, so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visible. The panoptic mechanism arranges spatial unities that make it possible to see constantly and to recognize immediately. In short, it reverses the principle of the dungeon; or rather of its three functions – to enclose, to deprive of light and to hide – it preserves only the first and eliminates the other two. Full lightning and the eye of a supervisor capture better than darkness, which ultimately protected. Visibility is a trap. ~ Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 200
Foucault, without directly referring to him, shows that Hobbes’s monster has become a machine. I argue that this machine is itself in a process of transformation today, and is in the way of taking the form of something that is neither organic nor inorganic, neither visible nor invisible, but felt. This is power as affective force. Power can no more be represented by metaphors. For metaphor is a concept that belongs to the world of metaphysics which exists only as a fantasy world, whereas today power has a more material existence than it has ever had and its materiality splits as it unites the psychosomatic and the sociopolitical realms of experience.
The automatization of power, that is, transformation of power from an organic state, as demonstrated by Hobbes, towards an inorganic state, as demonstrated by Foucault, has been studied in a different way and in a different context by Mark Poster in his Foucault, Marxism, and History. Influenced by Poster’s interpretation of Foucault in relation to Marxism, and in the context of the relationship between discourse and power, I reassert, in a different way and for different reasons, that Foucault’s conceptualization of the Panopticon is useful and yet insufficient in understanding the workings of power today in the face of the recent developments in technology.
In this new situation the subjects know that they are still locked in the Panopticon, but pretend that they are free floating across the Superpanopticon. This is because they are being locked deeper into the Panopticon; and there finding themselves dismembered, losing themselves in the terrible condition of being pushed further into the hitherto undiscovered corners of one’s own room, in their cells.
A new formulation of Foucault’s concept of bio-power, the Superpanoptic discourse reverses the roles of Eros and Thanatos; abuses our understandings and misunderstandings of the life drive and the death drive, as well as manipulating our inner conflicts and turning us into antagonists. It does this by erasing the necessary boundary between life and death, the organic and the inorganic, so as to create the conditions of possibility for manufacturing an illusory sense of oneness with the world, hence uniting the subject of statement (the enunciated) and the subject of enunciation which should remain separate from and/but contiguous to one another for the perpetual transformation and multiplication of life forms to take place at the same time.
In his Critique of Judgement Kant distinguishes between the determinative and the reflective modes of judgement.
If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, the judgement that subsumes the particular under it… is determinative. If, however, only the particular for which the universal is to be found is given, judgement is merely reflective. ~ Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, 13
If we keep in mind that the reflective mode of judgement reflects on particulars in such a way as to produce universals to which they can be subjected, and that the determinative mode of judgement determines a universal by subjecting it to a particular, it becomes understandable why among these two I shall be using the reflective mode which splits as it unites the subject of enunciation and the enunciated subject. But it must be kept in mind that the subject of enunciation which refers to the universal is itself a constitutive illusion, or a regulatory ideal necessary for the emergence of the subject as the enunciated content.
I don’t know if it is worth mentioning that in this time we are all slaves and yet some slaves dominate the others. Where time goes no one knows. There are necessary illusions in this life, some for life, some not. Both the extreme belief in civilized progress and barbaric regress are good for nothing. These two are now in the process of being left behind. A third possibility of developmental process is emerging in the form of a becoming-reconciled which is based on the recognition of the otherness of the other as it is, that is, prior to the additions and the subtractions imposed upon the self and the other, nature and culture, life and death. For a non-normative and progressive work it is necessary for the participants to become capable of making distinctions between their natures and cultures, their cliniques and critiques. It is a matter of realizing that theory and practice are always already reconciled and yet the only way to actualise this reconciliation passes through carrying it out and across by introducing a split between the subject of statement (the enunciated) and the subject of enunciation.
It is true that sometimes it takes a long journey to get there, where one eventually got to, and realise that one is other than one thinks itself to be. Apparently the numbers indeed start with zero and continue with two, but it takes time to realise this actuality and become capable of actualising this reality. Perhaps we should indeed know that absolute reconciliation is impossible and yet still strive to reconcile ourselves as much as we can to all the living and the dead.
There is always another breath in my breath, another thought in my thought, another possession in what I possess, a thousand things and a thousand beings implicated in my complications: every true thought is an aggression. It is not a question of our undergoing influences, but of being ‘insufflations’ and fluctuations, or merging with them. That everything is so ‘complicated,’ that I may be an other, that something else thinks in us in an aggression which is the aggression of thought, in a multiplication which is the multiplication of the body, or in a violence which is the violence of language—this is the joyful message. For we are so sure of living again (without resurrection) only because so many beings and things think in us. ~ Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 298
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A Preliminary List of Websites, Institutions and Softwares
International Society For Educational Planning
EU research infrastructures DARIAH (the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities)
CLARIN (the Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure)
Provalis Research: Qualitative Analysis (QDA Miner 4.0) with content analysis and text-mining (WordStat 6.1)