Friday, March 12, 2010

Adorno on Comcast

This seems more than mildly relevant to Comcast's effort to substitute itself for the reality principle:

 the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest. A technological rationale is the rationale of domination itself. It is the coercive nature of society alienated from itself. Automobiles, bombs, and movies keep the whole thing together until their leveling element shows its strength in the very wrong which it furthered. It has made the technology of the culture industry no more than the achievement of standardisation and mass production, sacrificing whatever involved a distinction between the logic of the work and that of the social system.

And this reaches past relevance to approach prophesy:

The dependence of the most powerful broadcasting company on the electrical industry, or of the motion picture industry on the banks, is characteristic of the whole sphere, whose individual branches are themselves economically interwoven. All are in such close contact that the extreme concentration of mental forces allows demarcation lines between different firms and technical branches to be ignored.

Both are from The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, (1944), Adorno's chap. 3  of Dialectic of Enlightenment, (h/t to Gifthub). I'm not sure if the extreme concentration is of mental forces, or of demental forces, but the piece seems like actor's notes for this telenovela (and of course this one) in which is illustrated the goosestepping logic of the "ruthless unity" of kelcha:

 The ruthless unity in the culture industry is evidence of what will happen in politics. Marked differentiations such as those of A and B films, or of stories in magazines in different price ranges, depend not so much on subject matter as on classifying, organising, and labelling consumers. Something is provided for all so that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasised and extended. The public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type. Consumers appear as statistics on research organisation charts, and are divided by income groups into red, green, and blue areas; the technique is that used for any type of propaganda.

Read it, archons of Twitter, and retweet:

There is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him.

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