Weirding Diary: 2

It is easy to orient yourself in space and time. In the simplest (but not most accessible) case, you’re fully present in the here and now. In a more typical case, maybe you’re at work, and daydreaming about being on the beach. Or dealing with 2019 taxes, with your head partly in 2022 when you’ll be done with a big project. Or maybe you’ve retreated within your memory palace to 1995. But in all such cases, you remain spatiotemporally oriented.

It can get complicated though. Maybe, in 2019, you’re ironically re-watching a 2013 movie that recodes, in the idiom of early 2000s superhero movies, the world of a starship in the 23rd century, as originally imagined in the 1960s. You can roll with that. Atemporality is easy if you can keep track of a few moving parts and levels of indirection.

What is hard is orientation in thought regimes where space and time are not the primary variables. Social spaces are good examples. You can move around in them, but is hard to impose notions of order, direction, or distance, onto social spaces. Take, for example, a simple one-dimensional model of social space with an axis that goes from private to public. This used to be a simple axis. At the private end you were alone with your thoughts. At the public end you might have appeared on television. You would “let your hair down” in private and put on a “game face” for appearing in public. You had “home” and “work” personalities.

Now, it is all mangled up. You could say the private-to-public dimension of social life has become entangled with itself, and with other social dimensions like power, status, and class. An important feature of weirding is being disoriented in social space this way, caught up in a set of mutually entangled dimensions.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter

Comments

  1. Simon de la Rouviere says

    What space is this comment box?

  2. Allison Buckner says

    Thinking about Henrietta Lacks and her HeLa cells that continue to be studied in laboratories. Her relatives were terribly freaked out at the idea that part of her was “alive” long after she was dead.

    And, of course, there’s dreaming.

  3. io lightning says

    Why is it all mangled up? Some of us stay off social media and don’t have this issue.

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