Stiegler and “Where education went wrong with Biopower?”

I will start off my blog confessing Bernard Stielger’s French-style is tough to read (as care-less as it is to say). But nonetheless he does posit a powerful – and rather Gramscian – point when he says “My thesis is that this history is organological; indeed that intelligence regarding intelligence is organological intelligence” (30). In other words, education (as building capabilities of intelligence) must respond to the organic development of the material of our languages – not just solely the grammatization of the written word, but of the grammar of the language of the digital images (the hang-held camera of Alfonso Curion in Children of Men is what a great example for me of a movie, and obviously what I think about when I think about video games, which I really don’t know much about).

My idea of development, as Stiegler talks about anyway, is at-its-core a Foucauldian one (i.e. informed by the apparatuses of power from sovereign-sign-disciplines-biopower). More so when it comes to the current models of higher education institutions, what is arguably important is that its emphasis of what Katheryn Hales calls deep attention does not allow it to not put together curriculum and pedagogy that “consist[s] essentially, structurally, and methodologically as a critique in the Kantian sense, an analysis of limits and of regrounding of in the Kantian sense, an analysis of limits and of regrounding of hyperattention as such… not as denunciation, but as thought, and through an attentive examination of all the evidence pertaining to the revelation of deep attention” (77).

Stiegler says Foucault’s focus on schools in his writings on power as primarily disciplinarian and surveillance,“profoundly neglect[ing] [the notion of transindividuation in their] materilizations and their organological and pharmacologival effects on the body as well as on the mind and its organization” (122). That is, the emphasis in education on the grammatization of written language has left it ill-equipped to deal with a notion of “biopower [as] less one of “utilizing the population” for production than of establishing markets for consumption” (128). That is not to say educational institutions haven’t tried to deploy operate on notions of biopower – the humanities has always been about care-of-the-self and we do nowadays have something like sustainable growth being taught in business management.

But the missed opportunity I would like to point to is the basic difference that Hales draws between deep and hyperattention as cognitive models and maybe higher education pedagogy has to figure out how to make deep attention work in terms of a generation that is wired in terms of hyperattention. I am not saying we all must be tweeting, but that academics have to subscribe the rule that “teaching is not simply the transmission of knowledge but of understanding… understanding must be teachable, or else it is not understanding” (108). If the hyperattention generation is the audience for our utterances in academia now, we do have to figure a new model of communicating our utterances so as to deploy hyperattention in terms of what Stiegler advocates as responsibility and maturity.



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