Exhaustion + Exuberance

September 16, 2011

Reading Jan Verwoert’s exhaustion and exuberance infuses a sense of vigour and empowerment into his reader as compared to the previous reading of Panopticism by Foucault which is rigid and does not encompass a sense of the human factor. The terms ‘I can’, ‘I can’t’, ‘I care, etc., are the very words we use almost every day, allowing us to relate deeply to this reader.

In the beginning of the reader, Jan Verwoert describes the high performance based society as a form, similar to a machine where we either perform what is asked of us, like the binary code of 0 (I Can’t) and 1 (I Can) in computer coding. This can be seen as the society is now singularizing into a single body and not a multitude of varied individuals, working together to perform what is asked of us. This is further discussed during tutorial on the source of power  which no one ever seems to find, for example, the consumer market of its demand and we are aware of a general direction where the demands arrive from which is translated into orders for suppliers and further brought downwards to the workers. However this specific source of demand is vague, like a subject behind a wall of veil.

In today’s forward moving society, at a fast pace as well, the speed of progress is emphasize by the expression of ‘I Can’ as it can empower an individual to convince himself and others he is capable and forces him mentally to take action. Like a trend, human are psychologically social animals and seek to become part of the collective body, by even starting to doubt the system, one can portray himself as a ‘resistance’ to this trend of progressive nation, an abnormality. As a collective body, we lost our individuality and our exuberance is denied, latent capacity hidden.

While the notion of ‘I Care’ as described by Jan Verwoert as the empowerment of action through an external source such as a loved one, cast a network of ‘I Can’ on an individual scale, without the conditions of the macro context (city, nation). However we should note ‘I Care’ does not superimpose a forceful nature the likes of society pressure but rather of an initiative one, a self-thought action.

Barry Lim


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