Remediating the apocalypse

Nomadic Subjects

For Rosi Braidotti the nomadic subject is a utopian figuration that is not about displacement but about a discursive freedom from dominant narratives.

[The nomadic subject is] a figuration for the kind of subject who has relinquished all idea, desire, or nostalgia for fixity. This figuration expresses the desire for an identity made of transitions, successive shifts, and coordinated changes, without and against an essential unity. (Braidotti 1994:22)

Mary Ellen Brown has used the notion of the nomadic subject in research on the consumption of television texts. She writes of a kind of “grazing” of these texts pursued by postmodern subjects/readers:

The nomadic self must continue to act and seek out new representations to temporarily “complete” and centre her- or himself. This respite is only temporary however, and after a short time, the nomadic subject must continue to move. (Brown 1996:57)

In her research among fans of the cult TV series Twin Peaks she identifies a set of four “reading strategies” (Brown 1996:57) congruent with this type of subjectivity:

1. Reading for pleasure which is attracted to the surface appeal of the text;

2. Reading the text as art with a knowing eye to its structures and cultural reference;

3. Reading for group identification as part of a fan base;

4. Reading in pursuit of “That's me!” identification.

While these strategies, particularly as they relate to notions of “fandom” (Hills 2002), have particular resonance when analysing a cult series such as Twin Peaks they also provide a model that hints at more generic contemporary reading practices. Here reading or textual encounter is deployed as part of a work of affiliation and self reflection rather than as a process of information gathering or information management.

This web project is an evolving space exploring contemporary manifestations of the apocalyptic in current affairs and popular culture. It is being developed in association with my Ph.D. research and is both a research method and a presentation of that research. In exploring the apocalyptic I am particularly interested in mapping a series of multimodal mythic clusters that are evolving through a process of remediation which I identify as a key cultural logic for an age in which electracy is the new literacy of nomadic subjects. This hypertextual presentation foregrounds affiliational logic and although I hope the project accumulates meaning it does not seek to present a single, formal, linear argument. I have presented some of these ideas in more traditional academic formats in other places. Although the navigational choices are the user's own these tips may be useful. Feedback is very welcome.

Marcus O'Donnell 2005-2006