Frequencies of Care – Unfinished Draft

This is a really early draft and I‘ve only barely cleaned it up but I’m posting it because of the deadline. It’s around half done and it needs some revising but I’ve been busy so I haven’t been able to work on it!! Footnote 5 will form the foundation of my investigation into what care-structures suggest about the people that inhabit them.

There’s honestly so much I could write about this! I don’t know where to start. I’ll begin with my “Media Day”: Tracing the decentralisation of phenomenological time.

When I wake up, I make a series of decisions (not relevant to this course, but I think it’s very interesting!)1 culminating in me going back to sleep, or getting out of bed and checking the clock. It’s very difficult here to separate abstract time, phenomenological time and ‘natural’ time; they’re all very closely connected in this case, and if I tried to draw lines between them I don’t think I’d be doing the wake-up decision-making process justice! The most important point is that abstract and ‘natural’ time are both in some sense phenomenological time, and that phenomenological time is subject to very concrete influence by abstract and ‘natural’ time. I think a better distinction to draw when examining temporality is which portions of a temporality are primarily external and which are primarily internala, but even then it’s hard to describe temporality in a satisfying way. All in all it’s true to say that temporality is shaped not entirely by ourselves or those objects external to us, but through our cooperation with those objects and vice-versa.

After I’ve gotten up and showered, I usually spend an hour or so working out before I use any media. If I’m going to school early that day, Mum will usually have put on ABC Radio National or ABC News 24 by the time I’m out of the shower. What does this suggest about my care structures, and how does it figure into the moral economy of the home? The presence of news radio or news TV in the morning constitutes a morning ritual of “getting up to speed” with the day – that is, synchronising my own time with “public” time, “socialising” myself in a way equally important to showering or shaving. When I hear the morning news I’m “putting on” a temporality like I’d put on my belt, hooking into public care-structures provided for me by news media. Broadcast media are oriented mainly around daily and weekly temporalities – that is to say they’re high-frequency. I think at this point it’s important to set out a system for discussing frequency and its relation to care-structures.

“High-frequency” media such as the TV, the radio and certain internet feeds such as Twitter can be described not only in terms of the frequency of their contents but in terms of the frequency of the categories of those contents and vice-versa, through processes of diffusion and resolution. That is to say we can observe frequencies of segment, presenter, news crawl2, program, series, etc. beyond the more obvious frequency of scheduled programming. We could say there’s 5 news crawls in a story, 6 stories in a presenter, 7 presenters in a broadcast day. This is a very simple way of looking at it though. Presenters may leave and return within the span of a single broadcast day, stories may be repeated, the news crawl cycle at 8pm may not be the same as the one at 8am, schedules might be interrupted by some kind of breaking news, that breaking news may contain a higher frequency of presenters as opinions are sought and there’s an attempt to compile multiple asymmetrical phenomenologies into a story through their overlapping elements3. The interesting thing about taking this perspective is that the distinction between media and message is collapsed, as new messages can found themselves on messages of a lower frequency. A story may be composed of three presenters speaking 40 words a minute! The broadcast is a medium for the story which is a medium for the presenters who are a medium for words.

Another example is this: The Sphinx as mentioned in Hartley’s paper. The Sphinx was initially a message composed within the medium of the Egyptian empire. The Sphinx now serves as a kind of “carrier wave” for higher-frequency Sphinx-oriented messages: Jokes about the Sphinx, research papers on the Sphinx, discussions on the cultural significance of the Sphinx and so on. That’s not to say these things can’t go on without the Sphinx, but I think it’s true to say that the degree to which they go on after the sphinx is related wholly to the degree to which they’ve hooked themselves into other media/messages – That is to say the more a media/message has to do with the Sphinx’s continued existence, for instance surveys on tourism to the Sphinx, stories about how your parents visited the Sphinx and so on, the less chance it has of going on after the Sphinxb. Messages are in virtually all cases situated in multiple lower-frequency carrier waves and carrier waves are composed of multiple higher-frequency messages. Reiterating: The media day is situated within the media week is situated within the media month, year, decade and so on to the very beginning of man! Man itself could be considered the first human media. That is to say a dog’s media, a human’s media, a tick’s media is situated within the species and its duration as the lowest-frequency foundation for higher-frequency media such as civilisations and their public writing. And these species are situated within the Earth-media, and the Galaxy-media and so on to the ends of the Universe4! Incredible!

When we take a look at Heidegger we find that “Being-unto-death”, that is the trajectory towards a person’s death, is the foundational care-structure. Continuing the metaphor of frequency, it could be described as the lowest frequency media/message of the individual, upon which higher-frequency media/messages are founded5. Here it’s useful to refine the terms of frequency  discussed within Hartley’s paper and introduce two pairs of terms: Gravity and Levity, and Topicality and Abstraction. Gravity and Levity can be related to low and high-frequency media respectively. Where care is the amount of work put into something, Levity is a high-frequency, low-care property as determined by a higher speed of creation, a shorter wavelength of consumption and inevitably a high frequency of circulation. Levity is most often possessing of a great Topicality. Topicality is defined here as the speed at which a thing becomes ‘obsolete’, not necessarily superseded by media/messages from the same source (As distinct from the wavelength of consumption) but by media/messages from all sources relating to their subject. More accurately, Topicality is the degree to which a media/message object is ‘historical’, that is the degree to which a media/message is made obsolete by the flow of time. Conversely, Abstraction here is the degree to which a thing is disassociated from history and from the flow of time. There is an asymmetry here, though. While Topicality necessarily tends towards high-frequency media/messages, Abstraction may be present in high and low-frequency media/messages. The degree to which a thing is Abstracted doesn’t so much make it harder to supplant so much as it makes it harder to obsolete.

Topicality and Abstraction are useful in describing the amount of work (care) it takes to displace and make obsolete an instance of media/message. The measure of Topicality and Abstraction differs from the measure of the “wavelength of consumption” because it measures the time and effort needed to displace (eg. Make obsolete, supplant, etc.) a media/message object. The measure of Gravity and Levity differs from the measure of the “wavelength of consumption” as they describe a function of effort (care) in addition to time, as opposed to describing a function of time alone.

Returning to Levity and Gravity, Gravity can be considered a low-frequency, high-care property as determined by qualities opposite to those of Levity. Gravity necessarily trends toward Abstractedness as Abstraction is the only quality which can encompass low-frequency media/messages. If a Topical media/message can be described as having Gravitas it is necessarily a media/message ascending from some lower-frequency Abstracted tendency: A news story on a family’s house burning down as part of coverage of the NSW bush fires as part of coverage of bush fire season, taken as the trend toward more severe bush fires over the past few years which is then taken as an issue falling under the banner of climate change as a whole. I should mention that higher-frequency media/messages are not necessarily descended from lower-frequency foundations. It’s more correct to say that these lower-frequency media/messages which I’ve described in a very misleading way as “carrier waves” are composed initially of numerous high-frequency media/messages which could later be described as constituting a trend. These media/message trends may take on meaning unique to themselves as a whole6, but it should be stressed that they are initially formed of multiple higher-frequency media/messages.

Gravity and Levity are useful in describing the amount of work (care) that went into a media/message. Each tends toward a certain frequency because care (work) is determined by the amount of time and effort devoted to a thing. The measure of Gravity and Levity differs from the measure of the “speed of creation” as they describe a function of effort (care) in addition to time, as opposed to describing a function of time alone.

Gravity correlates most clearly with Abstraction, and Levity correlates most clearly with Topicality. It’s true to say that a media/message of Gravity will be harder to displace, and that a media/message of Levity will be easier to displace. It’s also true to say that a media/message of Abstraction will have taken more effort to produce than a media/message of Topicality, which will have taken less effort.

Before I actually begin to address the problem of how all this relates to my media care-structures (!!!) I want to try quickly to speculate on the relation between the “frequency of circulation” and the “wavelength of consumption”. When is the frequency of circulation not related to the wavelength of consumption? That is, when does a later “pulse” of publication not supercede previous publication pulses from the same source? Consider an author. In what way do her more recent pulses of publication supercede her old ones? She may have become a better writer – that is her old works are no longer “worth reading”. Her old books suffer a drop in their wavelength of consumption. On the other hand, she may publish a series of sequels to one of her books – we can expect those sequels, despite being published more recently, will have a lower wavelength of consumption as people make it partway through the series and stop reading. Those earlier books in the series have rendered themselves a “point of passage” to the sequels7.

In my opinion it’s easier at this point to treat the series as a single media/message if you want to try and describe the relationship between frequency of circulation and wavelength of consumption. Something interesting to note, and something which I think backs up my argument for the two pairs of terms given above (which will from this point on be referred to as “frequencies of care”), is that lower-frequency media/messages are harder to displace than higher-frequency media/messages. That is to say it’s generally harder for an author’s series to supplant another of their series than it is for one of their books to supplant another one of their books than it is for one of their chapters to supplant another one of their chapters. There’s a complex relationship between care and frequency – that is to say care does not have a strictly linear relationship with frequency, producing a work within the frequency range of 10 years does not take 10 times the care of a work produced within the frequency range of 1 year. It’s important here to examine the “speed of creation” and its relationship with care. Where under a strict temporal interpretation of the speed of creation 10 years of intensive work is equivalent to 10 years of on and off chipping away at a project, the integration of care into the speed of creation establishes a temporality of “man-hours”, that is the speed of creation no longer revolves around abstract societal temporality but around personal, intensive temporalities of care (work). I’ll develop this further later on.

Early Draft of the Next Section

We should distinguish between frequency of circulation and wavelength of consumption in these ways: • Wavelength of consumption is disassociated from frequency of circulation for the most part on the condition that:
→The criteria for the “same source” as described in wavelength of consumption is broadened almost indefinitely that is a book might be superceded not by another book from the same author but by another book in the media/message “Sydney Book Market” or even by another media/message separate entirely from books. For example, a rainbow.

A thing’s wavelength of consumption is divided into two things: The media/message’s wavelength of consumption, in effect its potential wavelength of consumption, and the “wavelength of engagement”, that is the duration over which a media/message’s recipient is engaged with consuming the media/message.
→ Under this system, the Earth, while an incredibly low-frequency media/message, may not really be “engaged” by an individual media/message consumer for any significant length of time. That is to say a thing’s wavelength of consumption may be far, far lower than its wavelength of engagement. The wavelength of engagement is the third frequency of care.
→ Further, a thing’s wavelength of engagement, while potentially infinite, will usually conform to the lowest-care threshold’s “threshold of engagement”, that is the smallest amount of care needed to engage with a particular element (That is to say constituent media/message).
→ In regards to a thing’s Gravity when compared to a thing’s wavelength of consumption, reiterating that the wavelength of consumption is now the potential degree to which a thing may be engaged, where “engaging” something is expending time and effort on consuming it, we can say that there are sudden, complex changes in threshold in regards to the amount of information dredged from a thing  when compared to the amount of care spent engaging a thing ie. It might not take much care to discover a load of information about what’s going on in Russia, but it will take more and more care past a certain point to uncover new information. eg. We can look at the world and say it’s under our feet and we could look at the sky and say it’s above us which doesn’t take much effort but we’d have to train as geologists, geophysicists, soil scientists, ethnobotanists, climatologists, ecologists and so on etc. before we could uncover certain aspects of the world. In the process we might either uncover well-hidden media/messages or create new media/messages. If we wanted to see more light we could either make a camera which detects infra red light or evolve new eyes which can detect infra-red light. Perhaps we could consider portions of engagement separated by thresholds of care to be separate, composite media/messages?
→→ Some objects such as really really good books like Blood Meridian may ironically have lower thresholds of engagement, that is to say more information can be garnered from blood meridian with an expenditure of some level of effort than could be garnered from a locked box containing a severed finger.
→→→ Thresholds of engagement constitute the boundaries of a single media/message. That is to say we could examine the box, open it, get the finger, but we’d need to engage DNA testing, police institutions, informants before we could engage the broader, lower-frequency media/message that was the crime resulting in the severed finger.
→ A thing’s wavelength of consumption is further divided into two different wavelengths: The wavelength of access or availability or presentation, and the wavelength of engagement. The wavelength of access is the amount of time over which a recipient has access to a media/message, and the wavelength of engagement is the amount of time/effort put into “consuming” a media/message, understanding it and being able to describe it.
→→ The Wavelength of Engagement occurs through time and effort and is the process by which we transform or depending on your perspective create new wavelengths of engagement from those wavelengths of access emitted by an object. It may occur through the articulation of other media/messages which at this point I should just start calling objects, and it produces new channels through which emitted information about an object can travel. I articulate the image of human-body-as-heatmap as emitted by the human body media/message through an infra-red camera.
→→ Consider “the amount of time over which a recipient has access to a media/message” to be not only abstract time, although to encompass abstract time as described below, but to be the amount of media/message events occurring over the life of the protagonist media/message. Note that these events, as described below, may be high or low frequency, and that media/messages of a higher frequency than the central, studied media/message do not have a wavelength of access except as a single media/message whirlwind of abstracted events occurring at a similar frequency to the wavelength of access of the prime media/message object of study.
→→→ Here again we divide the wavelength of access into two distinct wavelengths: The wavelength of access and the wavelength of engagement. Yes, we already talked about the wavelength of engagement so I guess we should reclassify the wavelength of access as the object’s wavelength of engagement with the recipient, leaving us with two wavelengths of engagement. The sending and receiving wavelengths of engagement. These wavelengths can originate from and be destined for any source able to engage them, that is to say it’s not always the human or even the thing with a mind in the typical sense that is the “receiver” or “sender”, the wavelengths are simply the transfer of information between objects. The sending and receiving wavelengths of engagement produce a media/message when both are synchronised for some period of time. Look at it like this: Wavelengths of access are those potential wavelengths of engagement which have not yet been taken up from the perspective of some receiver – Wavelengths of Engagement are those Wavelengths of Access which have been taken up by some sender or receiver. The length of an event is equal to the duration of the wavelength of engagement with an object.
→→→→ Summing up, a Wavelength of Access may also be sending or receiving, that is to say an object may be broadcasting some unengaged information and an object may have the potential to receive some unbroadcasted information. Eg. An eye in the dark has the potential to receive light, and the lightbulb has the potential to broadcast light. If the lightbulb is off, the eye’s receiving Wavelength of Access will remain unengaged. If the eye is blind, the lightbulb’s emitting Wavelength of Access will remain unengaged.

• Time can be considered a function of the quantity of events over a certain measure of abstract time (For want of a better measure, replace this immediately when you think of something new).
→ “Abstract time” can be considered phenomenological event time: Where the passing of a minute may constitute an event, the passing of a second, the passing of an hour or half hour and so on. Abstract time is phenomenological time.
→→ Expanding on the first and second points, this is why staring at the clock at night when you can’t sleep or staring at the seconds ticker on a classroom clock might actually make temporality go slower.
→→→ Something worth testing – put subjects in a waiting room, both with prominently placed clocks. Equip one clock with a second hand and leave the second hand off the other clock. Consider making a clock which only has a second hand, only a second hand and an hour hand, only an hour hand and a minute hand, only a minute hand. However, making a clock with only a second hand and a minute hand would probably arouse some interest in the subject, speeding up their temporality as they engaged a lower-frequency media/message – The mystery of why the clock only had a second hand and an hour hand. Incorporating a “broken” minute hand might alleviate this.

Footnotes

1. When I wake up, I think about how tired I am. If I’m too tired I don’t even open my eyes, I just try to get back to sleep. If I decide to open my eyes, I check the brightness of the room, the angle of the sun on the curtains, and I think again about how tired I am. If it’s bright enough and the angle of the sun is right, I get up and put the clock up so I can see what time it is. The curtains work like a kind of sundial, translating the sun’s rays into an approximation of the “abstract” time, which is itself phenomenological as “8:00am” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, that is to say 8:00am might mean bed time, work time, early morning, late morning – it might mean terror, injections, urgency, love, prayer, it might have some mystical, numerological significance taken in the context of wider systems. It could mean anything!

2. The little blue bar at the bottom of ABC News 24 which cycles through the headlines.

3. Expanding on the process of “[attempting] to compile multiple asymmetrical phenomenologies into a story through their overlapping elements”, we can say that this is a process of diffusion through which those elements common to all phenomenologies are compiled into a single media/message, while those elements not synchronised with the story-object remain in the heads of each presenter. Each presenter might change their personal interpretation of events, but the story-object will persist, and will form the foundation for some higher frequency media/message in the form of an update, a commentary, or some other thing.

4. Speaking temporally.

5. I found out in this lecture that Heidegger encouraged a confrontation with death and a dissolution of life’s events into something which could be described as a “destiny”, or in Heidegger’s words an “authentic life”. Heidegger regarded higher-frequency, “resolute” media/messages of life as “idle chatter”, and advocated that we “free [ourselves] from the chatter of everyday and go talk deep thoughts in the black forest”. That is to say, lower-frequency, more dissolute, less topical, more abstract narrative media/messages. The ultimate low-frequency point of discussion is our own death. This reinforces my point that the frequency of our care-structures are determined by and in turn determine the frequency at which we live our lives. Your lifespan’s frequency is perfectly synchronised with you, because you are it, and beyond that we will synchronise ourselves with the frequencies of care at which we decide to live. The two pairs of terms I introduce after this are very useful in describing these “frequencies of care” and what they mean for the people synchronised with them.

6. For example, “Climate Change” means something different to each constituent media/message when they’re taken as a group, and it may be described without describing all its constituents.

a. An even better distinction to draw is one between those portions of temporality which are primarily external, in addition to the distinction between internal and external. That’s because the internal encompasses one object while the external encompasses every single other object. Don’t think about “abstract” or “natural” time, think about clock-time, sun-time, curtain-sun-time, routine-time, beforeschool-time, shower-time, (breakfast-time: (muffin-time: (folding-time, biting-time, chewing-time: (openjaw-time, closejaw-time)), eggflip-time) . Don’t fall into the mind/nature trap!.

b. Something very interesting happens to Sphinx-oriented media/messages upon the disappearance of the Sphinx: Those stories to do with visits to the Sphinx, documentation of the Sphinx, statistics in relation to the Sphinx are suddenly invested with a greater significance than they had before the end of the sphinx. The Sphinx-frequency is no longer an unlimited quantity. As time goes on those remaining media/messages that had been produced by the Sphinx become rarefied –

Fragments

Levity is determined by the highest frequency media upon which we form our primary care-structures

It takes work to dredge high-frequency media/messages from lower frequency media/messages, and it takes work to turn high-frequency media/messages into lower-frequency trends.

High-Frequency – Small Talk

What is the difference between someone who is born into religion and someone who decides to become religious? What is the difference between someone who makes a habit of watching nature documentaries and someone who decides to become a naturalist? How do time and space relate to effort (care)?

A higher care-threshold doesn’t really mean something’s worthwhile, it just means you have to care more to do it! This is a problem with Heidegger’s conception of ‘authenticity’

We can think of care-structures as channels worn through the ground of being

What’s the difference between a soccer fan viewing 3 minutes of football airtime live during a match, viewing it during the post-game review, and going to Youtube and searching “longest soccer airtime”?
Why aren’t songs as good as the first time you listened to them after you’ve listened to them a lot? You don’t really have to put as much effort into experiencing the song because it’s familiar, that is to say the care-threshold has lowered. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily putting less effort into listening to it, but once elements of the song have already been found and are familiar, they’re “easier” to listen to. It’s also easier to listen to a song you like than it is to listen to a song you don’t like, but why? Be

Listening to a whole discography vs. listening to an unliked album vs. listening to a favourite album vs. listening to unfamiliar songs vs. listening to familiar songs vs. listening to your favourite songs vs. listening to the songs’ “good parts” then stopping. There is however more weight on moving through unfamiliar territory. Compare David Bowie’s more heavily imrovised album “Heroes” with “Never Let Me Down”, which took more time to produce. Although NLMD took more time to produce, it was produced with less care.

How can you address the tension between your initial definition of Topicality ←→ Levity and your systematised definition of it?
→ Initial definition: The relationship between time and relevance in relation to a media/message
→ Systematised definition: can be found within the body of the blog

Low-Frequency media/messages are intensive.

Care structures encompass the values present in the moral economy.

Care structures shape and are shaped by media?

The presence of media such as TV and radio lower the care-threshold necessary to get into something.

frequency, dailiness, (topicality <-> abstraction), (gravity <->levity), metafrequencies, diffusion, resolution, ‘regularity’ in frequency producing dailiness, subfrequencies, frequency’s relation to “producing the next day” in the Dailiness reading. The trend toward twitter constitutes a diffuse frequency, facilitating the treatment of twitter as a carrier wave and foundation for other media. Too hierarchical?

and explaining the incorporation of abstract time into 24-Hour News.

Liftedness, weightedness. “Substantial” news.

Consider the relationship between clocks and computers, clocks and ABC News 24

Stories are around 5-15 minutes long. News Crawl cycle is around 3 minutes long and contains weather, sports, current affairs. Clock is one minute long.

Are my care-structures determined solely by my “future”? ie. Do I care about something I’m watching if I’m not thinking in that instant that I’ll watch some portion of it, either the whole thing or a few minutes.

http://rickroderick.org/302-heidegger-and-the-rejection-of-humanism-1993/

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