Guattaris on Facebook?! affects, refrains and the digital cloud

Alex Monea


There are two fundamental questions about the digital cloud: What forces are behind it (i.e. what is its ontology)? And, how does it function? I argue that the force behind the digital cloud and all of its changes to institutions, discourses, power, and social norms is an affective cloud-ness?. This force is folded into the actual world through refrains, which work to both capture virtual affects and to catalyze their crystallization into the actual world. In so doing refrains institute myriad (re-)(de-)territorializations which in themselves are heterogeneous to the virtual affect that presupposes them, yet contain traces of affect that help us piece together a more thorough understanding of their ontology and functions. This paper is in large part a tracing of the affective residues in Facebook, which is one of the refrains that makes up the digital cloud. While the first sections of this paper will deal in the abstract and work to set up a theoretical framework, the later sections will focus more specifically on Facebook and the actual consequences of the (re-)(de-)territorializations that it entails. I will make the case that Facebook functions according to cloud logic, working to organize people into social rhizomes with a closeness that constitutes a reworking of tribalism (a neo-tribalism), and further that Facebook makes possible a becoming-cloud in which identity is spread out into a cloud in the manner of a subjective pluralism. Finally, this paper will close by looking at the ethical and political stakes in this new territory. On the one hand, this territory disrupts grids of normativity by affirming subjective pluralism, short-circuits abjection in favor of potential interconnectedness, and facilitates the founding of communities and coalitions. On the other hand, this territory also creates opportunities for powerful, new forms of biopower.


Facebook; affect; digital cloud; becoming-cloud; neo-tribalism

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