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Through these two distinctions, Bergson rewrites the philosophical concepts of time, space, experience, and consciousness. The quantitative multiplicity is easiest to explain.

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Bergson asks us to imagine a field of sheep viewed from above Ibid. The sheep are: They occupy different spatial locations and thus are countable as a type of multiple-unity, something which is neither singular nor many, but rather both simultaneously. Further their positions are transitory, the can move and return to a given position. This is what Bergson terms the quantitative multiplicity and is akin to our experience of spatial phenomena. A phenomenon which is multiple and spatialized, yet unified; each molecule is discrete and yet, through the mechanisms of our biochemistry, their actions are transitory, reversible.

The second distinction, that of the qualitative multiplicity, is akin to our experience of time, which receives the special label: Opposed to the spatiality of the quantitative multiplicity, the qualitative multiplicity—is not discrete, homogenous, nor transitory—but is rather: Irreversible Ibid.


The image used to describe the qualitative multiplicity is a rubber band, collapsible to a single point yet stretchable across its epistemic background Ibid. Like the duration, our experience of time, it is continuous and if we consider its movement as a trace and not a series of fixed images presented over time, it is also heterogeneous; in each moment it occupies and overcomes a new spatial segment to which it cannot return.

It is still not an adequate representation of the duration. For Bergson, no image can describe the duration as it is itself apart from spatiality. If our experience of time for Bergson was a qualitative multiplicity, so to was our experience of sympathy Lawlor , In a sympathetic moment we place ourselves into the position of another, we enter their duration so-to speak Ibid.

If this was all sympathy did we would abhor it.

It would mean for us continuous pain. We would do all we could to avoid one another. Therefore, sympathy prompts in us a desire to help the other through the realization that the other in-fact may be oneself. These two moments: Inferior pity is the desire for pain.


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However, these two inferior forms of pity resolve into a third feeling, that of superiority over pity. This is a qualitative multiplicity precisely because it is heterogeneous, each feeling is different, yet they are continuous such that we cannot distinguish the points of transition from one to the other, and the feeling of sympathy is irreversible. Each moment of sympathy becomes inscribed consummately upon the conscious and unconscious mind as both desire and repulsion. Freud hypothesized that the unconscious of the analyst and the analysand were in communication with one another Gallese , Indeed, the qualitative multiplicity shared between two subjects, the feeling of sympathy, posits both conscious and unconscious affect.

Gallese in their article attempt to do so through a neurological mechanism labeled mirror neuron activation, or rather the capacity of the mind to create an embodied simulation of the other When we experience sympathy, or even observe someone carrying out a physical activity we activate neural pathways, though at lower potential, as if we were carrying out the activity or experiencing it ourselves. The notion initially employed by Bergson and hypothesized by Freud, suggesting subjects are capable of entering the duration of one another, of mirroring the affect of one another, is confirmed through our resort to the neurological model of the self.

Let us return to ZoomPNP and analyze the type of connectivity being observed between our subjects. Using the argument of Gallese et al. Melanie Klein developed the concept of projective identification out of the work of Anne Freud and Karl Abraham. Projective identification then, is the unconscious inducement of the other to become that truth which is disavowed by the conscious mind Ibid. The encouraging behavior observed in the chat software that accompanies Zoom—recall here about the praise for blowing large clouds and the encouragement for achieving erection—may be conceived as a type of projective identification where the individual is able to access a given state by inducing or witnessing that state in another.

We might also conceive of pornography as operating through a similar mechanism that allows for the pleasure principle to overcome the reality principle, mediated or unmediated by methamphetamine. The unconscious projects onto the internet our desires and fantasies, through encouragement in live webcam sessions like Zoom or searching of pornographic websites. The mirror neurons of the mind, engaged in an embodied simulation of the other, project unmetabolized fantasies and desires onto the other s , through connected territories, to allow them to be digested by the conscious mind through the process of identification and integration at the level of consciousness.

Through its gratuitous efflux of dopamine, meth—through a reduction of the reality principle—allows more easily the Id and unconscious to achieve both projection and identification, to metabolize fantasies as it experiences them through embodied simulation. Or, in Bergsonian terms, perhaps meth and the despatialized connectivity afforded by our connected possessions, work coextensively to allow one to overcome the limits of space, the duration, and reality such that the subject can inhabit more fully the object with which they identify. Therefore, our connected commons permit a type of projective identification, an overlap, facilitating not only visual stimulation but also neurochemical and bodily stimulation.

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ZoomPNP inscribes on the psyche, through the pharmaceutically enhanced potentials of mirror neurons, an embodied experience of sensation and phantasmal desire. The other, though spectral, inhabits the self by means of visual, neurochemical and unconscious contact. All those pills we shovel down our throats. The penultimate scene presents the once sarcoma-covered bodies of our ACT and PWA members, now in their 50s, freshly shaven and thankful for the medical discovery that let them survive a plague.

The film presents pharmaceuticals as the victor over the HIV epidemic, emancipating its victims from the villainous Republican controlled presidency of George Bush.

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The poster juxtaposes Gay Pride, 25 years after stonewall, fresh off the discovery of protease inhibitors, with the image of a young man sitting in white briefs in front of his computer, torch and glass pipe in hand, watching pornography, amidst a bottle of lube, while smoking methamphetamine. The two images seem discordant, yet both propose a subject encountering and interacting with emergent pharmaceutical technologies as spectacular and phantasmagoric assemblages.

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To understand this assemblage let us build the concept of power for Foucault from our earlier discussion of the multiplicity by Bergson. Much of the philosophical work of Foucault, also Deleuze, may be read as refined movements to violate the postulates of Bergsonian philosophy. Foucault attempted to demonstrate how the spatial organization of bodies, their diagramatic positioning atop an epistemic background, forged their duration.

In this sense, Foucault was interested in the way that the relations of subjects in a field of forces would create overlapping durations experiences of time.

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Foucault demonstrates that durations do exist within a spatialized field of forces, within a multiplicity of force, independent of the continuous stream of temporality. In this sense, duration is subject to a spatial multiplicity of forces that is not internalized, ordering the mind, but rather operates external to the body, becoming inscribed upon it, and ordering its movement through space.

For Foucault, power can be interpreted not as something possessed by an individual, institution, or organization; but rather, as the spatial organization of bodies within a field of forces. Power, for Foucault, is force interacting with force. Each individual body possesses a certain potentiality, which we might label an opportunity for agency, these are the available lines of force upon which the body can travel.

Power, as a relation of forces, acts upon these potential trajectories of the body, limiting or altering the opportunity of agency for the subject, the possible trajectories available to the subject. Therefore, the duration for Foucault, is not merely the pooling of heterogeneous, continuous, and irreversible temporality within the subject, but also something acted upon by spatialized forces, a multiplicity. Wherever subject bodies are inspected and observed and their movements orchestrated and directed, beyond prison walls, the mechanism of Panoptic power is active.

These subjects become limited in their possibility of agency through the potential for surveillance, thus limited in possible trajectories. It is an interesting juxtaposition that in a chapter discussing what should be done in the event of a plague, Foucault oscillates between that and the functional mechanism of a theoretical prison architecture. For Foucault, the potential fear and confusion of the plague underwrites the need for Panopticism as a technology of control.

Though the causal mechanism of HIV would eventually be discerned as a retrovirus, at its onset, the constellation of symptoms drove authorities, once their focus was grabbed through effective social movements, toward mass projects of surveillance, containment, and disposal of specific elements associated with the disease. Constant monitoring for symptoms, medical testing, and the modification of behavior were operationalized to induce constant visibility, isolation, and asceticism amongst any member of the population who might engage in male on male sexual contact.

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Is it any surprise queer men would broadcast their meth use and sexual practices on Zoom? They are instantiated into a discourse where repeated visibility and disclosure, coupled with constant pharmaceutical treatment and medical testing, are the only way to survive a plague.

Or so, we are told. They must label themselves, instantiate themselves into the discourse of the diseased, the dying, the soon to be so, or the medicated. They are medical subjects, poz or neg, to the sovereign truth of sexual spectacle. The medical disciplining of these subjects is so successful, so complete, that now they seek constant visibility, they seek and administer powerful pharmaceuticals, and they seek the inspection of their bodies by strangers.

They enact the performative logics of medicalization inscribed on their body as a sexual ritual in full gaze of the other, not to isolate themselves and privatize their sexuality, but rather to disclose publicly the truth about gay sex in this highly medicalized pharmacopornographic era.

Each subject has become his own medical practitioner, offering his treatment up amidst a festival of others treating themselves, treating each other. No-longer is discipline practiced on the isolated individual; instead it has returned to the scaffold, practiced as a spectacle to be consumed through innervated fiber optic machines. No-longer is discipline practiced as an apparatus external to the self, becoming inscribed on the body; instead the self creates the apparatus of their own disciplining fantasy. No-longer is discipline practiced by the state, instead it is practiced by subjects of a deterritorialized empire.

The rituals which accompanied queer bodies in the wake of the crisis have been reterritorialized onto ZoomPNP as a spectacular and phantasmagoric reenactment of the crisis which has come to define gay life itself. In his essay, Charles Taylor presents the conditions of knowledge foreshadowing this dissolution, where the epistemic background and the subject atop it become less distinguishable. Taylor sees this break as a divide in philosophies derived from the continent. On the other hand, the continental challenge to this position—traced from Kant, to Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, and Foucault—posits that the background is inextricably inculcated in the formation of subject.


As annunciated earlier, for Foucault, the organization of bodies in space challenges the free and rational subject, by restricting their possibilities for movement through disciplinary mechanisms. Foucault tends to over determine the subject by pure reduction to the conditions of subjectification. However, this approach was a powerful corrective to the foundationalism which establishes the subject as independent of their background or the substances in their body.

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