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The Social Networks and Bakhtinian Chronotopos

“The point now is that I found a home – or a hole in the ground, as you will. Now don’t jump to the conclusion that because I call my home a “hole” it is damp and cold like a grave; there are cold holes and warm holes. Mine is a warm hole”. From this spatio-temporal matrix of the hole my voice resounds.

Within the Social Networks story time bends, contracts and becomes visible on artistic scale. “Der Raum gewinnt Intensität, er wird in die Bewegung der Zeit, des Sujets, der Geschichte hineingezogen“ (Bachtin). The concept of the “chronotopos” is one of indefinite semantic value. Bakhtin describes the chronotopos as “the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in literature”. Signs which were thought to contain common meaning fissure and merge only to constitute an entirely new and unexpected nexus – the things we consider to be outcomes of effective networking.

The chronotope is where the knots of narrative are tied and untied […]. Time becomes, in effect, palpable and visible; the chronotope makes narrative events concrete, makes them take on flesh, causes blood to flow in their veins […]. Thus the chronotope, functioning as the primary means for materializing time in space, emerges as a center for concretizing representation, as a force giving body to entire networks. All the networks abstract elements – philosophical and social generalizations, ideas, analyses of cause and effect – gravitate towards the chronotope and through it take on flesh and blood, permitting the imaging power of art to do its work.

“The chronotope can thus be said to take the form of what Clifford James calls ‘articulations of tradition,’ defined as ‘generative components of peoplehood, ways of belonging to some discrete social time and place in an interconnected world’”.

A variety of network snapshots – such as status updates, Location based services etc. – show the texture of different ‘topoi’.  Freezing these images does not engender the absence of temporal paradigms. On the contrary, time and history are still very present in the stillstand of the network pictures. In fact, the creative powers of time and history have significantly contributed to bringing the networks as an ‘in- between-space’ into existence – Analogien. “in denoting […] time and space as ‘time and space that belong inalienably to the subject, and to which the subject inalienably belongs,’ the narrative of networks, subjects and situations are ultimately produced by a particular time- space constellation. As a consequence of this reciprocal dependency, I conclude that it is simply impossible to separate time and space. However it is feasible to congeal online scenery by ignoring the dynamics of time (the motion caused by temporal progression, not time itself). “Space begins to function at full capacity when men arrive at a sort of absolute break with their traditional time” (Foucault).

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