When I read the original texts of actor-network theory, I feel like I'm being trapped by a variety of double-binds. Books about actor-network theory like Clay Spinuzzi's or Graham Harman's, seem to liberate me from those double-binds. They put the theory in other contexts, make comparisons with other theories and show actor-network theory being put to use. Here's a few of the double-binds in actor-network theory texts that "drive me crazy":
- As you develop your comprehension of actor-network theory, dismiss models you've been using to characterize your development and comprehension.
- As you equate yourself with others having their own sociology to see their situations on their own terms, don't use your own sociology to see what they're not seeing.
- As you conceptualize the actants and alliances in an evolving situation to interest others in you as their "passage point", don't apply concepts.
- As you take an interest in others' interests, don't reveal your own interests in either assemblage of interests.
I've wondered about the purpose of these, and other, double binds in actor-network theory. There are several alternatives I've considered:
- It's possible these are "zen koans". They are intended to stump the mind that has fallen for object-subject dichotomies. The frustration they induce is intended to breakthrough linear thinking into the both/and paradoxes that offers no contradiction.
- It's possible these are no-win situations that result from experiences of powerlessness among the powerful. Their inherent opposition to winning may pose a challenge to fight this adversity, become stronger and oppose this futility.
- It's possible these are miscommunications resulting from written words published with ink on paper. They convey the wrong impression because they are not dialogical and conversant with the responses of tormented collaborators and commentators.
- It's possible these double-binds are schizophrenic. They simply share the experiences of authors who have been set-up to be right in the wrong way, loyal while labeled as disloyal or compatible in incompatible ways.
By holding these double-binds in the context of these four different possibilities, I avoid their trap. The double bind is not an objective fact which I'm subjected to. I've found a point of view that perceives the double binds from a more powerful place than being effected by them. I'm practicing what is preached rather than joining in the preaching. I can enact the reverse these double binds: wrong in the right way, disloyal in a loyal way and incompatible in a compatible way.