Thursday, October 25, 2007

Constant Surveillance?

After our discussion last class I was left wondering if we are ever not being watched.
Are we under constant surveillance? I don’t mean to sound paranoid but I think there is always some sort of surveillance going on, whether it be from an outside source or internal. With this constant surveillance then comes constant judgment; from others but mostly from ourselves. The harshest judgments often come from within. So then in regards to the structure of the “panopticon” if we are watching ourselves would the tower be located within the cell itself? Or is the cell in the tower? We are simultaneously in the tower and in the cell? I think that it is difficult to make a distinction between the watcher and the one being watched. It is difficult to assign one role because we are constantly functioning under both. We cannot escape being watched because we are in the end watching ourselves, probably more than any one else is watching us to begin with.

1 comment:

Janet said...

I think, Cavin, that what you're talking about is PRECISELY the point of panopticism and its infiltration into our daily lives. It is most successful when we ourselves take on the role of observer. When the surveillance is enacted by ourselves, there is no exertion of resources to put us under surveillance. Also, we know better than any observer what we do, have done, have thought etc., and can therefore keep tabs on ourselves most rigorously and most efficiently.

I am drawn to think about the power politics behind Catholic Confession - if one believes that god sees all, then one must believe that no confession of sins is necessary, as they are already observed. And yet one confesses in order to publicly practice self surveillance. Interesting that (I believe) the practice of confession greatly pre-dates the theory of the panopticon. Is part of why panopticism is inescapable the simple fact that it (surveillance) is in some way wired into our nature and possibly primitive survival techniques?