What I’m reading 14 Jun 2017 through 25 Jun 2017

  • Trump 2020 Is No Joke – NYTimes.com – > Trumpism is a form of collective gaslighting at Twitter speed. It is founded on the principle that velocity trumps veracity.

    > All of this is serious. But it’s not as serious as the seeping, constant attempt — one sacred value at a time — to disorient Americans to the point they accept the unacceptable, cede to the grotesque, acquiesce to total arbitrariness as a governing principle. On one side the Constitution; on the other the rabbit hole that leads to the Trump International Hotel. – (politics rhetoric trump )

  • Forget Julius Caesar – Trump is more like Richard III, Shakespeare’s satanic joker | US news | The Guardian – > Sponsorship, a British director once told me, is implicit censorship. … . A spokesperson for one of the sponsors said the portrayal of Caesar was clearly designed “to provoke and offend”, which some of us thought was one of theatre’s basic functions.

    Why else would business put money behind art? Or a brand on a hockey rink? Or their name on an endowed chair? – (politics )

  • In Trump’s America, a thick-headed man’s incredibly thin skin is threatening free speech | Opinion | The Guardian – Thick head, thin skin is no reason. But the point is that censorship is here. Political correctness now comes from the right.

    > That large corporations are punishing creative expression because it is critical of Trump is worrying. Even more worrying, however, is the insidious but understandable creep of self-censorship among everyday Americans. This week provides yet another example that, when it comes to Trump, exercising your right to free speech – that dearest of American values – can prove an expensive endeavour. – (polemic politics censorship trump )

sounds familiar

Hodge asks us to look to semiosis to understand and act in the politically over-charged moment. 

McCarthyism was constituted in texts and in explosive discursive, semiosic processes that carried the effects very far, very quickly…. Semiosic contexts inflect meanings and are themselves meanings. McCarthy’s strategy included waving a list in the Senate which he claimed contained 205 names of proven commu- nists in public office, which he would not reveal. Waving the list was a multimodal signifier supporting his spoken words. This semiosic situation contains multiple splits. McCarthy’s speech is a surface text split from its real meaning, supposedly known to the speaker but not the audience. The speaker demands absolute trust from his hearers at the same time as he excludes them. We do not need a theory of schizophrenia to see this as a way to provoke paranoia.

Hodge, Social Semiotics for a Complex World. 91.

Anxiety in the Arcades 1927

Description of German arcades, 1927. in Buck, Dialectic of Seeing

I cannot enter it without a damp chill coming over me, without the fear that I might never find an exit. I am hardly past the shoeshine and news­paper stands under the lofty arches of the entrance, and I feel a mild confusion. A window promises me dancing daily and that Meyer without whom no party would be complete. But where is the entrance? Next to the ladies’ hairdresser there is another display: stamps and those curiously named tools of the collector: adhesive pockets with guaranteed acid-free rubber, a perforation gauge made of celluloid. “Be sensible! Wear wool!” demands the next window of me [. .. ] . I [ . . . ] almost stumbled over the peep shows, where one poor schoolboy stands, his school bag under his arm, wretched, immersed in the “scene in the Bedroom.” [. . .] I linger over [. . . ] Knipp-Knapp cufflinks, which are certainly the best, and over the Diana air rifles, truly an honor to the goddess of the hunt. I shrink back before grinning skulls, the fierce liqueur glasses of a white bone cocktail set. The clowning face of a jockey, a handmade wooden nutcracker graces the end of the musical toilet paper holder [. . . ]. The whole center of the arcade is empty. I rush quickly to the exit; I feel ghostly, hidden crowds of people from days gone by, who hug the walls with lustful glances at the tawdry jewelry, the clothing, the pictures [. . .]. At the exit, at the windows of the great travel agency, I breathe more easily; the street, freedom, the present!

What I’m reading 31 May 2017 through 9 Jun 2017

urban planning

Departures at Paddington Station

Redesign the city. But keep the rail stations as they are.

– Keep the railroad stations as they are. Their rather moving ugliness adds to the atmosphere of travel, which provides what slight attraction these buildings possess.

– Gil J. Wolman demanded the complete suppression or falsification of all information about departures (destinations, times, etc.). This would encourage dérive. After a lively debate, the opposition that had been expressed gave up its argument and the project was accepted without reservation.

– Heighten the acoustic environment of train stations by broadcasting recordings from a large number of different stations—and certain ports.

From PLAN FOR RATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS T O THE CITY OF PARIS 4. Situationists and the city, 70. Adapted to bullet list.

digital image as interface for viewer production of the real

Or Image for semiosis.


As interface or instrument, the image does not comprise a representation of a pre-existent and independent reality, but rather a means for the new media user to intervene in the production of the “real,” now understood as a rendering of data. “New media,” Manovich concludes “change our concept of what an image is – because they turn a viewer into an active user. As a result, an illusionistic image is no longer something a subject simply looks at, comparing it with memories of represented reality to judge its reality effect. The new media image is something the user actively goes into, zooming in or clicking on individual parts with the assumption that they contain hyperlinks….”

[W]e must fundamentally reconfigure the image. Specifically; we must accept that the image, rather than finding instantiation in a privileged technical form (including the computer interface), now demarcates the very process through which the body, in conjunction with the various apparatuses for rendering information perceptible, gives form to or in-forms information. In sum, the image can no longer be restricted to the level of surface appearance, but must be extended to encompass the entire process by which information is made perceivable through embodied experience. This is what I propose to call the digital image.

Hansen, New Philosophy, 10.

Hansen’s conception becomes a basis for aesthetics as epistemic AND a basis for a rhetoric of experience. The viewer becomes a creator influenced by material context of the perception. This conception does not neutralize rhetorical aims and moves but disperses or distributes them between context, object, perceiver and makes them cognitive or material operators or procedures that shape the making of perception. “Enframe something (digital information) that was originally formless” 11.

This is “a fundamental shift in aesthetic experience from a model dominated by the perception of a self-sufficient object to one focused on the intensities of embodied affectivity. ” 12-13.

This is social semiotics from another angle. The artifact primes the viewer and provides the resources for creating semiosis. v Kress

What I’m reading 24 May 2017 through 28 May 2017

tufte, illusions, trump

Tufte writes about attention and misdirection.

To create illusions is to engage in disinformation design….

In conjuring, strategies of disguise and attention control work to regulate the optical information available to the spectator. As we have seen for the backpalm and the copper-silver coin exchange, a common technique is to disguise smaller motions by means of larger motions; the fingers craftily manipulate while the hand grandly waves. The attention-attracting but resolution-reducing character of motion is described by Henning Nelms:

“Although movement attracts attention, it also diminishes visibility. When a thread is used to support a light object, it can be seen from a surprising distance even when its color matches the background. However, the slightest movement makes it disappear. A large movement can be used to conceal a small one. For example, the weak spot in The Strong Man’s Secret [a trick based on a cut-and-restored storing] is the action of cutting the loop. The technique . . . can be made more deceptive if you keep the knife still and force the string against it by a sudden movement of the left hand. . . . The large movement of the left hand and the string draws every eye away from the kmf’e so that no one can observe the unnatural way in which the string is cut.”

And in detective stories, the small clue that solves the mystery may be similarly disguised: “It is Agatha Christie, too, who regularly contrives that just as the clue is dropped a distracting m‘cident occurs. Here we are close to the art of the stage conjurer.” As well as close to the arts of propaganda, strategic Intelligence, and politics — although for magic, at least, the targets of the deception are aware and pleased that they are being deceived. Tufte, Visual Explanations, 64.

The position of facts in the simulacrum

Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists, or extreme-right provocation, or a centrist mise-en-scène to discredit all extreme terrorists and to shore up its own failing power, or again, is it a police-inspired scenario and a form of blackmail to public security? All of this is simultaneously true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the facts does not put an end to this vertigo of interpretation. That is, we are in a logic of simulation, which no longer has anything to do with a logic of facts and an order of reason. Simulation is characterized by a precession of the model, of all the models based on the merest fact – the models come first, their circulation, orbital like that of the bomb, constitutes the genuine magnetic field of the event. The facts no longer have a specific trajectory, they are born at the intersection of models, a single fact can be engendered by all the models at once. This anticipation, this precession, this short circuit, this confusion of the fact with its model (no more divergence of meaning, no more dialectical polarity, no more negative electricity, implosion of antagonistic poles), is what allows each time for all possible interpretations, even the most contradictory – all true, in the sense that their truth is to be exchanged, in the image of the models from which they derive, in a generalized cycle. 
Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations, 13. 

What I’m reading 16 May 2017 through 23 May 2017