What I’m reading 8 Feb 2018 – 9 Mar 2018

What I’m reading 29 Oct 2017 – 6 Feb 2018

New media in the age of personal growth

  • You’re about due for an intervention.
  • Art as aide, helpmate, council for personal growth.
  • A blog post a day. Two tweets and call me in the morning.

A Motivational Art Intermezzo “Live to be outstanding.” What is new media in the age of the rock ’n roll life coach Anthony Robbins? There is no longer the need to be spectacular. The Situationist critique of the spectacle has won. That would be my assessment of the Anthony Robbins Age in which we now live. Audiences are no longer looking for empty entertainment; they seek help. Art has to motivate—not question, but assist. Art should not primarily reflect, represent, or discover the world but talk to its audience, hit it in the face, so say today’s art marketers. Irony can be a medicine as long as it contributes to the healing process of the patient. Be careful not to offend anyone. Today’s aesthetic experiences ought to awaken the spiritual side of life. Aesthetics are not there for contemplation only. Art has to become (inter) active and take on the role of coaching. In terms of the self-mastery discourse, the 21st century artist helps to unleash the power from within. No doubt, this is going to be achieved with positive energy. Perverse optimism, as Tibor Kalman called it, is needed. Art has to create, not destroy. A visit to the museum or gallery has to fit into one’s personal development program. Art should consult us in transformation techniques and not criticize. In order to be a true experience, the artwork has to be an immediate bodily experience, comparable to the fire walk. It has to be passionate, and should shed its disdain for the viewer, along with its postmodern strategies of irony, reversal, and indifference. In short, artists have to take responsibility and stop their silly plays. The performance artist’s perfect day job is the corporate seminar, building trust and distilling the firm’s core values from its human resources.

Self-management ideology builds on the 1980s wave of political correctness—liberated from a critical negativism that only questioned existing power structures without giving guidance. As Anthony Robbins says, “Live with passion!” Emotions have to flow. People want to be fired up and move out of their comfort zone. Complex references to intellectual currents within art history are a waste of time. The art experience has to fit in and add to the personal growth agenda. Art has to leverage fears and promise guaranteed success. Part therapist, part consultant, art no longer compensates for a colorless life. Instead, it makes the most of valuable resources and is aware of the attention economy in which it operates. In order to reach such higher planes of awareness, it seems unavoidable to admit and celebrate one’s own perverse Existenz. Everyone is a pile of shit and has got dirty hands. Or as Tibor Kalman said: “No one gets to work under ethically pure conditions.” It is at that Žižekian point that art as a counseling practice comes into being. Tired Media Art.

from “Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture” by Geert Lovink

Altruism – Simple as That!

  • Invisible, roll-on protection.
  • It’s altruism. Really.
  • Can I get a witness?
  • You have been protected!

How saturated in the 1950s pre-digital era this email from MnSCU is. The pitch is straight out of commercial advertising: protect your home, your family, your innocence. Protect yourself from embarrassing body odor. Even the Civil Defense left it up to the target family to build their own shelters and to take cover in defense.

But the Minnesota State Internet Guardian has you protected. Protected so well you won’t even know it. Because you’re blameless. We trust you. The only reason you would click a shifty link is accidentally. Because you don’t know any better, we monitor your every click for you.

The place for protection in 2017 is the state university. It’s not about us.  It’s you.

From:  Faculty/Staff Announcement List

Date:  December 4, 2017 at 3:20:07 PM Central Standard Time

To:  “fac_staff_l@listserv.bemidjistate.edu”

Subject:  Minnesota State Internet Guardian

Who: All faculty, staff and students

What: Full implementation of Internet Guardian 

When: Tuesday, December 5

Where: BSU, NTC and Distance MN

Why: To protect you from internet threats by stopping malicious links, phishing links and other malicious software from reaching their intended destinations

Complete Details: Your campus will be deploying a service that is being rolled out system wide known as Minnesota State Internet Guardian.  This service will help to protect you from internet threats by stopping malicious links, phishing links and other malicious software from reaching their intended destinations.  The service and its deployment will mostly be invisible to you as it works at the network level.  The only way you will know that it is active is if you accidently click on a malicious link or navigate to a web page that has malicious software on it.  At that time, a web page will pop up to inform you that you have been protected.  Simple as that!

We can ask why MnSCU isn’t telling students and faculty – each time they click – that their move has been recorded, analyzed, vetted by The Guardian to be OK. Is the silence protection from ourselves? A little pop up with each click could be an affirmation: Good Choice! Gold Star!

The state educational system is extending the same parental protections it brings to the dorms to the network. But they wrestle with their parenting role. They try to cast the control as altruism – a position they are not comfortable with. They can’t hide their apprehension that our use threatens their  network. The same apprehension on the face of moms and dads and teachers in 1959 and 1962 when they sketched plans for fallout shelters and held duck and cover exercises. They were doing it for The Kids – knowing that the gestures were nothing more than altruism. We don’t need to be reminded with evert click that the protection is in marketing only.

The Civil Defense banner image is from the Civil Defense Museum. The faculty email shares the same archive. The Cold War prepared us. The same misuse of military equipment can claim guardianship.

McLuhan on the Headline

Head Line: a primitive shout of rage and fear

  • Wares and rumors of wares in a time of Trump.
  • The story content becomes the merchandise.

[T]he headline is a feature which began with the Napoleonic Wars. The headline is a primitive shout of rage, triumph, fear, or warning, and newspapers have thrived on wars ever since. And the newspaper, with two or three decks of headlines, has also become a major weapon. …

Any kind of excitement or emotion contributes to the possibility of dangerous explosions when the feelings of huge populations are kept inflamed even in peacetime for the sake of the advancement of commerce. Headlines mean street sales. It takes emotion to move merchandise. And wars and rumors of wars are the merchandise and also the emotion of the popular press.

From The Mechanical Bride

Update 11 Dec 2017: Any kind of excitement.  In a post-simulacrum world, the quote itself is verification enough.

“Think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.”  

Trump, as reported, in the NYT



McLuhan on Picasso Painting

sign for word

When Picasso enters the popular mind by way of McLuhan:

Picasso’s painting is always exciting because Picasso paints the path of feeling. I am speaking completely literally. Picasso paints the path of feeling.

Did you ever have a teardrop run down your face? Sometime have a teardrop run down your face and feel it run. Feel it run and then you will understand Picasso. Picasso paints a teardrop running down your face. He paints a tragic running down on the ieee , , , just as you would feel it. Then at the end of the running he paints the teardrop . . . as it feels. He paints the path of the teardrop… He paints a path of feeling . . . He paints the path of every feeling he has at the moment he is feeling. A moment later would ba too late.

It is so simple.

Picasso paints a teardrop when it is running down the face. That is all.

Of course he must paint the when. He paints it when it Is running . . . all the way. He does not paint the teardrop itself until it has stopped running. Then the teardrop hangs suspended from the when like it feels on the face.

It is not only of Picasso that I speak. There are others . . . like Miro like Chagall like Mondrian like Brancusi and Braque and Kandinsky and Klee . . . ”

from verbi-voco-visual

Remediating Speech in the Museyroom

From Rhetorical Delivery As Technological Discourse

  • Getting from Isocrates to McLuhan by way of the Liberal Arts Curriculum
  • Who’s tipping whom? Mind yer hats goan in.
  • Culture wars

McCorkle explains the transition to writing by rhetorical mechanisms, driven and shaped by rhetoricians, specifically Isocrates. Isocrates becomes the manifestation of the otherwise invisible forces in McLuhan.

What McLuhan sees as a cognitive/cultural transformation, McCorkle explains by the mechanism of remediation, motivated by cultural changes but locally orchestrated by rhetoricians. When the rhetoricians stopped paying attention to delivery, they created a tipping point.

The declining status of delivery was itself a mechanism of remediation, in that it was an attempt on the part of rhetorical theorists to divert attention away from the embodied rhetorical performance and refocus that attention toward words, in and of themselves, as objective components of thought, whatever the medium. In other words, the Greeks had to pay less attention to oratory’s uniqueness as a technology of communication. By paying less attention to delivery, classical rhetorical theory allowed alphabetic writing to embed itself more easily in the cultural practices predominantly occupied by the spoken word alone. Minimizing the importance of delivery helped to blur the material distinctions between speech and writing, naturalizing the written word by erasing its interface. One way of rendering the writing interface invisible was by applying its attributes back onto the speaking body-in effect, making speech more writerly and thereby taking advantage of speaking’s more “natural” disposition. Another was to place writing in a comparatively uncontaminated light, framing it as the intellectually “pure” counterpart to the dangerous, irrational rational nature of the performing body; as Fredal describes the hierarchical repositioning of speech and writing, “Speech appears not as natural but as naturalized, and composition-rhetoric as dependent upon this naturalization for its intellectual stature. Writing disciplines itself by refashioning speech, specifically its non-verbal, performed components, as “organic,” ‘irrepressible,’ and natural” (5). Adhering to the language of Bolter and Grusin’s remediation theory, writing became more immediate (a transparent relay of mental activity) as the attributes of embodied speaking became hypermediated (amplified-and suspicious-attention was placed on the medium-specific elements of speech)…. The culture of writing fostered by Plato, Aristotle, and even Isocrates signaled a change in disposition toward language broadly understood, valuing words-in-themselves (the “pure” state) over words-in-action in-action (the dangerous, contaminated state). This shift in theoretical attitude toward delivery is but one mechanism of remediation, a mechanism reflected in other attempts to remediate alphabetic writing.

A local practice becomes, by McLuhan, a zeitgeist. The common thread between all those who consider the shift to literacy is materiality, embodied performance. Here, the performance of writing becomes embodied in speech. A new practice of logographic is borne.

The practice of logography developed over time to become much more than a means of carrying the unadulterated spoken word for an embodied performance to be delivered later and elsewhere. It was also a contaminating influence on speech. It began to reach back into the materiality of the spoken word, reshaping it so that speech began to take on the attributes we commonly associate with the written word: multiple tenses, embedded clauses, and more complex sentence structures in general.

Speech remediate the attributes of writing. Either (choose one) as a result of a shift in consciousness, or as a cause, or by collocation. Affordances are on the move, and the move is sponsored and carried by The Ten, their written word, and McLuhan.

The presence of writing resulted in more than just a unilateral shift in consciousness. Rather, the process of speech became more writerly and writing became more naturalized owing to a reciprocal, interactive dynamic. The technologies of speech and writing fed upon each other, writing borrowing from the cultural prestige of speech, speech adapting to compete with the newly arrived technology of chirography. At the forefront of this remediating transformation was Isocrates, whom Enos calls the “father of logography,” and who, as one of the Ten Attic Orators, contributed to the growth of the Greek language by bringing ing a notable stylistic complexity to oratorical performance.

Pause for a moment to consider how the teaching-orators are creating and spreading this New Consciousness. Your first-year comp teacher, with her tedious stylistic moves, is the vector of infection.

The development of this complexity owed much to the sort of plastic manipulation of language afforded by written discourse. For instance, Forster describes in the introduction to Isocrates’s Cyprian Orations how the teacher-orator “could manage the period as few Greek writers succeeded in doing. In reading a long sentence of Isocrates we are struck by the fact that, however intricate it may seem, it runs smoothly, and its structure is perfectly clear” (22). Isocrates developed a style of composition that, in part, drew upon oral stylistics and extended them to degrees that likely could not have been developed in purely oral contexts. Forster observes that “the conscious artifices which Isocrates employs”-among them parallelism in sound, homophonic wordplay, and the avoidance of hiatus (a word ending in a vowel followed by another beginning with a vowel)-“though at times they may seem laboured, certainly often add to the clearness of his style” (23). Isocrates also brought uniquely writerly prose to the composing process, an ornateness derived from his use of amplification and highly embedded constructions.

The Liberal Arts foster the literate consciousness by clandestine rhetorical training. Blame the teachers. Pay attention to the figures going out. Tip.

As students grew accustomed to encountering written discourse as a surrogate for speech from the outset of their rhetorical training, the differences between the two media became less distinct.

What I’m reading 27 Oct 2017 – 28 Oct 2017

What I’m reading 20 Sep 2017 – 5 Oct 2017

What I’m reading 13 Sep 2017 – 19 Sep 2017