Author Archives: morgan

What I’m reading 13 Aug 2017

What I’m reading 12 Aug 2017

  • Trump babbles in the face of tragedy – The mainstream is raising the specter of Nazism

    > this is the natural result of defining authenticity as spontaneity. Trump and his people did not believe the moment worthy of rhetorical craft, worthy of serious thought. The president is confident that his lazy musings are equal to history. They are not. They are babble in the face of tragedy. They are an embarrassment and disservice to the country.

    But

    > Ultimately this was not merely the failure of rhetoric or context, but of moral judgment. The president could not bring himself initially to directly acknowledge the victims or distinguish between the instigators and the dead. He could not focus on the provocations of the side marching under a Nazi flag. – (rhetoric politics trump )

  • Donald Trump’s incredibly unpresidential statement on Charlottesville – – (politics rhetoric trump )
  • Yes, Smartphones Are Destroying a Generation, But Not of Kids | JSTOR Daily – A fair analysis of a popular argument – critiquing the evidence- but weak alternative argument and lame solution. The kids aren't sad, it's the parents, so let's mentor! – (argument a )

What I’m reading 3 Aug 2017 through 10 Aug 2017

Validating the Spectacle

On the occasion of transcripts released:

From Society of the Spectacle, Debord

Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.

The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images. …

The spectacle is the ruling order’s nonstop discourse about itself, its never-ending monologue of self-praise, its self-portrait at the stage of totalitarian domination of all aspects of life.

Trump’s clandestine business discourse is out of place on the social stage of politics. The result is that it unmasks both discourses as spectacle. It calls attention to the construction of the spectacular. Trump’s attempts to create change are shown everyday to be attempts to control message. In the spectacle, changing message is changing reality. It’s all that’s needed for a win.

The spectacle trickles down. Trump’s daily (Daily. He’s working hard) unmasking of the national administrative political spectacle also unmasks the discourse of other administrative contexts and calls them into his crisis of credibility. So that, locally, university administrators lose their agency as Trump reveals that their actions are attempts to shape the message rather than administrate real change. Declare a win, and you’ve won. That is simulation.

And, yes, annotation has a lot to do with it.  Annotation becomes curation.

What I’m reading 25 Jul 2017 through 31 Jul 2017

What I’m reading 17 Jul 2017 through 25 Jul 2017

  • Here and now – Thinking … I’ll get back to you on it. – (none)
  • Trumpcare Collapsed Because Republicans Cannot Govern – Republican ideology doesn't admit support for health care. It's not conservatism. It's Republicanism.

    > In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.

    > The power to destroy remains within the Republican Party’s capacity. The power to translate its ideological principles into practical government is utterly beyond its reach. – (ideology rhetoric politics )

  • Defense of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop offers case study on how to sell snake oil | Ars Technica – A catalogue of some of the rhetorical moves on Goop. – (ecommerce erhetoric snakeoil persuasion )

What I’m reading 8 Jul 2017 through 15 Jul 2017

Remediation in Benjamin Calls for 21st Century Arcades Project

Arcades

Arcades flickr photo by lutmans shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Bolter and Grusin (Remediation) see new media remediating old until the new media becomes established as a media and media-specific affordances become available. Benjamin sees remediation in new materials. When iron, for instance, was introduced in sculpture it took on forms from wood. Benjamin sees this as a failure to see the new in the old and evidence that these introductions of the new aren’t part of the emancipation from capitalism.

This way of understanding is going two ways: 1) towards a sense that what are declared as new and emancipatory (iron and glass, the automobile, Twitter, blogging … ) are not new; they are too much informed by the capitalist superstructure that still controls false consciousness; and 2), in the other direction, that these new media could be seen as emancipatory if that false consciousness is thrown off.

In contemporary terms, innovation is not going to disrupt the capitalist imaginary which forces an understanding of innovation within its limited and limiting framework. Disruption as it appears at TedTalks, in incubators, in administrative talk is not disruptive of the status quo. Disruption becomes one of the myths we use to imagine what might become but cannot become until the capitalist imaginary itself is disrupted.

Here’s Buck-Morss on Benjamin:

[T]he restorative impulse [is] more evident … in the forms taken by the new technologies themselves, which imitated precisely the old forms they were destined to overcome ….

Under the archaic masks of classical myth … and tradi­tional nature …, the inherent potential of the “new nature”—machines, iron shaped by new processes, technologies and industrial materials of every sort— remained unrecognized, unconscious. At the same time, these masks express the desire to “return” to a mythic time when human beings were reconciled with the natural world.

… According to Benjamin, if the “not-yet” of the new nature is expressed in archaic symbols rather than in new forms commensurate with it, then this condition of modem con­sciousness has its parallel in the inadequacies of development in the economic base. He is most explicit in a passage from the Passagen-Werk exposé. It begins with a quotation from Jules Michelet: “Every’ epoch dreams the one that follows it.” Benjamin comments:

> To the form of the new means of production which in the beginning is still dominated by the old one (Marx), there correspond in the collective con­sciousness images in which the new is intermingled with the old. These images are wish images, and in them the collective attempts to transcend as well as to illumine the in completed ness of the social order of produc­tion. There also emerges in these wish images a positive striving to set themselves off from the outdated— that means, however, the most recent past. These tendencies turn the image fantasy, that maintains its impulse from the new, back to the ur-past. In the dream in which every epoch sees in images the epoch that follows, the latter appears wedded to elements of ur-history, that is, of a classless society. Its experiences, which have their storage place in the unconscious of the collective, produce, in their inter­penetration with the new, the utopia that has left its trace behind in a thousand configurations of life from permanent buildings to ephemeral fashions.27

The real possibility of a classless society in the “epoch to follow” the present one, revitalizes past images as expressions of the ancient wish for social utopia in dream form. But a dream image is not yet a dialectical image, and desire is not yet knowledge…. Benjamin was reluctant to rest revolutionary hope directly on imagination’s capacity to anticipate the not-yet-existing. Even as wish image, utopian imagination needed to be interpreted through the material objects in which it found expression, for (as Bloch knew) it was upon the transforming mediation of matter that the hope of utopia ultimately depended: technology’s capacity to create the not-yet-known.

Buck-Morss continues

Technology, not yet “emanci­pated,” is held back by conventional imagination that sees the new only as a continuation of the old which has just now become obsolete. 115-6

In The Arcades Project, from Buck-Morss, Dialectics of Seeing, p 111-115.

The implications for social media and new media: We’re not there yet. Social media is still remediating the ideologies of mass communication; they are still informing and forming the rhetoric of the new, and are insidious in the techniques of persuasion.

But it can be turned. The phenomena of the digital – the internet, the web, social media, digital phones – can be used as dialectic images of critique in the way Benjamin uses the arcades, flaneurs, prositutes and gambling, iron and steel construction, and fashion to investigate early 20th century Europe. An Arcades Project of the 21st century is being written. Our arcade is the internet, populated trolls, a place for gambling and fashion, architected by packet switching, UX, housing texting, selfies, sur- and suivellance … Our themes are the same as Benjamin’s: false consciousness, repetition, delay, porn …  and a few new ones: simulacra, psychogeography, networks, image, mobility, identity, quantification …

Trump’s discourse unmasks the spectacle at home

From Society of the Spectacle
Debord

Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.

The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images. …

The spectacle is the ruling order’s nonstop discourse about itself, its never-ending monologue of self-praise, its self-portrait at the stage of totalitarian domination of all aspects of life.

Trump’s clandestine business discourse is out of place on the social stage of politics. The result is that it unmasks both discourses as spectacle. It calls attention to the construction of the spectacular. Trump’s attempts to create change are shown everyday to be attempts to control message. In the spectacle, changing message is changing reality. It’s all that’s needed for a win.

The spectacle trickles down. Trump’s daily unmasking of the national administrative political spectacle also unmasks the discourse of other administrative contexts and calls them into his crisis of credibility. So that, locally, university administrators lose their agency as Trump reveals that their actions are attempts to shape the message rather than administrate real change. Declare a win, and you’ve won, but only because “Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.”

What I’m reading 26 Jun 2017 through 6 Jul 2017