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Theopraxesis: Apparatus

Apparatus Orientation. Gauguin’s visualized catechism exemplifies the orientation (EPS) organizing the Western Tradition. The table on the left charts the isotopic alignments of Capabilities across the microcosm/macrocosm, individual and collective registers. The Western Tradition in our heuretic curriculum is configured to make explicit this system of relationships among the virtues and the popcycle. The theme takes many forms, one of which is the legend of the Golden Apple Paris awarded to Aphrodite in the context with Athena and Hera regarding which power was most desirable. The three goddesses represent the three virtues: Athena (Wisdom and War); Hera (Social and Political Power); Aphrodite (Sexuality and Fertility). Plato addressed the relationship among these powers in the Republic, advising a hierarchy of Head (Rulers), Heart (Guardians), Viscera (Workers), in that order. Education of the individual begins with Aphrodite (sexual desire, appetites), and follows the power of attraction upwards through the virtues to Hera’s realm of social custom, and finally on th Athena’s wisdom, knowledge of the Forms (Ideas) themselves: Beauty as such.

–Kant’s Critiques retrieve Aristotle’s Theoria, Praxis, Poiesis, Circumscribing the limits of each Capability: Pure Reason, Practical Reason, Judgment of Taste, with the Third Critique constituting an innovation that marks the beginning of Electracy–the promotion of the faculty of imagination (poiesis, aesthetics) to equal status with the other two faculties, which up to that point it did not have. Kant proposed his own version of the catechism, relative to these three powers: What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?  This system informed Alan Kay’s design of computer interface when he worked at Xerox Park. Navigation of information space should engage all three of the virtues (theopraxesis in our terms). The three inputs: Keyboard (Symbol, highest order conceptual, linguistic) = Athena; Mouse (enactive doing) = Hera; Windows (image, icon) = Aphrodite.

–Nested levels (mise en abyme): The table helps clarify that, however dispersed our exposition may become, this system configuration is consistently present, governing the transformation from potential to actual.

  • Collective: Apparatus–Paleo, Oral, Literate, Electrate
  • Collective: Popcycle Institution–Family, Church, School, Corporation
  • Individual: Capability–Language, Will, Thought, Imagination
  • Individual: Theopraxesis (Mystory Wide Image generate hypothesis from disposition)
  • Meta: Mandala, Game, Engine, Drive [not yet discussed]
2018-07-28T17:15:19+00:00 July 28th, 2018|Categories: Capability, Orientation, Overview, Theopraxesis|Tags: , |

Theopraxesis: Gauguin

Capability.  As these posts accumulate across an expanding set of categories, it is important to recall the focus of KE. Konsult learns the writing of the disaster in three dimensions: heuretics (invention), wide image (mystory), theopraxesis (capability). So far we have assumed some disaster addresses us, and devoted our attention to the heuretics of mystory, learning how to design an image of wide scope, source of our original hypothesis responding to disaster. Konsult takes up for electracy an ancient, even primordial drama: the striving to persist in one’s own being (to live), that Spinoza called Conatus, against the Overwhelming force of resistance, entropy, death. Heidegger characterized the drama as Riss, exploiting as was his craft German vocabulary, finding a term that means both Rift (split, break) and design (drawing). The drama of living derives from an irreducible opposition between Earth and World (nature and culture). Konsult is rift design (an assertion that must be developed elsewhere), taking up this enigmatic primordial experience of resistance encountered through living. Norbert Weiner, one of the inventors of cybernetics, defined life simply as anything that was negentropic, whether man or machine. We need to include in the drift of our posts a review of human capabilities, virtues, powers, the potentiality of egents which through education is realized in the service of well-being, thriving, living against disaster.

–Gauguin in Tahiti. An important part of KE is advisory to colleagues experimenting with transitions from literacy to electracy, adapting alphabetic curriculum and pedagogy to digital metaphysics. Posts up to now have referenced various canonical figures practicing the poetics of popcycle, mystory, wide image. The basic proposal for transition into electracy is just to reframe the curriculum within heuretics, to engage with it (following the advice of Roland Barthes)  not in terms of what it means, but how it was made. This is the fundamental lesson of the avant-garde arts, relative to the new purpose of electracy which is not to communicate a meaning (literacy does that), but to access a visceral memory that otherwise remains inchoate. The practical point is that the entire curriculum manifests a continuous engagement with the three fundamental capabilities, intellectual virtues, human faculties, first defined by the Classical Greeks (Aristotle). These are the negentropic faculties or powers that are potential in every person, beginning in a state of impotence, with the mission of education being actualization of world.

–The Three Questions. Gauguin, for example. Literate schooling studies the likes of Gauguin, Momaday, Sebald, Heidegger. The heuretic frame shifts the role of these exemplars to relay: egents are positioned not as students observing from the outside some body of information, but as receivers of a tradition (tradition is Avatar, konsult is Gita (Song) by means of which egent receives the totality of what tradition knows). Let Gauguin’s masterpiece serve as emblem for a catechism fundamental to the Western tradition (Hal Foster in Prosthetic Gods proposed that this work represented the catechism of Modernism). The title consists of three questions: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? These questions anchor our fundamental theme: orientation, and how it is modalized in electracy. The work must be placed in its situation, since the implicit question always is: what is that for me? Gauguin’s state of mind in Tahiti in 1897 was despair, disillusionment exacerbated by debt and illness (the primitive paradise he had imagined disappeared a hundred years before he arrived). Gauguin decided on suicide, but wanted first to paint a testament. The scene of this wall-sized tableau is a narrative, developing from right to left, the movement representing the vector of life and death (Derrida’s trace).

The upper corner chrome yellow (like damaged fresco). To the right below sleeping baby three seated women, two figures dressed in purple confide their thoughts. Enormous crouching figure (intentionally violated perspective) raises its arm and looks in astonishment at these two people who dare to think of their destiny. A figure in the center is picking fruit. Two cats near a child. A white goat. An idol, both arms rhythmically raised seem to indicate the Beyond. A crouching girl seems to listen to the idol and lastly an old woman approaching death appears reconciled to her thoughts. She completes the story. At her feet a strange white bird holing a lizard in its claws, represents a futility of words. The setting is  the bank of a stream in the woods. In the background the ocean, and beyond, the mountains of a neighbboring island. In spite of changes of tone, the landscape is blue and veronese green from one end to the other. The naked figures stand out against it in bold orange. If anyone said to the students competing for the Rome Prize at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the picture you must paint is to represent Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? what would they do?  (Paul Gauguin, in a letter).

Yes, that question is addressed to us, egents of the EmerAgency.

2018-07-28T15:28:22+00:00 July 27th, 2018|Categories: Art, Capability, Orientation, Theopraxesis|Tags: , , , |

Terms: Everday

  Everyday life is a dimension of the lifeworld addressed in the tradition of Arts &  Letters disciplines dating back to Marx’s commentaries on the revolutions in France (Paris) beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century.  The issue is central to electracy, in that the digital apparatus is associated with the rise of the industrial city.  The primary institutional condition to be remedied through a new (image) metaphysics is the impoverishment of everyday life codified in the concepts of alienation, reification, objectification.  Marx diagnosed the problem as due to the division of labor, and the new cultural and social environment created by the commodity form in market capitalism under bourgeois hegemony.  Life in the industrial city became “uncanny,” due to a discontinuity, disjunction, between individual agency and collective events.  An equivalent of the Unconscious opened within culture, a return of the repressed in which citizens suffered the consequences of their collective actions as if visited upon them by divine powers (commodity fetishism). “Routine” in this context is the habituation of daily ritual that must be dispersed by means of shock arts devices of estrangement (defamiliarization).

Konsult is an experiment in overcoming alienation as part of an electrate public sphere, drawing upon a counter-movement in modernity that began in Bohemian Paris, the cabarets of Montmartre, the emergence of the avant-garde arts. Walter Benjamin theorized Paris as the Capital of the Nineteenth Century, featuring the life and poetry of Charles Baudelaire as the paradigm.  This invention stream of a new metaphysics, grounded in aesthetic practice, spread through world culture in the style of surrealism, was extended by the Situationists (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle), theorized by French post/structuralism (especially Tel Quel), and promoted by thinkers as diverse as Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau.  Konsult experiment is to design and test a practice (theopraxesis) that makes aesthetic experience in all its dimensions (poiesis, aesthesis, catharsis) available as a capacity of everyday life, serving the interests of well-being in the public sphere. As always, the unspoken expectation is: what is that for me (what is my everyday life?).

See Stephen Johnstone, Ed. The Everyday (Documents of Contemporary Art).

2018-07-25T01:19:12+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Categories: EPS, Orientation, Terms|Tags: , |

Existential Disaster: Pasolini

White transparent blind. The Italian auteurist film director and semiotician, Pasolini, outlined a theory of education that is electrate, with its emphasis on the formative importance of early childhood, (the Paleo) as foundation for the other popcycle educations. Before parents, school, or television, Pasolini insists, your educative sources “are dumb, material, objective, inert, merely present. And yet they have their own language which you, like your companions, can decipher extremely well. I am speaking of objects, of things, of the physical reality that surrounds  you.” Pasolini’s education is of the same sort Blanchot associated with the writing of the disaster (the existential epiphany of his childhood window). The wide image comes out of such conditions, relevant also to the phenomenon of transitional objects interfacing inner/outer experience in a child/mother interaction (object relations).

  Our first memories are visual ones. In memory life becomes a silent film. We all have in our minds an image which is the first, or one of the first, in our lives. That image is a sign, or to be exact, a linguistic sign. So if it is a linguistic sign it communicates or expresses something. I shall give you an example. The first image of my life is a white, transparent bind, which hangs–without moving, I believe–from a window which looks out on to a somewhat sad and dark lane. That blind terrifies me and fills me with anguish: not as something threatening and unpleasant but as something cosmic. In that blind the spirit of the middle-class house in Bologna where I was born is summed up and takes bodily form. Indeed the images which compete with the blind for chronological primacy are a room with an alcove (where my grandmother slept), heavy “proper” furniture, a carriage in the street which I wanted to climb into. These images are less painful than that of the blind, yet in them too there is concentrated that element of the cosmic which constitutes the petty bourgeois spirit of the world into which I was born. But if in the objects and things the images which have remained firmly in my memory (like those of an indelible dream) there is precipitated and concentrated the whole world of “memories,” which is recalled by those images in a single instant– if,  that is to say, those object and those things are containers in which is stored a universe which I can extract and look at, then, at the same time, these objects and things are also something other than a container. . . . So their communication was  essentially instructional. They taught me where I had been born, in what world I lived, and above all how to think about my birth and my life. Since it was a question of an unarticulated, fixed and incontrovertible pedagogic discourse, it could not be other–as we say today–than authoritarian and repressive. What that blind said to me and taught me did not admit (and does not admit) of rejoinders. No dialogue was possible or admissible with it, nor any act of self-education. That is why I believed that the whole world was the world which that blind taught me: that is to say, I thought that the whole world was “proper,” idealistic, sad and skeptical, a little vulgar–in short, petty bourgeois. (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lutheran Letters, trans. Stuart Hood. Carcanet Press: New York, 1987).

As may be inferred from the accumulating citations and references to Holton, Blanchot, Pasolini, Proust, and numerous examples of early childhood memories grounding the popcycle, the original aspect of konsult pedagogy is to recover, retrieve, this early education. By the time egents reach the age of five they have earned their visceral Ph.D.

2018-07-23T13:41:46+00:00 July 23rd, 2018|Categories: Disaster, Intuition, Memory, Mystory, Orientation, Tutorials, Visceral, Wide Image|Tags: , , |


5) Recognition. The kind of memory specifically supported in electracy is discussed in Konsult: Theopraxesis using the example of Marcel Proust’s involuntary memory (the event of remembrance when Marcel tasted the biscuit dipped in tea). Roland Barthes referred to the punctum or sting of recognition he experienced when viewing certain photos. This event of recognition signals the operation of intuition, the intelligence accessing deep memory formed during the visceral education of disposition in childhood. This visceral orientation is not accessed directly, but informs judgments of taste (Kant), of action in prudence (phronesis), constituting the thymotic dimension of all decision. The discovery of konsult is that mystory enables theopraxesis (integrated thought-action-imagine), mise-en-machine of visceral attraction-repulsion (passional intelligence). This logic of orientation is called flash reason, conductive inference, structured in the manner of poetic epiphany, adaptive for real-time augmented smart space. We will address this rhetoric throughout KE.

–Antonio Damasio: Context for flash reason, used in the composition and design of mystory.


In his most recent book (Self Come to Mind), the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discusses the human capacity to recognize one’s  own being in features of the external world (natural and cultural things, events, works).  The world offers us a mirror in which to track the turns of our identity.  He offers an example of his own experience of this capacity.

It is an object that has helped him construct, interpret, ponder and crystallize his identity, or at least his idea of it. It came to him in the early 1970s, when he was in medical school at the University of Lisbon. The sculpture, made by a woman he had just begun dating (a fellow neuroscience student and a sculptor named Hanna Costa), is a little terra-cotta figure of a man seeming to fight his way forward in a storm. And it all but cried out to Dr. Damasio with a mysterious urgency.

“Somehow I felt that it was me, or belonged to me,” he recalled. “Even though she had done it before we met.”

The doctor was even more convinced that it was a sculpture of his favorite boyhood hero: Tintin, the boyish blond reporter and detective whose comic-book adventures, written by Georges Remi (a k a Hergé) from the 1930s to the early 1980s, delighted generations of European children. Dr. Damasio was one of them, having found endless inspiration in Tintin’s feats of derring-do and the restlessly inquisitive mind that dispatched mystery after mystery with faultlessly astute reasoning and a killer right punch.

In a review of Damasio’s book, Ned Block pointed to one significant area of disagreement, not with Damasio’s example, but with how the capacity  is interpreted.  It reflects not so much “self-consciousness” as “phenomenal” consciousness, related to Merleau-Ponty’s “flesh.”

But there is also a different kind, as anyone who knows what it is like to have a headache, taste chocolate or see red can attest. Self-consciousness is a sophisticated and perhaps uniquely human cognitive achievement. Phenomenal consciousness by contrast — what it is like to experience — is something we share with many animals. A person who is drunk or delirious or dreaming can be excruciatingly conscious without being wakeful, self-aware or aware of his surroundings. (Block)

For the purposes of flash reason this disagreement is beside the point.  It is important rather to mark this capacity as precisely the capacity augmented in the electrate apparatus, whose skill set is flash reason managing dromosphere information sprawl.  The funtion of measure in image metaphysics is this event of recognition (belonging to me).

2018-07-20T15:25:48+00:00 July 20th, 2018|Categories: Art, Design, Intuition, Memory, Mystory, Orientation, Theopraxesis, Tutorials, Visceral|Tags: , , |


 2) Memory Palace. Konsult externalizes and augments mental modeling, including cognitive mapping, the capability of proprioception fundamental to orientation in space and time. A feature of apparatus shift is called innervation (facilitation)–referring to the neurological changes associated with brain/mind adaptation to new technologies. In Phaedrus (the first discourse on method of literacy), Socrates warned his pupil, Phaedrus (who came to his tutorial session with a cheat-sheet up his sleeve of the text he was supposed to memorize) that writing would destroy his memory. Pedagogy in the epoch of manuscript technology involved two interdependent practices: composition of a commonplace book (florilegia), organized by topics (topoi), consisting of methods for generating various genres along with archives of relevant information and resources; memory palace, mnemonic training necessary for memorizing for oral delivery the sermon, lecture, speech for the given occasion. These practices continued up to (and beyond) the era of print, which did finally render memorization obsolete. Students designed and composed a memory palace beginning with fixing in memory an image of a familiar setting, such as their childhood home and environs. On this foundation and primary level, representing their cognitive map, as Kevin Lynch calls the internal model of place and space people form of their locale, students distribute at regular intervals in significant sites a series of strong images drawn from learned and popular culture (Biblical figures, monsters, acts of violence, grotesques), which in turn are associated using poetic devices with the words of the script. Here are versions of three levels of mystory: family home setting; entertainment mythology, community history or career discourse: GPS is the first level of mapping beginning with memory images of a real place, extending into Existential Positioning formed through experience of a popular culture and community history.

 –GPS/EPS. The comparable warning today is that GPS technologies are destroying our capacity for cognitive mapping. The rule is not to lament this loss (it is inevitable) but to accept it as a tradeoff for the augmented power of navigation (way-finding) in cyberspace. Orientation thus is a central concern of konsult, with mystory as a retrieval and updating of the obsoleted (McLuhan) practices of manuscript pedagogy (to be discussed in detail through KE). Orientation is augmented in electrate konsult just as reasoning is augmented in literate dialogue. Fredric Jameson observed that the alienation of modern experience was due to this loss of EPS that was enjoyed by premodern people. In the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian syncretism organizing Western civilization up to modernity (now being modified by further syncretism via post-colonial encounters into a global hybrid), there were four levels of meaning, in an allegorical system codified by Dante relative to the Divine Comedy. Individual believers oriented themselves (Moral position) relative to the larger allegorical pattern based on the Bible: Literal level = Old Testament, Israel coming out of captivity in Egypt; Allegorical level = life of Jesus, resurrection; Moral level (the believer’s striving against sin); Anagogical level = Theological cosmology, destiny of humanity within history, salvation. Jameson calls for a new cosmology or allegorical practice relevant to contemporary metaphysics (electracy) that restores this ability to read across the micro-macrocosm gap. Mystory does precisely this by mapping one’s position within the popcycle, and putting the pattern of repetition generated via the fourfold allegorical reading into a wide image, based on egents’s contemporary world.

2018-07-19T19:21:54+00:00 July 19th, 2018|Categories: Memory, Orientation, Popcycle|Tags: , , , , |