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Wide Image: Mythology

Structuralism: Claude Lévi-Strauss.  Following the rule of heuretics curriculum, to treat one’s own materials as belonging to the disciplinary tradition, I applied Lévi-Strauss’s insights into the formal design of mythologies to my wide image. The wide mage in fact is a personal mythology, not only metaphorically but formally. Lévi-Strauss showed that individual instances of a myth manifest a system of relationships, covering all possible variations on the aporia (disaster in our terms) addressed by the myth. The system of relationships is that of proportional analogy (A is to B as C is to D), the figure of hypotyposis encountered throughout the tradition. The practice of myth-work applied to a mystory set (including the Career register documented, along with Family, Entertainment, Community) is to determine which stories/scenes are related in this proportional ratio, along what axes? In my case I found Family and Career related on an axis of space (The Sand and Gravel Plant scene, materializing the Choral metaphor of Plato and Derrida); Entertainment and History related on an axis of time. High Noon plays out almost in real time, intercutting between the clock in the sheriff’s office and the gunmen waiting for their boss to arrive on the noon train, while the sheriff tries to form a posse to fight them. Custer took his Seventh Cavalry far ahead of the rest of the advancing army, hoping to strike a quick blow against the Indians, to get the glory for himself, to propel him into candidacy for President of the United States in the 1876 election.. The symmetries formed in the crossings of this four-fold are provocative, suggestive of a diagram capable of translation into an original hypothesis for konsult.

–Noon Star Diagram

2018-07-30T21:17:39+00:00 July 30th, 2018|Categories: Design, Diagram, Mystory, Terms, Wide Image|Tags: , |

TPE: Emblem 3, Readymade

Readymade: Found Emblems. Modernist experimental vanguard arts invented the operating practices (logic) of electracy– collage montage, cut and paste, creating meaning through appropriation and arrangements drawn from the archive of popular and commercial media circulating ubiquitously in the recording technologies invented as part of the industrial revolution. Konsult extends this formal practice (Dadaism, bachelor machine) into education and pedagogy. Egents designing wide images may learn from the likes of Marcel Duchamp how to author and design with image apps.

–Fable: What resources are available for inquiry and expression in the conditions after Nietzsche, the history of an error, after the simultaneous withdrawal of the true world and the apparent world along with  it?  The time is noon (the  shortest shadow).  What remains is fable, Nietzsche said.  What are the possibilities of fable as genre?  Duchamp improvised one approach, perhaps not even yet fully appreciated. His Readymades are fables, albeit weak (faible) fables, in that they provide the illustrations only (the emblems, impresas).  He intimated his variation on the mode with his most notorious instance, whose title “Fountain” translates “La Fontaine,” antonomasia between common and proper noun, evoking the name of the author of many fables in the common “fountain,” itself a euphemistic title for a urinal.  Ulmer’s collage of the urinal with a cover of La Fontaine’s book make the joke explicit. Duchamp’s commitment to the punning bachelor machine logic central to modernism is well known.  He acknowledged his attendance at a performance of a stage adaptation of Raymond Roussel’s 1910 novel Impressions of Africa as a turning point in his career (Roussel’s method of composition used generative puns).  It has been suggested that some of the Readymades at least are comments on dreams described in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, hence that they use rebus methods (visualizations evoking words).  Freud noted, for example, that many dreams are triggered when sleepers experience the need to urinate (the dream allows sleep to continue briefly). The text of the fabled fountain is provided by its history, being as it is the most influential (if not the “best”) art work of the twentieth century, including its status as a prank, and all the manipulations Duchamp performed to put the image of La Fontaine into circulation, recorded in Thierry De Duve’s Kant After Duchamp.  What is the moral of the readymade fable?


–Martin Kippenberger, “Rameau’s Nephew,” 1988

A few minor changes and some careful wallpapering are quite enough to lend a mundane and utilitarian item a touch of sophisticated polish or at least a bit of homely comfort. The result of these efforts arouses ambivalent feelings of embarrassment and admiration. The beautiful wallpaper heightens the esthetic ineptitude of the box to the point of unbearable bleakness and yet a conciliatory glow seems to emanate from the depths of its decoratively enhanced ineptitude. The man in the wallpaper obviously has no such ambivalent qualms; he only wants to to eat (his noodles?) in peace. Perhaps he mirrors the imperturbability that Martin Kippenberger highlights in his art as a means of reconciling us with the ubiquity of embarrassing banality.

According to literary history, Rameau’s nephew was a Bohemian without character but not without talent, who was plunged into misery upon the death of his wife and children. Diderot’s novel of the same name depicts him as a cynical parasite and a brilliant failure, in short, a paradoxical protagonist beyond good and evil.

Patrick Frey, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should not be silent,” in Parkett. 19 (1989). Observe in Kippenberger’s example the enigma created in what he called the interval–the art of Readymade composition is to create an interval between a title (functioning as motto) and an image or object; in this case between the evocative “Rameau’s Nephew,” and a packing box lined with wall paper. The instruction from the artists is not “look how beautiful,” but “everyone an artist” (literally the motto of Joseph Beuys).

2018-07-29T18:58:12+00:00 July 29th, 2018|Categories: Assignments, Device, Terms, Theopraxesis, Tutorials|Tags: , , , , , , |

Gest 5: Visceral Fallacies

Conduction (the fourth inference) is visceral. The image logic (reasoneon) we are developing as Gest suffers fallacies just as does the reasoning of abduction, deduction, and induction. Physiognomic inference operates in the type-casting of cinema, exploiting the same emblematics as racism, as in Nazi propaganda. This danger is a reminder that electrate rhetoric articulates the visceral dimension of intelligence (racists are physically repulsed by miscegenation, for example). This effect of concrete logic should not be denied or euphemized, but addressed as a resource in understanding the thymotic force operating in personal and public discourse.

The existence of polysemous meaning has been noted throughout history–the repetition of patterns, the isotopies relating the different registers of the semiosphere (Lotman). Learning how to read these patterns is part of theopraxesis, since in the condition of the General Accident (that happens everywhere simultaneously [Virillio]) judgment and decision must be capable of registering macrocosm from details. That recognition of patterns does not dictate interpretation directly, to which may be added the Casandra effect. One of the better known examples of anticipation of disaster is the novel Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan, the 1898 novel by Morgan Robertson that foretold (in retrospect) the sinking of the Titanic (1912).

There is a pattern of imagery forming currently between the Zombie Apocalypse genre, and documentary scenes of migrants and refugees fleeing Syria and the Middle East attempting to gain asylum in the EU. The most immediate isotopy is triggered by the refugees walking from Hungary to the Austrian border. The trigger word is “Hungary” (Hungry). The zombie motif is a symptom, meaning that it expresses an Unconscious attitude manifested under repression or denial (those who engage in zombie play deny insist it is all in good fun). The “horror” theme of Night of the Living Dead evokes attraction/repulsion (fundamental reality of electracy). Richard Slotkin in his three-volume study of the myth of the Frontier in America reported on how the massacre of George Armstrong Custer at the Little Bighorn in 1876 was used by conservative powers in the East to fan fear by associating the swarming Indians with the rising tide of freed slaves and immigrants.

Recent reports show that Syria was destabilized in part by the effects of climate change on the region (drought). Many reports indicate that many millions of people will be displaced by these conditions globally. The present crisis is advanced warning of what is to come on a much larger scale. What policy response is in keeping with the imperative of well-being against disaster? The Zombie scenario warns of total war. Philosophers such as Jacques Derrida urge the self-described impossibility of Hospitality. It is important to note that left theory long ago identified our horror motifs as icons and emblems of life under Capitalism. Politics in any case concerns the just allocation of finite resources. The General Accident of climate change demands a holistic response.

2018-07-25T22:26:15+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Categories: Disaster, Intuition, News, Terms, Visceral|Tags: , |

Gest 4: Found Allegory

 Event Gest.  The Gold King Mine accident (August 5, 2015), when a company working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mistakenly released three million gallons of polluted wastes from the closed mine into the Animas river, is a good example of the Writing of the Disaster. Disasters are emergent event poets, expressing messages never intended or sent. The most immediate template for manifesting the latent indication is to assume it is couched in the concrete logic articulated by Claude Lévi-Strauss. The principle is to observe the features or actual properties available in the scene and extend them into figures or tropes. Some relevant features include: 1) a mine; 2) gold; 3) supervised by the agency responsible for protecting the environment; 4) pollution; 5) endangering well-being of communities; 6) damaging one of the wonders of the natural world (Grand Canyon).

A konsultant allegory or commentary effect is created by juxtaposing the disaster with an event in a different register or discourse, which is part of Lévi-Strauss’s mythopoetics.  Mythologies in structuralist anthropology address problems in the community, not by offering direct solutions, but by translating the problem across the various discourses of the popcycle. A juxtaposition produces an allegory effect, in which the pollution disaster transfers to and expresses pollution in a different register. For example, the 2010 Citizens’s United decision by the United States Supreme Court allowed unlimited spending in elections by corporations and unions. The result has been the creation of SuperPACs (political actions committees) that most observers agree is profoundly changing the dynamics of politics in America, as may be witnessed in the current campaigns in the GOP presidential primary. The homologies accumulate into an evocative figure: The Supreme Court as EPA, the PAC  money as Gold, and the pollution of an institutional wonder of the world (American Democracy). The plug sealing the entrance to the mine was blown open when engineers, attempting to insert a drain tap, underestimated the pressure built up within the mine by the toxic mix of chemicals.The translation may be extended to the discourse of philosophy, which articulates the allegory with metaphysics. Such crossings begin usually with shared teminology, and such connections should be searched as a matter of course in reading what disaster writes.

There is an immediate terminological crossing provided by the name of the river “Animas.” Translated as the river of “souls,” the name is the plural of Carl Jung’s term for the feminine part of a man’s personality. It is the part of the psyche that is directed inwards, and is in touch with the subconscious, or unconscious. The comment effect conducts association with the semantic domain of Geschlecht (Derrida’s trace).

A major term in Heidegger’s philosophy connects etymologically with the vocabulary of mining. Heidegger made extensive use of invented or creative etymology as part of his poetic approach to metaphysics, justified by “white mythology” (Derrida)– the fact that all abstract terms are grounded in material naming (for example, all terms associated with “theory” reference the sense of sight and seeing). The term is Erörterung.

If we take Erörterung in the sense of de-finition, [Heidegger] seems almost to be quoting Leibniz, as when he says in an etymological passage: “one says place [Ort] and end [Ende], one says er-örtern, but few people know the reason for this; however, we can understand it by reference to the language of mining people, for whom the place is the same as the end [Ort so viel als Ende]. One says, for example: this miner works in front of the place [Ort], that is, where  he stops work; therefore erörtern is nothing but ending [endigen] (definire).” For Leibniz erörtern corresponds to the Latin definire; place and end are coupled as along Heidegger’s path: “Orth is a term of the ancient Germans and of Today’s miners. In front of the place [Vor dem Orth] means ‘where the tunnel ends.'” The analogy between Leibniz’s proposed etymology and Heidegger’s is surprising, not so much in view of the linguistic result, as the theoretical outcome that derives from it. The de-finition leads us to the place where the thing has reahed its fulfillment. This shows how the path of the foundation, the path of reason, has led us to the place where reason is fulfilled, where it is finished, giving rise to a different type of reason. The path and  reason have merged in the initial profundities of the thought of Being, of meditation within the Lichtung of Being. By indicating the unthought-of side of metaphysics, the de-finition also reveals the principle  of reason in its most open form. [R. Cristin, Heidegger and Leibniz: Reason and the Path].

Now we understand the deeper significance of the expression “the light at the end of the tunnel.” This proverbial association conducts a final tunnel–the chunnel, the thirty-one-mile tunnel running between France and England. Thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing the conditions of war and poverty in North Africa and the Middle East, massed at the entrance of the chunnel, attempting to cross into England, believed to offer the best opportunity for asylum and a new beginning.  Citing Heraclitus, Heidegger and many others have reminded us that the Oracle at Delphi neither concealed nor revealed, but indicated circumspectly. The disaster is an oracle, whose diviners are egents. Konsult learns the Writing of the Disaster.

2018-07-25T21:51:00+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Categories: Device, Disaster, News, Terms|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: , |

Terms: Popcycle 2

Layout (Annotation): Popcycle 2

WHIRLING SQUARES : The name “Popcycle” alludes to the process of invention/discovery, to call attention to the fact that inventions draw upon the full range of cultural institutions and experience.  I have been especially interested in collecting examples of passage through the popcycle, the vector of creativity, to show how innovation detours outside discipline. A symptom of the popcycle at work may be found in the metaphors and images innovators use in describing their process of insight: The rebus puzzles Freud found in a humor magazine; the parlor game that inspired the Turing test; The duck/rabbit optical illusion central to Wittgenstein’s “aspect;” the children’s encyclopedia analogy that Einstein took as the basis for his thought experiment (riding a beam of light). Heuretics as pedagogy assumes that learning correlates strongly with creativity. Mystory maps (choragraphy) one’s position in the institutions of the popcycle, to track interpellation (construction of identity).  Konsult appropriates and adapts these practices, developed for electrate learning, to an education conducted online.



Meanwhile, some reflection on the popcycle diagram, by way of a question, to ask about your experience with the generative power of diagrams. The mise-en-abyme layout is not formally motivated, nor is there any one structure required to register the components.  Derrida’s reference to heraldry was one inspiration, having in mind his ambivalent explorations of abyssal figures, extending not only to modernist tropes, but to the  structure of Plato’s Timaeus and the operations of chora. I referred to it in terms of the fibonacigeometry of the whirling square (in Internet Invention), to call attention to its dynamics, as vortex (Pound). The figure will be unpacked further, since I have used it to think together every four (+1) series and set that presents itself, in the spirit of the four-color theorem: four causes (ancient and modern), suits of cards, divination systems, four (or five) tastes, the cardinal tropes, cardinal and ordinal directions, and more.

When it comes to the image of wide scope (four or five fundamental images structuring imagination, and central to the history of invention), the prototype is Einstein’s compass (received from his father as a gift at age four or five): the wide image is a compass for the existential positioning system of learning, to orient egents tracking the vector of invention.
Coming across the work of Stephen Willats, I recognized the diagram in Perceptions of a Married Couple (1975), which prompted the thought that I should do a systematic search to trace the diagram conductively. “In ‘Perceptions of a Married Couple’ , the main focus is in the relationship between the form of the inter-personal network that underlies perception of self and others and the resulting generation of social attitudes. It was Willats’ first work where people were photographed within the coded world they themselves had actually constructed.”

2018-07-22T18:25:45+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Categories: Design, Mystory, Popcycle, Terms, Tutorials, Wide Image|Tags: |

Terms: Popcycle

  Popcycle. Learning is a complex adaptive system, and an aspect of what we are exploring is a certain isomorphism transversing all such systems. Heuretic pedagogy is describable within a systems perspective, beginning with the popcyle of institutions within which identity is constructed.  Mystory (electrate equivalent of historiography) maps the position of a subject within the popcycle of institutions. The premise of heuretics is that there is an equivalent in learning of the four color theorem in mapping (choragraphy maps learning).  “In mathematics, the four color theorem, or the four color map theorem, states that, given any separation of a plane into contiguous regions, producing a figure called a map, no more than four colors are required to color the regions of the map so that no two adjacent regions have the same color.” The analogy is that the four institutions of the popcycle suffice as interface relating a learner with every possible dimension of reality.  This allusive argument is unpacked in subsequent posts, seeking further understanding, in configuring konsult as the mise-en-abyme of a popcycle.

 –Mandala. A basic diagram (popcycle mandala) is used consistently throughout KE to map and correlate correspondences across the layers and levels of the popcycle-mystory-wide image as Interface for the Stack of digital civilization. The diagram is not original, but is appropriated from various fourfold system templates. The diagram below registers the CATTt of a seminar documented in Ulmer’s blog, Routine, which includes extensive exposition of CATTt generators.

2018-07-22T18:11:59+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Categories: Design, Popcycle, Terms, Tutorials|Tags: , , |

Terms: Egent

  From Agent to EgentThese posts undertake a meandering trace of inquiry.  KE reviews Ulmer’s work of the past four+ decades in order to understand it again, whole, as if given all at once, in a flash of insight. Egents undertaking konsult are interlocutors, collaborators, tutors.  The purpose is to compose and design a discourse on method, in the tradition running from Plato’s Phaedrus to contemporary French philosophy, describing and testing a mode of learning native to electracy (the digital apparatus).  The outline necessarily begins in literacy and school. The coming pedagogy is also explored elsewhere, in the context of EmerAgency (conceptual konsulting, without portfolio), addressing the curriculum reform in progress at MIT as well as Digital Humanities institutionalization.  The discussion across disciplines concerns TPE (Theopraxesis)–a shared interest in learning how to learn in digital civilization, using heuretics,  the logic of invention.

Some vocabulary must be introduced to speak precisely in the context of invention, to reduce misunderstandings to some extent, while acknowledging that misunderstanding is part of inventing. Electrate learners are egents.  “Egent” evokes “agent,” placing the function and stance of voice, alerting us to the shift of identity experience from literacy to electracy.  In literacy subjects are constructed as “self,” having individual agency, active voice in written technology, responsible party in ethics and law, and much more.  Electrate personhood involves a different experience and behavior, supplementing oral spirit (soul) and literate self. Part of our inquiry concerns the nature of this emerging subjectivation, since it is this dimension of being that must be educated.  Electracy does not improve on the existing constructions, on Church and School, soul and self.  Such is the site of the first discontinuity and occasion of misunderstanding.  If you want to know God go to church.  If you want to know Engineering go to school.  The Internet may support church and school, but those modalities are not native to it.  And if you go to the Internet, you don’t know, but you know-do-make– with respect to what?

There is no hurry in answering what is not a well-made question. Rather, we notice this dimension, this position of electrate voice, labelled “egent,” to help this noticing, to  differentiate it from agent. “Egent” as name draws also upon conduction, the fourth inference, newly supported in electracy, going beyond the inference paths managed within literacy–abduction, deduction, induction (TBC). A conductive vector: agent – E (things electrate, electronic, ePub) – egent (electrate agent) – egency (agency, EmerAgency consulting agency) – egent (Latin egeo) – they lack – desire – Desire (Lacan) – Metaphysics. It is a Latin verb, conjugation of egeo, to lack (to be needy, be in want, be poor, need, want, lack), third person plural, present indicative active.  The first usage offered as example is: Te amo, et egent vos (I love you and need you).  Theory proposes a category: Desire.  It is much discussed, but in a literate fashion. Nonetheless, appetite is to electracy what reason is to literacy. The learner is egent, plural individual (grammar is not adequate), middle voice. Not to replace soul and self, church and school, our pedagogy addresses learner as egent.

2018-07-22T17:46:10+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Categories: Capability, Terms, Theopraxesis, Visceral|Tags: , |