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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: , , |

Device: Gestus

Excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s article “On Gestic Music,” translated by John Willett. This principle helps us see how images become wide.; how the primal scene is generalized into a personal category. The wide image is the generator of a gest. To adapt the analysis to mystory, extend “class struggle” to all the ideological categories, and associate the term creative with “political.” Gest constitutes interface between microcosm and macrocosmic disaster. Pedagogy becomes heuretic when objects of study (such as Brecht or Blanchot) become relays for konsult.


  “Gest” is not supposed to mean gesticulation: it is not a matter of explana-tory or emphatic movements of the hands, but of overall attitudes. A language is gestic when it is grounded in a gest and conveys particular attitudes adopted by the speaker towards other men. The sentence “pluck the eye that offends thee out” is less effective from the gestic point of view than “if thine eve offend thee, pluck it out.” The latter starts by pre-senting the eye, and the first clause has the definite gest of making an assumption; the main clause then comes as a surprise, a piece of advice, and a relief.


The musician sees this initially as an artistic principle, and not a specially interesting one. It may perhaps help him to set his texts in a particularly lively and easily assimilated way. What is more important is the fact that this principle of looking to the gest can allow him to adopt his own political attitude while making music. For that it is essential that be should he setting a social gest.


Not all gests are social gests. The attitude of chasing away a fly is not yet a social gest, though the attitude of chasing away a dog may be one, for in-stance if it comes to represent a badly dressed man’s continual battle against watchdogs. One’s efforts to keep one’s balance on a slippery surface result in a social gest as soon as falling down would mean “losing face”; in other words, losing one’s market value. The gest of working is definitely a social gest, because all human activity directed towards the mastery of nature is a social undertaking, an undertaking between men. On the other hand a gest of pain, as long as it is kept so abstract and generalized that it does not rise above a purely animal category, is not yet a social one. But this is precisely the common tendency of art: to remove the social element in any gest. The artist is not happy till he achieves “the look of a hunted animal.” The man then becomes just Man; his gest is stripped of any social indi-viduality; it is an empty one, not representing any undertaking or operation among men by this particular man. The “look of a hunted animal” can be-come a social gest if it is shown that particular maneuvers by men can de-grade the individual man to the level of a beast; the social gest is the gest relevant to society, the gest that allows conclusions to be drawn about the social circumstances.


  Suppose that the musician composing a cantata on Lenin’s death has to reproduce his own attitude to the class struggle. As far as the gest goes, there are a number of different ways in which the report of Lenin’s death can be set. A certain dignity of presentation means little, since where death is involved this could also be held to be fitting in the case of an enemy. Anger at ‘the blind workings of providence’ cutting short the lives of the best members of the community would not be a communist gest; nor would a wise resignation to “life’s irony”; for the gest of communists mourning a communist is a very special one. The musician’s attitude to his text, the spokesman’s to his report, shows the extent of his political, and so of his human maturity. A man’s stature is shown by what he mourns and in what way he mourns it. To raise mourning to a high plane, to make it into an element of social progress: that is an artistic task.

2018-07-25T14:50:12+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Categories: Disaster, EPS, Tutorials, Wide Image|Tags: , , |


Here is Existential Positioning (EPS) in experience.  How common is it to have an intuition of mortality during childhood? It is as if each person has to realize for him/herself individually what the sages codified in Ancient philosophy as ataraxy. Ataraxy is a state of mind in which the sage, realizing that s/he has no control over external events, decides to reduce her/his own desires. This ascetic view is associated with the stance that “philosophy is learning how to die.” Paradoxically, it may seem, philosophers insist that the realization that everyone dies is liberating. Since death is inevitable, why get so excited over one’s successes and failures in life? Of course, various response to this intuition are possible, such as carpe diem (seize the day).

The following piece is Ulmer’s pastiche of Blanchot’s epiphany. Pastiche is a useful form for mystory in which one’s own location within the discourses of the popcycle is mapped. Ulmer imitated Blanchot’s style and form, but substituted his own experience event. Exercise: compose your own primal scene as a pastiche of Blanchot’s epiphanic memory.

  A primal scene? The boy is eleven, starting seventh grade. His father explains that it is time to learn the value of work. He has arranged a job for his son with a friend whose name is Cutting and who owns a sheet metal shop. Every Saturday the boy rides his bicycle across town to Cutting’s Sheet Metal. The employees are done for the week at noon on Saturday. He has to arrive by noon so the boss can lock up, leaving the boy inside (he is too young to be trusted with a key). The job is to clean the shop — sweep the floor, gather up the tools and align them neatly in their designated places on the work benches, collect the remnants and clippings of the metal sheets scattered everywhere. It takes most of the afternoon to finish the chores. The shop is a cavernous open warehouse, with rows of heavy tables, the walls lined with shelves stacked to the distant ceiling with equipment, tools, metals. It is quiet, the stillness of dust motes swirling in the beams of sunlight filtered through the few windows high up near the roof, carving vectors through deep shadow. The sunlight catches the edges of a museum of blades, a taxonomy of every snipping snap slice chop saw hack rend rip cleave nip or severing machine. Half-shaped tin objects stand in rows behind piles of hammers and modelling frames. After so many weeks and months of Saturday noons the boy begins to lose touch with his former friends and companions, who go their separate ways.

  What happens then? The light and shadow of the industrial building open all at once onto a void, a black hole and white wall of divided worlds in this little infinite town: the official world of adults (parents, teachers, coaches, ministers, scout masters) that until then had constituted reality, and the unofficial world of his peers, whose existence he had only just discovered. Two completely different systems of virtue and vice, success and failure, winning and losing, visibility and invisibility, were enforced in these realms: systems Not only different, but opposite and in conflict. What earned admiration and respect in one was inversely judged in the other. He could not have articulated the revelation so abstractly then. The unexpected aspect of this scene is the sense of abandonment, solitary isolation, that overcomes the child, a spilling out or abjection, an absolute exhaling of substance, followed soon after by the inhaled relief of knowing that it doesn’t matter, since everyone and everything dies everywhere the same death.

2018-07-22T00:42:08+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Categories: Disaster, Intuition, Memory, Mystory, Tutorials|Tags: , , , , , , |


One of the experiments underway in KE is Ulmer’s revision of his career project, to receive it as a student of his own project, to notice the pattern and projection, to be his own Gerald Holton (since that is what egents must be). An element in that project is Disaster, understood literally, but then adopted as a figure of a fundamental intuition. Konsult as pedagogy invites egents to consider this intuition. It began formally in a seminar, Spring 2009, using heuretics to develop flash reason as a deliberative rhetoric for an Internet civic sphere.  Taking up a theme central to Electronic Monuments in order to push further along the path opened there, the Theory of the CATTt was Blanchot’s Writing of the Disaster, which set the terms of the experiment, as expressed in this paraphrase: What escapes all that can be said, is what must be said. The challenge to the students was to generate a poetics of the unsayable, since this is the dimension of the disaster that is not accessible to STEM disciplines.

  The method is counterintuitive, in that egents turn away from the historical catastrophe, in order to access their peculiar power. The instructions derived from the text are to compose a figure by juxtaposing a childhood memory with a collective event (a disaster).  Blanchot calls this memory a primal scene.  It represents an early if not first experience of self-awareness of the human condition – an existential intuition.  The corresponding event for Blanchot is the Holocaust.

The figure reproduces in contemporary singular form a correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm.  It makes explicit the two dimensions treated in tragedy as Atê (personal blindness producing collective catastrophe).  The figure is composed in first person, middle voice, seeking in the documentation of the event an objective correlative for the feeling of the memory.  This feeling (affect percept) is the experiential basis of electrate intelligence, to be augmented in the digital prosthesis.   The nature and function of the figure will be developed in several posts.  Here is Blanchot’s primal scene.

(A primal scene?) You who live later, close to a heart that beats no more, suppose, suppose this:  the child – is he seven years old, or eight perhaps? – standing by the window, drawing the curtain and, through  the pane, looking.  What he sees:  the garden, the wintry trees, the wall of a house.  Though he sees, no doubt in a child’s way, his play space, he grows weary and slowly looks up toward the ordinary sky, with clouds, grey  light – pallid daylight  without depth.

What happens then: the sky, the same sky, suddenly open, absolutely black and absolutely empty, revealing (as though the pane had broken) such an absence that all has since always and forevermore been lost therein – so lost that therein is affirmed and dissolved the vertiginous knowledge that nothing is what there is, and first of all nothing beyond.  The unexpected aspect of this scene (its interminable feature) is the feeling of happiness that straightaway  submerges the child, the ravaging joy to which he can bear witness only by tears, an endless flood of tears.  He is thought to suffer a childish sorrow; attempts are made to console him.  He says nothing.  He will live henceforth in the secret.  He will weep no more. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster).

2018-07-22T00:40:29+00:00 July 21st, 2018|Categories: Disaster, Tutorials|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: , , |


4) Anecdote Form (based on Labov)

The linguist William Labov analyzed the parts of the anecdote

1) Abstract
A short (one or two sentence) summary of the story that narrators provide before reconting the story proper. It encapsulates the point of the story.

2) Orientation
Servies to identify the time, place, persons, and their activity or situation and occurs immediately before the first narrative clause. It often includes a portrait of the main character, or context for the situation.

3) Complicating Action & Resolution
These are the core of the narrative. The former begins with the first narrative clause, and the latter ends with the last such clause.

4) Evaluation
Evaluation is the means used by the narrator to indicate the point of the narrative, why it was told and what the narrator was getting at, to ward off the question “so what?”. Evaluative comments may be distributed through the entire narrative. They may be inserted as direct observations by the narrator (external), or be embedded within the story, as dialogue, descripition of gestures, intensifiers, repetitions, comparisons. Comparators may depart from the past tense, and draw upon a background beyond the immediate complicating action.

5) Resolution & Coda
These elements mark the conclusion of the complicating action. Their effect is to create a sense of completion. They may consist of just one sentence, as a tag line, or return the account to the beginning of the narrative.

The Birthday Surprise

[Abstract] Let me tell you about the day George, the hired man at the Gravel plant, surprised Walt with a birthday present.

[Orientation] There was this huge pile, a mountain, of oversize rock that came off the side of the washer. Too big for anything, unless we had a crusher, which we could not afford. They just sat there, smooth oval mottled gray stone, and piled up over the years, always with a few rock-hounds climbing over it, lookng for agates. You could get a full cubic yard, over a ton of this rock, for two dollars in those days.

[Complicating Action] One day George came back from lunch with a present for Dad, a birthday present, something he found at the drugstore. Walt opened it and there was this box and inside the box was a pet rock.

[Evaluation] The pet-rock fad was just starting. Now there was no difference between this pet rock and the rocks in the ovesize pile, except that the pet one had a face painted on it, a frown, with knitted eyebrows, like it was angry, and it was packaged in this box like a pet carrier.

[Action continued] George says, “guess what this thing cost?” and Dad said he couldn’t guess. “Two bits?” he says. “Two dollars!” says George.

[Evaluation: intensifier] Two dollars each he says.

[Action…] Dad stared at that rock, hefted it in his hand, and this look came over his face.

[Evaluation] I thought he was going to throw it.

[Resolution] And that look was a good imitation of the frown on his new pet.

[Coda] He turned to me and says, “Go put this on the oversize pile.”

(275 words)

2018-07-20T14:48:49+00:00 July 20th, 2018|Categories: Memory, Mystory, Narrative, Tutorials|Tags: , , , |