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Theopraxesis: Allegory

Allegory of Konsult. Plato in Republic condensed his metaphysics of education in the allegory of the cave,  We take this famous story as a relay, prompting us to propose an allegory that dramatizes the equivalent experience of education in electracy. We will explore several possibilities throughout KE, beginning with the film version of The Wizard of Oz, based on the novels by L. Frank Baum. We recall the story of the cave was a round trip: the prisoner released from chains, turned around (converted), led out of the fire-lit cave into the sunlight outside, expected then to return to bring the news of this other world to the cave. This theme of Nostos (round trip, ida y vuelta) structures Homer’s Odyssey, of which Oz is said to be a remake update. A key point in our allegory relative to this tradition is the moment of consulting. Odysseus is prevented from returning home to Ithaca, held in thrall by Circe. Circe relents and tells Odysseus that to learn how to return home he must consult with Tiresias in Hades.

–Apparatus. The allegory helps clarify the difference in metaphysics separating the apparati. Each has a fundamental understanding of reality, and each focuses all its resources to manage the system of cause and effect according to the respective realities. In the oral world of Odysseus, gods represent cause, and humans manage this energy by means of ritual, sacrifice, worship. Odysseus’s behavior gave offense to the gods, thus activating the right-wrong metaphysics of orality. To gain access to Hades, Odysseus performs a ritual sacrifice of oxen, collecting the blood, which attracts the spirits of the dead, including Tiresias, who arrives and counsels the hero about his return home. Socrates as gadfly in the streets of Athens performs a literate consultancy, using dialectical logic questioning interlocutors, according to the true-false reality of literate metaphysics. The Wizard of Oz suggests a third manner of consulting, relative to the reality structuring electracy (Fantasy).

–Scenario. Assuming familiarity with the synopsis of the narrative, we may outline the allegorical import. In general the narrative is instructive of mystorical design in that there is an isotopic rhyming between Dorothy’s world in Kansas and the fantasy world of Oz. The encounter of these two orders is dramatized when Dorothy’s house lands in Oz, crushing the Wicked Witch of the East, whose red shoes Dorothy inherits. The tornado that interrupted a family crisis in Kansas represents Disaster. Dorothy is egent, or soul (psyche) in the allegory, and her journey to find the Wizard to get his advice dramatizes the egent’s actualization of her capabilities in theopraxesis. The three capabilities (virtues, faculties) are represented by the three companions Dorothy meets along the way, the Yellow Brick Road. The three figures embody the significance of the lack articulated in the term “egent” (they lack). The three companions represent the three virtues in a state of privation, Steresis, potentiality not realized (im/potence). Their impotence is a projection of Dorothy’s virtuality, her lack, the condition of any ephebe on the way. The three figures manifest the tripartite system of virtues, but Baum euphemized the assignments somewhat, blending heart and gut. In our appropriation of the story for konsult allegory the alignment with the tradition is clear: Scarecrow wants a brain (Knowledge, Theoria, Head, Rulers); Lion wants courage, so heart (Will, Praxis, Guardians); Tin Woodman’s problem is not his “heart” but his “axe” (enchanted by the witch), which prevents him from loving (having sex). He represents Viscera (Desire, Poiesis, Workers).

–Wizard. The scene of consultation with the Wizard, when Psyche and her three Capabilities make their requests, shows the full arrangement of apparati and their relationship at the collective level. In this expanded scene, the microcosm/macrocosm individual/collective isotopy is made explicit: Tin Man is Paleo (Family, sexual fertility), Lion is Oral (Church), Scarecrow is Literate (School), Wizard is Electrate (Entertainment). Much theory could be referenced here to support this configuration. To mention Lacan, for example, the Wizard is the Big Other, the one supposed to know, whose hold over us it is the purpose of therapy to dispel. The immediate value of the Oz allegory is to highlight this passage in education, the adventure of learning (dealing with the trials testing Psyche/Dorothy) as actualization of the three capabilities. Equally important is the fact that the Wizard is augmented capability, imagination mise-en-macbine, with the imperative of the allegory being for us to understand how Oz makes able, activates, the three virtues so Dorothy may return home (overcome disaster).

2018-08-01T16:03:46+00:00 August 1st, 2018|Categories: Capability, Overview, Popcycle, Theopraxesis, Visceral|Tags: |

TPE: Emblem 2

ICONOLOGY. Learning to capture the identifying gesture and attributes of the wide image in an emblem has as relay an ancient tradition.

This pictorial tradition can be traced back to an engraving by Marc Antonio. It shows an almost naked woman of Giorgionesque type watering a flower. This enigmatic motif can be explained with the help of the literary tradition. It is a symbol of “Grammatica.” As the plant grows through watering so the young mind is formed through the study of grammar. In late antiquity grammar became the foundation of the liberal arts.
Rudolf Wittkower, Allegory and the Migration of Symbols, Thames and Hudson, 1977.Wittkower inventories some of the related features associated with Grammar in her allegorical representations: “an old woman carrying a vessel which is supposed to contain medicine for correcting the children’s pronunciation and a knife for sharpening their defective tongues. She also holds a file, with which the grammatical mistakes can be removed.” Ultimately, the watering of the flower became the chief motif of the allegory.


–Artist Appropriations.With the renewed interest in allegory associated with postmodernism, contemporary artists have brought photography to bear on the tradition of iconology, as in this work.

“The Tears of Concupiscence”
from the series Imprese by Olivier Richon
Other Than Itself: Writing Photography Eds. John X. Berger and Olivier Richon, Cornerhouse Publications, 1989.

How would you picture “ardent, sensuous longing” (lust)?

–From the Archive:

Here is one example of an emblem, taken from Geffrey Whitney’s Choice of Emblemes, published in Leiden by Christopher Plantin in 1586. It is the first full-fledged English emblem book in the continental style, and uses woodblocks from a number of other emblem books, the most important of which is Alciato’s Emblematum liber. (

Dissidia inter aequales, pessima
(Disputes among equals are the worst)

The Swallowe swifte, dothe beare unto her neste
The Grasshopper, that did no daunger feare,
For that shee thought, the lov'de togeather beste,
Bycause they both, observ'de one time of yeare,
  And bothe, did joye theire jarring notes to sounde,
  And neare the house they bothe, theire dwellings founde.

Yet time, and tune, and neighbourhood forgotte,
For perfect frende, a tyrant shee became,
Which taxeth those, whome God dothe heare allotte
Like gifts of grace, to winne a lasting name,
  Yet Envie soe theire vertues doth deface,
  It makes them foes, to them theie should imbrace.
2018-07-29T19:01:34+00:00 July 29th, 2018|Categories: Art, Tutorials, Wide Image|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: , , , |


 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: , , , , |