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ME(me)morial: Kaepernick


MEmorial is a genre associated with konsult, whose purpose is to supplement conventional monumentality with a form native to the distributed collective identity of electracy. MEmorial commemorations support political and ethical formation of a fifth estate emerging within social media and entertainment corporate institutions. The event scenario developing around Colin Kaepernick manifests all the features of the genre, including making explicit the meme in MEmorial. This list inventories the unfolding of this case, which may be generalized as exemplary, replicable in principle, adopted as a relay for individual use.

  • The Event for konsult is not located in any one incident, but emerges chorally in the coherence of the unfolding series. The motivating context is the existence of a disaster: the immediate symptom is the recurring incidents in which police kill Black citizens during interventions in traffic stops or other routine activities. The larger disaster opens out onto the social aporias of race, poverty, and the like.
  • The symptom incidents provoked activists to form #Blacklivesmatter, a social movement facilitated by canny exploitation of social media as well as more conventional protest actions.
  • A feeling of Injustice is the Call that initiates konsult as such. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, an African-American, experiencing a profound feeling of injustice, created and performed a MEmorial (in our terms). MEmorials commemorate an Abject Sacrifice, that is, a sacrifice on behalf of a community value that is not acknowledged as such, not recognized as a loss justified within the culture by some value held to be worth the sacrifice. The abject sacrifice is promoted by the MEmorial from the liminal condition of one-at-a-time accidents, to a collective cumulative totality, representing the cost of preserving the value. The Vietnam Wall acknowledges that the 58,000+ lives lost in that war constitute a worthy sacrifice for the interests of the nation. MEmorials attach or associate themselves as peripherals to these recognized monuments in order to communicate their function, recognizing the abject (denigrated) loss as itself the collective cost of a value. The point is not to accept this loss, but to make explicit what is at stake in the on-going disaster.
  • Kaepernick created a peripheral performance by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of a game, violating the convention which is to stand to show respect for the Flag. The Anthem Ritual is the recognized monument. The action constitutes one bit of information (stand/kneel). From the point of view of konsult this was a brilliant design. The effect was enormous, due to the central place of professional sports in general, and the NFL in particular,  in the public sphere of electrate society. Other athletes followed Kaepernick’s example, and the issue drew involvement of politicians, including President Trump who condemned the protests. Kaepernick became a free agent, and despite his proven abilities, was not hired by any team (he was blackballed, a term to which he gives new meaning).
  • Enter Nike corporation with a major investment in the institution of sports at all levels, as part of its brand identity, to outfit teams with shoes and apparel, and through this display sell also to the general public. Nike signed Kaepernick to a lucrative contract to represent their Just Do It advertising campaign. The ad design evokes the traditional cultural value that considers athletic competition to be an important factor in the formation of character translatable to all areas of life (“The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton,” to cite a saying from English history). Part of what makes this event paradigmatic is that it involves precisely this corporate entertainment register of the apparatus (the corporation is to electracy what school is to literacy or church to orality).
  • The ad campaign sparked protests as well as support. Images circulated on social media of people offended by the flag protest burning or defacing Nike products.
  • The emblem design of the ad lent itself to replication, generating memes, the image-text genre central to the fifth estate public sphere. The richness of the event as a whole is measured by the multiplicity of social-political-economic-ethical themes packed into this scenario.
2018-09-16T15:37:33+00:00 September 16th, 2018|Categories: Disaster, Meme, MEmorial, News|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: , , , |