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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: |

Theopraxesis: Emblem

Catechism: Wide Image. The catechism of modernism (drawing on the Western Tradition) is articulated in Kant’s philosophy and Gauguin’s painting. The answers to the questions are specific to each person, and are generated during the composition of the wide image. Several posts are required to unfold this poetics, by means of which egents learn to actualize in their own projects the intelligence potential (latent) in the cultural archive. This archive in its global version functions for electracy the way Avatar functioned for orality: source of absolute knowledge (the project of Avatar Emergency was learning to receive this communication of Avatar). One of the first things that happens in transition from one apparatus to another is the mise en machine of the previous apparatus. As McLuhan observed, the content of the new medium is the old medium (literacy put oral mythologies into writing; electracy digitized the libraries). The remainder of the apparatus epoch is devoted to invention and diffusion throughout society of the new metaphysics (operating practices).

–Emblem. The translation of mystory into wide image is mediated by emblematics. The emblem (having the same structure as a generic advertisement), considering its historical relationship with allegory, expresses in condensed form the image of wide scope ( sinthome, Lacan) that emerges in the making of a mystory (it embodies the pattern of signifiers that repeat when the makers situation is mapped across the popcycle). Studio and Textshop exercises explore the form, including its history from its introduction in the Renaissance through to contemporary advertising. An advantage of the form is just this combination of archival presence and pop familiarity. Ulmer designed this emblem based on his mystory: Motto is “pithy,” aphoristic, allusive, to produce an evocative connotation when combined with the picture. The epigraph is informational, clarifying what is suggested in the motto-picture juxtaposition.

–Advertisement.The Marlboro Cowboy
In 1954 Philip Morris Corporation sought an advertising agency to design a campaign that would allow men to smoke a filtered cigarette in public without embarrassment. Leo Burnett (The Burnett Agency) did some research to determine the most “virile” male image in American culture, which not surprisingly turned out to be the “cowboy.”

2018-07-29T18:09:54+00:00 July 29th, 2018|Categories: Design, Device, Overview, Theopraxesis, Tutorials, Wide Image|Tags: , , |

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: , |


The Judgment of Paris, (1636) Peter Paul Rubens,

4) THEOPRAXESIS. What resources are available to egents in their practice of konsult? Egents design their Wide Image in the context of the curriculum, as a reminder of the resources of the archive of Arts and Letters traditions available for retrieval or reoccupation in the project of invention. In addition to heuretics and mystory as a genre for composing Wide Image against Disaster, egents are introduced to their own capabilities as these have been dramatized, augmented, and explored in the tradition. The entire archive is reconfigured according to this pattern, which is consistent from Plato’s Republic to Alan Kay’s Graphical User Interface (GUI). These capabilities (powers, virtues) constitute the intellectual virtues in Aristotle’s account: Theoria, Praxis, Poiesis. The portmanteau Theopraxesis in the subtitle of the book affiliated with KE refers to these powers, with the new term signaling the need for integration of capabilities in the dromosphere.

–Capabilities. The argument of Konsult: Theopraxesis is that Justice updated for electracy makes capability a human right (referencing Amartya Sen). The heuretic curriculum samples the status and relationships among the capabilities (virtues) historically. Rubens’s Judgment of Paris visualizes in this legend the quarrel or conflict inherent in the relationship among these powers, both within an individual person and in their institutional extensions. The quarrel is among three goddesses, associated with the respective powers, as to which one is more desirable: Athena (Wisdom and War); Hera, wife of Zeus (Political Power, worldly action); Aphrodite (Beauty, sexual fertility). The mortal Paris is asked to judge by awarding a Golden Apple to the One. Each Power tries to bribe him, and Aphrodite wins by promising Helen as prize, the most attractive mortal woman. Paris took the bribe and the rest is Epic. Hubert Damisch, in his book on this topos, notes the challenge of visualizing the three powers. In this medium, Aphrodite has the advantage.

–Modality. The mystorical imperative always is to recognize these histories as belonging to me: what is my experience of these three virtues personally and institutionally? In Plato’s Republic (Contrast in the CATTt generating Konsult as genre), the three powers are articulated in a microcosm/macrocosm structure, imagining social institutions as collective realizations of human virtues: Head (Rulers); Heart (Guardians); Viscera (Workers). The pattern continues in modernity in Kant’s Critiques of Pure Reason, Practical Reason, and the Judgment of Taste. Hannah Arendt attempted to update Kant’s Critiques for a post-Holocaust civilization, leaving the project unfinished at her death. This history is relevant to understanding the challenge of electrate learning: to integrate in one performance the powers of Thinking-Doing-Making; Knowing-Willing-Imagining. Alan Kay designed GUI with this history in mind, providing three inputs interfacing human capability with the digiverse: Keyboard, Mouse, Image.

–Pedagogy. The practical import of this reconfiguration is as guidance for transition from literacy to electracy. The quarrel among the virtues underlies the dispute among the traditions of Philosophy, History, and Literature as to which one is closest to Truth: Philosophy declares what is; History documents what happens; Literature imagines possibilities. The shift in orientation in electracy is away from the information of the archive to the capabilities of the egent: the goal is not objective coverage of history, but egent empowerment.

2018-07-17T00:17:46+00:00 July 13th, 2018|Categories: Capability, Overview, Theopraxesis, Wide Image|Tags: , , , |



3) Heuretics. In the context of differend (Lyotard) among apparatus metaphysics, electrate learning turns to the human capability of creativity. Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) differentiated between revolutionary and normal science. KE takes up the challenge of designing a pedagogy for revolutionary science (recognizing that “science” is a catachresis in this context). An assumption of heuretics is that creativity is a procedure with its own methodology and modes of evaluation, such that it may be taught with the same degree of confidence assumed in teaching methods of criticism and critique.

–Image of Wide Scope. Gerald Holton, historian of science, identified an image of wide scope (wide image) organizing the imaginations of the most productive creators in modernity (from Kepler to Einstein). Holton identified the wide image as a pattern emerging within the oeuvre of innovators. The pattern was constituted by four or five images, anchored in a scene of childhood memory. The prototype is the career of Albert Einstein, and the memory he recorded in his autobiographical statements, of the gift of a compass from his father when Albert was four or five years old. It is possible posthumously or at the end of a career for an historian to note the uncanny symmetry between the compass and the physics of electromagnetism. The wide image is just that: a vehicle and a tenor. The vehicle for Einstein is the compass; the tenor is “invariance.” Commentators have suggested that the theory of relativity might be better dubbed a theory of invariance. Vehicle: the compass needle pointing north; Tenor: the speed of light. Subsequently, analysts have identified wide images in the careers of hundreds of figures across all fields of culture (see John Briggs, Fire in the Crucible).

–Mystory. The genre of mystory was created to enable students to discover and design their wide image at the beginning of their productive lives, rather than waiting for a biographer to extract the pattern posthumously. Nor is revolutionary science a measure of the success of this genre, in that it supports learning as equipment for living (Kenneth Burke) as well as for productivity. Mystory reoccupies (retrieves)  the pedagogical tradition of Memory Palace and topical logics from manuscript culture, as a means to connect a primal scene of childhood experience with a disciplinary aporia. Mystory documents the egents’s EPS (Existential Positioning System) in the popcycle of their culture. It is a documentation of interpellation, registering the position with which one identifies in each of the primary institutions of an apparatus: family; mythology (entertainment); history (community); career (profession). These four levels constitute a mandala of civilization, and will be tracked throughout KE. Dante is famous for codifying this typology structuring Medieval metaphysics. The immediate point is that egents’ wide image is formed before they enter university and declare a major (career). Mystory as genre brings this inchoate intuitive mental model into material configuration, providing the point of departure for the design of an image of wide scope.

2018-07-13T00:21:42+00:00 July 12th, 2018|Categories: EPS, Overview, Popcycle, Uncategorized, Wide Image|Tags: , , , |



2) Anthropocene. Electracy dates from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, in the later eighteenth century, which is to say that one of its identifying features is the Anthropocene (the epoch in which human activity began to modify the world environment). James Watt’s steam engine (1775), The French Revolution (1789), and Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790), are three threshold events introducing electracy. Literacy began in Classical Greece with the Presocratics experience of Nature (Phusis) as Being in itself, arising or upsurging out of itself, not caused by gods (hence shifting metaphysics out of orality into literacy, out of religion into science as accounting for reality). Electracy is responsible for inventing a new metaphysics through encountering Second Phusis (artefactual reality). In orality the cause of the destruction of the world was imagined to be God. Literacy gave humanity itself the power to destroy the world. A rationale for seeking an alternative to spiritual and materialist consulting is that both established apparati threaten world destruction. Electracy offers a third way, an alternative (without guarantee, since it is possible the propensity of any apparatus is toward catastrophe). Climate Change stands in for all hyperobjects created by and exceeding control of civilization, with posthuman consequences (in which human survival and thriving are not considered).

General Accident. The apparatus of science (including literate schooling, individual selfhood and the democratic nation state) has reached a condition of failure, in the sense of heart failure in which the organs are consumed by their own energy. Paul Virilio testified through his Museum of Accidents (and many books) to the impasse created by digital speed, light-speed technologies creating real-time conditions collapsing all dimensions into Now, overwhelming the practices of critical thinking. Hopes for engineering solutions through technological progress are delusions, Virilio observes, since every invention includes its own accident: the invention of the car includes the car wreck. Virilio warns of the General Accident, that happens everywhere simultaneously, with disasters such as Chernobyl nuclear meltdown representing harbingers. Perhaps the Internet Accident has happened already, with the pollution of the public sphere by fake news, contributing significantly to the erosion of democracy everywhere it exists. Virilio most fears a Knowledge Accident, related to human intervention in the genome, genetic inventions.

Apparatus Incommensurability. A further factor motivating invention of alternative learning is the opposition to science (evidence-based thinking), the fundamental incommensurability that exists among apparati. History could be read as a violent quarrel between religion and science (from the execution of Socrates for corrupting the youth to the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai). The corporation is the core institution formation of electracy, which has its own reasons for opposing science. It is a sign of the times that the administration of Donald Trump is enacting policies hostile to science, including climate change “skepticism” as rationale for extensive deregulation of commercial activity. The motivation for much of this science denial appears to be the adverse impact on profits and business models that follows from acknowledging human responsibility for climate change.

2018-07-12T21:27:44+00:00 July 12th, 2018|Categories: Overview|Tags: , |



Introduction to Projects

KE is for anyone interested in adapting Humanities education, and pedagogy in general, to digital media. It is not the only way such an adaptation may be accomplished, but it may be in the mix for those taking into account apparatus theory (electracy names the digital apparatus). The curriculum and pedagogy are organized around the invention, design, and testing of konsult, the genre for learning in an electrate way. The rationale and related practices are inventoried in the following outline, to be unpacked and tested throughout KE.

1) Adopt a Disaster. The invention begins when egents (student konsultants) choose an ongoing disaster as the setting for their konsultation. The choice is based on punctum–a sting or trigger of emotion, a feeling of in/justice with respect to current events.

 –Felt: Electracy constitutes a metaphysics of Desire, underwriting and augmenting across institutions the human capacity of attraction/repulsion (pleasure/pain). These passions include Thymos as well as Eros. A feeling of in/justice is addressed not as a “virtue” (a concept or ideal) but within the full range of passions, treated within literacy as até dramatized in tragedy (and comedy), probing the insight relating individual foolishness to collective calamity. Konsult seeks to do for the visceral order of passion what dialogue did for the intellectual order of reason.

Attitude: Electracy does not compete with literacy as science or oraltiy as religion, but complements them. To the extent that prayer and engineering are sufficient for managing catastrophe, there is no need for konsult. Konsult intervenes when business as usual no longer suffices, disasters persist and increase. Konsult adopts its own attitude to disaster: egents “consult” (seek advice from, attempt to learn from) the disaster. They attempt to transate for themselves and the community the writing of the disaster (Blanchot).

2018-07-12T17:20:02+00:00 July 12th, 2018|Categories: Overview|Tags: , , , , |