Friday, November 20, 2015

saturated self / multiphrenia / "social ghosts" / the inner choir

“With the development of radio and film, one’s opinions, emotions, facial expressions, mannerisms, styles of relating, and the like were no longer confined to the immediate audience, but were multiplied manifold.....  Television has generated an exponential increase in self-multiplication. This is true not only in terms of the increased size of television audiences and the number of hours to which they are exposed to social facsimiles, but in the extent to which self-multiplication transcends time – that is, in which one’s identity is sustained in the culture’s history. Because television channels are plentiful, popular shows are typically rebroadcast in succeeding years.The patient viewer can still resonate with Groucho Marx on You Ben Your Life or Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows on The Honeymooners..... 

“People can choose the actors they wish to identify with or the stories that will bring fantasies to life. Increasingly, this also means that in terms of producing a sense of social connection, any given actor may transcend his or her own death; viewers can continue their private relationships with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean long after the physical demise of the performers. With television, a personage may continue a robust life over eternity.”

“We appear to each other as single identities, unified, of whole cloth. However, with social saturation, each of us comes to harbor a vast population of hidden potentials – to be a blues singer, a gypsy, an aristocrat, a criminal. All the selves lie latent, and under the right conditions may spring to life.... The populating of the self not only opens relationships to new ranges of possibility, but one’s subjective life also becomes more fully laminated. Each of the selves we acquire from others can contribute to inner dialogues, private discussions we have with ourselves about all manner of persons, events, and issues. These internal voices, these vestiges of relationships both real and imagined, have been given different names: invisible guests by Mary Watkins, social imagery by Eric Klinger, and social ghosts by Mary Gergen, who found in her research that virtually all the young people she sampled could discuss many such experiences with ease. 

 “This syndrome may be termed multiphrenia, generally referring to the splitting of the individual into a multiplicity of self-investments. This condition is partly an outcome of self-population, but partly a result of the populated self’s efforts to exploit the potentials of the technologies of relationship. In this sense, there is a cyclical spiraling toward a state of multiphrenia..... It would be a mistake to view this multiphrenic condition as a form of illness, for it is often suffused with a sense of expansiveness and adventure. Someday there may indeed be nothing to distinguish multiphrenia from simply “normal living.”

"A multiphrenic condition emerges in which one swims in ever-shifting, concatenating, and contentious currents of being. One bears the burden of an increasing array of oughts, of self-doubts and irrationalities. The possibility for committed romanticism or strong and single-minded modernism recedes, and the way is opened for the postmodern being"

"Increasingly we emerge as the possessors of many voices. Each self contains a multiplicity of others, singling different melodies, different verses, and with different rhythms. Nor do these many voices necessarily harmonize. At times they join together, at time they fail to listen one to another, and at times they creates a jarring discord.”

"Concepts of truth, honesty, and authenticity now turn strange. Not only do attempts at characterizing the actual person – the workings of the mind, the human spirit, or the biological individual – become suspect. The very concept of an internal core – an intentional, rational agent – also begins to fray.”

"With the demise of rational coherence, a longstanding demarcation of self-identity also recedes from view. For it is the sense of continuity – that I know I am I by virtue of my sense of continuous sameness – that for centuries has served as the chief criterion by which a self is to be identified"

“Under modernism, the individual seemed an isolated, machinelike entity – reliable, predictable, and authentic, propelled by a core mechanism embedded not too deeply within the interior.”

"[Saturation/postmodernism]sets the stage for ersatz being, that is, the capacity for entering immediately into identities or relationships of widely varying forms...  if identities are essentially forms of social construction, then one can be anything at any time so long as the roles, costumes, and settings have been commodiously arranged.... The possibility of ersatz being has also encouraged the development of industries for identity production.... the deterioration of the traditional community is hastened by the emergence of symbolic community. Symbolic communities are linked primarily by the capacity of their members for symbolic exchange – of words, images, information – mostly through electronic means. Physical immediacy and geographic closeness disappear as criteria of community"

all quotes from Kenneth J. Gergen's The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (1991 - before the internet!) 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

new utopians and "solarpunk"

The New Utopians - Building a better future through science fiction.

Jeet Heer  with the lowdown on s.f. writers bucking the dominance of dystopian visions with novels that "keep alive the idea that humanity can create a better future for itself" and promote a can-do, science-will-fix-it attitude - - including Kim Stanley Robinson and the genre "solarpunk" - writers heeding the call of conscience to "imagine positive futures where plausible technologies give us practical green solutions"


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

modernist nostalgia

a report by Rea McNamara at Artfcity on what looks to have been a very interesting lecture by Claire Bishop on "reformatted modernism" or what RMcN calls "citational modernism""

"Bishop believes we’re stuck in a rut she describes as ’“reformatted modernism”. The self-invented term refers to a historicist strain of contemporary art, where our downloadable obsessions with Eames chairs, van der Rohe skyscrapers and archival forms of display (think slide projectors) have rendered Modernist references in art that are all image and no function. 
"Bishop easily supported this core idea. Take Vladimir Tatlin’s “Monument to the Third International” (1919), a frequently-referenced work Bishop sees as a “telling lens of the changing relationship to utopian Modernism in contemporary art.” The Constructivist twin helix tower was a post-Bolshevik Revolution utopian design aspiring to unseat the Eiffel Tower as the symbol of modernity. Tatlin’s Tower, however, was never built—Tatlin was more an artist than architect, and the Tower never went beyond the design stages.
"Nonetheless, the monument has been quoted in dozens of art works. While Dan Flavin endeavored to memorialize Tatlin’s Tower in his “Monuments to Tatlin” series (1964-1982) as a postmodern joke—he used fluorescent tubing to realize a monumental sculpture of traditional grandeur—later reformatted Modernism quotations have been tinged with nostalgia. According to Bishop, works like Ai Weiwei’s “Working Progress (Foundation of Light)” (2007) or Michel Aubrey’s “Monument to the Third International Set to Music” (2008) are faithful, even awestruck reconstructions of an avant-garde memory. “The impossible beauty of revolutionary design”, in Bishop’s view, has become a reverential symbol of “failed artistic utopianism.”"
McNamara has some complaints about the idea or at least its approach, however:
"We all get that we’re in this ghoulish cannibalistic cycle where artists are reformatting modernism — complete with saccharine nostalgia sans original progressive agenda — to the extent that they’re annihilating the past in an institutionally tasteful and collector-approved way.
While Bishop made some effort to point out works that were of this breed, she had a hard time pointing out works that offered a counter-perspective. She half-heartedly remarked during the question period that she found afrofuturism hopeful in how its looks to the future, recasting origin myths in a new way. Tellingly, she offered no names of artists creating afrofuturist works."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Join The Unprofessionals

Got a surprising amount of time for Noel Gallagher -  as a rentagob / motormouth (and you can't deny "Champagne Supernova" or "Live Forever", a few others). (He also looks a bit like my Uncle Geoff which makes me warm to him). 

But I did have to chuckle, and not in sympathy, at this riff from the Esquire interview, in which he talks about knowing all along that Oasis would be The Last of a Dying Breed, and rants at the pusillanimous professionalism of modern rock : 

"They don’t want someone like Ian Brown in their offices, or Liam, or Bobby Gillespie, or Richard Ashcroft, or me. They want professionals. That’s what it’s become now.
"I guaran-fucking-tee you this: The Stone Roses never mentioned “career” in any band meetings. Ever. Or Primal Scream, or The Verve. Oasis certainly never mentioned it. I bet it’s mentioned a lot by managers and agents now: “Don’t do that, it’s bad for your career.” “What? Fuck off!” Like when we went to the Brits and we’d won all those awards and we didn’t play. The head of the Brits said, “This’ll ruin your career.” Fucking, wow. I say to the guy, “Do you know how high I am? You know who’s going to ruin my career? Me, not you. Bell-end. More Champagne. Fuck off.
"Ten years ago, I said we’d be the last. I just felt it. I felt that story, the poor boys done good, which was retold from Elvis through The Beatles – we won’t mention The Stones because they’re posh kids – Sex Pistols, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, I felt at the time we were the end. And I’ve been proved right. And I don’t like that. I mean I love being proved right but not in that case."

As if Oasis et al weren't following a bleeding script written for them a couple of decades before  (and in some cases following it consciously, and wanting you to know that: hence that old ad "Primal Scream - know what I mean" featuring Keith Moon)

Noel gets near to grasping this a few paras later in in the interview when he says that rock'n'roll is about freedom and honesty - saying "you have a duty" to be those things. Exactly: that's the job description of ye olde rocke & rolle.  That's the designated role: being irresponsible, random, impulsive. That's what you're enlisting in, when you signed up for rock'n'roll. It was well established modus misbehaviourus by the early-mid Seventies; a hoary, encrusted tradition by the time of Sunset Strip metal and G'n'R; and God knows what it was by the time Oasis lurched into view. (By the time of Kasabian and the Libertines it was what Phil Knight, via Spengler, calls pattern-work - ritual reiteration of something whose original point is lost to immemorial antiquity).  Whatever edge that sort of not caring about anything / living in the moment / unbridled rapacity / wrecked recklessness / radical selfishness  had at a certain historical juncture has long, long gone. Probably it ceased to mean anything by 1974. (That was why Eno, for instance, regarded The Rolling Stones as the absolute opposite of what he was about).

Rather than being proud about being the Last of a Dying Breed, wouldn't you rather be the first of a new breed? 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

retroquotes # 9876543210

retro-quotes: a series of germane remarks, by others, plucked from all over the place, and from all over the time 

"It's a case of people grabbing hold of old records which they  think are esoteric and saying 'Jeez, I can rip this off because nobody's used it yet.' It's quite a disillusioning thing. The kids don't know. They can enjoy it, whether it's an original idea or not. It doesn't matter to them. I just think it's rather lazy of artists, though, to take the easy way out."

                                               - Annette Peacock, NME July 31st 1982.