Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tropic Farming

We mustn't believe we are living the realization of some evil utopia -- we are living the realization of utopia, period. That is to say, its collapse into the real (Baudrillard, Fatal Strategies).

Instructions for the tale of our CATTt come from Rob Kovitz, Pig City Model Farm.  Kovitz exemplifies appropriation, collage composition to produce a trope.  The elements collected in the composition include documentation (text and image) of the following domains:  1) Model farming in general, and pig farming in Canada in particular.  The documents express scientific best practices for humane and efficient production of meat for market; 2) Utopian theory in general and Charles Fourier in particular:  principles for improving and perfecting human social and cultural life through regulation of all conduct; 3) Citations from a library of literature, serving as a commentary on the urge or drive for perfection and its disappointment; 4) Some autobiographical statements, alluding to employment in a meat-packing plant; 5) Citations and references to vanguard arts practices, Dali's Paranoid-Critical Activity, and Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass.

Demonstrating what Deleuze called the logic of sense, Kovitz's brings two semantic domains together, two chains of signs sharing one property:  the shape of a particular architectural design used in farm buildings (the original disciplinary context for the work is architecture).  Placed roughly at  the center of  the composition, the famous image of the train entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau triggers the turn, producing the metaleptic leap back, reconfiguring the previous documentation on model farming as commentary on national socialist ideology of perfecting the race.  Preparing pigs for market transfers to concentration camps, with the aura of butchering meat evoking human genocide.

Kovitz's structure is that of a basic figure:  pig farming is the vehicle; utopian socialism is the tenor.  The instruction is to treat documents of our accident event as the vehicle, as a trope, to exploit its aura for commentary on some tenor.  There are several candidates for tenor in our scenes, but whichever one we choose, the instruction is to enter it as documentation, juxtaposed and intercut (montage editing) with the vehicle.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Be Still

Further instructions from 'Pataphysics (Bok):  use a Surrationalist strategy, to compose from the object position.  The relay OULIPO suggests ours is an experiment in potential consulting.  Pine tar is produced by means of distillation.  It is distilled. The Superfund is still here.

still 1 |stil|
not moving or making a sound : the still body of the young man.
• (of air or water) undisturbed by wind, sound, or current; calm and tranquil : her voice carried on the still air | a still autumn day.
• (of a drink such as wine) not effervescent; compare with sparkle .
1 deep silence and calm; stillness : the still of the night.
2 an ordinary static photograph as opposed to a motion picture, esp. a single shot from a movie.
1 without moving : the sheriff commanded him to stand still and drop the gun.
2 up to and including the present or the time mentioned; even now (or then) as formerly : he still lives with his mother | it was still raining.
• referring to something that will or may happen in the future : we could still win.
3 nevertheless; all the same : I'm afraid he's crazy. Still, he's harmless.
4 even (used with comparatives for emphasis) : write, or better still, type, captions for the pictures | Hank, already sweltering, began to sweat still more profusely.
make or become still; quieten : [ trans. ] she raised her hand, stilling Erica's protests | [ intrans. ] the din in the hall stilled.
still and all informal nevertheless; even so.
still small voice the voice of one's conscience (with reference to 1 Kings 19:12).
still waters run deep proverb a quiet or placid manner may conceal a more passionate nature.
stillness noun
ORIGIN Old English stille (adjective and adverb), stillan (verb), from a base meaning ‘be fixed, stand.’
still 2
an apparatus for distilling alcoholic drinks such as whiskey.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from the rare verb still [extract by distillation,] shortening of distill .

1 the parrot lay still motionless, unmoving, not moving a muscle, stock-still, immobile, inanimate, like a statue, as if turned to stone, rooted to the spot, transfixed, static, stationary. antonym moving, active.
2 a still night quiet, silent, hushed, soundless, noiseless, undisturbed; calm, peaceful, serene, windless; literary stilly. antonym noisy.
3 the lake was still calm, flat, even, smooth, placid, tranquil, pacific, waveless, glassy, like a millpond, unruffled, stagnant. antonym rough, turbulent.
the still of the night quietness, quiet, quietude, silence, stillness, hush, soundlessness; calm, tranquility, peace, serenity. antonym noise, disturbance, hubbub.
1 she's still running in circles up to this time, up to the present time, until now, even now, yet.
2 He's crazy. Still, he's good for dinner conversation nevertheless, nonetheless, regardless, all the same, just the same, anyway, anyhow, even so, yet, but, however, notwithstanding, despite that, in spite of that, for all that, be that as it may, in any event, at any rate; informal still and all, anyhoo.
1 she stilled the crowd quiet, silence, hush; calm, settle, pacify, soothe, lull, allay, subdue. antonym stir up.
2 the wind stilled abate, die down, lessen, subside, ease up/off, let up, moderate, slacken, weaken. antonym get stronger.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Figuring Exception

Part 2 is devoted to developing the insight from Part 1:  the Accident is a sign.  Further instructions indicated that the sign is a trope, and the terms of the figure are set by the event itself.  Bok's 'Pataphysics makes the instruction more precise.  The lesson is found in the breakout of Surrationalist 'Pataphysics into three "declensions":  Anomalos (principle of variance); Syzygy (principle of alliance); Clinamen (principle of deviance).  A difficulty of heuretics is its heuristic nature:  how should we respond to this appearance of three figures in our Analogy source?  We could simply accept Bok's terms, and apply one of them as the figure with which to design the Prezi exhibit.  But then we consider the invented nature of Bok's figures.  Syzygy is borrowed from astronomy, for example, naming one or the other of two points in the orbit of a celestial body either in opposition to or conjunction with the sun.  The term is generalized to refer to any unity achieved through coordination of alignment.  Bok's creative move guides our option:  identify in the technical discourse of your event a process that may be generalized into a trope or figure of thought. 

Bok refers to Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence at one point, suggesting its relevance to 'Pataphysics.  This insight reinforces the above instruction, since Bloom constructed a set of six tropes to name the process belated poets perform to create a place for themselves in literary tradition, in competition with their predecessors.  Bloom clarified the practical value of the fact that Freud's vocabulary describing ego defense mechanisms is a direct appropriation of tropology from the history of rhetoric.  Bloom's first trope (move or compositional strategy) is "Clinamen" also.  Second is "Tessera" (term taken not from mosaics but ancient mystery cults, where it meant a token of recognition); third is "Kenosis" (from St. Paul, the humbling or emptying out of Jesus), and so forth.  The relay suggests the productivity of troping the terms of some knowledge discourse for use as a rhetorical figure more generally.  A worthy experiment for some future CATTt could be to compose a different tropology, to replace Bloom's Agon version of poets in competition, with an Ilynx version, of poets dancing (or some related form of spin).