Monday, April 15, 2013


From Narrative to Figure via Oracle
In his book How to Adapt Anything into A Screenplay, Richard Krevolin admits that his method actually describes how to adapt anything into the Hollywood template.  He includes this "scene-o-gram" in his book, mapping the three-act template of the screenplay, with the crucial turning-points punctuating the structure.  As a visualization of structure, the layout evoked a tarot spread, which is not surprising considering the correlation of the three-level matrix of the major arcana with the screenplay form, mediated by the tradition of "the hero with a thousand faces."  Since the shape of our tarot spread is open (for the Prezi map), it could be interesting to test the syncretic capacities of our own adaptation to konsult:  can a Prezi configuration evoke together a tarot spread and a Hollywood scenario? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Consulting the Accident

From Oracle to Konsult
The challenge of heuretics is to integrate the CATTt sources into a unified poetics.  The immediate goal of Part Two is to relate the microcosm Once allegory of Part One with a macrocosm archetype for avatar counsel.  The registers of the CATTt treated in Part Two contribute the following instructions (briefly stated):
Analogy: Smithson.  Create/design a feature of the local site as a figure/trope expressing a force organizing the scene or situation.
Target/tale: Tarot.  An Existential Positioning System (EPS) enabling DYI comparisons between individual and collective experience.
Target/Analogy/tale: History of the Senses.  A goal of Konsult is to augment and formalize individual encounter with sensory experience at the level of macrocosm.

Konsult Design.  The experiment proposed for this semester is to create a Prezi konsult, in which the egent (you) serve as querent.  The hybrid poetics proposes to use tarot consultation as an interface to generate a bachelor machine figure, evoking a tropical relation between the querent and the Non/Site of the Accident (Koppers Superfund Disaster).

Layer One:  Pollack's Guide to Tarot is our relay.  We are creating our own deck, at least in part, in that we will start with a reading, and then update the cards drawn using the materials of our own scene as archive.  The reading requires that we first create our own spread.  The purpose of this spread is to question the Accident, as a figurative translation of the conditions of our history into an archetypal form, for further thought and action.  The spread should consist of ten "cards," having in mind the complexity accomplished by the Celtic Cross.  To compose the slots for the spread, draw upon the sorts of questions found in the Celtic Cross, keeping in mind that the goal is to activate an association between our Once allegory and the Accident Site.  Some further suggestions for the spread questions are found in ways to get to know the cards (p. 163), in getting to know a deck:  What special message do you bring? What do you want to teach me? What do I need to work with you? The section on Interpretation of Tales (p. 172) models further design strategies, tailoring the questions to a specific tale (to the Accident in our case).  Soul Questions (p. 174) are adaptable to our purposes as well:  What is (Accident)? Where Does it Come From? How Does It Teach Us? A spread suggested in another source is used to question a particular card, to ask what it means:  1 = The card does not mean this. 2 = The card means this. 3 = The card is good for this. 4 = The best course of action.  Be sure to include questions that ask about your relationship with Accident.

Layer Two: There is considerable room for invention in this adaptation of tarot to konsult.  The correlations listed here are points of departure. Once Allegory (Part One Einstellung).  The movie in your Allegory of Prudence = trump cards of the major arcana.  Significant people in your anecdotes = court cards.

Layer Three: Koppers Superfund Site may be a source for any card in principle, but consider especially the pips of the minor arcana, which trace processes from inception through excess, corresponding to the elemental system of the tradition (Earth Air Fire Water).

Layer Four: Use History of the Senses to augment the sensory features of your Once Allegory, as basis for any card in principle, with attention to the minor arcana.

Significator: The Fool's Journey passes through our scene.  A good way to select the Significator is to use the dates method (pp. 166-67).

"Card" Design: There is no need to put the features selected from your archive into emblem form, as in the formally designed decks.  However, the kinds of properties promoted to symbolic status in the formal decks are a useful guide to what to include in the features used to represent the updated "card" in your Prezi map.  Modernist collage works are a valid relay for our purposes.   The arrangement of the spread may take any shape.  Translate/update the cards drawn for each of the places in the spread, using the spread as a grid of chance to select some feature from the other layers of the assemblage. The effect of juxtapositions thus produced should in principle generate an evocative tropical figure.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mapping the Blind Spot

Don't Make Me Take You To The Woodshed
Robert Smithson's oeuvre as described by Ann Reynolds is our Analogy.  We approach this analogy holistically, appropriating for konsult Smithson's poetics.

1) The first insight is his use of abstract art as a grammar of image inquiry.  He invokes the entire problematic of representation through his use of enantiomorphic projection to figure Blind Spot as the register to address.  This blind spot to be mapped by konsult is not only the various forces at work in reality that are out of sight, neglected, but still within the material realm.  Force in this sense obsoletes substance in electrate metaphysics, to the extent that reality exceeds objecthood.  Smithson devotes numerous works, activities, installations, and performances to rendering visible the force of entropy.  Our analogy at this level is to ask: what is the force operating in the field addressed by konsult? That force is the human body itself, specifically our sensory capacity for pleasure-pain, attraction-repulsion. 

2) The second dimension of Blind Spot is figurative, that which comes into thought, feeling and experience only through sign semiosis expression, and this is Smithson's (and art in general) primary interest.  He constructs the woodshed on the site near Kent State University, covers it with loads of dirt until the support beam cracks (twenty tons), in order to demonstrate physical limit.  This physical limit is a figure, a trope, as is always the case in Smithson's projects, to intimate the force of entropy across all registers of real: physical, mental, ethical, political, economic, metaphysical.  He suggests:  where is your woodshed?  Why a woodshed, if not to invoke the idiom:  to take someone to the woodshed is for punishment.  It is the luck of synchronicity that four months after this installation was completed, the notorious events happened at Kent State, when National Guard troops fired on protesting students.  This historical juxtaposition just makes explicit the historical forces relevant to the question of limit, counsel, measure, decision.

Limit (Measure)
3) Blind Spot, then, identifies the dimension to be mapped by konsult as that of tropology, figurative allusion, and konsult itself as a practice of reading and authoring figures.  From Smithson we may learn to appropriate some feature of the consultancy field, to activate it in an image mode, to create a figurative comment.  The most obvious material for this comment is the Cabot Koppers site itself -- the contemporary dilemma of pollution, contamination threatening the acquifer and the well-field, the issue of technics, in the manufacture of pine tar, and the history of this invention, including its contribution to the spice trade and colonialism.  The direct analogy from Smithson is to ask after the pine tar in me.  That analogy should be a point of departure for a broader review of the scene, to map a figurative ground, considering the full array of senses driving human invention.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Outline: Learning From Florida

Reference: CATTt 

Apparatus theory (grammatology) reminds us that ubiquitous computing is an example of technics: the technology is one register among three in an inventive matrix (institutional practices + identity formations).  The primary focalizer for the responsibilities of konsult has been Paul Virilio and his warnings about the General Accident, and more conventionally the historical fact that every invention comes with a Gift Cause, the unintended but inevitable byproduct of the accident.  In consulting on well-being relative to the Superfund Site in Gainesville, we may consider pollution resulting from pine tar production as emblem for the accident potential in ubicomp as well.  It is worth remembering also, in designing our Existential Positioning System, that Heidegger anticipates Virilio's warnings in a way that makes catastrophe inherent in being.
The actively violent one, the creator, who moves out into the un-said, breaks into the un-thought, who compels the unhappened and makes the unseen appear, this actively violent one stands at all times in peril.  In risking a prevailing over being, he must take a risk with regard to the onrush of non-being, with regard to disintegration, un-constancy, lack of structural order and disorder. (Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics).
Heidegger's account foregrounds the "violence" of creative invention that produces both human prevailing against the overwhelming (nature) and also catastrophe (the lesson of tragedy in general).  His insight is that aporia is an irreducible dimension of poros.  Our terms should register this complexity:  a/poria, im/mobility.  Ubimage for well-being is a practice of a/poria (im/mobile media).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Part II: Fla4 (Fla Vor; Flavor) Florida Still

Part II of the seminar begins now, continuing with the project to invent konsult. Konsult is to the EmerAgency what dialogue was to the Academy in Athens. We are inventing a discourse on method for electrate consulting -- pedagogy among institutions, for (in)corporate beings.  It is self-help deliberative reason for citizen decision on behalf of well-being.  The heuretic project begins with this name for a practice that remains to be designed and tested.  Konsult may occur within tourism or other leisure experience (skole = "leisure" in Greek), reoccupying the ancient practice of Theoria (theory tour), supported by Appiphany and related devices of ubimage.  It  is not only equipment of ubiquitous computing, but a practice of deliberative rhetoric, framing experience with an aesthetic attitude, to receive counsel (der Rat) from avatar (function).

The prototype encounters Cabot-Koppers Superfund site in Gainesville, Florida, included within Region 4 of the 10 Regions organizing Superfund administration.  Konsult appropriates the discourses of popular culture that inculcate aesthetic attitude as vernacular discourse:  tourism, cinema, television, digital games, to develop a behavior or conduct of sitesensing.  Call it flavor for short -- #Fla4:  fla (Fl) vor (four), to use conductive (Wake) linguistics.  Vor as German preposition carries us to the matter.  Place (Dative) of course: "though in referring to place only when it indicates condition or rest (if it answers the question 'where?') before, previous or prior to, ere, antecedent to (in time); before, in front of, ahead of (in place); in presence of; for, on account of, through, because of, with (joy, etc.)' from or against (with verbs of protection, warning, etc.); in preference to, more than, above."  Let us skip to the adverb: "only in nach vie -, as always, as ever, still, now as before."  Still (guide word).

More to come, but to review:  konsult functions as flash reason in dromosphere conditions, turbulence of Entstellung (distortion) as norm. Tropics of dreamwork, condensation, displacement, mise-en-scene, secondary elaboration:  defenses, nescience, resistance to thought and feeling, diversion as constant turning (away) of attention, framing not just gaze but every part object and its sense:  Perception and its cultural project are created (deliberately) to filter out stimuli/information/realization. The logic known as "fetish" operates freely and seemingly without resistance (it is resistance as such):  I know, but still... (current locus classicus:  "I know Obama has a U.S. birth certificate, but still...").  Cynical reason (Sloterdijk). Against but still, there is flavor.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Outline: CATTt

Smile Now, Cry Later (Francesco Clemente)

The challenge of heuretics is that of creating a discourse on method:  The method you need has to be generated even while you are applying it.  Blogs are a good support for this generative practice, since they enable a developmental unfolding.  A project experiment is set (the design of konsult for EmerAgency catalysis of public policy dilemmas), a set of resources are chosen as generators, assigned to slots in the CATTt, and each resource is inventoried in turn, in a sequence from which emerges an intertext, to be synthesized and integrated into a working recipe.  Blogs document this process, inventorying each resource as it is encountered, itemizing instructions from the operating features of the resource, testing them in part, while moving through the sequence, integrating instructions for further testing.  The result is both a commentary on and demonstration of the desired poetics.

What are the operating features available in the CATTt for Part One?
Theory:  Avatar Emergency
  • Rationale:  "Prudence" as a "time virtue," good judgment integrating experience of past and present for a decision promising optimal outcomes in the future.  Prudence must be updated for electrate conditions of dromosphere.
  • Relay (Model):  Titian, Allegory of Prudence -- the artist's decision resolving a family dilemma, celebrated in a painting associating each relevant person with an animal selected from an iconographic tradition.
  • Encounter:  Titian updated by Francesco Clemente for a museum exhibit of artists's appropriations of famous works from the archive (collection).  This update opens up the original relay to further invention.
  • Epiphany:  Poetics of sudden thought (encounters between microcosm/macrocosm) established in both religious and secular versions, codified in modernist poetry as correspondences, objective correlative and the like. Some ordinary feature of quotidian circumstances (external setting) triggers (catalyzes) a feeling of recognition, of identity, as a figure (tenor) of Mood (Stimmung, Heidegger).
  • Memory:  Catalysis (outside environment triggering inside recognition) happens through memory:  some past Moment of experience, enduring in subconscious memory, matches some sensory aspect of the present situation. Ulmer reflects upon the formative events of his year studying in Spain, including enduring memories of a night sleeping outside with a companion in an olive orchard, as well as his adoption of the diaries of Franz Kafka as a tutor author for his own journals that year.
  • Event:  Ulmer constructs an allegory through reflection on family vacations, situations in which the family travels to Florence Italy, Key West Florida, and Ponte Vedra Beach. 
  • Image/Pastiche:  the allegory is formalized in a collection of three snapshots (White-crowned pigeon, Gelato sign, sand castle) associated with three members of the family) plus anecdotes about the events associated with each image.  In addition, Ulmer composes a pastiche of an aphorism selected from Kafka's Blue Octavo Notebooks, offered as "motto" for the allegory, using Kafka's form and style to express a philosophical version of the commemorated judgment.
  • Ubimage:  it may be worth putting a point on this outline:  konsult is designed specifically as an electrate contribution to the technics of ubiquitous-pervasive computing.
The further step of using the CATTt is to extrapolate from these operating features, to adopt them as forms only, substituting one's own materials suggested by the relay, to test an allegory of prudence (aesthetic judgment) drawing on equivalents of the features found in the source Theory.

The related point is that the exercise defined in AE is not left as is, but is modified by intertextual synthesis with subsequent resources:  Contrast (Universal Experience) and tale (Once).  Universal Experience develops the setting of the encounter as within the institution of tourism (the community already has an aesthetic structure for the gaze or collective attention --attraction).  Once (Wenders) as tale specifies how to represent the allegory in photography and anecdotes, including Einstellung as an extension of epiphany into photography.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


 Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Godard)

These diagrams reference different but related aspects of "aesthetic experience," which is the frame of mind within which konsult functions.  The famous "coffee scene" linked above is an example of how an ordinary item in a quotidian situation (having an espresso in a cafe) may become an occasion for a philosophical reflection on the meaning of experience.  The diagrams and charts below outline the formal, rhetorical, and theoretical features operating in that scene. 
Mythologies (Barthes): Extended Version

C. S. Pierce (Sign)
Lacan (Borromean Knot)
Bloom (Crisis Poem)

Plato (Allegory of the Cave)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Aesthetic Attitude

Moment Against Now
 Konsult includes aesthetic attitude in the public sphere, to exercise and enhance capacity to be affected.  The attitude is modeled in several areas of common experience:  tourism, movies, the arts.  Konsult applies the vanguard project of merging art with everyday life, not to make art, but to put the stamp of being on becoming.  Moment against dromosphere in any case attempts praxis as poiesis.  Orhan Pamuck, in his novel Snow, tells the story of Ka, an exiled poet who return to Turkey to report on a wave of suicides, and also on the possibility of reconnecting with a woman he had known in his youth.  He has not written any poetry in a number of years.  But during the events of his visit, the old creative capacity returns, at least briefly, and he is able to write a poem.  The example is relevant to us not for the poem, but for how the feelings of significance arise in the midst of ongoing events, pursuing both professional and personal projects, while reflecting on the meaning and purpose of his life.  The immediate lessons may be derived from the gradual dawning of inspiration as the circumstances of recent incidents begin to form into a system of correspondences producing epiphany, Einstellung (Wenders).  The citation is selective, just to note the flavor of the account.
He made his way along the train track, past the snow-covered silo that loomed overhead like a great white cloud, and was soon back inside the station. As he passed through the empty, dirty building, he saw a dog approaching, wagging its curly tail in a friendly way.  It was a black dog with a round white patch on its forehaed.  As he looked across the filthy waiting hall, Ka saw three teenage boys, who were beckoning the dog with sesame rolls.
There was a long silence.  A feeling of peace rose up inside Ka.  They were so far from the center of the world, one couldn't even imagine going there, and as he fell under the spell of the snowflakes that seemed to hang in the sky outside, he began to wonder if he had entered a world without gravity.  When everyone had ceased to pay any attention to him, another poem came to Ka.  The poem was made up of many of the thoughts that had come to him all at once a short while earlier: the falling snow, cemeteries, the black dog running happily around the station building, an assortment of childhood memories, and the image that had lured him back to the hotel: Ipek. How happy it made him just to imagine her face--and also how terrified! He called the poem "Snow."
Much later when he thought about how he'd written this poem, he had a vision of a snowflake; this snowflake, he decided, was his life writ small; the poem that had unlocked the meaning of his life, he now saw sitting at its center.  But--just as the poem itself defies easy explanation--it is difficult to say how much he decided at that moment and how much of his life was determiend by the hidden symmetries this book is seeking to unveil.  Before finishing the poem, Ka went silently to the window and watched the scene outside: the large snowflakes floating so elegantly through the air.  He had the feeling that simply by watching the snow fall he would be able to bring the poem to its predetermined end.
Ka's Snowflake Diagram

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rebus (Letter)

Life (EPS)

By about 2,800 BC some of the Sumerian glyphs were being used to represent sounds using the rebus principle. For example, the symbol for arrow, pronounced 'ti', was used to represent the word for life (til). There were also many glyphs which were pronounced the same but represented different words. Later a system of determinatives, which gave you a hint at the category a word belonged to, and of phonetic components, which indiciated how to pronounce a word, developed, and helped disambiguate the meanings of glyphs.

The Rebus device is fundamental to writing as such, across all media and modes.  Lacan extends it into ontology with his letter (l'étre) linking cultural Signifiers with libidinal Sinthomes (Symptoms) in the extimacy of the split subject ($ = daio).  A parable of Existential Positioning begins with the ambiguity of the switch-word "here."  A traveler, exhausted from a difficult journey, consults a map in the terminal.  The momentary confusion of location and existence in here renews her determination to continue.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Outline: Rationale

The readings in the seminar are selected as generators for a CATTt, designed to produce a poetics or recipe for our project.  The project proposes to design and test a practice of konsult, applied in EmerAgency consulting on well-being in the context of community public policy formation.  The seminar develops the design in two parts.  The readings for Part One include Avatar Emergency (Theory), Universal Experience (Contrast/Analogy), and Once (tale/Analogy).  Here is an outline of the logic motivating this selection (it will require several posts to fill out the rationale for the Part-One CATTt).

I. Dromosphere
  • Frame:  Avatar Emergency takes up concept avatar (the avatar function) to develop a practice of citizen participation adequate to the conditions of the dromosphere (dimension collapse) theorized by Paul Virilio.  Virilio argues convincingly that the light-speed of the digital apparatus has made possible (inevitable) a General Accident that occurs everywhere simultaneously. 
  •  Dimension pollution compresses time-space into Now, challenging literate formations of individual critical thinking and the democratic public sphere.  This challenge is the crisis motivating the "descent" of avatar (EmerAgency modified motto:  "Avatar B Us").  Dromos (race) consists of three positions (moments, opportunities, openings):  start, turn, finish.  Konsult practices Turn.
II. Prudence
  • Konsult draws upon the experience of Arts and Letters traditions with immediate intuitive judgment to formulate flash reason as the logic needed for deliberation (community decision-making) in the dromosphere. 
  • Prudence (Aristotle's phronesis) is the virtue of good judgement. A person with good judgment is able (posse) -- in the midst of an ongoing situation -- to draw upon past experience to make the right decision about how to act that brings about the best outcome for the community.  In oral culture this kind of judgement on the fly was associated with metis, a skill of savoir-faire demonstrated in its purest style in the conduct of a race.   
  • Kairos is the mode of temporality proper to metis (the term refers to the weaver's art of throwing the shuttle at just the right moment). Kairotic time displaces cyclical (oral) and linear (literate) models of time to become the primary temporality in electracy.
III. Flash Reason
  •  The lightning flash of insight (intuition, inspiration) has been fully theorized in Western thought, especially with respect to Moment (Augenblick).  Moment is taken up in konsult as the answer to Now.  Sudden thought draws together all human faculties to take in a situation in one glance.  The limits of this glance relative to the human sensorium are codified as "beauty," however that experience may be understood in a given culture.  The invention of Aesthetics as a separate faculty at the beginnings of electracy (Kant et al) recognized and anticipated the challenge to Moment in the notion of the sublime.  The conditions of the industrial city are sublime, producing shock experience of alienation, reification, objectification, in which denizens lose connection with agency (with the categories of experience: space, time, cause).  
  • The arts take up the dynamics of Moment, focusing on a poetics of epiphany.  Epiphany (secularized revelation) is the formal structure of flash reason, transformed in Romanticism (German Idealism) as the "crisis poem" (Bloom), reconfiguring the operations of allegory and symbol, promoting tropology as supplement of inference and narrative as primary skills of the cultural interface.  The project evolved across the arts, leading to a new structural mode of correspondences addressing the disjunction of microcosm/macrocosm in the city.  
  • Relevant versions of epiphany include Baudelaire's correspondences, Rimbaud's illuminations, Rilke's world-inner-space, Eliot's objective correlative.  Proust (involuntary memory) and Joyce (epiphany) extended the function to the novel, as did Brecht (gestus, V [A] effect) and Artaud (cruelty) in theater.  Freud's transference, Benjamin's dialectical image, and Merleau-Ponty's flesh are key instances of theoretical elaboration of flash reason.  
IV. Mechanical Reproduction
  • Manifesting a certain (happy) correlation across the levels of the apparatus, the invention of the camera makes available one of the new supports of communication displacing alphabetic writing in the electrate economy.  The camera is just the first in a series of major innovations lending technological augmentation to the sensorium, continuing today in digital computing.  The camera augments the glance, making it more adequate to the sublime, especially when the optical function is understood in its temporal dimension as Moment.  The snapshot is kairotic.  The insight of apparatus theory is that a general electracy of the society must be developed as institution and practice to coordinate digital equipment with flash reason.
  • The aesthetics of Moment was formulated most precisely in photography by Henri Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" (shooting a la sauvette).  This design principle has a long history in the visual arts, with painters choosing the telling instance of an action to lend a narrative dimension to a picture. The principle reaches its theoretical completion in Gestalt psychology and phenomenology -- the principle of Prägnanz: the combination of expectation and perception to produce default continuities or groupings in experience.  Gestalt manifests the limitations of glance, inadequate to dromospheric sublime. 
  • Avant-garde poetics invented during this same period (nineteenth-century Paris), whose prototype is Duchamp's readymades, such as "Fountain," extended Kant's Judgment to include the automatism of the snapshot.  Chance as a formal device, coordinated with recording equipment and flash poetics, were integrated in support of a new attitude towards everyday life, beyond both knowledge and will (the constitutive stands of Pure and Practical Reason).  
  • Theoretical complements of vanguard poetics include Georges Bataille's informe (formless),  Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome (swarm), Lacan's stain, and related engagements with sprawl complexity. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Prism of Conatus

Avatar Function
To understand identity formation native to electracy AE uses the avatar function as a relay.  "Avatar" (descent) -- experienced as the reception of divine counsel (revelation) -- in the Western tradition, is dramatized as Daimon.  Heidegger's method of reading the tradition was to follow the translations.  Greek "Daimon" becomes Latin "Genius."  In Medieval Christianity "Daimon" splits into Angel/Demon.  Goethe in the Enlightenment translates "Daimon" as "Grenze," "Limit" in English.  The most recent version of this experience -- the capacity of the human subject to split and encounter itself (daio) is theorized in Lacan with reference to topology, foregrounding the operation of "edge."  Topology of the split subject (daio) maps the events of threshold (Catastrophe).  Thresholds are the location favored by daimons.  Before departing to attend his trial, Socrates paused at the threshold of his home, to consult his daimon.  Boundary is on the move again in electracy, and it is the function of choragraphy to map this movement. 

Meanwhile, the diagram showing embodiment as prism (the prism-house of being) evokes the relationship of well-being to the collection of demi-gods including Daimon.  It is important to consider this set together as an inventory of Measure or Limit, as a shorthand for the forces still operating in electracy.  The avatar function must include all of these forces.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Ubimage (apparatus correlation of ubiquitous computing and imaging) reoccupies a relationship between place and culture first exercise as Dreamtime by Australian Aborigenes.  Dreamtime is a mnemonic system of wayfinding in which mythologies (ritual and story) coded features of the landscape to guide a nomadic economy.

The functionality of this ancient wisdom system is a variation on the larger context of avatar functionality guiding ubimage.  Several such correspondences have been mapped for Alachua County.

Alachua Region

Sunday, January 27, 2013


The film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is an exhibit for how a situation may give rise to an aesthetic frame.  The point-of-view character, the doctor, undergoes a metaphysical event, a manifestation of the fundamental rhythm of existence, the axis life-death.

Review by Michael Wood

Correlating Triggers

Ubiquitous Sensibility

The electrate apparatus is invented in three registers:  technology, compositional practices, and identity formation.  The saturation of Everyday environments with mobile devices encountering sensor settings is the contribution of technics.  Interactive equipment establishes at the level of technics a feature of the world central to the history of the arts, which materialize and augment a human capacity to be affected by place and event. Marcel Proust's involuntary memory, triggered by the taste of a tea biscuit, or the Wolf Man, whose obsessions were triggered by the site of a maid scrubbing the floor, are two famous examples of embodied triggers, emblematic of this capacity.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


 What does it mean to approach Everyday Life with an aesthetic attitude? There is nothing novel about framing one's quotidian roles in some state of mind -- wisdom, science, religion. As practice, the aesthetic attitude is included within a situation, adding to the intentionality of some project the distance that generates aura of signification.  "Situation" is a guideword, evoking the existentialist point that circumstances become a situation when considered from the point of view of one's "project," the goals of a practice, encountering a scene not indifferently but according to its affordances for some purpose.  In a Visit (for konsult) this project or purpose is given an aesthetic frame.

Ulmer's Visit documented in Chapter 13 (Wisdom) of Avatar Emergency offers a relay for our instructions.  What is Ulmer's situation:

  • Family:  Mother's Day holiday, with three generations of relatives sharing a rented house.
  • Work: Ulmer continues to ponder the perplexities of a theoretical question (the image metaphysics of electracy: the diadoch Damascius).
  • Memory: A formative experience in Ulmer's past -- a night in an olive orchard in Spain, 1966.
  • Current Events:  History of the present unfolding in daily reports and analysis of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
  • Site: Place, Ponte Vedra Beach on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
  • Form:  The Aesthetic Attitude includes familiar forms and genres, constituting a mythology: popular culture for laymen, but for Ulmer (academic) the forms are high art (Titian's Allegory of Prudence, Kafka's aphorisms).
A relevant context to Visit as the construction of an epiphany is the common experience in the history of creative insight of the Eureka moment appearing during some ordinary activity:  Archimedes in his bath; Poincaré stepping off a bus.  In Ulmer's relay, adopting the Aesthetic Attitude means that he consciously scans his setting for some feature he recognizes as an objective correlative for his state of mind, registering the Mood or atmosphere attuning as vehicle and tenor (outer and inner) dimensions of his life world.  The feature he recognizes, promoting it to object @, is the sand castle built by his granddaughter the previous evening.

EPS (Existential Positioning System)

Africa, 1805
 Konsult is a practice to correlate existential experience with everyday life materiality.  For an environment to be intelligent, the apparatus needs to manage not only physical location (GPS), but EPS, which requires tracking not only presence but absence (differance).  If conventional wayfinding gives coordinates that say "You Are Here," Existential coordinates engage a more complex orientation:  You are where you are not, and are not where you are.  A Visit is an event of encounter between egents and places, both of which involve dimensions that are not phenomenal, not present, without presence and not presentable.  Thoreau's Walden concludes with a figure that provides an emblem for EPS:  What was the meaning of that South-Sea Exploring Expedition, with all its parade and expense, but an indirect recognition of the fact that there are continents and seas in the moral world to which every man is an isthmus or an inlet, yet unexplored by him, but that it is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone.  Choragraphy as ontological mapping takes up this question of coordinating material and spiritual wayfinding, exploring the shifting borders and thresholds between inner and outer identity formations.  

Thoreau's passage is emblematic because it uses global exploration and mapping as a metaphor for self-knowledge (the kind of knowledge and the mode of expression within the cognitive jurisdiction of Arts & Letters disciplines informing EmerAgency consulting on Well-Being).  The challenge of EPS choragraphy is that the spacetime for which it is responsible is a second-order construction, figurative rather than literal, emerging through aesthetic formal manipuation of media.  But the promise of ubimage is to create an interface convergence of literal and figurative dimensions of human experience.  Clive James's explanation gives an idea of the nature of figuration that renders intelligible the nonphenomenal dimension absent from all maps.

Any poem that does not just slide past us like all those thousands of others usually has an ignition point for our attention.  To take the most startling possible example, think of "Spring," by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  Everyone knows the first line because everyone know the poem.  "Nothing is so beautiful as Spring" is a line that hundreds of poets could have written, and was probably designed to sound that way. Only two lines further on, however, we get "Thrush's eggs look little low heavens" and we are electrified. Eventually we see that the complete poem is fitting in its every part, for its task of living up to the standards of thought and perception set by that single flash  of illumination. But we wouldn't even be checking up if we had not been put on the alert by a lightning strike of an idea that goes beyond thought and perception and into the area of metaphorical transformation that a poem demands.  A poem ... is dependent on this ability to project you into a reality so drastically rearranged that it makes your hair fizz even when it looks exactly like itself.  (Clive James, "Little Low Heavens," Poetry, Sept. 2008).
Two aspects of James's description are worth noting in our context:  the figure of electrification and the lightning strike of an image, resonant with electracy and flash reason; that the version of reality made receivable through aesthetic indirection is -- like Plato's chora -- beyond both thought and perception.  This point must be kept in mind, in  the context of ubimage, given the (legitimate) resurgence of interest in phenomenology by commentators on pervasive computing, who (rashly) ignore the critique of phenomenology motivating most of French poststructuralist philosophy, not to mention deconstruction.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Allegory of Prudence (After Titian)

Is it possible to receive your own post as if for the first time, as if it were news about yourself originating from abroad? This prospect articulates the aporia, the no/way out or im/passe in the circuit of auto-affection. To subscribe to this channel one must use the good offices of an avatar, a go- between (a prosopon). That, then, really means recognizing your autobiography in the schtick of a Punch and Judy show. What is commonplace, even stereotyped, in the material world is obscure, indeterminate in the spiritual one. There there are no stock characters, no plot formulas, or rather, it is only we self-observers who continue to miss the point of our love for puppet shows. How pathetically scanty is my self-knowledge compared with, say, my knowledge of my home town. (Past). And so? Any observation of the inner world is accomplished through sketches of the outer world. At least expression is doubtless a form of improvisational theater, an abstract graphing of one’s own shape. The inner life may be figured, not narrated, described, or analyzed. Expression is the opening of a passage between the two sides of life (the im/material). Or, more correctly, the invention of an aesthetic effigy that neither resembles nor indexes either dimension of my nature, since, immersed as we are in spectacle, we only see programming wherever we turn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wake Up and Taste the Pie

The film Michael, by Nora Ephron, is a relay evoking the avatar function (The angel Michael plays Daimon to Frank Quinlan [William Hurt] and/or Dorothy Winters [Andie MacDowell]).  The wisdom of the Measure is simple, commonplace, and profound:  embodiment gives humans the capacity to be affected through sensory perception.  Embodiment is undergone through virtuous or vicious "descent" (avatar) in the tradition.  Such is the dimension ontologized in image metaphysics of electracy.  That you may taste pie is metaphysical, forming the order of well-being (or not).  The goal of konsult is to design and test a practice (ubimage) that maps the network relating micro- and macro- cosms, between individual sensory experience and institutional augmentation (between bodies with and without organs).

Diagram: Prudence

This diagram sketch suggests a way to map the components of the exercise "Allegory of Prudence" onto some conventional dynamics of narrative semiotics:  Roland Barthes's five semiotic codes (see S/Z's reading of Balzac's short story), and a part of Jacques Lacan's schema of temporality (taken as representative of the trope of metalepsis).

The version of the allegory expressed in Chapter 13 of Avatar Emergency (AE), provides an instance.  The first two codes account for Ulmer walking along the shore of the ocean at Ponte Vedra Beach (Action Code, syntagmatic axis), and encountering a sand castle that he recognizes as built by his granddaughter (Semic code, paradigmatic axis).  This sand castle (prop) is in turn organized by a higher paradigmatic code -- the Cultural Code -- that is the source of readymade associations accumulated historically and preserved in various documents (the commonplace of tides washing away sand castles, evoking the ephemerality and fragility of human effort).  Meanwhile, the action of the syntagmatic is also organized in turn by a higher code -- the Hermeneutic code of enigmas:  actions are arranged to create and sustain interest, to pose engimas and delays of suspense.  This narrative form is supplied in Ulmer's relay by the story of Damascius, the last diadoch (successor) of the Academy in Athens, and his exile in Persia late in life.

Ulmer in Spain, 1966
 These four codes provide four slots for the allegory:  an action and an underlying narrative (fantasy); a feature of the scene (the prop or seme) and its associated mythology (aura).   The fifth code is the Symbolic (alluding to Lacan's Symbolic Order), which is the structuring or "anagogical" code of the social and civilizational context of the scene.  This code is reprsented in the diagram by a partial version of one of Lacan's schemas, showing the temporality of language, and of the unconscious (structured like a language).  The Event alluded to in AE happens in this manner, constructing the time image of prudence.  An initial satisfaction, experienced in infancy, remains latent and potentially present (flashes up at the moment of its recognizability, Benjamin says), triggered by some chance incident (Proust's involuntary memory). The Symbolic code synthesizes the other four codes, addressing the paradigmatic axis of selection in terms of binary oppositions (male/female, death/life...), and the syntagmatic axis of combination in terms of primary exchanges in the life world-- of language, wealth, and kinship. This circuit of remembrance through senation, this triggering of memory and imagination through the activation of somatic markers (Damasio, Neuroaesthetics), is the aesthetic homology to be correlated with mobile media in smart environments, to develop an electrate konsult.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ordinary Aura (Aurdinary)

The Socratic Dialogue as a relay for concept avatar clarifies in the hypotyposis (proportional analogy) that konsult foregrounds not critical reason but perceptual affect (see also D&G's three registers:  Science, Philosophy, Arts -- fact, concept, affect-percept).  The challenge of ubimage is to design a practice capable of workplay with all three orders at once in the context of a situation.   The exercise testing concept avatar (the thought of feeling) takes up the imperative of the avant-garde, championed in many forms subsequently--to merge art into everyday life.  The terminology calls attention to the specific target of ubimage relative to apparatus theory.  The STEM engineers, as they say, have saturated the Everyday world (Lebenswelt) with equipment (mobile devices networking with sensors in smart environments).  That takes care of technics, but the commentary tends to assume that Everyday Life is unproblematic, which is far from the case.  In fact, the Everyday is a major topic of discipline interest, as for example in the philosophy of Henri Lefebvre, taken up in Situationism (Guy Debord), not to mention Walter Benjamin's Arcades project and the Frankfurt School focus on the problem of alienation as the impoverishment of everyday life experience.  The heuretics of ubiquitous pervasive computing addresses the apparatus in the registers of institutional practices.

Specifically, the parallel with digital convergence and saturation is the integration of the aesthetic attitude into lifeworld behavior and skills.  Here is a key to the electrate apparatus in general:  it emerges into metaphysics through the aesthetic attitude, just as literacy as science required the frame of curiosity in order to thrive.  The invention of "attitude" as such is part of apparatus formation.  "Aesthetics" introduces a certain "distance" into experience, termed "aura" by Benjamin.  It is important to clarify that the devotion to "pure art" (art for art's sake) during the initial period of electracy in 19th-century Paris (Parisian Behemia in Montmartre cabarets is the electrate equivalent of the Athenian academies creating a space for pure reason) was temporary, necessary pause for articulation of art as "logic," prior to dissemination as general cultural interface (GCI) for an electrate civilization.  The point is that netizens via the apparatus are able to include aura not as separation from syncretic with their other institutional behaviors -- work, family, leisure.  Aura (aesthetic attitude) creates value, which recommends it as the means to overcome alienation and recover experience of individual and collective agency, which is the avatar function.

Hans Robert Jauss, Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics (1982) is an important resource on this attitude.  The larger import of his insight are only now becoming apparent.

 Even more decisively than Dewey's theory, the theory of aesthetic function, which Jan Mukarovsky has been pioneering in various treatises since 1936, turns its back on any and all metaphysics of the beautiful. The investigation of the aesthetic in its social function, as "an energetic component of human activity," is to render superfluous the question "whether the esthetic is a static property of things" and, ultimately, the very concept of the beautiful itself. With the introduction of the concept of aesthetic function, the presumably objective determinations of aesthetic quality are seen as flowing from human activity. The work of art loses its character as thing; as "aestheticobject," it requires the human consciousness to constitute it. Being a dynamic principle, the aesthetic function is potentially unlimited; "it can accompany every human act, and every object can manifest it." Its limit lies in the fact that it derives from the dialectical negation of a practical or communicative function. And because the phenomena it produces in the constant renewal of the aesthetic experience are subject to societal judgment, i.e., must find public recognition before they can enter the tradition-creating process as aesthetic norms, thereis  a  second,  intersubjective  limitatioIn contrast to Roman Jacobson's earlier definition of the poetic influence of language, the aesthetic function is not self-referential for Mukarovsky, it is more than a statement oriented toward expression for its own sake. Because the aesthetic function "changes everything that it touches into a sign," it becomes transparent for the thing or activity that it "sets . . . aside from practical associations." Precisely because the aesthetic function differs from all others (the noetic, the political, the pedagogic) in having no "concrete aim" and because it lacks "unequivocal content," it can take hold of the contents of other functions and give their expression the most effective form. (Jauss, pp 115-16).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Socrates Relay

 The admonishment of Basho (adopted as motto of heuretics) is: not to follow in the footsteps of the masters, but to seek what they sought.  Concept Avatar is not dialogue or dialectic, but uses those as relay for the tale of our own CATTt, used to generate an electrate equivalent, to do for EmerAgency what dialogue did for Plato's Academy.  Our genre is not dialogue, but konsult.  The capacity to be addressed, supported, augmented, is not reason (logic), but affect, sensory perception (aesthetics).  The medium (equipment) is not alphabetic writing, but ubiquitous computing (pervasive computing:  mobile devices in smart environments):  ubimage in short.

Euthyphro in the midst of a situation encountered in the streets of a Polis (Athens) the gadfly Socrates.  Egent (intern of EmerAgency) consulting (testifying) on public policy encounters, via smart device in an intelligent environmnet, avatar.  Who is addressee of konsult?  First, it is the egent and her network. That is the frame of konsult.  What is the obscenario?  The genre features within konsult of conceptual persona for avatar need to be unpacked further.  In AE, Ulmer gives several examples.  A primary instance is his encounter with Franz Kafka's Diaries, and also with Thoreau's Walden, appropriated as relays to show himself to himself (to map his own position relative to a tradition/archive)

Concept Avatar

In the 2011 seminar we derived from Deleuze and Guattari's What is Philosophy? the obscenario, a mode of conceptual thinking adapted for doing theory in electracy (philosophy as media practice).  The obscenario is transitional alternative to the scenarios of conventional consulting, as a means to imagine the future in order to decide NOW what policy decisions to make.  Concepts are literate, and the purpose of Philosophy, D&G state, is to create concepts.  The first challenge for us is to learn how to include conceptual thinking within electrate media, in order to think our way into the new apparatus.  D&G analysed "concept" into three components:  an idea (term), a problem field addressed by the idea, and a conceptual persona who dramatizes the import of the idea in a situation.  Obscenario shifts the emphasis from literate concepts foregrounding of the eidos (abstract configuration of properties) to persona in a situation, which lends itself to imaging.  The prototype of a conceptual persona is Socrates, dramatizing "dialectic" as idea in the dialogues of Plato.  Avatar Emergency (AE) does not begin immediately with the phenomenon of "avatar," but approaches it through the formation of an obscenario, that is, through "concept avatar." We must rely on this mode to carry us some way into the invention of a post-literate practice. The phrase is ambiguous:  the concept of "avatar," and an avatar of "concept" (which itself may not appear).  The first step, in other words, is to develop within our literate skills a concept adequate to the experiment we propose:  a practice that does for electracy what the dialogue did for literacy.

The relay from Socrates is useful to identify the features of obscenario, which we should inventory in order to utilize them in our own variations.  There are several levels for emulation: 1) Plato creates the dialogue as a "tale" for his CATTt, to communicate in writing the new logic of dialectic.  Students are introduced to dialectic (analysis and synthesis) through an interface metaphor, the behavior of the gadfly Socrates.  Dialogue as pedagogy requires a certain attitude:  a commitment among friends to suspend competition in order to discover what is objectively (logically) true;  2) the scenario proper is Socrates encountering an interlocutor on the streets of Athens, in everyday life, as in Euthyphro, for example.  Euthyphro is in a situation: he has decided to prosecute his father for impiety.  Socrates asks Euthyphro to define his terms:  what does he mean by "impiety."  Of course the definition of "impiety" makes it into a concept -- a literate skill, but Euthyphro is not literate. 3) The context for the apparatus is the invention of practices of logic to augment pure reason, as a capacity of selfhood (individual identity) in a democratic state (collective identity). 

AE introduces concept avatar as obscenario, a vehicle for thinking a new identity formation, via ideas evoked in a problem situation, dramatized by a persona (it is not concept proper, but an allegory of an idea).  The instruction is to extrapolate to our own case. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parameters (Framing)

 It might be useful to commit some of the points and directives established in lecture (esoteric version) to exoteric (blog).  The design of konsult test begins with some presets or parameters already directing our attention. Working on behalf of the EmerAgency, Konsult communicates Arts and Letters knowledge to communities facing policy decisions, to help include considerations of well-being.  Konsult does not replace existing conventional consulting, but supplements it with electrate resources.  Why "well-being" specifically?  It is not just one condition among others, but is the fundamental dimension of Real (World) made accessible to ontology (to construction) in an electrate apparatus.

Gregory Bateson identified the keywords (guiding terms) of the oral and literate apparati in his book, Mind and Nature.  Reality in the oral apparatus (extended via Religion into the present) is organized by the principles of salvation (spiritual transcendence).  Reality in the literate apparatus (extended via Science into the present) is organized by the principles of entropy (material immanence).  Bateson does not address electracy, but we may bring his pattern up to date.  Reality in the electrate apparatus (with the effect of reordering the other institutions) is (in principle) organized by well-being (specific features of this term remain to be defined).  At present this organization is emergent within Entertainment, commercial and commodity institutions.  It is important to keep in mind also that there is nothing new about a concern for well-being:  it was also addressed in the previous orders (that well-being would be satisfied through spiritual or material means).

The goal of konsult is to develop a practice to support community institutionalization of well-being outside of narrowly commercial values, but also apart from the conventions of religion and science.  The short-term goal of our experiment (the Allegory of Prudence) is to understand and undergo for ourselves the basic insight into well-being expressed in Arts & Letters tradition, as a first step toward designing a practice for general electracy. Our CATTt is designed to provide instructions for a poetics capable of generating this practice, to be discussed in future posts.