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. 

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