Friday, November 14, 2008

Remixology (The Prequel)

Debord wrote in his "Methods of Détournement"
Any elements, no matter where they are taken from, can serve in making new combinations. The discoveries of modern poetry regarding the analogical structure of images demonstrate that when two objects are brought together, no matter how far apart their original contexts may be, a relationship is always formed.
Contemporary remixologists play on Debordian détournement
by détourning lifestyle situations that feed into
their ongoing satisfaction as artist-agents
intervening in the creative process using whatever
inherited filters and processural residues they have stored
inside their image-making body/brain apparatus

Though Debord appears to not be having as much fun
as the contemporary remixologists his work inevitably informs
he still challenges them to take hold of the available source material
so that one can then manipulate it to their heart's content
as a way of leaving the propaganda machine behind
or at least creating a counterpropaganda force
that will lead to more dynamic COMPOSITION BY FIELD

But can this propaganda machine ever truly be left behind?

Debord outlines methods of détournement
and in so doing suggests that
"only extremist innovation is historically justified"

Like Whitehead's "concrescence of prehensions"
but filtered through a radical anti-art political ideology
that at once feels belligerent and anachronistic
in its never ending "upsetness"

Debord informs the contemporary remixologist that
Restricting oneself to a personal arrangement of words is mere convention. The mutual interference of two worlds of feeling, or the bringing together of two independent expressions, supersedes the original elements and produces a synthetic organization of greater efficacy. Anything can be used.
Well, Debord
to paraphrase a quote from a famous law and order TV show
"Anything can and will be used against you."

For example
Alfred North Whitehead

Mashing up the process theology of Whitehead
where he writes in his "Theory of Feelings"
A feeling is a component in the concrescence of a novel actual entity […] The process of the concrescence is a progressive integration of feelings controlled by their subjective forms [...] feelings of an earlier phase sink into the components of some more complex feeling of a later phase [...] each phase adds its element of novelty.
with the quotes from the proto-typically materialist Debord above

I tweak my own processual filters and release
my latest micro-track of DIY philosophy
that reads in part:
A feeling is an expression in the concrescence of a remixologically inhabited language space. The process of the concrescence can serve in making new combinations of aesthetic experience forming an ongoing and progressive integration of feelings that supersede the original expression of an earlier phase producing a synthetic organization of greater efficacy. Each expression of feeling sinks into the components of some more complex feeling of a later phase and each phase adds its element of novelty. If the production of novel togetherness is to be historically justified at all, then it will occur in the extreme reaches of remixological practice.
While articulating his methods of détournement
Debord turns to Lautréamont as the most advanced
early practitioner of these interventionist strategies
and writes that the controversies that have surrounded
his seminal works of pla(y)giarism
"only testifies to the intellectual debilitation"
of "these camps of dotards in combat with each other."

For Debord as for Whitehead
the premonitory proposition of the remixological act
is what's of utmost concern

and if cultural critics or connoisseurs
cannot just get over it
then that's their problem

The bottom line for Debord is that this is the direction
contemporary practice is heading and we better get used to it:
For the moment we will limit ourselves to showing a few concrete possibilities starting from various current sectors of communication -- it being understood that these separate sectors are significant only in relation to present-day techniques, and are all tending to merge into superior syntheses with the advance of these techniques.
Of course Debord and Whitehead before him
could have never seen the Internet coming
(although Nicolas Tesla may have)

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Bottom Line

Brief transmission from Zurich:

This short entry will not do justice to what I have been actually experiencing here in Switzerland Post-Obama victory, but suffice it to say that arriving here the day after the election was overwhelming. With over 500 attendees at the IETM conference, 300 of which attended my morning keynote alone, not to mention the hotel clerks, baristas, bartenders, and restauranteurs, I was flooded with the most excellent vibes I can ever remember receiving as an American abroad. I'm sure there was at least some modicum of pleasantness during my visits when Clinton was Prez, but this is different. This is people coming up to me and not addressing me by my name but simply shaking my hand and then uttering the only word on their mind, "Obama" -- and the conversation taking off from there. These people, strangers all, men and women, telling me that they stayed up until 7 AM Wednesday morning waiting for the international networks to call the election for Obama and then patiently awaiting his victory speech with groggy sleeplessness but excited anticipation and then crying, all of them said they were crying, in Zurich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, London, Manchester, Berlin, Toronto, etc., "everything feels lighter," "for the first time in my life I felt here is someone who I can actually relate to" and -- yes -- "hopefully things will start to get better."

Even an always skeptical cultural critic I know, a true Euro-centric cynic who did not hide his anti-Americanism over the last eight years, said that after a decade of not even wanting to visit America (at the cost of not seeing some good friends as often as he would like), now, 48 hours after the election, he could not help but think that America was the place to be, and that if he could, he would move there immediately.

This overwhelming positive energy has been 100% universal since my arrival in Europe the day after the election.

It's no surprise, of course.

But the thing that seems most obvious to me looking back at the US from the perspective of contemporary Europe is that perhaps even more important than a "Democrat" victory or even a center-left victory (no, the US is not still center-right, the conservative intellectuals wish they could run with that ball), to me and my posse, this is a victory of intellectualism over anti-intellectualism. My greatest "fear" (if I can call it that -- it was really more of a concern) was not the lying Muslim meme being spread via email nor the potential of a "Bradley effect" proving the polls wrong again, it was this persistent attempt to dumb down the electorate while equating the phrase "domestic terrorist(s)" with "radical professors" as performed by the Phyllis Schlafly clone Sarah Palin that most disturbed me. It was Obama as Adlai Stevenson with a terrorist twist that had me slightly bent out of shape.

In a nutshell, the issue for me was a victory for creative brainpower and poetic rhetoric as scripted by the candidate himself as politician, preacher, poet, and performance artist (all of the roles Obama played during the election cycle). But others saw it differently. On the plane to Zurich, I was surrounded by members of and they were on fire with excitement and ready to turn their energy into initiating progressive policy on women's issues like never before. They were also taking credit for the hard work they put in to getting out the women's vote in Colorado where Obama crushed McCain. Their energy was so contagious that an Asian man, a fellow passenger, told them how great he too felt about the victory and could share in their celebration. He reminded us all of a headline in the Guardian after the 2004 election: "How Could 30 million people be so stupid?" (That's not the exact headline but you get the picture) For them, the victory was produced by women, progressive women who helped tilt things back to the center-left.

The botton line: this time the brains won.

More on the subject here.

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