And the Bodies Piled Up

There is a continuing sense of life in the United States, in particular, being experienced as a film or TV show. This is obvious. The question is really to map where the far reaches of this hyper-reality extend. To listen to a large class of the U.S. public is to listen to recycled television and film dialogue.

Someone said this week, or wrote actually, during an argument with friends, “I am a fan of drone warfare”.

He later explained this by saying he felt it protected American lives, and was a more accurate way to kill “terrorists”. Of course the now viral Joe Klein comment, echos the same sentiments.

Now, this suggests several things. The point I want to focus on, or try to examine, is linked to cultural production, and to questions of art. In this same conversation this man wrote about Castro’s “killing spree”, and how, as with Chavez, “bodies of political enemies started to pile up in the streets”.

The grammer is straight out of television. I’ve heard it before. It’s part of a short hand or code that really means nothing, because its exactly a form of hyper-reality. There was no killing spree, except on various TV shows.

Now there is simple propaganda. In one of the Bad Boys films, Will Smith uttered something about Castro’s drug syndicate. Thats a very simple and sort of clear cleaving to the State Department line on demonizing all leftist governments.

More interesting are the less clear cumulative effects of thousands of hours of this stuff. The almost impossible repetition of the same. One aspect is the unspoken but clearly expressed ideological messages. Now, these take all kinds of forms. The most disturbing, or at least the most pernicious at the moment, is the worship of all things military. It links to the time honored theme of patriotism. For this class of the U.S. public, this usually means a blind devotion to state authority. To *love* one’s country usually is an emotional attachement, shot through the prism of fear, of the U.S military. Its certainly not American culture that is loved. As Parenti says, “they would starve Athens for an ever stronger Sparta”.

The endless parade of cop franchise or military drama are now produced in this short hand or code. There are countless assumptive positions, or backdrops, that are easily read by a well trained populace. If one sees a bus station, a soldier entering from the rear door, a duffle bag over his shoulder, the association is ALWAYS with virtue and sacrifice. That soldier is not read as the man with a joy stick in his hand calling dead children “bug splat”. Its not a meth driven steroid junkie jar head Delta Force psycho fresh from target practice on Iraqi families stopped, seated in their car, at a check point.

There are key words of course, “freedom” being the most often employed. Here we return to hyper-reality. What freedom might this be? As Malcolm said, the freedom to starve. Of course these narratives do much more than just instill ideological positions. They also reinforce tendencies a healthier society would rationally try to correct; racism, bigotry, projection, and resentment. They provide a form of permission for these darker urges, largely because such urges can profitably be used in marketing campaigns. Today the media saturated public travels in hyper space as a kind of tourist. A shopper for landscapes that appeal to whatever particular fear or rage the individual viewer is suffering. I have often noted that the most popular shows are the ones who provide the most comforting fantasy landscape. Its the characters of course, but they aren’t really characters so much as part of the landscape. The current TV show Vegas, with Dennis Quaid, creates a fantasy of 1960s Las Vegas. The central protagonist, Quaid, is a stoic hyper masculine throw back to the emotionally distant heroic western heroes of the 1950s. Except that if one were to examine a sampling of 1950s westerns, one might find, indeed, emotionally distant men, but none of them as one dimensional as the Quaid character. For it isn’t a character, its a chair. Its a vista of hills and sand. It’s a horse.

The remaining narrative mechanisms are equally coded. There is almost no story, only a space to visit on an hour long vacation. The internalizing of these codes, as many have noted, accumulate into an imagined world where nothing concrete need be addressed. Where one can speak in TV dialogue about events that never took place, and believe fully that they did. Now, there are also a whole host of deep codes at work. Racism is the easiest to talk about I suppose. South America equals banana republic. Caudillos and strongmen and drug cartels and corruption. The inner city is only gangs and drive by shootings. But deeper into these codes, one can uncover the reinforcement of the subject’s inherent superiority. The white supremicism. The white male supremicism. For even when the protagonist is a black woman or, say, a Mexican teenage girl, they are only stand-ins for white men. Even when the script is written by a black woman, it often expresses these same codes. Of course not many black women write for CBS or FOX, or SONY. The normalizing of acting out your own rage and resentment in the body of an accetable figure of authority….thats one sense of what is going on.

For again, these are no longer characters. They are only decor and landscape. This landscape is constantly punctuated with violence and sex. But its a particular staging of sex and violence. HBO has sort of perfected the insertion of bare breasts as part of the landscape’s inventory. The choreographed sex, the editing, all follow a formula perfected in advertising. I remember showing a class the opening to one of the Rambo films, and then the opening to 1970s porn film. The camera did the same thing. The objectifying of the body. The camera caresses the body, and in the case of Rambo, the gun right after it. Porn is actually pretty primitive in comparison. Or porn from that bygone era. The amatuer porn explosion has been only another step on the road of self branding, and altered a sense of body and sex forever. So, with HBO, much like the fiction that once appeared in magazines like Hustler, there must be a breast every twelve minutes, or whatever it is. Or a sex scene every half page. And all of it is interchangeable in the end. When HBO showed its mini-series Rome , it was not hard to imagine most of these “characters” stepping out of Days of Our Lives or Criminal Minds. The acting, in particular in military and police shows, carries a certain deadness, an intentional minimalist authoritarian style. It always is smug, and cynical, but is carefully NOT cynical when discussing patriotism and other abstractions such as freedom. The tone dips further into disgust when dealing with “perps” or “terrorists”. It might be useful, at some point anyway, to trace back these figures as they appeared in earlier genre forms. The Romance novel, the dime pulp crime novel, or even in still earlier painting genres. When Molly Klein and I wrote about Weeds, this topic came up and it’s worth a more in-depth analysis. Speaking of Weeds, the final episode revealed the latent reactionary underpinnings that had been kept more or less surpressed for six seasons or so. Punishment ALWAYS awaits those who reject a petit bourgeois life.

But I digress. For the issue is, at least one issue, the way in which history and the political world view has now almost totally morphed into simulacrum. This has two obvious implications right off the bat. One is that real historical evidence is simply an inconvenience. And two, and maybe even more important, is that where art once reached to express utopian dreams, where it once questioned assumptions, and through even its virtuosity, it suggested truths not spoken before, or hidden, or it provided forms for deciphering the oracular mysteries of community and mortality, it now only projects a blank screen of interchangable cliches. The replacement of this artistic project with corporate commodity narrative, hyper reality tourism, has stunted the capacity to see and hear.

This week I read an article in the NY Times on longevity.

The most striking aspect of this had to do with community. That advanced capitalist society, before all else perhaps, has erased community.

I am reminded of a figure from the 1600s, a Dutchman, named Hugo Grotius. He is credited as the father of international law. He was, in fact, a figure of prominance within the Dutch East India Company constellation, and his work was very narrowly in the service of Empire. For what he wrote was a legal basis for just wars. For wars of opportunity, really, and that the proper authority (previously the state) could now rest with commercial entities. Without getting too deeply into legal history, the importance here is that this idea of prima facie rights, of a natural law of self preservation, has been carried on straight through to today. And in the world of corporate media narrative we find this as a backdrop for the great white father as enforcer of moral causes. Now, this idea of war for profit as a moral right can be read in almost all commerical film of the last eighty years. It establishes the idea of aquisition of “what is useful for life”, meaning property and other peoples, as a natural law.

There was the additional inclusion of the right of taking “unused” land. That is, land not used in a manner that made sense to white European traders and armies. In other words, the foundations for colonialism.

There is in this age of branding, something that starves the spiritual life of a people, which is just another way of saying it destroys community. For all the potential of platforms such as Facebook, it is also a form of self-branding. It is easy to pick apart the flaws in Baudrillard, but the corrective to his vision of hyper-reality isn’t achieved by a Derridean corrective (the free playing signifier), which at least in one way, was a criticism of Baudrillard’s supposed nihilism. I have a feeling that as time passes Baudrillard’s notions about the production of image may seem ever more cogent. The over-exposure (JB), the over illumination of the world renders it impossible to see. The restoration of sight may lie in culture. I’d like to think so anyway. The enclosing of discourse within a grammar, a narrative, and images of corporate and State Department ideology, of this pre-fabricated tourist landscape has provided a large chunk of the populace with pre-digested slogans and faux history that are spewed out as chit chat and little more. They are like affirmations, little Bible quotes to be recited and bantered about. Oh, the bodies pilled up in the streets. WHAT street? WHEN? WHO? Oh, it doesn’t matter, “we” all know this happened. The consensus, or appearance or selling of consensus, is a significant part of what this commodity culture does.

A world where children are killed by hellfire missiles, launched from drones that are controlled by men in air conditioned rooms on some base in Idaho; that this is largely ignored, is almost too depraved to comprehend. That people can speak of being “fans” of this even more so. Just like Kim Kardashian and her 7 million twitter follower fans. It’s all the same. If culture is to ever posit community again, then it must decipher its own prophetic ghost image. This is what art has done in the past. It has, without consciously being aware, dreamed of a future. This desire, the desire of the creative, of imagination, is what is killed off in mass media, in the culture industry. If Haitian garment workers making 18 cents an hour can be seen as props for the hyper real tour of Clinton’s business development project, and can be relegated to stand ins in this epic saga of white supremicism, then artwork has to re-think the form it works in, far more than its message. For messages are neutralized, and over-exposed somehow. They are uttered by Dennis Quaid, the chair. The authority figure, the nostalgic simulacrum. These exercises in an invented nostalgia, that most reductive longing for the nest, for relief from the actual emptiness of modern alienated existence, are now also the vocabulary for political alliance, and for an ever intensifying social domination. Critical judgement is used for false choices between different detergent brands, for who was best dressed on the red carpet. It’s a parade of infantilzed preferences. And the language sinks fruther into almost pre-verbal babble. Tens of millions of people slave in sweat shops while the pundit max headroom class disect Romney’s tie choice, or how cool Obama’s drone jokes were. These are produced associations, they are brands, and they mask the daily violence of a system descending into madness. The soundtrack of day to day life is scored with both real gunfire and simulacrum gunfire.


  1. Lots to ponder, just here’s a calling card forewarning of a visit later:

    ‘More and more often there is embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed. It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from us: the ability to exchange experiences.’

    -Walter Benjamin, The Storyteller

    Jonathan Beller says something very astute about the passage from “aura” (Benjamin) to simulacrum: the fetish quality of the simulacrum is the commodification of sight and it’s repression – that is, what we repress (in strict sense, not erase but submerge and continually struggle to hold down) when we consume mediated images of the spectacle is that the quality we seek is all the other looking, the vastness of their circulation, the social order of looking/affect that they organize (effectively then not supernatural powers but the capital relation itself, the world system that is capital). The image is valuable because it circulates so widely, because it is the node for all this social labour and the mechanism of its exploitation. The arrogance of the indoctrinated opinionist derives from this confidence of manipulating images and ideas enjoying this fetish power of their wide circulation, their ubiquity and how that very ubiquity and circulation erodes their rational historical content and instead exchanges them as kind of coins of noosphere or something.

    And as Benjamin said storytelling gives way to “information…shot through with explanation”:

    More Benjamin:

    “On the other hand, we recognize that with the full control of the middle class, which has the press as one of its most important instruments in fully developed capitalism,
    there emerges a form of communication which, no matter how far back its origin may lie, never before influenced the epic form in a decisive way. But now it does exert such an influence. And it turns out that it confronts storytelling as no less of a stranger than did the novel, but in a more menacing way, and that it
    also brings about a crisis in the novel. This new form of communication is information.

    “Villemessant, the founder of Le Figaro, characterized the nature of information in a famous formulation. “To my readers,” he used to say, “an attic fire in the Latin Quarter is more important than a revolution in Madrid.” This makes strikingly clear that it is no longer intelligence coming from afar, but the information which supplies a handle for what is nearest that gets the readiest hearing. The intelligence that came from afar—whether the spatial kind from foreign countries or the temporal kind of tradition—possessed an authority which gave it validity, even when it was not subject to verification. Information, however, lays claim to prompt verifiability. The prime requirement is that it appear “understandable in itself.” Often it is no more exact than the intelligence of earlier centuries was. But while the latter was inclined to borrow
    from the miraculous, it is indispensable for information to sound plausible. Because of this it proves incompatible with the spirit of storytelling. If the art of storytelling has become rare, the dissemination of information has had a decisive share in this state of affairs.

    “Every morning brings us the news of the globe, and yet we are poor in noteworthy stories. This is because no event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information. Actually, it
    is half the art of storytelling to keep a story free from explanation as one reproduces it. ”

    – Benjamin, The Storyteller

  2. Great article John..

    So what’s an artist to do if he’s still alive and awake and not co-opted into the system manufacturing tourist landscaping or reinforcing capitalist tropes ? How do you survive, pay the bills and still have the capacity to look at your facing in the mirror every morning? Joseph Campbell ,l believe said the artists quest was to write myths, creating new myths based on his or her truth if the old one’s had become fossilized and worthless to their current times. I know you spent time in the system writing for t.v shows. Do you try to subvert it from within or choose to remain on the outside writing plays for a handful of the converted? Doesn’t any challenge to their dominant narrative lead to the road of the HUAC? If you make a piece of uncomissioned art that’s not a coded abstraction surely they keep you out via their control of distribution networks. Is their hope in the future from the internet?
    Be interested in you views on how best to fight the power in this day and age

  3. john steppling says:


    “shot through with explanation”….thats a key part of it. I was less than detailed when I spoke of codes……..but that is, in a sense, one of them. But its not only explanation. Its a very particular kind of explanation. I think twenty years ago, you didnt have to make that distinction. The explanation refers to previous infomration, which refers to still earlier information……….its all locked into a particular kind of template that “explains” reality….and that explanation defines this narrow interchangable realm of what is allowed to be experienced. Thats part of how the perjoritive was attached to conspiracy…..if its not allowed as experience, but you experience it and attempt to tell it, you are a conspiracy nut.

    So…….what Benjamin says in your first quote… exchange of experience, is no longer what corporate product does. It surpresses the exchange of experience. Now the Beller idea i would agree with, but not completely…. in the sense its not only their ubiquity. Now, sounding plausible is interesting……because again, the system carefully constructs this definition of plausible. You tell someone, oh, the CIA is in Libya. Oh, you are a conspiracy nut. Well, no, turns out of course they were in the middle of it all. But no matter, the plausible has been constructed to be ONLY what the state tells you is plausible. It must conform to certain plots and images. But i think what is really important is how interchangable all this is. It all happens on the same emotional register…….which marcuse even said forty years ago. The media will use the same edits, the same narration, the same framing to report the death of a child by hellfire missile, as it does to explain justin timberlakes wedding. The emotive cues are the same……..and so the opinions are always accompanied by an appeal to their consensus. (their wide circulation)…… a million people say Chavez killed his political enemies. And now, more, even the unspoken is widely circulated………that which ISNT said, which is very carefully not said, is circulated. And this has a few parts to it I think. But one is the sort of water cooler morning chat meme. Where what wasnt said is felt………and maybe said in private and maybe not…….but its FELT…………and is therefore circulated , too. Thats what I was trying, not too well, to suggest about deeper layers of coding. What isnt an image becomes an after image……..its not seen, but its there, and its in circulation.

    I suspect of course distribution is hegemonic. Its total….total control. But the problem is, in my experience and im guilty of this as much as anyone…… that artists tend to create, and sometimes its an original vision, a dream of something not ever seen……..but…… is somehow adjusted to the sense of its failure …..failure as defined by the system. Its very hard to not feel marginal………everything is working to do that. On one level the answer is, again, not to sound reductive, but the answer is community. Where one is not always counter punching, or adjusting unconsciously to the anticipated blow from the “public”.

  4. john steppling says:

    this same register……same edit etc is given a name often, too. Its balance, its fairness, it maturity. Nothing is privileged…………child death, timberlake wedding……same same……….for nothing must be immature or unbalanced ..the equilibrium is the message.

  5. “It surpresses the exchange of experience.” – yeah, definitely. All relations between, well, anything at all must be masked with all this totalizing, blank imagery. We have a channel here that’s just non-stop CSI all Saturday night – all very ‘familiar’ cities, but hardly any of it is set ‘there’. It’s all just hyper-futuristic totalitarian police HQs, the suspect’s (usually huge) home and wherever they find the corpse. Even the sound of traffic is absent. All of Miami etc. is white (except of course, *the* criminal). All crime takes place in a social bubble where nothing relates to anything else (even drug operations are solved by putting one ‘ethnic’ behind bars). Suspects never have relatives (unless they killed them) and – most disturbingly – lawyers are almost invisible in police procedurals now. Flashbacks are all complete 30-second narratives with beginnings, middles and ends (the past as series of adverts, edited similarly, body parts, DNA etc filmed like consumer goods). There’s not even any ‘banter’ or character quirks between the cops anymore, like you’d get with Kojak etc. David Caruso, Gary Sinese etc. are fascinatingly bad, cadaver-like (where they always this awful? Can I trust my memory on this?) – the ‘star turn’ as a series of mannequin adjustments, like every joint in their bodies is made out of Meccano. Everyone ‘good’ dressed and posing like catalogue models.

    The thing is, cop shows are just the crudest, most blatant example. This supression of exchange applies to almost all audio-visual product now. It’s there from Hollywood’s idea of an ‘art’ movie, to ‘chart’ music (the 21st screening screening of ‘love’ being very different to what it was only 25 years ago) and definitely in news reporting. Products must be abundant, with relations of production being hidden at an increasingly neurotic level of denial.

  6. “lawyers are almost invisible in police procedurals now.”


    Nobody gets Mirandized on TV anymore.

    American kids used to hear “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. you have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney the court will appoint one for you” many many times a week.

  7. Yep – exactly. Every English-speaking school kid knew those lines by heart. They used to have that bit on every cop show /movie until the 80s. Now they just run in, put a gun in their face – certain they did it – or the perp is threatened (or ‘psychoanalyzed’) until they confess their entire life story. No matter how rich or arrogant the ‘bad guy’ is – no rights, no lawyers.

    And since when did forensic pathologists – or clairvoyants for that matter – get arrest warrants so easily?

  8. john steppling says:

    Its funny you know, all that ballistic science is nonsense. Fire a gun another fifty times and the ballistics are all gone. Same with fingerprints. …….and…most of it.

    yeah @kasper:
    the walking dead performances. I know enough of directing actors to see exactly the choices being made here. Its a timing thing, partly. Step on the natural pause after the other person’s line. It suggests this authority, and impatience. This certainty. In another era such choices were reserved for fanatics. Now its a sign of moral clarity. But thats only part, the other is this contained aggression. Its very psychotic actually……and yes yes, the interchange of place. Shows that are supposed to be in Miami or Houston, have a second unit shoot a day of exteriors in miami and then they should shoot in LA or vancouver…who cares…..its all the same “place”. And that reminds me of, I think, curtis white….someone, who wrote of the old later 1940s noirs….that the homes of the rich were always like mauseleums……dead and empty and cold. They still are, except its a glossed as a virtue. Its like this new life in death…..its very odd, and editing away space also contributes to his erasing of space. Of place.

    Dirty Harry and Dragnet were the two watershed pieces for the law and order genre. The shift to the police as subject. But now, codes include defense attorney as wimp and sell out. Weakling. A source of humor.

    And of course *perps* never have stories. And if they do have some sort of fragmented back story, its most likely to be, oh, I was abused as a child. Its not EVER i stole because i was hungry, or i shoot heroin because i cant stand the pain of existence. I noted before the one exception that comes to mind about drug addicts is Drugstore Cowboy.

    One scene a counselor asks the matt dillon dope fiend….why do you do it? And he says, because, I cant stand ….(pause)…having to tie my shoe laces.

    its the only honest answer i can remember about that. But the real terror lurks in this interchangability…..of place, person, time. There are almost no anachronisms anymore. People don’t read it that way. The public, or a chunk of it, is trained to think history isnt……….its all now…………and now is all the future………I saw the other day an utterly anachronistic scene in boardwalk empire …forget what it was, but i thought, wait……….and looked it up…and sure enough, that phrase wasnt heard during the 20s. But who cares, nobody reads this material that way. Its as you say, the products must be clearly visible, and the ideological meaning clearly out front…..or I should say, cleary background. For thats what it does, its the background for everything. For every show, every scene, every character……….the same non-place.

    @clive……..i was thinking about your question. And there is no subversion from within because there is no real within and without. I think one of the things to be figured out is how to create a model to just, first, be able to talk about this. Its very elusive somehow….and.difficult. But worth thinking about.

  9. “that the homes of the rich were always like mauseleums”

    – Yeah – in older movies that was very apparent, from Citizen Kane to Sunset Boulevard (and many gangster movies). The echo, the alienation from immediate surroundings, the plastic grandeur. Douglas Sirk had this too (albeit at a lower wealth level) – shelves of untouched books, un-dented furniture, Jane Wyman’s TV confronting her with nothing but her own reflection.

    Difference now is how the cold, alienating sets are harsher now – but as backdrops to a ‘bustling family’ or a ‘happy-go-lucky couple’. Compare how a Neil Simon ‘New York apartment’ looked compared to the personal showrooms we now have representing the same, where nothing ever ‘happens’ except sex on perpetually-ironed beds or dinner at tables that remain spotless after several bottles of wine. I suppose it serves to close the visual distance between ‘show’, movie’ and the adverts that surround them.

  10. Notice in Sunset Boulevard, everything about the rich and alienated is death. Today (and by today I mean if it were produced within the same confines it was then, not anything about artists then vs now), that film would be an ironic take on the rich and eccentric. The first real glimpse into Norma Desmond’s house would be accompanied by some energetic dance song with quit sexy cuts from close up to close up of the opulence, and the film would be the rich safely making fun of themselves in the way Timberlake tries to make fun of himself while some elder stateswoman of the industry hams it up and wins an oscar. THAT would be that film today because the insulation of privilege has created such cultural rigor mortis. Case in point Lena Dunham’s voting joke. They are working so hard to affirm her as an edgy voice, and it’s almost sad how impotent it all feels, but the part that is serious and upsetting is how the Obama administration has managed to culturally align with many of these voices to the point that the Drone campaigns can be apologized away.

  11. john steppling says:
  12. I appreciate both John’s column and the commentary, particularly Clive Saunders’ citing of Joseph Campbell. I just completed and published a novel, ‘News From A Parallel World’, which attempts to do what Campbell suggests, create a new myth. That’s what we’re left with since the mass media and the cultural environment itself colludes in leeching the color, sense, and character out of history and politics. The structure is not going to be repaired and so must be exorcized, flattened, buried along with the other mass catastrophes of the industrial age. We’re past that but the consciousness has not yet caught up.
    It’s a very deep problem because this is an empire and its functions are now on automatic pilot. Wholesale destruction of other peoples and, eventually, inexorably, of people inside the U.S., using whatever technology is available, at whatever cost, is now widely seen as patriotic. Nobody is showing the body bags, not on NBC.
    And because there is an inherent contradiction between the requisites of empire and the expressed needs of ordinary people, the cognitive dissonance will make more and more people crazy, create more psychiatric emergencies and episodes requiring the tactical squads, and force imposition of more and more draconian measures to suppress the anger already rising.
    The industrial age is dead but ages do not go down gently. They thrash their prehensile tails and knock over everything. My novel is a myth, however it is the actual truth about the 1960s, the political murders which were carried out as control of the country teetered on the edge and the first electric age generation thought it could change the world. Real truth is perhaps best expressed in myth.
    I have no idea why anyone is watching these television programs people refer to. I stopped watching that garbage a long time ago because it’s important to protect whatever brain cells one retains following an enjoyably misspent youth. We don’t need television any longer. We have the web.

  13. Just had to look up who ‘Lena Dunham’ was. Jesus – she literally said nothing. Like it was parodying of the style of TV characters saying nothing. This could be the marketing dept’s main ‘high concept’ behind the entire US election: A show about nothing. Anyone insisting the candidates or ‘democracy’ should be about something are either to be regarded as literally nothing, or brought in to the official spectacle of nothing. That’s really something.

  14. john steppling says:

    Yeah, Ive been wanting to address some of that , Kasper. Maybe i will next entry.

    I also have been thinking a lot about the specificity involved here…….when one talks of simulacrum…..of hyperreality…….its very difficult, actually. Because partly, the image, the product, all of them, reproduce certain relations, and reinforce the ideology of the ruling class, of a corporate rentier class (in a not quite pure marxist sense).But the values of monopoly capitalism. The exploiting class. But they also are cultural product. And we are sliding into a discussion about two things it seems; one is hyperreality — the image as a commodity in an attention or consciousness economy, and then also marketing, and propaganda, and they arent quite the same thing. And how non corporate culture survives within this, or outside of this. I know Molly will no doubt step in with thoughts here…….I hope so…….but I will argue the radical pedagogy we discussed last thread, has great value, but its increasingly difficult to even talk about. Because EVERYTHING is subsumed — everything IS part of this reproduction of the status quo . But I think the tricky part is , and where we start to become psychoanlytical (which is fine by me is how we talk of how we surpress or repress image. And the sense of its fetish character.

    Something tells me this isnt always true. Or its not always true in the same way. And this is because I think that image is experienced via language. Our explanation to yourselves…..(why I return to mimesis all the time)… part of this currency that is freely circulated and it accumulates value through its endless circulation. And this is, also, connected to ‘what is not said’. The fetishizing of what is NOT said. To the hyperreality of what isnt said.
    at this point my mind starts to slowly freeze, but i think its acutely important. Its not really propaganda………..there is plenty of that…….and sometimes a product is both………but as Kasper said, Lena Dunham is saying nothing, and her way of saying nothing, is partly what she doesnt say. Now thats a sort of obvious example of not saying things. But often my sense is that its far far far more subtle. And its also its own engine. The cunning of unreason and all that. The system reproduces in such volume and at such speed, that (metaphor that isnt) it blurs. And the psychoanalytical dimension here would be that our sense of our own history, our own formation or creation or however you want to define it……….that it also cannot avoid becoming fetishized. … and blurred. Illegible. Because the looking of the other, desire of what others desire, is sort of neutralized.

    i may stop and ponder this some more. But i think the heart of the issue is within this. There is also a need to, with a lena dunham, to tweeze out sexuality, repression, purtianism, exhibitionism, sadism, masochism, and IRONY…… irony that needs a new name because its post ironic.

  15. Hey everyone… interesting issues brought up here, John. And as you and Molly already know, I am still in shock about the kind of language that was used to w/r/t kill lists. Being a fan. The adorer, the subscriber. In every social media outlet, it’s always about how many fans, or Twitter followers you have. It’s a commodification of people. Complete strangers liking you has now become a commodity. I have 7,000 Twitter followers – I must be important. I happened to come across a reality show last night called Life After Top Chef, and one former contestant was pitching the success of a web series solely on his use of social media. Curious, I went to his Instagram page and found nothing but photos of himself and food, the photography was awful, just a camera phone. And yet 300+ “fans” “liked” every single goddman photo.

    I hate to keep talking about my experience at USC film school, John, and I only do it because it’s so relevant to the posts you’ve been writing. But in screenwriting class you’re taught to convey the most about a character in as little as possible. It’s a shorthand for cliche. Now, the cliche has become too long. Tell us exactly who this person by how he butters his toast or gets dressed in the morning. You’re taught to identify an entire character, or entire relationship with shorthand signifiers of prior copies of copies to arrive at distorted archetypes.

    You would hear so often professors saying “You can’t write that in a screenplay” – some piece of character description that attempted to get at the subtext of character. This is a big pet peeve of mine, and I understand that a script is only a template for a film, but I believe it holds up as a separate literary form. The format for screenwriting in Hollywood consist of draconian “rules” – 3 line paragraphs max, no characters with similar names, don’t describe this character as ugly because we’re offering the part to Nicole Kidman. It’s worse in TV. My point being that this is what is taught in universities.

  16. Lex hits on something when he talks about the impotence of the Lena Dunham video. I’ve felt this way about theater (especially self-described political theater) for the past decade or so. It has no agency, virtually no relevance. I recognize it in my own work (although I have to say watching Dogtooth was a good Rx – so thank you).

    People cough up the “all theater is political” meme. I get what they mean (I used to say it too), but I don’t believe after 9/11 that it can be true in the same way. It’s become a facade, a way of not having to question. Certitude as refuge.

  17. “You’re taught to identify an entire character, or entire relationship with shorthand signifiers of prior copies of copies to arrive at distorted archetypes.”

    And there’s a direct connection between this teaching – and the practice it in fact reproduces from the creatives – and the move “Aristide=Papa Doc and Baby Doc….the bodies of political enemies turn up in the streets….” or from the French press “the absurd carnival of which Aristide has crowned himself…” or Hitchens’ “bruschetta brigade” of from Zizek “Progressive liberals are, of course, horrified by such populist racism. However, a closer look reveals how their multicultural tolerance and respect of differences share with those who oppose immigration the need to keep others at a proper distance. “The others are OK, I respect them,” the liberals say, “but they must not intrude too much on my own space. The moment they do, they harass me – I fully support affirmative action, but I am in no way ready to listen to loud rap music.””

    I see Lenin’s Tomb is rediscovering Barthes’ Mythologies, the hit book in academia late 70s-80s which, whatever its flaws, made it very simple for youth to resist these crude manoeuvres of propagandistic discourses which now a generation brought up with ubiquitous small screens and social media is exceptionally vulnerable to again, as if culture criticism never happened.

    Joe writes:
    “You would hear so often professors saying “You can’t write that in a screenplay” – some piece of character description that attempted to get at the subtext of character. This is a big pet peeve of mine, and I understand that a script is only a template for a film, but I believe it holds up as a separate literary form. “”

    Yeah I’m thinking lately how many brilliant unproduced screenplays I’ve read and what a pity they are not just available to be read. Fewer in recent years…I remember a very posh magazine called Screenplay does it still exist? In it I read that famous unproduced masterpiece Harrow Alley (Walter Brown Newman) – ever read this? It sticks in my mind as much as any novel. As does an Ed Anhalt screenplay called, I think, “Downtown”, that I read yonks ago. And a screenplay about military dolphins and a geeky computer kid learning their language. And a romantic comedy a friend of mine wrote that was a contemporary Shakespeare. And while some of the best screenplays I’ve read sit in my head like plays, pretty much indistinguishable, I find that others really are their own thing, and not desciptions of films (that is, nothing like the wonderful weird experience of Danielewski’s House of Leaves, say.)

    A friend of mine worked for a cable channel for a while formatting films for broadcast – cutting them to the slot and for commercials and for nudity/profanity. Anywya she said the old films, even the B and the westerns, were very very hard to cut (she loves film as art and is very respectiful), so it would take forever, she would shave two seconds off an establishing shot, and a second off a reverse of a closeup, laboriously, because every frame meant something. In contemporary films she says you can cut them anywhere. Nothing develops, nothing has purpose, nothing it integrated. Just this than this than this.

  18. john steppling says:

    That’s so interesting molly, about the editor. When i taught at the polish film school, this became so clear. Those directors from the 40s were educated. They were guys with formal education , many of them anyway, in culture. And they had the time to light scenes and frame them, and all within a consistent vision of the whole…..of the form.

    Today, sadly, I just read a blog piece on Breaking Bad. I mean this is a show, I will say, that is well shot. But beyond that its just more junk. Sort of prestige market junk, but still junk. The writers were blathering on about Brecht and David bowie…….and I thought this is just random. You can say anything. Everything is everything, anything is anything. Its all just cultural flotsam……… for a piece here and one there and dump them together……..and you have a critique. Its NOT a critique because there is absolutely nothing behind it. But its a fun game to play. And suffused with irony. It doesnt matter much, because i maintain enough of an ironic stance to neutralize the complaints that its means nothing.

    Lenin by the way has a piece on the manufacture of memes. And this is telling, too. Its more code. It collapses real thinking into this mosh pit of random sampling. The politics are erased in the process. Notions of racism, for example, are excluded……..if they arent being manipulated. But mostly, to suggest racism, to suggest history……… suggest that, oh, a hundred years of a certain treatment of a certain race or class might actually be of importance in how you decipher these codes, is to be a spoil sport. So not fun.

  19. john steppling says:

    richard seymour
    “But the ideal consumer doesn’t read critically. S/he absorbes the whole mythological chain of meanings attached to the image, and thus absorbes a racist, belligerent ideology in pseudo-progressive get-up. It is exactly like an advertisement in its logic. One looks at Kate Moss advertising eye mascara; her indifferent, made-up visage, gazing at the consumer against a backdrop of swirling blacks and reds. The image connotes rebelliousness, power, sexuality, self-control and presence, both in terms of the colour scheme and fonts and the well-known back story of the ‘troubled’ model. There is no concealment of the advertisement’s meaning. The literal meaning (here is a beautiful model who is advertising her line of make-up) is as explicit as the mythical meaning (possessing this make-up gives one the presence, social power and independence of Kate Moss!). The connection between the two is naturalised, as are a chain of profoundly ideological, contested ideas – like ‘beauty’ for example, or like the idea that a woman’s worthiness for attention and power are contingent on her identifying at a symbolic level with the male gaze. Memes in this sense, and of this type, are advertisements for a usually dominant ideology, circulated voluntarily through social media, as unpaid labour.”

  20. john steppling says:

    this goes back to hyperreality, and molly’s comment about the circulation of the commodified image. So when i say everything is marketing, its literally true. But beyond that, its also the attention economy at work.

    The endless repetition of these memes, or codes, or ideological constructs, tends to normalize them, and soon we have ” bodies piled up in the street”. Not a real street, not a real moment in history, but just a simulcrum of a street, with some appropriated tv narrative pasted into it. The ideology has occupied consciousness. And there is a manufactured consensus achieved by way of the mass circulation. Oh, yeah, i heard that……….four thousand times…………i saw that. Its not a question of belief even, for its not appealing to the authority of verification………..only the authority of its mass circulation.

  21. “You can say anything. Everything is everything, anything is anything. Its all just cultural flotsam……… for a piece here and one ”

    Yes/ yes yes yes.

    The entertainments are these things that are built to be used and projected on./ The audience endows them with what they want. The tiniest signal sufficies to justify any interpretation – as accessory product. fan reaction.

    It is exactly also the technique that succeeded so well in the Obama campaign. This blank for the projections of fantasies and identifications. That so much contradicted the progressives dreams was ignored because the one little thing – the way someone coached him to sound a little southern and say “our dream won’t be deferred” – was enough to triugger the “like”, the identification, the fandom. That’s for me. The training from mass media – broadcast and social telecom – has resulted in this disposition to like to buy to be a fan of at the lsightest prompts; to respond pavlovianly. Pavlov not Freud really prevailed in thje manufacture of obedience and consent;

  22. “Lenin by the way has a piece on the manufacture of memes. ” yeah exactly this is the one i meant. but he’s stopped with the “semiotics” boundary, the narrow thing (interpret this) and not gone down the anthropology road that is the other descendant of this pop crit over the past few decades which then mlust ask okay given one gets these dense packaged image/figures/topoi in this manner through this technology, and produces surplus value with the volunteer labour of circulating them and helps realise the slave labour that produced them as capital how is that impacting on the other social relations in which is taking place and how we use language (and whats happening to language) and how understand spectacle.

    These things have no audio;

    Audio is a curious thing. We can look at a lot of these poster image things simulatenously. If they had audio, we’d have to do only one at a time.

    the dominance of the visual is reemgering perhaps from this fused equilibrium of audiovisual that Donald Lowe describes in A History of Bourgeois Perception. A new visual that is not the cartographic visual, not the bourgeois gentleman’s visual, and not quite the cinematic visual that vied with the odd “orality” of radio that mlediologists believe was key to the euphoric oceanic feelings of fascism (something not right there in that analysis, Ong and MacLuhan, these catholic reactionaries, racists, white supremacist imperialists, but something they notice needs addressing).

    Before chatrooms in the web there were “party lines,” briefly, in the US. Just before the www, a boom decade for 800 numbers for phone sex and fortune telling and the experimental social media services – access to the other customers. No cameras. There are probably some anthropology dissertations about this…I should look.

  23. john steppling says:

    Yeah, this is absolutely true. Now, i wonder at where the dissonance occurs. Because it does. The problem is, say, when one watches Pasolini for example…….or Fassbinder……whoever……there are problems with this. You can be a *fan’ like…….but that sense of projection runs into a dissonance in the mimetic reading……..this way in which people have for centuries “read” things…….its short circuited in this kistch corporate junk. I saw this at the film school. Violent reactions when one showed a Dumont film. I remember a first year student YELLING angrily about this Dumont film……because he couldnt be a fan. Now Im not even sure how and why he couldnt. Thats a question. And its why I always go back to re-ponder Adorno . Breaking Bad doesnt posit anything not utterly pre-digested. Its so familiar. So much consensus is already there. And because the “like” clicks have circulated so widely the ability to project what you want……….which is really just what is familiar……has a momentum.When the viewer has to step outside that……if they do at all……the narrative, or film, or play, or whatever, feels as if its density resists the creating of these pop-arbitrary fan responses. One other thing is at work in this, and that is that there is so much of this stuff………that one thing naturally refers to something else within this enclosed world of simulacra. This is like that and that is like this. David Bowie did this, and brecht did that. Well, Brecht didnt do that, but who cares, the Brecht T Shirt means you dont have to read brecht anyway, he’s just a name. A signifier for something………..a style with wire rimmed glasses and a newsboy cap, and german expressionist style , fashion. That not widely circulated is therefore ignored. There is a huge encouragement to ignore it. Breaking Bad is water cooler fodder. And you can imbue it with all manner of cosmic importance. Its so walter white. So maybe one of the goals, and Im asked this and I ask myself this, one of the goals for artists is create that which has a density, of one sort or another, that cant be liked. The road toward some escape is through the door of unliked………of disliked even.

  24. I think RS may be pretending not to understand “Jemma”s point in the comments, but these things are not just messages (complex messages), as richard treats them. The medium is the message, they are concrete products which organize social relations. Not by what they “say” (and hint and imply and conjure) as signs but also what they are and do. Like the bad quality of sandwich is one thing but the fact that one buys it out of a vending machine is ideological thing. Talk radio, Howard Stern’s messages are ne thing the fact that his voice fills up this private little mobile room you are guiding over roads as you drive is the deeper level of ideology that needs addressing. Yes we know the words require out engagement and interpretation, the more critical the better. But RS stops there, even before addressing the flexibility in ideology the medium offers (it took 15 years in the gutenberg galaxy to demonize Jews and 72 hours with CNN to demonize Serbs.)

    But on the content level these things are really inviting – they invite our exegesis and criticial debunking. They are like dog snacks for “us” the audience of kwalitee tv that is now trained by Nick at Night in a certain shallowlly critical hermeneutic. hough I know it is just an artifical flavour of “rich text” I can’t resist. I want to do that kinda little critique reading that came to be klnownb colloquially as “deconstructing” (not really like what JD was doing at all). I want to notice and share my “insight” that the platitude is presented as an insight byu these memes, and in doing so I exhibit the platitiude/insight. I notice the obvious – these things invite me to notice the obvious and experience it as a kind of ersatz learning.

  25. john steppling says:

    as for orality. Yeah, i think that take is wrong. My last project in the US was a 12 hour radio serial. Written collectively with my workshop. Its being finished now at cal arts.

    I wanted to do radio for several reasons. One was that its affordable, sort of. But also because the ‘space’ in radio narrative is different. You by-pass the physical plant, the theatre, the building and all its associations and authority. There are no tickets. And i wanted it to be very long. To tune in and out. To assemble it in a sense within the mimetic retelling. I think thats the key. Its more directly connected to this interior where no image circulates. Wherever you hear it, you hear it still within the narrative itself. This was all sort of instinctual on my part. But I felt a huge attraction to a radio form of story telling because, I think anyway, nothing was for sale. Not directly anyway. I mean once its aired on a station i would assume commericals enter the discussion, but the narrative itself discards the usual anticipated interruptions.

  26. john steppling says:

    as i said somewhere above, its also what ISNT said. So you’re right, its not the message of the story or even commercial. Its the apparatus …..this giant leviathan of a billion dollar industry. Its also how the unspoken, the witheld is processed. It occupies a place……innuendo, and implied meaning, in the absence of its not being said. Its not conscious either. Its not “oh i wonder why he didnt say that”-. I mean that may be there, too, but its the unspoken that s not immediately recognized as missing. Its like this ghost figure at the water cooler. Peering over your shoulder…………..its a form of surveillance now that I think of it.

  27. Brecht yeah egad what he has come to mean. Nobody reads Brecht and nobody acknowledges he was saying all these techniques have to be used to bring about a revolution.

  28. “Nobody reads Brecht”?

    Awful lot of assumptions here about what gets read and what doesn’t. Earlier thread mentioned how “no one reads Kafka anymore”. Are these assumptions based on Amazon or NYT besteseller lists or something?

    People read all kinds of stuff. Some read ‘everything’ and some don’t read much at all. To assume that pop culture indoctrinated ‘everyone’ into ignoring ‘litertature’ it is somewhat snobbish. People mostly read in private, and we still can’t account for everything people do or don’t do in private.

  29. john steppling says:

    I’d say its pretty well established people read less. Far less than even twenty years ago. I know of several studies. The UK Literacy Trust found one in three children up to age 16 i think it was, had never read a book. Only pieces of text books. This was one third fewer than twenty years before.

    According to the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 37 percent of fourth graders and 26 percent of eighth graders cannot read at the basic level; and on the 2002 NAEP 26 percent of twelfth graders cannot read at the basic level. That is, when reading grade appropriate text these students cannot extract the general meaning or make obvious connections between the text and their own experiences or make simple inferences from the text. In other words, they cannot understand what they have read. ”


    I know another study that said 47% of americans cannot read the instructions on their prescripiton medicine bottles.

    Of course the publishing business says people read more. I know from teaching that most students I had were very poor readers. Almost none read outside of assignments. I know teachers at more expensive schools and they had students who read. When i taught at places in queens….community college………….mostly students didnt read. I had an adult education class at night at Co Op city, and those women read a lot. So…………i dont know, and i guess we might go on and on about what people read. But do I think LOTS of people read Brecht? NO, i feel pretty safe saying few people read Brecht. What percentage of the US or UK public has read a work of Brecht? What do you think? I dont know. 3%?? Something like that. Thats my guess.

    Now, people read in fragmented ways on the net. People read billboards. People read magazine covers. I found very few studetnts who even read entire articles in magazines. They read bits and pieces. So, no, its not snobbish at all. Its pretty accurate. Unless you can suggest studies saying otherwise.

  30. john steppling says:

    from the boston globe piece;

    “Indeed, the report suggests that multitasking is a factor. It found that more than half of middle and high school students use other media most or some of the time while reading, and that 20 percent of the time they spend reading they are also watching TV, playing video games, sending messages, or otherwise using a computer.

    Besides plotting statistical trends, the report cites economic consequences. Seventy-two percent of employers rated high school graduates deficient in writing, and 38 percent cited reading deficiency. One out of five American workers reads at a lower level than necessary to do his or her job. Not surprisingly, proficient readers are more likely to attain management jobs and higher incomes.

    Possibly the most striking finding is that, regardless of income, levels of reading for pleasure correlate closely with levels of social life, voting, and political activism, participation in culture and fine arts, volunteerism, charity work, and even regular exercise.

    “The poorest Americans who read did twice as much volunteering and charity work as the richest who did not read,” Gioia said. “The habit of regular reading awakens something inside a person that makes him or her take their own life more seriously and at the same time develops the sense that other people’s lives are real.”

    “The report – a 99-page compendium of more than 40 studies by universities, foundations, business groups, and government agencies since 2004 – paints a dire picture of plummeting levels of reading among young people over the past two decades. Among the findings:

    Only 30 percent of 13-year-olds read almost every day.

    The number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.

    Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure.

    The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading.”

  31. “Now, people read in fragmented ways on the net. People read billboards. People read magazine covers. I found very few studetnts who even read entire articles in magazines. They read bits and pieces.”

    – Well, the way I read (non-fiction) books has become more more fragmented in recent years. Not so much beginning to end, but certain sections followed by others until I’ve read the whole thing and ‘revised’ it chronologically. But then (to a lesser extent) I did this as a child, often finding a-z narratives less involving than more digressive or ‘experimental’ texts. I do think this is partly due to TV – but it also helped me to be less passive consuming this stuff.

    Sure, literacy is ‘declining’ to some extent. But isn’t it just that younger people are processing written text via different means? In the running battle between media and education (with family), the former is definitely winning. But did previous generations really read Brecht (or other ‘modernists’) in much greater numbers than now? What about other nations where literacy has grown over the past century?

  32. I think Brecht has been replaced by “Brecht” which is de-politicised and used as just a term for any kind of self-reflexivitiy in dramatic and performance arts. This is whta I meant, not really that actually consumption has declined (its probably pretty steady for the last four decades….)

  33. OK – got it. Magic signifiers like “Orwell”, “Kafka”, “Beckett” or “Trotsky”. Wonder if they’ll end up like fairy tales or Bible characters, where everyone ‘knows’ them but via vague rhetorical mentions, movie versions or parodies. Certainly seems to be the case with “Nietszche”, “Marx” and “Freud” now.

  34. john steppling says:

    @kasper…………I think they largely already have. I mean its just my anecdotal experience teaching……but students would say “kafkaesque”……..and not read kafka. And they said it to someone else who would nod, who also had not read Kafka. Marx……jesus, its like Che T Shirts. Marx is an image, and its that one photo. Or Nietzche……same. They become these cartoon signifiers. :……….

    And i would be, @molly, thats its not been steady at all. I think the actual reading of books has declined dramatically.

  35. john steppling says:

    And, I think literacy in other countries clearly has risen. Again, just my experience, but students Ive had from south america for example, actually had read. Im mostly speaking of the US. And I dont think they read as much at all in the US. I mean I would go to the mat on this. And all studies indicate it. Do they read more fragmented? Sure. But they also dont read as much. They also tend much more to read coverage. They dont read Marx…they read a textbook summerizing marx. They dont read Tolstoy because they see no reason to. Again, in the US.

    I mean I agree that my reading is probably, at least somewhat, more fragmented today. I read stuff off the computer screen……in bits and pieces……….but I largely still read books.

    Now in Poland, for example, a lot of stuff…Freud, Marx, etc……isnt translated into Polish………..hard as that is to believe, but its not. So students in psychology at Jagolonia, read polish catholic coverage of Freud. One can only imagine what thats like. But……….back to the US. I think quite simply people read far less. Ive not found any study that suggested otherwise. Its been a steady decline. And in high school, a good deal less reading is asked for. Probably in most colleges too. Not perhaps the better ones, but in the US….if you attend, say, Florida State or U of South Carolina, Im guessing you dont have to ever read a book. Im not exaggerating at all. You can go to college towns, for the less prestigious colleges, and not find a single book store except for the on.campus textbook store. That was unthinkable thirty years ago.

    There has been this idea floated that oh, people read differently, etc. They read in other formats, in less coherent or linear ways, etc. Id say, yeah, but mostly they read less. Period. I refer again to the boston globe article.

  36. john steppling says:

    So yes, previous generations read Brecht more. Id absolutely say yes. Im sixty one. When I was twenty, people would read on buses. On the subway. People read in parks. I rarely see that now. I see sometimes people read the newspaper, or a magazine……sometimes, but even that in fewer numbers. And I used to see people read dostoyevsky or whoever…….and Id see people reading Faulkner……….and I simply very rarely see that. Last time i had a gig, and this was twenty years ago already………i was a security guard at a medical center. I did the graveyard shift. And i read all night. And i cant count the number of times people would approach me…….and ask, oh, where do you go to school. I was forty years old. But so strong was the insistence that to read meant the book had been assigned, that it trumped the obvious fact I was a decade or more too old to be at school.

  37. john steppling says:

    And one other observation. I find it odd, and I have felt this before, that the post modern mind set continues to want to suggest this is not so. The logic of domination would suggest that less reading equals less ability to think critically. That people now spend endless hours staring at their cell phones, or playing with Iphones or whateverthefuckever……….more and more sort of gadgets and social networking, seems rather obviously an encouragement from a system desgined to create the docile worker. To crush dissent.

    Now…………i also think there has been this obvious reaction to the modernist cult , of genius, or white supremicism. But its taken a weird turn when notions like visual literacy are pimped as somehow just another way to think. Id say its more a way not to think. The corrective to white surpremicism probably shouldnt be to stop reading. Maybe read better. But largely I think that the production of products…….tv and film, and stuff, has created this decline in literacy. I also have found, personally, that the poor read more. In the US. When Ive taught at adult night school, as I said above, i had a lot of single mothers …mostly black and latina…….and they read. They actually read whenveer they had time to do so. When i had middle class white kids in Queens, they COULDNT read. They couldnt fucking the read the directions on how to assemble their new Ikea bed. I think class becomes very interesting as its analysed in terms of reading and this culture of distraction. The poor cant afford expensive gadgets for one thing. Now………there are a ton of contradictions in this, and I know for example, in places like Appalachia, where education, public education, was destroyed before it was destroyed other places, that there has been a rise in illiteracy. In inner cities there is a degree of this, where a lot of kids drop out of junior high school. Reading skills havent been taught.

    But I think my point was that somehow there is a strange subtle collusion between domination and post modern theory.

  38. john steppling says:

    just again,,,here is a jumble of stuff…………as I find this topic, more I think about i, pretty fascinating……………

    Now………… occurs to me that people may well read more words per day than a hundred years ago. Im sure they do,. Half of them are advertisements. But clearly people “read” more words. more sentences. I think we’d have to really examine the nature of internet reading, the quality of that reading. The retention of readers, both from internet sources and book sources. So, Id say, my experience would indicate people dont read as well, dont read “books” nearly as much, and dont read as coherently. I guess I would have to define coherent. But again, my experience as a professor for the last fifteen years or so is that my students had a very hard time reading complex material. So difficult was it that I stopped assigning it in many cases. Fifty Shades of Grey might be read a lot, but I doubt more complex material is read nearly as much. What is the effect of Kindle and Nook and the like? Not a question I can answer. But again, serious readers…………not the one book a year kind of reader……..but serious readers seem ever fewer. I heard The Fountainhead called a classic the other day. Maybe it IS endtimes.

  39. I knew it was all over when I saw the Fountainhead displayed as a ‘Penguin Classic’ in uni bookshops for the new English Literature semester.

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