Fragments of a Story

How did you cross the Threshold? I part the Veils of Māyā and snatched my dream from the claws of Soma Swami. I inverted myself into fantasy and achieved the Dream.

What is The UFO?

• The source of all fortean phenomena: The Dreamborn god of fear and mystery.

• OR profane envoy of the Abyssal Watchtower of Mind and Spirit, inverted lotus of the Sahasrara. Expression of the fear that god is simultaneously mundane and unknowable.

• OR something else???

• An expression of the belief that Ascension is simply the first rung on the ladder to enlightenment, that there are an infinite number of worlds to be transcended, and that beings so advanced as to be perfect may still fall short of glory.

Magic

Philosophy: Magic is the violent imposition of will upon the universe. Enormous action, magnitudes larger than that occurring in the sphere of the Fallen. Conversely this action invites Big Karma, the feat known as Paradox. There is no inherent goodness in the Supernal but that it is the realm of great action, immeasurable evil and feats of soaring heroism. The Abyss is a realm of deflationary microaction. Synchronisation with Dharma is achievable via the unknowable streams of chaos magick. There is no right but Dharma and Dharma may cloak itself in silk Supernal or Abyssal. Whatever is remains is and remains the will of Dharma.

Syncop Attractor – Siddha
• Siddha Archmaster of Time, Life and Mind. Addicted to casting off its former selves, seeks to create itself anew in every moment.
• An ever-shifting morass of traits, colours and sounds orbiting itself in four dimensions.

Bloom – Tetrarch
• Archmaster of Space and Prelate of The Eye, Bloom seeks to interpose himself between space and become the sacred channels through which all information is mediated. A system of gates through which every conceivable interaction is meted, cropped and surveilled.

Soma Swami – Dreamborn
• False god of a thousand false worlds, Maharajah of the Veils of Maya.
• Captor of Ananda’s former self in a ploy to trick him out of Ananda’s current self. Ananda’s liberation of his current self from the claws of Soma Swami has enabled Ananda to go beyond infinity, enraging the Swami to no end.

Rajah Māyā – Alienated devotee of Soma Swami
• Fundamental disagreement over Ananda’s commitment to the Mysteries and rejection of material desire. Follows a path of warm ignorance over cold truth. Seeks the truth within the illusion. Mutual frustration over the fact that he and Ananda are two sides of the same coin.

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Durkheim, Sociological Time, Scale, Care, Frequency

Durkheim contrasts the sociological time of festival, schedule, and human history with the biographical time of personal experience. Beyond our own time there is a time produced by “all men of the same civilisation”, a time which exists above and beyond the individual. When Durkheim refers to an “objective” time, he is not referring to a natural time so much as he is referring to a time which exists beyond our selves. The objectification of time in the form of clocks, calendars, schedules and programs is simultaneously a record of collective action and a means of coordinating it. It is the establishment of “points of reference” – recordings and signifiers pointing to “fixed and specified” moments in space-time: Histories, genealogies, schedules, opening hours. These “points of reference” are contingent on space as much as they are contingent on time – we can not dissociate train timetables from train stations

Beyond space-time there is the matter of ritual, action – who did what, who is to do what, where and when. These things are inseparable – what, where, when, how, who and why. The record of sociological time is a means by which we can perceive what has happened, will happen, is happening beyond ourselves. Our personal experience of time is not dominated by sociological time, but rubs up against it – whether or not I choose to celebrate Christmas, it remains a matter of social fact for people the world over. I can’t simply go to a shopping centre on Christmas Eve and expect it to be empty, nor could I go there on a public holiday and expect to be served.

All the things I’ve described can be found in the train station. When someone takes the train, when they make any attempt to move from one place to another by any means and someone else cares about the outcome, there is an expectation. Depending on when they left and their means of transport, we can expect that the journey will take a certain amount of time and that it will arrive in a certain place. From here to Woy Woy station, from there to Central, from there to UNSW. Each journey is composed of an infinite number of constituent journeys, but we only divide time so far as we can usefully allocate an action to a circumstance – “if/then”. I know some friends of mine catch the Wednesday 6:30pm train on the Sydey to Newcastle line, so I’ll have a look for them on the platform. I know the train runs through here at 8:37am, so I’ll stay off the tracks.

Sociological time arises when collective knowledge of circumstances results in collective action and vice-versa – there is a system of feedback. Workers coordinating themselves with the bus lines, which coordinate themselves with the train lines which coordinate themselves with business hours and so on. All these things coordinate themselves with every other thing to which they are exposed, depending on the degree to which they care about the outcome of that other thing’s action. The degree to which there is coordination between systems is the degree to which they can be treated as one in the same for the purpose of scheduling. We don’t really worry about the stops before our stop, nor do we worry about each of the moments between each wheel and each section of track. Scheduling, and in turn the train timetable, is a means by which people are made aware that a certain section of people is to do a certain thing at a certain time. Once that action has come to pass, the schedule is transmuted into a record of events. This “action” encompasses a record not only of moments but of regularity – the schedule may repeat itself the next day, or the next decade, or the next century. There will be another train at the same time every day of the week for the foreseeable future. There will be another eclipse every 70 years for the next 350 years. That it is ‘sociological’ time does not necessarily mean it has a human origin – it is simply collective care and knowledge resulting in collective action.

 Notes:

• A duration can not be rendered separate from a time of departure or a circumstance eg. Means of travel.

• Scheduling itself is determined by the discontinuities within wider processes. Scheduling is a process of minimising spatial and temporal discontinuities.

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Feminism!

Edited repost from Facebook.

I’ll tell you how I conceive of feminism. I don’t think of it as a movement or a body of knowledge, I think of it as an attitude. It’s not a matter of research, it’s a matter of treating them as equals no matter what. Treat them how you’d want to be treated, don’t objectify them, don’t take advantage of them, and don’t ever assume that they’re less able to do something because they’re women.

It’s a lie to declare that women are equal to men because as is, they’re not. There’s a lot of entrenched, institutionalised discrimination like the pay gap, rape culture, and attitudes towards domestic violence. These things need addressing. There’s no box ticking “Hmm well I’m a liberal therefore I must support women’s rights?” type of thing, it’s a matter of action.

In regards to the status of women, we can’t make the mistake of thinking that “better” means “good”, or that all discrimination is immediately visible. In regards to feminists “seeking out” discrimination – if there is discrimination to be found, there is a problem! If you’re saying that feminists are inventing some accounts of discrimination, you have you ask yourself if you as a man are able to perceive discrimination as well as the women who are suffering it. I know I can’t!

Anyway, I’m a feminist and you should be a feminist too – it’s cool to be a feminist!

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Media Blog #8 – My Identity!

This really needs some cleaning up.

Analyse your identity. Is your identity self selected or imposed? What is it based on… bodily attributes? patterns of cultural consumption? location? or anything else?

What am I? That depends! What do I think I am? A lot of things! What do you think I am? I don’t know, you tell me! I can have a guess though.

Identity is a conduit between the self and the other – it bridges the gap between our private and public selves. The other could be considered a technology of the self – a living mirror in which we attempt to reflect our ideal selves. By Foucault’s account this “care for the self” is undertaken with the assistance of a public: the dialogical public of the mentor, the popular public of society, the abstract public of God. The presence of this public prompts a self-surveillance which blurs the line between “self-selected” and “imposed” identifiers – it is an imposed self-selection. I work within degrees of freedom – legality, normativity, availability, possibility. I can’t come to the tutorial naked, I’d get arrested! So I put on some clothes. This “self-selected or imposed” thing is a false dichotomy! I own these clothes, I feel compelled to wear them, but there is an element of choice – I decide which of these clothes I want to wear and how. I could come to the tutorial shirtless or I could come wearing my Mother’s dress, but I’d suffer judgement from myself in the form of an abstracted public  – “I wonder what that girl would think of me if I wore these authentic Versace jeans” – this is the ‘reflexive project’ of the self – and from I’d suffer judgement from a more immanent public if I decided to leave the house. But I can work with this, I can take what’s available and turn it into something which will convey myself to others – I can produce an oeuvre, I can wear jeans or I can wear shorts, I can wear tight clothes or I can wear loose clothes – I can construct an ensemble, I can create an assemblage of colours, shapes, textures, fabrics which convey some element of myself to others. I can work with constraint.

Conversely, there is a self-selected imposition of identifiers. Let’s say I want to get a tattoo on my forehead. I get the tattoo – it’s there now whether I like it or not. I have self-selected a tattoo to be imposed upon myself by the tattoo artist. I may have some idea what getting a tattoo means to others – I’m dangerous, I’m wild, I’m out of control! But the meaning of this identifier has been imposed upon me – I do not decide what the identifier means, only the degree to which I want to opt into it – the degree to which I take advantage of these technologies of the self. Of course, we can change the meaning of identifiers through work – disjunction, association, negation. I know combing my hair to the side will reflect my natural confidence. I produce my external self such that it reflects my internal self.

But what is my identity based on? That depends! As During says, “not all identities carry equal weight in particular circumstances… The relative weight of identities changes across time and space”. I think During neglects agency and I disagree with a lot of what he says – we have the power to choose which features will be used to identify us, the distinction between “given” and “chosen” identities seems arbitrary and counterproductive – I can choose to identify myself as having a mixed heritage, a Scandinavian heritage, an Australian heritage, an Irish, English, Welsh, French or Portugese heritage. I can choose to emphasise all or none of these identifiers. This is in part because I’m a straight white male – none of those identities are really called into question – they’re hegemonic. I can choose to emphasise the role of my father or my mother in my development, I can choose to emphasise all or none of my names, some combination of my names, given or invented names, potential names. I can choose to juxtapose these names and I can choose to emphasise different names to different degrees, I can choose to emphasise my name as a whole, “[BLANK]”. I can choose to emphasise my masculinity. Part of my identity is that I have huge muscles – I can wear loose clothes and conceal them or I could walk around flexing at people and saying “welcome to the gun show!!!”. Identities can be concealed, exposed, juxtaposed, disjuncted. What does it mean that I love French philosophy and have huge muscles? What does it mean when I put those facts next to each other? In ancient Greece, “physical beauty, paired with a well – developed mind, was the epitome of masculine virtue”1. But we’re not in ancient Greece! We’re here, now, and it means something different. It’s unusual now – the Greek gymnasium served as a place where young men could get together and work out while discussing literature, music and philosophy – it was a place where masculine beauty and intelligence went hand in hand. But what do we have to tie those things together now? Our contemporary technologies of the self offer no clear way to link the two together. This isn’t to say it’s not possible – I could get a bunch of my friends to sign up for the gym and we could sit around talking about music and books – but they’re not things we’d typically associate with each other.

Taking that into account, how do I identify myself? I want to contrast my “ARTS1090 Tutorial” identity with my identity at large – I want to explain how and why they differ. Firstly, I’m very tired by the time I get to my ARTS1090 tutorial – I’ve just been through 3 hours of classes, it’s Friday, I had to get up at 6, I got home at 8 the previous night. I talk way too much in all my other tutorials, but I barely talk at all in my ARTS1090 one! For whatever reason, I also have a much deeper voice than usual by the time I get to my ARTS1090 tutorial. The way I act in our tutorial doesn’t really convey the joie de vivre which consumes me at all times. Maybe this is because the tutorial isn’t really as social as my other tutorials? No one seems very enthusiastic! I don’t think the structure of the room – also a technology of the self – works with the class discussion format Luke seems to be going for. I think we should rearrange the tables so everyone’s in a circle and we can all talk to each other.

And what does it mean that I decided to mention I love French philosophy? Why would I decide to mention something which connotes “smart guy”? Am I full of myself? In part, yes. But I can back it up! I’m not the kind of guy who says “Oh yeah I’ve got a book of poetry with a publisher” at the beginning of semester and then it never comes up again because I was obviously just trying to make myself look smart, like this one guy in one of my other courses did. If I wanted to appear as though I was something I wasn’t, I’d put a lot of thought into what I said. I’d tell people certain things about myself, truths, half-truths, lies, and I’d try to construct an assemblage of connotation which pointed towards an identity. The language I use has a role in my discursive self. The language used around me has a role in my discursive self. I am simultaneously produced and consumed in my context. Context shapes and is shaped by identity – If people think I like to party, I get invited to lots of parties. If I go to lots of parties, people think I must like to party. Actions speak louder than words!

Notes

1. http://library.thinkquest.org/27850/library/history/greek_philosophy.shtml

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Media Blog #7 – Semiotic Investigation – Versace

Frankly I think this one is weak – it doesn’t really have much to do with semiotics. I also think Versace’s story is a bit sexist! “Allowed Poseidon to seduce her”. Really!

Choose a logo for a actually brand or product. Analyze it semiotically. How does the logo function as a symbol? How does it function as an icon? How do these meanings differentiate the brand?

This is my brand, Versace. Since its inception in 1978 ‘Versace’ has been a watchword for quality: Fierce, fabulous, fearless – Versace is everything you want to be and more.

How does this logo communicate the daring beauty of the Versace lifestyle? What does Versace have to teach us about living dangerously? Look to Ancient Greece – home of Heracles, Perseus, and the great hero Odysseus. Medusa, who had lustfully allowed Poseidon to seduce her1 in the temple of Aphrodite, dominates the Versace logo. Her face foregrounds a circle bearing the “Greek key” motif, also known as the “meander” – after the twisting river of Homer’s Iliad. The meander symbolises infinity – the eternal flow of things. Life, love, passion – the eternal bond between man and man and woman and woman. Beauty itself is held to be eternal. Something in Medusa’s raised eyebrow speaks to us – “Can you meet the Versace challenge?”. She petrifies us with her beautiful eyes, her luscious lips – frozen, stopped dead in our tracks. “Beauty is a curse”.

Her looks and her legend speak to a greater passion – triumph, conquest, heroic vice and virtue – the boldest rebuke of mediocrity. Versace himself could be likened to Jason and his Argonauts – his quest for the golden fleece. Versace sets itself apart with a brash tackiness unlike that of its competitors, Gucci, Armani and Prada. Where Gucci is tacky, Versace has the guts to pull it off. Armani’s pretensions toward a smooth professionalism are swept away in the sheer spectacle of Versace living, and Prada simply isn’t worth mentioning. Versace channels the pioneer spirit of Greece’s adventurer-kings – breaking new ground, battling the tyranny of stale fashion – that’s the Versace way.

Resources:
http://www.famouslogos.us/versace-logo/
http://voices.yahoo.com/the-versace-logo-representation-head-medusa-10000.html
http://www.ramstrum.com/momilani/html/SEMI.HTM
http://www.signosemio.com/peirce/semiotics.asp
http://www.lescahiersfm.com/en/people/257-classy-and-unmistakably-versace.html

1. Accounts differ, but this is the version Versace gives.

“battling” needs replacing.

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Media Blog #6 – Audience Ethnographies

Hermes (2009) states that the study of media audiences has always had ethnographic research as its ideal even though the actual methods used often fall short. How ethnographic was your own research project? What did you learn about the practices of contemporary audiences?

When Hermes speaks to this ethnographic ideal he’s asking us to analyse audiences on their own terms. Ethnography is in essence a becoming – in order to analyse audiences on their own terms, we must understand them on their own terms – we must become the object of study. We must destroy our critical distance, only to reconstruct it in the image of our subject.

My research project was to some degree ethnographic, given my personal involvement with my friend Matt. A truly ethnographic research project would involve my going to Matt’s house, spending a lot of time with Matt and his girlfriend, Meg, and watching a lot of TV. Given our geographic separation, this was untenable. Instead I opted for a strategy of in-depth interview via Facebook chat, taking into account my personal knowledge of Matt’s circumstances. Hermes’ statement in regards to “distance and engagement: critique and appreciation” encapsulates my approach to studying Matt’s domestic TV usage. Although I did not consider myself a fan of Walking Dead, New Girl or Scrubs, I could appreciate what these shows meant to him and how they facilitated his domestic relations.

My study on “domestic television” made a point of distinguishing between television content and the TV set, because I believe the convergence of media on the TV set and the divergence of television content have rendered them separate media. My study found that the TV set is, for the most part, used as it always has been – as a means of communal entertainment. Examination of the long-form interviews and the diary has led me to conclude that the TV set functions as the primary mediator of domestic relations, as described in my first blog post. Conversely, television content has become more personalised – contemporary audiences are more likely to seek content online in their own time if they really want it. And really, this all makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? We only ever watched TV if we wanted to chill out, or if there was something on. It’s just those functions have diverged.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog!

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Media Blog #5 – Mobility – Virtual Space, Networks & Dimensionality

I’m horrifically tired so I’ll probably end up sounding like this. Please comment if something doesn’t make sense! I’d love to explain it.

My phone is a conduit through which I can enter a virtual, communicative “space of flows” – a means of circumventing those geometries of power imposed upon me by lecturers, tutors, and people on the train. Expanding on the example of the phone, its functions enable a mediation of space in at least three ways. Firstly, there is a “pure” informational space occupied by texts. Secondly there is a sensual space of sound through which mouths are linked to ears and vice-versa. Thirdly, there is a sensual space of sight facilitated by my phone camera, which captures and transmits images.

Not only do phone numbers function as a way of distinguishing one phone from another, they act as a kind of passcode, enabling access to private networks of communication. They are not social spaces in the typical sense because they only exist when they’re being used. They’re virtual paths of communication possessing only one real dimension – the coordinate of the phone number. The phone-conduit’s conditions of access are influenced by the politics of the real space in which the user resides. Ito’s example of Japanese teens texting each other during the “”dead time” between jotting notes and waiting for the teachers to finish writing theirs” points to the conflict between a spatiality’s conditions of access and the normativities of the local or co-located spatiotemporalities. It’s an occulted space.  The teacher’s gaze functions as a beam of normatising power, deterring access to the phone-conduit.

Conversely, the mobile space of flows is a low-profile space of resistance whose occupation claims a territory for these oppressed teens! This politicisation of space in turn politicises the temporalities of access. This unity of spatiality and temporality, which are in the first place inseparable, results in a spatiotemporality or “dimensionality” of resistance. Something interesting to note is the process by which we opt in to alternative dimensionalities. Politics is a process of choice – it’s a process of taking sides. In opting to direct our attention towards the mobile phone rather than the teacher, we issue a challenge to their authority. We could also say a person’s authority corresponds to the degree of control they exert over our access to dimensionalities. Compare a teacher who doesn’t mind you texting as long as you pay attention to the lesson with a teacher who takes everyone’s phones and keeps them in their desk until the end of the lesson. The mobile phone provides Japanese youth a small means of resistance to the authority that surrounds them.

Notes:

Keitai-dimension is reinforced as the territory of Japanese teens through their knowing gaze. How does the gaze function as a contextual medium for communication?

These network-spaces act as a kind of social safety net – webs converging on every member.

Lastly phone use is capable of producing a local space of private-within-public – it is a means by which my own “personal space” is reinforced. In the case of the Japanese teens this is a space over which they have some small control – brokering the flows of information. It is not a private-within-public space, but an extradimensional clubhouse.

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