Sunday, April 12, 2009

A New Way To Be Mad

Just a quick recap of the whys and ways of the reading of Carl Elliott's A New Way To Be Mad. He insists that we understand culture as a mutable multifaceted construction and the methods and relationships of this construction are not always apparent. They are however always is a state of contest. Amongst the key ideas is that identity is provisional and despite our strong sense of self we are subjects of the currents in wider culture. The operational mechanisms of power are self legitimizing — our acceptance of the truth of science and the categories provided by medicine offer their own verifications. We make it true through how we embody (sometimes literally) and enact the categories. Importantly he introduced us to Ian Hacking's ideas of contagious desire and the looping effect, both of which go a much longer way than I have here at explaining dynamics between identity and culture.

Scott performing the little screen

After a determined effort to send his picture frame into space Scott gave up. It is hard to know how to read this gesture on his part — one of simple frustration? An elaborate anti-technology statement? A remembrance of his childhood play with rockets? And it's failure —in the full pathetic anticlimax that it was— perhaps makes the gesture all the more poetic.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A New Way To Be Mad

I love this essay for the surprising way which it reflects on what could be taken as salacious or gratuitous and yet Carl Elliott manages to use the topic of voluntary amputations to reveal the cultural mechanisms at work in a much wider sense. At his best Stelarc does this as well —particularly with Ping Body. Further down that spectrum is Orlan. I find more coherence with Tissue Culture and Art and coherence without as much salaciousness at Bodies© INCorporated.