Friday, December 30, 2005

Chapter 4 & more mind dumps

Posted here is about 20 pages which roughly make up chapter 4. It's mostly here for my own edification, so that I know that I am getting somewhere with this.

If someone is inclined to read this, I promise it will be largely unreadable, but there are some pretty good ideas lurking deep in here.

From Literacy to Electricity

As chapter three traced the development of “the documentary” throughout the history of the electronic era (which is also the contemporary era), this chapter will trace the evolution of social learning from textual literacy into hyper-text-based communication through an electronic medium, which uses linear text, symbols, icons, moving image simulations and deep-based human archetypes. While this emerging postmodern form of communication does have many names, this investigation will be focusing on Gregory Ulmer’s concepts of “electracy” as “writing-with-electricity”, which itself is based on some of the theories of Jacques Derrida. Ulmer’s ideas based upon Derrida’s Applied Grammatology deal with the philosophy of writing, however, when dealing with ‘writing-with-electricity’ the entire form of writing changes into a more sophisticated idea where images become the quanta of idea formation. This drastically changes the grammar of the information being conveyed, and retrieves a mode of information exchange which predates literate writing – based in the oral myth-making and early religious rituals which later became codified as “theatre” in many cultures [for the sake of simplicity this investigation will keep focused upon early Greek myth-making and theatre]. Therefore, tracing this development chronologically, this investigation will begin with several of the pre-Socratic philosopher’s and their ideas of learning using mental concepts prior to written alphabets. Particularly Zeno, Anaxamander and the dialogues of Georgias (which, while Georgia is a pre-Socratic philosopher, we learn of his thoughts on oratory in a dialogue with Socrates, as written by Plato)
However, this retrieval of pre-literate oral storytelling grammar is based upon the ability to create, transmit and store cultural texts which are more sophisticated and technologically advanced than linear texts. This investigation will take for granted many of the ideas of the segmentation and rationalism which were epistemological outgrowths of text-based learning and information storage and retrieval, although some of these ideas have been mentioned in the discussion of McLuhan’s Gutenberg galaxy.
This jump from a two-thousand year text-based epistemology of rationalism into the contemporary hyper-textual multi-media epistemology of simulation leads through the development of media technologies based upon Vilém Flusser’s idea of technical images as opposed to traditional images. It is also connected to Walter Benjamin’s ideas of the lack of aura of a work that is infinitely reproducible. Although the use of technical images in the media technologies is fraught with some potential epistemological peril, it can eventually lead to Ulmer’s ideas of writing with electricity and the new chora-based connections which occur to the writer and their audience. These new chora-based connections eventually find their way into the means of writing with electricity and become the hyper-text that is now hallmark of a multi-media production.
But despite this upside to writing with electricity, it moves the learning from being based in textual representation either back into a theatrical mimesis (as addressed in chapter 1) or into an electronic simulation (as addressed in chapter two). Aside from the drift of all simulations into simulacra, another factor to this kind of communication is the epistemological problem of fascination brought on by a completely mediated simulated world view. This is an extension of Baudrillard and Debord’s ideas in chapter two, but is addressed here as it is an outcome of learning as it evolves into electronic media.
Although both Baudrillard and Debord believe that in a situation where the spectacle has created a (phenomenological) fascination in the mass society and its audience, little, and eventually no information would be passed around. Paradoxically, the exact opposite seems to be happening. Although we should be drowning out “meaning” in an ocean of fact and un-connected information, there appears to be chaotic connections which form. It will be argued in chapter six, that this occurs precisely because much of this new electronic media learning doesn’t purport to teach, yet it does anyway because it sets up these new technological lifestyles, which based in ideas like hoax and misinformation, don’t disappear into the realm of spectacle and fascination, even though they travel through the very type of multi-media entertainment productions which created the loss-of-meaning through spectacle in the first place. {damn, will this make any sense to me when I re-read it? Yes, I think it will}

Plato vs. the Elegiac School: Orality into Literacy
As with chapter one, once again this investigation turns to Aristotle’s Poetics (and to some of the Elegiac school) for the initial ideas of literacy. However, the ritual aspects of storytelling in theatre existed closely with the jump of ideas from oral storytelling into a structured from of presentation in both poetry and drama. Once this had occurred the natural tendency toward a linear phonetic grammar would only take a short time. Not addressing some of the very complicated ideas of historical sociolinguistics, Marshall McLuhan made the differentiation of “hot” and “cool” media which was largely based on the movement of learning, knowing and archiving from the more interactive and active “cool” media of oral myths and theatre rituals into the more linear and passive “hot” media of written text. [insert McLuhan & Pre-Socratic quotes]
Aristotle and the Greek pre-Socratic thinkers lived on the edge from oral into written culture. In fact, in his Poetics, Aristotle claims that there is no name for an art or medium that would represent reality using words alone, “The art that imitates by language alone, in prose or in [nonlyrical] verse (whether combining different meters, or using only one of them) remains to this day without a name.” (Poetics, p. 45) Living in what was still a very multi-media and multi-sensory world which had not yet been set into linearity by text Aristotle expected that written words themselves would have a much larger internal variation. Indeed, Greek poetry did use considerably more forms of verse and meter than existed in the centuries which followed. Aristotle points out that, “ There are, however, certain arts that make use of all the stated media, viz., rhythm, song and metrical language, and among these are dithyrambic poetry, nomic poetry, tragedy and comedy.” (Poetics, p. 46) Aristotle continues and describes how each of these early formats utilize different linguistic styles which he refers to as ‘media’. “ Here the distinction is that dithyramb and nome employ all three media continuously throughout, while comedy and tragedy employ first one means, then the other.” (Poetics, p. 46)
Since the concepts of mimesis have largely been discussed in chapter 1, this chapter will address the different types of writing, and the different rationales. Returning to the quote from the Poetics, “Those things that are distressful to see in reality – for example the basest animals and corpses – we contemplate with pleasure when we find them represented with perfect realism in images.” (Poetics, p. 47) The taking pleasure in representations of naturalistic things cuts across social boundaries and eras for Aristotle. “the experience of learning is highly enjoyable, not only for philosophers but for other people as well; only their share in it is limited,” (Poetics, p. 47) As elitist as this might sound, Aristotle allows that learning through looking is nearly universally accessible, while learning through reading, contemplation and dialogue is not. Oratory and public address pose an interesting problem to Aristotle, since like learning from looking, learning from oratory is also due in large part to the pleasure that the audience takes in it.
For Plato and Aristotle were both interested in those oratory, and by historical extension, later writings, which were created in order to educate and enlighten, versus those which were created simply to appeal to mass audience in the greatest way to increase the appeal of the orator. The first they called education and possibly diagnosis, while the second they referred to as sophistry or pandering. This dichotomy of education versus entertainment was ossified into the coming literate cultures based on linear texts.
[insert Georgias quotes]
As Greek knowledge passed from orality to literacy, it took these two ideas (learning as spit between high and low) & (education vs. pandering) into twenty five hundred years of literate thought. Throughout the literate phases of history these issues were continually faced, and often were relegated to the realm of unsolvable paradox and marginalized from debate. [insert Colie quote]
What Aristotle saw as the evolution and eventual ossification of poetry into the forms of comedy and tragedy, can just as easily be applied to all forms of learning as they passed into literacy: “Little by little tragedy grew greater as the poets developed whatever they perceived of its emergent form, and after passing through many changes, it came to a stop, being now in possession of its specific nature.” (Poetics, p. 48) The exact social processes by which societies like the ancient Greek, and many others made the change from oral into literate cultures is both well documented, and still a source for some debate. The results are well established, [Havelock quotes?] with the plastic arts loosing their status as immanent icons and visual crafts being considered art for art’s sake. Theatre alone remained a means of teaching, and only in a limited sense. All learning, and thus all hoaxes and paradoxes moved to written material throughout western civilization. [Colie quotes?]

Flusser’s Technical Images
In the early 19th Century, the scientific knowledge that had been amassed over roughly two thousand years of linear literate thought began to be used to create means for scientifically recreating images without direct human input it terms of the fine arts, plastic arts or even folk crafts. This invention was, of course, photography, which is now being argued as one of the most socially and philosophically important inventions, thus epistemologies, since the movement from oral to literate traditions, even surpassing the mechanical printing press, or at least equivalent to it, although the photographic apparatus is an historical outgrowth of the science proliferated through the mass production of scientific texts which was made possible by the printing press.
Among the thinkers who put forth this proposition is Vilém Flusser, who strongly compares and contrasts the traditional images which preceded the era of the photographic apparatus, and the technical images which are created as a result of the application of science to image making. “The technical image is an image produced by apparatuses. As apparatuses themselves are produced by scientific texts, in the case of technical images one is dealing with the indirect products of scientific texts.” (Flusser, p. 14) His implication is that although literary and scientific texts were abstractions from oral traditions and traditional images and immanent icons, that the images produced by photographic means and other manufacturing are abstractions of a higher level. What Flusser believes is even more difficult, and potentially ontologically dangerous for the audience for whom these technical images are created, is that they conceal this abstraction-of-an-abstraction part of their nature and appear to be equivalent to the traditional images of the fine arts, or even superior to them because of a more scientifically objective nature. “Technical images are difficult to decode, for a strange reason. To all appearances, they do not have to be decoded, since their significance is automatically reflected on their surface” (p. 14)
It is the ‘automatically’ that Flusser is concerned about. The technology involved in the photographic film and paper, or later the technology involved in CCDs or phosphorous in a television screen, conceals itself in exactly the way that Heidegger predicted it would, as discussed in chapter 2. With his statement “the ‘objectivity’ of technical images is an illusion”, (p. 15) Flusser is speaking, like McLuhan, across all content, and all media which are involved in the technological simulation and representation of images, as well as narratives. Although both may be more worried than historical events warranted. “This lack of criticism of technical images is potentially dangerous at a time when technical images are in the process of displacing texts – dangerous for the reason that the ‘objectivity’ of technical images is an illusion.” (p. 15)
For the audiences of technical images seem to have developed the previously mentioned technique of “sliding suspension of disbelief” which at its phenomenological core has to assume that none of the representations or simulations of technical images could ever be considered wholly “true”.
In the same way that Flusser believes that these technical images are second-order abstractions from traditional images, it will be shown that the narratives which occur in media representations are second-order abstractions from the archetypes which existed in folk tales and theatre. These will be called “technical narratives”, and will be addressed in the context of ‘production value” in chapter six, and story-telling in chapter seven.
Flusser continues his philosophical line on technical images, “are metacodes of texts which signify texts, not the world out there.” (p. 15) And that the apparatus of the image making becomes inextricably entwined with the process of imagination, “The imagination that produces them involves the ability to transcode concepts from texts into images; when we observe them, we see concepts – encoded in a new way – of the world out there.” (p. 15) The human imagination, the apriori image-making ability of humanity is therefore undergoing a change away from that which it has been operating under throughout the literate phases of humanity, phases which were openly hostile to the idea of paradox, and sought to limit or marginalize the hoax. In the same way that new literate cultures existed side-by-side [para-hodos] with oral culture for several hundred years, if occurring again with electronic post-literate culture side-by-side with literate culture. Exactly what will become of both will remain to be seen.
However, Flusser gives to ideas of how both epistemology and phenomenology are changing. The first is implicit in the above quote the ‘imagination-with-encoding-ability’. “Another factor places itself between them (technical images) and their significance, i.e. a camera and a human being operating it (for example a photographer), but it does not look as if the ‘machine/operator’ complex would break the chain between image and significance.” (p. 16) Here, Flusser first establishes the idea of a hybrid machine/human apparatus which works together in the “imagination” and image making which now makes up the majority of simulations and representations in electronic media. He then points out that the working of this ‘machine/operator’ complex works to conceal itself. “The significance appears to flow into the complex on one side (input) in order to flow out on the other side (output) during which the process – what is going on inside the complex – remains concealed: a ‘black box’ in fact.” Later it will be shown that this concealment is not necessarily a block to epistemological understanding, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Because not all of the mass media audience for these technical images through an electronic media can engage in the criticism which Flusser advocates, “ The encoding of technical images, however, is what is going on un in the interior of this black box and consequently, any criticism of technical images must be aimed at an elucidation of its inner workings.” He claims that not being able to engage in this criticism will result in massive illiteracy, ironically Flusser is still thinking from the point of view of his literate background, and not from the point of view of electronic literacy. Audiences who do not engage in understanding of the “apparatus theory” of mass media are not illiterate to its meaning or to its effects. Still this investigation will delve deeper into Flusser and other thinkers ideas of the apparatus theory in regards to production value and the second-order abstraction of the here newly coined “technical narratives”, again in chapter seven.
Flusser’s second insight into functioning of epistemology in the electronic age of technical images focuses on the “magical effect” of all images which technical images share with the traditional images of fine arts and even earlier immanent icons, as all images are “surfaces that translate everything into state of things; like all images they have a magical effect ; and they entice those receiving them to project this undecoded magic onto the world out there.” (p. 16) Flusser here describes a magical fascination with technical images which has as a precedent in traditional images, but differs in many respects. He describes traditional images as ‘pre-historic’ and older than the historic consciousness which was brought about by the switch to a literate culture, even though traditional images remain side-by-side with literate culture in the fine arts and folk arts. Flusser refers to the magical fascination of technical images to the ‘post-historic’ in that it has begun at the time when culture was making its first movements away from the historical consciousness brought on by literacy. Therefore being second order abstractions these technical images are, “not designed to alter the world out there but our concepts in relation to the world.” (p.17) Or put a little more cheekily, “conjuring tricks with abstractions”. (p. 17)
Flusser sums up the fascination magic of technical images as such “The function of technical images is to liberate their receivers by magic from the necessity of thinking conceptually, at the same time replacing historical consciousness with a second-order magical consciousness and replacing the ability to think conceptually with a second-order imagination.” Again this second-order imagination does conceal most of its inner workings but that alone does not disturb their epistemological effectiveness. At their extreme, “Technical images absorb the whole of history and form a collective memory going endlessly round in circles.”, (p. 19) and create a culture that has aspects of pre-historic ritual. Although Flusser never uses the word “Spectacle” he does believe that this machine/operator complex, which can be as narrow as a lone photographer and her camera, or as broad as the entire image-making capitalist industry processes images in this magical obfuscating way and that in particular interest to documentary production “there is no artistic, scientific or political activity that is not aimed at it, there is no everyday activity that does not aspire to be photographer, filmed videotaped. For there is a general desire to be endlessly remembered and endlessly repeatable.” (p. 20) And the electronic media which developed after photography have begun to make this possible.

“With writing, history in a narrower sense begins as a struggle against idolatry. With photography, ‘post-history’ begins as a struggle against textolatry.” (p. 18) Flusser once again shows himself a philosopher very much of the 20th Century who seemed unwilling to see these historical movements in terms of hybridization. Although he did give some thought to a world of television, his theory of technical images becomes less useful is when all of the surfaces he is dealing with become electrical ones, a shift which has been occurring in contemporary media over the last several decades. He did not contemplate that “hot” literate symbols of letters, words and Asian characters themselves would be reified into images, and that electronic technology would make all surfaces equal. This is leading not to a breakdown of literacy as Flusser, and to a lesser extent McLuhan, see it, but rather as a shift in the meaning of literacy, and with it the meaning of truth, and with that the meaning of paradox.

Ulmer – Writing in Electricity
Where Flusser leaves his philosophy historically he has established the changes which philosophy and society are going through, and gives ideas of the direction. Gregory Ulmer pulls from the tradition of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan, and, among a broad field of idea, starts setting about exactly what the institutions of electronic media will be involved in the epistemology of electronic media. Ulmer’s ideas start with an extension of “picto-ideo-phonographic” writing from some of the explorations of Derrida and Lacan, a hybrid philosophy between linguistics and psychoanalysis, and that this type of writing could be the basis for an established academic tradition of electronic media. Ulmer later attempted to formulate a production genre which could use and organize picto-ideo-phonographic writing as a means of teaching. Using ideas from Derrida’s structuralism, Ulmer created an idea of “mystory”, a personalized set of connections which stands with the individual user not is opposition to overall history, but as a supplement to it.
In an attempt to broaden these ideas of personal “mystory” approaches to electrate writing, Ulmer began to look for institutions within overall society that would create or patronize and support these writing-through-electricity personal mystories to make up a larger societal library and history.[ clean up this idea of institutional electric-style writing]
In order to do this Ulmer conceptualizes the current use of media as a “hypermedia” which like myth, creates a learning and knowing based on invention rather than verification and mimesis. This is not to say that it never seeks to represent and only gets lost in simulation, but rather that using this type of interconnected electric media which is simultaneously pictures, words, moving pictures, music, sounds and related hyper-links to related media, allows for representation of facts to lie side-by-side with greater connections which may be personal, or familial, local or global. This idea of simultaneous stories side by side is also seen in McLuhan’s ideas of re-tribalization.
Ulmer argues that literate argumentative critical writing of the last two thousand years has been largely in the realm of reasoning by deduction and induction, and had largely left behind reasoning by abduction and conduction. [insert quotes] It is this reasoning by conduction which has been made accessible through electronic media such as film, television and computer hyper-text models. The first two made visual story-telling retake its dominant role in learning, the third allowed the connections to be followed and a physical record, even if just a computer code, to be “written” so that it could be followed and both its validity and its usefulness be checked by later users and fact/connection seekers.
Like Flusser, Ulmer is ahead of his time in that although some of what he has theoretically set down has come to pass, it is still in the process of becoming an “institution”, and even as it does it will likely not resemble the institutions of the past. It will look as strange as the new ‘nation state’ would have to the pre-renaissance church. The institutions for this conductive hypermedia electronic epistemology and learning will be very powerful, and may likely be difficult to describe in terms of older institutions. It will almost certainly look chaotic and anarchic from their vantage points.
These conductive hypermedia institutions will be able to adjust to Baudrillards collapse of the real into mass audiences by being based on connections, and will also be able to deal with hoax and even welcome paradox, particularly in terms of advertising.
As for institutions the contemporary culture industries as described by the Frankfurt school would certainly play a part in what will become these new institutions. However, they will most likely be less hierarchical, and smaller that the corporations required for contemporary capitalism. They will also likely blend with weblogger, academic institutions, filmmakers, activists – any individual or organization which itself begins using this electrate means of epistemology as a life technology.
First, Ulmer broadens media from the idea of ‘significant surfaces’ as they are addressed as in Flusser’s work to include “the convergence of code and the computer in hypermedia” (p. 16) An idea allowing written words and images to coexist on several different types of technical images imprinted either permanently or impermenently on a variety of electric and non-electric surfaces. While Flusser was very focused on the technology and apparatus itself Ulmer claims “My interest is not only in the technology itself but also in the problem of inventing the practices that may institutionalize electronic in terms of schooling.” He is very careful to note that this idea is not in direct opposition to rational scientism brought on by literate culture. “Most of the writers calling attention to the symptoms of the closure of conceptual reason do not want to abandon the principles of the Enlightenment. They retain a desire to act in the world, to make life better for all humanity, but they admit to an experience of impasse.” (p. 20) Ulmer is specifically mentioning the academic attacks that had been leveled at Jacques Derrida by members of established schools for at best holding post-structuralism above the necessity of rationalism, and at worst claiming the end of rationalism altogether.
Since Ulmer takes his ideas of grammatology from Derrida, he is making the assertion that Derrida’s post-structuralism was conceived to exist side-by-side with other academic lines of thought, a paradox in the best of senses. As many academics called Derrida a hoax or fraud, Ulmer points to post-modernism as the best kind of hoax as life technology: one that can help humanity see the world in a more complicated light, and make the connections they need to. A paradox that allows rhetoric to exist simultaneously with hyper rhetoric.

To do this Ulmer moves from an apparatus of hypermedia, which he defines in a manner similar to Flusser. “For Grammatology, hypermedia is the technological aspect of an electronic apparatus (referring to an interactive matrix of technology, institutional practices and ideological subject formation).” (Heuretics, p. 17) [italics and parantheticals are Ulmer’s] Ulmer sees the interface of computer search engines replacing the interface of the book, or newspaper/magazine, and sees a similarity to another ancient Greek institution which rivaled theatre in terms of knowledge gatherings the “Theoria”, a group of travelers or magistrates sent to travel to another city or region to both act as delegates, but more importantly to bring back needed, or even un-needed, information. With the new technologies at hand Ulmer is seeking to find an “electronic theoria”.
He also points out the growing belief that “hypermedia now constitutes a laboratory for the testing of poststructuralist (or even more specifically “deconstructive”) theory.” (p. 21) [quotation marks and parantheticals are Ulmer’s] And he makes the ambitious and optimistic statement that “theory is no more fixed or “arrested” than is the technology.” (p. 21) This may be the positive side to technological determinism, wherein if all theories will always be based on what humanity can perceive through their technologies, be they their eyes, their texts, their televisions or telescopes, then if frees the users epistemologically once they realize that they live inside their technologies. Widening the technologies widens the epistemology. The paradoxical jump which hoaxes allow is that widening the epistemology, even if it is with the fantastic and incredible, will over the course of history attract a technology/life technique which will make that fantasy epistemology imaginable and then into existence. In chapter five several examples of hoaxes which ‘widened out’ epistemologies, and then cultural institutions to fit them will be addressed.
To establish this electronic theoria, this institution of ------------ based on the technology of hypermedia, Ulmer looks to the Greek concept of “chora” – a place where ideas are sifted and connections are made, as opposed to topos – which is to put each idea into a static position for learning retrieval. The idea of topos leads to classical traditional rhetoric wherein each idea moves through “invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and memory”. (34) The idea of chora, with the help of electronic technology, leads to an electronic rhetoric “one meant to exploit (but not limited to) the digital convergence of media in hypermedia”. (34)

“to practice hyper rhetoric myself, which is assumed to have something in common with the dream logic of surrealism” (p. 16) This dream logic of surrealism is best ‘understood’ through some neologisms of Ulmer’s which explain how electronic media can help bring about this new from of reasoning. First among them is writing based on the idea of “chora” which he has called chorography. When each member of the multimedia audience engages in this hypermedia rhetoric they do so through an institution which is Ulmer’s second neologism, the “popcycle”.
This Popcycle interpellates/ “hails” each member of the multimedia audience from several different pre-existing institutions in their world which mirror the phases of epistemology throughout history. The first is the family/tribe institution which is based in the orality epistemology which introduces language and other cultural knowledge, The second is the Entertainment/Media which introduces not only pop culture but also the conductive logic of electronic media. It is thoroughly post-literate, post-historical and in being closer to orality it has replaced the institution of Formal Schooling and Pedagogy as a more primary means of learning, it uses electronic media, particularly multi-channel television and computer internet works browsers and search engines as its interface. The Formal Schooling/Pedagogy is the literate culture which gives each member of the multi-media audience their sense of official history and authority. It is linear and text-based, and uses books and other printed material as its interface. The last of the institutions is the Career Discipline which draws from the earlier institutions in different parts and may value one over the other, nonetheless it requires specialized knowledge, and it must be both found and created by the individual audience member of multi-media. [insert McLuhan quote]
Between these institutions each media participant/audience member creates their personal wide-image. It is this “wide image” created in the interface with this Popcylce that becomes institutionalized rhetoric of the machine/operator complex which Flusser had set forth. This wide images, although personalized it not fleeting, it evolves but remains largely dependable for each participant/audience member. Also, this wide image, although personalized is not unique to each individual, and is based in a large part upon borrowed institutionalism – particularly family standing and occupation. Generally the more self-directed an individual’s wide image is, the more hyper mediated their life is. This allows those members of society who have little to no conduct with the new electronic media and their conductive logic and hyper rhetoric, to still take the majority of their wide image from the previously existing institutions and be unaware that more would have been available to them.
What is of interest in this new electronic epistemology is the rising power of the entertainment/media complex and institutions, and the return to dominance of learning though watching, and learning though archetypes. It allows for the reestablishment of intersubjectivity of images, and the ability to learn of truths and actualities while experiencing a fantasy or a fiction. In short this type of conductive logic has a newfound tolerance of paradox and occasional desire for hoaxing, which had been nearly eliminated in the institutions of Formal Schooling and Career Discipline.
Ulmer has formulated with great detail some of the connections between images, texts, icons, familial/tribal rituals, cultures which he had found in applying his theory back onto his own personal experiences, his own personal “popcycle”. [insert Ulmer quote] Heuretics not as opposed to hermeneutics, but rather as supplemental to it. [Generating connections to be vetted]

Ulcers dream logic of surrealism or conductive logic of the Wide Image (as situationist psychogeography) and the institutions of the Popcycle does have a dangerous side which may make its full institutionalism difficult if not impossible. It is the same problem that the Situationist International had during its formation in the 1960s and 1970s; despite the resistance that dream logic and conduction has to the overwhelming power of the spectacle, it is still vulnerable to the effects of fascination. In many ways Baudrillard and Debord’s fascination is the flip and chaotic side to Ulmer’s chorography which leads to an individual participant/audience member’s wide image and the emergent institution(s) of the popcycle.

“Beyond meaning, there is fascination, which results from the neutralization and implosion of meaning.” (p. 104) Baudrillard idea of the collapse of meaning are still a direct challenge to the idea of learning through the new conductive epistemology of electronic media. He poses a double challenge for meaning and for electronic media epistemology of any type. He sees both, “the defiance of meaning by the masses and their silence (which is not at all a passive resistance) – and the defiance of meaning which comes from the media and its fascination. ” (p. 104) [parantheticals are Baudrillard’s]
However the meaning which Baudriallard is referring to is very likely the limited meaning which can only be created in the linear induction or deduction, but he has traces of an idea of meaning and epistemology that would exist beyond this limited type of meaning. “For us as untenable hypothesis: that it may be possible to communicate outside the medium of meaning, that the very intensity of communication may be proportional to the reabsorbption of meaning and to its collapse.” (p. 36) But since leaning, meaning and epistemological life techniques continue in postmodern electronic mass media this idea is not untenable. The masses and their relationship to mass media, although one of fascination with the floating of signifiers and the concomitant danger to meaning in the literally “literate” sense, are engaging in a shift in what is considered meaning.
“The masses and their involuntary humor would introduce us to a pataphysics of the social which would ultimately relieve us of all that cumbersome metaphysics of the social.” (p. 34) Here, finally Baudrillard comes to his paradoxical conclusion about the final outcome of fascination: it is also very tolerant of paradox. The paradoxes which could resist the loss of meaning when they were stripped of their signifiers (particularly those which were picto-ideo-phongrammatic to begin with) would be the new type of meaning that could exist within this collapse of the social and a fascination of the masses in their media. “Evidently there is a paradox in this inextricable conjunction of the masses and the media: is it the media that neutralizes meaning and that produced the “unformed” (or informed) mass, or is it the mass that victoriously resists the media by diverting or absorbing all the messages without responding to them?” Effectively the masses become the media and vice versa, in a matter not unlike is being born out in convergent computer-media. The mass participants/audiences are using their media to make the conduction jumps between family, schooling, entertainment and career. They do not “respond” in the manner that they should have during the literate era, they respond in a way similar to early Greek theatre goers.
“This absence of response is a positive counter-strategy of the masses themselves in their encounter with power, and no longer at all a structure of power.” It will be shown that these reactions, as a mass participant/audience member moves from literacy to electricity is a technologically-enabled life technique which goes far beyond the hardware of software or content of the media. These techniques are individualized but not wholly individual, they are interconnected and subject to the fascination of the mass media, but their meaning persists to the mass audience/participant. These life techniques are also often engaged in a type of pataphysical at both the individual level of knowledge/epistemology and at the social level of corporate self-knowledge as well as cultural knowledge/epistemology.
More importantly, it will be shown that media hoaxes have filled this need for a pataphysics for both individuals and societies at all phases (and retro-phases) of history. While paradoxical, and certainly a vital part of contemporary electronic media epistemology, the pataphysics of hoaxes can be seen throughout history. The next chapter will deal with an archeology of hoaxes looking at the artifacts they leave behind, and seeing those artifacts in the context of the greater social and historical events of the time. It will be shown that whenever an epistemological leap is made in the way humanity conceives of its knowledge paradoxes and hoaxes are excellent signposts of these turbulent times.

**Axiom of Credibility:?

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