Tag Archives: objects

Response to Evocative Objects: Things we Think With

In Evocative Objects, Sherry Turkle edits a delightful, moving anthology that puts objects and their human relations front and center. In this book, 34 authors (scientists, scholars, artists, architects) describe their relations to evocative objects–objects that are both companions to our emotional lives and provocations of thought (Turkle 5). As many of the author’s autiobiographical accounts testify, “objects have life roles that are multiple and fluid” (6). Objects also exert their holding power, as Turkle puts it (8), for different reasons. Some objects are evocative because they are uncanny, familiar yet somehow off and therefore creepy (8). Other objects evoke strong memories and/or represent part of our identities that some of us, like Henry Jenkins, can’t just seem to shake. No matter what meaning they come to take on in our lives, objects, Turkle argues, are our life companions. As such, they deserve more philosophical and theoretical attention.

I like this book because from a rhetorical perspective, the chapters resonate. The stories authors tell, the epigraphs Turkle chose to accompany each chapter, and the insights Turkle draws from these stories are provocative and filled with many one-liners worth thinking more about.

  • Evocative objects bring philosophy down to earth”– when we focus on objects, we are able to “find common ground in everyday experiences” (Turkle 8).
  • Objects are able to catalyze self-creation (Turkle 9).
  • Thought does not take place in a vacuum—it takes places in various media of expression (Garner 50).
  • The whole universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims…for all of us, in a wider and higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend its significance….We can never look directly at them, for they are bodiless and featureless and footless, but we grasp all other things by their means, and in handling the real world we should be stricken with helplessness in just so far forth as we might lose these mental objects (James 127).
  • Taken individually, consumer objects have no meaning—that comes from their participation in a system of objects. In this framework we don’t consume individual objects; we consume the social order that they belong to. We by the vacuum; we consume assumptions about gender, households, families, and social status (Greenslit 139).
  • Objects speak in a way that destroys any simply stories we might tell about our relations to nature, history, and the inanimate; they destroy any simple sense we might have about progress and our passage through time (Turkle paraphrasing Latour 313)
  • Words become part of a thing (Vygotsky 47)

I also appreciate how Turkle and the authors give name to many different kinds of objects:

Reflective objects (Jenkins)

Deep objects—something that guides and disciplines curiosity and fascination into interaction and self-transformation (Crease 294)

Object-to-think-with (Keller)

Objects of design and play

Objects of Discipline and Desire

Objects of History and Exchange

Objects of Transition and Passage

Objects of Mourning and Memory

Objects of Mediation and New Vision

Yet, I can’t help but notice that in this renaming, in this making sense of what objects do for, Turkle is consumed with what objects do for our inner lives. Turkle, of course, is interested in psychoanalysis, identity formation, cognition, etc. It is thus only natural she would think and produce theories about objects with these functions in mind. As the reader, however, I can’t help but ask what else do objects do? How do objects make contributions to collective life besides bringing forth feelings and thoughts to mind?

In this book, meanings about objects are all made from a reflective standpoint. As such, the focus of the object is not so much on the object itself but on what humans get from their relations with objects or more specifically what humans learned from objects, how humans played with objects, how humans were transformed by objects. What might we learn about objects if we work harder to actually put objects at the center of our studies? While difficult, I think we can learn a lot more about objects and ourselves if we can work toward this goal.



Filed under Uncategorized

Urban, Greg. Metaculture: How Cultures Move through the World


In this text, Urban uses the framework of circulation to investigate the ways in which culture is socially transmitted.  Urban is especially interested in the role that self-reflexivity plays in the definition and the transmission of culture.  In other words, he is interested in the role that metaculture plays in the acceleration of culture and the creation of new culture in capitalist societies.   As such, he demonstrates that culture does not just move through replication or what he identifies as existential or habitual inertia.  Culture is also made possible by two modes of circulation:  acceleration and deceleration > dissemination. As Urban explains, through acceleration, old cultural elements are fused into new cultural expressions, which form new wholes (32).  Urban argue that what drives acceleration is actually metaculture, either via emphasis on tradition or newness (38).



Key Questions: 

  • What makes culture move and reshapes social space?  Existential and habitual inertia (culture sensu lato) harnessed by accelerative  and deeclerative culture that stimulates novel production, in which new entities that resemble past ones manifest through assemblance.   Culture survives not just because of inertia.  It survives because it is able to overcome the [entropic and competitive] forces of deceleration that act upon inertia [and accelerate] (17-18). 
  • What is relationship between metaculture and culture?  Reciprocity.


Key concepts:


Metaculture:  culture about culture; provides ways of seeing continuities and disconuities in all social processes; includes judgments made about culture that form “the normative core for the creation of community and reproduction of culture (xi); a form of self-reflexivity that frames semiosis; supplemant to culture (4); as interpretation, it is a force in the world of perceptible things, not just an arbitrary conscious representation of things construed as indifferent to their representation (37). Guides future movement of culture-208; set of cultural elements and objects, such as discourse, with the ability to represent or portray or refer to cultural elements and objects—carries idea bout culture; maintains physical shapes of immaterial culture as it is reoroduced over time; idea imparts a force to the culture it is about- 224-5; carries forth interest in object without direct access to object- 226; its  second layer of circulation that constitutes force of culture-226;


Pierce—rhetoric is the process by which “signs give birth to other signs” (xi).


Culture:  social learning accumulated through space and time; something abstract and immaterial moving through time and across space -203


Key Quotes: 


The interpretation of culture that is intrinsic to metaculture, immaterial as it is, focuses attention on the culture al thing, helps to make it an object of interest, and, hence, facilitates its circulation (4).


The movement of culture takes place in ghost-like fashion, with [novel entity] incarnating various aspects of different kinds of prior expressions, yet seeming to be new (6).


Modernity propels culture in a different manner than does “tradition” but that, even under and explicit metaculture of modernity, the linear movement is still detectable through probing fine details.  The kind of movement that modernity stimulates—the movement of a system of relationships through us—is crucial to the reproduction of culture in what Walter Benjamin (1969) called “the age of mechanical reproduction” (6). 


Social spaces is reconfigured, however incrementally or radically, by the motion associated with specific cultural objects (24).


Cultural elements communicate a sense of shared participation in a single space, and these elements, which must be widely circulated, make hegemony possible (25). 


Structure is not prior to movement; it is a derivative of movement.  Structure is a consequence of the way in which cultural elements move through space and time.  It is the result of combination of the inertial and accelerative properties of culture (32).


Culture and metaculture are dynamically interconnected through representation, which does not reflect what something is but rather affects change of that something (38).


Culture is motion…and physical manifestations such as cultural objects make culture as motion possible (42). Cultural objects are vehicles for the dissemination of culture (42).   Dissemination is the externalization or making public or intersubjectively accessible; internalization is the making the physical abstract—the dynamic interrelation between these two processes as manifested in dissemination and replication make culture move through time and space (43).

Externalization> internalization > reexternaliztion > internaliztion > rexternalization (etc).


Various pathways of motion make this movement possible.  Material culture, as physical manifestations of cultural learning, is one such pathway.  Immaterial culture is carried through material culture (45).  Yet transmission of the fullest measure of immateriacl culture contained win the thing can only be had  by close observation and interaction with with the actual producer(s) of the thing..during the course of its production (45).  Greatest quantity of immaterial cultures is transmitted through propinquity, that is, through spatio-temporal proximity of the producer(or externalizer) and the internalizer  (or future replicator) (45). 


Dissemination, as a social pathway or network, is made possible by social learning (via socially learned patterns) (48). 


We need to look at at the motion of culture through the world as it is replicated, ie. at sites of replication (55). 


Metaculture of modernity is what enables or facilitates the motion of the new disseminated cultural element into previously uncharted territory (58).  Metaculture of modernity is the value of newness over oldness; of dissemination over replication; of experiencing newness (64). 


Culture of dissemination: valuing lateral motion of material items, not replication; valuing of newness (novel production of cultural expression); goal is spatial spread of culture, not just temporal (66). 


***The purpose of a metaculture of modernity is to assist in the establishment of new social pathways of dissemination (67).  New social pathways are created in confrontation between old and new (69).  Capitalism as we know it is a product of the movement of culture driven by a metaculture of newness (74). 


Question:  What role does rhetoric play in the replication of disseminable culture?  What role does the metaculture of conservation and/or sustainability play in the motion of U.S. culture? 


Who are “we”?  The consciousness embedded in the answer…accelerates culture, propelling it through space and time, shapting he course of civliztion as it moves every onward—into the fog (92) 


Cultural transmission is achieved through synthesis of distinct strands resulting from the challenging of prior elements or the attempt to produce elements that are “better” (171).


Motion in culture of modernity is driven by acceleration which is driven by resistence to imperatives within narratives and emphasis on production of new cultural elements (176).


Innovators plays a key role in cultural motion; the innovator is an intersection between two lines motion: the historical motion of consciousness from person to person to over time and space and the movement of something from the world into the consciousness that beholds it (184). 


Vertical passage takes place between two planes or layers of circulation:  culture and metaculture, which is passage between thing in world and consciousness of it as encoded in thing (185).


Value of cultural object determined by its link with tradition and newness; newness determined through comparison of with other similar objects mediated through third object and determined by public response (metaculture) (196). Determined thus by dialogic between other object and response (198).


Metaculture maps the movement of culture across time and space; genre is device for tracking cross-temporal connections (202).


Cultural motion demands death of old object and rebirth of new object—metamorphisis (208)


Cultural object of tradition demands no investigation of intention where as new objects do because replication is not transparent -214  new cultural objects also demand investigation of truth and appropriateness of context in metaculture of modernity since it can carry new claims and thus in part is factor determining wide circulation (218-220)


Cultural motion demands response from public –222  pathway of motion is cultural object > metacultural response > new cultural object – 240


Metaculture of tradition demands replication; newness dissemination


Movement of culture takes place between layers of circulation: culture and metaculture -227


Think of this motion as tides; metacultural tides; cylical in nature between tradition and modern; cultural elements ebb back and forth between replication and dissemination; objects participate in microcyclicity, as the absence of the prior thing provides the motivation to reproduce it- 229-230


As the tide of newness spreads, as it enters the flood stage, it reorganizes not only the motion of culture though the world…but also the social relations of the people among whom culture moves; an ideas is a world-making – 244


Too pervasive of metaculture of newness produces feelings of loss that motivate desire to stabalize sensivle world, give it an air of permanence, through traditional replication –232  result is phantasmagorical succession of sensible objects that lacks the feel of continuity and stability of a olid, orderly world.  Consequently, is widespread proliferation as metaculture calls up a force that counteracts it—the feeling of instability that engenders a desire for tradition in the form of replication – 232  at same time, feelings of boredom arise which create desire for newness and entrepreneurs come to the rescue– 232


Classification of taste of objects drives metaculture of newness; spawns competion and classification of people – 234


Cultural objects are a once and future thing—predicting or foreseeing futre objets ,and contributing to the metacultural framework—the precipitated past-through which those future objects will be judged – 236


The public sphere—as critical reflection on culture by ordinary people– results from the mediation of cultural motion by metaculture – 242


Assessment of new objects drive culture of newness; assesement requires critical orientation to culture; thus matacutlural production becomes specialized and public turns over responsibility for judging cultural objects to specialized people and thus become consumers rather than producers of metaculture – 245


Metacultural creates guidelines for the production of new cultural objets, strands through which culture flows – 247; strands reflect consistent, shred segmetnations, derving fromteh interation between the attept to produce a new object and th metacultrual method through which new objects are assessed- 247


Value of new object determined by past and future circulation’



Nation constituted by people with share affinity to cultural objects; cultural objects engeneder loyalty. This persuasive or rhetorical power of objects propels them through space along existing pathways of dissemination.  It also helsms them to penetrate uncharted territory, where thy must cute their own new paths, being in these, world-making.  Perhsuasive power als sercures the persistence in time of the objects, which become venerated.  The objects instill in indifiduals  sdieire to preserve them and also to insure their cintiued high esteem.  256  THIS SHEDS LIGHT ON HOW CULTURAL OBJECTS PLAY A ROLE IN NATION BUILDING!


Replication is based on spatial and temporal contiguity of the participant in the trasmission process…There are always incipient spatial distinction is the prominence of disseminated cultural objects.  – 258


Nation simultaneously broadens the sphere of the local and narrows the sphere of the global – 259


The very culture on which you and I might reflect to find essences is itself continuosly changing shape.  Its mercuriality and ephemerality defy essentialization – 260


Culture cannot do without things—those things are its manifestations in the material realm.  By fixing its manifesttins, culture converst iself into tconsisten material shapes; it becomes recognizable to the senses and to the intellect. Yet culture is only moving through those material shapes, invisibly, silently.  It is only disclosing itself to us, giving us an inkling of its awesome force 261  THIS EXPLAINS WHY CULTURAL OBJECTS ARE MEDIATORS.


My job is to trace immaterial cultural patterns manifested in the material world ; these patterns are concealed in the phantasmagoria of the material (264).


The producer controls the shapes of the disseminated object, but the receiver controls the demand for that object’s dissemination. The result is that conscious accelerative forces that could be used to change the direction of the cultural motion is typically used to maintain it.  …culture harnesses consciousness for the purposes of reproducing itself as abstract, immaterial form by insisting on changes in its sensible appearance- 265


Movement of metaculture produces a  a tracking of the movement of culture, and it produces a cumulative understanding of it.  the restless metaculture itself that makes contact with objects, that directs attention to their discrete facets, that reveals their truth, their continuities and discontinuities of the past – 268


Need to study the corportation that produces a new object – 270  the corporation carries the metaculture for making the object and for foreseeing how well it will work at the cultural plane- 270


Producers of culture cannot simulataneously be receiver of cultural object produced to want to disguise the continuity of the idea that is carried in the object formt he phyxial appearance of the objects itself.  – 271


Matter > meaning> matter







Filed under visual rhetorics exam

On Perspective…Elkins, Panofsky, Crary

Panofsky, Erwin  Perspective as Symbolic Form


In Perspective as Symbolic Form, Panofsky traces the transformation of perspective in art from antiquity to modernity.  As Panofsky explains, Renaissance perspective systemized space on the canvas.  The mathematization or rationalization of space on the canvas, which utilized a central vanishing point on the canvas originating from a singular eye, is what gives rise to perspective during the Renaissance, according to Panofsky.  Before the Renaissance, artists were not cognizant of perspective; during the Renaissance, however, perspective became a conscientious means to overcome the distortions of medieval art.  As such, perspective became dependent not only on rules and laws but on “point of view.”  More so, perspective as symbolic form became a means of ordering  a visual phenomenon. Panofsky also argues that the differing versions of perspective “are expressive of the cultures that invented them” (Elkins 15).  For instance, where as the ancient Greek perspective was an expression of a subjective world, the Renaissance perspective was a record of an objective world (Elkins 21).  Thus, perspective, according to Panofsky, is culturally relative.


Elkins, James.  The Poetics of Perspective


In The Poetics of Perspective, Elkins distinguishes between two distinct conceptions of perspective:  perspective as method and perspective as metaphor.  Elkins explains that perspective as method, technique, strategy for making pictures, has gone largely unexamined and from the artists point of view, has become virtually invisible. On the other hand, much modern scholarly work, including Panofsky’s, entails metaphorical conceptions of perspective, which conceive of perspective as  “a sign signifying a mental state, a culture, or an expressive language” and representing a worldview (17). The modern conception of perspective is based on two tropes:  point of view and space.  Also, “the idea of perspective [as metaphor] is inseperable from active thought so that to conceive one is to think through the other” (30). 


Elkins traces the varying approaches of deploying metaphorical perspective and  concludes that “these approaches impose a conceptual unity on a subject that has traditionally been resistant to that very possibility” (38).  In reality, Elkins claims that a study of the various and historical accounts of perspective demonstrates a dissonant, unclear, and disjointed conception and deployment of perspective while simultaneously there has existed a desire for clarity and coherence (40).  Elkins is less interested in these metaphorical accounts, however,  than he is the “meaningless” once.  He thus turns to trace the accounts of perspective as method through historical treaties on perspectives as well as art, mainly paintings.  His work illustrates that perspective as a discipline has never been unified; that a historical and conceptual unity of perspective during the Renaissance did not exist nor did an overarching interest in orderly content or uniformity or obeyance of rules; and that, in fact, during the Renaissance, perspective was conceived more as “a kind of experimentation in the ruins of mathematics” (116).  There is, in other words “no coherent history, no connected tradition, beneath the word” perspective (214).  Our desire to unify “Renaissance perspective” is simply an indication of “our insistence on the monolithic unity of perspective: it is more than an interpretative strategy or a historical bias: it is part of how we perceive modernism itself” (180).


This actuality, Elkins claims, illustrates something very important about historiography that is relevant, I think, to our own field:  


            -“many writers have not thought it relevant to research the history of their questions” -215

            -“modern writing on perspective is rehearsing a desire that cannot be accommodated” -215  IS CULTURAL RHETORICS REHEARSING A DESIRE THAT CANNOT BE ACCOMODATED?

            -our unwillingness to explore what really lies beneath concepts we take for granted reflects our need not to know and are guided by the boundaries of reflexivity- 216  WHAT CONCEPTS IN OUR FIELD DO WE TAKE FOR GRANTED?  THAT REFLECT OUR NEED NOT TO KNOW?  THAT NEED TO BE DEC ONSTRUCTED?

            -“we need to begin to address the desire itself instead of remaining within our accustomed genres and keeping to their conventional modes of allusion and reference” – 216.  RHETORIC AS……THIS TEXT SHOULD BE WRITTEN WITH THIS GOAL IN MIND. 


Elkins concludes that questions and answers about perspective have become static and thus offers suggestions for future scholarship that are also relevant to our own field:


            -Being aware of our need to define orgin might modify our desire to keep exploring the same problems (263). 


            -New constellations of disciplines would have unpredictable effects on our narratives and the meanings we assign to pictures (264).  HERE IS WHY A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO RHETORICAL STUDIES IS SO KEY.




            -Address “perspective” in terms of history of disciplines (265)


            -overall, study the various ways of talking about perspective, its disciplinary relations, and its force in our thinking about modernism and history (268).


            -ask ourselves:  What meanings do we create, and which do we exclude, by approaching perspective only to a certain distance and from certain directions?  (269).


Elkins final points:  “Perspective directs our eyes and orders our thoughts…perspective seems to control no ony what I see—it sets the conditions of visibility—but how I see and how I describe the way I see….writing about perspective is like struggling in a spider web…”(272).  We need to begin to realize how deeply we are caught…





Key Quotes:


The supposedly objective , unified world posited by science, according to Nietszche, is only a skin of collective agreement, something made by an aggregate of like-minded points of view….perspective is a manifestation of the will to power and that it is ‘nothing more than a complex form of specificity.’ It is complex because the single, ‘specific’ agents band together in their desire to remake the world in their own images…” (21). 


Once the concept of perspectival metaphor underwent the subtle and mysterious change that allowed it to be experienced as a metaphor, it spread unchecked into much of our language and thought, and in some ways perspectival metaphors are so unimaginably unmanageable that they can no longer form a topic of philosophic inquiry at all -29. 


Opting for clarity in a subject evidently constituted by chaos is a way of engaging a certain violence of interpretation that is not connected to the sometimes ragged boundaries between perspective’s disciplines- 38.


A kind of perspective in seeing, Nietzsche thought, was mistakenly made “the cause of seeing,” resulting in “ the invention of the ‘subject,’ the ‘I’” – 39.


Perspective is the site of the legislation of seeing, but it has nevr operated under a single verdict or binding rule – 80.


Our generation reads more meaning into positions and “states” of the viewer, gazes, mirrors, reflected and refracted seeing, and their permutations than past generations seem to have – 119


Our repetitious writing could be reinterpreted as the classic symptom of unslaked desire, and our unwillingness to write differently could be reimagind as the necessary repression of whatever might run contrary to the desire – 267


Crary, Jonathan  Techniques of the Observer:  On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century


As Crary plainly states in the first line of Techniques of the Observer, “this is a book about vision and its historical construction” (1).  More specifically, however, this book is an investigation into the reorganization of vision that occurred in the first half of the 19th century.  By tracing some of the disciplinary, economic, and social events that produced “crucial ways in which vision was discussed, controlled, and incarnated in cultural and scientific practices” (7) during this time, Crary identifies the forces at work that produced a new kind of observer (2-3).  As Crary explains, the reorganization of vision resulted from “a new set of relations between the body on the one hand and forms of institutional and discursive power on the other” hand–relations he describes elsewhere as discursive, social, technological, and institutional (3).  These relations were in and of themselves constructed by “a massive reorganization of knowledge and social practices that modified in myriad ways the productive, cognitive, and desiring capacities of the human subject (3).  As Crary explains, “the same knowledge that allowed the increasing rationalization and control of the human subject in terms of new institutional and economic requirements was also a condition for new experiments in visual representation” (9).  Because “new modes of circulation, communication, production, consumption, and rationalization all demanded and shaped a new kind of observer,” (14) the observing subject was both a product and constitutive of “modernity” itself (9).  


Crary sets his site (no pun intended) on the observer because “the observer is the field on which vision in history can be said to materialize” (5).  For as Crary explains, vision can’t be separated from “an observing subject who is both the historical product and the site of certain practices, techniques, institutions, and procedures of subjectification” (5). 

To demonstrate a shift in the observing subject that occurred during the early 19th century, Crary sets his site on optical devices such as the camera obscura and the stereoscope, which he identifies as “points of intersection where philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic discourses overlap with mechanical techniques, institutional requirements, and socioeconomic forces” (8).  Whereas the camera obscura was both a metaphor and a mediator for objective vision, detached from the body, able to unify and give order to true reality and thus act as a form of knowing, the stereoscope, which reconnected the optical with bodily senses, became a metaphor and mediator for subjective vision, dependent on the body and  able to construct knowledge, even if there was no longer a unifying logic and order to reality anymore since all knowledge was thought to be subjective.  The type of vision modeled and conditioned by the camera obscura—linear optical system, fixed positions, identification of perspection and object—became outdated and too inflexible with arising conditions of modernity (137).    As Crary explains, “ a more adaptable, autonomous, and productive observer was needed in both discourse and practice—to conform to new functions of the body and to a vast proliferation of indifferent and convertible signs and images” (149). 


Crary concludes by explaining that as a result of vision becoming relocated in subjectivity of the observer, two overlapping and intersecting paths opened up: 

a.)   multiple affirmations of the sovereignty and autonomy of vision

b.)   standardization and regulation of the observer  that issued from knowledge of visionary body toward forms of power that depended on abstraction and formalization of vision (150). 




Filed under visual rhetorics exam

Latour, Bruno

Latour, Bruno   Reassembling the Social:  An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory


In his introduction to Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Latour calls for a new approach to sociology—one, which rather than uses the social to explain a state of affairs and to solve current controversies, traces associations and relations between controversies in order to describe how society is assembled by various actors (both human and non-human).  This shift from what Latour calls “sociology of the social” to “sociology of associations” is a method of study that embraces uncertainties about the nature of the universe and relies on the actors’ own theories, contexts, metaphysics, and ontologies to assemble the social.  Thus, rather than use scholarship to critique how the social forces assemble society, Latour advocates for a return to empiricism, in which scholars’ main task is to “deploy actors as networks of mediations,” and to describe how these multiple, complex associations of actors create a collective.


Key Concepts and Quotes:


Intermediators—transport meaning or force without transformation; reflections of things beyond them; conduit; reflect society; writer is reflection of social forces


Mediators—transform, translate, distort, and modify meaning or elements they are supposed to carry (39); shape society; tends to be geniuses and artists; social histories of rhetoric consider local, ordinary people as mediators


Actors—deliberate use of this term indicates that it is never clear who and what is acting when we act since actor on stage is never alone in acting (46).  We have to resist the idea that there exists somewhere a dictionary where all the variegated words of the actors can be translated into the few words of the social vocabulary (48).  We have to resist pretending that actors have only a language while the analyst possesses the meta-language in which the first is embedded (49). 


Infra-language—language used by analysts to help them become more attentive to the actors’ own fully developed metalanguage, a reflexive account of what they are saying (49). 


Social—type of momentary association which is characterized by the way it gathers together in new shapes (66).  Designates two different phenomena:  it’s at once a substance, a kind of stuff, and also a movement between non-social elements (160).


Society—designates assembly of already gathered entities; consequence of associations and not their cause (238); movement of associations (238).   Collective—designates the project of assembling new entities not yet gathered together (75)


Translation—relation that does not transport causally but induces two mediators into coexisting (108).  ***There is no aim society, no social realm, and no social ties, but there exists translations between mediators that may generate traceable associations (108).   Translation is an encounter between two mediators which are both changed and which transport transformation…


Network—an expression to check how much energy, movement, and specificity our own reports are able to capture….a concept…a tool to help describe…what readies the text to take the relay of actors as mediators…a trace left behind by some moving agent  (131-2). 


Risky account—description…that can easily fail—it does fail most of the time—since it can put aside neither the complete artificiality of the enterprise nor its claim to accuracy and truthfulness (133).  It is always part of an artificial experiment to replicate and emphasize the traces generated by trials in which actors become mediators or mediators turned into faithful intermediators (136). 


Politicsprogressive composition of the common world (250)


How does Latour ask us to redefine politics?


Using a slogan from ANT, you ‘have to follow the actors themselves,’ that is try to catch up with their often wild innovations in order to learn from them what the collective existence has become in their hands, which methods they have elaborated to make it fit together, which accounts could best define the new associations that they have been forced to establish. (12)  Follow the actors in their weaving through things they have added to social skills so as to render more durable the constantly shifting interactions’ (68). 


I want to break the habit of linking the notions of ‘society,’ ‘social factor,’ and ‘social explanation’ with a sudden acceleration in the description.  When sociologists of the social pronounce the words ‘society,’ ‘power,’ ‘structure,’ and ‘context,’ they often jump straight ahead to connect vast arrays of life and history, to mobilize gigantic forces, to detect dramatic patterns emerging out of confusing interactions, to see everywhere in the cases at hand yet more examples of well-known types, to reveal behind the scenes some dark powers pulling the strings (22).


It is precisely because it’s so difficult to maintain asymmetries, to durably entrench power relations, to enforce inequalities, that so much work is being constantly devoted in shifting the weak and fast-decaying ties to other types of links (66). 


The solution to relativism is always more relativity (122).


Writing about is x is part of x…..writing is a performance of the social (138).


Five Uncertainties we need to learn from as sociologists:

  1. There is no stable, relevant group that make up social aggregates from which we can begin any study; there are only traces of how actors attempt to form or stabilize and dismantle groups (29).
    1. Controversies about group formation should be mapped by identifying spokesperson for group, anti-groups with which they contrast themselves, ways in which groups attempt to be re-defined, recognition of ways scholars keep group in existence.
  2. Actions are never done in full control of consciousness; complex, diverse, and heterogenous actions are entangled web of surprising sets of agencies that need to be slowly disentangled (44).  Our task is to describe what is acting and how even though this is difficult since action is dislocal—does not pertain to any specific site; it is distributed, variegated, multiple, dislocated, and remains a puzzle for the analysists as well as for the actors (60).
  3. Objects have agency and play a role in the collective—quickly shift, however, from mediators to immediators and thus become no longer visibly linked to social ties very quickly (80).  Visibility of objects is enhanced when:  we study innovations, maintain distance in time, space, and skills, study accidents, breakdowns, and strikes, use archives, museums, etc, to bring them back into light  (80-81).  
  4. There are no matters of facts, only matters of concerns.  We have to free matters of fact from their reduction by ‘Nature’ exactly as much as we should liberate objects and things from their ‘explanation’ by society (109).  In attending to matters of concern, we are allowing a thing itself to be deployed as multiple and thus allow[ing] it to be grasped through different viewpoints, before being possibly unified in some later stage depending on the abilities of the collective to unify them.  There are multiple agencies in a pluniverse (116). 
  5. Textual accounts—text for which the question of its accuracy and truthfulness has not been put aside—are risky (126).  Too often sociologists of the social are simply to trying to ‘fix world on paper’…(128).  We need to ask how can we extend the exploration of the social connections a little bit further? (128).  A good ANT account is a narrative or a description or a proposition where all the actors do something and don’t just sit there (128).  A good account will perform the social in the precise sense that some of the participants in the action—through the controversial agency of the author—will be assembled in such a way that they can be collected together.  In a bad text only a handful of actors will be designated sa the causes of all the others, which will have no other function than to serve as a backdrop or relay for the flows of casual efficacy (130). 


Key Questions Addressed about duties of ANT:


How to deploy the many controversies about associations without restricting in advance the social to a specific domain?  To deploy simply means that through the report concluding the enquiry the number of actors might be increased; the range of agencies making the actors act might be expanded; the number of objects active in stabilizing groups and agencies might be multiplied; and the controversies about matters of concern might be mapped (138).  


How to render fully traceable the means allowing the actors to stabilize those controversies?


Through which procedures is it possible to reassemble the social not in a society but in a collective? (16)


Kaironomia:  White—middle voice = overtaken….


Description acts as explanation….Good description is self-explanatory….

Analysis vs. description….Whole is effect of different associations.  Analysis undoes the affect…takes the whole; focus is on parts to explain the whole.  Description acts as analysis. 


Keeping the Social Flat:


Rather than research and focus only on the trace of other places, other times, and other agencies that have led up to and event or interaction, we need to instead trace where political action proceeds forward (166).  We need to move away from only researching or always researching context and structure…we need to consider at once the actor and the network in which it is embedded (169).  We need to keep the social flat—first relocate the global to avoid always going to context, second redistribute the local so as to understand why interaction is such an abstraction, three connect the sites revealed by the former two moves, highlighting the various vehicles that make up the…association (172).


Context in the abstract as pre-determination of an event or interaction, structure are consequences of activity.  We take context and structure are the real.  What we want to believe is that local is the hidden rather than as local production of stuff. 


How to keep Social Flat:


1.  Localize the Global:


We need to render visible the long chain of actors linking sites to one another without missing a single step (173).  Invent a series of clamps to hold landscape firmly flat and to force, so to speak, any candidate with a more ‘global’ role to sit beside the ‘local’ site it claims to explain, rather than watch it jump on top of it or behind it (174). 


Useful clamps: 

Infra-language that maps how connections between actors are often side by side. 

Create continuous map with no gaps, breaks, leaps, shortcuts, accelerations, etc.  Scale becomes flat like star.  Follow connections between conduits on the starlike map.  Realize body politic is made of movements, which are woven together by the constant circulation of documents, stories, accounts, goods, and passions (179).  Trace concrete, visible, delocalized actors—trace the indirect connections.  Think oligoptican.


Panorama—get a totalizing view of multiplicity of sites in network;


Big picture as effect not as cause.  Big picture is generated out of the social rather than predetermines the social. 


2.  Redistribute the Local:


Research the many local places where the global, the structural, and the total were being assembled and where they expand outward via conduits and cables (191).  Focus on the connectors.  Follow paths where ingredients come together into interactions.  Find traceabilites between sites of production of local interactions (193).  Locate articulators  or localizers, which transport presence of places.  Use negation as methodology—realize interactions are not isotopic, synchronic, synoptic, homogenous, or isobaric. 


No place dominates enough to be global and no place is self-contained enough to be local (204).  We need to see what is being transported: information, traces, goods, plans, formats, templates, linkages, and so on (205).  Those things make an actor act. 


3.  Connecting Sites


Research connections, vehicles, and attachments which transport agency…locate forms, which allows something else to be transported from one site to another (223).  Research collecting statements (“Islamic fundamentalism”) as traces of new connections….Detect circulating entities—follow the actors themselves or rather that which makes them act, namely the circulating entities (237).   Dare to be empirical.  Research the Plasma—that which is not yet formatted, not yet measured, not yet socialized, not yet engaged in metrological chains, and not yet covered, surveyed, mobilized, or subjectified (244).  Look for what in unknown, not hidden, in between, not behind (245).  The laws of the social world…are not behind the scene, above our heads, and before the action, but after the action, below the participants, and smack in the foreground (246).




Today we have to restudy what we are made of and extend the repertoire of ties and the number of associations way beyond the repertoire proposed by social explanations (248).   We don’t study, for instance, if language is really socially constructed in the classroom.  We rely too heavily on abstracts. 


The task of tracing connections has to be resumed and redirected toward all those objects they had thought reasonable to leave aside (248).


In nutshell, here is what we must do: deployments, stabilization, composition


  1. deploy controversies to locate new participants in associations of future assemblages
  2. follow how actors themselves stabilize uncertainties by building formats, standards, and metrologies
  3. see how the gathered assemblages can renew sense of collective (249)


Positivism wrong because it reduces matters of concern into matters of fact too fast without due process (256).





How does Latour redefine politics?  What it means to be political in the academy?

What does Latour mean by relocating the global and redistributing the local? And why are these moves important in our field?


Representation in our field is not result of social forces at work. 



What is the role of articulators or localizers?


What constitutes valuable sites of Plasma in our field?  Is move to cultural rhetorics a move toward researching Plasma in our field? 


What is metrology?  The study of measurement.  Looking at local everywhere.  So local is global.  Measurements are result of social and natural activity.


What do we have to learn about the value of empiricism in our field from Latour?  We have a deepseated fear of quantative studies.   Facts are socially constructed in our field. 


Latour asks us to reclaim “And.” 


To do rhetorical analysis needs to move away from just identifying rhetorical strategies at work in a given text or site, but also to analyze social effects.  Tracing how the strategies are responding to various associations and how the site/text is circulating.  How do texts/sites/genres function as social action?  What is the effect?  It is not just artifact to be understood.  It is artifact as effect and potential effect.  Move away from “this is rhetorical because” to “this is rhetorical how and to what effect.”












We Have Never Been Modern


In We Have Never Been Modern, Latour claims that modernity itself, as well as its symptoms postmodernism and antimodernism, as it has been manifested in modern critique is a dead end road that has diverted Western academic critique from generating a more productive understanding of the collectives in which we constitute ourselves. Latour argues that the Modern Constitution needs to be replaced by a nonmodern Constitution in order to more clearly and accurately understand the collectives which humans and non-humans comprise.  A nonmodern Constitution does not completely abandon  modern, premodern, or postmodern Constitutions; it rejects what is unuseful and retains what is productive.  The nonmodern Consititution that Latour advocates would be comprised of four actions:  realize the nonseparability between humans and nonhumans which produce both society and nature; conceive of Nature and Society as continuous entities rather than distinctions; sort through hybrids which don’t depend on homogenous flow and create polarization between archaism and modernization, the local and global, cultural and universal and natural and social; and slowly investigate the production of hybrids achieved through exploration of networks in which they exist. 



Key Points:


The modern Constitution is not defined by the rise of humanism, the emergence of sciences, the secularization of society, or with the mechanization of the world (34).  Instead, it is defined by the simultaneous polarization of Nature and Society (purification), the creation of multiple hybrids of nature and culture (translation), and the tossing of God to the sidelines of critical thought about Nature and Society—all of which cause contradictions that have lead to anti and post modern thought.


Postmodernism is a symptom, not a fresh solution.  It lives under the modern Constitution, but it no longer believes in the guarantees the Constitution offers (47). 


Latour rejects the abrupt break between time and culture that moderns claim exists to differentiate themselves from pre-moderns.  Seen as networks, …the modern world, like revolutions, permits accelerations in the circulation of knowledge, a tiny extension of societies, minuscule increases in the number of actors, small modifications of old beliefs (48). 


Three strategies of modern criticism are:  separation of Nature and Society, automization of language (as social construction) and deconstruction of Western metaphysics (67). Modern critique draws on four resources yet keeps them distinct and deems them incompatible:  naturalization, sociologization, discurvization, and forgetting of Being (67).  Latour wants us to show their continuous connections….(89).  After all, language by itself does not govern society and hold meaning of life; nature is not alienated from society and nor is all dominating and unknowable; our collectives are not constituted by humans all alone; and to understand our collectives and ourselves we don’t have to choose either God or the sciences, politics, or language (90).  Real as Nature, narrated as Discourse, collective as Society, existential as Being:  such are the quasi-objects that the moderns have caused to proliferate.  As such it behooves us to pursue them, while we simply becomes once more what we have never ceased to be: amoderns (90). 


The asymmetry between nature and culture [is] an asymmetry between past and future (71).


We can now drop entirely the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ dichotomoy, and even the distinction between moderns and premoderns.  We have both always built communities of natures and societies (102).


Each artifact has a history.  Each artifact is an actant that possesses a unique signature in the space deployed in this way.  In order to trace them, we do not have to form any hypothesis about the essence of Nature or the essence of Society….Each actant is an event.


The very notion of culture is an artifact created by bracketing Nature off.  Cultures—different or universal—do not exist, any more than Nature does.  There are only nature-cultures…(104).  All nature-cultures are similar in that they simultaneously construct humans, divinities, and nonhumans (106). 


All collectives are different from one another in the way they divide up beings, in the properties they attribute to them, in the moblization they consider acceptable ( 107).


The paradox of the moderns (and the antimoderns) is that from the outset they have accepted massive cognitive or psychological explanations in order to explain equally massive effects, whereas in all other scientific domains they seek small causes for large effects (116). 


Postmodernism—nothing has value; everything is a reflection; a simulacrum, a floating sign –131


The moderns’ greatness stems from their proliferation of hybrids, their lengthening of a certain type of network, their acceleration of the production of traces, their multiplicaton of delegates, their groping production of relative universals….[Yet] we cannot retain the illusion that moderns have about themselves and want to generalize everyone…as different from other communities, cut off from a past that is maintained in a state of artificial survival due only to historicism, separated from a nature on which subjects or society would arbitrarily impose categories, denouncers always at war with themselves, prisoners of an absolute dichotomy between things and signs, facts and values (133). 


In the same way, we can appreciate premoderns non-seperatability of things and signs; multiplication of nonhumans; sense of temporality; noncondradictory conception of transcendence yet we must reject their obligation always to link the social and natural orders; their ethnocentricism; obsession with territoriality; limits on scale (135).


And with postmoderns, we want to retain their multiple times, constructivism, reflexivity, and denaturalization yet reject their belief in modernism, critical deconstruction to a meaningless state of reality, ironic reflexivity, and anachronism based in belief of truly surpassed past (134-135). 


We must become amodern and understand continous nature of collectivities comprised by humans and nonhumans and determined by both nature, society, language and belief in some form of God (my take).  


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Ihde, Don

Ihde, Don   Technology and the Lifeworld


Written at the heart of the intellectual push toward multiculturalism in the early 1990s, in Technology and the Lifeworld, Don Ihde offers a philosophy of technology that demythologizes pervasive modern assumptions, which skew our contemporary understanding of the role of technology in the 21st century:  modern societies are essentially and drastically distinct from past societies; Nature and Society are distinct and contrasting; and technologies are neutral. By investigating the ways in which technology transforms the environment from both a phenomenological and hermenuetic perspective, Ihde illustrates how all cultures across time and location have been technologically embedded.   Technology, according to Ihde, mediates perception about time and space.   Interestingly, in the first part of the book, Ihde distinguishes between different human-technology relations; in cases in which technology is embodied (eyeglasses), technology is perceptually transparent (I-technology) > World; in hermeneutic interpretations, we are aware of techonological mediation and technology and our relation to it becomes focus of perception I > (technology-world); in alterior relations, technology is perceived as quasi-other that we relate to I > technology – (world); in background relations, technology shapes lifeworld but from the invisible side.   No matter the relation, Ihde ends Part I by making clear that technology transforms the human lifeworld; therefore, technologies are non-neutral.  In Part II, Ihde shifts focus and investigates the ways in which cultures embed technologies.  As he illustrates, cultures are transformed by technology in various ways depending on the ways and rates in which different cultures use and adapt to technologies.  Consequently, technologies are multistable.  Ihde moves toward conclusion with an explanation of the curvatures of the contemporary technological lifeworld created in a large part due to proliferation of image-technologies: pluriculturality; burden of conscious decision, which creates prolieferation of choice, rise in undecidability, concern with reversibility, no sense of closure; a materialization of conceptuality through mathematics and computers, which leads back to a percievability, and  what Ihde calls oscillatory phenomenon.  Ihde ends by recommending ways in which modern sciences can be restructured to preserve this earth we have inherited.


Key Concepts:


Technologies:  artifacts of material culture that we use in various ways within our environment (1); a technological object becomes what it “is” through its uses (70);  technologies do form intentionalities and inclinations within which use-patterns take dominant shape (141); technologies are multistable because different cultures can pick up and use technologies in different ways (164);


Technics:  human action employing artifacts to attain some result within the environment (12)


Technofact:  object in which the very materials themselves have undergone levels of transformation (70);


Technology transfer:  change in use as technology changes context


Phenomenology:  philosophy based on perception and bodily activity; analysis of human experience; study of relation between self and environment (21); provides microperception; phenomenology of human-technology relations attempts to discover structural features of those ambiguous relations (72). 


Hermenuetics:  philosophy based on textual interpretation (21); provides macroperception, which informs and/or orients microperception


Lifeworld:  perception based on senses and based in relations between actional humans and the concrete material world of bodily things and beings, which is available to everyone (37).  Also based on cultural acquisitions of knowledge. 


Pluriculturality:  lifeform arising out of the use of image-technologies catching up to cultures in various ways (164) ; a proliferation in ways of seeing due to relations with technology and ways in which technologies are embedded (174). 


Key Quotes:


What is needed is much is a much more radically demythologized story of the structures and limits of human-technology and of the non-technological possibilities of relation to an environment or “world” (17).


Heidigger’s Being in Time was an account of human spatiality within the World, of human temporality within the World, and of the various structures and dimensions of human-world relations (23). 


Our actions are embedded in the multiple ways we interact with and presuppose our technologies, yet this multiplicity remains perceptually and praxically ambiguous (68). 


Postphenomenology:  Essays in the Postmodern Context


Writing in response to the contemporary trend to conceive of everything as a text and as socially constructed, in Postphenomenology, Ihde focuses on the intimate connection between technology and culture and what he calls a “perceptual-bodily referentiality” (6).  Drawing on a method of variation theory, postphenomenology can be considered a nonfoundational and notranscendental phenomenology that investigates our lifeworld and how technologies act as non-neutral “cultural instruments’ embedded in daily life praxis (13).  In Part 1 of this book, the collected essays investigate the various perspectives that have taken shape  in modernity and postmodernity.  Looking to the Renaissance at the conceived birth of modernity, Ihde investigates the work of Leonardi da Vinci, who Ihde claims is responsible for stimulating a new way of technological seeing, which is evident in his imagined technologies and guided by his technological spirit—“imagined world as giant machine set in motion by spirtual forces and controlled in its perfect mechanisms by a superior intelligence that has arranged everything according to mathematical laws” (17).  Da Vinci, according to Ihde, was responsible for his visual art, manifested by his visual imaginiation which transformed and reformulated perception itself toward the notion of objectivity (18).  Ihde also credits da Vinci with the invention of the observer (19). 


Ihde also turns back to Christopher Columbus’ contributions and credits Columbus for stimulating a bird’s eye view from above that contrasted with other cultures’ embodied ways of seeing and reflects “the European assumption…that instruments must mediate controlled interactions with nature” (24).  Today, Ihde argues we have a type of seeing he calls the “compound eye,” which is series of multi and alternative way of seeing the world or can be thought of most simply as  “multiple vision” or a “bricolage of the pluricultural” (29-30). 


Ihde also argues that there is no unitary Technology; rather there “is a multistable and diverse and ambiguous set of multiple directions whose ends are probably not predictable any more than any historical-cultural development can be adequately predicted” (34).  Our job is to begin to conceive of technologies as an ensemble, a culture, whose dimensions are not only economic and productive but also cultural and existential. 


Image technologies, according to Ihde, reflect a perceptual dimension of contemporary life that has the advantages of immediacy, pattern recognition, and gestalt quality (43)  as well as in its capacity to fragment, deconstruct, only to reconstruct in a series of often juxtaposed, nonlinear imagery, reinforces the bricolage quality of what is shown” (53).


Ihde also argues that although modern science can be marked by the development of experimental method, it is also marked by the essential embodiment of instrumentalation, ie. technologies (57). 


In Part II, Ihde investigates how a “variationally centered practice of phenomenology” operates (71).  He begins by demonstrating that culture is perceived through an interrelation of micro and macroperceptual dimensions.  In the post-modern, Western context, Ihde shows that perception is now both embodied and situated and that a hermeneutic perspective allows us to transpose between the two positions (87).  This perspective orders our current lifeworld. 


Ihde credits Heidigger for showing us that technology is “a way of seeing, of revealing a world” (113). 


Questions Addressed: 


How do technologies shape perspective and how does perspective shape culture?  How and how does technology and culture interact to order our world?  How has Eurocentric views about perception and technology influenced our understanding of modernity?  How would we categorize the postmodern perspective and how does this new perspective shape the way we understand and order the world?  What should our goals be in investigationg the interaction between technology and culture?  What methodologies can be used in this investigation?




Key concepts:

Postmodernism—proliferating pluralism, loss of centers and foundationalism; obsessions with text,  hyperawareness of “invention”—social constructed world;


Technoscience—reveals a perceptually identified microworld and macroworld experienced through mediation of instruments; technoscience has always been cross-cultural


Quincentennial—rereading of an event that is neceassarily situated in both nostalgia and ambiguity (21)


Postmodern pluriculture—for every contact the Euro-American technologized culture makes with the Other, there returns a countercurrent of the culture connected (28);

technologically mediated pluriculture has these characteristics: multiplicity of imagery; fragmentation into bits; fluidity in oand out of presence; and bricolage character (64)


Key Quotes:


It was Leonardo da Vinci who helped to make that “technological” way of seeng into a gestalt which could be refined and extended, even to the current and still perspectival respresentations that today capture our fascination” (19). 


What is needed is a deeper insight into the ways in which the ensemble of technologies related to cultural gestalts, particularly those of perspective adopted and of an implicit view of nature (26). 


Technologies must be understood phenomenologically, i.e., as belonging in different ways to our experience and use of technologies, as a human technology relation, rather than abstractly conceiving of them as mere objects (34). 


The dimensions of technology transfers are never simply economic or productive, but multidimensional and involve basic cultural and existential interchange (34). 


Technologies in ensemble are probably more like cultures than like tools (42)


In the modern world,…the network is what is beginning to make us aware of the displacement of our chauvinistic Eurocentrism…(114)


What is needed is not a rejection of the deep and essentially phenomenological insights into technology as a culturally embedded phenomenon wit its different gestalt features, but a deepening and more complex appreciation of all the facets of our technologically textured mode of life.  And that must include the explicit recognition of both the politics of our artifacts, and the demythologization of nostalgia and romantic views of previous times (114).


All histories are not revealing histories but concealing histories …(toward end)

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Goodman, Nelson. Ways of Worldmaking


In this book, Goodman joins the longstanding philosophical conversations about truth and reality, ultimately advocating that rather buying into the notion of Truth about a world already formed, we need to realize that we remake the world with various right and even conflicting versions of the worlds already on hand.  Goodman reminds us that the arts make and remake the world and thus must be taken just as seriously as the sciences as “modes of discovery, creation, and enlargement of knowledge in the broad sense of advancement of understanding” (102). 


Goodman identifies various ways in which we remake the world: 


a.)   composition and decomposition

b.)   Weighting or emphasis or framing

c.)   Ordering

d.)   Deletion and supplementation—weed out the old and sow in the new

e.)   Deformation—think Picasso.


Vision is a matter of habit.  We are conditioned to give certain conditions more weight than others. 


Quotable Quotes:


This world indeed is the one most often taken for real; for reality in a world, like realism in a picture, is largely a matter of habit (20).


A broad mind is no substitute for hard work (21).


Growth in knowledge is not by formation or fixation on belief but by the advancement of understanding (22).


A salient feature of symbolization, I have urged, is tht it may come and go.  An object may symbolize different things at different times, and nothing at other times….How an object or event functions as a work explains how, through certain modes of reference, what so functions may contribute to a vision of –and to the making of—a world (70).


The perceptual is no more a rather distorted version of the physical facts than the physical is a highly artificial version of the perceptual facts (93). 


We make the world by making versions but not random ones…(94). 


Worldmaking begins with one version and ends with another (97). 


Fiction operates in actual worlds in much the same way as nonfiction…[They] unmake and remake and retake familiar worlds, recasting them in remarkable and sometimes recondite but eventually recoginizable—re-cognizable—ways (105). 


Rendering the world in new ways is a way to remake the world and framing is once such way to render the world (119). 


We need to explore how two right versions fit together to remake the world…Through categorization, we can create coherence—the most useful test for rightness (135). 



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“Beyond Dichotomies” Walter Mignolo and Freya Schiwy

Concerned with reshaping the hierchical and contradictory dichotomies that permeate the modern/colonial world, in “Beyond Dichotomies,” Walter Mignolo and Freya Schiwy explain and demonstrate how “translation” has the possibility to imagine new futures, beyond dichotomies, in which the colonial world’s epistemic potential is valued and recognized.  Translation, according to M and S, is more than just translating one language into another.  It is a geopolitical configuration that both embodies history and the subjectivity of its speakers, and for this reason, is simultaneously an act of transculturation.    Transculturation, rather than simply being a centrepital force that unites national identity, is also centrifugal force that creates colonial difference and heirchical dichotomies.  M and S advocate for a ‘change in directionality in the work of translation and transculturation that could help in thinking and moving beyond dichotomies, ethically and politically” (252).


            M and S explain that after 1500, with emergence of moden/colonial world, translation contributed to the construction of hierarchical dichotomies imposing certain rules and directionalities of transculturalation.  Translation contributed to building of colonial difference between Western European languages (languages of science and knowledge and the locus of enunciation) and the rest of the language on the planet (languages of culture, religion, and locus of enunciated).  Western logic conceives of differences in terms of hierarchical dichotomies that began in Renaissance and continue today.  “Translation was indeed the place where the coloniality of power articulated the colonial difference in the modern/colonial world” (254). 


COLONIALITY OF POWER–kind of power exercised in the classification of people and cultures and in the historical and colonial dichotomies implied in such classifications” (255).


            The Zapatistas, according to M and S, changed directionality of transculturation and offered a new theory of translation/transculturation at end of 20th c.  Rather than translate local language into colonist’s language and both construct and erase colonial difference at the same time, the Zapatistas emphasized colonial difference and employed gender as a means of “epistemic and political intervention” (256).  The Zapatistas enacted a double move of translation/transculturation of Marxism into Ameri-Indian cosmology and vice versa in response to hegemonic neoliberalist discourse.  As an example, M and S show how members of the Zapatistas’ (EZLN) intentionally create fractures in translations from local to colonist’s language in order to highlight dimensions of colonial difference.  M and S also demonstrate how intentionally intertwined grammar, cosmology, and language are, which keeps it from being able to be mastered and controlled by “one type of correlation between language, worldviews, knowledge, and wisdom” (257).   M and S “locate translation and transculturation within the overall frame of the colonial difference in the modern/colonial world system, as a process grounded in an ethno-racial, gendered, and epistemological foundation” (255).


            M and S remind us that “colonial difference articulates the external borders of the modern/colonial world system, not its internal-imperial conflicts” (258).  “We are no longer facing the question of ‘the West and the rest,’ but ‘the rest in the West” –a reinscription of colonial difference  (258). Intervention of colonial difference from subaltern perspective helps to dissolve dichotomies “because multiple others challenge the center and critically engage with each other on its interior and exterior borders” (258). Legitimizing cosmologies, language, and knowledges of “non-western” cultures reinstates the logic of dichotomies in the act of criticizing their content” (260). 


“DIVERSALITY–“the conscious harmonization of preserved diversities.


            Example of transculturation:  EZLN’s appropriaton of “democracy,” which in their language means “ruling at the same time as obeying,” into Amerindian languages/cosmologies yet is expressed in Spanish.  This doublemove is an act of political intervention because Z. “are no longer translating Ameriindian languages to Spanish concepts and systems of understanding.  Rather, an Amerindian understanding is rendered in Spanish syntax, becoming transformed in the process and not entirely losing its difference from Western understanding.  In the other direction, from the Spanish/Western language to Amerindian languages, Spanish/Western thinking is transformed, its words inserted and interpreted on the grounds of Amerindian cosmologies” (263).


“Choque” or clash –when two cultures come together in and produce a space of contact and conflict where translation takes place (263).


Translation becomes re-education. The result is an epistemological revolution. rhetoricians need to be re-educated, re-modeled…re-configured… “in the modern world, grammatical treatisies based on alphabetic literary and the expansion of Western Christianity… proliferate.  As self-contained entities, they are placed in dichotomous relations that are not equal or even complementary to each other but defined heirchichally by the geopolitical location of the language as nation” (267).


Spanish language from end of 18th century on was language of consumption of knowledge rather than for knowledge production sustained transnationally. 


Transculturation is at work in the social life of things, and it works in both directions.  It trans-lates objects that transform modes of being and thinking, which at the same time transform the “original” uses and life of the object (268).


Zapatista’s theoretical revolution stems from a colonial difference emerging as the locus of epistemological border thinking, which demands the remapping of translation/transculturation (270). 


Border thinking is “double consciousness from a subaltern perspective in confrontation with hegemony” (272).   Ambiguity develops in what Anzaludua calls a mestizaconsciousness, which needs to and can “‘reinterpret’ history, using new symbols to…call on traditions to and other ways of knowing in order to inscribe them in the present and thus transform and the dominant and hegemonic epistemic space (272).


By “translating/transculturating Western language into Amerindian knowledge and enunciating it back in Spanish to a global audience,  [t]hey are profoundly undoing the binaries at the base of their subalternity, creating border-spaces for translation/transculturation from the epistemic potential of the colonial difference” (274).


Translation is “trans-languaging”–a form of border thinking, opening up new epistemic avenues beyond the complicity between national languages and cultures of scholarship established in the modern/colonial world system and in which the “modern” concept of translation was articulated (277). Beyond dichotomies is an-other logic, not only a reconfiguration of the content” (279).


Tansculturation can best be described as a social conflict between languages and cosmologies in geemonic and subaltern positions, respectively” (266).

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