Wednesday
Jun062012

Dog Talk and Cyborg breeding

Donna Haraway- Companion Species

 

Why conceive nature and culture as polar opposites.   Strathern thinks in terms of  Partial connections.  E.g. patterns within which the players are neither wholes nor arts.  Relations of significant otherness.

Partial connections

“Companion species rest on contingent foundations” (9)

cyborgs are hybrids.

Reproductive biotechnopolitics-

Co evolution in natureculture-

“There cannot be just one companion species; there have to be at least two to make one.  It is in the syntax; it is in the flesh. “ (12)

“That is companion animal has the pedigree of the mating between technoscientififc expertise and late industrial pet-keeping practices, with their democratic masses in love with their domestic partners, or at least with the non-human ones. .”(14)

 Companion species- plants and animals

 “Species is about defining difference, rooted in polyvocal fugues of doctrines of cause”

1-categories of organism

2 philosophical kind and category, polyvocal fugues

3-real presence flesh and blood

4 –species as a trait to be manipulated

 “The companion species Manifesto is, thus, about the implosion of nature and culture in the relentlessly historically specific, joint lives of dogs and people, who are bonded in significant otherness. “(6)

 “metaplasm means a change in a word, for example by adding, omitting, inverting, or transposing its letters, syllables, or sounds. “(8)

 Dogs compared to cyborgs, bred and made

 Flesh and sign, fact and fiction, what is real to what we perceive.


Etmologically, facts refer to performance, action, deeds done-feats, ins hort. A fact is a past participle, a thing done, over, fixed, shown, performed, accomplished. Facts have made the deadline for getting into the next edition of the paper. Fection, etymologically, is very close, but differs by part-of-speech and tense. Like facts, fiction refers to action, but fiction is aobu tht act of fashioning, forming, inventing, as well as feigning or feinting”

Wednesday
May162012

Love Thyself,

 

Yes, love thyself and take care of thyself so that you can give back to others and to the community in which you live.  In this essay Longford is reacting to the criticism of Focaults “The Art of Self Fashioning” saying that the way that Focault describes Self love is not directed to only focus on the individual but because the individual expands herself beyond her realms by shedding genealogy, religion, or pre-notions to experience something new and progress their individuality but also to bring back these experiences to progress the culture. Many critics argue that Focault’s self fashioning as an ideology leads to violence, “the tendency to aesthetics and instrumentalize others as mere material for ones’ own self-fashioning with disturbing implications for human empathy, mutuality, and solidarity”

 However Longford rejects this idea in that Focault states that  

“Self fashioning web of contingent events and relationship and awareness of contingent self brings awareness of differences of contingencies in all identities.”

 He then compares Focault’s self fashioning with Rory’s Strong poet saying that Rory’s strong poet was more apt for violent tendencies because the strong poet had no contingencies to another.

 The example used is the teenager that kill his pregnant mother sister and brother to “make some noise” to be heard by his father. This example is irrelevant for the argument unless he is trying to say that psychopaths are strong poets

Which means are all psychopaths strong poets or are all strong poets psychopaths. 

 Im game.  Let the vicious be vicious in all their glorious vanity. 

 

 

Foucault-

“create ourselves as a work of art.”Is this Narcissistic or self reflexive? Care of thyself,  above and beyond all?  Care of others? Ethic of self fashioning..One must love one self before taking care of others.

Dehuman-religious faiths

 “The use of pleasure” “The care of the Thyself”

 “the tendencty to aestheticise and instrumentalize  others as mere material for ones’ own self-fashioning with disturbing implications for human empathy, mutuality, and solidarity”

 “aesthetic modernist”

 erasure of identity

 self fashioning web of contingent events and relationship and awareness of contingent self brings awareness of differences of contingencies in all identities

 Greek, work on ones self to become an ethical example to community.

 Christianity erases self

 Look at the true morality in the Greek times how were woman and slaves treated?

 Genealogy does not bring us closer to ourselves but dissipates our idea of identity by all the discontinutity that crosses us.  So what?

 Risk taking to expand one self and develop one’s self. E.g. writing face non face.

 Sex experimentation enlightening with pleasure,  orgies, lose identity and past history for bliss with other humns

 Self detachment- to travel outside one;s self to reach the “cultural unconscious” e.g. traveling to other countries, sex

 Weakening of genealogy,  ancestory attachment to old ways of thinking and branch out to experiment with new relationships, experiments identity.

 Deep self versus self developed through genealogy, upbringing via family passes knowledge, societial impact

 Strong poet.  The layers of new vocabulary new trends in a culture Pre written poems

 Focault becoming other than what one is, contingent on others,

 Rory-strong poet, developing self, disaffiliate with predecessors, without influence, invitation to violence, the self above all else

 Riverio is a psychopath and should not be used as an example.  Psychological unstable. 

Sorelian nightmare

 Private self fashioning public mutual care, bipolar psychopath

Self fashioning has social impacts.

 Dorrine Kondo on race in French and Japanese fashion.

 Object, object

To be abject- is to embody the position of the social Other

To abject- to be in conflict with physical beings

 Transcending  Gender

 Lacan- the Other, object as desire

 Defines woman as on object, the imaginary,  You don’t hate the mother you adhere to the thing you want but lack.

 Convention of style, conventions of gender identity.  

The cycle of the symbolic and the imaginary.  An unfillable.  Stereotypes or society imagines the ideas of  a woman the woman cannot fulfill those desires.

 Beyond fashion

 Silly girl. Popular culture, what is the influence,  popculture responding animalistically to the materials.  Humans become mindless freaks in this potentially sophisticated as

 Lee Tamahori-The Devil’s double-Uday Hussein- latif yahia the doubles double

Wednesday
May162012

Making a Statement in a Common Language (Jacob)

 

Gender and Race on the Runway

 

Baudrillard’s argument Kondo offers us background on seems a bit disingenuous to me. When Baudrillard says “we have entered a new regime of simulation, a world where the referential and the real dissolve in an enchanting play of floating signs that refer only to each other” and that “Fashion’s power is precisely that of the ‘pure sign that signifies nothing’” (109) I find that hard to believe. Perhaps it isn’t contemporary enough for my tastes, especially given Kondo’s ending assertion that the world of fashion in itself is impossible to take a position outside of in critique, that one has to intervene “not as a heroic vanguard of resistance from some transcendent space outside discourse, politics, and the logic of late capitalism, but as subversion that is always and only subversion from within.” (152)

 

I also thought it interesting in that the article dealt in a somewhat summary way with the mass-produced, capitalist underside of the fashion runway world, which seems to prize outrageous innovation embedded within its own highly specific ecosystem of signs. And to someone outside that world, it does seem somewhat unintelligible. So I appreciated the handout that “though the aesthetically minded find it problematic, being understandable—i.e., marketable—is considered a virtue in the fashion industry.” (122)

 

What I found most interesting about this article was the suggestion between making a statement, doing something new or challenging to the institution, but still working within that institution. All the Japanese designers’ work and ethos is presented in this manner—that while their project may have been to level critique and challenge the insular, it must be done with the common language. But that seems to challenge as well, or present a border (permeable or no) between the larger project of fashion itself, which I interpret to be one of colliding abstract aesthetic with functionality, and innovative expression with commutability of visual language.

 

Cruel Aesthetes

 

Foucault’s strategy aestheticism of the self seems useful in the sense of raising awareness of underlying assumptions we bring to the table about identity and society, with the implied opportunity to transcend or transgress those boundaries once we have awareness of them:

“the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them” (qtd. Foucault 573)

 

However, I find Foucault problematic in his offering—and the basis of Longford’s argument—that this self-detachment can also not result in detachment from society. The murderer Riviere’s acts seemed to suggest we treat his self as an object “covered with glory”, which Longford attributes more to Rorty’s strong poet. But I wonder…could it be that inherent in the disassembly of self one enacts, the dissociation of sanctity in identity, because of the sympathetic gaze one turns to those around one’s self, results in the same destructive re-purposing of others from selves to objects? How do Foucault’s aesthetics of existence suggest a value system for moral behavior in a framework where the familiar is made other, the homogenous destructively split into constitutive parts to be analyzed and set aside? It seems to me a process with violence built into it, destructive of identity wholesale, which a sympathetic individual must then necessarily reflect to those around him or her. Longford even touches on this when saying: “According to Foucault, the relationship one maintains with oneself and one’s identity—the extent to which one cultivates a critical and reflexive awareness of its largely constructed nature, or not—inevitably bears on one’s relations with others.” (591)

 

Where is the father or mother in Foucault’s model? The brother? The friend? Where is the center upon which others rely, the basis of which allows us to form consistent bonds that can form a concrete basis for functional society? Perhaps one could make a double gesture, and say that in one’s position as a self-effacer, that is one’s identity. That is what society can rely on that person to perform.

 

Even Longford acknowledges that Foucault dodges the hard question that is the echo from his call to disassemble the parts of identity. What self do we then necessarily have to “stand for” (591)? What is that unified concept, that thing which we attach the signifier “self” to, signified to?

Wednesday
May162012

Unfinished thought on Kondo

Benjamin articulated this constitutive contradiction: fashion’s utopian dream wish that

held critical and transformative possibility, coupled with its reinscription of

capitalist logics, its commodity fetishism, and its dissimulation of ruling class

interests, where thc dcsires for revolutionary and perhaps violent change could

be channeled into the fetishizing of fashion’s latest trend. This chapter explores

some ramifications of this constitutive contradiction. Animating the analysis is

the supposition that any utopian gestures in fashion always occur within, and

inevitably reinforce-even as at other levels they might contest-our contemporary

capitalist regime of truth. P107

 

I agree with this last sentence and have seen multiple examples of how fashion is made using the symbols of resistance or revolution to market itself as edgy.  It is easier to wear the costume of a rebel and feel the excitement of marking yourself as one than to actually do the work of being one. 

 

 

Yet art and fashion are also industries, and aesthetics cannot be divorced

from commerce, for these designers also head large capitalist organizations

with hundreds of employees. All have subsidiary lines that are less expensive,

less radical, and thus more commercial pg122

 

This said, Bourdieu points out the common strategies required of challengers

to the established couturiers: they must promote themselves as subverting

the old order without whoUy problematizing the field of fashion itself.

Indeed, they cannot do so without caUing into question their own raison

d’elre-after all, their ultimate goal is not to deconstruct Ihe field, but to succeed

in it. Similarly, BaudriUard argues that the only significant intervention possible in the commoditized regime of fashion is to throw into question its

foundational logic, which again no designer can completely afford to do. Do we

say, given these inevitably compromised and complicit interventions, that aU

contestatory potential is therefore vitiated’?

pg 122-123

 

No, but it makes their fashion seem more like gestures toward, than realized, artistic concepts.  This, not its utilitarian nature, is what seems to make fashion fit into the entertainment category.

 

Western “bodyconscious”

clothing depends upon Western figurations of gender and sexual

display, while Kawakubo’s clothing and aesthetic sensibility articulate a sensuality

enjoyed by Japanese women. Kawakubo thus discursively constructs

racialized gender differences as a principle shaping her work. Pg 124

 

 

 

 

A Comme des Gan,;ons representative explained, “The goal for all women

should be to make her own living and to support herself, to be self-sufficient.

That is the philosophy of her clothes. They are working for modern women.

Women who do not need to assure their happiness by looking sexy to men, by

emphasizing their figures, but who attract them with their minds”pg 125

 

Do the models wearing these clothes look like self-sufficient women?

 

Decontextualized from structures of power, oppressive historical events, sacred objects,

and subjugated peoples can become simply appropriable aesthetic motifs.pg145

 

Yep.

 

More important, Japanese avant-garde elothing offers to consumers different

opportunities to construct gendered, raced bodies that do not seem like

inferior imitations of normative Western bodies.21 In a gesture of parity with thep147

 

In short, the work of Comme des

Gan;ons and other Japanese designers implicitly contests Eurocentric racial

hegemony in the garment industry.

Tuesday
May152012

How would Kondo view "The Gap?"

I should point out that I read this article with a very different set of expectations going into it than coming out of it. Despite my comments, I do genuinely get the gestalt picture Kondo was trying to express. (Or, so I think; we’ll find out.) I believe it would be helpful to preview the themes and key philosophical factors before the readings so help set the proper stage for analysis and consideration. —Dan Heller

———————-

Dorinne Kondo, a fashion writer, explores the limitations that the fashion industry imposes on factors such as race and gender to society at large. She gets right to the point in her first sentence saying, “the work of the Japanese avant-garde and the general arena of fashion provide a unique lens through which to view a central political/intellectual dilemma of our late 20th century worlds…”

 

Before I go on, I feel compelled to bring some context into the discussion.

 

Economists and sociologists often struggle with conclusive explanations that account for cultural trends, whether music, theater, movies, or fashion. And personal identity is subject to a great mix of influences, including culture, ethnicity, and social fabrics. The multi-directional arrows between people in different contexts, all affecting and being affected by the others, creates an enormous feedback engine. Accounting for any singular event, let alone broad trends, is inherently highly speculative, let alone conclusive.

 

Where does fashion lie on this spectrum? How about the designers that come up with fashion ideas. Who are they? What are their influences? Where do they live and what inspires them? What is their role in this cyclical feedback loop of influences? Does their perception on race, gender and nation trickle down to the world?

 

I believe a credible source of explanation begins with what Richard Florida calls, “the Creative Class.” Florida is an urban studies theorist best known for his assertion that metropolitan regions with high concentrations of technology workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men, and a group he describes as “high bohemians”, exhibit a higher level of economic development. In his book, “The Rise of the Creative Class,” Florida posits that the creative class fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional urban environment that could not exist if it were not for the multi-directional influences of a diverse population. This environment, in turn, attracts more creative people, as well as businesses and capital. It’s the blend of influences throughout the entire ecosystems that creates cultural trends that ultimately shape individual’s perceptions of self, race and sexual identity (among other things).

The “business of fashion” is certainly a byproduct of this creative class, and is one of the last of to emerge within this ecosystem because of the hierarchy of complexities necessary for the industry to exist. There requires a rather large infrastructure of manufacturing, access to shipping, investment, workers, and of course, the social and cultural advantages that would attract those in the fashion industry in the first place. Erik Kandel, winner of the Nobel prize in Physiology in 2000, accounts for the origin of the modern day creative economy in his book, “The Age of Insight.” It all began at the turn of the 20th century in Vienna, Austria, when social and political laws were eased to the point where creativity not only flourished, but the economics around this activity attracted great investment—a kind that is seen today. Naturally, this helped establish environments for thinkers like Sigmund Freud to emerge and evolve.

 

So, the first question to ask is whether those who are “influential” in fashion are representative of the broader society? Are they merely outliers? Or do they genuinely have an insight into society that resonates in a way that gives them agency to affect others? Does their treatment of race and gender trickle down?

 

Kondo is clearly aware of this dilemma (although not for the same reasons). She cites Iris Young, a philosopher who articulates the dilemma of the study of fashion itself: it’s a “patriarchal double bind: that fashion both defines a woman as an object, requiring our interest in aesthetic production of ourselves as gendered subjects in order to be fully woman, while at the same time condemning fashion as a trivial occupation for silly girls.” She further acknowledges a concern that “Fashion is suspect because convention associates it with consumption, not production … constituted through gender, race, class, culture and history…”

 

These, and a litany of additional quotations from great thinkers on the topic all underscore a notion that fashion is in some way inextricably linked to “mass culture.” Yet, this might not be all that bad because “mass culture could contain the seeds of historical awakenings that might spur socially transformative change” (Buck-Morse, 1989).

 

Ok, but again, who tips the first domino in this system? Designers? The fashion industry? Kondo takes the discussion at this point to probe the question of what fashion has to say about these questions, not whether fashion actually affects these issues. She says, “Fashion has provided the ground for articulating far-reaching arguments about the nature of our present society, including processes of signification, subject formation, forces of domination and inequality, and the possibilities for political transformation.” Fair enough – fashion is the ground for “articulating.” Explaining, reflecting, commenting. Other art forms do similar things.

 

Yet, through all this articulating, I feel like I’m being underhandedly coaxed into believing there’s more to it than that. That designers have a stronger hand in it than what the masses might think. She cites Barthes and Baudrillard often, the sum of which adds up to the notion that fashion is the ultimate reflection of society – a “consumer society,” no less. “A world where the referential and the real dissolve into mutually referential signs.”

 

Enter Bourdieu, whose views can be summed as “refined taste is constituted through a system of class distinction.” This is certainly true, but not surprising – classes always distinguish themselves through many means, fashion being one of them. Kondo finds this to be objectionable in the manner in which she characterizes his thesis: “Bourdieu clearly assumes that he can … specify class and class fractions, precisely linking them with specific displays of taste.” His rigidity is akin to Barthes, she claims.

When Kondo presents Lipovetsky, she begins a transition in her narrative towards where she ultimately wants to go. “Fashion is a democratizing influence that promotes individualization … who hold the democratic values of tolerances, pluralism, and openness to transformation.”

 

Sounds like Vienna at the turn of the 20th century.

 

Kondo’s section “Starting from Zero,” begins with the “shock of Japanese fashion,” in the early 1980s. And what made it so shocking was the “anti-fashion,” where the designs de-emphasized gender and race, which were “oppositional to reigning European and especially French clothing conventions.”

 

Really? Shocking? The 1980s was coined the “Me generation” by Christopher Lasche, a writer that commented on the rise of a culture of narcissism among the younger generation. The phrase caught on with the general public at a time when “self-realization” and “self-fulfillment” were becoming cultural aspirations. The “self” was considered equally as important as social responsibility. And the pivotal note here is that this generation was the offspring of the Baby Boomers, who grew up in the 60s and 70s. The ones responsible for the sexual revolution, civil rights, and other cultural displays of individual independence.

 

She characterizes the Japanese designers as a “challenge to Western clothing conventions .. on the planes of gender and race.” That a designer would come out with a clothing line that accurately reflects the culture of society of the Me generation by having styles that de-emphasized “gender” should have hardly been regarded as shocking.  Or challenging to anyone.

 

For a short time, I did fashion photography for a modeling agency in San Francisco, whose main client was The Gap. On the few occasions where I spoke to designers, they were far more conventional, down-to-earth types that cared little about the “art” of fashion, but more on the pragmatics of making clothes that were useful in people’s daily lives. I wonder how these “average designers” would be viewed by Kondo?