Tag Archives: wikipolitics

Mashup

the book bloc - several students holding huge painted 'classic' books.Image from the artsagainstcuts blog

“We live within networks of messages, signs, information, and knowledge which produce our experience of ourselves, society, and all that we consider real. And, as power produces its subjects, so it gives birth to antagonists and the forms of resistance with which it is irreducibly implicated.” p.119 Sadie Plant The Most Radical Gesture

I haven’t spoken much about the protests against the cuts on here, I have been at a few, which you will have seen if you follow me on Twitter or Audioboo. But I haven’t felt like I’ve quite been able to marshall my thoughts to communicate them to you. But I have been there; I have seen people beaten to the ground, I have see the police charge on me, I have thankfully thus far avoided being kettled due to a combination of being dressed smart, luck, and sense of when people are suddenly pelting in the opposite direction. I have walked dazed bleeding people to taxis with directions and a tenner to the nearest hospital because (apparently) Police medics are only technically there to look after police. I have seen cold, frightened young people, stand together with parents, with older people, with disabled people, and be driven back like animals, penned, and deprived of food, toilets, water, liberty. And I have seen those people burn things to keep warm, seen hands raised and voices cry ‘don’t push us back, we’ve nowhere else to go’. I have seen angry angry people, some of whom aren’t even old enough to vote, raise the only voice they know will be heard; in violent action. And then I see what the media sees, because kettling is such a brilliant way to make sure all the photographers and the protesters are in the same place. So they smash a window, poke a princess. Violence is decried, the protesters dismissed. Despite the fact that that violence was not against humans, but symbols of the blind privilege of the ruling elite.

And I believe in parliament, I do believe that the majority of people there are there because they want to fight for the world which they think is best, and that the best way they can do so in small, measured wades through sticky, muggy, heavy beaurocracy. But I also believe that the mainstream media has hamstrung our politicians and society to the point that only the thickest skins make it. And thick skins get used to not hearing things in order to exist. So they don’t hear the cries of the people trapped just metres from their workplace.

“[the kettle] is also a media strategy which seeks to concentrate the spectacle of violent protest into a defined space precisely for the media. Thus the physical terrain of the kettled site is marshalled to produce violent spectacle for media consumption. It is a type of siege that lets the police appear under attack. The kettle thus needs to be understood as a form of media strategy deployed by the police to delegitimize protests and re-symbolize legitimate protest as unlawful ‘riot’. The kettle attempts to cast opposition protests as such as radical, violent and in need of police repression, whose brutality is legitimated by this same spectacle of student violence that the kettle aims to facilitate.” Rory Rowan on the brilliant Critical Legal Thinking

And I also believe that the mainstream media has made us believe that politicians are not people, and politics is complicated; and made politicians believe that people don’t understand politics, and just aren’t interested.

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Ourselves, in Other Contexts.

Object.

I have been thinking a lot over the past few days about the new narrative strategies emerging in the digital age- moving on from why and what they are, and what has provoked them (pretty much everything that I put into my two speeches at Notts Trent and Leeds Met in January) and instead considering the implications for us as a society, in their being our main way of consuming stories.

Stories are a massive part of how we learn and grow as a species. They allow us to try out other eventualities, other roles, understand the feelings of others, and our own place in the world. Stories are intricately linked to play, and playing (whether actually, or theatrically) is a recognised learning technique for both adults and children. (See the massive success of TIE in schools, prisons, and deprived areas, as well as the ways that children learn about their world). Likewise play – the ability to try and test for no reason other than the fun of it – is vital to creative thinking, whether in business and tech (where it’s called ‘innovation’) or in the humanities and social sciences, play, and narrative, is at the very basis of our evolutionary and inventive potential.

There is largely considered to be a point when we ‘grow out of’ playing. It is in evidence, in teasing, between friends, but proper immersive narrative experiences are thenceforth ring-fenced. There are areas where they are ‘ok’, and they include theatrical spaces, board games, TV, music, video game, radio, film, books. The arts, in short.

The film/television experience is inarguably passive when compared with the play that we experience as children, and with the ‘old’ narrative strategies of books (and to a certain extent radio – though ‘old’ perhaps not) where we are placed, if not in the position of another, at least in a world-constituting position of one type or another. We build worlds of the books we read with our imaginations, likewise theatre is necessarily world-constituting, the tension of live-ness with narrative, reality with suspension of disbelief, is an inherently world-constituting process – and a collective one at that.

Film and television are passive forms of narrative consumption, they are involving, largely individual, and can pretend to be interactive (the arbitrary decision of whether someone stays or goes is not world constituting) and are no less a form for that, but in terms of play, in terms of one key aspect of play – there’s something missing. Empathy. The process of placing yourself at the centre of creating a narrative – constituting a world – seeing it through anthers’ eyes is largely missing (though of course there are exceptions to this). I’m not arguing that film and television is bad art, but I do believe that to subsist on a diet of only filmic narrative will provoke illness.
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