I hope you’ve all been enjoying Spring Break.
The timing of our break, following a snow-cancellation, means that we will return to class next week still trying to complete our (now, seemingly-distant) engagement with McLuhan, while also making sense of the culture industry readings (scheduled for, but unengaged, last week) and the readings on audience (slated for next week).
So, gang, in a word: we face some challenges (!)
To help us better work through and with the material, I would encourage thinking together on a few disparate (though consonant) threads.
The first is the optional article assigned for last week on “The High Concept Presidency”. Let’s ask: “how, if at all, this notion of ‘high concept’ might apply not only to politics, but to other areas of social communication today?”
And what of the future? To the degree that the notion of ‘high concept’ has crept into the present, what might the uses and effects of it be–now and moving forward, into the future?
And, looking at a question that will come to take on greater meaning when we discuss genre, narrative devices and rhetorical approaches in cultural productions, to what degree can we link the presence and use of ‘high concept’ to media form, itself? In short, is the way of thinking and explaining part and parcel of the medium it appears in, itself (or is it merely an artifact–a coincidental/accidental element)? . . . obviously examples would be beneficial in addressing this query.
Next, I was intrigued by this article on “president as publisher”. My interest was less in Donald Trump and the specifics of his live-tweeting the Comey hearing before the House Intelligence Committee than with the simple McLuhansque take on medium as message. Applied to this situation, what message does Twitter (the medium) send? What “effects” does the platform exert on society? And, is this medium merely a blip on the historical radar, or does it possess the ability (like, say, the telephone or television) to remain with us, thereby altering human practices and patterns in profound ways? In answering this question, think about the media determinism angle. What is determined, how and why?
Finally, on this matter of determinism (and in a final why-the-hell-not leap toward the kitchen sink), you might consider this article, which (taken to its extreme) might enable us to argue something in the grander scheme of things. Is it possible that this article might lead toward theorization about media form (and also content)–at least particular sorts of media. What sorts? The kind that are computationally-based (which, increasingly, comprises a growing number of media and media content). In turn, these forms (and their contents) are predicated on (hence, determined and regulated by) a particular system of thought: logical and probabilistic.
Letting the string play out, one might ask: “are all (such) media beneficiaries, but also potential victims, of a fixed way of thinking/approaching/perceiving/operating in the world?” And so, too, is our media theorization also at risk of being overly determined by reference to, fixation with, a particular thought style?