Potpourri Tureen

            Juan Williams gets canned by NPR for talking out the side of his head on Fox. Immediately, there becomes the NPR “listeners community” versus the Fox “listeners community”. Not to insult anyone’s intelligence but we all become aware of the oppositional “us/them” competitive dichotomy symptomatic of capitalism. Then again, what else could we expect given that it is the only game in town, the soup that we all swim in? Which brings to mind Debord’s spectacle and its reference by Ranciere, “the spectacle is not the display of images concealing reality. It is the existence of social activity and social wealth as a separate reality” (pg. 44 The Emancipated Spectator). This idea of separation, of “us/them” so important to this current tempest in a media teapot (not to be confused with the “we-really-aren’t-like-that”/ “I am you” tempest in the tea bagger’s teapot) carries over into the operational definition of community in today’s spectacle saturated soup. I mean, “community” is used as much, if not more, as a public justification as “wants to spend more time with his family” is. Identity of community is reliant on the establishment of an Other (an NPR to a Fox). In his in depth consideration of Allora and Calzadilla’s work in October 133, Yates McKee makes explicit that much of their early work was effective precisely because of the pre existing “us/them” dichotomy that established community through an emphasis on the Other. He points out that Allora and Calzadilla themselves became aware of this when they decided to return to Vieques AFTER the Navy had vacated the island. This then became a time when the Other would no longer be there as the working identity of community. McKee’s article itself establishes (and relies on) a community through conscientiously meticulous cross referencing and precise language in order to insure that any “other” interpretation would not be within his preferred consensus. This need for “community” appears to be “natural” until one is jolted by the intense wetness of the soup of spectacle, the only game in town that we all must swim in (whether we ascribe to community or not). This “natural” communal “instinct” then only becomes another manifestation of the methodology of separation, the day to day functional operation of the capitalist soup. Ranciere’s “quality of human beings without qualities” (pg. 49 The Emancipated Spectator) takes on a completely different spin when being “without qualities” means having no need for community (the identity which ascribes/inscribes quality, i.e. recognition). Having the quality of not recognizing an Other, hence not recognizing a community, would certainly open up and enable many capacities that are unimagined within the necessarily oppositional mode of capitalistic functioning.


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