Posts Tagged ‘Making Things Public’

Performance Art

January 8, 2016

For the Associated Press, Wilson Ring and Jill Colvin report on presidential wannabe Donald Trump’s latest campaign promotion in Burlington. Vermont (Protesters interrupt Trump Vermont rally despite screening, 1-8-16). The national media has focused on location and the number of folks who lined up (“Thousands of people stood in line for hours waiting to get into the Burlington event after the campaign distributed 20,000 free tickets to the Flynn Center for the Performing Art, which has just 1,400 seats.”). No one seemed to focus on the actual name of the space, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, nor the last part of the name, Performing Arts. D. Trump has been labeled a huckster, a P.T. Barnum, a Wild Bill Cody for his use of the stage, social media, and traditional media. Recently, many sources are analyzing campaign expenditure on advertising, noting that traditional TV ads are still king, with most of the other “lesser” candidates on the slate spending heavily to try to stay relevant. Trump has only begun to advertise within this framework. It appears that Donnie Trump is truly ahead of the pack, not only in terms of the polls, but in understanding the aesthetic of today’s culture. Jacques Ranciere may have theorized about the politics of aesthetics (the traditional take on culture as pertaining to art – architecture, dance, visual arts, music, etc.) as well as the aesthetics of politics (how politics is done) but Donnie Trump actually employs it. He may be one of the first to understand, through utilization, the effectiveness and viability of performance art. Within politics, this is a staple of South American democracies. In the US, it has been neglected primarily through regulation of the constitutional right to assembly (designated protest sites removed from the source of contention and debate). Mr. Trump has utilized the power of performance art to run a campaign without reliance on advertising. With the Burlington event we have his campaign manipulating the populace in order to produce the art (20,000 tickets for a 1,400 seat venue. Apparently Donnie has no regard for fire code). The ticket holders show up, forming a line, creating a news event. Like with open carry gun laws, it is impossible to tell which of the ticket holders in line are the good guys, and which are the bad (for or against the Trump candidacy). As with the performance art of the visual arts, no advertising expenditure created a spectacle, a sensation, an event or happening, whichever you prefer. In crass art terms – he got the message out. Performance art has a long, involved and rich history in American art dating back to Allan Kaprow’s Happenings in NYC (amongst others). Now it has finally entered the lexicon of America’s political aesthetic. Unfortunately, for most of the American public, it is a novelty that doesn’t have a name.

Je Suis Archie Bunker

January 8, 2015

With the conclusion of his essay “On The Phenomenology Of Giant Puppets: Broken Windows, Imaginary Jars Of Urine, And The Cosmological Role Of The Police In American Culture” (Possibilities: Essays On Hierarchy, Rebellion and Desire, 2007) David Graeber speculates on the threat posed by puppets (real, imagined or theoretical?). According to Graeber, not only are puppets targeted for destruction by state security forces during demonstrations but pre-emptive operations are executed to exterminate them prior to deployment, during construction. The official reasons given are always ostensible and fictitious. He cites specific instances and events. For Graeber, the police embody the state’s single interpretation of reality which grants them license, authority to interpret individually. Hence, to “question” or appeal to an alternate interpretation is to undermine that authority, outlook or decision on the nature of reality. Graeber claims the puppets do precisely that by actualizing, making real the possibility of some other interpretation. As the police embody the single interpretation of the state, the puppets “embody” an alternate presentation. The police legitimize their violence on the basis of license. Giant puppets license illegitimacy. The puppets perform this without the reliance on or need of any form of dominance. The imagined possible, no matter how ridiculous or absurd, has always been a threat to the single interpretation. In the straight line (no exceptions) logic of dominance, this appears as “See it my way or don’t see it at all.” The appeal to authority, an authority, the authority underlies such rigor. One variation of this theme is that all (and any) imagined interpretation is reserved for the authority itself, arbitrary or not. The single interpretation is the burden of the subjects of that authority (sometimes cynically given as the “privilege”). The State, God, The Prophet, The Law, Buddha, etc. enjoy (within their domain) the richness and multiplicity of possibility, as well as its origination, dissemination, destruction, etc. The subjects of said author cannot operate within the every day amidst such a richness of possibility (hence, the puppets must go). Although such an approach appears quite pragmatic (a variation of Real Politik), it likewise reveals extreme discomfort. It is as though it exposes an almost elementary condition of ordained determination, the lack of ability to handle the conceptual generative capacity of what is termed “the universal and the particular.” If subjects are possessed of imagined interpretation then God, The State, etc. no longer have monopoly over its generation, becoming restrained to just one version. If subjects are possessed of multiple imaginings then God, The State, etc. simply become one of many possibilities. Etc. “See it my way or don’t see it at all” is the violent manifesto of domination. Anything imagined always escapes the interpretation of dominance.


September 26, 2013

There was a time when what something meant had all the world to do with why it was or was not used, included. Part of the aesthetic involved with any creative endeavor included meaning. Today it could be likened to layering. One layer was meaning, another maybe harmony or rhyme, another maybe the actual physical quality, like the sound or color. A creative endeavor included the visual and auditory arts. Oration likewise was included in this, classically stemming from its roots in rhetoric, the art of persuasion. Today the aesthetic is about what is immediate. With oration, it is go for the jugular; that is, determine which side of the polarity those you hope to persuade are on, and how far they are/can be polarized. There is now no place for subtle arguments, narratives or reasoning to modify conviction and belief. Nope, just materialize positions, reify ideology. This week Ted Cruz’s political theater staged a magnificent production of that contemporary aesthetic. Why green eggs and ham? Because I’ve always liked it. Why Hitler, Chamberlain and appeasement? Because it is about taking a stand. Never mind it is also about Monday morning armchair quarterbacking given that at THAT time, in THAT place, no one could have foreseen the future any more than in 2001 anyone would have guessed the US would still be at war in Afghanistan 12 years later. No matter, what is relevant is that meaning as one layer of an aesthetic presentation, be it oratory or video, is of no consequence (all brings to mind George W. Bush’s infamous “So what?” reply to a question about meaningful facts). The end, the outcome is all that matters within the current aesthetic (how much box office was made on the opening week end, whether you have “won” the red states or blue states, whether your stint at American idol resulted in recording and appearance contracts, etc.). Eloquence in the arts has been displaced by effectiveness in the polling.

How Occupy Changes Everything

May 4, 2012

            On the morning of May 2nd, NPR Morning Edition ran Steve Inskeep’s short interview with Jonah Goldberg promoting the release of his latest book Do Liberals Live Under A ‘Tyranny Of Clichés’? : How liberals cheat in the war of ideas. Mr. Goldberg writes when “he gets annoyed”, hence the book. Annoyance also leads to argument. Jonah is quite passionate about argument, wanting a debate about ideas, the foundations of ideology (“All I want is an argument.”). Ideologies are at the heart, the core of politics for Goldberg. “Our country, if you read the Federalist Papers, is about disagreement. It’s about pitting faction against faction, divided government, checks and balances.” Political debate revolves around this, and that’s what makes this country great for Jonah Goldberg. Liberals are slackers, attending to these arguments with unearned clichés, unsubstantiated generalities that appeal to something other than the rules of the game, the paradigm of democracy as spelled out by the founding fathers. He exemplifies this by chastising the president for his use of “Social Darwinism” which is nowhere to be found according to Jonah. Elsewhere he says “We are a species that must try to impose and find systems — systems of thought, ways of organizing and categorizing reality,” Of course, this is not to be taken as a generality or cliché because Mr. Goldberg has pronounced it not to be so. Bruno Latour would beg to differ in his Making Things Public, saying it is precisely the role of a democracy, an assembly of people to determine if “we are a species that must try to impose and find systems”. Unearned cliché?

            As a laborer I once was obligated to sit through a lunch time debate of whether John Deere or International Harvester made the better tractor. My co workers passionately defended the different features and histories though today advertisers just reference the difference in color. In like manner Goldberg is on fire over the difference of liberals and conservatives. It is the love of the fight, the war, “pitting factions against factions” that enamors Goldberg. However, this doesn’t solve problems (not a concern for a lover of rhetoric). Global finance and irrevocable climate change are only possible thanks to their being systemic. We are in what some geologist are calling the “anthropocene”, earth formed by the actions of man. Financial systems play no small part in this. These systems are only possible due to newer and more powerful, more efficient technologies. Man landing on the moon was only possible thanks to calculations impossible for any single person, or collective of persons to do on their own. “Too big to fail” and “tipping” point” may be clichés, but they also express the actuality that problems involved are not comprehendible, let alone solvable by any one person, or even system. Then again, as Latour pointed out (in Making Things Public), identifying a problem (as a problem) is a matter of democracy. Identifying and solving what ails society is what democracy addresses so very well. On this Occupy gets it, Goldberg doesn’t.

            The second thing that Occupy grasps and Jonah elides is the foundations of the paradigm Goldberg so passionately embraces. His criticality doesn’t extend to the actuality that the writers of the Federalist Papers, the founders of our country had no problem with people owning people, as property (along with land, buildings, livestock and machinery). No clichés please about how our founding fathers recognized the inherent evil but in their great wisdom preferred the expediency of adhering to the supremacy of the rights of private property, of ownership. His paradigm of democracy is based on this overriding priority of ownership, founded on the assumed righteousness of disenfranchisement (the exclusion of non owners). Women were not fully equal to the owners of democracy who could govern, nor were Native Americans, immigrants (not possessing Engand as their motherland), the indentured, or the unschooled property-less (schooling at least gave one a claim to entitlement). Current economic data suggests that 40% of Americans have no net worth. In Goldberg’s democracy, these folks have no say.

            Thoreau asks “what makes for ownership?” Who takes ownership of global finance creating economic crisis and climate change? After Occupy, “pitting factions against factions” in an outdated paradigm is a totally inadequate and futile approach to solving the problems and challenges facing us all. Consensus generating action is preferable, not the continuous “war of ideas” and “a country…about disagreement” that Goldberg thrives on.

In The Public Interest

April 11, 2012

            Sky News was the news last week. AP ran an article by Raphael Satter entitled UK Sky News: we hacked in the public interest (4-5-12). Seems the apple of Rupert’s eye didn’t fall far from the tree and was hacking emails along with News Corp at around the same time. The current admission rationalizes the hacking as having been done “in the public interest”. Deep within the bowels of the article David Allen Green, “media lawyer at Preiskel & Co.”, opines that filing charges might be counter productive for the prosecution as it “wouldn’t serve the public interest.” And you know, he is quite accurate in that assessment.

            Here in the American state of Ohio the governor (John Kasich) is remodeling our state government. Ohio’s office of economic development has been transformed into JobsOhio. This is organized as a public private commission, board, corporation (whatever you want to use as lipstick is OK by me). The membership of such “public private” governance is usually split 40/60, public /private. Moneys involved usually is 60/40 public/private. Meetings, decision making, etc. is private (so it is outside the reach of Ohio’s government “sunshine” regulations). But final determinations of commitment with regard to policy, spending, etc. rests with the governor or legislature. More such “collaborations” are in the works, with statewide management of human resources (employment) falling under the same rubric and employment training/education likewise having a new “public private” initiative. Some of the folks representing the “public”, and acting as chair, are distinguished individuals like Gordon Gee, president of the Ohio State University (who was once on the board of trustees of the very private, and now defunct, Massey Energy until its West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine exploded, inconveniently killing the workers inside). Delving deeper, one finds many such commissions and boards comprised of public/ private representatives dealing with public safety, utilities, transportation, natural resources, etc. On the local level we find ditto of above. The duly elected Licking County commissioners have entered into a Community Improvement Corp, with the same makeup as described above. The county seat of Newark, not to be undone, is entering into its own CIC with the city’s corporate big boys. These “developments” involve various tax breaks, easements, zoning changes and structural improvements/services to facilitate business growth. They also determine where the public funding is ultimately spent (enhancing the value of specific business property considerably over that of the surrounding generic residential neighborhoods).

            In Newark, there is currently an imbroglio over allowable signage after a resident posted a blizzard of signs hoping to reconnect with her wayward hound. Although signage in the “business’ districts allow for everything from hi def digital moving imagery to a plethora of small yard/street signs (with dancing gorillas in between), residential addresses are severely limited and restricted as to sign size, duration, quality and require a permit. This insures that the private side stays private, and the public side public. Only in this case one doesn’t really know which is which since the same restrictions imposed on the people who are residents do not apply to the people who are businesses. The logic is this “serves the public interest” by keeping the residential area private while maintaining the corporate as public. Is it any surprise that Mitt Romney sincerely and unabashedly stated that corporations are people?

What Is Occupy About?

October 16, 2011

            Occupy has been in the news of late. “What do the occupiers want?” is the “critical” talking point for all the pundits and commentators. Even Bill Clinton has expressed concern and offered words of political advice (Oh Daddy!) since he doesn’t recognize any concise, coherent message coming out of their mouths (though he knows what they are talking about).

            “The medium is the message.” Remember that? In an essay entitled Analytic Terror/ Keyword For Avant-Gardism As Explicative Force (Iconoclash, Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, editors 2002) Peter Sloterdijk suggests that the pervasiveness of so many various media creates the atmosphere of culture. Indeed, that is precisely the imperative elementary exercise imposed on all undergrad studio art students – to work within the various media. Many times it is to “translate” the same content through assorted media to “discern” the difference. No need to indicate the various media dominating culture today, from the virtual of the internet news and blogs, etc. to social media such as Facebook or Twitter, to You Tube, all the way down to primitive email. Outside of that is the “traditional” print media supplemented by Kindle, etc. network and cable TV, even radio, with side dressings of film at theatres, Netflix, DVD’s, to streaming infomercials while pumping gas, in addition to the grand kahuna- the dream of Dick Tracy made universal (all the hand held mobile communication appliances with built-in, 2 way video capacity). Mourning the passing of content followed quickly on the burial of the author, but for media there is no rest in peace. For Sloterdijk this implicates the continual recirculation of the same ideas but through new, stimulating, and ever more exciting media outlets. Sloterdijk concludes with his cheery “Whatever is in the air is put there through totalitarian circular communication: it is filled with the victory dreams of offended masses and their drunken, far from empiric self-exaltation, followed like a shadow by the desire to humiliate others. Life in a multi-media state is like a stay in an enthusiastic gas palace.” I don’t remember where it is I read it (interview with Mike Daisey re: The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs?), but some one said there is nothing more infantile than being concerned with how fast you can raise a webpage. Nurturing an infant demands continuous, positive, enthusiastic reinforcement (take ‘em to see the Lion King now re released in 3D!).

            Occupy has been in the news of late. “What do the occupiers want?” is the “critical” talking point for all the pundits and commentators. “What is the message?” they all seem to be asking. What McLuhan insinuated is now the status quo, the atmosphere Sloterdijk suggests. Here’s an assignment for all you first year studio art majors – What is Occupy about?

Not To Be At Home In One’s Home

July 11, 2011

            This past weekend Licking County Arts held its annual members meeting, attended by approximately 20% of the membership. Reflecting on that event produces a depiction of the US; a microcosm as a dynamic of a greater whole. Although named “Licking County Arts” (formerly the Licking County Art Association), it functions primarily and solely from a storefront location well off the main square in downtown Newark (as noted by a member at the meeting). The easiest way to direct a visitor to its location is through reference to the next door, now defunct, century old jail (likewise noted by another member). Though architecturally interesting, this historic poky succumbed to a severe case of mold throughout. It was abandoned (but never torn down) in favor of a new site across town many years prior to the LCA’s relocation. Newark itself is the county seat, with booming court and government related traffic during the days and hours these offices are open.  The town’s population is just under 50,000 with 40% of the residents being non-owner occupants. Recent articles in the local daily paper let slip certain statistics from which these and the following references are taken. The paper itself is not owner operated but owned by an out of state media holding company (the largest in the US). Print sales are shrinking so revenue reliance is primarily on advertising, hence the dearth of statistics and the non-existence of investigative, in-depth reporting. Recent articles have covered the plague of abandoned, foreclosed, boarded up and derelict houses. These accounts are always accompanied by positive projections of a return to the glory days by interviewed city leaders and prominent business figures. They advocate visionary leadership and aggressive advertising/promotion. Currently families qualified as living in poverty by state or federal standards is above 25%, with unemployment around 10%. Other parts of the county have huge tracts of farm land either being developed, or already developed as industrial parks or enterprise zones with warehouses, distribution centers, light manufacturing, etc. (accounting for the heady daily county government business in the downtown). The county seat itself is a formerly heavily industrialized rail center which has few industries left today. County government pretty much drives the downtown economy. Everything written here is not so unusual for the mid west. It can be duplicated throughout this state as well as neighboring ones.

            The LCA, though it used to be an association (of artists and art lovers), is a not for profit run by a board of directors (trustees?). Though members may have lobbied (and I underline “lobbied”) for various specific courses of action, these member contributions were graciously received as “good ideas” that the board would deign to consider. In short, it is a parliamentary form of governance, not unlike our own local and national one, though not representational save for the voting by the governing board which “represents” the best interests of the LCA (previously the “association” making up the artists and lovers of art, though it no longer appears in the name of the organization as such). The organization’s concrete presence in town functions as a store/gallery/multi-purpose room. Akin to the ingredients listed on a food label, the first is what predominates. Like its home city/county described above (and our own federal gov’t.), revenues for the LCA don’t match (even close) expenditures. And like the debate in Washington (occurring as I write) suggestions to raise membership dues, entry fees, etc. (revenue enhancements) were immediately met by counter proposals of ways to cut these fees to participants and make them pay less (with intentions of creating more membership and greater involvement). The treasurer’s report shows membership dues actually collected have been decreasing overall the last couple of years, along with sales and show entry fees. The invisible elephant in the room, whose presence was felt but not seen throughout the meeting, was the storefront’s landlord to whom the organization is indebted through a long term lease agreement at twice the market rate (as pointed out by yet another member). As on the mega scale (national/international), this is non-negotiable, a contract between corporate entities, a sacred trust whose violation would involve legal remedy. Ultimately the small gathering sang in chorus (as per Robert Morris’s insights on contemporary art making, see 12/3/09 posting Making The Signifier), emphasizing the need to mobilize visionary leadership, and urging each member to advertise/promote people to come downtown and shop at the LCA store.

            Past postings of this blog have reiterated the increasing “corporate think” within American culture and its growing (pre)dominance; “corporate think” in the manner of prioritizing, establishing identities, ways of doing and being, etc. The LCA is celebrating 50 years of existence and has dropped the conceptualization of “association” (of art related individuals) entirely within its name. This places it within the context and definition of corporation under the 1819 Dartmouth vs. Woodward Supreme Court ruling regarding corporations in terms of immortality and individuals (see posting Existing Only In Contemplation Of The Law 6/28/11). It was a bit disheartening to witness such a response to matters of concern (in the Latour/Weibel sense covered in recent postings) by a group of gifted creatives. But then again, as a microcosm of the dynamics of our culture as a greater whole, it was a more than true to life representation.

Tell Me How You Fill Your Cart

July 10, 2011

            “Tell me how you fill your cart, and I’ll tell you who you are.” The grocery cart as election booth, making political choices through the check out line; so elaborate Franck Cochoy and Catherine Grandclement-Chaffy in Publicizing Goldilocks’ Choice at the Supermarket: The Political Work of Shopping Packs, Carts and Talk. The essay appears in the What’s Political in Political Economy? section of Making Things Public (Latour/Weibel). OK, so “what we eat is what we imagine” is not new (you are what you imagine may be). We’ve all realized long ago that when we purchase food it is usually image that is presented and sells. Generic corn flakes appear when all the branding imagery and fluff is removed from the box. And still we don’t get to see the actual product, let alone smell or taste a sample. Take my word for it. No, better yet, take the box’s word for it. And yet we do choose, at least on the basis of imagined consistency between what is represented by the packaging and what is inside, or so Cochoy and Grandclement-Chaffy argue. And our choice is made- where else? -but in the shopping cart. Unlike the myth of individualism perpetuated by the discrete and “secret” polling place ballot booth, our political choice in the grocery store is out there for all to see, and likewise for all to influence (partner, spouse, children and parents). The conversations that accompany this choosing, whether in situ or over the phone, are likewise out there for all to listen in on and witness. In these matters, like the myth of individualism, the myth of “choice” is perpetuated by the political economy (why it’s political, I guess). Cochoy and Grandclement-Chaffy point out how much or little choice is made, from the size and shape of the grocery cart, shelf space and product placement to the design and decoration of the packaging.

            On July 8, 2011 the Retail section of MSNBC Business News ran an article in which Anika Anand reported that “One of the nation’s major grocery store chains is eliminating self-checkout lanes in an effort to encourage more human contact with its customers.” Albertson’s was quitting automated self-check out lanes. ““We just want the opportunity to talk to customers more,” Albertsons spokeswoman Christine Wilcox said. “That’s the driving motivation.”” Impressive, huh? Goldilocks’ Choice at the Supermarket comes crashing back like the growley old bears when one gets to the end of the article and reads:

“What Do You Think Of Self-Checkout Lanes? discuss this story


_ I love them- no human interaction required.

_ I hate them- I feel like I’m doing all the work.

_ I use them when I have to.”

            Of course the elementary question/response of “do you use them?” is totally elided. It is assumed that you do; that you have NO choice. The choice lies entirely with “how you feel”- love, hate or lemming compliance. Notice the slippage of “how you feel” into media-speak’s “What do you think…” Love, hate and lemming compliance have now become thinking processes (without any branded packaging to contain them!).

            Me? I refuse to use the things since with their installation, clerks disappeared. I’ll wait in line. Yesterday, while scanning the revelations of my personal being arranged haphazardly on the endless conveyor belt, the clerk mentioned she was leaving the next day to go on vacation to the coast. There’s something reassuring in knowing that what receives the money on the other end of a purchase exchange also goes on vacation.

Existing Only In Contemplation Of The Law

June 28, 2011

            A past  posting of this blog, On The Banks Of The Styx (3-18-11), noted the conspicuous absence of response by the large corporate citizenry of Japan following the tsunami catastrophe. I may have been wrong. They may have rushed in along with the local and international relief aid. It may all have been done covertly without fanfare or notice. Really? There was no end to the indications that Walmart or Pepsi had extended aid to the residents of the gulf coast after Katrina. BP continues to remind us of how much they have done to make these self same residents whole after their oil well disaster.

            The US has received a plethora of tragedy this year to date. In addition to historic storms wiping out entire communities, there has also been almost continuous flooding and its aftermath. Now there is fire. These occurrences are always accompanied by generous relief efforts, both from the much maligned government as well as individuals, local residents and members of charities. Again, there is an acute lack of corporate involvement (though the petroleum institute continuously reminds us of what a disaster it would be to tax them). As mentioned before, it could be a conscious marketing strategy to fly under the radar and go unnoticed as good Samaritans. Really?

            Richard Powers’ essay entitled An Artificial Being in the volume Making Things Public (Latour/Weibel) sheds some light on the why and wherefore of this lack. Fortunately Richard did all the legwork to track down the events of conditions and characteristics otherwise taken as given. The recent Supreme Court ruling reaffirming corporations’ rights to all the protections of the constitution and its amendments created a one day uproar over how this could be. Precedent was set in a 19th century Supreme Court decision that referenced the protections granted under the 14th amendment. As Powers points out, that amendment protected any individual from being denied due process and equal protection under the law. Prior to this Richard cites the origins of corporations in the US, the Supreme Court ruling in 1819,Dartmouth vs. Woodward.  He quotes Chief Justice Marshall describing the definitive properties of corporations: “Among the most important are immortality, and, if the expression may be allowed, individuality:” Well, the expression has not only been allowed, but taken as law. Why then aren’t these “individuals” joining their fellow citizens in aid and comfort when catastrophes occur?

            Powers goes on to quote Marshall as establishing the originating definition of corporations from which all else has evolved and become. “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of the law.” This simple statement enlightens the absence of these individuals within the midst of disaster and economic hardship. Being invisible, they won’t be seen. Being intangible, they won’t be felt. But above all, their only existence is ”in contemplation of the law”. Without legal compulsion, they are not. They only exist in “contemplation of the law”.

No Prosthetic Currently Available

June 23, 2011

            Fundraising time at the local public television station. Time to wheel out the doo wop daddies and the various charlatans of health and financial well being (Recently unemployed and homeless? No problem. What an amazing opportunity for becoming a gazillionaire!). All this exceptional “regular” featured programming displaces the normally scheduled Frontline exposé of where the money really goes. Incentives for membership have become “media sized” with coffee cups, T’s and key chains taking a back seat to books, CD’s and DVD’s. One offering was for “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid Or Crazy?!” Who could resist?

            The book is actually You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid Or Crazy?!: a self-help book for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo (both having been diagnosed with this disorder). The representation of ADD, its diagnosis, symptoms, treatments, etc. are excellent. Kelly and Ramundo point out that its variations make it a slippery subject, with what appear to be contradictory manifestations each being attributed to ADD. But the book’s intent is to be a “self-help” practical guide to dealing with the everyday of this condition. It is here that it leaves the reader begging the question as to “if this is a disorder, I wonder what ‘normal’ is”. Their practical tips, suggestions and strategies for managing “things” after this diagnosis read like Norman Vincent Peale’s “How to Make Friends and Influence People”. ADDers are described as being adverse to writing, organization and rules. The solution is- you guessed it- ways to get organized and create rules, most of which entail a great deal of writing! Recognizing the affliction is key to dealing with it. But this otherwise scientifically oriented text suggests what other’s have repeatedly promoted as essential to successful living since before ADD was ever imagined, let alone identified. These other texts never referenced any scientifically determined disorder as a reason to heed their expertise.

            Shades of Foucault! One senses “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop” lurking in the shadows. The underlying assumption (that although afflicted with a neurological disorder that is part and parcel of one’s being, you too can be a productive, successful member of society. Don’t let what it is you are keep you from being what it is you can be.) sounds a lot like the age old Christian teaching of original sin, where a hereditary defect is part and parcel of one’s created being. Some ancient writers even went so far as to describe this as a happy curse, an opportunity for joyous redemption. Kelly and Ramundo do likewise with a final chapter that celebrates the uniqueness of those with ADD (“From Obstacle to Opportunity”). The parallels are uncanny. Thus the religious approach to being wonderful while being defective, hence the religious appeal of Norman Vincent Peale (no pun intended), and Kelly and Ramundo’s creatively lacking “ditto”. The surprise isn’t with Kelly and Ramundo, who genuinely want to empower others afflicted with this condition to be in control of their destiny. The surprise is that, although understanding and representation of this condition is attributed to scientific inquiry and expertise, science is mute with regards to living with this condition in the everyday. Accumulating the data (evidence) that the world’s oceans are on the verge of demise is one thing. Saying what needs to be done, in what order, priority and degree is another. It is on the latter point that science exerts no authority, is silent, both in regards to the condition of the oceans as well as that of ADD. It is regarding this “matter of concern” that Latour and Weibel suggest the authority comes from the assembly, rather than the science (data, study, etc.). The surprise with Kelly and Ramundo is that, if they represent an aspect of assembly, then the “making public” of living with this condition hasn’t shifted much from the age old religious “making public” of living with the knowledge that what accounts for the propensity to screw up when the intention is to do right is the fact that one was created with a hereditary defect by an omnipotent creator (who may also be an ADDer).