Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CR 5

What this week’s readings really got me thinking about is the connection between literacy and rhetoric.  In fact, this week seems to truly unveil how the discipline doesn’t quite know how it wants to identify itself.  For example, Cole and Cole examine the historical changes and human consciousness that emerge as literacy functions within a society. Is the point of this text in our class to illuminate the way in which language, as rhetoric, shapes or changes a society (or maybe to underscore the “interdisciplinaryness” of Rhetoric/Comp/Writing, as Cole and Cole are a cultural psychologist and anthropologist)? Yes, rhetoric is historically situated and the writers of primary texts, as well as the writers of the secondary texts, are all in particular cultural, economic, and political contexts, so one way to define rhetoric may need to include some kind of contextualization.  For example, here’s my stab at a nascent definition: rhetoric is the use of language that is shaped by cultural, economic, and political forces for the purposes of persuasion or communication or meaning-making.  I’m hesitant to include the word “literacy” because I’m not sure I see a solid connection between this term and “rhetoric.” In fact, I’m not sure, especially after this week’s readings, what it means to be literate (or what writing is!).  I do want to note though that I included some of Angela Haas’ ideas about rhetoric.  In her article “Wampum as Hypertext,” she associates rhetoric to meaning-making for developing relationships, specifically for her study with wampum.  She notes, “wampum is a living rhetoric that communicates a mutual relationship between two or more parties, despite the failure of one or more of those parties to live up to that promise” (80). I think meaning-making is particularly important to any definition of rhetoric. 
            We see in Cole and Cole’s argument (including their broad survey of twentieth century texts) the connections between literacy and consciousness.  The latter here should be approached with caution though because, like rhetoric and literacy, defining such a term can be problematic, or at the least slippery. Ultimately, I’m wondering if we’re beginning (in our class) to see some discussions of rhetoric as it connects to consciousness (and, as already stated, literacy). How important is consciousness to rhetoric, rhetorical gestures, verbal and written language, images, and vice versa?  How does rhetoric construct the consciousness of humans, and vice versa?
            Rhetoric as/in writing and verbal communication does have one particularly powerful force: cultural identity formation.  As Ellen Cushman points out, the Cherokee nation became a much different entity after the development of its writing system. Furthermore, the Cherokee syllabary functioned to give the nation political recognition while continuing its cultural knowledge without the dominant culture eradicating that knowledge.  In other words, the Cherokee nation, according to Cushman, assimilated to the development of a writing system, but sustained a previously-held epistemology and ontology. Cushman remarks, “the aura of the artful original manuscript form of Sequoyan remained for Cherokee audiences, while for English-speaking audiences, it passed from ritual to political process” (638).

            This week’s readings also raised for me questions in terms of writing and rhetoric.  For example, why are rhetoric and composition and/or writing paired together?  Why were most of our readings this week discussing writing when the course is supposed to focus on Rhetoric Theory and History?  Some basic questions, but I think important ones as we think about the discipline and the definitions.  Regardless of issues with whether or not the discipline should be split, as well as the issues of orality and literacy as two distinct modes and systems of communication, one important thing this week’s readings have suggested, and have continued to suggest, is the need to move beyond ancient Greek and Roman texts and paradigms for understanding rhetorical productions.  In doing so, as Haas posited at the end of her article, we can decenter narratives and eradicate hierarchies, as well as generate more meaningful spaces and relationships within myriad contexts.    

CR 4

In “The Birth of Rhetoric,” I found the Akkadian epics interesting in that the rhetor, or rather poet, induces the audience to listen by the singing of a certain subject. This made me think about contemporary media artists who work as rhetors: how do artists discuss a topic outside verbal or alphabetic communication and draw an audience in?  Obviously, visual rhetoric scholars have explored this question and others, but I think new media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer explores more than the visual with audience engagement.  For example, he produced Body Movies, an installation piece that involves roughly a 150 ft. white-washed building wall, which has portraits of random people (ranging from six feet to seventy-two feet), and projectors on the ground in a plaza.  As individuals walk in front of them, the shadows illuminate the portraits on the façade. By moving around the plaza, participants can adjust the size of their shadow to embody those portraits.  Lozano-Hemmer’s goal is “to misuse technologies of the spectacular so they can evoke a sense of intimacy and complicity instead of provoking distance, euphoria, catharsis, obedience or awe.”  Now, do these ideas and affects emerge through the imagery and bodily movement?  I would say it appears so: Lozano-Hemmer is trying to discuss, or rather trying to get the audience to discuss, intimacy and complicity via more than visual engagement? 
            With most of our readings this semester, what amazes me is the lack of attention given to some of the dynamisms of audiences.  Whether from the scholars or the discourse of ancient peoples, audiences are typically seen as stagnant or without agency.  The focus is always on the rhetor and/or the text (discourse, written text), and thus I’m wondering why scholars, and ancient peoples, haven’t had much interest in exploring the dynamics of the audience.   I mean, pathos, rhetoric as a function for bureaucratic functions, and some other inquiries into how the audience might react to the discourse have been addressed, but for the most part the audiences either are considered easily swayed elements within a rhetorical situation or can be duped. In other words, why were/are audiences convinced to support a rhetor’s argument?  What gains and/or losses did/do audiences have in siding with a rhetor?  How can we, particularly with ancient texts, be able to determine those dynamics of audiences and audience engagement within a rhetorical situation?   
            I also found Lyon’s exploration of audience fascinating, particularly how the audience attempts to identify the value in the “rhetor’s”/interlocuter’s action or demonstration, and consequently they respond.  This is the first time value has emerged in our readings, and it would be interesting to examine how various values are articulated, both within Chinese culture and rhetoric and American culture and rhetoric. Some questions arose: as stated, how are values articulated?  But also, how do audiences comprehend values within a situation?  How are values modified or adjusted once presented within a rhetorical space?  Who modifies or adjusts those values?  I want to note that although one cannot separate the political and economic from the cultural, I’m particularly thinking about values in these questions as cultural values.

CR 3

When I first read “Encomium of Helen,” I got the impression that Gorgias simply speaks to his audience, persuading them with his performance.  Dialogue and deliberation are absent within the situation of Gorgias’ speech or his intention, which I’ll get to in a moment, but more interestingly is how Gorgias attributes speech and its effects as all powerful upon a receiver or audience.  Gorgias suggests that nearly all speech affects the soul in such a way that a listener can be easily persuaded.  Thus, my initial questions was: does Gorgias (and the sophists) suggest that speech is nearly omnipotent in that it can persuade anyone to do or believe nearly anything?  Or was Gorgias simply pointing out the power of language (and rhetoric)? The point is that I was confused as to how Gorgias and the sophists generally considered their audience (I had remembered from class that the sophists considered their audience as capable of “critical thinking” or something along those lines).  But I read “Encomium of Helen” again after reading Susan Jarrett’s analysis and understood better what Gorgias was trying to do. Jarrett sheds light on Gorgias rhetorical moves, particularly when she posited that sophists wouldn’t necessarily draw distinct conclusions during a speech, but rather articulate probabilities for rethinking the dimensions of history or a narrative.  According to Jarrett, Gorgias and sophists suggest “probabilities toward the end of reinterpreting elements of mythic history” (22), thus sophists appear to have more faith in the audience to critically consider ideas and think for themselves, similar to Aristotle’s approach to audience but totally different from Plato and his distrust of audiences. This approach to audience is similar to African rhetoric in terms of expectations for an audience’s mental capabilities; yet, African rhetoric differs in that it considers the audience through another lens that positions the audience as active agents with holistic visions.  He remarks, “respect of the audience as worthy respondents and partners in a project of common good is central to Kemetic communicative practice” (15).

            For my archive of questions for my final project, here are some questions about the relationship between rhetor, its audience and rhetorical situations: what are the epistemological assumptions a rhetor has of his or her audience in a rhetorical situation? What are some things a rhetor thinks an audience should do when encountering the rhetoric/discourse, both within the moment and for future moments?  (Both of these questions rose from reading Isocrates’ “Helen” because Isocrates claims that sophists only intend to inculcate their audience, which is potential students, with the idea that knowledge leads to happiness).  Maulana Karenga raises many important features of African rhetoric that subvert Western ideas about the rhetorical situation being constituted by discrete elements.  For example, Karenga remarks, “in the African sense, the listening others are not simply hearers, readers, and audience, but also co-agents, co-participants, in creating and sustaining the just society and good world that point toward and make possible maximum human freedom and human flourishing” (17). Yet, how do rhetors induce the listening others to be co-agents and co-participants?  What rhetorical gestures are made for such events ― listening others as co-agents and co-participants ― to emerge? And in comparing Athenian rhetoric with Karengaian/African rhetoric, why didn’t Plato and Aristotle emphasize community in a more holistic and communicative practice?  Why does Plato only consider the polis and not the cultural community?  And what was/is the relationship between politics and African rhetoric?

CR 2

My response this week will focus primarily although ever so briefly on what I look to explore for the bibliographic essay and final project: rhetorical situations. The main elements in a rhetorical situation are speaker, text/discourse, and audience, although several other factors contribute to the dynamics of a situation. In this week’s readings, a few authors unveil some ideas about the content and form of these main elements.
            For instance, in her study of ancient Egyptian texts, Carol S. Lipson posits that most audiences for one way of understanding the function of Maat were (mostly male) students who were learning appropriate behaviors for elite life. These texts, which were instructional guides, all serve to instruct its audience (elite students) toward appropriate behavior.  But when Maat was performed by letters, whether a legal document or communication between family members, those letters were public texts and often read aloud.  Therefore, the letter writing had “broader audiences than just the designated receivers” (85). I found interesting other kinds of letter writing too, ones in which the writer deploys particular rituals in the writing to reinforce cultural ideologies and values.  Since these rituals showed devotion to Maat, I’m assuming that readers would recognize the authority and credibility.  Yet, the letters typically never explicitly refer to Maat, thus I further find interesting this implicit cultural literacy within the form and content of the letter.  Ultimately, in Lipson’s study the written texts of the ancient Egyptians were meant to communicate to the audience how to culturally behavior and develop cultural values and beliefs, all of which connect back to Maat. This central figure is the superaddressee, which Lipson draws from Bakhtin and is a higher authority that a speaker or writer addresses and which is beyond the immediate audience.
            And thus a couple of questions emerged that might connect to our contemporary moment:  what other kinds of cultural literacies, such as Maat, exist implicitly in our daily texts? What other kinds of superaddressees do we encounter on a daily basis? How does a superaddressee circulate within our daily lives?  In connection to my interest, how much does the superaddressee affect a rhetorical situation? Or how might the superaddressee change due to the rhetorical situation?
            In Nicomachean Ethics, the audience is consistently positioned to learn something about how to conduct themselves within the public, or phronesis: “prudence” or “practical wisdom.” Again, instructions play a key role in developing citizenry of the nation, but there’s a kind of symbiotic relationship between instructions and readers: in order for these instructions, as Aristotle points out, to be effective, readers must also have moral virtues (for the purposes of seeking the appropriate ends).  Yet, I wonder: what are appropriate ends?  How can we define “appropriate” here?  Now, in contrast to Lipson’s study, Aristotle seems to rely solely on rational thinking, and he does not factor in cultural dimensions for the development of moral virtues.  These virtues simply develop, more or less, through reasoning, scientific knowledge, intuition, and wisdom, all of which for Aristotle can be attributed to rationality.  And thus I ask: where does the cultural knowledge and ideologies function within an individual Greek’s morality?  Obviously, we see Western rationality and scientific logic privileged.

            In Rhetoric Aristotle begins to discuss the enthymeme, which could be a cultural assumption within the argument. But what I want to point out in Rhetoric is Aristotle’s three elements in speech-making (or a nascent rhetorical situation): speaker, subject, and addressee.  It is a respectable attempt at understanding rhetoric, but his claims ultimately fall short in understanding the complexities of a rhetorical situation.  First, he suggests rhetoric happens in an institution with particular authorities and persons: an assembly with judge and those who assess the speaker’s oratory skills.  Yet, he doesn’t consider how the institution nor the timing of a speech might affect how the speaker selects, removes, modifies, and improvise their speech. Furthermore, there’s an underlying assumption that these three elements have a fixed essence. Overall, On Rhetoric provides a very basic, although through complex argument with various definitions and categories, understanding of rhetoric.  

CR 1

What most of this week’s readings address are issues around the neglect of various types of histories within the field.  Christine Oravec and Michael Salvador set the stage for understanding two main approaches to the tradition of rhetorical theory ― philosophic idealism and the historical realism ― that “have systematically excluded or ignored one or the other of rhetorical theory's two sides” (174).  Yet, both these approaches are limited and Oravec and Salvador offer another approach ― discursive dialectics ― to better understand the pluralities of history.  Discursive dialectics weaves together philosophic idealism, which sees history through a vertical, evolutionary lens, and historical realism, which attempts to localize (in a horizontal fashion) a group of people or particular moment in writing history. In the rest of the readings for this week, we see scholars and rhetoricians deploying, more or less, a discursive dialectics in order to write or map history, one where the dominant narrative/story/history is or should be challenged or reexamined.
            For example, Barber Biesecker pushes against certain feminist rhetoric scholars, suggesting that many of those scholars circumvent the historical dismissal of most women in the public sphere.  Biesecker appears to want to confront the historical narrative of the discipline explicitly, particularly how the canon has been structured and who has been selected for inclusion and exclusion. She posits that most alternative voices and knowledges, knowledges outside the white, male dominated center, are removed or, as Cheryl Glenn argues in her study of Aspasia in Athenian life and intellectual circles, appropriated by white elite males.  Although “Aspasia colonized the patriarchal territory,” Glenn writes, “her colony was quickly appropriated by males” (193). While Glenn focuses on his issues of gender, Malea Powell explores a similar oppressive dynamic in archival research in connection to issues of racism. In response to placement of the archives (local American and government institutions, such as the library), as well as the content of the archives, Powell’s own chapter in the anthology epitomizes how others (non-white, non-male peoples) could write back to imperial discourse and institutions.  The first part of her first poem, for example, illuminates the power of American government institutions to speak for and about American Indians, and in doing so, the history of American Indians is written and archived.  But it is the second part of this first poem that allows Powell to push against the dominant narrative and insert into this oppressive narrative a rethinking of American Indian people and language.  Powell takes the blank page, as Michel de Certeau has suggested historiographers do, and writes in the present the story of subjugated voices.
            Michel de Certeau isn’t necessarily a rhetorician, but he explores the dynamics of history and writing.  Similar to some of Biesecker’s claims, de Certeau identifies the legitimizing of political power through historiography.  He notes that historiographers write the past by making selections of what gets represented (and legitimized).  de Certeau remarks, “Historiography takes the position of the subject of action – the prince, whose objective is to ‘make -history.’ The historiography gives intelligence the function of mobilizing possible moves between a power and the realities from which it is distinguished” (7).  What both Biesecker and de Certeau are identifying is the consistent push, within European-Western culture, toward production of a subject/object, active/passive structure of history. Although de Certeau does not address “rhetoric” explicitly, he is dealing with the issues of theory and practice (praxis) that Christine Oravec and Michael Salvador discuss within the history of rhetoric and the schools of thought and approaches mentioned above. de Certeau is, arguably, closer to being a historical materialist, suggesting that the production of history (the writing of history) is a productive labor only when it produces capital, a la Marx.  The historiographer is constituted by institutional powers and, hence, the historiographer is produced and produces dominant ideologies and meanings.
            I want to point out de Certeau’s remark that anytime we gaze at the past, we read it through contemporary lenses.  Specifically, he says, “we should recall that any reading of the past-however much it is controlled by the analysis of documents-is driven by a reading of current events” (23).  This claim echoes Sharon Crowley’s remark that even constructionists deploy a contemporary lens in their history writing.  Crowley posits, “They [Constructionists] are essentialist as well if they assume that class structures – like anything else constructed by humans – do not change over time or that class is a fundamental, natural, organizing category of human activity” (13).  The problem, according to Crowley, is that these scholars see history through their contemporary lenses, thus hindering them from a “representational validity” (16). Ultimately, de Certeau is critically reflexive and is studying history with Oravec and Salvador’s discursive dialectics.
            As mentioned above, Biesecker supports what we can identify as discursive dialectics because she is interested in alternative knowledges.  Biesecker notes that these knowledges do not exist because an unspoken criterion exists with selection for inclusion in the canon. This criterion is the romanticized individualism, in which “the individual subject, that is both master of himself and of his discourse, is not politically disinterested” (157).  In order to understand a women’s contribution to rhetorical history a collective women’s discourse, one in which Biesecker suggests needs to not only generate new identities, but to understand that those identities are constituted by oppressive structures, needs to be deployed and included.  Poststructuralism, according to Biesecker, can offer the mainstream histories of rhetoric a new lenses and story through which we can understand rhetorical acts as those acts are contextualized because poststructuralists unpack binaries, in this case Biesecker’s interest in the binary of active/passive.  In doing so, the plurality of practices within a rhetoric situation or analysis will illuminate these alternative histories and voices.
            Biesecker uses a Derridean approach to subjectivity – one in which a subject is constituted by différance and furthermore in an economy of differences – within rhetorical moments. Biesecker, arguably, is using what Christine Oravec and Michael Salvador posit is discursive dialectics, as she sees subjectivity and identity being constructs of particular and localized forces.  Just as “rhetorics,” according to Oravec and Salvador, are “both products of and productive of their historical, cultural, material, and discursive contexts,” (181) so too are subject positions and human agency, as Beisecker points to Foucault’s position.  What Biesecker wants to ultimately underscore is that any power structure has an inherent resistance structure to it.  In other words, power is in resistance and resistance is in power. Such an acknowledgement allows rhetoric and its historical narrative, one in which it is dominated by a racial and gendered subject, to be reconstituted from within, rather than an outside force that simply pushes against the dominate ideologies.  Yet more specifically, Biesecker looks to subvert or resist or transform dominant structures without any foreseeable effect other than simply disruption.  She remarks, “what I am seeking to point to is not practice per se but, instead, a force or structure of breaching in practice that establishes a cleft or fissure out of which an unforeseen and undesigned transgression may ensue” (167).  Such a kind of resistance emerges in de Certeau (when he remarks, “’resistances,’ ‘survivals,’ or delays discreetly perturb the pretty order of a line of ‘progress’ or a system of interpretation” (4)), Powell (in her archival research and writing her/her people’s story in a non-traditional academic prose), and Glenn (in her overall argument for more investigations with a feminist historiographic approach into the history of rhetoric).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Making Space" and "The "Ideograph""

This post will talk about two articles: Michael McGee's “The “Ideograph”: A Link between Rhetoric and Ideology” and Johanna Drucker's “Making Space: Image Events in an Extreme State."  In the former article, McGee wants to develop a theoretical model to understand better “ideology” and “myth.”  He begins by addressing two approaches to exploring how “human beings in collectivity behave and think differently than human beings in isolation” (2).  Many social theorists, such as Marx and Marxists, believe that when an individual human being thinks or behaves collectively, then an element of false consciousness or trickery enables the individual to believe in “public or general opinion” (2).  For materialists, such duping creates ideology.  But there are also “symbolists,” who McGee identifies as Burke and Burkeans, that consider ideology to be what Burke said is a “philosophy of myth,” which takes the position that the “trickery” that generates individuals to participate in is a “voluntary agreement to believe and participate in a ‘myth’” (2). What this does enables Burke to be concerned and interested in “motives” and not, as most Marxists and Neo-Marxists pursue, in identifying a “true” or “false” consciousness or reality and ideology. McGee contends that these two “camps” (symbolists and materialists) aren’t necessarily at odds with each other; rather, each position has a different approach to understanding social structures and behaviors. But both positions have their own limitations: Marxists’ neglect of language studies and symbolic actions and symbolists’ neglect of material impacts on social constructs of reality.  With the limitations that these two camps have taken, McGee hopes to extend a model that doesn’t limit individuals to bourgeois economic and political forces, but also doesn’t set aside the “power” elites have to disseminate ideologies among populations that will develop their political consciousness.

McGee creates his model by beginning with ideology, and suggests that if one were to articulate what ideology is, they must have an empirical presence, whether in action or language, that will illuminate the ideology.  This ideology connects to a mass consciousness, but, as McGee contends, this consciousness is false, as “‘truth’ in politics, no matter how firmly we believe, is an illusion” (4).  And it is here in the falsity that rhetoric emerges because “the illusion of truth and falsity with regard to normative commitments is the product of persuasion” (4).  McGee finds empirical evidence in particular discourses that politicians and mass populations use.  In the discourses, we can explore
McGee contends that “human beings are ‘conditioned,’ not directly to belief and behavior, but to a vocabulary of concepts that function as guides, warrants, reasons, or excuses for behavior or belief” (5).  Such a way of thinking about how human beings function and how a state engages with its people allows McGee to propose a “rhetoric of control, [which is] a system of persuasion presumed to be effective on the whole community” (5).  This rhetoric of control rises in the phrases that most often the state has proclaimed as valuable, but the phrases are also loaded with other meanings. McGee gives the example of the “rule of law,” suggesting that if one uses it in an argument, then the rhetor and audience often assume in the phrase an implicit meaning, such as “liberty” or “property.”  It is in these implicit meanings that ideology can form.  But words such as “liberty” and “property” (and others in America would be “freedom of speech,” “freedom,” “democracy,” etc.) are what McGee calls “ideographs” because “they signify and ‘contain’ a unique ideological commitment; further, they presumptuously suggest that each member of a community will see as a gestalt every complex nuance in them” (7). An ideograph is evident in various forms of discourse and constructs a political consciousness for understanding the relationship between seemingly disparate communities.  For example, democrats and republicans are united because of the ideograph of the United States.  In other words, from what I gather, we agree upon a reality, which is constructed by words, through our ideographs, regardless of the differences (which we may think of as being reduced to triviality at certain moments).  Simultaneously, ideographs, “which hinder or perhaps make impossible ‘pure thought,’” are inherently linked to culture and history.  I cannot think of a “pure liberty” and articulate a “pure liberty” that is disconnected to the U.S. ideograph of “Liberty.” In addition, ideographs exert power, often times for certain classes, races, and genders. And this power emerges through historical effects of the ideograph in the present moment. McGee remarks that “the significance of ideographs is in their concrete history of usages, not in their alleged idea-content” (9-10). 

McGee contends that we should see ideographs in rhetorical situations as functioning horizontally, working off other ideographs to limit, expand, or shape each other for the rhetor’s advantage, which for McGee is with the elites or bourgeois in a capitalist society.  In other words, ideographs are appropriated, manipulated, and/or reconfigured for changing other ideographs and their relationships to force particular structures and stratifications.  And this is where McGee wants to connect the symbolists’ position of language’s functionality to the Marxists position of a mass consciousness structured by elites, but something more than simply the economic mode.  

Because ideographs are used and considered by either a diachronic or synchronic way, analyses fall short.  For a better theoretical framework in an analysis and understanding better how rhetoric is being used, McGee suggests that we interrogate ideographs with both a diachronic and synchronic analysis because such an analysis will “explain the tension between any “given” human environment (“objective reality”) and any ‘projected’ environments (“symbolic” or “social reality”) latent in rhetorical discourse” (original emphasis, 16). 

I think McGee could connect to ideas I have with my thesis.  For instance, I could look at the ideograph of public space and democratic practice.  What does public space mean to an American way of life?  And, then, how do art activist projects/Events attempt to disrupt, or fail/assimilate, such an ideograph?  What kinds of sources do art activist projects draw upon to redefine, create, or alter the ideograph?  I could also think about how McGee views rhetoric.  He seems to locate rhetoric in ideology: how elites use ideographs rhetorically to construct mass consciousness.  Again, like many other rhetoric scholars, McGee sees rhetoric as an ideological phenomenon and used by various apparatuses for control.  He does not appear to give agency to masses, or rather isn’t interested in it, although he does identify that ideographs can be used by nearly anyone even if one cannot transcend their cultural and historical situation. But is there a way to locate rhetoric not in ideology or in the text (ideograph in this case)?  I know I keep asking myself this, but I’m still unsure if this is even possible.  Is it possible to locate rhetoric in the process of an invention?  That it is the process of inventing that persuades an actor to shift their paradigms.  Rhetoric as a participatory process, which we can find primarily in art activist Events? Obviously, I’m still trying to work through some basic ideas.

In “Making Space: Image Events in an Extreme State," Drucker sets out to explore if documentary images can become imaginative images, the difference being that imaginative images articulate an aesthetic of “what might be – or how we might think about what is” because “we assume documentary images are showing us a version of reality, what is” (original emphasis 26).  This approach to images is in contrast to the avant-gard’s “de-familiarizing,” and Drucker suggests a “refamiliarization,” which “returns images and symbolic expressions to a system of cultural and symbolic production which they are codependent” (27).  Refamiliarization is “fundamentally an act of recovery and connection, not innovation, novelty, or shock exposure” (27).  This concept is meant also to challenge what our mass media and postmodern condition have created with images: facilitation of simulacral experiences and consumptions.  Instead, refamiliarization seeks to “show that what is is not entirely simulacral, but connected to the lived experience of persons and people, organic beings, within cultural, political, and vulnerable ecological spheres” (original emphasis, 30).  It is here, as Drucker contends, that image events emerge as a contingency, embedded within a “system of codependency” and “introduce play, a differentiating spatial perspective that offers conceptual space” (30). Drucker explores several examples and remarks that “the idea of images as events is useful, but only if we can make something of it as an interpretative practice” (36).

I found Drucker’s article very scattered and lacking in-depth analyses of exactly how she conceptualizes the pieces as refamiliarization. But I am interested in reading more on refamiliarization, as I could see how art activist projects attempt to invent communities among peoples who appear to be disparate, thus rendering an ecological network, particularly in a globalized world, that reconceptualizes what it means to be a citizen of the nation or of the global.  Such projects as One Million Bones are attempting to draw attention to current genocides, nearly all outside the geographic borders of the US (although the relationship of Anglo-Saxons and Native Americans should also be considered), and connecting Bones participants to be part of social justice. What it may be trying to articulate is Drucker’s refamiliarization in that the project does not just try to shock or make an experience strange, something that de-familiarized images try to do, but tries to connect past to present (disassembling the belief that actual genocides no longer occur, as well as illuminating the effects from major genocides, e.g. in choosing a 50,000 bone event at a site where Native Americans gathered before French colonization and slaves were allowed to gather for market exchange, as well as for singing, dancing, et al.), Americans into an engagement with non-Americans (most of the speakers at 50,000 bone events are those who have been directly affected by genocide), and Americans to engage with each other in artistic invention and democratic practice, all connections highlighting power dynamics, co-dependency of first world/developed/Orient and third world/developing/Oriental, and what community might mean and where community spaces might emerge. 

Drucker, Johanna. “Making Space: Image Events in an Extreme State.” Cultural Politics 4.1 (2008): 25-46. Web. 21 August 2012.

McGee, Michael Calvin. “The “Ideograph”: A Link between Rhetoric and Ideology.” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 66.1 (1980): 1-16. Web. 19 August 2012.