linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on


mimetically capacious machines: some like it what?

allow me to share some recent quasi-experiments in quasi-art/quasi-copyfight, interspersed with what i hope are illuminating quotations from the introduction of michael taussig's still stimulating mimesis and alterity (1993), a study which takes "the mimetic faculty" as its subject--or as Taussig calls it, "the nature that culture uses to create second nature, the faculty to copy, imitate, make models, explore difference, yield into and become Other" (xiii).

he continues:

"The wonder of mimesis lies in the copy drawing on the character and power of the original, to the point whereby the representation may even assume that character and power" (ibid).

...explore difference, yield into and become Other...

"When it was enthusiastically pointed out within memory of our present Academy that race or gender or nation . . . were so many social constructions, inventions, and representations, a window was opened, an invitation to begin the critical process of analysis and cultural reconstruction was offered. And one still feels its power even though what was nothing more than an invitation, a preamble to investigation has, by and large, been converted instead into a conclusion--eg. "sex is a social construction," "race is a social construction," "the nation is an invention" and so forth, the tradition of invention. The brilliance of the pronouncement was blinding. Nobody was asking what's the next step? What do we do with this insight? If life is constructed, how come it appears so immutable? How come culture appears so natural? If things coarse and subtle are constructed, then surely they can be reconstrued as well? To adopt Hegel, the beginnings of knowledge were made to pass for actual knowing" (xvi).

...made to pass...

"But just as we might garner courage to reinvent a new world and live in new fictions--what a sociology that would be!--so a devouring force comes at us from another direction, seducing us by playing on our yearning for the true real. Would that it would, would that it could, come clean, this true real. I so badly want that wink of recognition, that complicity with the nature of nature" (xvii).

...that wink of recognition...

"But the more I want it, the more I realize it's not for me. Nor for you either . . . which leaves us in this silly and often desperate place wanting the impossible so badly that while we believe it's our rightful destiny and so act as accomplices of the real, we also know in our heart of hearts that the way we picture and talk is bound to a dense set of representational gimmicks which, to coin a phrase, have but an arbitrary relation to the slippery referent easing its way out of graspable sight" (ibid).

...easing its way out of graspable sight...

"Now the strange thing between this silly if not desperate place between the real and the really made-up is that is appears to be where most of us spend most of our time as epistemically correct, socially created, and occasionally creative beings. We dissimulate. We act and have to act as if mischief were not afoot in the kingdom of the real and that all around the ground lay firm" (ibid).

...as if...all around the ground lay firm...

(see also...)


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