Understanding mimesis, technology, and identities in crowds using tools from the 60's.
This is a new style of article, called the Quote Piece. The quote piece is to serve as a kaleidoscope around a central topic or collection of themes, rearranged in an order resembling the outline of an article if you squint, allowing the reader a broader interpretation of the message, while making exploration of the topic accessible. The Quote Piece is a cool media that forces the reader to fill in the gaps, explore the core writings further, and offers the reader different lenses to “try on” while keeping the core theme in the ground of the image.
The structure of the Quote Piece is quite simple. 80% of the characters must be quotes, the reader must have easy accessibility to these quotes by either directly linking to a digital version of the quote within the context of the entire book, or citing the book and page directly after the quote. The Quote Piece utilizes Headlines to direct the readers attention toward the important theme. It is an act of curation and cultivation, to be able to convey one’s own opinion, through the carefully constructed words of others. It may end with a “Quoda” a singular quote summarizing the key theme, a parting thought to ponder, or a concise outro to close the piece.
I hope you enjoy this Quote Piece that utilizes quotes from books (and one movie), all written between 1960-1964, that provides many lenses for us to try on to understand our lives today centered around themes of mimesis, technology, and identities in crowds.
If you find the formatting a bit tight, you can view this version which is more legible.
Comfortably Numb (Acoustic/Electric Remix)
Any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies
- Understanding Media p.45
The selection of a single sense for intense stimulus, or of a single extended, isolated, or amputated sense in technology, is in part the reason for the numbing effect that technology as such has on its makers and users. For the central nervous system rallies a response of general numbness to the challenge of specialized irritation.
- Understanding Media p.44
We have to numb our central nervous system when it is extended and exposed, or we will die. Thus the age of anxiety and of electric media is also the age of the unconscious and of apathy. ... With such awareness, the subliminal life, private and social, has been hoicked up into full view, with the result that we have social consciousness presented to us as a cause of guilt-feelings. Existentialism offers a philosophy of structures, rather than categories, and of total social involvement instead of the bourgeois spirit of individual separateness or points of view. In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin.
- Understanding Media p.47
Media Mirrors the Gods
It is this continuous embrace of our own technology in daily use that puts us in the Narcissus role of subliminal awareness and numbness in relation to these images of ourselves. By continuously embracing technologies, we relate ourselves to them as servomechanism. That is why we must, to use them at all, serve these objects, these extensions of ourselves, as gods or minor religions.
- Understanding Media p.46
The concept of idol for the Hebrew Psalmist is much like that of Narcissus for the Greek mythmaker. And the Psalmist insists that the beholding of idols, or the us of technology, conforms men to them.
- Understanding Media p.45
Poetry in Cultural Motion
Oral verse was the instrument of a cultural indoctrination, the ultimate purpose of which was the preservation of group identity.
- Preface to Plato p.100
To identify with the performance as an actor does with his lines is the only way it could be done. You threw yourself into the situation of Achilles, you identified with his grief or his anger. You yourself became Achilles and so did the reciter to whom you listened. Such enormous powers of poetic memorization could be purchased only at the cost of total lost of objectivity. This then is the master clue to Plato’s choice of the word mimesis to describe the poetic experience. It focuses initially not on the artist’s creative act but on his power to make his audience identify almost pathologically and certainly sympathetically with the content of what he is saying.
- Preface to Plato p.45
In short, Plato is describing a total technology of the preserved word... A state of total personal involvement and therefore emotional identification with the substance of the poetized statement that you are required to retain.
- Preface to Plato p.44
It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids, without the knowledge of the individual, certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.
- Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper, Dr. Strangelove
So the hotting-up of one sense tends to effect hypnosis, and the cooling of all senses tends to result in hallucination.
- Understanding Media p.32
Radio listeners have been found to exhibit a mass mentality.
- Propaganda p.7
Facts about The Current Thing
To the extent that propaganda is based on current news, it cannot permit time for thought or reflection... old facts are chased by new ones. Under these conditions there can be no thought.... He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man’s capacity to forget is unlimited... This situation makes the “current-events” man a ready target for propaganda.
- Propaganda p.46
Modern man worships “facts” - that is, he accepts “facts” as the ultimate reality... He believes facts in themselves provide evidence and proof, and he willingly subordinates values to them”
- Propaganda p.xv
The lack of coherence and cohesion of such data is entirely deliberate.
- Propaganda p.56
Propaganda cannot be satisfied with partial successes, for it does not tolerate discussion. It must produce quasi-unanimity, and the opposing faction must become negligible, or in any case, cease to be vocal. Extreme propaganda must win over the adversary and at least use him by integrating him into its own frame of reference.
- Propaganda p.7
Real news is bad news-bad news about somebody... In 1962, when Minneapolis had been for months without a newspaper, the chief of police said: “Sure, I miss the news, but so far as my job goes I hope the papers never come back. There is less crime around without a newspaper to pass around the ideas.”
- Understanding Media p.205
For rational beings to see or re-recognize their experience in a new material form is an unbought grace of life. Experience translated into a new medium literally bestows a delightful play-back of earlier awareness. The press repeats the excitement we have in using our wits, and by using our wits we can translate the outer world into the fabric of our own beings.
- Understanding Media p.211
Skinner rings the bell, do not delay!
The essential objective of pre-propaganda is to prepare man for a particular action, to make him sensitive to some influence, to get him into condition for the tie when he will effectively, and without delay or hesitation, participate in an action.
- Propaganda p.30
Propaganda tries first of all to create conditioned reflexes in the individual by training him so that certain words, signs, or symbols, even certain persons or facts, provoke unfailing reactions
- Propaganda p.31
Through organization, the proselyte receives an overwhelming impulse that makes him act with the whole of his being. Often he has broken with his milieu or his family. He is forced to accept the new milieu and the new friends propaganda makes for him.
- Propaganda p.29
Propaganda ceases where simple dialogue begins
- Propaganda p.6
The Attributes of the Crowd
The crowd always wants to grow
Within the crowd there is equality
The crowd loves density
The crowd needs a direction
- Crowds and Power p.29
Ritual Crowds, Created by Repetition
A man attending a sermon honestly believed that it was the sermon which mattered to him, and he would have felt astonished or even indignant had it been explained to him that the large number of listeners present gave him more satisfaction than the sermon itself.
- Crowds and Power p.21
The seemingly indispensable principle of growth has been replaced by something quite different: by repetition. The faithful are gathered together at appointed places and times and, through performances which are always the same, they are transported into a mild state of crowd feeling sufficient to impress itself on them without becoming dangerous, and to which they grow accustomed. The feeling of unity is dispensed to them in doses and the continuance of the church depends on the rightness of the dosage.
- Crowds and Power p.25
The community has to enter into an unconscious conspiracy with itself to keep the tradition alive, to reinforce it in the collective memory of a society where collective memory is only the sum of individuals’ memories.
- Preface to Plato p.44
The Double Crowd and the Global Tribunal
The surest, and often the only way by which a crowd can preserve itself lies in the existence of a second crowd to which it is related. Whether the two crowds confront each other as rivals in a gamer, or as a serious threat to each other, the sight, or simply the powerful image of the second crowd prevents the disintegration of the first.
- Crowds and Power p.63
I think we should look at this from the military point of view. I mean, supposing the Russkies stashes away some big bomb, see. When they come out in a hundred years they could take over... In fact, they might even try an immediate sneak attack so they could take over our mineshaft space... I think it would be extremely naïve of us, Mr. President, to imagine that these new developments are going to cause any change in Soviet expansionist policy. I mean, we must be... increasingly on the alert to prevent them from taking over other mineshaft space, in order to breed more prodigiously than we do, thus, knocking us out in superior numbers when we emerge!
Mr. President, we must not allow... a mine shaft gap!
- General Buck Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove
In our own world as we become more aware of the effects of technology on psychic formation and manifestation, we are losing all confidence in our right to assign guilt.
- Understanding Media p.16
At the speed of light
Today it is the instant speed of electronic information that, for the first time, permits easy recognition of the patterns and the formal contours of change and development. The entire world, past and present, now reveals itself to us like a growing plant in an enormously accelerated movie. Electric speed is synonymous with light and with understanding of causes. So, with the use of electricity in previously mechanized situations, men easily discover causal connections and patterns that were quite unobservable at the slower rates of mechanical change.
- Understanding Media p.352
Men are suddenly nomadic gatherers of knowledge, nomadic as never-before, informed as never before, free from fragmentary specialism as never before-but also involved in the total social process as never before; since with electricity we extend our central nervous system globally, instantly interrelating every human experience.
- Understanding Media p. 358