"León Ferrari (Buenos Aires, 3 de septiembre de 1920 - ibídem, 25 de julio de 2013)1 fue un artista plástico argentino. Gran parte de su obra está orientada a denunciar los abusos de poder y la intolerancia en la sociedad.”

"En 1980 realiza una serie de heliografías de planos, utiliza la técnica de Letraset”

El resultado de usar esta técnica, disponiendo los elementos dentro de geometrías sin fin, es un sociedad de individuos idénticos-sin identidad, personas sin nombre, que se mueven contínuamente entre las paredes de laberintos donde una y otra vez se repiten los mismos objetos, idénticos-sin identidad, como sus dueños.

En Arquine hacen referencia a la cita del artista  Roberto Jacoby sobre este trabajo:

"A toda luz se trataba de una arquitectura imposible, no construible. Por más que Ferrari les diera el aspecto de copias heliográficas, su metro y veinte de ancho por [hasta casi] 3 metros de largo, por entero cubiertos con el mapa de miles de dormitorios, comedores, oficinas, baños, cocinas y pasillos habitados por miles de personitas, todo indicaba que esos laberintos sin lógica (y “sin centro”) no podían, tampoco, pertenecer al género de la arquitectura utópica. Nadie se atrevería a proyectar un destino tan horrible para la especie humana. (…) A lo largo de los planos podían tabularse situaciones que se dudaba en definir como irrisorias o como trágicas: destinos de gente que no se sabe adónde va porque toda la distribución espacial y las conexiones entre lugares y funciones carecen de sentido. (…) se trataba de una vasta cárcel. Una visión traspuesta de la teoría foucaultiana del poder. El dispositivo panóptico donde un ojo soberano vigila sin ser visto, mientras que los observados no se conectan entre sí más que parcialmente. Un territorio que se ordena con el fin de disciplinar. (…) Un aspecto esencial del poder sería la capacidad para organizar el espacio en forma de máquina de comportamientos. Toda la cuadriculación de las ciudades modernas, los sucesivos sistemas clasificatorios de los cuerpos, formaría parte de esta tecnología muda que se impuso en la edificación de escuelas, prisiones, hospitales, fábricas, oficinas y viviendas"

Se puede conocer su obra completa en su web.

In Definition: The Fantastic Hegemonic Imagination

As with many, the recent events in Ferguson have forced me to reflect on the world that surrounds me. Realities of race, discrimination, patriarchy, systemic oppression, ideology, and the such have been forced into my purview in a paradoxically distanced and personal way. As I reflected on various concepts, experiences, and emotions in an attempt to make sense of it all I was brought back to this portion of a paper I wrote a few years ago. Here I described the notion of the “fantastic hegemonic imagination” as espoused by Emilie M. Townes in her book Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. I hope some of these notions may prophetically illuminate various aspects of what is happening in Ferguson and even other parts of the world. Maybe, just maybe, we are fed illusions that keep the system running. But more importantly -maybe, just maybe, people are starting to wake up from the lie. 

………………………………………………………

In her essay “The Sites of Memory,” Toni Morrison notes that slave narratives tend not to mention the inner lives of slaves because they shaped the narrative to be “acceptable.”[1] Morrison goes onto say that though memory holds importance in unpacking the lives of slaves only imagination can give access to the “unwritten interior lives of the enslaved.”[2] With this concept in the backdrop, Townes establishes her mission of analyzing the “interior worlds of those who endure structural evil as well as the interior works of structural evil itself to discover what truths may be found there.”[3] For Townes, the cultural production of evil is the way “in which a society can produce misery and suffering in relentlessly systematic and sublimely structural ways”[4] To understand this, Townes looks at the work of Pierre Nora, Werner Sollors and Carolyn Walker Bynum to argue that though traditionally history has been understood as a discipline, and memory as subjective, the lack of pluralistic consideration taken in “history” and collective and plural aspects of “memory” demand that both be seen as subjective. With history and memory being subjective, the door is open for the past to be told in a different way.

History must be told a differently because it currently operates from the perspective of what Townes calls the fantastic hegemonic imagination. Michel Foucault speaks of the imagination and the fantastic (“that of other worlds, nonmaterial existence”) emerging between books and the thoughts they produce.[5] Townes expands this concept arguing that the fantastic and imaginary are not confined to books but can grow beyond to form part of the cultural production of our realities. If pushed passed books, the fantastic can be not only ghosts and shifted realities but structures of domination and subordination. Townes takes this concept and combines it with a nuancing of Antonio Gramsci’s idea of hegemony which she defines as:

the set of ideas that dominant groups employ in a society to secure the consent of subordinates to abide by their rule. The notion of consent is key because hegemony is created through coercion that is gained using the church, family, media, political parties, schools, unions and other voluntary associations –the civil society and all its organizations. This breeds a kind of false consciousness (the fantastic in neocultural and sociopolitical drag) that creates societal values and moralities such that there is one coherent and accurate viewpoint in the world.[6]

Examples of hegemony are evident throughout history. In the United States, for example, Presbyterian Pastor Thomas Bacon used Calvinist conceptions of Christian providence to justify the Slaves position as ordained by God.[7] The kind of hegemonic forces Townes speaks of, however, have much greater implications than a misreading of the Bible because once mixed with Foucault’s idea of the fantastic imagination, hegemony takes a different light. With the fantastic hegemonic imagination not only is hegemony present and enacted, it is perpetuated through the imagined fantastic, i.e. things that don’t even exist but come into ones imagination in such a way that it emerges as perceived reality.[8] Townes writes:

 This imagination conjures up worlds and their social structures that are not based on supernatural events and phantoms but on the ordinariness of evil. It is this imagination, I argue, that helps to hold systematic, structural evil, in place. The fantastic hegemonic imagination uses a politicized sense of history and memory to create and shape its worldview.[9]

In order to counteract this fantastic hegemonic imagination what is needed is a countermemory. Building off Gramsci’s idea of counterhegemony, countermemory “is that which seeks to disrupt ignorance and invisibility…begin[ing] with the particular to move into the universal and it looks to the past for microhistories to force a reconsideration of flawed (incomplete or vastly circumscribed) histories.”[10] Through exploring the past we can identify what images and stereotypes have been created which oppress and marginalize certain groups.


[1] Emilie M. Townes, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil (New York, NY: Palgrave, Macmillan, 2006),11.

[2] Ibid., 12.

[3] Ibid., 12.

[4] Ibid., 12.

[5] Ibid., 18-19.

[6] Ibid., 20.

[7] See Thomas Bacon, “Sermon to Maryland Slaves, 1749,” in Religion in American History: A Reader, ed. Jon Butler and Harry S. Stout (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 74-86.

[8] This notion has significant implications for how we understand phenomenology and philosophy of mind for if ideas are “implanted” and perpetuated then before we even begin to study what we perceive, let alone how we perceive, we must ask “what has been forced upon our perception?” Though it seems obvious that this would occur in phenomenology the implications of Townes’ study show that lest we deconstruct even what we think we perceive (entering more into ideas of hetero-phenomenology espoused by Daniel Dennett) we can’t begin perceiving.

[9] Townes, Womanist Ethics, 21.

[10] Ibid., 22-23.

I got this job on craigslist, where I was given a folder full of glossy photos of people, and then was paid 100$ cash to hang out near where they might be, if I recognized them I was to address them by name, and tell them what floor the meeting was going to be on. It was for a marketing company that was working on a new facial recognition software.

Panopticon and Religion

For those of you that know Foucault’s Panopticon, you may skip this brief explanation I will give for those who have not. Picture this, a doughnut-shaped prison in which all of the cells are facing the center where there is a massive guard tower that can see into all of the cells. The tower is completely illuminated so none of the inmates can see in, but the guards (or presumed guards) can see out. This was his basic idea, that the prison could virtually have only one or two or even no guards watching over the inmates because the inmates would watch themselves. Because the inmates could never see if there were guards watching them, they would simply assume they always were. This “watchful eye” would then be supported if every-so-often a sign of a guard being there was shown, but that could also be done without anyone actually being there, such as a recorded announcement or footsteps or innumerable things. In more contemporary terms, look at the cameras on the corners of “dangerous” streets. The idea behind it is that people will see them being there and not do illegal things such as steal or murder, in case the police is watching and will find them. Maybe there is someone who holds power watching the cameras… Maybe not. Now, put this in context of religion. We are told by our preachers, or in our younger years, simply by our parents that there is a man in the sky always watching us. So, we learn not to lie, steal, cheat, or masturbate. This watchful eye stops amazing things from happening, and it doesn’t even exist. But the church has gotten people to believe so fervently that he always is that people will go against their own human nature to stay on his good side. And for what? A seat next to him in heaven? So, they wont have sex with the person they actually want to, they wont kill the person they hate, they wont go after that job they dream of, all just in case that guy is watching them. Of course, a question comes up of why the church would want that? Well, why does any establishment make rules? To keep order. They don’t want people to kill, so they say its a sin to murder. They don’t want people to steal, so they say it is is a sin to steal. They want society to have equal duality, so they say its a sin to cheat. They want to populate the earth with more people like them so as to further these rules and traditions, so they say it is a sin to masturbate and have homosexual relations. It really is such amazingly simple concept, so why don’t people think of it? Well, why didn’t you? Because it IS so simple and because we live in the society that does it. Only when you look outside, read outside texts, make EVERYTHING into an issue and into something to scrutinize do you find the pervasive, sickening truths about our societies. Climbing the rabbits fur, if you will. And you always should.

"But the kids today don’t have that luxury; they must produce just to participate in society."

Whenever philosophers decide to take it upon themselves to deign that society, or, more appropriately, Generation Y is doomed from the start simply because we are different, we are adapting, we are seizing the things that are in front of us—the arguments tend to fall a little flat. Generation Y was born into a dynamically changing world where the norm is flux, the death of the American Dream, and post-modernistic thinking oozes from English classes to collect in the societal consciousness of our college educated youth that call upon their collectivity to change the world. The power lies in the diversity, the rapid flow of opinions between those who have and have-not, those who are here and not here, those who can do and those who cannot do. This addition of the pervasiveness of perspective to the cultural hodge-podge that built itself up from the breakdown of certain master narratives that defined what it meant to be “American” or “college-aged” or even “kids” gave us the impetus to singularly rotate situations one-hundred and eighty degrees and attack them from an angle once not thought possible.

It’s not a disadvantage to those who tackle it. So stop telling us that it is.

Faulkner was driven to write about the human condition, because nothing else was worth putting the pen to paper to describe. There was an endless amount of depth, detail, and viewpoints with which to experiment—and the result was a disorienting, challenging discourse of the state of life summed up nicely in the incredibly dense works of “the politics of storytelling” based firmly upon Michel Foucault’s life works. The decay of personal history, the presentation of the voices previously unheard, the inter-connectedness of human lives, and the flow of human thought as an inroad to progressive dialgoue—

"Because if it were just to hell; if that were all of it. Finished. If things just finished themselves. Nobody else there but her and me. If we could just have done something so dreadful that they would have fled hell except us.”

—are not simply the works of a modernist, but also the bread and butter of Generation Y. The way that we think, the way we don’t think, the simply diversity of thinking is a powerful tool that can turn what was once hopeless into something full of possibility. We are the Generation Flux, Generation Change, Generation Lost-After-College—but we are our own and we answer to our own, glorifying clarion calls, shouted again and again on various platforms to say that we are all unique, in our own ways and we’re going to fight for that diversity. Some would say it is not a prison, but rather, an unlocking of potential and need for self-fulfillment that can look like folly.

But then, it’s all a matter of perspective.

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Beyond Good and Evil

Today is Leon Foucault’s birthday :) I remember my visit to the London Science museum where there was a Foucault’s pendulum :) the string hangs from 4 floors above.

Leon Foucault, a french scientist, noticed that the direction of swing of a pendulum appeared to move in a circle. He realized that pendulum could be used to show the earth’s spinning, and set up the first Foucault pendulum  in his cellar in 1851. Later that year a very large one was set up in Paris. 

In the North Pole, the direction of the swing of the pendulum does not change in space, so the pendulum shows the earth turning beneath it in 24 hours. Here in London, it’s not so simple, the direction of the pendulum’s swing moved around a circle in about 30.5 hrs. As we travel towards the Equator, the direction of the swing moves more slowly and at the Equator, no movement is seen. In the southern hemisphere, the direction of swing moves in the opposite direction.

This pendulum at the museum, is 22.4 meters long. It is kept in motion against damping (air damping) by an electrical impulse system.

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