Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reflections on Serial Production and the Reversal of Dialectics

What could potentially unite reversal of dialectics and serial production begins with Benjamin in Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction:

"Dialectical thinking involves moving through contraries without ever letting one term gain precedence over its other—or apparent opposite—as most oppositional thinking tends to do.  In dialectics each term only has significance in relation to its apparent contrary or other.  Benjamin begins by assuming the main tenet of dialectical materialism, which states that the the means of production determine the nature of cultural production, or, more technically, the substructure determines the superstructure.  However, he goes on to show that the superstructure changes much more slowly than the substructure, with the effect that cultural phenomena always lag behind the conditions that produce them.  For this reason, he is observing the conditions of present culture at the point of their earliest development and with an eye for the present state of productive (and reproductive) technologies.  His mode of observation (as he puts it) is designed to draw attention to changes in the conditions of production as a way of intervening in the process.  His theses are, thus, regarded as weapons in the war against fascism."-

For a good but light and funny summary of Marx's dialectics, drawing on Hegel, have you seen this:

Serial production can be related to dialectics in the conditions of production. The conditions of production regulate social relations, and for Jean Baudrillard they controlled human communication. Going back to Benjamin you probably know about the Aura and the idea of distance in the object no matter how close, the sanctity of art and the regime of craft over mass production. Benjamin saw the mass production of the communicative experience as a threat to free society, he was of course referencing the rise of fascism in Europe. Nazi propaganda and the domination of the State over mass culture was the birth place of many of his ideas.

Then Baudrillard adapts Benjamin's ideas to suit the age of mass digital communications and the totality of signification we live in today. Reversal of Dialectics (RoD) comes from Adorno, a friend and colleague of Benjamin. I have read Foucault on discourse and some if it reminds me of RoD. The idea that dialectic thought or association creates meaning is something that can be used to understand the importance given to a text, idea, action, statement or group of ideas or beliefs. If we follow the concept of serial production, where uniformity, mass production and consumption, standardization, universal access, and mobility are considered paramount to communication, art and culture, then we can see a whole set of relations imposed upon human beings according to those qualities.

Take the example of folk culture.

"Folk culture refers to a culture traditionally practiced by a small, homogeneous, rural group living in relative isolation from other groups. Historically, handed down through oral tradition, it demonstrates the "old ways" over novelty and relates to a sense of community. Folk culture is quite often imbued with a sense of place. If elements of a folk culture are copied by, or moved to, a foreign locale, they will still carry strong connotations of their original place of creation." -

In serial production is can be said that a sense of place is lost. This can be demonstrated though the use of RoD: by showing the elements present in serial production and how they effect a (lack of) sense of place that result from any representations they attempt to articulate.

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