Monday, July 30, 2007

Rhythm Science

Just finished reading Paul D. Millier (AKA DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid)'s Rhythm Science. I've become a tunnel-visioned reader, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating everything in the context of McLuhan, but until I develop other research interests, I guess I am stuck with those blinders.

I had heard and read others talking about Rhythm Science, but I finally got around to purchasing the book when I realized it was part of the MIT Pamphlet series, an series of books inspired in part by The Medium is the Massage--short texts, innovative in typography and design, not densely scholarly in citations, but clearly informed by a scholarly career. RS and N. Katherine Hayles' Writing Machines (another title in the series) are both much more autobiographical than MM, and neither are as visually interesting as MM, but RS offered me more than WM, which actually annonyed me because Hayles' called for "media specific analysis," a blatant but unacknowledge re-working of "the medium is the message," IMHO.

But I digress. Here are a couple of thoughts / reflections.

Miller / Spooky has actually used McLuhan's voice in his DJ work. He uses McLuhan on the CD to say "'electric circuitry . . . the flowing' is taking us on an 'inner trip . . . which involves us in depth in things that had formerly been merely superficial, visual, external and detached from our own beings.'" M/S goes on to argue that the opposite might actually be true "the specialization, fragementation, and routineization of work, space and life" has prevented the kind of in-depth participation McLuhan describes, and this particular description of postmodern life (for lack of a better label), continues to be problematic for me as I work with McLuhan. What M/S goes on to express throughout RS, it seems to me, is a desire for the kind of depth participation McLuhan describes, he just seems to think that very few people have achieved that depth participation. That might be the kind of account I am looking for and trying to articulate myself.

The mechanical age, as much or more than the electric age, seems to have influenced a culture of specialization, fragmentation, and routineization of work, space and life (think of some of Dickens' characters); the electric age seemed to presented the possibility of depth and integration, or a move from mechanical to organic metaphors, but the mechanical, modern infrastructure in place, the heavy weight of the way things are, and the mechanical, specialized nature of even many "electric" processes (i.e. writing code?!), has limited the impact of electric circuitry on our lives. Many educational theorists, however, now point out that our mechanical approach to schooling is dramatically out of synch with our students' "in-depth" living (although the "good students" learn to play along).

I am starting to digress again, and have exceeded my 10 minutes, so I will have to follow up with sequel.

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