Lastly, here’s one more example from RCL’s own Jessica O’Hara, who has posted a link to an essay she wrote for an edited volume on the philosophy of horror. The essay is entitled “Making Their Presence Known: TV’s Ghost-Hunter Phenomenon in a ‘Post-’ World,” and you can find it on Google Books here. She calls particular attention to the “Spectres of 9/11″ section, near the end of the essay, as an example of paradigm shift argumentation. Here’s Jessica talking about the development of the essay:
When I developed this essay, at first, all I knew was that I wanted to write on ghost-hunter shows because I liked them and the Paranormal State people were local. The section about 9/11 came out of my realization that the structure of ghost-hunter shows mimicked HGTV home-improvement shows. Once I made that connection, which amused me, I started to wonder why both genres of shows appeared this past decade. Then I connected their rise to the rhetoric of home improvement, which imagines the home as a “sanctuary.” Why does the home need to be a sanctuary? I thought about this question in relation to 9/11, the emergent dread of public spaces, and the decline in organized religion.
Here‘s a useful critique, by David Sirota in Salon, of Chipotle’s wildly successful “Scarecrow” ad. A sample:
In other words, his solution to the meat-producing factory farming system he hates is not just a meat-based system that slaughters animals in a more humane fashion — but a plant-based system that wholly avoids such slaughter. The contrast between the first and the second half of the ad is the story here. The first half is all about meat eating and animal killing, while the second half — the solution part — has nothing to do with meat eating and avoids blatant references to the act of killing animals.
Here’s the Nathan Jurgensen post I showed briefly in class on Friday, partly as a rebuttal to Sherry Turkle’s tech-phobic generalizations about kids these days and their iPhones, but especially to set the tone for how I envision the blogging component of this course interacting and intersecting with the in-class portions. The opening paragraphs:
The power of social media to burrow dramatically into our everyday lives as well as the near ubiquity of new technologies such as mobile phones has forced us all to conceptualize the digital and the physical; the on- and off-line.
And some have a bias to see the digital and the physical as separate; what I am calling digital dualism. Digital dualists believe that the digital world is “virtual” and the physical world “real.” This bias motivates many of the critiques of sites like Facebook and the rest of the social web andI fundamentally think this digital dualism is a fallacy. Instead, I want to argue that the digital and physical are increasingly meshed, and want to call this opposite perspective that implodes atoms and bits rather than holding them conceptually separate augmented reality.
In a 2009 post titled “Towards Theorizing An Augmented Reality,” I discussed geo-tagging (think Foursquare or Facebook Places), street view, face recognition, the Wii controller and the fact that sites like Facebook both impact and are impacted by the physical world to argue that “digital and material realities dialectically co-construct each other.” This is opposed to the notion that the Internet is like the Matrix, where there is a “real” (Zion) that you leave when you enter the virtual space (the Matrix) -an outdated perspective as Facebook is increasingly real and our physical world increasingly digital.
It is a well-known pastime of historians to quibble with Hollywood over details. Here, however, the issue is not factual accuracy but interpretive choice. A stronger African-American presence, even at the margins of Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” would have suggested that another dynamic of emancipation was occurring just outside the frame — a world of black political debate, of civic engagement and of monumental effort for the liberation of body and spirit.
In that sense, Lincoln lets its audience off too easy. It’s comforting to feel that we can always find great wisdom in the middle. For the slight cost of waving away those who carry radicalism in their very blood, it reaffirms our great faith in democracy. It’s much more terrifying to consider how democratic compromise can be disastrous and how zealotry can be perceptive. Lincoln should have been harder on us.
But beyond the historiography, there’s a larger cultural question: What is it about this country that makes any description of the moral cesspool of politics seem like the revelation of a brave new truth?
In short, the idea that the white north “gave” freedom to the slaves draws from and reinforces an attractively simple and flattering myth, one which formed around the old historiography of the period like a noose cutting off oxygen to the brain: the myth that black slaves were rendered passive by their condition, and that—absent an outside force interrupting their state of un-freedom—they would simply have continued, as slaves, indefinitely. It’s only in this narrative that freedom can be a thing which is given to them: because they are essentially passive and inert, they require someone else—say, a great emancipator—to step in and raise them up.
In case you haven’t seen the Crossfire bit to which chapter 3 of RCL referred, here’s Jon Stewart’s 2004 appearance on the show, shortly before the 2004 election, and not long after which the show was canceled:
Here’s Immanuel Kant writing about the way the realization of certain material facts about the world (i.e. that it is finite, not infinite) is what makes ethical, economic, and political thought both possible and necessary. This is one way of understanding chapter 3′s point that disagreement and the possibility thereof is the situation that produces—necessitates, even—rhetoric, deliberation, and democracy more broadly. By way of context, he’s talking just before this quote about hospitality, about “the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another,” as one of the tenets of his prescription for peaceful coexistence:
[Man] may request the right to be a permanent visitor . . . but the right to visit, to associate, belongs to all men by virtue of their common ownership of the earth’s surface; for since the earth is a globe, they cannot scatter themselves infinitely, but must, finally, tolerate living in close proximity, because originally no one had a greater right to any region of the earth than anyone else. Uninhabitable parts of this surface—the sea and deserts—separate these communities, and yet ships and camels (the ship of the desert) make it possible to approach one another across these unowned regions, and the right to the earth’s surface that belongs in common to the totality of men makes commerce possible.
If ever you’re interested in the whole thing (I know, I know), as it’s a pretty fascinating little document, it’s posted here in its entirety.