Posted by: glue | April 13, 2009




Nineteenth-century Paris is the vortex from which emerged the specifics of the electrate apparatus. Not all the inventors were there, nor was the formation as neat as in the case of the template — the invention of literacy in Plato’s Academy. The grammatological analogy provides an inventory for our scene: Athens; The Academy, the Lyceum; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle; School practices–dialogue, method, category, definition, concept, logic: science, in short, taking advantage of the capacities of alphabetic writing. What is the equivalent in our case?

Electracy emerges within the rising industrial city, but as Walter Benjamin argued, Paris is the capital of the nineteenth century. Paris: Cabaret manifests the possibilities of Entertainment as the cultural site of the new metaphysics. Le Chat Noir is the prototype, fostering the burlesque tone and attitude, the pastiche forms taken up by the vanguard. The convergence of artists on Montmartre resulted in a social experiment known as bohemian. This lifestyle is as much a part of the invention as the rest of it, being to bourgeois secularism what that secularism was to the religious behaviors inherited from orality. Neither faith nor duty, but fun, the new “party” line, informs this state of mind.



Cubist collage and related innovations in the vanguard arts are the “logic” of the institution. Cinematography is the technical support for the logic, with the city and its various renderings in popular culture providing the material for the discourse. Putting the city into an image is the project from which is (still) emerging the category system (the metaphysics) of electracy. Art is extracting from the recording technologies of the apparatus an image metaphysics. One major manifestation of the project may be tracked through the poetic encounters in Paris, beginning with Baudelaire’s Spleen, but not only there. Benjamin’s dialectical image and its application in the Arcades project does some heavy lifting, to bring philosophy to bear on the recorded city. Follow the epiphanies: Joyce in Dublin, Eliot in London, Rilke in Paris, Kafka in Prague.

Am I saying that modernism is the Academy of electracy? Yes. Electracy is everything that we have been undergoing within the industrial and now informational revolutions. The principles of electracy were created in modernism and we will be developing this virtuality for some time (centuries). Those who are still chasing the next big thing, while saying that modernism is past, surperannuated, are working without the benefit of grammatology that shows the framing of the paradigm.  It is not that there will not be more inventions, but that there is an epochal coherence unfolding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: