Posted by: glue | April 15, 2010

Consulting the Disaster

Inflated Icon

The reading strategy is divinatory, since our theorists tell us that the Real only intimates, offers ciphers circumspectly.  We treat the event (the disaster) as an oracle:  it shows me how things are, with me.  Just as the inventors of literacy treated the mythology of their day as allegories, so do we treat our  consultants’ reports as allegories.  Of what?  Again the theorists (as represented by Blanchot in our CATTt), tell us that the subject may not be experienced directly (the “I” is a function of language).  We gain access to this experience of “I” by a passage outside, a relay through the disaster. What we seek is not so much the disaster (we leave it to the empirical consultants) but the catastrophe happening through me (my “turn,” –vert, my direction, my orientation within the x-scape).

One way to read Steven Biel’s history of the sinking of the Titanic that helps highlight his relevance for our project is as a genealogy of the formation of an icon.  This formation is a vernacular “folk” process, happening without central planning or coordination, through cultural discourse.  We are witnessing the birth and evolution of a unit of signification, and perhaps something more seen in the frame of electracy.   Virginia Woolf, Icon did something similar with this process by extracting from the life and death of an individual a sign that subsequently was used to think, communicate, debate, about a number of important issues.  Roland Barthes called this process “myth,” and Biel is using the term in this semiotic sense also.  Part of our research goal–the professional responsibility of developing electrate practical rhetoric — is to adapt this collective vernacular cultural phenomenon to something individuals may use for themselves.

We are not reading Biel in isolation, of course, but as a resource for the CATTt.  The poetics for the writing of the disaster emerge from the intertext.  We put Blanchot in conversation with Biel to  form a hybrid instruction.

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