Frames /sing

kvond

Argumentative Aesthetics

For those who don’t believe that arguments can’t be made by visual media:

The effect is, well…profound. The Chameleon gaze of enthused expectancy worked into Texas business suit CEO, how white black must become to assume power, how compromise is alteration, how political rupture is seamless transition, how interappelative we all understand instantly…policy and skin. Features and drawl. Inhabitation and ideal. Human and cyber-extension. The list goes on of what can be poured into a image. Inter- or Intranet.

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8 responses to “Argumentative Aesthetics

  1. Carl December 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    You make a great point, but the picture is also an example of why the philosophes sought to sideline the argumentative trickery of image in favor of the more directable and closable discourse of text, as Barbara Stafford shows. Are your readings of the image plausible? Yes, sure. Are they essential? No. It’s a kind of optional rhetorical demonization. There are plenty of teabaggers around who will tell you in all seriousness that Obama is a godless socialist bent on destroying the country by growing Big Government and subordinating personal freedom to the State, exactly the opposite of W.

    Point being that the profundity of the image’s precognitive effect may be the worst thing about it.

    • kvond December 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

      Carl: “There are plenty of teabaggers around who will tell you in all seriousness that Obama is a godless socialist bent on destroying the country by growing Big Government and subordinating personal freedom to the State, exactly the opposite of W.”

      Kvond: This is my point. What would such teabaggers SEE in the photo. (I was not making my interpretation essential. I know my relative audience, so I can ideologically extract the powerful references, but there requires working knowledges and assumptions to extract arguments from text as well.) My point is that aesthetic convictions can pervade with remarkable speed, and they ARE convincing, or perhaps cohering effects.

      If you mean that textual arguments should be used to FIGHT aesthetic means of conviction, sure. But as well, I’m not sure that once you SEE the meaning of a picture it is so easily erased.

      • kvond December 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm

        Perhaps Teabaggers would see the incipient creep of blackness into White normativity. The wolf in sheep’s clothing. It doesn’t so much matter.

      • Carl December 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm

        “(I was not making my interpretation essential. I know my relative audience, so I can ideologically extract the powerful references, but there requires working knowledges and assumptions to extract arguments from text as well.) My point is that aesthetic convictions can pervade with remarkable speed, and they ARE convincing, or perhaps cohering effects.”

      • Carl December 16, 2009 at 2:15 pm

        [nods appreciatively]

  2. Josh W December 17, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I was wondering if such an average would produce the “perfect president” for current america, given how many people who hate Obama still love Bush, or whether such a blurring in practice would destroy all that was liked by either. In other words, whether there is a point of compromise between the political forces in america, or whether the only unity they will find is in transformation of both “sides”.

    How was the picture made? I wonder whether there are analogies between the creation of a recognisable hybrid and a working compromise.

    • kvond December 17, 2009 at 11:14 am

      I don’t know how the picture was made, but perhaps there are interesting comparisons as you suggest. This is the curious thing about the image. When I actually saw it in a flash in the corner of my eye, what crossed my mind was “Goodness, the presidency is really aging Obama fast.” (as presidencies are known to do). Then, in the next instance it was “there is something wrong with this picture”. Then it was “ah, ha”. The odd thing is that the image is both reassuring and disturbing (at least to me). It ossilates between a recognition of the facial characteristics that were meant to reassure in both men, and the perverse synthesis of the two. Perhaps compromise is like this. It continually risks falling into sterile monstrosity or hybridization, and hopes for “baby bear” just-right-ism. Personally of course, when a partner realizes that compromise is a major goal, you can come to see that “I think that cake should be cut in half, 50% for each of us” is not a good negotiating position against “I think I should have all the cake”. The resulting 25/75 split, well, is the compromise between “compromise” itself and “incompromise”. Is this what has happened? Only history would tell. I suspect that Obama is trying to save up all his political karma points for a big grand slam, society changing chance on certain (second term) issues, but this is likely a bedtime story.

  3. Josh W December 21, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I recognise that cake analogy all too well… There’s a paradox of compromising with all or nothing people, do you take considering their welfare to be a bad negotiating position? Or the only serious offer of peace? Unfortunately sometimes the only way a haggler will stop is if the compromiser walks out, but that’s not a perfect analogy for a lot of the applications. A relationship for example is more than a series of trade-offs.

    There’s also the difference between aversion and love; the latter approves of what little is there, and so perhaps can cope with diffusions like this, whereas aversion would be happier with no picture than a mixed picture!

    Perhaps those looking for a “solid break” will be satisfied only by total destruction, if the old is always preserved slightly in the new stuff.

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