Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I.T.: The Red and the Blue

A speech-as-text that specifically addresses “America” as a linguistic sign must be determined by a rubric that is at least somewhat specific. Otherwise it might degenerate into cacophony. In fact, I.T. must establish that speech-as-text, in its very intermediacy, has an almost unlimited potentiality for what might be called “cacophonous textuality.” This is heteroglossia gone crazy; a mesh of so many voices pursuing so many divergent discourses that what is manifest is a kind of “speed metal.” Whether or not this is a negative thing, is to be determined by individual sensibilities, in atomized relationships to it. Nevertheless, this is immaterial to my current discourse. The first determinative exercise that must be pursued, in finding the America around “America,” is a more stringent definition of a characterization I have somewhat heedlessly (though in the spirit of digital consciousness) employed: “The Red and the Blue.” We know the commonsensical usage of this term, as it breaks down along American Party Political lines. However, I would like to posit that “The Red and the Blue” touches a realm of both ethos and praxis that runs deeper than Political Party lines would suggest. The formulation is, admittedly, limited by its generality (that, unfortunately, borders perilously close to presumptuousness) and its obviously partisan nature. But how can it be shown that it is merely partisan? Who can say that the “redness” or “blueness” of a particular discourse or discursive context is merely political, in the strict sense of the word?

It is my contention, specifically to be revealed in digital text, that this formulation, “The Red and the Blue,” in fact characterizes a gulf that may be impassable. It is not only political, but covers every level of praxis, and, where praxis is concerned, little is held in common by the two sides. Where the Red and the Blue coalesce is here: in a specifically American ideology of competition. This ideology formulates the Other (in this case every commensurate Other) as a direct threat. Both The Red and the Blue place this ideology in the realm of commodities: I have this, the Other has that. Perceived ownership of commodities and the privileged, envious gaze of commensurate Others confers status. There is, however, a fundamental difference; where The Red is concerned, competitive ideologies are often transcribed directly onto bodies. The body, in its materiality, becomes a signifier, and a substitute for commodities. Redness has, in fact, pre-Marxist materialism as a distinguishing characteristic. By pre-Marxist, I mean hinging on an emanated physicality as more status-pertinent than production or appropriation of commodities. To reduce this to praxis (for both sides): what if I were to wander each morning into a truck-stop in Oklahoma, wearing a yarmulke?

I have never pursued this mode of action but, as a member of the Blue intelligentsia, I assume, through many years of observation (which may be personal or media-based), that, as a mode of action, this would be somewhat akin to putting out a cigarette on my neck. My cultural capital would be effaced by my status as a vulnerable body. An Oklahoma trucker would not have this problem in Times Square. These formulations are reductive to the point of absurdity; so why are we compelled to engage in them so often? Are they based in truth or paranoia? The geographical sprawl of America determines that any praxis of attempting to answer these questions with authority is doomed: unless, of course, the dilemma could be brought online. This could be one of the great projects of I.T.: to determine whether The Red and the Blue is a lingering myth or a tenacious reality. All outward indicators point, in fact, to a tenacious reality: but pointing at something does not equal legitimating it. Why shouldn’t the heteroglossia of digital consciousness include Red voices? Through a sort of negative affirmation, can they show us the America around “America”? How this is to be done is a mystery. In a culture where the grossly physical is privileged, disembodied voices, especially disembodied theoretical voices, may not have much clout. I could see things turning cacophonous rather quickly: but is cacophonous textuality not a more honest rendering of “America” than anything else?

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