Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Six Degrees of Marxist Revolution

In our group discussions during class yesterday, we investigated Jameson's goal of creating a cognitive mapping of a Marxist utopia - one which could truly inspire and capture people's minds in the same way as capitalism, totalitarianism, or religion - as well as practical examples of cognitive mapping. One that came to mind was the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," which reduces the incredible complexity of human relations and connections to a simple matter of how far an actor is separated from Kevin Bacon through their films. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere once that EVERYONE is six degrees from EVERYONE (or maybe just Kevin Bacon?) but the movie-focused game allows us to conceptualize that bewildering, sublime degree of inter-connection in terms of Hollywood. Certainly a more effective, and easier to conceptualize, mapping than a huge network diagram. Perhaps Jameson's mission requires a similar approach - cognitively mapping the whole of a global Marxist system seems damn near impossible, far harder certainly than mapping global late capitalism (and we have learned that that task is no cake-walk either). In some way, this connects to our theme of "content vs form" - Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon employs the form of a massive cognitive mapping of all human connections (everyone is six degrees from everyone) but drastically reduces the content to movie stars. A successful cognitive mapping of a Marxist world might require the same approach - leave out the unneccessary economic, political, and social details and just focus on the form. What would this look like? I'm going to take the Jameson cop-out and say I don't know.

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