Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Discomfort and Illiteracy + simple equations

Feeling really pleased at the way my blog posts for the past few weeks have anticipated questions to be immediately addressed by upcoming readings (really in the swing of things!). Anyway, last week I ended my post wondering about the general illiteracy in terms of scientific/technological images and diagrams. I was thinking that perhaps the ambiguity of these images--despite their coding as scientific/objective, their integration into a logic of "seeing is believing"--made them less potentially subversive because they required expert interpretation or reading in order to even have meaning. Parks' "Digging Into Google Earth" speaks directly to this in a way that challenged my original conception. In her conviction that the format and implementation of the Crisis in Darfur project codes "obvious truth" via specific images, the "personal code," while therefore glossing over the real political complexity of the situation through this apparent clarity and straightforwardness, Parks positions the creators of the project in the position I'd imagined as dangerously authoritative. But she also points to the potential of satellite images, in their precise lack of direct clarity, to open up space for a more involved interrogation. Thus, for her, illiteracy can be productive. This also reminds me of Ahmed's sense of a productive discomfort, the need to reject or withhold totalizing representations for both their implication of a singular interpretive actor/authority and, of course, their collapses and veilings. But still, in the context of humanitarianism and real situations that call upon our human empathy, situations were a sense of efficacy matters in terms of bodies and lives, I wonder exactly how productive this discomfort/illiteracy can be. It still doesn't mean a solution, just a greater understanding. 

(for my slacktivism, I signed the Brown Divest Coal campaign's online petition. In true slacktivist form, even after following them on Twitter and on Facebook, and accepting an invitation to the Bill McKibben talk this week, I have made no further effort to participate in the campaign. It's also worth noting that Bill McKibben's/'s "Do the Math" campaign ("tour") appeal to logic of obviousness similar to that of the Crisis in Darfur project--the implication is that there is a simple equation and the answer's right in front of us.)

No comments: