Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thus Spoke the Spectacle

So, this comes courtesy of blogist and media ecologist Peter Fallon, who contributes to a blog entitled In the Dark: Mass Ignorance in an "Age of Information" along with a couple of his friends. And in his latest entry, Peter writes:

This was sent to me by someone who has seen my YouTube page and liked the media ecology-related videos. It turns out he is a McLuhan/Postman fan (by interest, not by training). He has a pretty good idea of what is wrong with post-modern culture...
Peter also includes the following acknowledgment:

By the way, Eric Goodman is the creative genius behind The Spectacle, having written the music and lyrics, and editing this video.

And this YouTube video with the Neil Postman-derived title of "Now... This" is very impressive, so my thanks to Peter for his discovery, and to Eric Goodman for his artistic achievement. And so, without further ado, and "Now... This":

And, that's not all, but to see the rest you have to visit the Thus Spoke the Spectacle website for yourself. There are four other videos to view, a companion book by Eric Goodman that is listed as coming soon and is based on the work of Guy Debord, Friedrich Nietzche, Neil Postman, Marshall McLuhan, Jacques Ellul, Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, Lewis Mumford, Henry David Thoreau, Daniel Boorstin, and Erich Fromm (quite an eclectic mix of media ecologists and critical theorists there). There is also a live show that has been performed by Goodman and Mike Stevens, and there are testimonials from several individuals, including some media ecology associates from NYU (Stacy Rosenberg, Nancy Silverman, and Bill Phillips).

The title, Thus Spoke the Spectacle, seems to be derived from the Ben Jonson quote that McLuhan was fond of, "Speak, that I may see thee." It also brings to mind the somewhat ironic title of an article by Walter Ong, “’I See What You Say’: Sense Analogues for Intellect.”

But the idea of spectacle, whether the reference is to the Roman circuses or our own image culture, has more in common with oral culture's concrete, imagistic thought processes than with the abstract visualism that McLuhan and Ong associate with literacy and print. The spectacle is all about noise, which the video amply illustrates, while the writer's voice as it exists between the covers of a book requires an inner ear. With the silence of the lamb's skin parchment and the paper made from linen or pulp, all that can be heard is the rustle of the pages as they turn, turn, turn. I mean, you can have your Zarathustra, I'll take my Koheleth. Do you see what I'm saying? If not, that's ok, just watch the video.


Dr. Fallon said...

Yes, Lance. It's a nice piece of work, and a way, I think, that popular culture can make some of the ideas and principles of media ecology more accessible to a mass audience (with all the attendant dangers implied).

For the record, the other two bloggers on IN THE DARK are not merely "friends" (though friends they are indeed), they are two former Roosevelt University garduate students (MS in Journalism) who began their own blogs and eventually joined mine in the "Alternative Media" class of over three years ago.

Doug said...

Like I commented on Dr. Fallon's site, I've seen the work entire -- live and on film. It's even better live, as it gains force by being un-mediated (at least via TV). Eric has a brilliant moment in which the music and imagery builds to overload -- and ends in a long silence. What people do during that silence is the most interesting part of the show!

And Eric, as well as his phenomenal drummer Mike, completely un-mediates at the end by turning off all the gizmos and gadgetry and simply has a real conversation with the audience. They mingle through -- not a "lecture-style" thing.

That, too, reinforces the point (for me).

Anyway, I'm so glad that this worthy project is finding new fans! Very important work, this.