Stephen Bové - Art, Technology, Right Action

Monday, November 29, 2004

Pentagram For Conjuring The Narrative

Hollis Frampton...a filmmaker/artist/writer who lived outside of Hamilton, NY...

A Conference on him and his work at Princeton University earlier this month...

Died in 1985.

Most memorable "thought piece": "A Pentagram For Conjuring The Narrative" from his book called "Circles of Confusion." Out of print, one copy available in an SF bookstore for $66 (should have saved that copy from class) and in French translation from the Pompidou in Paris -- it figures, per Clotaire Rapaille's recent comments on NPR, that the "sophisticated, nuanced, intellectual" French would have this in print...

An interesting (though dense) essay on "A Pentagram" by Matt Teichman at the Film Philosophy website.

Great quote:

"I was born during the Age of Machines.

A machine was a thing made up of distinguishable ‘parts,’ organized in imitation of some function of the human body. Machines were said to ‘work.’ How a machine ‘worked’ was readily apparent to an adept, from inspection of the shape of its ‘parts.’ The physical principles by which machines ‘worked’ were intuitively verifiable.

The cinema was the typical survival-form of the Age of Machines. Together with its subset of still photographs, it performed prizeworthy functions: it taught and reminded us (after what then seemed a bearable delay) how things looked, how things worked, how to do things...and of course (by example), how to feel and think.

We believed it would go on forever, but when I was a little boy, the Age of Machines ended. We should not be misled by the electric can opener: small machines proliferate now as though they were going out of style because they are doing precisely that.

Cinema is the Last Machine. It is probably the last art that will reach the mind through the senses.

It is customary to mark the end of the Age of Machines as the advent of video. The point in time is imprecise: I prefer radar, which replaced the mechanical reconnaissance aircraft with a static anonymous black box. Its introduction coincides quite closely with the making of Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Willard Maas’s Geography of the Body.

The notion that there was some exact constant at which the tables turned, and cinema passed into obsolescence and thereby into art, is an appealing fiction that implies a special task for the metahistorian of cinema.–Hollis Frampton, 1971

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Brand "USA"

What is America's one word "brand" so far in the 21st Century?

Is brand the same as "culture?"

Professor Warren Susman, a cultural historian at Rutgers University whose writings were published this year in a collection called ''Culture as History: The Transformation of American Society in the 20th Century," thinks our brand is "PERSONALITY."

"Early American culture emphasized the value of hard work, integrity, courage. Early American culture demanded and honored what was termed character, which was a function of one's moral fiber.

Modern American consumption-oriented culture honors personality, which is a function of what one projects to others. The modern American culture of personality emphasizes charm, fascination and likability. The social role demanded of all in the new culture of personality was that of a performer. Every American was to become a performing self."

- Warren Susman

More here.

The Wizard of Lizard

Clotaire Rapaille is a French intellectual who is very good at helping mass marketers figure out how to tap into the zeitgeist through what he calls reptillian archetypes.

"The reptillian always wins."

He thinks we have three brains...the cortex (blue), limbic (yellow), reptillian (red)...

...that humans, on average, make purchasing decisions from the gut not the mind...

...and that politicians at the macro-national level need to "go down to ONE WORD, ONE BENEFIT" to punch through and attain victory.

Here are a few entries from his still-born blog (he gets paid way too much by big companies to give away all his good stuff on the net:

Monday, April 19, 2004

"Branding the Candidates in 1 word. Volvo is safety. Ralf Lauren Privilege. What would be the one word you 'd use to brand Kerry or Bush? Marketers always look for the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as well as "product benefits." What do I get if I vote Kerry? More taxes? or Europeans decreasing their hate for us? What would I get if I voted Bush? More death in Iraq? A man determined to finish the job?

Thursday, April 8, 2004

"President Bush resting his left arm on the lectern/podium is definitely off code."

Some of his ideas about archetypes and mass-marketing and the pyramid of the unconcious are very interesting.

"I'm not the trend expert," he said, summoning another log for the fire and a service of morning coffee. "I'm the expert in what doesn't change, from one generation to another."

His book on multi-cultural marketing is a must read for folks selling into the global economy.

He was recently interviewed on NPR.

GLADSTONE: John Kerry may well be on course, but it's never too early to sharpen a candidate's image. And so we learned that earlier this year, medical anthropologist and marketing consultant Clotaire Rapaille sat down with an unpaid Kerry adviser to talk shop. Rapaille is originally from France, so he may seem an odd choice to advise a candidate maligned for his Gallic family ties, but some of the Fortune 500's biggest companies have tapped Rapaille for tips on how to appeal to American consumers. We spoke to him last about GM's ad campaign for the Hummer. Rapaille bases his approach on the theory of the Triune Brain, which postulates that our minds work on three levels. They are, in order of evolutionary development, the reptilian - responsible for basic survival behaviors like fight or flight -- the limbic, which governs our emotions -- and the neocortex, control center for language and rational thinking.

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE: The one that always wins is the reptilian brain, so you know, every candidate is interested in trying to connect with the collective reptilian brain.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is the part of the brain that isn't beset by ethical considerations.

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE:The reptilian is very much into survival, instinct, reproduction. But you see, I was born and, and raised in Europe, and I chose to become an American. But there are two different ways of thinking. The European way is always everything is subtle. There are a lot of nuances. The gray color is everywhere. We're not sure of this; we're not sure of that; and we try this and-- okay. The reptilian brain is different. At the reptilian, you're not a little bit pregnant. You are pregnant or you're not pregnant. You're not a little bit dead. You're either dead or not dead. And some people, when we live in a world of a lot of confusion, they want to be re-assured; they want to be re-connected with the reptilian. Senator Kerry might be a very intelligent guy, and I'm sure he is, very full of nuance and understanding all the different subtlety of everything. I am not sure this is what America needs right now. You know--

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So what would you tell Kerry to do?


BROOKE GLADSTONE: Buy a ranch. Okay.

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE: A pickup truck. I'd put a gun on the back, and a six-pack of beer and go speak with real people in Middle West.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:But the suggestions you just had for Kerry to improve his image with the American voters is to turn himself into George W. Bush. I mean right now the country is divided almost exactly in half. Why should he turn into Bush?

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE: No, no - I don't want him to turn into Bush. I think that the both candidates should be connected with the reptilian, and, and right now maybe Bush is more reptilian because he is less cortex. And this is clear.


CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE:But Americans don't like intellectuals. We're afraid of intellectual people. To think too much is dangerous. We want people to have the gut feeling about what I need. If I had the possibility to give an advice to Senator Kerry, I would say he has to really learn to give simple answers to simple questions. He has to stick with one or two words -- not 25, not 35 - because you lose people very quickly.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:The New Yorker recently observed that Kerry has suddenly stopped speaking to French reporters in their native language. Is he merely shedding his associations with France here, or does the fact that he's no longer speaking French suggest that being educated is somehow a turnoff.

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE: For some people absolutely. You know, I want my mother to have a gut feeling about when she's going to take me to the hospital or not. It doesn't matter how many books she read. You know, it's okay, when you're a good reptilian person. Then you have the limbic and the cortic - it's fine. But when you are cortex and there is a risk that you are only cortex, that's what people really resent.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So we're on to something here: Clinton appealed both to the reptilian and to the cortex.

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE:Absolutely. I mean he was always reptilian. His, his saga, his story was fantastic. Always a girl under the table. He was a genius in providing material to all the comedians of the nation.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:Is packaging a candidate to sell to the American people the same as, say, package the Hummer? Are you going for the same basic thing?

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE: Well, knowing the power of a brand and the, the connection we have with these brands is, is powerful. A candidate is a brand, and a candidate should know what he stands for. For example, when you say Volvo, you say safety. This is one word. Okay? When you say Kerry -- what do you say? Kerry need to do a better job in defining who he is, because so far, the Bush campaign is trying to labelize John Kerry as flip-flop. Well this is not a good brand. It's like if a car maker was labeling his competitors "rollover," and so immediately when you see a Range Rover, you say oh, rollover - this car is not safe.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: If the candidates -- now I'm going to sound a little like Barbara Walters, [LAUGHTER] but if you were to assign car makes to candidates, would Bush be the Hummer?


BROOKE GLADSTONE: And what would Kerry be?


BROOKE GLADSTONE: Clotaire Rapaille, thank you very much.

CLOTAIRE RAPAILLE: My pleasure. Always a pleasure to be with you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:Clotaire Rapaille is a medical anthropologist and author of the new book, Archetyping the Presidency, which hits store shelves this summer.


Take a look inside his world.

There's also a bunch of good stuff at his very un-trendy, nay, quite horrid looking corporate site (