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Friday, October 14, 2011

Finding Mem(e)o

While the Occupy Wall Street Movements have been very successful at using innovative new cyber campaigning efforts, I think the image above illustrates part of why I reserve a certain degree of cynical distance toward the movement. Nonetheless, I am still hopeful that another world is possible, indeed, another world is here.

Antonio from Mediacology has an interesting new post about the resilience of the Occupy Wall Street movements. Although large media syndicates have barraged publics with accusations that the movements is a bunch of rabble rousing, mobs engaged in class warfare masquerading as social justice.  Antonio describes the complex and uncertain effects of the circulation of memes;

A meme works when it taps into a zeitgeist. It’s a flame that ignites, but doesn’t necessarily replicate exactly in the same form every time. It’s like an utterance that echoes and reverberates through resonance. It doesn’t exist as a thing but as part of an ongoing conversation. Few need a college degree to apprehend the depth of catastrophe the current economic model has become. By establishing contact zones with the awareness that something needs to be done, these occupations become apertures for an emergent reality that contests the delusional dreamworld propagated by the corporate media.
Memes exist at the intersection of several thresholds. They are not simply quotes, utterances of discourse, images or emotions alone in themselves. They bring an affective force that previously existed below the level of visibility to the surface. Almost ex nihilo they erupt and make manifest the collective sentiment and valence of a specific cultural phenomena.

Yes both the left and the right can offer analyses and provide figures explaining the crisis away. They likewise can both demonize and caricature public figures across the aisle. But neither of them can tap into that deep affective force without the spontaneous convergence of cognitive content, image and affect that is synthesized in the meme. While memes are often of comedic content, their truth value inevitably bleeds through and drives their circulation if they are to be of any force at all.

So how exactly has the movement sustained itself despite the vitriol of claims otherwise? Or the constant feedback loops of Herman Cain proclaiming the protests are the result of those conspiring to keep Obama elected.

One thing I can agree with Newt Gingrich on is that these protests are the result of a bad education system producing dumb ideas. The recent Texas Education Reform debacle probably proves that when you exclude the histories of struggle, such as Cezar Chavez, the Gay Rights Movement, and the like, and replace them with unquestioned theological foundations for American Exceptionalism people are dumbfounded when events like the 2008 economic collapse occur. 

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