Cognitive Dissidents discussion

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Cognitively Dissenting

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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian | 16 comments Just want to log in as a member. Perhaps I am a cognitive dis-indent. I feel more like a cog-initiative (pounded into) disinterest. The logo looks good. I would say it works for now. Do the moderators have to be moderates or perhaps just irate mods? Anyway, are there any particular topics for us wayward CD's?


message 2: by tENTATIVELY, (new)

tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE (tentativelyaconvenience) | 120 comments Mod
In a comment posted in a thread of comments re Brian's review of Jacques Ellul's bk "Propaganda", Brian suggested moving our back-&-forth commentary (re this bk & beyond) onto this group's topics & I agreed. It's very appropriate & shd get things rolling (& tumbling). Here's the url for that review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... - I provide it here in case YOU, dear reader, want to see what exciting world of critical thinking we're in the midst of. ALSO, Brian, & others, if you want to understand what the image used here as the Cognitive Dissidents Emblem 'means', see my 2nd posting under the "hors-fond" topic.


message 3: by tENTATIVELY, (new)

tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE (tentativelyaconvenience) | 120 comments Mod
Back to Ellul & "Propaganda" again: I was thinking that the description of people w/ higher degree exposure to media as being more immersed & effected by propaganda is something that I'd like to qualify my take on. Chomsky, of course, uses the term "Manufacturing Consent" to describe (& please excuse me if I paraphrase badly) the way that conformity to ruling class interests are reinforced. What I'm thinking about here is "Manufacturing Consensus Reality" wch seems like a possible way to describe how propaganda works amongst the folks w/ higher-level exposure alluded to earlier. By this I mean that the consensus reality is not necessarily against the interests of the people being inculcated w/ it but is more likely a "consensus" (whether conscious or not) that endorses self-serving behaviors. This may be contrary to Ellul's take on things (wch I'm sure is far more developed than my own!) but it's what I was thinking about as I took a bath (out for a walk) a little while ago - so I thought I'd share it w/ you.


message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian | 16 comments Sorry, I've been laid out with the flu. Nothing like a good fever to get the mental juices flowing! I think you are quite right with your thoughts about "Manufacturing Consensus Reality" and this is largely what Ellul talks about, if I recall correctly. He does, however, define a number of kinds of propaganda, but I do remember his basic assertion that the crude notion of it does not hold - that it is designed to incite people to action. It has taken different forms in different cultures but in the U.S. it has functioned largely to make people feel included. It helps to integrate people into the society so that they feel that they belong. This has been necessitated by the massification and atomization of the human being in modern (industrial and post-industrial)societies. That is why propaganda arose as a necessary extension of the systems in question. Ellul claims it more or less has to happen given the conditions under which we live.

To connect this to your comments, I would say that what you propose is exactly how it is done. The consensus reality is created via the mediation of our experiences by the images and pseudo-experiences produced (and ultimately sold) to us. And, yes, endorsing self-serving behaviors that tend to integrate us into some imaginary state of "belonging" with one or another group is a primary means, it seems to me. No one is told, "you must believe this or that" (at least not directly), but rather a sense of well-being is engendered when one's behavior conforms in some sense to one or another image-sets. This, of course, happens on a very emotional level, I am convinced. That is why such simple images and themes work so effectively - they manipulate us emotionally on a level we are usually not aware of. And the end result, as you say, is a serious set of constraints on what we perceive as "reality" or "normal" or even "possible" - a consensus reality.

A good, though crude, example is a Coke add I remember from the 80's. Several Coke products were listed (whatever other horrible sodas they make) and the words "Freedom of Choice". So people feel as though they are actively determining what they want when they buy this or that soda. And even in the totally irrelevant world of sodas, there used to be many locally produced ones by small companies, so that there was at least some real local variation. But as our choices become fewer and fewer we must be convinced that we all want what is on offer. I agree with you that this operates on a much deeper and more important level than stupid products - our actual sense of what is and is not possible (or even real). It is as though less and less is actually possible even though we are inundated with seemingly endless possibilities, which are, in fact, more of the same. UNLESS, of course, one decides to step outside these constraints, but this is often no easy task (personally and socially) and is perhaps the topic of another discussion.

I kind of see Chomsky's take on things as a subset of this more general phenomenon. He focuses on the particular application to the political sphere, though this would not be possible without the backdrop of the more general notion of propaganda. He does mention control and shaping of information so that the discourse is constrained within certain narrow limits. I think this is the spirit of what Ellul elucidates. And back to the original topic - that of more exposure creating more control - this follows from living within these constraints so thoroughly that we don't recognize them. I am always struck by what is left out of mainstream media. The same stupid, unquestioned assumptions are used as the groundwork to manipulate us towards feeling some way or another, but ultimately that we are active agents making our own choices.


message 5: by Brian (new)

Brian | 16 comments Hey, any other of the 21 or so members care to join in? Not that I have any problem blathering on at length, but perhaps I am full of shit or off the mark or have missed some important aspect of this topic. This general topic of consensus reality is more general and need not reference the book, for those who have not read it. We just thought it would be a jumping off point for a discussion of related topics.


message 6: by tENTATIVELY, (new)

tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE (tentativelyaconvenience) | 120 comments Mod
It's interesting that you'd bring up the Coke ad biz. 3 relevant things: The great Yugoslavian (I don't know what he'd be now) filmmaker Dusan Makavejev made a movie called "The Coca-Cola Kid" in 1985. It seems like a light-hearted comedy on one level but it's basically an anti-imperialist movie about the destruction of cola competition in Australia by an American Coca-Cola rep. THEN, in 1986, a bk came out published by Random House called "The Real Coke, The Real Story". I have a copy of this but I haven't read it. It appears to be a puff piece for Coke! AN ENTIRE FUCKING BK FROM A MAJOR PUBLISHER. I SHIT YOU NOT. Random House must've been desperate. Finally, I was a participant in the 2006 Olympia Film Festival & they showed some Negativland stuff re Coke vs Pepsi (or something like that) that was a pretty wry look at this "freedom of choice".


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