April 20, 2005
If I had a visual...
I'm trying to consider what my response would look like as a graph. What ideas would I chart? I've looked back at the margin notes, the things I highlighted, the way reading other's entries here have called to mind different segments, and I'm most intrigued by what I've left off. I'd be interested to see a graph of the things I left out because the ideas that I latched onto or gravitated toward are likely already known to me either as positions I assume or as positions I don't.
What I am most drawn to are the interrogations of ideological assumptions in Drucker's article. As I commented in Derek's entry, Drucker asserts that "the discussion of graphical knowledge sketched here does not proceed on the assumption that visual information can be grasped in any self-evident way" and "[n]o image is self-evident" (3). She points to our logocentric attitudes, and those are formulated as culturally received ideologies. We don't make sense of words because words are somehow more natural, but because we are surrounded by education about words and our education about graphics is limited to say the very best. Drucker is writing about taking us beyond learning shapes and colors to "the idea that graphical means can provide an interpretation, be used as tools in the subjective interrogation of texts or other objects" (20).
However, I, like Jen, have several questions about the limits that Drucker seems to set forth in defining this field. Jen asks whether or not this field is defining a new episteme, and I think that Henry's post alludes to this same question in a certain way. Are we actually seeing a new way of knowing or does this harken to ideas of remediation?
Also, I am wondering if the radical subjectivity that Drucker privileges is the only way to approach the concepts of graphesis. Is subjectivity an inherent part of graphesis? Is the purpose of graphesis to provide meaning or context (or both)? This question stems in part from Drucker's example of using "complex temporalities in humanities documents and research" (20). In some ways, those are the artifacts she and Nowviskie are using, and as such one might make an argument that they can be viewed as objects if our goal in the graph is to demonstrate a context into which ideas are spoken instead of parsing meanings.
Finally, I'm curious about her theoretical discussion of the act of interpretation and the creation of knowledge (18) in relation to our previous reading from Greg Urban on Metaculture. Urban's discussion of alpha, beta, and omega cultures has prompted me to wonder about the ways that Drucker describes the knowledge production through the interaction between reader and text. Take a text, let's say Barthes' The Rustle of Language. As I read this book (alpha), I am engaged in an interpretive--meaning making--act. My interpretation (beta) then becomes viable, but only in relation to the alpha. If it turns to something new (omega) then it becomes a new alpha. But if Drucker is concerned with disrupting the assumptions that come attached with alphas, this would create a headache for me. She writes, "Representations are always premised on abstract conceptual schemes--or models--that shape any individual expression within constraints and patterns of thought--even as that realization provides a crucial insight for breaking through existing habits" (20). The situation, then, shapes the expression (a la Bitzer's "The Rhetorical Situation" or Foucault's discourses). However, if that's the case, who gets to claim what meaning should be inserted once we break through? Instead, I think that graphesis could be a very productive tool that demonstrates the discourses, those culturally received ideologies, that shape situations, but I get the sense that Drucker is headed the opposite direction. So I guess my response to Jen's musings would be that it's not a new episteme in the way that we generally thing of new epistemes, as an original or authentic, but it certainly can and does shift our focus to different ways of expressing, and thus interpretting/interrogating, our ideological constructs.
Posted by trobryan at April 20, 2005 06:18 PM