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fig.37—ovoviviparous Hommelette seeks Magdeburg­ Sphere

 ‘Some may suppose’ that Your Humble Narrator’s status as a proverbial straight white male subject disqualifies him in advance; others would be less generous. In any case, we can either abandon the feminist critique of male subjectivity to the caricatures of a Marylyn French (“All men are rapists ... they rape us with their eyes, their laws, their codes”), or we can confront the complaints lodged by a Simone de Beauvoir (“Man today represents the positive and the neutral, whereas woman is only the negative, the female”) and take up the challenges of a Luce Irigaray (“One must assume the feminine role deliberately, which means already to convert a form of subordination into an affirmation, and thus to thwart it”). The latter provides a paradigmatic list of dissymmetries, but can we suppose they uniformly favor the male subject? This would grant unilateral powers in excess of his capacity (if within the scope of his desire); as fig.37 shows, mere lexical substitution can precipitate inversion—for is the spectator not by definition passive?

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fig.38—show and tell, or, the old phantasmagoric peepshow

 The ‘narrative space’ of an image is not one actual bound volume, but a virtually unbound range of phantasmatic potential, as evoked (actualized in the subject by the event of brand encounter) by force of cultural memory shared by a given consumer basea well of phantasmic imagery drawn from mythology to MTV, from The Tempest to Twitter. In the case of the A|X ‘lifestyle brand’ the space in which its story unfolds is more ‘mimetic’ than ‘diegetic’—minus the jargon, more show than tell. Generically, mimesis works towards imaginary ends by imitative means, while diegesis works towards symbolic ends by prescriptive means. Lifestyle brands are built on mimetic identification (not ‘memetic’ replication)—that is, their ‘value proposition’ cannot be articulated in words (as can that of, say, car insurance) but must be (literally and figuratively) embodied by stand­-ins, alter-egos, semblables—in practice, this simply means pictures of people who viewers want to be with or to become, embedded in scenarios that reflect his or her phantasy.

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