A&SM#4.5 Special Guest and Panel Four

17th July 2020

Yesterday A&SM#4.5 had 994 views

Good morning all, we’re back with more amazing contributions.

Before the panels start, we have a special guest appearance by Plastique Fantastique Communique!

Stories Spread Just Like A Virus

Thanks to David Burrows and Simon O’Sullivan

Panel Performances Four


Viral Media 1


Alberto Micali (John Cabot University, Italy)Dining Out with COVID-19: (Biopolitical) Control and Lock-down Aesthetics, or Why Media Studies Neglect to Face the Crisis of Representation 

Click on image below to read Alberto’s essay…


The spread of COVID-19 has led to an intensification of security measures. Whilst these public health actions to contain contagion seem to recall modern mechanisms of discipline, their escalation and fragmented nature have only confirmed the ruling centrality of the power diagram of control. Indeed, as happened in the case of Italy, the neo-liberalist paradigm maintained the superiority of its primary interest in the freedom of economic domination over bare life and care. Within such a frame, the social imaginary has been schizophrenically overwhelmed, polarising it around both catastrophic and hopeful scenarios. In our encounters with the virus, difference is the rule, but the plane of such encounters is materialist in its transversality. Hence, the aesthetic field provides a privileged position from which to understand its inherent relationality, by precisely acting on individual and collective figurations.

Drawing from the materialist critique and the current crisis of representation in media and cultural studies, I first argue that universal contagion is a material encounter of subjective production. Contrary to the assumptions sustaining the recent discovery of mirror neurons, I maintain that imitation does not follow linear resemblance. Rather, the intensive formation of subjects and unconscious triggering of social responses is activated via the diffractive patterns of contagion. Second, I contend that (biopolitical) control affectively operates within the securitisation paradigm, straining to maintain its destructive functionality by intensively enacting an imaginary that is incapable of facing the eco-systemic, capitalocene-centric nature of our dinners out with COVID-19.

Judith Fathallah (Solent University, UK): Is the meme blank parody? Or, postmodern flatness and the problem of meaning in corona memes

Click on the image below to hear Judith’s presentation


Millennial humour as epitomized in meme formats is often characterized by surreal randomness, and the juxtaposition of signifiers with no apparent connection or meaning. Whilst there are obvious continuities with surrealism, postmodernism and indeed modernism itself, the rapid viral spread of memes today might seem to produce an attitude of indifferent laughter or indeed total lack of affect concerning contemporary tragedies. Memes concerning the coronavirus have brought this phenomenon into sharp relief. This paper questions what it is about meme formats that create this sense of Jameson’s pastiche as blank parody, or depoliticized lack of affect, whether it is related to the meme format or content  or the context of meme production and distribution. I go on to consider whether we can understand it in the same tradition as the modernist rejection of grand narratives in the wake of two catastrophic wars, or whether the concept of metamodernism can better adapt these ideas to contemporary culture.

Jacquelene Drinkall (Artist):  The telepathy aesthetics of viral culture


Click to access drinkall_essay.pdf


Cybernetic and post structuralist theories of linguistics have considered the alphabet to be a cultural plague and cognitive virus. Alphabetic consciousness is inherently telepathic and viral, and emerged alongside agrarian, debt and literary cultures 5 000 years ago. My paper looks at the intersection of viral culture with telepathic culture of crowds as understood by Gabriel Tarde and theorists of affective contagion. Further, evidence of telepathic virality is found within science fiction and even within science itself. For example, the Marvel character Black Swan invents a telepathy virus, and telepathy viruses are a recurring motif within science fiction. Within medical science, the Telepath™ Ltd brand is closely associated with the tracking of microbiological infections, zoonotic transfer events, and data of virus patients. Medical data is literally entered into Telepath databases. Further, within medical and microbiological terminology, telepathology is the usual everyday method for diagnosing disease at a distance using digital technology. Endovascular surgeons and technologists are working to intervene in the high incidence of strokes within Covid19 patients using a variety of telepathic and telepathological techniques. The interventional neurosurgeon, stroke expert and tech entrepreneur Thomas Oxley recently developed an intracranial telepathic Brain Computer Interface for his interventional neurology. However, science generally prefers terms such as prediction, pre-emption and affect transfer instead of the word telepathy. The organisation called ‘Predict Ecohealth’ attempts to pre-empt future pandemics by data mapping the impact of capitalist exploitation of nature to viral mutation within wildlife.

Jernej Markelj (Cardiff University, UK): The Oedipal Bacillus: Fascism and Contagion 

Click to access jernej_markelj_oedipal_bacillus.pdf

This paper engages with Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus to develop a theory of contagious fascism. Instead of seeing it as a historical phenomenon, like Hitler’s Nazism, Deleuze and Guattari understand fascism as a libidinal tendency, an inclination of the unconscious forces, which manifests itself in our smallest gestures, and is operative throughout our daily lives. For them, these fascist tendencies are expressed as an effort to order the world in a particular way, and to maintain, fixate and police the physical and conceptual boarders established by this organisation. Due to the disruptive forces of globalisation, Deleuze and Guattari see such paranoid policing as escalating under capitalism. Moreover, they point to the contagious nature of fascism. Fascist inclinations are, in their view, ‘fascisizing’: they spread out and engender the same kind of affective tendencies in others. While Deleuze and Guattari regularly allude to this viral quality of fascist affectivity, they never fully substantiate its logic. In my paper I draw on a variety of supporting texts and thinkers to explicate the contagious operations of fascist tendencies. I begin by mapping Deleuze and Guattari’s macro-vision of our social organisation and outline its two primary fascisizing vectors: the capitalist economy and the family unit. To theorise the transmission of fascist tendencies on the individual level, I then examine Freudian psychoanalytic practice and Nietzsche’s conceptualisation of the rise of herd morality. I show that in both cases the fascist tendencies spread by means of the fortification of ego, which has internalised the unconscious forces in terms of representation, and seeks to persist in its identity.

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