Representation

            Come the week end, The Newark Advocate usually runs an editorial entitled “Pluses and Minuses”. This week’s made no mention of the Advocate’s parent company’s decision to terminate its Newark printing facility, eliminating 74 jobs. With any other business doing likewise, that company’s actions would have appeared under the minus category. By eliding the matter entirely, indeed eliminating it from the radar immediate upon announcement, The Newark Advocate was able to continue representing itself positively. Preferred parenting emphasizes always smiling to the infant child. By the time we are adults, we knee jerk associate good things, “everything must be alright,” with representations of a smiling face. Walmart’s smiley faces, like The Advocate’s “Pluses”, sell.

 

            Kelly Kohls, the Ohio School Boards Leadership Council president, was in the news this week (Speaker argues against Common Core education standards, Mar. 6, 2014, Hannah Sparling, The Newark Advocate — “The council is a volunteer organization that bills itself as the “conservative alternative to understanding education funding, spending and legislative reform,” according to its website. It is not affiliated with the Ohio Department of Education, the State Board of Education or the Ohio School Boards Association.”). She is quoted as expressing her concern “We need to explain to people and wake them up…” “We need to fix this.” “It’s to take back education.” She makes no bones about her dislike of education policies involving many things, including Common Core standards. Representing herself and her position through the “need to fix”, ”wake up” or “take back” assumes that something is broken (is it?), that someone is asleep (are they?), and that something has been removed (has it?). The great communicator, Ronald Reagan, represented the former Soviet Union as “the evil empire” tacitly establishing the assumption that we are the good empire (and thus can do no wrong). This past week’s CPAC conference in Maryland trotted out more Kelly Kohl than Ronald Reagan. Rick Perry solemnly pronounced that America needs to return to greatness. Rand Paul also wants to go “back to greatness”, while Mike Huckabee promotes a return to family values. All of this is, of course, represented with a smiley face. To say that something is foul in Denmark, with a dour demeanor, simply will not sell. It says more about us, than it does about our corporate sales leaders, when we cannot even speak of things being awry without them likewise being “tastefully” packaged for selling.

 

            This week’s brouhaha with the Bowling Green township trustees’ meeting speaks to all this quite eloquently (Trustee’s meeting videos irk some officials, residents, Mar. 7, 2014, Joe Williams, The Newark Advocate). Although not Amish, many attendees of the meeting did not wish to have their representation appear on a video made of the various meetings. Video, photos, even this blog’s essays are representations. “Real time” video streaming is dreamed of much as perpetual motion machines once were aspired to. Evidence of this can be found with how many people quickly whip out their smart phones to record “real time” events. Friction did in the motion machines, time lag always does in video. It may be ever so minute, but it is always enough. The representation is what once was (historically existed), not what now is. Statistics, based on counting (mathematics), are not representations. In the news this week was that Ohio ranks second behind Texas among states in development (business start ups, etc.), likewise Ohio ranks close to last among states in terms of employment improvement (jobs created). How can this be? Think consulting firms, educational businesses, and job placement agencies coming into existence to help people “find” jobs without actually providing them. The “number” of start ups would be (and is) huge, while employment would not increase significantly at all. The relationship between numbers (very real) and representation (not real, though part of reality) is that numbers can only count what is represented. This “accounts” for much of the confusion, conflict and consternation. Whether a part of America’s lost greatness (which requires being taken back) or not, 74 people will soon need to find work elsewhere than Newark.  As part of what is real, numbers have no use for a smiley face.  

 

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