Posts Tagged ‘Space’

American Factory

February 15, 2020

The Oscar winning documentary, American Factory, will be screened this coming Thursday eve, 2-20-20, at the USWA Local 244 Union Hall, 350 Hudson Avenue, Newark Ohio. It begins at 7 PM with an open group conversation to follow its airing. This is the February feature for the Third Thursday Film series sponsored by The Freedom School In Licking County. When informed of such group gatherings to watch a flick, the knee jerk response usually runs something like: “I can get that on Netflix. I’ll be sure to watch it.” Analysis determines this pretty much misses the point. In the first half of the 20thcentury a Russian literary critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, introduced the idea of a dialogic reading or viewing. For Bakhtin, when a work or text is considered by more than one individual, a richer, fuller, more complete sense of the work is available to those assessing it. Simply put, an individual person can’t see the back of their own head. But they can see the back of their friend’s head. Together, in conversation, the two can arrive at a richer and fuller understanding of each other’s makeup, which is incomplete when assessed individually. The same can be said for watching a film or reading a book. Dialogical consideration enhances the understanding by filling in the blind spots. Along with countless others, Newark News Analysis has written of the demise of the commons, and the detrimental impact it has made on social interaction in America. The pre-industrial age commons was an open space available to area residents for leisure, congregating, gathering, celebrating, play, etc. The voracious need for workers and consumers by the captains of industry exorcised the state sanction of the commons, essentially eliminating them entirely. Vestiges of this space for communal (common) interaction can be found with neighborhood parks and some city squares. These of course are subject to regulations, hours of admission and limits to interactions (permits). Netflix could be considered as antithetical to the space of the commons. Along with the demise of the commons was the fall of festival, the communal gathering of play, usually located in the space of the commons. Comparisons of play designated within the communal space of contemporary parks and the play found within the notion of festival would be akin to comparing New Orleans Mardi Gras and the NFL or MLB. True, there is a sort of competitiveness found between the tribes or the crews sponsoring individual lines or parades. But this is not the designated and deliberate (specific) competitiveness incorporated within the layout of most parks (individual or group sports). Improving one’s individual jogging time or winning the league tournament is not the stuff of festival. Both bring people together for play but the time and ends of festival differ from that of competitive play. Mardi Gras has no beginning though it does end. Parks have designated times when they can be accessed. The play of competitive sports is predetermined, hence some are better at it than others (some play while others can only spectate). The play of festival is all inclusive and enhanced by diversity. Competitive play results in active participants (players) and passive spectators (fans). Festival play is one of open participation. Festival participants make their play while most competitive sports spectators have it made for them (are not players). Watching American Factory individually on Netflix, with personal phone distractions and preoccupations (multi tasking) is not the same as attending a common space viewing with an active conversation afterwards. Festival makes for a dialogic understanding (celebration) by virtue of its all inclusive and diverse participation. Individual Netflix perusal is incomplete. The blind spots are never even noticed.


Tiberi’s Teleconference Town Hall

March 21, 2017

Place or space, this is a topic of discussion for many academics and those inclined to the abstract. That discussion itself forms a space (where the topic is discussed). You remember “Space, the final frontier”, in Star Trek, where each week a different topic was broached? And who could forget “MySpace”? The ancient Scandinavians, as well as other northern Europeans, had what they called a “Ding” (thing). The “Ding” was a gathering place where people all came together to decide what is of concern to the group, needed to be named and treated as such, and what is not (in today’s language, what is an issue and what is not, and what to call it – “Leak”, “Alternative Facts”, Trumpcare”, etc.). An etymological vestige of this can be found with a word like “fireplace.” Think giant rock concert without a band or stage (among the rocks!). The naming and deciding were determined at a place, though the gathering as well as the place was referred to as a “Ding”. Independence Hall is a place where representatives of various American colonialists came together and formed a “Ding” that determined what mattered and what didn’t, and what to call it (since this was pre memory chip, they even put down some of what they named in writing, the better to remember the thing). So is a town hall a place? Is a town hall meeting a “Ding”? Ohio’s 12th congressional district representative obviously doesn’t think so. He equates town hall with robo calls by the NRA, boiler room “charitable” solicitations by Bears In The Air, and all the other myriad of menu driven, voice interactive phone and internet connected device conversations (real or imagined). Even the health care providers have gotten in on it, calling their policy holders to remind them they haven’t been getting sick enough! Analysis can almost imagine a late night stand up doing a monologue of Representative Tiberi reclining in his Lazy Boy, eating wings and quaffing a cold one, barefoot in his Crocs while wearing a bath robe (with a monogrammed T just like the president’s), watching old Chuck Norris movies with the sound turned down while conducting one of his teleconference town halls and reaching for a napkin to wipe the zesty ranch dribble; multi tasking at its finest! And why not? After all, communication devices provide a space for folks to comment or vent, located no place. Pre-screening is de rigueur for max constituent convenience and legislative efficiency, all of which can be easily programmed! Analysis likens Representative Tiberi to a long haul truck driver who is constantly on the phone with his wife and kids to stay in touch whenever he can. Ask him and he will tell you that this insures a wonderful relation with his family (as long as he stays on the road away from home). But he loves and cares and provides for the wife and kids! It’s just better for everyone that he not find himself in that place called “home.”