Sunday, September 25, 2016

You're (Now, Less) Guilty!

On Crowd Formation
Writing in the nineteen-twenties, Siegfried Kracauer pointed to one such spectacular crowd formation that he referred to as the mass ornament (1995). What he had in mind, in particular, was a popular style of performance that became epitomized by the Tiller Girls, a group of young women dancers who dressed and moved identically in linear formations. Kracauer was fascinated by the mass ornament as an empty form or end in itself and how it reflected the limits or irrationality of capitalist reason. He wrote:
It is the rational and empty form of the cult, devoid of any explicit meaning, that appears in the mass ornament. As such, it proves to be a relapse into mythology of an order so great that one can hardly imagine its being exceeded, a relapse which, in turn, again betrays the degree to which capitalist Ratio is closed off from reason. (1995: 84)
What is interesting in Kracauer’s reflections is that the irrationality and the empty meaninglessness of the mass ornament is derived from capitalist rationality itself. Following Weber’s critique of technocratic rationality, and anticipating Horkheimer and Adorno’s writings on the dialectic of enlightenment, Kracauer locates mythology in the spectacular fetishization of form. The mass of performers, mirrored in the mass audience, does not become irrational or dangerous due to its being swayed by emotion (which is clearly lacking in the shallow, repetitive performances) nor in the influence of a great leader (since the spectacle is multitudinous there is no central figure that rises above the crowd). It is the emphasis on form for its own sake, deprived of ends or meaning, that becomes the vehicle for destruction. The consequences of this irrational drive of capitalist reason is not property destruction and street brawls, but rather, property itself and the diffuse symbolic violence that is produced in the form of social inequality.

Today, entertainment that draws its appeal from the spectacular repetitive and abstract movement of crowds can be found on a smaller and more participatory scale in flash mob performances. In flash mobs, social networking sites are used to gather large groups who surprise bystanders by performing a repetitive action in synchrony. Alongside these gatherings that emphasize the synchronicity of movement are crowds that are satisfied with a synchronicity of presence. I include here deviations from the classic flash mob that are geared towards greater social interaction such as metro parties, silent raves, zombie walks, and the apéro géant. The last of these are huge gatherings, popular in France, in which thousands and even tens of thousands of people converge on a public park or square, sit on checkered blankets, and partake in the French late-afternoon tradition of l’aperitif (the consumption of alcohol). The apéro géants are notable in that they are conceived by participants as a competition between cities to see who can gather the most people. The drive towards scale pushes the meaning of the event away from social interaction towards the simple knowledge of an enormous co-presence.
- Cayley Sorochan, "The Common in the Crowd"
The group (The Rockettes) was founded in St. Louis by Russell Markert in 1925, originally performing as the "Missouri Rockets". Markert had been inspired by the John Tiller Girls in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922, and was convinced, "If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have longer legs and could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks... they'd knock your socks off!" The group was brought to New York City by Samuel Roxy Rothafel to perform at his Roxy Theatre and renamed the "Roxyettes". When Rothafel left the Roxy Theatre to open Radio City Music Hall, the dance troupe followed and later became known as the Rockettes. The group performed as part of opening night at Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932.[1] That same year, they performed in the first Christmas Spectacular performed at Radio City Music Hall and have performed in consecutive annual productions of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since then. Two numbers from the original production are still performed to this day.
-Wikipedia, "The Rockettes"

18 comments:

Gert said...

Breaking!

Drumpf says Earth is flat!

FES feels totally vindicated! ;-)





Oink, oink...

-FJ said...

Ah, the media is finally taking back the Narrative...!

FreeThinke said...

I first got involved with the Rockettes –– sixty-five to seventy years ago when I was a little boy. Periodic outings to Radio City Music Hall were practically de rigeur back then. It was an American Institution. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen, however, the allure had worn off, and I began to see how shallow and basically silly these gaudy stage shows really were.

The "Roxyettes" were before my time, but the Roxy Theater, which Alas! went under the wrecking ball some years ago, was the place where I saw my very first "live theater" presentation. I can still see the vocal quartet –– three men in tuxedoes, and a blonde woman in a strapless evening gown made of pale aquamarine-colored satin singing "Blue Skies smiling at me/ Nothing but bye skies will I see ..." The rest of it –– a series of Vaudeville acts and one spectacular synchronized number that had all the women dressed identically in white gowns with big hoop skirts totally encrusted with rhinestones this with headdresses to match. I remember my mother exclaiming how HEAVY those gowns must have been to wear considering all the activity singing dancers put into their routine.

This sort of thing is certainly trivial, but it was a great deal of fun –– at the time. I'd have to fight to stay awake were I confronted with material of this type today, but at LEAST it wouldn't have me running toward the exits the way an amped up Rock Concert would today.

-FJ said...

Would you ever participate in a crowd formation event? It's the opposite of a mob in that it typically supports, rather than opposes, the regime... although in Venezuela they were used to protest the regime and draw attention to the fact that the people couldn't be repressed if the authorities didn't know where/when a demonstration would break out.

FreeThinke said...

I have always done my best to avoid crowds. I would never even dream for instance of spending New Year's Eve in Times Square. I do enjoy theater, concerts of classical music, opera, ballet and such, and as a native New Yorker, naturally experienced my share of crowds. When much younger I loved to go ice skating a Rockefeller Plaza, and enjoyed city life in general, but these "flash mob" events don't particularly appeal to me.

I suppose, if I were visiting a strange European city, and a string quartet started to play in the middle of the town square sn to be joined by members of a full orchestra and chorus, I'd probably get caught up in the vent, and might even enjoy it. However, I would never deliberately seek such an experienced.

I love quiet, and enjoy solitude as much as I detest loud harsh noises and the mindless gabbling indulged in by morons.

Heaven for me would be a large, well-tended private garden where only the sound of birds twittering, leaves rustling in the breeze, and water playing in the fountains could be heard. Machinery would be non-existent. In the evenings I'd enjoy dining with small groups of very good friends, and playing chamber music in the salon after dinner. A well-stocked library with deep tufted leather chairs, large windows looking out on the garden and a fireplace for chilly evenings would provide a delightful refuge in inclement weather.

If that sounds terribly dull, I'm sorry, but that is how I'd prefer to live through eternity given the choice. ;-)

FreeThinke said...

Farmer, do you BELIEVE that tommyrot about Mr. Trump believing the earth is flat?

Even if he does, which seems unlikely, I'd rather trust a Flat Earther than anyone who believes that Marxian-Fabian-Keynesian-Communist-Socialist-Statist-Globalist theory "Properly implemented" would produce peace, prosperity and good will for all who dwell on earth.

What thinkest thou?

-FJ said...

'Tis a crock, no doubt.

-FJ said...

:)

Gert said...

Farmer, do you BELIEVE that tommyrot about Mr. Trump believing the earth is flat?

Are you that much of an imbecile you can't even see through a deliberate hoax, Stinker?

Off to Alex Jones with airheads like you... You're pathetic.

Gert said...

When Drumpf debates Clintoon everybody loses. Mostly time.

Yawn.

-FJ said...

I can honestly state that I slept very well during the debate! :)

Gert said...

I did manage to keep my eyes open but then I'm almost a pro-insomniac!

There are more of these to come, I believe. And all because the MSM have to get their two pieces of silver from the 'horse race'...

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I wonder what the debate would have been like if someone who doesn't want Hillary Clinton to be President had participated.

-FJ said...

At least they both hate Barry, but being white, isn't that statement superfluous?

Gert said...

On the Internet, the truth is whatever you want it to be.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

Race schmace. They both want to wipe their asses with the Constitution.

-FJ said...

Who needs a Constitution when you can simply issue Executive Orders based upon signing statements?

FreeThinke said...

_____ Sail On, O Ship of State ______

What the truth might be no one can find.
Hopeless is the quest on either side
Invested as they are in staying blind
To anything that points to Power denied.
Entrenched in battle lines made to endure,
Weapons drawn and ready to attack.
A motivating force that’s quite impure
Twists logic into seeing white as black.
Examining our leaders’ feet of clay
Removes us from confronting our own flaws,
While they decisive action can delay
On how to rid the Nation’s Face of yaws.
Electing pugilists who throw the fight
Scorches angels’ wings, yet sheds no light.


~ FreeThinke - The Sandpiper, Summer 1997

This sonnet was penned nineteen years ago in reference to the Clintons‘ Whitewater woes, but I see now that the basic sentiments apply to the way politics is conducted all the time. Proof once more that "The more things change, the more they remain the same.” - FT

THIS from BIEMMO PORTAPOTTI at WESTERN HERO:

"The founding fathers were wrong. Obviously, the masses are not qualified to govern themselves intelligently. The cheapest, neatest, most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. The trouble with that is the huge difficulty there would be in finding the right person to do the job. Do you know anybody who likes to be told what to do all the time? That person would be even harder harder to locate than the right kind of dictator."

FT: Shouldn't that be labeled a Classic Catch-22?