Towards a sociology of living death

Zombieism is not so much a state of being as a set of practices and cultural scripts. It is not that one is a zombie but that one does being a zombie such that zombieism is created and enacted through interaction. Even if one is “objectively” a mindless animated corpse, one cannot really be said to be fulfilling one’s cultural role as a zombie unless one shuffles across the landscape in search of brains.

Gabriel Rossman – Towards a sociology of living death

The past’s power comes from experience…

The past’s power comes from experience, the lessons it dares us to dismiss on the grounds that maybe things will be different this time. The future’s power is born of experiment, and the endless grudge match between fear and hope.

Time Magazine – What College Students Don’t Know

Das Deutsch der Geschlechter – Niklas Luhmann

[W]ie immer bei Politik ist die Bürokratie das Instrument, mit dem das Desiderat zur Ausführung – und zum Entgleisen gebracht werden kann.

Niklas Luhmann – Das Deutsch der Geschlechter

Fußball – soziales Band der spätmodernen Gesellschaft?

Mit dem Fußball ist deshalb die Frage verbunden, ob nicht er es sei, der die in Lebensstile und Szenen auseinanderstrebende spätmoderne Gesellschaft zusammenhalte?

Jochen Bonz – Fußball – soziales Band der spätmodernen Gesellschaft? Beobachtungen an zwei Habitus der Fußballbegeisterung.

‚Inside of a Dog – What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,‘ by Alexandra Horowitz

Dogs, it seems, are Aristotelians, but with their own doggy teleology. Their goals are not only radically different from ours; they are often invisible to us. To get a better view, Horowitz proposes that we humans get down intellectually on all fours and start sniffing.

Cathleen Schine – Inside of a Dog – What Dogs See, Smell, and Know

Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

Lucha libre is thus constructed around the public secret of the fixed ending. Yet the secret of the fixed ending is only one of a number of back secrets, of stories told and stories hidden, of secrets revealed to conceal still others. The secrecy of the fix stands for a series of dissimulations, for the mystery that animates the genre.

Heather Levi – The World of Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

„Why So Socialist?“: Unmasking the Joker

[T]here’s a very real chance that the Obama/Joker image is in itself meaningless. This is not to say, however, that the context is meaningless, or that the image is worthless. Quite the contrary, in fact – just because we can’t affix objective meaning to a given cultural artifact doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn.

Whitney Phillips – Unmasking the Joker

[E]very story of adventure is in part the story of a landscape…

[E]very story of adventure is in part the story of a landscape, of the interrelationship between human beings […] and topography. Every adventure story is conceivable only with reference to the particular set of geographical features that in each case sets the course, literally, of the tale.

Michael Chabon – The Wilderness of Childhood

Meetings and Organizational Structure

While all meetings have an officially scripted agenda, their tacit agenda is power. Meetings establish who is in charge. When someone calls a meeting, he or she is asserting authority over those who are called on to attend. Meetings are exclusive and closed. In most corporations, who gets invited to a meeting—and who does not—sends a signal about who’s „in the loop“. Meetings are a form of social grooming inside organizations. Meetings impose vertical authority. They establish status hierarchies. […] When power is diffused and distributed more democratically, meetings are no longer necessary. But corporations are not democracies.

Matthew Fraser – Enterprise 2.0: Wiki While You Work

Ian Bogost – Media Studies and Realism

[T]he horizontal symmetry apparent in many Atari VCS games could be attributed to trends in the history of art or as a reference to the bilateral symmetry native to earthly animals. But such a response would fail to take into account the fact that the production of symmetry on the device is a convenience afforded by its hardware design, which provides memory-mapped registers capable of storing 20 bits of data for a screen-worth of low-res background graphics 40 bits wide. Doubling or mirroring the left half of the screen involves a single assembly instruction that flips a bit on another register. That convenience was further inspired by the way people conceived of videogames at the time. In this case, the relationship between design, material constraing, and individual expression is complex, irreducible to appeals to any one factor alone. The 20 bits of storage in registers PF0, PF1, and PF2 do not determine the aesthetics of a game like Combat, nor are they simple constructions of social practices.

Ian Bogost – Media Studies and Realism.