Eating hot soup in my Taipei room at 5am, aircon and airlines contrived to make this visit feel like a crash landing, but the paper went well – I think, and I’m told – even if Andrew Strathern’s response spun off into the anthropological-inevitable, ritual, Victor Turner, Rene Girard, Gregory Bateson and other similarly bongo bongo themes (I was talking about machines, war and education, but it was at an anthropology conference – I will post a link to the paper soon). Yet there was a good discussion – Andrew’s small aside chastising me for saying indexicality was finally broken by CGI (= Computer Generated Imaging for orthodox anthros who should get out more) was perhaps the most interesting part of the response and generated some hostile comments from the floor. He’d missed the point that I reported this as someone else’s view – but it was fun to argue that indexicality was always broken, always subject to question for its partiality, metaphoricity (see Miller – The Reason of Politics) and that I’d like him (Andrew) to explain to me why translation wasn’t a more relevant word here. Yes, we got that obscure. But I was talking about education, sort of like here, but also something like what is well done by IT here. Examining the cost of fluctuations of the economic cycle upon our practices in the teaching factory/sausage factory is perhaps a good way to find resonant and relevant explanations of what is going on. We can say this to students in ways that might have more ‘purchase’ than abstract News-reporter chatter about bail-outs, bank rates and house-prices. Trickle, Crash and Crisis are in the end quite empty – not indexical – metaphors for the economic ‘downturn’ and the inevitable squeeze on those not resource-able enough to resist the vampire sucking, body-stealing, asset stripping zombie stomp of capital eating its young in order to survive. See the crisis bite next time you are asked by the vice-chancellor to tighten your belt – Ho Chi Minh was told something similar by Mao when he had asked for help from China during the war. Tighten your belts, Mao said. Send us belts, Uncle Ho replied.
The pic is from the WLA – a prize for working out what that has to do with the index.