The Naming of Chaos

This is the podcast for the documentary film in progress, Indelible, for the week of July 4, 2016.

Carl L. Harp believed in chaos, but what did that mean? How Harp’s unwillingness to fit within named groups was seen as dangerous to those with the authority to name.

Chaos can take many forms. It may be an unexpected storm in the middle of the sea. Or a riot in Paris. But in our familiar society it is that which is feared; that which exists outside of the restraints of order; the order which is desired and maintained through various systems of social control. One might be controlled through fear as the sociopath knows. One might be controlled through hunger, as the tyrant knows. Or one might be controlled through physical discomfort as the torturer knows.

Our communication systems have also brought us other methods of control.

The media brings us streams of images and words bundled into cohesive forms. These forms are like a modern day hieroglyph. Where a simple iconic symbol might carry with it to the reader, a complex narrative.

Before social media and streaming video these word clusters traveled to us more slowly. In order to encounter the stream we had to turn on the TV set, the receiver—which after a while allowed us to receive the stream. It was a clumsy stream where advertisements were still silly skits. And after our time for viewing was over, we turned the stream off. And the house was silent once more.

There were also other streams: the lyrics in music were introduced through transmissions from radio stations, then made personal through recordings on objects, which you purchased, slowly, as your budget would allow. Other word clusters came through newspaper or magazine headlines, which you encountered once a day, at most. But the media of today is much more present in its immediacy. And it is always attached to us through our ubiquitous computing devices, like smart phones and tablets. The empty time between word clusters and wordless communication is much smaller.


Leave a Reply