Unit IV LIVENESS
Several students requested questions that might help with the readings, so here they are:
Please remember that the McLuhan interview in Playboy is online: http://www.mcluhanmedia.com/m_mcl_inter_pb_01.html. Print it out for easier reading.
The basic questions for this set of readings are:
What is the role of liveness in theorizing performance?
What is the role of media in theorizing liveness?
What follows are more specific questions to help you focus on key ideas, issues, and arguments in the reading. Some of the questions might help you focus your written response to the reading.
What is at stake in insisting that "performance's only life is in the present"? How does Phelan develop this idea in relation to the "the real," which she identifies with "the presence of living bodies"?
What does Phelan mean by "performative quality of all seeing"? Where, in Calle's work, does she locate "performance" and what is it about Calle's work that is "performative"?
While no one would mistake the document for the event, how would you propose we think about their relationship to one another? Consider your efforts this semester to write about live performance (Henson festival, toy theatre, Halloween). Consider your efforts this semester to work with historical sources. In other words, what are the methodological implications of the statement that "performance's only life is in the present"? What does Phelan propose? What do you propose?
What does Phelan mean by "performative writing"? In what ways does she enact (or not enact) what she means by performative writing in her own accounts of various performances in this article?
What's at stake when Auslander insists that we not take the binary of "live" and "mediatized" for granted? How does Auslander "exploit" and "deconstruct" this opposition?
What is Auslander's objection to Phelan's notion of "the ontology of performance"? Look carefully at Auslander's restatement of Phelan's argument (p. 40). And, at his own statement, on p. 51: "I am not proposing , however, that live performance and mediatization partake of a shared ontology." What does he mean and where does he go? Track his argument carefully. Read page 7 very carefully and be prepared to discuss the argument in the second paragraph in light of the entire reading.
What does he mean by the statement, following Jameson, that live performance is another medium in a mediatic system? What does he mean when he says that "performance can even function as a mass medium"? If "live and mediatized performance ... belong...to the same mediatic system" and if "live forms have become mediatized," what distinction is Auslander making when he refers to "live and mediated performance" or to "the incursion of mediatization into the live event" or to "the entire spectrum of performance genres"?
What is the relationship between their choice of sites to analyse and their arguments: Phelan (performance art) / Auslander (theatre in particular, "live performance" in general, and "as a general category, "mixed media")? Might Phelan's argument have looked different if she had focussed on rock music and courtrooms, rather than on performance art? And, vice versa: would Auslander's argument have looked different if his primary site had been performance art, rather than theatre, "live performance" (as a general category)?
For McLuhan: http://www.mcluhanmedia.com/m_mcl_inter_pb_01.html
McLuhan was born in 1911. The interview was in 1969. Television arrived on the scene when he was an adult. It would have been as novel to him as the Internet to your parents (I am assuming that many of you grew up with computers). Keep the sixties in mind as you read his comments.
How does McLuhan define media? He says it is broad enough to include clothing and computers. What does he mean? One of the most interesting aspects of McLuhan's theories is his concept of media as an extension of the body and the senses. Explain how he theorizes media in relation to the body and the senses? What are the implications of McLuhan's broad notion of media for thinking about "liveness"?
What do you make of McLuhan's assertion that television is primarily a tactile rather than visual medium? What is he getting at when he distinguishes hot and cool media?
What does McLuhan mean by his famous statement, "The medium is the message"?
How does McLuhan's definition of media relate to Auslander's definition (keep in mind where Auslander is coming from--identify the concepts Auslander takes from Baudrillard and look at where Auslander goes with them)?
What is McLuhan's historical argument? What is the role of the "tribal" in McLuhan's theory of media? And, of "retribalization, " the "new tribal society," and the "global village"? Given that some of his comments will be offensive, is there anything of redeeming value here?
What does Morse mean by "the news as performance"? What does Morse mean by the "performative use of television"? (p. 55)
What are the implications of her notion of the "image as event" for thinking about "liveness"? Relate her notion of livness (p. 49) to the ways that Phelan and Auslander define liveness.
A keyword for Morse is "event." What does she mean by event and how does "event" figure in her argument? Look at her various uses of the term.
Look at how Morse uses the term "real"? And, specifically, what is the role of "real-time" in her argument?
Auslander says he will be looking at older media (movies, t.v., recordings) and not digital media. Morse comes forward. How does she see television in relation to new media?