Avatar Emergency Ch 13

Avatar Emergency Ch 13.m4v

Angela Moore is responsible for this page, but feel free to make edits.

Chapter OverviewEdit

In the chapter titled Wisdom, Ulmer extends the metaphor of the gyroscope to explain the process that connects Becoming to Being, a process that the title would suggest is somehow connected to the process of gaining wisdom. While explaining the connection between the gyroscope, being, and becoming, chora, fantasy, emblem, and anectdote are all discussed.

Other sections where wisdom is discussedEdit

In a previous chapter the gyroscope is used as a symbol to help explain allegory: “the formal design of the allegory is now defined: construct a gyroscope—Map the movement around a still point through which you experience awareness of jouissance polarity (attraction-repulsion),” (p.136) 

Chapter Summary: Gyroscopic FantasiesEdit

               Ulmer explains that the gyroscope is capable of symbolizing many different types of motion (and thus many different aspects of understanding). A gyroscope “shows both the dynamic structure of our hypotyposis [balance between empiricism and morality] but also its navigational function: a GPS of Being,” (p.244). He infuses this chapter with images, symbols, and avatars from his life and history, such as the sandcastle being washed away by the tide, or the sage in exile (p.245). These symbolic stories must be repeated in order for them to take a strong cultural hold. As such a repeated symbol, the sandcastle and the tide has enough cultural resonance to represent things both empirical and desire-driven about our experience. Ulmer states that “this repetition in time, constructed into an emblem, is the gyroscope,” (p.246 emphasis added).

                According to Ulmer, the only thing separating Becoming and Being is time. Time is what creates a rift between “potentiality and realization.” Time creates the gap between these two states, and chora is the described as the “interface” for the process of bridging the gap, (p.246).The moments in which this interface intersects with an “anecdote of life,” Ulmer calls moments of “insight,” (p.247). Thus, insight= the process of going from potential to real + an anecdote that allows you understand this process in your own life.

                Ulmer then begins to discuss fantasy in rather delightful terms. The flash-reasoning-avatar he uses to explain his conception of fantasy is a “quick change-outfit, an extra dimension just outside here and now,” (p.248). The idea of fantasy is closely linked to the idea of avatar; I get the impression that stepping into avatar is akin to stepping into fantasy. Ulmer claims that one’s capacity to fantasize is equivalent to one’s capacity “to be affected,” (p.249), thus further exploring how avatar and pathos are intertwined.

Avatar (the fantasy self, existing outside of here and now) “counsels” the interface between being and becoming, but Ulmer states that this counsel cannot be received unless an emblem, or icon is constructed, (p.249).  Just as the avatar can provide counsel to the interface, the gyroscope can provide rebalancing or updating, which brings us back to the center:

'“The gyroscope updates chora' (p.257)

For a gyroscope to function and continue to update chora (the interface), it must have some stable, still, center point. As time is continually moving, there must be some factor that remains still in order for the gyroscope to work. Ulmer argues that consciousness is “motionless,” and as such provides the center to the gyroscope. He further explains that the motionlessness of our consciousness is what allows us to experience the passage of time. Thinking about this for more than a few minutes makes my head hurt, but sort of in a good way? If consciousness moved in sync with time, time would not seem to move past us.

             If you were wondering what kinds of things Ulmer goes on quests for:  “That is what I seek, something to hold open the still center, avatar of consciousness, pathos as gyroscope” (p.257). The idea of pathos as gyroscope stood out to me; I am used to reading about logos as the stable resting point of consciousness; emotions are often considered unstable. However, this pairing up of the gyroscope symbol and the concept of pathos provided an interesting contrast to the Allegories and symbols typically conjured when I think of emotions.

Ulmer dives into another aspect of emotional bearing when he explains that “The turn from Becoming to Being passes through attitude,” (p.260). He thus establishes attitude as an aspect of chora. While pathos is the gyroscope that updates the interface, attitude mediates the interface. In attempt to sum this process up in an all too succinct manner… the process of going from Becoming to Being happens over time with the aid of an attitude interface; this interface creates insight when it encounters an “anecdote of life”, and as time and setting change, the interface will be updated by the balancing and reorienting nature of the Allegory gyroscope, at the center of which lies consciousness.

                The way that Ulmer moves between physical descriptions of experienced symbols and his understanding both of those symbols and how they function in a way relevant to theory was interesting. It definitely seemed to move back and forth between the more empirical and the more moral concerns that he describes as the balancing act of hypotyposis. Also, the way this topic was introduced briefly in one chapter, and then zoomed into as Wisdom begins gives a feeling similar to the “descent” that is supposed to characterize avatar.



Chora is described as an interface that mediates the process of going from Becoming to Being