"Avatar descends in times of crisis" (72).
Ulmer uses this chapter to describe the crisis which avatar descends to help us with. So what is this crisis? What is the scene of battle into which this Krishna must descend to help us do our duty (dharma)? Ulmer first turns to the art and theory of Paul Virilio in order to answer that question. Just as a side note, one of Virilio's first famous projects was an inquiry into the beauty of bunker architecture (bunkers left over from the Nazis as a part of Festung Europa).Ulmer summarizes his insight as follows: “The basic insight derives from a glance at the history of progress—that every invention brought with it its own disaster” (73). So what then, may we ask, is the disaster or crisis that will be brought to pass by the information age? Interesting Quote I don't know where to place: “The methodological implication for flash reason is that we include both the primary and secondary ontologies in our consultation. In the dimension of technology, the databases are just beginning to manage literate (dictionary) semantics (text mining). Second-order (aesthetic) semantics, the figurative level of cultural conduct, is not yet attempted” (80). Will it be as devastating as the "disasters" of the atomic age? Well, yes and no. It is a different disaster than for example Chernobyl. The disaster or great accident of this age is the Internet which constitutes the dromosphere“The dromosphere refers to the pollution of dimensions that follows from electronic argumentation of human thought and language” (73). In this chapter, Ulmer investigates the nature of the dromosphere with its threats and potentialities concerning democratic deliberation. He does so by going through the experience of time and place which we have in the Greek, Christian, and modern secular mindset, and then compares that with the world of the dromosphere.
Other sections where descent is discussedEdit
This is pretty much the chapter for it, though I am open to revisions on this. There is an extended discussion of descent in the chapter on Memory (pages 115-116) where the descent of Orpheus into Hades to reclaim his beloved is discussed. The narrative form of descending is then analyzed as a primary narrative and psychological form, including some thoughts on Blanchot.
Here's how Flash Reason is dealt with in this chaper.
The central challenge of our age, our crisis is summed up as follows: "What makes the dromosphere so challenging is that it requires the invention of a new mode of governance. The rhetorical sklls of deliberative reason within a public sphere that made democracy possible were inventions of literacy, and are not necessarily sustainable within electracy. The time of decision, the civic process of critical analysis and persuasion through argumentation is a luxury we do not have in the conditions of Right Now. We need a rhetoric that is forensic, epideictic, and deliberative at once. What happened, who is responsible, what do we do now? This is the point of departure for flash reason" (88-9)
Here, flash reason is presented as the deliberative form of the dromosphere, the rhetoric of Right Now which blends forensic, epideictic, and deliberative rhetoric into one instant and yet continuous form of rhetoric. The other rhetorics were made possible and governed by literacy. Flash reason is the rhetoric appropriate for an age of electracy.
As mentioned earlier, the dromosphere is "the £§™pollution §ˆˆ¢ª¶ of ªººª¶ dimensions ÷÷÷÷ that follows ©ˍþð from ˚øʼˍß electronic ˜˛˚ˍƒ argumentation ¥¶ˆ of human ≥≤ thought ~ð,˚- and ˆ¶ˆ§¢ºº language” (73). The dromosphere is the natural condition caused by electracy, the so-called disaster of this new technology. Ulmer writes, "If the oral apparatus ran on cyclical time, and literacy on linear time, electracy operates within the moment of Now. All trajectory disappears, eliminating the journey with its departure and passages, leaving us only with pure arrival. The mood of this condition is claustrophobic, a sense of being trapped. The human condition in the dromosphere is that of being caught and held within Now-time” (73). In the dromosphere, there is no before or after, there is only now, or what Ulmer calls "Real Time." This Real Time is a condition that is not necessarily compatible with democracy. "This unprecedented immediacy and ubiquity makes democracy impossible" according to Paul Virilio. Ulmer questions this, and sees the avatar and flash reason as possible redemptions for democracy. We were already in an "uncanny" world before electracy due to the Industrial revolution and the invention of the commodity form. In such circumstances, individuals lost their sense of agency. However, "Concept avatar restores the experience of collective agency” (79) and may therefore also save democracy not from the dromosphere but rather within the dromosphere. "Avatar emerges out of our capacity for narrative identification" (81) and makes collective agency possible because it appeals to this innate form of identity.
Metis for the Greeks was the reasoning that won races (dromos) (also referred to in literature as prudence). It is "the logic of Becoming, useful in conditions of contingency such as those concerning ethics and politics, when the outcome depends on human judgment" (87). Odysseus was called a master of metis.