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VANGUARD ASSEMBLAGES: NEW MEDIA AND THE ENTHYMEME
PATRICK JOHN MCHENRY
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Patrick John McHenry
I thank Dr. Gregory Ulmer for being steadfast in supporting my attraction to
cornucopias. An immense amount of patience was required on his part to allow the time
for this thesis to take shape. His continued passion for the humanities and arts is
recognized with complete admiration. I also thank Dr. Terry Harpold for his insights,
time, acute knowledge and interest in this project. I thank my mother and father for their
love and support.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ..............................................................................................iii
A B S T R A C T ...................................................................... ................................... . v
1 S C E N O G R A P H Y .................................................................................................... 1
2 COLLAGE AND MONTAGE AESTHETIC ....................................................... 8
3 AESTHETIC TO MATERIALIZATION........................................................... 13
4 EN TH YM EM E A S M ETH OD ...................................... ........ ............................ 22
L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S.................................................................................. 35
BIO GRA PH ICAL SK ETCH ... ................................................................. .............. 37
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Master of Arts
VANGUARD ASSEMBLAGES: NEW MEDIA AND THE ENTHYMEME
Patrick John McHenry
Chair: Gregory L. Ulmer
Major Department: English
This project theorizes how the Discipline may continue intensifying argumentative
structures initiated by Aristotle to persuade a social body. In particular, visual writing
methods demonstrate ways to argue with the enthymeme rather than scientific or
analytical syllogisms. Beginning with the avant-garde of the 1920s Left, methods and
procedural sets arise that equip society to perceive and interact with the world in new
ways continuing into the twenty-first century. How the artistic techniques of collage and
montage transform into the cultural metaphors for new media becomes a crucial
movement. Lev Manovich theorizes this movement and ensures that vanguard aesthetics
continue their intensification in relation to new media by being projected in the
foreground of human-computer interface.
Tracing operations like "cut and paste" from the historical avant-garde, neo-avant-
garde, and finally to the "meta-avant-garde" allows speculations to arise concerning the
method and logic of images in relation to normative language models and their
argumentative counterparts. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus
provides a language model that assists explicating a working theory of what entails the
act of authoring with digital tools equipped with a "cut and paste" function. How an
avant-garde assemblage and Deleuze and Guattari's assemblage interchange demonstrate
a way to enhance the use of enthymematic argumentation in the humanities. New media
continues to modify the rhetoric and logic of collage and montage but also
simultaneously marks a change in apparatus. These changes effectuate a new
engagement with the enthymeme that maintains a potential for a more responsible
persuasive social argument than currently found in entertainment and political discourses.
In 1950 Charles Olson published "Projective Verse," a year before he became the
director of Black Mountain College, working with experimental artists like John Cage,
Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and Franz Kline. It marked a significant
event in terms of composition: Olson turned towards restructuring the act of composing
itself-projective, projectile, percussive, prospective verse-by calling for an open field
Olson argues that a poem "at all points, be a high energy-construct and, at all
points, an energy-discharge" (345). Olson calls for kinetic composition that "brings us
up, bang, against tenses, in fact against syntax, in fact against grammar generally, that is,
as we have inherited it" (349). In a movement that I now read in postmodern terms
(point, line, field), Olson decrees that "the law of the line, which projective verse creates,
must be hewn to, obeyed, and that the conventions which logic has forced on syntax must
be broken open as quietly as must the too set feet of the old line" (350).
Technology, however small the significance might appear in the essay, provides a
foreshadowing of my interests here:
It is the advantage of the typewriter that, due to its rigidity and its space precisions,
it can, for a poet, indicate exactly the breath, the pauses, the suspensions even of
syllables, the juxtapositions even of parts of phrases, which he intends. For the first
time the poet has the stave and the bar a musician has had. (351)
Olson and other Black Mountain poets and artists began to think of composing being
active and alive (happenings) instead of reflective and representational-composing that
does not seek description, but promotes enacting. Olson notes a change in apparatus; the
tools for composing changed, and in accordance, he sought ways to work with new tools.
Within the Discipline, the computer marks a much more complex changing in
tools than the typewriter. Like Olson, we do not have any definitive methodologies for
writing with digital tools. New media is without a consensus in terms of applicability.
The interest here is in developing a theory of working with digital tools, mainly with
computers with a "cut and paste" function embedded into their frameworks. Presently,
these machines are found in classrooms and the offices of members of the Discipline
among other media tools and objects like books, videocassettes, DVDs, monitors,
projectors, televisions, etc. Even here though we may demarcate what is distinctive about
the computer: all the previous types of media collapse together within a computer.
To discuss these matters, I will theorize about the potentialities that stem from
successive avant-garde movements. At this level certain logics, techniques, and poetics
arise that equip society and culture to last into the end of the century. The vanguard
aesthetic of collage and montage, which will be extracted from Peter Btrger's Theory of
the Avant-Garde, becomes media theorist Lev Manovich's foundational metaphor and
rationale for new media. Following a tool like "cut and paste" as it moves through
successive avant-garde movements, including the present potential with new media and
human-computer interface, a progressive logic is formed that supplements normative
approaches to academic writing.
The goal is to establish that specialized and quotidian writing methods are
possible with the several logics new media offers: enthymematic decomposition,
inference, indirection, and variation. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's theories
regarding language and writing will be deployed for defining the operating practices,
rhetoric, and logic of a person using a digital tool with a "cut and paste" function. In
particular, avant-garde terminology like "assemblage" becomes compounded and
complicated when juxtaposed with Deleuze and Guattari's "assemblage." Deleuze and
Guattari provide an existing theory of language that operates with Bakhtin's dialogical
principle, which is to say that we already have a theory of language that is enthymematic.
In this way, certain terms may be dramatized, interlaced, and projected. Jean-Luc Nancy
echoes an important principle regarding a Deleuzian approach:
Deleuze's interest in the cinema is not just appended to his work: it is at the centre,
in the projective principle of this thought. It is a cinema-thought, in the sense of
having its own order and screen, a singular plane of presentation and construction,
of displacements and dramatization of concepts (the word 'concept' means this for
Deleuze-making cinematic). (110)
As with Olsen, Deleuze and Guattari, my attempt is to find in what ways composing
shifts with the open field of new media-how to make the vanguard aesthetic projective
in contemporary academic composition.
All of these questions and postulates must be kept within the frame of academic
writing; we want to improve on prior methods for composing an argument. We need a
modified rhetoric, logic, and poetics that parallels shifts in tools and technologies.
Cinema and advertising, the entire breadth of entertainment discourse, writes with the
tools and demonstrates their effectiveness. From Eisenstein forward, the cinema
becomes a methodology-it possibly has its own language. Advertising systematizes our
understanding of images and their inherent arguments through artistic techniques turned
into technical methods. Multiple methods for arguing continue to surface and their
common structures remain identical for centuries.
Since Aristotle's codification of argumentation in Rhetoric, Topics, and Prior
Analytics, we find all the essential elements of argument: form, content, induction,
deduction, enthymeme, example, and syllogism. My interest is not in scientific
syllogisms used for analysis, but rhetorical syllogisms used for persuasion. This is our
common thread in the Discipline: how to effectively persuade interlocutors of our
positions. It is not a matter of describing our data with accuracy, but it is also not the
case to disband accuracy in entirety either; unlike the sciences, the Humanities must
persuasively present the utility and worth of research.
I would like to combine Roland Barthes' reading of the enthymeme within S/Z
and The Semiotic Challenge to exemplify the enthymeme's use and then extrapolate it as
a device. Barthes S/Z ordinates how the enthymeme functions in a literary text, Balzac's
Sarrasine, by showing how the enthymeme is an incomplete, deductive, or probable
syllogism: "La Zambinella is frightened by a popping cork, thus La Zambinella is timid"
(S/Z 148). What Barthes highlights is the movement between the two propositions: how
does one deduce the missing major premise through association?
As for the major premise, it derives from the narcissistic zone (woman is adorable),
the psychological zone (woman is timid), the aesthetic zone (woman is beautiful);
what establishes this major premise is, in conformity with the definition of
enthymeme, not a scientific truth, but "common knowledge," an endoxa. Thus the
snares Sarrasine sets for himself are based on the most social discourse. (S/Z 148)
The enthymeme is the rhetorical syllogism of public knowledge par excellence as it
operates with endoxal knowledge-existing public knowledge that circulates freely
through various zones and social registers.
Within The Semiotic Challenge, Barthes spends more time on the enthymeme by
tracing its use through Aristotelian and Quintilian formations. For Aristotle and his
followers, the enthymeme is a syllogism of probability, not based on the "true and
immediate," which is to say that it moves "from the probable, i.e., starting from what the
public thinks" (SC 57). In opposition to scientific abstract reasoning for analysis, the
enthymeme is public reasoning, capable of being deployed by anyone. The enthymeme's
origination in the social sphere and correspondence to probability and presentation
"affords persuasion, not demonstration; for Aristotle, the enthymeme is sufficiently
defined by the probable character of its premises" (SC 58). The example from S/Z
demonstrates an adherence to probability of social knowledge; to solve the interval
between the two propositions, an outside social knowledge (endoxa) must be called upon
to discover the major premise.
The enthymeme carries a pedagogical residue towards what Barthes terms the
"journey" of the syllogism: "the enthymeme is not a syllogism truncated by defect or
corruption, but because the listener must be granted the pleasure of contributing to the
construction of the argument; it is something like completing a given pattern or grid" (SC
60). Rather than dealing with the pleasure of following a direct argument, Barthes
locates a pleasure in incomplete reasoning that values a "surplus of thought over
language" (SC 60). Barthes' terminology hints at notions of interactivity, addition, and
process. The enthymeme's journey is a to and fro motion, always a movement forward
by juxtaposing propositions or utterances, and then a backward motion of surplus that
completes the interval after all of the data is provided. We confront a modified grammar
that leaps between points exceeding linear expectations. For instance, the logic permits
subtraction of the verb or the suppression of the subject. Conclusions suspend all
security towards completion by relying on probability and interaction.
The enthymeme, however, is open to corruption in terms of manipulation;
advertising is the most acute model. The inference of the excised premise creates an
interval of interpretation, which may be mutated, like Barthes' example of La
Zambinella. As the enthymeme relies on public knowledge, it affords the opportunity to
exploit the stereotypes of the social discourse and thereby continue the redundancy.
What we are seeking is a method of engaging the enthymeme in an academic discourse
where the excised premise is also simultaneously given on the surface. How do we use
the logic of the enthymeme with new media to establish a writing method that
simultaneously deploys the logic of the enthymeme-withholding of information and
inducing the respondent to create a surplus of knowledge-but that also exposes the
excised premise on the surface for its artificiality? Perhaps we may pose this question in
terms of a collage: when composing a collage, we have all the "pieces" available for
viewing-the pieces are themselves images (not essentially pictographic)-which causes
an interval of interpretation to occur by completing the pattern and grid. In short, we are
seeking a theory of the enthymeme that works in conjunction with the methods of collage
and montage; the collage simultaneously exposes and withholds, like an ideogram
presenting an image without description. The idea moves from how to describe the
information to how to present the information. A shift in rhetorical strategies is required
as the emphasis switches from how to persuade directly to an indirect method.
If we winnow out the search further, figuring a methodology for incorporating the
techniques of collage and montage stem from arguments decades old. Gregory L.
Ulmer's 1983 essay "The Object of Post-Criticism" poses a similar question, with the
underpinning of Barthes, by asking our essential question:
Will the collage/montage revolution in representation be admitted into the
academic essay, into the discourse of knowledge, replacing the "realist" criticism
based on the notions of "truth" as correspondence to or correct reproduction of a
referent object of study? (86)
After two decades, the Discipline is yet to make up its mind. We may situate our thought
temporally; like Barthes, Ulmer's question seems radical at the time due to the current
apparatus present in the Discipline, mainly literate tools (Olson's typewriter and now a
word processor). Over twenty years later, the question seems as if it must be addressed
since our entire apparatus is undergoing sweeping changes with the introduction of
computers; we are now operating with Ulmer's neologism "electracy." The question is
no longer a radical question, but a mandatory one.
COLLAGE AND MONTAGE AESTHETIC
The media theorist who develops collage and montage as the foundations of
computing is Lev Manovich. Before becoming entrenched in how Manovich aligns the
avant-garde aesthetic and new media, we need to explicate the foundations of collage and
montage with the avant-garde. Peter Burger's Theory of the Avant-garde pays particular
attention to the idea that as montage and photomontage develop, cubism parallels but
translates the technical device into an artistic device with collage:
A theory of the avant-garde must begin with the concept of montage that is
suggested by the early cubist collages. What distinguishes them from the
techniques of composition developed since the Renaissance is the insertion of
reality fragments into the painting, i.e., the insertion of material that has been left
unchanged by the artist. (Burger 77)1
If we follow Burger's example of a hermeneutic circle, organic composition is
constructed in accordance with the syntagmatic pattern where the parts and whole
achieve a dialectical unity. In this classic writing mode, the part and whole may only be
understood through one another. In inorganic composition, "The parts 'emancipate'
themselves from a superordinate whole; they are no longer its essential elements" (Burger
80). Turning to Breton's automatic texts as an example, the circular flow is interrupted
as there need not be a completed proposition. "In an automatic text that strings images
together, some could be missing, yet the text would not be significantly affected... What
1 Burger does not include avant-garde film. Similar approaches may be located in neo-avant-garde
filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage and Bruce Conner. Brakhage's Mothlight includes the "cut and paste"
function by taping pieces of moths directly to the film and Conner's A Movie becomes a database of prior
film images organized in an inorganic sequence.
is decisive are not the events in their distinctiveness but the construction principle that
underlies the sequence of events" (Burger 80). A new principle logic is formed with
dyadic consequences; the process of constructing outweighs the final product-a
disruption in means-ends rationality-and thought moves to a modality of inference by
causing a leap between incongruent pieces.
The avant-garde force collage into extension and modifies its simplistic attributes.
The logic of collage provides a general attitude towards the language function of the
piece. To speculate beyond Bfirger, collage establishes its own logic of homonymy by
incessantly creating puns. To tear the piece and insert it into a new context is to
simultaneously establish a pun. When Robert Rauschenberg includes a photograph of
John F. Kennedy into a Combine, it should be noted that the image exists in both
contexts; the image becomes stratified and layered, which causes several signifieds to be
triggered simultaneously. Tearing the piece, even if the avant-gardist attempts to "kill"
the material, is not an act of simple transposition or translation; residues and traces of
prior meanings may not be eclipsed. This movement of carrying meanings into various
contexts, or to move the piece from situation to situation, creates the enigma that
inference is called on to solve. This act is not the creation of additional meanings, like
adding further associations, but displaces the supposedly fixed meaning the piece is in
initially-a thought process of decomposition, disassociation, or diffusion. To compose
is to decompose, to effectuate a multiplicity.
The avant-garde becomes marked by a tendency towards decomposition rather
than composition. Image and representation become disrupted with the invention of
photography and the incorporation of photographs into the work of art. When Kasimir
Malevich places a photograph of the Mona Lisa into his collage Composition 1 ilh Mona,
there is an immediate disruption in how imaging functions within the visual arts. As
Burger says, "because the advent of photography makes possible the precise mechanical
reproduction of reality, the mimetic function of the fine arts withers" (32). The avant-
garde does not divorce the developing technological condition from artistic production,
but rather mimes its intrusion into art; technology turns from being an independent
variable to a dependent variable. Like Malevich's title, the avant-garde works il ilh
Montage and collage cause an interval to form in interpretation, to leap between
social contexts. There is something outside the given, something that must be inferred.
We may say that organic composition relies on a certain kind of syllogistic logic, like
categorical and conditional syllogisms; composition and reception are linear and direct.
But with inorganic composition, we confront a leap in thought as fragments are strewn
together. If we remain within syllogistic logic, we may say that the avant-garde moves to
a truncated or incomplete syllogism, or the enthymeme (superlinear and indirect). For
Burger, the avant-garde work remains incomplete: "one can see that although they allow
one to discover a principle construction, they do not show a synthesis, in the sense of a
unity of meaning" (Burger 79). For example, Duchamp's Why Not Sneeze Rose Selavy?
assembles marble cubes, a thermometer, and a cuttlebone inside an old rectangular
birdcage. While not a montage or photomontage, the assembling of disparate Ready-
Mades simultaneously abides by a montage-logic: "weight (heavy marble), promised
sweetness (fake sugar cubes), missing warmth (thermometer), poetry (birdsong), arrested
flight (cuttlebone and birdcage) and art (Cubism, and also the use of marble)" accentuates
the flippant title of the work; "why not do something like sneezing, that cathartic reaction
that grows from a tickle to a climatic explosion leaving only traces behind" (Duchamp 7-
8)? More succinctly, classicist composition abides by continuity while avant-garde
composition abides by contiguity. Duchamp relies on endoxal knowledge to carry out his
argument against art as an essentialized concept by establishing a new congruency with
supposedly incongruent found objects.
Operating by decomposition and disassociation, developing a concept of the
inorganic work of art is a central task of the avant-garde (Burger 68). The avant-garde
work of art hinges on the idea of an interval as in allegory, "because it permits one to
separate those aspects that relate to production and to aesthetic effect at the analytical
level and yet to conceive of them as a unity" (70). The work considers itself in terms of
artificiality. If artificial material is incorporated into the work, "it is just that, material."
For the avant-garde, the "activity initially consists in nothing other than in killing the
'life' of the material, that is, in tearing it out of its functional context that gives it
meaning" (Burger 70). There is a general understanding of how the materials portray
different meanings: Picasso and Braque use any materials to renovate art, the Russian
avant-garde sought mass-produced materials to reflect the new political order, and the
Dadaists exercise photomontage as a means of protest. Every object always already has a
circulating meaning that may be transferred into other contexts-no object is virginal.
Burger references Walter Benjamin's theory of allegory in relation to collage. The
extraction of this concept assists Burger's notion of collage as a break in meanings, an
interruption in anticipated intervals, and a cessation of organic forms. If we begin to
think of the organic (classicist) composition and inorganic (avant-garde) composition in
terms of writing methods, we may posit that the inorganic "style" relies on reconnecting
fragments into either an incomplete composition or an overloaded composition where the
meanings overlap one another and exceed any organicism.2 Material for the avant-garde
exists as an "empty sign, to which only they can impart significance" by tearing it out of
a totality and turning it into a fragment (70).3 Burger's language is problematic if read as
a strategy to nullify meaning instead of as a way to nullify notions of fixed meanings.
Meaning is an artificial socially and culturally inscribed function. The sign becomes
more like a modular unit with the ability to be removed from one location only to be
included in another.
Buirger's theories regarding the avant-garde highlight how we approach new media.
The enthymematic logic alters how we normatively approach Aristotelian logic. When
the piece is removed from one context and placed in another, the enthymeme arises from
our common endoxal knowledge to re-situate the meanings together. This method of
juxtaposition becomes like Barthes' example in Sarrasine of a popping cork and a timid
woman. How we deduce the meaning behind the juxtaposition depends on a level of
common social knowledge. Now we must consider how collage and montage function
with enthymematic logic in new media.
2 For example, a collage with too many eyes for one face or too many organs for one organic body.
3 This type of empty sign escapes semiotics and hermeneutic circles; the sign becomes more like a
poststructuralist unit instead of being bound up as a signifier/signified.
AESTHETIC TO MATERIALIZATION
Manovich assists in addressing how we move from a vanguard aesthetics to new
media, or rather, how we recognize vanguard techniques in new media. His article
"Avant-Garde as Software" allows initial formulations regarding how vanguard
aesthetics became the foundations of new media:
The techniques introduced by modernist avant-garde turn out to be sufficiently
effective to last for the rest of the century. Mass visual culture only pushes further
what was already invented, "intensifying" particular techniques and mixing them
together in new combinations. ("AGS" 1)
This initial difference between the avant-garde and what Manovich terms in relation to
new media, the "new media avant-garde," hinges on the idea of inventing new methods
of accessing information; the historical and neo-avant-garde established multifarious
techniques suitable to last through the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of
the twenty-first century. To modify and collapse some of Manovich's terms together,
and to avoid terms like "new-neo," I will refer to the avant-garde in relation to new media
as "meta-avant-garde." 1
The same techniques developed by the avant-garde Left at the beginning of the
twentieth century-montage, collage, photomontage, "cut and paste," etc.-do not alter
at a foundational level; instead, their uses intensify in degree: "In short, as far as the
cultural languages are concerned, new media is still old media" ("AGS" 2). Accordingly,
1 I am modifying "new media avant-garde" and the media type they utilize, "meta-media," using "meta-
if we view the avant-garde as a movement that made composing a polyblend of available
styles, then these styles and techniques are also intensified so as to allow for more
combinations. To compose a collage, montage, or assemblage using avant-garde
methods of "cut and paste" changes radically with human-computer interface (HCI)2.
What Manovich assists in relaying with precision is that the avant-garde rationale is
carried into new media by integrating a vast amount of varying writing methods into one
machine; we may now compose with all artistic dimensions at once, from the
Renaissance to the cinema. It is not that the avant-garde intended to invent the
foundations of new media, but rather the logic and techniques created by them become
the most equipped devices and tools to create an unintentional rhetoric for new media.
As Manovich highlights with his cinematic analogy in The Language of New Media,
Dziga Vertov's Man / ith a Movie Camera functioned as a significant signpost for future
writing systems, from the socially embedded kino-eye to a visualization of not only the
foreground of the cinematic process (raw materials, filming-in-process, reception, etc.),
but the background (how film anticipates the database with editing and compositing).
Manovich relays directly that what had been the foreground in technical
procedures and information processing-the vanguard aesthetic-now becomes meshed
with the background of computing on a single surface: "The techniques invented by the
1920s Left artists became embedded in the commands and interface metaphors of
computer software. In short, the avant-garde vision became materialized in a computer"
("AGS" 3). The avant-garde's foreground becomes the background of computing. In
2 The term "human-computer interface" is being dealt with generally without negating the obvious
difference between "graphical-user interface" that highlights the integration of the "cutting" and "pasting"
of images into one surface (since the introduction of the MacOS in 1984).
terms of institutional practices, this acts as a metaphor for writing conventions; the avant-
garde has become the background, their artistic devices turn into technical achievements,
and "cut and paste" becomes a normative function for programs like MS Word. We are
not seeking methods to improve writing in terms of efficiency, but how an efficient
machine permits complex writing.
We are dealing with an inverse relationship that Manovich will assist in
addressing and aid in theorizing how to bring the vanguard aesthetic to the surface, how
to intensify and translate Btirger's vanguard aesthetics in terms of new media, and how to
allow both the vanguard techniques and rationale to be naturalized in writing. For
example, "the avant-garde strategy of collage reemerged as a 'cut and paste' command,
the most basic operation one can perform on any computer data," but it is problematic to
reduce "cut and paste" to a basic command for composing a classicist's work. The tools
inherent to HCI inaugurate new ways to access and organize any information that
includes a change in apparatus and social methodologies. In short, I wish to explicate
Manovich's arguments that the avant-garde's techniques are materialized in HCI and
does not embed the vanguard aesthetic into the background; HCI promotes a radical
potential to maintain vanguard aesthetics as a writing methodology and procedural set in
the foreground of institutional and academic writing-how to continue the intensification
inherent to the avant-garde. If the avant-garde establish the basic commands for
computing, then they also continue to command our attention to realize that inventive
writing methods may continue to flourish.
The current task, as Manovich says, "is to create an efficient structure and tools
for working with arbitrary information, information which is always changing and always
grows" ("AGS" 6). The avant-garde task of tearing the piece from its context and
thereby denouncing the unity of the particular and universal is advanced through the logic
Hyperlinking separates data from its structure. This makes creation and distribution
of messages extremely efficient: the same data can be endlessly assembled in new
structures; parts of a single document can exist in physically distinct locations (i.e.,
a document has a distributed representation). ("AGS" 4)
Hyperlinking, as a logic, allows simultaneously disparate manifestations of data
establishing a continuous assemblage of decomposition. The instinctive logic behind
hyperlinking permits not only variation but also permits varying reception and recycling.
One HTML statement, image, java script, media object, etc. may be accessed-its source
viewed and copied-without a terminal stopping point, a writing procedure of continuous
variation. Hyperlinking accentuates the vanguard interval with a web of intervals; pieces
simultaneously transform and relocate.
We now have a single plane that obfuscates any centralization. HCI
simultaneously establishes window frames with multiple "pages" and "windows."
Classic writing tools like the "page" maintain their original function, but also add new
functions; the page as a discursive spacing allows for multiple windows and various
objects to be dealt with on a single surface-a solidifying of background and foreground.
Manovich associates these attributes with montage: "In window interface, the two
opposites-temporal montage and montage within the shot-finally come together"
("AGS" 5). The progression of the avant-garde into the meta-avant-garde creates this
potential of simultaneity; the combining of both montage effects on a single surface
exceeds prior methods and creates new writing potentials; prior avant-garde techniques
overlay and overlap in ways impossible before HCI.
The notion of "new" itself, however, must be placed in suspension. One of
Manovich's most intriguing arguments comes across in a postmodern context. The meta-
avant-gardist is similar to previous avant-gardists by not being concerned with "new" in a
sense of "original":
The new avant-garde is no longer concerned with seeing or representing the world
in new ways but rather with accessing and using in new ways previously
accumulated media. In this respect new media is post-media or meta-media, as it
uses old media as its primary material. ("AGS" 10)
The new in this sense acts as a trope for re-accessing and re-developing old media; this is
the method for how the avant-garde became embedded in computing. Man Ray's
assemblages and Bruce Conner's wax sculptures3-created to be destroyed so as to allow
a new object to take its place-do not need to destroy their objects; the logic of
hypermedia solicits a constant reshuffling of information and points of entry into varying
data. The meta-avant-garde writing procedures resemble Duchamp's film Anemic
cinema: endless revolutions of textual rhythms and images circling in successive
punning-only the meta-avant-garde is without a terminal stopping point.
If we stay with Duchamp as an example, his notion of found objects and Ready-
Mades receive increased significance in new media:
In computer culture a media object is typically assembled from ready-made
elements such as icons, textures, video clips, 3-D models, complete animation
Lingo scripts, etc. ("AGS" 4)
Like a classicist composition process-referencing grammar books, handbooks, prior
argumentative structures-a meta-avant-garde composition has similar reference points
through help files, instruction manuals, etc. New media may be composed accurately
3 Manovich mentions similarly that "artists such as Bruce Connor, Robert Rauschenberg, and James
Rosenquist similarly give up the idea of creating totally 'new' images" ("AGS" 10).
with incomplete comprehension, like a Ready-Made composition that does not require
prior artistic skills; java scripts, images, text documents, HTML code, may be "cut and
pasted" into various applications due to all media being modular.
Manovich credits the 1920s Left avant-garde for creating the forms to represent
and see the world in new ways, but also highlights that meta-avant-gardists are concerned
with new ways to rework the codified forms and manipulate information with the
techniques of "hypermedia, databases, search engines, data mining, image processing,
visualization, simulation" ("AGS" 10). Meta-avant-garde techniques are "media access,
generation, manipulation and analysis. Forms remain the same, but how these forms can
be used changes radically" ("AGS" 11). For formulations on how the techniques become
embedded into software, another of Manovich's articles is of use.
"New Media from Borges to HTML" is straightforward in approaching who the
meta-avant-gardists are and what "works" they create. Manovich locates various
computer scientists, engineers, and software developers as the greatest artists of the
twentieth century (from J.C.R. Licklider to Tim Berners-Lee). The current great avant-
garde works are Adobe Photoshop and Final Cut Pro:
The greatest avant-garde film is software such as Final Cut Pro or After Effects
which contains the possibilities of combining together thousands of separate tracks
into a single movie, as well as setting various relationships between all these
different tracks-and it thus it develops the avant-garde idea of a film as an abstract
visual score to its logical end, and beyond. ("NM" 15)
My interest in this statement is what leads Manovich to such a claim. No longer are we
concerned with the creation of artworks or manifestos, now the focus turns to
development, application, and execution. We find in these thinkers and computicians a
full and complex understanding of prior avant-garde methods as techniques.
The logic of new media and that of the art world clash. Manovich highlights a
significant break in terms of how writing is produced and presented. New media
installations and net.art projects undercut normative avenues of distribution; art assumes
proper channels of distribution, a correct order and authorial control over a one-of-a-kind
work of art, and viewed in proper locations like galleries, museums, and auctions ("NM"
14). New media "privileges the existence of potentially numerous copies; infinitely
many different states of the same work; author-user symbiosis (the user can change the
work through interactivity); the collective; collaborative authorship; and network
distribution (which bypasses the art system distribution channels)" ("NM" 14). To
correlate this statement with the present status of academic publishing, composing and
publishing with new media acts with subversive potential; distribution changes radically
along with publishing, but perhaps more importantly, how one composes a piece to be
If we begin rethinking at this base level, not only are methods of distribution and
composition shifting, but also how writing interacts with the world. The logic of new
media presents a significant cultural shift in methods and techniques of representation.
Like previous avant-garde movements, we level traditions and engage several cultural
practices simultaneously (working with the radically disparate)-alphabetic, phonologic,
pictographic, cinematic, hieroglyphic, rebus writing, etc. The metaphor of HCI is only
beginning to be translated into cultural logic. The logic of montage, collage, and
enthymematic inference becomes naturalized in image-orientated graphical user
interfaces. Notions of fixity and concreteness in regards to information and distribution
are being unmoored; the personal and social machines act as ongoing assemblages, open-
ended and in perpetual interchange.
Manovich relays how these cultural changes occurred. He demonstrates that the
late twentieth century went through radical changes like that of the avant-garde at the
beginning of the century:
In the last few decades of the twentieth century, modern computing and network
technology materialized certain key projects of modern art developed
approximately at the same time. In the process of this materialization, the
technologies overtook art... As a result these technologies have become the greatest
art works of today. ("NM" 15)
These postulations assist in formulating a trajectory in terms of composing; it is not the
artistic dimension of the avant-garde that changes our interaction with writing (although,
indeed, these are not laid to waste either), but rather it is the logic and techniques that
have become the most pervasive and instructional.
The difference between prior avant-garde movements and the meta-avant-garde
is, Manovich says, an issue of centralization: "Of course some artists already began to
react to the emerging media environment by making collages and photo-montages
consisting of newspaper clippings, existing photographs, pieces of posters, and so on; yet
these practices of manipulating existing media were not yet central." ("NM" 22). These
techniques become materialized in computing, embedded by meta-avant-gardists. The
social dimension of these techniques is currently defining operating procedures for
individual and collective knowledge production, communication, and expression. As
Duchamp's Ready-Mades prescribe, I am interested in how to infuse these operations
into composing within the institution; how to write collaboratively, collectively, with
images and found cultural objects, and within a networked environment that permits an
assemblage to continue varying with immense speed.
If it is possible to group Manovich's various themes into an overarching concept,
we must return to his stress of postmodernism. This notion arises repeatedly by
underpinning the logic of new media with re-thinking and re-working past cultural
objects, media, and technologies. The postmodern "accumulation of huge media assets
and the arrival of new electronic and digital tools which made it very easy to access and
re-work these assets" serves as a relay for my current argument ("NM" 23). Even if
viewed as a metaphor, I would like to stress notions of how new media acts so as to
simultaneously re-think how we interact with past cultural forms and techniques
(especially Aristotelian enthymematic arguments), while also proposing vast room for
invention of new forms. We have the techniques, technology, and logic to theorize a
method for composing "works" that re-situate and intensify past writing techniques; ways
to create assemblages that desire variation and inference; and methods for developing
writing collaboratively and collectively. These establish the operating practices, rhetoric,
and logic for a meta-avant-gardist using a digital machine with an intensified "cut and
paste" function. To formalize these methods, Deleuze and Guattari provide a theory of
language and writing essential to new media and enthymematic writing.
ENTHYMEME AS METHOD
Turning to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari is a movement to locate an existing
theory of language and writing that corresponds to an avant-garde rationale. We may
locate theories that not only have the characteristics of language being a collage, but our
selves being an inorganic composition that resembles a collage. These theories assist in
understanding what it means for a person to write, what this act entails, and what
potential results will follow from such an act. We may think of this as a method to
unpack Btirger and Manovich by posing a question: how do we continue writing with
enthymematic logic and further modify the inherent strategies of probability, suppression,
I would like to take an indirect course and map out an overarching notion of
collage. If we begin with Henri Bergson, we find a corpus of thought towards
disassociation and decomposition. Bodies1 begin to be placed in extension: memory is
located in matter, which is to say that bodies begin to function through inorganic
diffusion. In Matter andMemory we find Deleuze's inclinations towards bodies without
organs and the self-as-collage:
Itself an image, the body cannot store up images, since it forms a part of the
images, and this is why it is a chimerical enterprise to seek to localize the past or
even present perceptions in the brain: they are not in it; it is the brain that is in
them. (MM 151)
' "Body" and "bodies" becomes a complex metaphorical term for both a physical body and also as in Stoic
embodiment: "We may take the word 'body' in its broadest sense (there are mental bodies, souls are
bodies, etc.)" (ATP 80).
Bergson's thought leads to decentralization, a piecemeal composition where memory and
perception become external. In Deleuze's theory of the cinema we find Bergsonian
principles that intensify the collage effect of a body's inorganic makeup. Deleuze's
statements on experimental cinema in Cinema 2 have an underpinning of collage logic.
Deleuze's cinema requests "give me a body" and "give me a brain," which is to say that
we are dealing with a cinema-body symbiosis: "Body or brain is what the cinema
demands to be given to it, what it gives itself, what it invents itself' (204). Bergsonian
externalization becomes a Deleuzian cinematic philosophy-the brain is the screen, the
camera is the eye.
I say the preceding remarks not to imply that collage is the overarching thread for
Deleuze, and thereby reduce his thought to a concept, but only to highlight its existence
in a larger scope before focusing narrowly. Like the logic of decomposition being at the
base of collage, Deleuze seems to incorporate Bergson's notions of decomposition and
disassociation to a large extent in establishing successive inorganic theories2. Even if we
turn briefly to Deluze's second Cinema book, we find notions of decomposition again:
The movement-image does not reproduce a world, but constitutes an autonomous
world, made up of breaks and disproportion, deprived of all its centres, addressing
itself as such to a viewer who is in himself no longer centre of his own perception.
The percipiens and the percipi have lost their points of gravity. (Cinema 2 36-7)
We should not forget that Deleuze's Cinema books are a taxonomy of signs, a vast index
of how the cinema writes. However, the hybrid body that the cinema creates is due to a
symbiosis between the body and the cinema-machine. We find correlating hybrid bodies
2 In particular I am referencing Bergson's notion of decomposition and disassociation that becomes
pervasive in Deleuze: "And we go on also from the whole to the parts, by a process of decomposition... a
process which consists in breaking up, for the greater convenience of practical life, the continuity of the
real. Association, then, is not the primary fact: dissociation is what we begin with" (MM 165).
in terms of literature; Proust & Signs initiates the bodies without organs at the end of the
text with a spider-narrator symbioses: "the web and the spider, the web and the body are
one and the same machine" (182). What we are interested in are the possibilities of
human-computer interface: what writing may be produced with a machine that
incorporates the rationale, rhetoric, and logic of collage and montage?
Deleuze provides an example with montage in Cinema 1. The enthymeme
operates within the action-image (Action-Situation-Action'). Following the taxonomical
approach to the regime of signs for the cinema, Deleuze labels the action-image with
Peirce's index. Peirce's example of the index acts as a pragmatic example of the
enthymeme: "for example, a piece of mold with a bullet-hole in it as a sign for a shot; for
without the shot there would have been no hole; but there is a hole there, whether
anybody has the sense to attribute it to a shot or not"3 ("Logic" 10). Deleuze carries the
enthymematic index to situate montage-as-indirection: "The situation is thus deduced
from the action, by immediate inference, or by relatively complex reasoning. Since the
situation is not given for itself, the index here is an index of lack; it implies a gap in the
narrative" (Cinema 1 160). Deleuze's abbreviation for the shot sequence is misleading if
the prior passages are not accounted for. It is not that the camera-eye shows us ASA', but
instead we move immediately from A to A' without the situation being framed directly.
The importance of the action-image as an example is that Deleuze is already
searching for methods to write indirectly. The importance of the cinema, especially the
action-image (ASA' montage), is that the situation (S) is a common horizon of social
knowledge (endoxa). Deleuze uses the example of the cinematic Western as the great
3 Barthes similarly deploys the index to mark the suppressed premise: "A woman has given birth: this is the
sure index (tekmerion) that she had intercourse with a man" (SC 61).
example of the situation as interval (S) when two opposing gazes relay a complete scene
of tension and opposition. The cinema begins to argue indirectly, which is to say that we
have a logic of suppression. We are approaching what Barthes explains as a type of
enthymeme that is Quintilian, made predominant in the Middle Ages. The value of this
type of argument is that it is "a perfect syllogism in the mind, but imperfect in
expression; in short, it is an accident of language, a deviation" (SC 58). We receive on
the screen AA', but we comprehend the perfected syllogism ASA' mentally without
forestalling the argument. But it will take combining Manovich, Deleuze and Guattari
together to map out how the enthymeme becomes demonstrative in new media.
If we recall that Manovich posits author-user symbiosis as a main logic of new
media, then we have an entry point into A Thousand Plateaus:
Even technology makes the mistake of considering tools in isolation: tools exist
only in relation to the interminglings they make possible or that make them
possible. The stirrup entails a new man-horse symbiosis that at the same time
entails new weapons and instruments. Tools are inseparable from symbioses or
amalgamations defining a Nature-Society machinic assemblage. (90)
Deleuze and Guattari effectuate a new way to think about "machines" and "assemblages"
by providing an abstract theory of language that solicits a type of writing that is relevant
to a person using a digital tool with a "cut and paste" function. Like the avant-garde
techniques that became embedded in the logic and foundational metaphors of new media,
Deleuze and Guattari begin to theorize about a method of composing with a language-
machine that escapes fixity and order through a variable state of decomposition.
Deleuze and Guattari view language as a constant assemblage, without fixed limits
and solidified zones of signification. In short, because language is an assemblage it goes
through all prior flows simultaneously (semiotic, material, and social). Within the
plateau "Postulates on Linguistics" a language model is put forth, consisting of the order-
word, assemblage, and indirect discourse. How these three interact serve as our rhetoric
and logic for a meta-avant-gardist.
The order-word replaces a speech act in qualified degrees: the term acts as a pun
that plays on all flows simultaneously. The order-word signifies direction in language,
orders as commands, and order as a type of organization. Already we are dealing with a
language function outside of normative comprehension; order-words are marked by
redundancy, not by rules: "Rather, it is a relation of redundancy. The order-word itself is
the redundancy of the act and the statement. Newspapers, news, proceed by redundancy,
in that they tell us what we 'must' think, retain, expect, etc." (ATP 79).
In an Aristotelian sense, this redundancy regulates the success rate of the
enthymeme. How often a certain image, the Mona Lisa for example, circulates
corresponds to the effectiveness of the argument. To argue in this way has a two-fold
consequence: it is highly effective and this may be exemplified through advertising and
film (and the entire commodity-oriented Entertainment discourse). We may associate
this to the view of an enthymeme with a diminished logic as in advertising. If we adapt
our level of comprehension to the level of the public, common sense, or normative
opinion, the success of the argument is not only more likely, but more persuasive
(repetition on par with persuasion). But we have the other side of the order-word, so to
speak, which allows us to break with redundancy. This is what the avant-garde, through
all periods (and what the meta-avant-gardist maintains the potential for), demonstrates
with extreme precision; we may disrupt the redundancy and move in the other direction.
We may raise the disparate nature to a higher degree and rip the piece from its normative
role. We may construct enthymemes that expose the inherent stereotypes of a social
body. Duchamp and the Dadaists become our forerunning leaders in this movement: they
tear objects from their prescribed social roles and use them as an attack on a knowledge
system, Art for example.
The "sentence" is an example of how the order-word, through redundant usage,
becomes established. The sentence becomes a pun: to follow a sentence in a linear order,
as it orders the reader to do, is a death sentence. The sentence becomes a wounding
projectile through redundancy. Avoiding the death sentence of redundancy becomes a
main goal, and this becomes the exercises of the avant-garde. To decompose and kill
meaning is precisely to reject the structured order of expectations in visual writing. To
tear the piece and disassociate acts as methods to reassemble the order-word in different
combinations. The key to this method is to cause the direction of language to turn
indirect, to force language to change vectors, take off on a "witch's line," skewing into
unterritorialized zones, to force a displacement and make language bear the weight of
what it is not.
As Deleuze and Guattari say, the order-word is dyadic and if we are to write with
the logic of the order-word, we must write with both of its functions: "But the order-word
is also mneii'hiiii else, inseparably connected: it is like a warning cry or a message to
flee. It would be oversimplifying to say that flight is a reaction against the order-word;
rather, it is included in it, as its other face in a complex assemblage, its other component"
(ATP 106). Part of the order-word's intrinsic makeup is the pass-word, an element within
the order-word that allows an element of passage from the given to the non-given:
There are pass-words beneath order-words. Words that pass, words that are
components of passage, whereas order-words mark stoppages or organized,
stratified compositions. A single thing or word undoubtedly has this two-fold
nature: it is necessary to extract one from the other-to transform the compositions
of order into components of passage. (A TP 110)
We may not separate the order-word from the pass-word; their logic promotes a certain
homonymy. By always including at least a double-function and a double-articulation
within the order-word, there is an underlying stress on indirection, a way to disorganize
the order-word and de-limit the stoppages. The task becomes to notice and operate with
both meanings, to recognize the disorder of the order-word and to stratify its meanings.
Aligning the order-word and the avant-garde piece produces similar logical functions. To
remove the piece from a totality allows its pass-word to be exposed and its meaning to
escape fixed and delimited zones. The enthymematic persuasive writing we are seeking
operates with the pass-word. We may say that this is what the avant-garde demonstrates
repeatedly: to recognize the repetition of certain cultural forms, and to place those
repetitions against expectations, to suppress the expected, and to make recipients
responsible for what they allow to be repeated socially. Discourses like advertising
suppress the unexpected so as to induce a standard repertoire of redundant images.
The order-word becomes at all moments a mediated discourse. Like the logic of
montage and collage, a situational context always exists, which is to say there is always a
type of interference that functions outside of the given in language. To locate this surplus
situation and context, Deleuze and Guattari cite Bakhtin:
As Vologinov [Bakhtin] says, as long as linguistics extracts constants, it is
incapable of helping us understand how a single word can be a complete
enunciation; there must be "an extra something" that "remains outside of the scope
of the entire set of linguistic categories and definitions," even though it is still
entirely within the purview of the theory of enunciation or language. The order-
word is precisely that variable that makes the word as such an enunciation. The
instantaneousness of the order-word, its immediacy, gives it a power of variation in
relation to the bodies to which the transformation is attributed. (A TP 82)
To write with the extra something is the opportunity collage and montage provide.
Displacing a piece and moving it into another context is to bring the extra something to a
new situation-to effectuate a different meaning with the same piece. New media
accelerates the circulation of pieces.
If we reference Bakhtin, we may begin to unpack the immensity behind indirect
discourse through his dialogical principle. Tzvetan Todorov'sMikhailBakhtin highlights
that the logic of the dialogical principle is the enthymeme, or as Voloshinov/Bakhtin
says, "The quotidian utterance endowed with signification is therefore composed of two
parts: (1) a realized or actualized verbal part, and (2) an implied part. That is why an
utterance can be compared to an 'enthymeme'" (41). Underneath the quotidian utterance
(order-word), we have an interval of inference among situational contexts. Like the
Deleuzian action-image, the situation is the index that deduction must be engaged to
solve. This is a modular approach to language. The order-word or piece is an empty sign
without any permanence. Transposing the piece into a new context via "cut and paste" is
to effectuate and shape a new meaning.
Deleuze's example of the action-image develops a method to write pragmatically
but with vastly different attributes than a classicist direct composition. The action-image
can be paralleled to the structure of an enthymeme: Action (premise 1) -- a present but
not articulated Situation (premise 2) -- Action' (conclusion). As Deleuze stated earlier, it
is the case that we receive the withheld situation after both action shots (we see the gazes
and then deduce the conflict). Grammar and language bend and curve: to proceed
forwards, but then backwards to complete the sentence-the means-end rationality of
subject and predicate are removed. This results in a sufficient break to the syntactical and
grammatical sentence as we have a method to place obligatory demands in variation:
For the question was not how to elude the order-word, but how to elude the death
sentence it envelops, how to develop its power of escape, how to prevent escape
from veering into the imaginary or falling into a black hole, how to maintain or
draw out the revolutionary potentiality of the order-word. (A TP 110)
To write i/ ih the enthymeme is to engage the logic of hypermedia. The sentence and
syntax becomes superlinear, by leaving gaps and indexes of information to be retrieved:
"This implies superlinearity, in other words, a plane whose elements no longer have a
fixed linear order: the rhizome model" (ATP 92). Diagramming a sentence would no
longer be like tracing out a crystalline structure, for the hypersentence is more amorphous
and mutable. Language is without a grammar; languages) have grammar(s).
To argue with the enthymeme is to argue with all the previous social and public
meanings brought with a particular object. New media facilitates this method with the
vastest cultural archive to date: the internet. To compose with a computer is the ability to
compose a collage, to effectuate new meanings for already circulating objects. When
Duchamp places his Fountain in an art exhibition, he counts on the public to understand
and retain their normative meanings towards the objects (urinal and the institution).
Duchamp makes both objects take a new responsibility, to show their linkage on the
surface, to make both bear the weight of artificiality.
Engaging the enthymeme is to follow the avant-garde in terms of being at the
cutting edge of social formations. If we reference Deleuze and Guattari's ideas of
tensors-the cutting edge of the assemblage whose side faces unterritorialized zones-
opportunities for variation underscore the enthymeme. It is not a process of association,
but of decomposition and disassociation by way of subtracting and tearing a piece from a
totality. As Deleuze and Guattari say, the process is a double movement: "Subtract and
place in variation, remove and place in variation: a single operation" (ATP 104). Like the
enthymeme, this method of variation operates by an equation of (n 1). To place in
variation with tensors is a method of cutting that "assures the variation of the variable by
subtracting in each instance the value of the constant (n 1)" (ATP 99). In comparison
with the enthymeme, n acts as the redundant socially inscribed meaning where the
interval is initiated by suppression or truncation. We may conclude that the respondent,
operating on the level of endoxal knowledge, completes the equation with (n + 1) by
supplementing the incomplete logical equation with a shared horizon of social
knowledge. Throughout various interlocutions or interactions, n remains a variable
without constancy as it slides along the intersections of common social knowledge. The
variable n is without fixed and demarcated social registers because each participant
stratifies the meaning at a different level. Perhaps more succinctly, the variable n ensures
that redundancy never becomes a constant by always positioning the assemblage in
constant variation as it continues to carve, continues becoming, even as it attempts to
reach a plateau.
Deleuze and Guattari's thinking corresponds closely to an avant-garde approach
to language. They presuppose a complete inversion of normative language models. For
example, when the avant-garde tear the piece from its totality, we may speculate that they
are placing the piece back into its habitat of indirect discourse. In this way, as Deleuze
and Guattari say, it is no longer about opposing constant and variable, but that to make
something a constant is a treatment of the variable (ATP 103). To make language
constant requires more effort than to make it vary. To make an image redundant is much
more difficult than to break its redundancy.4 The relationship of the pass-word and
order-word are noteworthy here. The order, direction, and command of the order-word
seem natural only to the extent that their redundancy parallels. What Deleuze and
Guattari highlight is that breaking with the order-word's redundancy is to bring the pass-
word out from a dormant status, which also foregrounds a language system based on
variation rather than linear constancy.
There is a Bakhtinian principle at work, or as Todorov says, "every utterance is
also related to previous utterances, thus creating intertextual (or dialogical) relations"
(48). What we find at work, and the potentiality of which is brought to the fore with new
media, is the ability to constantly reshuffle and reorganize writing due to the logic of
hyperlinking: "they are not only superlinear and 'suprasegmental' elements, in contrast to
linear segmental elements; their very characteristics give them the power to place all the
elements of language in a state of continuous variation" (ATP 103). There is an
opportunity to separate data from its structure, to chop the links of redundancy into pieces
and re-piece them together. We are approaching a language model and a grammar with
variable rules instead of obligatory rules. As Deleuze and Guattari say, it is like a game
that has "not invariable and obligatory rules, but optional rules that ceaselessly vary with
the variation itself, as in a game in which each move changes the rules" (ATP 100). But
to limit the radical inclinations thus far, it is not the goal to remove prior grammatical
structures and language functions in a supposition towards proclaiming their
ineffectiveness. New media does not concern itself with reducing any language function
4 Establishing Coca-Cola as an image of iconic status far outweighs the time and effort involved in making
it a new sign.
to degree zero; we are interested in supplementing and adding on new wings to an
institutional structure that has reached its occupational limit with current methods.
The method for arguing with the enthymeme is to engage in a social discourse.
Aristotle aligned deductive enthymemes with rhetorical syllogisms, and writing with new
media offers a chance to continue this method. To tear a piece from its redundant role
and paste it into a new context is to force the recipient to complete the logistical
movements. The enthymeme may be used in academia on par with the effectiveness of
advertising, but with more responsibility. New media allows the collage to be
responsible for what it exposes. It allows one to create a hyperlink, to separate the data
from its structure and expose its origins; the image can be hyperlinked to pre-established
sources. To compose a new media collage would be to have the opportunity to provide
links to the redundant contexts the piece came from. For example, a collage may be
made using HTML statements, each object taken from an archive like Google.com to
coordinate a new superlinear sentence, with all the information on the screen at once.
How all the varying images, media objects, etc. combine to form an argument relies on
the recipient to turn the incomplete syllogism on the screen into a perfect syllogism in the
We may demarcate essential features of how the enthymeme is used in new
media: (1) the approach towards enthymematic persuasive arguments continues the logic
initiated by Aristotle to work with social knowledge; (2) the aim for new media is to
disrupt the standard repertoire of redundancy circulating with cultural objects; (3) new
media performs these tasks by disassociation and decomposing the established fixity of
order-words. Rather than institutions like advertising where the manipulation relies on
association, new media has the potential to continue the vanguard aesthetic of
disassociation by forcing the individuated object bear its pass-word characteristics as a
Collage and montage are slow processes that begin with the accumulation of data
that can take exorbitant amounts of time. New media, with inherent algorithms and
modularity, are catalysts to these procedures. The amount of material on the internet, all
of which carries social and cultural meanings, accelerates the speed and ease of
composing an enthymematic argument. The richness of the process lies in its social
dimensions. The enthymeme, from Aristotle forwards, marks a way to argue socially.
The most acute model for this argumentative practice is within entertainment and
political discourses. We find irresponsible arguments that manipulate social knowledge
and funnel redundancy into a pseudo transcendental repetition through "image"
circulation (a nationalistic image). Images become iconic, which is to say that the social
and cultural meanings are immediate. By intersecting the avant-garde and new media,
we find an opportunity to subtract from redundancy and make the enthymematic
argument carry its immense power of persuasion. Even without a current pragmatic
consensus towards academic writing, the pedagogical value cannot be dismissed; the
enthymeme is a thought process of exposure that alludes to ways of deducing how image
repertoires form and become redundant to the point of normalcy.
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Buirger, Peter. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Trans. Michael Shaw. Minneapolis: U of
Minnesota P, 1984.
Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara
Habberjam. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1986.
-- -. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta.
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-- -. Proust & Signs. Trans. Richard Howard. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000.
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
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MacDonald, Scott. Avant-Garde Film: Motion Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP,
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Patrick McHenry received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the
University of Central Florida in 2002. After completing his undergraduate honors thesis
on Walt Whitman, he then accepted an assistantship position at the University of Florida
in 2003. Mr. McHenry will graduate in May 2005 with a Master of Arts in English
concentrating in Theory Studies and possibly continue his Ph.D. work at a later date in an
undetermined locale. His academic interests include Critical Theory, New Media, and