Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Symbol management

Presidential campaigns are big machines built to try and direct information flows. Managing symbols, from slogans to hair cuts to flag pins. The people that are interpellated by these campaigns find themselves part of the information flow-- dems using the phrase 'erratic' or repubs saying Obama is 'inexperienced' or 'a terrorist' are just the little pictures that all together make a big picture, part of the collage of symbols being managed. The campaigns work hard to make sure the symbol projects a kind of coherence.

So it's interesting to run into pictures like this one, from nytimes.com, which seems strangely incoherent in its deployment of 'plumbers' below the Obama mask, next to the Palin:

Perhaps it's just a reminder that there remains some distance between people and symbols, that information, like life, is always resistant even at its most administered.

Which is a little bit like saying yes, there's a reason to write poetry.

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