Thursday, November 10, 2011

Word of the Day: Iconditioning (or iConditioning)

Today, I am going to perform an act of the much-reviled derivative neologising. That is, I am coining a term that is so obviously piggybacking on current trends that I feel a little bad about it. The new word is 'iconditioning', or perhaps 'iConditioning'.

Some people have used the latter term before, I should imagine, with the intent of labelling those who have bought into the late Steve Jobs's amazing technological 'reality distortion field' — epitomised by the names iMac, iPhone, iCloud, iPad, iWhatever.

In my case, I'm thinking of a recent book by Martin Kemp, Christ To Coke: How Image Becomes Icon. In that book, the author discusses how various process make images iconic in our minds — processes that are mediated by political power, traumatic event, and so on. The role of the ever-expanding and entrenching media (using whatever the latest infodump technology might be — clay tablets, tablet computing) is fairly strong here, but there are some other psychological quirks.

Somewhere out there, a mysterious psychopomp conveys the imagined concept to some sort of iconic afterlife, where it is beatified and joins the pantheon. When an image becomes an icon, it is very much like the process by which a dying hero is taken by the valkyrior to Valhalla. There, it will eat and drink its immortal way, whether obscure or not, until Ragnarok comes.

The whole process of becoming an icon, I say (or should that be 'iSay'?), should be called 'iconditioning'. We are conditioned by our information-environments to think of image as icon until it becomes true by some sort of apotheosis. And there iRest my case.

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OpenID Turin Hurinson said...

I recently finished reading a book by Jean-Luc Marion (The Crossing of the Visible). Its central thesis was that an image can become one of two things: an icon, or an idol.

The idol emerges when the relationship between the image and its subject, which is itself invisible, is mimetic: by imitating the invisible subject, the image attempts to displace it (I guess this works something like Rene Girard's mimetic desire), and set itself in the place of honor.

The icon, on the other hand, emerges when the relationship is kenotic: the image empties itself of intrinsic value, and contents itself with pointing at the invisible subject. Marion also links this to Christ's kenosis on the cross and the whole "divine economy" that generates the holy spirit.

Anyway, this doesn't directly map on to what you're saying, idol/icon seems like a distinction worth keeping in mind here.

Wow, the above makes me sound like a wannabe French theorist.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 3:02:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Hmm, yes you're right. I remember this distinction, which (strange as it might seem) is found also in the Book of Isaiah, where the prophet points out that the image made of matter is a pointless exercise in craftsmanship — itself an interesting argument, interestingly argued.

You (or Marion, summarised by you) have brought the point across well. I'll think more about it; I remember thinking about it not so pointedly here.

Friday, November 11, 2011 3:04:00 am  

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