[-empyre-] COVID 19 Movement III: Presto

Mukherjee, Rahul mrahul at sas.upenn.edu
Fri May 1 07:26:19 AEST 2020

Hi All,

It has been both moving and encouraging to follow conversations for this week. Patti mentioned FLEFF and Cinemapolis, two things so dear to me during my stay in Ithaca two years ago, and it was several years ago as a graduate student that I got the chance to be at FLEFF - just what an event, institution, and process that Patti has created and nurtured over the years.

"Viroids" and "cultural vaccine" - Ricardo creates words and phrases that make wonder and wander. Indeed, to consider Covid-19 and then to consider the infodemic of memes, misinformation  and trolls. I was reminded of Henry Jenkins who has objected to the easy sliding of “cultural material” to “biological processes” in the “viral-media” thesis and argues that this slippage inadequately accounts for the participation and effort that the audience/user puts into spreading the video. Unlike Jenkins, Tony Sampson finds the social and biological to be mutually intertwined. Citing Gabriel Tarde, Sampson notes that the social involves “involuntary association, with all manner of affecting agencies.” I find both arguments quite compelling.

I have also been thinking of the cultures of uncertainty that in rather ordinary circumstances people are facing, whether it is about disinfecting food and surfaces or figuring out what kinds of improvised masks to wear. Obviously, right now the mundane has become extraordinary.

On a more personal note, I chat with my mother twice a day. My mother has to regularly (once a week) attend chemotherapy sessions at a day-care in Delhi, and she lives in a neighboring state. Each time she has to go these sessions, she has to procure a permit as a way to travel during lockdown. Receiving a permit can be tricky given the corruption that marks Indian bureaucracy, and at times it has been difficult. Prevailing cultures of bureaucracy continue to enact new cultures of uncertainty amidst Covid-19 in India.

Will stop here for now. The word "solidarity" is a meaningful word I believe in this moment. In what ways can it be expressed and enacted - empyre offers some examples I think.


Rahul Mukherjee
Assistant Professor, Television and New Media
Cinema Studies Program, Department of English
Fisher-Bennett Hall 243, University of Pennsylvania

From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Patricia Zimmermann <patty at ithaca.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 1:09 AM
To: empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
Subject: [-empyre-] COVID 19 Movement III: Presto

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