Propaganda is everywhere

datePosted on 13:42, February 10th, 2009 by Lew

Hi folks. I’ve been invited to join the other posters here, and I’ll put up things which occur to me from time to time. To start the ball rolling, here’s an image I think has some pretty interesting meanings:

pac-man-moon

(Image sourced from here.)

Discuss.

L

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15 Responses to “Propaganda is everywhere”

  1. StephenR on February 10th, 2009 at 15:09

    Discuss.

    Someone tell me what the hell is in the picture, and then maybe I will! Are those boats?

  2. Lew on February 10th, 2009 at 15:14

    StephenR: Yes. And oil rigs, as I make it out.

    L

  3. StephenR on February 10th, 2009 at 15:27

    Should’ve said it’ll certainly be interesting to see what else you can come up with on analysing propaganda. Sounds like a pretty unique sort of niche in the blogosphere.

  4. BLiP on February 10th, 2009 at 15:50

    At the risk of seeming even more unhinged that I usually do:

    I get a picture of a pacman scooting across the screen munching his way through the detritus of human consumption. It evokes a rather sad picture of how we treat our planet, actually.

    BTW, good luck to you Lew.

  5. Anita on February 10th, 2009 at 17:20

    I’m struggling with the construction of “propaganda”. What makes this propaganda as opposed to an individual’s artistic expression?

  6. Lew on February 10th, 2009 at 18:29

    BLiP,

    At the risk of seeming even more unhinged that I usually do:

    It’s meant as a bit of fun and a lateral-thinking experiment – like a sort of Rorschach. But you’ve entered into the spirit of it.

    Anita,

    I’m struggling with the construction of “propaganda”. What makes this propaganda as opposed to an individual’s artistic expression?

    A very (very) loose interpretation of propaganda, viz, something which has complex encoded political-symbolic messages.

    What stood out to me was that it is:

    * a moon shaped like an Islamic crescent
    * eating oil rigs and (war?)ships
    * on a red sky
    * with a curvy “Eastern” sort of font

    Sure, it might not intentionally be a propaganda image – I know nothing about its origin, and it’s part of a pac-man meme tradition – but it nevertheless has some meaning, if you care to look for it.

    L

  7. gingercrush on February 10th, 2009 at 20:55

    Very good to see you blogging for Kiwipolitico. In fact since kiwipolitico was started its quickly become my second most read leftish (though you’re moderate) blog.

  8. Pascal's bookie on February 10th, 2009 at 21:01

    like a sort of Rorschach.

    Sure is.

    randian
    “A spectre is haunting the western economies — the spectre of communism.”

    Jihadi
    “IZ N UR oilfields killn all UR doodz”

    Neo-conservative Jacobite
    “IZ N UR gulf eatn all UR birth ritz”

    Neo-marxist anti-globalist
    The structure of late capitalism is built on the contradiction that in order to maintain the consumption on which the economy depends, the state must maintain an imperialistic control over the natural resources of the developing world. An enterprise that it both cannot afford to undertake, and cannot afford to forego. Capitalism sacrifices it’s future to the war god Mars, here shown in his pacman aspect, essentially eating itself.

    deep green
    Gaia Rampant on a field of red.

  9. Lew on February 10th, 2009 at 21:03

    GC: And sensible. Don’t forget sensible :)

    L

  10. Phil Sage (sagenz) on February 10th, 2009 at 22:05

    Lew – Congratulations on making the cut. I do enjoy discussing things with you.

    The pac man also crosses over with mantras so you have a nice cross of modernity and antiquity

  11. Lew on February 10th, 2009 at 23:13

    PB:

    randian
    “A spectre is haunting the western economies — the spectre of communism.”

    But it’s eating from right to left!

    L

  12. Anita on February 15th, 2009 at 16:43

    This has been nagging at that back of my mind, so I’m going to try to write a coherent response…

    How can we articulate the difference between consciously constructed propaganda, and the expression of an individual who has eaten a diet of propaganda?

    This may be designed as propaganda, or it may be a conscious artistic response to propaganda, or it might be an artistic expression by someone whose world view has been framed by the propaganda of others.

    As for my immediate responses when I originally saw the post

    1) All the permanent elements are natural, all the impermanent ones human created.

    2) Each human created element reduces the beauty of the scene.

    3) Will the oil rigs be able to be stripped away from the landscape in the same way the photoshop (?) layer can be stripped off the image? (Which made me wonder about the phrase “burned in” given the colours)

    4) Right-to-left directionality in art is awkward to me (and to most people in our culture). As the photo could have been flipped the artist either didn’t see the awkwardness (although they used a phrase which is specific to English-speaking cultures) or the awkwardness is intentional

  13. Lew on February 15th, 2009 at 17:02

    Anita,

    How can we articulate the difference between consciously constructed propaganda, and the expression of an individual who has eaten a diet of propaganda? This may be designed as propaganda, or it may be a conscious artistic response to propaganda, or it might be an artistic expression by someone whose world view has been framed by the propaganda of others.

    At the risk of channeling Barthes, does it matter? Doesn’t this sort of ideological semiotic Rorschach reveal more about us than about the author?

    L

  14. Anita on February 15th, 2009 at 17:21

    Lew,

    Yes and no :)

    If we’re only thinking about the response in the viewer than it probably doesn’t matter. But if we’re thinking about the intentionality of the piece then it does matter.

    More broadly though, it does raise how an idea makes it from the subject of one group’s consciously constructed propaganda to inclusion in others’ work to ubiquity.

  15. Lew on February 16th, 2009 at 09:46

    Anita,

    Yes and no :)

    Indeed!

    If we’re only thinking about the response in the viewer than it probably doesn’t matter. But if we’re thinking about the intentionality of the piece then it does matter.

    Well, in this case intentionality is unknowable, and I’d argue that speculating about it would be a source of entropy in a conversation, and therefore best ignored, as Barthes would want. I don’t think that’s universally the case, though – where the author is known it’s certainly useful to consider their perspective as part of the text.

    L

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