Love and Temporality

Here is the reading I wrote for the wedding I attended yesterday. It was a very good day. I performed my reading well. I think I have almost come to terms with my stutter, as I performed near flawlessly. Having delivered almost 100 lectures and taught countless (400+) tutorials has certainly helped.

Love and Temporality — Glen Fuller
A reading at a wedding is meant to do two things. Firstly, somehow relate to the couple about to be married and, secondly, contain a lesson that their nuptials can teach to us. ‘Us’ being them and everyone else collected here today.
The defining quality of Tom and Annika’s relationship is how long it has taken for them to get married. [pause]
Roughly 12 years has passed since they originally met and in all that time they have barely parted.

Along the way, we have probably all had a word to them about taking the next step and getting married, but they have always resisted – not in a petulant way but in way that suggested that the timing of these nuptials was always going to be up to them.

For Annika and Tom to stand before us today, shows that they have made the decision that the time is right – that they have so loved their life together that they know they will want it to always be so.

[slowly] In a relationship, timing is everything.

And perhaps what today’s ceremony should show us is that the question of timing can mean so many things.
We must step back to appreciate that timing can be qualitative rather than simply quantitative.
Annika and Tom have not decided to marry today because they have reached an expiry date or a deadline. It is not the date or the time that has made this ceremony.

Rather, today is the time to marry because there is something special and right about this moment that has moved Annika and Tom to take the step to declare their commitment before their friends and family.

[savvy, smile] The ancient Greeks would refer to the qualitative nature of this ceremony and the whole process of engagement and preparation as Kairos. Kairos refers to the right time, the time of opportunity, the time of creation. It cannot be measured. We recognise Kairos in our lives as the sublime moment when something new can be affirmed and brought into the world. Here and now we are celebrating within the Kairos of Annika and Tom’s love on their wedding day.

But it is not enough for the moment to arise. To capitalise on opportunity requires work and the lesson I would encourage Annika and Tom to take from my words is to recognise [pause] when these opportunities are presented to them throughout their lives. Whenever one of you is sick, may the other realise the opportunity to demonstrate their love through caring. Whenever one of you is tired and short-tempered, I hope that the other realises the opportunity to affirm their love through patience. And so on. Basically, to recognise that your love exists within a temporality of opportunity and embrace it. This way your love is re-affirmed and re-created in new ways for the rest of your lives together.

Tom and Annika’s decision to marry is also a lesson in timing to those witnessing this ceremony. Annika and Tom have asked us all to attend and witness at 5 o’clock on the 27th of December 2009 and we have all marked the date in our diaries and checked our watches to make sure we got here on time.

But when we look back on today, we will not remember the time or even the date.

[slowly] What we will remember is the kairos moment – the decision of these two people to marry before us all. So let us not pass today and the days in the future simply asking, “What time is it?” Let us instead reflect on time through the idea of Kairos and go further to ask, “What is this time for?”

Brief Photo Essay of My Childhood 1

Some photos from my first excursion around my old neighbourhood. I was feeling a bit diown being back in Perth. I basically didn’t want to be here and was feeling home sick for Sydney. A friend suggested I walk around to the various places that were important for my childhood. She was in Melbourne with her best friend and she was doing something similar.

There has been something slightly cathartic in touring these old sites and seeing all but traces of my own childhood. It at least kept my mind off thinking about missing my Sydney life for a while.

Avatar, The Poem

Here is a little diddy we created during our respective lunch breaks. Shall write up a review in a few days when I have time.

Where thee be,
Faraway tree,
In a faraway land,
On faraway sand.

They live in you,
With skin of blue,
Running through trees,
Running and free.

Floating rocks,
And dragon flocks,
Wisdom does grow,
With plants that glow.

But families, friends
It could all end.
These connected lands,
These connected hands.

A great war of all,
Saw thee tree fall,
Falling, fallen, lost,
Losing home the cost.

Yet united we stand,
To defend this land,
Guns against paws,
Bombs against claws.

Love unifies all creatures,
All their differing features.
An old strength is born,
On the new light of dawn.

By Maarinke and I.

Social Media and the Yaris Campaign

Tim Burrows has written up an account of the Toyota Yaris ad affair. The ad itself. Tim’s account follows the timeline of what happened and outlines it with a kind of decision-tree logic that makes it exciting and dramatic as we get to find out how this epic fail was distributed across a number of decisions. This is a far more productive way to account for failure than a juridical mode, which simply seeks to attribute blame (or minimize it) because these complex interactions across a number of actors in the affair (various ad people, agency people, Toyota people, etc) all contributed to the end result.

I posted a comment in response to another commenter, Schaden Freude, who ironically expressed caution about being too critical of the advertising campaign behind the Yaris affair. It annoyed me because it expressed a naïve position that social media was something that everyone has ‘experienced’ but was still trying to figure out. This is nonsense. My original comment:

Nonsense. Using social media is not some big experiment where the outcome is an enigmatic divination of public will and/or stupidity. ‘Experience’ in/with social media is not what is required. What is required is a critical understanding of the specific function of deploying the various ’social media’ tools as part of a well thought-out PR strategy and highly tactical management of these tools as a campaign unfolds.

Brands go viral in a media ecology, ’social media’ is a collective term to describe very different tools to manage the circulation of this brand in the ecology. Without the very active, hands-on tactical management of the virus-brand you simply have a bunch of people ticking boxes for a PR campaign recipe about what social media options they think are a good idea.

Think tending to a brand garden and not baking a brand cake.

Another commenter, sven, asked me to explain what I am talking about, which is fair enough with my mixing of metaphors and hastily-assembled text. (I am busy at work, now doing freelance!!) I don’t really care about the ad. My point is not about the lack of taste or the efficacy of shock-values in viral marketing. My point is about the lazy use of social media. Social media is not an ends, it is a means. (EDIT: Or here for a timely post by Neil Perkin.) What do you with social media? You can:

1) Host the conversation. Discussion about something between interested parties.
2) Extend the event. Off-line reality can be extended online, like friendship networks mapped on facebook, but more specific, so this night out discussed with the actual people that were there (or who would’ve liked to have been there). It gives the discussion an affective glue through an assumed shared sense of purpose.
3) Cultivate enthusiasm. Cultivate, yeah? Like a garden… Social networks online and off-line organise around people’s interests. When you use social media you want to tap into social networks. So you need to understand these interests or the stronger version of interest, enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a force, it is a resource, and what I wrote my PhD about.

There is little point using it for anything else when current techniques will suffice. Social media is used because the ‘media’ bit serves as part of the infrastructure of the ‘social’ bit.

So if the enthusiasm of people is a resource and harnessing it is contingent on extending their social events by providing the infrastructure for ‘discussion’ (in the broadest sense, sharing stuff, etc), then Toyota’s campaigner strategy should have been to:
1) Target the specific enthusiasms pertaining to the demographics of the market segment they were trying to capture.
2) Then target the specific social media platforms and niche groups of this enthusiasm/interest. Simply setting up a group on Facebook group is like walking into a newsagent and blindly choosing a magazine within which to run advertising. There is myriad number of possible ways to connect with the market segment.
3) Help encourage the rituals of sharing belonging to the cultural formations organised around these enthusiasms and other kinds of activity (producing, distributing, circulation of knowledge, etc.).

Why didn’t they target a niche social group where there is a crossover between rudimentary video production skills and a partial interest in the car? And if they don’t have the production skills? Why not set-up your own website with short video tutorials on how to make videos? Provide a resource that will catch people’s interest in the social media infrastructure of your own making. You could run two competitions. With the other being awarded to the best video about making videos. How many people would want to watch those? Have a forum where people can swap tips about video production, etc. Provide the resources to sow the interest and then cultivate the enthusiasm. Didn’t they already do this with a music DJ/mixing site where you could make your own tunes?

The Yaris campaign management did the complete opposite of this process of cultivation. Instead they ‘did’ social media by assembling all the ingredients assumed to be correct, i.e. Facebook and Twitter, without actually understanding the ‘social’ bit of ‘social media’. The use of ‘social media’ was completely ineffective.