Check it out!

November 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Unlimited Options

In its colloquial use this phrase is quite typically associated with new things. It indicates something that is supposed to be unknown or was not (yet) perceived. There is also a social imperative behind this phrase, involving at least one person that has already “checked out” something and another who hasn‘t. Knowledge is handed down, spread and expanded. Yet there is another use which makes this common phrase all the more interesting. In the case of “checking a book out from a library”, for example, the initial recommendation is transformed into a proposition to act and to get hold of something.

“To check” is a Cybernetic metaphor

The placing of the word check here is indicative of an intrusion of cybernetic jargon into common speech. “Checking” is closely associated with surveillance and control, of safeguarding the proper functioning of a machine, a routine or an algorithm. The seemingly trivial remark adopts a whole new dimension pointing toward a cultural condition where the number of choices surpasses what the mind can reasonably and productively process. In the field of cultural production each enunciation exist first and foremost to be communicated at a given point in time. Because production is asynchronous (works on particular subjects) and simultaneous (different actors produce at the same time), continued attention to a multitude of subjects is difficult.

Dissonance and Consonance

Assuming that a given individual can only follow the development of a limited number of elements, “check it out” points to a hitherto unnoticed element and seeks to integrate it into the wider perceptive and interpretative framework. Elements that are excluded from a structure are reviewed and amended to establish consonance or can be rejected to uphold dissonance on firmer grounds. “Check it out“ remains an imperative and a cybernetic metaphor of cultural production. Any selection of elements remains to be expanded by further “checks” on available alternatives and variants. Identity thus established is a temporal marker.

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