Articles

“Childhood Cartoon Faces”: An Exercise of Myth and Memory

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2010 by SOULFIRE Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Childhood Cartoon Faces”: An Exercise of Myth and Memory

By John Kim

For the last several weeks “Childhood Cartoon Faces” encouraged Facebook denizens to combat violence against children by asking them to change their profile picture to a favorite cartoon character. The campaign is very popular even at a cursory glance with a lot of Facebook profiles having heeded the call. “Childhood Cartoon Faces” has for the moment become the top news on the Internet.

The campaign’s detractors have levied that this project is only a symbolic gesture that does not move people towards action – and that is a fair critique. While I can’t say it is going to make an immediate quantitative impact – I do believe this campaign will raise awareness and that is the first step towards building or reinforcing any movement.

In my opinion the campaign is actually effective in its simplicity and may have longer-term effects than realized. If we can all learn an important lesson from this seemingly simple activity it is that we can never underestimate the power of historical memory rooted in mythology.

The mission of the “Campaign to End Violence Against Children” Facebook page proclaims, “Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday [Dec. 6], there should be no human faces on Facebook but an invasion of memories.”

Cartoons: “An Invasion of Memories”

Psychologically speaking, “memory is an organism’s ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences.” As humans we learn first and foremost through stories and in our capitalist society much of children’s mythologies are consumed through the animated form of cartoons, though they run the spectrum of genre narratives. Through the power of iconic representation, cartoons have a profound transformative effect on our experiential (historical) memory and activity as children.

Scott McCloud, author of “Understanding Comics” explains, “The cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled … an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel in another realm. We don’t just observe the cartoon we become it!” Young children live vicariously through their favorite cartoon characters and it creates an utterly transformative experience in which the historical memory is stored as children mature.

Corporations, aware of this power are able to market all types of products to kids by using associative techniques that many deem deceptive. Cartoons are utilized to influence kids to influence their parents – by any means necessary – to buy them the must-have product! By associating the “transformed identity” to products and services, children are often conditioned for impulsive consumption. Fortunately such powerful tools can be used to educate children and adults as well, as this Facebook campaign illustrates!

“Childhood Cartoon Faces” utilizes the very same associative techniques on a largely adult audience by asking us to use our power of memory and experience. They want us to remember our childhood exuberance and magic experienced through our favorite cartoons. It is potentially a profoundly cathartic moment of transformation for one to engage in this activity and that is one of the prime reasons that I believe as to why this is such a popular campaign.

We all have so many seminal memories of play and wonder associated with childhood cartoons. Tapping into our most favorite cartoons unleashes an “invasion of memories” from time gone by residing within us. By allowing us to relive our childhood memories, this “invasion of memory” can be used via association to bring awareness to many about the rise of violence towards children and reinforcing an emotional bond with this issue.

Some critics want to see this campaign translating into immediate action, but that is not how associative techniques necessarily work. Through the use of historical memory rooted in myth we can help create the long term conditions for change.

Now that violence towards children is on the minds of millions, sincere organizations fighting child abuse should learn from this campaign and configure ways to capitalize on the success of this Facebook campaign. The seeds have been planted.

Email John Kim: soulsurvivors@gmail.com

Articles

HERO ACADEMY: MYTHOLOGY AND CULTURAL EVOLUTION

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2010 by SOULFIRE Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HERO ACADEMY: MYTHOLOGY AND CULTURAL EVOLUTION

A Project of Soul Survivors ~ in development …

By John Kim and Orlando Green

(Draft 2.0)

VISION

Hero Academy identifies everyday people who carry out extraordinary acts of courage for the common good and have the potential to become heroes in their communities across America. Once identified and chosen, they will become part of a team (a class if you will) that will undergo a rigorous “transmedia” and “game play education” training process to support their current work.

Upon graduation, the “Heroes” of the select team will repeat the cycle of identifying a new team/class of heroes in their communities for recruitment and training. We envision a concentric network of community heroes who work for the common good of humanity. Every graduating team/class will also be encouraged to learn from each other and to support everyone’s respective efforts collectively.

ANALYSIS: MYTHOLOGY AS CULTURAL DNA

“Mythology was to him the song of the universe. Music so deeply imbedded in our collective unconscious that we dance to it even when we can’t name the tune.” Bill Moyers on Joseph Campbell, author of “The Power of Myth”.

Mythos is a complex immersive sociological and psychological narrative that operates on both the conscious and subconscious level for all people. It is comparable to a computer operating system, the default architecture of social mores and values or ethics. If DNA encodes our genetic makeup on a biological level, surely mythology has evolved side by side to encode humanity’s cultural and psycho-social makeup.

Mythos is as old as society serving humanity in a myriad of ways. Long misunderstood as just simple stories of ages gone by, in actuality mythos evolved to provide a seminal blueprint of cultural pedagogy for human society. Mythos if properly understood can be utilized as the seminal basis for social transformation and cultural evolution, helping to reinforce positive and universal social values for the purposes of human survival.

Hero Academy realizes that creating fundamental and universal transformation means that we must develop and reinforce social relationships that understand the function of mythos and its profound application across a rapidly evolving “transmedia” cultural terrain.

ANALYSIS: CULTURAL EVOLUTION AND HUMAN SURVIVAL

In a New York Times article on human evolution (December 2006), scientists determined that the genetic trait of lactose tolerance developed among humans as far back as several thousand years some 2,700 – 6,800 years in several East African ethnic groups. This discovery was startling and illuminating for several reasons.

First, it dispelled the notion that evolution was a process that took place at a glacial rate, over tremendously long periods of time. In evolutionary measurements, 2,700 – 6,800 hundred years is a rather brief period of time in comparison to periods that are measured in the tens of millions of years; for instance the transition from the dinosaur periods to the rise of the mammals. Another reason is that such genetic developments arose independently of the same adaptive trait found in northern European pastoralists – what scientists call “convergent evolution.”

However the most fascinating aspect of this discovery was that the cause of genetic evolution was due to the change in cultural influences. The development of husbandry or the ‘agricultural practice of breeding animals’ an estimated 9,000 years past, allowed the adults that were able to digest lactose (due to gene mutations) an advantage in surviving over those without the lactose tolerant trait. In the majority of sedentary societies the lactose trait was often lost as infants aged and developed a non-lactose based diet.

Our understanding of species evolution is that such a process is contingent on developments or changes in their natural environment. This discovery further expands upon that premise by indicating that culture itself is an integral part of that environment. “The dynamism of human culture has always seemed to move faster than evolution itself, but this discovery suggests otherwise. To understand this about ourselves is to realize how little we know about the long-term effects of the ways we choose to live.”

If the process of natural selection in genetic adaptation can be influenced by cultural changes as an integral part of their environment, then the process also holds that people and in extension communities can evolve and survive based on how they choose to live.

This discovery comes to us at a time when humanity is facing the catastrophic effects of unprecedented environmental and social duress putting into question the very survival of humanity itself. There is a stranglehold of reactionary corporatist and statist monoculture over the very fate of earth’s biodiversity and cultural spheres. The lesson to be learned from history can never be clearer about the necessity of cultural evolution in human society to safeguard our ability to survive, overcoming insurmountable odds.

What has been created through human design can also be undone. At the very heart of cultural evolution the creation of new mythos can provide a blueprint, a path towards humanity’s mutual salvation.

SYNTHESIS: CORE PRINCIPLES

(Shared with Soul Survivors, Culture Clash, Young Voices Nation et al …)

  • We believe it is essential to create and design Interoperable Transformative Experiences
  • We believe that we must create strategies to develop a new transformative majority
  • We believe that Cultural ®evolution is the key component in helping to shape the human terrain
  • We are committed to the creation of a new American Narrative

METHODOLOGY: GAME PLAY EDUCATION

Hero Academy can best be regarded as “game play”. All people across the world grow up playing games. Game play is a fundamental part of the acculturation, socialization and education of individuals in their respective societies. In the industrialized nations and the developing nations, game play has evolved with the emergence of digital and online platforms where gaming is now a part of new interactive social mediums. Game play is an integrated part of this new media life. It is usually perceived of as a purely leisurely activity but in fact game play should be fully understood as a “real time” and “immersive” educational learning experience.

In the last decade of the new millennia, the convergence of new technologies and their dynamic infusion with human culture has brought about the rise of a “real time” “immersive” and “mobile” media revolution – and this cultural evolution is still in its infancy. In the heart of this evolution “Game Play Education” as we will term it, holds much potential for our nation’s youth and if this exploration is properly facilitated, this process may provide dramatic, transformative results.

Cultural critics and the mainstream media have focused on exploring the real and potential negative effects of digital (video) gaming on the lives of youth, often linking video game play or new media use with youth violence, cyber stalkers and academic delinquency. This continues to be an area of concern, but that may be just one focal point in a diverse and profoundly complex field of study.

Leading experts from key sectors of society have come to convincing conclusions that game play and gaming culture actually helps develop essential and critical skills that employers need and demand in a 21st century new media world. More importantly “Game Play Education” is critical for the wholistic development of all individuals. “Game Play Education” is widely recognized by experts to help young people develop experience based then knowledge based skill sets in these key areas:

  • strategic and analytical thinking
  • problem solving
  • planning and execution
  • decision making
  • adaptation and response
  • organizational skills
  • innovation

“Game Play Education” can also be used to devise new training regimen for adults and workers in all types of fields. There are many popular games that can be adapted to further articulate and strengthen skill sets. All prerequisite academic subjects can be integrated and adapted for this curriculum. The key to understanding game play is that they will put people in an “immersive” “interactive” “real time” educational environment. It is fundamentally transformational.

METHODOLOGY: TRANSMEDIA AMPLIFIES GAME PLAY

Unlike traditional media which is comparatively static our contemporary multi-media society operates on multiple distributive platforms which allows for the dissemination of dynamic narratives that require an intense level of social interaction. Termed “transmedia” storytelling, this multi-medium can amplify mythos metanarratives exponentially.

In 2008, a similar “transmedia” activist strategy helped to usher in America’s first African-American President, Barack Obama. The very same strategy also operated in reverse during the 2010 Midterm Elections where the Tea Party overturned the Democratic Party majority through the creation of sophisticated counter narratives.

Hero Academy is primed to create a new American narrative across these mass media platforms thereby forging a new mythology of common heroism.

John Kim and Orlando Green … Thanks to Suzy Subways for first edits …

For further details email soulsurvivors@gmail.com