James Coleman (October Files)


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Lovie Mae Collins Coleman
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The result is a landmark in sociological theory, capable of describing both stability and change in social systems. This book provides for the first time a sound theoretical foundation for linking the behavior of individuals to organizational behavior and then to society as a whole. The power of the theory is especially apparent when Coleman analyzes corporate actors, such as large corporations and trade unions. He examines the creation of these institutions, collective decision making, and the processes through which authority is revoked in revolts and revolutions.

Coleman discusses the problems of holding institutions responsible for their actions as well as their incompatibility with the family. He also provides a simple mathematical analysis corresponding to and carrying further the verbal formulations of the theory. Finally, he generates research techniques that will permit quantitative testing of the theory. From a simple, unified conceptual structure Coleman derives, through elegant chains of reasoning, an encompassing theory of society.

It promises to be the most important contribution to social theory since the publication of Talcott Parsons' Structure of Social Action in Business seller information. Contact details. Return policy. You must return items in their original packaging and in the same condition as when you received them.

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James Coleman Dyer

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Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images wellcome. Lithograph by T.

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Maguire, From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. File information. Laurence Scott Austin: University of Texas, , p. It is a double narration performed to music by two players posing as male and female mannequins dressed in the fashionable styles of the fifties and eighties, respectively. On Clara and Dario, see again the exhibition catalogue cited in note 1. Alan Sheridan London: Tavistock Publications, Between life and death. Between film and photography, theater and painting: between all the forms of representation linked to these extremes of motion and stasis, there lies a perverse and precise art, one dedicated to a future still partly unknown, and of which James Coleman is the inhabitant.

There is a piece by Coleman that—through its title and the ambiguous situation that it creates—can serve as an index of this fluid field, the interstices and edges of which Coleman has filled with thirty years of work in every genre and subgenre, in projects ranging from the most minimal to the most expansive.

Modest and not very well known but recently reexhibited , the work was given the title Images : seven almost identical paintings arranged as a horizontal series that can be followed by the viewer in either direction. Lit violently, in fact in such a manner that the flood of light seems to dissolve the little that one can make out, the seven images display a metallic silver ground against which two lines trace a single motif.

And these obstacles only increased in number and type as soon as his work opened itself—with a single-mindedness paradoxically driven by a love of the heterogeneous—to all the major issues of the day while still finding a part of its strength in the dimension of local memory. Coleman achieved renown from the moment of his earliest works, which broke with the conceptualist fallacies of an international art scene in which he nevertheless quickly became one of the canniest members.

He was trained abroad, in France and in Italy, where he worked for a long time before returning to Ireland. Coleman seems to owe the force of his work to the contradiction that makes of him an internal exile in his own country as well as a nomad who carries this country with him wherever he exhibits and develops his art. Initially this opposition was due to the legacy of religion and magic, but subsequently it became part of the historical destiny that has forced Ireland for more than three centuries of terror and disaster to face what we might call the unrepresentable.

Here we can locate the force specific to an iconoclasm that—while inspired by the analytical and illusory gestures of contemporary art—finds the tools for a critical deconstruction of figures and meanings just as much in the remains of its own culture. Like all of the numerous examples where Coleman foregrounds the textual component of a piece through its sheer quantity and density of variation, the challenge in dealing with this work is to know where to situate oneself in relation to the information that comes or seems to come from the text.

The information given is excessive, elliptical, linked to a succession of images whose meaning it inflects, but whose perceptual complexity disallows in return the ability truly to linger over the words—words which in any case never linger themselves, and from which, one suspects, something essential is constantly slipping away.

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For it is precisely interpretation that is being targeted here and that before being destroyed—like the Carthage of our childhood Latin primers—opens this condition to the possibility of another delirium, one far more agonizing and seductive. Given the dangers of such interpretation, one understands better why Coleman has been so resistant to the idea The Living Dead Living and Presumed Dead 59 60 Raymond Bellour of allowing all or part of the texts of his installations to be published, why he refuses even simply to distribute them or to respond to their meaning.

For their meaning—constructed from a scintillation of possible meanings, endlessly torn down and recombined—does not, properly speaking, exist. We should not then attempt to reconstruct the narrative, or rather the fanning network of narratives, burgeoning forth from the carnivalesque voice of the vaudeville actor Noel Purcell, who as the narrator plays all the voices of the living and the dead in this work. It seems advisable to content oneself instead with the state in which the narrative was initially presented upon the first showing of Living and Presumed Dead in London in Capax was an acrobat, performing with daggers and fire, and dicing with death.

However Borras, his lover, has searched for him many years in the belief that he was still alive. But this entire system of symbols is always already travestied, dilapidated, spent in a series of stereotypes and of logics without issue. Of course. An intense, almost joyous melancholy thus radiates from the flute of the musician Brian Dunning, a music—seemingly half classical and half based in folk traditions—that modulates the thousand-and-one accidents of a tale that ends where it began.

One is touched by various words and phrases emitted during its course. They seem to turn around a secret: around identity and belief, love and death. It is as if they were from a play or a novel where the voices themselves so perfectly recapitulate those of previous books that we believe the plots are actually happening to the characters that the images parade before our eyes. And yet such is our dissociation that nothing overcomes it; nothing can cross its barrier.

The absolute separation for Propp between characters and the functions that they are expected to perform returns here in the impossibility truly to relate what one hears to what one sees, without however ever being able to cease attempting to do just that. On the wall that serves as a screen, there are twenty characters arranged in a straight line, as if on stage the moment just before or after a curtain call.

They shift positions continuously, and more or less drastically, dramatizing the full length of this fictive line, at the mercy of projected images not counting ten black ones whose unequal rhythm can be heard through the staccato punctuation of the computer-controlled slide projector. And this they certainly do. Or better, try to follow the trajectory of one or more of the characters trotted along the entire length of the line, through all the dissolves and blanks that punctuate the passage from image to image—a movement of whirls and eddies that, however much it fulfills the minimum narrative contract, detaches from the fullness of the text and initiates a genuinely hallucinatory, zigzag relationship between image and sound.

The viewer emerges conscious of this but defeated—or worse, with a false sense of victory, if he or she places the desire for mastery above that which the reality of the work permits. The only true recourse is to abandon oneself to the intellection of that which the projection is and can become during the twenty-five minutes that it lasts.

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Or longer. Where are we during this time, in this empty space where we can wander, seat ourselves upon the ground, rove along the line of permutations, get close to the image, touch it without anything happening? Where are we during this seemingly unfettered time during which each viewer must find his or her own distance and imagine his or her own path through the work? We are, first of all, placed squarely in a space of memory, the grand memory of reference.

Just look at the governess holding a book in her hand, like something right out of Jane Eyre or The Turn of the Screw. It is as if their successive arrivals, their positions during the dance, their presence around the long table, their leaving singly or in groups, as if all this represented mentally what Coleman initiates through the stubborn line of his figures.

But death here also carries the force of a bygone desire, one that suddenly focuses the current relationship of Gretta and Gabriel Conroy upon the image of a dead man whom Gretta once loved. Or one can think instead of the film and the way it imparts to these two states the reality of living images produced through the use of depth, proportion, positioning in time and space—in short, through types of shots.

Nothing of the sort in Living and Presumed Dead. For in itself, the photograph is already that object which displays as dead that which is living, becoming itself presumed dead, immobilized forever and yet frozen alive. The interspace of the still-image projection—between photography and cinema—contradicts this destiny of photography, from the moment that it dramatizes the photograph, concatenates it by a sort of quasi-movement.

Replacing the frozen vision of cinema, the aleatory nature of the situation of a visitor-become-spectator materializes when the decision is made to perceive an object through the angle of greatest coherence—despite the fact that it is by definition open to any number of approaches.


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Consider, for example, Allen Street , the beautiful series of projected photographs by Beat Streuli, taken with a zoom lens in a New York courtyard among a group of African-American adolescents. There is no voice-over, no music, no story—nothing but an immense wall covered from floor to ceiling by a series of images, grouped in short sequences and linked together by dissolves.

The photographic interruption—that freezing of movement that lasts forever—here Background, —94 Projected slide images with synchronized audio narration. In Living and Presumed Dead, on the other hand, the horror of what Lacan named the fascinum is unrelenting. The impact of the image stems first— one cannot repeat this enough—from the line of figures that we are asked to take as living beings, although they are not only playing dead but indeed seem to be so.

This is what is at stake. It is not insignificant that such a project could initially do without actual bodies, contenting itself instead with drawings, with body-signs. And they continue to remain signs, as always because of the stark uniformity of the line. Approaching this line in order to increase the intimacy with a character solves nothing: the horror proper to that which is indistinct is now added to that which is frozen.

There is but one point—variable but singular nonetheless—from which a viewer can both see everything and experience the transformations undergone by the line.

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