Mic Check (verb, transitive)

The human microphone, born out of prohibitions against protestors’ use of technical means of amplification, has been transformed from a simple medium to a message in its own right. And as the Occupy movement (or idea, tendency, effort, etc.) has gone viral, so too has the human microphone, moving from the street to the auditorium, where it serves as a (non-neutral) means for dissenting audiences to speak back. Here, we see Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (above) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (below) getting “mic checked” by Occupy supporters.


One response to “Mic Check (verb, transitive)

  1. Over at his blog Ecology without Nature, Tim Morton has some interesting thoughts on the “mic check” (http://ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com/2011/11/politics-of-mic-check.html):

    “It’s phatic: that is it’s a communication that draws attention to its physical dimension. Not to a content. Or to an addressee. Or to the addresser. Or a metalanguage. Or to itself. In other words it’s part of ecological poetics (I go through that in Ecology without Nature).

    It also sums up the object-oriented politics of Occupy. It’s not “about” something, it directly IS that something. Here, there is, givenness, Es gibt, il y a, coexistence. Hale, holy, hello, hi.

    “Hi” is a word originally used to summon hunting dogs. “Hello” was exapted from hunting to be the word we say to one another on phones. It has to do with the history of phones.

    “Mic check” is playing with this technological history but in a subversive way, directly. I like that it isn’t “hey” or “hi” or some other hailing of a subordinate animal in a hunt. Or for that matter a Heil to a great leader.

    It’s a check, a test. Without a subject addressing an object. Far more purely phatic. Without aggression. Fucking genius.”

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