the dualities below being part and parcel of marginal creatures every where, and para–.
from Theory of the Gimmick, Sianne Ngai ,Critical Enquirer, winter 43
“The gimmick saves us labor. The gimmick does not save labor (in fact, it inteansifies or even eliminates it).
The gimmick is a device that strikes us as working too hard. The gimmick is a device that strikes us as working too little.
The gimmick is outdated, backwards. The gimmick is newfangled, futuristic.
The gimmick is a dynamic event. The gimmick is a static thing.
The gimmick is an unrepeatable “one-time invention” (Jameson’s singularity) The gimmick is a device used “hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of times” (Twain’s joke).
The gimmick makes something about capitalist production transparent. The gimmick makes something about capitalist production obscure”
and then this note:
” It might be tempting here to collapse the gimmick into the broader concept of kitsch to which it is undeniably related, and into which so many other equivocal aesthetic categories have been for so long subsumed. Yet to do so would be to lose sight of the gimmick’s fascinating specificity. Certainly the commodity aesthetic of kitsch is as much a product of the capitalist mode of production. Yet its concept does not encompass the connotations of labor-saving technology that the gimmick does. The paradigmatic kitsch object that is the tchotchke, bibelot, or collectible—snow globes, cookie jars, fuzzy dice—makes no promise to save anyone time or effort; in fact, often just the opposite, signifying dilatory pleasures, a utopia of luxurious purposelessness or affordable waste. Most significantly, kitsch is an aesthetic of consumerism and does not call up the image of production or draw it into reception in the direct way that the gimmick qua technique or device does.”