Machine aesthetic

It is the derivative which holds sway over Jamaica’s desire for material wealth. The machines working the factories are those which are cheap becuse they have been discarded by the well-off countries, having done their duty or unable to according to the West’s demands. D&G works with bottling machines which used to work elswhere and discarded in the surge for renewal. Jamaica is the end of the foodchain as far as recycled machinery. Only in its struggle to keep up does Jamaica justify its third world status. Where it is independent it is vibrant.


Waiting is a phenomenon akin to acceptance of the dislocation of the machine that this society has never become. Jamaican society is not machine-like, much of it is anti-machine. But then, nor is any society truly machine-like, evn though there have been attempts to make them as such. So let me explain what I mean. The metaphor of the machine has had an enormous sway in the century following Gallileo, Kepler and Newton. De la mettrie is an obvious example, but the machine as a metaphor for a healthy, orderly society has been very compelling as an organising principle, introducing standards of human conducts and the like. As such our ways of describing success often uses traces of the machine metaphor: the show is running well; the fact that a machine itself uses metaphors of another order, like running, does confuse the issue: an process that is running well is being compared to a machine, a well-oiled machine.


The paradigm of machinery has undergone an understandable reaction. First of all the machine is not a metaphor indigenous to Africa. Society in Subsharan Africa was far more stable than that of Europe, serviced by far more permanent images. As such, the machine, the metaphor of the machine has never exercised its compelling view on the African contingent of Jamaica as it has done in the industrialised nations. Life here is not a machine. But there is a far more insidious reason for the lack of a machine aesthetic. In Jamaica, slavery nearly succeeded in turing its objects into machines, literally. STOP