Friday, September 02, 2011

Performance Anxiety

In a recent class I taught about "the Art of the State," students were encouraged to think about the values matrix of government as it is represented in the visual rhetoric of the state. In the case of the Obama administration values like "transparency" may even get their own designated .gov websites. Now the White House has launched, which uses the language of corporate discourse and key phrases like "acquisition," "financial accountability," "human resources," and "customer service" along with stock photos of shaking hands, calculators, and generic clients to establish more associated with capital ventures than the social contract. I've been thinking about how "performance" differs from "efficiency" in its connotations and why the administration might choose a rhetoric of magnified returns rather than limited investment at this particular historical moment.

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