“Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies. Whereas politicians on the right have all too often given up the battle of ideas and retreated towards chauvinism and nostalgia, the left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites (see article). Yet, although the reborn left gets some things right, its pessimism about the modern world goes too far. Its policies suffer from naivety about budgets, bureaucracies and businesses.”Millennial socialism from the Feb. 14th, 2019 edition of The Economist
“Mini-culture? Micro-culture? They have a million hyphens over there at Time Incorporated.” George Carlin
“Macroeconomic historian Christina Romer, a Great Depression expert, became the chief advisor of president Obama.4 Indeed, Barry Eichengreen, himself an expert on financial crises in history, started his 2011 presidential address by saying that “’This has been a good crisis for economic history.’”Ran Abramitzky
“New Bruce will be teaching political science – Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke, Hobbes, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett, and Benet. In addition, as he’s going to be teaching politics, I’ve told him he’s welcome to teach any of the great socialist thinkers, provided he makes it clear that they were wrong.”Bruce, University of Wallamaloo
“Delete whatever didn’t get enough likes. On bad hair days, photograph your food. Buy from ethical companies unless you can’t find what you want, in which case, buy from Amazon. Throw your material possessions away like it’s a cardinal virtue. Hate scroll down the Facebook feed of an acquaintance who’s more successful than you. Avoid catching feelings for anyone or anything.”From First World Solutions by Kawai Shen
“Why, Sir, I am a man of the world. I live in the world, and I take in some degree, the colour of the world as it moves along. Your father is a Judge in a remote part of the island, and all his notions are taken from the old world. Besides, Sir, there must always be a struggle between a father and son, while one aims at power and the other at independence.”Dr. Johnson
Blondie and Dagwood in The 21st Century
It’s been some time between posts, but for good reason.
Once again we’re going the long way around the park.
Years ago Mom went to some corporate training which included what to do if someone tried to take the monkey off of his or her back and put it on yours. Using a firm but gently manner Mom mastered the technique of telling people, “OH MY! What a lovely monkey!Is it yours? So adorable, really I flattered, but I just can’t bring myself to separate you from your darling monkey!”
Over time she’s jettisoned whatever phrase the corporate trainers used and adopted the phrase, “Here’s your monkey, what’s your hurry?” Sadly, her technique has gotten quite a workout over the last couple of weeks. The number of people with monkeys reached a point where we almost had to start forming a line. But Mom handled it quite well using a great deal of what Joe Bob Briggs might call non-gratuitous monkey-fu.
Now that the monkey assisted nuisances have all been beaten back we can get on with the pressing issue of the day.
Since the start of the year there’s been plenty of content and much hand-wringing over the Millennials thinking that there’s nothing wrong with socialism. There’s lots of theories about how they’ve never known the abundance of jobs and cheap credit their parents had. That gets coupled with the last recession being burned into their brains at an impressionable age.
Is it true?
But rather than examine all the points that have been made in the past several weeks I’m going to take a different approach, an approach worthy of a crotchety old man with a blog.
I’m going to ask, “Where were the parents?”
And that involves history.
You gotta remember the Millennials parents were not born on the front end of the Baby Boom. The average Millennial’s parents met and settled down in an America that had worked hard to forget the 60s ever happened. They met and mingled when the fern bar was an endanger species. In it’s place came a series of watering holes with names that were about as woke as a Mr. Magoo cartoon. Friday evenings were spent at some bar named Jose Muldoon’s or Flannery O’Chang’s. Instead of the faux Currier-and-Ives fern-bar decor these places looked like one of those antique barns you see off to the side of some rural patch of asphalt. The walls were covered with old stop lights, horse collars, and metal signs for oil companies that no longer existed. Here they flocked in great numbers always wearing their best Miami Vice pastel jackets. Looking over the menu they rolled their eyes in delight at the thought of sharing a Cheese Stuft’d (sic) Deep Fried Baked Potato with friends. Next you washed it down with a signature cocktail that had a name like names like The Huli Huli Volcano or a Crazy Kanaka, either of which had all the charm of so much Del Monte fruit cocktail run through a blender.
Interaction with such food and drink served rough the same function as those birds who show off their plumage when they’re ready for courtship. Beer didn’t come in 31 flavors back then so if you sucked on suds you were moved off to a romance waiting list. God forbid you should be seen drinking something relatively adult (e.g. Chivas on the rocks) as you would then be regarded as little better than Stalin having a bad hair day.
From this gene pool modern America was forged.
Some of you are looking back at all that and are saying, “Sure, the takes us from genetic pairing to the moment of birth, but what about the socialization of these children?”
Anyone who has had children around the house knows that you spend a great deal of time driving them around. The Millennials were no different. Hour after hour they sat in the backseat while the parents left the radio on continuously while they drove. That’s how the average Millennial heard one morning zoo or another shout TGIF!! repeatedly and beg listeners to crank it up and sing along as we learn that everybody’s workin’ for the weekend. Hour after hour the kids learned that life exists between 5pm on Friday and 7am on Monday. The rest was drudgery. Of course as they got older and were able to read the parents gave them the Harry Potter books to read. While it kept them quiet in the backseat it also taught them that anything you need in this life can be had by waving a stick around.
Now some of you are asking, “Shouldn’t you be blaming the media instead?”
No, because that’s the coward’s way out.
Look, the parents could have handed those kids See you at the Top by Zig Zigler. Instead of FM radio Mom or dad could have shoved a cassette containing the combined wisdom of Norman Vincent and Emma Peale. They could have said they met at the opera instead of telling the kids about all those great times ON THE WEEKEND when they are knocking back Kahlua Kahunas at Chin Ho Kelly’s.
So the question stands, “Where were the parents?”
Besides the media get blamed for enough (See Also: non-gratuitous monkey-fu) and if I’m gonna keep up my bitter old crank credentials that means I’m going to have to spend some time blaming the parents.
Speaking of parents and children –
“None of you seem to understand, I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.” Walter Joseph Kovacs AKA Rorschach
Luckily for us we have a Millennial to consult, Alaska Wolf Joe. That means we can resort to that lazy-ass tv news habit of find one person from a given group and holding that person up as what all people in the group are all about.
So what is he up to?
Like Diogenes he’s taken up a lamp and held it up to his own ilk as he searches for the elusive Millennial socialist. So far he’s found one who seems to be out of the country and several others with socialist leanings (i.e. more medium rare than pink) who are in dire need of a nap. Meanwhile he’s sorting out where the AOC fans, Bernie Bros, and others feeling’ the Bern fit into this larger scheme.
He has discovered a group of self-styled anarchists. Here the self-styled is not being used so much in a cynical sense as its use is to show what AWJ described as a lack of thorough thinking on the anarchists part. I asked him how he’s getting along with the anarchists to which he said, “They asked me what my political views were and I told them I was a Rawlsian-Marxist.
What a wonderful term, devious as it is succinct.
It serves as inside joke, shit disturber, and ink-blot test all at once.
Must be something he gets from his mother’s side of the family.
And with that let’s all put down our Pineapple Luas and dance.
“A permanent fog of war is fanned by permanent fakes on Facebook. Already deregulated ideas of truth are destabilized even further. Emergency rules. Critique is a troll fest. Crisis commodified as entertainment. The age of neoliberal globalization seems exhausted and a period of contraction, fragmentation, and autocratic rule has set in.” Hito Steyerl
“Economics is in a state of creative ferment that is often invisible to outsiders. While the sociology of the profession—career incentives, norms, socialization patterns—often militates against engagement with the policy world, especially by younger academic economists, a sense of public responsibility is bringing people into the fray.” – Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik and Gabriel Zuchman
“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in who have no home, no family, no doctrine, nor firm place to call my own no known beginning or end, no ‘sacred and primordial site’. I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then ‘melt into air’. I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor can you know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.” Lebbeus Woods 1993
“It [the pyramids] seems to have been erected only in compliance with that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always appeased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity, and extend his plan to the utmost power of human performance, that he may not be soon reduced to form another wish.” Dr. Johnson
Before we start, please take out a sheet of paper and find something to write with. Once you’re ready, please explain how the above graphic relates to the arrival of The Terminator.
Moving along –
In polite society you’re supposed to say things like, “Pay me no mind.” Or “No offense intended.”
In the past six weeks, we have been snowed in, I came down with the flu not once but twice, and somehow I managed to get another year older. That last part I would have just skipped, but there is that nasty business of the Earth rotating around the Sun at a regular interval. Compounding that, there was the small matter that I spent 14 hours of my birthday working, only to come home to one lone item in the mail that was connected to the day of my birth. Our HMO sent me a cheery card wishing me a happy birthday and telling me to shag my ass down to the nearest clinic for a colonoscopy.
Awww, geee fellers …
And I didn’t get you nothin’!
While I take a microsecond or two to regain my composure after all that, you can take a deep breath because what follows is everything that’s been stuck in my craw since the start of the year.
A Well-Known Historical Fact
Along those lines – since I spent the entire calendar year of 2018 as a fully functioning member of the human race, that meant I seriously pissed off the Catholic Funeral Home Directors of Western Washington. To show their displeasure, they cut me off from receiving one of the their complementary bloody saints and martyrs calendars, which forced me to seek one out online. Pickings were slim but I did find one for four bucks featuring The Greatest Hits of The Crusades.
Oddly enough, none of the 12 illustrations shows the Knight Templars of Malta paying tribute to Charles V of Spain by sending him a golden falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels. Sadly, that falcon was seized as pirates raided the galley carrying this priceless token, and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day.
You know that, I know that, even small Catholic schoolchildren know that.
But is it in the calendar?
Guess you get what you pay for.
The Force … Stupid is strong with this one
About three weeks ago around a quarter to six in the morning, it was 15 whole degrees outside and I was having serious doubts that the heater was working (it was) while wondering how goddam long the coffee maker needed to kick out a cup. To distract myself I decided to look at Facebook. There in my morning stupor and without my glasses I saw – in large bold type – the words, “The Name of Your Vagina Is the Last Television Show You Watched. GO!”
My first thought was a sense of relief for women everywhere that Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Mannix, and The Ed Sullivan Show are no longer on the air. Also it occurred to me that if I had a vagina I might not be terribly pleased at seeing this. Therefore I decided to ask the nearest person who has one what she might think.
And that would be Mom.
“(Expletive) BOOKFACE AND (Expletive) MARK (Expletive) ZUCKERBERG FOR LETTING PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH THIS (Expletive) NO GOOD (EXPLETIVE).”
Which is what I thought she might say given that she once said that women who refer to their breasts as “The Girls” are “(Expletive) MORONS!”
Think of it this way – Mom isn’t so much a TERF, second-wave, or post-structuralist so much as a “I’VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU!” feminist.
You know –
The odd thing was that this all happened during the recent declaration of a national emergency. Given that my FB feed has people radically aligned with each end of the spectrum, I thought my FB page would be crawling with posts either resembling a loud New Year’s Eve gathering or people screaming hysterically like their heads were on fire. Instead it was mostly, as the kids say, ‘crickets’ augmented by a cascade of posts cataloging women’s viewing habits.
Currently the single most interesting item regarding FB is on Twitter. There’s a feed called We Wuz Boomers which collects memes intended on punking us people of a certain age.
This one’s the best.
Alaska Wolf Joe and I had a discussion as to whether or not I should post it, as several people I’m connected to are what Bugs Bunny once called the rugged outdoorsy type. The question of discretion comes along when you consider their cultural literacy and how they’d react. I really don’t want to do something that would upset them … well … I don’t, but it would be so much fun.
Kids, let that be a lesson to you. If you wholeheartedly believe in the markets, you have to remember that the big boys are in the market too. Chase moving into the biz could well … chase everybody else away.
And if you’re going into the Bitcoin biz, be sure to write your password down.
What little fun I’ve had came from a day trip to Portland. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a chance to catch up on my cultural anthropologist skills and our neighbors to the south always offer an opportunity to bring my credit up to speed.
In no particular order:
– Went to lunch and the poor bartender was acting as greeter, waiter, bus boy, and everything else that involved interacting with the public. Needless to say he was one harried guy so I didn’t say anything when he came around, put a bottle on the table, and said, “Sustainable ketchup.”
For those of you keeping score at home – there is no fluoride in Portland’s free-range water and the ketchup is earth-friendly.
– While walking along I was nearly hit by someone driving a Subaru Outback at twice the posted speed. If you’ve ever been to Portland you know that the last sentence was the most seriously redundant statement that can be made about the city.
– Speaking of Portland’s most popular car – while I was waiting at an intersection for the walk light to change, a guy roughly my age pulled up to the light. All the windows on his Outback were rolled down and he was singing along to this tune which he played at full volume.
For the first time since God knows when, the temperature managed to work its way up to 50 degrees and while it ain’t spring up here in The Big Damp Woods it’s close enough.
– Portland’s best breakfast can be had at Mother’s, which recently moved from Second to Third on the north end of downtown. Breakfast also came with a complementary copy of The Oregonian. Flipping through, I found the boilerplate in the masthead more interesting that the rest of the paper. The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, runs out a print edition on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. While their website is updated daily, you can only get the dead-tree version on selected days. Their overall content, which was always better than the Seattle Times, seems to still be strong, but I have to wonder how The Register-Guard in Eugene is doing. It too was a far, far better paper than anything we have in Seattle and the R-G’s legacy includes carrying Our Boarding House during its original run.
– Along the lines of cultural divides – when finished with the paper I didn’t know what to do with it. Standing next to a trash can was a 6’6″ bearded drag queen opening a fresh pack of 100mm smokes while adjusting a pair of magenta clam diggers that revealed the entire buttocks. Offered the paper only to get the response, “Thanks, but I’m waiting on my Uber.”
Some would be alarmed at the overall look, others would giggle, but lots of us just see it as another day in the big city.
– BTW – we went to Dutch Brothers twice because as Agent Cooper once said, “You should treat yourself to something every day, Harry.”
When it’s time to relax your standards
Our every decade or so major snowstorm arrived at about the same time this year’s Super Bowl started. Since there was no point in going out, we stayed in and watched.
What did we learn?
Some beer is made with wind power, a renewable source of energy, while another beer uses only USDA-certified organic grains. Beyond all that, there was Bud Lite (sic) telling anyone who would listen, “GET BEHIND ME HIGH-FRUCTOSE SATAN!”
When did beer become virtuous? When did we reach the point where mothers everywhere summoned the family by saying, “Hurry children! Gather near, for Father is about to crack one open for God and Country!”
Home. Base of operations. The more you invent your own life style, the more you realize that the categories that have been invented are ultimately, at best, imperfect devices for understanding the world, and, at worst, fake. Vitalik Buterin
“A friend of mine who is involved in a blockchain startup remarked that people keep trying to explain the underlying technology—the engine under the hood rather than the car on the road. ‘It’s like they’re trying to describe e-mail to people, and instead of saying, ‘You can send messages to people over the Internet,’ they’re saying, ‘There’s a protocol called S.M.T.P., which locates a set of rules for the movement of files from one to another.’ And yet he also complained about what he calls the incorrigibles, the Luddites who refuse even to try, whom he likened to the people in an office who profess not to know how to work the copy machine.” Nick Paumgarten (ibid above)
These days I tend to think of dystopias as being fashionable, perhaps lazy, maybe even complacent, because one pleasure of reading them is cozying into the feeling that however bad our present moment is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the ones these poor characters are suffering through. Vicarious thrill of comfort as we witness/imagine/experience the heroic struggles of our afflicted protagonists—rinse and repeat. Is this catharsis? Possibly more like indulgence, and creation of a sense of comparative safety. A kind of late-capitalist, advanced-nation schadenfreude about those unfortunate fictional citizens whose lives have been trashed by our own political inaction. If this is right, dystopia is part of our all-encompassing hopelessness.On the other hand, there is a real feeling being expressed in them, a real sense of fear. Some speak of a “crisis of representation” in the world today, having to do with governments—that no one anywhere feels properly represented by their government, no matter which style of government it is. Dystopia is surely one expression of that feeling of detachment and helplessness. Since nothing seems to work now, why not blow things up and start over? This would imply that dystopia is some kind of call for revolutionary change. There may be something to that. At the least dystopia is saying, even if repetitiously and unimaginatively, and perhaps salaciously, Something’s wrong.
“Platforms are defined not by what they permit but by what they disallow. Our public culture is, in important ways, a product of their design and oversight. Platforms do not just mediate public discourse: they constitute it. Platforms moderate (through removal, filtering, and suspension); they recommend (through news feeds, trending lists, and personalized suggestions); and they curate (through featured content and front-page offerings). Platforms use these three levers together to actively and dynamically tune the participation of users in order to generate the “right” feed for each user, the “right” social exchanges, and the “right” kind of community. “Right” in these contexts may mean ethical, legal, and healthy, but it also means whatever will promote engagement, increase ad revenue, and facilitate data collection. Too often, social media platforms discuss content moderation as a problem to be solved—and solved privately and reactively. In this customer service mindset, platform managers understand their responsibility primarily as protecting users from the offense or harm they are experiencing.” – Tarleton Gillespie
“Historians are certainly chargeable with the depravation of mankind, when they relate, without censure, those stratagems of war by which the virtues of an enemy are engaged to his destruction. A ship comes before a port, weather-beaten and shattered, and the crew implore the liberty of repairing their breaches, supplying themselves with necessaries, or burying their dead. The humanity of the inhabitants inclines them to consent, the strangers enter the town with weapons concealed, fall suddenly upon their benefactors, destroy those that make resistance, and become masters of the place; they return home rich with plunder, and their success is recorded to encourage imitation.” Dr. Johnson
Kinda goes without saying that things have kinda sucked over the past couple of weeks. (GHWB, stock market et al.) Not that anybody needed the addition stress during the holidays, but it’s not like you’re bereft of choices when it comes to navigating all this.
Either you can get all stressed out reading the 10+ pages the British Parliament published about Facebook’s wrongdoings here.
Or you can just read on.
Roll me, call me the Tumblr dice
Tumblr went through serious upheaval last week after Apple bounced them for having kiddie_p)rn on their site. Rather than deal with the problem directly Yahoo’s parent company, Verizon turned loose AI bots to clean up all manner of content that might be offensive and/or illegal. It turned out to be a more than a bit ham fisted as the wide net cast squashed such images that included The Statue of David and took down many, many of the retro images that I have … repurposed for … ummm my social media branding. (e.g. the Lucky Strike ads, Burma Shave signs, and various images to help tell the tale of The World’s Most Radioactive High School.) Most if it came from one guy’s site, but by the end of the week his page was strictly a farewell note, and Saturday morning it was gone. What I’l really miss about that page are the countless magazine covers from those uber-butch mens magazines. You’ve seen them – some guy’s wrestling an alligator with his bare hands while his date stands nearby screaming. Gents of a certain age remember such publications from when we went to the barber shop on a regular basis. You be waiting your turn in the barber chair so you looked for something to read. You’d pick up the last Bob Hope comic book in the stack and there it was, some shirtless Sgt. Rock type barely keeping a gorilla in a headlock and there at the bottom of the page was the breathless headline, “NAZIS BUILD SECRET A&W IN ARGENTINA!”
Oh, sure, you can say that’s a simpler publication from more innocent time, but as far as Verizon’s Prude Bots are concerned that’s out-and-out smut.
How did we get here?
Once Yahoo acquired Tumblr they got busy managing it The Yahoo Way which as we all know is not so much laissez faire nor benign neglect. It’s more like everybody in the executive suite stands around looking bewildered and asking each other, “Wait, we own what?”
Sure, they could have gone in and taken care of the problem in a more precise surgical way, but no.
The Tumblr kerfuffle was the first suck-awful thing of the week because it proved my point that the Internet is no longer fun. In fact the corporate masters who set the Prude Bots loose are part of a growing trend to turn the Internet into a junior-high dance at a Catholic School.
For those of you who’ve never had this pleasure this is how it works:
Ten nuns ride roughshod over about 100 kids. Four nuns have clipboards, two stand at the door taking attendance (as this is mandatory fun) and the other two wander the dance floor. On the dance floor one nun has a list of the boys’ names, and the other has the girls’. The point of this exercise is to make sure that no one get a chance to get in touch with their inner wallflower. The Clipboard Sisters job is to use some sort of nun-based calculus to make sure everyone dances in some sort of even rotation.
Think of it not so much as an old fashion dance card but dance assignments.
The balance of the nuns?
They spread out across the dance floor carrying an assortment of yardsticks and rulers. Their job is to make sure that no one’s personal space is intruded upon. (Please note, we’re not talking about how a given individual might define his or her own personal space, rather we’re talking about how Sister Jane Albert, Sister Perpetua, and Sister John Bosco defined it.) The personal space thing raised blisters on my ass as I had an inkling that I -might – just maybe – might – sorta – maybe- have a chance to test the limits of what constituted Patti McNamara’s personal space. (I had come up with several theories on the matter since the start of the school year.) I thought that maybe – OK – maybe – I would be assigned to her during a slow dance so I could come away with a good idea of how much Charlie perfume she was wearing before the rulers were deployed.
So much for that.
I got a fast dance with her and she got to slow dance with Alfonse Edward “Sonny” Paturzo.
At the end of the night we all thanked the principal – in unison – just like we practiced all week – for such a lovely evening. Then we were turned loose to our parents where we got to recite the other thing we memorized – telling them what a great time we had.
Moving along –
“Draw me your map of utopia and I’ll tell you your tragic flaw.” – or – Keeping a CIVIL tongue planted firmly in your cheek
“I was anticipating evenings spent listening to crypto-hippies describe the angel-faced space elves they met when they took DMT.” Laurie Penny
The CIVIL initiative’s ICO for the CVL token failed badly a few months back. What follows are a few thoughts that are neither autopsy nor obit. That would probably be OK with the CIVIL-ians at CIVIL as they’d probably prefer some Nick Carraway green-light themed essay on the matter.
For those of you just tuning in – the CIVIL initiative was at attempt to save journalism by offering a journalism specific cryptocurrency.
Per CIVIL the CVL token would free journalism from worrying about being pressured by advertisers or having to deal with something like Peter Thiel’s attack on Gawker. Beyond that the CVL would build a newsroom of the future that was inclusive and transparent. So CIVIL kept beating that drum for a half dozen months. Then in September when the tokens went on sale it barely brought in any money. In fact it brought in so little money that no one involved wants to talk about it other than to say it fell short of the $8 million it was supposed to raise.
CIVIL’s arguments were all inward facing. There’s no way you can get the general public to buy into much of that. First, the general public doesn’t really know much about cryptocurrency. In fact it’s only recently, now that Bitcoin has proven unstable, that the issue has managed to sneak onto the edges of the public’s radar. We only got interested in the matter about a week before the failed CVL sale when Forbes said it was interested in using CIVIL. Previously CIVIL only talked about associate site that are small or had niche topics.
That was another matter.
So Mom tasked me with learning about the blockchain and cryptocurrency. Alaska Wolf Joe got wind of his mother’s request and got to work. He sent this post-post modernist “Neo-Kantian take by some DeLeuze fanboy” on Bitcoin and the blockchain.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
– I still stand by the idea that Bitcoin et al. are still at the Commodore C64 stage – in other words – too early to tell. Lately I’ve been reading a series of essays about media infrastructure by Tarleton Gillespie, Lisa Parks, and Paul Dourish. All talk about how certain technologies start off one way only to yield a more practical result. One of their examples is how CDN’s came along because someone wanted faster access to video on the Internet(s).
– The blockchain is – for now- a darn secure way to send data. Once it gets in wider use it will attract monkeyshines.
– Crypto will not make you a better person and crypto cannot prevent people from acting like people. Right now its enthusiasts fail to acknowledge that humanity’s dark side will sooner or later intrude. Money comes with lots of emotional baggage, but you’d never know it reading about the crypto types. Their world has as much emotion as a NASA clean room has dust.
To that point Roger Ver was quoted in the article going around this morning,Four Days Trapped at Sea with Crypto’s Super Rich as saying, ““No amount of coercion can solve a math problem.” That’s true. But it’s also the case that no amount of mathematics can delete human prejudice, and no ledger can logic away human cruelty. If the crypto community hasn’t realized that yet, it soon will.”
Because money is inextricably entangled with questions of reciprocity, it is tied-up intimately with such provocations to outrage as injustice, cheating, exploitation, and unbounded inequality. Such sensitive moral trigger-zones pose a formidable inhibition to dispassionate analysis. Disciplined investigation of money threatens to arouse sentiments of social alienation, and even desecration. There is no theoretical conclusion about the nature of money so cold that it does not appear burdened with concrete socio-political implication.
CIVIL’s greatest sin?
When you ask people for money you absolutely have to answer the first question they always ask, “What’s in it for me?”
At no time did they make the case which was wrong in that sooner or later you’ve got the to get the general public involved because there’s more of them than there are of you.
BTW – it is a tad ironic that the crypto cruise got the a-fun-thing/David Foster Wallace treatment from a publication that says its blockchain powered.
Speaking of what the DMT space elves had to say – let’s finish up.
Punk’s Not Dead! It Just Smells That Way!
A variety of things have piled up recently. About a month ago we saw PiL and noted that Mr. Lydon now needs reading glasses to see the set list. This past week marked the 40th anniversary of several of us making a trek in the snow (uphill both ays) to see The Talking Heads. Then a couple of days ago Pete Shelley died. They were all of the same era.
For those of you who weren’t there it was a damn interesting time. Those bands killed the pomposity of the extended solo and relegated such profound statements as “All we are is dust in the wind” to people with 8-track decks. Around that time some people went all in on being totally punl, but many of us weren’t into zero-sum lifestyles. Many of us had to face facts as we’d look stupid in black motorcycle jackets. Never mind that we didn’t have the personality to pull off tattos and piercings. That’s why it was a relief to discover Australia’s Cosmic Psychos whose brand of loud and fast dates back to the late 70s.
Finally there’s a punk band whose couture now resembles mine and my current physique.
“In their paper, titled Preference for realistic art predicts support for Brexit, Noah Carl, Lindsay Richards, and Anthony Heath conclude that respondents who picked all four realistic paintings ‘were a full 20 percentage points more likely to support (Brexit) leave” than those who preferred all four, or three-out-of-four abstract works. The result remained the same even when the team controlled the data for demographic variables, such as gender, age, education, ethnicity, or country of birth. Speaking to the Guardian, lead researcher Noah Carl said that he thinks the conclusion “largely reflects differences between social conservatives and social liberals. (Brexit)Leave voters were not much more economically right-wing than remain voters, but they were substantially more socially conservative,” he said. The paper suggests that social conservatives, who are more likely to have voted for Brexit, “display lower tolerance for ambiguity and greater need for closure than their liberal counterparts” and thus “experience more elevated psychological discomfort when looking at objects depicted in a non-representational way.” Henri Neuendorf
“While the story of the (extreme) Wings may be one of division and conflict, a very different story is found in the rest of America. In fact, the largest group that we uncovered in our research has so far been largely overlooked. It is a group of Americans we call the Exhausted Majority―our collective term for the four tribes, representing a two-thirds majority of Americans, who aren’t part of the Wings. Although they appear in the middle of our charts and graphs, most members of the Exhausted Majority aren’t political centrists or moderates. On specific issues, their views range across the spectrum. But while they hold a variety of views, the members of the Exhausted Majority are also united in important ways:
“They are fed up with the polarization plaguing American government and society.
“They are often forgotten in the public discourse, overlooked because their voices are seldom heard.
“They are flexible in their views, willing to endorse different policies according to the precise situation rather than sticking ideologically to a single set of beliefs.
“They believe we can find common ground.
“The distinction between the Wings and the Exhausted Majority takes us beyond a simple story of the left and the right. Based on their strong views and values, we believe both Traditional Conservatives and Devoted Conservatives belong in the Wings. On the other side, Progressive Activists belong in the Wings, but Traditional Liberals belong in the Exhausted Majority. They have clear liberal views, but unlike the three Wings tribes, they have a more diverse range of opinions, seem more concerned about the country’s divisions, and are more committed to compromise. While partisans argue and score political points, members of the Exhausted Majority are so frustrated with the bitter polarization of our politics that many have checked out completely, ceding the floor to more strident voices. This is especially true of Politically Disengaged and Passive Liberals, while Traditional Liberals and Moderates remain engaged. Members of the Exhausted Majority tend to be open to finding middle ground. Furthermore, they aren’t ideologues who dismiss as evil or ignorant the people who don’t share their exact political views. They want to talk and to find a path forward.” From Hidden Tribes
“There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shown so much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing.” Dr. Johnson
“Turns out that I’m nowhere near white enough to be outraged by this.” Savannah Man (link)
Many of us don’t inhabit this medium as frequently as we used to. (I am reluctant to use the word ‘blog’ as a verb here.) As such we get a little out of practice and – given the passage of time – we’re not quite as young as we used to be and our stamina has waned some. While we still think we can, as my father used to say, go bear hunting’ with a switch, the sad fact is that it’s difficult to sustain a long stream of content once you’ve fallen out of the daily habit.
Compounding matter is the daily distraction that surrounds us. Sometimes it’s social media and sometimes it’s something so odd that you can’t help yourself – you will be absorbed by it and you can’t break free. One of those things came along this week when word got out that someone had stuck google eyes on a statue commentating General Nathanael Greene who was part of The American Revolution.
Needless to say the Savannah, GA police reacted the same warm, jolly sense of humor you’d associate with a high-school gym teacher. At last report the police are still looking for Ossama bin Glue Gun and generally acting pissy about the whole thing.
Normally this would lead me to run out at least 2500 words on the subject, but you know what?
No can do.
I’m still keeping company with a hot water bottle and some Icy Hot because I over did it with the last entry. That’s why I’m turning today’s post over to Alaska Wolf Joe. (Pictured above)
No, it’s not about Kanye.
I have a whole post on a scratch pad about Ye, the gift who keeps giving. The central point of that draft revolved around the idea that the word ‘celebrity’ will eventually evolve into meaning someone who has an opinion. Think of it along the lines that when Shakespeare uses the word ‘villain’ it meant a genuinely bad guy whereas today a villain is acharacter in a movie.
“SHAGGY TOO DOPE YOU ARE A GOOD MAN BUT YOUR DROPKICK IS FUCKING DRIZZLING SHITS … BUBBA I LOVE THE PEACE NOT THE WAR UNLESS THE SON OF A BITCH JABRONI DESERVE TO GET SUPLEXED. THIS WAY THE SHAGGY GOOD MEN. GOD BLESS YOI.” – The Iron Sheik
Here now – a word or two from Alaska Wolf Joe:
The Insane Clown Posse as a Project of Midwestern Utopianism
In a discussion with a colleague yesterday, we had come to a certain problem regarding the vulgar application of Marxist theory to the Midwest. I argued, in a naïve sense, that the reason that traditional morality regarding family and gender was still present in the Midwest was due to the fact that physical labor as the bulk of economic productivity had not disappeared; whereas the disappearance of traditional morality regarding family and gender was more erased in the cities due to the predominance of intellectual labor over physical labor. But they pointed out, correctly, that the major economic force even in deeply agrarian America (which Ohio isn’t completely) was that of a migrant worker economy. Given this, the workers being produced are not products of the family as such, but foreign imports. Why, then, does a traditional Christian family morality still exist in the Midwest and the agrarian parts of the country? If not the family unit as a social formation, what social structures are effects of the economically necessary steps of subjugating migrant workers in order to have productive labor?
This might be the sociological mystery of the Midwest, why tradition maintains an errant spectre and conservatism still is abound in the rustbelt, and why the post-industrial wasteland remains only a wasteland and hasn’t transitioned as efficiently as the cities have into places where information has processed. Nonetheless, some ideological structure pervades.
What, then, do we make of the Insane Clown Posse? It seems to have come out of the crucible of a post-industrial Midwest and represented … something … par excellence. I have been informed by my colleague that their film professor was very interested to know of our experience of going to this concert, and in fact, wants to meet with me at some point soon to discuss it. There have apparently been somewhere less than a dozen or so serious anthropological or sociological analyses which have attempted to analyze the Insane Clown Posse, despite their 31 year old career (started, reportedly, in 1989.)
Again, I can make no claims to any astute empirical knowledge of the current social formations in the Midwest, of its economic duress, or of its changing attitudes and demographics. Nonetheless, there are some facts that seem to pervade our entire discourse. Kanye West in his hallucinogenic speech to Trump two days ago touched on the same things: Why can’t a working man get a job in Chicago? Bring the jobs back to America. We produced steel! Beautiful, clean coal! And its flipside: The first thing I saw on my entrance to Oberlin was an advertisement saying “Heroin kills.”
The fantasy of the Midwest I have received is one of idleness in the wake of globalism. The invisible hand of the market does not fondle all parts of the globe equally, and the message seems to have been it has been a long time since that self-same hand gave the Midwest a tender caress. In its wake, consumption attempts to service the awful absence of industry. Post-industrial abandon is left with the dualities of productive-consumption: the consumption of spectacle, or the consumption of narcosis. In the latter, the opiate of the masses is itself opium. The former need, the consumption of spectacle, is perhaps what the Insane Clown Posse is born out of, and explains their curious apolitical dimension.
Habermas describes one of the features of late capital as “the exhaustion of Utopian energies.” This central thesis is that the idea of utopia centered around the notion of utopia as an ideal social structure which provided a form of just and unalienated social labor. The welfare state solved this up unto a point: it provided enough necessity and mediation of social labor that social labor was not a wholesale form of alienation, but it did not provide enough to fix the continual social crises and misery of capitalist social organizations. As such, the notion of utopia began to dissolve as a public way of thinking, and more notably, the central political focus on the notion of social labor began to disappear. With it came the welfare state’s forms of utopianism, which focus predominantly on fantasies of communicative harmony and communicative utopias. The dimension of utopia through resolving the forms of inequity and domination that subjugate people into productive labor have been left to various outsider groups or academics. In political discourse, it has all but disappeared. But I would suggest that it has found another outlet: the fantasy of a system of utopian labor fulfilled through aesthetic representation.
What could be a better model for a utopian fantasy of non-estranged social labor than a circus in which one both participates in delirious enjoyment and produces with the same movement? What better represents a certain heyday of a working class figure of spectacle than the figure of the carnie? The myth of Dionysian ecstasy, of the pure consumption and production of bliss, does not go far enough into producing a product. The circus goes further: not only does it enable the consumption and production of bliss in an ecstatic state by its participants, but it produces a commoditized experience which can be bought and sold. This is one dimension of the spectacle which ICP represents.
The other dimension is seen through the hallucination of the body as a productive force. Both members of the ICP, as early as six years before they started rapping, were amateur wrestlers in Michigan. A full analysis of professional wrestling here would be needless, but it is curious that professional wrestling has more of a cultural affinity with the Midwest than many other parts of the country. I would speculate that this is because it still allows to see man as fundamentally laboring, even if the actual spectacle of wrestling is one of profound artifice. Even in the disjointedness of performance, the body still appears as working, and as violent. Wrestling doesn’t represent a regress to the “human nature” of violence, but of the professionality of violence; of the pure domain of physical force and its exertion, but in such a way it can be consumed as spectacle. It is, I would say, a return to directly confronting a form of social labor. Even if wrestling does not feature in the ICP’s performance, it hangs as a backdrop and as a theme, as part of the mythos and aesthetic of the ICP – even if abstracted. There is some affinity between their artistic presentation and the aesthetic of professional wrestling and its implications and their music, but as to what I’m not fully capable of saying.
Through these two dimensions, the Insane Clown Posse accomplishes the aesthetic representation of a certain fantasy felt missing in the Midwest: Not only the return of productive social labor in the post-industrial wasteland, but the return of productive social labor in its unestranged form through consensual non-subjugated labor and ecstatic bliss.
And at the same time, it cannot abide by the same traditional structures of morality and socialization which otherwise are/were functional for the Midwest. The circus by itself presents a certain sight – if not its European incarnation of “the Other Victorians” then at least of us Other Americans. The circus is not only the sight of apexes of the human body, the subjugation of man over nature in the form of performing animals, but also that of the freak show. And this is the theme that is most stressed by the ICP: The notion of the ‘dark circus’, the continual presentation in their stage show of actors wearing disfigured clown masks, of a sense of horror lurking under the circus and the site of the circus as a location for those quantified as ‘other’ in America to live without judgment. It is at the same time a utopian space for the other as well as a place of subjugation. Only through presenting and performing as ‘Other’ does the freak show enable itself to be economically profitable. Yet, through its presentation of ‘Otherness’ it reifies the concept of otherness, the presentation of being Other means you are consumed as being Other in the spectacle, and hence really are Other.
This central theme is perhaps the purest theme of utopianism in the Insane Clown Posse: We are awash in our otherness. We are so awash that we do not care if you dignify us or do not. We are immersed in our ecstatic bliss and will never change. It is up to you if you want to pay for the circus or not, but we know if you pay, you will enjoy it to no end.
Yet, from this self-production of Otherness the ICP must needs necessarily exclude itself from the domain of politics. To concern itself with the political or with legitimate problems of social labor would be disingenuous. And if, for some strange reason, the ICP engaged with the modern liberal-democratic utopia of pure communicative engagement, it would fail to be Other whatsoever. The presence of the Other as a theme represents an anxiety of dis-communication. One can see this notion fairly intuitively in contemporary discourse: “The only reason the white supremacists are still racist is because they have never lived with a black person and experience the suffering of their community. If only they talked to one another, they would realize that we are all human.” The fantasy of utopian communication mirrors the inherent tendency in the digital age to connective immediacy. Through the reference of all to all, human differentiation disappears, and all differentiation only belongs to the proper domain of differences between “generalized human themes” – not the racial or class separation of “white and black” or “rich and poor” but the generalized experiences of man being differentiated, the difference and otherness of state between “the [human] experience of being in love” or “the [human] experience of suffering” or “the [human] experience of anxiety.” The liberal-democratic dream of reducing all American life to a vast commonality which is continually communicated and reciprocally understood by all to all dissolves the Other as a category of social experience, and reduces Otherness to the difference between one generalized experience of a mental state to another. But the presentation of the Insane Clown Posse, the presentation of the Juggalo in general, can only thrive of its association with the category of Other. The FBI classification of the ICP as a gang reflects this inherent trend – the ICP is not Other to the law, but it is Other to representational politics. Perhaps the most radical notion of the ICP is itself its wholesale rejection of representational politics as a theme in its works whatsoever, not because it has been “subjugated” into having no voice, but rather as an intentional choice and a necessity of its cultural sensibility. This is, some would argue, a political stance, but it is nonetheless antithetical towards an American political sensibility, and hence, “apolitical.”
Through these points, I hope to have pointed towards an ideological stance of the Insane Clown Posse, and its specific brand of American utopianism.
Two other themes, disconnected from the above also presented themselves to me:
The Pleasure of the Commodity
The trademark of the Insane Clown Posse is still Faygo soda. It is the local brand of Detroit, and extremely cheap. At their concerts, they have between 50-200 or so 2 liter bottles of Faygo, which they shake up, spray on the audience, and throw at the audience. The audience members do not feel effaced in any way, but revel in it. But I wonder if in some way this isn’t itself a form of animating the commodity. The animation of the bottle itself seems to suggest in some way its coming to life, its own ecstatic state. It’s a representation of the working class nature of Michigan, where the ICP hails from, and also a sort of faux representation of the Bacchanalia. It really appears as a product of uniform mass production, and it does not provide any form of intoxication. It would be very easy to do a tired Freudian reading: Oh, it’s just phallic ejaculation! But something seems unsatisfying to me. I can’t put any deeper finger onto it, but it feels like a certain jouissance of the item itself. It is as if the soda is alive and wants to be spread in the most perverse way possible, finding it another part of the pleasurable voluptuousness of the spectacle.
The Dream of Death
Like all vaguely metal or ‘horror’ themed musical acts, the hint of death remains heavily. But this is a very joyous death, the continual joy and ecstasy of murder or gothic themes. It is the ‘dark circus’, the carnival of death. Where this takes on a jubilant theme in other cultures representing a certain attitude towards death (compare Dia de los Muertos), it is very contrary to the American fear of death and the continual prolonging of life for the sake of further productivity. I wonder if in some way this is not because it is another form of utopian thinking, the ability to fantasize about death in an orgiastic was a sort of exit from the state of destitution and the forced will to live present in the disciplinary institutions from the 20th century to the 21st century which still haunt the post-industrial landscape. Death remains always opposed to the system of capitalism, and as Baudrillard points out, maybe the only point of resistance which really wholly and completely opposes the current state of things. It remains, however, only a fantasy.
(Ed. note: Alaska Wolf Joe’s previous essay on The ICP and the nature of performance can be found here.)
“The rise of identity politics on the Left has stimulated and legitimated new assertions of identity on the Right. Donald Trump has received support for being politically incorrect, that is, for not respecting the identity niceties that characterize contemporary American political discourse. In doing so he has greatly abetted the rise of white nationalists and the alt-right, which see themselves as persecuted and marginalized minorities in much the same way as the leftwing identity groups. The Trumpist right in the United States today includes many Christian evangelicals, but it would not be accurate to say that the Trump phenomenon is driven primarily by religion. Many of his voters would like to preserve a traditional concept of American national identity that was partly defined by Christianity, but also by ethnicity and conservative social values more generally. None of this squares, of course, with the sort of liberal civic identity that America had slowly built for itself in the wake of the Civil War.”Francis Fukuyama
“Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. … One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.” – Richard Rorty c. 1998
In Daniel Torday’s new novel, Boomer1, a 31-year-old man sits in front of a Grateful Dead poster in his parents’ basement, where he lives, puts on a rubber David Crosby mask, and stares into his webcam to begin recording another so-called “Boomer Missive.” His name is Mark Brumfeld, and he is a relatively unremarkable specimen of his generation—drowning in student loan and credit card debt, unable to find steady employment, and searching for an easy scapegoat for the all-encompassing disillusionment he feels about his life. And so he directs his ire at none other than the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers, anyone born in that postwar, pre-Pill population surge between 1946 and 1964. Torday’s novel addresses the popular and wide-sweeping narrative that boomers are hunkering down with “all of the jobs” and refusing to retire, hogging all sorts of cultural space, and in doing so stunting the economic and emotional growth of the generation below them, some of whom are their literal children. In Boomer1, though, this leads to things getting quickly and dangerously out of hand. First the AARP website is hacked. Bob Weir’s home is vandalized. Iconic boomers Jann Wenner, Philip Roth, and Oprah are all doxed. An enterprising prankster breaks into the Eddie Bauer mainframe and makes it so that every item sold in its stores is marked $666.66. These attacks dominate the news; a (barely) fictionalized David Brooks writes a widely shared op-ed decrying “Millennials Gone Wild.” In the novel, persecuted boomers like Brooks start using a new phrase to describe the mayhem: “domestic generational terrorism.” Lindsay Zoladz
“We must consider how very little history there is; I mean real authentick history. That certain Kings reigned, and certain battles were fought, we can depend on as true; but all the colouring, all the philosophy of history is conjecture.” Dr. Johnson
“Fairness is the philosophical equivalent of the Tooth Fairy.” Thaddeus R. Venture
Before we begin it should be said that much of what follows could be seen as yet another feeble attempt at repeating myself. That’s why I’d like to encourage you to not think of it as one more boorish blog entry, but an attempt to prove that Nietzsche’s concept of the eternal recurrence is correct.
If that doesn’t work for you then feel free to think of this as a sad old man who keeps saying, “I do and I do and I do for you kids and what thanks do I get?”
Bring your service revolver, Watson. We might have need of it before this is over.
Going around the dial last weekend I came up The Seven Percent Solution, Herbert Ross’s 1976 tale of the time Sherlock Holmes met Sigmund Freud. Near the end of the movie there’s a train chase and the engineer tells Holmes he’s run out of coal. To maintain their forward momentum pursuit Holmes instructs Watson and Freud to bring him anything that will burn. As the chase peaks we see that the wooden benches of the train have all been thrown into the fire as well as the curtains, the luggage, and the siding of the cars. At that point there still isn’t sufficient fuel so one by one Watson jettisons the cars living only the engine to carry on.
If you can think of a better analogy for what happened last week please post it in the comment section below.
Years ago I said that the GOP as well as the entire conservative movement was becoming nothing less that the American equivalent of the Chinese Revolutionary Red Guard.
So go head – have Kavanaugh.
But … but …. but we’re Steve and Debbie. We like candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. Our turnoffs are pushy people and smokers!
NB: What follows IS NOT another discussion of individuality being illusory.
So take a minute, find a free finger, and pull the wad out of your unders.
For the past several months I’ve been thinking about institutions, specifically how we shape them, how they shape us, and what we get out of it. All of this grew out of something that bubbled up out of the primordial warm mud in my head – the memory of an old professor who taught Rousseau by way of what we now call Second Wave Feminism. (SWF) (i.e. the Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug era) Since Rousseau thought people were fine but their institutions were corrupt, my old prof said that what SWF did was make women examine the institution of womanhood which in turn, albeit unexpectedly and most grudgingly, made men consider the institution of manhood. Back then, and much like now, people were also supposed to consider the institutions of race and simultaneously.
And then, like now, everybody lost their spit.
Steve and Debbie do not want to hear how they are part of interlocking events and relationships that invisibly shape their lives. They just want you to shut the hell up so they can enjoy their General Foods cinnamonny (sic) Cafe Vienna International Coffee.
Moving along –
Here’s a few places where institutions intrude without much notice, but finally make you consider their nature:
Absorption – Media, celebrity, and legal institutions reduced Rodney King, Nicole Brown, and Ronald Goldman to footnotes. Their real selves are now gone, we know nothing of them.
Failure – Where do you want to start, the Catholic Church or White Guy Inc.? When those two women pushed their way into the elevator with Jeff Flake it’s gonna be mighty tough to go out for a round of golf with the boys to see how to fix this one.
This morning an illustrated guide on How to Pray for The Church arrived in one of my streams. Not the victims, nor the priests who failed their parishes, but The Church.
Hubris – As the parents of someone who likes to use the term “Boomer Cultural Hegemony” Torday’s n+1 novel comes as no surprise. (OK – for us it comes as no surprise.) There’s no point in repeating what’s been said endlessly about the Boomers’ self-absorbed nature. Instead I take exception to the Torday’s characters descending on Bob Weir’s house. That would at least leave some old hippie thinking, “By God, the little punks did learn something from us!” The better place for agitprop would be at one of Billy Joel’s ongoing dates at Madison Square Garden or The Eagles playing Vegas.
That would hit Steve and Debbie right where they live.
If you take a minute and look it all – BLM, #metoo, neoliberalism, unemployed coal miners, the culture wars, identity politics -our institutions have moved into plain sight and in some cases even been weaponized against us. Everything on the list of current events is an invitation to make each and everyone of us examine the institutions in our lives.
And we don’t like that.
Not even one little bit.
Your love gives me such a thrill, but your lovin’ don’ t pay my bills
Somewhere around the midpoint of the last century Norman Mailer found himself in a Manhattan loft along with a few of his peers – Capote, (“ballsy little guy”) Kerouac, (“lacks discipline, intelligence, honesty, and a sense of the novel) and Bellow (“a style I find self-willed and unnatural”). True to his form Norman claimed to have dominated the room, consuming the cocktails handed to him and occasionally helping himself to someone else’s liquor. This past week Th’ Perfesser managed to do something similar. Like Mailer Th’ Perfesser squared his shoulders, took a stance, his weight balanced equally between his two feet, and dared to take on all comers becoming a literary lion to a kaffeeklatsch full of NPR tote- baggers.
Or at least that’s what we’ve heard.
I couldn’t be there as I had a photo shoot at a dinner held by a group of white guys mostly my age who one after another storide up to the dias to everybody gathered how there’s not one single problem in this world that can’t be solved over a round of golf with the fellas.
Coin of the realm for Th’ Perfesser’s management is something they call “vibes” which are supposed to wash over you like a handful of Madame DuBerry Bath Beads thrown in the tub which will eventually leave you wonderfully fragrant and a bit moist. Th’ Perfesser claims these “vibes” are perfectly good, but we fail to see what utility these “vibes” provide.
Look, whether you call it Late Stage Capitalism or Capitalism’s Sad Last Days (tm pend) we hold fast to the idea that if you want me to consult, amplify, or photograph whatever you and your ilk are up to then it’s cash or check (well … check with appropriate i-d) and you can put that BitCoin back wherever you found it.
Because nobody understands the blockchain.
Have we read Th’ Perfesser’s work for which he was being lionized?
No, it’s far too complicated for us right now. We don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with it because it all goes back to the question, “Does you son have required summer reading?”
Yes, he assigned Kafka to his mother while I got the usual compilation of contemporary continental thinkers.
A couple of weeks ago we were in the mood for some lighter reading, but we couldn’t find any. You know, lighter reading – Andy Capp collections, Harold Robbins first editions, Ripon Society brochures, Rod McKuen’s Listen to the Warm – reading so effortless that it’s like taking a nap without all the fuss and bother of having to lie down and close your eyes. We tore up the living room and were eventually forced out into the night to seek out a Barnes and Nobel.
That’s merely a statement of fact.
We are not trying to elicit pity.
Eventually we’ll make it up to Th’ Perfesser. Not only will we read his book we’ll invite him over to watch what Alaska Wolf Joe’s grandfather called “The World Serious” on our small-screen tv and offer him his choice of General Food International Coffee selections.
Excuse us now as we must pen a note of regret and send it along to Th’ Perfesser.
“(Jonathan) Davis seems happier now. After divorcing his first wife in 2000, he settled down four years later with former porn star Deven Davis, and had two sons, Pirate and Zeppelin. (Davis’s first son from his previous marriage, Nathan, will turn 23 this fall.) He is now, literally, a dad rocker. Occasionally, this middle-aged chill is disrupted and his conservative streak flares up—like in 2014, when he went on Infowars and called Barack Obama “an Illuminati puppet.” But for the most part, Davis is happy to still be here, so many years after metal was nu, with his band intact.” – Steven Hyden
(Editor’s Note: In the 72 hours since The Ringer article was published, Jonathan Davis’s estranged wife, Deven Davis was found dead. As of this writing no cause has been found.)
“Wheat is the most widely cultivated crop on the planet, accounting for about a fifth of all calories consumed by humans and more protein than any other food source. Although we have relied on bread wheat so heavily and for so long (14,000 years-ish), an understanding of its genetics has been a challenge. Its genome has been hard to solve because it is ridiculously complex. The genome is huge, about five times larger than ours. It’s hexaploid, meaning it has six copies of each of its chromosomes. More than 85 percent of the genetic sequences among these three sets of chromosome pairs are repetitive DNA, and they are quite similar to each other, making it difficult to tease out which sequences reside where. The genomes of rice and corn—two other staple grain crops—were solved in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In 2005, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium determined to get a reference genome of the bread wheat cultivar Chinese Spring. Thirteen years later, the consortium has finally succeeded.” – Diana Gitig
“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own.”- Dr. Johnson
Science Humbles (local) Man
The past five days have created enough angst for three people. As posted above, scientists have cracked what’s genetic code. While having lunch and listening to the radio news a couple of days ago one of those countless people who speak with a perfect Oxford accent leaned into one of the BBC’s microphones and calmly said, “This might try well prove that wheat is more complex than human DNA.”
First science tells us we’re dumb as a bag of hair when compared to whales, porpoises, and dolphins. So now we have to compete with whole grains to see who’s the top dog on the planet?
In my dotage I don’t think as fast as I used to that’s why it took me the better part of an hour to remember that I was consuming a sandwich while finding out that wheat is complicated. That at least to some comfort. Knowing that while some portion of wheat was making it through my digestive tract at least assured me that I still have a place high up on the food chain. Granted, it’s a toe hold these days given summertime shark attacks and a pack of hippos who think they’re The New Manson Family.
As the afternoon wore on a question started to form in the back recesses of what’s left of my mind – given its new found status how long do we have to wait until wheat is politicized?
Now that science has labelled wheat as flora’s anger to the black-turtleneck and tweed-jacket types how long do we have to wait until we get the conservative response to wheat? How long do we have to sit around waiting for the Q-Anon to put forth the idea that all this gluten business is wheat plotting against us?
And where the hell is Jordan Peterson?
All this goddam time he’s nothing but Lobsters! Lobsters! Lobsters! When he should have been studying The Pillbury Dough Boy (TPDB). Setting aside the play on words that comes straight out of American military history, we can see that TPDB in unencumbered, free of a female counterpart trying to compromise his journey across time.
How is it that Peterson has failed to make TPDB his Zarathustra?
If some farmer out in the Dakotas hasn’t called his extension agent to wonder why he’s got a whole acre of wheat getting all heated up over a discussion of Goddard’s La Chinoise, then why hasn’t Peterson proclaimed The Pillsbury Doughboy as the rope between the lowly ape and wheat?
You can digest that all later – we’re moving on to other grains now.
“Korn, Manson, Bizkit—that was the golden age of music, I believe. And after us, it died.”
Before we get started – this is not strictly about people who make it into their middle years only make pop-culture boobs of themselves in public.*
Mom is a bit tired of me using the word ‘elderly.’ Lately I’ve taken to using the word to describe people who have a little bit of trouble coping with modern times. I will spot you this – the 21st Century is a bit new in the larger scheme of human history, but most of us have been living in it long enough that we should act like it instead of coming off like Ricky and Lucy fresh out of the time machine.
Case in point –
Getting coffee the other day I ran into a couple we know. Both were rather agitated by an full page ad that ran in the local paper.
HER:DID YOU SEE THAT AD?!?!?! ME: We don’t take the paper. HIM: It was a whole page, a whole page, who has that kind of money? ME: We haven’t taken the paper in over 15 years. HIM: But you saw it, didn’t you? HER: It was right there on the inside. ME: I haven’t touched a paper in… HER: (speaking slowly) OK, there’s the front page… and … you turn it… HIM: And there it was! HER: That one! ME: ohhhhhhhh thhhhhhhahhhhht one …
In my dotage I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to let people walk away thinking you’re a bit feeble minded so you can make more efficient use of The Quality Time Remaining. Put another way – the idea of 10 minutes you’re never getting back is something you feel more acutely at this stage of life so it’s better to move along.
Which is what we shall do.
The upshot of my use of ‘elderly’ came back to bite me in the butt this week. Someone recently asked what was the last superstar rock era act. I said that I thought it was U2, a band fronted by the self-beatifying Lithuanian-shopping-center mogul, Bono. A few hours later I discovered that it was in fact Korn who created the last known mass media panic when, as the particle points out, 9000 teenagers descended on Manhattan for a look at the group.
At least the article left me with one small scrap of dignity when Mr. Davis said his was a golden age and after him there was nothing.
Now that’s ‘elderly.’
As ‘elderly’ as me assuming that conventional rock superstardom stopped with U2.
What I’d like to know is why this golden age thing is so ubiquitous?
Several years ago I got an email from a guy who wanted me to join some sort of FB group made up of people mostly our age so the two of us could go on and on and on about how great the music in our day was. I don’t remember most of the 10 or 12 paragraphs in total that he sent, but I do remember that he kept using the phrase, “If we’d been born a couple of years either way we would have missed it!”
Yeah, you said it, pal!
A couple of inches either direction and we would have taken the disco era right between the eyes!
Early in the week the subject circled back around when Alaska Wolf Joe wanted to compare certain Starbucks beverages to over-the-counter medications. Strictly out of boredom I tried Starbucks new super extra strawberry flavored strawberry Frappachino. Driving along I did not realize that AWJ was sitting in the passenger seat studying the new super strawberry Frrappichino until he asked, “Does it taste like cough syrup?”
Sorry no Robitussin notes hiding in the heady like Vick’s nose of that beast.
“Don’t they make it with cough syrup to make it look like that?”
That’s when I politely asked if we could talk about something else. AWJ complied and brought up some new FB group he joined as part of something he’s involved with. “You might be surprised,” he said, “people still use ‘What bands do you like?’as an icebreaker.”
That was surprising as I thought it would be what video games do you play. AWJ that is also asked, but not as often which lead me to ask what kind of bands get talked about.
“Normie shit, you know, like what Fleetwood Mac was in your day. They were normie shit, right?”
You would have be hard pressed back then to find anybody normie-er or shittier.
In my day music was the big dowsing rod for finding your ilk. (As The Perfesser once pointed out Frank Zappa was not only a musician, he was also a way of finding your fellow weirdo. You know, “I like Frank. You like Frank. So you must be a weirdo like me! Let’s go pick on some normies listening to Bob Segar.!”) Over time it seems the big icebreaker evolves into hating the music of today and bonding with your fellow old spoot over what might be your common golden age of tunes.
Isn’t that what the guy with the FB group was all about? Somewhere in all that prose about his gizmo that held 100 cd’s, the $500 headphones, and the Firefall box set wasn’t there a call to action? A call to seek out our fellow old farts who also lived through his tightly defined golden age?
I’ll never know as I didn’t write back. While he had a great deal to say I got all caught up in the Firefall box set. Speaking of normie shit – the very thought of a Firefall box set makes me want to take a shower.
Lastly – I find this paragraph to be a double-edged sword.
If the internet brought about the “… and then everything changed” part of Korn’s Behind the Music story, perhaps the internet can also be credited with the band’s longevity. The days when cultural movements would come along and sweep away yesterday’s news are over. Any band with grassroots appeal, no matter how maligned by critics and the mainstream media, can stick around forever. Over time, controversies fade and stigmas evaporate. At some point, future generations will come around to discovering you. “Freak on a Leash” now has nearly 100 million spins on Spotify. When Generation Z hears bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park the music registers as classic rock.
Feel free to consider that at your leisure.
The upshot of it all is that most of us – musically – live in our own golden age. We lose touch with the new stuff and for us Late Stage Boomers it seems impossible to keep up. That’s why I think the Internet has done something contrary to the above quote – today you can experience so much that there is no hierarchy. When we were kids you could say The Beatles were the biggest thing out there and after they broke up The Stones were the biggest things out there, but when they took a couple years off Zep was the biggest thing out there … and so on and so on and so forth. We go forth intimidated thinking we don’t understand the hierarchy so we might well wander into something that we might find embarrassing when in fact all hierarchies no longer carry the same weight they once did.
You can’t expect a hierarchy when none exist and you can’t depend on a hierarchy that’s been devalued.
And that’s the sort of thing that makes your average Late Stage Boomer very, very nervous.
Soif you find yourself to be nervous this week – dig deep.
Conquer your inner ‘elderly’ self.
Quit taking the paper, go listen to Kendrick, and for Godsake let’s all look around and see if we can find a better musical anthem that celebrates wheat and the humans who tend to it than this normie shit.
* Whatever you do please don’t correct him when he says ‘Blinded by the Light’ was written by Manford Mann. kthxbai
“Provocation for provocation’s sake will never win you any converts, to say it another way, if you are owning the libs just to own the libs, your victory will be short-lived and your audience will remain small.” Orin Hatch
“I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading?” Haley asked. “We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership — it’s the exact opposite.” Nikki Haley
“Hey, you, Zombie! I’m the only wrinkly, old, gray monster who can terrorize my family, OK?” – Stan Pines
“The neo-Marxist analysis of society, in which we are all mere appendages of various groups of oppressors and oppressed, and in which the oppressed definitionally cannot be at fault, is now the governing philosophy of almost all liberal media. That’s how … the New York Times can hire and defend someone who expresses racial hatred.” Andrew Sullivan
THE AUTOPSY OF THE STRIKE: The Renault strike of March-April 1973 constituted a general repetition of this crisis. Apparently confused, uncoordinated, manipulated, and in the final analysis, a failure (except for the extraordinary terminological victory that consisted in the once taboo term ‘semi-skilled worker’ being replaced with the term, ‘agent of production)… This strike was the beautiful swan song for the unions caught between the rank-and-file and the bosses. From the outset it was unleashed by semi-skilled foreign workers.” Jean Baudrillard c. 1976
“We’ve got fundamentalist Muslims, we’ve got fundamentalist Jews, we’ve got fundamentalist Christians and they’ll blow the whole thing up for you. But as I travel around this big old world there’s one thing that I most fear – it’s a white man in a golf shirt with a cell phone in his ear.”Tom Russell (c. 2007)
“My dear friend, clear your mind of can’t. You may talk as other people do. You may say to a man, ‘Sir, I am your most humble servant.’ You are not his most humble servant. You may say, ‘These are sad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times.’ You don’t mind the times. You tell a man, ‘I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.’ You don’t care six-pence whether he was wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don’t think foolishly.” Dr. Johnson
This was one of those weeks packed with riveting excitement. Alaska Wolf Joe and I both had UPS deliveries coming on the same day which normally wouldn’t be a big deal except for the small fact that neither one of us would be around and his package had to be signed for. Luckily the UPS guy was coming up the walk as I was leaving so I was able to accept AWJ’s big-ass box. I texted him to say I got it and he texted back, “Delivery confirmation says, ‘Gave to Customer Man.'”
Yes, Customer Man, Engine of the economy!
In our last episode you’ll remember Customer Man’s arch-nemesis, The Recession, stripped our hero of his wallet and turned him loose inside WalMart on Customer Appreciation Day. Finding an old unused Discover Card in his sock Customer Man reaches for a nearby shopping cart and says, “This calls for The Invisible Hand!”
Some days this stuff just writes itself.
Not so much.
Case in point – I got an email saying somebody somewhere said something nice about me on the Internet(s).The people on the sending side of the note are of the belief that failure to make nice-nice is a federal crime ergo they were expecting a quick response on my part. I reminded them that they used to go to some trouble to tell me, “We would have invited you to (function) but everyone was afraid you’d say something.”
Darn tootin’ I would and it would have been a good one too. It would have been one of those things that a normal person would truly and sincerely regret say, but – if you’ve read this page for any length of time – you’d know that I would not only be good with it, I might just have to write it down for future use. That always lead to the people who sent the note coming back with, “Why do you always think you can get away with that?”
Because I am Customer Man, Engine of the Economy! (QED)
Moving along –
Got another email saying that this page is all about how we’re screwed (which is obvious) but at least it try to convey some context as to why we’re screwed.
Along those lines –
Clap back at the Wolfman cuz he diss’d you record, Dude!
As some of you have heard, Andrew Sullivan called the NY Times a Neo-Marxist publication a couple of days ago. Upon hearing this our house filled up with waves of convulsive laughter. Sully’s little bon mot was just the pick me up we needed at the end of a long and difficult week.
So what was it all about?
Earlier in the week one of the shameless wags in one of my Tweety groups said someone needs to categorize different types of outrages as it was the Tweetist’s opinion that some outrage is strictly for show. Put another way – some outrage is strictly theatrical virtue signaling.
With that – here’s a stab at it in no particular order:
– Genuine Outrage. Someone steals your car, drives it around for a few days then sets fire to it leaving nothing behind but a burnt frame.
– Targeted Outrage – information used to keep a for-profit media outlet on track with its branding. (e.g. programming found on any of the cable news channels after 6pm local time)
– Addictive Outrage – info which keeps the questionably angry, well … questionably angry. Recent Internet slang calls such folks “Outrage Whores.”
– Theatrical Outrage – any outrage which can be described as Gamergate-like in form and execution.
Please note that these are not absolutes but merely arbitrary boundaries. In any given case there will most likely be some combination of all of the above brought to any given situation as we cannot get past the simple fact that expressed human emotion is much like giving cotton candy to a 5 year-old on a hot day. Some will be consumed, some will miss the mark, but after a certain amount of time everybody’s going to need a washcloth.
The most interesting thing to rise up out of Sarah Jeong vs. Quinn Norton is the associated collapse of a major conservative trope. Outrage did not take down Sarah Jeong nor Dan Harmon. As we speak – every passing minute brings us closer to James Gunn being reinstated as the director of Guardians 3.
Another collapsing trope is the use of the word ‘pedophile’ in casual conversation. It was once used to be the final word on all matters regarding the concept of relativism, but it eventually grew to be an all purpose invective. With the rise of Q-anon we find that the word has become something like a call to wage a holy war, free from all legal and psychological definition.
You can be as mad as you want about all that, but trope collapse is at the heart of what Senator Hatch and Ambassador Hailey were talking about. A series of tropes will let you “own the libs” but it is not a cohesive body of political thought.
And as a quick aside – “ownership” doesn’t really exist as those mostly like to play that game have no communication with the other side so the acting of “owning” is either never seen nor in context to those who would be owned. Think of it as taking great pride at how well you shouted into an empty room.
In other news –
“BECAUSE THE FUTURE IS WHERE WE WILL SPEND THE REST … OF … OUR …LIVES!” Criswell
After we caught our breath from Sully’s remarks about what is and is not Neo-Marxist culture I asked Alaska Wolf Joe if he thought Neo-Marxism would have more followers if the NM’s would quit using the term “late stage capitalism” and instead take something out of the Nation Enquirer’s playbook and call it, “Capitalism’s Sad Last Days?”
Symbolic Exchange was largely composed in the early 1970s and eventually published in 1976. Several critics have said it accurately predicted our present Neo-liberal system. Baudrillard strives to proves that Marx no longer applies to our times. His underpinning is that he suggests that labor is merely a commodity. He tries to take it out of its 19th Century moorings and comes close to calling it a romantic notion. Eventually the worker becomes not so much a living being caught in the system, but one more item thrown on top of that pile of stuff which constitutes cost equalling the price of the last item produced.
You’ll note from the above quote that the 1973 French auto strike revolved around foreign workers. At roughly the same time Germany struggled with accommodating foreigner workers as they did not fit well into the German scheme of guilds. Therefore we have to conclude that fitting the outside worker into the flow of any national economy is a problem that comes up now and then and no one has any idea what to do. Perhaps, we should look at the practice of politics like the ancient Greeks and see it all as a series of great circles as it does not fit in with the more popular Western view of history being a linear beast.
What little I have to offer of proof of all that comes from this little country ditty from 2008.
“Tom, don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don, my old man, The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That’s what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal. Like God. He knows every feather that falls from the tail of a sparrow or however the hell it goes. Right? And you know something? Accidents don’t happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult.” — Michael Corleone “I tell ya, I don’t get no respect. Last week my house was on fire. My wife told the kids, ‘Be quiet, you’ll wake up Daddy.'” Rodney “In the early 1880s New York’s social parvenus—the people who were the Sculls, Paleys, Engelhards, Holzers, of their day—were the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Huntingtons and Goulds. They built the Metropolitan Opera House for the simple reason that New York’s prevailing temple of Culture, the Academy of Music, built just 29 years before at 14th Street and Irving Place, had only 18 fashionable proscenium boxes, and they were monopolized by families like the Lorillards, Traverses, Belmonts, Stebbinses, Gandys and Barlows. The status of the Goulds and Vanderbilts was revealed in the sort of press coverage the Met’s opening (October 22, 1883) received: ‘The Goulds and the Vanderbilts and people of that ilk perfumed the air with the odor of crisp greenbacks.’ “By the 1960s yet another new industry had begun to dominate New York life, namely, communications—the media. At the same time the erstwhile “minorities” of the first quarter of the century had begun to come into their own. Jews, especially, but also many Catholics, were eminent in the media and in Culture. So, by 1965—as in 1935, as in 1926, as in 1883, as in 1866, as in 1820—New York had two Societies, “Old New York” and “New Society.” In every era, “Old New York” has taken a horrified look at “New Society” and expressed the devout conviction that a genuine aristocracy, good blood, good bone—themselves—was being defiled by a horde of rank climbers. This has been an all-time favorite number. In the 1960s this quaint belief was magnified by the fact that many members of “New Society,” for the first time, were not Protestant. The names and addresses of “Old New York” were to be found in the Social Register, which even 10 years ago was still confidently spoken of as the Stud Book and the Good Book. It was, and still is, almost exclusively a roster of Protestant families. Today, however, the Social Register’s annual shuffle, in which errant socialites, e.g., John Jacob Astor, are dropped from the Good Book, hardly even rates a yawn. The fact is that “Old New York”—except for those members who also figure in “New Society,” e.g., Nelson Rockefeller, John Hay Whitney, Mrs. Wyatt Cooper—is no longer good copy, and without publicity it has never been easy to rank as a fashionable person in New York City. “The press in New York has tended to favor New Society in every period, and to take it seriously, if only because it provides “news.” Tom Wolfe, ‘Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s‘ “Surely, it is much easier to respect a man who has always had respect, than to respect a man who we know was last year no better than ourselves, and will be no better next year. … In civilized society, personal merit will not serve you so much as money will. Sir, you may make the experiment. Go into the street, and give one man a lecture on morality, and another a shilling, and see which will respect you most.” Dr. Johnson
” I worked in a pet store and people kept asking how big I’d get. RD”
This weekend marks the 18th anniversary of this site. Here now are some things that have been coagulating for several months.
Shall we begin? In summary
Which is an odd place to start, granted.
Here’s Chapo Trap House’s 206th podcast. It takes up a position on the page today because – minus the stuff about being invited and/or being disinvited to Yale – it pretty much sums up my opinion of what’s really been going on.
For those of you have no interest in listening, let’s go back to this line from Gravity’s Rainbow, ” If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”
And do you know why you kept asking questions like, “Where oh where did that find that vulgar woman? Why did she say such awful things? Why did she have to pick on Sarah Sanders like that?”
Here’s a transcript of final minute of Michele Wolf’s speech –
There’s a ton of news right now, a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. Instead, we’re covering three topics. Every hour is Trump, Russia, Hillary, and a panel full of people that remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving. Milk comes from nuts now all because of the gays.
You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.
Trump is so broke he grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them. Like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn’t do anything wrong, I’ve got to get the fuck out of here. Good night.
Flint still doesn’t have clean water.
Politics is now a matter of which culture you belong to. There’s no viewpoints, philosophical under pinnings, or side of the aisle anymore. Once you’ve accepted your culture you’ve also accepted your way to get played.
And played badly. You know my doctor? Doctor Vinny Boom-Botz?
As you might have notice this space had been fallow for a good many months. Every time I think I have something to bring up it suddenly slips away.
For no damn good reason at all.
Over the past couple of weeks I didn’t really come up with some bright idea so much as I started to notice something – so many people think they are owed respect and they cry out as their much desired respect alludes them. Case in point – the Intellectual Dark Web – a gathering of folks who are seeking and failing to find respect and they don’t get it.
Didn’t 2016 change everything?
Wasn’t political correctness vanquished?
Where is the acknowledgment that they have lead us all to a bright new day?
And isn’t this nothing more than the same thing the A-list Bloggers were after c. 2005?
The solution here is simple. Pack all of ’em up and move ’em over to Pajamas Media. They’ll find a good home there. That way they won’t have to worry if the NY Times will publish what Mom calls their “butthurt” in the Sunday edition.
The only reason to mention any of this as it was concurrent with Tom Wolfe’s death. Almost 50 years ago he created the thumbnail history of how New York City had the ability to confer respect on people when Mr. W wrote about that evening when The Bersteins entertained The Black Panthers. It was an elegant take on how the monied flocked to one city in order to become respected because New York society was a pantheon.
Sure, other cities had something they called high society, but it was merely a codification of the existing petit bourgeois pecking order. Hell, even small towns had something they called society, but no matter how many luncheons your Aunt Agnes put on for the local auxiliary she was only known by the name she was born with. No one ever called her Babe, or Tex, or Slim and Truman Capote never thought of her as one of his “Swans.”
That sort of thing was reserved for New Yorkers.
Today it’s a bit harder to find that kind of respect. Make no mistake, NYC still has its social circles, but who seeks them out for respect?
Once -assuming you make a pile of it elsewhere – money would get you on the social register after moving to town.
Warren Buffett lives in Nebraska, Bill Gates still lives in his hometown, and Elon Musk has taken up residence inside a plasma conduit aboard the Starship Enterprise.
So long Mr. Wolfe and thanks. You a wellspring of wily observations and and firecracker prose. While Mailer wrote about his favorite subject, Mailer and Thompson hid behind his persona to bring forth amazing observations, you met it all head on. You documented the 60s and mad it look oh so effortless.
Vigilate Est, Canes (ed. note: Here now to spread some enlightenment around is a special guest contribution from our own Alaska Wolf Joe.) Abstract: The current decay of images is due to the revelation of their utter contingency, their failure to prove that our cultural narratives were necessary and permanent depictions. Now, a great reversal has taken place. We have learned that it was the other way around, and that our cultural narratives were put in place to encode these relations in the first place. When certain individuals realize this contingency, it drives them to attempt to exchange their contingent narrative for a new one which they truly believe is necessary. One of these most archetypical exchanges is the failure of a masculine narrative to prove itself as narrative, which replaces itself with violence. In the acceleration which we currently face, such exchanges are more likely to take place, and as such, the rate of violence will increase.
“Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove twenty-two miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were forty cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides–pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.
“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.
A long silence followed.
“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.” He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced at once by others. “We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”
There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.”Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”
Another silence ensued.
“They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said. He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.
“What was the barn like before it was photographed?” he said. “What did it look like, how was it different from other barns, how was it similar to other barns? We can’t answer these questions because we’ve read the signs, seen the people snapping the pictures. We can’t get outside the aura. We’re part of the aura. We’re here, we’re now.”
He seemed immensely pleased by this.”
–Don DeLillo, ‘White Noise’
The image is decaying. Images, themselves, are stable. But their meaning – the sum total of what any image means – is decaying at an exponential rate.
There is too much to see. Think of how many images you have seen in the past hour, how many things are engravings and not the object themselves. I would estimate at the minimum a hundred; possibly several hundred. How many of these did you pay attention to? Very few, likely, but they saturated: they do not go to the operations of the unconscious (it no longer exists, a fiction also drowned in a sea of truths), but they undoubtedly have saturated your memory, whether that memory retrieved or unretrieved.
Images encode. Given a sufficiently complicated enough series of images, it provides details for replication of its information in real life. Driving-school car-crash scare films, YouTube tutorials for petty household tasks or software manipulation, Stranger Danger PSAs played anywhere after the 1970s in American elementary school classrooms, the exercise video series you might see on a late night infomercial, the infomercial itself, the highly complicated world of television and cinema with its portrayals of life (at all class stratifications) ready to impel us to associate ourselves with those images. All of these function as depictions which intend to replicate lessons, morals, instructions in reality. They are a sequence designed to produce a behavior.
Complex enough images become complex cultural narratives.
The societal standards of romance and sexuality are prevalent in popular culture because popular culture is the method of societal conditioning. The cinematic image pervades as the standard which we judge our lives against, compare to, imitate, and associate. It is the last gold standard – the method of exchange for which our every life event can be traded to in some value. “It feels just like a movie.” Even for us sickening freaks who attempt to take a position of detached postmodern irony, the cinematic image invades us at some level – its fantasies still poison us. We know the cultural importance of the game that we play with culture, we take it seriously. We take it seriously enough to think that our absence of totalizing faith in it is in some way also a noteworthy cultural action. We are not free from its grip on our reality; its dialectical play is always in opposition to those of us who even proclaim it to not have an effect on our lives. We feel the shadow of the cinematic image. Just like Nietzsche’s proclamation that we have not taken the death of God seriously enough, we are not taking the death of film seriously enough. We endlessly compare ourselves to images, privately and publicly, even in our claim that we are atheists of the image. Disavowal is impossible. To complete dissociate oneself from the cultural grip of the image is either a sign of delusion, privilege, or a dysfunction of thinking sufficient enough to show one is incapable of taking in the hot medium of cultural instruction. If you are not mentally ill, you are susceptible to the wiles of the popular image. Inevitably then, the cultural depiction of romance and sexuality in the cinematic image (whether comedic, romantic, pornographic, childish, “adult”, in a theater, television, or the internet) is the standard from which we judge our relationships.
This is ten-cent knowledge. Even our most bourgeois and bland feminisms know the importance of cultural encoding from popular images. We wouldn’t fight over cultural representation if we think it didn’t reflect itself in some semiotic bliss. There are few who would contest that today, save for certain Darwinists who claim that the cultural mythology reflects an inherent biological drive which can never be destroyed. But they suffer from the same plight of images: is not this image of a bifurcated nature, a totalized image of man against the elements, clutching his junk and swinging his club to impress the savage women also a Hollywood fiction, an imbued cultural narrative from which we cannot even trace the origins of?
A point I will return to.
Our conflict now is a conflict over the remnants of the cinematic image, over its significations, its power, and it future. We fight over this image because we know that the threshold that any image has on our lives is decaying under the horrendous weight of over-saturation. We are hoping to fight against entropy; to create a position of cohesion. In the thermodynamics of culture, this is not likely.
The figure of the violent atrocity in America is inextricably bound up with the cinematic image. Harris and Klebold could, epistemically, separate their world from that of Stone’s ‘Natural Born Killers’ and Id Software’s DOOM (1993) but they could not narratologicly. And a similar resurgence seems to haunt itself under so many of the recent acts of violence: the difference between the perpetrators of violence being able to integrate the reality of their circumstances and the cultural images which they either fight within the confines of, or fight against the loss of. It isn’t a matter of culture corrupting the individual; it is a matter of the individual’s relation to culture itself becoming corrupted in the same sense a set of data becomes corrupted within a machine: the encoding itself is breaking down.
There is a process,I fear I cannot truly argue for its existence, but nonetheless have a gut feeling for: in the age of the decaying image, in the age of immense chaos and an accelerating glut of information, it is impossible for our realities to ever match that of the images we created to thread together a narrative of social reality.
Saul Kripke, philosopher of language, spoke of the concept of “necessary a posteriori truths.” These were things which were necessarily true, but their necessity could not be discovered without experience. This is in contrast to certain things which (debatably) hold true without empirical experience. The most traditional of these examples being mathematical truths, such as 2 + 2 = 4 being a fact which it seems no one can experience, but which is necessarily true. An example of one such of these necessary a posteriori truths is the concept that water is H2O. Without getting into the painstaking specifics of such a linguistic example, we have encountered water, but it took an experiential observation to have it revealed to us that it had the chemical structure H2O. But now knowing this, we can’t imagine an instance in which this is false: water is always H2O. As such, it becomes a necessary truth, but a necessary truth we only knew by experience.
We treat our relationship to the cultural narrative in some way. By our relentless comparison to images, we seek to discover their truth: to affirm it, to make it necessary in some way by our experience of it. We either look for the image to affirm our lived experience to make it appear necessary that we are living in such a way, and that the reflection reinstates this truth, or we look to see the image first and then live in such a way that our lives affirm the truth of that image. This is the image’s truth as a form of social encoding.
But the accelerating instability of culture in the information era has made it so that our relationship and knowledge of images has become contingent. We cannot process the social encoding as necessary, or in any way real, when our experiential sensibilities fail to prove them necessary. This failure to prove the necessity of cultural narratives as real drives those most affected by it to the point of madness.
The example par excellence: Sexual paranoia is in the air, and it is only increasing at the rate at which it spreads. This is the signification of some of these recent atrocities. I give especial light to the Toronto “Incel” attack. But in some ways I speak of the broad significance which this supposed crisis of the libidinal economy really signifies: the relation between the necessity of sexual and relational narratives and real life decays as those relations become irrelevant. The problem is when one learns of the contingency of such narratives.
From the NYT article on Jordan Peterson (who I will return to): “He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”
God died long ago in culture, and now, man and woman is dying as well. Gender is the fiction which we see most rapidly decay in culture because it is in no way a necessity of the neoliberal model. The political economy (if it can be trusted as a reality whatsoever) cares nothing of identity in consumption. Consumption is identityless, and frequently, unrelated to any biological necessity whatsoever. Not only have we seen the arbitration of gender as the violence of the patriarchy; we have seen its irrelevance in consumption. But do we know this? Do we have faith in it, or is it a theoretical understanding that gender has died – and like those men that Nietzsche’s madmen is attempting to convince, we have not truly taken the death of gender as a serious prospect, professing faith in it even though we claim to know it no longer exists?
I suspect that the Toronto killer shows us this relationship between experiential evidence and our dire psychological need for our cultural images to be true. Bombarded with enough media which sells a performed image of gender and sexuality, to face the violent reality that such things are not only false, but that their entire foundations are crumbling under an age in which Eros is quickly becoming as deterritorialized as possible, shows one the utter contingency of those narratives.
Violence takes the place, because it is the only other gendered cultural narrative we have. It fills the place, and forces certain of those most shook by the revelation of cultural contingency to act upon its demands. Violence can still be proved necessary: the “masculine”, when shook of its foundation and position within cultural narratives, can attempt to replace its decaying cultural narrative by proving a narrative of masculine dominance and death true. It is not that this spectacle is inherently masculine, rather, it is the other way around: the ‘acting-out’ of the masculine murder fantasy reaffirms the masculinity in its existence, makes it so that the image is necessarily masculine. It fills the narratological void brought upon by the encroaching decay of all images and associations of identity.
The power of the new psychological demagogues is their attempt to reverse this process, to reverse the entropic disordering of images and the destruction of what we previously thought were the necessary a posteriori truths of our lives and their relation to cultural representations and narratives. This is my interpretation of Jordan Peterson, the most key “intellectual” figure that exists at this moment.
It is no accident that he is a Jungian, and that his usage of a vague and unfalsifiable system (analytical psychology, as Jung termed it) is so good at creating cultural analogy. If a person can re-encode their entire life to resemble the images and analogies of archetypes, then the restoration of understanding and a sense of the necessity of the interpretation returns. New meta-images (femininity, masculinity, anima and animus, the rest of the narratives) can make sense of a world by attempting to retroactively jam the dissolving images into thinner boxes. How absurd it is for someone to tell young men to “slay the dragon” – we know the inherent falsity of fairy tales now, we have critiqued them, we know their relation to a fading patriarchal order. But if we can take our life experiences and rejam them into these images by making them necessary parts of the psyche, necessary parts of all things, if we can make these previous cultural constructions into hallucinations of the very atoms of social constituency, then there is at least a temporary metaphor which allows us to make sense of things. By creating a permanent semiotic chain of all events – “Oh, it’s just like this archetype, you just don’t realize it yet!” – then the fact that the image means nothing is solved. The semantic reference of images is fixed by circularity: with the presentation of an inherent psychology, of the necessary truths of cultural depictions by their ossification into permanent features of humanity, there is no reason to fear the truth which is the absolute bombardment of the senses.
But this process drives us to a point of blithering idiocy, towards the danger of actual fascism, towards the danger of needing to act upon it to prove its absolute necessity in a chaotic world.
The presentation of an inherent and cynical social Darwinism, the brand sold by hucksters such as Peterson, and affirmed politically by the rise of a neo-fascism is a grand retroactive lie to make sense of the decay. They do not realize that they too are the victims of consumer imagery, as Darwin’s legacy is little more than another image prepackaged for easy-made consumption in this time. Its foundation is a lie, and so is its analogical power. Eventually, the effect will wear off.
Every relation which can be described as biologically necessary, every single thing which can be crammed under the discourse of biological inevitability will also dissolve as identity becomes only more digitized, discrete, and torn apart from familiar relations. As the necessity of increasing consumption seeks to make all those in the first world more and more faceless, more and more alienated, more and more pieces of data, our very relation to that supposed and intrinsic human nature will decay. So too will the images of biological necessity which currently fuel the Jungian machine which hopes to make “order out of chaos.”
The violence committed will then undoubtedly increase, not because it has been repressed, but because the action reaffirms the necessity of the image which has been sold. As the images run out, and politically, people are forced to align to smaller and more tribal images (and yet paradoxically, more grand and sweeping images) they will force themselves to make those images a reality. Such is what waits for us on the other end of Peterson’s tirade: the actual threat of fascism, the actual threat of people needing to prove themselves racially superior, to prove masculinity and femininity necessary divides. While these actions themselves accelerate, so too will the remnants of political economy and the deconstruction of images and fiscal relations. Parallel forms of violence: the structural violence of social relations from the continual bombardment, processing, and maintenance of information (all that is solid melts into air) and the violent force of those attempting to literally react against this process which they know threatens their image with death.
There is no pithy way to end this. I can only hope that, like Malthus, the image which I have presented becomes another in our great repository of images. I do not know it to be a necessary or contingent truth. This is my myth.
“Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, ‘Do you think we’ll ever find them?’ He said, ‘I don’t know kid. There are so many places they can hide.'”Jacob Cohen 1921-2004
This summer I shall attempt to write more. (There’s much to be said now that we’ve retreated into different cultures.) It’s also the 50th anniversary of the Summer of ’68 and God knows we can’t let that slip by unnoticed. Heck, there might be some room to run off 1500 words on Aunt Lydia vs. Roseanne. Not that I’ve seen either show, but in good old fashion blogging tradition that shouldn’t stop me. DISCLAIMER: This place is not in Sedona, it’s in Seattle, we’ve had lunch there, and I have – at one time or another – photographed, interviewed, or personally know everybody in this video. So to celebrate the 19th anniversary of this page, let me leave you with my culture’s re-imagining of Toby Keith’s, ‘I Love This Bar.’
“HERE FOLLOWS SOME PSYCHO-METAPHYSICS. If you are not hot for philosophy, best just skip it. Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids… The Aneristic Principle is that of APPARENT ORDER; the Erisitic Principle is that of APPARENT DISORDER. Both order and disorder are man made CONCEPTS and are artificial divisions of PURE CHAOS, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making. With our concept making apparatus called “mind” we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled “reality” and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see “reality” differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept. We look through the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The ORDER is in the GRID. That is the Aneristic Principle. Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like “relation”, no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is “absence of female-ness”, or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE.The belief that “order is true” and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the ERISTIC ILLUSION.The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirelyThe point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered. Reality is the original Rorschach.” – Robert Anton Wilson “Talk some shit so I can refute it!” Fact Wino “There is no crime more infamous than the violation of truth. It is apparent that men can be social beings no longer than they believe each other. When speech is employed only as the vehicle of falsehood, every man must disunite himself from others, inhabit his own cave, and seek prey only for himself.” Dr. Johnson “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend.” Mao
‘ALLO MRS. PREMISE
For the better part of two months this, that, and the other have popped up right in front of my eyes making me wonder if I should blog or not. While I was held up by some things I had no control over (e.g. the flu) it was largely me being frustrated for not coming to terms with my own urgent need to loudly express my narcissism by failing to come up with some over-arching half-ass’d idea that would make sense of not just the present but the future as well.
For two months, and for the lack of a better term – that dog would not hunt.
What finally put things in motion was Bruce Sterling’s SXSW 2018 keynote. This year he said he wasn’t going to bring out some of the usual topics especially those topics which talked about where we’re all headed. As he succinctly said about five minutes into his talk – nobody in Silicon Valley is inventing the future – they’re all too busy trying to fix the future they came up with.
That got me to thinking that if you are to see what might happen in the future you do need to see some sense of order in the present. In finding that order then you might see a thread of related information that can lead to a conclusion, but right now peering into the future is difficult because the present looks like nothing less than a mud covered wind shield.
And we’re all out of wiper fluid.
Despite that those things that popped up in front of me did lead to one small thread about how most of us – of a certain age- are ill equipped to make sense of it all.
And what were those popped-up things?
– Last month I got an invite to a banquet celebrating the 50th anniversary of an event I used to be associated with many years ago. I was not there at the start 50 years ago, but my time more or less coincided with the event’s heyday. Time, work, and a mere 10-day notice of the event put it out of reach. Updates and photos of the banquet arrived in my inbox and provided me with great relief that once again the past had to the good taste to stay put in the past.
So, so many old guys trying so hard to act like they haven’t aged a day.
Put another way – imagine the old high school football team getting together. After a few drinks the general consensus states they could still play the game. Hell, they could even show these kids today a thing or two. That’s when Dave says he can still get down in his three-point stance so he takes off his jacket and huffs and grunts, and chugs and just at the very second he’s about to achieve a moment of middle-aged glory his blood pressure goes sideways and somebody has to call 911.
Kinda like that.
– Mom got her picture in the Sunday paper a few weeks ago. It was a good photo and there was a short blurb which she was pleased with because “At least they spelled my name right.” Since then many people have complimented her on making the paper – none of whom are under the age of 70.
– Speaking of the Sunday paper – Facebook took out full page ads in many of the Sunday papers in the larger cities to apologize for the Cambridge Analytica mess. I have no doubt that this lead to mad scramble by the readers of the Sunday paper (see above) to make sure Facebook is on the National Registry of do-not-call numbers.
Nobody wants some punk on the phone tryin’ to sell ’em a Facebook subscription.
No sir! Oh the Hume-manity! or How did We get Here Part I
We’re not living through a crisis about what is true, we’re living through a crisis about how we know whether something is true. We’re not disagreeing about facts, we’re disagreeing about epistemology. The “establishment” version of epistemology is, “We use evidence to arrive at the truth, vetted by independent verification (but trust us when we tell you that it’s all been independently verified by people who were properly skeptical and not the bosom buddies of the people they were supposed to be fact-checking).” The “alternative facts” epistemological method goes like this: “The ‘independent’ experts who were supposed to be verifying the ‘evidence-based’ truth were actually in bed with the people they were supposed to be fact-checking. In the end, it’s all a matter of faith, then: you either have faith that ‘their’ experts are being truthful, or you have faith that we are. Ask your gut, what version feels more truthful?” Cory Doctorow
God knows there’s been no end of hand wringing over fake news. The usual conclusion among my ilk is to immediate deploy people who will teach media literacy. Most of them are put off by my response that you can’t teach media literacy – you can only inflict your bias on others. If you get some high school English teacher to do an exercise where he or she runs out A Story from His or Her Preferred Brand of News to compare against A Story from His or Her Least Liked Brand of News all you have in the end is an argument for Coke vs. Pepsi. What’s needed is to teach some sort of rudimentary form of epistemology to get the kids thinking about how a thought resides in the mind and how that thought and all the others form a larger patchwork of ideas that lets them navigate the world.
A couple of weeks ago at SXSW MFST’s Danah Boyd gave a fabulous speech on this very topic.
“It’s one thing to talk about interrogating assumptions when a person can keep emotional distance from the object of study. It’s an entirely different thing to talk about these issues when the very act of asking questions is what’s being weaponized. This isn’t historical propaganda distributed through mass media. Or an exercise in understanding state power. This is about making sense of an information landscape where the very tools that people use to make sense of the world around them have been strategically perverted by other people who believe themselves to be resisting the same powerful actors that we normally seek to critique.”
Video and a transcript of the speech can be found here. I don’t agree with the whole thing, but it is an excellent insight in how we should move forward with the simple fact path we can no longer trust all the printed words that appear before us. “I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was.”- Abe Simpson or How Did We Get Here Part II
A few weeks back I came across the term “savvy gap” which can trace its roots back to the term “generation gap” which disappeared at about the end of the last ice age. Simply put the kids know stuff and the oldsters don’t.
Many years ago pre-recorded music came on plastic coated aluminum discs. These discs were sold in something called a “record store.” (The word “record” was an accepted atavistic use for an earlier form of mechanically reproduced sound.) While looking around one of these “record” stores I heard an older man yelling at the clerk. A local band which went by the name, The Kidney Thieves would be performing at the store later in the day. It seems the clerk behind the counter explained the origin of the band’s name and gave a thumbnail description of the well know urban myth.
The old guy kept yelling, “Who would think of such a thing? Who would think of such a thing?”
Oh hell Gramps, if we knew that I wouldn’t be here typing right now, would I?
Keep that one in your back pockets because we’re getting close to our destination. ‘ALLO MRS.CONCLUSION
We’re screwed no matter how you look at it.
Boomers have passively ingested media for most of their lives. The newspaper arrived daily and it was busted up into sections. The big stuff was up front, then there was the part with the sports, and behind that lurked Ann Landers and Beetle Bailey. TV was no different – it too was pre-chewed food. Every night you got the same thing – big-ass story right off the top … stuff … stuff … weather .. stuff… sports …. oh look, some guy taught his duck to whistle … Johnny Carson.
As such everybody gobbled up what was put in front of them because that’s all there was. That’s either gone or on its last legs which means Boomers are in a similar situation to a 14 year-old dog turned loose in the woods.
Gotta go find your own Alpo now, Bowser.
Are we equipped?
There’s probably a few here and there, but mostly it’s another edition of ‘Who Moved My Cheese?”
The kids know what is and is not bullshit because they never consumed information in the same way as their parents, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they have an understanding of their own own epistemology – their own internal fact checking.
But that’s not the end of it.
As Ms. Boyd points out you cannot stand aside yourself, you will always bring your biases along even if you know that they are biases. Meanwhile there’s the age-old problem that any system which can be identified as flawed must use itself to prove that it it’s flawed. Given that humans are – very much in fact – flawed we cannot come to any conclusion about how we see the world without having to admit that our own human thinking is flawed.
What constitutes “fake news” is something that needs you to think about – not in relation to what any given article says – but how you own the thought process lead you to that article and how you use that same thought process to sift through the content.
And then understand that your conclusion could very well be bullshit. (QED)
Between now and then let’s all agree on one thing.
We all want those shoes.
“Did Lot’s wife and I share the same perversity of nature that compelled us to take stupid risks for no very good reason at all, for no reason that really went beyond the risk itself? And was it for this that her punishment had come swift and horrible? Or was it rather for the whisper of a doubt, soft but irrepressible, that is perhaps always spoken in such actions as looking where one is told not to look? Were there moments in history during which God simply would not tolerate the existence of the skeptic? The symbolic significance of the gesture of looking back wasn’t lost on me. A child’s knowledge of nostalgia is one of the mysteries of childhood. Perhaps it wasn’t so much that there were moments forbidding doubt as that there were places that merited no sense of attachment. Was it the regret and longing she had directed back to her home in Sodom that had drawn God’s wrath down on her? And yet another sort, a meaner sort, of motive behind her action suggested itself, one that would remove her to a safer distance from myself: a kind of cold enchantment with the drama of death. – Rebecca Goldstein “People look to the President of the United States not as a personwith an important but limited and particular job, but as a god-like emperor. All outcomes in our massive, complex society areattributing to him/her. Economic growth. Jobs. Individual happiness.The moral character of “the nation”. All are attributed, for good orill, to the executive.Such grandiose talk has always been with us, but as the role of the state has grown larger and more complex, the difference between this linguistic fiction and actual reality has become more jarring. No president or party can measure up. Political promises have grown to match expectations for god-like power, but the capability of our politics, of government as an institution, to deliver hasn’t. It can’t. And so our politics oscillates from one increasing disappointment to another, with our culture dividing itself along political lines with increasing intensity as a result. Trump.Sanders. Brexit. Le Pen. These are symptoms of our unrealistic expectations.” John Papola
“The sarcastic Marx of the ‘send-up’ gets a look-in here, too, portraying economists as the bumbling numbskulls Seacole and Dogberry (from William Shakespeare’sMuch Ado About Nothing), and then scoffing at their very evident yet hypocritical self-satisfactions.” Nigel Warburton “When I was running about this town a very poor fellow, I was a great arguer for the advantages of poverty; but I was, at the same time, very sorry to be poor. Sir, all the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil, shew it to be a great evil. You never find people labouring to convince you that you may live very happily upon a plentiful fortune. — So you hear people talking how miserable a King must be; and yet they all wish to be in his place.” Dr. Johnson
Here’s this week’s roundup of the weirdness that passed across this desk. NB: All the items listed below came from either articles of links that were sent to my phone through the use of the Quartz app. Quartz is the business arm of The Atlantic Magazine and as such runs out about a dozen headlines a day that speak directly to all those illegal, immoral, and fattening things us libtards love.
OK except for this one which I had to sit through to watched one of the newer Rick and Morty episodes.
While there’s probably a whole ‘nother blog post about the fringe making its way into daily life, we’ll have to save that for another time. I’ll just leave that up there so we can all contemplate the thought, “Given the state of the world today can you really prove that it’s not being run by the drive-through help at Taco Bell?”
The week ended with Quartz passing along CBS MarketWatch’sdiscovery of Theodora, an assertive, go-getter business owner who believes her clients should only remit payment in cryptocurrency. While this makes Theo a bit of pioneer in her field,anyone who has even been married and/or had a family knows the experience of being a human ATM is far, far less exciting than how she makes it sound.
But you gotta admit her mission statement is both clear and concise.
Her inclusion here is not so much for shock or titillation as a marker of sorts as the only thing people wanted to talk to me about last week was BitCoin. ILLEGAL (… maybe)
To begin with I have no interest in explaining cryptocurrency, and since Our Reptile Alien Overlords have gifted us with th’ Google, you can explore the new forms of money, wade through the Blockchain hype, and review Gresham’s Law at your leisure.
The first problem with all of it is predicting the future. Hegel’s line about the Owl of Minerva speaks more to how current events will never do anything but frustrate the would-be Nostradamuses (Nostrodami?) among us. As a young man Hegel watched Napolean destroy the Europe he understood. To use a deadly term – in that fog of war – it’s hard to see what’s next. However there are times an places where you can see things in motion. You can observe events and find that there’s a enough momentum contained in that single happening or cluster of small seemingly insignificant event to understand something will come of it.
Which is to say that we’re on the verge of the Big BitCoin Poo-Pooing.(tm pend.) This morning a single BC sits at $16K (USD) while Ripple, the most interesting of the lot, took a hit. Bad news will circle all highly visible mentions of cryptocurrency this year because that’s how unsecured markets work. Sooner or later the gloom will also include articles on how each transaction depends on a gigantic capital-intense electronic infrastructure.
But in long run?
As Lord Keynes said – in the long run we’ll all be dead, other than that who are we to say that the current version of cryptocurrency is nothing more than what the Commodore C-64 was to early computing? And as such who are we to say that this form of monetary exchange which bypasses both the banks and the world governments will not permanently alter our economic relationships to one another?
At the risk of being redundant – the changes wars and economic upheaval bring about never present themselves immediately. Nine going on 10 years after the initial shock of The Great Recession we can look back and observe a few things – Trump, Brexit, and the inability of those in power in the US and Europe to really grasp what’s going on. While I don’t really completely sign on with the entirety of Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebowsky’s libtertarian-centric recap of the past year, there is a great deal of credence to their conclusions about life moving on without a single thought of how government will play a role in what they do.
And why not ignore government?
Realistically all that’s happened in the past 50 years was a labor intense effort by both parties to create pols who seem to have no other interest that to either defend or destroy the pillars of The Great Society. Whats worse is that we’ve all been along for the ride and – more often that not – we get so caught up in that atavistic harangue that we lose site of what’s really going on around us.
Here comes the part where I needlessly repeat myself – A FIAT CURRENCY IS NOT A BUNCH OF CLOWNS HOLDING GREAT BIG SACKS FULL OF MONEY GETTING OUT OF A LITTLE CAR
Last summer there was this post which suggested that we are moving towards a new economic order which is unlike anything we’ve known before nor will it be like the alternatives (e.g. communism) that modern capitalism spawned. The rise of not just one, but several forms of money who know no master is a re-ordering of the economic macro-verse which was have not seen inn the US since 1865.
To recap –
The modern American economy was put into motion by the following few items:
– The defeat of the South meant the rise of a nationalist government.
– The creation of eminent domain.
– The creation of laws creating the modern form of the corporation.
– The (albeit grudging) acceptance of paper money.
To get to BitCoin we had FDR deny the ownership of gold and Richard M. Nixon to do away with the idea that the dollar was backed by gold. So in 1971 we joined the greater community of nations using a fiat currency, the money that’s the money because we say it’s the money and the reason we all use it is that we have a certain reasonable belief that the money has some sort of daily utility.
BTW – in the BitCoin world the preferred pejorative for government issued money is “Fiats.”
Yet another New Order of the Ages is upon us.
How will it be handled?
Given the average pol’s grasp of modernity we shouldn’t get our hopes up. This week a friend got a response from one of our elected regarding his email on Net Neutrality. The response was little more than a note of thanks and a solicitation to sign up for the elected’s newsletter. It was a very pleasant way of saying that the elected’s has no idea what all of this is about, but is opposed to it because Trump’s people are for it.
How then will folks like that grasp the shift in the use of currency?
They won’t and neither will the Boomers. When you stop to look at it the Boomer worldview runs along a spectrum that – on one end – suggests a narcisistic personality disorder and stretches to a point of Being at That Advanced Age Where You Think You Know Everything There Is to Know. In the latter half of that curve nothing new is taken seriously and is dismissed as little more than what’s on the cover of this month’s Tiger Beat. Eventually they’ll all wind up in the home comparing notes on knowing everything there is to know and staging a sit-in in the rec room to once again protest the mining of Haiphong Harbor.
History will then remember the Boomers as the largest collection of Lot’s Wives ever assembled.
Conflict over change will come rapidly spread by the use of modern media. The streets will be filled with those who want The Big Boss Man to set it all straight, but The Big Boss Man having come from the Great Society Wars will have no idea what to do.
While all this plays itself out Theodora rocks out on her yacht to a little … well … yacht rock.
At this point most people would say that I should take all this and slap it up on Medium.
I would but I don’t feel sorry enough for myself to use Medium.
Instead I’m going over to Taco Bell to give that kid running the drive-through lane a piece of my mind.
“It was a time of my life when I was frequently “named.” I was named godmother to children. I was named lecturer and panelist, colloquist and conferee. I was even named, in 1968, a Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year, along with Mrs. Ronald Reagan, the Olympic swimmer Debbie Meyer, and ten other California women who seemed to keep in touch and do good works. I did no good works but I tried to keep in touch. I was responsible. I recognized my name when I saw it. Once in a while I even answered letters addressed to me, not exactly upon receipt but eventually, particularly if the letters had come from strangers. ‘During my absence from the country these past eighteen months,’ such replies would begin.” Joan Didion
“We are constantly underestimating capitalism’s extraordinary ability to come up with new bullshit jobs, and that could go on for quite a while. I think that basic income is much more than just another policy, it’s a complete rethink of what work actually is that will have quite radical effects. For the first time in human history, everyone will have the power to say no to a job they don’t want, which will mean that people with lower incomes will have much more bargaining power, wages will have to rise…it will be a radical redistribution of power. Rutger Bregman “An audible groan went up from a portion of the gathering, implying, “fuckin’ stupid hippie asking that ridiculous question again.” So there they were accepting…
Raising people from the dead
Becoming more or less immortal
Making intelligences many times more powerful and capable than our own
Individual earth humans privately owning big chunks of the galaxy
…but they could not imagine that the local (local in time, perhaps, more that space) currency and the nuances of its valuation and growth would be irrelevant in that envisioned world.
This, it seemed to me, represented a stunning and peculiar kind of stasis sitting at the heart of radical technological change or the imaginings of same, a clinging to the most trivial and boring sort of continuity by the very sort of people predicting extreme “disruption” and radical discontinuity. The Singularity then, if any, would present before us as an unthinkably complex quantum accountant, as — figuratively speaking — a godlike 1950s bespectacle nebbish, a bean counter (literalized already by the fashion for ‘quantified life.’)” R. U. Sirius
“Here is how it will go. Men with no fewer than four boats and at least as many divorces, whose monetary interests are best served by going entirely unreported on, will continue to purchase existing media properties, either gutting them, running them into the ground, or rendering them effectively toothless, as we’ve seen with numerous alt-weeklies and newspapers throughout the country in the past few years.Sometimes we won’t even know whose hand it is pulling the lever on the guillotine. The publications who would’ve reported on who bought the publications won’t exist anymore. … There’s a trope in dystopian fiction and apocalyptic films where it’s almost worse to have survived for just a little longer than everyone else wiped out in the original disaster. Better to be consumed in the nuclear blast than to live rummaging among the ruins. Those of us still left in the business are the poor survivors. We’ve peered into the cannibals’ cellar.What’s worse is that we are still pretending it didn’t happen. We’re fighting over pools of shit-water that have settled into the craters and bartering with dog meat under the mistaken impression we’re carrying the fire.” Luke O’Neill Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. Dr. Johnson
As 2017 is coming to an end it is possible to take part in the tradition that has people post their best-of lists for all to see. What you’re about to see isn’t anything like that. Instead I’m taking this time to boorishly run out everything I said in the previous 12 months because I have nothing better to do this weekend.
BTW – what follows isn’t anything doom-y and/or goloomier that most of what you saw last year and in case you need to turn away here’s a list of 99 things that went well in 2017.
And with that – “Emotionally speaking, Shoney’s is my home”
What follows are some fine points about various revealed factoids that concern the use of social media. 1. OK first thing – you need to watch the first 12 minutes of this specifically the parts with Rick and the bug.
I’ll wait here.
The parts with the bug resemble my current relationship with social media. I know Zuckerberg wants my info and that’s why I keep feeding him shit. Not that it does any good. For all my efforts all I get in return are ads asking me if I want to sign up for the AARP or meet women of a certain age. 2. You mean like Jenna Abrams?
Jenna Abrams, the freewheeling American blogger who believed in a return to segregation and said that many of America’s problems stemmed from PC culture run amok, did not exist. But Abrams got very real attention from almost any national news outlet you can think of, according to a Daily Beast analysis of her online footprint. Abrams, who at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, was featured in articles written by Bustle, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, InfoWars, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable, New York Daily News, Quartz, Dallas News, France24, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Independent, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and, of course, Russia Today and Sputnik.
All good and fine, but what was the best line in that article?
Her account was the creation of employees at the Internet Research Agency, or the Russian government-funded “troll farm,” in St. Petersburg.
And how did “she” worm her way into our lives?
That means over the course of the last 70 or so years we’ve gone from asking who lost China to worrying about a missile gap, to discovering our soft white underbelly belongs to a Kardashian.
And that should alarm you.
Very early in the year I got to rub elbows and drink warm soda pop with the social media “editors” from two of the largest tv ownership groups in the country. What followed was an evening of discussion so light and thought free that you’d think the speakers should have been tied to the table lest they float away on the breeze. Most of the conversation revolved around ‘What color is that dress?” and whether or not a zoo animal was pregnant.
What’s problematic about all this is that local tv news is the least hated and most consumed form of media. Roll that up with the fact that – as far as I can tell – these “editors” have no editorial checks as no one thinks what they run out is important enough to look over their shoulders.
Which is OK if you’re wondering what color that dress is, but how do you go about spotting the next Jenna Abrams? 3. Around the start of October some kid sends email which I mark as spam. Undaunted he follows up with a phone call. Having no need for his services I tell him the reason he hasn’t heard back from me is that I think his product is bullshit and I’d be grateful if he hung up and forgot all about me, but the little punk wouldn’t let it go. He was going to keep me on that phone until I gave in.
What he was selling are those ads you see around the side and bottom of lots and lots of web pages. You’d know them as the ones usually slugged with, “You won’t believe what (character) from (beloved old tv show) looks like now!”
The most perfidious of these came along in the summer of 2016. It was a small box that showed Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson being taken away in handcuffs. None of it was true and you could assume it harmless until you realize that this box appeared on The Hollywood Reporter. That meant that a perfectly reasonable person could see the box and rightly assume that if The Rock was arrested then The Hollywood Reporter would know.
What The Hollywood Reporter probably doesn’t know is that ad was on their site.
Oh, forgot mention one small hitch – if you accept those little boxes onto your site you have no control over what appears in them.
Jenna went the convention route of eventually stirring up somebody’s gut while The Rock is strictly reality swindled. Meanwhile you’re left to sit in front of the screen while others weaponize your emotions and loose havoc upon your ability to associate cause and effect with no third party “editor” to help navigate a way forward.
The kid on the phone?
I told him my current age which is divisible by 2, 12, and 5. He said I did not sound that old on the phone and I told him he wasn’t the first guy who had to make one more phone call before the week was out to placate the the bosses. I told him flat out – I had jobs like yours once and sooner or later you have to turn in the paperwork to prove you did … something…
What followed was a short silence as it sunk in that I was old and mean and emotionally speaking Shoney’s is my …
I said that already didn’t I? “And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.”
What follows isn’t so much New Year’s resolutions, but a list of shit that’s gotta stop.
– Stop using the word “community.”
OK – slight amendment to that – it’s OK if you use the word as part of an established name, you know, like The Frostbite Falls Community Center and Natatorium. Otherwise the word has gotten out of hand. Yesterday we discovered a web page that lets the owners of those video doorbells post video to the others in their video doorbell community.
God knows, and stranger things have happened, but is it really possible to come together as citizens by uploading 30 seconds of the Fed-Ex guy adjusting “himself” before he drops off all those yummy goodies from Harry and David?
The specific use of the word hit home when the new tv wouldn’t fire up until I gave it an email address. (Luckily I have a bullshit one just for such things.) A day or so later there at the top of the stack in my crap-catcher account was an email welcoming me to The Samsung Community.
Can’t wait to see what that secret handshake looks like.
– Let’s try to purge the term “virtue signaling” from regular use. It now points both ways and a better definition of the term I stumbled on recently involved Nietzsche’s definition of humans’ herd nature or how you can lose yourself to the point where you are no longer self aware of what you are saying.
– Lastly let’s celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1968, the year where everybody lost their shit, by no longer using the phrase, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
Why we have no reasonable dialog is that too many of us were directly affected by the 1960s in this one way – we don’t so much talk past each other as we’re walking confident in the belief that we are possessed of no end of Revealed Truths and we’re not going to be happy until our Revealed Truths supplant your Revealed Truths. Otherwise the statement only pertains to deconstructing the other guys’ talking points. Put another way we bring chainsaws to prune the rose bush.
And there you go – Mom said social media is little more than emotional quicksand that you voluntarily let yourself sink in and what just proceeded her statement was proof that you’re on your own with fake news and most of what we know isn’t as solid as we think it is.
Welcome to 2018 and I promise to be in a better mood when you next stop by.
Going outdoors now.
As you can tell – the fresh air might do me some good.
“I think it’s rooted in who I am and my background and how I grew up. I was always a really political kid. I grew up on punk rock (and) very much into anti-establishment stuff.I had always loved this band called the Dead Kennedys. Their singer, Jello Biafra once said ‘Don’t hate the media, become the media.’ That’s always stuck with me. Over dinner after the Women’s March (in Washington, D.C.) I was talking to my good friend … and we were talking about how difficult it was to keep up with the news. And for us, we’re all affluent white people, we’re so privileged. One: That we have downtime, and two: that we’re able to spend it knowing what’s going on in the world. How would a normal person in the world that has a family, a job or two jobs ever keep up with this stuff? No one likes to follow politics unless they’re like a junkie, you know?” – Matt Kiser “Without knights no chivalry, without court no courtliness, without salon no charm, without material support no deference will last indefinitely, not even as make-believe. In the same manner what shrinks in a world that cheats us out of leisure and other preconditions of our privacy, are the subtleties of our emotional private lives.” Günther Anders “In questions diffuse and compounded, this similarity of determination is no longer to be expected. At our first sally into the intellectual world, we all march together along one straight and open road; but as we proceed further, and wider prospects open to our view, every eye fixes upon a different scene; we divide into various paths, and, as we move forward, are still at a greater distance from each other. As a question becomes more complicated and involved, and extends to a greater number of relations, disagreement of opinion will always be multiplied; not because we are irrational, but because we are finite beings, furnished with different kinds of knowledge, exerting different degrees of attention, one discovering consequences which escape another, none taking in the whole concatenation of causes and effects, and most comprehending but a very small part, each comparing what he observes with a different criterion, and each referring it to a different purpose.” Dr. Johnson World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation. H. Marshall McLuhan 1970
Last Tuesday’s off-year elections mean that some time has been freed up in Mom’s and my respective schedules. For the past several months we’re been expected to go to campaign kickoff events held in small windowless basement, fund raisers held at some unspecified locations at some unspecified public park, and election night galas usually held at a bowling alley or Elks Club.
As you’ve probably gathered, these events are not tied to some high-powered campaign for a readily recognized local office. Most of the ones we’re asked to attend involve irrigation commissions, fire districts, and other public offices that no one had any idea that the people who held those offices were elected. One position was so small that someone asked, “Where’s that victory party, in a liquor store parking lot?”
Hey – don’t laugh.
I expect that invite will be coming along at any time.
In the meantime we all go back to doing what we were doing before the election started which in my case meant wrestling with a problem so complex that it cannot easily explained.
Not even if you even use puppets.
Have a look –
Here’s an illustration.
Using a neutral example – let’s say that there are those (Group A) who squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom while others (Group B) squeeze from the top.
So let’s say that in either case one group really doesn’t pay any mind to the other. In fact, they rarely if ever cross over to talk to the other. Therefore, following what the video showed, Group A will most likely never see what Group B is up to and vice versa. Moving even further into what the video shows, it is then possible for people in a given group to also be unaware of what the entire group is doing because the algorithm moves people further and further into the margins.
Let’s say that one day someone in Group B discovers this:
It is then possible that it would go unnoticed by some portion of Group B. So some poor guy in Group B who married a Group A individual could be unaware that there’s something out there that could bring peace and balance to his home medicine cabinet.
Rolled up together it means that the Net, which was supposed to be the greatest assemblage of information ever devised is largely becoming a narrow range of possible outcomes. So what’s changed is that it is no longer a democratic vessel for knowledge. The people who came forward to dump their vast knowledge of some obscure topic on Geocities have been replaced with problematic formulas which are only concerned with who you know and not what you know.
And as Master Yoda said, “Meditate on this I must!”
While I do that you can have a look at Pew’s numbers on cable news viewership. The single most important factoid shows viewership up 55% over this time last year which means cable news in prime time is now being watch by over 1.5% of the American population. Or you can take a few minutes to read about icky and creepy Facebook is getting.
And when you’re done we’re all gonna hold hands and sing along.
“Macklemore’s new album, Gemini, has been positioned as a “liberation” from the ponderous interrogations that came before. He’s done, as he put it, with “preaching to the choir”: rapping politics to the white liberals who compose the majority of his fanbase. Which, for many, comes as a relief. He remains the avatar of white guys trying hard not to be the worst, but he’s also — especially in this new incarnation — a salve for those exhausted with the enduring conundrum of white guilt. His endurance makes sense, but it’s also proof of the fickleness of so many components of white liberalism: When you can put a conversation aside when it ceases to thrill you or feed you, how deep was your investment? Is the ability to stop talking about injustice the greatest white privilege of all?” Anne Helen Petersen “The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being list; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. Yet this destination cannot any longer be personal; the reader is without his without history … he is simply that someone who holds together, in a single field, all the traces by which the written text is constituted.” Roland Barthes “We were instructed to write with something of the ease in which we might speak, and that is a good rule for beginners. In time it can be absorbed, taken for granted, and finally disobeyed. The best writing comes, obviously, out of a precision we do not and dare not employ when we speak, yet such writing still has the ring of speech. It is a style, in short, that can take you a life to achieve.” Norman Mailer “When a man writes from his own mind, he writes very rapidly. The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” Dr. Johnson
Now that we’ve all spent another week getting out of bed asking the question, “Oh what the hell is it now?” I thought it might be time to look at a couple of things that were overrunning my various feeds which were in no way related to the larger events in the news cycle just passed.
Ready? Do I have something on my teeth?
Years and years ago when the Bloggitysphere was new some people wondered if sooner or later every possible topic would be exhausted given the total number of people blogging. The question went nowhere until last week when I noticed that the gaping maw that is Medium, Patreon, and the other contributor powered sites started running out titles that seemed like people just thinking out loud.
OK – well … not so much thinking out loud as taking down dictation – sorta like they were writing down stuff that popped up in the interior monolog. You know, your inner voice, that little voice in your head that acts like your brain’s idea of post-it notes.
There were titles like, “Maybe Not” and “Is That What I Think It Is?” which leads me to believe that the email article roundups I get from the various contributor sites might look like this any day now.
Can’t be sure if it’s a trend or not, I’ll let you know if it keeps up. Or maybe I’ll just write to one of these “authors” and ask why he or she doesn’t have the simple common courtesy of talking to him or herself in public like normal people. Smells like R. Kelly’s sheets
Up top there’s a pull quote from an lengthy article on Macklemore which came out a few days ago. Largely it’s about race and his place in the recording business. I only found it interesting for the first sentence –
Last week, while Twitter was focused on Cardi B vanquishing Taylor Swift to become the first unaccompanied female rapper to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in almost 20 years, Macklemore’s new album, Gemini, hit the top of the iTunes charts — a prime indicator of the listening habits of people too old to understand streaming.
This pretty much fits with our encounters with his fan base – they’re either over 35 or under 15. As the article goes on to say –
This might explain why white people in the Pacific Northwest proved such an accepting audience for Macklemore: We don’t fancy ourselves liberal sophisticants. Macklemore has been called suburban dad-rap, and Seattle is nothing if not filled with suburban dads. You don’t have to be male or even live in the suburbs to fulfill the archetype: You just have to like the Seahawks and local IPAs, live in a “starter home” that cost more than half a million dollars, and own multiple iterations of puffy jacket.
An interesting take, but let me offer you another.
You don’t have to beat the Seattle bushes very hard to turn up someone who is directly related to Macklemore. You can meet all manner of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. While I’ve had several close scrapes with meeting him the closest I ever got was talking to his wife, who is whip-smart and a p-r natural, at a luncheon. The rough distribution of family means that any number of people can easily find a connection to him. Failing that he is the Seattle local boy made good and when you roll that up with the native provincialism found here in The Great North Woods, he is regarded as America’s most beloved rapper/hip hop artist.
Whether or not that’s true.
That provincialism expresses itself in odd ways. The earliest example we encountered was people buying pc’s instead of Macs because Bill Gates’ folks gave lots of money to Seattle charities. The most frequent expression comes when the life-long folks encounter a local phenomena they don’t like. If they don’t like something then it can only be the work of outsiders.
You know, like grunge.
Sure Kurt was from up the road, but he wasn’t from Seattle.
Eddie Vedder is from out of state.
All those dirty boys all dressed alike playing that awful loud music!
Make no mistake – they aren’t from around here even if their mothers went into labor under the Space Needle!
Case in point and speaking of luncheons – one afternoon I was at a function (sans Madame Macklemore) and while poking at my food wondering if it has ever spent time as an organic life form I thought I heard some one mention my name at the next table. Then I could have sworn I heard it again. Half a minute later the emcee gets up to the podium, calls me up, and asks if I have a minute to explain “What a Sound Garden is.”
Omitting the rumors that Kim Thayil goes to many local restaurants and doesn’t pay because he’s Kim f’n Thayil I gave them a thumbnail sketch. Several questions ensued mostly about where the band members were born. While I wasn’t sure the crowd was certain they weren’t from around here. By the time I got back to my seat my Montsanto Chicken Entree Slurry was cold.
Where were we?
Mom likes Macklemore, but I have no serious opinion of him one way or the other. Also, as a sorta semi-suburban dad I have been exposed to much of the music the young people like by way of Alaska Wolf Joe. As such we’ve heard MF Doom, Tyler the Creator, and Death Grips among others. Thankfully we’re old enough that, while we can appreciate some of the genre, we will never be drug into a conversation about Kanye vs. Kendrick. Should it come up all we have to do is look glassy eyed and a tad confused.
Sorta like somebody needs to take us back to the home.
Otherwise please remember this about streaming. You can hide you streaming history. Unlike cd and vinyl albums no one can reach into your streaming and produce the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and ask, “What the hell do we have here?!?!?!?” DISCLOSURE: while AWJ isn’t under foot these days I do get suggestions via Twitter and Spotify about new music that’s out there and that’s why this is my idea of suburban dad rap.
And for those of you who like a little something about current affairs –
Moving along – A Rick-orous vetting of the subject
The front page and the lede are pretty obvious. My own interest usually lies in what you find several pages in or long after the jump. Digitally what starts to pile up around the edges during a week like the one just past says something about how people are expressing their inner voices. Despite all that’s happened in the past seven days an unusual number of posts about Rick and Morty have been turning up in my various feeds.
Most of the content revolves about how dark and realistic the show is. My mini-binge of watching four whole episodes did show that – even for a cartoon- the knock-down drag-out fights between Morty’s parents are less cartoon-y than anything you’d see on Dr. Phil. Otherwise the show strikes me as somebody’s serious allergic reaction to every family sitcom from the 80s.
Since the show is broadcast way past my bedtime and since I’ll never figure out how to access the streamed version (QED) it seemed natural to reach out to Alaska Wolf Joe for an explanation of all things Rick and Morty.
AWJ asks that you watch this one-minute clip before reading on because:
For context, Rick has turned himself into a pickle to avoid family counseling. I should note, for further context, the the family counseling itself is mixed with absurd coprophagia jokes – which serve to diminish the counselor’s accreditation – and which seems to highlight the suspicion that, as usual, the mental health profession is nothing but one huge scam which is insincere. Rick attends this session as a pickle.
Rick and Morty is an animated television comedy series which concerns the adventures of one Rick Sanchez, grandfather to Morty Smith. In between this is what may or may not concern a paper cardboard rendition of the American family circa 2010, which entreats an evenly distributed apathy. We have a chronically depressed mother with deeply inhibited anger, and a father who no longer functions as the patriarchal arbiter of control but rather a haunting of the old patriarchs to be mocked – an accelerated Homer Simpson, drunk off of his own oafishness to the point of banality but a deeply subversive impotency. And of course we have something of the strange figures which millenials occupy in the form of their children, one being a generic teen girl (who’s only personality is signified by some mild-mannered form of consumer vanity, make what feminist critique of that you will), and the other being the eponymous Morty of Rick and Morty. Of course, in this, I have not characterized exactly what the foremostly eponymous character stands for: one Rick Sanchez. The problem being is that Rick Sanchez does not bear even the faintest resemblance to the rest of paper-mâché renditions of media clichés blended with our own postmodern anxieties. Well, perhaps he resembles the latter part, that part being a certain unwritten postmodern anxiety – for Rick Sanchez is more or less a walking caricature of a certain egoism which openly calls itself nihilism. And this is why, of course, the show is truly despicable. Our main character is a strange caricature of the ubermensch, who is an alcoholic “great man of science” (independent of any lab, and independent of any research) who attempts to play fast and loose with intergalactic aliens not as any form of moral superiority, not as means to a Will to Power; no, he simply does it because he is bored. The show is intent on forcing you to listen to the same unfortunate talking points that anyone who wants to tell you that they are a self-professed existentialist will offer you; namely that there is no God, there is no meaning, and that Science proves that our universe is inherently chaotic. Therefore, instead of truly grasping for any intrinsically person moral truths in this chaotic world, we instead should just know that there is no truth, and accept that our fate is ultimately meaningless, and that science was right all along. This last point perhaps is the one which is most curious, considering that it really was not a talking point of the existentialists, who more or less were concerned with the human experience in regards towards life and death – not in meaninglessness, but applying the recently developed phenomenological model towards these inquiries of meaning and authenticity. But even as Nietzsche or Kierkegaard predated phenomenology, and are both clichéd as being rather dour individuals, they too were nowhere near the supposed blind-faith “scientific” nihilism of our current predecessors. They stressed an individual’s choice, continually, to find meaning or to affirm faith – and especially for Nietzsche, in defiance of this apparent void which could come to fruition as the idea of “Nihilism.” Indeed, this show is most despicable because it professes this bleak void in self-styled smugness, and despite this, offers no ethical perspective whatsoever. Life is horror, we are all going to die, no one will speak our name at some point, etc. etc. And this is comedy. That is precisely what is so despicable. This is comedy. Who are we supposed to be empathizing with? Who are we supposed to be laughing at, or laughing for? But I would like to justify that the problem is not itself a worldview of virulent and universal absurdity. In fact, there are two authors which I could consider immediately who also regard a form of universal and cosmic absurdity, if not total nihilism. But what is more, I would like to establish that I believe that they fulfill some duty within the content of their own work, such that they can be considered morally responsible for the ideas which they espouse. One of these authors would be Franz Kafka, and the other would be H.P. Lovecraft. Regarding Kafka, I want to establish that his universality is the universality of the absurd – a world in which all of its proponents were equally absurd as one another, and that it was inescapable. But what is important to note is that he thought that this universal absurdity was human made, and implicitly, could be fixed by human action. This is most evidenced by his behavior towards his own works. It was reported that when he wrote them, he read them out to his private circle of friends, and these were extremely rapturous events. They would all break out in laughter – even if a bitter laughter – over the terrifying and absurd moments in his novels. Nonetheless, I find this laughter moral. The importance of what makes something moral is precisely that it prescribes a world that is other than it already is; at the minimum, it serves a hypothetical which tells us how we should regard the future of human life. It is impossible to read Kafka’s novels and feel that, despite the banal horror which haunts the lives of his protagonists, that he ever condones this system. Kafka, if he is to be remembered at all, is one of the first satirists of the horror that could become the capitalist, socialist, and fascist bureaucracies of the twentieth century – and we are sure to remember him not just a satirist, but as a moralist who strictly warned us of such systems. As such, it is only fair that we can say that Kafka concerns a moral stance within his work. Lovecraft, on the other hand, is a much stranger case. A large amount of the fear of alienation and destruction which haunts his works is the production of xenophobia and racism. It is hard to encounter his works without seeing the hints of something which became repressed in his more significant works – namely, the suppression of the Other. But in between that, he forecasts a void which is no less significantly universal, and which distinctly forecasts scientific nihilism but also the limits of scientific nihilism. The fear of Lovecraft, of course, is that when we finally pierce the veils of human knowledge and of the scientific method, we find out that what exists beyond the veil either hates us, will annihilate us, proves that we are infinitesimally small within the scheme of the cosmos, or all three. I will consider that Lovecraft is a wrong moralist. The world which resulted from the racial intermixing of American culture hasn’t destroyed us, and for the most part, the discoveries of science haven’t come to destroy us yet – pace, all the horrors of warfare (primarily the nuclear, which Lovecraft did not live to see.) But it is unmistakeable that Lovecraft had a moral purpose of his world in which he forecasted cosmic nihilism and annihilation, fear of the Other and fear of man’s knowledge – he advocated what can be considered an almost reactionary turn within society. He may not necessarily have literally advocated a politics, but it is hard to read Lovecraft and think there is not something hidden underneath this Gothicism which is profoundly in desire of something. And that is why I, if somewhat dubiously, have to call him a moralist: he is a moralist of science, in saying that we should watch ourselves lest we find the wax wings of our scientific innovation too close to the sun. The cosmos may be a horrifying blur of chaos which man has best left untouched, but we can avoid this fate if we return to a purified humanism. I want to connect this to the fact that I feel ultimately that Rick and Morty lacks any sense of moralization in the goals of what it satirizes or what it portrays. It is worse than simply misunderstood Nietzscheanism, it is Nietzsche’s enemy, the raw prospect of nihilism. Rick and Morty asks us to laugh at a hollow parade of pop cultural clichés underneath the guise of a minimal science fiction plotline. And indeed, isn’t it somewhat absurd I can be saying all this of what essentially amounts to a watered down cartoon version of Back to the Future? But Rick and Morty no doubt has philosophical pretensions, and what is worse, it is undeniable that certain elements of its audience take it to be philosophical on the whole. As such, it is a work which must bear the weight for the morality of its representations, and clearly fails to do as such. This is why it is despicable. Of course it is absurd to ask that a work which essentially amounts towards being a pop cultural distraction should be moral. But it is hard to find in the entire work a single point of prescription, of hope, of meaning. Rick and Morty is the worst type of fiction, for it is neither aesthetically pleasing, nor wholly entertaining, nor does it open us up towards anything which can be considered a new perspective. Instead, it seeks to reaffirm ourselves of our worst suspicions: no alternative is viable to the society that we live in, family is a banal formality which makes everyone miserable, the universal is uncaring and chaotic, morality is wrong, religion is wrong and God is dead, the only good interest is self-interest, and scientific development is always Good and Right. This is the ideology of Rick and Morty. The ideology of Rick and Morty is the ideology of Late Capital. It professes these values because it allows us to become subservient to the disappearance of the human subject under the masses of data, underneath the metaphysical burden of the scientific world which the scientific model has produced. Rick and Morty is a popular portrait of what we can establish as the current human condition, and now more than ever is it apparent that our current human condition is the dissolution of humanity into data points. Rick and Morty is complacent with our current cynical world view beyond all other complacencies. And complacency is morally irresponsible. Thusly, it is morally irresponsible. There is no need for us to create any piece of artistic media which claims to kill idealism, for we are already all materialists. We are materialists wandering through the black night of morality, in which one can look up at the limitless stars, which looks suspiciously like the monitor lights of server stacks, and realize that they are all dying – and in which no elder god or bureaucrat can screech at us from the deepest reaches of this infinite moral abyss. In this night, under the faint and dying light of the moonless cosmos, all cows are black.
And if you have 23 minutes to spare – here’s the Readers Digest Condensed and/or meta episode that sufficiently sums up the series.
If you’ll excuse me I have to go now and see if Medium would be interested in 5000 words because I was just wondering if it’s hot in here or is it just me?
Please enjoy this musical interlude while I’m away.
“News media has become a marketing industry for the most profitable culture in preparation for next season. They control the speech, they control the narrative and will destroy anyone who gets big enough the matter. Now with the permanent ban of Milo Yiannopoulos from Twitter, many are asking if free speech as a concept is under siege. The answer is of course a mighty YES! However, it’s not coming directly from the State this time. Today it’s coming from the corporate cultural and the daytime talk shows they invest in. This is an age of government partnership, as though acting indirectly is less communist. As if killing less people when we steal their production is less fascist.” – Anthony J. Mountjoy “To alert advertisers caught on junk or blatant fake news sites, Storyzy sends them an email with eloquent screenshots attached. ‘We contacted about 400 brands, says Pierre-Albert Ruquier, marketing director and co-founder of Storyzy. Reaction varies. Some clearly don’t care and don’t even bother to respond. The biggest advertisers usually refer us to their media buying partners. We talk to most of them, even though we are often received coldly. Weirdly enough, we are also sent to large to consulting firms that advise big clients on brand safety issues. The vast majority of advertisers don’t know where their ads land. Or choose to ignore it. That’s why when they refer us to their media buying agency these won’t budge. The reason is that almost all campaigns are ROI-based, a field dominated by behavioral targeting and retargeting.’” – Frederic Filloux “This is a very boring, simple explanation as to why the NFL’s ratings are declining. It is not an opportunity for you to shoehorn in your feelings about Colin Kaepernick protesting the game. No one really cares about your feelings about Colin Kaepernick’s protest, because if you are the kind of person who gets really offended by Colin Kaepernick’s protest, then your feelings in 2017 are the most boring and predictable thing about you, and telling on you in a deeply unflattering light. The simpler and also boring systemic problem with the NFL that might actually explain something is its success, and how that success made the ownership class in the NFL fat, lazy, and locked into a business model they have no real reason or incentive to change, even with falling TV ratings. The absence of real risk of failure is a start. Stakeholders in the NFL cannot lose—at least not under the league’s current structure.” Spencer Hall “Pro football in America is over the hump. Ten years ago it was a very hip and private kind of vice to be into. I remember going to my first 49ers game in 1965 with fifteen beers in a plastic cooler and a Dr. Graybow pipe full of bad hash. The 49ers were still playing in Kezar Stadium then, an old gray hulk at the western end of Haight Street in Golden Gate Park. There were never any sellouts, but the 30,000 or so regulars were extremely heavy drinkers, and at least 10,000 of them were out there for no other reason except to get involved in serious violence … by the end of the third quarter of any game, regardless of the score, there were always two or three huge brawls that would require the cops to clear out whole sections of the grandstand.” Hunter S. Thompson c 1971-72 “I believe marriages would in general be as happy, and often more so, if they were all made by the Lord Chancellor, upon a due consideration of characters and circumstances, without the parties having any choice in the matter.” Dr. Johnson “In an electric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other.” H. Marshall McLuhan 1967
Here’s a scant few items to move along. Psycho and Cupid
Most weekdays I have lunch at the desk while also listening to the news on the radio. That means sitting through some amount of talk as the only stations with news these days like to call themselves “news-talk radio.” What you learn from news-talk by either listening or, in my case, being involved with it for all of a week, is that the average person in American has no idea how many books are being published at any given time. The short time I spent with the format was little more than a parade of USPS, UPS, and FedEx delivery people bringing book after book after book. Sometimes when we drive to the WA coast I will look at an old patch of clear cut and wonder if all it went to making the books that turn some portion of financial minutia into alarmist economic porn.
And sometimes I wonder if all those trees were turned into self-help books.
Which is where I came in on the news last Wednesday. While waiting for the headlines I had to sit through an interview with a marriage expert, or rather an expert on why marriages go wrong. His general take was that humans, as far as he knows, are the only primates who fall in love, in turn, as of the late 19th and early 20th Century people adopted love as the central core of marriage. Prior to that he believed that marriage was a utilitarian venture – an easy way to acquire more labor. Put another way – a man can only afford one ox, but he can cook up five little laborers if he can find a woman to go along with his long-term business plan.
Mr. Expert wound up by saying that’s all out the window today. Per him- marriages fail today because people are no longer interested in utility much less love. Today’s marriage is all about finding someone who will turn you into a fully self-actualized human being and if that doesn’t happen in a reasonable amount of time then…
Time to find a lawyer and see who gets custody of the Tony Robbins DVDs.
Companionship? Child rearing? Taking the trash out? Looking out for each other? Seeing what that noise in the basement is? The ability to keep the US mortgage companies in business?
All out the window.
As many of you know, and I’ve said this in this space for a very long time, we don’t hold back. By God, we’re proud of the world-class synchronized snoring routine the two of us have worked on for years and years. Instead that’s all for naught as this entire time – if we were true moderns- Mom would have been busy liberating the blue light from the crystal prisms of my mind.
Or visa versa.
I had no idea.
Speaking of Mom – Allow me to introduce myself
Here’s a quick 60 seconds of video that sums up Facebook’s latest set of problems.
Zuckerberg got played by people smarter than he is. All we see of him now is the bottomless narcissistic injury inflicted by the fact one of them was Donald Trump.
Which brings us back to the subject of marriage.
Those of you who’ve met us know that I married up. In addition to being a hot leggy blonde Mom’s smart and smart if a real razor sharp way. Her current take on FB states that of all the local platforms FB is quicksand.
This came up tangentially. A rage filled FB post has been floating about for a few days regarding how a transaction was handled at a local business. Having once worked in retail it struck me as a customer service thing that went off the rails, but those who’ve read the post have broken out the digital pitchforks and iTorches in order to join the digital lynch mob.
Mom’s had a couple of invites to weigh in on this one. Some invites ask for her wisdom, others want her to put up a quick, “I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU KIDS!” post. She has declined saying that – once you look at that kind of post on social media – you’re sucked in with no way out. Admonish, conjole, beg or rant, nothing changes. There’s something about our natures that pull us in and make us drown in someone else’s anger.
Long story short – pick your battles, but be really, really picky about the ones you chose. Don’t lose your own time and your emotional energy.
And while we’re talking about readily losing your shit… Profits of Rage
“Trying the politicize science fiction fans is like trying to teach a paramecium to play jazz piano.” Harlan Ellison
You should what happens when you try to do that with football fans.
Let’s start with some unassailable rock-solid facts:
1. Tim Tebow is a deeply religious man.
2. Tim Tebow couldn’t make it in the NFL.
As most of you remember from tuning into last Sunday afternoon’s episode of “Oh Say Can You Knee?” Various pundits and double domes were casting about looking for anybody who went genuflecting on the grid iron. The name several landed on was Tim Tebow.
For those of you just tuning – Tim Tebow is no longer a member of the NFL. He suffered from what some call the Heisman Curse, i.e. those who win college football’s highest honor never make it in the NFL. Normally the victims of the curse aren’t much known outside of the city they play in. Tebow was different in that his knee taking, in the name of his faith, made him known to a wider audience. That in turn lead the culture warriors to weaponize this knee taking. Granted, the rage then was minuscule vs. what’s happened in the past couple of weeks, but it part of a larger interpretation of fact by the shadowy figures in the culture wars and those in the media who profit from using our emotions against us.
Put another way – the very recently deceased Hugh Hefner made a fortune playing off men’s essentially horny nature. The cable news outlets, talk radio, and various web sites do the same thing with your misdirected rage. Don’t think that Mom’s the only one who noticed the angry morass on social media. There are others who know that – to slight restate Mr. Pynchon – if they can get you to talk about the wrong thing, then there’s money to be made. Which means that if Mr. Bannon is what he says he is, then in his Lennist America the useful idiot abound and they need little or no direction and the money will come rolling in. (See M. Falloux above)
Throw it out there and see what sticks.
Want an example?
OK – is standing for the National Anthem little more than your own virtue signaling that you understand the previously established form of political correctness?
Been pnwed by your emotions yet?
Give it a second.
Moving along –
He’s about two weeks away from starting in the NFL should someone take him on. But as the article mentioned above states – the average NFL team is little more than a portfolio asset these days. So it’s not that Kaepernick is completely frozen out solely based on his actions. Seattle was mentioned as his most likely landing spot as it would come with the least amount of public outrage. But Seattle has a solid starting quarterback in Russell Wilson who is 1-1 in Super Bowl starts. Like Tebow, Mr. Wilson has an expanded fan base beyond the city he plays in due to his openness about how he and his fiancé were saving themselves for his second marriage.
Kaepernick’s frozen out because there are teams who could use him, but they’re getting by as there’s money in mediocrity. Behind the scenes there a mess of teams who don’t want him because those teams might improve and that might upset the delicate balance of the bottom line.
Hell, if you want to be mad at somebody – go pick on Jerry Jones.
The Cowboys haven’t won the Super Bowl since 1995 and they’ve been out of the playoffs for 11 of the subsequent years while turning his multi-million dollar investment into a $4 billion asset.
And did you see the J-man take a knee last week?
You sure did!
Long story short – anybody looking to display the head of the NFL as if it were the Gorgon or Meuda’s is a fool. The NFL has been its own best tackle dummy for several years now. The only thing Mr. Trump has done is give them an external push down the stairs because, God knows, the’ve been taking that tumble for some time.
The number of games on tv is its own form of pollution. What was one or two games on a weekend and one on Monday night has turned in a 12 to 14 broadcast marathon on Sundays. Prime time now has both Monday and Thursday night games and if that’s not enough the NFL has their own damn cable channel, streaming service, and a cozy deal with DirectTV. The commissioner has tried to edge the CTE problem and he wouldn’t let Junior Seau’s daughter give a speech that basically said – my Dad’s job ended his life early.
So before winding this up let’s go to the replay:
“In an electric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other.” H. Marshall McLuhan 1967
Moving from the industrially based media of the 20th Century to the wide open digital present means we move from the slightly off key chorus of the few voices to relentless cacophony. Like an old Altman movie we drop in and out of no end of conversations. We struggle to listen to one at a time. In that environment we are enthralled by the shouters, the loud ones who put forth their point of view leaving us to do the one thing none of us want to do.
Master our emotions.
Feel free to have your spouse help you. You know, the other day I heard that marriage is nothing more than getting your old lady and/or old man to get you to go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.
And then tell you to take out the trash.
With that – let’s go out on one of Mom’s favorite videos.
“Twitter’s a collective scrolling howl of bitterness, bile, animadversion and obloquy. It’s the social media place to tell people they’re wrong, express political despair about the coming nuclear apocalypse, and personal unhappiness about yet another rejection letter. Twitter’s a bubbling vat of dissatisfaction and dismay leavened with occasional harassment. Facebook is organized around wishing people happy birthday, sharing family photos, and announcing career successes. If Twitter is staring into a pit of sadly writhing maggots, Facebook is cartoon bunnies hopping about the screen and looking up at you, waiting for you to festoon them with medals for meritorious conduct. No wonder everybody’s on Facebook, while Twitter glumly sheds users as it begs old and potential tweeters to please stop backing away slowly. And yet, the bleakness of Twitter make it oddly cheering and comforting—while the relentless optimism of Facebook feels like all those billions of cute bunnies are sitting on your head, or using their oversize buck teeth to chew out your heart.” Noah Berlatsky “The wind carries the rhythm of drums through the birch trees. Long-haired and bearded people stand around fires, many with their eyes shut, appearing to be in a trance. The scent of burning wood, mead, and leather wafts through the air. The pagans have gathered at the burial mound to pay homage to the gods through music and dance. This isn’t a scene set a thousand years in the past. This happened few weeks ago at the pagan and metal festival Midgardsblot. The three-day event, which takes place on an ancient mound cemetery on the southern coast of Norway, combines heavy metal and folk music with Old Norse pagan culture. Among this year’s lineup were new big names in black metal such as Gaahls Wyrd and Oranssi Pazuzu, as well as old pagan metal legends like Moonsorrow and Týr, the Mongolian pagan horde Tengger Cavalry, and the Icelandic Sólstafir. And to top it all off, there was a recreated Viking village, plenty of historical knowledge, and the Blót—the sacrificial ritual for the old gods.” Ruby Morrigan “It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country.” Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase “When there were periods of crisis, you stood beside him. When there were periods of happiness, you laughed with him. And when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him. I realize that as individuals we can’t just look back, that we must look forward. When I think of President Kennedy, I think of what Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet: ‘When he shall die take him and cut him out into stars and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.’ I realize that as individuals, and even more important, as a political party and as a country, we can’t just look to the past, we must look to the future. So I join with you in realizing that what started four years ago–what everyone here started four years ago–that is to be sustained; that is to be continued….If we do our duty, if we meet our responsibilities and our obligations, not just as Democrats, but as American citizens in our local cities and towns and farms and our states and in the country as a whole, then this generation of Americans is going to be the best generation in the history of mankind He often quoted from Robert Frost–and said it applied to himself–but we could apply it to the Democratic Party and to all of us as individuals: ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.'” Robert F. Kennedy 1964
Lately it seems we’re consumed with one side or the other’s harangue that we can barely hear ourselves think. For example – just this morning I was at our farmers market waiting for Mom to pick out something while I fumed and stewed on recent events. Then in the midst of my compulsory daily outrage I began to hear something. As I concentrated on the sound rather than my thoughts it came to me – I was hearing the Goldberg Variations. So lost in my thought I did not notice that right there – right next to me – a teenager had been furiously hammering away at one of my favorite Bach pieces.
On an accordion.
Rather than bring the kid up to speed on how the accordion is the essence of Satan set loose upon the world, I decided instead to think about those things that uplift both mind and soul and in that moment I thought it might be best to get away from the turbulence that has come with this year and look at the things that are getting swept to the side. So what follows is a collection of items that have been bookmarked with the intent of getting around to them sooner or later. Some touch on the relentlessly thorny issues at hand and some are merely things to note.
Do with them what you will, but take them in stride.
Remember that we are all not only a good people, but the good people who dared to think that we could send a Shemp to the Moon and return him safely to Earth.
With that in mind: 1. While the USAF admits that Lieutenant Colonel Eric Schultz died in a crash a couple of weeks ago, the same USAF doesn’t want to talk about what he was flying when he crashed. Luckily, the crack investigative journalists from Popular Mechanics are on the case. 2. Alaska Wolf Joe sent this with an email that only said, “Derrida weeps.”*
3. Under the heading, Florida Man vs. The Hurricane comes the story of the gent who suggested – as a joke- taking up arms and taking a shot at Hurricane Irma. He was quoted as saying:
”I’ve learned that about 50 percent of the world could not understand sarcasm to save their lives. … Seems the joke may have gone over many people’s heads. I’ve got people in my inbox mad as hell because they think this is actually happening. I don’t know whether to laugh or sigh.”
(Ed. Note: JEEPERS MISTER, SAY IT AIN’T SO! SAY IT AIN’T SO!)* 4. While everybody’s been hearing lots and lots about DACA, North Korea, and God knows what some ideas have crept back into style. If you listened to Bruce Sterling’s SXSW keynote this year you’d know that age-old McGovernite idea of a guaranteed income is making the rounds.
Yes, George McGovern, the man The American Conservative once called a better conservative than most of the conservatives who hold office today.
OK – except for the Kid Rock guy.
That speech was AWESOME!*
Sterling’s version was a bit more expanded than lifting people out of poverty. He’s anticipating a world where AI and The Internet of Things displaces workers. In that situation the guaranteed income would create new ways to keep people occupied. Retirement could start as early as 4 or the military could be expanded so that it not only prepared for combat, but would provide forrest rangers or youth counseling.
Once the gang at Davos got through having a good cry over why their home-girl Hilary didn’t get elected they moved on to talk about the guaranteed income. 5. I forgot if this is something I sent AWJ this or if AWJ sent it to me.
Bernard Stiegler in his unreadable scholarly postmodern account of the coming automation of society – Automatic Society 1: The Future of Work (Polity Press, 2016), “demonstrates once again (as he has done in virtually all his many previous books),” according to Bert Oliver, “that our technological era, like every distinctive technological epoch before this one, has generated novel technologies in such rapid succession that they have the effect of disrupting social life fundamentally, continually requiring new cultural practices and social adaptations – in this case the probable massive shrinking of employment because of digitalization”.
That is my favorite thing I have read in a long, long time because it begins with the words, “in his unreadable scholarly postmodern account.” 6.The Koi Division?
uhhhh … sure
In a semi-related matter we’re coming up on the one-year mark for getting genealogy updates in broken English from some sort of cousin who moved from Finland to Sweden in the past year. So far she’s pushed our history back to about 1350 CE. Along the way we’ve picked up some Swedish ancestors and, as we get into the 14th Century, there seems to be some Norwegians in the mix – ergo the mention of the Viking Blood Metal Gathering. (See above.) Bad enough I was having trouble keeping up with all the Finnish metal bands, now I have to keep track of the Swede and Norwegian ones as well. Along those lines – we do need to take a minute and see how a band performing the popular music of the day almost had a scrape with a Hegelian epoch defining moment.
First – a bit of background – most of us have long heard the phrase, “Everybody remembers where they were when (x) happened.” Pick one – JFK, the Challenger, 9/11 – they’re all memorable historic moments, but they’re not necessarily big-picture game changers. In Hegelian terms the fall of the Berlin Wall is an epoch event as such events come with realignments of power and social structures. One almost happened this weekend when the pro-Trump Mother of All Rallies (MOAR) march was scheduled for the same day as the Juggalo march on Washington.
From the UK Independent:
As the rally wound down, some participants said they were heading over to a protest nearby: a gathering of “horrorcore” rap fans who call themselves “juggalos”. The juggalos are super fans of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse, identifiable by their black-and-white, clown-like face makeup.The Juggalos gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to protest the FBI’s classification of their group as a “loosely organized hybrid gang”. The Justice Department has placed the Juggalos in the same group as overtly violent gangs like the Bloods and the Crips – a classification the fans dispute. According to the National Park Service, some 3,000 people were expected to attend the rally on Saturday – almost double the size of the MOAR.
(Tip o’ the tinfoil lined Bruins cap to Mr. Taylor for that one.)
Sadly, the gathering took place about a mile apart and nothing happened. This was disheartening to me as if both sides had clashed I expected the sun to be blotted out by all the think pieces flying through the Sunday morning sky.
So we’ll have to wait for another day.
Oh well –
Going out with two clips:
First, the uplifting one to stir your soul and encourage your better self to always step up when needed.