Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The "Temporary Autonomous Zone," however, may be the last refuge of the slacker - or merely the dream of the quiet suburban home where anything goes as long as the doors are closed and the shades drawn (and volume is kept to reasonable levels). As the structures solidify, the gaps too become institutionalized, disciplined. Anything completely outside the system, is irrelevant to it. Think different.
Hope for the hopeless: While you hold the center, the periphery frays; when you secure the periphery, the center decays.

And living in the empire, the land of the pharoah, as they're calling it, where any human being can be killed anywhere in the world at the whim of the intelligence forces, and the chief executive can declare a person an "enemy combatant," thus exempting that individual from the civil rights afforded merely criminal citizens, and this declaration cannot be appealed or reviewed. On a day to day level, for many, little has changed. The changes will come in the future, gradually, as living conditions and the basic assumptions of function change. Of course, its a race against entropy.

The forces of chaos can only be circumscribed - no thing or agent penetrates to the heart, because, unlike order, chaos is primal, the fundamental state - order is an afterthought, epiphenomenal, and the evolving persistence of chaos demands ever increasing energy expenditure on the part of the order-worshippers. Their scheme is a house of cards. The meanings they erect are fetishes to the ego and vain ambitions. There are local victories, of course, subjugated zones, degrees of tolerance. And, naturally, what has been done, will always have been done - this is the nature of occurence. But the goal to which they aspire - permanent, unassailable control - is an illusion, though it can be real enough in specific, timebound circumstances.

Image courtesy of julauch.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Every website is a neuron, or is it every word on the web? It goes down to the smallest attribute, the tiniest tributary, since you can link from any discrete point to any other. So, the thoughts and images are the ganglia, snaking out to exchange charge across a sea of neurotransmitters. What will happen if the Web has a stroke? Gaps, holes, realms of the inaccessible, the entire schema like a sponge of information - a fractal volume, coexistent with absence.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

children are an acquired taste.
watching high on fire the other night, trying to stay awake through the battering, i was aware of their music as a finite entity, limited, predictable, relentless. it was not engaging, mysterious, surprising or, utlimately, inspiring. more than anything else, it made me think that the strength (and weakness) of music, as well as the crux of its affinity with magic (and myth), lies in the power of illusion. because the world we perceive, the perception we live, is constructed, provisional, ad hoc, we are susceptible to hallucination, wizardry, and mystification. the evocative quality of music shrouds the performer in dream. but when you see through or past the oneiric veil, you see young men posturing and playing, and (little) more. they assume the forms of violence and fury, and even inhabit them, enact them, manifest them, but always under the banner "as if."
there was also a strange detachment about the band. matt pike (the leader) perfunctorily introduced the band, though not the individiuals, and named the songs, but did not interact with the audience in any meaningful way. was he drunk, out of it, insouciant? case in point: they played "baghdad," one of their best songs, but there was not irony or even indication that "baghdad" might refer to anything in the real world, at a time when "war against iraq" is under constant discussion. was he, by omission, telling us something about the "reality" of the world presented by the media, insisting, unconsciously, on the baseline of their brute, physical presence as existential anchor?

Friday, August 23, 2002

formidable jaws gaping wide - who will clean these teeth? lambswool clotted with blood, crown and throne up-ended and shattered. a blizzard of flaming stones, a sea of ground glass. take a step. take a breath. the eyes are open. the ears are listening. what subtle words of destruction and awesome commandments of revelation await? turn away the curve of the earth. peel away the sun. behind the underneath of everything it is slumbering now. it is dreaming then. now: AWAKEN

Thursday, August 22, 2002

On NPR this morning, at the end of a story concerning separation of powers and the ongoing "war on terrorism," the reporter stated that the government was having trouble figuring out the roles of its various branches in a war, "with no identifiable enemy and no foreseeable end." Of course, if this is a clear statement of the case, as I believe it to be, then we have entered a realm (in point of fact, entered it quite a while ago) in which war is a state of affairs, rather than an activity undertaken for a particular end. If there is "no identifiable enemy," how can there be a war at all? If the war has no end, what differentiates it from its opposite?
The American Empire has no identifiable other, no counter-empire, against which is opposes itself. Instead, it only has threats to its structural integrity. "Terrorism" is the word currently used to describe a class of threats, and is, as such, the enemy itself. "Crime" is another word to describe a class of threats. It is related to the class of threats which fall under the term "Drugs," though the latter is ambiguous since, in the case of an anthrax vaccine, "drugs" may actually refer to a class of preventative agents or events.
The system cannot proceed against a class, since it is the system alone which defines it as a class. However, the system can proceed against members of a class. The challenge thus becomes clearly defining the members of the class. The recent debate concerning whether or not we should, unilaterally or not, intervene against the regime of Saddam Hussein is related to the complex described above. If Saddam Hussein can be effectively defined as belonging to the class "Terrorism," then the system can proceed against him. As we have seen, this has not been as easy as one might presume. The international community is not in agreement concerning his classification, and similar doubts have been raised domestically. While there does seem to be a consensus that Hussein, in his attacks on the Kurds, for example, has committed crimes against humanity, the problem with assigning him to the "Crimes" class is that the function of this class is to define internal threats to system stability. Neither the Kurds nor Saddam Hussein nor the gassing of Kurdish civilians can be situated inside the system. As horrible or atrocious as they may be, they belong to the outside of law.
But there may be another problem, deeper than one associated with evidence. The class "terrorist" itself may need further specification, particularly as the justice department begins the process of constructing an internal surveillance network in the US (very 19th century). Prior to an actual terrorist act, and apart from specific plans to carry it out, what observable actions define a member of this class? When will "sympathy" become such an attribute? When will legitimate critique of governmental policies and actions become such an attribute? When will defending yourself against a false accusation become an attribute? When will (did) your name appear on a list?
This set-up, the "war on terrorism," breeds such paranoid musings and is itself a product of them. The bigger question thus becomes, how do we define "threat to systemic stability"? What "system" is the government trying to maintain, what "system" does is thereby create, and, as a result, what other "system" is either destabilized or prophylactically made impossible?

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

In "Sein und Zeit," Heidegger described "Sein zum Tod," or "Being unto Death," as the authentic existential posture for any "Being there" (what you and I would probably call a "being"). As I recall it through the haze of my post-graduate years, Heidegger was advocating a quasi-buddhistic "keep your eye on your death" approach to living. You will die. You are going to die. Your death is yours alone. It is inevitable, out there, waiting. "Death comes ripping," as Glen Danzig reminded us many moons past. By choosing your own personal and ultimate death as a closing bracket for your life, the latter is illuminated by the proper light of actuality.
The subtext here is that the one thing every human has in common, is this lowering fate. The odd thing to me was the abstractness of it. Certainly, we all die. But some will die before I finish typing this sentence (may you now rest in peace), some will die wasting away in a hospital bed, some will did obliviously as they drunkenly drive their cars over embankments, some will die suddenly of heart attacks on commuter trains, some will die of diseases that were preventable, etc. In fact, unless you commit suicide, the fact of your death remains shrouded in potentiality.
On the other hand, and I think I'm ripping this idea off of Heidegger's old flame, Hannah Arendt, it is a demonstrable fact that everyone living was born and the precise moment and circumstances of that birth are very specifically situated in time. By focusing on this birthedness of us, rather than our eventual mortality, we choose a perspective that gives greater wait to our deep connection to other humans (moms in particular). It anchors our way of living in a (past) certainty rather than a (certain) future possibility. The one event is concrete (I appeared covered with blood and amniotic fluid from my mother's vagina), the other conjectural (I will leave this world in some as yet to be defined way). The one creates a perspective in which our specific origin and subsequent experiences are acknowledged as the necessary foundation for our life as it is, the other creates a perspective in which an idea (that of our death) becomes the basis of our life and actions, thereby facilitating all forms of actionistic fanaticism (either of a heroic or diabolical nature).
All religions focus on death - how to prepare for it and how to overcome it. They leave birth alone because it has already happened (though, of course, some religions focus on death as a way of preparing for a better next birth - nevertheless, even in these cases, birth is mediated by death). When we reverse our perspective and consider birth as the primary, organizing event in our lives, we turn our backs on the so-called spiritual, the beyond, etc., and ground ourselves in the real situation of living here in this world in this way right now. Our death is not the doorway to the beyond, but the beyond itself. There is nothing (literally) on the other side.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Thomas Friedman wrote an editorial in the Times today (if you, whoever you may be, are reading this more than 2 weeks in the future of this posting, you may no longer have access to the above) in which he stressed "context matters." He was talking about democracy in India and how it has prevented the growth of Islamic militancy by providing Muslims (150 million minority population in Indai) real opportunities for social movement and self-actualization. He also stressed, as I have done, that America and the world would be better served by a campaign to promote democracy, rather than a campaign to end terrorism. If you did the one, I believe, the other would follow (and there are real historical examples of this occuring). But that was not what intrigued me. A few days ago, I was writing up a preliminary ethics in which I wrote "Know your context." Which was my way of saying "Context matters," while putting the emphasis on the subjective relationship to context, rather than the latter's objective significance. This is a basic relativist tenet (and critical to the emerging philosophy which calls itself "transversal") and, indeed, relativism provides the context for the contextualization of context. Tis true that context matters, but what, precisely, is the context for any particular thought or event? That is: democracy is the context for Indian Muslims.The European Enlightenment and Ghandi are the context for Indian democracy. The rise of humanism and capitalism in Europe (along with the collapse of Euro-feudalism) provide the context for the Enlightenment (and, by extension, the French revolution). The dark ages are the context for the rise of euro-feudalism. Fall of Rome (and rise of Gothic tribes) context for that. Decline of Alexandrian world context for rise of Rome, etc. etc. Of course, these are merely historical contexts. I could have chosen climactic changes, species migration, technological advances, spiritual innovations, etc. And, of course, the what is the context of the earth itself? of the Milky Way? The history of the universe? Remember: context matters, meaning precisely, what you view as the object of interest and what you choose as its context.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Limits, borders, boundaries, barriers. Strange how few actual, physical limits there are. Most borders, for example, are conventional or merely legally defined. Where does Mexico end and Texas begin? Does the Earth know and respect these relations? Of course not. What if you could arrest clouds or wind for crossing state lines? Which leaves us with the "other" boundaries, those imposed by our thought-patterns or by specific social groups. To be a Kurd in Turkey means something (it may mean that you will be put in prison and executed, if you are politically inclined, or want to teach children to read Kurdish). To be a Kurd in the US doesn't mean anything. The line that distinguishes between Kurd and Turk does not exist here, indeed, it does not exist anywhere, although it is enacted by Turkish soldiers and citizenry.
Such lines can be condensed under the rubric of difference. A difference does not exist in, but in between. The difference is the boundary, the borderline, that only appears through the window of relation. The relation creates the difference and can likewise uncreate it (through rearrangement of the related). This begs the question: Is there ever a "real" difference? Of course, all differences are real. But difference itself faces its own threshold, that dividing sense from the senseless. There is a difference between Turks and Kurds here in the US (differences of language, history, memory, desire, fury, etc.). It is just that, in this context, the difference is senseless.

Friday, August 02, 2002

struggling with the concept of "space-time." everything is a four dimensional object occupying four dimensional spacetime. I realize that the math works, but there seems to be something amiss on the conceptual level. even in the string world, they talk of "x spatial dimensions, and 1 temporal dimension." isn't this formulation itself an acknowledgement, that at least in one regard, time is different from space? indeed, the notion of "spacetime" itself, embeds this difference in its awkward compoundity. heidegger (that wily ol' nazzy), faulted contemporary physics for its "spatialization of time," since this invovled an attempt to make time, the Insubstantial, substantial. Looking at an old Wired magazine (circa '98) the other day, I came across the same tendency in the quote: "Today, time is the only truly scarce commodity." It's a strange sort of commodity since, you can't increase or decrease it quantitatively. You can't stockpile or hoard it. Time simply and inexorably elapses. (Funny to think of "elapsing" as something one thing does to another: "I will elapse you." The triumph of the intransitive.) We spatialize time as a matter of course when we say things (do we "say things"?) like, "This is taking place IN real-time," or "at that point IN time." Spacetime can consist of points (located in some sort of four dimensional grid), time cannot. Our brains, or at least my own, seem incapable of modeling such a structure, though I seem to have no trouble existing as such. We believe that, since there are other places in space, there must be other places in time. is time not the "place" that all space occurs in (or the Space the Place occurs in)? Time resides in the occurrence itself (even if this occurrence takes the form of endurance). We tend to think of time as an abstract, uniformity in and through which the events of the universe unfold. Time, however, is what these events (and ourselves as events), "bring to the table." We (and they by extension, or vice versa) are the fourth dimension.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Just a little tidbit: Command performance for a captive audience.

Friday, July 19, 2002

heard some kids talking in the cd store. costs about 1.50 to produce a cd. so, the logic of one kid, you're getting ripped off if you pay 7.99 for it. other kid said, yeah, but you're paying for the time it took to make it, etc. what are we paying for when we buy cds? how long will it be (2years/5 years) before the idea of buying cds will seem absurd (Why did we ever do that?) Why do I do it? Why did I just spend 50 bucks for 4 discs? In all cases, I was buying from indy labels, so I assume that the artist will get more than at the majors. But what's really going on? I wanted to spend some money and I did. As a friend of mine once put it, "My mother and sister went shopping together, because that's how they feel." She didn't mean, "they feel like shopping." She meant, "Their relationship to the world is mediated by purchasing clothing, etc." When she said that, probably more than 10 years ago, now, I did not identify with the mother and the sister. But today, I do. Depressed this week and so, in order to feel like I have some control over the universe and the ability to satisfy my needs (take care of myself - feel), I bought a bunch of cds. I'll be surprised if I listen to any of them 10 time before I die (though, frankly, its not out of the question - though listening to them 10x before next year is a little more questionable). I like to collect. I like to acquire. I makes me feel like I actually exist. I do not know what existence is. The future belongs to the irreplaceable and the singular. Like me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

and reminded yesterday in the presence of an androgynous funk sorceress of the power of music. this is materialist mysticism. no gods. no beyond. no elsewhere. music, generated and evaporated in the flux of time. that we can spend our time this way, dancing, playing. and every religion on earth a construct, a convention. "would you walk the path of righteousness if you knew that there was no heaven, no god, no eternal reward?" many would hesitate; many more would simply walk the path, realizing that that too is one way to live here on earth, to reenact the dramas of faith, the carnival of belief. not believing is possible as well. knowing is possible. not knowing, also. but a bunch of humans together under the spell of music, the energy focused and broadcast through one particularly active node, nodding, funking, precipitating the flow. we're in it too.

words are coins. we use them, though they don't belong to us, are not produced by us. nor do they end with us. a wider variety of riches. what we hammer from these divers metals. what we accept as is and pass along as was.

plagued, or nagged, today, by the hierarchy. the primate play of things. esteem rises and falls with the shifting perspectives of our inter-actors. negotiated against our self-esteem.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Beset lately by the solipsism of experience and the indifference of the natural world. The same sun shines down on the torturer and the tortured. As the latter jerks and spasms on the blood and urine bespattered floor of the torture chamber, the shocking sensations wracking his or her body remain hermetic, an inexchangeable (though not inexpressible) data point. Whether a child is raped and murdered or spends a joyous afternoon at the playground is of no matter to the air or the earth. Both eventualities are possible, inscribed in the open nature of Being. Likewise, a person can drive along the highway listening to music on a nice car stereo, stop for a drink with friends, and then proceed to relax in his modest home in a quiet suburb, while elsewhere on the globe, in the Sudan for example, unfortunates are pressed into slavery. From freedom to imprisonment, from birth to death, from love to hatred, such is the spectrum of this world. And yet, our thoughts and feelings, our celebration or condemnation of this state of affairs, are transient and private chemical states - a certain, momentary disposition of the substrate. The thought that everything we cherish, every ambition, every reaction, is reducible to itself, and devoid of any place in a more cosmic skein of meaning or purpose drives many to God, failing to consider the great absence in which even this great figure aimlessly drifts.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

what wild thoughts cause men to weep, and ancient secrets crack open the hardened ground of oblivion? capitalists may have conscience, but capitalism has none. it is the universal solvent. ever traditional bond or primitive structure will bow and rupture neath its anarchic brunt. this is its beauty. shiva, the universal destroyer, made systemic. there is no law or code inscribed in its sinews of distribution and exchange.

Monday, July 08, 2002

william bennett's denunciation of relativism. how can any thinking person not be relativistic, or at least recognize the political value of relativism when it comes to discrediting opposing ideologies? Even Pat Robertson realized the deconstruction's privileging of the text, and post-modernism's celebration of pastiche offered the Christian Right an opening - it could actually justify/legitimate itself in terms of the theories that nominally opposed it.

what do I mean when I say, "I love America"? What do I love, precisely?

Friday, June 28, 2002

now this pledge of allegiance deal, even though it's a few days old. and the guy who brought the suit is getting death threats. on the one hand, who cares if your child hears "one nation, under god" two hundred times a year for 12 years? Do you really think that makes her think certain things like "there is a god up above us"? maybe she thinks it says, "one nation: Undergod". Maybe "under god" means the same as "underwear" to her? at the same time, is it right that people want to kill this man, or at least threaten him, just because he used the court system to legitimately challenge something that he found troublesome?

Do the people in congress have to behave the way they do? Are they autonomous or automata? i've said it before and I'll say it again, there is a strict limit set to how high an office one might obtain while proclaiming atheism.

Atheism is cosmic anarchy. anarchy is the enemy of stability. anarchy is true equilibrium (which is chaos). heat death equals disorganized uniformity. if there were any difference in states at that point, then their would exist the possibility of energy shifts and discharge, therefore, heat, but, when it's all one temperature, will there be anything at all? anything only exists due to movement and change, flux of energy decalibria. we too are states of energic fluidity.

think about how much energy is required to maintain this nation's hard won stability? how much energy will we expend to make it even more stable, to make this stability unshakeable? how much power will we concentrate in the hands of the few, so that they can focus it, our living lenses? laserlike, they will seek out and eliminate all sources of instability until there is nothing but stability, no movement - heat death, chaos. Anarchists! Atheists!

Monday, June 24, 2002

Justice Scalia said, in a recent speech that any judge who found the death penalty "immoral" should resign from the bench. His argument was that, if someone disagrees with the law, they should work politically to change it. Judges, however, must make sure that the law is implemented correctly. If a judge believes the death penalty is immoral, he or she may refrain from imposing if, even when statues clear dictate its imposition. There are several assumptions that underly is recommendation that bear examination. First, can someone do something even if they find it immoral? Of course. Second, are justices always unbiased/impartial in their assessment of a case or the law? Of course not. Thirdly, must justices be impartial? I'm not sure. Fourthly, does interpretation of the constitution necessarily mean "uncovering the intent of the framers"? Of course not. Is it possible that the framers were not impartial in their framing? Of course. Etc.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

i'm lost to the effortless. shorn, beleaguered, strident. top of the morning to you. the sheer power of honest description beats the ornate finery of rarefied reflection. or does it? the infinite leap from scientific or even philosophical insight into ontology's most undenial truth or metaphysic's most unshakeable foundation and the experience of living for one minute in this body on this earth at this point in history. the world may be computational, the result of a few, or even one, simple rule, repeated on a basic material for untold aeons, but I've still got to make out a will and do the laundry (to give to examples of life mundane-style). it'll be interesting to see how Wolfram tackles the "why is there something instead of nothing" - its one thing to talk about the rules and how they produce infinite complexity, and another to say why there is anything to apply rules to in the first place. bring it, dude!

Friday, June 21, 2002

more paranoia: It is reported that, "An early draft of the White House's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace envisions the same kind of mandatory customer data collection and retention by U.S. Internet service providers as was recently enacted in Europe, according to sources who have reviewed portions of the plan." The data collection in Europe includes "from, to, cc and subject lines" from all e-mail and a complete browsing history of each user. The fact that everything you do in "cyberspace" must pass through controlled systems that can record and archive any information (including your clicking paths) that you send through them should encourage us all to reconsider the merits of the offline world.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

plastered to the thick of it. daring to blush in anguish. several more instances of that and we will have an entire catalog. just think, us, we, the morning after the apocalypse, which everyone thinks means death and dying destruction, but, of course, the word simply means "revelation." what do we fear to confront revealed before us? the veil rendered, the bandaid removed with a quick, skin-shredding yank? as if this situation were not "real" and, when facing the brunt of the real real, we will evaporate, obliterated by this uncompromising, uncompromised force. who told us the world is not real and we have to wait and see the real thing later, after death, when the universal death leaps up onto the stage and everything be laid terrible waste? who makes brains think this way? why can't we directly perceive the small unit of space, the shortest duration of time? do we? not?
we associate savagery with speed - the speed of a predator rushing in for the kill. what god love or is speed?

the gaia hypothesis states that the earth is a living organism, and all components - atmosphere, biosphere - are similar like to organs or limbs in this one body organism. we then talk of cancer and disease in this bodyplace. are we parasites? or useful like the bacteria in our bellies? also, what if the earth is a predator? perhaps the earth grows us for some use or purpose. we are food.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

"They get tons and tons of information," this lawmaker said. "I don't think people realize how much information our government collects." this just on cnn. do people not realize, or do they have to actively repress this fact, that most electronic communication, and certainly all cell-phone communication is recorded by the national security agency? in fact, when you think about it, getting people to use the web, the internet, etc. basically gets an unprecedented number of people to use a relatively closed system for communication. we are the fish in a barrel.
after writing that "'out' is the new 'in'" bit the other day (6/18/02) i was reading a review of music done by vincent gallo and the reviewer wrote, "'anal' is the new 'oral.'" every head appears to be one nub or nodule in the big meta-brain and a thought that pounces through your mind is part of a chain of thought running across the sprocket-teeth of all-minds. proof is the new pudding.
funny the things we fall for, the way we confuse an artist or performer with the world evoked by their work. for example, i think of certain heavy metal dudes playing their guitars on a muddied battlefield strewn with corpses, screaming through the mist and blood-haze. they wear leather and black, ammo belts and spiked cuffs. why? do you have to dress that way to produce those sounds? and what happens when these people - as is the case with Varg Vikernes, or Samoth - are actually involved in murder? does that give them street cred a la Tupac? or does it discredit them as amoral idiots? why must an artist be what they invent?

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

"Blogger offers you instant communication power by letting you post your thoughts to the web whenever the urge strikes." but when your voice is literally one in thousands/millions, and you don't know if anyone is reading what you write, and, even if they do, they may not reply, etc., then in what sense is this "communication?" it begins to seem that having thoughts and posting them amount to the same thing - personal, subliminal experiences that may be accidentally discovered by strangers, or, more likely, only read by people who know you already. the ability to communicate anonymously with strangers seems to be one achievement of the web. the ability to exchange commodities, that would otherwise cost money (music, porn), is another. the ability to find buyers for your goods who would never have heard of you or your goods, is yet another. the ability to propagate memes and crazy theories (LUIS PADILLA IS JOHN DOE #2) another still. it should create money for those who facilitate access/use. but what if use becomes "free"?

I "voted" on a site about whether or not tech was "here to stay" or "died with the dot coms." i voted for death. not because I believe that "Tech is dead," whatever that would mean, but because it was obviously wrong. at the same time, i was thinking about a comment overheard the other night. while lamenting the decline of the telecoms (motorola, worldcom, etc.), a friend said, "it's incredible but, it's possible that no one will make money from the biggest technological revolution in history." well, someone made money once, but I think he meant, "in the future." of course, it's possible that technology, which people developed "to make money" may have outstripped or outpaced its originary urge. that is, what if you invented a machine that could make food from random bits of carbon and water - charcoal, sticks, oil, etc. and, what if this machine was easily and cheaply made from common materials. on the one hand, you might say: you'd make a million bucks. but, what if you couldn't make money off this thing because it was so easy to reproduce? and what if that fact that no one had to really worry about procuring food anymore, made them drop out of the money society (migration to temperate climates, etc.). of course, this would be a revolution. there is a problem that, at a certain point, it becomes possible (not necessarily easy) to create things that, at one point, would have been very valuable, but, which negate their value simply by dint of their creation. that is, a million dollar idea and a 25 cent product.
"out" is the new "in." "jackass" is the new "idiot." "cutting edge" is the new "retro." (or maybe that one works better in reverse). that shit's so good and you just give it away. that's what I told myself a long long time ago in a song i wrote about myself. reluctance to claim ownership of my whimsy. is that the difference between me and all those who do claim ownership of their whimsy? "personality" is the new "character." okay. that schtick is getting old ("old" is the new "new"). are there high-priced hollywood writers trolling these shoals looking for something spicy? "big ticket" is the new "top shelf" - "me" is the new "you" - "sterile" is the new "fertile" - enough already ("enough" is the new "not enough")

Monday, June 17, 2002

only because i feel like I've got to add something everyday (overlooking the fact that I didn't add anything yesterday, whatever). just thinking about copyright and intellectual property and the laws of electronic reproducibility. it is only a matter of time before anything that can be reproduced electronically will be accessible to anyone for zero money at all. music, movies, books, pictures, videogames, computer programs, etc. I know I'm not the first to say it, but it sort of seems like everyone is in denial (the courts and the large corporations especially) - because they still don't get it; they still don't understand that the universal machine, the turing machine, has demonstrated what no one wants to believe (because of the implications it has for their own minds) - everything is just energy patterns - sense is a symptom - individuality is an illusion. the problem isn't that people won't get paid for having thoughts (which is ridiculous to begin with), but that people can't deal with the radical crypto-random contingency of their own being, their ambitions, their interests. thought experiment: what if a random sound generator produced the 5th Symphony or "Master of Puppets" - is that plagiarism? if metallica owns the rights to "master of puppets," do they also own the rights to the algorithm that would produce the song on a digital synthesizer? if someone had perfect recall, heard "master of puppets" and then played it in their head over and over, would metallica own the neural cascade that produced this silent symphony? what if you took the song "until it sleeps" and created a picture by assigning colors and coordinates to the various pitches? would metallica own the rights to that picture? does it count as a "reproduction"?

Saturday, June 15, 2002

it was either on september 11 itself, or the day after, that ollie north, in response to a question from a television reporter regarding what we should do, said, "we should declare war." the reporter asked, "against whom?" and north said something like, "against al queda." he cited the declaration of war against the barbary pirates early in the 19th century as a precedent. since those days, of course, the United States has been at war de facto, if not de jure. after all, war, while invoked at every opportunity, particularly when anyone criticizes the administration, has yet to be declared. this has not prevented military force from being deployed successfully against the Taliban and Al Queda forces in Afghanistan, and it has not prevented several individuals from being incarcerated without trial as "enemy combatants." war has not been declared because, we are told, the US is not at war with a conventional enemy. in fact, we are at war against a concept with a very strange relationship to concrete reality. talk is of a "war on terrorism." this war bears more than a superficial resemblance to the "war on drugs" because, in this case as in that one, there is no clear definition of the foe. During the cold war, ideological struggle (and sometimes physical struggle) was waged against a political opponent, communism, that had actual adherents and identifiable leaders, because communism was well-delineated philosophical and existential position that some human beings consciously adopted and others consciously opposed. there were grey areas, particularly when talk turned to "communist sympathizers," but this was due to the fact that "ideologies" are not only exhibitted in human behavior, but occupy and are the products of human minds. you could "think like a communist" before you "acted like a communist." if thought could lead to communist behavior, then it was the origin of communist behavior, then it had to be curtailed. are people already being arrested or investigated for harboring "terrorist thoughts"? communism started as an idea, so the idea must be connected to the reality (even if this connection is purely conventional - what is, after all, the relationship between thought and reality? "Sein bestimmt Bewusstsein.")

My point is this: terrorism does not exist as an ideology or belief system like communism did. Even terrorists denounce terrorism (something unthinkable for communists vis-a-vis communism, or christians vis-a-vis christianity). As such, the war-declarers have chosen the perfect enemy - one who has no defenders or advocates. in fact, an enemy that does not exist as such. this means that the war-declarers specify who the enemy is at will. this is also why the war-declarers can say, "these evil doers have attacked the american way of life." an abstract enemy naturally seeks out an abstract target. everything is a metaphor except the money that can be made by waging this indefinite (in every sense of the word) conflict, and the actual bodies put in jail or killed by other actual bodies.

the people who died in the Trade Centers were not metaphors (though they are now). They were human beings at work or flying in planes. they were not representatives; they were not symbols. they were people who died. real, non-metaphorical humans killed them. these human beings adhered to a definite ideology (militant islam). everyone wants to be careful and not tread on toes, but calling this a "war on terrorism" does just that. isn't it strange that no one calls it a "war for the establishment of true democracy in every country on earth"?

****after posting this, I read "occamstoothbrush" and the blogger there actually said the same thing about terrorism etc. is this "communication"?
always strange to me when people say that music is "expressive" or "descriptive." I don't believe this is possible (although I believe that people do in fact talk about music this way). music - organized sound patterns, more abstractly, organized energy patterns that take the form of audible, identifiable, transcribable, and repeatable soundwave pattern formation and harmonic pulse distribution - is just that. unlike words (which can take the same form just immediately described above or the form of visual patterns either on paper or, as in this case, computer screens), music does not refer to anything (of course, the deconstructionists showed us that words referred primarily to other words. I think I addressed some issues related to that state of affairs below/above, which raises the possibility that music always refers only to other musics). a melody does not have a "content" in the same way that a sentence has a content. for example, it does not strike us as odd to ask someone to clarify a statement such as, "this statement is unclear" and for them to reply, "i don't understand the meaning of this sentence because its pronoun references are ambiguous." on the other hand, take the opening riff to "smoke on the water" or "devil's haircut" or the 5th Symphony and restate it, clarifying it. In jazz, of course, we regularly encounter the restatement of melody in a different key, or in harmonically altered form, but we never think "john coltrane is expressing the same thing as the original "my favorite things" with different notes." in fact, we are more likely to say,"while anyone will recognize the melody as "my favorie things," Coltrane is obviously expressing something quite different from the childlike naivete of the original." - what would it mean to "express the same thing in a different way"? music, unlike language, remains expressively opaque thanks to its very materiality. in fact, when a poet or a child plays with language, foregrounding its sonic or physical attributes (a la ee cummings), we say that he or she is emphasizing the "musical" in language, meaning precisely that this person is not using language to express a thought or a sentiment (though, we might say that, by using language in a seemingly senseless manner, one is expressing something, about senselessness, confusion or insanity, for example - but then, of course, the expression lies in the speaker's intention or the listener's interpretation, not in the sound patterns - having said that, though, is it ever otherwise?)

music transpires in a pre (or post) linguistic space-time and, for that very reason, falls short of (or exceeds) signification and anything akin to communication (in the way we normally use this word). it is evocative, rather than expressive, and addresses itself to those parts of us (that part of us) that is sub (or supra) linguistic. for this reason, we tend to associate it (mistakenly, I'm arguing here) with feelings. music neither describes nor gives voice to feelings, though it may call them forth, like a wizard might call forth a demon, or a witch a fox or crow.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Laurie Anderson (following William S. Burroughs) called language "a virus." A virus is a strange entity that may not even be alive but is able to reproduce itself by hijacking the living. Language seems to fit the bill. It is definitely not "alive" - in fact, trying to define what language is will lead you into strange and arcane realms of philosophical inquiry - but it does rely on living organisms to perpetuate and propagate it. Language is our intimate alien (in the very basic sense of "coming from elsewhere"). Other (and even arbitrary, for we could use any human language) to us, we must use it to communicate what is most "our own" - our feelings, sensations, desires and experiences. Indeed, even our most private thoughts are composed of language, a most public entity - in fact, if it were not public, communication would become impossible. Last night, a dreamed a plague of wasps.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

"you may never have his game, but you can have his gear" - Nike ad about Tiger Woods, the Jimi Hendrix (or is it the Charlie Pride?) of golf. Well, you may not be able to have his actual gear, that is, the stuff he wears and uses to practice his phenomenal and genteel art, but you can have exact replicas. in fact, you are one of any number of humans that can wear clothes, shoes, and hats generated according to the same specifications (well, not precisely the same, since you may actually have dimensions different from those of Mr. Woods) and fabricated under the same conditions as the stuff he wears. though of course you will have to pay for it (which he presumably doesn't). scratch that. he does pay. his fame, his celebrity is exchangeable, and he allows Nike to use it in exchange for free clothes (and, naturally, lots of actual money). the implication is that there is some connection between Tiger's game and his gear. this is indicated by the conditional 'may.' This connection is quasi-magical and is reminiscent of archaic practices relying on the power of association - eating the heart of a lion will give you the strength of a lion; wearing a bear's pelt will give you the ferocity of a bear - All celebrity endorsement is based on the allure of the associative and as such speaks to an atavistic fetishism in our culture. it is powered by simile. "be like mike" - you can never be Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Mark Maguire - but you can be like them, similar to them, symbolically associated with them, and thus draw off some of their power. What will you do with it?

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

"war is their reality; music is their escape." saw this on the side of a train this morning advertising some show about people in the military (the "service," as it is called - they always say that soldiers "serve," rather than "obey"). picture of a soldier with headphones pressed to his helmet. many consider music an escape, though, more accurately I suppose, you'd have to say that music is an "avenue of escape" or a "line of flight" [deleuze/guattari]. we escape through music to somewhere else. where is that place? different musics describe/conjure up different places/spaces. trungpa rinpoche wrote, "true escape is impossible." that is, the escape afforded by music is a false escape. why? because it is stationary, insular, solipsistic. "in my head" [black flag] the statement should be reversed: "music is their reality. war is their escape." music takes place in our heads, a construct of our minds. it is an escape only in the sense that sleep or dreaming is an escape. war, on the other hand, takes place "out there" in the world. in fact, it consists primarily of conquering and occupying territory, contesting or maintaining geographical boundaries, enforcing or preventing specific physical movements by actual human bodies. war takes us outside of our heads; it explodes heads (the true seat of music). war also sets aside every convention and expectation of civil society (the real reality for many). war frees the warrior, the soldier, from the inhibitions and codes of this society, in fact, often demands that he leave them behind in order to triumph in victory. in this sense, it is an escape, and its idolators have often celebrated it as a return to the origin, the essence, to reality in its realest sense, a liberation from the false fetters of civilian life. of course, there has always been a specific music of war and, in fact, the regimented beats of popular music are derived from the martial beats of war. so, in this sense, the reality of music is war and, again, it provides no real escape from it (since, at its core, it is an expression/extension of it). etc....

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

david brooks in the new york times magazine said that the "noblest, most creative, and fullest life can be found in the malls, office parks, and twinkling times squares of america" (I paraphrase). i do not and did not agree with this statement but it did make me think about the expression "a full life." if a life is full, what is it filled with? is life filled like a schedule or more like a shopping cart? do we think of someone who spends most of their time at the office or the mall as living "a full life"? (as someone once said, "no one rasps on their death bed, 'i should have spent more time at the office.'") of course, "fullness" resonates with "fulfillment." a full life is filled with fulfillment. yet, fulfillment is a discrete rather than a continuous state. in fact, it relies on the prior emptiness of a wish, a desire, a hope, a dream, which is fulfills. a full life is driven by wanting; it is a kind of permanent wanting. yet this wanting is also the basis of all greed, anger, and, a full life would also mean a life filled with sorrow, frustration, and despair. we do not usually consider the homeless woman with a black eye begging money on the street the poster child of fulfillment. but the fact that we don't should make us reconsider the content of the full life. a life cannot but be full, unless we are to say that feelings of joy and satisfaction are something, while feelings of depression and anxiety are nothing. oddly enough, the bias would be to say the opposite.

Monday, June 10, 2002

back again. okay, I was neglecting things in my negligence.
the people at "doors of perception" (some dutch, design thinktank) said that someone else said, "a website that is never accessed does not exist." that seems ridiculous to me and strangely idealistic. already we're back with bishop berkeley and existence predicated on perception. now, think of something that doesn't exist. what is the main difference between this non-existent thing and anything you can imagine that does exist?