Duelling words unsaid in the library

Unsheathe your dagger definitions.  Horseness is the whatness of allhorse.  Streams of tendency and eons they worship.  God: noise in the street: very peripatetic.  Space: what you damn well have to see.  Through spaces smaller than red globules of man’s blood they creepy-crawl after Blake’s buttocks into eternity of which this vegetable world is shadow.  Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges  to the past.

James Joyce, Ulysses,  Episode 9 : Scylla and Charybdis

Occupy Me

I am emale has followed the developments of the occupy movement with some interest over the last couple of months. Present in their absence of any single coherent agenda apart from a stalwart and silent protest against the State Apparatus, the occupy movement steals space to promote an end – to democracy?
If sixteen million people stopped voting, the System would have to change.
Here is a movement devoted to nothing. Purposive activity is lacking here – its another aristocratic one per cent representing the views of the majority.
This is not a protest against capitalism (evidenced by the extensive use of dumbphones by the protesters) but against the political process that endorses the widening division between rich and poor in developed countries and, globally, between rich and poor countries.
There are burgeoning examples of growth in the powerhouse nation-states of China and India. Their populations still dwell in abject poverty for the most part.
This would spell out the significance of a world-wide capitalism. As Chomsky pointed out in his public lecture in Melbourne on Friday night, the invisible hand is commonly believed to be a magical correction device to ensure the playing field remains level. Chomsky quotes from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations:

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain;
and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand
to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

Milton Friedman wrote the biggest danger to the free market and capitalism is from the multi-national corporations seeking monopolisation, subsuming as much of the market share as possible. The MNCs can afford to operate at a loss and make inefficient use of scarce resources, up to a certain point that Borders reached.
Why not occupy then?
I am emale reads a religious ecumenism in the discourse of the local occupy movement, an “enthusiasm” as Hegel phrased the idea of a Spirit that does not include the labour of the negative – me, being for self, I am emale.
Picturing an ideal society of freedom and equality for all, the occupy movement arrogates itself to speak for the “99%”. They do not operate as an individual organisation as one amongst many but a mass movement self-governed by direct democracy with broad brushstrokes of social justice by which they hope to capture the whole picture in one canvas.
I am emale is too much of an art critic to paint the public sphere. As Heidegger wrote, the moment language enters into the public sphere, it enters into a pit of nihilism.
On the other hand, the movement smooths a striated space, encountering the State appropriated war machine again and again until we finally hear the cry – “the police are with us!” – as the DC refuse to arrest the protesters unless they trangress the law.
This is a major victory for Occupy Melbourne. I am emale supports the movement for opening up a space for networking and face-to-face conversations between like-minded individuals, a situation more like the oft (mis-)idealised democratic rule of Athens in fifth century BC.
The Occupy movement is saying to I am emale: we are beginning again. Go back to the start and re-invent. Plant your tent in the earth, turn around and talk to people. Act out your desires. The current political process is flawed by a notion of government serving a monopoly of interests: CEOs and business owners beholden to a small class, the shareholders.
What we need is a peaceful notion.

Oedipal ectasies in small town America

On the fifteenth of September, 2006, three shots echoed in the carpark of a factory in Clarence, New York state.  A 22 year old man was shot dead, his blood spilt over the front seats of his utility.

Thomas Montogmery, a middle-aged father of two, married in small town America, had killed one of his workmates in a jealous rage over a woman he had met not in real life but only on the Internet.

They say true love never dies.  Here we have a passionate relationship where there had been no physical contact between the lovers (apart from the participants assumedly touching themselves).  All they had shared was dialogue with each other.  They built a relationship out of words.  Mostly.

Could this be the new Platonic love for the twenty-first century?  Contrary to the common conception of the Greek philosophers having sexual intercourse with young boys, the evidence points to their young charges being otherwise unpenetrated.  The dirty old men just stood behind them and masturbated.  If a man had sexual congress in a passive position, he was considered shamed and unfit to participate in a political life – a cruel fate for a citizen of the city where civic life and living were very close to each other in the youthful civillisation that was fifth century BC Greece.

Reams of paper were used in the court case to print out hundreds of pages of correspondence from online chats between Mary Sheiler and Thomas Montgomery.  There were also images.  Hundreds of photos of Jessi like this one

were stored on Tommy’s computer sent to him by the object of his desire in absentia, a middle-aged housewife also living in small town America.

Online, Mary Sheiler played the part of an eighteen year old girl, tall and athletic, called Jessi.  Jessi had her whole life ahead of her.  She wanted to break out of small town America and she planned to use Tommy to make it happen.  Tommy was old enough to be her son but she led him up the garden path.

Tommy aka marinesniper. played the part of a 22 year old Marine who went to Iraq to risk his life to fight for Jessi and America.  He had raped a cheerleader when he was seventeen and in a fit of remorse joined the Marines.  He always wanted to perfect himself, to try his grit against another.

The only real player in this love triangle, was Brian.  He was the demystifier.  When the truth about Tommy came out, Jessi asked Brian whom he had been introduced to by Tommy, and Brian told her it was all true.

Dejected and hurt by the lies, Jessi threw herself at Brian and he reciprocated.  Soon they were having an online affair (still no bodily contact).  Brian told his work colleagues about Thomas and Jessi, the 18 year old blond bombshell.  Brian was only telling the truth but Thomas did not like it.

Brian and Thomas were friends and work colleagues at a factory that built parts for hardware tools in small town America.  They knew each other, had beers together, shared a laugh and played poker on Friday night.

Brian is dead, murdered by Thomas, shot in the aforementioned utility.

Thomas is appealing a twenty year sentence for the murder of Brian.

Mary is living freely in small town America with her parents.  She plans to write a book about the dangers of the Internet.

Jessi no longer has anything to do with her mother.  Jessi is a real person whose identity was stolen.  She is the woman in the photo.  She is Mary Sheiler’s daughter.

This is a true story.

The documentary can be watched on ABC’s iView for the next two weeks.

Solitary animal mores

Supposing truth to be a woman – what? is the suspicion not well-founded that all philosophers, when they have been dogmatists, have had little understanding of women? that the gruesome earnestness, the clumsy importunity with which they have hitherto been in the habit of approaching truth have been inept and improper means for winning a wench?  Certainly she has not let herself be won – and today every kind of dogmatism stands sad and discouraged.  (Nietzsche, Preface to Beyond Good & Evil)

 

Learn to laugh

Been poring over the Birth of Tragedy for the past few weeks. Nietzsche was interested in the ancient Greeks and looks back in this book to a time when a culture was born and set the standard for civillisations to come.
Joyce has passed on a knowledge of Dublin, June 16, 1904, to future generations.  Not to be mistaken as a memory frozen in time but a becoming as D & G would have it, populated by affect (the odour of abar, the grit of the sawdust on the floor).
Nietzsche attempted a self-criticism of the Birth of Tragedy over a decade after he had written it.  Not metaphysical consolation and a fate worse than Romantic – Christian – but laughter.
The artist adds to his knowledges upon a plane of consistency.  Not a matter of looking back and saying well those were better times, I’d like to go back, but acknowledging the past and incorporating it into future knowledges, laughing and dancing with a history instead of being weighed down by its gravity.
This is no simple task.  Its not enough to make a joke out of the past or laugh trauma off in a hysteric optimistic giggle.

The birth of tragedy out of the spirit of music.  A mythic vision created from musical dissonance in a cathartic cthonic ekstasy.

And let’s not forget the comic power of parody either.

 

Marx On His Head

The less time the society requires to produce wheat, cattle etc., the more time it wins for other production, material or mental. Just as in the case of an individual, the multiplicity of its development, its enjoyment and its activity depends on economization of time. Economy of time, to this all economy ultimately reduces itself. (Marx, The Grundrisse)

Nature propels the philosopher into mankind like an arrow; it takes no aim but hopes the philosopher will stick somewhere.  (Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations)

Take Hegel’s master-slave dialectic.

The slave is the guy  who learns the trade, he knows how to do things, he is the actual producer.  But the master owns the final product.

Now the owner is alienated from the work itself – he only possesses it as an object.  For the master, the object has only utilitarian value.  True possession, Hegel argued, belonged to the slave who came into the knowledge of the object, he invested himself in the object, the objet d’art belongs to him.  He spent time on the product of his labours.

However the slave does not practically possess the product of his own labours.  In the rel world, the object of art ultimately belongs to the master and patron.

Then Hegelian dialectics start flowing between the master and the slave until they reach Absolute knowledge, a point I am emale still trying to fathom in the ocean of Hegel’s early nineteenth century patriarchal thought.

Its often said that art tells the truth with a lie.  The truth of the matter, seems to I am emale, is that art does not “say” anything.

It is the thing itself, it is truth, the actual product that enters into service for all kinds of masters from the officers of the State, advertising executives to the poor, hungry painter churning out endless portraits of a dead paternal figure or a child finger-painting in the living room.

Art is the lie we need to live.  Art is truth in the service of a lie.

What’s at issue in Art, use and politics (that’s “Art” with a capital “a”) is the ends to a means when the producer-producing-product is all and one the primary process in the object of art.

Politics, economy and use always comes after.  Cultural criticism is an ecko.

Man or machine?

In modernity, I am emale would point to Descartes as one of the early pioneers of AI:

And yet what do I see from the window but hats and coats which may cover automatic machines?  Yet I judge these to be men.

The activity of the critical faculty is what constitutes a proof of the existence of men or machines for Descartes.  The evil genius can only be foiled by the safety of an interiority, impregnable and self-sufficient, an untouchable facility and resource – the human mind.

The future of mankind and technology is an old debate in history.  The dialogue in Plato’s Phaedrus between Thoth and Amon would be one of the first recorded instances of this debate.  Thoth has invented this tool called writing that will help people to remember.  Amon dismisses this technolgy, arguing (or telling – Amon is the king) that writing will in fact take away people faculty of memory as they learn to rely upon writing.

What is at stake in the debate – a debate continuing into the present day about the Internet and its uses – is not the faculty of memory but the human mind as the primary means of production: value.

Enter Jaron Lanier.  He has no hat and no coat but he is toting a musical instrument, one of the early prototypes for the modern computer, the khene.

Jaron bares his soul in this talk about the future of mankind and technology.  The talk is lengthy but to make a substantial point (which Jaron does), a length of time is required.

Jaron talks about the dearth of creativity or meaningful existences people lead on the Internet.  What was supposed to unleash great reservoirs of creativity and personal freedoms in the form of the Web 2.0 has, he argues, ultimately failed as an experiment.  The open culture revolution has not occurred.  What has happened instead, is advertising has gained a foothold into new means of manipulation and the deflation of goods produced from the primary means of production, that is, people living off of their creative juices, due to the “gift economy” of open culture.

I use “gift economy” is the sense that Chris Anderson uses it in his spiel on Free:

All of this information is brought to you on platforms from Web 2.0, completely free.

Except for the time you invest and the ideas it inspires you into doing other things, making other connections,  even making music.

In other words, brought to you by other people – whom I judge to be men and women – in writing.

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