An Ignorant Aesthete

To continue: I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After pausing to look at the tourists celebrating the cinematic career of Sylvester Stalone, I noticed the juxtaposition of the classical arts institution and the modern police institution. Then I generally admired the exterior of the building, and thought how great it is that there can be a huge building full of pretty things for people to come and look, even if the PPD is looking at the people. The eight dollar fee seemed pretty small for four hours of walking around looking at stuff that was made all over the world, as much as one thousand years ago. There were probably cameras inside the museum too, but they weren't quite as noticeable.

Inside the museum I spent most of my time in the more modern wing, from the 19th Century up until the present century.

I don't claim to have any academic knowledge of art. As far as judging art, I think that there are primarily two things I look for. Firstly, I have to enjoy looking at it. The artwork must be more interesting than other things that are available to look at; it must attract my attention in some stimulating way. Second, I enjoy the artwork if it seems as if the creator spent actually time creating it. Effort, crystallized in the work, a manifestation of labor transformed, makes the art more interesting to me. It doesn't matter what the art is a representing, or how, or with what, but if it looks like the author put forth a good amount of effort and I enjoy the result, then it is art to me.

I really like impressionism. Despite what place this period has in the timeline or structure of art, to me it tends to satisfy both of my general judgment categories.

Check out this Renoir painting, I think it's called The Bathers. Apparently a lot of these artists liked to paint nude women bathing. But look at it! Click on the picture to see the full view.

First, it isn't the clearest representation, although this is one of the most detailed of Renoir's paintings, according to the curration. Yet it's still beautiful! Look at how beautiful the women are, with their more classical 19th century bodies. It's no Guernica; it has no symbolic political representation. It's as nude and pure as beautiful women bathing together. Maybe in the modern age we have much more serious and depressing topics to cover than something as pure as bathers. But whatever the historical significance of the style, media, or topic, I really enjoyed looking at this painting a lot.

The more modern stuff I kind of breezed through. Much of it I just didn't find interesting; either it wasn't too interesting to look at, or it looked as if it took about 16 seconds to make, and I couldn't be convinced that the artist had really put much effort into the work.

But, I was particularly struck by this one painting, Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending Staircase #2.

How wonderful! Maybe it was how complicated the work is. Or perhaps I was attracted to how look it must have taken to construct this piece. It could not have been thrown together, it took time and effort for him to make it. A lot of cubist art looks through together in a hurry. Picasso could have sneezed on paper and it probably would sell for a million. But look at the time and dedication in this piece. Every line, every shape looks particularly chosen for its place in the entire work.

But I love both of these paintings equally. It's an exceptionally good comparison of what I mean by my standards for art.

Both are generally representing the same thing: nude figures in action. The styles and the works as wholes are so different. But, I can see in each of them the same amount of effort and dedication to the artistic project, and I think that the result is admirable in both attempts. I really enjoyed looking at both of them, and they captivated my attention that afternoon.

It wasn't until I had seen the Duchamp, and then gone back to see the Renoir again, that I noticed this other painting of a bather.

Also called Bather, according to the sign, I thought of it very similarly to the other painting. But, I noticed in the curration blurb that the collector that donated the painting (the name escapes me for now) had actually hung this painting on their wall right next to Nude Descending Staircase #2! The blurb went on to describe how this shows that to the Dadaists etc. Renoir was a very important influence.

I don't know whether or not this is true, or what this even really means, but I found it to be somewhat gratifying that here, I, an art cretin, was able to recognize a certain aesthetic comparison of value to my viewing experience that the people who supposedly know about such things also recognized.

Whatever art is, it has something to do with the difference between these paintings, whether they are hung next to each other or at different ends of different wings of a museum. Whatever it is, it's is what made me walk back and forth from one gallery to the other 3 times to compare the two in my mind.

Art is cool.


Stop #1

The trip didn't start out too hot. As I walked out to my car on monday morning, I saw a green puddle spreading out from the driver's door. My heating system busted its pipe, and drained the anti-freeze everywhere.

Luckily my Dad was at home, who is always able to fix things. He's the guy wearing the safety glasses in the picture. He was able to devise a bypass for the heating system, so that although there is no heat in the rear of the car now, at least my cooling system isn't draining out onto the highway when I drive. The car is really about at its limit. I guess there could be much worse things than not having heat, especially in the summer. Not that it matters anyway, because my car is so full of things that the air temperature is really the last of my problems. It might even be good that it is a sweltering jungle inside the car, because our small pet succulent is mad at me for not giving him sunlight in my NYC alley apartment.

With the jury-rigged heating system I was able to get the van and all of my stuff to Philadelphia, where I stayed with the noble Dave Rader, who is fast on his way towards becoming a librarian.

Dave showed me an Eritrean restaurant, the Liberty Bell, and made some contentious claims about Philadelphia being the "last-bastion of the North". We also discussed race relations, how "SEPTA" sounds a lot like a disease, and ways to possibly change the rules of basketball. Dave is well, living in a bachelor pad with several pets, and attending barbecues occasionally. We went to a local bar for the evening that is purportedly Bob Reckard's favorite bar, and drank pitchers of Pennsylvanian beer.

Then next day Dave went to work, while I went downtown to see the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art. I found a free parking space, and re-entry was permitted with my admission. I saw the view from the steps of the museum that are perhaps even more renowned than museum itself, and I also saw many idiot tourists posing like that boxer from the film. I scoffed, took an artistic portrait of the steps, and then went inside to also say several important things about important works of art.

The steps looked like this:

I also would like to recount some thoughts I had about the art inside the museum, but right now my next host and I are going to retrieve some of the local brew here in Baltimore, the next stop on my tour. Perhaps later I will regale you with my aesthetic insights, or maybe I will forget, or be lazy and skip it. Next update will be from Baltimore, city of crab cakes!


Find a City, Find Yourself a City to Live In

Tomorrow I move to Portland, Oregon. It's going to be a long trip from Hartford, Connecticut all the way west, and there are a lot of stops in between to commune with many of my scattered cohorts, comrades, and colleagues. Here is the list of scheduled stops:

Grinnell (Iowa)
Pocatello (Idaho)

It's gonna be good to get back on the road. I'm glad that I'm going to be stopping in so many places. Often a long distance trip will encourage the intrepid traveller to speed through on interstate lane; unfortunately this takes you through the gutter of america. Truck stops, billboards, and interchanges hardly a country make. This way I'll get a good sample of living locales across the country before arriving at my own choice. Pictures and blog posts will follow as internet access allows.

I've collected a good number of cassette tapes for the journey. My own installed CD player fried many a year ago, after my brother spilled a hot chocolate inside of it (he denies this version of events). A '95 Plymouth Voyager has no factory installed CD player. I'd say the best of the bunch is Michael Jackson's Thriller and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet. I've even got a tape of whale songs though, because its a pretty big continent on which we live. Where can you even buy new cassettes these days? Other than the ubiquitous truck stop, I think Wal-Mart may be the only location. I'll find out though, and report back.

A '95 Plymouth Voyager also has a lot of other things that are not factory installed. Or, at this point, need to be installed again. I'm hoping to make it across the country without too many automobile mishaps. I'll probably need a new fuel filter at some point, but that is standard with this many miles on old Vee-ger. Maybe a flat tire too, though the ones I have aren't too old. Let's hope for the best.

So I'll be in touch over the next two weeks with regular reports about people seen, highways conquered, national historic sites observed and liquors imbibed. It will almost be like the entire internet is going with me in the car. And then, when I finally run out of road and reach the Pacific Ocean, we will begin a whole new chapter of my life. Kind of sobering. Or intoxicating, depending on which way you look at it.


Why Would ANYONE Read Science Fiction?

If you've read more that two of my posts, you will probably have encountered me talking about science-fiction (SF, as I've recently discovered is the appropriate abbreviation, not Sci-Fi).

So what's up with SF, anyway? Nerdy, yes; bizarre, sometimes; misunderstood; probably.

It's not just that I'm defending the particular genre I find appealing (although that is the case). I think there is a lot more to it than most conceptions of the genre, and also a lot more to it than the majority of the genre probably offers in literary value.

The key to SF is a lot more than the original idea of "science" fiction connotes. The first proto-science-fiction literature speculated as to future possibilities in scientific technology. Hence the genre's name, and the casual expectations for the possibilities of the literature. Scientific concepts, technology, space, and the future all play a role; this is not an unliked group of concepts either. The myriad Star Trek and Star Wars novels show that if you simply work within a concept of those four aspects, you can probably find someone to read the book.

But the key to my simplistic description is "speculative". A wider genrefication of literature is Speculative Literature, and maybe this is more ideal for what I think crucial to the concept of SF. This breaks it out of the box of "rockets, aliens, and lasers," and makes it possible to explore really interesting ideas through the media of literature.

As the tried-and-true SF writer Philip K. Dick put it: "What an sf story really requires is the initial premise which cuts it off entirely from our present world. This break must be made in the reading of, and the writing of, all good fiction... a made up world must be presented."

With most literature, the break is fairly simple: this story is fictional--any similarity between any of these characters and events to anything real is not intended and entirely inconsequential. This allows the reader to be drawn into the events as the reader and not try and relate the story to his/her understanding of the real world, as a history or science text would explicitly seek to do.

But with SF, the initial premise is much more conceptual. The so-called "hard" SF deals with the effects of scientific conceptual premises, like time travel, robotics, etc. But "soft" SF can include any sort of conceptual "break" as a premise, often taking on academic, yet more directly applicable themes like political systems, social orders, and human nature. This makes the literature very powerful, because in the same way that Jules Verne started us thinking and dreaming of flight to the moon and submarines, authors like Ursula K. Le Guin may start us dreaming of actually functioning anarchistic/communistic societies, or at any rate, what a unified planetary society might be like. Are we necessarily close to any of these speculative universes? Not necessarily. But, before anything is made someone must think and speculate about it.

This is not to say that I think all SF is political, or has an ethical compunction to be political. But it is the practice of thinking in this way, and reading and writing in this way, that is really progressive. No action or theory is necessarily progressive unless it is a creative approach that differs from current paradigms.

But it's also fun, and doesn't always have to be "thinking ahead". Some creativity takes the form of daydreaming or fantasies, and is simply self-satisfying. That's why I like cartoon SF shows.

But when I write, I always think about this concept of Speculative Fiction, and it plays very heavily in what I think literature in general is about.


And I'll Form the Head!!!!

Voltron is pretty entertaining, at least for those of us who are facinated by speciously-plotted sci-fi shows meant for kids. Also, as far as the history of such things, it was one of the first shows of its kind--giant robot, team-based action squad, "kid-like" heroes (none of the team members are older than 20 or so), and fighting against the weirdest and most evil mutations the universe could throw against the good systems united together. It is probably one of the most violent of such morning TV cartoons in America; although the actual deaths from the Japanese series were edited out, you can still see much more destruction and torture than similar shows. It always bugged me that in Transformers none of these robots that were supposed to be at war with each other ever died. In G.I. Joe it was worse, 'cause these are humans, and here they are jumping out of their tanks and helicopters the second before they are about to be hit by a missile. Whatever.

But by far, the most entertaining part of Voltron is the english dialogue, which is absolutely abysmal. Sure, the dubbing doesn't match the video, which is to be expected, but it's as if they didn't even bother rewriting the dialogue to sound anything less than ridiculous.

Like this horrible threat:

Attention Planet Nemone, this is Planet Doom speaking: King Zarkon demands that you speed up production of the mineral Nemonium. It is vital in the operation of his magesty's superior war machines. All those who fail to meet their quotas will be severely punished.

What? Who's this? Oh, Planet Doom, of course, the one with the superior war machines. That is why we are slaves of Planet Doom, after all. I'll meet my quota now. Or this gem:

I built that robot. But I built it to be good. They turned it into something evil.

Just like my pot roast! Just like this marriage! Horrors!

Well, I guess it's not Shakespeare, but it gets the message across. There just aren't any standards for dialogue anymore. Sit-coms pretty much make the limit. Sometimes I listen to the things that the characters on reality shows say, and I want to reach through the TV and shake them by the lapel, screaming, "You didn't say anything! Words came out, but they had no meaning! It wasn't even a sentence!" Those model shows are the worst. Those aren't real people, they are corpses made into zombies by the power of television. For all the time talking about their feelings and crying on camera, they sure don't seem to be able to communicate outside of a recitation of cliches. I don't think that any of them would pass the Turing Test. But then again, the standards of what "seems like a human" sure is on the decline.

So I guess the dialogue of Voltron isn't so bad, as long as you can be entertained by simplified status updates and generalized explanations that destroy the very concept of metaphor with their categorical blandness. Hey, it's better than the alternative.

Oh, and I also found this, which was on Super Robot Chicken not so long ago. I think it would be funnier without the sex jokes. Everyone knows the Princess is sexually naive... she still has a nanny, for goodness sakes.

Time to G.T.F.O.

So I haven't been posting very much recently, because I have just finished grad school, I am attempting (slowly but surely) to find a job, and I am fixing to move myself and all of mythings out west to the fine town of Portland, Oregon, which while perhaps being a cliche location for a young, creative, twenty-somethings with few realistic prospects to move to, it certainly seems to be a la mode for good reasons. These reasons do not include hipster fashion, because I certainly had enough of that here in New York City. One reason actually is that it was the number one city that I should move to on this internet quiz, Find My Spot.

But besides the possible benefits of "following the hipster herd", the point is that all these processes leave me little time for posting to my really important blog. But isn't this the most cliche blog post of all? "Sorry guys, I'm posting to tell you my lame excuse for not posting to make myself feel better about my actually having to do things..." Really sweet, Adam.

But never fear. I'm researching some dope shit as we speak that will TOTALLY make up for the loss. And then, next week we'll have big things going on, because the

Long-Lost Friend Reclamation / Mediocre City Exploration Project

will totally f-ing commence. I will be driving to these fine locales and exploring all they have for me, as I slowly but surely make my way to the BEST CITY IN THE NATION (for my personality, anyway, as understood by internet questionnaire). I'll be posting really poignant city reviews, pictures, and hipster death sightings.

So until then, enjoy this lame post, and get ready for the good stuff. Are you ready? Not yet? How about now? Yes? Good.


Laying Bare my Own Conceptions

Since everyone knows that by engaging in sex you are bringing horrible dangers upon yourself, I would just like to start this post with the caveat that I realize by discussing issues of sex I am treading into the danger zone. Or, at least engaging in dangerous discourse, through which I may die.

Now to the post.

Fiction and the Ladies

SO WHAT is the deal with women fictionists? And by deal, I mean where are they?

Ok, I'm not stupid. I know that there are many women authors who write fiction. What I mean to say is that it seems that there are few female authors that I know of who write experimental, creative, or surrealistic prose. That is, the sort of literature I am most interested in. Female straight-forward novelists, there are plenty. Female journalists, poets, academics: yes, yes, and yes. I even remember hearing somewhere that the editor/book production field is skewed towards the female, in terms of gender of the professionals engaged in the industry. And they obviously do their work well, or they would not be doing it.

But of the more esoteric "literary" variety of prose, I see it being dominated by men. I'm thinking of: Palahniuk, Dick, Grass, Pynchon, Rushdie, and more. Am I wrong? Have I been missing some incredible women writers just because I am not looking in the right places, or because I just don't know what I'm talking about?

It has nothing to do with ability. I know a lot of creative women, who I think with some practice could really write well, but they are all interested in other media or different pursuits. I'm trying to gather together good writers that I know, both personally, and more well-known authors (after all, who am I?), and almost exclusively they are male.

I wonder if it takes a special sort of jerk to think that s/he can flaunt literary and/or societal conventions to write really creatively. These jerks being more often than not men? Or maybe, I only like writers that are jerks, or men, and so I am biased. Or maybe I am just a jerk.

Please, let me be wrong. Women should write; they should write crazy, off-the-wall shit. Why don't they? Or if they do, where are they? Help me, point it out to me, guide me out of the cloud of my ignorance.


That, Mr. Anderson, is the Sound of Inevitability

In the Rusty News-Dissection Pan:

- Sex Offenders don't get to use MySpace anymore
- Neither do Military Personnel
- Gonzales and Wolfowitz might loses their jobs, Week Five: And lo, the spectators resorted to cannibalism is search of sustenance
- Jerry Falwell's corpse has not yet zombified

But what I really want to discuss today is this:


Yes! This is very important. I'm not being sarcastic. This will be a major issue once the cyborg revolution takes place and we are all welded to computers and peripherals.

There are many reactionary forces out there who fear the coming revolution, and I have nothing to say to them, except that the Luddites lost and its time to get with the program, literally. Information is the major motive force in most of the world, and we will need tools to manipulate that data effectively. So, the question is, how can you best work your data? Would you like to continue to use your keyboard, allowing your joints to corrode and fail, or would you like to evolve and make yourself some better organs? I'm sure your new synthesis appendages will even come in designer colors, so don't fret.

But the problem becomes this: of course those of us ready to "get the net" will open our minds and our bodies to the possibilities that cyborg lifestyles will provide, but how do we foresee the side-effects of this creative mutation? There are likely to be prototypes that fail, and while throwing out your stupid Razr is not a big deal, I'm rather attached to my liver. How do I make sure my cyber-liver will be just as soft and pliable as my current guy? By looking ahead, and foreseeing solutions in advance.

And so we come to our savvy "scientists". Good old scientists, out there doing science stuff 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. They are dealing with the world of hard facts, and therefore aren't tempted by idealistic visions of a "Matrix" where World of Warcraft takes the place of dating, and we can be pure energy beings with no need for bodies.

The obvious question, and the one that these Scientists are engaging, is: as activity becomes centered in information rather than the physical world, what will happen to the health of our bodies?

While our brains are growing bigger and we are less reliant on our physical abilities for survival, we're still going to be stuck with bodies for some time yet. And I wouldn't have it any other way! That is the essence of cyborgness; it is a marriage of man and machine, not a permanent out-of-body existence. We should improve our bodies through modification, not let them fall apart through dis- or misuse. After all, the somatic organs are crucial to mind function. Mind/body dualism, which often goes hand-in-hand (or rather, not...) with humanism and secularism, let alone religionism, allows people to think if you improve your mind you can let the body fall by the wayside. Body consciousness is crucial to mental health, I'm happy to say. And let's not forget the bodily joys of life. The mind may be "the biggest erogenous zone", but it would be pretty hard to enjoy it without that body!

So how, if we are plugged in, do we keep from clogging our brains with cholesterol? Easy enough, just don't stand still. Especially now that we are quickly moving wireless, why sit at a desk? While not stand, or, as Science tells us, run? Who says you have to be sitting down to be productive? From now on I'm only going to send email while running at full speed. Perfect! Another old habit broken, another victory for the cyborg revolution.

There are other pro/con situations that can be foreseen about the cyborg revolution. Here are some, with possible solutions, as I see it. And I don't even have the benefits of science at my disposal!

After the Glorious Cyborg Revolution...

Problem: We have compatibility problems integrating different systems now. What about when the systems are people?

Ingenious Solution: Well, if Fascists initiate the revolution, everyone who is not compatible... well, you know what will happen. But if Anarchists initiate it, (fingers crossed!!!) then everyone will be open source and you will have to reverse-engineer other people as you meet them. This is not necessarily bad, because sometimes its hard enough to understand what the hell other people are talking about, and they don't have access panels or source-code to examine. At least not in a polite fashion.

Problem: Computers crash a lot. What happens if your bionic eyes crash while driving, or worse yet, while watching the season-finale of America's Next Top Body-Hack?

Ingenious Solution: Easy. Just add more technology to fix the problem. To avoid missing your programs, install a Tivo in your mind. If you are driving and all of a sudden you can't see, pull over to the side of the road, and watch TV.

Problem: Computers become obsolete every few years. Will this mean that humans will age faster rather than slower as cyborgs?

Ingenious Solution: Well, if my iPod is any indication, your hyper-kidneys will only be designed to last one month past the end of the warranty. So, you'll be buying new kidneys anyway, with new video screens and better click wheels, so they really won't have the chance to age that much. You will be forced to get a brand new iKidney, or you'll die. You'll really be getting younger every year. And trendier.

Problem: If experiences are immediately available on YouTube, instead of just videos, won't this mean that the collective unconscious will become a reality, or even that our species will develop a "hive-mind", erasing the possibility of individual lives and creating a massive, homogeneous, non-personality, and what's worse, the content of this culture-ego will be no better and probably even more abysmal than the below-average of bottom-feeding brain-stem-titillation of reality programming that is now available?

Ingenious Solution: Yes.

Problem: What if bodily function jokes become riddled with nerd jargon?

Ingenious Solution: Don't worry. Pooping will still be hilarious.

Problem: What if the government uses the Patriot Act to hack my BRAIN?!?!?!

Ingenious Solution: We rewire the school fire alarms, break into the traffic light system, rollerblade down Park Avenue, through Grand Central Station, mobilize our global network of hip 20-somethings to crash the Man's networks with a billion little cute worm animations, Hack the F***ing Planet, and then make out with Angelina Jolie in a swimming pool.

Done and done.

Pants-Dropping Musical-Religious Theater! Take the Kids!

So a bit of a downer yesterday: my rad country-western music belt buckle broke. It was a gift to me from a former flame purchased at an antique store in Newton, Iowa. It was an antique store that was not Pappy's Antique Mall, that being a great store in Newton, despite Pappy not having this belt buckle. At Pappy's I once purchased a copy of Mahavishnu Orchestra's Firebird on LP for a dollar. I also looked at a lot of the antique campaign buttons, but I did not purchase any.

The buckle looks like this:

Look at that manufactured art! Check out the metal relief of the cowboy hats! Admire their lackadaisical but professional poses as they embody one of America's musical traditions! It encompasses every sort of ideal that I would want stamped into metal for the purpose of holding up my pants.

And now it is broken. The hinge that fastened it to the leather broke, and will probably need to be welded, or at the very least epoxyed. Now I have some brown canvas belt that looks dumb, while admittedly keeping my shorts around my waist. Sigh... I bet those fellas have no problem keeping up their pants. They are just so cool. Plus, their pants are made of metal.

Hopefully something wonderful will happen to-day so that my stock can stop this horrible decline. I'll keep you informed, don't worry. As soon as there is any motion in the market I will let you know.

In the meantime, I walked past the Scientology headquarters yesterday. It's funny looking, kind of like it might be just another theater on 45th street. I didn't go inside though, because once you start talking to those people you can't get away. The building looks like this:

Scientology: The Musical! Starring John Travolta as the young L. Ron Hubbard!


The End of an Epoch, the Beginning of... What?

It is 840am, and after staying up all-night in my typical fashion, I have completed my final graduate school paper, and perhaps the last academic paper I will ever write. My Master's degree is complete.

As the gray light of dawn was crawling its way to my window down our narrow alley here in Harlem, I was flipping through the last book of my last graduate school paper, trying to wrestle up a few pertinent quotes to support my argument. The paper was a critique of structuralist linguistics as relates to psychoanalysis and philosophy, which pretty much is the theme of all of the academic work I have done in the last year. The book was Anti-Oedipus, by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, which has been an pivotal inspiration to my academic work for the past three years at least. Needless to say, I know the book well, and as the paper was almost done and not entirely a new subject, I was just coasting through the last stretch.

Maybe it was looking at some of my older margin notes, or maybe it was the gray quality of the dawn light, or maybe it was just a general nostalgia upon reaching such a milestone as the last of the last, but I was recalling when I first picked up the book. Reading through the truly awe-inspiring first section, I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on that curious University of Minnesota typeface. It was in San Francisco, when a couple of friends and myself were on a road trip. I believe I had shoplifted that copy of the book; the one crime I've ever really committed in earnest is shoplifting books. As a college student a $40 philosophy book not required for a course is a pretty hefty detraction from the alcohol budget. Besides, it was from a large chain bookstore, the authors were dead and therefore not losing out on royalties, and I think my opinion on intellectual property have been reviewed before.

So I was sitting on a rock in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, overlooking the gray Pacific Ocean from what I imagine now was several hundred feet but was actually probably fifty or so, the friends were asleep in the tent near the car with Connecticut plates that was full of trash, and I had Anti-Oedipus on my lap under the gray morning sky. I knew nothing about to book except that it was supposed to be "good" and that I liked the title. After reading it for an hour and getting 15 pages in, I remember telling my friend what I thought "they were trying to say," and although I can't remember what it was that I thought I understood, I knew that sometime later I could tell that I still had absolutely no idea what was going on in those crazy sentences about kissing and shit machines and schizophrenics on walks and ancient paranoiac societies.

Here we are, me and the same copy of the book, four years later. The corners are bent, the spine broken, most of the pages written with notes that have been erased, written again, and still illegible/undecipherable. Since then I've read some Beckett and Artaud, looked up the references I didn't know, read a lot more Freud than 3 Essays on Sexuality and a lot more Marx than The Communist Manifesto, and am still mystified by why endnote #5 to Section 4 is completely blank. Now, I think that my dog-eared, crumbled, and eraser-mark ridden brain actually does understand what "they were trying to say." I really do. I've impressed at least one Deleuze scholar with my reading and analysis of it, and considering how many grad students I've seen struggle with this text, I feel that this is something of which I may legitimately be proud.

It's really a fantastic book. I think I've heard just about every criticism of it imaginable; or at least enough so that the criticisms I hear are the same over and again. But I find it remarkable that I can still pick it up now and get that goofy, nerdy feeling of being so intrigued and excited by a specific book that I would steal a copy of it from a store and then hold it in my hands just to enjoy that I was "going to read it".

If only this had happened for me with philosophy in general, maybe I would be signing on for the PhD right now rather than cutting and running with a terminal MA. But then again, my work for the MA has been largely based upon my inspiration from and my love for this book. I've read the authors' other works, read their influences and contemporaries, and written some of what I feel is fairly original work comparing, contrasting, critiquing, and explicating all different aspects of all. And that is what academic philosophy is, I suppose. It's not that I even lost interest after a while.

I think what it was is that I really wanted to convince other people, somebody, anybody, that this book really is as great as I think it is. Most people aren't interested, a bunch have tried and given up, and a few have engaged it. But even with them, in the end its only academic philosophy. They write, they read, they talk, and then they go on and do something else. For some reason, with this book (and granted, with a few others) I thought the authors were really on to something. I thought that this wouldn't just be another book to sit on the shelf. I always thought of this book as a manual; I thought of it as the kind of book that does get destroyed from use, because it is a tool and not just a reference. Not just a status symbol, and not just a conversation piece, I thought that this was a book that was really going to help philosophy do all that stuff that it says it can do for the world.

I don't know if that was a pipe dream, or I just didn't try hard enough, or I didn't find the right people, or what happened. But I do know that now I have a Master's degree in philosophy, a whole bunch of books, and I seem to be over- or under-qualified for just about every job out there. I'm pretty hard-pressed to find a downside of having an MA, (except for my world of debt, that is) but I really just feel like the whole thing has been a waste of time. I've definitely learned a lot, and I can write even better now than when I graduated from college. But as far as me "advancing my life," not in a professional sense, but in terms of things that I want to accomplish, the substance of this reflection is about where I'm at today.

Yes, life-lessons and such. Wonderful, thanks for your perspective. I guess in two more years it won't matter, and I'll be glad I did it. Maybe I'll even hate the real world so much that I'll be running back to the academy for the PhD.

But I can say that after these stressful, misdirected, and sometimes downright frustrating two years I'm still glad I can open this book and get that "read like I stole something" feeling all over again. Thanks, Gilles and Felix. Rest in peace; you've made my world a better place.


Friday, 7PM, Times Square Subway Station

[Before reading, open this link in a new window/tab so the track will play. Link thanks to Best of... Both Worlds]

Friday, 7PM, Time Square Subway station- As I reach into my back pocket to retrieve my wallet with one hand, I use the other to skip my mp3 player to the next track. I slide my Metro card out of its slot and push it through the turnstile, as the gods of shuffle cue the drum line. I am curious as to what track it is as I press through the rotating chrome, but as I am about to reach the rush-hour floor I patiently decide to let it play and focus on the motion ahead.

Then, the familiar manic motion of John Coltrane rings through my ears, and as his saxophone chaos reaches full speed, I step into the moving human tides of commuters.

Each note is a footfall in the mass of humans, each taking its own melody in its direction, driving the song towards its home. Every note possible is played, except for the ones that shall not be played, and they join every New Yorker in the fast-paced struggle to be heard.

It is the alternate take of the song, and Coltrane's sax is passed through my stereo headphones to my right ear while Art Taylor's statically rampant cymbal line switches to my left. My linear-reasoning left hemisphere reacts with joy at the perversity of the shrieking saxophone, while my right admires the shapely curves of the drum's steady oscillations. They harmonize the rhythm of a mob, and provide the station with its own cacophonic marching-music.

I weave with the flock of persons, each of us altering course but not speed as we step around each other in the tribal-metropolitan dance. Ten-thousand straight lines weave to form a infinite plateau, John's sax the wind filling our sails as his mad jazz genius guides us into destinationless motion. The collective consciousness smiles, turns up the volume, and let's its ears suffer a bit of irreversible damage for the sake of a lyrical moment.

Ira Gitler stands on the platform, directing the performance and clearing the closing doors, while I try to ignore the words that will eventually come with the fading of memory for just one more moment; dodging the firm simulacra of recording like the supporting vertical girders of this metaphorical recounting. Walk in the gaps, see them before they form, otherwise you will stand still and the human race is gridlocked in its progress.

Noise and light approaching, uptown express. We've all taken this Train before, but never on this day, never at this moment. You have to get on to get to your stop. Standing, sitting, or walking from car to car, the train goes to the same place. As the simple melody kicks it and the track fades out, Times Square fades away to the repeating lights of the artery under the city.

To commute is the exchange, a regulation of a motion among humanity. On Friday John Coltrane's record reached through sound and moved the mass, a fulcrum for a lever big enough. A regulation was exchanged for a liberation, and for those 4 minutes 37 seconds, I heard each of us find that common motive, though I wore headphones, and the commonality was mine alone.


A word, if I may?


Look it up. Not with Dictionary.com. Look it up with something better. Something that actually involves looking, and not just clicking. It will be a fun research project.

Bring me back something good, and maybe you will get a reward. Don't just bring me something that you picked up either. Research isn't research unless you actually get results, not just stuff. What's the difference between "stuff" and "results"? Well, we'll leave that up to you.

Go on.


Synaesthesia: A Critique in 20 Pages/Tracks

Well, not really synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is, for those who aren't up to date on weird, esoteric, hippie-descriptors, is what is described as substituting one sense for another. While certain fungi may cause said effects to occur, some people stumble upon it even more naturally. Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, is a so-called synaesthete. He "hears" color hues in sound, etc. Other well known artists are also reported to be synaesthetes, although their particular traits vary.

Regardless what you think about this interesting concept, it's not what I'm talking about, so forget it. I'm merely discussing how it's nice to listen to music while writing. Yeah, that is nice. Listening, writing, reading, all at the same time. Sounds/looks/writes nice.

Since it's the end of the academic year and there are folks out there struggling to write papers, I thought I would share my paper writing mix. It got me through the seventy pages of my Master's Thesis.

The songs are almost entirely lyric-less. They are quite airy and ambient, although there are some electronic songs in there too. Can't have you falling asleep on your keyboard, now can we? But don't worry, it's not going to make you get up and dance. You'll just peck keys with authority. All in all I think it is best for blanketing out background noise (like idiots talking on cellphones in the library) but not distracting from the task at hand.

The whole thing runs just under two hours. My first try at podcasting! No microphone though, so I guess it's just a mixcast. Whatever.

Writing Mix (password: writing)
Salt of the Sea - The Gentleman Losers
Julie and Candy - Boards of Canada
Call Me - Marsmobil
Weathered Stone - Aphex Twin
Six Pack - Tortoise
White Light Of - Do Make Say Think
Hexagon - Aphex Twin
Eleventh! - Arovane
Sing - Slowdive
Maps - Ada
Everything Merges with the Night - Brian Eno
Morning Passages - Philip Glass/Michael Riesman
Cliffs - Aphex Twin
Historics Repeating as One Thousand Hearts Mend - Esmerine
Open the Light - Boards of Canada
I'll Come Running - Brian Eno
Guilty Cubicles - Broken Social Scene
Scoop - The Notwist
Laureline - The Gentleman Losers
Alpha and Omega - Boards of Canada

The War Against Terrorcons

So Joost has an entire channel of the Transformers: Energon storyline. Sweet.

But here's the plot (for those who haven't read every wikipedia article about the Transformers universe):

Autobots and Decipticons have signed a treaty and are working together.

But, a new evil has arisen in darkest space, called the Terrorcons. (huh?) They are trying to steal all the Energon, the mystical energy material that is the solution to Earth's energy problems (huh huh?). But unfortunately the conditions of the treaty, the symbol of which resembles the UN logo, do not allow the Transformers to preemptively attack any other mechanical life forms! (whoa...)

And Kicker (the hot-headed human character) sure is getting tired of speeches!

What is going to happen!?!?! The series was made in 2004-5, so I can't see any Tranformer surges occurring... maybe the Dinobots, winning more representation in midterm elections, will vote against continuing funding expeditionary energon mining. But do you think a commander-in-chief like Optimus Prime will let that stop him from saving Cybertron?

Web TV, Now For Real

It's a lovely day in the Interdome when something that wasn't working then gets updating and becomes pretty sweet. You might even call it progress.

Joost let me beta-test their program, so I might as well treat them with a positive review. Because now it deserves one.

I bounced into the beta test at 0.9, and it was so slow as to be more aggrevating that entertaining. A lot of jitters. But now I'm watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force at TV quality in a window while I'm writing this. It works a lot better, even though I'm running wireless with a not very good connection. There are still some stutters when I try and run the widgets (there are built in widgets for chatting, instant messaging, etc.) and scan other channels while watching. But I'm sure progress will only continue.

There are twenty-seven channels, with on demand programming. Obviously not everything that the channels really offer, but the program still isn't officially released. Still, more than enough to keep my brain occupied.

Now I'm watching sexual hip thrusts in Eric Prydz's Music Video "Call on Me". So sexual! So aerobic! I can only imagine this takes off big. I'm excited about it, not only because I can waste time with it, but because I'm pretty sure it will eventually put an end to cable, because it's free! Considering I don't have these channels on my regular TV, I'm pretty down with the program.

I guess you can't download it freely yet, but you can invite friends. If you want to be my friend, you can get invited! Let me know. Now I'm watching National Geographic videos. Long live brainless entertainment.

Playin' With Propaganda

So the world is abuzz with indignation about Hamas' use of a very familiar MouseHead to sell their politics on TV. The Washington Post took a typical stance against it, doing a disservice to unbiased media reporting everywhere by quoting the Israeli-core Palestinian Media Watch in saying this use of MouseHead takes "every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy, hatred of Israel and the U.S., and support of 'resistance,' the Palestinian euphemism for terror." Whoa. Maybe propaganda directed at children, the "most impressionable audience" according to the Post, is going a little too far.

Or maybe what everyone is actually upset about is copyright infringement. This is the age of intellectual property, after all. And using MouseHead as propaganda to children is proprietary. We ownz that, Hamas. We can't have children listening to a MouseHead that doesn't have US inside it.

As anyone who knows the history of images can tell you, Mickey Mouse has been fighting for our side since the old days. He fought the original Nazis.

(Click on Cartoon for larger view. Note: the number 23 juxtaposed to the swastika on the Nazi's hat proves that not only is Disney owned by the Illuminati, the Illuminati were against the Nazis. A subject for another post!)
Pluto also bit the bad guys. Find more adventures of big-eyed animals thwarting Fascists here.

And Disney was hardly the only animation studio to be drafted into nationalist service.

Check out Superman fighting the Japanese, and Bugs Bunny training soldiers.

My all time favorite cartoon ideologue is definitely Donald Duck. Maybe it is because so many modern propaganda merchants sound and act a lot like Donald that I find it so apt. Or maybe it is because seeing Donald wearing a Nazi Uniform, even in jest, just touches me somewhere only Michael Savage can.

While I couldn't find the actual videos anywhere online (although hardly an exhaustive search, I know they are out there as I have seen them before) I found this article that provides some good images and detailed description of the relevant episodes. The best is definitely Der Fuehrer's Face, (image to right) in which Donald dreams that he lives in "Nutzi" land, and is forced to work in a factory making munitions (they obviously don't force workers to make weapons in any other countries) and to salute a weak-kneed Wagnerian Hitler. You also get the titular song, which I believe was quite a hit during the WWII period, featuring all the poignant critique of Nazi ideology that a fart-noise can provide. Don't worry Donald, it was just a dream! You really are a member of the greatest generation!

So look it up, Hamas. America owns the intellectual property of propaganda. No children are going to get their minds adjusted except for our kids, 'cause we adjust them right! Right!

Hmm. Well, I think regardless our children's minds are poisoned beyond all repair. If it's not the mercury content of their tuna salad, then it is Laguna Beach. Personally, I like Voltron. Firing your lion hands into an evil robot to blow it into space is a moral lesson I think we all can agree on. From now on, I decree that no child of the earth shall watch any TV other than Voltron.

I also decree that the Washington Post shall be forced to take a nap until it is ready to play nice with the rest of the children.


Press to the Next Level

Brute Press just launched their next project, a set of "business poems". Bet you never even heard of that before. They are cheap too, only 10 cents each, or the complete set of six for only a dollar.

Since I have a vested interest in the Press, and think that there material is absolutely the best stuff I have ever seen for the price, I am suggesting that you go check them out here, and then go find them out and about and buy either the cards or their issue "A", which is still available, and also still cheap. I'll probably be hanging out with them tomorrow at Union Square around 6-7pm, so come say hi.



Shelter from the Strom

This is kind of amusing. I stumbled across this picture of Cheney getting off of a plane in Kabul. Beautiful scene, isn't it? Look at those mountains. I wish I could go there. Maybe some day.

But did you see the name of the plane? You may have to click on the picture to get it full sized. Go ahead, try it. I'll wait here.

AHH!!! What a horrible ghost to be stuck with on a long flight! And what exactly is that supposed to mean anyway? The plane flies with a certain quality as best represented by: "The Spirit of Strom Thurmond"??? It is 100 years old, yet still is pressed into duty? The plane conducts record-setting filibusters? A C-17 will run for president under the segregationist cause? The jet has a illegitimate, "racially embarrassing" daughter? It's boyhood nickname was "Banjo"???

Anyway. I humbly submit this as further evidence that the world is a really weird place.

[photo found here]


Not a Whole Lot

Not a whole lot going on today. There's nice weather outside. I'm wearing a T-shirt with an image of a dinosaur stopping on a person. A lot of tech sites are talking about the story I talked about yesterday. That means I'm fresher than they. My T-shirt also means I'm fresh. And when I was walking outside in the fresh air, look out boy/girl, there was some poppin' freshness going on.

You seem skeptical. I can tell. Fine, I will show you.

Here's the weather:

Click for New York, New York Forecast


Here's yesterday's post and a zillion other articles saying the same thing:

Fresh / Not so Fresh

Eight people read this blog!

And here's my sweet dinosaur T-shirt.


The shirt is from these comics that also have dinosaurs that stomp. They also talk, which is not quite as historically accurate. The comics look like


They're not very funny at first, but after you sit at work not working and look at a lot of stuff online and then look at a lot of dinosaur comics then they are pretty funny.

I'm normally not the kind of guy to buy a T-shirt of anything off the internet, but I really wanted a shirt with a Dino on it for a long time, and here was one, not only on it, but also stomping. A friend once told me that I walk like a dinosaur. I don't think it was meant to be a compliment.

I also wrote this post with the text centered. Pretty fresh.

Except, I guess, I stole the news story from someone else. And the T-shirt is kind of nerdy. And the weather doesn't really reflect upon me at all. I guess nothing is that fresh here today. I wonder why I even thought to use that adjective. It's a bit lame, even without me attached to it.

Shit. Well, forget all that garbage. Nothing is new, nothing is fresh, nothing is happening. Now see why, if I was actually a dinosaur, I would stomp on everyone. End of post.



I thought I was post this little story thread since the other day I posted about Jack Valenti and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Daily tech calls it "the first internet riot", which I kind of like, actual substance aside. (that link is the original article, which I largely used as the source material for this post. Intellectual property that!)

Basically what happened is that Digg.com was pressured to remove articles from their service that posted information about the encryption key for HD-DVD and Blue-ray discs that was recently discovered by some clever hackers. Other people had cracked discs separately, but this guy ended up figuring out the primary key, merely through watching what his computer was doing while it was doing it. (A bit more complicated than watching your car running with the hood up, but basically the same idea.)

The primary key, in all of its hacking glory, looks like this:

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E8 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 89 C0

That's all! Some hexadecimal values, is all. This is the primary key that makes it "impossible" to rip both formats of high-definition DVD. With this, you can upload as many copies of Walking Tall in HD to the internet as you like. Somebody was paying attention to the product, and figured out how to take it apart. (note: I've changed a couple digits so it actually NOT the code... no need to get myself in any legal troubles. Besides, you can find the actual key just about anywhere now. The point is that it is 32 characters in order.)

However, in 746869732079656172206f66206f757220696e7465726e65742032303037, (hexadecimal for "this year of our internet 2007"), posting these 32 characters through the site garnered a cease-and-desist order for Digg.com from shadowy corporate lawyer figures. The website did what any injunction-fearing website would do, and took the material off-line.

But the users responded, and 50,000 people "digged" it, (whatever that really means) and thought up perhaps childish but I still think amusing ways of replicating those malignant 32 characters in a variety of posts.

So the website--bless them, O gods of Interdome--realized that their users were angry, and caved to the only thing more powerfully than a threat of legal action: a threat of reduced hits and bad press. Now it's back up, and Digg.com is proudly saying "boo" to power.

Not a very big deal, I guess. But, it is yet another poignant example of the ridiculousness of these internet times. The DMCA makes those 32 characters illegal. Almost as stupid as prohibition, or the war on drugs (or other wars against concepts). Sure, those companies now have all their DVDs pirated. But as long as they keep inventing new technology, someone is going to figure out how it works. It's evolution, baby. This happened before with DeCSS, and that was a 1811-digit prime number. And it will happen again. Once it is discovered, there is really no point in making it illegal. Besides, you end up looking life a fool for trying to outlaw a number. You can't make a number illegal, no matter how many laws you write.

This is the new information age version of the bomb-throwing anarchist (our history lesson from yesterday). Is hacking "morally defensible?" I don't know, and frankly I don't care. But the fact is that if you have a world made of information, and some people try to manipulate that information to make money, others are going to throw a wrench in the system. Capitalism can either adapt, like it did to unions, or it can try to stop the mutating force in society with laws, only to look foolish and eventually lose. The adaptation is already happening, because being a successful hacker can often get you a six-figure salary at an internet security company.

But I just like to sit back and watch the ants dance.


Labor Day

Happy Labor Day everyone!

The list of holidays that I make the occasion of celebrating is relatively short. However, one that I think of as particularly important is Labor Day. That is, the real Labor Day.

On May 1st, 1886 a general-strike began nationwide in support of the 8-hour day. Violence broke out in Chicago on May 3rd when strikers were murdered by police. On May 4th a rally was held at Haymarket Square. When police tried to break up the rally, a bomb was thrown, and the ensuing riot killed four workers and seven policemen.

Eight men, August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden and Oscar Neebe were tried and convicted for murder, all but Neebe with death sentences.

Labor groups celebrate Labor Day on May 1st to commemorate the struggle for labor rights around the world, and the remember the martyrs of the riot.

But here in this country, on May 1st we celebrate Loyalty Day, a holiday specifically started to dissuade the leftist influence of May Day and to reaffirm loyalty to the state. Also, the day is Law Day, an equally nationalist, statist, and patriotic holiday.

Our Labor Day, as we all know, is in the beginning of September. This was started as a continuation of the Knights of Labor's annual parade: a group with affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan. Now it is official as another way of having us forget the history of labor struggles in this country.

Take this day as an opportunity to remember what this country used to be like and to be thankful that things are somewhat better now. Or, think about whether they really are. Where is the 8-hour day now? What are unions like now? Who are the workers now?