Category Archives: Society

Talking Heads – TRUE STORIES

Has anyone noticed how a circuit board looks just like an aerial view of suburban sprawl, I wonder why that is…really.

The land we live on top of has seen extraordinary changes since Europeans set their sights on what is now referred to as the Americas. This is sort of a pithy and obvious statement, but it is interesting to compare how much things have actually changed since the discovery of the the “New World,” with the typical contemporary view of what is possible to change. We already can’t see our way past roads and byways or dollars and cents, and iphones. There are a multitude of recent developments that we already see as impossible to live without. This is the state of our view of our role in specie-al development. We are only willing to see ourselves as the peak of evolution, not as a stepping stone for the will-to-life force to express itself.

If we are the peak of evolution, and we are attempting to maintain the assumptions that put us where we are, then there is only one direction to go, which is disintegration. Systems were not made to reach a comfortable plateau to maintain. They seem to be made to express greater and greater degrees of novelty, just as communities of microbes began to operate as and evolve into the cell, the entirety of of human enterprise is creating the next form of intelligent life: a living sphere of information which has its own existence and is interdependent with the biosphere of earth.

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Slavoj Zizek – First Tragedy, then Farce

You know, there is still part of me that would like for the ideals of “liberal democracy” and “cultural capitalism” to “work out.” I appreciate the privilege that is afforded to me by having relatability with the “leisure class.” I wish we could all just “get along” in the relative state of comfort that I enjoy. One of the conceits of the Status Quo is that there is a status quo. While, as Zizek points out, in the 2oth century there has been a larger part of the world population living in relative prosperity, this degree of general prosperity is made possible by the and socio-ecological devastation of large portions of the world. So, the status quo is not something to rebel against because it is boring and unimaginative, rather it is something that is dynamic, the maintenance of which is a violent process, a sort of entropy machine, in which we are implicated.  One of Zizeks major critiques of progressive groups in cultural capitalism is that there is no thinking past the capitalist assumption. So, the question becomes, “how can we use capital to give every one, including the earth, the rudiments of a ‘fair shot’ in our global-society?”

A couple years ago, when the “green movement” really got its legs with Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, there was this sense, like, “we can do this!  we just have to  turn off our lights and recycle and buy organic food when possible and ride bikes more and really start to look into alternate energy…and hey there’s a lot on $$$ to be made while we’re at it!” This was not long ago, but I think that we already view these sorts of measures with a great deal of cynicism.  Although, I do not agree with Zizek that true organic apples are the same as gmo apples, both in nutrition and overall interaction with the ecology, I do think that if the same apples were sold at grocery store and one was labeled organic and the other was not, the grocery store would sell more of the ones labeled organic.

Such practices have continued to take off, more than ever before, and not to imply that there isn’t a common sense to some of these easy answers, but as we approach the physical and conceptual limits of what-it-is that our society is based on, the half measures brought about by incremental institutional change seem like using a canoe paddle to stop an aircraft carrier that is careening out of control (to paraphrase Terrence McKenna). Zizek points out that communism is not a viable answer to capitalism either, rather he intimates that there is no practical application of throw back ideology can maintain the failing assumptions of our status quo. This puts us squarely in the human predicament of being literally, philosophically, and scientifically beyond the edge of certainty . So, what do we do, what’s next? There is nobody more well suited to ask and explore this question than you.

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Nina Simone-Part 2-Mass Participation, Unification

“They keep saying, ‘GO SLOW!'”…”That’s just the trouble, TOO SLOW!”

For a moment, please, let’s look at the rhetoric of “living in the best system in the world,” as well as, “the gradual change toward a fair and just society.”  We, as a country, at some point, “emancipated” the slaves, another hundred years later, our government allowed those who descended from slaves to participate, as “full-citizens,” in our democracy. Sixty years later, we have our first president of mixed race. If one were reading all of this, in a grade-school history textbook, it might appear that all is well that ends well. After all, this is how I was enculturated as child, with textbooks that said, “boy, was it rough, but we did the right thing, and America is still the best country in the world, even better now that we’re all equal and such.”(paraphrased) But the story didn’t add up, what about Rodney King, what about unofficial segregation in the lunch room.

Now the question is: what about Trayvon Martin and Kenneth Chamberlain, and the fact that these situations are not particularly rare? And how are institutional regulations going to change the situation on the ground, where a black man cannot feel safe, on the street or in his home, from those whose role is the protection of our society? And how will it change the fact that the police feel that they are doing their job by protecting society from black males? And that the police feel this way, because that is what our culture tells them, and us, and everybody? Regulatory institutions cannot control the assumptions of culture. They may play a small role, but if they did have this level of influence, then, by all accounts, the only people who wouldn’t make it in the U.S.A. would be those who are not working hard enough or just plain bad-seeds.

Cultural assumptions, in our case, are carefully molded by mass electronic media, which is a frightful barrage of bullshit, in its shiny daily-new package. So, it is up to each of us to claim our responsibility for allowing and encouraging such a bunk culture to continually recreate itself in this progressively horrifying manner. This is something we have to do for ourselves, we can’t buy our way out, and ultimately we are doing this for everyone and the earth we stand on top of: home for all of us.

It benefits those in power to have the working and poor people divided by race, religion, politics, class, heck, whatever works. The middle class is important to keep pacified, so they are given some sway. Or perhaps the appearance of sway, I can’t tell yet: politically, I haven’t seen the middle class move in anything but predictable patterns of polarity so far. Each of the transitional spaces between classes are infused with the hope of making it to the next level of success in our society, and whichever level is the next level is the “American Dream,” always just out of reach. Of course, people can and do elevate their station in society, but this does not mean that they are necessarily ever welcomed into their new soci0-economic status by their new peers. And this is all done with a white backdrop, that is, social norms are defined by how “the other” relates with the colonizing force.

The pacification of the middle-class, and to get more specific, the white-liberal middle-class (the particular subset of society that I have the most experience relating to) is aided by its desire to be pacified. It’s easier to believe in the feel-good story of America being the pinnacle of human evolution, and maybe it’s not perfect, but it almost as good as it can possibly be, maybe in another 60 years…with some more technology…we’ll get there sometime. That is easier than taking a deep look at our own complicity in the crimes perpetrated on humanity and the earth, in the name of progress. This is an may be an unpalatable truth, but screw up your courage jump in and take a gulp.

In my family, it is known that somewhere back in the days of slavery, the slave-master had a child with a slave, this is something that was not at all uncommon. But we weren’t supposed to talk about it with grand dad. In a very literal way we are related to our “other,” go back in the family tree and we are all our brothers and sisters, not in a feel-good trying-to-be-relatable way, but in fact. There is no black and white, in reality, that is the fiction “white” folks created and we all repeat. It was a tool for dehumanizing the “other,” it is a tool to separate the poor folks of all colors, it is also a tool for the moderate white middle-class person to feel better about distancing ourselves from those we pity and act charitable toward. Humans are many shades of a single color spectrum, and black, white, red, and yellow on not on that color chart.

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The Medium is the Massage

The medium is the massage, in so far as, each medium has the ability to coax the participant into agreement with the particular medium’s assumption. The internet has aided in shifting our culture toward the art of the one-liner. Often times the preview is more rewarding than the feature film. This website aims to exploit the interactivity of clip-culture. Large amounts of information can be conveyed with minimal energy. All information is interconnectable. Indeed this is how we construct our reality as our consciousness occurs 40 times a second. This why Brion Gyson and William Burroughs developed the cut-up technique. Today’s human can synthesize an ever increasing amount of seemingly disparate information into a cohesive world view, at an ever-increasing pace. This necessitates clip-culture. Side effects of this may include shorter attention span, and children that require greater stimulation in order to draw out their focus.

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Santigold – Disparate Youth

Make of it what you will, Santigold gives form to the dreams (and nightmares) of the America, in the medium of pop music. A life worth fighting for.

*As a side note, you will notice an advertisement at the beginning of this and many such internet videos. It seems there is nowhere we can go, save perhaps to sleep, without being advertised at. This is nothing more than a full-scale assault on our consciousness. They say, “your content will return 5-4-3-2-1.” But make no mistake the advertising IS the content. When they say, “your programming will continue,” unless you turn it off, it never stopped in the first place.

*UPDATE – Regarding being advertised at: My friend turned me on to the adblock, free software for blocking all web advertisements, including those at the beginning of YouTubery.

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