Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Key

Wallace Stevens: Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

1.Liquidate Society 2.Denigrate Community 3.Promulgate Rapacity 4.Castigate Your Progeny

"...To a certain extent, all of the pressures I described above (personal branding, low-wage or no-wage labor, etc.) were trending upwards before my generation inherited them. What has changed, in the post-collapse economy, is breadth and depth. The fight for jobs, status, money and stability has become even more desperate as all of these things have become scarcer and more upwardly concentrated."

"If you were born before 1982, take a moment to reflect on what those material conditions would mean for you. What does that do to a person, psychologically and emotionally? What would your life be like if even achieving relative comfort meant obsessively cultivating a personal brand, treating the opportunity
to do any labor at all as a privilege, and viewing most of your peers as potential competitors in a long, grisly cage match?

"If 20-30 year olds are more brutishly self-interested than their parents, and if, as I argue, this is a byproduct of growing up under neoliberalism and into an age of scarcity, then we might understand what's happening to young people as a sort of process of reverse corporate personhood. That is to say: in an increasingly competitive market defined by the ethics and conventions of the corporate world, young people rightly intuit that the most successful actors will be those who behave most like one-person corporate entities."
Ned Resnikoff

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Perry Bible Fellowship

Cave Explorer

Fun Bot

Transfer Patient

The Perry Bible Fellowship

David Graeber Essay

     "A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like. I am referring not to the standard false promises that children are always given (about how the world is fair, or how those who work hard shall be rewarded) but to a particular generational promise- given to those who were children in the fifites, sixties, seventies, or eighties- one that was never quite articulated as a promise but rather as a set of assumptions about what our adult world would be like. And since it was never quite promised, now that it has failed to come true, we're left confused: indignant, but at the same time, embarrassed at our indignation, ashamed we were ever so silly to believe our elders to begin with.
     Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor-beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now?

...Might the cultural sensibility that came to be referred to as postmodernism best be seen as a prolonged meditation on all the technological changes that never happened? The question struck me as I watched one of the recent Star Wars movies. The movie was terrible, but I couldn't help but feel impressed by the quality of the special effects. Recalling the clumsy special effects typical of fifties sci-fi films, I kept thinking how impressed a fifties audience would have been if they'd known what we could do by now- only to realize, "Actually they wouldn't be impressed at all, would they? They thought we'd be doing this kind of thing by now. Not just figuring out more sophisticated ways to simulate it."

from Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit

   by David Graeber in The Baffler No. 19

Saturday, June 23, 2012

These Immortal Souls

The Probability That We Are Simulated People Living In a Simulated World: 20%

"The "simulation hypothesis" suggests that we all, here in the "real" world, actually live in a computer simulation. How could this even possibly be true? How could physical beings, such as us, be in a computer simulation?"

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Whippersnapper Wedlock

Chamfort: Q and A

Why don't you give anything to the public anymore?

It's because the public uses men of letters in the same way that army recruiters of the Saint-Michel bridge treat the people they enroll, getting them drunk the first day, and giving them ten ecus and beatings for the rest of their life.
It's because people press me to work for the same reason that, when a person goes to his window, he hopes to see monkeys, bears, and ringleaders passing through the street.
The example of M. Thomas, insulted during his whole life and praised after his death.
The Gentlemen of the King's Chamber, the Comediens Francais, the censors, the police, Beaumarchais.
...It's because everything people tell me to encourage me to produce things is fit to be said to Saint-Ange or Murville.
...It's because I would not want to act like men of letters who resemble donkey's trying to kick out people's false teeth.
It's because if I gave attention to all of the trifles I could write down, there would be no more rest for me on earth.
It's because I prefer the esteem of honest people and my personal happiness to praise, some money, and a great deal of injury and slander.
It's because if there is any man on earth who has the right to live for his own sake, it is me, after the malice I was shown every time I was successful.
It's because one never sees, as Bacon says, glory and repose walking together.
Because the public is only interested in successes that it doesn't esteem.
Because I would be half-way from the glory of Jeannot.
Because I no longer want to please anyone except those who are like me.
It's because the more my literary attention goes away, the happier I am.
It's because I have known nearly every famous man in our times, and I have seen them unhappy through this petty passion for celebrity, and die after having degraded their moral character for it.

-Nicolas Chamfort, 1741-1794

(trans. Tim Siniscalchi)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Russell Edson: The Fall

  There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding
them out saying to his parents that he was a tree.

  To which they said then go into the yard and do not grow in the living-
room as your roots may ruin the carpet.

  He said I was fooling I am not a tree and he dropped his leaves.

  But his parents said look it is fall.

Stand Beside Her

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

from "Fifteen Theses on the Cute" by Frances Richard

Draw a circle, and ray out from it the abject, the melancholic, the wicked, the childlike. Now in the zones between add the erotic, the ironic, the narcotic, and the kitsch. Intersperse Romantic/Victorian, the Disney/consumerist, and the biologically deterministic. At the center of this many-spoked wheel lies a connective empty space. Label it CUTE.

Cute marks a crucial absence. It guarantees, by definition, the nonappearance of malice, premeditation, irony, self-consciousness, accusation, or mercenary agenda. However, in its manufactured form cute remains a major locus for- in some ways is synonymous with- the manipulative gesture, the prepackaged, consumable, demonstration of (necessarily factitious) innocence, spontaneity, and need. Cute arises by manipulating the guarantee of non-manipulation. Professing its own demure and complete powerlessness, it gains power over and directs all interactions with it: parents wait upon the infant, not the other way around. Simultaneously referring to and negating its own vulnerability, cute functions as a self-fulfilling system, maintaining its image as 100% stolid and happy and obvious only by virtue of utter contingency.

Cute might be thought of as a watered-down version of pretty; which is a watered-down version of beautiful; which is a watered-down version of sublime; which is a watered down version of terrifying. In this regard, the cute is akin to the ridiculous, which is a watered-down version of the absurd, which is again a watered-down version of that which terrifies. By extension, this suggests that all representation, whatever its stylistic bent, is tinged with an experience of terror: the terror of the convincingly ersatz, the killing disjuncture of the otherized, the pseudo-real.