space exploration

Having been gifted a copy of Klaus Maeck’s film ‘Commissioner of Sewers’ (thanks Jo and Howard), I’ve also been reading again about Uncle Bill’s schoolboy education at Los Alamos. He attends a ranch school in the mountains, a rural retreat – evocative of all things heroic in the west. Yet, soon after this formative adventure playground scenario, the rustic homestead scene has grafted upon it the think tank of advanced military science. The Oppenheimer and Roosevelt gang move in, about to wreak ‘destroyer of worlds’ god-like devastation upon Japan. I think there are several reasons to worry here. The colonial conquest context of the old West continues today in the hybrid science of nuclear physics, as militarized space exploration and the commercializaed death of the weapons program, with new metals et cetera, stress-tested in space, not always with success. The spin-offs include both the development of building tiles and security cladding, as well as laser technologies and satellite surveillance, all of which have practical use in imperialism’s ‘war on terror’ as war on Islam, and which continue to enforce U.S. economic hegemony in business.

So when they turn your school into a think tank you gotta be concerned that the wrong kind of space mission is underway. What I am saying is that the little biographical curiosity about how Burroughs’ school was turned into the lab that brought us the atomic bomb is not just a salutary lesson about hi-tech boffins hiding in the hills. The corporate turn that turns your school into an ‘incubation centre’ has the same underlying motive and murder-death-kill mentality that stretched from the slave trade to international labour law. Education in the pursuit of dollars, the teaching factory privatised and commercialised, calculation favoured over thinking.

That said, did the courses Burroughs did at Los Alamos prepare him for the critique of mugwumps, centipedes and space invaders that brought the world to the ruin that it is today?

If it has become too easy to join the rapid-mouthed pundits who denounce ‘the spectacle’ for, as it were, a living (an easy living), then equally it is too easy to hope that setting out an alternative thinking to the society of the spectacle can be achieved by saying nothing more than the name ‘Debord’. But it certainly is not furthered by hiring other pundits to rebrand your space as a lab, and even a lab without boffins. What is that about? (goldies’ students and staff can see the college rebranded today in the great hall – I’m sure I’d prefer the skull-and-bones to any logo FutureBrand will come up with). Maybe we will institute a Burroughs think tank (dream on), or a Debord think tank (nightmare), but we will not think (more dream) that this will mean the end of tanks. OK, next movie pleasde. Where is that tank girl when I really need her?

Damoclash :: Bekijk onderwerp – Review van een Derive in Leuven

An interesting and wide-thinking bunch of stuff on Damoclash :: Bekijk onderwerp – Review van een Derive in Leuven:

“Whatever image the sociologist has, whether [of the] flaneur, [a] dull turnip, intrepid hero or deep thinker, women always have to ask: is this sociological identity a male only one, or is it available to women too? Clearly, women can be turnips; but can we be flaneuses, heroines or deep thinkers?’
I’m still uneasy, and my counter-question would be: do/should I want to be a flaneuse, pursuing the ‘access-all-areas agenda’ (Hutnyk’s term) and distinguishing myself my virtue of ridiculing the underclass (see previous quote: ‘the urban lower classes are an object of amusement’)? “
More: Damoclash :: Bekijk onderwerp – Review van een Derive in Leuven

Money talks: tracking dollar bills

Couldn’t resist a nod to the sly humour of these German researchers who somehow managed to get this research project up in Molochville. It has both a very serious mission in the medical field, and a subtly unremarked critical commentary at the level of the symbolic. Of course money travels like a virus. Uncle Bill was way ahead of the game yet again..Ha ha ha.

In beer Mat Veritas Us

A bright new moment to soak up your time in the bar. Significations are ablaze, globalisation appears at its micro-moment, culture in a mass-reproduced, absorbent, four inch square: there is no other way to adequately describe advertising other than the ubiquity of abundance – we got it all here, ready to buy.

It would be bad humour to complain of the new gimmicks dreamed up by the marketeers of Cobra and Kingfisher beers, but there are reasons to wonder if the sales pitch of these Indian refreshments isn’t self-defeating. How many beers can a lager lout down before closing time [as it then was] and still have room for a couple more alongside the post 11pm balti. The popularity of a ‘late night Indian’ has been attested to in all manner of cultural style-watch forums – from the literary world of Jeff Noon (Nymphomation) to the Eastern Eye curry awards through to the British Prime Minister’s recognition of the Asian community’s ‘contribution’ to catering. But isn’t this all a bit of a mythology? Doesn’t the equation of Asian culture with brightly garnished and turmeric coloured post booze-up stomach filler mitigate against any recognition of Asian culture as more than a flavoursome trinketizing accompaniment to business-as-usual service economy. ‘Good news for Curryholics’ the Cobra placemat add proclaims. Yet, with humour Cobra beer offers to ‘ventilate your vindaloo’ and with less gas than ‘fizzy Euro brews’ you can also avoid any ‘internal argy-bhaji’. The Kingfisher approach avoids the cheap word puns (formed no doubt through the malicious influence of waking up in time for one or two lectures in postmodern design during third year of ad-school) to tell us that Tikka or Balti is not compete without a lager. Why am I concerned? What can you expect from beer sales publicity? Its just a beer-mat John. I wonder if I am getting too grouchy. No surprise that it reinforces all the stereotypes and clichés, but at least its not a nodding-head Peter Sellers style melodrama… Well, I get all grumpy at the way Australia is advertised too, even at the very same time that I laugh out loud at that Fosters’ commercial with the Kangaroo on skis taking the piss out of pretentious Europeans. The point is not that I’m left unamused, but that the side-effect of these cheap jokes is that everything else about the country is occluded, thus reinforcing all too easy drunken assumptions. And anyway, Australia has a great many better beers than Fosters (a beer company owned by the right wing conservative politician John Elliot). But only to keep to the association of Australia with that symbolic kangaroo (or a koala, or the Sydney Opera House and so on) is to occlude the less savoury realities of that society – its racism, the continued expropriation of Aboriginal people’s land, the profiteering of the mining industry, the war on Bougainville, its growing class privilege and wealth for some, poverty for more, and so on. The kangaroo image is also a way of faking and forgetting the egalitarian element in Australian popular culture, the refusal of conscription, the ‘fair-go’ ethos, and other aspects now lost to commercialisation and cheap sentimentality. India too, is much more than a curry and most people know this most of the time (but not always after downing six pints in the last half hour before the bell). So, if our mass media were no more than just a string of crap ads this wouldn’t worry at all, but these days everything else is sequestered to a few obscure journals, and Sky Sports, The Daily Mirror and lousy billboards call the tune. There is a whole world of politics sitting there underneath your pint, soaking up the spillage.

ps. (‘D’ya fancy and Indian tonight?’ was a slogan used by Outcaste records club night in London 1997)
(from Crash Media 1998)
[the pic is to remind us that none less than V.I.Lenin used to collect German beer mats]

Jodie Dean is clear

Jodie Dean writes:
“focus is overrated, clarity is overrated, blurs, slurs, and indistinctions communicate too; as in also, as in excess, what sort of insecurities do we hide when we insist on an impossible clarity?”

doll4 Originally uploaded by oladybug0.

From the Vault –

[Maybe it would be better not to retrieve this from the hungry mice, but then maybe it does document something of the reasons why I left what my crafty friend Sooz calls ‘the toxic swamp’ that is Melbourne University. Its was written in 1990, the year before I departed for points north].

The Ten Errors of (academic) Convenience.

1) It is best not to think, or at least think nothing new.

2) Follow the prevailing wind, repeat instructions, learn the quoted quotations by heart.

3) Replicate ‘the’ technique, master a single universally applicable theoretical frame.

4) Avoid theory, scoff at theory, go ‘beyond’ theory.

5) Read the ‘latest’ authors first, read someone else new as soon as you discover that the ‘latest’ authors have been read by others.

5a) Read secondary material as a preference (if you must read primary texts, just skim. Better yet, skim the reviews).

6) Publish everything (after ‘hypertextuality’ you should always send your shopping list to some advanced literary journal? Real bright sparks will send your neighbour’s list in their name, after all, authorship is thrift).

7) Get a bank loan to buy a house on the basis of your ‘career’ as a critic. Ha! Show the bank manager your theoretical credentials and the prospectus which sets out how long your chosen and memorized theoretical perspective is expected to remain in fashion. Negotiate an excellent fixed term interest cap on this basis.

8) Avoid having to state your own position by all means necessary. Present your theory as the theory you might hold if you didn’t already see the (as yet unmentioned) flaws. If caught out, remember there are no more grand theories. Call it literary. Be a multiple self.

8a) Admit especially to no specific political position ever, but always allow it to be assumed that you do hold one (and one that is broadly left, liberal, retail). If pressured present two popular but contrary positions, arguing against the obvious objections to this that it is only the phallocentric, eurocentric, logocentric nostalgia for unity, presence and reason that proclaims the invalidation of contraity and the impossibility of peeling both ways. If you are then accused of dualism, condemn the simplistic binary fixations of western metaphysics and celebrate multiplicity, heteroglossia and the pursuit of the marginal. Politics will soon dissolve into the vortex of jargon – but never use the vortex metaphor unless you’re a ‘heavy’ intellectual and French, and dead.

9) Counter all cynicisms with witticisms, and all witticisms with the scathing weapons of cynicism.

9a) Avoid specialization – generalists are superior and they never need to know details.

10) Reject with anger any suggestion that criticism, especially literary criticism, is parasitic. Such accusations offer perfect opportunities for critical review. (see # 6).

11) Label rather than criticize – labels are more ambivalent. Never commit yourself to the necessity of trying to justify an argument with reason, you’ll just look silly.

11a) Make a caricature out of any approach that looks convincing (that is, if you didn’t think of it first, which would be a stupid risky thing to do anyway).

11b) Puns on names are good – like ‘Derridada’ or ‘Giggles-Giddens’. Use obtuse metaphors to dismiss anything significant you dont understand, i.e., “the inpenetrable jungles of structuralism”, the “shibboleth of deconstruction”.

11c) Respond to all criticisms by pouncing on any sentence/phrase/word which you can use to betray your attacker’s basic conceptual naivety – use this to avoid addressing any criticism of your own naivety.

11d) Criticize no-one in power, except where your victim remains anonymous (as in this criticism).

11e) Sacrifice it all for promotion, no worries.

11f) Lists are in again, enumerate.


Because it has become so fashionable to find other ways to pre-sent texts, because everyone can now follow these new conventions (!), because the conventions and symposia of scholarship remain inordinately dull, even as we applaud our tired old innovations, because I can, because you don’t care. Perhaps because the distinctions between irony, humour, cynicism and critique remain vague and blurred, because I really (?) don’t know why I write therefore I read therfore I… Because I like to see my unnamed and insufficiently understood anger set out neatly in all its confused confusion, because I still hope you’ll take it well, I wonder how you’ll take it, I don’t really ( ) care. How – will – you – re – act – to – this – ((do all these diacritical non-letter keys of the keyboard give you the shits too?)) – because I agree with you there is no clear point, no clear light, and why not? (Because of the essential dysfunctional logic of capital economics?). Because its like hopscotch, which I’ve never played but I appreciate the complexity, because it is so, because it could easily be otherwise. Because it covers up something I’d rather avoid, postpone, not write (why write?). Because there is no continuity here, now, none – no cause, be – cause, be brave. Because I like the slit slit slit of rhyming slangs, because of discord, wholesale, planned or accidental. For all this and more, for all of us, for all. Echo – because it sounds and returns (hollow, as from the hills). Because we’ve got it all right here, all right here, all night.

Clandestino Festival – Kollektiv –

The best annual music festival in Europe is Clandestino Festival – Kollektiv – “the Clandestino Festival, Goteborg Sweden (see linked for info in English). The next (4th one) will take place 8-11 June 2006. See also for international DJ-event in Beijing in May 2006.
Many thanks
Aleks “