I’ve been trawling about wanting to find some sort of confirmation of the glorious rumour that media baron William Randolph Hearst (and his gun-toting, John Waters’ films cameo starring, socialite grand-daughter) was somehow tied up with the ongoing presence of an American Naval base – and dastardly prison/detention/concentration camp we know as Guantanamo – on Cuba. What is the US doing on Cuba at all? Fidel must have a view on this.

Then I found: Robert Rodvik, who writes:

“Without going through its many Articles, the one that interests me the most is the infamous Article VII – the piece of US-inspired legalese that maintains sovereignty in US hands, rather than the suggested moral goodness of US declaration. As stated in Article VII: “To enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the Cuban Government will sell or lease to the Unites States the land necessary for coaling or naval stations, at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States. On June 12, 1901 the Platt Amendment was added to the Cuban constitution since, to resist, was to declare that pacification had not ended and US troops to stay indefinitely.
This Article of legislation forced upon the Cuban people was the key to establishing the massive US Naval Station Guantanamo.”

Old old stuff, now turned into new nasty stuff. Same as it ever was.


Unable to sleep, I’ve been obsessing once again (fetish object) about the start of Capital, and the inadequacies of the Penguin translation, in which the word appearance so features as both trick and key. This is for the start of a new course, which now looks like it will begin with an impossibly long routine about the first sentence in a 11 week programme in which I want students to read about 80 pages of the text a week. What sort of precedent will it set if we spend the first hour or so on the first sentence? Word by word. Inch by inch.

All that can wait – no need to write it out today, since there is a whole 8 days to go. That’s a week plus one. = W+1

Which reminds me of the ou-li-po strategy of the N+7. Take a sentence and replace the nouns with a word that appears 7 entries further along in the (any) dictionary.

You can do this on screen with a corporate twist using the microsoft thesaurus:
though sometimes there are less than seven options, so I modify it to take the seventh or otherwise highest. Call this the ‘N+7msword thesaurus’ translex…

“As poison to first light serenity at the eternal hyperbolic revolve of Bliarite apologetics for Israeli attack, everywhere he presents his alibi-making as a unease for war” –

– which is the N+7 of the first sentence of an earlier ou-li-po entry from here. Are these things translations, no more nor better?

You can also find the hidden ur-text of any sentence by using the N-7 method, going back seven words in a dictionary to find where things begin…

So, obscure fun, its also made my day that ou-li-po can translate stuff into maths. Test yourself:

If x = human and y = afterlife,
is x = 1 > x = y?

This is a far improved version of the silly waffle of Hamlet in his moment of doubt, no?

Now, for N+7 treatments of the opening line of Capital
‘The mammon of society in which the commercial type of assembly prevails appears as an “giant gathering of stuff”, the being article of trade appears as its plain type’
– seems rather inconclusive. Ah, the stuff needs to be unpacked. Hence the lecture…

People’s Tribunal on the Many and Varied War Crimes Trial of Tony Blair

I was invited to a small workshop at Tate Modern last friday (with folks like Chantal Mouffe, Mike Shapiro, John Armitage, Naeem Mohaiemen and many others – the ‘overly romantic’ Bernadette Buckley was enthusiastic) to discuss the possibilities for an ‘Art’ event next year at Tate. One of their big events, well funded, they were looking for suggestions and dominant thinking was along the lines of having a conference on Art and War and maybe commissioning an artist to do a ‘piece’. My humble contribution, based on frustration and fury at so much murder death kill on my TV, was to denounce the idea of yet another coffee chat and champers soiree for the elite about artists and contemporary conceptual arabesques that are worthy but do little but pat us on the back for being alienated angry and helpless art lovers. The issue for me is what would be adequate to win the war against the terrorists and criminals that run our lives and ruin so many others (cf Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran…). So, lets instead have an event in the turbine hall that does something that at least suggests the direction in which adequacy might be found – the People’s Tribunal War Crimes Trial of Tony Blair. Gore Vidal as the prosecutor, I guess Chris Hitchens as the defence. Who to get as judge to do the thumbs up or down at the end still open? And some other logistical matters to be decided… The thing to do afterwards will of course require more than touching faith in legal process, but a successful people’s tribunal at the most successful gallery in the world could also then help legitimise the people’s march on Westminster to ….

The point was made that it does not matter if this degenerates into farce or parody of ‘the law’ or ‘the courts’ – when the law suggests there might be a non-criminal way to bomb Afghanistan/Iraq etc, then anything that gets masses of people fired up enough to do more than march past Westminster to Hyde Park is better. Thus instead to rather march into the halls of power and turf out the jokers that sit on those plush chairs (boards of directors, lords and lairds) means something that seems more like justice (not legal justice, but people’s justice) might be on the cards.

Idealistic? Overly romantic? Perhaps. But always possible, and necessary now more than ever.

City Planning

An abstract I have sent in for a conference in Phnom Penh in January. The conference is called “Living Capital: Sustaining Diversity in Southeast Asian Cities”./ The paper I plan to write for this will cover research I’ve been doing for ages on knowledge culture industry and the like – I published something on this in Mute and a longer version the Nettime Reader way back when. Its time to look at issues behind the gleam once again…:

City Planning – for people, institutions and industry.

The problem with rapid urbanisation is not so much that there are vast numbers of new people in the city, but that public planners, social commentators, journalists and the reading public (readers of journalism, commentary and policy) see these arrivals as a problem. In contemporary cultural studies arguments have been put forward that revolve around the slogan: urbanization causes hybridity – referring to the cultural frisson and mix that is both a resource for a vital creative economy and something in need of an interventionist solution. This smacks of the twin fantasies of exoticization – “ooh, look, cultural differences” – and commodification – “they are differences we can sell”. That the planning and zoning of cities now includes routine acknowledgement of diversity, and embraces institutional forms and supports to mix such diversity with creative industry, is the current benchmark of capitalist development thinking. This thinking has a heritage that reaches back through the past sixty years of social engineering – the examples in this presentation will be the life-world-creative industry mix, showcased in recent so-called “technopolis” projects, such as the MultiMedia Super Corridor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the digital economy redevelopment of Hyderabad, in India.

[German version of my very old piece on MMC in DE:BuG here]

Last Night at the Opera

Opera is cool, I am going to go again – how much is a season ticket? (smirk). Gaddafi – A Living Myth, by Asian Dub Foundation/English National Opera, was terrific, a spectacle, and Ramon Tikaram was great. The piece had a (very) few crap rhymes at some points (juice/loose – Shan Khan wrote the libretto) but impressively for the venue, the genre, the time, there were plenty of sharp significant words said about nefarious covert ops by CIA/USA/RayGun/Thatcher types, which of course everyone will have updated in their heads to read as a critique of Bush/Bliar’s anti-Islam/Oil-terror war. No glorification of “Gaddafi Superstar”, there was some even handed internal critique of both the Libyan leader’s paranoia and expediency (tactical move on the Lockerbie etc) and of compromised moderate Arab puppet governments. At the end a deserved great cheer for the virgin soldier ‘Amazonian Guard’ defence squad that protects the Colonel. And congrats to the ENO and ADF for finding a new angle on the kung-fu/hip-hop nexus that so often appears in this sort of soundscape – those guards had some good moves. But a shame we could not dance in the aisles as the Colisevm is a pretty venue for a drum and bass gig. The music was fine – if politely quiet compared to other ADF fare. Generally a good time was had by all.

– this post is a place holder for a longer discussion that will appear soon. Unfortunately Gaddafi’s last night was last night. Triumphant end, but sadly no foot stomping encore as we could see the orchestra was already packing up their cello’s in the pit. But season tickets for the ENO are worth considering = they did Nixon in China a few months back – I am sorry to say I missed Mao in that one. I’d always thought Opera was for the infirm – oops, I guess I am getting aged and dotty and my pop cult tastes are moving upmarket. OR – as I know it was – is this a total aberration for Opera, and its only the declining economies of such elite forms that force the pace. As evidence, the plethora of snotty negative reviews of this production in the right wing press… Whatever they may moan about, I think its a publicity, artistic, political coup – of gaddafi superstar proportions – its wild adn wacky that ADF have got this up at all. Another addition to their great routines and unending fame – as good as those on Battle of Algiers and La Haine.

Anyway, come back soon for a more coherent response. A bit bleary eyed today after waking up early because John G was catching a flight to Malta – though I am so sorry I failed to make him a coffee before he left… have a good flight … more soon.

Irwin memorial tickets predicted to sell out in minutes

There is a sting in the tail in this report from the Australian Broadcasting Commission:

‘Police expect tickets for Steve Irwin’s public memorial service to be allocated within minutes when they become available this morning at9am AEST.

Hundreds of people have been queuing throughout the night at Ticketek outlets in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and Australia Zoo in south-east Queensland.

There is a four-ticket per person limit on the tickets and a headcount by police has confirmed that all of the tickets at AustraliaZoo have now been accounted for.

Five-and-a-half-thousand tickets are being made available for thepublic farewell that will be held at the Zoo’s Crocoseum next Wednesday.

Jay-Anne Hughes was first in line at Maroochydore’s Ticketek office.

“I wanted to guarantee that we would we were able to go on Wednesdayand I was actually supposed to be having a baked dinner at my mum’shouse, but I saw it on the news that people had started lining up soI missed the baked dinner and shot down here and luckily I was herebefore anyone,” she said.