by Squee in Social Analysis
The purpose of this is to attempt broaching a debate of informal anarchist praxis that focuses on contexts which I lack the terminology to succinctly describe. The problem of terminology arises because the contexts with which I’m concerned are social spaces where numerous identities congregate and loosely compose a vague culture through familiarity and consistency. While there are a variety of terms that approximate a description of these contexts, they are unsuitable. Participants in these spaces vary in terms of race, class, sexuality, religion, and other usual sociological categories. Yet, they don’t come together in anything that could be considered a coherent culture.
One way to describe these spaces is to consider them the buffers, interfaces, and filters between mainstream culture and subculture. They open up at particular hangouts (bars, venues, local eateries, etc.) and appeal to both more isolated, inwardly facing counter-cultures and those exploring cultural regions (and values) slightly outside a mainstream comfort zone. Consequently, these are spaces where counter-cultural individuals come into contact with the mainstream in more relaxed and intimate environments; spaces where individuals with different backgrounds and values become less “othered”/objectified without the social constraints of the workplace, the school, or any other place with narrowly defined purpose.
These hangouts and the proto-cultures which are constituted and expressed through them offer a variety of potential. They are the immediate outside of more coherent subcultures which individuals participate in and where newcomers find avenues into more underground spaces. Conversely, they are also spaces where capitalists constantly attempt to advertise their products and services, attempting to become staple features of them through sponsorship, branding, and other interventions. This itself creates an underlying conflict of values between culture and capital. At the same time, these are also spaces where individuals are often at odds with the State as it acts to regulate noise and rowdiness, set points of surveillance to apprehend intoxicated drivers, and infiltrate undercover to gather intelligence.
For the above reasons and many others, anarchists may often avoid such spaces as much as possible. These spaces are often rampant with sexism, racism, homophobia, fighting, superficial rituals, and general stupidity. The entertainment they offer is usually of a mediocre variety in attempt to appeal to a lowest common denominator of cultural taste and tolerance. Their accessibility is somewhat oriented around consumption, therefore suggesting participants have some money to spare. In all of their flexibility, they are still spaces mostly structured by privately owned local businesses and are accordingly rigid. Though all of the above is true, anarchists don’t simply ignore the existence of these spaces. They are spaces which have become a fixture of contemporary society and if anything, represent a potent model of social life to be critiqued, attacked, embraced, and/or supported. As such, a discussion about these spaces could prove quite useful.
I think this is a topic that almost everyone should be able to have something to say about, which is usually discussed abstractly (and confusingly), and directly pertains to revolutionizing everyday life in one way or another. I invite anyone with an interest in informal anarchist praxis to participate in discussing the features of these spaces in their locality, but also keeping in mind broader regional potentials. Feel free to describe your personal experiences, attempts at organizing, critiques, and other thoughts.
I fucking hated public school with a passion and when I first read A.S. Neill’s Summerhill in Jr. High, there was no longer any doubt in my mind that the school system was an absurdity. This was also the period in my life when I began to learn about anarchism, specifically because anarchists have been pointing out problems with what we know of as schooling for as long as they’ve been writing (and they weren’t the first, as this article demonstrates). I don’t think that the internet and other forms of digital technology make these methods of teaching any more possible than they were in 1911 when anarchists opened up the Modern School, as the article wants to suggest. However, I do think that these technologies create an easily observable example of the basic principals of what may be called anti-authoritarian education, which have been doubted so much in the historical debates surrounding schooling.
The article also points towards some of the reasons why schools take an authoritarian form, but I think there are more factors than the demands of industry and contemporary businesses. The history of compulsory education in the United States goes back to the 17th Century and the methods used, which weren’t terribly different from today, were brought over from England. The Nation State had a lot more to do with it than market interests. By the time industrial capitalism really began to take off in the US, progressives like John Dewey were already spouting theories similar to radicals about education, but were likewise mostly practised as alternative education. The demands of capitalism enter the picture much more-so in the 20th Century, but didn’t have much of an impact on this aspect of schooling.
If you want a really good summary of this history from an anarchist perspective, I highly suggest this: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/matt-hern-the-emergence-of-compulsory-schooling-and-anarchist-resistance
Big surprise, women in the US with a higher sense of entitlement contribute to sexism because they feel like they deserve to be treated like princesses.
With the apparent response to this event, you’d think that Arizona Democrats put a bunch of paper signs on their windows with masking tape …or something. What I find interesting about this as a talking point has more to do with the way in which food stamps wind up funding Wal-Mart and places like it. This is something that I’ve been bringing up for a while: corporations have plenty of self-interest in food stamp programs since so many people (and I don’t know the figures) spend them at those corporations. I think it’s interesting that this argument against food stamps is available for small government, anti-corporate right wing types and yet they want to stop thinking at their petty “poor people are lazy and don’t deserve my hard earned money”. Then again, I don’t think those types would be any happier if small local business and shit got a little fatter from food stamps. Anyway… fuck Wal-Mart, let’s eat.
I really like little life hacks since I don’t usually go about small, everyday tasks in the most rational way… and that’s an understatement. There’s some ones in here that I think are neat. What more could I ask for from this kind of thing?
The first time I ever saw something from Charlie Brooker, it was his hilarious summary of every news report you’ve ever seen on network television. I spent a good while browsing whatever I could find on YouTube (most of which is a bit dated for me to bother posting). Over the past few weeks, I was recently reunited with Brooker’s satirical brilliance with his recent BBC mini-series, Black Mirror. The mini-series is dark, cynical, and sometimes futuristic. It begins in episode 1 with a story called the National Anthem …something I think anyone with a sick sense of humor will enjoy. It’s easy to find a way to watch this episode that suits you, so I won’t spoil it. While the National Anthem sets a precedence for psychological terror, Brooker also comes around to some lighter themes; for instance, in season 2′s Waldo (which is another one I thoroughly enjoyed). While I do have my favorites, I would definitely recommend watching every episode of this sexy show.
This week, Facebook makes it more difficult to keep your shit hidden from other users and Google puts your face on blast in their ads. If you use either of these, this article is worth reading (assuming you even give a shit).
Funding for 2013′s secret intelligence operations is actually down from 2012, but thanks to Snowden we can talk about this with concrete figures. What we also know from Snowden’s leaks is how this funding is used: counter-intelligence, offensive cyber warfare, domestic spying, etc. etc. I can’t say that anything about this news is surprising for me, but it’s worth mentioning that this was the big week when this year’s secret operations’ spending was revealed.
Apparently, the epitome of mid-20th Century Anarchism took a historical turn, rebelling against anarchism’s moral roots in Marxist class analysis and promoting capitalist markets as the utopian vision of stateless society …”anarchy”. For fuck sake! I’m not sure if this is a win or a lose for socalled anarcho-capitalists. It’s certainly a narrative that I’ve heard some anCaps spout in, even if they leave off the end of Forbes’ article which concludes that these ideas are utopian, like all isms. What Forbes does get right to an extent is that anarcho-capitalism is extremely moralistic and academic. What it gets wrong, of course, is almost everything else about anarchism. The article uses some quotes from Malatesta, Proudhon, and Orwell to represent the anti-capitalist version of anarchism as primarily a moral philosophy and a utopian one at that. Quotes which would be obscure to anyone who hasn’t studied their authors’ thoughts about anarchism and not very representative for anyone who has.
While it is interesting that they contrast turn-of-the-century anarchism as one of “the Deed” from anarcho-capitalism since anCaps aren’t exactly known for their direct action, it doesn’t really explain what propaganda by the deed means or how the phrase suggests an anarchist praxis. Even though they quote Proudhon, they still credit Marx for anarchist economic thought and fail to mention that Proudhon was Papa Mutualism. The Orwell quote is probably one of the least interesting things he said about anarchist Catalonia and that may be because they author didn’t finish the book to comprehend even Orwell’s account of what happened in those two years and after with anarchism in Spain. Not to mention that including Ayn Rand’s thoughts on Nietzsche is worth a thousand face-palms in an article about the moral grounds and failures of anarchist thought.
While Forbes certainly didn’t make any new anarchist friends with this article, it may have at least annoyed a few anCaps.
CrimethInc returns to their Situationist-inspired roots with an up-to-date critique of their own former radical projects and the radical projects of others today. There are so many quote-worthy nuggets in this piece that a third of the way through it, I stopped taking notes as the rapidity of direct hits continued on through the rest of it. For anyone that gave up on CrimethInc because of their early manifestation as oogles (or whatever), this isn’t the first piece that could have set you straight, but it is a good one.
My opinion about this is about as dry and calloused as the title I chose for the link would suggest. Among some of the other works mentioned in the article, Pretend You’re Actually Alive takes center stage with the photographer’s images of his own mother having sex, pretending to be a corpse, and talking about ageing. That’s nice, it seems like an extensive effort to publicly broach the topic of parent-child openness concerning sexuality though. Towards the end of the article, another one of Leigh Ledare’s series is mentioned which also taps into feelings of discomfort that develop through sexual relationships. In the latter, Ledare asks his ex-wife’s new husband to photograph himself having sex with his ex-wife in the same location that Ledare earlier photographed himself doing the same thing while him and his ex were still married. All I can say is that I wouldn’t want to know Leigh Ledare personally and become a potential subject for some other public exploration of sexual uneasiness.
Fuck the Police, All Cops Are Bastards …but if you weren’t yet convinced, here’s a story about cops targeting disabled students in multiple drug busts.
Every week I see new stories of police doing something terrible, stupid, terribly stupid, or worse. This is no exception, except that it’s easy to passively consume this story just by watching the videos included in the article.
An animated musical made by members of Green Day, Blink 182, Rancid, and AFI about the Manson Family, how can you resist? This is one of those movies that are considered a classic in my absurd cannon. I didn’t watch it for the first time this week, but I did get really excited to play some of the songs from this movie for friends. The entire thing is available on YouTube (direct link above). After watching it, you’ll know what I mean when I say “I’m not a Hippy, I’m a Slippy”.
“Jesus Christ is a fabricated cover story for an Imperial psychological warfare operation born out of the First Jewish-Roman War in the first century.” - http://www.covertmessiah.com/
On October 19th, Joseph Atwill will be showing his documentary and talking to the British public about the extent to which claims are true of ancient Roman’s having invented Jesus Christ …entirely. The basic thesis is that the story of Jesus Christ was an invention of first century Roman elites, who in having run into tactical problems crushing Jewish insurrections in Rome, decided to rely on a psychological approach. Supposedly at this talk, Atwill is going to present confessions made in the first century in regards to the invention of Christ. Unable to watch the documentary myself, I can’t give much of an overview of what the facts are that Atwill depends on to evidence the specificity of his claims. Although, generally I don’t think it is so far-fetched a notion that Jesus Christ is exactly what many people have thought him to be …a political tool used for social control. I will definitely be following how this story unfolds and hoping to not be disappointed by the quality of the research.
(One of the fictional representations of an INTP)
This week I attempted to field the opinions of a comrade of mine about personality theories, specifically Myers-Briggs, which is based on C.G. Jung’s cognitive functions and archetypes. Although it wasn’t much of a debate, my comrade’s opinion in my words (after what I can only imagine was a short exploration) was that like astrology and other such bullshit, the Myers-Briggs is worthless pseudo-science and fundamentally flawed because of the Forer Effect. While I especially agree because the MBTI is often administered on the internet and verified only by the test subjects, I had already invested enough energy into studying this system to mine it for anything useful.
Before getting to Myers-Briggs, personality theory in its entirety doesn’t have the most solid basis. Whether someone is considering psychological type theories or psychological trait theories (the two main forms personality theory takes), the best they seem able to conclude is that an individual has tendencies or preferences towards the use of certain behaviors that in concert may or may not closely match predefined types. At their worst, type theories will come right out of someone’s ass (which can be seen in abundance with New Age literature, Astrology, and novelty tests taken on the internet or in teen magazines) and trait theory can describe traits which hardly have any universal ground in human behavior. Of the better examples of personality tests there is the Big Five, the MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), and the TAT (Thematic Apperception Test), none of which I will be covering for numerous reasons.
Like even the most superficial and astoundingly absurd personality tests, it’s easy to find an abundance of true believers on the internet. Unlike many of those tests, the MBTI is often used as a professional tool for career advisement and other forms of counseling (even though the 1991 National Academy of Sciences committee concluded at the time there was “not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of the MBTI in career counseling programs”). Based on testing subjects for strengths in 8 different cognitive functions, it offers an array of 16 personality types …only one of which represents the best fit for anyone, everywhere, for their entire life. These cognitive functions are divided into four dichotomies, each of which concludes a dominant functional use of introversion/extroversion, intuition/sensing, thinking/feeling, and perceiving/judging. Although all eight of these terms have specific definitions, they are meant to be understood in combinations (such as Extroverted-Sensing and Introverted-Feeling) which are difference in predominant use for each type. Fundamentally, there is good reason to believe that these cognitive functions exist and can be understood in this way; but, accuracy in testing how much and to what extent someone uses them is low for the MBTI (except on the introversion-extroversion scale) and it is questionable to what extent they can be understood dichotomously.
Another consistent problem for the MBTI has been that around 39-76% of the time people re-test, they are assigned a different personality type. This has been true for me over the years, having most consistently been assigned INTP (which apparently has a high correlation with the DSM’s schizotypal personality disorder – lol), but also at times having been assigned INFP, INTJ, and others. So far, it’s looking pretty shitty for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. From personal experience I can tell you that when I was assigned different types, there have been very specific context-related reasons for why I would have been giving answers these other types give. This criticism is often countered with MBTI-supporters saying that anyone can use any cognitive function, but more considerate testing and verification would show that I have always been one type and that when I obtained different results it was because at the time I had a reason to be using those other functions more. It’s a nice surface-level retort, but I probably wouldn’t have been in those contexts mentally, emotionally, or circumstantially to begin with if I was really at bottom one type for always and ever.
Some of the few things that have been interesting in studying Myers-Briggs are that the statistical distribution of types in the population seems to be consistent, the cognitive functions themselves and how they relate to behavior is informative, and some social dynamics which are talked about when various types interact (or people with preferences for various cognitive traits) might be useful. In the online forums, I noticed that I did have a lot in common with those of my type or close to my type which I didn’t share with those who were further from my type. Even though there are 16 individual types, they correlate with the 4 temperaments of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational which has its own interesting history) and it seems to me like this more general categorization has shown the most broad behavioral distinctions. The most I can say that I’ve be able to use from studying this has been the correlations between cognitive functions and various forms of behavior (which isn’t specific to Myers-Briggs). Admitted and despite my apprehensions, if someone were to ask me how well a description of my usual MBTI type represents me, I would have to say more accurately and better than anyone or anything else’s has before (except my own, which this has nothing on).
Conclusion: pretty much unfounded, only somewhat useful, and only sometimes meaningfully descriptive.
Some Works of Impenetrable Beauty
A friend of mine posted a link to the Codex Seraphinianus, which is the work of an Italian architect, illustrator and industrial designer from the 1970′s. Though I love the images and the use of an untranslatable script, I couldn’t quite remember where I had seen something like this before. Then while reviewing the blog I was looking at, I remembered that I had heard about the Voynich Manuscript from watching one of those ancient aliens guys talking about it as some kind of mysterious artefact that somehow suggested extra-terrestrial life. I don’t even want to get into criticisms of the ancient aliens show, considerations of DNA scientists recently discovered in the Earth’s atmosphere that they’re almost certain is extra-terrestrial, or proposals that human DNA has ET connections. What I do want to do though is show you these two pretty picture books!
[Reason for Lack of Content Today: I have had shit to do and haven't been reading as much... that's why]
A lake that turns living creatures to stone? I’m in love!
Natron is both the name of a lake and the naturally occurring mineral after which the lake is named. Animals immersed in a solution of it will die and become calcified (with a few rare exceptions).
I’ve gotten myself off in some pretty unsexy places, but it’d really take a kinky mood for me to even try to pull this off. Congrats to Get Shot! for making something of a statement …or at least for their heroics in marketing, as this mostly seems to have the effect of being an advertisement for their porn site. Apparently, they are the first band on Earth to start a porn site, so they say… and I don’t doubt them. To point out the obvious, I’m sure as with Suicide Girls and God’s Girls, it’s pretty heteronormative and arguably sexist material. As for pranks that the Westboro Baptist Church has faced, there’s been some other goodies from Bash Back! (only one of which is the first video on the site) and Russell Brand. I feel like Westboro Baptist Church is a dead horse by now …which means flog the fucking thing until its remains are barely recognizable. Fuck them.
At the beginning of the week, the FBI used its delete key on piece of shit Ross Ulbricht and the site Silk Road. On Thursday, the State indicted 13 comrades for alleged participation in Anonymous’ Operation Pay-Back: a retaliatory effort to slap the government for trying to delete the Pirate Bay. As has been the misfortune of many radicals and resistors, the State is using its gruesome grand jury process for prosecution and of course, to see who will crack and rat out other participants in Anonymous-related direct actions. If you don’t know what a grand jury means, you can find out all about them here. Good luck to those who will probably be called the [something] 13.
This Guardian piece is a pretty good overview of the battle which has been taking place between the NSA and everyone who uses TOR for whatever reason. The bad news is that the NSA has been able to take advantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of Mozilla Firefox and theoretical methods for de-anonymizing TOR users have been presented in secret NSA documents. The good news is that newer versions of Firefox are not vulnerable to these NSA attacks and TOR itself is pretty fucking resilient. Something interesting that the piece touches on is the conflicting interests of the State in maintaining the security of TOR.
In Phantom Phone Vibrations: So Common They’ve Changed Our Brains?, Dr. Larry Rosen’s thought-crumbs are briefly featured midst even more inane quotes and links about the psychological impact of mobile phones (such as a lady who mistakes cow moos for her phone and a research paper that concludes its subjects don’t need treatment for phantom phone vibrations). Feeling burned, I wanted to at least explore the topic a little more by checking out what Dr. Rosen has to say …beyond almost nothing. I visited his website and navigated over to the media section to watch his interview.
From this interview, it seems like Rosen’s main area of interest is in the way which different generations and technologies relate; a conversation topic which frequently comes up for me. While the generations are categorized by Dr. Rosen into a number of groups (the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Net Generation, the iGeneration, and Generation C), he also relies on a binary split between so-called “Digital Immigrants” and “Digital Natives”. This distinction comes into play with Generation X, after which people who are born are no longer migrating into a foreign world of digital technologies, but are native to . Comparing a Digital Immigrant with a Digital Native can be quite dramatic, with Baby Boomers struggling to keep up with 8 year old computer consultants and 9 year old smartphone application developers. Since it is these younger generations of Digital Natives that are mysterious and fascinating, explaining the extent to which these technologies shape their communication skills, daily routines, learning methods, and working habits becomes the focus of the interview.
What Dr. Rosen finds is that Digital Natives are more creative, switch between tasks more often and may be better at it than Digital Immigrants, face problems comprehending the impact of context while communicating, rely on text messages and social networking sites more than e-mail and phones, and lose sleep to mid-slumber conversations. This lays the groundwork for the advice Rosen later has for the Digital Immigrants that are parents and teachers. He also briefly mentions that digital technologies are making us all look like candidates for ADD, OCD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Voyeurism, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Facebook Depression Disorder. <-lol
Ok, so what this guy is saying isn’t surprising or too controversial. If you’ve ever interacted with someone under 30, you’ve probably noticed most of this. Being on the cusp of generational transitions in a number of systems (born in 1985), what interests me the most about this is exploring the details of different rule-sets I’ve learned to rely on if someone is older or younger than me. It’s a frustrating position. The Digital Immigrant in me is nostalgic for using landlines and payphones to orchestrate outdoor meet-ups, while the Digital Native in me can’t stand being on a telephone call for very long, hates the organization of work by older generations, and yet doesn’t intuitively understand the sorts of context-recognition issues that come with growing up immersed in digital communications. It’s a very strange mish-mosh of traits from both sides of the generational split.
In local surveillance state news, Down and Drought has busted out another one of their top-notch pieces. This time, we get to read all about recent practices and technologies used by the Phoenix Police Department at a college football game and how this ties in with broader campaigns of state repression in the area. You wouldn’t know from the material I’ve included so far in Indigestion, but local anarchists have been doing an excellent job of exposing the police state here and maintaining a fresh analysis of ongoing struggles. A lot of this can be seen from references to past events in this current Down and Drought article, as well by checking out some of the other articles and resources on their site.
…Just a break for some more the Onion lolz leading into…
Well here we fucking have it, the question of all questions about US geo-political power: Who would win in a fight, the United States or the Rest of the World? The military expert’s short answer, “The combined military air- and sealift capability of the rest of the world would be insufficient to even get a foothold on the continental United States.” As for taking up a revolutionary position in the United States with this as the global last word scenario, it’s a grim picture. Though, revolution and even asymmetrical warfare are a lot different than this frontal battle type of hypothetical. And even that aside, I don’t think that the futility of a revolution in this country makes anarchist positions futile. If you can’t beat em then join em logic is horse shit. But I’ve digressed, military expert has a reasonable way of explaining the problems with anyone and everyone conquering the United States, which I thought was worth my five minutes.
$2,800 every month?! Fucking hell that’s more than I’ve ever made at a full time job. That’s actually almost three times what I usually make if I’m lucky enough to get 40 hours of paid labor. Ok… ok, well good for them. Let me go and unclog my motivation from the toilet now.
Steve Lambert is spot on when he demonstrates the problem of talking about capitalism by saying that it is like walking up to someone and asking if you could have a conversation with them about the Lord, Jesus Christ. His current project gets around some of these problems by making the question personal with a giant sign he is touring around with that reads “Capitalism works for me!”. Local passers-by step up and push a true or false button, adding a point to either side of what looks like a score board. It’s actually a little more involved than you would think without hearing Lambert talk about his project (for example, in one of the videos on his site). Check out his introductory lecture and some of the interviews… see if he’ll be in your town!
This is the first digest in what I plan to continue as an ongoing project. I’m not sure how frequently I’m going to do these because some of this is more interesting the earlier it is read, but I’m considering a weekly if not bi-weekly release. My thoughts are that instead of passively consuming and then sharing this media on Facebook, with the exception of a comment about them here and there, I’m going to accumulate these things I read and watch and make an effort to write something more substantial in response. Admittedly, the point of me doing this is to get myself back into the habit of writing more frequently and about more contemporary and relevant issues. I don’t have any real expectations from this project except for the latter affect on my own daily life rituals.
I often like what I see on the Onion and this is no exception. I don’t want to ruin a joke by analysing it, so I’m just going to let a bit of man complaining drift into this next piece…
The audience targeting in this is so damn goofy that my conclusion is …I like this article and I don’t. Let’s start with this second paragraph:
“You’re a straight monogamous cismale who identifies as a leftie. Maybe you’re a Marxist or a socialist; maybe you’re an anarchist. You respect women. You would never act like a player. You fall in love with strong, smart, feminist women. You believe that our movements are stronger if they include everyone.”
I almost stopped reading there as a queer, almost monogamousish sort-of person, who could sometimes be thought of as not cismale, and who is anti-Left or post-Left or something like that. But ok, that’s me and I’m sure there are plenty of these types the author is aiming at who for some reason have shit interpersonal relationship skills. This article is more-so advice for just about anyone and with the emphasis on hooking up, this may not be the sort of advice someone is looking for when they think of dating tips (there’s less talk of on-date etiquette and more talk about what to do before, during, and after having sex). There’s some good don’t be a fucking dick tips which some people may need to hear every so often, even if they’re not the target audience or even that much of a dick. So when it comes to elaborating on exactly what being a dick means, this is definitely a good reference. There is some other issues I have, for instance my individualism and values for mutuality and solidarity aren’t a contradiction, contra #11. I also have problems with #16, considering that behaviours of “retreat[ing] into your head or use[ing] logic to disconnect from empathy when you find emotions coming your way” is more than just an effect of sexism …and it’s fucking ablist to tell someone who isn’t neuro-typical with emotions that it is. Then again, the author might as well just add neuro-typical to that list in the second paragraph. Aside from that a lot of what bugs me is word choice and the main concerns of the piece come through fine.
A nice example of parenting from the father of a Days N Daze member …or at least that is what I was told with the article’s posting since it doesn’t actually mention what band this guy’s talking about.
I can relate to this article in my own way because I was brought up by parents with a very similar attitude about my creative projects and lifestyle. Just as much, I often overheard my folks putting what I was doing in the language of business or in some way justifying to their friends what they were letting me do in supposedly adult terms. I know I didn’t think about what I was doing in that way and I have no idea if this band does because really, I haven’t listened to them much. But, I’ve had friends who have faced some nasty consequences from their parents in their struggle to basically just live a different lifestyle. In their perspective, any labor (creative, social, etc.) that has come with surviving with different values was seen more as a compromise than the pursuit of a profession and a good amount of “fuck work” masked the actual work this article points out. Either way, go Dad.
First of all, some of the responses I’ve seen to this have come from the naive perspective that Silk Road is the terrorist go to hotspot on the dark web. I’m not sure how anyone could get this idea if they’re already familiar with TOR routed websites, and if you aren’t I’d suggest this decent overview from GeekBlog’s YouTube. That being said, boohoo for almost a million people who were getting their thrills and chills from Silk Road …and even more boohoo for all the agorists, free market fundamentalists, black market enthusiasts, bitcoin utopians, or in other words white, middle-class economics geeks with scorn for history. Most of the tears will be coming from Ross Ulbricht, though. The man supposedly behind the Silk Road owner account Dread Pirate Roberts, who allegedly succeeded in two BitCoin-operated hired assassinations, like any good ancap says shit like this: “Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind … I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.” Apparently a world without the systemic use of force is a world with… oh, a world which uses systems of coercion and force paid for in digital currencies. But at least everything could be a legitimate commodity in that world, right?
In other capitalist apologizer news, the Occupy Money Cooperative is making headway on its plans to digitize your currency with comrade Deutsche Bank and ally Visa. I agree with the point at the end of this article that since Occupy is a consensus-based movement an approved cooperative, spoke, or whatever shouldn’t use the Occupy brand. If some Occupy-associated group wants to compete in the financial instrument markets then as I’d argue for anarchist groups associated with the Occupy Movement, they don’t need approval to do so. Overall, the Occupy Money Cooperative can go fuck itself and I don’t consent (in the fantasy that is now Occupy) to their association to begin with.
For further insight and critique of the scum bags that are the Occupy Money Cooperative, I’ll leave you to check out Suzahn Ebrahimian’s article which carries a similar perspective nicely.
I take it as a given that ‘sell-by’ dates are useless, but I never realized exactly how incoherent these systems are and food waste is one of those stastical figures that doesn’t stick in my brains.
There’s no question that food waste is a problem both from grocers and from restaurants. This issue has bothered me since I heard someone compare how many people go hungry nationally and globally with the insane amount of food that is thrown out in the US …and that’s before thinking about how much food would be saved from a more reasonable diet and the real impact vegetarianism has the more people adopt it (even though I don’t). Granted, the issue with ‘sell-by’ dates is a problem that I’ve benefited from in a huge way from dumpstering and the same can be said for plenty of people I know. I am pretty sure though that I would prefer to live in a community that does not produce so much food for the bins in the first place.
Alex Jones… sucks. You can read this article if you want some specific data which demonstrates the extent to which he sucks, but you probably already know that this guy sucks. The article itself is, not bad. I don’t find its main argument very useful – which is that Alex Jones disrupts the spread of credible research and he might as well be a CIA operative carrying out COINTELPRO – for the most part because I think that’s an obnoxious argument that gets tossed about whenever someone thinks they are entitled to more attention for their research. I’ve known plenty of idiots that are Alex Jones fans who are impossible to convince of Jones’ bullshit; but, I’m positive that those same people would latch onto some other hokey garbage if Jones wasn’t around. What’s interesting to me is how much this dip-shit lies. I can verify for myself several things he’s lied about (every black bloc and riot being a false flag) and much of his commentary is clearly looney tunes. But, some of the things in this article show that Alex Jones isn’t just in the wing-nut camp, he’s intentionally deceptive. Even in his somewhat well-known documentation of the Bohemian Grove’s Cremation of Care ceremony, his sensationalizing goes beyond mere hype and into straight-up deception: the mother fucker was invited to it and snuck in without any fear of consequences.
Come… QUICK! Somebody just put sticky notes on the principle’s door! “Pssst” whispers one teacher to another, “I heard it was actually student council members.”
Nope, just a bunch of liberals letting off some steam; or, more like unrolling some masking tape.
When economics tries to be doom and gloomy, it’s still some pretty dry shit. Instead of posting something about the government shutdown though, I wanted to put some focus on this. I’m not going to bother summarizing this one since I read it to learn more which also is to say that I probably couldn’t perform much of a critique (or even a summary). But there you go! That does it for the first half of the week.
Are you a Sexy Super-Geek? We need you to lead the Resistance!
Once again, capitalism needs MORE GEEKS …and as always, Hollywood is here to build the prototype. There is a history to this trend. The movie Hackers came out in 1995, shortly before venture capitalists started frothing at the mouth causing the Dot-com bubble to grow. A decade earlier, and the nerd/geek archetype was whipped out in Revenge of the Nerds with the boom of the computer industry. Now with the controversial crises in qualified geeks (the STEM crisis), there has been no short supply of sexy scientists and hackers, adorable IT professionals, and hero worship of computer industry giants like Steve Jobs. The world is filling up with Brogrammers and fetishized female gamers.
But the economy really doesn’t matter to the powers that be. What is really happening which requires such a daring attempt to make geeky so sexy?
Just when you thought that organic trends, paleo diets, and the health food craze meant middle-class Americans wanted to get back to mother nature, here we are now in a world of Geek Heroes vs. Geek Villains, and the distinctions between the two aren’t very clear. Whose side are you on, Bill Gates or Jeremy Hammond? Are you an on the right wing or the left wing of intellectual property law? Certainly, you’ve heard of BitCoin! What do you mean you don’t have a smart phone?
Survival books aren’t about nature at all anymore. Now, they include a primer on cyber-spying, counter-insurgency, whistle-blowing, and 10 chapters on how to potentially protect yourself from the NSA (or the neighborhood peeping cyber-Tom). With the developments in brain-to-brain technology, google glasses, creating and deleting organic memories, and an endless list of sci-fi wet dreams come true, it’s hard to deny that ‘human’ is a useful distinction (not compared with other animals, but compared with machines). I’m not so far in the camp of tech paranoids that this is causing me nightmares or anything, just enough to admit that yes… the machines are winning.
Or are they?
Take me to your leader!
The real news, folks, is that the aliens are using Hollywood to find the best leaders to save humanity from the inevitable machine take-over. Or are the machines really alien technology that are being promoted by extra terrestrials through the sexy Nerd/Geeks, as evidenced by ancient alien technology and the difficulty in imagining that this modern tech is a human invention? Maybe it’s two or more species of extra-terrestrials with different plans based on different galactic interests in the future of Earth and the human species? MAYBE THE EARTH IS AN ALIEN THAT WANTS THE MAChINES TO WIN BECAUSE HuMANS HAVE PROVEN TO BE NONREDEEMABLE FAILURES!
…Fuck it. Let’s just get going on this Mars thing and let Earth problems take a piss.
When I read intellectual debates on the internet, I tend to see very problematic presumptions in, incoherence, contradition, and a lot of people talking past each other. A lot of this could be avoided by using a simple guideline for articulating the features of someone’s position, which I’ll describe below. While I don’t recommend that for every debate on the internet, each participant begins with such a broad description of the philosophical positions they take in these areas. But, when the debate comes to a point of intense involvement, it is at that point which I think something like this is extremely useful. Also, as a tool for developing and assessing one’s own personal philosophy.
As anyone who has taken the most introductory class in philosophy presumably knows, philosophy is often divided into a variety of categories which deal with matters from distinct angles: metaphysics, psychology, epistemology, aesthetics, politics, ethics, pedagogy, etc. While there isn’t a strict hierarchy among these categories and their boundaries are permeable, depending on what type of argument is being made, certain things must be presumed logically about more fundamental issues. For example, if I were to make the argument to support an ethical statement about government and liberty, such as “It is unethical for governments to impose on the right of its citizens to bare arms”, the ethical question only really makes sense if we have some idea what liberty means, what the role of government is, what a citizen is, the capacities and limitations of human beings, whether or not God determines the course of human life, and such which create a reason to even ask this question in the first place with any import. So to really unpack and explore what may seem like a simple question of ethics, there is a lot of theoretical groundwork which should support and not contradict the statement. On the other hand, if someone were to make a metaphysical claim such as “nothingness is really a type of somethingness” they don’t need to cohere with any ethics, politics, psychology, or other categories which follow metaphysical conclusions.
While some of these categories depend on conclusions from others and some don’t, often they influence each other. The way in which someone understands the psyche (psychology) and knowledge and truth (epistemology) will influence their metaphysical positions. So when talking about metaphysical questions, there is always the problems of how any claim to truth can be made, if there is any truth to begin with. The spiraling logical arguments which come out of this conundrum when talking about metaphysics and epistemology is an annoying, but necessary part of doing philosophy. When more and more conclusions are drawn about psychology, this also has an impact on former metaphysical and epistemological conclusions. What doesn’t happen though is the fleshing out of an epistemology or a psychology from metaphysical conclusions alone. Those two categories of questions and answers requires their own considerations which depend on metaphysics but aren’t sufficiently answered by metaphysics. Sometimes people attempt to use metaphysics (and physics) to make an argument for something social, such as “everything is in a state of homeostasis, therefor it is psychologically healthy to give gifts often”. The problem with statements like that (and others which glide over fundamental categories) is that everything being in a state of homeostasis, true or not, says absolutely nothing about the nature of the psyche and what consequences are the result of such-and-such behaviors.
Below is an ordered list of some philosophical categories, the next categories conclusions depending on the former categories conclusions:
- metaphysics (physics, biology, evolution, ontology, phenomenology, theology)
- psychology and epistemology (post-structuralism, existentialism, skepticism, behaviorism, divination)
- aesthetics (crafts, arts, applied sciences, technique, technology, style)
- ethics and politics (activism, war, friendship, ingroup-outgroup relations, international policy)
- pedagogy (learning, education, schooling, curricular design)
It may seem curious that aesthetics follows from psychology and epistemology, preceding ethics and politics. I could go into a detailed explanation for why I’ve positioned it there, but I hope that the subject matter in parenthesis will go some way of explaining the logic. The list follows a logic of questions beginning with “what is all of this?”, “what is thought, perception, knowledge, truth?”, “what is there to do, individually with the former conclusions?”, “in applying those conclusions as an aesthetics, what ethical limits do I want to place on my practices and what social position, enemies, friends …conflicts are the result of this practice?”, “how should I treat the next generation, what is both in their interests and in my own, and to what extent am I to impart my conclusions unto them?”.
This is what makes taking philosophy seriously a lot of work, but the consequences of that work, I believe, are invaluable. To be able to evaluate your own actions and make decisions on the grounds of your own conclusions, to have confidence in knowing what is in your interests and what serves those interests, to move through life with a rich and coherent perspective, etc. It is tempting to take short-cuts, by which I mean using some form of psychic manipulation to experience the emotions one wants (drugs, self-hypnosis, “faith”) or rely on the non-conclusiveness of God’s will or some other prefabrication.
…k well that was fun for a minute, but I just bored the hell out of myself.
+inspired by watching this comedian Louis C. k. (Louie S02E09)+
I went through a long phase being stuck on the significance of the fact that a human life is one of interdependence. There’s a lot of angles to come at the topic from in support or critique of the premise and in either case, a lot of them are bullshit. A lot of them are idealistic, romantic rationalizations in support of some ideology or another. That we’re dependant because we’re meant to serve some otherworldly cause or we are these fabulously independent beings of creativity only bound by this or that misfortune or historical fact. Some crap cherry picked naturalism or physics woo-woo- I settled on a pretty basic argument… Let’s call it the love argument.
The love argument for fundamental interdependence
OK so love is also sort of this bullshit convoluted, ambiguous nonsense concept everyone fucks around with. I’m not going to play with it in this way and I’ll let the word just be a bandage for the wide open wound of a variety of emotions, neurotransmitters, modes of relating, order of value, etc. It’s an easy word to summarize the following argument. The argument that human life is unbearable without some sort of demand by others that you, individually and specifically, continue to live.
This isn’t pretty. Love, sex, the whole circus of supposedly beautiful interactions with others is nasty, inconvenient, and ugly when you aren’t in the mood for it. When you aren’t in the mood for it, even though for the most part your life has been constructed towards such goals. As Zizek goes on about the violence of love, with whom I agree, love is nevertheless what sustains the motivation to live.
Human beings want love and they want to be sure that claims to love are authentic. If not from people because they’re too much of a headache, then the love of a practice …a labor of some sort that demands their personal efforts to realize some product. A product as knowledge, as art, as something that demands, DEMANDS them uniquely. As for people, they can’t be trusted. The entirety of courting, dating, self-improvement, fashions, subcultures… all that shit serves to both distinguish me or you from others and to ensure that as this distinguished identity with its preferences and skills is loved and that love from someone else couldn’t just be given to anything, towards any object devoid of personality and compatibility. I can’t trust your love, therefore I will severely test it to grasp its destinations.
So this makes us practically, but not absolutely interdependent. We can be hermits, we can seek Truth in some tacky natural environment, we can be self-serving economic units consuming fast food and genitals with the same degree of need. But practically, most of us would not only be shit out of luck on the survival end without other people, but ultimately lost and suicidal without the search for or maintenance of loving relationships. Practically, we give, we suffer, we do all sorts of crazy things distinguishing ourselves and sustaining the lives of loved ones, looking for other loved ones. We can’t satiate this urge alone, by ourselves. We can’t meaningfully DEMAND our own existence. We want to be wanted. Even when many demand we continue to live when living flat out is more painful than it seems to be worth, when we no longer demand survival from ourselves at all …we can be moved to live a rewarding life from their demands. When we reject this approach to meaning, we are forced to choose suicide, the love of pleasurable stimuli, or one of these heroic life quests and still the want to be wanted sneaks in.
Alright so that was my conclusion a long time ago, it still is. It is the first move I make towards any kind of politics. I don’t like it. It’s unappealing to me on many levels. It makes me think I lack the imagination to find my grounds for existence somewhere outside the mess that is social life. But there it I is, it’s there. Inevitably it’s what I come back to, what drives me, what demands me …personally, uniquely, in my own way.
by Squee in Social Analysis
I can’t count how many times I’ve participated in or been a party to conversations concerning the use of politically incorrect language …mostly, because I haven’t tried to keep track. There’s numerous versions of this conversation: gender pronouns, sexist and homophobic slurs, occupy vs. decolonization, etc. I think it goes without saying that with respect comes concern about the affect of our language. I am not going to make an argument that people shouldn’t be offended or react when they hear something they don’t like, that degrades them or makes their struggles invisible. What I am going to address here is the bigger picture and the bigger problem: identity.
Rather than concluding that identity politics is the problem, my conclusion is that attempting to edit someone’s speech is problematic because it is confronting the issue at the tail end of identity …at the expression of group identifications which organize the perspectives of the speakers. It isn’t just one word or a few words that are shitty and should somehow be removed from the vocabulary of the speaker; as if the speaker is some sort of indefinite blob with the same sort of access to language that a computer has to a dictionary. No, the speaker has an entire character that words are only a part of in an assembly of mannerisms, values, affinities, style, and taste. The speaker is constantly consuming cultural artifacts, affirming their identity to themselves, acting in a world of social war. Interrupting and silencing their expression will likely be a temporary fix which won’t change much, at least compared to a deeper engagement with their identity and embarking on a process with them to slowly make shifts that will eventually lead to different word choices and stronger affiliations.
Let’s take Todd Fuck as our example. Todd Fuck is 20-something and listens to a lot of music that regularly gives birth to some brilliant phrases, like “no homo”. Todd Fuck saves his money to go see those musicians perform, feels most comfortable in dressed in a certain style which may suggest such taste, has conversations with people with an recognizably distinct subcultural flavor, and when he is out of his element and says something naughty …there is either silence or an attempt to reprimand him. The moment that Todd Fuck is back in his element, he is back to his old culturally offensive self.
How much punishment would it take to get Todd to entirely stop using the language which has been pissing people off? If that is even a realizable potential. Telling him not to say some shit around you is good for you, but what about the entire underlying structure which guides his acts of speech to begin with? Will Todd want to change the cultural affinities which continue to reproduce that structure? Maybe eventually …after coming to see himself in a different way, a way in which he can’t really think of himself as a member in that subculture. Perhaps Todd Fuck just needs to be shown some better music, some more interesting people, and some better sexual prospects. Shit, perhaps all it will take is a good partner! The point is though that Todd doesn’t need just a few dabs of speech correction to be less offensive and I don’t think anyone really believes that if Todd never says some words again, he’s a newly, more respectable comrade. At the least, the ideal Comrade Todd has the same tastes in many ways, but struggles against the grains of stupidity with-in the subculture. Todd Fuck might grow up into a decent Comrade Todd without any interventions, but if an issue is going to be made of the way this Fuck relates to others, then be real about it and figure out where he’s gotten this shit from and how the social norms he is conforming to can be targeted.
So to be clear, I’m not suggesting that teaching someone about patriarchy, white skin privilege, class war, ability, or any of these other broad theories will be adequate …even though they’re worth learning about. I’m suggesting that the specific manifestation of such things in the actual groups people participate in is the next step in such an analysis and that a more cultural approach could be a more sufficient solution. I also don’t necessarily think that this is something easy to change or a process that someone will always be willing to participate in. But the little incisions into speech that I’ve seen people attempt in their social circles just doesn’t seem to work well, if at all. That it’s fine to have standards of what is appropriate language at an anarchist meeting (or whatever), but when it comes to changing this kind of thing outside of those spaces, it is going to take some more personalization and patience.
**This was supposed to come out on an episode of Inconsiderate (audio) so it is written to be heard, not so much read**
Thanatos, the death urge. This is the morbid, subconscious fear of non-death which psychoanalysts
attribute many of our fantasies to. Culture is filled with variations of this fear: purgatory, the nowhere of the Twilight Zone or Lost, vampires, zombies, curses of eternal life. We are haunted by the non-entities from the nowhere places of non-death. And in order to ward them off, we have invented numerous devices. We’ve
reinforced coffins or have installed alarm systems should the dead rise. We’ve conducted regular ceremonies
to appease our dead relatives. We have even come to deify those who have come back from the underworld not
only unscathed, but triumphantly. And then there’s psychics, dream analysits, shamans, and priests …our
What is it that they want us to remember throughout the day? To be Good! So that the other world lets us
sleep. In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche mocks moralists for their preoccupation with sleeping well and
the rituals they prescribe towards that end. And for as vague as Zarathustra can be, he’s not the only one that
has made the connections between morality, stress, internal dialogue, and sleep. Plenty of people have taken
dreams – and especially nightmares – quite seriously. Even our lauded psychiatrists recognize a symptom of
disease in restlessness and terrifying fantasies.
It’s one thing to expect from mystics and idealists that they would give dreaming such lofty ontological
significance. Anything ephemeral is going to be important in a system of thought where material reality is
driven by these spiritual forces. But even the scientist of adjustment and common good will hold your dreams
against you from a sort of corrupted ethics. From the knowledge that the anxieties which keep us awake at
night often relate to social norms we’ve internalized or figures of authority we’re coerced to obey, their
solution is often also a call to conformity. Morality …everywhere.
For them, anything is better than atheism …the moralist doesn’t want “anarchy”! If someone is missing
their Stirnerian spooks, both the office of religion and the office of health will see to it that some spook finds them again. Studies find that religion can help with all sorts of psychological disorder …it may even be the only hope for the dreaded psychopath. The message is simple: the damn crazies need some sort of authority and if it can’t be internalized as a god or a super-ego, it must be applied externally with institutional force. Someone’s gotta get their sleep…
The funny thing about all of this is that these problems are what sleep deals with to begin with. There are two dream states: REM and nREM. The most contemporary studies of what our brains are using these states for show that one state deals with solving practical problems (such as learning a new skill) while the other state deals with solving emotional problems (such as how to resolve anxiety and stress related to a relative or lover). Living up to moral principals may deal with conflicts which emerge from having already adopted those principals, but it doesn’t deal with the problem of having those moral principals in the first place. People like simple and effective rules to live by and that is fine, but there’s a lot to be said for solving problems in this world instead of creating new problems in an other world to solve. I would rather have a difficult time sleeping because I’m trying to figure out how to make my life better in this society than have a difficult time sleeping because I’m trying to figure out how to make my afterlife better in a society of phantoms. Even worse, sleep well because I’m faithful and gullible enough to believe that I have already ensured a wonderful afterlife for myself.
I’m sure that there is plenty of money to be made peddling pseudoscientific narcotics, obsessive spiritual mantras, and entertaining stage performances where I would read the cold corpse of your mama …but, sleep is for the dead.
Some time ago I found myself swooning over an anarchist man that I don’t know. It was purely aesthetic: the way his neck hair almost blended in with the hair from his chin, his heart warming hugs, the glint in his eyes as we talked about the latest dramas of Bay Area anarchist politics. I felt an urge to just let it all out …right there. Just fucking stop shaving for once, wipe my hands on my pants, and get my musk on. He wasn’t a frat boy, but he was an manarchist …and I was inspired.
No, I don’t mean that he was a sexist anarchist. I mean that in any other mood and from any other angle, from mere first impressions I would assume that because he was so unabashedly flaunting his masculinity he must be a piece of shit. At least, where I’m from, what he was …was masculine. You see I grew up in a family that differentiates boy from man, and man from mensch. That frat boy shit is the arrogant phase a man goes through before they realize their own good will and equality with the community: before they understand what it is to give (or put out). I’m joking, somewhat.
I’m joking in the sense that “manarchist” strictly means a sexist anarchist, or even subtly means an masculine anarchist male. Something so broad that I don’t even know how to write of it without creating straw …men. What I mean to get at was really all laid out for me in the first paragraph. I really love a scruffy beard, a dandy fellow, a stand-up gentleman. I also tend to most often meet people that I want to be with when I ‘let loose’ and get scruffy, swing a bit of swag, and forget about gender for a bit. My sexuality is compromised from the interpretation (pay attention …I said the interpretation) I have gleamed from “feminist” writings as to what is wrong with my sex. I mean I’m talking about getting laid, but I’m also talking about really getting at what matters to me as someone who is queer or supports the integrity and dignity of the ‘opposite sex’ or has been through the ringer since puberty or something. I’m talking about the suppression of tendencies which are both “equalitarian” and yet “masculine”. I’m talking about wanting to get it on with fine dandy men …even macho men, with myself when I’m wearing make-up or when I’m farting on the couch after a month of drinking beer and not bathing, with women that are confident with their hair and other hereditary qualities, and whatever. Basically that this gender shit is all fucked up when it enters into the realm of aesthetics and culture, yet is important when it comes to how people relate with each other.
Anyway back to my story. So I did wind up making love with this manarchist and I’ll have you know, without their influence, it was …pretty good. They treated me well and have since. They’ve treated everyone I know from whatever identity well. I think I want to try their pants on. I’ve never seen what my own facial hair looks like grown out. I’ve never known what it’s like to just let my own sexual attraction come out when it is towards females. I think I’d like to! I think …maybe, it would be a little liberating.
So I’m reclaiming manarchy, without the archy (opposed to the entire point). Really what I’m doing is reclaiming symbols of masculinity without the accompanying sexism. But dammmn am I going to reclaim it. And I think that there’s something relevant about this. Love isn’t necessarily supposed to be convenient and our relationship to our own bodies doesn’t need to be an act of rebellion against symbols of something we don’t like. I despise the images that have been created for males which pair the masculine figure with oppressive behavior – that fucked up coupling. They’ve fucked me up, sort of. I mean… I still like myself in a skirt but for fuck sake I shouldn’t mind wearing man clothes either. I also shouldn’t feel antagonistic towards my own sexual desires simply because they’re as base and stupid as any other male (or female). In addition I should never have assumed that this was ever the message (but I’m great at being wrong). I guess what I want to say about the symbolic shit is that in presenting myself as who I am in analysis of social oppressions, I shouldn’t think that it’s best if I present myself without masculine traits.
This dips into past experience as well, into reinforcing my whole idea of myself as feminist male being myself negating my own masculinity. I’ve also been in love with people who have become disgusted with me when I let my eyebrows grow out, when I didn’t shave my face, when I stopped wearing make-up or wore pants that weren’t tight enough. As much as I loved being supported in the part of me that likes doing those things, that love ultimately became fettered when I didn’t …when I wanted to play and be natural. I have no idea if other people have had this sort of experience …well, except some writings from women about this sort of thing. But I’ve felt heart break from letting myself become too masculine by accident. It’s give or take, right?
Anyway – me and my top hat are off …cheers!
[I'm going to unpack this a little because I can see it being a catastrophic failure. Just to get it out of the way, I actually don't like beards much; but, I do think they can be interesting and I like to go a while without shaving. So to my bearded friends ...this wasn't some sort of veiled romantic gesture. I was also lying about having no idea if other people have had something like this experience. I've heard this complaint often from males and females in a variety of sub-cultural circles and on the other end, I've heard many people misjudged because they are male and look masculine or female and look feminine. On top of that is my favorite: sexist people that get a pass because of the opposite misjudgment that since they adopt an appearance counter to what is stereotypical for their sex, they are interested in also adopting behaviors which are counter to those stereotypical for their sex. And on the subject of sex or what people find sexually attractive; yes, I was being honest about being in relationships where if I stopped maintaining a more feminine appearance it became a problem with being attractive to my partner(s). But, I'm not really sure what can be done about that since while attraction seems to be filled with superficial concerns at times, it's also something that's a hot mess of associations and conditioned responses which is difficult to untangle with mere changes in moral values. In sum, a lot of what I wrote about above is shit I've only glimpsed personally but have experienced enough of vicariously to write about; and, since I don't think I'm going to find myself adopting a more mainstream lifestyle anytime in the foreseeable future, writing about sub-cultural issues is still quite meaningful to me.]
Two articles recently appeared on anarchist news concerning the practices and services offered by KickStarter. As most everyone who is likely to read this is aware, capitalism requires and increases more the dispossession of us both as individuals and as a class of the resources which we would need to produce what we consume. So assuming you can do without an elaboration on this process, I’d like to talk about some of the more contemporary circumstances which set the stage for something like KickStarter to function.
Most significant from my perspective is the present trend towards the decentralization of production which grows as technologies become smaller, cheaper, more communicable and more efficient. With this, companies save money by closing distances between sites of production and sites of consumption, by relying on fewer workers coordinated over greater distances and aided by faster transportation, and by offering customers products with the potential to be more personalized as customers add their labor. Already detached from the skills of transforming natural resources into energy and basic materials from earlier industrial breakthroughs, we are aided in becoming a society of variously skilled, individualistic, indebted, and precarious people. Participating in a spectacle that superficially connects us back together and finding past methods of substantial unification impractical (syndicalist trade unionism, for example), we find social networking sites and niche cultural artifacts of benefit …both of which are used by authoritarian institutions to advance their own aims above ours.
So it is that as rebels we find ourselves fighting against gigantic institutions, vast in their visions, penetrating every nook and cranny of our lives with control over natural and technological resources we couldn’t dream of earning through our labor. For what little numbers we make up and with what capacity we have spread insurrections and to expropriate space, materials, equipment, and infrastructure …we still manage to survive, resist, and propagate our ideas. And that’s really a minimal feat compared to the capacities we could have in creating forms of counter-power.
One thing about trade unionism that still makes sense for the purpose of developing our own means to life is the ability to know who to talk to for what projects in relation to skill. Where we have done well is in our capacity to organize events both large and small (legal and illegal), appropriate small portions of space (material and cyber) to create information hubs, develop methods of food acquisition and distribution on a local level, publish and print through mostly our own means, and come up with cultural forms that appeal beyond our committed networks. What is shown with our reliance at times on KickStarter, Facebook, food stamps, wage-labor, ISPs, public utilities and transportation, and countless other State and capitalist provided means is that we have yet to create these for ourselves (at least generally and on larger scales).
Technically, to the extent that we are able to acquire land, network our computers, code software and websites, account for important exchanges and the authenticity of information, store and transport products, and function together so that we can pool resources and the fruits of our labors …we could replace these things ourselves. I don’t think the question of what holds us back from doing so is easy to specify beyond the general conditions we share. But, from experimental and more permanent projects which we already maintain, there is a lot to suggest that if we were to want this we could do it ourselves. Shit, with the now existent designs for guns which can be produced with 3D printers, we could even do something to that end (insofar as we could get away with it). The biggest obstacle in our way is the real nitty-gritty of the real basics which have been withheld from us since before we were alive: treating water, growing food, generating electricity, creating materials (textiles, steel, etc.), and fabricating tools. Comparatively, coming up with a system to share resources (in the case of KickStarter, financial and technological) should be easy if we plan to take things further.
But indeed it is a struggle. Our day-to-day lives are oppressive enough as it is without taking on such things while we’re already having difficulty fending off threats to survival and threats of incarceration …or worse. Civilian society, for the most part still so filled with prejudice, ignorance, and cruelty isn’t rushing over to fight in our corner either. Regardless, we don’t need to deny that we could provide ourselves with alternatives to our enemies. There are so many dependencies to critique that we are probably less incapable of abandoning and more cognizant of the relative costs and benefits to such ventures.
Expanded from comments I made on an analysis of KickStarter and the response to that analysis
This was very well written and similar analysis can apply to a lot. Here are some other institutions which have similar effects because they are profit-based and alienate people from their labor/spending: Food Stamps (consider where most people are likely spending their food stamps), Print-on-Demand and 3D Printing companies, Etsy, Localmotors (outsourcing automotive design and labor to the community in the production process). As the article mentioned (as a pyramid scheme), this sort of swindle isn’t anything new or rare …especially in sales. An alternative to this shit would be the same thing which we do with food not bombs, really really free markets, indymedia, etc. Technically, we’re smart enough and have the means to create our own platforms for resource exchange among ourselves, to collectively invest in our own printers and trade tools, and distribute things (though I don’t see an AnarchistExpress anywhere in the near future). Not that this would be the elimination of capitalism; but, it would at least be a step away from the State cultural projects and corporate exploitation.
I didn’t read all of this and I probably will go back and do so; but, I don’t think the author of the first piece was attempting to condemn Kickstarter (and if so, maybe the condemnation was misguided). The point of the first piece seemed to be that there are practical and social consequences in using a service provided at a profit, even when it seems like the profit is more appropriate because the the laborers apparently labor out of passion. Kickstarter could be inspiring as to how we could work together in order to collectively produce what we want …minus the centralization of power into the hands of those who own the means to our production.
I’m a little surprised that the writer of the first post didn’t elaborate on some of the practical necessities of creating similar services in purpose and scale: an easy way to ensure secure transfer of funds, a user-friendly format for setting up a fund-raising page, neat ways to network various projects together (maybe if numerous people close in proximity require the same technologies and such, there could be an option for sharing), and a method for keep the service accountable to the community. As I said in the comments section of the first post …this can go well beyond the arts while still avoiding State and business. There just needs to be a willingness to go beyond our immediate needs (food, shelter, information, communication) when it comes to large-scale collective projects.
What does it mean to live in a world where you feel like you are driven to fucking pay someone to listen to your emotional shit and help you try and figure stuff out?
What does it mean to feel powerless against forces in your social life which consistently offer the basic message that your “baggage” is practically insufferable so the most considerate thing to do is keep your mouth shut?
What does it mean to be in conflict about the desire to respect other people’s decisions and the sentiments of outrage felt towards the way in which deep desires for acceptance, affection, and sympathy are suppressed in favor of “cool”?
Emo as a rebellious strand of hardcore which recognized the failures of Cool became a fucking pop-culture caricature similar to the history of Goth… but Cool had been around much longer. While the picture above may be misleading, I will quote from wikipedia (because I can):
“The sum and substance of cool is a self-conscious aplomb in overall behavior, which entails a set of specific behavioral characteristics that is firmly anchored in symbology, a set of discernible bodily movements, postures, facial expressions andvoice modulations that are acquired and take on strategic social value within the peer context.
Cool was once an attitude fostered by rebels and underdogs, such as slaves, prisoners, bikers and political dissidents, etc., for whom open rebellion invited punishment, so it hid defiance behind a wall of ironic detachment, distancing itself from the source of authority rather than directly confronting it.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_(aesthetic)
In that quote is already enough to see how Cool is a method of flight as well as recuperation. A discipline for the Yuppy, Punk, Gangster, Anarchist, and Socialite alike. If it were only that, it would already be worth resisting. Yet here we are dancing with this rigid corpse! Tipping our hats to such a powerful force of psychological suppression!
Coolness might as well be a replacement term for Foucault’s docile bodies. It is at its best to eliminate all temptations to feel strong emotion and at its worst and most cowardly, to freeze the somatic expression of emotion: to posture statuesque. In opposition to so-called spazz , geek, dork, or in more contemporary terms anything too emo, Cool inserts into our shared social existence its shards of separation and self-absorbency. It interrupts the movement of emotive circulation, it atomizes and fuels displaced outbursts of destruction, and when it finally melts down into a cathartic experience the bonds which catharsis can produce quickly snap as the charade continues on. This is not the attitude of someone with a deep well of fulfillment (who would readily embrace the opportunity to spill over their joy into the lives of others). It’s the attitude of the individual trying to pretend like they’re not shivering in their boots.
Sure, it isn’t all of us… the Hippy wanted peace and love. They may have got the love right, but I definitely prefer the fiery rage.
Well, for those that resist Cool, I’ll offer something toasty….
If you’re not Cool, then maybe you’re fucking Hot!
So I guess the community college paper is doing some article about cross-dressing and interviewing people who they think may have some insight into it? The interviewer is Mimi Wang. Anyway – it’s been a while, enjoy!
1. Why do you crossdress?
I have practical reasons and theoretical ones…
Practically, I crossdress because I have never thought that my physical features were well suited by what is often characterized as masculine fashion (in this country, for my class background, in this period of history). Crossdressing is less important to me than general aesthetic taste. I wouldn’t look bad in a well-tailored suit with a male actor’s manner of applying make-up: that’s just dandy to me. But, when I’m shopping at a thrift store I’m lucky if I can find clothing in the “men’s” section that fit or are at all appealing to my tastes. So the variety of style and the fit-to-form aspects of the “women’s” section draw me towards clothing designed for females. With the addition of make-up for both artistic expression and shock value, I’m crossdressing by most people’s standards. In my head, I’m just approaching attire from an aesthetic perspective instead of a utilitarian one or one that conforms to mainstream gender norms.
Theoretically, I totally reject contemporary notions of masculine and feminine. The ways in which gendered ideas about attire have developed are completely incoherent to me. To begin with, there is more than just two biological sexes and there isn’t a lack of cultures which have recognized this as a significant aspect of social roles, religious iconography, and attire. There are also dramatic inconsistencies when it comes to the ways in which different classes conceptualize masculinity and femininity in the West. The aristocratic concept of the masculine which was contrasted from the proletarian concept of the masculine is one example; powder, wigs, blush, extravagant outfits, more organic motions vs. overalls, jeans, various shirts (especially t-shirts), short hair, facial hair, lack of grace in motion [edit: or whatever was typical of proletarian men at the time - there's more contemporary examples of this]. I think there’s a lot of evidence for ‘style’ in this sense being used for political purposes. This is all alongside the history of Patriarchy as well.
The contemporary differences between masculine and feminine are becoming less distinct even if there is still gender binaries dictating attire. A lot of this is also political: feminism, changing symbols of class status, changes in the manufacture of clothing, a general shift towards machismo, the hypersexualization of consumer culture. Then there’s the shifts in what is represented in the media as ideal male and female bodies; again, an organization of the masculine and feminine which moves more towards ideal representation being of physical and sexual power …with the ideal female appearing more like concepts of masculinity rooted in brute strength and the ideal male compensating the move by even more-so appearing brutish. [edit: There's also back-lash and a lot of other stuff going on, but I wasn't really trying to provide a total account here]
So what does it even mean to crossdress when there is so much inconsistency in the underlying concepts of gender to begin with?
2. What got you interested in crossdressing and when did you start? How have others reacted to your crossdressing?
I’ve always crossdressed. My parents ran a glamor photography studio and playing dress-up wasn’t discouraged. My sister was very intrigued with crossdressing so she had no problem encouraging me to play with clothing that would be considered feminine. What got me interested in crossdressing (or, more conscious of it) was probably the androgyny-in-denial of punk fashion [edit: sometimes in denial] and the open challenging of the gender binary by industrial and goth cultures. The reactions of my parents have been mixed but it’s really concerned them most when they consider how I’ve been treated in public or in the privacy of someone else’s homes or institutions. I’ve been in numerous street fights, fired from jobs, had the typical arrangement of drive-by insults (vocal and physical), have been banned from people’s homes, parents of lovers have often gone to great lengths to create situations for their children which put them in a struggle between winning their parent’s approval and maintaining a relationship with me. On the other hand, I’ve also been tokenized, seen as a novelty, met a lot of great people who genuinely respect my choices, admired by old counter-cultural types, and offered many creative opportunities.
3. Have you ever faced judgment or criticism for what you do? Do you have a specific experience that you would like to share?
I don’t know if I’ve faced more judgment or criticism than someone who doesn’t crossdress, in a sense. If the crossdresser is the symbol for what should not be done I just fit into a different role in the way identity is reinforced based on gender. When males [edit: and females] who don’t crossdress also don’t meet the gender performance expectations of their peers, they’re judged and criticized too. It’s the same basic social force… I just become the overt example of what is always covertly present in social life. I can definitely say I have been punished more for crossdressing than I would have been if I didn’t. As for specific experiences, I don’t want to repeat myself so I’ll just refer back to what I ended the last question’s response with.
4. Personally, why do you think that some people have a problem with crossdressing?
Sexuality. Most people I’ve talked to about it don’t care at all if crossdressing is on a stage and it is clear that the signifiers are potentially misleading. The problem almost always seems to be when someone imagines that they might wind up embarrassing themselves through sexual advances or have a generally heterosexist prejudice regardless of attire.
5. Women are typically free to wear what they want and men’s clothing are seen as being more unisex than women’s clothing (women have pantsuits, boyfriend jeans, etc). What are your views on the double standards of crossdressing?
Some of the double-standards probably have a much simpler explanation when it comes to the way females wear clothing designed for males. One of those – to be very blunt – is breasts. The most feminine outfits which are often reserved for females are specifically signifying their sexuality or conforming to traditional (rather than contemporary) femininity. Some of it is based on one of the leading ideal female bodies: thinness. So those two things already address the top half of an outfit (discounting head-wear): baby doll shirts, blouses, corset, tight jackets, spaghetti straps, etc. As for the bottom half …dresses and skirts, there’s still some background in sexuality. A long dress or skirt is conservative or traditional and the shorter they get the more the outfit is meant to lead the eye towards the sexual regions. Well, that just puts us back to a critique of Patriarchy: the female as passive sex object and the male as sexual aggressor. I’ve heard this admitted plenty of times from people who have problems with crossdressing, though in disguised terms. Saying things like, “why would he dress like that if he doesn’t want to be treated like a bitch?” or whatever sexist shit people come up with.
I mean, the point of the contemporary masculine dress code is to appear “alpha” and sometimes, to avoid any suggestion that you’re drawing attention to your features so you can attribute your sexual conquests to some interpersonal strategy …that you’re so “good with women” that it doesn’t matter how gross you look. I think that it’s less a double-standard and just more of the same old rugged individualist man objectifying women no matter what they wear.
[Responding to my answers, I was asked if I cross-dress on a daily basis. My answer was that I did for a number of years but for the past couple I haven't. I didn't really give much insight into why; but it's because I threw out a lot of the clothing I liked when I downsized to travel, I haven't found much when I've had money for clothing, I've been feeling pretty lazy and blocked when it comes to what I wear, and me and my hair haven't been getting along. Not sure how much it matters how I've generally looked as of late since I don't really feel like I'm violating some deep principal about presentation or anything. *shrugs*]
Murder: A guided meditation
This is a guided meditation to purify the root chakra
Close your eyes and get comfortable, it doesn’t matter how you’re sitting
We will begin shortly…
Notice your breath
The waves of universal energy flowing in through your nose
And out through your mouth
Feel the energy moving through you
Nurturing your whole body
Every muscle …every organ …every cell
You are a child of the cosmos
Let your legs relax
Your stomach and back
Your shoulders and arms
And all of the tiney muscles in your face…
Take a few moments to just be
Begin to focus your divine attention on your paraneum
Imagine a white, pulsating orb of light growing in, around, and through your taint
Let it do the work of God, cleansing out all of the negative energy
Let it just fade away on its own and know that you are being watched over
By something much greater than yourself
We’re going to find a place now where you can experience your new self
Your higher self…
Let yourself be taken by this greater force into a small room
The air is still, television light flickering
Notice the person sitting next to you
Feel your empathic connection with them
They’re here to help you
Feel the layers of their being
The strong, mechanical motions of their body
The projection of their loving spirit
The stream of thoughts flowing through their consciousness…
They are talking to you
Words which seem to speak from the body
Shut off from the spirit and the consciousness
And you can’t understand what these words are
The words mean nothing to you
You can’t hear them, but they feel stupid
Notice your hands
They’re anxiously cradling a knife
It’s a knife you know …that feels like an old friend
And you’re staring at the idiot next to you, blathering
Take a moment to remember that you’re safe
The only things in the world are you
The room and the objects in it
This person next to you
And the admixture of dark and light energy
Tingling your senses
Now notice the layers of your being
As they begin to disappear
No more thinking
No outward cast of emotion filling the aether
Just your body… it’s itches, urges to move, vital kinetic power
And your eyes harden on the sight of the person next to you
As they stare forward still talking to no one
Watch your hand gently slide the knife into the supple flesh of their neck
Feel the warm blood cooling as it washes over them
and feel their thoughts begin to swirl down and disappear
Into the excruciating pain of their spirit
While their ridiculess gestures and shrieks fill the room
Watch as the slowly die
And feel how step by step they stop existing as a person
Eventually, blending in with the other objects in the room
Cold, wet, ghastly – but just another object in the room
And notice now how alone you feel
As your throughts return to you
As you remember that you’ve been watched this entire time
All of the shame, guilt, discomfort, and dread you’ve ever know
It is now that it begins to spill into your awareness
Partially aware of your terrible deeds
But even more aware of your own mortality
Acutely aware of your extrordinary confusion…
You don’t know what to do now, with this thing
Should you clean it?
Should you hide it?
Do you know who it was that has been watching?
What will now happen to you?
Now take a few moments to be in this place
Afraid, useless, vulnerable
And when you are ready to come back
Let yourself be slowly carried away from the scene
Back into the room that you have been in this whole time
Back into your body
Your shallow, superficial thoughts
And your desires for mystical experiences
Take a minute to let your breathing slow down again
And then open your eyes to your mundane life
Keeping with you the empty sensation between your genetals and your asshole
The Black Cat
This has nothing to do with anarchist syndicalist theory.
When someone realizes that their youthful rejection of manipulation ought to be taken seriously in their adulthood, they become a rebel. As Bakunin once said, “To revolt is a natural tendency of life. Even a worm turns against the foot that crushes it. In general, the vitality and relative dignity of an animal can be measured by the intensity of its instinct to revolt.” A cat makes for a good friend… try to train one and then, try to be one.
Have you watched the life of cats? According to some neuropsychologists, cat’s are a lot like us …a lot like us: they’re just not as weak and hypocritical as us, petty human beings.
Philosophy is the triumph of guilt.
Why do we explain our actions? Do we fear the speculation of fools? Why do we complicate a very simple thing… this anarchy? Do we believe a word of anyone else’s explanations? Why do we debate strategy and tactics? Is there a master tactician to guide us? Why do we carry on the convention of morality: to demonstrate the good of our behavior? Don’t enough people feel the same pains as we do? Is there anything more to say than, “unlike you, I have decided to do what I want – and so have my comrades”?
There will always be those of us who come to the conclusion that we are alone in our decision to decide for ourselves: everything.
When my cat smells the scent of tuna, he will do whatever he can to get it: jump on the plate, smack the can away and run away with it, et cetra. When my cat wants to go somewhere else… he does. When he needs to fight another cat, he doesn’t …talk shit: he just warns them. He doesn’t shit where he eats, either. He couldn’t explain the concept of “helpless” to you because it is not a fact of his existence. To the death of himself, he’ll follow his desires beyond any border, beyond any consequence, and beyond any concern for the eye of judgment.
we have a lot to learn about being ourselves
Adolescent, yes? Simple, no?
We’re close, but not there yet. We still explain ourselves. We still create bookshelves of theory about our will to live freely. We still make foolish attempts to understand the capitulation of others.
The police in our heads is getting fat on our confusion and insecurity!
For once, forget. Empty yourself of your insecurities. Do whatever the fuck you want to do. Forget that there’s a world watching you. Forget that there’s prisons waiting for you. Let your sense of status die. Allow your notions of those you’ve never met and never will me to melt away. Don’t go to work. Don’t go to school. Eat the food you want inside of the grocery store. Look at those who attempt to change your mind as an enemy. Fight those that attempt to restrain you: claw them, bite them, resist them with everything available to you. Show your friends love. Turn off every device of electronic communication. Be alone in the company of others. Be free in yourself and in the company of those who have already embraced you. Don’t appeal to any authority: social, judicial, economic, spiritual.
Just for one day.
That’s my cat… whom I will bury, who may be hit by a car, who may drink poison unwittingly, and who does exactly whatever the fuck he wants.
VOMIT IS AN EXPLOSION!
Vomiting is a beautiful demonstration of life. There are a number of means to vomiting and some of them can become lethal: if someone is depressing their nervous system with some powerful chemicals, introducing stimulants will induce vomiting; if someone’s body toxicity becomes severe, they will heat up, sweat, become diarrhetic, produce mucus, and vomit; if someone becomes frustrated or stressed enough (shocked enough), they will vomit. Put simply: vomiting happens when there’s a conflict in the nervous system between depression and stimulation. Stress, alcohol, opiates, and other poisons tend to depress the nervous system… sometimes to the point where physically moving is stimulating to the point of conflict. When these conflicts happen, our bodies want to get rid of anything we’ve taken in or somehow reconcile the conflicting messages. A good example is if you’re drunk and smoke too many cigarettes, you’ll puke because you have the alcohol depressing the nervous system and the nicotine attempting to stimulate it. Emotionally, it’s the same thing: if you get worked up to the point of tears about something your nervous system becomes depressed, you get tired, etc. – your body wants you to shut the fuck up …and if you keep going, you puke. Vomit is fucking awesome!
But vomiting a lot can have some shitty consequences. Stomach acid will rot the back teeth and degrade other teeth, it will cause injury to parts of the body that keep stuff down meant to be digested, it will increase dehydration, and it can become habitual.
Vomit teaches a great lesson: we don’t have to consciously make decisions, some things are organically repulsive. This society is organically repulsive (in a variety of ways).
We have to go through great lengths to live a life that minimizes toxicity in our bodies. We are all already-poisoned. This leads to a tolerance-building situation. We form tolerances for chemicals, stress, diseases… to such an extent that we come to a common-sense conclusion that these tolerances can be overlooked. We laugh about vomiting. If we spend a day puking after a night of drinking, it’s ok. We don’t sit around and wonder what is actually happening with our bodies when we vomit: we accept vomit as some sort of life-feature that doesn’t need to be brought out of the dark. Our eyes tear up, we sweat, we smell noxious odors, and we carry on. In other words, instead of listening to Vomit and realizing that it is a huge clue-in to whether or not we’re doing something good for ourselves …we pretend that Vomit doesn’t have a voice.
I am here to represent the voice of Vomit! The Vomit Politician!
Vomit wants you to know that when you’ve pushed yourself too hard for the boss, you should stop working (and probably punch them). Vomit wants you to know that when someone is treating you like shit, you shouldn’t spend more time with them. Vomit wants you to know that when you’re tired, you should sleep instead of taking some stimulant to keep on keeping on. Vomit wants you to know that if you ignore it, you’ll get more of it. It also wants you to know that you can keep your toilet cleaner if you stop doing things that can, have, or do make you vomit. Vomit wants you to digest the food you eat if it is good for you. Vomit wants to teach you how to live harmoniously with your body. Vomit wants you to rebel against poor conditions. Vomit wants to spew into the face of anyone that encourages it!
When we’re living in a depressing society (hahaha, economic depression), we socially vomit. Our society ties us down, fixes us, creates structures that depress us to the point where momentum opposed to it is painful. Revolution can’t be cute. If we want to encapsulate and expel the elements of our lives that create such situations, we’ll have to deal with the negative consequences. If we want to abolish those situations and institutions that weaken us all, that conflict our urges to move freely (so to speak) – we’re going to vomit. Revolution is, in this sense, mind over matter: it is understanding that it is better to move a lot, fight, become active, and be a stimulating force even though social life is depressing because the end result is that the depressive forces in our lives will be no longer. This revolution will be full of vomit: hurray! Detox sucks, but it’s better than addiction. Fighting the social order sucks, but it’s better than maintaining the social order of today.
Vomit can be your best friend!
ELECT VOMIT FOR PRESIDENT!