Depression has a lot of media buzz right now, which is a great excuse to write about it. There isn’t anything exceptional about it, it’s a typical phenomena that usually works well enough for getting us to relax. No one would bat an eye if you told them you were experiencing anhedonia (loss of pleasure in activities), weakness, susceptibility to clouded thinking and paranoia, and an urge to be alone if you’ve just worked all day and are about to go to sleep. When it becomes fascinating is when there is some sort of bizarre cause for it, irregular time-frame, catastrophic pairing with other emotions and moods, or exaggerated expression. Nevertheless, fantastic projections concerning the joy someone else’s situation ought to bring them mystify just how bizarre/banal the causes in-fact are. What could be more demotivating (read: depressing) than having your fame-bubble burst, or your love-fetish challenged, or your moral-community ideals blown to smithereens by the stress, illustriousness, and pressure that comes from such situations? What really freaks people out though is the cynical types that consistently destroy all of their own and others fantasies before a real chance to even indulge them. ‘How the fuck does that person live?’ they wonder. It’s not ironic when they say, “it’s the small things in life.”
Depression is at least a bit more interesting when it comes out of undiagnosed medical conditions, unfortunate co-morbidities, and peculiar fixations. Much of this has something-or-other to do with the depression preventing the realization of something else: pain relievers, Kurt Cobain’s ghastly presence at a seance, the taming of some existential threat that is causing anxiety …like your neighbor’s new puppy. It’s one thing to be agitated about something, it’s one thing even more agitating to also lack the personal capacity to have at doing something about it. Sometimes medicine and therapy can help with these ones, sometimes it can’t. Most unfortunately, some of the things which someone can become entirely fixed upon realizing run so deep in the web of what gives their lives meaning (or in their biological make-up) that it becomes both the motivation for living and the cause of living in a depressed state.
So what is there to do with someone who is depressed, assuming you give a shit? There’s a number of ways to attack depending on the causes; but for anything legitimate there’s 100-fold illegitimate bullshit or inappropriate responses. The first thing I would try is to avoid the bullshit, canned responses. After that, there really isn’t much more to the therapy than helping someone with analysing the causes and teasing out some sort of realistic projects to eliminate those causes. Drugs can be fine or they could be god-awful. Chances are though, if someone is coming to you to help them unpack this shit, it’s a compliment. Then again, they could just be manipulating you for one reason or another. I guess I trust you to figure that one out, but try to avoid making that your main motivation in daily life.
The problem is Others’ minds… Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you. Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, the thirst, the wandering. I have their meaning to myself without contest. I have the facts of consequence to fit however I want into my own fantasy. The same for you, without my own.
So we enter into conversation.
The bottom-line is our biology, physiology, and life-history. What I sense is limited, and limited in a different way than what you sense. For as much as we can agree on the facts of a reality that both founds and surpasses our perception, it is perception that we respond to: our own perceptions. Yet we are stuck with each other – without exit – by existential necessity. And we not only need each other …we want each other. Our desires are tied up with biological urges to sense another’s blanketing warmth, their uncanny touch, the nutrition of their breast, the affirmation of our own theories about the reality beyond our perceptions. Yet your warmth can disgust, your touch can unsettle, your breast can poison, your judgements can debase. No one is actually here for anyone else, everyone is different: one from the other.
We enter into conversation the moment we must navigate the corners of our differences. Polite or not, it is usually a negotiation. We speak to debate the meaning of this flower, the coherence of that rule. We speak to question and then to affirm; the obvious be damned to obscurity. Out of our processes of creating arrangements together, we create myths, customs, cannons, platforms, and other forms of discourse which may or may not threaten our lives eventually. And what we are willing to kill for and to die for, our institutions that pretend to make all of these former things more real …attempt to move them into that space and time beyond our own perceptions. It has been common enough for us to even pretend there is something else to perceive our institutions with the same amount of reality as everything else obvious to us: someone else even more beyond our perceptions to verify the fact of our institutions. Little else makes for worse conversation than these institutions; and bad conversation is terrible.
The Institution is terrible. It is the worst interruption between us. Midst our negotiations a mediator has already before we were born, appointed itself to regulate the terms, the quality, the meaning of our conversation. It is the advertisement which makes shit smell delicious and the custom which the lowest forms of attack will adopt to gain entrance. We hate the Institution and we can never, with any integrity, take the side of the Institution. If we can not destroy the Institution, at the very least we can circumnavigate the Institution; and, often by accident we are compelled to: by love, by starvation, by drunkenness. For all of the time we waste speaking of the Institution, we come back around to our negotiations and we carry on with our conversation. And when I can be alone to contemplate the transgressions of our conversation, I can finally contemplate whether it has been transgressive enough. I want to annihilate the Institution.
At least with you, there is a challenge which can not be thrown off into the outer-limits of an otherworld. With you our conversation still has a body, a biology, a difference, a target, and with all of this you are a labyrinth which can only be explored together …a labyrinth particular to everyone you choose to navigate with. The Institution only has prosthetics. Alone I only have my own tongue tasting itself. At least with you we can uncover together a reality that is especially in favor of our negotiated experiences, meanings, and past-times. As we have all of this only together, we also invent our own language for this conversation… down to the accented syllable of a made-up word. The interpersonal world is the most interesting world (and the Social only an obstacle to it).
Between here and there and then and now and until the days to come: our conversation. It isn’t so much that our lives together can be reduced to the use of language as it is that the last barrier between negotiation and the confluence of our activity together is the medium of our languages. Conversation is the mark of our differences. It is something which can be cut at and broke up into segments however we’d like in this time between our birth and death. It is ultimately the last definitive activity of a relationship between human beings, between egoists transgressing against fixed and imposed ideas. It is the way you looked when my eyes first told my brain to notice you and it is the words inscribed on your tomb stone that you requested in your will be written. It is what happens when one thing isn’t quite like the other and we both notice.
Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”. The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning. As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it.
Like a lot of what I post, this isn’t going to be conclusive. It is a place-holder where I mark a moment of contemplation or epiphany that I want to come back to, reflect upon, and leave open-ended for those reasons. Absurdist is one of the many available labels that I have a good deal of affinity for. Among those identified with it, Albert Camus is by far one of my most favorite philosophers. As the above description explains as the fundamental assumptions of absurdism, Camus is the champion of that embrace of meaninglessness …absurdity, as well as the continual rebellion against it. This position is outlined in his book, the Rebel. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to review that book even in summary; so, my hope is that the reader has read or will read it. Yet it is beside the main point, which I don’t think the Rebel’s expansive exploration of is necessary to make here. That point is to outline the situation and relate to it personally…
I have become very comfortable with the assumptions outlined above, that ultimately existence is meaningless and that it is a personal and existentially significant task to rebel against that in the search for or creation of meaning. This sort of discourse usually carries me on to people like Nietzsche or Foucault, who arrive at some method or another for dealing with that project. In this case, the aesthetic approach to life, to meaning, to choice. That method (to whatever extent I have been faithful to it) has brought me to an interesting place in life… many of them. It has been liberating and it has also brought many psychological burdens to the fore for analysis. Yet, it has often been of less guidance when dealing with relationships to other people. It has been plenty for contemplating relationships, but the aesthetic approach (and some may call it an egoist one) loses its strength with interpersonal or small group dynamics. Not because it has nothing to say, but because the project of negotiating those conversations which thematize, characterize, and define relationships …THE conversation which is each relationship… is often enough less the result of individual wills discussing a mode of being with each 0ther and more the result of individuals being with each other in contexts beyond their power.
It is one thing to navigate the world alone, mapping it out and sorting through opportunities, struggling with it individually. It is quite another thing to do this and at the same time place a heavy emphasis on how the circumstances themselves, or the consequences of your individual activity effect not only the circumstances of another(s), but are inconsequential entirely. The proximity and amount of time spent with someone, the way which institutions/society/privileges/etc. shape paths of least resistance and oppressions, the extent to which delusions and compulsions influence lives, and much more is constantly acting against the will of the individual, and especially moreso for individuals relating to each other. But perhaps in no relation, or in connection in a way that I can’t think of right now, the framing of the problem of other people as an approach to conversation invites something that seems to cut through this. The ability to collaborate on the story of lives together, to mythologize relationships, to create meaning and rituals and games with each other, to play out, play act, and create something.
Well that’s the type of shit I’ve been thinking about… yay for journalling.
The following are two statements in the piece that I can relate to:
“Support for the survivor is equated with, and then replaced by, castigation of the perpetrator.”
“It is unsurprising, then, that our tendency is to push people out, rather than draw them in; but when we do that, our capacity for meaningful action diminishes. A cycle of suspicion and exclusion takes hold. As we grow less able, and even less interested, in having an effect on the larger society, we become increasingly focused on the ideas and identities of those inside our own circle. We scrutinize one another mercilessly, and when we discover an offense––or merely take offense––we push out those who have lost favor. As our circle grows ever smaller, minor differences take on increasing significance, leading to further suspicion, condemnation, and exclusion––shrinking the circle further still.”
When I think about these issues, I can’t help but come back to some ideas that I don’t often see mentioned: urban context, lack of direction, short-sightedness, material support, and personality development. I also think the fixation on word-choice is obnoxious, by both those who invest themselves in ‘identity’ issues and those who critique the results of the former. I’ll explain my first sentence and hope that this accounts for my second one…
Subculture or not, the context I’ve experienced organizing around gender has been in cities that are close to colleges, with all of typical annoyances of frat boys, people coming and going with the winds of their degree programs, townie resistance to parachuting academics, suburban isolation, and the brilliant age-range of late adolescence and early adulthood, bars, precarity, etc. I think it matters that this is happening in these places, with people who are in these circumstances; mostly, because I think that resolving identity issues is a much more long-term project than anything a collective lasting maybe 2-4 years can dedicate themselves to. It is something that not only includes an entire urban system of identities in the construction of each individual identity, but something that also tends to be a fundamental issue for people in the transition from adolescence to adulthood (ala Erikson, for whatever you think he’s worth: http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.htm). It looks to me, a sometimes outsider, like a group of people that haven’t known each other very long without a lot of shared existential responsibilities (like living together with a plan to continue living together for years to come, feeding each other, etc.) trying to tame a hornets nest of all the shit they’ve dealt with growing up in even worse contexts than the ones they’re now creating together. Just at the right time for their hormones and life goals to make issues of identity explosive (because identity has a lot of existential value when you’re broke, relatively young, rely on social skills a lot more than trade skills, are subcultural, and single). So I don’t think it is the fact of subculture as much as a fact of life-stage progression in urban environments.
How long do you think it takes to actually resolve the damage people do to each other in this environment? I certainly think it can take a decade or longer and I don’t think the result is so much seen in the political organization, but in the community that lasts and finds some kind of material and emotional stability through each others’ support. How can this sort of deeply personal and existential ‘work’ be thought of in these models of accountability processes and what set of words to use to describe one traumatic event or situation and another? How much can change on that level when the consequences only become less severe the more materially autonomous and socially disengaged from subcultures one becomes? If some piece of shit is around for a year and will probably only be around for another, then yeah… they can piss off. But what makes sense to me is how this all plays out with people that will be around for a long time and how it really ties into creating the lives we live together and individually… what we come back to more than who we go out with.
Before I end this rant, I want to comment on misdirection. I’ve seen it happen where people organize around gender for each other, but don’t exactly find any sort of target outside of their organized association to act towards. Once it goes from being a nice educational process to having no specific place to act, it seems to become a lot of in-fighting. I would be happy if all of these efforts became something like a Bash Back!. If they actually took to fucking up the dumb groups on campuses and the shitty places around town. They don’t and that is what I mean by misdirection …which isn’t to say there aren’t other times when organization is actually around specific incidents or an actual identification of problems within the community; but, the latter seems too often to be an afterthought.
Submitted by Squee on Tue, 04/29/2014 – 00:55
The notion of intellectuals is something that I’ve struggled with a long time. The concept grounds itself in a world peopled mostly by idiots and to whatever extent this is true, too often this implies that others’ stupidity is so severe that they’re fundamentally incapable of living a decent social life or even surviving without some kind of paternalistic guidance and regulation. However, there are individuals whose orientation towards the world is so caught up in abstract thinking that they’re hard to miss. There are plenty of things which require excellent cognitive capacity in order to do successfully; but, what is distinct about intellectuals is that they not only excel in dealing with abstractions, abstractions basically rule them.
The secondary stereotypical mark of intellectuals is their comparative lack of physicality. Whether this is sport, manual labor, sex, etc. intellectuals aren’t the people you turn to as the best specimens of applying one’s body in life. Sometimes it’s curious how an intellectual is able to even survive an embodied existence and breed. This leads into questions that a lot of the below content will deal with…
Interacting with others through Humor
The bottom line when it comes to intellectual social life is that it’s a difficult position to be in because intelligence is intimidating, confusing, suspicious, and often boring. For as much as many people don’t want to deal with physical tasks, they’re usually tasks that at least explicitly signify what is worth the bother. You don’t have to sit around and contemplate why a hunter-gatherer would hunt and gather. It does require some effort to figure out what the reward is in contemplating the nature of the cosmos or the implications of entropy.
As a result, humor can become a valuable device for intellectuals that must deal with other people (i.e. most of them). Humor can be used to disarm people and put them at ease, it can be a way to soften emotionally difficult facts, it can take the form of a complete denial and contradiction of intellect, it can bring joy to others in a way that can compensate for a lack in physically laborious gifts. Generally, a funny person can be tolerable even if they’re repulsive for other reasons.
Humor can also be pretty inappropriate and way over people’s heads, but with experience that’s a habit which can be tamed. What I’m not saying is that intellectuals are especially funny (they’re usually not), they stereotypically just don’t have a very big tool box of social skills to get people to like them. It is also a tragic scene to witness an intellectual whom can not make themselves laugh about the terrible facts they’re discovering about life.
Securing Appreciation for Good Ideas and Intellectual Property
Putting Humor aside and coming back to the suspect value of intellectuals and their ideas: the bane of an intellectual’s existence is getting others to appreciate the work that they do …and pay for it. Living in an advanced technological society makes it obvious where intellectual labor fits in, but for an island metaphor it is difficult to place the value of coming up with slightly better ideas for designing shelters, cooking, and the rest. What is even more difficult to grasp than how intellectual work becomes appreciated is how intellectual work is attributed to intellectual persons. A lot of intellectual labor isn’t so much novel ideas as it is improvements on existing stuff, managing it, and avoiding bad but intuitive ideas. So how do some individuals get credit for doing this stuff when everyone participates both manually and cognitively?
One answer is that consistency of good ideas earns recognition of that person as a source more-so than someone that utters what everyone is already thinking or comes to a conclusion by happen-stance. Another answer is intellectual property and with it, systems of slavery (including religion and capitalism). The latter is the realm of the Philosopher King, instead of the Warrior King. It is the realm of cunning. It isn’t out of the question for intellectuals to be valued for their work and related to as worthy of the same basic treatment as anyone else: even the dumbest of people appreciate better ideas. But the intellectual tyrant is extremely paranoid and the tyrant’s paranoias are not unfounded…
It is frightening for an intellectual to think of living among people that are constantly making unpredictable and bad decisions all around them. To think about the bewildered herd deciding that ultimately they’d be better off if they killed the intellectual or at least felt it was justified to take stuff the intellectual needs whimsically. That thought is ever more frightening the more powerful technology becomes: nuclear power plants, industrial agriculture, etc. This makes some intellectuals a nervous wreck, others tyrannical, and still others able to develop an egalitarian ethos. It tends to come down to questions about human nature, the cultures one is surrounded by, and theory of mind problems; but ultimately to how willing an intellectual is to recognize in those fears the extent to which others not only determine the quality of an intellectual’s life, but should also be respected, appreciated, and dignified for who they are no matter how bumbling.
Appreciation and Rewarding Good Works vs Forced Production (does life/the world work for intellectuals by default or does it need to be forced to?)
Depending on the route one takes from the former, you can have very different orientations in how an intellectual evaluates other people’s work. Some intellectuals are so humble and fascinated by the things other people do that they’ll pay for a shoe string if someone spent years acting upon it in some interesting way. This appreciation can be very deep, to the point of an intellectual taking a personal interest in the quality of an artist’s life and funding them entirely to do their thing …as one example. To note, having being rich as a tool in an intellectual’s social skill tool box helps with that. As mentioned above though, a very different attitude is that there isn’t anything sufficiently impressive enough to risk giving imbeciles the freedom and wealth to potentially harm the intellectual …which is a fairly minimal amount of freedom and wealth.
A lot of this is developed through the history of a given culture: the place of an intellectual. There are also situations where it is accurate to say that intellectuals have used their sophistication to rule over others and exploit them for their manual excellence. Unfortunately, those aren’t rare situations. The lineage of religion’s propagating a faith, to secular propaganda, to Hollywood and social engineering beyond even that is disgusting. So disgusting that it is difficult to give any intellectual the benefit of the doubt, to not conclude that intellectuals are inherently weak, cowardly, and vicious people whose ideas for the most part are smoke and mirrors.
None of this is to say that there aren’t attitudes towards intellectuals which are equally disgusting. Plenty of situations are unfriendly to people whose manual skill pales in comparison to their cognitive skill. The battle between manual and intellectual laborer’s isn’t new and the fissures created by it in social life don’t look like they will or can be mended. Intellectuals have many stereotypes and prejudices to deal with: people boring in bed with few immunities, whom are annoying buzz-kills who won’t amount to anything worth while if they don’t conform to positions of middle management in bureaucratic machines or apply all of their capacity to figuring out how to make what the rest of society wants better. That’s on top of being pompous jerks with inflated estimations of self-worth and entitlement who think they always know everything and get to sit in their comfortable office all day while manual laborers do all of the real work. And of course, you know they were bullied in school!
If such a division between what I am describing stereotypically as intellectuals and people who are not exists to the extent that it seems to (beyond being the mere result of social inequalities), everyone could probably use a little bit of therapy when it comes to the question of intellectual skill. I lean more towards the notion that intellectuals by characteristics and not by trade exist, but that they’re also not as weak or as smart as the stereotypes pretend. That also comes with realizing that I’m dealing with stereotypes here and not with actual everyday individuals. Still unanswered though is why anyone sleeps with them! Juust kidding.
[oo-trey] Show IPA
1715–25; < French, past participle of outrer to push beyond bounds
A fascination with weird shit is important… For me it is invaluable. Surprisingly or not, this is because I consider weird shit to be fundamental to contemplating everything; hopefully understanding some things. At its most basic, the quest for knowledge begins with metaphysical and epistemological considerations: what exists and in what ways, and the extent to which and in what ways it can be known. Answering such questions also includes the task of defining boundaries, limitations, and gray areas: weird shit.
A way to represent this visually (as in the above picture) is with at least two concentric circles. Within the smallest circles represents the unknown and unknowable. It is the information which defies first principles: the innermost limitations of analysis. It is the limitations of language, logical thought, divine inspiration, or whatever other tool is being used to operate on the world. The larger, outer circle represents all of the information which is beyond the reach of an entire philosophy’s considerations: the outermost limitations of comprehension. If I were to begin with materialism, the Scientific Method would define the area within the inner circle, while the theories which are created through using the Scientific Method would rest incomplete at the outer circle. It is personal bias which causes me to decide which circle represents which end of knowledge – the thinkable on one end and the incomprehensible on the other – two basic zones of “weird shit” will created. There isn’t even a particular reason why there needs to be two zones, there could be just one. But to assume that there is only one giant region of phenomena which is beyond knowledge implies an absolute starting point (of consciousness, of the universe, of objectivity, etc.). It is an assumption that there is a common origin for what human beings are aware of and what human beings can be aware of …not because they are limited in how far they have thus explored the universe, but because the universe itself is fundamentally, subjectively unexplorable with objective tools. This goes into notions of objectivity-itself being a subjective phenomenon and anyway, is not what I’m trying to articulate here.
There are also other zones of weird shit which would be zones of indetermination, gray areas, and opacity between the two concentric circles. This would be areas where the data is there, but the theories which explain the data become incomplete. An example of this would be the areas which prevent physicists from developing a provable unified theory of everything. Physicists aren’t concerned with an inherent limit to scientific knowledge when trying to create a unified theory, which would define an inner circle. The also aren’t concerned with an outer circle of the unprovable: gods, teapots orbiting the sun, unicorns from a parallel universe, etc. Weirdness in physics looks like quantum entanglement, the particle-wave problem, and other such things where there is proof of the existence of the phenomenon, but at least for a time it could not be explained without a theory which diverged from Newton’s… and is still weird without a unified theory.
While I am not as interested in physics as I am with the social sciences, the same limits and zones exist there as well. There is weirdness in psychology, sociology, medicine, economics, history and the other soft sciences. This sort of weirdness interests me more: grasping at the inherent limits of social theory models, the gray areas created by data lacking theory, and the outer limits created by what is difficult to consider social theory. It just so happens though (and for reasons social theory could play with), that weird shit in social theory is some pretty weird and often inappropriate shit to admit an interest in. What defines the outer end of the territory is those situations, behaviors, and events that are so rare, so disturbing, so confusing, and so unethical that studying them, testing them, recreating them in labs, and even just wanting to deal with them at all becomes a boundary. Yet, it is still necessary to know about this weird shit and to even think about it.
Something else which can also be described using the picture at the top is the linearity of some theory. This is represented by the other circles (as categories) and the lines which connect them. In other words, in order to create a taxonomy of phenomena and arrange it in such a way as can be usefully understood (though not the only useful way), the area defined by the first and last circles is further charted like a graph (or connecting points). Lines from one point to another represent coherent, continuous knowledge. The goal of a field of study, with this representation, is to fill in the area not only with points of data to create density, but with lines of logic to connect that data so it can be understood meaningfully. It is important to connect with weird shit.
One example of this sort of connection to the weird shit would be the study of abnormal psychology for the goal of improving an overall understanding of psychology. Gotta fuckin think about how all that weird shit connects to the not so weird shit!
So I’ve used examples from science, logic, and philosophy to try and define the way that I look at “weird shit” as a concept. The point of doing that wasn’t to entirely describe why I like weird shit from these perspectives, but to describe weird shit so I can talk about why I generally like weird shit. I like weird shit not only as the zones of weirdness from the consideration of this or that field of study, but also between fields of study and in everyday life. If there is a theory which is trying to bridge gaps major areas of study… those sometimes hyphenated, interdisciplinary fields like political-economy, quantum neuropsychology, or queer mathematics (k, made that last one up) …I’m all about it. I’m also all about proto-subcultures that are a weird synthesis of more popular and developed subcultures and are beginning to take shape, or ways of doing things that almost make sense (like a Rube Goldberg machine). Strange sexual acts, obscure cults, bad animations, outsider art, meals people eat I would never want to eat …this is all shit that I love.
I used to think that just about everyone would have such a fascination with weird shit, but they don’t. Or maybe they do, but they prefer to distract themselves with shit that isn’t so weird that also isn’t really a part of their everyday life. Or maybe I have no fucking clue what people find fascinating (which would explain my difficulty in targeting an audience for this blog). Putting aside the question of why don’t other people like weird shit as much as I do? …I can at least explain why I find weird shit to be so interesting. The weirder the shit, the more my world expands and perhaps even becoming more dense not only with data, but with connections …relationships to not-so-weird shit. The first principals I am stand shakily upon close towards those odd considerations which are closing back towards the first principals at the same time. Weird shit enriches the world of my mind, even if my everyday life remains predictable, regular, and monotonous.
Am I weird shit?
That’s a question I need to find out about more weird shit to answer.
This is going to be an entirely different essay than the one which was originally posted here. I don’t care to explain why.
There are numerous approaches in deciding how to relate to other animal species. Some of which I find more problematic than others. Since I am secular, I will not be addressing any of those approaches that come out of the world’s religions. What I will be addressing are issues which arise with moral considerations, humanism, attempts to get beyond the anthropocentric, and discourse derived from concepts of rights. I will also be touching on the tone and attitude which some animal liberation and animal rights activists take with their propaganda, its impact on me, and the potential for alternative approaches. I will begin with a summary of my personal relationships with other animal species.
Other Animal Species
I grew up in a suburban area, a few miles away from the farms. It was common that my peers would live with farm animals, the air often smelled like manure, and it was strange if you didn’t go hunting with your father and his friends, kids killed cats as pests. However, I only sometimes visited the farms and I didn’t kill any cats. My relationship with animals was that if it wasn’t in a grocery store or a pet store, it was probably something to be avoided. I was familiar with Kosher diet and it didn’t make any sense to me. I was raised to believe that veil was wrong, but that’s about it. The ins-and-outs of industrial meat production were outside of my awareness.
Some time in jr. high school, I became vegetarian. It wasn’t because I had seen PETA pamphlets, although I had seen them. It was because I really hated human beings, categorically. I didn’t think there was any good reason why any human being ought to presume that they are important enough to kill another animal, let alone eat it. But beneath that, it really just disgusted me to imagine. Hunting and industrial slaughter seemed like something which required a kind of mechanical, disconnected attitude towards the the planet and its inhabitants. I still think this.
My relationship to other animal species is mechanical and disconnected. Aside from pets and pests, I relate indirectly to livestock through mediation of an enormous industry which uses techniques I barely understand and which I am shielded from by my life in a city. Unlike with pets, I can only relate to livestock categorically. I can form no bonds with particular cows, chickens, pigs, and fish. I can only consider them all generally, as the multiplied reiteration of livestock I have met and the treatment I am aware that they receive. What I am actually presented with in my everyday life are various cuts of raw meat, products which may or may not be based on animal substances, menus with pictures of prepared dishes, items that were tested first on other animal species, and propaganda put out by corporations and/or activist groups.
Livestock and lab animals are represented to me, but they aren’t actually a part of my experience. This is true for everything I eat, wear, medicinally treat myself with, and use. The world that I live in is a giant, illustrious production that has been designed by human beings, for human beings …to shelter each of the individuals who can afford it, away from the wilderness, from agriculture, from mass-production, from landfills, and from slums. Commodities magically come into and disappear from this place, regulated by the alphabet soup of bureaucratic institutions for health, safety, transparency in consumer choice, and such. When I’m in the grocery store, the presentation of products equates them to each other as items for sale, marketing differentiates them from each other based on packaging and labelling, their composition is presented as lists of scientific terminology in small paragraph form (for food, at least), and they are all just as easy to acquire if I can afford them.
Although there are some cracks through which unwanted elements seep through and into my everyday life: pollution lowers the air quality, global warming fucks with the weather, a disease will gain entry through products, the tap water tastes terrible, animals being transported can sometimes be seen on the roads, a forest fire will make the headlines, etc. Regardless, the way in which consumption takes place – although changing – doesn’t speak to the origins of the materials very loudly. Before the problem of what to consume is the problem of how to go about consuming. Perhaps even the question of how to go about producing! What would most effectively change my relationship to other animal species is those more basic questions which would dramatically alter the way I confront that which I consume. Without those changes, all of my consumption choice is derived from abstract considerations, from the world of representation.
Defining Life and Interests
As far as I know (and I have looked into this plenty), there really isn’t any single definition of life which can smoothly separate the inanimate, mineral world from the animate, cellular world of plants and other animals and further, from the animate, digital world which continues to produce more complicated artificial intelligences. Drawing lines is a matter of convenience and not a matter of exactness. It would seem fundamental to be able to work from an exact definition of life in order to decide what to consume, but it isn’t. It doesn’t really matter if something is living.
The value of an entity isn’t restricted to an examination of an entity in isolation. Evaluation depends upon the way in which a particular entity or category of entities relates to others, especially in relationship to human beings generally and the individual specifically. It is my individual existence and how I am effected by something which gives me cause to evaluate it. Otherwise, what I am examining is a mere curiosity. It is my health, liberty, conscience, and tastes by which I measure the value of a this or that ecological system and its parts, this or that species and how to relate to it, each individual I come into contact with in my everyday life. My solidarities are not rooted in altruism. Life as a quality in itself is irrelevant to me. I do not aim to defend all manifestations of life, some of which I aim to annihilate.
The Earth’s interests are beyond me in perception and in my power. I can not take an ecocentric position on the value of other species because I can not sort through the ambiguity of defining the importance of an ecosystem without including my relationship to it. There are ecologies which are difficult to imagine having much of a relationship to me at all: subterranian species, deep ocean species, volcanic microorganisms, possibly existent extraterrestrial life. For as global and interconnected as the functioning of many ecosystems may be, it is not the fact that it is an ecosystem which interests me.
The interests of other animal species are as well beyond my capacity to distinguish. I can not answer for any particular cow whether it is more important to them for their species to be more numerous in the fettered conditions of factory farming, or be less restricted to graze whatever they could find outside of civilization (if there is even an outside anymore). I can make the assumption that pain, suffering, and fetters are undesirable but I would be making a decision according to how the consequences will effect me much more than how they will effect another animal species. How much will my life change?
I am not even necessarily inclined to consider the interests of my own species in general, as if such interests were the same generally, for every individual…
There are only so many universal human interests. Every human being needs a planet that can support their existence and to meet various survival needs. After that, most things are up in the air: lifestyle, life span, life quality, aesthetic considerations, social structure, associations between other humans, relationships with flora and fauna, spiritual practices, etc. Human beings tend to have some universal behaviors, which could extend to similar interests …but those behavior tendencies aren’t an absolute determination. The more similar something is to another human being, the more an individual will identify with it. But the extent and limits of that identification can vary drastically, and that is to say nothing about whether something will be considered a threat, a benefactor, competition, or whatever. Often enough it is what is most similar to an individual which is the greatest of antagonisms: criminals, political enemies, siblings, neighbors, coworkers, lovers.
For as much as an individual needs nutrition to survive, they may still hunger strike. No matter the extent to which survival is an imperative, suicides happen. For as valuable as the whole of life on Middle Earth may be, pollution is crippling it. The human species does not need to eat meat, yet most of it does. Animal testing can be avoided, but it isn’t. Other human beings may be even more of an obstacle to pursuing my interests than they are a basis for those interests. Their positions, laws, lifestyles, and the rest aren’t any more or less human and I am not any more or less humanitarian depending on how I choose to live. Yet I refuse to reason as a humanist. I am utterly alone and without the comfort of coherent categories in these decisions.
Representation and Consent
I started writing about this recently because I was frustrated by the argument that since non-human animals do not consent to how they are treated, it is wrong to presume a right to their bodies. There are two major problems with this line of thinking: it is based on flimsy distinctions in representation and consent is almost irrelevant. Above I articulated some of the problems with representation, but they extend further. Not only is defining life and assessing the interests of other animal species impossible for me, it is difficult to even distinguish between animal and non-animal. Fortunately the menu really isn’t that extensive and I am not really deciding to broadly consider all non-human animals and all non-animal species. There are only so many species I would consider eating to begin with, animal or not. Unfortunately, I still can only assume what the interests of individual members of a given species may be, based on collectively representing their conditions and considering my own relationship to them.
I don’t have the luxury of knowing whether this cow or that pig wants to die, would have rather not been bread into its circumstances, etc. What I know is the general tendency of non-human animals to resist captivity, torture, slaughter, neglect, and other such horrors. I can assume that at the very least, most if not all animals subject to factory farms and experimentations are not enjoying it. On my end, I know that it is unnecessary for me to consume the products produced from these circumstances. It is difficult to say whether or not free-range, cruelty free, hunted, or whatever other form of acquiring meat is more in the interests of other animal species, but given the options it isn’t difficult to say what side I’d rather err on. It is in my interests to have the option of making a personal decision in relation to an individual entity. A situation where I can figure out if it makes sense to me for this individual entity to satisfy some desire of mine through its death, or if I’d rather not stomach doing such a thing.
What doesn’t ever enter the picture is consent. While consent can be implied by the resistance of an animal to its killer, it can not truly be granted or denied. In what fantasy does any species of anything anymore have the option of its fate being determined by consent? Animals of all sorts do not and can not consent to the impact civilization has had on them, whether it keeps the animals alive or kills them. Animal rescue doesn’t derive its justifications from consent any more than animal slaughter does. Civilization touches everything without consent, from the fossil fuel reserves in the ground to the highest reaches of bird flight …to my domestication and to yours. The entire content of what is being thrown into question has been imposed, by force, through power human beings have developed and authority which has been legitimized in a variety of ways …divine or secularly rationalized.
On the other hand, there is what I do and do not consent to which I have complete access to knowing. I get to decide the extent to which I consent to civilization and its particular conditions, practices, and considerations. I get to decide whether or not the flavor of meat is more important to me than the life of those creatures which I vote to end with my purchases. I can get behind a gun and consent to the shots I fire into an elk or some other wild mammal. There are times when I may feel like I have been tricked and if I had known better, would not consent to the consumption of one product or another. But the fact of the matter is that where consent is concerned, it is my own consent which is to be questioned and not that of the entities which I am making decisions for one way or another …whose life quality and quantity is calibrated by the mechanisms of markets and conditions produced by human civilization.
No Contract, No Deal, No Peace
Non-human animal consent is indeterminate, but what is entirely impossible is any sort of contract between human and animal species. No matter the extent to which I leave other animals alone or the society of human beings I live with decide to leave other animals alone, it is a completely one-sided decision. I am not afforded the powers of communing with the general essence or spirit of a species that negotiate on behalf of its kind and stick to an agreement. I don’t need to know if a species is likely to be antagonistic towards me or not to know that every interaction with another creature will depend on the situation at hand …not contract or any sort of established way of relating.
For many species, I can occupy the position of predator as much as the position of prey. For even more species I can be a threat worth eliminating in one way or another. The wilderness is not a safe space. I don’t need to worry so much about this in my everyday life since I live in the fortress of a college town. If I’m going to play this game of considering things in the abstract though, it is worth noting these things. If I were to be so arrogant as to consider any decision I come to as a favor to another species, I would still have to admit that to it is reasonable to assume that I won’t be done any favors by that species in return. There can be exceptions. Interspecies bonds happen on a daily basis with pets and in some exceptional cases with wildlife. But again, that is on the interpersonal level. It is not something which can be achieved through relationships mediated by civilization’s devices.
Rights and Liberations
To end the portion of this where I am considering arguments I don’t really agree with, I make a distinction between arguments for animal rights and arguments for animal liberation. The discourse of rights is something that I already stay away from when it comes to humans and I don’t plan to make any special case for another species. Rights are something I am told that I have, something codified into law. They are something outside of me that are supposedly protected by the State. They explain what I would be correct in doing, what I should not be prevented from doing, what I can expect protection of as a citizen or the subject of a civilization. The struggle to establish rights for non-human animals is a struggle for political reforms, just the same as other struggles to change the established principals applied to other subjects. This can be thought of as a possible direction for animal liberation struggles, but it doesn’t equate to animal liberation.
Animal liberation is more in line with my thinking. It isn’t necessary to talk about anything another species experiences subjectively to talk about the completely observable phenomenon of bodies being liberated from restrictive environments and fates. Whether they’re liberated to do is another question. But it isn’t difficult to find entirely personal, individual reasons for wanting to abolish factory farming and institutions and institutional practices that are offensive. It requires neither the consent of another species, nor the consent of another human being to attack the infrastructure of the meat industry (among others). It might even require a lack of such consents.
While I don’t consider myself an animal liberationist, I don’t have any desire to get in the way. That is where I’m at for now on the issue.
Sometimes simple conclusions wind up working out quite well. I am much more comfortable working from the basis of my own tastes and desired consequences than I am with trying to sort through the mess of complicated social systems, ideologies, and considerations beyond those of my everyday life. Weighting the pros and cons of one consumer choice against another can be entirely sufficient for coming to a conclusion about how to relate to non-human animal products. There’s a few major areas to consider: health, economy, taste, and personal effort.
I am not going to pretend that I’m even close to being an expert on nutrition, or that I’m even a very healthy person otherwise. What I do know is that my stomach no longer takes very well to meat and my body complains if I eat it. Something I can say is that as a general project of trying to maintain a healthier diet, it is much easier for me to do so when I take meat out of the equation. Not because I think meat is necessarily unhealthy, but because I’ll wind up not eating a lot of stuff that is healthy if I rely on old, lazy habits of eating mostly from cans and fast food places. I’m also a big fan of leftovers and well… animal products aren’t really the best left overs for avoiding some physical nastiness.
Economy has a whole series of considerations wrapped up in it that I don’t feel like articulating right now, but I sure as fuck don’t want to work with, on, or even really around animals. Taste and personal effort is a little bit more where my thoughts conclude. I don’t like eating meat enough to buy it and fuck around trying to prepare it. I’m too broke to eat out almost ever, so when someone else takes me out or on the rare occasion that I treat myself, I don’t feel much inclination towards ordering a meaty meal. Basically when I weight the pros and cons of consuming animal products, I don’t find many pros. I’m sure I overlook a lot of ingredients and I know that I have no clue what stuff has been tested on animals, but I’ll be touching on some of that in the next section.
One thing that I want to bring up here is that animal products are the default for me and a hell of a lot of other people. This ties into the reason why some animal rights activists and their propaganda frustrates me. Really, why I started writing about this to begin with. It just comes off as so pretentious and ineffectual to me when activists begin making these moralistic analogies between what happens to animals in the meat industry and how people relate to each other in their everyday life. Using notions of consent to bridge the gap there. I won’t reduce that to name-calling, but y’know …is it getting the results you want?
I can understand being passionate about something and I can even understand emotional appeals, but if the goal isn’t to take a piss on someone and instead, it is to figure out where they’re at and work with them towards a shared goal …that shit makes no sense to me. There’s also nothing wrong with pissing people off, if that is what someone is trying to do (which it doesn’t seem to when I see this happening). But as one example, why start calling comrades murderers or sexual abusers because a meeting is happening at a place which serves meat? Especially when you’re not going to follow it up with offering alternative spots or preventing the meeting from happening. Shit like that is just an invitation to make equally stretched out analogies which conflict with those ones, to be written off, or to just be mocked.
In the beginning of this essay, I hinted at the broader question of how to go about relating to anything one consumes. This is where everything falls into place for me and becomes concrete. I don’t necessarily like more work, but I also don’t trust corporations to handle my food or the quality of other products. For reasons even beyond this, a Do-It-Yourself ethic is what I like to peer out at the world through. There’s some good critiques of DIY culture which would make this essay longer than I want it to be, but to take for granted the reasons why DIY shit is in my interests, they are the grounds upon which I conceptually build towards my dietary choices.
The closer I become to producing my own stuff, the further I travel from consuming animal products. Some of this is aesthetic: I think that dealing with animals is gross. Aside from that though, in light of self-reliance and participating with others to produce things we’ll enjoy, the default of consuming animal products flips to a default of not consuming animal products. The pros become much more important, as reasons to use an animal product for one project or another: food or otherwise. I can’t think of many situations where anything but price would make me say, “oh hell yeah, if we just throw some fleshy bits in there this would be great!” There’s some situations, but not many.
Taking this approach also emphasizes what sort of choices I’m really more inclined to make about production and consumption. In the environment of a grocery store, everything becomes a bit vague. In the environments where I am designing something (a meal or something else), I get to sort through all of this in a very personal way. I can’t so much translate these personal preferences for I want to consume into what I think someone else should do. That also doesn’t mean that I must refrain from critiquing the choices others make. The logic just requires me to keep it in the realm of my own choices and how others choices effect me, rather than attempting to find something higher, more moral, more elevated and universal, and more absolute that would make my decisions inherently better. I also get to decide whether or not I like someone for whatever reasons and even though these wouldn’t be those reasons, they’re an option.
If you haven’t ever read other things I’ve written, this is basically the approach I take to a lot of issues. I like to come at things from my readily available experiences every day and if it builds towards something more abstract and profound I let it; but, that happens much less often than I am satisfied with keeping things close to home. Sometimes I am considering something that involves such complicated interconnections that higher levels of abstraction become useful (and this is one of those things) …but if I can make a sufficient case for my choices without taking things into otherworlds, I’m likely not going to bother articulating the complexities.
ok – ttfn
My annual life review had me looking over the first episodes of Indigestion and concluding that it is one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve worked on in a long time. So, I’m back to it! Enjoy
In this article, the author asks if Egoism and Anarchism are compatible. It begins with questioning the thoughts of Max Stirner, one of the most difficult philosophers to come out of a group referred to as the Young Hegelian which included the likes of Karl Marx, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Bruno Bauer. Max Stirner presented a fierce challenge to just about every school of thought at the time, including the anarchist thoughts of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Regardless, anarchists came to appreciate the challenge which Stirner presented to them and sometimes came to think of Stirner himself as an anarchist thinker because of his relentless opposition to all forms of authority. In the case of this article, it is through the designation of Stirner as an anarchist performed by John P. Clark that the main question is broached.
Opposed to the position that Max Stirner’s thought could be considered anarchism is Dora Marsden’s conclusion; that because Stirner’s egoism not only permits domination as an option, but encourages it, the two philosophies conflict on a fundamental level. The author’s choice Marsden quotes are sometimes rooted in Social Darwinism (which is fucking dumb) and sometimes a form of sophistry which generalizes the applicable conclusions of Egoist thought to the realm of social organization. Some of this is excusable considering the way in which Anarchism here is defined by John P. Clark as an absolute moral opposition to domination. Beyond this limiting definition though, the arguments are a load of garbage, conclusively because Egoism simply does not function at the level of social organization in the way which the author wants to examine it.
The argument that Egoism permits domination is correct, and we can see this in the works of some other Egoists and Individualists (Ayn Rand, for example). The major problem with considering this to be a closed door to Anarchism though, is that the permissiveness of Egoism does not conclude one way or another what sort of social organization an Egoist may decide is in their interests. While the Egoist Anarchist will not be an Anarchist because of the kind of moral absolutes presented by the likes of John P. Clark, Benjamin Tucker, and others, there is no reason why they couldn’t be an anarchist from practical reasoning. Hence, the modifying inclusion of Egoist in one’s description of their flavor of Anarchism.
What this says about the author is that they’re a dick-burger authoritarian… DICK BURGER AUTHORITARIAN. They can properly fuck off.
Thaddeus Russell has been a favorite of mine for a little while now and I was recently lucky enough to catch him locally, in the flesh. Since I’m still in the middle of reading his book, A Renegade History of the United States, I am going to limit my review to his lectures (such as the one I link to above). Now obviously, Russell is a historian, but he is a historian that knows how to fuck shit up. Unlike the Great Man and Social Movement histories of the United States, you are presented with a “history from the gutter up” as he refers to it: mafia, queers, madams, slaves, drunken proletarians, immigrants. Most importantly, you are presented with a history that doesn’t pretend to know what the silent subjects were thinking, but what they were doing.
One of the points that are emphasized in Russell’s presentations is that these subjects where the first to take many of the liberties which are valued today without permission from anyone, especially the State and collectivist social movements. This puts Thaddeus Russell in his own category of anti-State individualism, along with some of his other provoking thoughts about work, political economy, and struggle which clashes with both the Left and the Right. To that I consider Russell’s interests in line with my own, although on some issues I go a different direction.
Specifically, the main difference I have with Russell from his presentation here is on the topic of Autogestion, or Worker’s Self-Management. This is somewhat inconsequential since I agree with working as little as possible and getting as much as I can for whatever work I do, but I do not follow from that thought to an opposition towards autogestion. Russell’s arguments here (if I am remembering correctly) are interesting: a proper critique of the Spanish anarchists of the CNT who imposed discipline on the working class during the Civil War and became a new administrative bureaucracy, the nuisance of additional managerial tasks in a worker’s collective, and the opportunity which is opened up by opposition to capitalists for slacking off and always demanding more from the fuckers. My preference is to abolish the bosses and if I don’t like the demands of participating in collective management, to not succumb to any pressures to participate in it… to abstain from whatever system of voting or consensus is in place. I would much rather have the power to manage my work by default, whether I exercise that power or not, than be a subordinate by default.
That aside, watch the video and enjoy! And if you can, order a copy of his book, which has been excellent so far.
The latest episode of It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, And I Feel Fine. If you’re not familiar with the show, familiarize yourself with it …it’s pretty good. If you are familiar with the show, well hoo-bi-de-doo, here’s the latest!
Among the ranks of the strangest are the Gay Aryan Skinheads, somewhere next to National Anarchists and Juggalos. I’d have to say that I’m fucking fascinated. I mean, in the same way that I’m fascinated with people who are addicted to eating glass and grotesque medical oddities. I’m not sure if I’d rather see them lined up against a wall and executed by an unruly gang of furries, or kept alive to be experimented on in captivity by desperate medical students. For now I suppose I’ll have to settle for their wrench-in-the-gears existence amongst other neo-Nazis and cheer on antifascists that boot party on their faces.
It’s been some time since I’ve participated in this debate, mostly because it exhausts me. To begin with a summary of what this article is about: interactions amongst radicals and intellectuals over the internet. Even though this article is directed at an audience I am not necessarily a part of (I don’t consider myself an activist or anything I do to be activism), the issue has come up many times concerning the anarchist net. It’s a debate that goes into numerous areas: anonymity, counter-intelligence operations, the social quality of online spaces, identity, etc. Not so much a question of whether or not to metaphorically shit where you eat, but a question of how much shit should we sniff while we are eating.
To get it out of the way, the article touches on the surreality of online spaces and the way which this may or may not effect behavior. I don’t have the perspective that “it’s just the internet” which implies some meaninglessness. I am also not of the opinion that I should “always keep the human user behind the username in mind”. The internet is something very concrete to me, with real physical labor and materials producing it and anonymous or not, a mix of 40% humans and 60% bots using it. There are significant efforts by government agencies and corporations to troll comment threads and such. There are hundreds of debates about privacy, access, freedom of information, development, encryption, etc. And in the middle of all of this, it is easier to be both more nice and more mean to those you interact with online. So, my policy is to be myself. This isn’t everyone’s perspective or policy, especially those with a specific agenda …online activists.
None of that fundamentally change the fact that radicals and intellectuals have had some of the most obnoxious and bitter interactions with each other throughout history. Whether it’s the schisms in psychoanalysis surrounding Freud, Surrealist and Situationist splits, Socialist purges and slander, yellow journalism, or newspaper column mudslinging …intellectuals aren’t always the most pleasant people to take part in so-called community with. I think this has something to do with the level of abstraction and complexity which the passions are attaching themselves to, especially when someone’s an professional intellectual of some sort who is threatened existentially by criticisms.
What to do about it? Remember that you’re on a battlefield and your comrades aren’t even necessarily your friends… nor should the be. Maintain spaces online and offline to enjoy life and get away from these frustrations; to spend time with people that are more interested in your health and happiness than the coherence and soundness of your positions, ideas, etc. Keep going and keep learning, keep fighting, keep changing. But I don’t see any point in trying to level up the conviviality amongst people who if I didn’t agree with them on some shit, I’d probably never want to talk to.
“In jobs that required extensive attention to emotions, higher emotional intelligence translated into better performance. Salespeople, real-estate agents, call-center representatives, and counselors all excelled at their jobs when they knew how to read and regulate emotions—they were able to deal more effectively with stressful situations and provide service with a smile. However, in jobs that involved fewer emotional demands, the results reversed. The more emotionally intelligent employees were, the lower their job performance. For mechanics, scientists, and accountants, emotional intelligence was a liability rather than an asset.”
Ok, fine… emotional intelligence isn’t always, absolutely beneficial. But how emotionally intelligent is someone that doesn’t know when to rely on those skills and when not to? This article is, in so many ways, merely about refining the concept of emotional intelligence. I’m not sure to what extent this article is not based on a strawman argument. How often is emotional intelligence ever presented as something that can do no harm, anyway?
Why even bother including this here? Well, this project isn’t so much based on the careful selection of items. It is based on critically reflecting upon the media I am consuming and sharing the product of that reflection.
If you thought emotions were bad, wait until you find out about ideas! Here’s another article dedicated to the undermining of efficacious human agency. There’s ignorance, wilful ignorance, and then there’s a sort of ignorance which is even more atrocious …the unwilling ignorance of brains which want to assimilate facts in bizarre and contradictory ways, entirely ignore facts, or fiercely reject them. This sort of tendency towards self-serving bias and delusion is everywhere in life, from interpersonal relationships, self-assessment of skill, and the consequences of our actions to the lives other people must live that we are asked to fuck around with through policy. On the bright side, there are some counter-measures to this which the above article touches upon.
Well who would have thought that this idea would be controversial! I’m on the side of the Satanists here… and then if they win, I’m doubly on the side of the delinquents who vandalize it.
And that is the end of this installment! Buh-byyyyyyeeeee
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.
Extra-Terrestrials Choose Hollywood’s Sexiest Geeks to Lead Humanity in the War Against the Machines
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.