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Archive for July 2006

addressed to an alternative future

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Cited at If:book, John Berger on the photograph:

[Susan Sontag’s] theory of the current use of photographs leads one to ask whether photography might serve a different function. Is there an alternative photographic practice? The question should not be answered naively. Today no alternative professional practice (if one thinks of the profession of photographer) is possible. The system can accommodate any photograph. Yet it may be possible to begin to use photographs according to a practice addressed to an alternative future.

. . . . For the photographer this means thinking of her or himself not so much as a reporter to the rest of the world but, rather, as a recorder for those involved in the events photographed. The distinction is crucial.

Berger’s riffing on Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” looks like. Not sure if I go along with the rest of the post on If:book, where the writer proceeds to apply Berger’s formulation to the sumptuous meals he eats at his summer retreat on Sardinia (pretty sure that’s not the sort of photography that JB was thinking of) nor of the final turn toward the consideration of flickr. But the distinction does seem to be crucial, if a bit opaque. It has to mean something more than a change in the direction of sympathies, as sympathetic images are no less adaptable to the reign of spectacle than unsympathetic ones. (“The production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology. Social change is replaced by a change in images.”)

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July 21, 2006 at 10:57 pm

grub street playground

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(Just furthering my efforts to become the go-to site for anarcho-marxist design&lit oriented daddy blogging)

Whoa! Just what I needed! I reminder of the good things about leaving the grub street hothouse that is NYC.

Amy Sohn goes apeshit and makes an ass of herself electronically after playground embarrassment.

Seriously: if you’re female and thinking about leaving whatever you do to become a freelance writer / nonfiction author in the US, just keep in mind that this is exactly the sort of shit you’ll be expected to squeeze out. Coulter-esque attacks on your fellow-women. I understand that this is only a blogpost, but Sohn undersells herself here:

That is the end of my rant. I would turn this into a million-dollar book proposal if I could but I don’t think there’s enough to sustain 500 pages.

Oh, there’s that and more, I’m sure. And I’m sure her phone is ringing off the hook already.

What will be interesting will be the way the Mommy Wars change once the US dollar takes its inevitable dip and “Tibetan nannies” (this is the new thing, eh? I’ve been gone too long…) send themselves to Shanghai or wherever rather than Park Slope.

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July 21, 2006 at 10:22 pm

Posted in america

william gibson comes down with apophenia

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Here.

I had to look it up too…

Apophenia: In psychology, the perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things. Apophenia can be a normal phenomenon or an abnormal one, as in paranoid schizophrenia when the patient sees ominous patterns where there are none.

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July 21, 2006 at 7:20 pm

Posted in consciousness, war

(dis)info

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I agree with kottke: very nice infographic:

Much better, anyway than yesterday’s disinfocapiton on the cover of the Evening Standard.

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July 21, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Posted in design, simplicity, war

exchange rate

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A bath of stupidity, hyperbolic untruth, a racist bile for all of us. Infinite Thought took a dip today. My turn I guess.

Hillary Clinton at a pro-Israel demonstration at the UN in NYC on Monday:

“I want us here in New York to imagine if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?” said Clinton, D-N.Y. “We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing up for American values as well as Israeli ones.”

There are fourteen or so ways that this is just heartbreakingly wrong, mindbendingly evil.

First and foremost… Well, I’ll just give you the photo-montage version:






No, Hillary. We wouldn’t rubble Toronto, even if in some ridiculous turn of events some non-governmental entity crossed the border and kidnapped 2 US soldiers. Hell, we wouldn’t even if Steven Harper ordered it himself. Why? Well, I think the answer is obvious, no? Skin-tone. That is the point. That is why this is allowed to happen.

Seriously, Hillary: would we leave the corpses of Canadian children littering the side of the QEW? Really? Having been told to flee, say, St. Catharines, we’d hit their Ford Windstar, leave the little canucks smouldering on the shoulder?

And that’s just the start of course. And while no, we wouldn’t reduce Toronto to a pile cinder blocks, crimp the CN tower, etc I do think this statement should give Canadians and Mexicans a bit of a pause. After all, there are scenarios that have been devised by the US government one could imagine wherein a group – even consisting of Canadian citizens – launches an attack on US soil from Canada, the government response is deemed too weak, and, well…

Offensive. Shit-smellingly so. Brimstone-ish.

As the Canadian father of a Canadian child, 13 months old, currently asleep in her Toronto Maple Leafs pjs acquired last week in Toronto, and as relatively new father who feels an increasingly deep degree of solidarity with parents everywhere, Lebanon, Baghdad, Haifa, wherever, I might as well set it in HTML right now: no matter the crisis point we’ve reached, there is no fucking way I’m pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton, for senator, president, school board sitter, anything. (We’re dual citizens, so dad can vote here, but he’s working on finding a way to put that behind us…) There’s PR, there’s triangulation, and then there’s hateful cynicism that tests the lower limits of decency, rhetorical turns that soak the soul in the blood of infants.

More at archive: sometimes

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July 21, 2006 at 12:12 am

Posted in canada, war

national in form, socialist in content

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Open Democracy on North Korean art:

Socialist Realism is now referred to in North Korea as Juche Realism. Juche art theorists in North Korea divide world art history into two kinds: “peoples’ art”, reflecting the needs of the masses, and “reactionary art”, reflecting the ideology of the exploiting class. Kim Il-song’s 1966 instruction, “Let’s develop our National form with Socialist content”, is still regarded as the absolute guiding principle of Juche art. This “call” for a new Juche Art was in fact a paraphrase of both Stalin and Mao. Stalin had defined Socialist Realism as “national in form, socialist in content”, while Mao called it “national in form, new democratic in content”.

The “national form” of painting naturally meant traditional Korean ink painting or Chosonhwa, but oil painting (an imported western technique) was also encouraged. Large public wall paintings, which would normally be expected to be carried out in oils, were therefore also produced in ink painting, encouraging ink painters to paint realistically. Still today, there are many more ink painters classed as Merit Artists or Peoples’ Artists than there are oil painters, as a matter of principle.

I hadn’t ever heard this formulation before, somehow. And when I first read it, I wondered to myself, “Now what would they possibly mean by a nationalist form for a novel?” and then realized that that’s the point. Not a novel but Korean ink painting or whatever.

But it’s interesting to think, now that I’ve got it straighten out for myself, why it is that “nationalist in form, socialist in content” became something like a universal definition of Socialist Realism, at least according to this article. Why is it that the content is deemed pliable, adjustable to the ideological weather, while the form – in the sense of medium or genre – is considered intractable, rooted in the soil…

Why, in other words, couldn’t it be “Socialist in form and content”?

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July 20, 2006 at 10:08 pm

Posted in aesthetics, socialism

casuistry

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Ken MacLeod on the doctrine of just war:

Nothing has done more to corrupt humanity than the attempt to civilise warfare. Just War Theory is an utter perversion of the moral sense, a doctrine of literally mediaeval barbarism, invented by clerics to regulate wars between Christian kings. Its finest moral discrimination to date is that it’s legitimate to kill a munitions worker on his way to work, but a crime to kill him on his way home. It tells us that to aim a bomb at an enemy soldier and kill a hundred civilians is – if the necessity is there – legitimate collateral damage, but to deliberately aim one bullet at one enemy civilian is murder. In its pedantic, casuistic jesuitry it still stinks of the cringing, quibbling fusspots who invented it, and retains too its usefulness to a useless and barbaric ruling class. It does nothing whatsoever to restrain their behaviour. Its only function is to befuddle those who oppose, protest and fight them. It justifies every horrific, predictable consequence of imperialist assault as an unintended consequence, and condemns every horrific, predictable consequence of resistance to that assault as an intended consequence. Their violence against civilians is mass murder, ours is collateral damage.

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July 20, 2006 at 8:46 pm

Posted in distraction, war