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Archive for the ‘uncanny’ Category

obsolete forms

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We wait for the image, the conjunction, that will blind us or make us at last see, that will reset the operating system and let us move under a power “not our own” but all our own, just differently, newly, once and for all.

But the right image, the effective conjunction, never comes. We have flags and mothers and cheerleaders, we have the soft core and the hard core, the lynchings, the bombings, and the children.

These clips lend us access to a world that has passed. Nothing does the trick anymore; we must find another aesthetic with which to break ourselves into compliance with our baser, animalian, that is to say human, enlightened, imperatives.

Written by adswithoutproducts

September 3, 2007 at 1:58 am

“have you been to the edge?”: photo caption contest

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Need more interactivity, hereabouts. Donc a photo for you to caption:

The NYT explains what the image is here.

What are you waiting for? Get captioning, or I’ll make you watch the Gorbi Pizza Hut ad too.

To hell with it, I’ll make you watch it anyway:

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August 9, 2007 at 12:43 am

think they meant “ouroboros capital management”

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Cerberus Capital Management, whose largest institutional investors include the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and TIAA-CREF (the latter handles my meager retirement accounts), purchases Chrysler, and immediately installs an anti-labor goon as CEO… Robert Nardelli, referred to in this USA Today article as "the poster child of poor workforce relations," is the goon in question. In other words, money managed on behalf of (mostly) union members has, via the wonderful ethical laundry program of capital management lp type stuff, come around to set other union members up for a royal ass-kicking and general despoilation, mostly of, yes, their retirement benefits. Following so far?

We’re not very far away from a scenario in which, say, a car company’s employee-managed retirement fund, via a capital management company, purchases the very car company in question, and in a frantic grasp for capital, robs the very workers who hold the fund of retirement benefits before breaking the company into parts and putting everyone out of work. So everyone ends up with no job, no health benefits, and slightly higher retirement account balances. Except, of course, for the new CEO and the managers in the CM firm, who walk away with tons of cash.

Ha! That would be hilarious! Almost as funny as California school teachers ("inadvertently") fucking the guys who make the Chryslers. (which is not as funny, because it is not as uncanny… plus there’s a rather obvious white-collar, blue-collar thing going on, though I’ll bet the blues on average earned more than the whites do now…)

At any rate, there is of course a message in all of this, a blindingly clear one about complicity and the impossibility of clean hands (like I said, TIAA-CREF manages my money too!), and what the "end of the proletariat" means when it results in the birth of a class of fractional capitalists who unconsciously read their quarterly-statements unaffected by the scenes of cannibalistic creative destruction playing out between the lines of figures.

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Written by adswithoutproducts

August 8, 2007 at 12:32 am

palliative care

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(Xposted from Long Sunday)

K-punk has a truly brilliant piece up about Children of Men. For one thing, he does a terrific job of decoding the squeamish-making situational conceit of the work – a world in which women can no longer have children – a conceit which of course sends us when we first hear about it almost automatically in all sort of directions that aren’t really borne out by the film itself (anxiety about working women, anxiety about homosexuality, anxiety – a la Pat Buchanan et al – about the death of the “white race,” etc…) K-punk’s version is much more (aesthetico-ideologically) optimistic and truer to what we see on screen…

The third reason that Children of Men works is because of its take on cultural crisis. It’s evident that the theme of sterility must be read metaphorically, as the displacement of another kind of anxiety. (If the sterility were to be taken literally, the film would be no more than a requiem for what Lee Edelman calls ‘reproductive futurism’, entirely in line with mainstream culture’s pathos of fertility.) For me, this anxiety cries out to be read in cultural terms, and the question the film poses is: how long can a culture persist without the new? What happens if the young are no longer capable of producing surprises?

Children of Men connects with the suspicion that the end has already come, the thought that it could well be the case that the future harbours only reiteration and repermutation. Could it be, that is to say, that there are no breaks, no ‘shocks of the new’ to come? Such anxieties tend to result in a bi-polar oscillation: the ‘weak messianic’ hope that there must be something new on the way lapses into the morose conviction that nothing new can ever happen. The focus shifts from the Next Big Thing to the last big thing – how long ago did it happen and just how big was it?

I’m going to say more about this on my own site when I get a chance, but one of the (very basic) things that I loved about the film was that, despite the fact that human life itself is dwindling out, that these people are living in either the aftermath or the final stages of what looks to be the ultimate catastrophe, one which will surely culminate, within a few years, in the end of the human race, they go about their business – commuting to work, stopping for coffee, watching tv, etc. The film pounds us with the savage uncanniness of the thought of rejiggering our retirement accounts, redoing the kitchen, or, of course, seeing movies as the world ends around us…

Think of the dystopian works that share this stance: 1984 and the cafeteria talk, Josef K. thinking about his missed breakfast at the opening of The Trial, etc…

One does wonder about the economic organization of this imagined world. Certainly it’s not our system – can’t be. Uncreative destruction without growth, hyper-full employment, hyper-inflation geometrically beyond Weimar precedent. There’s no sign in the movie of what has happened on this score, save for the fact that we see no one – save for the coffeehouse people, presumably – who isn’t a public servant…. And there are ration books…

If it is socialism, it is of course a stripe of national socialism. But what do we make of a fantasy of a socialism that can only arrive by natural dictat, after the real end of history, just before the end of mankind itself?

9/11, of course, wasn’t the end of the world in any sense, no matter what anyone wanted us to believe then or wants us to believe now. But I do distinctly recall as I shuffled around Brooklyn Heights that day, a sense that something strange in just these terms was afoot. On the one hand, there was a palpable if tacit giddiness that seemed to stem from the idea that there’d be no more work that day, tomorrow, maybe even the whole week. People I ran into coming home early from work were excited to be off, if also horrified. A snow day, as it were, for the entire city. (It is controversial to register this ambivalence, of course – remember the recent dustup about Thomas Hoepker’s photograph?) Something else to think about, something to do other than paper shuffling or service work, or studying etc. On the other hand and at the same time, I am quite sure that many of us, just days or hours or minutes or even seconds after the climactic scene, were thinking “but what about that work that I have to do.” I know for a fact that an acquaintance of mine, despite being aware in a general way of what was going on, continued to work at his dissertation chapter in the university library, tapping away as the whole world freaked out.

Just before the first tower fell and I was forced by the cloud of dust to head home, I remember making deals with myself about just how much time I could give myself for this sort of thing. I was reading for my oral exams at the time – I think I decided that I would take that day off but no more. In the end, I started reading again on September 13. Or maybe it was the night of the 12th.

Long story short, I think our fantasies and fears about catastrophe, dystopia, and the end of the world have quite a lot to do with somewhat banal anxieties and ambivalence about the work that we do, the conditions under which we work, and the possibility that our work situations might one day change. But I’ll say a bit more about this soon.

Anyway, more later. But do go read K-punk on this – I’m not saying here anything he hasn’t said far more penetratingly and eloquently. It’s a brilliant post…

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January 29, 2007 at 12:28 am

first ever…

with 5 comments

AWP forum…

So. My father sent me yet another chain-email today. I expected to scroll down to find some image soaked with bêtise, stupidly funny or “cute” or “frightening.” Instead I found this.

Subject: EVER SEE AN ICEBERG FROM TOP TO BOTTOM?

This is awesome! This came from a Rig Manager for Global Marine Drilling in St. Johns, Newfoundland. They actually have to divert them away from the rig by towing them with ships! In this particular case the water was calm & the sun was almost directly overhead so that the diver was able to get into the water and click this pic. Clear water huh? They estimated the weight at 300,000,000 tons. And now we know why they say one picture is worth 1000 words… And now we also know why the Titanic sank!


Now for the forum part. Please explain – succinctly, of course – why it is that I find this image so disturbing.

I’ll start: the feeling that I get from looking at it is something like the feeling that I have when I come across a bug with an engorged torso-ey thing. Like a tick full of blood…

OK… your turn…

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Written by adswithoutproducts

December 14, 2006 at 2:37 am

Posted in uncanny