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if hubris

is the spirit of tragedy, it is alive in statements like the following, from Ted Livingston, founder of Facebook competitor, Kik:

“This is a race to build an operating system for the world, period.”

– from here

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I wanted to check how you feel today?

less than 1

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the comprehension gap: why we don’t know what to say about the election – or what to do about the climate

…the wind is strong again today and gusty and blowing in from the West. Why mention the wind? because the climate is fucked-up-edly weird.

I was sorely tempted to vote for the Climate Change candidate on Election Day.

Everyone we know is running around saying not only is the climate wrong so is the vote! Flat-back-headed fker returned with an historic majority – last time this shit happened was in the twenties. People really don’t know what to say or what to think about this. Which is really interesting … to me. Because it means a lot of people are completely out of touch with … the majority!

There is also the complete disarray and political stupidity of the Labour party, the head honchos of which stood down the smart and logical candidate, David Shearer, eighteen months before the election, at which time they were polling at around 30%. Putting in Cunliffe (a name the spelling of which you don’t want to mess with) cut the vote for Labour by 10% immediately – and as Josie said on the TV3 panel on Saturday night (worth a look some time – on demand), if the party wants votes it needs to mean ‘labour’! the workers’ party! representing those who work against the managers and executives and bankers – people like John Key.

My theory is that a gap has opened between government and nation because public policy is now handled by private companies and organisations and institutions, privately owned, that is. Implementation of policy – even when it is in the public’s interest or that of a group inside society – is separated from government and government cannot be called to account for its poor or ineffective implementation. This happens – this gap opens – because of the insistence that every factor and element of public life, of political life, and maybe even of life itself, is run by a market. Schools and universities, for example, now report on learning ‘outcomes’ – this is exactly the same as productivity. The model in question is that of a competitive marketplace: schools and universities are allocated funding according to how competitive they are – measured and compared by how productive they are of ‘outcomes’. They are still funded, I hear you say, and that funding comes out of the public purse, from tax-payers. But now they have to compete for funding, they have to be run like businesses.

What has this got to do with the gap between the government and the governed? The neoliberal market-led model has been so successful that the governed don’t recognise that they are under the governance of markets because this is the way the government has constituted them, this is how the government deals with the governed – by making them into markets. School children constitute the market for education just like supermarket-shoppers constitute the market for Signature Range products.

Of course, the markets are in turn governed … not by public interest or national interest but by the interests of share-holders. This new abomination ‘stake-holders’ only appears to take the place of those with a financial interest in the ‘outcome’ – it really stands for ‘consumers’.

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just confiscate wealth, Robin Hood: “15% tax on capital, the 80% tax on high incomes, enforced transparency for all bank transactions, overt use of inflation to redistribute wealth downwards”

from

here

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profit and loss: Bruce Barber & Milo Moiré

Bruce Barber in his lecture yesterday, given as part of the Action and Delay conference hosted by AUT, raised for me the question – what is meant by performance in the ‘art world’, and in the institution in which I currently find myself? Why, indeed, would I want to align myself with it, if, as Bruce suggested, after Gregory Sholette, the vast pyramidal-base-sized majority of artists, those engaged in performance, he seemed to intimate, preeminently, are destined to become the ‘dark matter’, their efforts and their art invisible, that holds the Ponzi scheme together and keeps it from flying apart? While a few, as few as there are Russian oligarchs, profit from the existence of an art market, succeeding as artists, at the rarefied tip of the pyramid, they would hurtle off into non-existence without the infrastructural support of curators and managers, middle-men, critics, publications, research interest, courses and conferences that the vast and overwhelming mass of those who will never accede to such heights – or such success, failing inevitably – enables, the existence of which it feeds and feeds on, as an underwater milieu and vast sea-bottom.

What is at stake in ‘performance practice’ as used in this milieu? It seems on the face of it that performance practice is the last place to think about and reflect on performance or think through what it is. Even the documentation has a tendency to collapse into or onto the practice. Whatever thinking goes in to the practice occurs before the outcome which is generically the performance itself.

My understanding of a practice is however exactly the thinking through, about and reflection on the methods, beliefs and ideas that are brought to it, to itself think, and reflect on itself. The question, ‘how does performance think?’ seems to arise less in the milieu of performance than in theatre. The difference being that the performer thinks in theatre through the practice of performance – which is what is meant by technique, acting technique. While the performance artist expresses herself in acting, in an action, intervention, interaction, all the inter-s, she does not interrogate the practice except in research or theory – the technical practice being relegated to a position outside the performance.

The performance artist does not generally have the technical means to think in performance. The performance is an outcome of thought.

How the theatre actor thinks is in the technique of making transitions between states of being in performance, during performance. This insight is due to Esa Kirkkopelto.

Milo Moiré’s performance, PlopEgg #1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKFZOIv5sS0 and at her website http://www.milomoire.com/ has the theatrical components of a technical mise-en-scène – the trestles and scaffold platforms, the canvas support for the finished Rorschach – and the strangley improvised modesty curtain behind which the performer inserts paint-filled eggs into her vagina. She has a stage-manager manoeuvre the latter at several intervals allowing her to refill. But the performance as performance according to the art-world milieu and the tenets of its self-understanding is not and could not be acted – there is only one state of being in the performance, between which the transitions are of low interest in technical terms: between Milo in performance and Milo preparing, backstage, behind the modesty curtain; between Milo pushing out eggs and Milo taking care of the business – albeit nude – of rolling and folding the paint squibs in a canvas. The canvas, it might be said, folds into the performance as its documentation. But the performance is the one repeatable action or operation of plopping eggs.

Where in this performance would there be room to think? As Bruce Barber pointed out, with the Paypal price for the uncensored version of the video at 4.99 Euros and the YouTube views at over 4 million, the thought is, how much money could Milo Moiré potentially make? The success or failure of this performance as performance rests on its reproducibility and functional iterability (this is PlopEgg #1) and statistical and quantitive considerations.

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passing the threshold of the middle class: capitalism’s unhaltable rise and culture’s unstoppable fall

culture now reaches lower and higher than ever before. Academic critical effort is continually levelled at annexing more and more of what was previously low culture, and klo culture, reaching lower and lower to capitalise at higher and higher societal echelons. In this sense it mirrors, or is instigated in its sense of pursuit by, mainline capitalist culture. Once we accept that the middle is disappearing with the eradication of social democracy and the middle class, the classic bourgeois being relegated to historic artifact, it’s possible to see that culture – as in the industry, aided and abbetted by fashion – is following in a way that fashion really shouldn’t if its destiny really were as promised, as hoped for, to fill the vacuum left by the former left avant-garde. Which shows nothing but that things can always get worse. And that with identitarian difference insisting that there be no longer highs nor lows but just difference – subsisting as a remainder of social justice – if a vacuum appear it is the mediocrity will rush to fill it, expanding as it arrives in order to hide the fact of the extinction of culture’s former enemy, who, with the exhaustion of the former proletariat, are now predated upon, the middle, the lukewarm God once vomited out. It turns out capitalism resembles God in this. Obvious really. And the values crisis we are happy to accept others saying we suffer now is no more than symptomatic of what is slipping from our grasp, we the middle class who rose and rose and rose, having our party in the total war that followed parts one through the series and living armageddon every day. Because the crisis in contemporary values is no more than a crisis in bourgeois values, the way for which was being prepared culturally over one hundred years ago. Meanwhile shit and trash, waste and anomie is celebrated with thousand dollar bottles of champagne, and the high and low meet as under and over on a circular bed surrounded by media mirrors in the cultural arena.

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Excerpts – the first, fractal time as evinced in the exhibition, Time and Motion, according to a review thereof; the second, Maria Vargas Llosa refuting the idea that poverty is anything other than the choice of those poor countries and something produced internally rather than evidence of their victimhood – evincing a strange twist on the master-slave trope native to neoliberalism

Time and Motion focuses primarily on a particular demographic of labourer (generally the global information worker), and paints the picture of a tertiary lifestyle which involves multitasking without control over a narrative of time use, and habitual fractured thinking – where non-stop interactivity (a digital version of Taylorist motion) is crack cocaine for the drones. For this category of workers, the workplace is everyplace – diffuse, unfamiliar, a zone of insecurity. We are left with a “thin democracy” in which people are disengaged from political activity except when jolted into consciousness by a shocking event or celebrity meltdown witnessed virally on Youtube during office hours. As more work and labour takes place outside the pre-determined workplace – in the hybrid environments of cafes, trains and across the domestic landscape – the very idea of a work/life balance seems like an alien ideal to aspire to.In an open tertiary society, the industrial model of time, and the bureaucratic time management of factories and office blocks, breaks down. There is no stable time structure and we are increasingly losing our grip on our own time. Time and Motion at FACT interrogates the impact of this fragmentation on the aesthetic forms of contemporary art, and contemplates how artists might offer a critique of our neo-Taylorist predicament.

– from here

It is not true that the rich countries are wealthy because other countries are poor and, inversely, that the misery of the Third World is the result of the abundance of the First World. This was true, relatively speaking, in the past. In the present, it is not. And nothing does more harm to underdeveloped and wretched countries of the planet as this false doctrine, that exonerates them from guilt relative to their condition and transfers all the responsibility for the hunger and helplessness that their poor suffer to the developed countries, those that would feed on them sucking their riches, like vampires do to their victims … The truth is that today poverty is produced, as is wealth, and that both are options available to any country. Many underdeveloped countries, due to the infinite corruption of their ruling classes, the demential dilapidation of their resources, and the unreasonable economic policies of their governments, have become very effective machines that produce the atrocious conditions in which people live.

– Maria Vargas Llosa, in Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día, 1994

…note also the timeline Maria Vargas Llosa alludes to of a past when it was true that poor nations were poor because rich nations are rich and of a present when this is no longer true – and is itself the great mistake bringing misfortune -, a present that presents an infinity of corruption. Perhaps these two excerpts do reflect on one another then, in so far as they both show scenes in which time is managed. In the first, time is unmanageable, auguring a new reality or fractal vision of ‘our’ workaday world; in the second, time, from past and present, opens onto an infinity that halts its progress, which manages, according to Llosa, to be its true meaning.

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The Hobbit: The Failure of Smaug and The Desolation of Commercial Entertainment

Perhaps art would add something to the experience. And in the addition, which itself might be obscure, there would be a clear if indistinct feeling of relief – a purely human quality consequent on the addition of a wholly inhuman quantity. The experience itself in turn might be neutral or it might be intensely stimulating and would not want for the addition – that is, it would be neutral in view of the addition, or at least could be. Which is only to say that the experience might not even appear lacking but what it lacked might only appear or occur later, on reflection. Reflection could reveal a capacity or a potentiality – purely human – that experience had not reached because it could not without involving another intensive quantity – wholly inhuman. And if the system were by design dissipative, there to provide an experience of social, political, erotic or artistic satisfaction, by relieving a purely human quality, the failure would be one of art, taking into account that this supplementary schema of dissipating what is human need not be, and perhaps were better from the start called, inhuman.

I am thinking of the thermodynamics of art and the energetics of commercial entertainment. Which trades in distraction and – for what reason? – seems to want to avoid adding anything to the closed system of its experience, however stimulating. So that the stimulation is the point? But doesn’t this make it worse? by raising a false expectation that it is this very human capacity that will be invoked, relieved, opened on to?

It is as if the closed energetic system of commercial entertainment excludes from the outset any prospect of relief, that its determined materialism is foreclosed from giving satisfaction. Marx was of course here before. He was right on the problem that capitalism ratchets up desire through the illusion of increasing production – which is resource exhaustion – through a continuous addition of factored-in cost, resulting in a boom-bust cycle, the constant in which is that the producer cannot afford what is produced. What the producer can afford is expectation and disappointment: the call to put more and more energy into a system which offers monstrously disproportionate reward. And little relief. The solution of at least one Marxism is the producer’s ownership and it is assumed control of the means of production. How to re-own ownership of what is given? and of what is the given of capitalism? i.e., the gift.

That something essential is missing occurred to me after seeing the second installment of The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug. Not that I am missing or I am being missed – as in I am not the target. Market. Not that I am missing for being excluded from the means of production. And not that I am missing it, or, the point. I was highly productive of laughter, fear and trembling, awe, and kinetic exhaustion, throughout the hyperkinetic HFR 3D experience. It was exhausting. But it left me with regret rather than grateful for having seen it. Not grateful to the massive corporation that made it, delivered it to me, and to the machine of the industry – for which the NZ government in the name of the people is bending over so low to accommodate. Regretful that some supplementary dimension is missing – by design. As if all this artistry were in vain, the artistry of hundreds of artists, from texture artists to actors. Albeit that Peter Jackson has not learnt to direct actors. All those resources and all I had to show for it was an experience from which something was missing. And really it’s not a question of the resources. I saw Frances Ha, a little movie, a character actress vehicle, and it unequally – because it was not so physically involving – failed, failed to acknowledge that anything was missing from it. ‘Relief’ therefore is not the right word. Because the addition is all about acknowledging the problem of art, perhaps, as a barely human defeat in the face of the wholly inhuman.

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field recordings 2013:09:08 17:12:46 – 2013:10:19 14:22:30

Riverhead at the end filled me with a sense of anomie. But not quite. The ugliness of it truly sub urban, and the ugliness of its continuation through developments designed in batches – designed for the market rather than for people to live in, resting on scarifications of an architectural scale and quality: the true architecture of landscape despoliation. And the sound of machines. And trees falling with a vicious crack echoing in the brown armpit of the valley, almost encircled by the eponymous river. And hee-hawing or strafing of men aggressively laughing. The neighbour.

You know, I think of that song lyric – “when I was dead / in Riverhead” – and a corner of sentiment sneaks in. Because Riverhead gave us a lifestyle – and something to hate, which as the Italians are said to say is as important as having something, or someone, to love. So that revisiting these images, there is a strength of purpose in the capture of them – real feeling – which is unlikely to be recaptured in the same way. Somehow John Campbell’s marvelous mouth shining like a solar anus fits – the crack that the light gets in, it really does. Get in.

Riverhead topographically is dominated by the rugby fields. Field recording are also felt. The grounds glowing nightly Soylent green under floodlights. Floodlights that were horrendously expensive to put in and are equally expensive to run. No expense spared. And in the mist maybe a kid is practicing his dodges, duck, dive, and a grown man is stretching his hammies.

Riverhead. Years ago submissions were being solicited – pre-Draft Unitary Plan – for the future development of the town. We all put together some ideas. Dad drew some pictures. We were not optimistic. But down at the 100 year-old hall it was a chance to meet some more locals. Talk about what others envisaged as a vision for the place. Like Auckland itself – which it in fact precedes as the initially projected site for the city – the town turns its back on its natural asset: the river. In Auckland’s case, this is of course the harbour. Was every watery space somehow associated in the colonist planner’s mind with an open sewer? Anyway, the plan we presented was to turn the town to face the river, opening up public walkways along its looping length with shops and eateries and a riverside culture.

It therefore whispers the words ‘another missed opportunity‘ when I see the suburbs tumescent breaking through the skin of the historic town: the dormitory vision of a sleeping skirt for citizens to cling in to. Waiting for their own cancers. Because there has been a slew of cancers recently in the nor’west of Auckland, centring on Kumeu, Huapai, Riverhead. The doctors at the medical centre talk about it.

Anomie. And a sadness that if not altogether sweet is not altogether painful.

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society speaks – celebrity roast busters –

and contrary to Margaret Thatcher’s assertion that society does not exist, something seems to have stirred the ashes and provoked a moralising media Hydra. It is a monster that invokes its own monstrosity in naming those it condemns: who are horrible monsters, who leave us crying with rage, who are condemned for crimes without proof of guilt or of innocence apart from that aroused by consensus in the media. They are of course simulacral crimes waving their wands over the waste, simulacral but not fake crimes, crimes the punishment for which insists most fervidly on silencing the perpetrators, in other words, removing them from the consensus they seem to have created and erred against, banning them from participation in the society they gratify by bolstering it in its sodality as contra, as pure shared revenge, resentment, as sharing and liking sharing itself – sharing, that is, its lust to see itself in its own lights as good and just, moral and true. What happens when the monsters speak? but the monsters are chattering now all at once!

Giovanni Tiso, fellow blogger, I salute you! Psychology lecturer, Neville Robertson – who can find boys guilty of rape by intention and then aberrantly claim that outrage at the behaviour is understandable but should also be directed at “the social conditions which helped create it.” [here]

The appearance of the ministers has its wistfully ironic overtones: Police Minister Anna Tolley and Justice Minister Judith Collins simper from under their slap urging “the young female victims of the Roast Busters sex gang to find the courage to come forward and give evidence.” [here] Why? So that justice with the requisite police enforcement – and allocation of resources – can be seen to be done.

They went into it wanting fame. Now the police are advising them on their own safety. Safety from whom? well, from society, of course!

Do I hate that these young people have become a “teen rape group”? [here] No. I think there ought to be a pussy riot.

The cost of morality is however counted as the value of advertising to Radio Live (to quote in full because it fills me with hope for a backlash or a front to backlash or front lash with ermine trim – because where, after all, have shame and taste gone? – and, since I find myself in this heady parenthesis, cui bono? the girls whose honour is in question? What, in fact, about their shame? the erstwhile left whose pusillanimous outpourings have them sound more like the moral majority? What does Giovanni Tiso gain? What do I?):

ANZ, Yellow and Freeview have confirmed they are cancelling their ads on the show, and AA Insurance has indicated the same.

It came after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted around 30 companies which advertised on the Willie and JT Show yesterday, asking them if they would reconsider their support of the programme.

He has so far received four responses, only one of which, from Countdown, said they were retaining their contract with the station.

here

I would like to end by asking Roast Busters? ‘Roasts’ are allegedly those naughty parties exaggerated and problematised online – or otherwise ‘busted’ [here] I am aware of another kind of roast, called the Celebrity Roast.

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