N-exile

day 8 or the impossible – goes into day 9 or CANNOT

Dear reader,

As you will by now already be aware, approximately 2 billion of earth’s human inhabitants have found themselves under voluntary or enforced, and everything along the continuum, home arrest, otherwise called ‘self isolation.’ These have also had foisted upon them a physical noncontact zone called ‘social distancing.’ As Prof. Chomsky has pointed out, see previous posts, social distancing is the normal state of affairs when everyone’s on a cellphone, locked, as Dr Leonard Cohen sings, into their ‘hopeless little screens.’

We have made, on this blog, two points:

1) the continuity of ‘cognitive bubbles’ with the now enforced or voluntary–and everything inbetween–bubbles we are expected to inhabit now, or those we have imposed by force on us, and everything inbetween (called foam or surf);

2) this is not life during wartime. It cannot be. In the same sense there has been no war since WWII.

How do states raise funds for war?

How do sovereign states raise the funds necessary to conduct war on other sovereign states? How do these sovereign states afford to mobilise themselves in defense?

On this the whole question would turn.

This: CANNOT.

Meaning: what cannot be done and what is impossible to do.

A state mobilised in its own defense, or in order to conduct war on another, can: rely on banks, issue its own government bonds, accrue debt, burdening future generations; depend on its people to support the cause, since they are what it represents, imposing higher taxes; control subsequent and consequent inflation by increasing the money supply–called today quantitative easing, and applied under an ongoing state of exception which makes peacetime states, under international fiscal directives, enact wartime austerities.

We know austerity to entail the privatisation of expensive public services and the selling of publicly owned state assets, fixed, like hospitals and schools, energy infrastructures and telecommunications networks, and working, circulating in labour markets, made to circulate, undercut and degraded and underpaid, but not only for profit. For in fact states to unburden themselves, and to incapacitate themselves, so as to be fleet, agile and adaptive; so as to move to a more managerial stance; and to the increase of economic capacity.

In the eventuality of war or of a mobilisation being called for to fight the scourges of drugs, terrorism or contagious disease, do we imagine states reburdening themselves with heavy responsibility? Or do we imagine a managerial stance to continue and a chain unfolding, like a Jacob’s Ladder, down through the level of service provision, through supervisors, branch managers to the frontline staff, where each divests unto the next above?

The Bluebridge frontline staffmember, with the magenta hair, told us in Picton, despite the extenuating circumstance of having been required to be present at 6am, on a Saturday, with others suffering the same circumstance, when, on a Saturday, there is no ferry sailing, that she could only go on what her supervisor had told her. The list for standbys would be made up at 11am. And not before. Our presence was required to be resumed if we hoped to go on the list.

To ask different of her, to be angry, is simply untoward. She cannot do any different than she has, and she cannot have done.

This was the time, contemplating the Cook Strait separating South from North Islands of our small Pacific nation, we felt like immigrants in wartime. Watching perhaps the last sailing.

The situation was of course complicated by the other service provider–Bluebridge does not have a monopoly–which, when approached, informed us of a limit of 200 per sailing. On boats with over a thousand capacity.

We retain the nomenclature ‘essential industry.’ But in truth, in modern wartime as in modern peacetime, can there be any requisitioning of such industry?

Would this not be the ideological crime called out by the current US President, the Orange Thing (not to speak of the other South American Thing [a Coisa]), as being a Chavez-ism?

And we are reminded of all those times there has been an absence of recourse, the Jacob’s Ladder having pursued its downwards trajectory which somehow looks to be upwards, from the underpaid, underinformed, almost mostly unformed frontline staff, when they told us this or that rationally available course of action was foreclosed. And not only that but as a line of rational inquiry, or one of argument, it was censurable.

At stake in the impossible of the it cannot be done is then the virtual category of capacity. It is not that the state is incapable in its current mobilisation. There is no capability at all.

Dear reader,

There is no capability at all left in its institutions.

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Day 6 & 7

Mike sent me this from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Thanks!

So…

…at least it’s…

AIDS / HIV is said to have claimed 25 – 35 million victims since 1981

no recent pandemic compares, except the Spanish flu

the giant remains the bubonic plague

but there’s something quick, nasty and disingenuous in comparing death tolls

better to consider the management of diseases afflicting populations:

Not forgetting the Plague of Fascism, COVID 19 the sideshow:

Nuclear war – global warming – death of democracy – and the interconnectedness of it all:

“2 billion are at home” … “if they are lucky enough to have a home” … “what does this discourse about war tell us?” with COVID 19 as an “enemy”

Chomsky: to manage the crisis we have to move to something like wartime mobilisation…

…Chomsky in part blames the collapse of institutional structures for the severity of what we are experiencing now with, from COVID 19…

and he gives voice to the options being “highly authoritarian borderless states to radical reconstruction” and transformation to the question: How do we want to live?

Of course this question is not so much about natural life or lifespan or individual health as it is about social or public life: but since Thatcher and Co. killed it, what weight or importance does the question of society carry?

since the health of the nation is pegged on economic health: 2 trillion Federal Reserve dollars are not for medical but financial aid.

…then there is the 1971 interview in which Foucault and Chomsky face off:

Foucault concedes that he allows very little to individual creativity.

It will be a matter of epistemic change. And we cannot know the factors beforehand which will drive it.

As Deleuze might say, we need to keep a look out.

Restraining the discussion of COVID 19 to that about the unity of a National Subject–as its transcendental condition and at the same time naturalising historic Nationalism to procure immunity–when that immunity is from the dissensus of individual dissent as from consensus, because it cannot be a crisis of the social order, and its acts will not be claimed by government: whose acts are more in line with a kind of autoimmunity to its own authoritarian moves (insisting on voluntarism in self isolation and social distancing)–or restraining the discussion to one about how we effectively mobilise, well these of course are not about creative dimensions pointing towards anything but more of the same.

And it may be a good long time of counting the death toll before we tend to count the toll taken on the social or the public realm. Politics have long since ceased to be representative of this realm.

That is public passions run contrary to politics as they are currently practiced.

the question will not be what to do?

but how to do it together, as Srećko Horvat points out

then how to free doing it together from the communicative realm, which also no longer coincides with the social or with social passions, as even Chomsky can see

social distancing is a fact of social media

self isolation is a fact of communicative networks

What to look out for then are breaks in the continuities

the major continuities of our generally backward-looking ways of talking about what’s going on, our memorial approaches,

what to look out for then are changes of habit, cracks that tend to deepen

and jump from one area of public discourse to another

electricity.

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Day 5

Raymond Ruyer’s book Neofinalism begins, after the death of God the question is not What is true? but What makes sense?

The question is not whether this or that truly exists but whether its existence makes sense. Its existence, Ruyer is quick to point out, implies ours: does yours makes sense? Does yours makes sense, without truth?

Without truth to make sense of it, does your existence make sense? And is its existence intelligible? Is there any meaning to existence?

Yes there is, immediately personalises it. As does, No there isn’t.

Each assumes the making of sense. Is a commentary on it. Unnecessary.

Truth would seem to be unnecessary to sense. But sense was how truth was found out because how God was found it, launching the new truism: eventually, whatever the prevailing truth, it does not make sense.

But there are certain truths, mathematical or geometrical, aren’t there? which make, will always make, sense. Eternal truths. Demonstrable and experiential truths. Existential truths.

But are they important? Is not their importance simply derived from a godlike quality of being forever true?

What a poor investment the truth has made if all it has to show forever is that the sum of a triangle’s angles… or a line extended… or any constant value… Its constancy itself is its downfall.

It does not require your interest. It does not even need you to notice for it to be true in perpetuity. Like God, when it comes down to it.

That God stopped making sense is not so much the issue as that belief in God ceased to matter.

Is this not the case for triangles, long division, differential equations, for everything from the simplest function to the most speculative?

What is important and is there meaning are one and the same question.

The problem is the point of view of eternity versus the point of view of one who exists. It is not yet a question of consciousness.

Consciousness presupposes the sense of what exists. As Ruyer shows.

And we are strangely attached to what exists and to who.

What is important once our own existence is in question comes to concern not what makes sense so much as what makes sense of our existence.

What is important concerns not what is meaningful to us but what is it without which we have no importance, who without whom we are meaningless.

The field is not large perhaps. It is not the time for making great moral claims. But I’m sure many will be compelled to do so, to shore up their own sense of importance, to salvage meaning from the flood.

The worst will be those, since it is a time of plague, who claim measures of health for moral certainties.

The next worse will be those clogging up the already overworked Breach Line set up by the police for dobbing in those not doing self isolation or social distancing properly.

Moralists. Then busybodies.

What is important will perhaps be a narrow field. But it will be all we require to make sense of ourselves and our existence. Best to narrow it.

Better a few simple elements than many fragile and complex compounds.

Like Mark Hollis says: one note, better that, to be able to play just one note, for it to sound

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Day 4

It’s a beautiful evening. The tui are sending out their last and simplest songs of the day, just a few notes.

The bellbirds in the Marlborough Sounds–that are not Sounds, neither are the fiords of Fiordland fiords–at their most improvisatory outdo tui, and are often mistaken for them, although, in taxonomy and appearance they couldn’t be more unalike: tui–black and scintillant with cardinal blue, a preacherly tuft of white at the collar; bellbird–smaller, green, with a duller blue on wings and head.

Did I tell you I saved a kakariki in Paradise?

It had flown into a post on the porch, fallen, its head at a silly angle to its body. This was where we were staying, a cabin, also, as we might say, improvisatory: the porch out of reclaimed glass louvres, the kitchen with gas hobs under a lean-to, sheltered from the wind by reclaimed windows in frames posed in a V behind the hobs, one room, windows at the foot of the double bed, double-glazed as it happens, so at night, when I lit the Little Cracker, it was like a sweat-tent, until the early hours. And the view through those windows at the foot of the bed! Up the Dart Valley, the giant on his back belching pounamu all up and onto the West Coast. The weather coming in and the light dancing on the valley over the crags.

I thought at first the little parrot to be a rubber ball I’d picked up in Mapua, where we stayed at a camping ground advertising clothes optional. A saving, in fact, being able to drop duds and change clobber without the worry of bare bottom land exile.

But then when I stooped over it I saw it’s little neck to be broken. And its wings splayed out, I tried to scoop it up. It skittered away, now dragging its wings as if these were lost of its control. Just before it disappeared under the cabin, where the rats would get it, I caught and cupped it in my hands.

Its head still at a silly angle, it eyed me. Its orange iris, wide eye. Probably stunned.

J. said drip some water on its beak to bring it around, like Opa used to do (when he rescued birds, as he used to also).

I caught some drops on my fingers and dribbled them off onto its tightly clamped parrot beak, miniature.

I don’t know what it was saying with its big orange eye and dilated black pupil, like a sunflower. It looked fucked.

I took the kakariki and placed it on the picnic table which stood some distance on the flat from the cabin. This is where we ate dinner and where I wrote in the mornings. It’s also where we ate the pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and banana J. cooked up for breakfast. Must have been a Sunday. The pancake mix came from Foxton Windmill, a wonder. The only working windmill grinding grain in the country.

It was dusk and we went inside, sat at the foot of the bed, looking out every so often at the kakariki and reading books.

We decided it had been too late for the little bird. Ought we put it on the ground? No, the rats would get it.

Its wings were out from its body. It hadn’t moved its head.

And as the light was halved, J. said: it looked around.

It had looked quickly around once, and as I turned I saw it gather itself up and fly off into the manuka.

As if it had been waiting to be sure. And as if it had been quietly gathering its reserves, checking its escape route, running over the plan. Coast clear–away.

I hadn’t wanted to photograph it in my hands in case it just died. But when I think about its eye and the brilliance of its plumage, parrot greens and blues, unlike the dull earth tones of most New Zealand birds, and their nebulous and indistinct colours, their shy colours, I think it knew: it struck me it was not timid, not a self-effacing creature.

Dark now outside. Tui quiet until tomorrow, when they start as they end the day with their simplest songs. Maybe one or two notes, answering each other over the valley. The family is watching Country Calendar.

Strange miracles. Somebody said quick to tears, my age.

Or course the kakariki probably didn’t need me to move it in order to perform the ordinary miracle of surviving its stupid accident: what kind of bird flies into a post? But perhaps it needed whatever passed between us, or we did, from its bright orange eye.

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day 3

hope for change

from this, so we have sort of drifted into another bubble and we have all

but we have not done it collectively

desperation is it?

leading many to hope from here we cannot go back there

how to be certain?

vamos lentos por que vamos lejos

or as many say: how do we go back? in 21 more days do we consider this time as no more than a break in transmission?

in order to create a break in transmission?

at the flattening of the curve will we remember ourselves?

we cannot be certain how many will want to

and how many others will recognise in their neighbours a change of heart

we’ll be all right without you

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Days 1 – 2 LOCKDOWN & NATIONAL EMERGENCY

Did they act in wartime, like, you know, it was just a good idea? Like it was a good idea to stop people congregating by shutting down things like public communication (wifi) services? (Although loose lips sink ships.) Like, it was a good idea just to stay in your bubble? (Although a bubble’s not a blackout.) And when was it a good idea for an entire population to go along with these good ideas?

Was there, has there ever been, a time when we did voluntarily?

Was it a good idea to go along with these good ideas and then find we were submitting to enforced imposition of what we had previously been going along with because it was a good idea?

Michael Joseph Savage, whose picture appeared behind the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern during her presidential style PM-Office addresses, didn’t quite prepare a peacetime postwar fit for heroes. But his brand of socialism instituted during WWII, soft and Christian-value-inflected as it was, did set the scene for a period of prosperity at least with a bead on egalitarianism (when the word was actually utterable)–doing everything successive political incumbents, after 1984’s Fourth Labour Government, have done their best to undo.

So there was an irony in Savage’s presence behind our PM as she told us about all the things we were being asked to do. A savage irony, in retrospect, after the imposition of Level 4 Eliminate.

Level 4 Eliminate is the point at which we are instructed to stay at home, educational facilities are closed, as are businesses, excepting essential services, at which supplies may be rationed and facilities requisitioned, travel is severely limited, and at which there is a “major reprioritisation of healthcare services.”

The irony is one of omission, since the New Zealand government as agent is omitted.

Government as agent is omitted in instructing people to stay home, in closing schools and businesses, with the exception of essential (to government) services, is omitted as agent acting to ration supplies and requisition facilities, to limit travel, and is omitted as agent directing healthcare services towards its own priorities.

It is a situation compared to wartime but one in which martial law has not been imposed.

Even with the New Zealand government acting like a government, unlike the Australian one, there is no claiming by government of its political prerogative. There is no commitment from government to govern.

What is asked of the population is an accord, an agreement, a contract, and a will to be governed, where government is not imposed.

Where government has not been imposed we have a state of governance in which we are to be the agents of our self isolation. (Its reflexivity may better explain the use of this term than the confusion over whether we are in quarantine or self quarantine before being infected but self isolation upon infection or whether it is the other way around: quarantine, even self quarantine, demands an external agency quarantining or providing the means to; self isolation is DIY, all you need is a home to stay at.)

If it turns out it was not a good idea we, not government did it, in conceding to being governed. And what would the tip-off be?

At what point would we know we had conceded too much to a government that dare not speak its name?

Will it have turned bad when we are asked to go out and catch those who are not doing it properly?

What is going to be today’s or tomorrow’s equivalent of conscientious objection?

At the end of Day 1 and into Day 2 it is an absurd situation.

But it is less absurd than the righteousness of those, and the good humour of those, who are doing it properly, whose righteousness consists in the fact that we are somehow uniting against COVID 19, whose good humour consists in invoking the wartime analogy:

Your grandparents were asked to kill or be killed for your country; you’re being asked to sit on a sofa and stay home. Now, let’s get this right!

I don’t know how we unite in a state of voluntary or enforced social atomisation so extreme we are said to be in ‘bubbles’ of self-isolation.

And what is the connection between these bubbles we are in bodily and those cognitive bubbles we are in digitally, that we are also in voluntarily, in which we are said not to have a single experience that breaks with the continuity of past experience, but to experience the continuous transmission of the same?

What is the connection but that one bubble leads into another (as Peter Sloterdijk has already written, at length)?

Under the ongoing state of exception of a National State of Emergency we seem to have done nothing more than pass through the liquid and diaphanous membrane from one bubble into another. Without there being much difference to note.

In face of a common sense calling on unity against an internal enemy and in the way one good idea leads to another and one bubble leads to another, the recourse to reason outside that of the state, to any reason outside of the state’s, becomes ever slimmer, as do reason’s resources become slighter outside of those to the requisition of which we have conceded. In fact we have recourse to agency not in the way it defers to us or is ours by right but only by reference to the service sectors the state has already auctioned off, those agencies which, although they may be accountable to the state are neither responsible to it nor to us for the supply and provision of their services.

I would like to agree and affirm this period for the good that the private realm withdraws from that public realm in which it can of late be said to have lost all faith.

I would like to agree and affirm this period for the good that the public realm needs to be assessed on the basis of this withdrawal from it and from the fact that we have conceded to it.

What this means is a “major reprioritisation” of the political, of the role of government in the public realm.

It is a global TIME OUT.

To do it properly means to reverse our concession to withdrawal from the public realm at the very time we see it can get by without us as if we were never really part of it.

To do it properly means to claim the political prerogative entailed in our concession, that government fails to claim, entailed in the suspension of all economic activity except for the services essential to public life. At the very time we see a reality that is the political reality, we see money and markets can get by without us.

It is a political reality, not dictated by the commercial reality, of economic activity, as if after all we did for it, after all that work and all that study, we were never really part of it.

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for Raymond Boyce, 19 May 1928 – 1 August 2019, presented at the tribute held 10 August 2019, Hannah Playhouse, Wellington, NZ

some-lines-from-the-Russian-school-for-Raymond-Boyce-2

some links:

“this building”

“is a masterpiece”

“of theatre” “design”

see also,

under the lefthand margin heading

TAYLOR ARCHIVE,

which is of course

the TAYLOR | BOYCE ARCHIVE

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end of dreaming

I don’t want to be the one who lives here
     but the alien
I want to visit your beautiful country

I don’t want to speak this tongue
     but the alien
I want to hear your beautiful language

I don’t want to share the words used
     to be the one who understands
     but the alien

I don’t want to be able to explain
     who we are
     what is said
     how we do things here

I don’t want to be the one who asks what you think
     of our beautiful country
     but the alien
I want to understand nothing but your laughter

I don’t want to be the one who knows
     who we are
     and who they are
     but the alien

I don’t want to be the one who knows
     what we are
     and what they are

I don’t want to give them the words
     to take out the words they use
     to share the words in their mouths

I want to share in your beautiful laughter
     and to understand in your smiles
     your good will to strangers

I don’t want to be the one with dreams of leaving
     anymore
     but the alien

I don’t want to be the one who hears
     from your beautiful mouth
     you are leaving
     but the alien
who leaves who just leaves who lies down
     and leaves

I don’t want to feel this grief on anyone’s behalf
I don’t want to feel this shame on anyone’s behalf

but I want this grief
but I want this shame

     and the shame of grief
     and the shame of shame

 

 

[written on the occasion of the shooting

Christchurch 15 March 2019]

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dear reader, I am writing a book. Below a tiny excerpt. If you would like to support this work, please contact me by way of the contact form, top, left hand margin.

The brain remains a symbol, with all that is entailed under this symbolic existence, nailed at some extremity—perhaps the highest plank—of the vast carpentry we have been calling the symbolic framework of reference, so long as its cognitive functions are identified with representation and so long as these higher functions are so called. Except that it express itself symbolically we should therefore show no small amazement that we cannot trust it.

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brand “curatorial journalism”: this year more than ever before we are fighting the power (of speech)

Seth Abramson writes in the Guardian:

“In 2018, there are actually more reliable news reports than ever before, as there are now more responsible media outlets online and in print than there ever have been – a fact that often gets lost in debates over “fake news”. The digital age has also internationalized hard news reportage, meaning that readers have access to high-quality reports from around the world with an ease that was impossible before the advent of the internet.

“But this sudden expansion in focused, reliable news coverage has coincided with some of the largest and most prestigious media outlets cutting resources for investigative reporting. The upshot of all this is that reporters have less time or ability than ever before to review the growing archive of prior reporting before they publish what they’ve uncovered.”

He goes on to advocate (advertise) curatorial journalism. It’s like journalism but smarter. It’s all about context–that other dream of the net: hyperlinks as hypereferences and the interweb interweaving texts and documents and statements, online discourse in short, in multidimensional networks so that any one thread, quote, citation, reference might be followed back to its earliest online expression; or connected horizontally, and so on. But this is not the system we have.

We are therefore once again living in that exceptional present which would have been the future if it hadn’t already arrived, that exception that is always made for this year having more reliable news reports than ever before as well as more unreliable news sources than ever before as well as more words expended on, well, just about anything–taking into consideration the rise of text over speech in daily communication–than ever before.

The answer might have been, had Seth Abramson been so inclined, journalism with a scalpel. And we might well have been saying about our exceptional present moment, as well we might, that the time for journalistic balance has passed. The idea of a report being neutral, and of it presenting both sides of an issue, or curating the multiple facets of a complex ‘story’, belongs to the past. We might so have been saying. But what is of our devising, as the present is supposed to be, in the Anthropocene, is smarter than us–is supposed to be: so we are in the predicament of making sense, sense for an audience in the case of journalism, of a situation, a situatedness, of a realtime-base for issues, we have carelessly, hopelessly and unconscionably complexificated.

Journalism with a scalpel would offer a different diagnosis: maybe cut first ask questions later–maybe, but with the surgeon-reporter being held accountable. And perhaps more than events and issues becoming more complex, more deeply intricated and extensively imbricated, than ever before, issues and events have become more integrated, more deeply intimated and extensively implicated–in the social, for sure, but, as surely, in the personal.

Having an opinion is a public liability. Have a stupid opinion! Say “to be honest” a lot, honestly. Or imho, modestly. Have a stupid, make a stupid tweet, and the world is cheeping with you.

Imagine the informed writing to the level of the educated. Imagine no more–because in fact more informed journalists are writing to a better educated public than ever before this year. Of course this year stupidity has been normalised as populism too.

I find myself–more honestly, I lose myself–walking in a library modestly wondering what it is for, since it doesn’t itself seem to know. And the ones who work here give the others who don’t, who used to be members and who now are customers, or patrons, the resentful eye, while adverting to the latest electronic offering, whether it is wifi, or the latest pulp fiction or pulp nonfiction (pulp fact? fat nonfict?) available via the app. Like Seth Abramson, in the Guardian, I have been an advocate (advertiser? advertisement?) for curation: librarianship, isn’t it a matter of leading the social animal to the cultural water? Making better animals to make a better social? (Dot says, But you can’t make it think.)

These GOSPIS (Grand Old Signs one Participates In Society), like the Grand Old Deity itself, in whom, and in which, more people put their faith and believe, with honesty and modesty, than ever before–even to being pridefully jealous of the competition (this year more nationalistic than ever before)–have lost their tongues. Journalism must–you can’t fight it!–progress by borrowing ways of talking about itself and its essential tasks from, where? the operating theatre? or the art gallery?

Then the idea of information has lost its teeth. Open mouth, ah. Closed mouth, mm. We know there is more information than ever before, this year, and that’s why it’s called Big D. Journalists are among the data miners. But there isn’t the time and there isn’t the return, and this is the latter. Who wants to live forever? No, that’s not the question: Who wants to pay for information?

And libraries, going forward–resistance is futile!–, borrow ways of talking about themselves and their essential tasks from? They don’t borrow. They’re told how to speak for themselves by those who, usually those which, since they tend to be annexed to institutions, of which they once were the jewels in the crown, fund them. They are told how to speak for themselves so as not to try the patience of the daleks. Who or which will cease to fund them if they were suddenly to speak for themselves, since they would be asking for it, for extermination.

Yes, good journalism once it too was something to show off, now it’s tackling the big issues, scoring the big anchors, more than ever before this year. Just like a university was the institutional encrustation of a library. It was the paste and setting for the cultural riches collected over time, protected over the bad times, saved to adorn the good, through careful, assiduous, committed and (need it be said?) professional librarianship. But middle management detests decoration, for which there will be more martyrs than ever before, this year, mouthing silently the words written on the wallpaper, God Save Us & Oscar Wilde… and for the journalists we will add, George Orwell…

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