Day 216: Know Your Enemy…

… is a fantastic song. However, it has nothing to do with what follows. Or does it? No, no. Not really. I am a very friendly person. That is, if you are not…

ok, this may take too long 🙂

I have been tagged by anaj to answer 19 questions. Apparently, this is some new thing going around the blogosphere. I wonder: why 19? And who cares? (Do we actually care to find out something of substance about the people whose blog we read? Is this really an attempt to build a social community that has depth? Or is this purely an exercise in narcissism? I suspect it may be the latter. Seriously, Hardt and Negri aside, isn’t the social component of the internet less about finding and connecting with someone you find interesting than doing things so that lots of people will find you interesting–the desire to connect seems less democratic than purely flowing into one single direction [i.e. the enjoyment arising from building a community of virtual stalkers who stalk an ideally, digitally projected version of yourself?–i.e. is the the consentual, collective creation of social simulacra?]) In this spirit, here are my answers:

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.
I have LOTS of scars. I used to be both a very stupid child and a rather self-destructive teenager. There are also lots of weird medical or embarassing stories to tell here. Ask me if you really want to hear more. (Ok–one quick, harmless one: I have a big scar on my upper lip that is the result of a toilet door splitting my lip completely in the middle (vertically)–was hard to get back together but now it is not too noticeable) 

2. What does your phone look like? List your reasons to buy it?
It is black and silver. It is scratched and banged up. It allows me to communicate with people who are otherwise not visually or audibly accessible to me.

3. What is on the walls of your bedroom?
A Che flag and a painting/collection of quotes of Sacco and Vanzetti. Oh, and a Metropolis poster and prints of van Gogh’s Guernica and Man with Guitar.

4. What is your current desktop picture?
Yves Tanguy, Indefinite Divisibility

5. Do you believe in gay marriage?
I don’t believe in marriage, period. However, I also believe that craziness is not specific to gender or sexual orientation, so if a gay person is really crazy enough to want to get married, he/she should be allowed to express his/her craziness in the same way heterosexual people are allowed to do.

6. What do you want more than anything right now?
I want to be done with my dissertation and have a job lined up so I can concentrate on drinking and hiking through the desert/mountains by myself for a few months.

7 . What time were you born?
no idea

8. Are your parents still together?

9. Last person who made you cry?
Don’t want to say.

10. What is your favorite perfume / cologne?
Cool Water (that is what I use most frequently, at least)

11. What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?
Every combination, really (well, red and white is a little freaky but who am I to judge–I had a bunny once who could make that shit work!). I have to admit, however, that I do have a serious fetish for black hair and bright blue eyes.

12. What are you listening to? Why?
Wind in trees. My window is open.

13. Do you get scared of the dark?
If I do, I pretend to be Chuck Norris and then the dark gets scared of me. 

14. Do you like painkillers?

15. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
Yes. In fact, I have never done so.

16. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
Anything that would require outdoor fire/barbecue to be prepared, which in turn would require me drinking beer while preparing it, which would mean that I am done with writing for the next few days, because otherwise I would not have time to do this.

17. Who was the last person who made you mad?

18. List one habit you have that has the potential to annoy people?
I tend to isolate myself for long periods of time and unintentionally alienate people when I write (it is apparently quite annoying, bordering on the cruel).

19. Who was the last person who made you smile?
Someone in the street who gave me what seemed to be a really big, uninhibited and honest smile and said: “hi!” this morning when I got back from buying coffee. Isn’t that just the best beginning for a day?

I guess I also have to tag other people. Let’s see. I hereby tag: Joanna, Shannon, Red Crochet, Dejan, caveblogem and ELECTRA.


Day 209: The Bank of Common Knowledge

Read about this in a Bruce Sterling piece. This is interesting and theoretically screwy in so many ways. Interesting concept, which, however, will once again illustrate the many similarities, yet the final political/practical differences between Hardt and Negri and viral marketing strategies. Let’s just call it “deliberative democratic capitalism.” What really happens to knowledge and its political “use-value” on the individual level if it is increasingly applied, disseminated and stored in a way that, as Lyotard suggests “externalizes knowledge with respect to the knower?” The very concept of “urban survival” becomes re-defined along the lines of this increasingly totalitarian form of alienation (of the knower from knowledge), transforming the networks of knowledge often thought to contain the possibility for creating democratic networks (directed at action) into alienated, exteriorized networks of knowledge, purely functional as a means of viral distribution, not connected to concepts of use as much as primarily and maybe singularly to the logic of exchange and reproduction. Take a look:

P.S.: “exchange and gift economy”–hee, hee! Yeah, as noble a transaction as the interaction between the knowledge-gift receiving person and the Astroturfer!

Day 161: Miro/Democracy Player

August 2007 will mark the launch date of Miro, before its official launch still called “Democracy Player.” Miro is a free, open-source internet TV and video player designed to facilitate the distribution and easy access to video files, shared TV programs, etc. It includes a guide of at this point already over 1500 channels, has HD capability and relies upon BitTorrent. You can already download version 0.9.8 here.

More interesting than the technological aspects of this player are to me the political implications. The player has been created by the Participatory Culture Foundation, an organization aiming to “enable and support non-corporate creativity and political engagement.” Funded by several private donors (since the PCF is a non-profit organization), the PCF seems to advocate democratic participation via the proliferation of knowledge exchange and the creation of independent intellectual communities. This project is supported by their video player, since, as their slogan states “open media matters.” I am convinced that it does. However, I am not entirely convinced that it primarily matters for democracy and the creation of progressive political communities. I am sure this kind of engagement does indeed create some form of politics. It certainly does. But just like the slogan of token liberation projects “raise your voice” never really guarantees that the voice that is finally heard is a progressive one, projects such as these create a different kind of democracy than the kind progressive political projects would like to see. Democracy does not always equal radical political transformation and a power structure based upon the decision of a popular majority (in other words, what is created here is not the Hardt and Negri, “total” brand of democracy). Apart from the progressive kind,  we also have the kind of democracy that is really imperialism (I assume I do not have to spell this one out), as well as the kind of democracy that is really contemporary capitalism. Post-Fordist capitalism principally relies upon a decentralization of the production process, a “democratization” of creative projects and impulses (connected to what we call “immaterial/affective labor”) and the increasing integration of every fiber of the human subject (down to emotions and affects) into the production process. Hence what some call democratic particitation facilitated by e.g. Miro also serves the purposes of contemporary capitalism, which in a less democratic than increasingly totalitarian fashion implicates the human subject on every level singularly as a consumption/production machine. Hence, while I certainly agree that Miro will produce some form of democratic action (the form which we are told is now shaping elections), most of its effect will aid the creation and re-creation of a subject included in the production process of contemporary capitalism in increasingly totalitarian and alienating forms. However, this inclusion, maybe for the first time in history, can produce consent and thus exist hegemonically as never before, increasingly succeeding in removing its own contradictions from the center of the conditions of its production. Democracy is good. Miro is democracy. Miro is fun. Plug me in.

Day 96: Zombies and Painful Philanthropy


Today a random assortment of weird things–a quilt of strangeness, if you will.

Remember my coffee-related problems? Caribou phased out my favorite, which was especially devastating, since it did not only taste good, but was also organic, fair-trade coffee, certified by the rainforest alliance. After this I tried a medium-roast for breast cancer, a dark-roast for the rainforest and a french roast that, I think, supported David Beckham in the anticipation of the demise of his carreer that awaits him in L.A. Yesterday, Chicago opened its Farmer’s Market season and I went to Daley Plaza to do some shopping (for non-Chicagoans: Daley Plaza is the setting for the climactic ending of Blues Brothers–the place with the large Picasso). Apart from some greens (which I am pretty certain are poisonous to me after this long absence of any kind of vitamin in my body) I bought a coffee that is shade-grown, rainforest alliance approved, fair-trade certified and is sold by and supports the Chicago coalition for the homeless. Seriously, how can you not buy that one? Also, the fact that this is the official Mother Theresa of coffees almost makes you forget that it tastes like crap. Ah well, that may be the trouble with philanthropy (apart from its basic ideological confusion that renders it powerless well known to Hegelians, or its tendency to work in unison with the welfare state that appeases the masses to avoid a revolution and true, equal assistance for all of us).

Here the homophobic, offensive part of today’s quilt: wondering if you’re gay? Take the test:

My favorite part of the ad for this is this logic: wondering if you’re gay? You don’t need a blood test–just take this handy quiz? I am no doctor, so can someone explain to me what this blood test is that tells you if you’re gay?

Also, about a month ago anaj found a little blog-value-calculator, which tells you how much your blog is worth. In about a month my blog seems to have accumulated roughly another $1000 in value. Again: I am not just confused by how this happened, but also as to where I can sell my blog to pay for my summer. The Chicago Farmer’s Market, maybe? Check out how valuable I am! Nothing like alienation via the commodification of the immaterial, digital expression of your self. Finally I know what I am worth. Yay!

My blog is worth $7,339.02.
How much is your blog worth?

Don’t you just love the capitalist ideology that is included in this little gadget? How much are YOU worth? Let’s make it a competition in alienation!

Finally: more zombies. I am always happy when a new zombie movie comes out (while I am waiting for Gigli II). In the recent past there have been some really fun experiments with the genre that often change the ways in which the zombie as subject signifies. Enter Fido, a zombie-comedy showing us the beauty of a society in which zombies are kept as pets and work the crappy jobs no one wants (aahhh–a continuation of the “zombie as global third estate” idea–while this is fun, here my question: why do we have to go to zombies as one of the only popular ways to represent class distinction and exploitation these days? Tells us something about our willingness to talk about this issue today, doesn’t it?). Anyway, here the info: