Day 385: Ghosts

The New NIN project (Ghosts) is finally out. As usual, the album is accompanied by a very interesting web presence (I wrote about the online marketing of My Violent Heart before, focusing on the guerilla marketing and pseudo-astroturfing aspect of it–can’t be bothered to look for the link, though–very busy today–I’ll go see a lecture by Franco Moretti later–yay!). To enter into this specific maze (and for free downloads of tracks), see http://ghosts.nin.com/.

Also, because my last post was about World Pillow Fight Day 2008, here an example of what happens when people actually put some effort into a music video. I rather like this one (which is a very rare thing for me to say about music videos). (Also, I find the “ghost” VERY attractive–especially with the hoodie–a somewhat less objective analysis of the video, I realize.) Band of Horses, “Is There a Ghost:”  Witness the specter of bourgeois ideology and its natural enemy, the emotional tie:

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Day 359: Mad Crocs and Other Forms of Advertising–Crikey!

If you’re like me and drink a lot of coffee to stay awake, you may also run into the occasional upset/cramping stomach. In order to fight this, I have been increasingly turning toward energy drinks as a substitute for late-night coffee–works just as well for keeping up energy and alertness during all-nighters, yet spares you the stomachache (mostly, at least). Also, they are available as low-calorie versions, which is not a bad idea in the face of a general absence of physical exercise. One problems remains, however: these energy drinks tend to taste like moldy ass. In order to spare you some major disappointments, I will therefore provide you with the top five list of energy drinks that pack a nice punch, while still being not too brutal in taste (even though, I must confess, the ass-like taste of some drinks definitely does its part in keeping you awake). Hence, here the results of my totally non-Kantian, yet more than semi-disinterested taste test:

1. Red Bull Sugar Free (the classic, decent taste, nostalgically reminiscent of gummy bears, does its job)

2. Mad Croc Low Cal (more B-vitamins, yet too Guarana-y in taste–overall, not bad)

3. Radioactive No Carb (insane amounts of B-vitamins–5000% of B12–, caffeine and Taurine, also comes with Ginseng, Gingko, L-Carnitine…really does the trick, yet tastes like ass–reason for rating it number 3: it glows in the dark–and I am not even kidding–taste has many faces–and, before you write comments about the sense or nonsense of filling my body with chemicals, let me quickly go Kantian again and remind you that only a disinterested view will prevent the “degustibus non est disputandum” logic–but if you claim to have that kind of view and base your argument on it I will, of course, mock you for being a Rawlsean liberal by showing you the original position of one of my fingers–nicely, of course–just thought I should preventively mention this)

4. Monster Lo-Carb (decent taste, nice variety of vitamins etc. yet overall doses are too low–you’ll have to drink too much of it–which is probably why it comes in large cans)

5. Full-Throttle Low Carb (also decent taste and a variety of ingredients, yet it does not really have the effect it is supposed to have–closer to a sports drink with a little energy blend)

And now for the other part of this advertising post:

please help out some over-caffeintated academics by visiting the following, super-duper-fantastic websites:

www.multiethnicliterature.edublogs.org (the course blog of a class on multiethnic US literature is waiting for your comments)

www.mediationsjournal.org (the journal of the Marxist Literary Group–great new articles!)

Day 310: Cloverfield

I need to see a different post than Day 306 when I get to this page. Hence, just quickly, here some info on a new movie that’s coming out in a little less than a month, which I am quite excited about (mainly because of the flurry of cultural, affective and marketing activity surrounding the release and the production of the film). It’s a new J.J. Abrams production that seems to be very much in the spirit of Lost. Here some basic background info. I also love the film’s aesthetics (of destruction) and the fact that it is entirely filmed with handheld cameras.

trailers:

Day 212: Minimalism

 Today is a big writing day again. Hence, this post will be short, Hemingway-esque in style, even. Minimalism is good. Especially environmentally speaking. Below a nice ad campaign. BTW: you have been cool-hunted.

denverwater.jpg

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:

http://openserver.cccb.org/bck/

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 153: Will it Blend? (and centipedes!)

Courtesy of Albert Hammond, purveyor-of-all-things-strange extraordinaire, comes this clip. “Will it Blend?” is one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns in recent years, using youtube to promote the new Blendtec blender. In the clips (and there are LOTS of them) Tom Dickson, founder of Blendtec, attempts to demonstrate the quality of his blender by, well, blending all kinds of shit. Among the most famous of his blending extravaganzas are: lightbulbs, glowsticks, marbles, cell-phones, a video camera, a now famous blending creation called “cochicken” (a can of soda and a rotisserie chicken), a broomstick, etc. The video you see below is the one Albert sent me and I do like it quite a bit: the i-Phone. This campaign has become so successful that “Will it Blend?” is now a searchable meme and apparently it is possible to buy merchandise, such as shirts that feature the slogan “Tom Dickson is my homeboy.” Furthermore, Blendtec also welcomes suggstions for blending performances. The two suggestions that are the most eagerly awaited but have as of yet not been attempted are the blending of a crowbar and the blending of another Blendtec blender. What a beautiful example of American craftsmanship and participatory democracy within consumer capitalism. The only question left for me to ask is: will it blend Al-Qaeda? Please all rise for the anthem.

And if you cannot get enough of the blending, here are all present blending experiments on youtube: www.youtube.com/user/Blendtec.

***EDIT: I feel as though I have been working within the confines of contemporary capitalist marketing strategies (the viral kind) too much, so I find it high time for a little hard-hitting Marxist cultural critique. For this purpose, I give you Monty Python’s “Communist Quiz.” I could not find it by itself, so here it is surrounded by a few other sketches I find quite amusing as well (to go straight to the quiz begin at about 5:30, or so).

***EDIT 2: today I found a centipede for the third day in a row in my apartment. Not only are they incredibly ugly and doubtlessly very dangerous (well, they are not really dangerous but I did reveal my arachnophobia and general fear of all things with more than four legs a couple of days ago, so this exaggeration should not come as a surprise), but they are incredibly fast and also act unnecessarily silly. I am ridiculously scared of them and don’t really know what to do except from killing them with my Norton Shakespeare (after having screamed into a pillow for about a half hour in order to work up the necessary courage)–at the same time I feel bad for them (they are animals, after all and despite their tendency to act unnecessarily silly they may not really deserve to die–unlike many politicians who, precisely due to the fact that they often act unnecessarily silly, do at least warrant an in-depth argument regarding whether or not they should be clubbed to death with a large anthology). Consequently, I am trying to find out if there is something like a centipede-repellent (a large rodent I could keep, maybe–a possum would be ideal, as the horizontal storage space in my apartment is limited but I am still able to expand vertically and could thus hang a possum from a small rack on the ceiling)? Maybe someone can help me with this. If not, I will just chalk it up the the joys of living in a crappy, tiny studio where the grad student of today can try to write the great literary critical work of tomorrow in the comfort of yesterday.