Day 210: Rambo 4 Trailer

Cerebraljetsam is experiencing cerebral overload.

too many insults

too many cynical jokes

too much disappointment

too many (frankly way too obvious, one would think) points of critique

here the trailer:

The trailer above might not work any more (copyright). If so, try this one instead:

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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 201: Hipster Olympics

Laughed my ass off when I saw this. Not only is it so wunderfully accurate, it also precisely describes the ugly underbelly of neoliberal capitalist logic and its social support system as it manifests itself in mass culture, of which counterculture is only one of many facets (i.e. the “counter” is really what defines the diversity of the “mass,” which as traditional mass culture as “mainstream culture” no longer exists). I may use this for teaching purposes. Nothing is as part of the mainstream as not being part of the mainstream. But it sure is funnier than the mainstream–until one realizes that the mainstream has died, of course.

Day 192: Global Warming Means More Naked People to Look at

This or something else seems to be the message of Spencer Tunick’s latest “installation,” in which 600 people stripped naked on the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland. The event was supported by Greenpeace and attempted to call attention to the drastic effects of global warming (as measured by the dramatic rate at which the glacier has been melting) and argue for the necessity of quick and significant political responses to this problem. While I certainly agree with the argument here, I am somewhat hesitant to classify this as art (there are some interesting nude “installations” Tunick has done before, yet this recent one, as so many other projects of his, does not quite fall into that category). I am simply not sure whether this fulfills the criteria of political art and would therefore categorize this more as part of a wave of opportunism that attaches itself to the global warming bandwagon, reducing much discourse about this problem to self-serving, empty gestures. So, while I have the feeling that this is not the real thing, it also makes me wonder what true political art addressing the global warming problem might look like. It’s still early in the day for me and I do not yet have a convincing idea. Maybe some coffee will help. Any ideas? The problem Tunick addresses is an important one: slow political change that is willing to make radical changes in order to counter the effects of global warming. Yet, I doubt that his recent project is a very persuasive argument, which, after all, is one of the main characteristics of political art. I am just rambling at this point and I’ll think more about it and maybe offer something of more substance (after all, there is still the question of what counts as truly progressive political art these days anyway and it is hard enough to find art that even displays the ability to imagine the future in any progressive way at all, let alone formulate a possible progressive political strategy–it seems as though the utopian impulse has died and the apocalyptic depiction of scary scenarios is the best we can do–but as we all know this does not count as true Hegelian negativity–it’s purely negative without a dialectical utopian impulse that generates progressive ideas for the future).

In any case, I’ll come back to this and in the meantime you can read more about Tunick’s recent work and see the glacier pictures/videos here.

Day 9: Ceci N’est Pas Un Blog

duchamp_-_nude_descending_a_staircase.jpg

As today seemingly seems to be free from substantial news apart from that radical piece of resistance (to be voted on by the Senate as I am writing this) intended by Democrats to tell Bush that he is being weally, weally mean, Condi’s visit to Baghdad (congratulating the Iraqis on their fine leadership after the perceived absence of strong leadership and the fact that they “do not step up to the plate” has been the Republican’s argument for why the US is experiencing problems in Iraq) and Britney Spears shaving her head, I feel compelled to write about something less contemporary (maybe).

On the day 96 years ago the Armory Show opened its doors to the public in New York City, exposing a wide public for the first time to Modern art. President Theodore Roosevelt commented: “this is not art!” For the first time presenting a major display of non-realistically representational art, the Armory Show has been credited with opening up an entire discourse about alternative forms of representation, subjectivity and, eventually, politics.

Was it not nice when there still was a disjoint between a radical art exhibits and our president? In how far do we still agree that art, as famously claimed by critics beginning with Adorno’s analysis of art in relation to the culture industry, climaxing in Jameson’s critique of postmodernism, is indeed becoming increasingly one-dimensional, lacking the artistic and political transformational potential displayed for example by the Armory Show? Is art truly fully contained, serving almost singularly the interest of mass production and consumption? What are areas that exist outside of this situation? Is there  a political justification for idealizing past accomplishments such as the Armory Show, realizing that Modernist art did exist in an elitist space, segregated from mainstream society, but was precisely from this space able to launch critiques and analyses of society from the outside? What are the precise political consequences of the popularization of art, making it, as opposed to Modernism, into a medium accessible to everyone? Jameson et al. have voiced their critique of this supposed democratization of art almost twenty years ago. What do we think about this now? What is the potential of artistic production in our stage of consumer capitalism? What is/should be the role of a potential artistic avant garde (in the tradition of the Armory Show)? Do we need one?

Lots of questions, I know. But I simply want to suggest that these questions are often treated as singularly involving a binary choice. Isn’t the formulation of the question in these terms in itself indicative of Modernist logic we should depart from? Is it not out of this logic that the longing for an avant-garde arises? And, is there even the logical possibility for something like an avant-garde these days? I claim the logic of neoliberalism has made this impossible.

Whatcha think?

And: I would like to send my best wishes to my friend Natascha who has just begun her field work in South Africa–all by herself–she is a very brave soul when it comes to radically restructuring her life. I have to force myself not to regress into Hemingway-idealizations of the idea of Africa, as I have never been there, proving the accuracy of the old quote: “the darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.”

Take care of yourself and good luck! May you pave the way to a less ignorant me.

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” (Bishop Desmond Tutu)