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thepanamaslider

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 7 months ago

sharpie on a dry-erase board

 

 

(HI--I really liked your final project. We don't know each other. I am in one of Mobius's other classes, the Composing the Sacred course. I sometimes like to write poetry, but it is really just hackery. I was very impressed by the amount of thought that went into your project, and the different media formats that you employed. The articles and the obituaries I thought were very creative. Good job! Maybe we will meet some day. --Echan)

 

12/23

 

Nietzsche Types on a Typewriter

 

The map is not the territory.

It never was.

 

Existential Proof:

It is called a map because it is not a map. If it were a map we would not need to call it a map because it would be obvious that it was a map. But it is not a map so we call it a map. That way, everyone knows what a map is when we say it. So I can say “map” and you can say, “Ah yes, I see” and I can say “Good” and things can work out nicely for us because we both call a map a map instead of a flonderspond. But what if we get bored and want to change things? Then we call it something else. Like a flonderspond. Because it isn't like it is actually a map (I have already established that). There is nothing particularly “mapish” about it. So why not call it something else? Who's to say you're wrong?

 

Girls like guys with confidence.

But what if they don’t!?

 

Language is technology—

the medium and the message.

Language is control—

it is called language because it is not

language.

Only a way to think

refers to other ways to think

refers to pins and needles, sticking bugs to cork board,

studying, analyzing, understanding, dominating.

How can we know what we can't call by name?

How can we control what we can't call by name!?

Language refers to the map.

 

God is dead.

If he were dead, he would not be called dead.

If he were God, he would not be called God.

 

Existential Proof:

"World-Honored One, today it is not difficult for me to hear this wonderful sutra, have confidence in it, understand it, accept it, and put it into practice. But in the future, in 500 years, if there is someone who can hear this sutra, have confidence in it, understand it, accept it, and put it into practice, then certainly the existence of someone like that will be great and rare. Why? That person will not be dominated by the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span. Why? The idea of a self is not an idea, and the ideas of a person, a living being, and a life span are not ideas either. Why? Buddhas are called Buddhas because they are free of ideas."

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "That is quite right. If someone hears this sutra and is not terrified or afraid, he or she is rare. Why? Subhuti, what the Tathágata calls parama-paramita, the highest transcendence, is not essentially the highest transcendence, and that is why it is called the highest transcendence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Language is a virus—

it duplicates and spreads to survive.

Copy this poem.

 

If you can't pin it down you are getting it.

But what if I’m not!?

 

Language is a made thing.

Language is re-makable.

 

This is the next step.

This changes everything:

throw away the map

bollyhock the fnord

and grok the grumble ponerest.

 

Ballyhoo!

 

 

 


 

12/15

 

Here it is! The fruit of my labors! The final project! Booya:

 

A_Book_of_Poems.pdf

 

edit: I posted the wrong version before. Now it is the right one.

 

 

  • great poems! they were funny and i really enjoyed them, esp 'the things we do with our information'... (i hear it was invented by tobacco companies!)

 

- lana


 

12/13

 

Rock the fuck out!

 

YouTube plugin error


 

12/1 again...

 

I almost forgot. There was another tasering. This time, it was to the neck of a pregnant woman "resisting arrest."

 

YouTube plugin error

 

I don't know what to think. On the one hand, tasers are a hell of a lot safer than clubs and guns. On the other hand, I think that contributes to their (over)use on pregnant women and obnoxious question-raisers. Either way, their use certainly sends a powerful statement. When I was six I stuck a fork in an eletrical outlet. I haven't been the same since.


 

12/1

 

I just finished watching the new Futurama movie and let me say it was marvelous. Go buy it now! It was absurd, funny, moving, enjoyable, happy, sad, incredible, well-written, complex, and everything else I expect from the series. I don't want to ruin it in case anyone else happens to be a huge Futurama fan, but it definitely lived up to my expectations.

 

I am going to go play Beautiful Katamari in a minute, which I also heartily recommend as a passtime. In the meantime though, you go check out Bender's Big Score. I feel like a living advertisement right now, but at least I am advertising cool stuff. Right? Ok, so maybe Beautiful Katamari and Futurama are the most nerdy things on the planet. So the fuck what?

 

Which reminds me, I recently found an essay I wrote five years ago. I love old stuff!


The Greatest Fucking Swearword Ever

 

My office is fucking freezing. There is a certain place in a language for profanities—some things can’t be said politely. And as far as foul words go, fuck is the best of the bunch. Listen to it sometime. The “ffff” sound starts the word off with tension. Linguists call that a fricative. So all that tension builds and grates until it explodes into that delightfully German hard –ck ending. It is like a punch in the gut—a 2x4 to the face. And then there is the vowel. It is the only wholly negative sound in English—ah can express delight, oo fascination, ee excitement, aye affirmation, oh surprise, but uh can only show disgust.

 

Now combine the tension and gut-punch and disgust, and what more could a person want in a profanity? It offends people more than hell or damn, which I don’t understand because cunt is the worst of them all. Fuck is strong and purposeful—some people overuse it, but you can’t say it on cable and that adds to its power. Maybe it is the half-assed explosion of cunt that bothers me—the weak, thready –nt at the end. It is for the lame of mind and spirit. It is all vulgarity and no force—it limps along, a disgusting, wounded, polished soldier in a field of hardened, healthy, coarse veterans. It is shit, plain and simple, and fuck could kick its ass.

 

Hell, look at their uses. Fuck can be exclamatory (Fuck!), inquisitive (The fuck you say?), descriptive (It’s fucking freezing), or it can just plain refer to raw, animal sex. It can be a subject (The fucker ate my sandwich), an object (Give it to the fucker!), an adjective (Don’t be so fucking dumb), a verb (Go fuck yourself!), even a gerund (Fucking is fun!). Fuck is versatile. Cunt can only be a noun, and a weak one at that. You can’t be cuntish, act cuntly, cunt someone, or yell “cunt!” if you drop a hammer on your toe. It doesn’t evoke an image or sponsor an emotion, and it can only be used as an insult. And worst of all, cunt is the most passive word in the English language.

 

If someone calls you a fucker, that implies that you perform an action—you fuck. Fucking is something people control—we can do it or not. If someone calls you a cunt, you are just a cunt. You don’t do anything. You are simply stuck with a vulgar, passive label—one you may or may not have earned.

 

Simply put, a cunt is a genital while a fuck is an action. Genitals can be flaccid, firm, moist, dry, warm, cold, sweaty, sticky, stinky, and sick. Fucks, on the other hand, can be hard, soft, animalistic, romantic, kinky, boring, fast, slow, and fun. But when it comes down to it, the real problem lies in the fact that the cunt is a singular concept—we all come from it, but it is only half of the equation. It’s the fuck that really makes us, and fucks are all-inclusive.


 

Ha! Wasn't that fun? Revisiting my past. Well, I guess it was fun for me. I love reading my old, shitty writing. It reminds me to always pretend I've somehow become better!

 

I've been in need of some happiness lately, so I will now inflict it on you. Sorry this has been all over the place, but some nights are like that. Enjoy the happy:

 


 

11/26

The things we do with our information

Tie it up.

Hedge it.

Run it through a filter.

Leather strap it to the wall—

red ball-gag in the mouth like

a roast suckling pig with

an apple.

Soak it. Steam it. Brown it. Clean it.

Broil it. Boil it. Grill it. Blacken it.

Spice it. Dice it. Blend it. Chop it. Can it.

Crush it. Juice it. Cure it. Smoke it.

Freeze it. Salt it. Dry it. Fry it. Burn it.

Churn it. Learn it. Char it. Chew it. Eat it.

But don't eat it rare—

then anything can happen.

“I hear it carries parasites,

tapeworms that wiggle and latch in your gut.”

You do the work and they get the nutrients.

And E. coli. It always has E. coli.

The T.V. screams E. COLI!

Don't forget E. coli.

Always lurking.

“I hear it lives in intestines.”

“I hear it affects your senses.”

“I hear it takes over your brain.”

“I hear it was invented by tobacco companies!”

Deadly Disease

BALTIMORE (AP)—A scientific study has shown that E. coli has been linked to increased high school drop out rates, teen pregnancy, gun crimes, rape, terrorism, narcoterrorism, Vietnam, Pearl Harbor, World War II, and cocaine. Ed Johnson, senior research fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, told our correspondents that the chances of catching E. coli have risen dramatically in the past decade due to America's increasing dependence on pre-processed meats. “This is a deadly disease,” said Johnson. “Right now we are on the front lines trying to find a cure, but it is an elusive enemy. Our intelligence has traced the problem's origins to one of the thousands of isolated sausage factories in Pakistan, though the search for this insidious culprit will require time and significant increases in manpower. The Pakistani government has offered its full cooperation in this endeavor, though we expect the exercise to last through December.”

So what do we do with this information?

Broadcast it? Tell it? Print it? Produce it?

Sensationalize it? Fear it? Avoid it? Deny it?

Point at it? Blame it? Cover it? Uncover it?

Process it? Polish it? Clean it? Mean it?

Buy it? Bank on it? Own it? Sell it?

Write it? Direct it? Create it? Control it?

Oh, how we have to control it!

Dig our dirty fingernails deep

into its haunches

(did you wash your hands?)

and don't let go.

Ed Johnson says:

“I don't understand why people don't just cook their meat. The scientific community has never been more certain that this is a very real concern!”

I like the blood, Ed, and I'm not concerned.

I'm still here, Ed,

taking tiny steps toward the beautiful dark

where anything can happen—

where we can't be certain at all.

 


 

11/15

 

Apparently a Dutch teen has been arrested for stealing virtual furniture. I suppose it was more for phishing, but I still think this is hilarious. 1001110101101010111011010001111101011101000101000101110001010. Don't steal my desk, guys!

 

101011101011010100010111. Or my cat.


 

11/14

 

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

There is no Reality.

There is only you.

 

Bill Clinton was a very wise man who gets far too little credit. A whole lot hinges on how we define the word "is."


 

11/9

 

So this is it. We have officially reached the threshold. Apparently the war on terror is going so well that the government has resorted to creating Al Qaeda operatives in order to arrest them for being Al Qaeda operatives. An otherwise normal (whatever the hell that means) jazz musician will be going to prison for 15 years becase an FBI agent approached him and asked if he would teach Al Qaeda operatives kung fu. He said sure and seemed pretty committed to the endeavor, even though he didn't even know any fucking Al Qaeda operatives. I feel much safer knowing that dangerous almost-members of Al Qaeda like New York jazz musicians, Brooklyn bookstore owners, and taxi drivers are all off the street. They may not have committed any crime, but they seemed pretty committed to maybe committing a crime if/when the FBI put the opportunity in front of them. Lock the fuckers up! It's not like they shot a man in the face, abused their position as head of the World Bank, perjured themselves, accepted absurd bribes from unscrupulous lobbyists, attempted to seduce under-age Congressional pages, ignored/tried to cover up the fact that a powerful friend was attempting to seduce under-age Congressional pages, or (the granddaddy of them all) lied to create a problem to make others go to war to fix the problem that (it increasingly appears) never actually existed in the first place. If that was confusing to you, good. It was to me, too.

 

And no, apparently none of these things deserved 15 years in prison. But those motherfucking jazz musicians and taxi drivers--they could possibly have committed a crime sometime in the future and the precog division of the FBI was all over their asses by ensuring that they would. BOOM, a decade and a half! 15 years ago another Bush was president and the first Gulf War had just ended. Maybe in another 15 years, by the time these trumpet-playing, bookstore-owning, taxi-driving terrorists get out of prison, this war will be over and we will have decided that we never should have locked them up in the first place. Aren't we all glad we have such a flawless system?

 

I have another definition from the The Devil's Dictionary:

IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.


 

11/8

 

I am constantly in school. By school I mean a bunch of rigid, pedantic bullshit that I can't get away from. This is wrong and that is right. This wouldn't bother me so much except by this point in my life I am wise enough to know that people should just go get laid or something (though I'm not sure about much else). I was just in the bathroom and I noticed a sign by the sink with large bold lettering that said When To Wash Your Hands:

 

 

I sometimes wonder if everything is just one big final exam being videotaped in an old library-turned-camerahouse. It would be one question and would count for 100% of your final grade: What the fuck is going on?


 

11/7

 

From Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary:

 

SYMBOL, n. Something that is supposed to typify or stand for something else. Many symbols are mere "survivals" — things which having no longer any utility continue to exist because we have inherited the tendency to make them; as funereal urns carved on memorial monuments. They were once real urns holding the ashes of the dead. We cannot stop making them, but we can give them a name that conceals our helplessness.

ILLUMINATI, n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights — cunctationes illuminati.

 

11/4

 

I turned on the television and watched the LSU game this weekend. It was a lot of fun.


 

11/2

 

It is already November. Like mobius, my girlfriend has been on a self-imposed broadcast media fast for almost a year now. Because of this, I inadvertently have been sucked in and have only watched television twice since the start of the semester. One of these times was to watch the season premier of The Office, though I haven't watched any of the subsequent episodes and am sad that I have missed so much. The other time was the Penn State/Ohio State game. I had hoped to find a cause and consequence lecture in it for my English 015 class, but the game was such a dismal romping I decided it would be wise to not bring it up. I also tried watching the World Series a few times because I am a huge baseball fan, but that too was such a romping too that it never lasted for more than a minute before I turned the set off. All of this said, 6 months ago I could not imagine a life without TV. Now all I have is basic cable, and I never even turn that on. It is amazing how much more time I have. I do play video games sometimes, which probably counts as broadcast media in some sense, but other than that, I read a lot more. I surf the internet. I grade papers. I write. And to think I wanted to get expanded cable when I first moved up here. I couldn't imagine what I would do without the Food Network. I caught about 30 seconds of the Today Show on Monday, and I honestly couldn't watch it. They were talking about some inane book that some woman wrote about how other women have become fembots and don't care about babies and dresses and sunflowers anymore. It pissed me off, so I turned it off and continued eating my scrambled eggs.

 

I constantly tell my students to let their papers sit for a day or two before they go back to edit them. "You will catch things you wouldn't normally," I say. Time has a way of altering our perception. And this is true. I don't hate TV like my girlfriend does, but it certainly seems more inane when I try to watch it now after so much time off. There are some shows that I will forever love (Futurama will always be a testament to human goodness and creativity in my mind), but I can't help but feel bored with television in general now. Maybe I should watch it more. Or less.


 

10/31

 

It is Halloween. Boo.

 

There are very good Wikipedia entries about these things, but as a used-to-be history major I am going to summarize them because they interest me. Romans believed that the restless souls of wicked men remained behind to torment the living. They called these spirits larvae or lemures. Once a year, to appease the lemures, they had the festival of Lemuralia where a person walked around barefoot throwing black beans over their shoulder. Voila. Evil spirits would trouble you no more.

 

The church created All Saints Day to de-paganize Lemuralia. Once this was successful and no one threw beans around anymore, the holiday was moved to November to de-paganize the new problem-holiday, Samhain. So All Saints was like that tub of all-purpose pagan holiday remover you can find at Ace Hardware. And speaking of finding things, I found it stupendously funny that the Wikipedia entry for Lemuria (another name for Lemuralia) ends with this line:

 

"The present official Roman Catholic position is that the Roman festival was not connected with the origin of All Saints."

 

It is like something from the X-Files. The government denies all knowledge. Fnord.


 

10/30

 

I have many papers to grade for Friday. This is my own fault because I procrastinated, school's fault because I had too many other things, my mother's fault for not teaching me better time-management skills (or burning me out on them, I can't quite remember which), my students' fault for writing the damn things, and my own fault again for assigning them. Things tend to make a big circle, and A Scanner Darkly really fucked me up. Movies about addiction always seem to hit me in some deep spiritual gut anyway, but as OncoMouse said, this movie takes hopelessness to a new level. And I am a hopeless kind of guy.

 

I just upped my dosage to 4 cups of coffee a day, which might be just as bad as dropping Death but I'm no addict. I think what did me in was the discombobulation of the self because despite my tough post-structural exterior I still want to cling to this idea that there is something more to me than discursively constructed interpretations of interpretations. But as David Kirby says, the fact that there is no us may not be such bad news because if you think about it, it means we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. As an aside, if anyone reading this happens to be on the National Book Award committee, please vote for David Kirby who is a finalist this year.

 

Maybe I shouldn't take myself so seriously. And maybe I shouldn't take the movie so seriously. Maybe we should all watch Point Break, the classic Keanu Reeves film where he stars alongside the legend himself Gary Busey as a bigtime college quarterback forced to retire because of injury, only to join the FBI as an undercover agent tasked with infiltrating a gang of bank robbers who wear ex-president masks during their heists and who surf/play tackle beach football in their spare time. The film climaxes in an adrenaline-pumping freefall chase scene 12,000 feet above the earth before ending on a beach during a massive storm swell. Woah. Agent Fred ain't got shit on that.


 

10/25

 

I realized what a royal pain in the ass it was to scroll all the way through all of my shit to see my updates so I rearranged everything. Not that anyone wants to see my updates anyway, but at least now they are more easilly accessible.


 

10/23

 

Gah. I keep noticing typos in my writing and they bug me! And yes, the helicopter was red. Maybe it wasn't the U.S. Government spying on me. Maybe it was the Communists!


 

10/22 Part Deux

 

I feel it is important to make this a two-part entry in order to give what follows its proper respect.

 

On the DEA's website (under the auspices of the Office of Diversion Control, I might add) is a list of Drugs of Concern. It includes drugs like Ecstasy and PCP, drinks like Absinthe, and plants like Kratom. It is fun to read the descriptions, histories, and "User Populations" of these substances which the DEA so kindly provides. I especially liked that the historical use of Absinthe is listed under the category "Illicit Uses." I can hear the DEA agent's telephone interview with the Absinthe expert:

 

"Ummm, so people drank it? Pretty much like any other liquor? And they put sugar in it because it tastes bad. Huh. Those sons of bitches!"

 

The best part is, from what I have read about it, that the amount of thujone present in Absinthe is rarely enough to cause any sort of noticable psychoactive effect unless you drink the entire bottle of Absinthe, in which case, you would be too drunk to even notice.

 

What I really wonder is, "What the hell is this list for?" Is the Office of Diversion Control concerned that Absinthe might sneak into my room and steal my wallet at night? Are they concerned that they aren't making enough money on imported Kratom? Why are these things items of concern? Some are controlled substances. Some are obscure plants. Some concern me greatly because of the violence that follows them--the powders and rocks sometimes on the instigating and sometimes on the perpetuating ends of Drug War violence. Others don't concern me at all--my cough is almost gone thanks to DXM. But it seems fairly arbitrary to me what makes these substances any more "concerning" than others. Heroin is not on the list and it concerns me far more than Hydrocodone. Hydrocodone doesn't even work for me. When I had my wisdom teeth removed I took a Lortab and all it made me feel was uncomfortably itchy to go along with the pain in my jaw.

 

I thought the DEA labeled these "concerning" because they had not been scheduled yet. But Meth is on there. So is Coke. Then are these substances concerning because they pose a serious risk to my health like Meth and Coke? Does their cultivation support terrorist cells? Are they anti-patriotic? Too patriotic? Is it a liberal conspiracy? A conservative one? Or are these substances concerning because people are using them? Because someone somewhere decided they should be concerned by these things? Is it all a gigantic buggy whip because we have to be concerned about something? It is, after all, the Office of Diversion Control.

 

Who knows.


 

10/22

 

I have become very interested lately in the cultivation and control of plants with psychoactive properties. Lately, I have been considering recreating my collection of hallucinogenic cactuses that I donated to the local horticulture gardens before moving up here. The cactus collection never served as anything more than an interesting decoration/talking point (that is to say I never extracted the hallucinogenic compounds for use), but it was a nice "Fuck you!" to the absurdity of outlawing something as simple as a plant. I would like to point out that it is perfectly legal to possess most of these plants in the United States, and you can go to Lowes today and most likely find a Peruvian Torch, San Pedro, or peyote cactus to purchase (all three of these produce Mescaline, which is a controlled substance). However, processing them to extract the Mescaline is illegal.

 

I have come to the conclusion that U.S. drug laws are often myopic and contradictory. But then so are U.S. intelligence agencies. I worry that the War on Drugs is designed to create more need for a War on Drugs (in fact, I'm pretty sure of it). And sometimes I worry about writing these things, like I will be put on a black list and surveiled for the rest of my life. But I doubt it. If the FBI or CIA or Department of Defense or any other dastardly do-gooders or do-badders are listening, I really don't grow, sell, buy, or use drugs other than sweet Caribbean rum and bitter Colombian coffee. I have just never had the time, money, or inclination for anything else.

But who the fuck cares anyway. These things aren't the downfall of society. They are goddamn weeds and prickly cactuses and roots and funguses. Are you going to arrest a forest for growing a mushroom? Gardening is a trial-and-error process, and isn't that how things like Maui Wowie and Yukon Gold happened anyway? Trial and error and lots of nurturing, prodding, loving, testing, fertilizing, watering, and controlling. It seems the government has a skewed vision of what control is. Not growing a plant is easy. But the human ability to manipulate nature, cultivate crops, is control in one of its oldest (and most arrogant) forms.

 

(I must add that there is a helicopter flying very low outside my office window right now with a cameraman hanging out the side. This is never a good sign when I am sitting here criticizing U.S. drug policy. Maybe my paranoid worries are true!)


 

10/18

 

"Of course, Herbert thought musingly to himself, I took their word for it that a telepath got in here; they showed me a graph they had obtained, citing it as proof. Maybe they faked it, made up the graph in their own labs. And I took their word for it that the telepath left; he came, he left--and I paid two thousand poscreds. Could the prudence organizations be, in fact, rackets? Claiming a need for their services when sometimes, no need actually exists?"

-Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang

 

 

"My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as well as Iraq's involvement in terrorism, which is also the subject of Resolution 1441 and other earlier resolutions."

 

"In the past few years, threats in cyberspace have risen dramatically. The policy of the United States is to protect against the debilitating disruption of the operation of information systems for critical infrastructures and, thereby, help to protect the people, economy, and national security of the United States."

George W. Bush on the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace

 

 

 

Mission Accomplished! The telepaths are gone!


 

10/15

 

This is a poem by my favorite poet, David Kirby. Talk of poststructuralism made me think of it. I think it has something to say about our class discussions, or at least about life in the postmodern novel (particularly novels with woefully unvaried diets like mine). It has something to say so, in hopes of it propagating like a much needed language-virus, I will pirate this copy from storySouth. Yarrrrr:

 

DEAR DERRIDA

 

My new grad-school roommates and I are attending

our first real lecture, which has gone okay,

we guess, since none of us understands it,

when one of our professors rises,

a somewhat prissy fellow

with a mild speech impediment,

and says he takes issue with the speaker’s tone,

which he characterizes as one of “sar, sar,”

and here he raises his voice a little,

“sar, sar, sar,” and wipes his mouth

 

with a handkerchief, “sar,” and turns red

and screams, “sar, sar, sar—DAMN EET!—sarcasm!”

The four of us look at each other

as if to say, Hmmmm, nothing like this

at the cow colleges we went to!

After that, whenever we’d spill our coffee

or get a sock stuck in the vacuum cleaner,

we’d look at the mess ruefully

and say, “da, da, da—SARCASM!—damn eet!”

Our lives were pretty tightly sealed,

and if we weren’t in class or the library,

either we spent our time in wordplay

or cooking: what with girlfriends

and passersby, we always had a pot

of water boiling on the back of the stove

(It’s like you’re ready to deliver babies,

somebody said once), either for spaghetti

or sausages, though one evening Chris,

the English student from England, came by

 

for a sausage supper, and after he left,

we ran up on the roof to pelt him

with water balloons, though when we did,

he fell down as though he’d been shot,

and one of us said, Jeez, what’s wrong

with Chris, and somebody else said,

You know, Chris eats nothing but sausage,

and a third party said, Hmmmm,

maybe we ought to vary our diet a little.

And that was our life: school, the boiled messes

we made on that stove, and hanging around

that crummy apartment talking about,

I don’t know, Dr. Mueller’s arm,

I guess, which hung uselessly

by his side for reasons no one

fathomed—polio, maybe, or some

other childhood disease—though Paul

said he thought it was made of wood.

Can’t be made of wood, said Michael,

 

you can see his hand at the end

of it, to which Paul replied,

Yeah, but you can have a wooden arm

and a real hand, can’t you?

And that was what our life was like,

because mainly we just sat around

and speculated like crazy while

the snow piled up outside,

so much so that by the time spring came,

I’d had it, so I moved out of there and in with Grant

and Brian and Poor Tom, who were philosophy

students but also genuine bad asses,

believe it or not, because at that time

you more or less had to be an existentialist,

i.e., tough, and not a deconstructionist,

which was a few years down the road yet

and which would have left everyone

paralyzed, since all texts

eventually cancel themselves out.

 

Of the new roomies, I hit it off best

with Grant, who became one of the big-brother

types I seemed to be looking for at that period in my life,

and in fact he rescued me

on more than one occasion, such as the time I was talking

to a local girl outside a bar

called Jazz City and her three brothers

decided to “teach me a lesson” and would have

if Grant hadn’t punched one of them

across the hood of a parked car, or the night

he and I were in this other place where

a biker gang called Quantrill’s Raiders

hung out and into which wandered

a well-dressed couple so unaware

of their surroundings that they asked the bartender

to please make them some hot toddies,

which set everybody to laughing,

only the Quantrills decided we were laughing at them

and jumped up to “teach us a lesson”

 

and would have, too, if Grant had not thrown

a table at them and dragged me

out of there to dive behind some garbage cans

and choke on our own laughter

while the drunk, fucked-up bikers howled

and swore and punched each other since they

couldn’t punch us. All this was therapy,

I figured, since grad school was stressful enough

to send three people I knew to the clinic

with barbiturate overdoses (two made it,

one didn’t), and I’m not even listing here

all the divorces I know of that were directly

attributable to that constant pressure

to be the best, be publishable, hireable,

lovable, that came from professors and sweethearts

and parents but mainly from ourselves,

as though each of us were two people,

a good and capable slave, on the one hand,

and, on the other, a psychotic master

 

who either locked us up with our pots

of boiling water or sent us out to dance

with the devil in the streets of Baltimore.

That year magi appeared from the east:

Jacques Lacan, Tzvetan Todorov,

Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida

brought their Saussurean strategies

to the Hopkins conference on “The Language

of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,”

where they told us that all language

is code and thus separate from reality,

and therefore everything

is a text as long as there is nothing

more than this half-conscious

linguistic interplay between perceiver

and perceived, which is another way

of saying that language is the only reality

or at least the only one that counts.

As different as these thinkers are,

 

each was telling us that there is no us:

that cultural structures

or the media or Western thought

or the unconscious mind

or economic systems make us

what we are or what we seem to be, since,

in fact, we are not, which isn’t such bad news,

if you think about it, because it means

we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously.

Derrida and company make it impossible

for anyone today to read a book

as they had before, but we didn’t know that then.

Grant didn’t, that’s for sure;

four years later, he put a gun in his mouth

and blew the back of his skull off,

and sometimes it makes me sad

when I think of how long it takes

for new ideas to catch on, because,

yeah, deconstruction might have saved us.

 

from The House of Blue Light (LSU Press, 2000). Reprinted without the permission of the author, though I will plug his amazing books (every damn one of them) and maybe that will make it ok.


 

10/11 redux

 

"All we are as humans is what is built in and what has been acquired, and what we make of both of these." -John Lilly

 

This quote is hitting at what I have been trying to explore on this wiki: what is the relationship between language and human "existence." Are we our language? Is our language simply a way to interpret our being? Is English simply the C++ that provides a simpler way for me to comprehend my own binary brain and body? And what role does language play in altering my own programming?

 

Lilly argues that when a computer learns to learn, language appears. In a previous post I wondered if Google was alive, or at the very least, if what it was doing was communicating. It can learn, but it hasn't learned to learn. It cannot think abstractly, and therefore it cannot create language. It can use the languages that are "built in" and it can acquire new languages, but it cannot make anything of itself. Being programmed to acquire new elements and adapt is not the same as learning how to. Learning and learning to learn are different animals.

 

Lilly says the information in the individual mind is limitless, while the information in a network of minds has agreed upon limits. This raises a whole new set of comparisons to Google, but I don't know how to make them yet and I have an office conference. Excelsior!


 

10/11

 

Beautiful food for thought:

 

All Watched Over

by Machines of Loving Grace

!

by Richard BrautiganI'd like to think (and

the sooner the better!)

of a cybernetic meadow

where mammals and computers

live together in mutually

programming harmony

like pure water

touching clear sky.

I like to think

(right now, please!)

of a cybernetic forest

filled with pines and electronics

where deer stroll peacefully

past computers

as if they were flowers

with spinning blossoms.

I like to think

(it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labors

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal brothers and sisters,

and all watched over

by machines of loving grace.


 

10/4 again...

 

Timothy Leary is an interesting cat. I was reading an http://www.researchpubs.com/books/prankexc2.shtml">interview where he explains how he broke out of prison and thought I might share:

 

I would say, that one of the greatest pranks that I enjoyed was escaping from prison. I had to take a lot of psychological tests during the classification period, and many of the tests I designed myself, so I took the tests in such a way that I was profiled as a very conforming, conventional person who would not possibly escape, and who had a great interest in gardening and forestry.

 

So they put me on a place where it was easier to escape. And it was a very acrobatic and dangerous escape because it was under the lights of sharpshooters and so forth. And when I hit the ground and ran out and got picked up by the car, I wanted to be able to get out at least to the highway. If they caught me after that, at least I had made that much of an escape.

 

The feeling that I had made an escape, a non-violent escape, was a sense of tremendous exaltation and joy. I laughed and laughed and laughed, thinking about what the guards were doing now. They were going to discover me, and then they'd phone Sacramento, and heads would be rolling, and the bureaucracy would be in a stew. This kept me laughing for two or three weeks because I felt it had been a very successful piece of performance art--by example, telling people how to deal with the criminal justice system and the police bureaucracies in the sense of non-violent escapes. So that was a good prank...which was never appreciated by the law-enforcement people...

 

From reading this, I have come to one profound conclusion: that prison breaks are rarely appreciated by the law-enforcement people. But they are very fun for the rest of us. So it goes.


 

10/4

 

I have clawed my way from the center of a pile of work to make at least one wiki post for this week. After reading the article Open-Source Spying, I am fixated by something that Mobius said few weeks ago. While I do not remember it verbatim, the general idea was that there really aren't Simon Bar Sinisters behind the government working towards some evil plan to strip me of whatever it is that makes me tick. The people behind the government, for the most part, are just as dumb and incompetent and misinformed as me. The fact that the U.S. Government is so woefully behind on matters of communication technologies shows the power of unhindered information exchanges. Which leads me to open-source software.

 

I have been using NeoOffice, which is a derivative of OpenOffice designed to run natively in OSX. In one of my workshops, there is one person with Vista, so all of his Word files he sends to the class are .docx and no one can read them with their old versions of Word 97. But NeoOffice can. Aside from the wonderful hilarity that my Mac is more compatible with Vista stuff than older Windows machines, much of this can be attributed to the beauty of open-source. People decided it might be useful if NeoOffice could open .docx extensions, so they made it happen. No company trying to control its "trade secrets." Just people saying, "Hey, this could be better" and making it so. It is almost magical, like we as a collective have the power to will something into existence. "Firefox is nice, but I still can't stand the ads spewed across every website." "Here you go, try this extension called AdBlock." "Wow."

 

And all of this leads to my ultimate point about South Park, because everything is a footnote to South Park (wait...I think I got that wrong). In The Snuke, Kyle uses simple internet detectivery (starting on MySpace and moving to YouTube and blogs) to uncover a "terrorist" plot for several U.S. Intelligence agencies. You may laugh this off as fiction, satire, or hyperbole, but as the Open-Source Spying article says, "Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers...believe the answer [to woeful govt. communication technology] may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands." Oh government intelligence agencies with your multi-million dollar budgets, when twelve year olds can figure out how to communicate better than you on their $10/week allowance, it is time to get a clue. The best way to protect secrets is to make it so no one cares to know them. Heed the wisdom of Princess Leia, "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."


 

9/27

 

hTe cnocpets Burroughs palys twih rae niterseting. But if the sky is green, where do fnords come into play. I have come to the conclusion that it is all the Illuminati's fault anyway. We need someone to fear and they are as good as anyone. Freemasons, too. So many secrets--they must sit around and conspire while they drink bourbon and talk about who is bringing the potato chips to the next meeting.

 

Burroughs says that "the falsifications of syllabic Western languages are in point of fact actual virus mechanisms." That language's goal is to survive at any cost to host. So if a fnord is used so often that it becomes a logical part of the language, it will continue to survive. We latch onto things and they roll around in our collective subconcious (to go Freudian). And the next thing we know, Britney Spears writhing in some strange fashion becomes expected--accepted--as part of our conciousness. And if we interpret conciousness through language, it is part of our language too.


 

9/26

 

"Biometrics are automated methods of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic."

 

As I read this I wondered how the hell it is any different from what I do every day. I look at people, recognize them, and make value judgments about them based on ingrained social cues that I have learned (and automized) over the course of my existence. Could the government use me like an RFID chip to track people and spy on their phone conversations? I probably wouldn't be very effective, but I suppose that isn't my problem. Is my brain a biometric device? If so I wish I could switch it off sometimes.

 

In another seminar this week we discussed the idea of resistance as support of hegemony because by resisting control, you legitimize it. The example used was several feminists scholars' opposition to Roe v. Wade on the grounds that the Supreme Court had no authority in the first place to grant them permission to have an abortion. It made me think of the control society and how part of the control is derived from resistance to it--how the first goal of any control society is to give the impression of control. A woman in my seminar said, "Make it 'til you fake it," and it seemed like an apt statement. Which leads me to my next point about the rhetoric of control.

 

I gave my English 015 class this definition:

 

“You persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, IDENTIFYING your ways with his.”

-Kenneth Burke.

And the Mao quote from class:

 

"Power flows from the barrel of a gun."

 

We discussed means of persuasion, starting with Aristotle's and moving out. We discussed the gun as a rhetorical device, the Burkeian idea that all communication is an act of persuasion, and how that changes the Aristotelian definition of rhetoric we started the semester with. It was an excellent discussion and I would like to take a moment to brag about my students, who have, for the most part, been producing excellent writing so far.

 

But back on topic. If all communication is an act of persuasion, then what about the blurred boundaries of communication. Is the printout from a biometric device communication? It scans us, recognizes us, and gives us a unique response. Or Google's ability to alter the order of search results based on your previous search history (someone was talking about this in class a few weeks ago). Is this communication? Is this persuasion? It certainly seems to have the first half of Burke's equation down; it identifies my ways and alters itself accordingly (and isn't that how you identify with someone?). And if we argue that communication can only be done by sentient beings, can we really say that Google's complex algorithms are less sentient than two bees communicating? Google can manipulate language, process millions of requests at a time, remember my name, tell me the time, give me a list of every Roman emperor from the 2nd century, and still provide me with almost 3000 MB of storage space in my Gmail account. Bees only dance. But I don't think anyone would argue that bees don't communicate.

 

All of this thinking has led me deeper into this quagmire of rhetoric, persuasion, identification, sentience, and what any of it has to do with the society of control. And I'm still not sure I have an answer. I like Burke's definition of persuasion, but I am more and more feeling unsure if it can be applied outside of human-to-human interaction. I'm not sure if a computer program is sentient, since it can only operate within its programming--its ingrained social cues that it has learned (and automized) over the course of its existence. Though I am fairly sure that nobody else has the answers to these questions either, and that the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, as well as resistance to the idea, is simply an attempt to control the unknown and assuage human fears of a Binary Boogeyman lurking in the murky 1s and 0s of the internet.


 

9/20

 

Pirate Radio is cool. And I mean that in the fullest sense of the word "cool." It is like big cigars, Miles Davis, and Thriller cool--a timeless kind of cool. The Internet (with a capital "I") filled the void left when radio died (or at least quit being fashionable)--this need to say things outside of social norms (and without a license). But it isn't the same. It isn't as cool. Pirate Radio was deliciously illegal, and people listened. It was exciting, invigorating, and fresh.

 

On the Internet, everyone has a cool DJ pseudonym. I can say all the fucks, shits, and sonofabitchbastardassmonkeyspunks I want on the internet and no one will come to my door to stop me. No one will listen either. No one will read what I write. The Internet opens its power as a broadcast medium to anyone with access to a computer and makes the transmission of ideas--even radical ones--low-risk, low-stakes, and boring. At least most of the time. It isn't like the old days of Usenet or the earliest forums or even underground darknets where there is that mystery, that fringe, that oh-so-cool factor that screams "This is unacceptable, outside of the norm, secret, exclusive, possibly illegal, bordering on anarchy, odium humani generis, but very, very fun!"

 

Comcast has started throttling its users' BitTorrent clients in an attempt to curtail or dispel any responsibility for illegal file sharing. The way it works is that when you connect to someone in a swarm, the throttling application used by Comcast sends a peer reset message (RST flag) and the upload immediately stops. This makes seeding impossible, which makes downloading impossible, no matter what file you are trying to share. This isn't a new development, ISPs and universities have been monitoring and controlling BitTorrent transfers for years, as the above article says. It is simply a more aggresive control system.

 

Which brings me back to Pirate Radio--a small group of people unhappy with the status quo who found a new forum outside the standard frequency range. I'm not advocating file piracy or bootlegging or moonshining or circulating anti-British pamphlets in the colonies or illegally copying and disseminating books in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Well, maybe I am in a way. It doesn't really matter; that sort of thing is up to you anyway. I'm just saying that if you turn the knob past 1600, you'll often find some interesting shit. And that is cool, in the fullest sense.


 

9/17

 

I watched this video about the Amen Break. According to the video, the Amen Break is a 5 second sample of a drumbeat from a B-side song by The Winstons. The beat has been sampled so many times, and used in so many different songs, that it has become part of our modern subconcious. To be sure, when I heard the beat I instinctively knew it, though I couldn't recall ever hearing it specifically. However, as the video goes on and plays several songs the beat is the base of, I began to realize how little I notice about the world around me. I hardly notice musical scores in movies or advertisements. And it is incredible to me that this beat could become so prevalent because of the improving technology that allowed it to be sampled and altered repeatedly and easilly. This brought to mind the discussion of the music lab that used to be on campus where researchers took emerging technologies and used them to alter music in new ways to see what emerged. Digital mixers and audio programs are more interesting biometric devces than simple thumbprint scanners to me because they take input from humans and can alter it to a point where we don't even realize or notice it anymore. Now, this isn't some Terminator 2, evil machine theory. I just find it perplexing that because of these technologies making the Amen Break so prevalent, I knew information that I didn't know I knew. I was aware of what this break sounded like, even though I couldn't tell you what it was called or where I had heard it. Which leads into a very long discussion of what actual awareness is, but I will save that for later.


 

9/13

 

The articles on Social Engineering are of particular interest to me, especially the one about the USB drive scheme used to compromise bank security. Jumpdrives have dropped so much in price now (this one is only $14) that this plan is that much easier. It raises interesting questions about where the line is between wetware and software. The real "hack" here wasn't the trojan, but in convincing people to willingly install the trojan on their computer. The other article emphasizes this fact that Social Engineering is more a way to hack a human brain than a way to hack a computer; more precisely, it is about exploiting the connection between wetware and software. There are security weaknesses at the point where the human mind interacts with the computer mind, and these weaknesses are often much easier to exploit than the software itself.


 

9/12

 

And it came

 

I got a new MacBook Pro this weekend. I absolutely love it and don't know why I ever used PCs. I also discovered that the discounted broadband I get through my apartment complex is throttled to 512Kbps/512Kbps. This would depress me, but it is dirt cheap so I can't complain.


 

9/5 (again)

 

I felt as though I should respond to a few things before bed:

 

1.) I hope OncoMouse has found food since this morning because that sort of thing is important.

 

2.) With analog and tubes I can hear the current and it makes it more real. The buzz is what does it. As for the Leslie Tone Cabinets GutenOrgan talks about, well they sound quite interesting. The malleability of sound is an interesting concept to me and the fact that people have built machines to spin, slice, and throw it around a room makes me wonder why engineers can't replicate what seems such a simple richness from a tube.

 

More to come


 

9/5

 

Introducing...

 

Once when I was playing catch I told my friend to "Watch out for my slider!" He thought I said "Panama Slider!" I figure since we are all walking misunderstandings anyway it worked.

 

On more important matters, the weather outside has been quite nice since I am used to triple digits. There is a chipmunk who lives in the flowerbed under my window who seems to agree as he has been out more.

 

There is not much more to introduce so I will leave you with a summary of my days:

 

I sleep

I eat

I write

I read

I drink

I eat

I sleep

 

though sometimes in other orders.

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