Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

California is great, hiking everyday (10 miles+) and making the most of the beaches, valleys, mountains, deserts (my only regret is that El Oso isn't in town, so that I could meet him and let him know how much I appreciate his writing and pictures--Oso when I get back to blogging I'll have pictures for you to remind you of our homeplace).

I'll start Dialogic up in the first weeks of January, but for now I am enjoying being disconnected (very refreshing and healthy)... I will have a lot to say when I get back as I have been spending this time in my homeplace becoming myself (or re-acquainting myself with my selves...) through the places and people that formed and shaped me. I have always had a strong belief in the power of place (environment) and this trip has re-enforced that conception/belief...

No matter where we are, what we are doing, the first positive political/spiritual step is to make our places open, creative, experimental and stimulating (hello Lexington I am coming back--we have work to do ;) Resist the fearful/reactionary impulse of those that seek to close down and control our environment/s and those that fear our jousissance (that wild creative ecstatic impulse to fully enjoy life--life as experiment and ecstasy and enlightenment, as opposed to the impulse that seeks to control our desires for profit and status)...

You know the last posts on this site were my way of coming to terms with a very dark year, now you will have to excuse me as I embrace my natural optimistic/idealistic nature. I spent most of this year listening to people, and observing them, I was lost, and wanted some direction... from my earliest days of learning I had always used the socratic method of learning... asking questions when you don't have any answers, seeking wisdom through forming questions, and testing one's environment (in its diverse manifestatations--real and virtual, as if these terms could be concrete and not porous). One thing I learned was that few people really listen, so, as a New Year's Eve wish I would encourage everyone to take some time and quiet your own voice (inner and outer--and the mediated voices we use to supplement our own voice) and listen (shhh) to what is important to you (beings and places) ... take some time to get out of your everyday routine... if you are so fortunate to be loved and loving in return, surprise that lover with innovation and creativity... likewise remake your environment ... resist the impulse to be a wage slave (think of your favorite SF robot) and break out of the confining roles that have been forced upon you from childhood... take chances, embrace randomness... surprise people ... trust me it is stimulating, it is erotic, it is loaded with possibilities... if only we would dare to imagine something different!!!

Thanks for all of the kind responses to the previous post (BW, I have been staying offline and will reply to your email when I am back to work--sorry for the delay)

How do we conceive of a poetics/politics of love (radical in the sense of you should love being alive and being yourself--you should also value this in your family, friends and lovers--love never seeks to control)?

Happy New Year comrades!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Closing Shop: Going to California

Visiting my hometown for the first time in five years (San Diego)... considering closing Dialogic as I'm not sure if it is really useful to me anymore. Disconnected my Internet at home...

Friday, December 15, 2006

On Finishing Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Seeking magic in my life and, at present, not finding it, I allowed myself to drift into a fictional derive. I use this word derive a lot because I like the idea of wandering and discovering as a form of incantation that develops insights and connections, hopefully, providing some sense of the greater scheme of things (the underlying story, not the one we are told to believe). The Situationists and their precursors used it to map the unconscious essence of built environments, but likewise we can use it in a radical gesture of exploring our imagined environments--in both cases, in ways not designated and legitimated, the power is in developing your own roadmap.

So, a week or so ago, I was heading out the door of my office and a publishing rep approached me to discuss their newest books, I stated that I had to go eat and he offered to buy, skeptical as always, but very hungry and reluctant to turn down a free lunch, I said yes, and, to my delight, KK turned out to be a writer and an intelligent, thoughtful reader. We had an amazing discussion about books, films and culture over lunch and as we walked out we noticed a used bookstore next door... hey we both said lets investigate.

I picked up Haruki Marukami's book Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Pure chance ... I have always wanted to read one of his books, but this was the moment that I needed to read it. A data-stream operative immersed in the intrigues of information warfare seeks meaning and understanding... gestated in the hard-boiled tradition, sifted through a cyberpunk awareness, looking forward to the explosion of our information society and the continuing genetic alterations that may shift us to a posthuman state. What does it mean to lose your shadow? What unseen forces operate in our world? What is the significance of losing one's mind (literally and figuratively)? I don't want to say anything more... in case you might decide to read it (I'll loan it to you--good books should be shared).

K-Punk and Sinthome: On Blogging Identities

(Something I have been thinking about)

K-Punk and I
by K-Punk

It doesn't strike me that, in this respect, blogging is different from any other type of published writing. As Borges established in his masterly micro-vignette on the irreducibly gothic character of writing, 'Borges and I', even if one writes in one's own name, writing itself produces a semblable, a doppelganger which both is and is not oneself. (This is quite different from what Steve describes: the deliberate assumption of a wholly invented persona in MOOs, etc.)

Perhaps writing - or more specifically, writing about oneself - only reveals the inherently split nature of the subject: the 'the other one, the one called Borges ... the one things happen to' in 'Borges and I' is the subject of the statement, the Borges who observes that 'I do not know which of us has written this page' is the subject of the enunciation. Any use of the pronoun 'I' will always exposes this split, this spaltung.

I make no special effort to conceal my surname online; the reason I do not use it is more because I dislike, even loathe it, than because I want to keep it a secret. I loathe my name because it is mine and also because it is not mine; it is at once too intimate and seems to have no connection with me. Perhaps because the name is quite common, it never seems to fit me, or fit me alone. Nevertheless, when I see the name, I always feel a peculiar sense of shame.

(I'm reminded here of the Tom Ripley of The Talented Mr Ripley. If 'Tom hated being Tom', it's in part because he has to use his own name again. Yet one of the surprises of the later Ripley novels is that Tom does not end up using another name, even it would be a straightforward task for a master forger and mimic like him to permanently assume someone else's identity. Tom makes a name for himself; but more significantly, he makes a - new, sophisticated, stylish, charming - self for his name.)

The pseudonym facilitates the escape from biography. I never chose the name 'Mark k-punk'; I started being called it for obvious reasons (the name of the site, plus the fact that I post here only under the name 'Mark'), but I embrace it and now use it because it seems more like my True Name than the name on my birth certificate ever will. It suggests a performance, but not one that is false. Someone wrote to me recently saying that they had seen a film and immediately asked themselves 'what would k-punk think?' Of course, I ask myself such questions.

To Read the Entire Post

What's In a Name
by Sinthome
Larval Subjects

It seems to me that this reminder of the split status of the subject is crucial for discussions of virtual engagements. The standard story has it that the net allows us to playfully create our own identity however we like, without the usual constraints that attend our day to day subjectivity. However, this sort of split is already constitutive of subjectivity as such: I am perpetually split between my imaginary imago that functions as an ideal ego for an ego ideal (a particular gaze from which we see ourselves as lovable) and my unconscious desire. Indeed, Lacan describes the imago structuring the ego as not only a semblable, but as a frozen statue constitutive of frustration itself, as I am never able to coincide with this ideal image of what I'd like to be. Between the lived body that farts and belches and moves in a less than graceful way and the body-image constitutive of the ego, there is always a disadequation or gap such that the imaginary is itself split or fissured, generating frustration and a perpetual remainder. Are not our net personae precisely such statues?

To Read the Entire Response

I am laughing and I am mystified...

I think I want more from life than it is willing to give me at the moment. I want some magic, transcendent experiences, epiphanies...

I feel somewhat at peace with myself (OK, there is turmoil, but not the self-castigating defeatist kind), just there is this longing for something more.

When I used to body surf in the ocean when I was young there would come a point where an offshore storm would create massive waves and fierce riptides--I was terrified of the force of these waters, but I was also drawn to them, as if there was something in there for me to discover more about my nature. Sometimes there would be one wave (or a series of them) that would pummel me and knock the breath out of me, rolling me about on the ocean floor, I would desperately dig my hands into the sandy bottom, seeking anything that I could hold onto until this fearsome force would pass, while it would continue to thrash me about and hold me down to the point where I would think that I would never recover, that this was it, I wasn't going to recover (I almost drowned twice)... until almost miraculously it would pass over me and I would spring up from the ocean floor and launch my body into the air and gulp down the precious life giving air. I would laugh... laugh at my fear, laugh at the awesome force of the world, and laugh because once again I survived... mystified at my weakness and surprised by my strength...

That is how I feel right now... the past year was one of those waves and I have just come back to the surface. I'm laughing for all of those reasons and I am mystified ...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Video and Reports on the Sean Bell Police Shooting in New York City

EXCLUSIVE...Surveillance Film Shows Police, Passengers Diving For Cover as Bullets in Sean Bell Shooting Hit Train Station *

In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we air for the first time surveillance footage connected to the shooting of Sean Bell. The video from the Port Authority's Jamaica Avenue Air Train station reveals that one of the bullets fired by the five cops at Sean Bell and his friends narrowly missed striking a civilian and two Port Authority patrolmen who were standing on the station's elevated platform.


* "It's a Witch Hunt, They Have No Evidence" - Father of Man Arrested in NYPD Dragnet Over Sean Bell Shooting *

A major march is planned for Saturday to protest the death of Sean Bell - the man gunned down in a hail of 50 police bullets. We speak with Bishop Erskine Williams whose son was rounded up in the days after Bell shooting on a $25 summons, questioned and threatened by police.


The Daily Show: Goodbye Cruel War--Rummy's Farewell

To watch Goodbye Cruel War

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My student writing about the PostSecret project states:

Through these postcards I was allowed a window into the innermost desires, thoughts, and feelings of the stony-faced strangers I saw all around me. Suddenly, the uptight-looking businesswoman became a sexual deviant, the guy walking around with a pissed off look on his face was really just trying to figure out why nobody liked him, and the quiet student was secretly wondering why her father didn't love her.

An online, confessional, anonymous postcard art site:


Info and Caveat about Mailing In Your Secrets

Its a Joy Division Day

Dead Souls

Someone take these dreams away,
That point me to another day,
A duel of personalities,
That stretch all true realities.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.

Where figures from the past stand tall,
And mocking voices ring the halls.
Imperialistic house of prayer,
Conquistadors who took their share.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.

Calling me, calling me, calling me, calling me.

They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me,
They keep calling me.

On Evil: An Interview Alain Badiou

On Evil: An Interview with Alain Badiou,
by Christopher Cox and Molly Whalen,
Cabinet Magazine Online, Issue 5, Winter 2001/02

An excerpt:

The idea of the self-evidence of Evil is not, in our society, very old. It dates, in my opinion, from the end of the 1960s, when the big political movement of the 60s was finished. We then entered into a reactive period, a period that I call the Restoration. You know that, in France, "Restoration" refers to the period of the return of the King, in 1815, after the Revolution and Napoleon. We are in such a period. Today we see liberal capitalism and its political system, parlimentarianism, as the only natural and acceptable solutions. Every revolutionary idea is considered utopian and ultimately criminal. We are made to believe that the global spread of capitalism and what gets called "democracy" is the dream of all humanity. And also that the whole world wants the authority of the American Empire, and its military police, NATO.

In truth, our leaders and propagandists know very well that liberal capitalism is an inegalitarian regime, unjust, and unacceptable for the vast majority of humanity. And they know too that our "democracy" is an illusion: Where is the power of the people? Where is the political power for third world peasants, the European working class, the poor everywhere? We live in a contradiction: a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian—where all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone—is presented to us as ideal. To justify their conservatism, the partisans of the established order cannot really call it ideal or wonderful. So instead, they have decided to say that all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in a condition of perfect Goodness. But we're lucky that we don't live in a condition of Evil. Our democracy is not perfect. But it's better than the bloody dictatorships. Capitalism is unjust. But it's not criminal like Stalinism. We let millions of Africans die of AIDS, but we don't make racist nationalist declarations like Milosevic. We kill Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don't cut their throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc.

That's why the idea of Evil has become essential. No intellectual will actually defend the brutal power of money and the accompanying political disdain for the disenfranchised, or for manual laborers, but many agree to say that real Evil is elsewhere. Who indeed today would defend the Stalinist terror, the African genocides, the Latin American torturers? Nobody. It's there that the consensus concerning Evil is decisive. Under the pretext of not accepting Evil, we end up making believe that we have, if not the Good, at least the best possible state of affairs—even if this best is not so great. The refrain of "human rights" is nothing other than the ideology of modern liberal capitalism: We won't massacre you, we won't torture you in caves, so keep quiet and worship the golden calf. As for those who don't want to worship it, or who don't believe in our superiority, there's always the American army and its European minions to make them be quiet.

Note that even Churchill said that democracy (that is to say the regime of liberal capitalism) was not at all the best of political regimes, but rather the least bad. Philosophy has always been critical of commonly held opinions and of what seems obvious. Accept what you've got because all the rest belongs to Evil is an obvious idea, which should therefore be immediately examined and critiqued. My personal position is the following: It is necessary to examine, in a detailed way, the contemporary theory of Evil, the ideology of human rights, the concept of democracy. It is necessary to show that nothing there leads in the direction of the real emancipation of humanity. It is necessary to reconstruct rights, in everyday life as in politics, of Truth and of the Good. Our ability to once again have real ideas and real projects depends on it.

Read the Entire Interview

Inspector Lohmann: Building Invisible Comic Community Through Interdimensional Travel, Part 2

(To read Pt. 1, courtesy of Scruggs)

Building Invisible Comic Community Through Interdimensional Travel, Part 2
Inspector Lohmann


Economics, as a distinct "science" that studies the "production and distribution of goods", is a branch of knowledge comparable to theology in that its object of study is the phenomenology of a particular consensual reality and nothing more. (Of course this is not to say that studying phantasms doesn't have real-life effects: many have been slaughtered in the name of long dead gods.) [For the sake of being more precise, here is Pierre Bourdieu, at the beginning of his sociological extension of Polanyi: "The science called 'economics' is based on an intial act of abstraction that consists in dissociating a particular category of practices, or a particular dimension of all practice, from the social order in which all human practice is immersed." I have shorthanded this notion via a metaphoric parity that equates economics with theology.] Economics, in this light, is a religion of money, one with its own version of transubstantiation: it magically transmogrifies people's lives, and nature itself, into commodities with dollar figures. The side effect of such magic creates wondrously bizarre things, like the creation of a priest class entire professions dedicated to determining, for example, things like "morbidity" and "mortality rates" to help investors determine how to derive maximum profit from people's illness or life expectancies (eg: investing in pension funds), institutionalized bookies helping investors gamble on the lifespan of whole classes of people. This produces horrendous conflict-of-interest travesties: for example, many families find themselves in a tortuous trap between extending the money-draining life of a loved one versus the anticipation of the windfall that will arrive on the loved one's demise. Is this how life should be lived? Is this not the ultimate mockery of the bullshit transubstantiation of life into a commodity, one that gives the lie to a society that professes to value life? Is this not on the same scale as investors who amassed fortunes from the industries behind the building and running of the concentration camps?

Instead of (or, for those doubly-trapped, in addition to) serving God, we are cogs in the service of money — or, more accurately, we are cogs in the service of the monolithic institutions responsible for keeping the market mechanisms running. The Market is a tremendous fiction of religious proportions wherein our entire lives are a form of ritual worship to the system in which we find ourselves.

It wasn't always so. Polanyi provides many examples of cultures in which the economic sphere was an organically integrated part of the everyday life of the community, where traditions and mechanisms of gift-giving, reciprocity, and spoils-sharing form the bonds of community through channels of cooperation, one where status was derived from one's generosity. In fact stigmas and taboos developed towards those who were competitive and horded their riches, since such behavior was a threat to one's community because it put the selfish interest of The One above the common good.

There are other ways of living than under the thumb of Wealth Bondage, but they all involve new economic strategies. Hence the vital importance, when forming new invisible communities, in addressing economic issues in devising strategies of community formation. In fact, the need to do so is incumbent upon those who understand the importance of the situation as our system prepares to wind violently down: the sooner we find ways to form strong communal bonds the more of a chance we have to see ourselves through the coming conflapression.

Simply, the more we rely on us to take care of ourselves, the less we need to rely on them and their fictional, self-destructing institutions.


As McKenzie Wark reminds us in the epigraph to this article, there is no one strategy, no one right way. Perhaps the one thing that is required is the leap of faith that will permit us to adopt a variety of strategies, which in itself requires new ways of thinking and new ways of being. Adopting such strategies will alter our everyday lives, which, because change is scary, will be daunting. But isn't a new kind of everyday life the goal? The formation of Community is simultaneously the manifestation and the means by people can control their own lives; and this occurs in proportion to which thriving, viable local economies are made possible — not in the sense of The Market, but in the communal production and exchange of goods.

This means seeking ways to create our own ventures with each other's assistance, whether locally or over great distances. We learn to seek each other's help through our ever-growing chains of trust, making use of our unique abilities and expertise. We must learn to train ourselves to seek each other out as our first option, rather than look elsewhere for what we need; we learn to seek what we need through our own community first. There's a reason all those xtian dove logos showed up in ads and yellow pages a generation ago — it was a sign that identified themselves to their community, and community members learned to seek out their own for what they needed.

We don't seek official accreditation, official credentialization (unless doing so provides needed cover). We accredit and credentialize each other. We start our own art galleries for our own artists, our own publishing ventures for our own authors; we develop our own business plans, production strategies, distribution networks; develop our own accounting strategies; become our own postal carriers.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Monday, December 11, 2006

Darren Aronofsky Initiates a Fictional Derive 2.0

OK, adopt the altered mindset of your choice, prepare yourself to open your mind to the possibilities, put on Modest Mouse's "3rd Planet"

and then read this:

NASA telescope sees black hole gulping remote star

Watch Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain (don't listen to the mundane critics who do not get this film--it is bold, unique and deep--it is to be experienced ... why are there so few filmmakers that understand that cinema should be an art form that transforms you when you experience the film):

Unwind, revisit, ponder everything while listening to more Modest Mouse (or another favorite)...

Then watch Aronofsky's Pi

Then to keep the pleasant strangeness going read Haruki Murakami's stunningly weird and beautiful Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (my first time reading one of his books, but I will definitely be reading more--the first 30 pages I was having a hard time grasping the dual worlds he portrays in this novel, then, all of a sudden, it became so real... as if I had been there before and this was not all that strange):

"You are fearful now of losing your mind, as I once feared myself. Let me say, however, that to relinquish your self carries no shame," the Colonel breaks off and searches the air for words. "Lay down your mind and peace will come. A Peace deeper than anything you have known" (The Colonel speaking to the Man, who has lost his Shadow, at the End of the World: 318)

"First, about the mind. You tell me there is no fighting or hatred or desire in the Town. That is a beautiful dream, and I do want your happiness. But the absence of fighting or hatred or desire also means the opposites do not exist either. No joy, no communion, no love. Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without the despair of loss, there is no hope. (The Shadow speaking to his Man at the End of the World: 334)

Then have a friend sense that you need some powerful meditative words to ground you:

When all the world is dark and fear surrounds me,
when my night-blind soul cries out for help,
I turn to thee.
For thou are my opening to the Light and hope.
Like a child crouching in the dark, bereft of love,
I call to thee for succor and for comfort.
How long must I remain in darkness?
How long must I suffer the darkness of others
that threatens to engulf me?
From far beyond the ultimate source of Light
comes the voice of my desire.
i lift my head but remain silent, accepting
what I cannot change,
enduring that which seeks to overthrow me.
Hope, that most beloved of messengers,
comes winging down the paths of morning.
The darkness lifts, and I see beyond the shadows
to the sun.
I look to thee and I behold my beloved.
I open the window of my battered ark.
And, like a yearning dove,
my heart flies through the opening to freedom
and the Light.

(Amy S. states that "This is the 15th path on the road to ultimate nothingness-which is the Ain Soph of the Kabbalah.")

and then delve into the 5 volumes of Alan Moore's "Promethea" series (which provides a unique fictional perspective on the development of magical thought and belief):

Anuja Mendiratta: Is Your Lipstick Safe?

Is Your Lipstick Safe?
By Anuja Mendiratta
Ms. Magazine and AlterNet


And that's why the California Safe Cosmetics Act is such a landmark achievement.

Signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last October and taking effect in 2007, it requires manufacturers to disclose product ingredients found on state or federal lists of chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects. The law further authorizes the state to investigate the health impacts of chemicals in cosmetics, and requires manufacturers to supply health-related information about their ingredients. Finally, the act enables the state to regulate products in order to assure the safety of salon workers.

California is the first state in the nation to pass such legislation, thus serving as a model for the other 49. "This is an important disclosure bill, and an important victory for women's health," says Jeanne Rizzo of the Breast Cancer Fund. "California has set the stage for states to assert regulatory authority around toxic chemicals in cosmetics, which the federal government has thus far refused to lead on."

Adds California state Sen. Carole Migden, who championed the legislation, "It is beyond belief that consumers are not being told whether or not they are putting carcinogens on their skin, in their hair or on their face. [The law] represents a triumph of grassroots efforts over money and power. Even in the face of a multinationally funded lobbying machine, common sense and the public good prevailed."

While many known toxic components have been banned in Europe from use in personal care products, similar ingredients remain legal in products marketed to the American public. Currently, the FDA does not review the ingredients in cosmetic and beauty-care products, but instead relies on self-regulation by the cosmetic industry's own Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel. According to the watchdog Environmental Working Group, only 11 percent of the 10,500-plus ingredients that the FDA has documented in personal-care products have been assessed for safety by the CIR panel.

In response to the lack of government oversight, an international Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was initiated in 2002 to pressure the personal-care industry to phase out known toxic ingredients and replace them with safer alternatives. Manufacturers have been encouraged to sign the "Compact for Safe Cosmetics," and to date more than 300 have done so, including The Body Shop, Burt's Bees and Aubrey Organics.

Migden authored the California Safe Cosmetics Act (S.B. 484) in 2004, with co-sponsorship by Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund and the National Environmental Trust. They joined with other public-health, environmental, consumer, Asian Pacific Islander, teen and faith-based groups in a yearlong organizing and lobbying campaign -- which met aggressive opposition from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. The industry group spent more than $600,000 trying to defeat the bill, even going so far as to host a website to capture searchers looking for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. In contradiction to a growing body of science, the website claims that the personal-care products sold in California are the safest in the world.

To Read the Rest of the Article