The President Addresses The Nation

The President Addresses The Nation

R.U. Sirius January 8, 2019

I see them all lined up at the border
killers, gangsters, rapists…

Ravers with drugs
Bugs with diseases
Mr. Freeze
Chupacabra
Old Sandinistas
Bolton just told me there’s Zapatistas
Angry strippers who use the name Rita
Members of ISIS carrying Pita

vampire bats
gals wearing pussy hats
Soros’s minions of liberal fat cats
Knee takers carrying baseball bats

Masked Antifas throwing rocks
Vicente Fox
Honduran children with chicken pox

IRS agents have joined the throng
Octavio Paz arm-in-arm
With Robert de Niro and Erica Jong
Mueller supporters who know I’ve done wrong
Emiliano Zapata on the back of King Kong
Streisand singing that stupid song

Hillary Clinton is down there too
Professor Chomsky and his radical jews
Even the truthers are turning on me
Why can’t I just make a decree
This is a national emergency

Yes there are monsters south of our border
I need a wall against this disorder
Dictator or prison – that’s how I see it
Yes it’s an emergency soon I will decree it

Mrs. Santa Claus is coming to town

by Destinyland

The problem isn’t “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Holiday traditions age slowly — and poorly — and we find ourselves waking up to a whimsically wintry wonder world as we try to apply our new modern sensibilities to Christmas itself. The TV show Glee once famously bypassed all the tricky gender politics by simply having the song sung by two adorable men.



But here’s the bad news for feminists. For decades Christmas has been depicted as a male-centric holiday dominated by a man-giver and his man-elfs. (Even the reindeer all seem to be male.) And if you dig a little bit deeper, it just gets worse. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the classic Christmas special, Burl Ives even tells youngsters how Donner the reindeer’s wife — Mrs. Donner — was forbidden from helping find Rudolph because “this is man’s work.” (Leaving Mrs. Donner in tears…)

“Are women bad at looking for things?” asks the Women’s Media Center (a group co-founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan.) In a critique titled “Rudolph, the Sexist Reindeer,” they cite other complaints about the children’s special’s frequent bullying (and also it’s “sheer creepiness”), before noting that ultimately the special “is pretty clear that the boys join in the reindeer games while the girls stay off in the corner…swooning? Admiring?

“Life isn’t all that different for the female elves either.”

But now, the hopeful note. Throughout our history there’ve been inspiring attempts to fix the holiday’s one-sided gender balance. For example, back in 1953 Nat King Cole recorded a delightful tribute to the Christmas-y role played by Mrs. Santa Claus, who helps the couple eke out their North Pole subsistence by personally feeding hay to all of Santa’s flying reindeer. And apparently she’s also in charge of important Christmas-related responsibilities, including sleigh-packing, gift-wrapping, and a crucial advisory role for Santa’s whole toy-delivering operation.

Mrs. Santa Claus briefly turns up in the 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians — albeit for roughly 32 seconds. (The entire miserable film was once heckled by the robot hand puppets on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.)

But an important message was thus delivered to the next generation of film-makers. Yes, Virginia, there is a Mrs. Santa Claus. Back in 2013, Saturday Night Live delivered a brash skit in which Mrs. Santa Claus complains about the travails of a marriage where “your husband is unemployed for 364 days a year, and he’s a thousand years old,” calling Christmas Eve the day “when Santa finally gets his lazy ass out of the house.” And a later SNL skit even shows what happens when Mrs. Santa Claus gets sexually harassed by pervy elves.

Here’s my point. 2018 saw a growing push for more women in media and government, and a greater representation throughout society in general. So why isn’t there a movement to give a larger role to Mrs. Santa Claus? Why do we spend each Christmas focusing on an aging white guy who can see you when you’re sleeping?

Let me just put it this way. I know a lot of parents who’d feel much more comfortable if their children were sitting on Mrs. Santa Claus’s lap….

And to the end, one film was way ahead of its time.

In 1996, Broadway legend Jerry Herman was 65 years old. But 12 years after his hit La Cage Aux Folles, he took one more crack at skewering our society’s gender roles, writing the entire score for an original TV production titled Mrs. Santa Claus. Given a lavish Christmas production from Hallmark Home Entertainment, the film starred Angela Lansbury — the first person to sing “We Need a Little Christmas” (in Herman’s 1966 hit Broadway musical Mame.) Mrs. Santa Claus describes herself as “invincible,” singing that “the moment has come to beat my own drum because, I want the world to know there’s a Mrs. Santa Claus!”

It’s not to be confused with the 2018 horror film “Mrs. Claus”, in which she’s a serial killer rampaging through a snow-capped suburbs.

Instead, this film glows with a gentle holiday glow of feminine pride, as Lansbury croons that “I’m coming your way, keep an eye on my sleigh…” The critics called the film “endearing” and “sure to be an instant classic” — before it vanished into obscurity for the next 20 years. The DVD “has long been out of print,” warns Wikipedia — but the film has suddenly come back to life in the cloud, and Amazon Prime customers can now watch it free. (Or you can snag a used copy of the DVD for $4.13.)

So this Christmas all those male-centric grinches better watch out.

Because Mrs. Santa Claus is coming to town.

Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time

by R.U. Sirius

Tripulations 1968 – 1969

A Brief Return to Berkeley During “The Revolution”

Tim’s first impulse, upon being released from the Millbrook hive, was to take Rosemary and Susan (Jack had already left a year earlier, joining the great migration to the streets of the Haight Ashbury) back to his old stomping ground of Berkeley, California where he still owned the family home. By now, Berkeley was a buzzing center of the international counterculture. But Tim was not attuned to Berkeley’s late ‘60s culture of protests, riots and apocalyptic revolutionary rhetoric so his stay in Berkeley would be brief.   

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

At the invitation of a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the small Leary family unit made its way south, to the sunny climes of Orange County, just outside of LA.  

In 1966, a notorious working class gang of tough marijuana dealers from Orange County invaded and ripped off a Hollywood party over a pot deal gone bad. Among the items they grabbed was a bunch of LSD.  They didn’t even know what it was — except that it was obviously a drug.  One day, the gang leader, John Griggs tried it. “This is it!” he told his followers. “A religious experience.” He threw his gun into the ocean. In nearly an instant, the Street Sweepers gang became a religious psychedelic commune. And the skills they’d learned smuggling marijuana from Mexico… well, that still fit the profile. They added acid and hashish to their sales repertoire and became such a successful underground operation that they would eventually get dubbed “the hippie mafia.”

Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao te Ching became a sort of holy book for the Brothers and Leary a guru.  Being at loose ends anyway, the Leary family unit was happy to head to Laguna Beach and be glorified and feted by their high-flying friends.   

The Brothers were the ultimate ecstatic warriors of the psychedelic revolution.  They were following the logic (such as it was) of  ‘60s psychedelia — this was the idea or vibe that the more people consumed psychedelic substances, the closer we would get to an advanced enlightened society… even if there was some freaking out, fucking up and weirdness along the way.  What do you think? 

The legend of the Brotherhood and the Laguna Beach scene is the subject of numerous books and articles, the best one being Orange Sunshine by Nicholas Schau.

High Priest & Politics of Ecstasy

1968 saw the release of Timothy Leary’s first semi-autobiographical book, High PriestThis book bravely, poignantly, poetically and hilariously tells the stories of fifteen psychedelic trips taken during the Harvard years (plus the nervous breakdown/breakthrough in Spain in 1959)— the trips that turned Timothy Leary into the legend of a mind. Many of the adventures I’ve already described are included. If you’re going to read one Leary book about the psychedelic experience — with the emphasis on actual experience and not on the insights inspired by them — this is the one for you.

Later, 1968 saw the release of a collection of Leary essays under the title, The Politics of Ecstasy. Much more a product of its time than High Priest, Politics of Ecstasy crackles with its effervescent, confident and whip smart explication of how psychedelic experience intersected with generational politics and a demented war mongering repressive sociopolitical structure to create the mad countercultural explosion that was, in fact, peaking heavily that very year.  Read more “Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time”

Changes, Postmodernism, Counterculture, Ego

Wilder Gonzales Agreda & R.U. Sirius

In 2015, Wilder Gonzales Agreda interviewed me for http://peruavantgarde.blogspot.com. I’m fond enough of the results to present some of the musings here with some updated annotations. Annotations in caps and blue

Why do you think people in general (not elite) tend to avoid changes even if they finally are going to benefit everyone? Why is to so hard to change mentalities? They seem to get frightened always.

Our minds are SEEM TO BE geared, evolutionarily, towards the recognition of patterns and its predictive mechanisms are most naturally geared towards the immediate near situation…  hunting food, avoiding things that might harm you immediately, maybe some gathering, getting shelter and so forth. It’s kind of amazing that we even got to consciously planned agriculture. Now we’re in societies and cultures of astounding complexity, but many of us are still geared towards our immediate comforts and securities. The simplest – or simple-mindedest way to attain those things is to go along with what everyone else is doing and find your place within it. You get a kind of security of the hive, the pack, the tribe. That security is challenged situationally from time to time but the pack basically likes to shoot the messenger. In apocalyptic situations, this tendency may only get worse.

Academics use to say that in current postmodernism people lose faith on ideals, and they live just for the moment, the ego and pleasure. How do you see this situation regarding counterculture ideals and utopias? Or you see we are living a new era?

I’ve never really thought about postmodernism in terms of faith, but I’m sure it would point to and also provoke a lack of it. And I don’t know that postmodernism is particularly a critique of hedonism or spontaneity IF THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE IMPLYING

Academic postmodernism, which has become TO A GENERALIST APPEARS mostly indistinguishable from poststructuralism, culture theory, critical theory, what have you… really, seems to be a dense thicket of illuminating perceptions, fecund horseshit and lots of tangled up nonsense. This is because academics have to produce a lot of words, and because academic postmodernism came out of the demise of the radical left of the 1960s and it’s splintering into oppressed identity formations. Academic pomo — from it’s roots in questioning the highly defined enlightenment paradigm of Western capitalism and it’s Leninist cousin — seems to have constructed some kind of a linguistic/memetic umbrella under which these various strains of obsession with gender, race and colonialism could still be interrelated. Unfortunately, these relations are constructed DESCRIBED through a peculiar elite specialized language that’s only accessible to other members of the academic tribe. Students get infected by it but usually drop it once they start dealing with the actuality of the world and their not-politically-correct sexual desires. IT SEEMS NOW TO BE CONTINUOUSLY UBIQUITOUS IN CERTAIN CIRCLES, ALBEIT IN A SIMPLE FORM OF TOTALISMS AND CERTAINTIES, SOME OF THEM MORE OR LESS ON TARGET. PROBABLY A REACTION TO THE REACTION AND SOMETHING TO DO WITH SOME KIND OF STASIS (ECONOMIC?) PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING POST-COLLEGE THAT KEEPS THEM IN THE SAME CONTEXT

If I could pick out two fundamental ideas from postmodernism that have meaning and appeal for me:

One: it would be the idea that the singular romanticized consistent western classical liberal individual is a limiting construct and not an actual thing. There are no “stand up guys.” Humans are a fluid changeable process and there are multiplicities of selves, particularly amongst people not enslaved by lives of full time labor –- who generally are the only ones that are privileged to have a self or a multiplicity of selves in the first place.

Two: The other appealing aspect of PoMo is the idea that truth is radically contingent. UNFORTUNATELY PICKED UP BY VARIOUS RIGHT WING THINKERS AS A WAY TO SEW CONFUSION IN DOMAINS WHERE FACTS — EVEN APPROXIMATE FACTS — MATTER TO MUCH TO TREAT AS CONTINGENT. That would not necessarily be hard physical truth (if I threatened an academic pomo with a baseball bat, he or she would recognize it’s absoluteness) but philosophical truth, political truth and even scientific truth (the latter is too long an explantion for this discussion). And with the possible exception of scientific proofs, this seems to be palpably (contingently) true. That is sort of the way things are, whether we like it or not. Read more “Changes, Postmodernism, Counterculture, Ego”

On The Road To Chaos In East Berlin (published MONDO 2000 1991)

by Morgan Russell

 

In honor of former MONDO editor and co-publisher Morgan Russell’s ashes finding their way back from Austria to his home state of Wisconsin, we present this marvelous unfinished piece he sent us about a Chaos Computer Club gathering in what was once East Berlin. The piece ended suddenly when Morgan didn’t send us the ending, but the fun is more in getting to the conference and getting in the conference than in the conference itself… or at least that’s what one would imagine.

 

“Chaos. It’s more than just a name. It’s our way of doing business!”

Germany’s Chaos Computer Club is known in the US primarily for its incursions into U.S. military and NASA computers (see Clifford Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg). Then there was the well-publicized information-for-money deal with the KGB that got busted. The latter was perpetrated by persons who, while not official club members, are at least within the Chaos Computer Club’s ambit. Little more is known about the Chaos group outside Germany.

Chaos members who might enlighten the rest of the world as to the nature of their organization seem to be nonexportable. One of their better-known members, Steffen Wernery, was arrested on charges of computer vandalism on his arrival in Paris where he had a speaking engagement. He was imprisoned for months. Other well-known members are understandably loathe to leave Germany.

Contact between the Chaos Computer Club and the East Berlin Computer Club was established at the CCC’s Christmastime ’89 Kongress in Hamburg. When I received calls from Hamburg and Amsterdam alerting me that the next CCC Kongress was imminent and to be held in the “East Zone,” as the West German computer security journal Daterschutz-Berate quaintly termed it, I immediately left for Europe.

Arriving in Amsterdam, I learned that I was a full month early. I suspect my informant was a bit hazy on the exact dates simply because he wanted an Amerikan around to talk to. No matter. I purposefully occupied my time doing preliminary fieldwork in Amsterdam, checking out its hacker underground, squatters’ movement, pirate radio and TV, and the newly identified Anti- Media Movement

 

“Destroy Media!”

Battle-cry of the Anti-Media Movement

I got my first glimmer of the Anti-Media Movement talking to a member of a group known as ADILKNO (The Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge). ADILKNO publishes manifestoes in a hyperintellectual art and media journal, Mediamatic. A magazine for the well-read polyglot, its matter is well-nigh impenetrable without a thorough knowledge of Baudrillard, Virilio, Bataille, and Eco, for starters. Its motto is, “We watch media like others watch TV.”

ADILKNO first proposed its attack on media in a Squatters’ Movement document: “By isolating the media, we will reach many more people! Within the movement, many feel we must give our opinions to the press.

The time in which we can reach our goals through public opinion has long been over!”

ADILKNO believes a “massive defection to reality” is occurring now that everything seems to be covered by the media. “The increasing need to make history in a hobby or tourist atmosphere, away from work, is consciously placing the media in the shadow of the event. For the moment, people have no more time for the media. . . Beyond the media traps, people clear the way tor themselves to do the right thing elsewhere. In Western museum cities, an avant-garde has formed the anti-media movement, which puts an end to all connections under the slogan, ‘Let’s pull down another media!’ With disappearing acts, it creates temporary and local media-free spaces. . . It is a pre-eminently secret movement because it carefully keeps itself out of the press and makes its existence known only through jamming and sabotage. All events that don’t appear in the media are claimed as a victory by the movement. . . The survival strategy of the media is to remain more interesting than reality.” Like that.

In the newly published Movement Teachings:Squatting Beyond the Media (as yet available only in Dutch), Geert Lovink and Arjen Mulder describe the “outer-medial experience” as “making history on the streets through ‘immediate’ (i.e. ‘media-free’) contact.”

The Anti-Media Movement is contentless. It can only be discerned, in Lovink and Mulder’s formulation, as “curious cuts in the data stream.” It is a question of “how we should read the gaps. Is it an accident or the Anti-Media Movement?” One needs “an eye for it.”

Hoping to catch traces of the meaningful gaps of the “AMM” at the CCC Kongress, I mobilize Special Forces: DFM Radio-Televisie.

Read more “On The Road To Chaos In East Berlin (published MONDO 2000 1991)”

The Subsequent State

by M. Christian

A short story from Hard Drive: The Best Sci-Fi Erotica by M. Christian

….

He remembered praying, though he was unsure if he spoke the words out loud or if they’d just been thundering through his mind: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done…

“The human intellect passes from its original state, in which it does not think, to a subsequent state, in which it does”

–Aristotle

I don’t know how to start this, so I guess I just have to. I hope you’ll understand that is something I have to do … even though I know it’s wrong. 

But I also know that I can’t live with myself until what happened to you will never happen to anyone – ever again. Knowing that they are out there and will come again and possibly take more that they have already taken – I have to do something.

I love you – and until I knew you, I never understood what that word meant, so I can say it in a way I could never say it before to a person who has given me so much.

Josh

* * * *

The world – looking out at it through the night vision goggles – was green: the tall, wild grasses where he crouched, and slowly crawled through, was green; the trees on the distant hills, which swayed in a low wind he couldn’t feel, being so close to the ground, were green. The stars in the sky were too bright – a wince there – pinholes of green stuck through a paler green canvas.

And there, between the hills, just below him, were the rolling geometries of what he’d been told they called environs: hexagonal panels joined together into organically rolling blisters. Through the plastic, fragmented by the interference of the structure, were the vividly dancing green of what he guessed were fires – and, moving much more slowly, carefully, purposefully were the green illuminations of people.

No, he corrected himself, squeezing the polycarbonate grip of his father’s gun, feeling the grid pattern even though the material of his gloves. Not people. 

There were cameras, which was why he was so low in the tall grass, but he’d learned that there weren’t that many of them – and the ones they did have more than likely wouldn’t be able to pick him up. 

So arrogant, he thought, relaxing his grip on the gun. A breath then, to steady himself. With the inhale and subsequent exhale, he momentarily closed his eyes against the green. There were sensors, microphones, and more, but they, too, shouldn’t be able to pick him up, especially against the rustle of the trees, so he allowed himself to move his lips, though he didn’t speak, he prayed: Should we perish in the struggle, may God embrace us and find for us a place in His Kingdom.

The hill he was on rolled down to an access road: an unpaved narrow ribbon that undulated around the edge of the structures. When he reached where the grass ended and it began, he turned and lowered himself down, taking the final inch between his boots and the dirt path cautiously slow. Both feet down, he dropped and lowered himself all the way, scanning left, then right, then left again, looking for any sign he’d been spotted – but all he saw was the road vanishing around one bend and then the other. 

In front of him, between the hexagon-paneled roof of the environ and the ground, was a low wall of coarse-surfaced bricks. The wall, the plastic immensity of the structure, the dirt at his feet – everything he could see was still an artificially brilliant green. 

When he turned the goggles off, then flipped them away from his eyes, the world was absolutely dark… but only before his eyes adjusted: gradually his memory of the environ – its geometric panels, its organic bulge that now filled half the sky, blocking the intensity of the truly white stars, the bare coarseness of the road, the almost-as-course bricks – was replaced by his actual vision.

A few yards away, he could see a break in the wall: a man-height indentation. Getting closer, he saw the handle.

There’d be an alarm the moment he turned it: five, maybe ten, minutes maximum, before a patrol arrived and gunned him down. His best chance would be to get in and then move as far away from the door as he could – if he was lucky, buying himself an extra few minutes.

Breath in, breath out, right hand on the gun, left hand hovering an inch above the handle. Brave warriors, should fate find us in battle,may our cause be just. May our leaders have clear vision. May our courage not falter –

He closed his eyes, and when he did, he saw again their bodies: the blood, thick and brown on the carpet; their arms and legs turned and twisted clumsily where they fell. The smell of hot copper in the air.

On the wall – painted with the blood of his daughter or his wife – was the Greek letter for alpha, the symbol of the Noos.

Five or ten minutes. Not much time. Turning the handle, pushing the door inwards, he prayed to Jesus Christ that he had enough time to kill at least that many of them. 

* * * *

From the door, he found himself on a narrow path, floored by planks: some kind of access way between the rest of the environ and the wall. The wood muffled his steps: a small miracle.

Earthly fertilizer, freshly cut wood, perfumed smoke, sickly-sweet flowers: an arboretum tickled his nose. Vision further adjusting, he saw the wall to his left, and the intertwined branches of trees on his right – bright and raw, where someone had clipped them to keep the path free. Leaves swiped at his eyes, brushed against his uniform, but otherwise he trotted, hand on the butt of his gun, almost silently.

Silently: no alarm, no sirens. They had to know; they had to be on the way. Five minutes, maybe ten … hopefully more. 

Then the path turned sharply and vanished. Still being led by it, he was spilled out onto the edge of a small, plowed field. When his boots kicked at one of the furrows, the scent of nature bloomed up his nose. In the distance were the golden glows of the fires that had been the green dancers in his goggles. Flickering in and out of darkness beyond them were more and more trees, but also the further distant forms of what looked like a four-tall step of square windows.

“Hello.”

Down the sights of the gun, she was rosy … almost golden … intermittently lit, sporadically revealed by the distant bonfires. 

She was older than he was by five years or maybe even ten. Her hair was so red the fire made the curls and tumbles of it look like she was as much alight as the flames. Her face was lined, but each seam and wrinkle looked like the end, or the beginning, of a happy grin. Her eyes were bright, either orange from the far-off flames, or that color under any light. Around her neck was a leather thong, tugged down between her breasts by what looked like stone charms and tiny brass bells. She was plump: a healthy weight in arms and legs that spoke of her nature, a comfort in that what she was … she was.

“There’s no reason to be afraid.”

She was naked: not bare, not stripped, not exposed. She stood, still at the end of his pistol’s sight, rich earth squished up between the toes on her feet; her heavy breasts, dark-nippled and tanned, were also … what she was. Between her heavy thighs was a triangular curl of also-red hair – as wild and unkempt as the curls that flowed and spilled down her back and arms. There was no clumsy dance of seduction, no loud arousal in her: the earth between her toes; the dark, tanned richness of her skin; the freedom of her hair; the naturalness of her body – all of it was simple, honest, and earthy―

And she, or her people, had killed his wife and daughter: slipping in at night and slitting their throats. Brave warriors, should fate find us in battle, may our cause be just. May our leaders have clear vision. May our courage not falter. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior―

“No one is going to hurt you.”

She spread her arms. Down his sights, he saw her smile: a sign of calm, of peace, of welcome.

The shot was thunder, a crack of nightmare loud that matched and then beat the drumming of his heart. In his hands, the pistol bucked, wrenching his wrist and arm. 

It fell from his hand, so heavy he felt its impact through the soil even through the soles of his boots. He followed it down, his knees plunging into the thick, soft darkness of the field. Read more “The Subsequent State”

Happy Labor Day (Imagine)

Imagine you live in a small town of 10,000. One guy owns half of everything. A few other people own the rest of it. About 1,000 people are starving or almost starving. 3,000 more are in the streets or overcrowded in ramshackle homes. A large group of people, most of them with dark skin, are locked in cages. About half of the rest of the population live very close to the edge of homelessness or the like. Almost all of the rest of the people sell there time for tickets that allow them to have enough food, a roof overhead and maybe some medical help… and have some enjoyments amidst worries of depression or economic collapse, extreme weather disasters, war, fascism and tribalistic hostilities.  

Happy Labor Day!

 

What’s Eating Jaron Lanier (written about 5 years ago)

R.U. Sirius

So I came across this thing I never published and I like it quite a bit even though I should probably update it but I have a toothache.

So let me just protest that I love Jaron and really loved his recent quasi-autobiographical book Dawn of the New Everything: A Journey Through Virtual Reality 

Anyway, here is something from several years ago in the raw…

……………………..

Every few years, one of my friends from the early days of digital enthusiasm turns up on the media’s radar as a “defector.”

Huzzah! The former advocate or progenitor of the Next New Thing has turned into a flaming critic.  Perhaps he or she has even issued a Jeremiad against the former Great Hope of All Humanity.  It’s a turnkey, media-ready narrative, easy to convey and easy for a reading public that pays little attention to the more complicated discourses taking place around the impacts of radical technology to digest.  He was for it. Now he’s agin’ it.  You can tweet that and have enough characters left over for a haiku.    

Jaron Lanier, who emerged into the media spotlight in the early ’90s as the chief spokesperson for Virtual Reality, seems to be having a longer — and more vocal — run at this sort of thing than most. His 2000 piece — “One Half A Manifesto” — published in Wired, struck out against what he saw as a cybernetic totalism wherein some techno enthusiasts were laboring to create our nonbiological replacement species.  With his  2011 book, You Are Not  A Gadget, he went a bit further into “fighting the future,” finding aspects of the Web 2.0 culture depersonalizing and economically unfair to creatives.  In a recent and much-ballyhooed portrait in The Smithsonian magazine titled “What Turned Jaron Lanier Against The Web,” Ron Rosenbaum portrays Jaron as being like a “spy who came in from the cold.”  

The whole Manichean set-up is a bit much, but the actual content of Jaron’s complaints, I think, are not particularly obscure and touch a disquieted nerve in many of us — particularly those of us who have experienced life before the ubiquity of the social web.

The bummer, according to Lanier — at least as expressed in the aforementioned article — are as follows:

1: We are falling into a “hive mind.” Being webbed together — living in public and thinking collectively leads to a sort of insectoid de-individualization and a devaluation of excellence.  Some time back, Lanier called Wikipedia “digital Maoism” and questioned the au courant deference to “the wisdom of the crowd.”

2:  That whole “Information wants to be free” thing — what some call “free culture” — is not economically kind to artists, musicians, writers and creative folks in general.  Aside from being economically devalued, skilled creative types are demeaned as we’re pushed down into the shit end of the Long Tail along with the vast, relatively unskilled hordes who are happy to provide their own content, thank you very much, and to grab up our stuff for free.  The creative middle class is being disintermediated.

3:  Digitized music sucks

4:  The same technology that privileges file sharing also privileges the plutocratic finance economy.  Digital networked capital is unfair and largely disconnected from actual productivity. 

5:  The Singularitarians are fanatical quasi-religious nuts

6:  Most anonymous people  assholes.  There’s a virtual tsunami of ugliness and hate that seems to be gathering force. Read more “What’s Eating Jaron Lanier (written about 5 years ago)”

God Bless Russo-America

by John Shirley

 

July 4, 2031. “Today we thank the Holy Father and St. Boris and St Xenia for rescuing America from its nightmare of chaos and uncertainty. We give thanks for the Red, White and Blue Militias — American revolutionaries and Selected Special Forces of Russia — who spilled their blood in the struggle to rescue America, as reported by the Heroes of Social Media. With one voice we hail the holy martyr, Donald J. Trump, who died in office as he struggled for the cause.

Many other heroic actions made possible the Great Gasp of Relief as America was liberated by Emperor Vladimir I: The Glorious Acceptance of the Sovereignty of Mother Russia, signed by General George Foster and Admiral Slevins in 2026, as well as the unanimous entirely-democratic fully-counted votes authorizing America’s Blessed Uniting with Russia on July 4, 2028. And we honor the Joyous Welcome by the Voluntarily Disarmed American Military.

“We celebrate the Anniversary of the Blessed Uniting with the execution of 100,000 homosexual blasphemers and 11,000 reactionary domestic terrorists, to be followed by the greatest of all military parades: the Parade of Steel will celebrate our declaration of war on the People’s Republic of China…God Bless Russo-America!”

Background art by Ed Reibsamen

The Secret Burning with Rachel Haywire

 

As her bio puts it, “Rachel Haywire is an event producer, writer, model, and entrepreneur who seeks to create a new economy in which people can express themselves more freely. She likes long walks after the apocalypse and a damn good time”. Sometimes that good time can be… let’s say… a bit provocative. Currently she is raising funds for a public burning of the notoriously banal self-help book, The Secret, and doing it as a way to fund AIDS research.

As she put it on her GoFundMe page for this project:

The Secret is an extremely dangerous pseudo-science book that remains a bestseller for new age yuppies and the guru hacks that feed them. It teaches people that your thoughts create your reality. In other words, your thoughts cause everything from cancer to cerebral palsy to AIDS. Not only that, but events such as the holocaust and slavery could have been stopped if only the victims would have exercised positive thinking.

The Secret is especially popular in the city of Los Angeles, which is why we are going to host The Secret Burning in LA on the 1st of October. It is here (in a Secret location) that we will burn as many copies of The Secret as our friends and enemies chip in for us to buy. 

For every copy of The Secret burned, we will donate $5 to AIDS Research. We want the money to go to researching new treatments for AIDS, rather than having AIDS patients believe that they can cure themselves with the power of positive thinking.

Let’s end this pseudo-science cult and begun devising real solutions. Do help us purchase (used) copies of The Secret so we can burn them and create a better world.

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After conducting this email conversation I recalled that some time in the mid-90s a sort-of gossip column in SF Weekly reported that someone had burned a copy of How To Mutate & Take Over The World by myself and St. Jude (Milhon) as part of a performance piece, which I took as a tribute that was well aligned with the sensibility of the book itself. I don’t think Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret would feel the same.

Ok then. Here’s the interview

RU Sirius: Of all of the sort-of positive thinking manuals, The Secret seems to mostly attract a unique brand of airhead and there are a lot of them. Is it just the simplicity? Have you been surprised by some of the people who bought in? 

RACHEL HAYWIRE: It’s the simplicity and the pandering self-help culture. Some people don’t really buy in as much as pretend to in order to get ahead. Others are stupid enough to believe it because they have never actually been through real misfortune. It’s usually pseudo-affluents who are trying desperately to succeed and failing. They are afraid of expressing “negative vibrations” they think are the cause of everything bad that happens to them. They often ignore action and focusing only on “manifesting.” They can manifest right off, you know? The banality of this entire group of people is almost remarkable in its sheer vapidness. Anyone I know who has bought in is like a zombie infected by a plague, yet I suppose some are just gaming it for their amusement and wealth. This isn’t to say that energies and vibrations don’t attract different outcomes; just that these people actually think that negative events occur due to mindset and wavelength. This is scientifically absurd, yet they continue to throw these seminars and make money off of gullible idiots who want to be a part of this new age fake success cult.

RUS: A bit of positiveness seems necessary for doing anything. I’m imagining that I will continue to publish articles here and that a few people will find them worthwhile… but sometimes it’s hard to be sure. So where’s the boundary between rousing oneself to be proactive and swallowing a giant tub or horseshit like The Secret?

RH: That’s a good question. I think a lot of people assume that if you are positive and proactive, it is somehow necessary not to criticize or question anything. They think that challenging anything that makes people happy or scales up the economy is a horrible and sinister act that must be punished. What they don’t realize is that they are actually making people miserable and hurting the economy as a result. As evidenced by the concentration of wealth in San Francisco, revolution leads to growth. It is only through refusing to swallow horseshit and providing a new alternative that real growth can occur in the first place. Yet people don’t like to look at this long term because they are concerned only with immediate winning.  Read more “The Secret Burning with Rachel Haywire”