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)”

Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 2: Danielle Robinson From the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society

Danielle Robinson will be presenting at the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day & International Hackathon in San Francisco,  on Saturday November 10, 2018) and also that night, during our Saturday Evening Event, where she and Karissa McKelvey will explain why the distributed web is so important.

    Saturday Schedule & Evening Event   Projects To Hack On

 Tickets 

Above: Danielle Robinson from the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society@daniellecrobins

By Lisa Rein

Danielle Robinson is the Co-Executive Director of Code for Science & Society, supporting and advising folks desiring to create open source technologies in the public interest. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University, while studying the role of phosphoinositide signaling in myelination for her dissertation project.

As a Mozilla Fellow for Science, she ran “Working Open Workshops“, explored decentralized approaches to data sharing and preservation, and advocated for policies that facilitate open access to research.

I originally contacted Danielle strictly on her professional reputation, after I asked Tracey Jaquith at the Internet Archive who would be a good person to explain why the distributed web is so important and in the public’s best interest.

During our email exchange, Danielle shared with me how much she had been influenced by Aaron and his work. It was all quite interesting, so I asked Danielle if she would share her story here.

Lisa Rein: Danielle, thank you so much for talking openly about this. I know these stories can be very personal. You mentioned that Aaron and his work meant a lot to you?

Danielle: Yes, I was a second year PhD student when he died. I was already disillusioned with academia and just beginning to see how I could put that energy to use. Aaron’s work had a big impact on my life and I would not be doing what I do today without his influence.

LR: Really? How did he influence you?

DR: Well, although I did not know Aaron Swartz personally, on a fundamental level, Aaron’s work on open access issues set the stage to grow the movement. I became a part of that movement and it changed my life. Aaron’s work impacted me and many of my colleagues at Dat (https://datproject.org/) the broader Code for Science & Society community, and in the open access movement.

Along with my colleague Joe Hand, I run Code for Science & Society, a nonprofit that supports public interest technology. We work with projects like Dat to build capacity, develop partnerships, and build software centered in the public’s interest.

Note that our next Code for Science & Society Community Call will be on Friday Sept 7 9am PST. Interested folks can join our mailing list or follow @codeforsociety on Twitter for more details about tuning in. These meetings are always super fun and newcomers are welcome to attend.

More on this last “Community Call” (photo below) here in the Recap.

Names top to bottom, L to R Chris Ritzo and Georgia Bullen from Measurement Lab
Hugh Isaacs II, Nokome Bentley from Stencila, Naomi Penfold from eLife, Danielle Robinson,
Yoshua Wuyts, Rik Smith-Una, Mathias Buus Madsen.

DR: Aaron’s story had a huge impact on me on a technical level as well. The Dat Project began as a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing tool for moving around large scientific datasets. As the Dat community has developed, use cases have grown to include the Beaker Browser – a P2P browser, ScienceFair – a P2P publication sharing application, and Mapeo – offline friendly mapping software developed to help protect indigenous land rights. There’s even a Dat-based decentralized data sharing pilot project with Internet Archive, California Digital Library, and San Diego Supercomputer Center.

I’m a believer in the potential of P2P technologies and the decentralized web to change the way knowledge is disseminated. I consider open science/scholarship to include equity, justice, and opening the profession of scholarship to historically marginalized communities. Building offline-friendly tools, baking in free access, and creating decentralized communities can help open the profession of research and scholarship. A personal goal is to build systems that provide free access to knowledge.

Working with the open access movement via OpenCon, the Code for Science & Society community, and projects like Dat, ScienceFair, and the decentralized data sharing project – I am privileged to wake up everyday and work towards that goal.

LR: You mentioned that Aaron’s death happened at a time when you were becoming “disillusioned with academia.” Would you mind expanding on what you meant exactly?

DR: I started a PhD program in 2011, after working for about three years as a technician I thought I understood the system and rather naively imagined my PhD as a time of intellectual freedom. I am sure it is for some folks.

But the reality of my PhD was quite different, I was working on the grants of my advisor and didn’t have a lot of freedom. Rather than being empowered to pursue knowledge and share information, there was a competitive and secretive culture which extended from lab meetings (opportunities for intellectual take-downs) to keeping our work under wraps for fear of getting scooped.

Read more “Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 2: Danielle Robinson From the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society”

Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 1: DJ Spooky At The Creative Commons Launch (2002)

See DJ Spooky, along with Barrett Brown, Cindy Cohn, Brewster Kahle and others, at this year’s San Francisco Hackathon and Evening Event at the Internet Archive. (TICKETS)

Saturday Schedule & Evening Event Projects To Hack On

Regular Tickets Here

DJ Spooky walks across the stage before his performance. Artwork up on the screen by Ryan Junell.

By Lisa Rein, Co-Founder, Aaron Swartz Day.

RU Sirius asked me to elaborate in detail about the history behind this year’s Aaron Swartz Day International Hackathon and Evening Event.

To do this, we’ll need to go back to the launch of Creative Commons, in December of 2002. This is where Aaron presented our metadata vision to the world, and DJ Spooky presented and showed a trailer for what would become his classic “Rebirth of a Nation” masterpiece.

DJ Spooky spoke and performed at the Creative Commons Launch in December of 2002.

Video of DJ Spooky’s talk (includes trailer).

Watch the Trailer for “Rebirth of a Nation”  (Talk not included).

“How many of you have heard of a magazine called Adbusters? (Audience cheers.) As a kind of a sense of humor about that, they made this new flag. (He holds it up.) As a way to think about copyright culture in our era.” – DJ Spooky, CC Launch, 2002.

DJ Spooky, December 16, 2002

Transcription:

Hello everyone. How are you doing?

Some of you might know me as “Paul Miller.” Some of you might know me as “DJ Spooky.”

The fun part about DJ Spooky is that it’s a fiction. It was meant to be a character in a novel I’m working on. It started as sort of an art project. I was living in a place called “The Gas Station” in New York. It was next to a junkyard on 2nd street. It’s been razed over and is now a condominium.

Being in New York at a certain point in the mid 90s. It ws right on the cusp of when Digital Culture was slowly migrating out of the academiess, and really began to spread throughout the entire culture as we know it.

So, for me, music was always a hobby. Most of my other work – and many of my peers and fellow DJs – were always kind of archivists. We’re collectors – I like to say “philanderers of the subconcious.” People who like to look for rare nuggets of sound. Rare records. Rare grooves. Rare beats. And make new mixes out of it.

When I was first starting out, I would always make these CDs and little mixes that would say “Who is DJ Spooky?” There was a sense of humor about sort of audio theater.

To make a long story short, when they asked me to do a piece for this, I was thinking about it. I am in the middle of about three different projects. One of them is “Birth of a Nation” I am remixing that. It’s an early D.W. Griffith film. And many copyrighted works that are pre-1920 are still accessible. The film makes kind of a statement about the ownership of culture, and of course, about ownership of memory. Collective memory.

So that’s the project that’s going to be associated with Creative Commons. What I’d like to do is show a snippet of it. I presented an early work in progress of it at the Castro Theater.

Essentially whenever you hear something and the idea is made, it’s always a sense of playing with memory. What I’m fascinated with in the Eldred case, is the idea of who controls memory. How can you recall an image or a sound that’s essentially part of a collective unconscious. How we think of things that just go through your mind every day and how you externalize that. That’s what DJing is about. It’s playfulness. It’s reverence for controlled memory. Reverence for the found object.

So essentially, that’s what DJing has become. It’s almost a basic fabric; part of the the fabric of contemporary culture. So, there’s that kind of thing, which to me it becomes kind of what I like to call 21st century – a new form of folk music or folk culture. Some of you guys might have heard of the Joe Wecker case? A guy who sang lyrics about how to decode DVDs. Anybody? It was a very funny case where a kid basically sang the lyrics of how to decode DeCSS DVD control systems, and then made an MP3 out of it, and had various people show up at his door. So, it was a little bit of a hectic scene.

Kids being who they are, they printed the lyrics to the song (on how to decode DVDs) on a T-shirt.

(Someone hollers “woo!” from the audience.)

And so, again these issues, always migrate. You control one thing, the net will thread its way around it. And so on and so on.

That sense of control, one of the terms Larry always uses a lot, in his great book “The Future of Ideas” – if you haven’t read it yet; you should – is the idea of “creative co-authorship.” Being able to actually reach into a text and reconfigure it. And if there’s something we’ve seen throughout the 21st century, whether you are looking at the outside of things, or the underground or overground, it’s that sense of; whether you are looking at William S. Burroughs or the Jack Kerouac and the beats in the 50s, or the Dada scene in the 20s, or the early cinema people working with that, is that America has always been the place of “the mix.” But somehow, I think in the 19th century we were a net importer of intellectual property, whereas after a certain point we became a net exporter, and that’s when all these kinds of control issues come up.

So, how many of you have heard of a magazine called Adbusters? (Audience cheers.) As a kind of a sense of humor about that, they made this new flag. (He holds it up.) As a way to think about copyright culture in our era.

There’s that famous scene in Bladerunner: The main character goes into a DNA lab, where “they” own your eyes. Or they own your DNA. So, if you’re Monsanto, or one of these other companies, you can reach out and copyright, an indian in Brazil’s DNA, for example. But if you’re a DJ, and you download an MP3, all of a sudden the FBI shows up at your door. So these kinds of imbalances are very intrinsic to how we think of them.

So, anyway, to make a long story short. What I’m going to be doing is presenting a short trailer, so to speak, of the remix of “Birth of a Nation.” In it, you’re going to hear a different soundtrack and different kind of clips of the film remixed against itself. The idea is “cinema as memory.”

Read more “Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 1: DJ Spooky At The Creative Commons Launch (2002)”

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.

…………………………………….

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”

Matteo Borri Explains: What the Underground Lake On Mars Really Tells Us About the Possibility of Life There

By Lisa Rein

This image taken from the NASA Internet site 28 April, 2000 shows the south polar cap of Mars as it appeared to the Mars Global Surveyor on April 17, 2000. Photo credit: AFP PHOTO/NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems.

We are going to jump right in to this story, since it has been out for a week and most people already think they are familiar with this story.

The mainstream press appears have missed most of the interesting implications of these recent findings.

So, I thought I’d head over to Robots Everywhere LLC to get some clarifications from Matteo Borri.

Matteo Borri is on the Advisory Board for the Swartz-Manning VR Destination (An Aaron Swartz Day Production) – and is the co-lead on the Aaron Swartz Day Solar Survival Project.

Lisa Rein: Hi Matteo! Let’s talk about the implications of the “lake” they just found on Mars. Does this mean there is life on Mars? Is that all we needed to do; find water?

Matteo Borri: No, finding water just means it is more likely. Water does not guarantee life. But it does mean that there is a small chance that something could be alive in there.

LR: Were the Italian scientists looking for “current life” rather than “past life?” Is that how they found it?

MB: No. They were just looking at what the rock under the polar ice looked like.

LR: Where exactly was the lake found?

MB: The lake was found in the South Pole of Mars. It’s very cold there. There is about 1.5 miles of ice above the lake. Either enough salts were dissolved by the ice to lower its freezing point, or some source of heat is underneath it, turning it into a liquid.

LR: Like an aquifer?

MB: No. More like a big pond or small lake, with a bunch of ice on top. We don’t know how old it is.

LR: They weren’t using any special kinds of instruments different from the ones NASA uses?

MB: Nope. Same kinds of instruments. It was just the luck of the draw.

It’s interesting because it tells us to look for actual living “life,” rather than just for traces of past “life.”

This sort of under-the-ice brine lake is similar to one found in Antarctica a few years back: and there were viable single-cell critters in it. So if Mars ever had pervasive life, like earth does now, some of it may have survived under there.

Photo: Astrophysics Professor Alan Duffy’s Twitter account. https://twitter.com/astroduff/status/1022219366102839297

LR: Could life have evolved to survive under there to begin with, rather than being frozen under there? Similar to the extremophiles we found living in the Ocean near volcanoes here on Earth? (Although these are surviving at extremely high temperatures – like 200 degrees Fahrenheit – as opposed to low ones, like on Mars.)

MB: Yes, but it would still need to get its energy from somewhere. And getting energy is harder in general on Mars, compared to Earth, because it only gets about 1/4 of the energy we get from the Sun, and it’s seismically dead so no volcanic vents.

LR: You mean from something other than light, right?

MB: Yes. Something other than light. So, something that uses something other than chlorophyll and sunlight. For that water to exist underground like that, you have to be getting some energy from somewhere. Light, heat, anything.

LR: We now know that such organisms exist here on earth right? How some fairly-recently discovered “Extremophiles” are organisms that don’t need sunlight. (Which, in turn tells us that there are energy sources other than sunlight.)

What do the extremophiles we know about here on Earth use as an energy source?

MB: Well, “extremophiles” simply means life that can exist in very harsh environment. One that would normally be too cold, too hot, or too dry for other life.

There are some simple life forms that exist near the volcanic vent (where the water goes up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit).

An underwater organism in a submarine volcano.

LR: And they are “in the dark,” right? No sunlight.

MB: Right. No Sunlight.

LR: So, how do they get their energy then?

MB: Using the temperature gradient between the volcanic vent and the surrounding environment.

LR: Wow. Could some kind of volcano-based temperature gradient system exist on Mars.

MB: Nope. Mars doesn’t have any active volcanoes or seismic activity. Zero. Although, there was a lot of it at some point, but way back when, like billions of years ago.

LR: So, the big mystery is what the hell is melting part of the ice into a big lake?

MB: Yes.

LR: What are the theories?

MB: Well, the most likely theory is that salts deposits were slowly eaten up by the ice, which lowered its freezing point. Once you get some liquid, it will spread out, making that particular reaction go faster.

Read more “Matteo Borri Explains: What the Underground Lake On Mars Really Tells Us About the Possibility of Life There”