Thursday, June 30, 2016

RIP Alvin Toffler

Although he became something of an apologist for neoliberalism towards his later life, Alvin Toffler wrote pivotal works of futurism in Future Shock and The Third Wave, books which had huge lasting impacts on the world culture in many ways good (Cyberpunk, Juan Atkins' use of "techno rebels" to invent a genre, other music/scifi/gaming/web/tech) and ill (Newt Gingrich). He can probably never be forgiven for his fealty to adaptive corporatism's inevitability as a central power player in the structuring of the future, but by introducing broader culture to the ideas of post-industrial automation, future shock, computer intelligence, et al., it at least gave those of us opposed to the centrality of control ample guidance to diagnose and resist the attempts to shape culture as they happened in real time and IRL.

In a sense, Toffler's idealism (about the democratization of knowledge, for instance) became the raw fuel of hi-tech industry, selling its own resilience in the face of adverse change as a hallmark of progress. Of course, it wasn't exactly progress, and the cooperation between markets, state, and mass culture left a bloody global mess in the shadows of its gleaming gadgetry. The fundamental shifts Toffler saw taking place within established units like nuclear families and nationalities were quietly challenged in the "neutrality" of business (which became multinational agents with little to no allegiance to world powers and which displaced mothers, fathers, corporatized the education of youngsters, incubated ideology through the distribution of mass media, et al.), while becoming fodder for a host of reactionary political subsets to both offer scapegoating antidotes to those reeling from future shock and insist on said future shock's continuation by enacting an ever-increasing mandate of privatization and deregulation.   In short, politicians work with corporations to product massive accelerated change and comfort those who feel swept up in the dust by promising to make America great again, or at least to make it as shitty for others as it is for you.

Fast forward to our present-day where ISIS is using Twitter and YouTube and lifestyle magazines as recruitment tools and the consensus view is that they are driven by forces that reject the fundamentally benevolent compromise between state and capital we've come to define as post-industrial progress. This is not to excuse ISIS (or American-style capitalism) of their more barbaric acts, but Toffler's "adapt or die" model failed to consider whether resistance to the more toxic elements of futurism (particularly those laid bare by persisting systems of control) was actually a futurism in itself, that not adapting to a future wherein we're headed towards potential mass extinction may actually benefit the species more than vying to hold onto some unsustainable and disastrous conception of a society modeled on Third Wave dynamics.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The End of the Primary Season

*I wanted to make an edit of both of these, but my video-editing software seems to have permanently crapped out. No implication of any sexism by having Hillary Clinton represented by Betty Draper, just wanted to have her shooting the bird off of Bernie's podium and thus ending the hope of having anyone but a nasty war hawk in office. If someone has more free time than me, feel free to steal the idea and do it better and let me know. Frowny face.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.

Watch this on The Scene.

This is Sunspring, a film written by "Benjamin", an AI that's a collaboration between filmmaker Oscar Sharp and Ross Goodwin, an AI researcher at NYU.  The film looks and sounds like an alien transmission, like a language yet to be decoded.  It attempts to split its difference between English script prose (it was fed hundreds of Sci-Fi scripts) and the visual language of cinema and it came out as some weird surreal third type of communication. 

When the film was submitted to a Sci-Fi film festival in London, the filmmakers decided to interview Benajmin from the stage and his responses are in line with this same third way communication:

"What do you think of your historic nomination against human opponents in this contest?
I was pretty excited.
I think I can see the feathers when they release their hearts. It's like a breakdown of the facts. So they should be competent with the fact that they won't be surprised.

"What is the future of machine written entertainment?
It's a bit sudden.
I was thinking of the spirit of the men who found me and the children who were all manipulated and full of children. I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.

"What's next for you? 

Here we go. The staff is divided by the train of the burning machine building with sweat. No one will see your face. The children reach into the furnace, but the light is still slipping to the floor. The world is still embarrassed.
The party is with your staff.
My name is Benjamin.

Weekend Drift

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kind of a Big Deal

LW: It’s just another vector of oppression. People really freak out when you use the word “oppression” in combination with the word fat, because people think about it as a changeable state. And it is, to a degree, but so is class. Regardless, that conversation is kind of meaningless. The fact is that fat people exist and are mistreated now, so we have to deal with that now, whether you think fat people are just failed thin people or not. 
FREQ: Jesus, that’s so depressing. 
LW: It’s something that I didn’t even articulate to myself till writing this book, that I always thought of myself in the future. This was just my temporary body, and my real self would have a thin body, because that’s what real people have. But when you don’t think of yourself as a real thing, when you live in the future, you can’t advocate for yourself in the present. You can’t demand respect and rights and humanity, because you don’t really exist. Fat people are mistreated, and it’s acceptable to treat them like they have less value. It’s ok to not just be cruel to them but to underserve them in every area of society, like medical care and employment. There was a study that found fat women are more likely to be found guilty by juries, because we conflate body size with all of these different aspects of morality. Fat people are lazy and stupid and dirty and selfish, so it’s ok to hate us. It’s also really flattering to your ego if you’re a thin person, because it implies that you’re good person, moral person and a disciplined person. That’s why it’s really hard to shake the hold this idea has on people, because it makes them feel good. 
The way we talk about it is just so screwed up, because broadly speaking, fat people are not the cause of fat people. The broken system is. Fatness correlates with poverty and race and geography, because people live in places where they don’t have access to fresh food, or they don’t have time—they’re working multiple minimum wage jobs, so they don’t have time to go home and cook a beautiful cabbage. Even if you can get cheap produce, if you’re working 20 hours a day to keep the lights on for your kids, what are you supposed to do? Then you see people get pilloried in the media for feeding their kids McDonalds. People say things like, “oh, it’s child abuse and fat people’s children should be taken away.” The whole thing is backwards, where we blame people for being victimized by a system without ever acknowledging the system at all.

-Interview with Lindy West in Feminist Frequency Newsletter

M.E.S.H.- Damaged Merc

This new M.E.S.H. EP is very good. I need good things right now