EL&tl:dr


“When you step up the environment to those speeds everything becomes psychedelic, you create the psychedelic thrill. The whole world becomes kaleidoscopic and you go inward, it’s not an outer trip.” Marshal McLuhan

“You don’t know Grand Funk? The shirtless antics of Mark Farner? The competent drumming of Don Brewer or the bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher?” Homer Simpson

“It’s not a well defined line. If you’re in despair, if you’re in trouble, if your heart is broken, you turn to Jesus. In country music if you’re in despair or if your heart is broken then you go have a beer.” Larry Gatlin

“Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.” Dr. Johnson

Last Wednesday only one piece of analog mail came through the slot. It was my invitation to experience something called “Senior Summer Camp.” This was my chance to spend a week at a nearby assisted living community to find out what the place was like and to supposedly, “Connect with people your age and have experiences just like the ones you had at camp all over again.”

There’s a panty raid you won’t wanna miss.

Know something?

I’m seriously considering it as it might be my only chance to live in one of those places Alaska Wolf Joe calls ‘the people pound.’

Why?

For openers our insurance company says we’re cancelled after TrumpCare (TM pend.) passes. Then there’s the small matter that the NRA has declared open season on registered Democrats, which doesn’t bother me because, as you can see below, the NRA is a little late to the party.

Lots of people have told me that’s a joke and that may very well be true, but none of them will be the one who finds out that somebody took it as an action plan.

When you pull those two items together then I might as well spend a week at the assisted living place as there’s no time like the present. Besides I might be able to help move the place into the future. Sooner or later there won’t be anybody left in the weekly Matlock Discussion Group. In a few years us Boomers born after 1955 will be plentiful enough that the weekly Matlock group will be replaced with bingo which means – as I’ve said many, many times before – sitting next to some guy who wants to tell you how he put bug spray in his bong while Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon comes screaming over the senior center’s public address system.

Heyyyyyyy speaking of Pink Floyd, that brings us to today’s topic – David Weigel’s The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. While the book is jam packed with info it tends to be a bit subjective in that it probably comes closer to reflecting Weigel’s personal taste than being a prog-rock Baedeker. But realistically when you deal with niche music genres that’s bound to happen.

Therefore I shall give you my personal take on the alleged rise and fall of prog.

Say ‘YES!’ to Yes

In the 1990s several musicologists in Britain put forth the idea that much of the composition in the 19th Century suffered from Beethoven envy. They thought that the Ninth Symphony paralyzed some composers who thought that unless they came up with something that out 9th’d the 9th then they would only be remembered as artistic failures. Oddly enough musicians and performers in the 1970s were faced with the same problem when this irreproducible gem appeared in the early half of the decade.

Obviously you can only take in that exquisite melody and nuanced performance so many times before you find yourself emotionally drained and mentally spent.

So what were you to do back then?

Stereo equipment was reasonably affordable and records were less than $5 each so all you really had to do was find something else to listen to until you were in the proper frame of mind to experience the man we called, le Dandy.

Sure, there was plenty of popular music going around, but what was there to chose from?

God knows, the woods were full of sensitive singer songwriters. They’d put out all their feelings on the very first track of and then repeat the process eight or nine times to flesh out the album. This lead many of us to ask, “How many goddam feelings do you have?”

While I’ve never bought into the whole Beatles/Adorno/Frankfurt School conspiracy theory I am pretty much convinced that all the sensitive singer songwriters were part of a cabal lead by Rod McKuen.

So much for that.

And the cosmic cowboy stuff?

You listened to that at your risk. Back then people would listen to that stuff and be so overcome with such a peaceful easy feeling that they became motionless for weeks at a time. Even after they snapped out if it their movements were slow as if they lagged behind reality by a second or two. If you asked them a simple question like, “Do you know what time it is?” they would struggle to focus their attention on what you had said. Years later they saw the 70s as so much missing time and irretrievable memories. That’s why when people ask me, “HEY, did you see The Walking Dead last night?” I smile and say, “No, but I went to a Poco concert once.”

This didn’t leave much and as the sky was dark with Englishmen riding their winged dragons long enough for Roger Dean to get a pencil sketch down, prog seemed to be the best choice.

Proggy went a’courtin’

Weigel spends little time letting prog bask in its glory days. His summary of the peak years deals with personnel changes and band infighting. As such the back half of the book is pretty much about the genre’s decline.

For me the decline in the number of prog-rock albums I bought can be summed up in one word.

Girls.

A key element of popular music is that it lets you get up and work off some excess energy while allowing you the opportunity to get all sweaty with a member of the opposite sex.

Such was the case with Glen Miller, such was the case with Joey Ramone.

Back in my day prog was not something the young women liked much less tolerated. They’d flip through your record collection and when they got to the Fripp, Giles, Giles, Gong, and Fripp section they’d make a face like there was something nasty smelling in the room. If you said, “Look, I got the new Yes Album!” It didn’t register. Instead they could have sworn you said, “You know, my job at the rendering plant complements my passion for taxidermy perfectly.”

As an aside – yes, we went through people’s record collections. Back then there was no FB, Tinder, or credit scores. You judged people by the vinyl they owned. Today you look through somebody’s medicine cabinet, back then you took a couple of fingers and flipped through the records. You know, …Grand Funk … Bachman-Turner … Grand Funk … Doobie Brothers… Doobie Brothers… Doobie Brothers … what a maroon!

Don’t give me that look.

I saw you do it.

Prog was a total failure when it came to courtship. You can’t dance to it, there’s not one single album that features anything anybody would admit to as being “our song,” and what kind of relationship would you be part of if you met somebody who was OK with making out to Van der Graaf Generator?

Because … damn … that’s just … damn

Weigel says there was one single moment when it was obvious prog was done. Early in the book he spends some time talking about how Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale as the one song that lead Brit pop musicians into prog. Some of them had long wanted to break out of the 4/4 structure and let things like an organ take the lead instead of the guitar. So when Peter Gabriel ran out his punk version of the song in 1979 it was an announcement, from no less that one of the major figures in prog, that its era had come and gone.

Days of Future Passed

The book does deal with the current state of the genre which begins with elders introducing the music to their young (see the video above) but finding it’s not something the kids take to readily.

The book’s intro and last chapter talk about how prog hasn’t really come back around again. Jon Anderson tried to get newer proggy kind of groups to tour with some of the Yes reunions, but it was a bust. Us potty old duffs don’t want to hear anything new – we just want to hear what we listened to in our teen years over and over and over again. That’s why prog nostalgia cruise ship tours do very well with middle aged high-school science teachers and graying tech workers.

Not surprising. When he was much younger AWJ liked DSOTM and we even went to see Roger Waters perform it live. But I think that’s a far as he got. A few years ago while stuck in traffic we got to talking about prog and he brought up some on his phone to play over the car’s sound system.

His verdict.

“Wow, that’s awful.”

Oh well.

And what of the book?

It’s an interesting read, but the breathless style leaves something to be desired. Sorta like the author staged a 50th anniversary celebration in a train station with people coming and going and talking over each other while others strained to hear the departure announcements. You might want to wait for it to come out in paperback or pick it up at a yard sale while you’re out on some fine Saturday morning looking for old Roky Erickson records.

The book’s single greatest fault is that Weigel is no fan of Krautprog. In fact he dismisses all of it in one sentence saying the German language and understanding of musicality never lent itself to prog.

But he carries on about PFM for five pages.

No shit.

Again – what to make of a given genre is always subjective, but no mention of Can, Air, Guru Guru, Neu, or even the more accessible stuff like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk?

If we take that at face value that means I’m walking around with this massive body of useless knowledge – half of which – Weigel thinks is as practical as hoarding Weimar pfennigs.

Bastard.

FYI

On a wholly unrelated note – the family reunion is progressing well. A cousin from the midwest and I will be comparing our genealogy research notes and hoping like hell we’re not related to these two.

What it is ain't exactly clear

0wl2

“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. … Spaceship earth is still operated by railway conductors, just as NASA is managed by men with Newtonian goals.” Marshall McLuhan

The day after Thanksgiving once again saw the gathering of The Owls (Above) down at the lodge for our annual free exchange of ideas. One of our members, The Proprietor has long been engaged in the civic sphere as he believes that salt and thatch are still sources of municipal revenue. This year he kickoff our gathering of mind by reading aloud from an article which appeared in the Adbusters circular. Near the start the item’s author states:

Our culture of flagrant self-exaltation, hardwired in the American character, permits the humiliation of all those who oppose us. We believe, after all, that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked. Human beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food. And the numbers of superfluous human beings are swelling the unemployment offices, the prisons and the soup kitchens.

The timeliness of the article can’t be faulted as it arrives after Pope Francis took issue with free-market capitalism. The article also arrives about a month after this video first appeared on the libertarian house organ, Reason.

As we approach the first anniversary of The End of the World it seems, at least to me, that there’s a large shift in context going on and we’re only getting glimpses of the change. But having said that I do have to take the air our of Adbusters tires.

I first became aware of Adbusters about 20 years ago as I flipped through one at a Vancouver newsstand, put it back, and washed my hands. For those of you who have never seen one, Adbusters is the hellfire-and-brimstone sermon of the Left. Adbusters routinely uses ol’ devil consumerism to leave the congregation to feel deflated or smug. Since most of its readers don’t know the difference between public policy that is dependent on economics and economics itself, this sermon gets trotted out a few times a year. Three’s never any consideration of what would happen if everyone stopped buying anything more than food. Also it fails to note that the Frankfurt School long, long ago identified the consumer economy as the modern version of the industrial state.

That aside – there are points to be considered within the article.

– Yes, the media is out of control and it will be for some time. The celebrity culture and the old mass media were symbiotes. Their job was to see you could yell the loudest to get attention. Back in the four-channel and two-paper town that worked quite well. Now there’s so many ways to derive information that yelling real loud is not longer effective, but that hasn’t sunk in yet so we’re going to have to live with this for another decade or so.

– We still live in a heightened state of security without justification.

– There’s not much to say here that I already didn’t say when The End of the World arrived for the holidays last year – it’s so very, very special to be alive during the End Times. Of all the people who lived you can claim to be unique because you were there at the end. But if the end doesn’t come you’re then forced to feel your way around, climb out of that hole, and move on. Certainly things could go south at any minute with either a bang or a whimper, but until then, and assuming you live long enough to see it, we have to move on if this is not the end.

– The same conclusion is shaping up for free-market capitalism. It’s handmaiden, monetarist policy went as far as it could go in late 2008. The Pope is complaining about the tyranny of the markets and while consumerisms lord regent WalMart now is rife with striking workers and protests. In the truly American manner the recent obsession with the markets is no different than the Millerites or any of the groups that have dotted our history. The conclusion those groups sought were no less romantic and hyperbolic than Grover Nordquist’s famous dictum.

– Meanwhile the libertarians look seek context in queer theory which I take as a positive sign that some one is trying to crawl from the wreckage and move forward.

But you know, the music these kids listen to today – it’s just noise.

There, I’m done.

BTW – there was supposed to be a podcast in this space, but the longer I worked on it the more disgusted I became.

Maybe for New Year’s.

The audacity to complain about it

“South by Southwest Interactive is in some ways a lot like the Internet itself. There are endless options all competing for your attention: hundreds of parties, both official and unofficial, 30,000 other attendees to meet, and more than a thousand panels on topics ranging from “Getting Started With Angel Investing” to “The Comfy Chair! Are We Sitting Too Much?” Nearly everyone who’d been to the festival before, I’d discovered by then, had a meta-reading of it and advice on how to game it. Aggressive networkers print out and memorize pictures of particularly important people with whom they hope to mingle. Some recommend breakfast meetings for clear heads and clear agendas; others say the evening is the best time to network, over beers. In Davis’s estimation, it’s a mistake to set foot in the Austin convention center for the official programming or to attend any of the sponsored parties. “That part’s a waste of time,” he said. “I like sitting. Sitting and drinking are my things. … During the day, sleep, exercise, management, getting lunch with some people. Just doing normal things here leads to meeting interesting people.” – Noreen Malone

“Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk… ice cream. Ice cream, Mandrake, children’s ice cream.” General J.D. Ripper

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Dr. Johnson

0sw1mpthg

After you’ve been doing this long enough there is, at least now and then, a moment when you say to yourself, “If I ever put up that post I’m done!” The sentiment usually follows some very long and seriously convoluted thinking that never lead to a coherent post. My first one involved a scenario where Bob Dylan did a backflip off a speaker tower while holding a roman candle in each hand. It was all related to my ongoing disgust with rock critics and I’m not sure if I ever ran out a version of it. (Hell, after 13 years of doing this I’m not sure I ever wrote anything.) My other moment of digital Götterdämmerung involved talking to people about Burning Man and watching their reactions. What follows IS NOT that post, but merely pieces of it. Again, after 13 years you find yourself pushed into things that you weren’t ready for, but what the hell?

The gaping void demands it.

A couple of weeks ago we spent a few days in Portland strictly for observational purposes. As a family we have long watched the ongoing Cold War that rages between The Rose City and Brooklyn’s Park Slope section. At this point Portland has gone up a couple of notches as they have Salt and Straw which claims to be an ice cram parlor, but is in fact an advanced physics experiment to see if locally produced hefeweizen can exist in a solid state. Towering above that is Portland’s efforts to de-flouridate their water supply. Porltanders have determined that since their water is free range (You can see The Mighty Columbia roll on from the box seats at the dog track.) it only makes sense to take the next step and create America’s first craft public utility.

Ball’s in your court now, Brooklyn.

In the middle of figuring all this out we wound up at an arcade in downtown Portland where they offer 100 old school video games and one beer on tap, Pabst. Between rounds of Dig Dug Alaska Wolf Joe was taking inventory of his quarters while I nursed an almost room temperature PBR. Out of nowhere he looked up and asked, “What’s the deal with SXSW? Are you only a player if you show up there? Do you and Mom even exist as serious Internet entities if you don’t go?” At the risk of sounding like sour grapes I looked him in the eye and said, “SXSW is Burning Man for middle managers.”

Come on – bashing SXSW is nothing new.

Maybe it was more of an organic once upon a time, but as I explained to AWJ – some times things need to get watered down so the middle managers of America can think they’re cool. SXSW lets them expense some carefully faded jeans and one of those shirts you’re suppose to wear untucked. It lets them have those jeans pressed until they show a sharp crease so they can spend the night sucking on a mojito with the rest of their ilk. As far as they are concerned at that moment they cannot get any cooler and that’s why the only rough comparison you can make here is Burning Man since you have to be a serious old spoot to compare it to an old SRL show.

More importantly he opened the door so he was forced to hear my old saw about how the bourgeois have always co-opted the fringe, but in doing so the fringe has always wound up as a watered down or more easily digested form of itself. When Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra teamed up to perform George Harrison’s Something they were not endorsing the counter culture. Instead they were signifying to those of similar age that now and then one of these hippie bums might just write a tune Nelson Riddle could arrange ring-a-ding style.

Jack.

Not that such a thing would happen today. How icky would that be – some old spoot born in the 50s holding court over today’s music?

At least I can stop there. Prior to departing Portland we ran into a family with small children. They stopped and asked where they could find Voodoo Donuts as they saw us carrying a VD box. AWJ looked at them and said, “Right up the street on the left, but you can’t take kids in there.” This lead to our talk on the way home of experiencing a thing just to experience a thing. Not that AWJ paid much attention as he was texting to arrange meeting his associate The Militant Feminist Vegan so they could go to some underground show featuring three bands who have decided that recording their music in any way is selling out. Which is too bad because contained in that conversation was what the guts and infrastructure of my never finished Burning Man post, which means we can save that for another time while we take a moment here and listen to music the old people like.

America Made Safe for Theory

“Each new level of complexity, for Meillassoux, stems from an unpredictable event that surpasses the horizon of what came before while still formally respecting its laws. Meillassoux argues, for instance, that no one could have predicted that organic life would emerge from inorganic matter. The principle of life is not simply an extension of the principles governing inert matter, though life still rests on a foundation of matter. Similarly, human consciousness is qualitatively different from mere organic life, even though it relies on an organic foundation. One cannot account for the decisive events that brought about life and consciousness in terms of what came before—indeed, a (necessarily hypothetical) observer would have regarded them as impossible. Nevertheless, Meillassoux believes that we can trace out the shape of the next event that will transcend humanity as we know it.” Adam Kotsko

05u2c1g

Mom (Above) informed the rest of the family that she needed what the kids call “me time.” After the dishes were picked up from lunch she was very direct when she said, “Make yourself useful and scram!”

What follows therefore is not about the Republican Party unless you want it to be about the Republican Party. Otherwise it is a touching, but eventually heartbreaking tale of a boy named Travis and his dog, Old Yeller.

The human brain does an interesting thing when we get to be about nine or ten years-old. We can work creatively, but we can only work creatively using objects we are familiar with. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if a kid that age were to write a short story about Harry Potter or Sponge Bob helping Scooby Doo solve mysteries. This topic came up this week when Alaska Wolf Joe said he and some friends to see Django Unchained, a movie he said was good, but not great. Tying these together – I gave AWJ my take that Quentin Tarantino is the film directing equivalent of the nine or 10 year-old brain. There’s no doubt that he creates, but what he creates is largely just the juxtaposition and the careful placement up of objects already in his environment.

Let’s pause here so you babies will stop screaming -this is not a judgement of his work, rather a statement of fact. As far as I’m concerned Jackie Brown is probably one of the best movies made in the past 20 or 30 years. Taken as a whole it’s pretty obvious that Q-T will trod the ground he is most familiar with and it’s unlikely that he would ever come up with a touching, but evenutally heartbreaking tale of a boy named Travis and his dog, Old Yeller.

Or maybe he will – QED.

Discussing Tarantino lead to the discussion of another Quentin, the above mentioned Quentin Meillassoux. Meillassoux seems insistent on manipulating objects in his environment too. He was fond of using Hume in his first book published in English to show how Hume’s essay on causality was flawed from which he and a couple of others derived the new post-post modern concept of Neorealism.

Neorealism’s tenet can be explained as follows:

Humans are totally reliant on reality for their survival.

Reality is in no way dependent on humans for its survival.

Put another way – a tree in the forrest doesn’t need an audience to fall and make a sound.

Neorealists also spend some time cutting away at the more solipsistic elements of post modern epistemology. This is why it is possible to be something of a syncretist by adhering to Neorealist epistemology while still having a deconstructionist view of literature.

So where is all this going?

While you were busy with the election and your friend Cliff’s physical there was a subtle shift in thinking in 2012. The prefix anthro- got attached to a great many words which only lead to questions about whether or not it belonged there. (In some cases it is justified as the geologists now call this the Anthrolithic Age as humans have had the greatest impact on the surface of the planet.) So use or over use of anthro- means that in 30-plus years we went from being the Me Generation to the We Generation, and therefore it’s tip to take a little bow, or tip our collective hat, and move to the back of the Weltanschauung.

Fun huh?

Which of course leads you to ask, “So you’re saying Obama’s re-election caused for all you theory and studies types to come out of the woodwork?”

Darn tootin’!

This is going to be the bestest four years ever!

You’ll see!

Jackie's ex?

Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is anti environmental. Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the ground rules of society. The amateur can afford to loose. Marshall McLuhan, 1959

Bitte – laßt euch führen ich öffne die Türen vielleicht mögt ihr’s ein bißchen wilder? Wollt ihr was Visuelles oder ganz was Schnelles? Ich zeig Steve Reeves als Bodybuilder. Herr Doktor Frank N. Furter

Today we shall briefly gloss over the unpleasant incident from Friday where a couple of women, who can easily be said to be of a certain age, kept making flirty jokes about seeing me in various state of undress. Being well aware – for several decades now – of what I look like partially clad I can assure you that the bloom went off that rose a very long time ago. I chalked the the whole thing off to a severe reaction to hormone-replacement therapy and the overuse of hand sanitizer. Despite that Mom says she’s having me fitted for a guy burqa next week.

As Drudge says “… developing”

Moving along –

Speaking of age – there does come a time when you have a better understanding when it’s time to pick up a baseball bat and chase some one down the street only to find that you really don’t have the physical wherewithal to carry it off. This week, and several years too late, more people have dived into the discussion about the Era of the Non-expert and conflated it with the other discussion about how the Interwebs is making you stoopid. This came to our attention as not one, but two essays came out recently, the latter being about Jeff Jarvis’s latest book.

Two questions get begged here:

What do you really want from Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard?

Is this just the latest version of the old Greek saw about yet another corrupter of youth?

Face facts, nobody likes smart people. In fact, Americans excel at hating smart people. As a country we’ve really taken up where Ancient Greece left off. Heck, if you asked an Ancient Greek who Aristotle is, he’d probably look at you and say, “Which one?” Without chosing to define the discussion, other to shake your hoplite at the kids and tell them to get off your Parthenon, you really haven’t established a direction for a constructive conversation. The same holds true of the essays mentioned above. While bringing TELEVISION IS DUMBING US DOWN up to date there’s a void at the center of all that prose.

In reality?

We don’t hate experts, but we are skeptical of them when it comes to people expressing opinions. No one in their right mind is going to have his or her appendix taken out by some one they know from church, unless that person is a qualified surgeon. From getting your teeth drilled right down to having your car fixed we depend on experts. You could even go so far as to say that accepting the division of labor as fact is in and of itself the tacit approval of the expert.

Lastly – take a minute and remember that democracy is merely the process of achieving a consensus for governing and not the search for the truth. While working as a group might get to the truth, there is no guarantee what you finally arrive at is anything but hooey. But, as governance, the individual – even if considered to be an expert at something – must be heard.

As The Bearded Philosopher notes:

In a democracy people are free to express their opinions and question those of others. This is an important personal freedom, and also essential to the very idea of government by discussion. But it has also been held to be instrumentally important because in an open public debate true ideas will conquer false ones by their merit. Democracy thus has an epistemic value as a kind of truth machine. In a democracy therefore there should be no dogma: no knowledge that cannot be questioned. Not only is this view mistaken, but it is so obviously wrong that it is astonishing that it has ever been taken seriously.

But enough of all that.

Asshole.

Information, Mudflaps, and Beer Are Commodities

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” Guy Debord

“Kids who are twenty or thirty years younger than we are have a totally different experience in and manner of absorbing and processing information. How will this generation make decisions? How will they understand the big, looming debate about the legacy of entitlements and debt left by their elders? How do they understand the economy?” It was his suspicion, from his conversations here and elsewhere, that they may not understand it very well, or at least that polarizing rhetoric—fostered by social media, amplified by a cynical political class—may be corrupting their ability to discuss it in terms their elders can understand or abide. There’s a lot of intellectual confusion about the causes and culprits institutionally of the mess that we are in. The language and the thinking that have evolved after the financial crisis have had an impact on the way young people think. All this talk that companies need to change, and so on—it’s a misconception of the role that companies play. Shareholders risk capital. Banks intermediate capital. This is what keeps an economy going.” He went on, “The root cause of everything we’re experiencing is a failure of holistic thinking in a world of increasingly complex, fragmented, and ubiquitous information.” Daniel Arbes

This was the week when the phone rang and we picked it up only to find the most chipper of chipper public relations adepts on the other end. With breathless excitement the gent wanted to lift us up from our lowly state of ignorance by telling us he was ready to make the proper introductions so that we could be able to properly commune with his clients, the people bring healthy Chinese food to the people. During an ever so brief break in his pattern, which we can only assume he took to catch his breath and lower his blood pressure, I asked, Healthy Chinese? So that’s like what? Moo goo gai bran?”

Must have been a landline.

No one could slam a cell down like that.

Over time I have found that – while my personality has a rather long shelf life – it’s not much in demand which leaves it somewhere between an acquired taste and offal. Not that I’ve learned much over the years. Just a couple of weeks ago I exacerbated my plight by starting a Pinterest page that features nothing but quotes by McLuhan, Sluggo failing to find a fixed sexuality identity, and Situationist art. My renewed acquaintance with the Situationists left me with an odd perspective on the Sandra Fluke matter. This was brought into focus when I followed a couple of things on Twitter only to wind up here.

Marcuse was one of those Germans who kicked out tightly written tomes, but nonetheless it does help to flesh out the entire paragraph mentioned on the other web page.

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word. The traditional criterion of clear and present danger seems no longer adequate to a stage where the whole society is in the situation of the theater audience when somebody cries: ‘fire’. It is a situation in which the total catastrophe could be triggered off any moment, not only by a technical error, but also by a rational miscalculation of risks, or by a rash speech of one of the leaders. In past and different circumstances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the massacre. The distance between the propaganda and the action, between the organization and its release on the people had become too short. But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War.

The next paragraph brings things into sharper focus:

The whole post-fascist period is one of clear and present danger. Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs. Different opinions and ‘philosophies’ can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is organized and delimited by those who determine the national and the individual interest. In this society, for which the ideologists have proclaimed the ‘end of ideology’, the false consciousness has become the general consciousness–from the government down to its last objects. The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don’t have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.

But it’s more useful to sum the whole thing up by going to this which is found in Marcuse’s footnote.

In the United States, this tendency goes hand in hand with the monopolistic or oligopolistic concentration of capital in the formation of public opinion, i.e., of the majority. The chance of influencing, in any effective way, this majority is at a price, in dollars, totally out of reach of the radical opposition. Here too, free competition and exchange of ideas have become a farce. The Left has no equal voice, no equal access to the mass media and their public facilities – not because a conspiracy excludes it, but because, in good old capitalist fashion, it does not have the required purchasing power. And the Left does not have the purchasing power because it is the Left. These conditions impose upon the radical minorities a strategy which is in essence a refusal to allow the continuous functioning of allegedly indiscriminate but in fact discriminate tolerance, for example, a strategy of protesting against the alternate matching of a spokesman for the Right (or Center) with one for the Left. Not ‘equal’ but more representation of the Left would be equalization of the prevailing inequality. Within the solid framework of pre-established inequality and power, tolerance is practiced indeed. Even outrageous opinions are expressed, outrageous incidents are televised; and the critics of established policies are interrupted by the same number of commercials as the conservative advocates. Are these interludes supposed to counteract the sheer weight, magnitude, and continuity of system-publicity, indoctrination which operates playfully through the endless commercials as well as through the entertainment?

Like Foolish Reporter you have to give it up for some one who wrote that in 1965.

And what does it all mean?

If you participated in the Fluke matter by rendering up an opinion or putting something in writing you have two way at looking at what you did based on all that exhaustive copying and pasting. Either your part of the internal struggle of the classes to keep things the way they are or a willing participant in what the Situationists call The Spectacle.Put another way – if you went and Fluked it up you can either read all of this an feel like your part of something so Continental that you’re overcome with a warm Euro feeling like heated hardwood floors or you can think you’ve been played.

Either way you got played.

Given that SXSW is going on right now it’s as good a time as any to roll out the next point.

The Situationists and Marcuse intersect with his Essay on Liberation which was expanded by Charles Reich and turned into the American best-seller The Greening of America. In all cases the central idea is the surrender of the individual to the object. All of that was 40 years ago when manufacturing goods, specifically consumer goods, was the dominant part of the economy. While those things have not lessened in importance they’ve taken a backseat to their glamorous cousin, information.

What is social media but the commodification of the banal?

If we take the talk shows, pundits, blogs, and talking heads all together does that not reduce any ideology to nothing more than a fetish?

And young people see information much like a form of currency that can be carried about. Think of it this way – last Sunday you had no idea who Joseph Kony was. You might heard about the child armies or Uganda’s internal strife, but it took young people hopping on a bandwagon to make Joseph Kony a household name in less than 72 hours. So to speak to Daniel Arbes’s point – this is the next thing to study. A generation who has effortlessly traded music files and text messages all day will not be swayed by clothes and cars as was the case years ago. The mass visual shifts to the portable visual.

Which is different topic for another time.

By now you’ve some to say, “This is all nice ‘n stuff Trotsky, but the Sunday talk shows are on and why aren’t you and Mom at SXSW like normal people?

Because we have no interest in flying halfway across the country only to have to be social.

If we’re going to travel that far we’re going to find a beach and talk to no one.

OH PIONEERS!

“I would rather look good than feel good.” generally attributed to Fernando Llamas

“For the record, a rockstar is someone who has achieved stardom through their music. A guru has religious wisdom. A ninja doesn’t tell anyone.” Tara Reid

This was the week when I was stopped in traffic and noticed the woman in the car in front of me. While waiting at the light she took out a brush and, as the kids like to say, started fixin’ her hair like a boss. Then in one graceful, unbroken moment she reached over to the passenger seat and started perking up her dog’s coiffe. As I get older I find it’s the poetry contained in certain moments that make them memorable. Not that it was enough to distract me from my ennui as I began the week falsely accused of being an Internet pioneer.

As Prof. McLuhan would say, “Oh yes!

For those of you just tuning in this is the return of The Poorly Thought Out Sunday Think Piece. (™ pend.)

I read the accusatory email in question about a half dozen times and it didn’t seem to be the least bit humorous. Each reading made the prose only that much more dry and stolid. Beyond that it was every bit as ironic as a Presbyterian clutching a club soda and lime. Not that I know where the author came up with this information and I’m certain that you, as some one who has read all of some of the 80-plus blogs I’ve maintained in the past 12 years knows, there have been exaggerations, conflation, and outright lies set down in print- the highlights of which include:

Claiming to be Adnan Khashoggi’s life coach.

Passing myself off as the leading distributor of feng shui for the Willamette Valley.

Offering my services as a whuffie fluffer/digital phlebologist.

The last one is a regionalism. It’s something along the lines or bag vs. sack or whether you come home with a Tyson or a Perdue chicken. In some cases which one you use is based on whether or not you went to parochial school.

Where were we?

When it comes to blogging and social media certainly the ninja definition posted above applies to the some 120-plus blogs I’ve maintained since 1978. During all that time I’ve worked as far under the radar as possible so that you could feel better about yourself. That by not banging the drum loudly and dabbling endlessly in useless self promotion I have been able to bolster your self esteem by making you feel special – feel as if you were part of a secret society or possessed of esoteric knowledge which in turn gave you the ability to take one last look across the cube farm on a Friday afternoon and say to yourself, “Sleep tight you bastards!”

Not that I know how to convey this to the author of the email as he insists we meet for coffee.

And how is it that none of the people who write to me seem to know how to use the word ‘martini’ in a sentence?

Which is another tropic for another time.

I suppose I could meet with him and give him some 21st Century variation on Adlai’s Stevenson’s speech about how America was built using little more than a plow, a Bible, and an ax. I could even make up something about how we called her Ma back then and go on and on about how she stuffed a mule full of sorghum so that we could venture out from the Geocities with nothing more than a pound of salt and a side of bacon strapped to wee Dr. Random’s back.

But then he’d probably go ruin it by Googling everything I said.

Oh well.

BTW – you can follow Tara Reid on Twitter here.

Me?

By now you should know well enough to leave some things alone.