I was talking about this with Wendy this morning, and it dawned on me that Harper has already won the election. By hammering the coalition issue at the outset, he forced Ignatieff to back away from the idea, meaning that unless the Liberals win more seats than the Cons (which isn’t going to happen), Harper stays in power. His ability to set the agenda is startling.
I remain disappointed that Canadians are seemingly averse to the realities of parliamentary democracy, and equally disappointed with my former fellows in the media who failed to challenge Harper’s assertion that a coalition would be “illegitimate.”
Well, I’m not at all averse to the idea, but apparently I’m in the minority.
We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. But here’s the thing: even Layton is talking about winning. As much as that would be great, and all, it’s very, very unlikely, and probably impossible. So, what Ignatieff says right now to the media at the very start of his official campaign is undoubtedly different from what gets said behind close doors, yes? And by that I mean we’ll have to wait and see. That said, of course, this is Canadian politics…. Oh, can’t we be done with the Tim Horton’s regional manager, already?
It’s official — the government has fallen from power, clearing the way for a spring election. The opposition Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois came together Friday afternoon in a historic vote to say they no longer have confidence in the Conservative government.
Um…. Great? I mean, one always hopes for the best….
Yeah this Powers piece is great, as is the discussion spinning out of your post. This is dashed off quickly and maybe I’ll write something more thoughtful later, but in the meantime…
What I crave right now as far as writing on Odd Future, and Ann touches on this a little, is some kind of criticism happening at a closer proximity to the content of the music, if not from the “inside” then at least from less of a remove. It’s easy for critics writing about Taylor Swift or Animal Collective or Kanye West to take what is interesting about the music and apply it directly to the writer’s own experiences to see how it translates and what it might mean; with Odd Future, revulsion causes writers to move away and observe from a distance. This is why they do these things instead of this is why I find these things interesting. And I feel like the writing has less insight because of it.
In other words, I think it’s possible that people—often kids, but adults, too—are drawn to things like Odd Future and Eminem because they know what it’s like to have terrible things run through their heads from time to time, repulsive images that pop up in the flow of consciousness and are immediately ignored or dismissed because that is all they are—thoughts. Odd Future take those thoughts and build songs around them. Whether or not it makes for good art I am not sure, but I feel like that is a significant part of the appeal. And it’ll be interesting to see if anyone decides to engage with it on that level.
I understand the to-and-fro of this discussion and I also appreciate the wide-spread (if sometimes also mildly uneasy) appreciation of Odd Future. Indeed, they seem to have something new and exciting about them. I think, however, that what is least new about them — their sexism, real or otherwise — asks for a simple thought exercise to help measure: what if we change the target? I doubt, for example, that there would be the same careful deliberation and reasoned positioning exercised on their behalf (and not to mention an invite to the Jimmy Fallon show) if they were anti-Semitic (or used anti-Semitism as a similar trope). It’s a cheap one, I know, and not unproblematic, but also instantly revealing. I guess the perennial question is this: why is it that sexism is more Ok (or should I say less ‘dirty’, or whatever) here?
This is a smart, passionate, bang up to date version of the “death of the album” argument I talked about in today’s Pitchfork column. I have no idea whether this iteration of the idea will come any more true than any of the others.
More interesting than anything in this very how-your-sausage-gets-made post that is in dire need of some editing: how the author of the post went from running an R.E.M. fan site as a teenager to being the (former) SVP of “emerging technologies” (at age 31, no less) at WBR.
Millionaires struggling to stay relevant is my least favorite music genre after funk metal.
The title of the post is a bit hyperbolic in a Slate sort of way, but if you were wondering what I thought of Rebecca Black…
Some smarter thoughts on Ms. Black than my bleatings of yesterday.
For some reason, I can’t not help but be reminded of the genius of Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. Not sure if it matters if the creators of Friday need to be in on the joke and critically minded or even just depthlessly cynical for this to still stand as an amazing test/example of everything that “is as it is” in contemporary culture (and its political economic background). So long, Charlie Sheen.
towerofsleep asked: I’m pretty sure that I’ve never attained a satisfactory understanding of the concept of reification, even though I’ve been using it for years and have occasionally attempted to define it for others. Perhaps you could improve upon my understanding? —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— I’ll try my best! Deep Breath!
Feenberg considers Lukacs’s understanding of reifcation to be heavily influence by three sources: Marx’s Commodity Fetishism, Weber’s rationalization and Hegel’s concept of appearance (by which I assume Feenberg means the dialectic of form and appearance), and i’ll try to weave these into the body below.
My understanding, and I haven’t read History and Class Consciousness in some months, is that reification refers to the existence of capitalist rationality in the totality of capitalistic social relations. It is, then, ‘dialectical concept of reason’. OK, super broad, I know. We could maybe narrow this down by saying that reification makes us aware of capitalist rationality within the potentially innumerable social relations within capitalism—it attempts to call attention to how social relations, and the power asymmetries and rationalities which contour these relations, play out in capitalist society. For example, tools of production, as David Noble noted some 3 decades ago, have followed a progressive tendency toward the concrete abstraction of labour. The tools of production, that is, followed mgmt logic (by virtue of their design and production to aid accumulation and not work itself—tools in this sense act, as Marx put it, as a power inimical to the worker), where specialization became located within the tool itself and not in the producer. This helped to abstract and routinize (de-skill, if you like) labour processes in concrete terms and therefore expand the potential labour pool, driving down wages. However, the tool itself does not appear this way to the worker, rather its capitalist rationality is hidden in its form. And, since previous labour went into this tool, there also a set of social relations expressed between workers. In this way we see the consciousness of the capitalist class confronting the material interests of the working class. Rationality should, as well, be taken broadly—it need not be a socially deterministic reading of capitalist forces, although i don’t mean to suggest that Noble does this. The process of reifcation, then, is the expression of consciousness, rationality, and social relations embedded within the things of capitalism.
If I’ve missed something, followers unite (and point my error[s])!
The best part of the above is this: “I haven’t read History and Class Consciousness in some months.” Good grief! Anyway, I think that’s a good, careful, concise (yet still dense) summary of the term from a Marxist perspective (pointed out only because the term does have meaning outside that frame, too, but I’m sure that’s not what Saelan is asking about). To add to the above, here’s a link to a descriptive definition offered by Marxists.org (just scroll down to it):
It’s the “anonymity is authenticity” part that is especially striking here, and not just for being expressed in wide-out-in-the-open and contradictory style by a named — indeed, doubly named — and well-recognized source. Maybe it’s a victory lap over his Boomer parents, with all their self identity politics, hang-ups, and guilt?
“This, for outsiders, is the fundamental obstacle to understanding where technology culture is heading: increasingly, it’s about everything. The vaguely intimidating twentysomethings who prowl the corridors of the Austin Convention Centre, juggling coffee cups, iPad 2s and the festival’s 330-page schedule of events, are no longer content with transforming that part of your life you spend at your computer, or even on your smartphone. This is not just grandiosity on their part. Rather – and this is a technological point, but also a philosophical one – they herald the final disappearance of the boundary between “life online” and “real life”, between the physical and the virtual. It thus requires only a small (and hopefully permissible) amount of journalistic hyperbole to suggest that the days of “the internet” as an identifiably separate thing may be behind us. After a few hours at South by Southwest (SXSW), the 330-page programme in my bag started triggering shoulder aches, but to be honest it was a marvel of brevity: after all, the festival was pretty much about everything.
We’ve been hearing about this moment in digital history since at least 1988, when the Xerox technologist Mark Weiser coined the term“ubiquitous computing”, referring to the point at which devices and systems would become so numerous and pervasive that “technology recedes into the background of our lives”. (To be fair, Weiser also called this “the age of calm technology”, implying a serenity that the caffeinated, Twitter-distracted masses in Austin this week didn’t seem yet to have attained.) And it’s almost a decade since annoying tech-marketing types started using “mobile” as an abstract noun, referring to the end of computing as a desktop-only affair. But the arrival of the truly ubiquitous internet is something new, with implications both thrilling and sinister – and it has a way of rendering many of the questions we’ve been asking about technology in recent years almost meaningless. Did social media cause the recent Arab uprisings? Is the web distracting us from living? Are online friendships as rich as those offline? When the lines between reality and virtuality dissolve, both sides of such debates are left looking oddly anachronistic.”
Great piece—both on point and very much of this Kurzweil-esque singular moment in digital media.
“In my view YouTube is as participatory as market research, and as democratic as public opinion polls. The site is a machine for market research and opinion polls driven by various scopophilic and invocatory drives of its users. Hence, it does not transcend the given capitalist logic of competition and attention. In general, this remains the logic of most user-driven digital archives today.”—
- Jens Schroter, On the Logic of the Digital Archive
REDUCTIVE. It’s pretty silly to suggest that because a platform reifies capitalism means that it can’t transcend it. In fact I take issue with the entire dichotomy presented here. I dare somebody to give me any artifact today that doesn’t have the dominant logic of capitalism built into it, or inscribed on it. It’s kinda the nature of the game.
Agreed! This is why I originally reblogged the other quote, which said that Youtube is like a taxonomy of peoples’ desires that can potentially be exploited by market researches and not this quote, which seems to suggest that social media isn’t good for much more than that. Also, competition for attention and distinction may be the key motors of consumer capitalism, but don’t they also precede capitalism? Is it possible to have a commons that isn’t divided by that kind of competition? I suppose this is something Luke likes to talk about, since a commons without competition for distinction would have to be anonymous, wouldn’t it?
Oh, sure. But who owns YouTube? I think a good dose of critical skepticism (and political economic critique) is much more than warranted to help balance out the much too easy “it’s all cool, man” back-slapping around the Internet.
“So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer — we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen. (Paul Krugman)”—
Krugman is right, education no longer guarantees social mobility and university for the lower classes, at least in North America, is no longer worth it—assuming that the reason you are going to school is purely instrumental; and for the lower classes, increasingly, it cannot be otherwise. Why is this the case? Because expected future incomes are not sufficiently high enough to make up for the costs of going to school (the logic of capitalization)—rational choice, I know. This was all predicted by Marx. Capitalism’s M.O. is the abstraction of labour, that is to say, to make all labour equal on the market place. Capitalism reduces labour’s qualitative aspects as much as possible, as you see with Taylorism, etc. Therefore, in a globalized economy with telecommunications and transportation being relatively cheap and quick; education increasingly becoming standardized, and increasingly less critical and more quantified, making the cookie-cutter approach to education the norm; and, as Marx expected, very high levels of automation are increasing the rate of ‘relative surplus value’, reducing the pool of employable labour, leading to greater levels of unemployment and “the temp” rabble. The end result? What we have today, a crisis of overaccumulation and underconsumption. What we need is STRUCTURAL reform, because the alternative is deeper capitalist crisis. Hey, even Krugman agrees!
Sad but true, sobering stuff, everybody. Where was the original quote from? The NYT? Krugman may be a liberal, and thus a Fox News Communist, but he is, in actuality, pretty mainstream. The idea of education being a source of mobility and betterment has been — and still is, perhaps despite everything— such an important (ideological) narrative. For example, it’s Obama’s backstory.
A few years ago, scientists at the University of Toronto and Harvard gave a short mental test to 86 Harvard undergraduates. The test was designed to measure their ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli, such as the air-conditioner humming in the background or the conversation taking place nearby. This skill is typically seen as an essential component of productivity, since it keeps people from getting distracted by extraneous information.
Here’s where the data get interesting: Those undergrads who had a tougher time ignoring unrelated stuff were also seven times more likely to be rated as “eminent creative achievers” based on their previous accomplishments. (The association was particularly strong among distractible students with high IQs.)
According to the scientists, the inability to focus helps ensure a richer mixture of thoughts in consciousness. Because these people struggled to filter the world, they ended up letting everything in. They couldn’t help but be open-minded.
Such lapses in attention turn out to be a crucial creative skill. When we’re faced with a difficult problem, the most obvious solution—that first idea we focus on—is probably wrong. At such moments, it often helps to consider far-fetched possibilities, to approach the task from an unconventional perspective. And this is why distraction is helpful: People unable to focus are more likely to consider information that might seem irrelevant but will later inspire the breakthrough. When we don’t know where to look, we need to look everywhere.
These kinds of “fuck attention!” trend pieces have been popular throughout the past year or two, and I’ve read many, but I always love them. They make me feel like a genius, rather than a total flaky failure. It’s about time the popular discourse validated people like me who’ve taken flack for far too long!
and check this out:
Although we think that more attention can solve everything—that the best strategy is always a strict focus fueled by triple espressos—that’s not the case. Sometimes, the most productive thing we can do is surf the Web and eavesdrop on that conversation next door.
FUCKYEAH! I’ve had it right all along!
I too wish that easy distractibility was a sign of something more good than what it mostly is or, rather, in practice amounts to (too often not nearly enough). Alas, the research seems to always point both ways. For example this and this. Anecdotally, my own life also gives more than enough negative information, as well. Sigh….