What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Thursday, July 29, 2010


McLuhan: "Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence. [...] Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time. [...] In our long striving to recover for the Western world a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture."
Infantile, amigo McLuhan...??

Culture has a social function; a common culture binds people together. At the very least, it is a way of living in place. This is useful to distinguish your own sex-positive secular mobile phone culture from, say, that of some of those crazy fanatics over there that are making their women wear the veil, and talking sharia and restoring the caliphate.

The orthodoxy of consumption tends to sit astride and co-exist uneasily with cultural products. That's what pop culture means. It becomes less about the particular people and their cultural experience, and more about their THINGS, their processes of consumption. This is what people like Adorno and Debord talk about when they talk about Alienation or Separation.

And here I shall posit something that is maybe dubious -- that culture makes people, for better or worse, more comfortable in themselves, their specific place in the world, and their cultural group, more SELF-HARMONIC and HOMELY. So if that is the case, we can easily see that consumption is a pseudo-cultural process, in that it actually wants to irritate and dislocate the individual and raise questions and anxieties about common culture; Such fluxing and uncertainty actually benefits consumption because the more uncertain they are about their own cultural identity (in the old scheme of things) the more likely they are to seek shelter in ANY particular crystallizations of consumer-cultural activity. 

Stable Tribes vs. Clans of Opportunity.

Without aesthetics, however, beauty is power, real power. It elicits our involuntary consent.
 -- Hickey

Just because the culture industry has been decentralized, moved from the vertical and the OVERTLY authoritarian, and made horizontal and lateral doesn't mean that it is necessarily any better.  Since the internet tends to create very fast power/knowledge loops -- that is, one can crystallize a crowd very quickly and these crowds can diffuse into other crowds just as quickly. That generally seems to be the basic practice of most people.

The internet is a technological innovation in fascism, in the sense that Joseph Goebbels isn't that buffoon on the radio; he's someone in your peer group, and he's you too. In this new incarnation of fascism there is no exalted leader (not even a movie star or a James Cameron) to point to, no funny uniforms, but there is still this basic need to serve and form a crowd. A blockbuster is as much a fascist event as the Triumph of the Will.

So one thing we have to note about the internet is that the durability of masses is contingent with a sort of quasi-psychotic insistence of staying with a particular crowd, and limiting or discrediting other crowds which might compete for our neurotic attention.

Psychosis, in this way, is a method to fight the diffusing qualities -- the mystical, religious qualities -- of the internet.

Cul-de-saccing is easy on the internet. It is made for qualia. There, Solipsism is the rule, not the exception. Chasing the superfluous cultural content of the internet is as much a red herring as focusing on George Bush or Obama or the Congress is to the instrumental character of bureaucracy. For every person who gets their marching orders from the Huffington Post there are ten whose entire outlook for the week (their consciousness, let's say) is shaped by what they experience on Fox News. These aren't just nodes of information that function only when they are watched, their real function is to be pre-conscious filters for the off-line time, as McLuhan says, custodians of the inner person.

So, it doesn't make any sense at all to speak of cultural products as the "content" of the internet -- because the medium is itself doing the work, (and with disturbing efficiency) that the old-school cultural and commercial material was doing. The internet is cultural or culturing, or culturish -- not culture.

The key to living in the global village -- in the great transparency -- and Debord is very clear on this, is secrecy. What is secret and invisible can't be used to "process" and integrate you into the spectacle. But only the powerful can afford the mode of secrecy. Secrecy has too great a cost for the average person, who is stung by the mode of obscurity.

The fundamental problem of the internet is the same as the central one in democracy: how do you protect and value the MINORITY REPORT in a dynamic structure that favors the agglomeration of the larger crowd.

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