[-empyre-] Starting the Third Week: Michael Boghn and Jerome Sala

Michael Boughn mboughn at rogers.com
Mon Nov 21 13:31:49 AEDT 2016


Murat, Dispatches is not a blog, at least not in my reckoning. Nor, I
think, in Kent's. . Blogs are a singular voice, even when they become an
information clearing house. Neither is it strictly spealking a
curated/edited instrument, which also a controlled zone.We saw Dipatches
from the beginning as more of a place for a conversation to take place. I
was motivated to match what Jack Clarke did with intent. and Ken Warren did
with House Organ. intent. especially was an active zone of multiple
intersecting vectors of thought. Jack's spirit informed it by opening it
into time and space and welcoming a diverse community into a world of talk,
thinking, and document.

So with Dispatches, we try to keep the conversations open to various modes
of address that are part of a being in common: critical commentary, poetry,
video, satire, letters. It's really not a question of fighting anything.
It's more a question of priming something. getting enough people to see it
as a useful and interesting place that they can participate in so that the
energy takes on a life of its own. A place you want to hang out and maybe
say something every once in while. Explore some stuff in the basement.

And the question of speed comes up again here in a different light.
Everything happens quickly, much more quickly than with a print
publication. Conversations can move almost as quickly as you can keep up
with them. Something happens.

On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 2:52 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Yes, Michael, we do need to simplify (not necessarily be simplistic) not
> to miss the forest for the trees.
>
> For instance, you mention the "potential" of the computer. Hasn't the
> vector of this potential has been essentially in the reverse order towards
> increasingly restrictive. You have rightly mentioned the access the net
> provided for us to get to know people that we would not have known
> otherwise. That is truly a positive revolutionary achievement. But let us
> examine the progression in use of social exchange structures on the web--
> from  lists to blogs to facebook, each one more restricive than the other.
> On lists, one could have discussions because each response kicked that
> topic back to the top for easy access. When blogs first appeared they felt
> great, as a medium of self expression. I think we are mostly familiar of
> long stretches of time when the response box of the blog remains empty
> --the blog surviving at best as a space of meditation.
>
> Of course, a blog like *Dispatches* is an exception to that. You are
> fighting against the entropy of the form, turning it upside down. I would
> very much like to know how you achieve that, what kind of effort does
> involve. That's why I was so happy when you accepted to be a guest
> participant.
>
> As for facebook, every comment almost immediately disappears in the flow
> of time. Facebook has no practical mechanism of retrieval, therefore, no
> memore. Time is made of pointillistic instances of time. That's why I was
> so surprised and intrigued that you were able to sustain memorable, life
> changing exchanges on facebook, rather than on lists (as it was with Poetry
> Wars) or even blogs. How did you do that, Michael?
>
> You also say, "... But another facet of that is the weakening of
> foundationalisms and their dogma. I worry about overly moralizing these
> questions where the inevitable outcome is a foregone dystopia."
>
> Can you say that with the awesome,  increasing presence and affect of Isil
> in the world, essentially through their use of communication on the web?
>
> If we do not moralize --in the sense of assessing its human cost-- about a
> medium that shapes our lives so deeply, what should we moralize about?
>
> Ciao,
> Murat
>
> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 1:06 PM, Michael Boughn <mboughn at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> I think that's a bit too simple, Murat. Lots of things created the
>> computer. Just as it has lots of uses. Certainly its use in war and its
>> presence as a commodity have been extremely important in its development,
>> but they don't own it. Again, how FB monetizes its service does not fully
>> define the potential of that service. The velocitized temporality of it is
>> important, but again, I would argue, not defining. The consequences include
>> the rise of what is now being called a post-truth culture (pretty much
>> Baudrillard's precession of the simulacra, no?). But another facet of that
>> is the weakening of foundationalisms and their dogma. I worry about overly
>> moralizing these questions where the inevitable outcome is a foregone
>> dystopia.
>>
>> Sent from my iPad
>>
>> On Nov 20, 2016, at 12:07 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>
>> Jerome, capitalism and war created the computer, not the Communist state
>> or an agrarian utopia-- and a desire to penetrate a code. One should pay
>> attention how things are created --one discovers a lot about their
>> purposes. I talk about in in an earlier post. Isn't the same thing with
>> Facebook, to peek into the private activities of a college girls dormitory.
>> Isn't that original impulse written all over what Facebook has become
>> despite all the "social media" goodies it offers --to penetrate the
>> personal activities of one's essentially private, intimate lives, create
>> data out of them and sell it. The primary impulse of Facebook --the raison
>> d'etre of its flourishing personhood-- is to make the private public and
>> social interactions short and infinite. In a very few years, it has
>> created a Brave New World and we are all caught in it.
>>
>> Ciao,
>> Murat
>>
>> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 11:48 AM, Jerome Sala <jeromesala502 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Murat, your comment brought another question to my mind, especially
>>> because it alludes to the transformation of businesses. Working in the
>>> corporate world for many years, I know that businesses found digital
>>> technology irresistible because it was a tool that saved them lots of
>>> money. It helped eliminate lots of jobs and made outsourcing, near
>>> shore and far, much easier. As a result, it's hard for me to separate
>>> the growth of this technology from the capitalism's desire to increase
>>> profits by cutting costs. So the question for me is -- is it
>>> technology per se that's the problem, or the way capitalism uses it?
>>>
>>> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 10:38 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> > Michael, I do not agree with you. What makes it different is the
>>> incredible speed with which things are happening. There is no time to catch
>>> up and rebalance as in the old model. It is a bit like cancer or like a
>>> species through a mutation gaining a critical, basically irresistible
>>> advantage over its habitat. As a result all the other species begin to
>>> disappear and finally the habitat is destroyed, including the dominant
>>> species.
>>> >
>>> > Something like this is already happening. Wealth is concentrated more
>>> and more on fewer and fewer people (and Trump, who ostensibly got elected
>>> to fight this trend, will intensify it through his tax cuts). One day,
>>> companies will have nobody to sell their goods to. That sounds far fetched.
>>> But it will happen, maybe sooner than we think. That is when the
>>> pandemonium will start. My guess is it will not be pretty.
>>> >
>>> > Take the idea of Uber for example, which is the cat's meow because of
>>> its convenience for people who used to take taxis and the bus. By one
>>> "disruption" enabled by the computer, they destroyed a whole ecology of
>>> businesses that owned local taxi fleets or individuals who owned their own
>>> taxis. They seduced taxi drivers by offering them better commissions. Who
>>> cares for a few taxi fleet owners! Everyone is happy. It took I think less
>>> than five years, now Uber is talking about driverless cars. I suppose those
>>> drivers can find jobs in the future as traffic cops for those Uber cars.
>>> One should not forget the owners of the taxi fleets may represent the
>>> "other," but the drivers are us.
>>> >
>>> > To be continued...
>>> >
>>> > Ciao,
>>> > Murat
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 6:33 AM, Michael Boughn <mboughn at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> >>
>>> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> >> OK, devil's advocate here. Every tool humans have developed has
>>> changed them, has obliterated certain practices and modes of thinking and
>>> generated new ones. The computer is just another tool, a really
>>> sophisticated and complex hammer. Some of the consequences of this tool are
>>> pretty dire -- the enablement of a post-truth polity, for instance -- but
>>> it also creates a potential being in common that is the  -- I want to say
>>> "cure" but that's not quite it. It's the antithetical action that opens
>>> into other possibilities. It can go either way, depending on what people
>>> do, and there are a lot of people doing a lot of different things.
>>> >>
>>> >> I don't think that our lack of awareness of our dependence on those
>>> systems is new. Isn't it always just "the world". And they (the techne)
>>> have always shaped us. Isn't that Heidegger's point? If you figure out how
>>> to make flint spear tips, you stop throwing rocks and become different. We
>>> become aware of it when the computer stops working in the car in the middle
>>> of Death Valley, or the operating system goes wacky just before the
>>> deadline for a huge project. It's really the same old same old.
>>> >>
>>> >> It's just that the stakes have risen catastrophically.
>>> >>
>>> >> I think that's true about sci-fi. It has framed the question of
>>> technology in terms of an address to ontology.
>>> >>
>>> >> Mike
>>> >>
>>> >> Sent from my iPad
>>> >>
>>> >> On Nov 19, 2016, at 5:54 PM, Jerome Sala <jeromesala502 at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> >>
>>> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> >> Murat, your question, as to whether "the computer (and the web and its
>>> >> consequence) has the ability to expose and criticize the condition it
>>> >> has created...whether the digital can be 'revealer of is own truth',
>>> >> brought to mind a book I've been reading - Discognition, by Steven
>>> >> Shaviro. One of the points Shaviro argues is that, in our everyday
>>> >> experience, "we're mostly unaware of how deeply our lives depend upon
>>> >> the functioning of complex, expert systems..." -- we're the fish in
>>> >> their ocean (McLuhan) (unless they break down). Another aspect we
>>> >> don't grasp, as your question implies, is that such technological
>>> >> entities, rather then just being there, inert until we manipulate
>>> >> them, have an agency of their own: "...if we engineer them, in various
>>> >> ways, they 'engineer' us as well, nudging us to adapt to their
>>> >> demands."
>>> >>
>>> >> I am not sure whether the "digital" can speak its truth (at least in a
>>> >> language we understand), but Shaviro suggests one way we humans might
>>> >> begin to see its truth/reality for ourselves - by creating art where
>>> >> the "material and technological factors are explicitly foregrounded."
>>> >> His book is about science fiction stories that do this. Perhaps this
>>> >> is also what I had in mind by the poetic project I wrote about, which
>>> >> foregrounds digital/corporate cliches that inform us, through the
>>> >> jargon we speak. In any case, Shaviro's book may offer a clue as to
>>> >> the great popularity of the SF genre. Often, in allegorical ways, it
>>> >> acknowledges the agency of the technological (remember the Borg?), and
>>> >> enables people to start talking about the power of its influence.
>>> >>
>>> >> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 3:15 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> >>
>>> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> >>
>>> >> Hi Jerome, by your question on the nature of "knowing" in poetry, I
>>> >>
>>> >> think you touched a critical point, an issue running throughout the
>>> >>
>>> >> discussions and presentations this month.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Knowledge that poetic experience contains or "reveals" does have
>>> >>
>>> >> multiple facets. On the one hand, the knowledge (in some incarnations,
>>> >>
>>> >> message/propaganda) may be transactional and implicitly points or
>>> >>
>>> >> leads to action. Some great classics are of that sort, for instance,
>>> >>
>>> >> Lucretius's On Nature or Virgil's Eclogues, Shakespeare's Henry V and
>>> >>
>>> >> also, in some sense, though a book of "revelation," The Bible, etc.
>>> >>
>>> >> The election of Trump last week drove the discussion to the
>>> >>
>>> >> transactional side of poetry (art), and rightly so. That is what all
>>> >>
>>> >> the writing invited to be sent to Dispatches for the anthology all
>>> >>
>>> >> about. So are the post cards Craig refers to, as conceptual acts.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> There is another kind of knowledge that poetry "reveals," not
>>> >>
>>> >> necessarily leading to action-- of course, the distinction is somewhat
>>> >>
>>> >> artificial since a poem or work of art contains both simultaneously
>>> >>
>>> >> each time creating a different balance. If one extreme side of this
>>> >>
>>> >> spectrum is propaganda (all nations/cultures/languages have propaganda
>>> >>
>>> >> masterpieces), the other extreme is gnosis-- a knowledge not quite
>>> >>
>>> >> contained in the practicalities of a language, but in its peripheries,
>>> >>
>>> >> the often unacknowledged overtones that emanate from words, space,
>>> >>
>>> >> etc. (embedded in poesies).
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> It is in terms of this same dilemma (the nature of poetic knowledge)
>>> >>
>>> >> that Heidegger is discussing technology in his essay. On the one hand
>>> >>
>>> >> it is defined as "enframing" nature to exploit it (in terms that
>>> >>
>>> >> Francis Bacon asserts as "knowledge is power"). On the other hand, it
>>> >>
>>> >> returns technology to its roots as techne, a making that reveals the
>>> >>
>>> >> truth. Their relationship is dialectical.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> I have been on Empyre list for about two years, following it on and
>>> >>
>>> >> off with interest because it presents to me a digital culture that is
>>> >>
>>> >> of great interest to me; but in which I am not directly involved as a
>>> >>
>>> >> practitioner. What struck me most is that, save for important
>>> >>
>>> >> exceptions such as Alan Sondheim and Isak Berbic (and I am sure there
>>> >>
>>> >> are others), the focus of the participants was on what the internet or
>>> >>
>>> >> the computer can do for them, on the computer as a new potent enabler,
>>> >>
>>> >> the computer as artistic or political power. As far as I can see,
>>> >>
>>> >> little attention was given to it as a revealer of "truth," the
>>> >>
>>> >> knowledge of human condition and psyche in a digital technological
>>> >>
>>> >> age.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> In my view, poetry (art) is doomed to die without containing within
>>> >>
>>> >> itself both these knowledge, though the melange may be different in
>>> >>
>>> >> each.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> The underlying focus for me this month has been, that is why I
>>> >>
>>> >> accepted the invitation to moderate, to explore whether the computer
>>> >>
>>> >> (and the web as its consequence) has the ability to expose and
>>> >>
>>> >> criticize the condition it has created, in other words, whether the
>>> >>
>>> >> digital can be the "revealer of its own truth." I can not say I have
>>> >>
>>> >> been that successful up to now.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> The primary text for this month is the fifteen minute video clip I
>>> >>
>>> >> referred to in my introductory statement at the beginning of the month
>>> >>
>>> >> in which the film maker Jean Renoir discusses the effect of technology
>>> >>
>>> >> on art (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7Mtd6GE_PI ). He says that
>>> >>
>>> >> art becomes boring to the extent that that the art maker is in total
>>> >>
>>> >> control of his or her own materials and techniques. He refers to a
>>> >>
>>> >> group of 11th century French tapestries (the Bayeux, the first known
>>> >>
>>> >> ones) where the threads were coarsely spun, the colors were primitive
>>> >>
>>> >> and of a narrow range; but they contained great beauty, revealing the
>>> >>
>>> >> strife of their making.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> That is why "Overcoming Technique"--the first two words of my
>>> >>
>>> >> introductory title-- is crucial, whether one finally agrees with
>>> >>
>>> >> Renoir or not. In our daily lives with family and children and
>>> >>
>>> >> teaching and grading papers, etc., I hope some of us find time to
>>> >>
>>> >> re-focus on these issues the remaining days of this month. As artists,
>>> >>
>>> >> the issues are important for all of us.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Ciao,
>>> >>
>>> >> Murat
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 9:28 AM, Craig Saper <csaper at umbc.edu> wrote:
>>> >>
>>> >> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> >>
>>> >> Relevant to the discussion and the “dispatches” this event might
>>> speak to the issue of, what Jerome Sala called in a recent "poetry is a
>>> particular way of knowing the mind” …
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> "Post Card Avalanche"
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Join in and send a postcard directly to Trump! Here are the basic
>>> instructions to participate:
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> ** IMPORTANT - Don't mail your card until NOV. 26th **
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> In the message section, write this simple message: NOT BANNON!
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Throw a post card Avalanche party. Make postcards.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Address it as follows:
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Donald Trump
>>> >>
>>> >> c/o The Trump Organization
>>> >>
>>> >> 725 Fifth Avenue
>>> >>
>>> >> New York, NY 10022
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Affix a stamp - you can use a 35 cent postcard stamp, or a normal
>>> letter stamp.
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Take a picture of your postcard that you can share on social media
>>> using the hashtag #stopbannon
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> Drop it in the mail! We are aiming to get these mailed between
>>> Saturday, Nov 26th and Monday, Nov. 28th to create a concentrated avalanche
>>> of postcards.”
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> _______________________________________________
>>> >>
>>> >> empyre forum
>>> >>
>>> >> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> >>
>>> >> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> >>
>>> >> _______________________________________________
>>> >>
>>> >> empyre forum
>>> >>
>>> >> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> >>
>>> >> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> >>
>>> >> _______________________________________________
>>> >> empyre forum
>>> >> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> >> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> _______________________________________________
>>> >> empyre forum
>>> >> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> >> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > _______________________________________________
>>> > empyre forum
>>> > empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> > http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
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>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
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>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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