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

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Tue Nov 22 12:50:33 AEDT 2016

I have very bad news. Extraordinary writer, equally extraordinary human
being and a member of the editorial board and contributor to
*Dispatches* *Benjamin
Hollander* sadly passed away today. Those who know him will mourn him


On Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 8:13 PM, Craig Saper <csaper at umbc.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Yes, somehow Dispatches and DIU and this essay seemed distant or at least
> in a future instead of upon us and beyond us.
> On Nov 21, 2016, at 3:42 PM, Funkhouser, Christopher T. <
> christopher.t.funkhouser at njit.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> AH  -  nice to know
> if you never saw DIU, you might get a kick out of it. or not!
> http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/ezines/diu/
> we were much egged on by Don Byrd, who wrote the sailing intro to the
> project:
> Posthuman Nation / Knowledge and Noise
> * The function of the traditional university is conservative. It collects,
> archives, judges, and redistributes the culture hoard. In times of
> stability, it works well. It keeps track of every hint of innovation and
> tests it brutally. Even most of the good ideas are found lacking. In times
> of dramatic change, however, the traditional university is worthless or
> worse than worthless, because first it rejects precisely the new ideas and
> new knowledges that are required, and then, after change is unavoidable, it
> opens itself more or less uncritically to every fad. Once its tradition of
> wisdom is in question, it has no grounds for judgment. In an important
> document from the 1960's, "On the Poverty of Student Life," an anonymous
> essay by members of the Situationist International and students of the
> University of Strasbourg, we read: Once upon a time the universities had a
> certain prestige; the students persist in the belief that they are lucky to
> be there. But they came too late. Their mechanical, specialized education
> is as profoundly degraded (in relation to the former level of general
> bourgeois culture) as their own intellectual level, because the modern
> economic system demands a mass production of uneducated students who have
> been rendered incapable of thinking. The university has become an
> institutional organization of the ignorance; "high culture" itself is being
> degraded in the assembly-line production of professors, all of whom are
> cretins and most of whom would get the bird from any audience of
> highschoolers. Since that time, students have come increasingly to doubt
> that they are privileged. They have lost the sense of themselves as the
> producers of education and think they are consumers as they are consumers
> of everything else in their world. The institution accommodates them or
> even encourages their misconception. Rather than teaching how to think, it
> offers an array of finished thoughts from which the students choose, as
> they choose from shoes. The rapacious prosperity of the 50's and 60's was
> generated by the production of the immoral equivalent war and time in the
> world economy (the World War that began in 1914 never ended). The arms race
> had the dual effect of generating widespread prosperity in the West and
> eventually bankrupting the Soviet Union, now leaving the filthy rich in
> unopposed control of the world. "Ðthe world's 358 billionaires have a
> combined net worth of $760 billion, equal to that of the bottom 45 percent
> of the world's population" (Richard J. Barnet). With the fear of a
> worldwide communist movement whipping up class hatred removed, the liberal
> concessions to the working-class and the poor are revoked. The masses are
> controlled by an organized assault on the attentions by the media, drugs,
> fear of difference packaged as religion, misdirected education, and random
> law enforcement. The focus of consciousness is dulled and its continuity
> disrupted. It is thus not possible for the exploited even to recognize
> their exploitation or to have a language in which their dissatisfaction can
> be articulated. Their self-expression, like every thing else, is sold to
> them in the form of talk radio, gangsta rap, grunge rock, escapist movies,
> as well as all of the merchandise in the shopping mall. Underwear and
> chocolates are forms of self-expression. Consumption is the only sanctioned
> mode of identity. The world is now organized to serve the immortality of
> the billionaires or their children and grandchildren. The scenarios are
> numerous, most of them, like most sci-fi scenarios, no doubt too probable.
> Consider: a century hence, when the earth is so polluted that the working
> stiffs of the world will be groggy with bad air and contaminated food and
> water, and the great artificial environments of the billionaires will be in
> danger of breaking-down beyond the abilities of the impaired maintenance
> crews to fix them, the space ships of our cosmic imperialism will lift off,
> carrying the human genome as its pay-load; the billionaires will take off
> for the stars, leaving the rest of us the planet they have despoiled. (See
> Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God, and the
> Resurrection of the Dead , New York, 1994. Tipler is a widely respected
> physicist, and his argument is posed as serious science.) Or consider: a
> century hence, certain patents will confer rights of paternity, and Bill
> Gates will be declared the great-grandfather of a new super computer with a
> self-aware brain a hundred times more complex than the brains of its human
> progenitors. It will become the billionaire and take charge of the future
> of the evolution of complexity in the cosmos. The ecological needs of
> systems based on silicon are much less troublesome than the ecology of
> hydrocarbons. (See Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and
> Human Intelligence, Cambridge, 1988. Moravec is the director of the
> robotics lab at Carnegie-Mellon University. He argues that we are at a
> crisis moment in the evolution of cosmic complexity and that humans will
> become obsolete within the next century.) These extrapolated futures are in
> the great western tradition of migration and despoilation that began some
> time before 1000 BC. All of the fresh starts on earth, all of the fresh
> starts for humans, have been squandered. This is our advantage. We have
> lost our innocence. We are not Adam and Eve. The Imaginary University
> exists because those who matriculate produce it. The students write all of
> the books in its library, plan the syllabi of the courses. We examine
> ourselves, we confer our own certificates and degrees. Now those who
> educate themselves as posthumans begin to produce a nation. The course of
> study is difficult, the chances for graduation nil. If you want to study
> and act, you will be welcome. Otherwise, please, stay at home and watch
> MTV. You should know, however, that our Nation of Noise and Knowledge is at
> war with the United Nations and all of its members. You will be required to
> undertake dangerous missions. The stakes could not be higher. *
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