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

Maria Damon damon001 at umn.edu
Tue Nov 22 13:05:19 AEDT 2016

oh no!

On 11/21/16 8:50 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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 deeply.
> Murat
> On Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 8:13 PM, Craig Saper <csaper at umbc.edu 
> <mailto: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
>     <mailto: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/
>     <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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