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

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Tue Nov 22 16:48:27 AEDT 2016

It's very sad.


On Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 9:05 PM, Maria Damon <damon001 at umn.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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> 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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