Wednesday, August 27

So I went down to Denver last night to hear Dennis Kucinich talk at the Skylark Lounge, a couple of blocks away from an apartment where I spent most of the summer of 2005.

I wound up leaving with more political optimism than I've felt in a long time.

In a way, this doesn't make much sense. Kucinich represents, I suspect, the basically sane wing of the modern Democratic Party — which is to say that in the American standard narrative of everything, he's a hopelessly marginal nutjob. Talking too seriously about peace1 is generally understood as a marker for ignorability, at least where it's not a focal point for the routinized broadcast media process of reminding the public that sanity is crazy.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for rhetoric that doesn't defer ever so pragmatically to the long-form failure mode that is the American standard narrative of everything ca. 2008.

Anyway, there's an impeachment petition up at I think impeachment is a pretty good idea.

1 Similarly: Civil liberties, the ongoing drug war psychosis, applying the rule of law to members of the executive branch of the US government, etc.

Tuesday, August 26

Sunday, August 24

I step outside to smoke again and decide this moping around bullshit is going nowhere in one hell of a hurry. One galloping hell of a hurry I think is the exact expression that comes to mind.

thursday, august 21

percolator coffee, powdered nondairy creamer
production floor outside my office shuffling into
motion, bassline starts to filter through from
the shipping department speakers

i'm waiting for the air compressor to start up
and contribute its unique anticognitive vibrations
to my modest corner of the technocracy

there it is.

everything around here runs on a tissue of hackery
and bandaid cruftwork the likes of which would
make even my farm-country relatives
nervous as hell if they could see the moving parts
and i'm talking about people who ran on literal duct tape
and baling wire for decades,
but i'm fairly certain now this is nothing out
of the ordinary

this is just all the feathered edges of the great graph of
the world economy, and probably the fine structure is
this scary everywhere you look

probably it's scarier.


so later on i'm walking to & from lunch,
a $4.38 king soopers deli sandwich

i'm thinking about
you know, techno-social problems
the inextricable technicality of
what's social, the human impact,
unavoidable, of everything

thinking about richard dawkins
and aesthetic strawmen

thinking about girl trouble
(i'm unlike jay-z; girl
trouble is the only kind i got)
about the assymmetry & asynchrony
of resolution
in human relationships

thinking about the politics
and poetics of resignation
as versus indifference.

Wednesday, August 20

me: It's "light".

CA: I know. I couldn't find a cake flavored ice cream that wasn't.

Tuesday, August 12

It's mid-August, and my head feels like it's full of paper towels which have just been used to sop up a large puddle of sour milk.

Wednesday, August 6

a plea to the internet at large regarding the term "ad hominem"

The short version: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Knock it off already.

The slightly longer version: I have observed that, of the people who use "ad hominem" in discussion on the internet, most do not know what they are talking about, and all but a tiny fraction of the remainder are engaged in an obnoxious, transparent form of rhetorical misdirection. Please do not be one of these people. It only makes others want to quote The Princess Bride at you like they are bookish 13-year-old homeschoolers.

A personal pledge: I hereby promise to abstain, in future, from all rhetorical & argumentative use of the term ad hominem. Even in situations where its use may be justified and convenient, I will resort instead to saying things like "you're attacking the man's character; he may indeed be a surly misanthropic prig without equal, but it does not logically follow that he is wrong about Boba Fett and socialized medicine."

See also: The ad hominem fallacy fallacy.

Monday, August 4

There's an idea about literature: That it forms a kind of substance which is in some way unified and liquid, like milk or cash money. I suppose this is really an idea about all of art in a way. That there is this stuff, all more or less of a kind although it might vary in its superficial characteristics or its branding, something like the way that solutions of corn syrup in carbonated water might be construed as Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Or maybe literature is Coke v. Pepsi and television is Cocoa Puffs v. Corn Flakes, but whatever. There's still the notion of commodity, of, as Bill Hicks put it, "how would you like your flour and cheese arranged?"

I don't really know where this idea came from. Possibly it's just in the early 21st Century air, full of commodity everything, supply-chain management, the tyranny of choice, and all this fantastically debased talk about "content". Maybe it's just a natural reaction to the magnitude of available art. There was probably more text produced on the planet last month than in the entire history of the written word up to about 1900 (I'm completely making that up, but you know that something like it is probably true).

Anyway, although I feel this way about half of the time, I don't really believe in it.

Friday, August 1

It wasn't until I had tried in earnest to use a typewriter for the production of an actual document that I really understood all the weird and oddly physical rituals which were presented as higher knowledge in my highschool typing & office drudgery classes. What did all this rigidly mechanical formula have to do with making a useful piece of text?

One way or another, I had already internalized the values and methods of this then-emergent electronic text thing without retaining a trace of historical perspective, let alone a muscle-memory relationship to the older machines that had been physically (if not yet conceptually) supplanted by all those black & white Macintoshes. So of course I was an arrogant little jackass, and assumed that my teachers were profoundly clueless.

(This seems like a reasonable moment to publicly apologize to Archie Lindsay and Sharon Van Cleave for just about every interaction we had between roughly 1993 and early 2001, and to mention that in addition to being unimpressed by my contempt for tab stops and business correspondence, Mrs. Van Cleave also let me hang out in the computer lab ditching Social Studies to mess around with HyperCard.)

Of course, in a way, the typing teachers of the 1990s were profoundly clueless, but their cluelessness — or at least their perspective's rapid drift away from the most salient technical realities of putting strings of words together — was grounded in experience and a highly developed material culture. They had decades of craft on their side. It was hardly their fault that most of the software advertised as suitable for the task at hand was built on the same conceptual gap between typing paper and bitstreams which made it seem like knowing where to put the tab stops for a business as vs. a personal letter was still relevant to the task at hand.

It turns out that representing typewriter-style processes & utility features for laying out text on a page as collections of discrete interface elements in software is mostly a frustrating and limiting approach to the problem, but that's not necessarily an obvious statement. And meanwhile a few hours with a typewriter is profoundly instructive. It doesn't take much to understand why and how all those little techniques and stylistic conventions might have developed, at least in their broad outlines.