International travel inside my head.
Somehow they managed in this commercial to identify, then recreate the auditory, and visual hallucinations one experiences while hammered.
Thu, Dec. 19th, 2013, 12:49 pm
Before the 1970's it was much easier to market products. Advertisements merely had to talk up the usefulness and durability of cars, vacuums, etc. Then people began to reject conformity, and embrace individuality. No longer was it possible to make one car for all people. Culture was too fractured. This could have meant the end of mass production, and a return to handmade goods; but instead, advertising executives embraced this new culture of individuality, and sold identity along with their products. Turned out this new cultural trend toward separating oneself from society produced a generation of socially anxious, existential basket-cases. This e-cigarette ad exploits this vulnerability. It's an answer to confusion males have in their late 20's about what being a man means and looks like. At the same time it reenforces the pursuit of individuality, promoting the idea that e-cigarettes provide people the freedom it takes to become your own person, a true individual.
Sun, Nov. 17th, 2013, 03:51 pm
I think I'm onto being the first to identify a previously uncategorized type of song. This song is typically found in indie rock, usually it has a cheerful melody with a catchy hook, but the lyrics are written from the point of view of an indoctrinated cult member, who's bent on committing mass suicide. Examples are Go Outside by The Cults, and My Adidas by Versus. In the latter, he sings,
Waiting for the comet to appear.
New beginning far away from here.
Start the countdown going out in style.
My Adidas laced with cyanide.
I think you know it's too late.
I'm flying fast forward...to Heaven's Gate.
I'm rocketing skyward, but not with you.
Pretty chilling. He's convinced that by killing himself, he's leaving Earth for a passing comet; and he is spitefully sticking it to his former lover that she'll be stuck here on Earth.
Something about this idea, and this song in particular that blows my mind every time I listen to it: a bizarre combination of emotions: a joyful song about suicide. We're meant to be moved by his words, and sympathize with his point of view; yet at the same time, we know he's wrong and about to pointlessly die, but that doesn't really matter. Not sure anything at all outside of this type of song evokes the same emotion.
You often hear people say the world is so advanced technologically, but as a civilization, we're in our infancy, and this is why we will inevitably blow ourselves up before long. Or as Jody Foster's dead father put it,
"...[We are] capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares...."
I agree with this: the idea that civilization industrialized way too fast, ethics have yet to catch up. However, I see things like the United Nations, and things like sanctions against chemical weapons as examples of society evolving, or catching up with our technological advancement. It seems we do learn, albeit very slowly. It took horrors of WWI, but The United Nations passed rules against using gas. Here was a rare occurrence in which leaders had nothing to gain politically, or strategically, just simply decided poison gas was just too awful a thing to exist, and passed an international law making it a war crime. So in light of this, I sort of don't really fall in line with my progressive-minded counterparts on the subject of Syria.
This isn't to say I disagree with arguments against military action in terms of content, if that's possible. :) I see the contradictions. US egged on Iraq when they used chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980's. The US commits war crimes by torturing prisoners, and so on. Furthermore, I think it's wonderful that the American public is so critical of military ventures. The whole Syria episode has demonstrated that much of the public, regardless of political affiliation, is now way more cynical of military action abroad, and has wizened up to the fact American foreign policy nearly always has an economic ulterior motive. It's just that I feel Americans are looking at this particular issue all wrong.
People seem to lack perspective on Syria, and simply equate military action there with just another American imperialist ambition fueled by a hungry military industrial complex. As a result, they've blindly drawn a line in the sand, and aren't looking at the issue by itself. The way I see it, this isn't about America intervening in Syria. It's about any country that's able, doesn't necessarily have to be the USA, upholding international standards established by the international community on how to prevent indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians.
The goal of military action was not to topple the government, or even create an advantage for the rebels. It was simply a slap on the wrist. The intended effect of this would send a message Assad, and more importantly, all future leaders that killing civilians en masse is not an option.
I feel uncomfortable taking this position. Most of my reading lately has been on how incredibly dubious American Foreign Policy is. It's a long history of committing criminal acts all over the globe for the purpose of keeping markets open to which we can buy and sell goods, all under the guise of fighting communism or weapons of mass destruction. However, in the case of Syria, I don't think there's anything for the US government to gain by carrying out an attack on Assad's chemical weapons stash.
I think an attack on Syria may be the only instance where the US takes military action that's entirely against our self-interest, making it maybe the only act of altruism. Educate me if I'm missing something, but it seems there's nothing to gain. Military action would no doubt create problems for America. it would piss off Russia with whom we have a rough relationship. Israel is not exactly excited at the prospect of having a destabilized neighbor. The only thing I can think of is Saudi Arabia, who apparently did in fact want the US to enter Syria, so now I'm not 100% sure. So much for my persuasive essay; but I'm not bent on being correct. Do tell me if I'm all wrong about this.
Mon, Nov. 11th, 2013, 03:40 am
I'd say graduate school has sort of been a little like crawling across a field of broken glass, feet tied together with some kind of rusty cable to which a large stone is also securely attached. That's what it felt like in the moment at least. Now that classes are almost over with, I'm trying to assess if I've been enriched. How has my brain transformed, if at all? I think the expectation that university is this transformative experience is probably routed in some classist bullshit. But certainly school must have a lasting impact of some sort, aside from gaining new factual knowledge. For me, it was a dangerous gamble. It could have gone either way, instead of bettering myself, daily struggle could have merely reinforced negative self-efficacy. But right now I'm leaning more toward an optimistic outlook.
I'd say grad school has gotten me more acquainted with my brain: understanding where I stand in terms of limitations, my strengths, my wide array of neurosis, and how to cope with them. One thing became crystal clear, there's a giant disconnect between how I think I come across to other people, and my actual affect. It's important I don't withdraw from people because of this. At the same time, I can't simply adopt a devil-may-care attitude, because I do care, very much in fact. Tricky balance is needed.
(Read the rest in the voice of WIlliam F Buckley Jr.)
Another thing I sort of solidified in my mind is intelligence. My ego is fairly separate from how smart I believe myself to be. If you would allow me to get judgmental for a moment, I'd say for too many otherwise thoughtful people, self-worth seems so very dependent on being the smartest person in the room. Not a good way to be I might say, a set up for inevitable defeat, a reason not to take chances even.
Higher education in the West teaches people to consider all sides, have perspective, empathize, etc. That's great and all, but an unfortunate bi-product is that it produces a culture that equates "Liberalism" which is simply rational, logical, and fact-based-reasoning, with merely one approach of a two-pronged approach to policy.
What's worse is that those who are unwavering and committed to being rational, or so called "Liberal" are thought to be single-minded, or extreme. Neutrality is smart. Jon Stewart is guilty of this. A lot of people try to cultivate an air of legitimacy by being "conservative" on some issues. I put "conservative" in quotes, because the whole idea that it is a cohesive perspective, or philosophy is wrong.
So called "Conservatism" is a pseudo-perspective that is unconvincingly tied together by values of individuality, and personal responsibility -generic dispositions that are sort of like "being nice" or "thoughtful". You could attribute these qualities to any thoughtful human being. "Liberals" too believe in personal responsibility, and pulling themselves up by their own
These qualities have been packaged as "conservative values" to disguise and legitimize prejudice. They are a way to exclude those of lower income, and minorities from opportunity, making it harder for the poor to jeopardize the little advantage white people have by simply being white.
This fear of losing one's status in society due to an upwardly mobile lower-class exists to some degree in all capitalist societies. Even old white people in Canada probably feel it. The difference in the USA is that this sentiment has been ignited, codified, and given a name: Republicanism. Behind this successful marketing campaign are our country's corporate oligarchs, whose only motivation is to prevent government from impeding on their profits, even if it would mean ever so slightly.
It's important to note that these corporations aren't the enemy. They are just doing what businesses do: everything within their power to increase profit margins, and this just so happens to include shrinking the government as much as possible. What needs to be corrected is the system the allows for this to happen: an incredibly weak government that is basically for sale.
Therefore "conservatism, republicanism, and libertarians should not be considered a cohesive thought process to be respected as legitimate, or given equal consideration on any issue. It's purely a marketing, as unfashionably one-sided as that sounds.
Sun, Nov. 3rd, 2013, 08:44 pm
I suspect that the sense of security most Americans feel depends upon there being people who are worse off. Since the American middle class has become a shell of its former self, a whole population of older white people feel that their status and economic security are threatened. Anxiety about economic security is real. Tea Party people truly do have something to be angry about. Back in their day you could comfortably raise children in a big house in a nice neighborhood with a mere high school diploma. Try doing that now.
Instead of recognizing the true cause of their situation: wealth inequality resulting from lack of social safety net, weakened unions, deregulation, and corporate oligarchy, their frustration is channeled toward hating people of Color. And this isn't an overstatement. The tea party movement is fueled entirely by fear that black and brown people are going to be given opportunities that may further jeopardize their status. "Socialism" for example, is a word reappropriated by the corporate cheerleaders who use it as a dog whistle to evoke this fear. Access to Health care may help those who are completely fucked over from becoming slightly less fucked over, and so it must be stopped!
Fri, Mar. 8th, 2013, 07:31 pm
It's entirely possible to die without much ado. My grandmother's death included an open bar and a dedicated jesuit son's eulogy. This is rare. Mine will probably fall far short; and I should start living accordingly.
Mon, Jan. 7th, 2013, 01:41 pm
Streets in Paris are long and wide so as to allow military to fire cannon balls at protesters. In the USA, suburbs were designed to prevent large gatherings of people: each person in their own home, no central meeting place that might facilitate organization among citizens. It's working. Since moving back to the United States my interactions with people has been extremely limited. I must fight against the design of antisocial infrastructure to form a band.
In her book, Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote about fleeing people who wanted to kill her. After a flight to the States, she hid out in all places, the town I grew up in, Andover, Massachusetts. There she described finding a barren wasteland devoid of human interaction. This is from a woman who'd grown up in Somalia, lived all over Europe. Pretty telling I think.
So I don't think I'm getting all wrapped up in my own narrow experience when I complain about living in this country. It is true that it is a big place where people can have diverse experiences, but it has some very fundamental and fatal flaws.
The new Cat Power album is not so great. lots of in-your-face synth beats and over-produced songs that seem to have really been written in Pro-tools, long after the instruments were recorded, the musical equivalent of a bag of potato chips. I suspect potato chip music like this is why people burn out on music.
we are bombarded by songs that are immediately satisfying: simple beats, obvious lyrics, familiar hooks, melodies, etc, shit that's competing for airtime. It's like pop music is made by advertising executives; songs are jingles or nursery rhymes. too bad this is bleeding into indie rock, and that people don't recognize it happening. Pitchfork gave "Sun" a good review. to differentiate between what's shit and what's worthwhile, it's helpful to categorize music into into one of two camps.
The painter David Hockney described the difference between painting and photography saying paintings are studied; The viewer examines a piece, reading it like text which can reveal multiple levels of meaning each time it's looked at. Photographs on the other hand tell you everything you need to know in the first five seconds. I think of it as push versus pull. Photography pushes its meaning onto the viewer; painting pulls at you, requiring your active participation in interpreting and projecting your own meaning. Music is similar in this way.
Even two bands that on their surface seem very similar can be divided between these two camps. Aphex Twin pulls while Squarepusher pushes. Boards of Canada pulls while Plaid pushes. There are also varying degrees of this as well.
A lot of freeform jazz and structureless drone music can be extremely evocative in this way. If you're willing to get beyond trying to experience the kind of immediacy usually found in pop-music you'll find that this stuff offers a far more rewarding experience, one that won't leave a pile of crumbs on you when you're finished.