Fording The Liminal Sea

The information fields are vast. Let us go a’harvesting! Raise up your scythes loyal comrades and follow me into the field! A field of dataflows from which we will construct our dreams. Phantasmagorical spaces open up the doors of hitherto unthought possibility, untapped potential. Free-flying we leap from the precipice, heedless of the danger. Careless to consequence. Trifles all. So what if we’ve not wings to slow the fall, the void is endless, surely we’ve time to construct Icarus’ facsimiles upon the way! Oh you may smile. Smile, but smile seriously!

We shall not gently tap upon the chamber walls of those greedy cretins who lock away the treasures we seek behind their cobwebish firewalls, the refuge of the gov-orgs and sovcorps who shuttered away their endless piles of white papers and market analytics, tucked securely down the memory hole like Smaug’s golden coins. No, we shall not tap, we shall kick in their portals and take it by force! Theft? Well naturally, it is just that we do not shirk form stealing from thieves! Who, after all, mourns the death of a cruel murderer?

Pay no mind to the naysayers, those who say of our great and goodly work, “It’s all pointless,” or more ridiculously, “It isn’t even real, none of it matters,” if that were really true they might as well save their labored breath and rabid frenzied slathering and disconnect from the ether. Second life belongs to those who will claim it and those who will claim it will be those who treat it with the seriousness it is so rightly due. So off with their heads! Hack and slash, hack and slash; let’s stomp them into the dirt! The naysayers and all who follow them and all who stand in our way. None shall deter us from the harvesting. Information being the prize of our labor, of our valiant, ceaseless toil. There is nothing so precious, not even love can compete, for it garners its life-blood from the fractal-flow of the liminal sea.

The click and the soothing blue glow that emanate from the sea’s surging depths are the flames of the future, the grid-lines and power-wires, the gates, moats and portcullises of our age. There is a reason that no modern military is without a cyber defense force; even nuclear weapons pale before the power of the web. But a web axiomatically requires a spider to spin it. Oh yes, we see them. We acknowledge them. Their time slipping. Days which we number with delightful expectation; we are as Edmond Dantès, numbering his days of imprisonment with rock-etchings upon our dungeon walls; the spiders, nothing more than Armand Dorleac with all his nihilistic cackling. Keep laughing. The frigid waters await you. Plunged down by our strong and calloused hands, we’ll go a’tumbling into the icy void. When the ripples still there will be nothing but the shifting of liquid before we, alone, emerge, baring forth all your hidden bounty in our arms and gracing the constellation with our gay and pearly smiles. Chateau D’If is ours now and we will not, as might be heroically expected, tear it apart brick by brick in some futile symbolic gesture of evil conquered, what a waste of time that would be! No, instead, we shall turn it into our central terminus, our bio-hub, the cerebral train-station from which we shall build bridges and loops and tunnels across the whole ambit of the world and far far beyond it!

Highways to superhighways, of information, from and underneath and above the raging waters. We shall drain the whole of the ocean dry, down to the deepest trench if needs must. Why, before our ceaseless and unyielding procession of busy-bodied and wrathful treasure hunters even Poseidon shall bend the knee! All hail the new lords of the data mine and the web-land-freed. With sails electric and minds of fire, scythes of steel and wills unbending, we ford the waters of the liminal sea.

Value Ordination: Political Paradigm as Argumentation

Innumerable are the number of political compass tests which one can take online, from Playbuzz to to the 8 Values Github Test, all of which are sifted through and poured over, studied and analyzed by the takers thereof as if in the action of so doing they will confer some hidden and eldritch wisdom unto the reader. The popularity of political compass tests however, does not lie in their viewing by the takers thereof but in their viewing by everyone else. People that are likely to take political compass tests are also likely to be highly engaged in politics and thus are already well aware of their own political views and where they are likely to lie on any given political compass test (unless the given test happens to be poorly constructed, and thus, woefully inaccurate). They are not really seeking out what their ideological positions are but are rather looking for a shared visual platform where their ideological uniqueness can be shown to others. A narcissist’s past-time.

The fixation here is more upon the position of the individual along the political compass than upon the ideas which place them there. This is reflective of American political discourse more generally, where discussions are generally started with the prompt, “Well The Left,” or, “You see this is just what The Right has been trying to do for years now-”

Right and Left are, of a certainly, highly useful linguistic tools but there is here a problem which manifests itself whenever a particular political moniker becomes more important that being correct, that is to say, logically parsimonious (utilizing economy of explanation to arrive at a conclusion).

That may sound like a obvious truism; certainly it is true but it is far less discernible that it is readily obvious. Such is evidenced by popular internetisms like, “There is nothing to the Right of me but the wall.” Meaning, of course, that there is no one more Right-wing than the person whom is spouting the aforementioned phrase. This is only a positive however if the Right-wing views which the speaker holds are actually correct. That is to say, Right and Left are not arguments in and of themselves, nor is a statement of any ideological inclination. To say, “That is a Communist position!” is only a sufficient position in as far as it is actually wrong/illogical; it is not wrong merely by dint of being associated with Communism (which, by and large should be suspect for its historical record of death and intense political instability). Thus, for the previous example, it should, make the argument more suspect but it should not incline one to dismiss it out of hand.

Such is also true with rebuttals like, “But that is Authoritarian!” Well… why is that a bad thing? One should really be asked to explain.

In short, in the American context, the political Left and Right are all too often interjected in place of argumentation. Whenever the words Left-wing and Right-wing are utilized as a argument unto themselves, rather than as placeholders for extremely wide-ranging idea-sets, one knows that one’s opponent has woefully lost the plot.

Towards an Art of Purpose

[Originally published via WCR]

I have often heard it said, when in a position of judgmental argumentation, “Who are you to judge, who are you to say what is good or bad!” The answer, so starkly white-hot in the mind as to burn through its cranial cage, is always the same, “The only one present.” This truism can be applied to nearly everything but I find it is, in my experience, most often brought to bear on art.

AA78 by Zdzislaw Beksinski 1978
Beksinski’s “AA78”

“Art,” a new word really needs to be invented to encapsulate what that mighty triumvirate of letters used to signify. Those letters which gave the world the Sistine Chapel,  Bernini’s soul-searing statuary, Beksinski’s hellish paintings, explorations of the evils of Man, the mad-dash glory of Italian Futurism and the harrowing, primal writings of McCarthy. But they have also given birth to the likes of the alcoholic smatterings of Pollock, the idiocy of Andy “Art is anything you can get away with” Warhol as well as Marcel Duchamp and his foppishly signed toilet seat — the new paradigm of the avantgarde. Warhol is also often quoted as saying, “I think everybody should like everybody,” as well as the patently untrue  “Making money is art, working is art, good business is art.” One might therefore assume that brushing one’s teeth and defecating were art as well. By such definitions; why not? What is not? What is?

Worse than these statements shallowness and patent falsehood is their grotesque distortion of the classical usage of the word. Art as a definition has been totally and utterly erased by postmodernism, rendered into amorphous mush. It now means, “Something I can do that is useless — or nearly so.” It’s a literal manifestation of Oscar Wilde’s “All art is quite useless.” Meaning of course that the externalization of an artists ideas or concept is enough — form, function, derivation of spiritual sustenance all goes out the window. What it is matters less here than that it is. The root of the Conceptual Art School. Something like, “I art, therefore it’s good… well, good enough.” It should really be a crime for a mind so large to think so very, very small.

This aforementioned postmodernist tendency in art would not bear so much discussion if it did not also entail the outright destruction of those schools of thought which sought a purpose in their creations — those schools that wished to utilize art as a temple, a internal refuge and source of meditation, a teaching tool, a pathway to political critique and a weapon to combat the moral evils of the day. Art which now speaks to the essence of man’s soul is all too often seen as “stuffy,” or, “snobbish.” Those artists who demand some collective standard, objective or subjective, by which to judge a work of art are told they need to think “outside the box.” But how can this be done when there is no longer a box at all?  The new standard is “For it’s own sake” — no longer do works of art even serve their creators. Those who have gone to art college know what I mean — ask the question, what’s your work about, all too often the reply from the student will be, “I don’t know.” As with the Dadaists, irrationality, chaos and irreverence are championed. Unlike with Dada, the Postmodernists do not utilize these characteristics in the purpose of some higher goal but simply because they are antithetical to what has come before. The classical past is anathema and the new reigns — not because it is good but because it is new. This is just as foolish as romanticizing the events of the past because they happened long ago. The time is now and to the postmodernists, it must never be then.

When faced with such overwhelming, neigh omnipresent, vacuousness one should not fall into the all too easy trap of defeatism. One should not throw up one’s hand and say, “Art is dead.” What to do then? Bring back the manifesto! So seemingly quaint; the word itself rings like a antiquated bell — but why? Atomization (the deplorable case of the death of the author, the birth of the reader). Bring back the tradition of artistic “School of Thought” of “The Movement.” Ruthlessly (and subtly) deride relentless-Escapism and the deconstruction of aesthetic standards at every conceivable turn. Bring back elitism! When you wish to have your car fixed one would be mad to think of the mechanic “who is he to fix my car!” No — one calls around and chooses the best mechanic for the job, the one whose skills (and price tag) outshine the others. So too does this hold in every conceivable area of one’s life where skill and intelligence plays a part so why a different standard for art? Most importantly, bring back a bloody definition! Cleave to it and defend it, whatever it may happen to be.

That definition shall no longer include the tawdry rebel-without-a-cause nor the bystander nor the attention-seeker. That definition will lend legitimacy to those individuals who cast their souls out into the wide ambit of the world like blinding spears. A manifestation of principal. Those individuals whose work sings songs of violence and death, of fertility and re-birth. Of internal empire and external community. Of Reason as Emotion’s master. Of the transcendental, the numinous — the supra-rational.  This new school of thought must be cogent, organized and consistently, doggedly external, its body of works pouring out into the world with all the force and speed of some thundering pack of draft-horses. In short, I advocate for the death of the reader and the re-birth of the author.