XXIIVV

Forests are turned into paper and newspapers that call for the forests to be saved.

The whole place has been crafted, complete with faux-authentic food crates and coffee bean sacks, to recreate this farm-to-market experience that stopped existing a long time ago.

Symbols, signs, and simulations had become so all-encompassing, that it is not longer possible to distinguish the real and the symbol. Melancholy is the quality inherent in the mode of disappearance of meaning, in the mode of volitilisation of meaning in operational systems.

What we consider to be social reality is indefinitely reproducible and extendable, with the copy indistinguishable from the original, or perhaps seeming more real than the original.

La société du spectacle wrapped around a brick
Claire Fontaine, La sociéte du spectacle brickbat, 2005

The modern progress economy dealt in technological potential and progress, whereas the postmodern innovation economy dealt in windows of opportunity that open and close. No one cares about your product; we care about your adoption. No one cares about what your technology does; we care about what problems it solves for users, and how fast you can grow.

Production and the ideals of production have been so successful, that a new stage is reached, a stage that has a certain banality or triviality where the ideal disappears and becomes so commonplace that it does not have meaning associated with it.

The ability to kill thousands at the press of a button was no longer matched by the ability to take the measure of the calamity wrought. This promethean lag often anaesthetised our faculties, including our ability to fear the danger that threatens us, for the simple reason that we cannot know what we cannot understand or represent concretely or morally to ourselves. These limitations in us induced a state of irresponsibility, a form of nihilism in action that maintained us as atomised individuals while we laboured toward our own irrelevance and extinction.

A young girl looks at a boy swinging from a vine. Illustration by Harry Furniss in Caroll's Sylvie and Bruno It has never been spread out, yet, they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well. Lewis Carroll(Sylvie) Natalya Bondarchuk as Hari Kelvin in Solaris

The desert of cities is equal to the desert of sand — the jungle of signs is equal to that of the forests — the vertigo of simulacra is equal to that of nature — only the vertiginous seduction of a dying system remains, in which work buries work, in which value buries value. ~

When one weighed material comforts against something as ineffable, and unpriceable, as integrity, standing up for one's beliefs could seem like a utopian gesture — a moral luxury that was admirable, perhaps, but quite pointless.

Because to tell the truth, nothing happens anymore. Nothing any longer has the time to happen. There is no duration left for anything to unfold in. Nothing can anchor itself in the world long enough to make sense. While the present still has a duration, the hyperpresent no longer does.

After Death, Francois J Bonnet

A lifestyle lived according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasture, depicted in an idealized manner for urban audiences.

Even before the Alexandrian age, ancient Greeks had sentiments of an ideal pastoral life that they had already lost. In the late 19th century, city dwellers were worried that the unnatural pace of life brought on by railroads and telegraphs had given rise to a new disease, neurasthenia.

Archaeologists have discovered Sumerian cuneiform tablets which complain that family life isn't what it used to be.

There is no progress whatever. Everything is just the same as it was thousands, and tens of thousands, of years ago. The outward form changes. The essence does not change. Man remains just the same. Civilized and cultured people live with exactly the same interests as the most ignorant savages. Modern civilization is based on violence and slavery and fine words. But all these fine words about progress and civilization are merely words.

And war, and pestilence, and tearful woes.
O men, why vainly puffed up do ye bring
Yourselves to ruin?

Aristasia

Commodities are interchangeable goods, interchangeability improves trade, standardization, and scale.

Modernity attempts to degrade out ability to pay attention. It seeks to have us believe that we can have everything at a moment’s notice, without thought for payment, patience or production. If one does not pay for something they will not value it. If one does not work at something they will not empathize with it. And if one does not produce something they will not understand it. Modernity removes each and every single one of these factors by way of credit, addictive mechanisms and consumerism. ~

Shopping Makes Me Puke(Live Wild Or Die)

The concept of liminality for thinking about modern societies is connected to the study of theatre and performance. The liminal experiences of tribal cultures – in which ritual is a collective process for navigating moments of change – are different from the liminoid experiences available in modern societies, which resemble the liminal, but are choices we opt into as individuals, like a night out at the theatre. ~

When finished objects become commodities and break, they are easily replaced. When you break a chair, you buy another chair. We know well how to make one thousand chairs. But when a unique object breaks, we might mend. To learn the skill of mending is to also gain the skill of building, to understand the very urge to build. If we never mend, we not only risk building less but building in perverse ways.

To mend is to comprehend a human scale problem, and without this understanding our creations become strange creatures. The more finished goods become commodities, the fewer opportunities an individual has to generate new creation. The ability to mass-produce removes the opportunity for the great many to learn to produce at all.

This curious world we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient, more beautiful than it is useful, it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used. Henry David Thoreau Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway in Network (1976)

In the 1976 film Network, a newsreader about to lose his job threatens to kill himself on live TV. Ratings skyrocket, he gets his own talk show as a pundit, and his catchphrase “I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!” goes viral.

Premium mediocre is food that Instagrams better than it tastes. Mediocre with just an irrelevant touch of premium, not enough to ruin the delicious essential mediocrity.

obsolescence

One Human Minute

The Guinness Book was a best seller because it presented nothing but exceptional things, with a guarantee of authenticity. This panopticon of records had, however, a serious drawback: it was soon obsolete. No sooner had some fellow eaten forty pounds of peaches complete with pits than another not only ate more, but died immediately after from a volvulus, which gave the new record a dismal piquancy.

While it is untrue that there is no such thing as mental illness, that it was invented by psychiatrists to torment their patients and squeeze money out of them, it is true that normal people do far madder things than the insane. The difference is that the madman does what he does disinterestedly, whereas the normal person does it for fame, because fame can be converted into cash. Of course, some are satisfied with fame alone, so the matter is unclear. In any case, the still-surviving subspecies of intellectuals scorned this whole collection of records, and in polite society it was no distinction to remember how many miles someone on all fours could push a nutmeg with his nose painted lavender.

Cultural works, unlike software, are a consumer good, not a tool for use in production, or a producer's good. Producer's goods are the assets used in production, such as the tools and equipment required to produce consumer goods sold for profit. Capital demand is distinct from consumer demand. Capital demand is the demand for producer's goods; consumer demand is the demand for consumer goods.

Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the "body of fact" that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. Within the business we recognize that a controversy exists. However, with the general public the consensus is that cigarettes are in some way harmful to the health. If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health.

Capitalism doesn't require that a profit be made on the production of capital goods because profits are made through the control of the circulation of consumer goods. Anything that decreases the cost of capital consequently increases the potential profit that can be captured through the sale of the goods.

Failure to understand the difference between capital demand and consumer demand propagates the myth that the success of free software can be a template for free culture. Under capitalism, only capital can be free. That's why software can be free, but culture cannot be free without more fundamental shifts in society.

In the end, the market proved both views right braindance became an everyday product, another form of entertainment, but also a new form of surveillance.

The lotus fruit is about the size of the lentisk berry and in sweetness resembles the date.

Thence for nine days' space I was borne by direful winds over the teeming deep; but on the tenth we set foot on the land of the Lotus-eaters, who eat a flowery food.

There we went on shore and drew water, and straightway my comrades took their meal by the swift ships. But when we had tasted food and drink, I sent forth some of my comrades to go and learn who the men were, who here ate bread upon the earth; two men I chose, sending with them a third as a herald.

So they went straightway and mingled with the Lotus-eaters, and the Lotus-eaters did not plan death for my comrades, but gave them of the lotus to taste. And whosoever of them ate of the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no longer any wish to bring back word or to return, but there they were fain to abide among the Lotus-eaters, feeding on the lotus, and forgetful of their homeward way. These men, therefore, I brought back perforce to the ships, weeping, and dragged them beneath the benches and bound them fast in the hollow ships; and I bade the rest of my trusty comrades to embark with speed on the swift ships, lest perchance anyone should eat of the lotus and forget his homeward way. So they went on board straightway and sat down upon the benches, and sitting well in order smote the grey sea with their oars.

Thence we sailed on, grieved at heart, and we came to the land of the Cyclopes, an overweening and lawless folk, who, trusting in the immortal gods, plant nothing with their hands nor plough; but all these things spring up for them without sowing or ploughing, wheat, and barley, and vines, which bear the rich clusters of wine, and the rain of Zeus gives them increase. Neither assemblies for council have they, nor appointed laws, but they dwell on the peaks of lofty mountains in hollow caves, and each one is lawgiver to his children and his wives, and they reck nothing one of another.

/Homer, English Translation by A.T. Murray
/1919

I’ll tell you one for El-ahrairah to cry at.

Once there was a fine warren on the edge of a wood, overlooking the meadows of a farm. It was big, full of rabbits. Then one day the white blindness came and the rabbits fell sick and died. But a few survived, as they always do. The warren became almost empty. One day, the farmer thought, “I could increase those rabbits, make them part of my farm – their meat, their skins. Why should I bother to keep rabbits in hutches? They’ll do very well where they are.” He began to shoot all elil – lendri, homba, stoat, owl. He put out food for the rabbits, but not too near the warren.

For his purpose they had to become accustomed to going about in the fields and the wood. And then he snared them – not too many: as many as he wanted and not as many as would frighten them all away or destroy the warren. They grew big and strong and healthy, for he saw to it that they had all of the best, particularly in winter, and nothing to fear – except the running knot in the hedge-gap and the wood-path. So they lived as he wanted them to live and all the time there were a few who disappeared.

The rabbits became strange in many ways, different from other rabbits. They knew well enough what was happening. But even to themselves they pretended that all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away. They forgot the ways of wild rabbits. They forgot El-ahrairah, for what use had they for tricks and cunning, living in the enemy’s warren and paying his price? They found out other marvelous arts to take the place of tricks and old stories. They danced in ceremonious greeting. They sand songs like birds and made shapes on the walls; and though these could help them not at all, yet they passed the time and enabled them to tell themselves that they were splendid fellows, the very flower of Rabbitry, cleverer than magpies.

They had no Chief Rabbit – no, how could they? – for a Chief Rabbit must be El-ahrairah to his warren and keep them from death: and here there was no death but one, and what Chief Rabbit could have an answer to that?

Instead, Frith sent them strange singers, beautiful and sick like oak-apples, like robins’ pin-cushions on the wild rose. And since they could not bear the truth, these singers, who might in some other place have been wise, were squeezed under the terrible weight of the warren’s secret until they gulped out fine folly – about dignity and acquiescence, and anything else that could make believe that the rabbit loved the shining wire.

But one strict rule they had; oh yes, the strictest. No one must ever ask where another rabbit was and anyone who asked, “Where?” – except in a song or poem – must be silenced. To say “Where?” was bad enough, but to speak openly of the wires – that was intolerable. For that they would scratch and kill.

/Watership Down, Richard Adams
/1972

Lapine

To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law — a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security. Walter M. Miller Jr.

Incoming: nomad deliberate mirrors marvelous pursuit technology technocracy commodity