Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Eugene Myers is working on a novel about the end of the world. Meanwhile, he discovers his daughter doing porn online and his marriage is coming to an end. When he begins dreaming about people who turn out to be real, he wonders if his novel is real as well. Which isn’t good news: the radical and demented President Winchell is bent on bringing about worldwide destruction. Eugene Myers may just be the one to stop the apocalypse.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
TOPIC: Eight Ways to Listen to Beethoven
I. As for music – where did we first hear it, who sang or hummed to
us, and against what part of her body were we held? - Prometheus
Rising (revised edition), pg. 48.
II. We are not talking about mere increase in linear IQ – third-
circuit semantic cleverness. We are talking of also the kinds of
right-brain intelligence that Nicholl acquired from Jungian
neurogenetic research and Gurdjieff’s meta-programming techniques. We
are talking of say, Beethoven’s intelligence, which so disturbed
Lenin, who could not bear to listen to the Appassionata (Sonata 23)
because it made him “want to weep and pat people on the head, and we
mustn’t pat them on the head, we must hit them on the head, hit them
hard, and make them obey.” More of Beethoven’s intelligence is
needed, desperately, to create a signal that the current Lenins cannot
ignore, that will make them weep, and stop hitting heads. – Ibid, pg.
III. The left-handed, on the contrary, specialize in right-brain
functions, which are holistic, supra-verbal, “intuitive,” musical and
“mystical.” Leonardo, Beethoven and Nietzsche, for instance, were all
left-handed. Traditionally, left-handed people have been the subject
of both dread and awe – regarded as weird, shamanic, and probably in
special communication with “God” or “the Devil.” – Ibid, pg. 98 – 99.
IV. “To me, the Hammerklavier sounds like an unsuccessful
attempt at Tantric sex. And the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies sound
like monumentally successful attempts.” - Frank Dashwood in
Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy, pg. 426.
V. Beethoven, we remember, was left-handed. Since the left
hand is neurologically linked to the polymorphous right brain, one
might say he was genetically inclined to right brain activities, that
is, to sensing coherent wholes, to plunging into neurosomatic bliss
almost “at will,” and to sensory-sensual raptness and rapture.
Everybody “knows” that the Sixth Symphony is “pantheistic,” but
whether Beethoven was an ideological pantheist or not, that way of
responding to nature is normal and natural right-brain Circuit V
functioning. That is, anybody on the Fifth Circuit will “talk like a
pantheist” whether or not he has developed a “philosophy” about
pantheism. The miracle of Beethoven is not that he felt the universe
that way – a few thousand fifth-circuit types throughout history have
also felt and sensed nature that way – but that he mastered the third-
circuit art of music with such skill that he could communicate such
experiences, which is precisely what the ordinary “mystic” cannot
do. - Prometheus Rising, pg. 183.
This progression, from primate emotion to post-hominid tranquility,
from “man” to “super man,” is the Next Step that mystics forever talk
of; you can hear it in most of Beethoven’s later, major
compositions. – Ibid, pg. 188.
VI. Beethoven, to cite him one more time, said, “Anybody who
understands my music will never be unhappy again.” That is because
his music is the song of the Sixth Circuit, of Gaia, the Life Spirit,
becoming conscious of Herself, of Her powers, of Her own capacities
for infinite progress. - Ibid, pg. 204.
VII. Mind and its contents are functionally identical: My wife
only exists, for me, in my mind. Not being a solipsist, I recognize
the converse: I only exist, for her, in her mind. Lest the reader
exclaim, like Byron of Wordsworth, “I wish he would explain his
explanation!”, let us try it this way: If I am so fortunate as to be
listening to the Hammerklavier sonata, the only correct answer, if you
ask me suddenly, “Who are you?” would be to hum the Hammerklavier,.
For, with music of that quality, one is hypnotized into rapt
attention: there is no division between “me” and “my experience.” -
Ibid, pg. 219.
VIII. Mystics stammer, gibber and rave incoherently in trying to
discuss this. Beethoven says it for them, without words, in the
fourth movement of the Ninth Symphony. The words of Schiller’s “Ode
to Joy,” which Beethoven set to this virtually superhuman music, are a
linear third-circuit map conveying only a skeleton key to the multi-
level meanings of the 8-circuit “language” of the melodic construction
itself, which spans all consciousness from primitive bio-survival to
meta-physiological cosmic fusion. – Ibid, pg. 269
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I see 1898 and the US becoming an Imperial power starting with a
trumped-up bogus "attack." The Reichstag fire. Then, FDR or his people
knew about Pearl Harbor. Then, the Gulf of Tonkin. Then...9/11. Then:
Bush/Cheney lying and the press swallowing it: Iraq War.
But then: I know how EASY it is to see patterns.
I suspect I'm fooling myself somewhere along the line.
I SUSPECT. I don't "know."
Michael leaves out the Korean War; perhaps he hasn't researched it enough to offer an opinion. My only quibble with the events he does cite — not much of a quibble — is that I suspect the standard narrative that Al Qaeda carried out the attack as likely true but don't believe any of the attempts to tie it to Saddam Hussein.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Various medical authorities swarm in and out of here predicting I have between two days and two months to live. I think they are guessing. I remain cheerful and unimpressed. I look forward without dogmatic optimism but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying.
Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.
RAW read and enjoyed a popular neuroscience book released in 1986 that contained "the latest" in neuroscience, The Three Pound Universe. It was written by Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi. From what I recall reading that book, a description of the appearance of the human brain either said explicitly that it looked like lasagna, or something close to it, with its color and convolutions. I have seen letters from around 1987 that contain the "keep the lasagna flying" riff.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Program or Be Programmed is a slim book, but I thought you packed a lot into it. I had the impression when I read it that it synthesizes years of thought, reading other books about the Internet and personal experience using technology. Was that how it felt to you writing it?
Yeah. Each sentence could be a paragraph, each paragraph a chapter, and each chapter a whole book. It's twenty-five years of thinking about interactive media in there. I haven't really written a book explicitly about digital technology and the net before, even though it's the field of study I'm best known for. So I had hundreds of articles and talks worth of material and collected insights to share.
The trick was doing it in a way that made sense to people immediately - especially to people who are used to engaging with ideas through Twitter feeds. There's no time to make an argument. I had to write sentences that functioned one way while being read and then unpacked themselves later in the reader's brain.
I definitely felt like I was on solid ground throughout, though. I've thought about these issues so much, and tested my conclusions over a course of years, heard the counter-arguments, and had time to refine my thinking. So of everything I've written, it's the most cured, smoothed out, and densely packed.
I agree completely with your first command, "Do Not Be Always On," but it isn't always easy to follow. This morning, for example, I made a conscious decision to read the first chapter of a novel I wanted to start before I turned on the laptop to check my email. Have you trained yourself not to be always on, or is it still a struggle sometimes?
Well, just the fact that it's only a struggle *sometimes* means we're not always on, right? I still struggle with the incoming flow of media and messaging, absolutely. I have over 3000 unanswered emails in my inbox right now. It varies from about 1000 to 5000 at any given moment. I used to get really anxious about it, and now I just dig through what I can and then go off and do something I actually want or need to.
The bias of the medium makes the incoming messages seem more important than whatever we were doing. But just because something is pinging at us does not mean we have to look at it. It's a real-time thing, anyway - that's the whole point of the chapter you're referring to. It's not a living breathing human being on the other end of a phone line, it's a message.
One of my favorite sentences in your book is "I've only used one name on the Internet: Rushkoff." I try to post under a clear identity, and I hate it when I'm attacked anonymously.
My newspaper finally began making people register before posting online. Before we did that, I noticed there was a split in the building on what people thought of the comments. The editors liked making it easy to comment, because they wanted pageviews, but the reporters hated it, because people didn't want to talk to us. Our sources were afraid of being attacked online. Have you noticed similar situations at other places?
Yeah, sure. The short-term needs of the market are always what bring down the quality of something. On the net, that effect is amplified. Publications want hit counts by any means necessary - but instead of just getting stupid readers, the stupid readers are actually contributors to the publication. Those comments fields are still under the masthead. They create the culture of the publication.
So a lot of places are realizing that registration is a good idea - plus they can leverage more when they know more. Advertisers love that user data, don't forget.
But yeah - this notion that we have to leave comments on to all comers no matter what just yields the angriest and least informed crap. There's nothing wrong with making people say who they are. If they're in real danger of being killed for speaking the truth, we can make exceptions. But it's not the rule.
Another of your commands is "Share, Don't Steal." What do you do, if anything, about people trying to steal your work and distribute it on the Internet? Have you ever felt any temptation to release any of your books under Creative Commons, the way Cory Doctorow does?
I've distributed a lot of stuff under Creative Commons. Three books, and a bunch of essays. Sometimes it's practical and great, but I don't see it as a requirement. I love the freedom to use Creative Commons.
On the other hand, my book Life Inc sold maybe 25,000 copies in hardcover, yet was downloaded 250,000 times as a torrent. That's pretty nuts. I'm glad a lot of people got to read it, but it feels like a whole lot of people and search engines and torrent sites extracted value out of something I did.
As I pointed out on my RAW blog, Robert Anton Wilson forecast First Amendment struggles on the Internet long before they really became an issue. What do you think he would make of the current controversy over Wikileaks?
He'd love it, but less from some constitutional perspective than that the whole story throws things out of balance. It makes people question the security of information, the power of government, the ability of the counterculture. It is cognitively destabilizing. That's all RAW was after, I think. So he'd be pleased.
When people describe you as an intellectual heir to Robert Anton Wilson, do you find it flattering, irritating, or a little of both?
Only flattering. Inspiring, really.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
I was very lucky to study under RAW or 'Uncle Bob' for the last few years of his life and have pretty much read everything he has ever wrote (barring a few notes he left for the milkman). So here is Fnord I experienced: A national newspaper here in the UK published extracts from the memoirs of the woman who was head of our version of the CIA - reading one entry she said "Towards the end of my tenure I began to believe I was living in some kind of Kafkaesque nightmare."
Now remember: this is a woman who is in charge of our intelligence service, all the spies, spooks, secrets, black ops, the lot are all coming through her. "Kafkaesque" relates to a world in which one feels one has no control and that there are secret unseen forces working in mysterious ways. If a person at the very top of the pyramid thinks they are living in a Kafkaesque nightmare, what chance do the rest of us have? A very real-life fnord.