Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Checking out Ubuweb

Samuel Andreyev

If you are the kind of oddball who reads this blog, you should get to know Ubuweb, the website that collects large amounts of avant-garde art, in all possible forms. The site tends not to respect copyright, but gets away with it because it compiles material that has little commercial appeal.

A recurring feature of the site is the monthly top ten list, in which an artist or editor or critic or whatever is asked to list ten favorite items on the site. The June 2017 list, from Samuel Andreyev, selects modern classical music, one of my passions. His top ten list is a good survey of the classical avante-garde of the past few decades, covering 12-tone music (Webern), electronic music from Stockhausen, George Antheil, Morton Feldman, and other interesting sounds. I downloaded all 10 tracks and then put together a playlist on Google music. (Andreyev is a composer who has a YouTube channel devoted to classical avant-garde.)

I don't expect everyone to share my interests, but browsing the other top ten lists is a good entry point for the site. Here is my attempt at an Ubuweb top ten. 

Ubuweb isn't a good place, however, for obtaining Robert Anton Wilson material. For that, I would suggest the Internet Archive.


michael said...

A periodic visit to Ubuweb usually yields an altered state for me. And I think that's the aim.

Why does the material there have that effect on me? My favorite interpretation is from Claude Shannon's information theory: surrealism and avant-garde and psychedelia is non-ordinary, and therefore info-dense. Info-density surprises the nervous system, engages, overloads...which is the isomorphically the same thing as the effects of cannabis and psychedelic drugs.

By the way, "Ubu" was Alfred Jarry's character, a king or priest who acts so stupidly and inhumanly and monstrously it's overwhelming to imagine someone that horrible having power. You can't believe someone could be that terrible as a human being and still have power over others.

Jarry - inventor or 'Pataphysics, precursor to Dada, surrealism, and punk rock- satirizes greed and power, and the self-serving, oblivious middle class assholes who got him into power. A lot of writers see Jarry as the beginning of Modernism.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

What material is your favorite there? The modern classical music is what does it for me, and there's a lot of music there.

michael said...

A lot of music, lots of film, MP3s of film soundtracks. I'll check out pretty much anything I haven't seen yet, and like it...even if I don't "get" it. EX: there's a film of Barthes on his book _The Pleasure of the Text_ , a book I've read a couple of times. The film is in French w/no translation, and yet I still watched the whole damned thing: "There's Barthes in black and white at his desk, smoking!" Somehow even that is interesting and exciting to me.

I see they've added a Craig Baldwin film soundtrack. Every RAW fan must watch as many Craig Baldwin fins as they can find, but I consider it ESSENTIAL to see Tribulation 99, which is a fantastic cut-up/satire on conspiracy theories, many of which "are" "true" but mixed in with a lot of wild and fantastic CTs.

Joshua Hallenbeck said...

michael, I have been wanting to check out some of Claud Shannon's work. Do you have a good recommendation of where to start? The information theory you describe above seems very interesting to me. Thanks!

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I look forward to Michael's answer, but I'll note that the first bio of Shannon has just appeared:

James Gleick's book, "The Information," has many references to Shannon, although I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

michael said...

I stood in a bookstore and read in the new Shannon bio Soni and Goodman and it looked really good, but yea: check out Gleick's The Information, which has tons of great stuff on Shannon. Jeremy Campbell's book Grammatical Man has lots of lucid stuff on Shannon's ideas. The cyberneticists-to-computer explosion thinkers always have Shannon floating around in their background knowledge. This includes social thinkers like Bateson. Check out pp.194-200 of EO Wilson's Sociobiology for the Shannon-Wiener equation in biological systems.

I got into Shannon via Wm.Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson, and have a lot of notes on that, if you're interested.

Joshua Hallenbeck said...

Ok great thanks for the response. I am indeed interested in those notes of yours. I have taken an interest in Shannon as well due to Robert Anton Wilsons work but wasn't quite sure where to start.

Joshua Hallenbeck said...

I did catch that post the other day about the new bio on Shannon. It is now on my amazon book wish list. I will look into Gleick's work as well. Thanks Tom!

michael said...

Joshua: I've just spent an hour or so looking at my stuff and it's (most?) perhaps too idiosyncratic.

I heartily suggest reading the new Mind At Play bio of Shannon. My notes take off from Information Theory and Art; social systems; biological systems; learning and dopamine reward systems; how McLuhan rejected Shannon's idea but endorsed Norbert Wiener's ideas about social communication (I think McLuhan had very deep ideological commitments here); how Shannon's ideas play with the ideas of Fuller and Leary; hidden/occult effects of novelty; neophilia vs. neophobia and politics; thermodynamics and entropy vs. negentropy; "Fog Facts" and exformation; problems with the virtualization of information; how Shannon's ideas are at heart of RAW's diffuse riffings on his "Jumping Jesus Phenomenon"; information and the sociology of knowledge and problems with ideologies; and tons of attempts by myself to come to grips with "bits" and "data" and "information" and "knowledge" and "wisdom." Etc.

Perhaps this will get me doing the Overweening Generalist stuff again, AKA "writing for free."

Eric Wagner said...

Man, I would love to see a new OG column. And I would love to see you get rich off of your wonderful writing. I can see you on "The Daily Show" plugging your new book.

Joshua Hallenbeck said...

Micheal, again, thank you for the recommendation. Mind at Play is on my list of books to read. Lately I've put Korzybski at the heart of RAW's "Jumping Jesus" phenomenon due to Korzybski's similar theory of what he called "time binding ". I look forward to seeing in what way Claud influenced RAW's "Jumping Jesus" phenomenon as well.

michael said...

Joshua: Alvin Silverstein, who was a science popularizer sorta like Asimov, published a book called _The Conquest of Death_ in 1979. In it he notes OECD's Georges Anderla's work:

RAW read Silverstein which turned him on to Anderla's 1973 paper. See p.21 from RAW's 1997 Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture:

RAW was interested in Korzysbki's time-binding and Shannon's info theory since 1948, when he was 16.

If you've read his books, you know he was fascinated by ideas about human individual longevity and immortality since the 1960s. Reading Silverstein (and Anderla) and the quantification of the body of human data/information/knowledge pegged to history must have struck him as very much in the realm of Shannon's revolutionary thinking about precise quantization of Information and riffs on history and chaos, conspiracy thought, and indeterminacy.