Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Don't shoot"

I've been following Ferguson from the Twitter sidelines a little. Is it appalling? Definitely. Is it an uprising? No. Will anything change? No.

What's intriguing me most is the use of symbols, and what assumptions they make. I keep coming back to Foucault and his notion of biopower - and his descriptions of power via difference, rather than power because of difference. In other words, racism, sexism, ageism etc are nothing in themselves, but all just manifestations of people controlling other people.

It's hard to boil the Ferguson event down to an inherently racist society. Race, gender, poverty level, age - these and more are the playing field. Together, they're all factors in deciding that one group, or combination, should have power over another. Concentrating on any of them - even all of them - is pointless. The point is that the split exists at all. It's what Internet anonymity is so powerful at exposing - or rather, unexposing, hiding, obliterating.

That's one aspect which fascinates me - symbols as group definitions. Stick to the symbols to try to find a cause for it all, and you're never going to escape that cycle.

Similarly, the phrase "Hands up, don't shoot" sums up a whole bunch of stuff around the assumptions we make about power.

Firstly, it starts up by giving up all physical power. It is assumed that protest is about stopping those with arms taking action. It starts with the notion that there must be one side with guns, and one side without. As I get older, I'm leaning more towards an anarcho viewpoint which this doesn't fit too well with. If you want "civilised" society that moves towards equality and removing power imbalances, turning it into armed vs unarmed doesn't help. There's that split again.

(Similarly, armed vs armed doesn't help much either. There's still imbalance between who's got the fastest, biggest gun.)

"Hands up, no f***ing guns" might work better. Without the hands up. Tools down. No guns.

Tools. Hands. Surrender. Peace. Feels like we're failing to turn clever thoughts into a real world somewhere along the line. Instead we're just coming up with more catchy slogans - slogans which catch ourselves in our own net.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Portable libraries

Ooh, massive PDF on Radical Tactics of the Offline Library.

Monday, July 21, 2014

FBI-backed terror plots

FBI pushed Muslims to plot terrorist attacks: rights report

"The rights group charged that the FBI often targets vulnerable people, with mental problems or low intelligence.

"It pointed to the case of Rezwan Ferdaus, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison at age 27 for wanting to attack the Pentagon and Congress with mini-drones loaded with explosives.

"An FBI agent told Ferdaus' father that his son "obviously" had mental health problems, the report said. But that didn't stop an undercover agent from conceiving the plot in its entirety, it said."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Critique of Separation: Adventure time

Been meaning to watch Guy Debord's Critique of Separation for a while. Glad I did in the end - watch it if you're curious about the net weaved around us by culture and our media. Embedded below:

Critique of Separation (English subtitles) from 1000littlehammers on Vimeo.

Choice quotes:

"Childhood? Why, it's right here - we have never emerged from it."

"Our era accumulates powers and imagines itself as rational. But no one recognizes these powers as their own. Nowhere is there any entry to adulthood."

"The world of the rulers is the world of the spectacle. The cinema suits them well."

"It is necessary to destroy memory in art. To undermine the conventions of its communication. To demoralize its fans."

"We have invented nothing. We adapt ourselves, with a few variations, into the network of possible itineraries. We get used to it, it seems."

While on holiday, I finished reading a book on encounters with Chinese hermits. It seems very relevant here - as it goes through, it touches on the Cultural Revolution, the "red dust" of modern civilisation (something I'm trying to find more specifics on), and the bending of religious symbolicism to touristic ends - the creation of a spectacle of religion.

Hermits try to escape the "adventures" imposed on them by a society with very specific aims in mind. In the West, this gets captured and branded in itself - think of "Escape to the Country", for instance. Dropping out is a lifestyle, but lifestyles are themselves a product.

What adventures can we really say we are living out?

Fireworks filmed with a drone

Got round to watching an video on the Inter-net. This is another example of quadcopters delivering me another case of OMG: I'm not interested in actually owning one, but quadcopters are probably now up there with p2p tech in terms of important-20-year-tech-stuff for me.