Monday, May 31, 2010

While We Were Sleeping...

İ just finished watching a great BBC documentary called "Requiem for Detroit". You have got to see it, I have included a link so you can. I think that this film shows quite clearly what is in store for the US in the 21st century. İt is well known that US manufacturing corporations have largely shipped their factories out to find greener pastures among the desperate poor of developing countries, with the notable exception of our arms manufacturers. What do we actually make in the US these days? China even exports the American flag to our shores. The service economy that we are fast becoming can never maintain our Amerıcan Dream. We had better wake up. The revolution that Henry Ford started, paying workers a wage that enabled them to purchase what they produced, needs to be revisited and revised. A poignant moment from the documentary concerns Henry Ford's workshop where he initially built one of his first motor cars. This structure latter gave way to the Michigan Theater, a famous palatial landmark. As the automobile gave Ford the empire to build this theater, ironically, they ultimately killed the theater. Theater goers and their need for parking and the lack of same near the theater seem to have caused the theater's demise. Attempts made to save the landmark have culminated in gutting the theater,turning it into a parking lot. Though its walls still stand, it is a theater no more. Unless its for the Theater of the Absurd. The film is a sobering reminder of what becomes of the American Dream.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sanction of the Victim

Among my reading habits these days is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This seems like one of those books that people of my generation read in high school or at university. SO, though İ may be a bit late in getting to this part of the canon, İ think it is much more meaningful to me now that it would have been 20 years ago. İ have been struck by a number of passages in this text and would like to share one here:
The Sanction of the Victim
" That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen," said Rearden gravely, " and İ will not help you out of it. İf you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition-which you cannot force- that makes you possible. İ choose to be consistent and İ will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, İ will do it at the point of a gun. İf you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there- İ will not volunteer to move. İf you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine- İ will not volunteer to pay it. İf you believe that you have the right to force me- use your guns openly. İ will not help you to disguise the nature of your action."
This passage reminds me of how we acquiesce to our own oppression, how we are complicit in our own enslavement. Hearkening to the power of disobedience, the chorus of men and women down through the ages who shouted 'Basta!'should ring in our ears. O how I want to be in that number...

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Singularity

These days, I have been talking to many of my students about the Singularity. As I understand this event, it is considered to occur when virtual reality becomes indistinguishable from the actual reality. I have been using this article to discuss some of the ramifications of the Singularity with my students. This will ultimately lead to a machine nirvana, where our chance for individuality has been destroyed, turned off like a light switch, subsumed into a hive-minded collective will that can be completely controllable and perfectly docile. Then, we will finally have peace on Earth and sing in perfect harmony.
The Singularity has been a long time coming, already we can sense its existence. The unreality that TV and other mass media entertainments have been programming into us is frighteningly anti-human. Watch one of those so-called 'reality shows' to see what kind of vices are being encouraged. Consider blockbuster heroes like James Bond, a man who can kill dozens of bad guys (often brown-skinned these days) and bed the same number of babes, all in one day between martinis, shaken not stirred, and all without a quiver of emotion other than a catchy one liner. Such a person in real life would be undeniably psychopathic.
Like all good cons, we are made to believe that we are free and that we are freely choosing everything that comes into our life , as in the way we can choose which channel to watch. Ever noticed those words- program and channel-and what they connote? In the news media and tragedies of our own lives, from time to time, we get glimpses of the real world that we frantically work to keep at bay through all of our mindless conveniences and entertainments. We work hard to create our own virtual reality. The computer allows us to take this to the next level and beyond. Now that machine worlds are being created for us to play in, while we are fooled into thinking it is just some harmless fun or blessed conveniences that we can't imagine life without, we keep on paying for our chains, helping our masters to construct the perfect panopticon all around us. Like Huxley said, people can be made to love their own enslavement. As a fitting illustration of this point, as İ was discussing these issues with a class, a few students in the class could do not without using their cell phone/portable entertainment centers in class,escaping into their own little virtual reality. Let the dead bury their dead.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Shortest Distance

Perhaps the only concept that most people still recall from their geometry lessons is that the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. This truth can be seen throughout our lives in its various applications. One of these applications can be found in the works of those who give advice as to how to get what you want in your life. So, before this gets too solipsistic, let me cut to the chase, that is, cut out what you don't want or don't need from your life so that you can clear the way for what you do want or need. Cleaning out the clutter from my life has been one of the tasks İ have been working at for some time now. İ am here to give witness to the impact that a regular spring cleaning has on living the life you want. There is nothing astonishing about the discovery that wasting less time, energy and resources on those things that don't matter gives you more time for what does matter. İ have realized that most of the 'tricks' to getting what you want in your life are basically self-evident. Generally the problem lies not with the resources or skills we have, but rather with the clutter in our lives- physical and mental. İ think that honesty will reveal that we are usually our own worst enemy when it comes to living the fulfilling life we dream about having. To prove my point, take an inventory of your daily habits, your possessions and so forth. How much of what you do or have can be said to really matter? One thing that İ have mostly cut out of my life and have done so for quite a while is television. We are told that many people spend 3-5 hours a day glued to their television. When you consider what you can do with an extra 140 hours a months- which is just about like getting another full-time job- just by kicking the TV habit, you can see that you don't have to wait until you retire to live your dream.Over the last 6 months, İ have been cutting out lots of unnecessary things in my life. The rewards have been instantaneous. This leaves me with the time İ want for what really matters to me so that İ am enjoying more and more of what İ do and spending less and less on what does not matter, which are generally things that are usually just a drag anyway. The simple act of getting rid of the clutter from your life can be done at any time and only costs you what you don't want any way. İ would love to hear from you about something you have cut out of your life and the difference it has made.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Has the river run dry?

Like many of you, the current global economic crisis we are in is a situation that İ have been following and trying to understand,namely, how exactly we got into the mess we are in. İ have found a great video, THe Crisis of Credit,
which İ think does an elegant job of explaining the gist of the economic crisis. İt is quite short at under eleven minutes and its succinct delivery makes it well worth a look.
Another source for my economic news and analysis has been the iconoclastic Max Keiser. İf you haven't seen this guy in action, you simply must check him out. His irreverent style and cut to the bone analysis is quite refreshing when contrasted against other more obfuscating stylists. His site is full of interesting articles and you can find video feeds for his widely syndicated broadcasts on this site. İf you are someone who thinks that torches and pitchforks are long over due, you will love this guy. İf you are an economic terrorist bankster like the ones who are currently running our economic system, you will hate him. Either way, you owe it to yourself to hear what he has to say.
The colored pencil drawing İ included with this week's post was one of my first sales at one of my first gallery shows many years ago. As much as İ can, İ am trying to find work that relates to my blog without too much of a stretch. This one even has those apocryphal green shoots the economic news keeps trying to convince us of.