Wednesday, October 31, 2012

who should you vote for?


a fine article by professor gary gutting for the new york times. this one is for you undecided voters.

careful with what gutting calls the fallacy of the most recent information:
... you can’t make your decision through an assessment of the candidates’ competence in governing.  If their past records and actions over the long campaign haven’t convinced you that one will be more competent, deciding the question from what happens between now and the election will commit the fallacy of the most recent information.
for gutting this is an election deciding the fate of the new deal:
In response to the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt introduced the New Deal as a system of governmental activism to achieve social and economic goods. After the Second World War this system gained wide acceptance. Even Republicans like Eisenhower and Nixon initiated programs (the federal highway system, the Environmental Protection Agency) in the spirit of the New Deal.
republicans intend to achieve the same goals in a different way. through the private $phere instead of government action. but there is a caveat:
(...) the status quo is not, as Romney suggests, merely the policies of the Obama administration. A vote for Obama endorses what has been the governing structure of our society since the New Deal: a free-market system balanced with government regulations, tax-funded social programs and legislative and judicial guarantees of civil rights — all to protect citizens from the excesses of the private sphere.
we've seen romney at the debates repeating ad nauseam: "government is not the answer" (while running for the top job in government). his plan is that the private $phere regulates itself while solving our mounting social problems through increased production and wealth. thus, for gutting, "a vote for Romney may well be a vote for a major change in the longstanding role of government in our society. this is the new american revolution urged by the tea party."

& now the surprise:
Those who are conservative in the traditional sense of resisting abrupt major changes in established institutions should vote for Obama. Those who support a fundamental change should vote for Romney.  Oddly enough, Obama’s hopes for a second term may turn on the support of conservative voters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

pregnancy from rape... "is something that god intended to happen" (?)

richard mourdock's statement is not a slip of a tongue. it's the core philosophy of the republican party.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the perfect frontman for wall street's greed revolution

excellent article by matt taibbi for rollingstone magazine:
Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a "turnaround specialist," a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America's top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.
after reading the piece one wonders the obvious: why would romney, the presidential candidate & role model for the country, fight for loopholes for the rich while having shelters in switzerland, bermuda, caiman & luxembourg? the answer is as deplorable as it is scary: because he can.

join miami bourbaki

you either join mbourbaki or not join mbourbaki 
once you've entertained mbourbaki's reveling in the absurd, not joining mbourbaki becomes a weaker possibility
though the likelihood of the absurd happening seems stronger once you've entertained mbourbaki's reveling in it, you actually don't mind it
suddenly, joining mbourbaki and not join mbourbaki seems possibly absurd, not joining becoming a non-choice
therefore, join mbourbaki!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

could satan be forgiven? (a mind experiment)

alFreDo tRifF

... yes, methinks. i count on god's omnibenevolence (?)

1. repentance implies change (regret of past wrongs), which is implicit in the notion of being. being is not what one is and it is what one is not (a favorite sartrean lemma). satan hasn't changed, presumably, because he's chosen not to, i.e., his "fall" rests on this premise.

2. satan is (what else?) satanic. but one cannot invoke satan's "nature" causing satan's being because that would beg the question on satan's nature. again if l'existence précède l'essence" (existence precedes essence), being is what one finds and defines as one lives. existence happens in time and time is change.

((keep in mind: satan has a prehistory: lucifer. & this prehistory would have to be rejected to rule out the possibility above (for this prehistory is what precedes his nature)).

3. satan's being cannot be self-ruled. being is what one finds as one exists. being is not self-presence to itself, instead it's a kind of constant perplexity (yes, satan may have been as surprised of his fall as any repenting petty criminal).

4. satan's being is given to the very exclusion of goodness from satan's nature, his avoidance of reasoning & weighing the good. but even in the heart-of-evil there must be a space for guilt (it comes built with satan's free will).

5. this willful avoidance of the good perpetuates satan's nature. in a way, he constantly negates his old self (so, in a sense, satan is not what he is). being satan means to constantly reject goodness.

there is always more or less to being than itself: the unpredictability of the future. & satan's "being," as stereotyped and beleaguered as it is, is no exception.

6. satan's possible repentance takes a reversal (of that primeval rebellious act). although he cannot become lucifer no more (since time & history cannot be undone), one can only speculate that he would take a more subdued role. this repentant angel-who-was-satan wishes no more of his past. he's content with god's forgiveness ........ in oblivion.

will it be time for another proud & inexperienced angel to take his place? only if the bane-&-boon moral state of the universe demands it.

is good wine in the eye of the beholder?


following kant one could start with this principle. 

1- scientific judgments explain the nature of reality.
2- moral judgments evaluate human actions (intentions).
3- aesthetic judgments are about taste.

we briefly touched upon 2 & 3.

i wanted to stress the salience of these judgments by talking about food, then about art. let's take a look a these two statements: 

1- "i hate this wine." 2- "this wine tastes awful."  

1- is a subjective judgment. with 2- one is implicitly making an objective judgment about the juice.  

suppose john, a person who doesn't know much about wine makes a judgment of type 2- about this malbec from argentina (the consensus of wine experts is that this is a pretty good malbec for the price).

if you get a sip of catena malbec you get a nuanced complexity of spice, tobacco and plum, all balanced with a soft finish of supple tannins and good length. 

how are we to treat john's 2- judgment? 

i have no problem advancing that john is wrong. he doesn't know enough about wines to make the call in 2-. he mistakes his subjective impression for an objective property in the juice.  they are different. 

i think one could make the same case in art. obviously, the discussion is more complicated. suppose paul has no knowledge of modern art. he visits MoMA, stands in front of picasso's famous 1907 painting les demoiselles d'avignon. paul reacts: "this painting sucks!"

pablo picasso's demoiselles d'avignon, 1907

there's a difference between,

a- "i hate this painting" 
b- "this painting (by picasso) sucks"

let's agree that catena malbec 2010 can be experienced in a substantially different manner than picasso's painting. nonetheless, there is a way to apply a similar criteria to the one used above.

a- is totally ok.
b- needs more explaining. 

it's not a prerequisite that i have to know cubism to properly understand it, but it so happens that cubism is a convention. it seems that understanding the convention makes the aesthetic appreciation more fitting. this is not your regular realist rendition of a 1907 paris whorehouse. paul doesn't understand these conventions. he is missing that picasso deliberately depicts within a "modern" conceptual grid. then, there is the general consensus of art historians, critics, artists is that the painting is a landmark. 

i'm suggesting that to examine demoiselles d'avignon properly one has to wear cubist glasses. why? because there is a shift in perspective here. this is an earlier (more realist) picasso:  

yo, picasso, 1901

the young painter was absorbing influences. this 1901 piece has a kind of spanish post impressionist flavor quite different from the 1907 painting.  

it's not only about consensus. we need an additional "harder" criteria, i.e, the painting's properties.   

of course, there is always the question, what if art historians are wrong? could they not be?

they could. but it's more difficult to disregard the consensus' slow development than paul's quick & uninformed claim. don't you think? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

criticism sails against the wind


@ mbourbaki we've discussed the review vs. critique distinction, which is precisely jeremy baker's topic in his "don't confuse reviews with criticism" for the nytimes. let's take a look:
For professional arts criticism to survive the challenges presented by the technology-driven democratization of media platforms, it’s essential that critics leave behind the role of "arbiter of taste" or "hit-maker," and instead serve as engaged, accessible writers, whose work helps audiences navigate the intersection of art, culture, politics and economics.
sorry to spoil the opening. baker is clueless on navigation & geometry. the problem is that everybody is helping audiences navigate intersectionsaccessibility means what? this?  TMZ one-liners? theory du-jour? whether engaged and accessible, unengaged and accessible, inaccessible and super-engaged, that doesn't guarantee help. isn't technology driven self-help democratization? why would anybody need x-tra help from an "arbiter of taste"?

the irony is that for eschewing the role of arbiter, baker's sentence admonitions ("it's essential that... and instead") read as self-appointed as it gets, which brings to mind someone with an inferiority complex in self-defense mode. mind you, baker is no exception. many so-called critics throw the towel to become facilitators, seeking "convergences" (i.e., baker's intersections).

i disagree: criticism should stimulate the body with itching, mucous discharge, indigestion and other ailments necessary for the well-functioning of the soul.

baker et. al. fall for a false dilemma promoted by the artmarket and its minions. you are to choose between criticism or "democracy" (why when everybody is in trouble they always bring up that word?). so, the critic (baker is one after all) now feels he should play a role (which is exactly the arbiter role he so hates) between the disconnected (let's say dictatorial) "professional critic" & the emergent (democratic) art-twitter audience. the whole thing reminds me of this dictator proving to a journalist that what he did for almost two decades in power was good for his country's democracy.

in this new scheme "passing judgement" is opposed to "work's excellence" & the first looses: 
Even if we believe that professional critics are more qualified to pass judgment on a work’s excellence, readers who are just looking for entertainment advice will turn to their peers. 
what sort of wrong-headed arm-chair inference concludes that passing-judgment cannot be entertaining or be (to complicate matters a bit) as good, if not more, than the work being critiqued?

here's baker in non-arbiter guise:
As professional critics continue to play the "arbiter of taste" card, they’re failing both the readers most interested in their beats, who don’t get much from reviews written to attract casual consumers, and the artists they cover, most of whom are desperate for deeper engagement.
being an expert makes baker really uncomfortable. is it artblicity that makes the critic feel guilty? the twitter/masses of the world have no patience for self-professed arbitration. so, in keeping with the times' trends, one better avoids playing the expert (while hopelessly sounding like one?).

here is the market strategy baker falls for: buying into an inferiority complex that's really a superiority complex posing as "democratic." let's propose the following quadrant:  

art: aesthetic of enjoyment, entertainment: market of services for passive enjoyment, culture: massive consumption of enjoyment/commodities. democracy: social order of legitimation and preservation of consumption values. 

we have:
during a stage of post-capitalism art becomes a bubble of itself: art --> entertainment.
passive satisfaction of needs becomes massive: entertainment --> culture
as the political process is hijacked by corporate interests presented as the massive enjoyment of needs:  culture --> democracyby transitive character, as the net value of what passes as culture,
entertainment --> democracy

given that, it's no wonder that even when baker makes sense, he sounds flat:
Reviewing serves its purposes. But it shouldn’t be mistaken for criticism, thoughtful work that explores cultural endeavors and grapples with history, trends, ideas, formal developments in the arts and the relationship of the arts to the broader culture. If professional critics really are the experts they’re supposed to be, then surely they have something more to offer on this front than advice on how best to spend one's Friday night.
experts? critics are turfed out people. reviewing is selling! but this is not the purpo$e of criticism, which is to problematize issues. criticism needs to do exactly the opposite.


you think you are an expert? i don't. i'm just MAD.  criticism doesn't have to offer advice, much less help.

criticism sails against the wind. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

are critics still relevant?

fresh from the nytimes: in the era of twitter are critics still relevant?

of all the articles in the opinion page, i found this exchange between two artists very entertaining (see that almost every sentence ends with "!")
Jen: What we really need are more critics that speculate on the importance of hangly-dangly existential pieces of art. The five percent of America that can actually afford the luxury to buy art really needs to know what to buy! This is important. I'm actually shocked that there aren't more people out there trying to start a professional blog about art, or produce or get onto an art reality show to criticize some crafty artwork!

Paul: I mean there is no chance that critics would just write things to hear themselves talk about something they know a little bit about in order to hear themselves sound smarter than someone who has spent a lot of time on the subject and has invested a great deal of sweat, time, and energy into it, right? That would never happen! It must be relevant for the greater good or else no one would invest the time and money into starting a blog. That's a lot of work!
what exactly does hangly-dangly existential pieces of art mean? this or this? paul sounds as if he had a weird feeling that critics do exactly what he claims there is no chance they would do (which explains his obsessive sentential emphasis).

jen drops this one:
Of course criticism is relevant! While we disregard any criticism that doesn't pertain directly to us and doesn't shower us with well-deserved compliments on our artistic brilliance, more mediocre blogs means more mediocre press for us all!
true, but who cares? jen doesn't say that mediocrity is institutionalized, with artlibor and arthoodication runing the show.

who is to blame for "more mediocre blogs and more mediocre press"?
If there is something that needs some changing, perhaps it's the regurgitated one-liners and copy-and-paste pieces that some critics are passing off as reviews. I know, it's hard to believe, but some "critics" seem to be more of a TMZ of art instead of actually offering some intensive insight. But maybe that's the world we live in!
i like paul's TMZ-of-art comparison, but the fact is that TMZ-of-art does quite well with one-liners. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

a possible future

(in this possible post-apocalyptic world, humans and non-humans alike are valued for their meat).

who's then, at the top of the food chain?

the posthuman? 
the hyperhuman? 
the unhuman?

heeeere's the unfake

what does this face communicate? 
can this face "fake" concentration, interest, sadness, disgust or mental focus? 
amidst con tricks and political trompe-l'oeil, this face appears as counterfeit, but of what?
people don't understand. this botulistic face is expressing a new core that's unable to fake 
this face actually is the unfake