Akbar’s Facts #2 – Variety is not Freedom.

Posted by on Feb 25, 2009 in Akbar Lightning, Laws

VARIETY IS NOT FREEDOM (THE SHAMPOO BOTTLE PRINCIPLE)

At a certain point a variety of choices becomes oppressive. The adherence to freedom as a primary virtue, and the subsequent inflation of choice, allows for the blooming of mediocrity and thus leads to a lack of inspiration in society.

In an information age, the management of data has become a tiresome task, rather than an exciting new journey into a world of virtuality and play.

Like all blooms of variation, at some point the environment loses its sustainability and a great extinction takes place, allowing the most fit organisms to finally thrive. This is coming for the internet, for our social structures. It is not the result of a revolution or a conscious movement, rather it will occur in response to a falling level of enthusiasm.

Those entities who will survive this epochal change will be those who operate within a set of principles that serve the needs of society. This demands either consciousness or luck. For the internet and the data flow that represents the new governing structure of our planet exists to serve. In fact, the physical objects that contain this virtual planet are called ‘servers’. When one forgets this elemental force that drives the machine, then one is most likely not going to survive. Serving one’s society requires the ability to discern the needs of one’s fellows, to have creative ideas to meet those needs, and to have the generosity of spirit that guides dedicated action.

Share

27 Comments

  1. Mark Creegan
    February 26, 2009

    Im confused here. So, are you wanting more homogeneity? I agree with you that there is an oppressive aspect to the glut of consumerism, but i feel you are conflating that condition to things like the internet? which reflects the basic “fact” that our society is not homogenous.
    Please ‘splain kind sir. Im a dunce tonight.

    Reply
  2. Akbar Lightning
    February 26, 2009

    it is not a statement of desire, rather it is a theory about the movement of social phenomena, it is a philosophical position.

    the implication is that we are in a state of cultural inflation right now.

    some would see that as good.
    some would see that as bad.

    inflation drives down value, and decreases confidence.

    if one loves the internet, or art, or a particular aspect of culture, love, then he/she values it. it is in the valuing that one might be conflicted about the implications. for instance, if somebody loves money, they might be concerned about inflation in the market, it would become important for them to be more conscious in times of acute inflation.

    i am ambivalent about the internet, about the machine, and that is because it seems a little lost right now, too many types of shampoo, get my drift. the internet promises to bring us closer, to create productive connections, and often i am proposing it gets in the way of true community building. we cannot prove this because we do not have a control group.

    again, another call to deeper consciousness.

    akbar

    Reply
  3. Byron King
    February 26, 2009

    the internet promises to bring us closer, to create productive connections, and often i am proposing it gets in the way of true community building.

    And yet this is the only way many of us currently communicate.

    Another question might be how would we communicate without it? Would we go back to calling people or writing letters? Or would our communities shrink comprised of only folks close enough to drive to and physically touch?

    Reply
  4. markcreegan
    February 26, 2009

    I am still lost on how variety of the internet gets in the way of community building. To my eye, the very fact that so many disparate interests, lifestyles, desires are represented on the internet allows for groups to form, for like-minds to find each other. The internet has allowed me to not feel so alone when it comes to my art interests at least.

    Is it problematic if this supplants actual relationships? absolutely! But that is certainly not the case for me.

    Reply
  5. Akbar Lightning
    February 26, 2009

    i am as much ‘not’ arguing against the internet, as I would not argue against shampoo.

    when you buy shampoo, there are all these false promises on the bottles, for frizzy hair, normal hair, this shampoo gives you radiant shine, the other one is for red hair, etc. i am inclined to think that very little science goes into these claims, and therefore the information actually works against the consumer. the consumer gets his/her knowledge about hair and hair-care confused by the very products which are supposed to help. this is problematic. in other words, there must be high ideals when it comes to hair care, but do any of us really know what they are? probably not, and therefore we are unable to demand anything concerning quality.

    in regards to the internet, the initial enthusiasm of its conception has given way to its presence as a commonplace entity in our lives. ‘like shampoo, wink wink’. there are so many different sites, ways of interacting, but much of it seems more a waste of time, than it is productive. i am merely saying that much of it is a waste of time and that a great re-evaluation is coming, it is a prediction. there are a bazillion art sites, that ask you to post your work, share with other artists, blog, etc. and they can eat up way too much time for what you get. i don’t think Globatron is an example of that, or I wouldn’t be involved with it, but many of you must have posted your work before on dead-end sites.

    i think it is time for a new revolution within the internet, to match the enthusiasm and excitement of the internet itself. something that brings it together in a more conscious way. 2nd life is exciting, online games, etc. but it is very disparate right now, and I think something should shake it up, by thinking deeply and profoundly about how it could be used in a non-intuitive way.

    akbar

    Reply
  6. Byron King
    February 26, 2009

    there are a bazillion art sites, that ask you to post your work, share with other artists, blog, etc

    Completely agree. That’s what I’m finding interesting about globatron currently with some of the stuff we are doing. We aren’t just posting our artwork but we are making artwork through interactions on this blog. feeding of ourselves in a collective collaborative manner.

    That to me is where the evolution is happening for me. To not only make a post, but make art out of someone’s post, etc.

    Reply
  7. markcreegan
    February 26, 2009

    ah okay,i get you akbar and i agree there are certain redundancies that can be frustrating. But i also think that the conscious evolution (as Byron states) toward more efficient interactions and processes is happening all the time. Its in the primacy of facebook over myspace and in the rise of newer more efficient browsers.
    Certainly there is a lot to wade thru, but again, to a large extent i like the messiness of it all. I can choose how involved i want to be (i dont twitter, hardly facebook, and only have 2-3 web art portfolios) . When it comes to shampoo, we have consumer reports. I think there is room for similar criticality regarding the internet, but i would not want a calcifying system to supplant its richness.

    Reply
  8. Yvonne
    February 27, 2009

    It’s true. The bombardment of emails and requests to join the “bazillion” websites that are out there, whether it’s art related or not can initially be confusing, overwhelming, or just annoying, especially when many times there is no tangible evidence of the proclamations made on many of these sights. I understand Akbar’s comparison to shampoo, it’s dead on. The whole thing has made me numb to many allegations made by other websites (and other shampoos for that matter.) You will spend less time confirming that a shampoo doesn’t do what it says it’s going to do than you will waiting to find out a website will deliver all it’s promises of fame, glory, and miracle healing, and lets hope money isn’t involved. At least with the shampoo scenario, you can still walk into a store, look at a cashier in the eye, verbally tell him/her that the shampoo lied, and get your money back.

    Before the internet, as a society, we only came across a random miracle tonic salesman once in a blue moon or so, generally if we wanted to buy, join, or investigate something, we would actively have to pursue it. The amount of junk snail mail we got in the past is in no comparison to the amount of junk e-mail we get on an hourly basis and that doesn’t even include all the advertising on every page ( do you want to lose weight? meet other singles in your area? get a free ringtone?). The internet has made it too simple for anyone with a glimpse of an idea, opinion, or product to try to sell it to you, but very few of these are actually worth investigating. Of course this is where healthy competion comes in, survival of the fittest, ie Google, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Facebook, Myspace, DickBlick.com and Globatron.org 😉

    Byron is right, Globatron.org is definitely one of the finest art discussion forums that I’ve come across. that has to do alot with the main contributors of the sight who post relevant, thoughtful, challenging, inquisitive, and sometimes humorous blogs that are worth conversating about. Of course, it appeals more to me and my interests since i’m also an artist and I know several of the people who post and the one’s i don’t know are somehow connected to the one’s i do know(it’s that whole 7 degrees of seperation thing) so that makes it more personal and real to me.

    Of course, in the same token, i’m sure there’s several people out there who could care less about my opinion and are posting something on some other blog about how there are too many artsy websites & artsy people flooding the world wide web with our opinions and insights. i have a myspace & facebook, i post bulletins about what i think might be important and send out friends requests to people who i think might like my work, i have an email list and occasionally send out updates. so therefore i’m doing the exact same thing to someone else that i’m complaining about 🙂

    i think it comes down to accepting the fact that we need to desensitize ourselves a little, be realistic, learn what to look for, not letting go of our real life interactions and using the internet as more of a tool and not so much as a lifestyle. contrary to popular belief, a little sunlight,fresh air, and human interaction is still a healthy and very enjoyable part of life… that’s just my opinion 🙂

    -YCL

    Reply
  9. Akbar Lightning
    February 27, 2009

    I found the following in my journal and it made me think of this thread:

    A unifying idea is not necessarily antithetical to diversity. In fact it is the substrate out of which diversity is possible.

    One of the forms of ignorance in my time is a tendency people have to resist ideals, owing to a history that teaches its citizens that the utopianism of the late 19th and early 20th century was a great sin, and so in reaction to that people avoid holding to any opinions whatsoever. This seems to me to be a very convenient situation for those in power.

    It is no accident that it has become a reflex to deny the value of utopian thinking, as we live in a country that fought very hard against exactly these types of ideologies. Still, it does not mean that the notion of social science is itself flawed. For instance, it is difficult to discount the rationality of communism, yet the absence of spirituality was its Achilles heel. What would communism look like if it were inscribed with a mystical and moral starting principle?

    Why do we not have such discussions? Because it has become poor taste, out of fashion. Now it is the fashion to discuss what we call Post-Modern things, which is an intellectual way of saying we engage constantly in nonsense, enjoying the rhythm and sensuality of language, avoiding the confrontation and intimacy that language allows for.

    Reply
  10. Mark Creegan
    February 27, 2009

    Akbar,
    Throughout our conversations the main imperative I gather from you has been a call for sobriety and unification of common sense for a common purpose.

    I would like to make a distinction here because I believe the hybridity of this blog (the fact that we are talking of social, political, and cultural matters) creates some confusion. Let me be clear, I support 100% your ideas as it relates to the current societal situation, esp. our economic structures. The need for locating, working for, and establishing a common good is painfully obvious. Our overly subjective, individualistic way of existing has brought us to ruin, no doubt. Common sense, we need it badly.

    Okay, here is where I differ, and this goes back to debates over art laws and all of that. When it comes to cultural production (NOT the cultural market, but the actual making of art), I value an inverse response where nonsense IS important. Not only that, if we look at art history, it is in times of social crisis when some of the most innovative art is instigated (Dada for example).

    But the fact that when the world gets serious art gets wacky does not mean that art is just doing the opposite to be contrary. I think the two go hand in hand because it is from these radical times that new and useful ideas germinate. I know this is what you have been promoting all along so our aspirations are exactly the same. The difference is what it looks like, and from my purview it’s a messy, incoherent, cacophonous thing.

    What say you, kind sir?

    Reply
  11. ac
    February 27, 2009

    Lets go back to the shampoo bottles. Yes there are far more important things than the several hundred different versions of shampoo but look at all the pretty colors on the shelves. What would Monet think? One of the biggest problems with the internet is that to many people put to much faith in it. For centuries the idea of limiting knowledge in order to maintain power was essential. That is not to say that the internet provides knowledge , more so information. There is always a reason to want change, now there is readily accessible information to confirm ones need to have it. The social changes that are happening all around the globe have been , in some part, fed by the internet. My fear is that when change finally comes I won’t notice because I never looked up from this screen. Now my fingers are tired I’m going to go wash my hair with my new shampoo!

    Reply
  12. Akbar Lightning
    February 27, 2009

    the presence of messiness and cacophony, and the fact that sometimes people utilize this to useful ends does not necessarily argue for the value of the mess.

    Even Dada was explored using a scientific method, exploring the outer reaches of the artistic life. this required a sense of its own, only with a unified sense of exploration could the word Dada, actually make sense, it was an exploration of nonsense. that is entirely different than unconscious nonsense. this is an important distinction for me.

    the scientific method, as a state of mind, does require moving in counter-intuitive ways, the creative process demands this, absolutely, but this is a tool, not an end in itself. that would be like saying that going insane is the best way of facing one’s relationship with existence. there might be some existential truth in that, but it is entirely selfish, and a very bitter way of seeing things.

    if by nonsense, you mean anything other than what i describe above, merely a method for revealing deeper intuitions, i would like to hear an argument for it.

    but more importantly, i wonder why it is you feel artists are any less responsible to society? what is the rationale for believing that we ought to be completely free from the expectation of value, that we ought not have to be able to defend ourselves as aiding in the health of the community. why ought we be free of a sober and reasonable search for something that has explainable virtue for those who we call ‘viewers.’

    to keep it simple, i think that unconscious nonsense is a waste of the viewers time and the artist’s time. the utilization of counter-intuitive methods for drawing out consciousness in the viewer is an entirely different thing, even though they might look very similar, i argue that the heart of creation, that the intention is something that transcends the material end result, that viewers are very sensitive to differing levels of consciousness and intention. just as I want my political leaders to be intelligent, articulate and have a working model that compels their struggle, so too I want this in my artists. i want artists to be held responsible, i think it would be good for us. we are guilty of the same kind of elitism that shuts people down when they come into a gallery, so afraid of the invisible pomposity, they feel afraid, often times, to challenge us.

    i’m rambling a bit…

    akbar

    Reply
  13. Byron King
    February 27, 2009

    From my friend Wikipeida:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dadaism

    Many Dadaists believed that the ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war. They expressed their rejection of that ideology in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality. For example, George Grosz later recalled that his Dadaist art was intended as a protest “against this world of mutual destruction”.[4]

    According to its proponents, Dada was not art, it was “anti-art.” For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics the Dadaists hoped to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics.

    As dadaist Hugo Ball expressed it, “For us, art is not an end in itself … but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”[5]

    At least they had a philosophy that they could hold themselves accountable for.

    This is a very eloquent argument being constructed throughout many many posts. I think we’re getting closest to the crux of the argument here.

    To be held accountable or not to be held accountable. Interesting that we try to hold our government and politicians accountable but we’d rather artists be off in la la land when asked to toe the line.

    Even being held responsible for nonsense and play would be decent in my eyes as it applies to Dada.

    And for Akbar

    just as I want my political leaders to be intelligent, articulate and have a working model that compels their struggle, so too I want this in my artists.

    What would you say that working model be if you were the only author? I know we have attempted an exercise in “Laws” which was entertaining and educational, but what would they be if only you could write them, or what would it be if you could summarize it down into a couple of sentences for a Wikipedia entry? And how would that be enforced? Once we have a working model is it for holding ourselves accountable or others? What would that process be via the blog or hypothetically speaking as we venture out into our physical worlds?

    If Postmodernism is the world of play and escapism (yes I said it again), what would you call this new world we are defining? When there are shows with such a social impact such as The Wire (the opposite of escapism) that seek to educate viewers on so many levels on our many social and economic problems which are being made in parallel with this world of play and escapism. Where does contemporary art fit in? Is it not just nonsense when held in comparison with such heroic efforts? Should we not just call Contemporary Art what it is and continue along or be done with it?

    In my simple mind Art has gone full circle, and needs to either reinvent the circle or get off of it.

    Reply
  14. Akbar Lightning
    February 28, 2009

    Firstly, everything said in the article about Dadaism reveals the contradiction of it. It was a conscious criticism of a certain structure that they were living in, not a criticism of all structure. The Dada movement was a political movement, as is implied in that article.

    Modern artists have taken the tradition of experimental art and subtracted the context allowing them to play with no connection to the world, and to their own contexts. there is definitely escapism in this, and like you byron, i think escapism is dangerous in any form, whether it be the bottle, the television, the internet, or the studio. direct confrontation with life is more interesting, and ultimately what will save our lives which depend upon cooperation and unifying principles.

    Secondly, your challenge is a profound one, asking me to be the author, asking me how I would define the principles of this new art.

    In some way I believe we have been operating in a way that I feel aligns with my higher principles, seeking a conscious understanding of that which is by nature mysterious. An artist is supposed to reach for great heights, thus revealing unknown potentials, and to do so he/she must be open to a wide range of knowledge. An artist requires the skills of a philosopher and the working process of the scientist, although his goal is something different, it is art, something that inspires others and keeps alive a great tradition of humanistic celebration. Art is about thriving, for only a species that does not need to focus constantly on survival can afford to make art, and we are walking very close to losing that, and so now, we need artists to dig deep and find consensus in order to make that kind of art reminds humanity of its strengths. Just as Dada reminded society of the absurdity of their utopian horrors, the artists of today must inspire people to decide to live, to decide to begin working together again. Artists are victims of the same fracturing of unity that has splintered the whole world. it is evident by our constant refusal to be pinned down, to be responsible, to ‘toe the line’ as you say. I think the world is infected with a kind of existential hopelessness, often unconscious, an inability to believe that we can be united, that we can actually hold beliefs together. this explains for me why there is so much escapism, not only in the arts, but in every field. unity between artists requires intimacy, requires work, and there is a part of me that believes if a few artists were to work on it, it might be good for the world. am i naive? perhaps, but i would rather continue believing in my own species.

    so there’s my stump speech byron, and remember all you haters out there, i am just responding to byron’s question.

    consciousness baby, it all comes down to consciousness.

    akbar

    Reply
  15. valuistics
    February 28, 2009

    Akbar et. al:

    We must be reading the same magazine (Print) because your concerns about the web and the illusion of choice are fully explored in this month’s (Feb 2009) issue.

    First I point you to an interesting item about Little Big Planet, a forthcoming PS3 game from Sony which I’m sure you have heard about by now. In a nutshell, they are touting LBP as the first videogame to erase the distinction between game player and game designer. Here, game play is game design. It address your concern about choice in an interesting way. Here is the link to that morsel:

    http://www.printmag.com/design_articles/new_game_in_town/tabid/474/Default.aspx

    There is also an article in that same issue about how all the social networking options we have are not really increasing connectivity per se. The article suggests that the next-gen social networks will be meta-networks that pull together ALL of our options in innovative ways. The article rhymes with the Little Big Planet piece because it focuses on the recent explosion of user-made apps for the iPhone and other web-enabled mobile devices using Google’s Android software, which allows users to become designers. Just as Ning is a network not just for those wanting to join a network, but for those wishing to CREATE a network of their own, Android is an app for folks who want to design their own apps. If you allow yourself to be swept up in the article’s hype, then you may come to the conclusion that the stagnant handed-down imitation of choice (that some call liberty- but we know that 500 different kinds of shampoo does not liberty make) is, at least in the area of computing, coming closer to a situation where We The Users are creating the next app, the next game, the next network tool, etc. Here is the link to that:

    http://www.printmag.com/design_articles/seeing_other_people/tabid/472/Default.aspx

    Read on!

    Reply
  16. valuistics
    February 28, 2009

    Of course, both Little Big Planet and Google’s Android are still mere illusions of heightened liberty, where the choices of what you can do are indeed greater than what came before, but they are still confined by the limitations of the game/app.

    (Note: as artists, I’m sure we could find much parity in the notion that Limitations are Opportunities… ((hey that might make a good “Fact”))

    Still, LBP and Android represent encouraging steps in a direction that could change the game (pun) significantly at least when it comes to the designer/user interface.

    These experiments could and probably will (in some ways) backfire in new and terrific ways as well, whether or not they are always used to promote the kind of unity, intimacy and all the things we want right about now.

    And that brings me to my next lecture about the clear (to me) and present danger in the kind of Utopian language now being promoted here by our Akbar. I know what you are saying, sir, and I know you have all of your tools (weapons?) sharpened and loaded with tree frog poison to defend your thinking from all comparisons to Fascism, but without this addition to the conversation, many things that need to be said will be left unsaid. So I will say them.

    Allow for pause to collect thoughts…

    Reply
  17. Nestor Armando Gil
    March 1, 2009

    Hi,
    I am far away and going farther, but must drop in to add a few centavos, because there is a great deal of confusion at work here it appears to me. Some will say ‘what an arrogant turd’ to which I can only respond, ‘arrogant? not likely from this turd.’

    — This idea of Dada being a response to society’s crazy Utopianism is backward. Dada was a Utopian response to the mess of society at that historical moment. The Dada movement was a Utopian movement. Most every so-called ‘Avant-Garde’ movement has been.

    — A call for a unifying anything, no matter what it is, leads to the next question, which Byron provided here: What would you say that working model be if you were the only author? And here is the rub of it, because that question leads to an answer which cannot be right. That is because we have learned from that historical moment called Modernism that any time we seek to define a ‘center’ we do so through exclusion. And exclusion is a violent, ugly, racist, classist, sexist, thing, historically speaking.

    — The illusion of liberty/freedom provided by the internet/cell phone/blackberry/avatar revolution is actually turning us (societally, which is not a word) into what Brian Holmes termed “The Flexible Personality” who can be anyplace, free to work from any location (home, the cafe, the beach) as long as access remains at 100% — do NOT turn off your device lest the next directive or opportunity be unable to reach you. This is not simply imposed by bosses and supervisors in an melodramatic authoritarian model, but rather embraced and maintained by we the people, in our constant email checking, text messaging, blogging, Twittering, all in the name of our own enhanced freedom.

    BUT the idea of going backward, to a time when art as a whole had a universal agenda of sorts, is regressive to a maximum degree. That universal agenda was NEVER universal, but rather Eurocentric, exclusive, and built on the same racism and myth of the savage that was used to justify colonialist expansion and oppression for centuries. Cultural hegemony is a problem, not an answer.

    — As for artists taking responsibility, well, so many do. To demand that all do so leads down the same rabbit hole as the desire for a unified artistic agenda. A world where all artists take up the mantle of improving our society, and in which, miraculously, their ideas and projects do not conflict with one another in idea or action, would be a perfect place indeed, a real…utopia.

    Utopianism, sadly to some, is not really viable. It relies on many of the same assumptions as the systems it historically resisted, so that its inclusiveness was bound in the culture of its source, a latent noblesse oblige, if you will.

    Microtopias, ah, now there’s something! Facebook may be one, and the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija, or the folks who dress like knights and maidens and sword fight on Sundays at the duck park in Riverside. Microtopias are utterly possible, and may well help us ground and function in a center-less world. And, lo and behold, microtopias always existed, barber shops, bodegas, sports organizations, churches, social clubs, etc.

    — So: while this argument is great fun to read, and while everyone is making some interesting points, I think further thought needs to be given to these issues:

    For those who lean toward the + in regard to the internet, say, think about the digital divide, the flexible personality, and social disconnection.

    For those who would seek to apply controls/standards/etc, or who would idealize this eventuality, think about how history shows us that this is always rooted in hegemony, and that this is a function of power, and is violent in its spread.

    Does this leave us all in a but of a fix? You bet. It there a wealth of mediocrity out there? If you say “YES!” I agree, but we must remember that our own words/art/ideas are regarded as same by others swimming in the internet waters. Even here, I am sure some of you find some of (or all of)my thoughts mediocre, as I have some of yours.

    The mistake of the past was a romanticized fictional narrative that argued against Utopian idealism, a binary fight from within the so-called center. Meanwhile, outside center, those who had no voice in the argument, just dealt with it.

    The present finds us in a world where everyone (not really everyone, but so many more than before) has voice, and this means each voice is diminished by the sheer numbers. But a farmer does not pick out her ten “best” seeds and plant those alone on the 100 acres of land; she knows she has seen to many seeds that looked to her like duds prove her wrong; so she gives them all some soil, and water and light, then waits to see which take purchase.

    — Now, this idea that post-modernism is exclusively about play and fun and irresponsibility is misguided, and fails to recognize that feminism, civil rights, gay rights, chicano rights, choice, civil protest to every war since vietnam (at least), black power, riot grrrls, all of it, is essential to the postmodern theoretical discourse.

    phew!
    sorry to drop in unannounced and pee on the campfire.

    Reply
  18. Akbar Lightning
    March 1, 2009

    Yo Nestor,

    you are a skilled maker of arguments, and I am happy to have such an educated response. however, I do think the contemporary allergy to utopian thinking is a form of bitterness, an intellectual defense of apathy.

    utopian thinking is not naive, it rarely believes in the possibility of perfection, rather to think critically about society, to be progressively engaged, to be searching for unifying principles does not necessarily have to be exclusive, that is an error in your argument.

    in fact, the over-presence of diversity can have a divisive affect.

    but before that, remember, the failure of utopian thinking has a lot to do with contemporary disgust about violence and extremism in the 20th century, but i think we might be throwing out the baby with the bath-water, when we strip intellectuals of the ability to discuss openly the deeper things in life, the principles, the spirituality, the existential aspects of art and life, when we fight so hard to suppress such discussions because of our fears of extremism. i always think that pacifism is our best defense, if taken as a starting principle, then there is no danger of thinking progressively.

    another thing, the application of laws is an entirely a different thing than looking for universal underlying laws that govern our experience of art. I hope that we can make this distinction clear in our discussions. if words mean anything at all, if they have any relationship with the world of matter and form, then there are principles (laws) governing them as life forms.

    microtopias seems to me a contradiction of term, it seems to me a very exclusive thing. it is one of many double-speak words that exist in our orwellian world. I think orwell was just about 20 years late, but here i am typing away on my telescreen. unifying people does not necessarily mean coercion, a man named Socrates thought that through open dialogue that we might find principles that are shared, that lift us up together.

    i am not asking us to go backward at all, but sometimes it is important not to be afraid of the past, not to allow history to swallow up great aspects of humanity due to the proximity of evil. The artistic community that was deeply engaged in a discussion, and felt itself responsible to find deep truths and universal principles, that to me seems a good thing, and something missing in our commodified artistic world.

    akbar

    Reply
  19. Byron King
    March 2, 2009

    Nestor, thanks for peeing on our campfire. No really. Great input. I hope to see more of you on globatron. I’m not sure however how much of this back and forth you’ve read as we’ve been talking about this for over two months now. I know some of the comments, mine especially, have not been as eloquent as others. I realize that they might be mediocre to some, and that’s fine, but I’ve seen this as a personal exercise in defining each person’s core values. I’d just recommend if you haven’t been reading the past couple of months to check out more of the posts and comments below. The argument is quite humble I believe. No one is beating or thumping their chests here, not saying you are. I did have a couple of heated responses, however.


    http://www.globatron.org/category/laws

    And to quote Akbar once again:

    The artistic community that was deeply engaged in a discussion, and felt itself responsible to find deep truths and universal principles, that to me seems a good thing, and something missing in our commodified artistic world.

    I completely agree with this line. Are there any other suggestions on how best to have a deeply engaged discussion in our globatronic artistic community without coming to terms with our personal belief system. (And possibly coming to some agreement in the process?) Maybe it’d be best to call what we are searching for universal theories instead of universal truths. Gravity is a theory. Evolution is a theory. I’d be happy to be able to theorize some eternal driving force within us all that keeps pushing us to asks these questions.

    And as far as post-modernism not leading to powerful political philosophical discourse in the past few decades I’d argue that it has. (My reference to La La land was for the work of this decade). I see the art world guilty of the same gluttony as the financial and banking institutions. And of course we are in a new century, nearing the end of the first decade. Our world is seeing drastic change daily. Pulling out an art history book or a wikipedia entry (as I am often guilty of) to help define what we are currently witnessing does not seem appropriate. An artists feelings, and emotions about what they are sensing of this year 2009 would seem to be a better to come to some universal theories we might all agree or disagree on.

    Reply
  20. Akbar Lightning
    March 2, 2009

    well said b-money!

    Reply
  21. chessandpoker
    November 25, 2009

    It seems that what is clutter to one is a useful array of options to another, and the difference would be understanding and purpose.

    Utilizing the shampoo example, let’s take a look at the ample selection from the viewpoint of a random college male out to do some shopping. When he arrives at the shampoo aisle, it certainly looks like a cluttered mess of uselessness to him. After all, he has “regular” hair and always searches out the least expensive product, whatever that might be. The rest of the options seem entirely irrelevant considering his basic requirements of cheap and in-stock.

    Another shopper strolls by, this time a female shopper in her early 30s with very specific needs for her shampoo. She has curly, thick hair that tends to frizz out at the worst times and absolutely drives her crazy. Thanks Mom! Fortunately for her, a company has come up with a product that FINALLY has solved her problems. She’s been through probably 20 different brands up to this point, and while some of them seemed to initially do the trick they all eventually fell short of her expectations. But just before she gave up she found this miracle shampoo that did the trick. She gleefully scoops up the last bottle and puts it into her environmentally friendly bag with a contented sigh. The male shopper can’t help but let out a chuckle as he sees her buying a $27 bottle of shampoo when he’s only out about $1. At the same time a chubby bald man strolls by, not even turning down the aisle, snorting to himself something along the lines of, “Buncha junk never did anything for me”.

    Another example that might be illustrative:

    When we go to a certain restaurant, I always order the same thing. I’ve tried a variety of the dishes but none of them appealed to me. And since we rarely get the chance to eat there, I always order the same dish and enjoy it every time. In essence, the rest of the menu is completely useless to me. I know what I want by now, and I’ve made up my mind to order it before we’ve even left the house. However, my wife simply can’t stand to eat the same thing even two times in a row and always likes to scan the menu for something new to try, be it the soup of the day or some exotic dish a friend told her about that she’s been curious to try. While the menu offers nothing useful to me, it has a welcome bouquet of choices to her. Our differing purposes make variety both useless and a necessity all at once.

    While you open your thought-provoking article with, “At a certain point a variety of choices becomes oppressive”, I think that your statement only works in theory and not application for the simple fact that the EXACT point of which you speak can never universally be determined. Usefulness is relevant to each person in almost unfathomable ways. The needs of society are infinitely diverse, and there is no central figure of authority to determine ultimate correctness for all.

    I would agree that variety is not freedom. However, freedom to have variety is what ultimately encourages growth and inventiveness in those that choose to embrace it. Only we ourselves limit our understanding to the point that options become irrelevant.

    -James

    Reply
  22. Akbar Lightning
    November 26, 2009

    James,

    you miss the point of the post.

    if the variety is not real, then it is oppressive because it takes time away from us…it steals it.

    in other words, using your restaurant example, there is a difference between a hamburger and pasta, but not only is there no appreciable difference between some of the shampoos, the text used to sell these products is often not scientific, even though they use scientific language, it is misleading, that is problematic, and takes away from being helpful.

    living in a market where everybody needs to compete to extract wealth, sometimes the methods used to capitalize on diversity causes those products to actually confuse the information we need to purchase said products, this is the oppression i am talking about, an accidental oppression that occurs from an unconscious devotion to variety, instead of that kind of variety that exists in proportion to differences.

    akbar

    Reply
  23. globatron
    November 26, 2009

    Reply
  24. Vin Diesal
    November 26, 2009

    Y’all smoke to much pot. The reason why shampoo is all the same is because they all come from the same manufacturers that just about own everything we buy. So there out to make a profit, and its easier for them to mass produce the same shit and slap a different label on it just for that special someone there trying to sucker into buying their product. O yea we should also take the time out to thank Bill for signing Nafta and fucking us all over.

    Reply
  25. Akbar Lightning
    November 27, 2009

    yo Vin, that’s my point exactly.

    with one exception, there are slight differences and the abundance of repetition does cost all of us valuable time.

    i think one thing we are finding in this ongoing discussion of politics is that both sides have horrible relationships with corporations and armies and all those horrible forms of power that make civilized life so unpleasant.

    and i don’t smoke pot, so you will have to blame whatever judgment you are trying to make on something else.

    akbar

    Reply
  26. Maori
    December 7, 2009

    How very sad you must be, as you live in a world of such narrow focus. You lack imagination and vision. It appears all you can see is colored by your own narrow desires. Why would you want to limit choice? Isn’t this just another form of censorship? What are you really afraid of? Could it be a fear the freedom individuals have to choose from differences? Do you really believe everyone has to think and act like you? Isn’t that why limiting choices is all about; making sure everyone can only make the same choices you make?
    I pity you and your narrow thinking, and congratulate you for fully expressing yourself. Fortunately, we do live in a FREE Society and willingly allow others to express themselves without Censorship. You really do sound like a good Republican and Conservative, someone who lacks both dreams and imagination.

    Reply
  27. Akbar Lightning
    December 7, 2009

    how very sad for you maori, who does not know the difference between true choice and illusory ones. true freedom comes from having genuine knowledge about those values that make choices meaningful, and when the freedom allows for the lies and misleading information that make choice less conscious then we are like gamblers picking at cups hoping for the right one. how very sad that you think wanting more clarification in the market place is a right-wing notion. how very sad that you lack the reading comprehension to understand that this post had very little to do with censorship but more to do with honesty and integrity in the expression of content, like the content in a bottle of shampoo.

    i do not pity you though, i know when somebody is trying to provoke me. i do however invite you to argue for your notions of freedom, I invite you to back up your criticism with intelligent analysis. i am quite comfortable in my assessment of a free-market gone awry, and if you would like to tell my how the free market serves progressive interests, please do. regulation of the market is about setting limits on freedom. it is a difficult but necessary part of living in a community, the setting of limits, but if done correctly those limits simply reflect basic human decency and protect against gross exploitation.

    you can keep dreaming about the next bubble while those of us who are ready for a more sustainable way of life, one with a simple science of shampoo, can make shopping a little less hectic and a little bit more about getting back home to enjoy our lives.

    akbar

    Reply

Leave a Reply