Sunday 31 October 2010

In Defense of Philosophy: Derek Jarman - Wittgenstein

Whenever I hit on a rich seam of content of the net I mine it empty like the hardcore info glutton I am. About 5 years ago there was nothing on the internet in video or audio that Chomsky had said, and which I hadn't consumed (the only use of that word I feel comfortable with). That's changed a bit as there are whole channels devoted to Chomsky who I fear is the last great American intellectual. The rest being too cowardly to take on the Anti Semitic Zionists dominating Israeli and AIPAC political discourse at present (though at least the formidable Haaretz is printing more bravely than any American newspaper has done).

Recently I just wolfed down Zizek's entire content except for a badly recorded lecture, a problem that recurs often with many amateur recordings, and may require a software solution that just irons out the speakers voice for something more synthetic but less aggressive on my ears and speakers.

I've been wanting to write about this Golden Age of the internet. It's truly awesome and I can't imagine it being any better than this. In fact I dread it all going downhill compared to the current flood of top quality content, peer to peer sharing, pretty good speeds/bandwidth, and net neutrality. I can't imagine this lasting given the disproportionate advantages that predatory business takes of any commons resources (House of Commons is next) and the depressing discretions that people/public seem willing to sacrifice, but I might be wrong on that as even China struggles to keep a lid on content it doesn't want shared and at least the French seem prepared to protest on behalf of Europe.

I don't want to write too much about Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein as I've not seen it yet. But it is 69.2% downloaded and as it's 4.33 am and I've an early start tomorrow I should try and grab another hour or so because the real point is I woke up in the wee hours and just passed a pleasant hour listening to Tariq Ali (lovely chap) and Jonathan Derbyshire (he seems like a nice lad too) talking about all things Ludwig and Jarman, through the generosity of the Tate Channel which just emphasises that point I want to elaborate on which is that that I'm finding a critical mass of content on the subjects and topics I'm most interested in. Often there's only a few thousand views of it on Youtube so I can't imagine this is any different and yet it's a lovely example of the long tail in action. Or at least keeping my boat floating.

Thailand at the International Criminal Court on Crimes Against Humanity

I'd appreciate it if any of my United Kingdom readers could raise an objection to David Cameron's intended holiday in Thailand as a guest of Prime Mininister Abhisit Vejjajiva in any way they see fit. I assume that's why Dave didn't book a vacation with Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and so the same principle applies here.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Careless Lisper

Slavoj Žižek had me raising my hand in objection by the first minute over a throwaway comment of reality as abstraction but he quickly settles down to unfurl a devastating rapid response to a series of embarrassingly superficial market capitalists who are increasingly beginning to exude the air of polyester flare-wearing, Boomer swingers. Wealthy but morally bankrupt. Rich but fucking clueless. Wedged up but drenched in Hai-Karate aftershave. The epitome of dangerous anachronisms. Naturally they're the last to realise it in much the same way that Louis XIV was puzzled when the peasants arrived at Versailles and proved themselves to be natural vivisectionists in response to the brutality that small groups of greedy people invariably inculcate through financial and most importantly historical myopia.

I loved watching this and I now have a bit of a man-crush on the Slovenian dissident who I recently struggled with his Lacanian analysis in A perverts guide to cinemaŽižek also tackles some more concrete issues in this so hang in there for some honest critique of why the left are very hypocritical on Afghanistan and so forth. There's a certain amount of professional jealousy from here, as unlike me he got to bone Miss Brazil as the Elvis of cultural theory. 

It's not right, but it's OK. 

Saturday 23 October 2010

Man on Wire

I guess I'm not the only one who gets a little tingle from seeing the twin towers in pre 2001 New York film scenes. I particularly like seeing footage of the construction of the towers in the early 70's. It's a time that's of interest for me because it seems to resonate so strongly from the screen. I chose this Italian trailer with the Eric Satie piano piece because it's infinitely more delicate than the over the top editing for the the U.S market trailer complete with basso profondo voiceover.

I've had this story on my radar for quite some time. I'm not really sure if there was a transition from knowing about the story to being aware of the documentary but for some reason I couldn't imagine it being any more interesting than a long news clip or a very short film. I couldn't have been more wrong. There's a bunch of stuff going on in this extraordinary documentary film. There's no way of anticipating the kind of details that always emerge during the act of doing something dangerous over a period of time. The close scrapes. The near misses. The ominous omens. On their own they are reason to believe it's worth an hour and a half of your time.

But there are other dimensions that caught me by surprise. The incongruous sentiments of detailed planning worthy of a bank heist, flying back and forth between New York and Paris over and over again, combined with a sort of physical poetry of performance, and an essential ability to inspire or seduce all around him into collaborating. It's an ability that falls apart too quickly to be left unmoved by the tears of his best friend on one or two occasions.

The last time I saw something this creative was back in Beijing with the Parisian Ballet company protesting in mid act to the intelligentsia and elite of Peking (and a white boy in baseball cap) over the knee jerk sentiments of blind Chinese nationalism to Olympic torch protests in France. 

This is a moving piece of film with unexpected dynamics and curious details that I can't imagine ever being done any better. Most striking for me is the interstitial editing of film sequences of a younger Philip Pettit practising in France. There was no way of knowing it would be used for a film many years later but it's done so elegantly that the juxtaposition is fused with a sense of poetic connection. Much like the wire across those twin towers.

Sunflower Seeds

Ai Weiweis's Sunflower seeds is exhibiting at the Tate. Here's a short film about the production of the 100 000 000 hand painted porcelain seeds. During the cultural revolution Chairman Mao referred to himself as the Sun and the people as sunflowers with their faces turned towards him. I think it's one of those ideas that transfers it's poignancy well in this video without necessarily missing anything if a visit to the Tate isn't possible.

Ai Weiwei is China's greatest living artist.

Friday 22 October 2010

Slow The Fuck Down

Last year in Hong Kong one of the projects I started sniffing around was an anti Red Bull concept. A chill out and calm down RTD (Ready to drink). I liked it immediately and felt that it was a massively powerful rejection of all that bigger, better, faster, stronger nonsense that has it's foot slammed to the floor on the accelerator peddle just so we can hit the brick wall and get it over and done with already. 

The Slow Food movement were the first people to articulate and champion against this thinking and I think there are some good links with Via Campesina that I talked about back here.

Ace of Spades by Motorhead is a track that gets a periodical playing in my life and is always cranked up to the max. I love it and and feel calmer after playing it a few times. If Kronenberg can really walk the walk on Slow the pace, I'd walk an extra block or two to buy it. I don't mean by advertising. Though this execution is what I like to see. I mean what else can they do that is meaningful and shows commitment? They can take their time about this. I'm in no hurry to walk that extra block. But  walk it I will if they deliver.

Of course Lemmy Kilmister is notorious for living a fast and furious life of Rock and Roll,  vodka and amphetamines, which may explain the updated lyrics in a little edited cut that's over here. He sings "I don't want to live forever...... but apparently I am". 

It's a little touch of authenticity that if it didn't exist would suggest that Lemmy has sold out. So I'm cutting him some slack. Just like with Kronenberg.


No mention of the parasitical Pentagon of course. But then it's a political ad.

This is England

It took me a couple of weeks to watch this movie. I could only do five or ten minutes at a time. Too painful in too many ways. It's every reason why I'd make flags, national anthems and all the other false idols from the makers of brain-dead culture-curators the first victims of  an enlightened education system on the first day of infant school. We're never too young to learn. This is only one of the hard to ignore themes in this quite special movie.

Death of a Flashmob (Deeper Darker Darker Deeper Danger)

Love this commercial for E4. So much music is offensively patronising. This says it perfectly for me and ticks off why corporations should really stay away from co-opting spontaneity. It's on the opposite end of what they really stand for. I think this just nailed that coffin lid down a bit further.

Via Rob

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Tim Wu - Father of Net Neutrality

Tim is first class in this interview. It's not entirely about net neutrality. I used that in the title to give you a second chance to score first. Just trying to be helpful.

I guess if the Tom Peters brigade are about top down hierarchical executive command and control, then Tim is about using narrative and accessibility as well as candid analysis to explain the complexity (and excitement) of NASDAQ's fittest and finest. It becomes evident there are super competing visions of the the future at stake. Some not really driven by classical profit margin structuring. It's a zoo out there.

Welcome to the 21st century. 

Tim has an accessible and agreeable manner that is fresh and effective. At one point there's even an up front American taboo aired on the gap between what the U.S says publicly and what it does privately. This is a treasonable tangent. Nobody slips off topic like that. It isn't considered sporting. That's why the  Marquis of Queensbury rules were created.

But fair fights are unfair when the outcomes are uncertain, leaving irony no longer witty, and exiled in cheeseburger copy land. A decline of slutty but historical necessity.

So rare is it in late American Empire's discourse to hear questions of credence as to the existence or otherwise of hypocrisy that the interview feels situationist. Is a brawl imminent? Is Professor Tim a sleeper into recreational rioting? Once the unspeakable is said it's unpredictable. A business interview with an edge. Sweet Jesus.

The question left lingering is maybe business is now shooting straighter than  the professional soldiers? Surely the 'genius of capitalism' deserves one more final tour of duty with fighting talk like that? Maybe there's still enough fight left in the old gal to take on a confederacy of dunces.

Nope. Time isn't on our side, or whichever neo-hipster generational mutation gets to pick up the bill. All other avenues failed. Deferment no longer an option, and choice is reputed to have once been in vogue.

I'm taking a timely piss here over the Busted Boomers, who to be fair were getting stoned  long before metastasising into world class stone throwers. Who could have predicted that  the finest minds of a generation were to be mugged by reality twice in the one lifetime? It's cosmic piss taking. Gonzo karma, for printing wealth to order while the status quo junkies peddle the past and cash in on the future. 

Plus ca change.

Monday 18 October 2010

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping has been promoted to the kind of senior military post which more or less ordains him as the next President of China after Hu Jintao stands down. China watchers have said he was next for some time now but it looks like a done deal. Each succession the leaders get more and more interesting. He's a plain speaker and staunch opponent of corruption. He's got his work cut out. Here he is below on his last trip to Japan.

Mushroom Mayhem

There's no point trying to conceal my man crush for Terence McKenna. I like a polymath who isn't frightened to say odd things like 'the mushroom said to me' as it often did during his ethnobotanic experiments of hallucinogen plants and mushrooms.

That's how he talks about the Logos while sharing a couple of ideas he pursued over a long period of time in and out of that post hypnogogic yet pre-sentient state of mind. Hypnogogia being the first stage of hallucinating, and well documented within its sleep/awakening related contribution to creativity.

Recently I came across another Gigabyte or so of his recorded talks on the internet through peer to peer file sharing. He died in the year 2000 of a brain tumour, which when he was informed it was mushroom shaped provoked an 'of course it is' response out of him. He had a sense of humour. I think his second most provocative theory is the one regarding the alien nature of some mushrooms (I think it's the ones with Dimethyltyptamine) . Since reading that I've come across evidence that supports the suggestion that mushroom spores can indeed travel unharmed (by space X rays mainly) and thus might not be indigenous to our planet.

Yesterday I was having a conversation on twitter with a medical and health importer to Thailand. I suddenly realised I'd probably missed a rendezvous with a friend of mine who is setting up hospitals in Cambodia, so one email/phone call later I was sitting in their serviced apartment overlooking an horizon of empty office/accommodation space in  Bangkok. His room mate/travelling companion and I chatted a while, and we got talking about TED talks where he reminded me of the Paul Stamets talk on mushrooms that I had yet to see.

Well, here it is below, and if it kindles your interest in mushrooms then that's a good start because the next step is (if you don't mind) a bit of tie-dyed hippy post production (as many are) in your podcasting content, then get stuck into the bard McKenna. 

I've listened to over a hundred hours of his talks (and more including his trialogues with Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abrahams) and so probably unlike you I really enjoy his candid 'the mushroom said to me' moments but just as rewarding are the indiscriminate and wide range of topics he covered, with in my mind the most eloquent and unscripted vocabulary I've ever come across (Though I imagine that other Irishman Oscar Wilde was a compelling  voice too). I'd say McKenna was the most interesting generalist in the world at one point and that doesn't mean he isn't a specialist either. Watch this TED there's nothing in it which diminishes the credibility of the wilder stuff that Terrence talked about and so the mushroom journey (for me) continues.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Coincimental - Banksy Vs Ai Weiwei

Anybody got any credible explanations as to why Banksy and Ai Weiwei are both colliding on similar themes at the same time? I wrote PW Bridgman's definition for coincidences at the end of my post over here.

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Season of the Witch

I'm hearing good things about Windows Phone. If the UX really lives up to the endline then Microsoft might just have thrown themselves a life line through the window. The American launch ad that follows (up) has that typically didactic but youthful tone of voiceover that I find patronising but it's still a strong point of view that I'm interested in.

Friday 8 October 2010

Mad Men

I'm not really into Mad Men. I understand the narrative has broadened a bit in the last few series and that the script writing is on occasions quite good, though in this episode there was no mention of advertising till about two thirds of the way through when I gave up and concluded it was still about getting laid or the consequences thereof.

The reason for posting this latest episode is merely to highlight that not only are the latest episodes of American content swiftly turning up on Chinese video sites but that the quality is impeccable and from what I can see the user interface fine-tuning is superior to Youtube.

This could be a long rant about I.P. and while I have already stated my unorthodox position on that subject, I don't think I want to spell out, and/or think through some of the finer details like there's no question that the United States produces the finest serialised acting content with the best production in the world. Period.

There's a fair bit of irony in posting free content about a period of time which on one level was directly about the monetization of eyeballs. Some things China selfishly does I whole heartedly approve of.

Society of the Spectacle

I don't usually post advertising here (not much of it is remarkable enough) though yesterday reminded me that Kirsty Angus does tend to discover the kind of work I like and that includes the last time I felt irrationally warm towards marketing communications. It's an ad for Oogmerk Opticians in Holland. Like all incredibly good work it transcends language and doesn't need a 100 slide powerpoint to explain the strategy.

As a genre optician brands make for great advertising. Indeed the single best ad I saw in Beijing a couple of years ago was this one below as I blogged about in my everything is contextual post. (It may well be a European execution. It's not very Chinese)

The copy reads: Crooked mouth but nobody notices. Everyone's looking at your glasses. Brilliant. This wouldn't be a proper post on the subject if I didn't include the ad I once saw over at Rob's and which I've managed to locate on Youtube.

Lastly I couldn't pretend otherwise and not point out that I sheepishly stole my headline from Tim Footman's post which is well worth a read for clever and contemporary comment on British cultural bullshit. You may also wish to look into Guy De Bord's original work on the subject, which is increasingly salient in these times.

Alternatively, take note of the last sentence of the last paragraph over at Intelligence Squared's hosting of Cory Doctorow's recent interview with William Gibson on Intelligence Squared. The writer highlights William Gibson lamenting the following:

One thing that seemed certain was the sustained threat to any genuine subculture. We are now left, he lamented, with only ‘splinters of Bohemia,’ the violation of which seems almost complete in a world where ‘the way D. H. Lawrence looked is … much more important than what D.H. Lawrence wrote.’

Anyway you can listen to the whole interview over here. It does seem that recently, many are reflecting on the notable absence of a satisfactory presence increasingly disrupting what was once hoped to be a meaningful future.

Yet at the same time, it does and it doesn't feel like a vision thing.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Schumpeter's Creative Destruction

Good new talk on TED by Tim Jackson with a thought provoking slide on creative destruction just in case the tree is obstructing the woods.

Tokyo Gore Police - Wrist Cutter G commercial

It's very tempting to drill down a bit more into my knife is what you make it post and explain that story about the Singaporean girl who took me to Ajarn Noo to get that tattoo done. I noticed that she had a lot of self inflicted cuts on her arms on top of the tattoos. It's about as nuts as this fake commercial. I shouldn't really.

Instead if I urge you to listen to Jake Adelstein's interview on BBC world about Sex and the Yakuza. It's a cracker.