It’s alive!? Almost…

My brother and I have been preparing my XD to run again. It has been in storage for two years.

First stage was pushing it out of the cramped garage and surveying what elements needed to be replaced or replenished. All liquids will be drained (coolant, oil and fuel) to be replaced. It needs some new fuel lines. New battery. Tyres need to be inflated. Plus I need to put on the rear numberplate. Oh, and the rego needs to be paid.

XD Falcon, out of the garage. Click for some more photos.

I got everything organised last night. Stands, trolley jack, tools, a couple of batteries, battery charger, oil, coolant, a jerry can, half a dozen empty oil and coolant containers, and some new fuel lines. Today we will hopefully get most of this work done. I am not sure if it is going to fire up or not. There are no obvious reasons apparent at this stage why it shouldn’t start first time. It was running sweet when it was put into storage.

The last time I went through this process (about 4 years ago) I discovered coolant in the sump which means that a head gasket had blown. This triggered the excruciatingly slow process of changing a head gasket on a large V8 engine for the first time. I had to hire a torque wrench and those iron 4V heads are not bloody light!! It was worth it though when the old crusty dude down at the auto parts place wouldn’t believe that I wanted gaskets for real 4V heads.

I am only worried about the security/alarm system. If that is buggered I have no idea how to fix it.

Truth, Expectation, Simulacra

Has there been some sort of cosmic traffic jam between truth and expectation?

We all know about the relationship between truth and simulacra. Where it is not a question of simulacra as some sort of non-truth, rather it is a concern with the truth of simulacra. Here truth is a camouflage of lies and desire and not camouflaged by them. Camouflaged against the enemy of existential entropy. Faith over fact. Here are the lies we want to believe, and the desires we want fulfilled. Letting go of the slowly-bobbing horse of the merry-go-round sends you off on a tangent of depression. In the dark spaces of the carnival no one sees the tears and the wimpering cries certainly can’t be heard over the gleeful yelps of self-satisified satiation. Get back on that fucking horse.

Of course, this is all expected, no? The educated classes scoff at this paramount stupidity. No, worse, literally turn up noses at the fucking stench of desperation to buy in, like at a casino where the possible dream of losers winning subsumes all reality of actual odds, of the reality of the permanent house win. The simulcra is a dance full of evolutionary perversions where the biological intelligence of our hormones propel us into the multi-player tournament space of risk-taking and rewards. An agitated passivity. Feel it! Risk! It is real! Rewarded! But what is the reality? I scoff at this stupidity. It is what I expect. But isn’t this another furious lull? Another freeway masquerading as a side street? Another instant classic? World famous in New Zealand, anyone?

Isn’t there an unthinkingness positioned at the edge of thought, perhaps of evolutionary biology as much as our hormones, an unthinkingness built into thinking? Planned obsolescence of the intellect. This is a program of pure strength. Not of meeting expectations, but of expectations being used to meet the world. The time-space of expectation is a project of the will, continually being propositioned. It is the same challenge as a marriage proposal, but at the level of perception-action. The intellect of the middle-classes is only capable of producing expectations of comfort. It is not a question of going to war against anxiety. They are comfortable with their anxieties because it is what they expect. It is a case of going to war against expectations. (Fuck you and your expectations.)

Expectation is not truth. It is something much more sinister, because it is on the horizon of truth. Roughly hewn, medieval, viking kittens. All pliers and the music video tragedy of flaming plastic flowers. This is the real complicity between simulacra and expectation, a synergy of truth. The burden of expectation continually repotentialises the participatory simulacra. The Right have a mortgage on the participatory simulacra by pwning the technologies of expectation. It is an investment and a totem. They are project managers, not of lies and desires, but of expectations. The technocratic machinery of expectation is a tapestry of synergistic resonances. Individuals can be replaced to maintain the expectation-machine. The individual is irrelevant. Meet the expectations at the edge of the world.

How to break expectations? Divert them? Is it a seduction? A battle? Do people really only want to get a nice job, buy a nice house, go to the football and scream for a while, have a kid or two, eat nice food, read nice books, be friends with nice people, get drunk, have an affair, massage the various scandals of middle class existence like blips on a radar? Is this the sum total of expectations? The disciplining of life for the so-called fortunate. Why bother living? Oh, because the expectations don’t present themselves as such, all played out, as a function of intellect. A calculus of reason presenting itself as a screen across which is projected the flickering images of simulacra. It is all a struggle. They live the struggle of the actualisation of life under the burden of expectation. The struggle is real, of course. It is a mapping of the event of life into single-serve portions of expectation. Struggle. Struggle to make life easy. Work to retire. Navigation in the fog of an other’s expectations, but it must be, surely? It does belong to someone, doesn’t it, this mobile architecture of expectations?

So sitting around having drinks over the holiday period, talking with people, as you do, call bullshit on expectations, especially if you don’t share them. Why inherit expectations? Shouldn’t we create our own? It is a poverty of intellect, to assume an inherited unthinkingness. Let’s not meet the edge of the world with expectations, let’s meet over the edge of expectations in a weaponised world (nature, duration, chaosmos). I do not want to merely share my expectations with you. I love you all. I want to share the world with you, and be worthy of it.

Lovink… Geert. Lovink.

So after the Lovink talk I saw the new Bond film. Wow! See it! (It makes the Brosnan Bond films look really bad.)

Lovink’s talk was in three sections.
1) A summary of the activities of his Institute of Networked Cultures.
2) Some brief remarks on blogging derived from his upcoming book Zero Comments.
3) The screening of an audio-visual piece.

The first section basically introduced the various conferences, seminars and projects that Lovink has been involved with through his Institute of Networked Cultures. He created the Institute by using funding from the Dutch government. He is interested in network cultures, specifically second order networks or ‘sustainable structures’ that may (or may not) stratify ‘after the hype’.

Besides the projects themselves he described his pragmatic methodology of ‘looking at issues’ (compared to a more programmatic approach, say of the Qld Creative Industries). It meant that the conferences and events were a bit of a mixed bag with some being extremely successful, sometimes surprisingly, and others not as successful. Some examples:

Decade of webdesign. 1995-2005. Talked about the weird hippy element of web design where established and new workers are willing to sacrifice raw income for the freedom and mobility of ‘digital work’.

My Creativity. Raised questions about the birth/death of professions, such as programmers of certain language/codes. How social institutions interface with new realities through a democratisation of tools and services. Should we engage with Creative Industries? (What actually exists?) The issue of China and Creative China. The very interesting dual emergence of Creative Commons and similar movements and various forms of precarity. Lovink argued that they should be read together, or at least questions need to be asked of both. They are not separate.

Urban Screens. Screen Culture. Looked at the emergence of massive screens everywhere, for example the BBC. Advertisers need to rely on artists because viewers switch off if they only play ads therefore they need creative and artistic content.

Art and Politics of Netpron.

incommunicado 05. Critical agenda involving the study of ICT and Development. Multi-stakeholder approach in Africa: NGOs, government, business.

The next section was derived from some elements of his forthcoming book, Zero Comments. He segued into this discussion by presenting a number of internet use statistics. English is the dominant minority language, percentage of users, percentage of poulation online, etc. until he got to figures of blog use. Ten percent of internet users now blog. Here are some notes from the lecture. These are certainly not my views on blogging, but keep in mind I am transcribing some rough notes written on a scrap of paper and half a week after the event. So don’t draw any conclusions until you read his actual book. However, I am pretty sure I get more than just the general gist of his argument…

Blog culture. Bloggers are angry, confused, engaged. It is a counter voice, but not a counter culture. Need to get away from notions of blogging as a challenge/adjunct to MSM, this has been inherited from a very small section of the so-called a-list American bloggers. Blogs fix the social in a particular manner. Lovink offered a general lineage of online cultures over the last decade: email list culture was kind of a counter culture, idealistic. Web-based initiatives were of the slacker generation. Now blogs which are intrinsically conservative, not anti-establishment.

Blog culture exists within a secluded social atmosphere/networks. They are networks of desired affiliation. Friendships back to Aristotle, FOucault. Friendships are weird, more affiliations. There is an ‘overcoding tendency’ rather than a carnival of difference.

Need to study undercurrents of technoculture. “Cats” are number one blogging topic. [Blogging personal to what effects us, those affects mobilised. = could be my notes?]

Venture capital missed it.

Casual communication, not [community?]. Crystals, Canetti [i forget what this was about??]. Blogs bring on decay — I am media — belief in the message declining. Citizen media?

Truth-nothingness process. COnfronting the zero comments. Somewhere in the long trail [I am certain he said trail and not tail, to play on the notion of t(r)ail as journey. No one else seemed to notice this?] News is consumed. Micro-heroics. Neitschean acts in your pyjamas. Nihilism of strength, weakness of passivity.

Problem of the discourse analysts. Magazines, stylized uncertainty, reviews. Ought to be biographical. Blogs play with emotional register. False consciousness. Embedded in media culture.

What is diary keeping in public? Immediacy, that is here. Self-reflection. Not a project or a proposal, but a condition. Conversational aspect. [a priori/absence?] Zero-out old structures. Not judging content. [Which was a telling remark for all the bizarre smirking and giggles in the audience about the “cat” as number one blog topic.]

Not Baudrillard implosion of media. A flat topology [of networks?]. Not letter to the editor. Media observer. Enormous increase in irrelevance. [Shifting terrain of importance, see below for my question I asked.] Example of Jodi Dean, who shifts from Zizekian political economy to become heavily involved in blogging.

Are there mobile borders?

I had a prepared question which involved asking about blogging as an event-based media, what does this do to temporality? What is the temporality of blogging? INstead I sort of raised that as a statement and tied it to notions of a flat topology and so on and then asked about what he called the “enormous increase in irrelevance” by talking about one of the influences on Baudrillard, Daniel Boorstin, and his notion of the non-event. I think Lovink thought I was suggesting that bloggers produce non-events when I was usggesting the complete opposite. Instead of the non-events of the media being used to produce passive populations, bloggers cover the real events of their own lives. Which for some means blogging about those aspects of theior lives that ghive then joy, etc. ie their cats. After he talked on this for a while I realised he misinterpreted my question so I rephrased it by suggesting that the terrain of importance had shifted and the received mass-media categories important/irrelevant had shifted to a more personal level where what is ‘important’ for the media apparatus may actually be irrelevant for those blogging and vice versa.

Lastly, maybe in his book he talks about the processual aspects of blogging, that is of being able to highlight and work through elements of one’s world producing harmonic resonant effects with others, etc. but that aspect seemed to be missing. Also and relatedly the importance of the digital archive/database and how this has impacted on forms of knowledge, particularly in terms of access. For example, I know that some of the things I talk about on here have impacted the thinking of others because they have told me as such. There is simply no way to trace this unless one is actually told. Not everyone wants to know about Deleuze, sure, but that is because they are asking questions about cats, for which they may find answers in a blog.

Oh, the piece that was screened was totally kickass. That should so be hosted somewhere. It is like a Ballard novel written of digital/consumer culture and remade into art by advertising creatives.


A note announcing refreshments to be served at USyd this evening (just in case anyone missed it):

‘Blogging, the Nihilist Impulse’
public lecture by Geert Lovink

Tuesday 12 December, 6 – 7.30pm
Eastern Avenue Lecture Theatre
Eastern Avenue Complex, University of Sydney

hosted by the Department of Media and Communication and Digital Cultures Program and the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences University of Sydney

About the event:

This lecture-presentation will consist of three parts. In the introduction Geert Lovink will give an overview of the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam which he founded in 2004, emphasizing possible Euro-Australian collaborations. He will then present the main thesis of his upcoming book ‘No Comments’, a General Theory of Blogging that investigates the ‘nihilist impulse’ behind all the ranking, linking and commenting. Blogs should not be reduced to news. Instead, the mass drift to write online diaries should be seen as a defence mechanism to zero-out mainstream media and create a space for contemplation and confession. The presentation ends with Mieke Gerritzen’s Beautiful World, a typo-theory film for which Lovink was one of the script writers.

The presentation will be followed by refreshments.