I am on your unsecured networks…

…stealing your bandwidths.

So I’ve moved again. This time into a studio in Newtown. It feels like the biggest place I have lived in purely because it has the biggest room. It is only one room, however. It does have an awesome balcony. Currently I have a set of mags sitting out there waiting for a set of tyres. Plus it has a cool parking spot. I am going to check out the pub this weekend. ‘The’ pub being the closest pub (20m) out of the dozen or so within walking distance. Of course, I have already been to this pub many times. But now it is my local. I’ll need to figure out what is good on the food menu. Then I can tell people, “Oh, well the tandori tofu bean salad is fuckin the shiznit.” Or more likely “Sick burgers.” “…” “No, that’s all I’ve tried.”

I ordered an iPhone. Yes, I am a slut for middle class technology. That and giant robots. Speaking of which… Michael Bay, you CBA-ad appearing mofo. You’d better not stuff up Transformers with some giant unicycle shit. I’ll fuckin lynch ur facebooks like ur an arsonist.

I got pre-approval for a home loan. I have not got pre-approval for being an adult. I am testing out the studio vibe somewhat. I’ve got a steady job you see. It is all coming together… That or I buy an R32 GTR.

I am still figuring out what to do with this blog. I used it to think through problems. Now I face problems and I have little control over how I tackle them. I am a worker stooge. I accept my fate with the same knowingness that all workers have.

I am scanning eBay for an excercise bike as it is time to stop drinking mojitos and get out of the pool to come home from my vacation in the land of fat.

Love the Beast

I attended a media screening of Eric Bana’s Love the Beast this evening (well, actually Feb 11, I didn’t post this straight away). I am pretty sure I was the only gearhead there.

BTW, Margaret Pomeranz was seated in front of me and I overheard her talking about the screening of The Watchmen she had attended early in the day. She said it was fabulous.

Love the Beast attempts to capture and represent the intense enthusiasm that Bana feels for the challenges and collective memory inculcated in his 1974 XB Ford Falcon coupe. One of the central metaphors is that of a campfire. The car functions as a ‘campfire’ around which Bana and his lifelong schoolyard mates congregate.

The film explores the complexities of the relationship between Bana and his car through the various forms of action punctuating their dual biography. To provide an insight into these complexities Bana attempts to stitch together the multi-dimensional relationships that have formed over the years. I can picture it in my head a little like a schematic for a fun park ride, an influence from here, a tension over there, and the ways the social and socio-technical challenges posed by the car mobilise the enthusiasm of Bana and his mates in differentially repeated ways.

Bana faces the challenges inculcated in the car differently as a young bloke growing up (modifying the car, attending car shows, hanging out with his mates, etc) compared to the challenges manifest when a movie star/adult (going racing, getting the car built, etc). I would’ve liked to have seen more of this, more of a focus on his younger days. He rebuilt the car three times, I think the second one was just before the car appeared in a magazine and Bana raced at Targa Tasmania for the first time. More about this era would’ve been fantastic.

The film is not a cynical attempt to capture the enthusiasm of car enthusiasts by interpolating it into box office takings ala the Fast and the Furious franchise. The only other film I am aware that comes close to what Bana is attempting here is The World’s Fastest Indian. TWFI also attempts to directly represent an intense enthusiasm, but does so in more of a narrative-based way. Indeed, TWFI is a fictional account of an actual set of events. Bana’s film is ‘real life’; although framed in certain ways.

Bana lays out the multi-dimensional character of his enthusiasm by using traditional documentary techniques and almost unbelievably blessed with old video (and maybe even super-8) footage of when he was a kid, teenager and young man with his car. Although the film does follow a rough dramatic arc leading up to his race at the Targa Tasmania, this is used more as a kind of dramatic infrastructure around which to organise the micro-narratives provide by his somewhat charismatic (‘knockabout’) mates, his mother and father, other racers, and the celebrity interventions of the other above-title luminaries.

I was not really convinced how much the ‘celebrities’ add to the film, but I guess I would have seen this film without them; therefore, they are not for me. I attended a media screening of the film in Sydney and from what I could deduce I was the only gearhead there (I am a writer for Street Fords magazine in Australia). The bourgeois cinephile beside me snorted a suppressed giggle at whatever came out of Jeremy Clarkson’s mouth; Clarkson is entertaining in a boorish sort of way. Dr Phil surprised me a little bit. I always dismissed him out of hand for being a popularist TV equivalent of a parlour trick. However, here Bana brings out his best, and Dr Phil almost (but not quite) comes across as compelling.

Similarly, Bana designed the film to be watched by an international audience and the opening scenes about “what most people around the world think of Australia” were interesting for locating Bana in the context of his background. The international audience will get such references as Mad Max, the celebrity talking heads, and so on.

The editing is mostly superb with a fine use of montage to play on the rhythm of expectation (everyone knows what is going to happen to Bana’s car at the end), building up the tension and then relieving it. The camera work here is a cross between race car event coverage with documentary footage, with a few long, gliding shots of cars moving during the race; a bit like surfing cinematography or skateboarding in the way the camera attempts to implicate itself in the action.

Overall, the film is entertaining, intriguing and funny, and definitely a credit to Bana. Go see it.

Enthuse CFP Reminder

Any of my readers thinking of submitting a piece for the upcoming ‘enthuse’ special issue of M/C Journal should do so relatively quickly.

‘enthuse’

Enthusiasm can be ‘blind’; yet, ‘no great deed can be done’ without it. Tests of ‘competition’, masculine ‘risk’, creative ‘experiment’, and political ‘opportunity’ or ‘struggle’ are all examples of the more general ‘challenge’ that manifests enthusiasm and mobilises bodies into action. Following Tomkins, enthusiasm could also be understood as a complex of affects organised around the activation contour of interest-excitement, but without the ‘normative’ inhibitor of shame. Kant described enthusiasm as an excitation that exceeds the astonishment of novelty. Indeed, the Enlightenment conception of enthusiasm is a subjectively internal mode of the sublime that operated as a kind of motor for perseverance and action that may result in, as Lyotard notes, a challenging ‘historical’ impasse. Yet another dimension of enthusiasm is captured by Moorhouse, who uses ‘enthusiasm’ to describe some sense of the material infrastructure of passion in the subcultural scene of hot rodding and the related motorsport of drag racing. Masculine subculturalists are captivated and mobilised by the socio-technical challenges inculcated by the modified car.

In the post-Fordist era, enthusiasm has become central to mobilising unpaid labour, be it for extracting surplus value from the communicative labour of word-of-mouth viral marketing campaigns to the amateur labour that maintains and services community cultural institutions. Across the spectrum, material and discursive infrastructures of enthusiasm receive investment and become ‘cultural enterprises’. Are audiences no longer cultural dupes simply because they will their own enthusiastic interpellation through participatory subjectivities? Is an enthusiastic cynic possible?

We invite enthusiastic submissions that address the different dimensions of ‘enthuse’ as a process and/or state. This may include, but is certainly not limited to scenes and enthusiasm; historico-political enthusiasms; dysfunctional enthusiasms; popular enthusiasms; charisma/interest/hype as enthusiasm; and enthusiast media and the culture industries.

(Not really) Life at Walmart

It started when I read Nickel and Dimed, in which Atlantic contributor Barbara Ehrenreich denounces the exploitation of minimum-wage workers in America. Somehow her book didn’t ring true to me, and I wondered to what extent a preconceived agenda might have biased her reporting. Hence my application for a job at the nearest Wal-Mart.

OMG what nonsense!!!! Charles Platt completely misses the point when he gets a job working at a Walmart. Comment #9 however is spot on:

So, I assume you tried to rent a place to live? Use only your wages to get a sec deposit/rent, or buy a car, or instead commute by public transit in the suburbs? I assume you ate only what you could afford after deducting rent, transportation and sundry expenses like medications not covered by insurance, or pay the large deductible required by the HMO?

Ehrenreich did most of those things, which were the point of her book, Nicked and Dimed. She did not represent that rampant evil personified by Wal-Mart and other employers.

Try reading the book. And Bushism is over.