My First Capitalist Paper

Monetizing Enthusiasm: The Missed Opportunity of Social Media and Car Enthusiast Magazines

Abstract: The publishing industry that services the scene of modified-car culture in Australia has largely missed the boat when it came to moving from being a once profitable commercial print industry into a profitable social media enterprise. This paper explores the reasons for this failure in the context of the last 30 years of modified-car culture and the enthusiast media industry that developed around it. A number of possible approaches are proposed for monetizing enthusiasm through social media that should be useful for other enthusiast scenes.

When post-structuralist marxists become capitalist.

My heart is well and truly broken.

Christian measures participatory instances of web. Generates algorithm for productive labor & surplus value

Here is the original image on Flickr of a presentation by Christian Fuchs at The Internet as Playground and Factory conference.

I wonder where Christian is on McKenzie Wark‘s diagram of what Jodi Dean called his Grand Unified Theory.

warkdiagram

Wark’s diagram represents social classes/subjectivities not in relation to the means of production, but in relation to the labour of capitalising on opportunity.

Working

NaNoWriMo Day 8 Crunchy Cow

So I am doing NaNoWriMo. I am going well. I am writing in a non-linear fashion, which may be against the rules apparently. But, meh.

I will start posting chapters once they are finished and once I have the next five-in-a-row done to ensure continuity. The only goal is write 50000 words. I am writing short chapters of 2000 to 2500 words. At the moment I am starting around two or three chapters a day as I come up with new ideas for the plot and whatnot. One chapter, the first, is finished.

The novel is called The Hoon. It is romance-action story set in the early 1980s of Australia. It is focused around a family that owns a tow truck and fast response mechanical business.

It is good self-therapy.

letting go, embracing, the world

Summer: I woke up one morning and I just knew.
Tom: Knew what?
Summer: What I was never sure of with you.

It feels odd and somewhat appropriate that I am returning to this post about 500 Days of Summer to finally write something substantial and finish it. It was started on October 7, so over a month ago. Of course, as a case of life imitating art, my own non-relationship with M. ended.

This is where I had got to with the original post, but now this post serves as something else:

I recommend 500 Days of Summer for everyone who has been, is or intends to be in a relationship. I saw it last night with M. and we both agree that it is a fantastic movie. It has prompted me to think again about an essay of mine from a few years ago on the concept of post-romance romance and Paul Anderson’s third film Punch-Drunk Love. 500DOS is a much better example of post-romance romance than PDL. In fact, of all the postmodern romantic comedies of recent years, 500DOS is the best example of post-romance romance yet.

We had similar discussions to that of the main characters Tom and Summer. How she wasn’t sure, how she still felt something for her man-child ex who had broken her heart and, paradoxically, how she didn’t want to stuff this (ie our non-relationship relationship, similar to the Tom-Summer relationship) up. She told me many times she wasn’t ready, that she wished it hadn’t happened now, that maybe this was the last chance she had. I told her she was worthy of breaking my heart. She did.

What to do?

I am pretty hardcore when it comes to enduring what life throws my way. It is easy when I feel contempt for most of the world and all the stupidities that it contains. I guess it is easier to think about what I won’t do.

I won’t stop falling in love. I could never understand the whole too-bitter, too-tough, too-broken hearted thing about people when they get to a certain age and decide that love somehow hasn’t delivered the goods so they are going to discard love and the possibility of love. That is just weak, not tough. It is an easy solution to complex set of problems. The empty feeling I have in my stomach every now and then when I think about what has happened, what hasn’t happened and what could’ve been is the price I pay for the absolute affection afforded by love. I am satisfied with this pain. She was worthy of earning it. I fell in love.

I won’t stop rolling the dice. One of my favourite sayings is derived from the philosopher Gilles Deleuze: Roll the dice and up the ante. It is not enough to take chances. All of us take chances everyday. To take chances and up the stakes without regret is the only way to live a life worth living. I’ve got no time for meek and boring people who are mere functionaries in someone else’s life. Having agency for me doesn’t mean necessarily having control, but being able to engage with life’s opportunities without knowing what the outcome will be. I took risks with my affection even though I ascertained early on our relationship more than likely wouldn’t work, but I resisted the urge to end things.

I won’t fret about not understanding. I am pretty smart and have enough of a curious intellectual disposition to be able to at least grasp most of life’s curiosities. There are some things I’ll never understand, however. Like the way periods of absolute happiness immediately preceded annihilating sadness. I am grateful for the time we spent together. Many people never get to experience any of this.

I won’t stop inviting people into my world. A relationship isn’t just between two people but between two worlds that come together as a kind of synergy. I have an ethics of hospitality when it comes to sharing my world with others. I am lucky that I have lived alone for long enough that it allows me to cherish moments of solitude, which in turn allows me to properly value what it means to be with someone. Without my generosity I am nothing.

I won’t stop listening to special songs. Music, food, television shows, restaurants, cinemas, streets and fucking pubs all become incorporated into the biography of a relationship. I am lucky to have had enough failed relationships all while living in roughly the same area of Sydney that there is no singular determining geographical romantic biography for me. Our music, if that ever existed, once filled me with complete happiness, every song was a special song, a love song, but now they are all songs of heartbreak. I am OK with this. It bestows the songs a richness that the artists who created them could never give to them. It adds something beautiful to my world, which, although painful, would not have existed otherwise.

I won’t stop writing my poem. Sure it is about her, but it is my writing. It should be finished soon.

I feel better now. I think I have reassured myself of myself.

Contemplating a Crackpot

Say you find yourself staring at an old pot. Your brain, being an incredibly sophisticated computer, immediately assesses that it’s an old pot, and that old pots are boring. It’s not going to dance, or sing heartbreaking songs of yesteryear. It won’t even rock gently in the breeze. It’s just going to sit there being a pot. Probably a broken one at that. If it was on television, they’d at least have the decency to back it with some upbeat techno while zooming in and out, and even then you’d immediately switch over. But instead, because you’ve got the misfortune of actually being there in front of it, surrounded by other people, you have to stand and look at the poxy thing for a minimum of 30 seconds before moving on to gawp at the next bit of old shit, or everyone’s going to think you’re a philistine. The same principle applies in art galleries and museums. They’re full of secretly bored people pulling falsely contemplative faces. It’s a weird mass public mime.

Even though it is depressing to watch, I like the TV show Nathan Barley, co-created as an adaptation from a a fake TV guide listing (TV Go Home) for a fake TV show called Cunt. (Here is a link to one of my more infamous blog posts, it is probably NWS if you live behind a coarse language firewall, but if you did, then why are you reading my blog?:)

The above block quote comes from the regular Guardian column of one of the co-creators of Nathan Barley and TV Go Home, Charlie Brooker. I was introduced to Charlie Brooker’s column by a friend with whom I share many similar tastes in popular culture consumption. Brooker is a funny bastard, I certainly grant him that. His column from the 22 June 2009 is about having an ‘interest’ (ie hobby) and the relation between this ‘interest’ and the practices of ‘interested’ people and the way Brooker has always turned his ‘interest’ into a job.

Brooker’s column makes fun of what he perceives to be the contemplative mode of engagement expressed through the practices of visitors to archaeological ruins as they pause and consider a broken pot. There is a rhythm to this practice, of walking, having one’s interest caught, gazing upon this object of interest and all the while contemplating something about it. The capacity to contemplate an object reminds me of the way Bourdieu wrote about the capacity of certain upper-class consumers of cultural artefacts. There is a pleasure in the nitty gritty of seeking these objects out, but the point is to index their particular significance. (See Hilary Geoghegan’s essay in the ‘Enthuse‘ special eissue of M/C Journal on Being Enthusiastic about Industrial Archaeology.) To realise their significance requires an informal (for amateurs) or formal (for scholars or professionals) inculcuration of these practices into the enthusiast habitus. At stake is a subcultural assessment of beauty. For Brooker there is no utility in a this kind of Kantian reflection on the ‘beauty’ of the broken pot. The Bourdieuian would simply retort Brooker is not properly equipped to contemplate the broken pot’s beauty nor have the cultural capital to realise its significance.

I am not a Bourdieuian, however. I appreciate Bourdieu’s work and what he has given to the social sciences. I prefer to take another position, one that incorporates what, following Deleuze, is the virtual dimension of the cracked pot. Think about an amatuer archeologist’s practice. They come across several if not dozens of such artefacts similar to the cracked pot in their leisure-time labour. The great joy of such amateurs, just as it is for any subcultural practice organised around the indexing and cataloguing of significant cultural artefacts, is when something that might be an artefact does not fit into the schema of the established typology.

Bourdieu went to great pains to point out the class bias in Kant’s philosophy of aesthetic judgement. But what if Bourdieu was wrong to focus on aesthetic judgement and instead should have engaged with Kant’s notion of enthusiasm to describe the cultural practices of his research subjects? Participating in a cultural formation does not only require a cultural competence, it also requires one to be mobilised. The mobilisation was assumed in Bourdieu’s account; it is a variable he took out of his analysis of formations of cultural consumption and their intersection with class-based social stratifcations. Surely everyone has met people who belong to a particular social milieu but who choose not to particpate in the practices of cultural consumption ‘expected’ of such a social positioning?

The amateur archeologists as well as many other enthusiasts are forced to use their respective powers of imagination. The broken pot has a biography, its surface and its cracks are traces of events that have been inscribed upon it. Part of the work of the enthusiast is to decipher these material signs of its biography. For example, enthusiasts in modified-car culure can ‘read’ the material signs of a car and reconstruct the ‘amount of work that has gone into it’, which would be similar to an archeologist exclaiming to how much ‘history’ is present. ‘Amount’ here is quantitative but it is also qualitative, the biography (work/history, i.e. active/passive inculcation of events) is an index of enthusiasm, deciphered from the material signs of the object’s biography and immanently valorised within the practice of contemplating the object.

Charlie Booker seems to be mobilised by the challenge of cultural critique of those practices that he deems boring (amateur archeologists). It is an unnerving practice to simply pour scorn on other peoples’ enthusiasms and I don’t care much for it. Maybe there is some inverse cultural cringe here, but I think people should be allowed the dignity of pursuing their collective enthusiasms. For some it is the only thing they have for warding off a brutal and nihilistic ennui. Booker, and many other people I have met of my generation who are as cool as fuck, is alienated from his own enthusiasm and seems to get enthusiastic about pointing out the ‘absurdities’ of another’s enthusiasm.