sub me in – play

So I am listening to The Postal Service. I thought I had gone to see them in Perth. But Myke tells me that was Idlewild. I am not sure where I got the CD from. Probably a copy from Sam or something. The album is called ‘Give Up’. And it is brilliant.

I know this may sound weird coming from someone who exclaimed to fact of Motley Crue’s immanent late-2005/early-2006 world tour visit to Sydney, but these Postal Service dudes are cool.

It may be too overtly ‘cool’ in a stressed-denim-witty-t-shirt-converse-runners-just-woke-up-haircut-retro-80’s sort of way for some people — for people like me. Almost. By deploying the loaded ‘cool’ I am gesturing towards associated discourses in a knowing, but enthusiastic non-ironic way. Sure it is an utter disgrace that is gets soiled-by-association through being part soundtrack on the OC, but I don’t give a fuck — makes me want to hit somebody for associating it with such a smug piece of shit TV! — but, really, I don’t care. Whatever. It is ok, because it is cool.

(Subpop? What the fuck is subpop? I want a job inventing popular culture neologisms. That would be subcool. And then get a pay raise to invent neological combinations. That would just be insidiously ithurts subcool, like, totally, man.) Via amazon.com:

“With Jimmy in L.A. and Ben in Seattle, the two simply mailed tracks back and forth, collaborating via (you guessed it) the United States Post Office.”

How awesome is that shit? I thought for a second they were total freaks and, like, were into Kevin Costner movies, but then, taking an Actor Network Theory angle, you know, I realise that it is infact the network enabled by the mail service which allowed them to colloborate and produce the CD. The band is an actor network. Boom boom. Yes, but I am in love, love like in terms of repeat-repeat-repeat! Love. Subcool.

Anyway. On Keith Windschuttle (re: Negri visit). Windschuttle may be a historian, but is he a philosopher? What does he know about Negri’s value to philosophy? Sweet fuck all, I gather. Going by his logic, we should never help anyone who has been implicated in ‘terrorist groups’, such as supporting the old regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, let alone let them come to Australia. Oh no! Subshocktastic! That unfortunately scratches Donald Rumsfield off the list. Oh well. Subpolitical. What a terrible fuckin shame that is…

I hope I never meet Windschuttle. He seems a bit stupid, even sublogical. It is funny that he mentions Dirk Moses in his column as he was the unit coordinator for the history unit that Sam tutored in.

On another note! It looks as though my material science PhD friend, Matt, may be going to the academic bright lights of Cambridge for a post-doc. Very exciting!

Also, Helene has gone home today. We had good fun while she was here! Still trying to find the energy to write up a report on the karaoke. I will miss her. Subhappy.

Do you like American music?

I like American music.

Yeah, so went to the Enmore Theatre last night. Got a bit drunk on a fine cleanskin Roche Shiraz and then had to stomach horrendous VB at the theatre. Even the service industry, uni student girl behind the bar laughed and agreed with me when I was like, “Fuckin VB? What the fuck?” I was at the Enmore to see the Violent Femmes (great photo on the home page, that is exactly what they look like). Did they rock my world? Ahuh, like they were all de-Kissed Gene Simmons singing like nerd-gods playing an extraordinary array of stringed bass instruments to produc a block of sensation like a massive tongue cleaning out my ear and tickling some erogeneous part of my brain. You know what I’m saying? Fuck yeah, that’s what.

The only other concert I have been to where I had known more songs was Offspring, and maybe Kiss, and possibly Van Halen, but none of those concerts had been events where I was encouraged, simply be my own enthusiasm, to push up my glasses, place my nerd hand on my nerd heart and sing along with the nerdest voice ever and on the whole planet (except for maybe the dude from They Might Be Giants, who I have also seen and had a nerd-off competition with one of my mates. The other nerds at the concert were pogo-ing with nerd-rage filled gusto and thought we were two of the most rocking nerds this side of the space station Babylon 5). What is it with nerd rock? Nerd rock with measures of teen-angst, middle-aged-angst, jazz, blues, blues-folk, rock-folk, folky-folk-folk, what the fuck is folk anyway? Nerd rock is for a generation, I know this because I am between the nerd rock of They Might Be Violent Femmes (or maybe just from USyd Gender Studies) and Blink one hundred and eighty two other bubblegum punk bands. Blink is so teenage angst nerd rock, but with consumptive 1970s Brit-punk overtones instead of jazz/folksy/rock/i’m-a-believer. Except to be cool you’d have to write it ‘nerrock’ and spell it with a z. A to the z. E to the 3.

Anyway, so, yeah. I had fun. Totally. Except for the VB. Fuck I hate VB. Don’t ever anyone ever buy me VB unless it is the last resort. Ever. Or you wanna piss me off and/or pay me back for some other indescression, well, so, ok, that would be cool, but I know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em and when to walk away. I was rocking away last night. Like a drug addict withering away, I was rocked away, slowly, like a seduction, so I was totally into it. Yeah. So they played all the crowd pleasers, n3rrock angst t3as3rz, melody-rhythm squeezers, but nothing of Weezer’s, which didn’t disappoint any geezers. At least I don’t think it did.

Ok, so they look like rocking computer nerds, which is funny when rocking computer nerds look like punks or something. And this is exactly what they look like. The big dude in the middle was pretty funny hamming it up with rockstar-esque poses and shit even though he looks like a crack smoking rancher in this photo. And the little dude on the right is the singer, which explains the nerdiest nerd-nerd nature of his voice.

Yeah, so I heard The Violent Femmes when I was 14 and on some camp run by Rotary on personal leadership and leadership or some such ship. We had leaders and they were all sexy, nerded-up, wannabe-librarian mofo’s. One such snuwlm got us singing blister in the sun, ironically after I had been burnt by the sun the day before or something, so I smashed the piggy bank once back in black in the Balcatta ‘burbs to bust out Blister in the Sun on CD. SO I cranked the greatest hits or some shit like that. I remember the CD got thrashed, like totally milked, on O-Camp, at my first university experience.

Anyway, so I woke up at like 4am. What drugs am I on? Or not on? This is fucked. I have been reading some more of the After Subcultures book. Even though the articles have a terminal fascination for music and/or style subcultures it is getting better or maybe I am getting more patient with it. Fuckin VB.

Consumption and Politics

Ad or political comment? Can you spot the difference?
Caption reads: “10,000 Volts volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.”
How many dudes would be driving past in a car or riding the bus and glimpse at the billboard and sew the seeds for an iPod?
I have little tolerance for people who argue that ‘consumption’ is in any way resistant. Unless an alternate economy is set up that is totally separate from the current global order, then there can only ever be less complicit consumption.
Steve from the “Discussion of J-F-Lyotard, Alain Badiou,the Event” list (and blog) posted this interview wih Zygmut Bauman. Bauman is provocative, addressing such topics as the dismantling of the welfare state and the shift from a production-based politics to one premised on consumption. He says: 

In the world of consumers, the poor who are currently un-performing consumer duties are, purely and simply, ‘flawed consumers’ and flawed beyond redemption (and vice versa: those who cannot behave as the right and proper consumer should consider themselves, and are viewed by others, as poor). Affairs may hum up in the future, but by no stretch of imagination will the poor be called then to active consumer service. Investing in their survival means money wasted; it may be called for by charitable impulses or for the sake of peace and quiet – but ‘economic sense’ it most certainly makes not. Such investing will only prolong, with little prospect of ever stopping, the frownedupon procedure of withdrawing money from the commodity market – the only site where spending money does make economic sense … And so, in stark opposition to the society of producers, cutting down on collectively-funded lifelines for the (permanently) indolent is a question ‘beyond left and right’. The presence of the poor is therefore widely felt as an unredeemed and unredeemable liability. A sore in the eyes of consumers, they are chased out of the streets. A sore in the eyes of the politicians, they are chased out of the alltoo-visible statistics of social welfare expenditures into the much-less-visible statistics of business subsidies. All in all, it is not poverty that the wars are waged against, but the ‘problem of the poor’.

Very interesting stuff, the ‘poor’ become a haystack of strawmen (and women) discursively produced as a ‘problem’ for the consumer-based civility, rather than the neoliberal order being a problem for the disadvantaged who are locked in cycles of social reproduction…. It is very interesting especially when you get people who used to be socialists — like Hitchens — turning into apologists for the neo-liberal and sprouting things like: 

Marx’s original insight about capitalism was that it was the most revolutionary and creative force ever to appear in human history.

Capital is eyeballin’ you

Since being back home I have been cranking the pay-tv my folks have. I caught _Dog Soldiers_ this morning, dang, that is a cool movie… Anyway, on the Cartoon Network they have this promotion running at the moment called _Eyeballs 2_. Here is the login page.

Fly Buys points and all the other consumer incentive programs operate as an apparatus of capture for networks/circuits of consumption. That is, they simply do not encourage people to buy something from one shop, they commodify entire chains in the networks of consumption. Capitalists call this ‘synergy’. The clearest example of this in Australia is the relatively recent melding of petrol/service/gas stations with supermarkets/grocery stores. It is recent because it didn’t exist when I worked at a service station up until early 2003. Spend a certain amount ‘here’ and you get money off your fuel bill at the linked servo ‘there’. I think these circuits of consumption are very interesting as commercial interests are not simply investing in your patronage, but they attempt to commodify a massive chunk of your life. Your lifestyle becomes a resource – a resource that is strip-mined for everything your got and don’t got (via credit).

They sucker you in with the only simulacra that exists anymore with any meaning (ooh, the paradox): the ‘bargain’. The logic of the ‘sale’ or the ‘bargain’ motivates consumers to lease out their lifestyles – represented as circuits of consumption – to themselves so commercial interests can accrue rent, i.e. produce surplus value, over a network of consumption rather than a single point transaction. The bargain is a simulacra in one of Baudrillard’s modes (I can’t remember which one??). It is the logic that fools people into believing they are producing value by spending money. Is that retarded or what? Advertising seduction merely prompts consumers to desire something. The recent developments in consumer incentives organises this desire into seemingly self-perpetuating locuses of consumption.

Getting to my point, the model for this is not some fantastic business venture schemed up to rip multi-millionaires off. I argue the model is derived from children’s television programming. At some point in history the story became subsumed to these networks/circuits of consumption. The circuits of consumption were once derived from the fandom generated by a show to become the motivating force behind the show. So now these circuits of consumption organise fandom. Disney has been on the ball for years, it never really made the final step though… There is a dialectical tension between the principle of organisation implicitly promoted by the commercial interests and the organisation of fandom immanent to itself. I talk about this in my thesis with the car dudes and their enthusiasm. Some fandoms/enthusiasms are more autonomous than others. For example, computer game modders probably have more autonomy in terms of im/material production that sustains their fandom than does, say, an eight year old kid playing with his Pokemons.

Perhaps the best example of this is the US re-produced Japanese anime that was known in the US and elsewhere (including Australia) as Robotech. The fellows at Harmony Gold (US re-production house) had the genius to reconstruct three separate anime series from Japan into one massive show. They could do this because all three original series were made or influenced by the artwork of a single Japanese anime artist. Anyway, the deal would only be struck to make (or reproduce) the series as Robotech if they could guarantee sales of merchandising for toy maker Hasbro. The link between the show and the merchandising was intrinsic to the development of the show – the proof is found on the DVDs in the seven Robotech boxsets (I own them all, suckers!). There are a number of voice-overs and interviews that explain the relationship between Harmony Gold and Hasbro was essential to the re-production of Robotech and therefore, I argue, Robotech fandom.

The next stage in this commodifcation of networks of fandom is not modelled on television programming, but major league sports. Pay per view. With media on demand only a few dreamy sleeps away (like christmas!) the congruence of medias will herald the congruence of lifestyles, production and fandom – the biopolitical production of the perfect consumer.

What spawned this post is the now-running incentive program on the Cartoon Network called _Eyeballs 2_. It connects with Johnathan Beller’s argument regarding the ‘cinematic mode of production’ and check out a response to it also. Through what Beller calls the “labour of looking” kiddies collect ‘eyeballs’ and trade them in. The Cartoon Network is doing a massive favour to tomorrow’s business.

The ‘eyeball’ itself is interesting. It is not the ‘eyeballs’ of the kids (or big-kid PhD students) watching cartoons, but the eyeballs of capital. They are multiple and are only defined by their number – deterritorialised multiplicities. The qualitative differences between cartoons don’t matter. What matters is how many ‘eyeballs’ you have. You are defined by your ‘eyeballs’, or, rather, how many ‘eyeballs’ have you. They call it an ‘eyeD’ card.

The recent furore around mpeg music and movies online gains a different importance. It is not only the labour of looking that is being lost – the pay-per-view factor. What is also lost is the ability to manipulate consumers into circuits of consumption. The crucial scripts that determine the organisation of fandom are taken out of the hands of synergised media conglomerates and back in the hands of consumers. It is a bit like when car enthusiasts go street racing, there is no need to go to the drag strip…