Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Supposedly Fun Thing He'll Never Do Again

My friend and colleague David Foster Wallace has reportedly committed suicide this weekend. David was one of the brightest minds of my generation and his books will be revered. Besides being a champion of the avant-pop lit scene, he was a fantastic interlocuter, especially on politics:
Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, "sacrifices on the altar of freedom"? In other words, what if we decided that a certain baseline vulnerability to terrorism is part of the price of the American idea? And, thus, that ours is a generation of Americans called to make great sacrifices in order to preserve our democratic way of life—sacrifices not just of our soldiers and money but of our personal safety and comfort?

In still other words, what if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting?

Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price?


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ghost Tendencies

Remixology puts into practice the prophetic art
of making things with and out of code
whether it be a poet's direct presentation
a programmer's hacking aesthetic
a net artist's targeted action scripting
or even a live A/V artist's generative performance

In Pre-Internet writerly terms
Ginsberg taps into the poet's ambition
"to write during a prophetic illuminative seizure"
where the artist-medium finds themselves
"in such a state of blissful consciousness
that any language emanating from that state
will strike a responsive chord of blissful consciousness
from any other body into which the words enter and vibrate."

The vibratory effects of ecstatic expression
can be programmed into contagious media events
and are particularly useful in stimulating
developments in alternative arts and culture
(they are also useful in performance pedagogy
where a good teacher will always find ways
to integrate these effects into their
studio workshops and seminar sessions
creating an empathetic relationship with
the networked energies that form the "student body")

For Ginsberg this ecstatic expression
catalyzes into spontaneous transmissions

If you are practicing spontaneous transmission
(Ginsberg says in one of his Boulder lectures)
and by this he means to say
"transmission of your thought"

"how do you choose then what thoughts
you need to put down" while in trance?

The answer (he says, playing Guru)
"is that you don't get a chance to choose
because everything's going so fast."

"It's like driving on a road
you just have to follow the road;
And take turns, 'eyeball it'
as a carpenter would say.
You don't have any scientific
measuring rod, except your own mind.

I don't know of any scientific measuring rod
that's usable. So you have to chance
whatever you can and pick whatever you can.
So there's also a process of automatic selection.
Whatever you can draw in your net is it,
is what you got."

i.e. Remixology forms as a process of
natural selection

intuitive netting of the source material

which then can be manipulated into
the physiological forms of ecstasy
that occasionally appear and are disseminated
during your ongoing postproduction sets

(this interiorized postproduction process
turns the pure mobility of ones durée
into the ongoing satisfaction of becoming
more source material / experiential data
for others to intersubjectively jam with
during heightened states of co-emerge-agency
that can then lead to Higher Phases of Experience

in raw terms what you do is lay your data out
for everyone to use, re-use, and abuse
as "source" for a generative remixology)

Generative remixology then emerges out of
both the inherited gestures of muscle memory
and the mutating reconfigurations of style
that are embedded in the production of novelty

Creativity as a form of novel advance
becomes performance art when embodied
by the postproduction medium
whose spontaneous transmission
is transcribed into more source material

more hard code

embodied as the measuring rod
whose job it is to sense
when best to intervene
in the creative process

This measuring rod is the instrument
used in the natural art of selection
"so you have to be a little athletic about that"
says Ginsberg

(If the species remixologist
is about anything at all
it's about aesthetic fitness
i.e. using the creative process itself
to attract more intense aesthetic experiences)

The measuring rod vibrates
as a sense of measure
physiologically rooted
in the gesture of writing
(playing, performing, remixing)
and inhabits a transliminal space
where everything is biochemically
attached to everything else it connects with
and is subject to electro or alchemical
manipulation of its state of emerging agency

[in this sense the contemporary remixologist
will always source the distributed "mind bank network"
as a "cite-specific" living archive whose data is open
to improvisational revision and transmedial postproduction]

As Creeley wrote in relation to Whitman
"[his] constant habit of revisions and additions
would concur, I think, with this notion of
his process, in that there is not 'one thing'
to be said and, that done, then 'another.'
Rather the process permits the material
('myself' in the world) to extend until
literal death intercedes."

Remixology is neuromancy on steriods

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