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Industry Everything

I’m finding the websites I visit to be a smaller circle—primarily artists, writers. Only really the New Yorker for American news. the Baffler is another.

The simple act of browsing the internet has become tiresome. Everything is an industry, and reading about it is incredibly stressful. How America has consumed the very nature of living, compartmentalized it to measurable units that can be somehow marketed and exchanged, commercialized and moved on from. Every action feels like something is being taken—which, in many ways, is true. The tracking, the data processing, the inevitability that Apple, Amazon and the NSA are all probably harping on every keystroke, every link. Everything.

Very little remains tolerable about American culture; I don’t think there’s anything left that could be considered a source of pride. To know with death will come a profitable news cycle and no actual change: we can see the future. It will not get any better.

It’s a difficult time to be a person. To feel alive.

18:00 / 2 June 2019
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Disarray

Mike sat at the end of the table. He finished his plates quickly, sitting cross-armed but not dissatisfied. His conversation tone was soft, his demeanor pleasant. He’s a generation my senior, a smaller frame with a collared shirt, bald head and trimmed gray hair. During a quick break in serving, I sat next to him, mopping up a bowl of soup with some bread and tried explaining the complex and depressing nature of what it means to be an American these days.

By this point, I have a few talking points that I use to cover the general American disarray when talking with foreigners. That the television set went from an ownership rate of 10,000 in 1941 to 99% by 1998—and media is the one language everyone in the country speaks. That the two-party system is a design of control and not democracy. That the Cold War and subsequent embrace of capitalism has created a cancer that reaches beyond political influence and into the very mindset of how Americans operate socially. That the Bush years were far more destructive to the world than the Trump years. That Obama was hardly anything good, and more a signifier that any sense of leftist politics in America were the true enemy of the state. That America is, by all accounts and purposes, a right-wing country.

“You know I’ve been following Noam Chomsky, since just after the Vietnam War, and he’s the one that got me on that,” Mike replies. “And you Americans, you think you’re the best country in the world, but it’s an issue of deep education, where if you can’t see how your country exists in the world, if you can’t recognize the global impact of what you do, and who you are… I mean, how can you even govern yourselves?”

That’s the thing about talking with foreigners. I always end up agreeing with them. Put me in a room with ten Americans and there’s like a five percent chance I’ll see eye to eye with any of them. But the rest of the world, their view, is always somehow spot-fucking-on. It’s not a good look (for Americans, at least).

We continued our chat for another few minutes before I had to get back to work. We shook hands and said we’d continue it next time we saw each other. It’s a thing that happens, when having a conversation can be both such a satisfying relief, a feeling of camaraderie, but equally depressing in its nature: Hope is fading fast everywhere. Knowing the wealthy will get away with this again. Knowing it’s going to come to war; not with the United States against Iran (though that will probably happen as well), but with just, everyone. That so many will sit still until the tide comes to take them, and a select few will push them out to sea.

10:00 / 29 May 2019
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May Day

Occupy San Francisco · 2012

(for all the workers of the world, the oppressed, the anti-capitalists; for those left behind, shackled in chains or by banks; for the people, may we rise together once again)

15:00 / 1 May 2019
Posted to Personal

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To The Barricades Again

The Police At Church

A Fire In The Square

going through some boxes, packing things up in the studio, found some developed but unscanned film—these from (one of) the protests about the Trump immigration policy—if memory serves it’s around the time of the initial travel ban

still it boggles the mind that marches like these could snake through the streets every day and be simultaneously 1.) about some new hateful atrocity of governance and 2.) equally ineffective in creating any substantial change

PSU Students

Solidarity

Stormtroopers

16:30 / 8 January 2019
Posted to Work

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The Other Half

The Saturday morning cartoons that began the weekends for kids in the early 90s may have aged only to create modern memes, but I distinctly remember the source of this was all well-intended: an affirmation that knowledge is power. Knowing, as GI Joe put it, was half the battle.

Nowadays I wonder exactly what the other half is. Though I doubt anyone writing up these cartoons imagined the ascent and implications of the internet, but these days knowing something isn’t too difficult.1 In fact, the juxtaposition of a wealth of information with such ineffectual leaders necessitates the question Why bother with any of it?

For the children

If the republic system was run to an ideal, an informed public would be able to vote representatives in to office who would then facilitate a state of governance as near as possible to the demands of the people. But in this day and age that sentence is so far-fetched that it almost makes one wonder what the definition of our modern state truly is.2 The influence of money cannot be understated: between American children being slaughtered and immigrant children left for dead, the cruelty of capitalism has shown neither of the major American parties will cater to overwhelming populist demand.

It’s no wonder why people get outraged at the news; the world keeps spinning—seemingly out of control—and all that grows among the people is a sense of powerlessness in averting disaster. The political systems seem to operate in a one-step-forward, eight-steps-back loop. And the more you know, the more hopeless the situation seems.

I guess John Prine was right all along.

      Notes
  • Not that it ever really was; it was simply less convenient to go to a library and find a specific page in a book or load up a microfiche than use Google.
  • Kudos to some of the new leftists in the House looking to fuck with the standard liberal agenda, though. (That being said, nobody seems to think a second term by Trump is possible, but if the moderate left doesn’t adopt some of the demands of the activist left and the party splits, there could be a free-for-all in 2020.)

12:15 / 6 January 2019
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Late Expectations

I don’t remember many of the conversations I had on election night of 2016; on one hand I was drinking pretty heavily and on the other I was resisting the urge to text everyone in my contact list and say I told you so. I do remember getting more than a few messages saying something along the lines of Well at least this will be good for your art. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

A 2018 anti-Trump protest in Portland

Since November 2016 it seems people have still not adjusted to—and perhaps still cannot comprehend—the new normal our society has been born in to. Children are dying in detention centers. Outside of a mildly successful summer blockade in Portland, ICE and the Trump administration have had little problem in executing this horrific agenda.

Throughout the 2016 election, Trump was constantly pushing the boundaries of how a candidate can run for office in America. While some might say the disgusting fashion to which he accomplished such a feat should be the focus, I disagree. With his campaign and subsequent victory, Trump didn’t just adjust the borders on the field of America’s institutions: he changed the game completely.

The fact that this ‘wasn’t supposed to happen‘ is now why the absurd and grotesque is met with ambivalence and inaction. American society for so long has been regulated by the standards of traditional power that it is now subscribing to the whims of an unregulated force. Protests against all administrations since Vietnam have been students parading in the street on police-approved routes: while this administration is different, the dissent remains the same.

A 2007 anti-war protest in Portland

As Trump disregarded the traditions of the institutions facing him down, so must those who would fight against his agenda. (Of course, he had the benefit of finance and power to provide a safety net with the prospect of failure while any subversive practices would surely be met with imprisonment.)

And so with the world of art, it is unsurprising that most news caters to multi-million dollar pranks and record prices at auction as opposed to anything significantly pushing back against the global spread of nationalism. Perhaps it is because Trump, Brexit and the like represent the same level of absurdity as Duchamp. Perhaps it is because even in the face of social justice-related work on a massive scale, all that results is jail time. Perhaps it is because our ‘good’ leaders still respond to nonviolent movements with the opposite.

Or maybe everyone just got too self-obsessed, sacrificing any notion of true social fabric for the facade of social networks.

Whatever the reason, whatever the response, the fact is that the norms of American society and its adjacent institutions are irrelevant. The psychic death of neo-modern marketing, the plague of individualism and disregard of corporate power all tie back to that which allowed for a man like Trump to be elected in the first place: a society unable to control the beast of capitalism it has unleashed into the world without any sign of art to save it.

16:30 / 30 December 2018
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Clear History

(even though this web site has operated with a blog—in some form or another—since 1999, it has undergone semi-annual design changes and annual database dumps throughout the years. thus, the "Archive" is actually only evidence of what has not yet been deleted.)