Michael Benson on Fri, 28 May 2010 17:05:57 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Artist is Present

Hi Brian:

Yes, it's true that we have our dispersed nexus of multiple power centers, all in aggregate enforcing the ruling ideology, or is it even an ideology rather than the rule of financial capital itself? When you remove the locks and walls, the restraining channels of legislation, and witness the power of capital unleashed in destructive floods as far as the horizon, can we call that ideology or something else? The toxic black crude pumping ceaselessly into the Gulf of Mexico being only the latest manifestation. And nature has been transported into virtual recreations as a kind of consolation prize, a la Pandora, where its destruction is again rehearsed. The endlessly yammering cable shows and repetitive blog posts bring to mind Yugoslavia again, specifically the way media was used to manipulate the masses into conformity with behaviors rather, shall we say, _convenient_ to the ruling elite. (Manipulations, of course, all about keeping those elites in power above all, what else?) 
 Obviously in the US you have the countervailing media, the left as well as right represented, true, but what's lost in the endless face-off is any semblance of objectivity, not to mention nuance. It's all confrontation, with each side needing the other, Punch and Judy as bread and circuses, and while outside positions are allowed, they are either given almost no voice or relegated to the academy, which is much the same thing in the end.

As for the US needing the toothbrush moustache to paste on the latest bogeyman, you are right. I've done a bit of that myself, with the last regime, at least, richly deserving the comparison. But let's not go there! (Or rather, just an idea, let's all be Groucho Marxists, simultaneously recalling Charlie at the mike when contemplating toothbrush moustaches!)

I remember returning from visits to Moscow in the late 1970's to the vast skyscrapers of New York, and noticing that the graffiti of protest at the figurative base of all those vast columns pushed into the sky by capital may have been interpretable as a symptom of a society unafraid of free speech, sure, but the supreme indifference of those faceless towers to the scrawled words and pictures was also indicative of how irrelevant such paltry protest was to the invincible monuments of capitalism. And so it is today -- though yes, increasingly with all manner of new laws removing rights supposedly guaranteed in the constitution. And that in turn revealed the hollowness of Soviet ideology, which cared enough about protest to jail those protesting. In other words, the indifference of those towers to the graffiti at their base indicated their strength, while the furrowed brow of the secret policeman weakness. Now there's a more secure totalitarianism for you... And here we are, liv
 ing inside it, at the End of History, or to quote David Thomas (of Pere Ubu and the Pedestrians), "around the bend there came no end..."

Be well, in Paris and elsewhere. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

Michael Benson, NYC

-----Original Message-----
From: nettime-l-bounces@kein.org on behalf of Brian Holmes
Sent: Tue 5/25/2010 10:54 PM
To: nettime-l@kein.org
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Artist is Present

Michael, it's brilliant to get such an article out of the blue, to
read the unexpected tale in the unfiltered text, to be astonished. The
images lingered with me all day, thank you.

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