Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Every Trick in the Book

Dance is the default art. Everything is made of it. And I got almost all my eco ideas from being in the techno scene from 1988 to now, so listen up hahaha: 

If you haven't tried MDMA, this tune pretty much embodies the initial sensation--especially if you've taken slightly too much or you're taking some more slightly too soon  :)))))

I was at all the places in London in the late 80s and early 90s where everyone like Goldie and Bukem showed up and invented drum and bass. Makoto is doing this here, but also, he's pulling every trick I've ever heard of to make A Good Dance Tune in any techno format whatsoever. And he's gone and bloody used them in exactly the right amounts, in exactly the right places. To wit, in no particular order:

Double time (or even triple). You can dance to this very slow. Nothing like dancing slow motion in a welter. 

In particular, that delicious moment at which the bassline appears to be suspended above the tune, like bells, before we dive back in. That's just too confident, isn't it haha

The introduction of a second riff that is slower than the first one, and inverts. 

The sicky, detuned modulation down a tone for four bars, then back up. Serious MDMA imitation thing there. House music hugely favors bitonality, often by accident, for this reason. 

The sicky in general main tune on whatever non-percussive keyboard sound that is. Modulated. Too much bliss, you're about to throw up unless you figure out a way to channel it out of your body. 

The use of that "I'm turning a key in a clockwork toy, I'm winding this up and soon..."

The initial sinister "alert, alert, something is coming..." sound. Warning: Emergency Exit. You Will Activate Pleasure Alarm. 

The gentle versus brutal. The chords versus the rhythm. 

That, coupled with the "this record is malfunctioning, a riff is stuck" on the high Rhodes piano-like minor third oscillation. 

Alarms are always always good. I remember outside Trip in central London, the police turned on the sirens and we just danced to them. 

The way the voice is a siren, or either, or neither. And the way in the end it's gated to the cymbals. 

The This is just a bouncy piano riff or is it the Mothership descending above Devil's Tower

The major/minor oscillation, the feeling of This is demonic intense...or is this beatific intense, that ambiguity. 

The suspension, the fact that in general the rocking back and forth doesn't resolve ever, and the endless pedal points, not just one but maybe three at times, in the treble, and the reinforced bass. 

The one and only sudden stop of the brutal drums. 

The reverb: on the one hand, we're in a very small room; on the other hand, we have just pushed out of orbit and look, there's the hyperspace tunnel opening. 

Makoto's colleague Mr. Wheeler, who is said to be collaborating, but you can't hear him sing or speak, you only hear his voice going "huh" in the way you do when you're slightly impressed by something slightly unexpected, "curioser and curioser" as Alice would say, this "huh" being placed almost inaudibly during gigantic tsunamis of tune. Thus imparting a feeling of "This gentleman is so deeply interwoven in the music that he doesn't need to stick his ego out, he's got a nerdy trip master intellectual vibe that is frankly very sexy because he is in fact In Charge, but of what? Just the 'record and observe' kind that you are reduced to when you're sliding down a wormhole at superluminal speeds." "Fancy that, this is a fucking belter masterpiece." The dandy approach. It's the end of the world but I'm going to be so polite and wear the best suit. James Bond. 

Did I miss anything out LOLOL


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Watch Laurie Anderson doing her incredible thing

I helped her out with the second one of these.  

Primitive Accumulation at the Supermarket

 Primitive Accumulation. It's Marx's term for colonialism, whereby capitalism accumulates gigantic piles of wealth via slavery and other forms of colonialist violence. 

Cut to this Monday, in the supermarket, with a tropical storm rolling in. 

White men, young men, whom I never ever see in the supermarket (I got lots of times a day), piling their shopping carts full of almost random stuff. Depriving others. 

It's primitive accumulation, still in effect. 

When white men panic they seem to go straight to pure plunder. 

Register Here for My Lecture Today (1.5 hours time)

 For Aarhus University

Monday, September 13, 2021

Register Here for Amitav Ghosh Lecture

 Here at Rice today, Amitav Ghosh will be wondering why on earth there aren't more humanist scholars working on global warming. He loves my stuff. You can register here for the zoom. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Support This Amazing Film

 Clem Goldberg is a genius friend of mine and you should totally and utterly support this project. Look. How can you not support something to do with human-mushroom symbiosis! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

A Fascist Poem about Fascism

 ...sort of accidentally. Eliot was dreaming of a fascist solution to this hollowness. Unfortunately (have you read Hannah Arendt? Why not!), the hollowness is a consequence of it. The nihilism. The longing for a big bang. Whole poem here

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when 5

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats' feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar 10

Shape without form shade without colour, 

Paralyzed force, gesture without motion;


Those who have crossed

With direct eyes to death's other Kingdom 

Remember us--if at all-- not as lost 15

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.


...


This is the way the way the world ends 95

This is the way the way the world ends 

This is the way the way the world ends 

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Space Team Electra

 Blue Oyster Cult's producer and songwriter Sandy Pearlman said "This is the most important band in the USA," which is why he decided to produce them. If you haven't, please do: 


Saturday, September 4, 2021

"The Kindness Project"

 Head over to my Patreon to hear me giving the new psychological fad of researching kindness a stiff talking-to, on behalf of abused people everywhere. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Hypothesis

 Why is gravity so weak over the tiny distances in which the other forces are really really powerful? Yet extremely powerful over larger distances? 

Because there is only one graviton. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Book of Architecture Essays

 It looks like I'm going to be publishing a collection of my essays on architecture. You heard it here first! There are perhaps a surprising number of them, going way back to the later 2000s. I'm very happy to be doing that as I'm teaching a bit at groovy Sci-Arc heading up a program called Synthetic Landscapes. (Our slogan: STOP MAKING SELFIES OUT OF NONHUMAN BEINGS.)

Hyperobjects in Buddhist Door

 I'm touched that they talked about my work. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Reaction Reaction Reaction: It Was Too Progressive for the Guardian so I'm Posting It Here Instead, Part 3

(Scroll down for Parts 1 and 2) 


9/11 is when most Americans suddenly realized that there was an outside. They really didn’t know. Actual thing said by my ex-mother in law, in 2006, on visiting London: “Wow, you have traffic lights too.” Totally sincerely. She meant it. It wasn’t a joke. She was genuinely amazed. She lived in Colorado. On September 11, 2001 the outside came crashing into two skyscrapers and Americans woke up from some of the dream, that had become strangely and quite wonderfully fin de siècle-ish under Clinton, and plunged into another one, orchestrated by Al Qaeda, whose explicit aim was to make America into a fascist country. I was so spooked by how quickly they came up with a name for an event which, in the memorable words of Fredric Jameson one week later in the London Review of Books, “hasn’t really happened yet.” A name that Al Qaeda must have wet themselves with delight at—the emergency call number they deliberately chose as the date for the attack on the Twin Towers. State of emergency. Habeas corpus suspended. I was on a green card and technically could’ve been rounded up without bail. They probably still can do that to people. See, it’s the 1790s. 

I liked the Twin Towers. They were built when computers were really starting, when Derrida talked about them in the introduction to Of Grammatology. I thought the Twin Towers were a joke in binary. They looked so starkly like number ones. In binary, 11 means 3. Where is the third tower? 

I arrived in the USA in 1992. America was like a marshmallow or a hamburger. So soft. So comfy. The nukes protected the marshmallow, or something. The USSR was gone. You could walk right to the gate to wait for your loved one. The idea that past security was No Man’s Land, which was legally correct, was not civil-society correct. At Heathrow Terminal 4 the United guy would interrogate you for ages, because of the IRA. But in America flying around from city to city on said United, you could trust your girlfriend to be waiting for you at the gate. “Keep me safe” is a thing children say to their parents. George Bush “kept us safe.” He said it over and over, because he hadn’t. 

Bin Laden was some rich dude from Saudi, “in construction” as they say, like my girlfriend’s brother, or Donald Trump. It means corruptly connected to everyone and anyone. Bin Laden was in the Sudan. My girlfriend spoke Pashto and was negotiating with the Taliban and etc about that pipe. It was 1998. No one knows that, but I’m writing it here out of sheer frustration. Bin Laden didn’t just appear like some wizard played by Christopher Lee in a Tolkien film. Like some demonic version of Christ. How he was portrayed in the media. The Taliban were never a terrorist organization. The whole thing was shit. 

The BBC was threatened with extinction when they questioned the bombing of Afghanistan. “Dresden-style” was the phrase one journalist used. The Labour Party, excited to win over thugs who would eventually vote for Brexit, and weirdly happy to be in charge in a moment when war might be on the cards, were outraged. I think the current corporate structure of the BBC can be traced to that moment. The compromise they made was, they were able to criticize Iraq, what a relief, but don’t lay a finger on Afghanistan. It’s all I can come up with to explain the outrageous failure of thought this last week. Please will someone start thinking, in public. Please, enough of the reacting. You have no idea how quickly the American Taliban will get back in power if this carries on. 


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Reaction Reaction Reaction: It Was Too Progressive for the Guardian so I'm Posting It Here Instead, Part 2

(This continues the essay I started here


 I made a podcast about it. I never stop listening to the BBC, not ever. But I just can’t, not right now. So I ranted on to my followers. Here is a true story, which I told on my podcast. My girlfriend in the later 1990s was Afghani and she joined the CIA. Before that she had been in A&R in the music business, managing Henry Rollins, of all people, and several others. Such I guess are the vagaries of life. But yeah, there came this point at which she got her badge and security clearance and walked into the CIA and started to not tell me everything about her day. 

The CIA were negotiating with Bin Laden since at least 1998. He wasn’t some kind of Saruman in a cave, weird how that movie came out right after 9/11 and Saruman was the spitting image (Lord of the Rings). He was in Sudan, mostly, and was a well-heeled Saudi. He had a past. He didn’t just materialize. He was as we know a CIA asset himself, from the days of the Soviet occupation. 

The CIA was trying to help Unocal, a Californian oil corporation, which Al Gore had a huge stake in. Unocal wanted to put an oil pipe under the Caspian Sea. This required negotiating with everyone in Afghanistan. 9/11 happened because someone got pissed off, maybe they asked for too much money and the CIA said no, I have no idea. 

It was all funded by heroin—the Taliban, the warlords, everyone. Afghanistan was basically like Tudor England or just before that. Just a bunch of insanely violent men ripping people apart, people tied between tanks that reversed away from one another, so I heard. Swap the sheep for opium and you have the same thing, primitive accumulation plus the Tower of London or the Taliban, whichever. 

My girlfriend would call me about how many poppies there were over there. How many pipes they all smoked. Just decriminalize heroin. It’s better than drone strikes. The largest number of solar panels on the planet are owned by the Taliban to grow opium poppies. Papaver somniferum. We’ve been asleep at the wheel. “Just go shopping, relax, we will keep you safe.” That was the George Bush message, almost word for word. Take another Vicodin, I’ll make it great for you, again. That was the Trump version. Vicodin is an opioid. It turns into morphine in your body. Morphine is one of the most powerful active ingredient of opium. Heroin is the active ingredient of morphine. Also it’s the first brand name Bayer came up with, before they came up with Aspirin. 

It’s all about consumerism. It’s all about the Romantic period. It’s all about…De Quincey. 

No one is talking about George Bush. No one. And Obama’s main sin was, he should’ve held very public trials for all those torturers. And started a truth and reconciliation process. What a tragedy. Put a foot wrong, and you’re dead. That’s the horror of being Black in the USA. Of course he caved to the generals and did the “surge.” 

I’m saying “of course” a lot. I can hear my D.Phil. supervisor telling me not to. Of course he would.