Dancecult 3.1: Special Issue on the DJ

June 20th, 2011 | 2 comments

Dancecult 3.1: hands in the air!

Nearly three months after our last marathon issue — which saw a complete overhaul of the design and organisation of the Journal — the team has pulled off our next edition, a Special Issue on the DJ guest edited by Anna Gavanas and Bernardo Alexander Attias.

Deep bows are in order to the Production, Editorial and Copyediting teams for seeing this issue through so soon after the last one, and at that with an impeccable quality of production. There were very few errors behind-the-scenes. In part this is because of the hard work done by the editorial and production teams in creating working manuals and guides for all aspects of the Journal’s production for the last issue. Though we discovered more areas to improve this time around — yep, we’re going to write (yet another) guide! — it means that we are creating a legacy of knowledge for Open Access, OJS-based Journal production that will not only keep Dancecult afloat but will be transferable to other publishing projects.

Our only remaining issue is figuring out a way to upgrade the open source publishing platform, OJS. OJS is a beast and is built like early CMS systems from the late ’90s — the design theme and operational core are not separate elements, the backend interface is clunky, and there are numerous bugs. This means that as we’ve modified the theme, as well as applied bug patches, we remain unable to upgrade the core architecture without completely reinstalling OJS from the ground-up and rebuilding the entire design and modded functionality of the Journal. This is bad news both for security and for updating the system to use newer protocols, design elements, and social media integration. In short, Dancecult needs funding; we cannot continue to do this as a volunteer project as the costs of simply hosting and managing a complex CMS such as this are quickly outpacing our volunteer resources.

So, without further ado, here’s the Table of Contents:

DANCECULT | Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
==================
Volume 3 * Number 1 * 2011
==================
http://dj.dancecult.net/

SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE DJ
with Guest Editors Bernardo Alexander Attias and Anna Gavanas

CONTENTS – DANCECULT 3(1)

## Feature Articles ##

The Forging of a White Gay Aesthetic at the Saint, 1980–84
— Tim Lawrence

The DIY Careers of Techno and Drum ‘n’ Bass DJs in Vienna
— Rosa Reitsamer

Rumble in the Jungle: City, Place and Uncanny Bass
— Chris Christodoulou

Headphone–Headset–Jetset: DJ Culture, Mobility and Science Fictions of Listening
— Sean Nye

DJ Goa Gil: Kalifornian Exile, Dark Yogi and Dreaded Anomaly
— Graham St John

## Conversations ##

Off the Record: Turntablism and Controllerism in the 21st Century, Part 1
— tobias c. van Veen and Bernardo Alexander Attias

##From the Floor##

Nomads In Sound vol 2
— Anna Gavanas

Meditations on the Death of Vinyl
— Bernardo Alexander Attias

Turntables of Doom
— Kath O’Donnell

We call it Swedish Techno
— Anna Ostrom

“War on the Dancefloor”: The Reproduction of Power and Pleasure at the Amphi Festival in Cologne
— Johanna Paulsson

##Reviews##

Man Vibes: Masculinities in the Jamaican Dancehall (Donna P. Hope)
— Marvin Dale Sterling

Hold on to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–92 (Tim Lawrence)
— Charlie de Ledesma

===

With deep bass rumblings,

Graham St John
Executive Editor

tobias c. van Veen
Managing Editor

Git on down'

 

 

    technics & decrepit democracy

    May 3rd, 2011 | 10 comments

     

    Will the 41st Canadian Election see the return of the youth vote? The previous election in 2008 saw the lowest voter turnout in the nation’s history, especially among youth.

    So far the “youth” I’ve heard interviewed by the CBC—university students all—appear somewhat clueless. Is the uneducated, unengaged, uncaring countenance portrayed by national media an accurate sign of general malaise amongst the under-25 crowd? Or does it merely show that reporters still don’t know who to talk to on campus, avoiding the radicals hanging around the campus and community radio station, passing by the scribes at the student newspaper, ignoring the offices of student politicians, all in the vain hope for some kind of “average student” as somehow synonymous with the general (which is to say, non-voting) populace?

    Such strategies only serve to reinforce the narrow perspectives of ageism. Yet something nags at the contemporary image of Canadian youth—a striking absence from the landscape, as if youth had once and for all become the niche-market consumers they were programmed to be since birth. A lack of rebellion pervades a youth generation that appears completely infatuated by the technics of consumerism and always-on communication. A pastiche of postmodern style has stagnated into over a decade of hipsterism that drags on & on without reinvention nor cultural innovation. Music regurgitates itself without push nor force. Meanwhile, this cultural merry-go-round—a kind of cyclism of rehashed styles—rotates around an absent pillar: that of youth displeasure and rebellion against the controlling interests of the nation-state. In the ’90s Naomi Klein and Adbusters writ about rebellion as bought & sold as an advertising strategy. Today we talk about the absence of even such strategies. It is as if an election and the workings of democracy are a disposable communicative fragment that, moreover, is denigrated as one particle stream amongst all others. The election, like a text message from a nagging parent, is easily deleted, without even the dignity of a NO LIKE button.

    Cryptofascism & the Uncitizenry

    Indeed, it is tempting to argue that no rebellion can exist in such a fragmented existence wherein the nation-state and its democratic apparatus are reduced to hollow signs that have no virtual presence on social networks. There is no rebellion not because youth don’t care; there is no rebellion because youth live in a world created and catered through info-filtering mechanisms tailored so precisely to predict and provide for their consumer and erotic impulses that the practice of democratic choice has no place within it. One can LIKE but one cannot not like; there is no choice per se, only the metrics of one-way desire. Two questions:

    (1) Are youth inculcated in a new form of choice that negates choice—which is to say a nonchoice—in which decision-making can only form either a favourable mark  (LIKE) but not its expressed DISLIKE? Moreover, is this merely a “youth” phenomenon? Is this not simply the one-way directive of desire that has become pronounced in social networks?

    (2) There is no VOTE app on Facebook nor for the iPhone. Mediated existence, though it registers the metrics of LIKE that appear seemingly everywhere, does not contain a voting sphere. There is no choice in this patterning towards a one-way metrics of desire. Everything appears just for you, me, them: this is how Facebook works with its pyramidal-style News Filter, where that which is LIKED is repeated, reiterated, regurgitated. The new falls by the wayside, the repetition of the same LIKE becomes the horizon of mediated existence of LIKE-LIKE discourse. One never encounters the Other…. is voting now foreign to the discourse engendered by social networks?

    This perceptive difference of what the world is—not only its being but its discourse of desire in relation to it, its ontology of technics and urgency—and how it appears for me—its perceptive alignment with implanted consumer desire, what might be called the cryptofascism of corporate perception—suggests a near impasse in engaging any 21st century technological citizen with the centuries-old processes of democratic involvement that require movement, thought and a mark. There is no rebellion because the world itself appears appetizing, as if all communication is geared solely toward un/conscious appetites and ego. It is tailored and remade to appear as-such. All the time. And it is. Desire is an App. An App is an expression of controlling desire. I LIKE the App. I LIKE what is desired (for me).

    As the voice of pop radio, Auto-Tune is there for the confusing identity siege that is junior high. Faheem Rasheed is T-Pain. T-Pain is Auto-Tune. Auto-Tune is a vocoder. (T-Pain said so.) I am T-Pain is an App. You are T-Pain. T-Pain is a brand. No sooner did Jay-Z call for Auto-Tune’s head after seeing Wendy’s use it to sell a Frosty, than Apple made the I Am T-Pain app available for $2.99. As demonstrated on the Champion DJ track, “Baako,” babies can now be Auto-Tuned before reaching intelligibility (Dave Tompkins, How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop @ 302).

    Do I, LIKE? This App? Instead of being ignored, youth—a category no longer of age but of consumer uncitizenry, which is to say, humans who only participate in collective processes through consumption and discourse with corporatized social networks—feel that with social networks and mobile communications that they, each and every one, are the centre of all attention. Uncitizens command and demand—not from their nation-states, but from their corporations, and what they demand is the short-term satisfaction of their pleasures. Nothing is easier to deliver. And when it goes wrong, there is no recourse. One cannot UNLIKE anything. As for voting? This unlikely process might be dismantled in time too.

    The State Without Desire

    The tactics of consumption, the ingenious ways in which the weak make use of the strong, thus lend a political dimension to everyday practices (Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life @ xvii)

    At the limit, what do today’s uncitizens expect from the nation-state? Nothing; it does not exist as-such—which is to say as a metric of consumer desire—for them. The nation-state passes into the realm of the hyponoumenal or unsensible. Thus its dismantling appears favourable; why keep what is not an object of desire?

    Competing interests to democratic governance play this absence of desire with astute aim: utilising communications media, the absence of desire toward the participatory democracy (neither LIKE nor anything otherwise) is re-presented—advertised, talked up, played out; tweeted, linked, screamed—as an object of DISLIKE. If one’s existence is constellated within online social networks, being presented with democracy as an object of DISLIKE offers the first significant chance to render choice as-such through the expression of concrete negativity. Yet desire here is rendered by proxy: I express DISLIKE, and a “real choice,” only to dismantle its mechanism as-such. The first expression of democratic engagement is self-defeating. DISLIKE is voted through as the dismantling of the system that perpetuates and organises the benefits to be derived from voting.

    This is how normative politics emphasizes—and for lack of a better word, pronounces hysterical—the glut of bureaucracy, engaging in a shrill and strident discourse that reiterates tirelessly that hand-outs must stop, that everything from arts grants to education and health care must be reduced or eliminated outright in order to allow the play of the “free market.”

    Such normative political interests—which are, at their worst, organised expressions against democratic governance—build not upon an engaged citizenry seeking libertarian governance and a minimalist State, but merely run with the absence of any such desire concerning the State. Such an absence of desire one way or the other allows corporate systems of production to occupy the role once previously held by the State, yet without any such safeguards nor protections offered under democratic governance. Several factors come into play here. Consumerism perpetuates the myth that the “market” provides for all desires (which is to say, it fails to provide what remains necessary , and certainly it does not ensure the equitable benefits of the common wealth). Meanwhile, the technics of perception in which uncitizens engage with the social network aligns desire with socially networked consumerism. Desire is directed toward a ceaseless flow of objects and data (either LIKED or absented in response). The nation-state and its apparatuses do not exist in this realm; they are negated a priori. Is it any surprise that their political expression is thus one of outright negation of the infrastructure of democratic engagement?

    We are dealing with borderline technological determinism and worst-case scenarios evidently of the speculative sort. Yet the traces are evident.

    A party wishing to capitalize upon this corporatized technics of perception only has to shape a negative platform which satisfies this urge to ignore (if not eliminate) democratic governance completely. At the same time, this grants free reign to the controlling interests of a cryptofascist party (corporate funded) that would capitalize upon the new blindness of an uncitizenry that quite literally has its head down, eyes locked to the mobile screen, while everywhere (and yet oddly, for this perspective, nowhere), the beneficial conditions of collective existence are dismantled (elimination, defunding, privatization).

    One must consider the darkest of strategies—that the cryptofascist core is centralizing its power and mobilizing control over resources to ensure its survival as the planet’s environment becomes increasingly unsustainable. This is social Darwinism. These controlling interests have done so by utilising the nonengagement of stagnant democracy to perpetuate the latter’s destruction, thereby catapulting the narrow-sphere of the self-interested to power.

    If one were to look for the new collectivism, it only appears in two places:

    (1) In that of cryptofascism. The “unite the right” slogan is indeed a crafty strategy to ensure an insider-outsider urge to join those who are successful in attaining power through whatever means possible. The majority of such hangers-on are seekign entry into the corridors of power, and do not realise that they will forever be denied (witness Harper’s controlled campaign appearances). In short, centre-right Liberals voted Conservative so as to “get in on a good thing.” Time to cash in & forget the others. Yet this is only one part of the strategy; the second part is amassing votes from those who believe in positions that are, in fact, executed in their obverse. That neoConservatives spend more than their “socialist” competitors—usually on militarization and imprisonment—is a fact oft ignored by those voting neoConservative so as to support fiscal conservatism. Likewise, “lower” taxes are designated for corporations, not the lower-middle class (and “ethnic”) voters who swing Conservative. A basic failure to grasp actual factual conditions prevails; at its worst, this is the rise of the New Dumb.

    (2) As for the second collectivism, it forms as counterposition to the Right. In Canada this polarization has collectivized around the NDP, which has formed the Official Opposition in Parliament. In itself, the rise of a declared Leftist party signals hope—for those seeking democratic engagement—and yet, also concern over an American-style polarization of the spectrum in which both sides descend into a politics of the very worst. The centre has fallen out, and its contents spilled out in two directions. Most of its contents spilled Left; the NDP gained 65 seats while the Conservatives gained 24. Yet can the collectivist action behind the NDP sustain itself in Canada’s volatile political landscape? In a situation where still-separatist Quebec holds the trump card with its NDP “orange crush”? In a mediasphere where the probable axing of the CBC will result in further attack ads and tarnishing of the NDP as the Conservatives strive for absolute power by ushering in Harper’s Media Centre?

    We are here again speaking of the engaged and those who voted—only about 61.4% of the eligible voters. Unless mobilization occurs in the voting sphere, it will be a shock indeed when the uncitizen pokes his or her head up and realises there is nothing left for them. That all which is for me is now merely a waste of words. That the world itself has been sold off….

    Millenial Malaise and the Resurgence of Generations X & Y

    One cannot rebel against that which is nonsignifying, which is to say, against that which is not only imperceptible, but quite simply off the radar of desire. The Green Party experienced this precisely this election. Off-the-radar, out-of-the-debate. Unrepresented. A non-object. The nation-state is not an App. It has no status update. The psychosocial dimension of this malaise is the persistence of boredom in an always-on environment. Or rather, teenage-era forms of rebellion have solidified as technico-ontological frameworks of perception amongst young “adults”: pronounced boredom through ceaseless consumption—until debt do us a part; general malaise of the uncitizen as precarious part-time work provides a deadening of stimulation; distracted nonattention as competing virtual environments promise the collectivity which is everywhere destroyed in the concrete; and a lack of engagement becoming a performative lifeworld of “not caring cool.”

    Too bad that’s the formula for getting fucked over by the big bulge of the population. The boomers, who increasingly vote for their own aging interests, privatize health care and dismantle social services, all in an effort to keep their own taxes low, and all at the expense of future generations, a.k.a. today’s youth vote.

    Do Millenials even realise how badly they’re getting screwed by their own parents and grandparents? Apparently not; it’s not a tweet meme, hashtag, nor status update. VICE magazine covered it years ago, but that’s Gen-X & Y critique circa 2005. The Millenials missed it.

    Conventional wisdom says that engaged youth primarily vote on social issues, with a strong tendency to vote NDP. Keeping down the youth vote has been a strategy of the neoConservatives since day one—as witnessed with the brownshirt tactic of disrupting advance polling (as was the case at the University of Guelph).

    Yet survey data shows that the NDP surge in Quebec has little to do with the youth vote. If correct, this data tosses the conventional wisdom that once you “grow up and start paying taxes,” you vote only for your narrow self-interest, and thus brainlessly throw your vote in with any party that promises a lowering of taxes. It also demonstrates the increasing power—and here I hedge a thetic guess—of Generation X & Y.

    The return of the rave generation & post-punk politics

    Generation X, whether bitter ex-punks or Douglas Coupland’s cocaine-fuelled cubicle kids, have long been ignored under the heel of the boomers. Gen Y, the rave generation, has seen its entire musico-cultural expression criminalized and erased from the history books. Both generations were the last vestiges of inspired rebellion from the ’60s; these are the generations of the APEC and Quebec City protests, of Clayoquot Sound, of mass rave culture and its collectivist pursuits. It was Generation Ecstasy that brought the dark rebellion of rave culture into the light, organising Reclaim The Streets, the rise of “carnivals against capitalism,” providing the organisational capacity and infrastructure for the alterglobalization movement that brought down Seattle and Genoa. Gen X & Y are the generations of hackers, hacktivists, DiY-zine producers and internet utopians, Burning Man freaks, DJs and musicians, artists who fled to Montréal (and Berlin), the generation of mass energy throughout the ’80s and ’90s that, in a word, connected Lollapalooza to Woodstock, alterglobalization anticapitalist carnival to May ’68, rave culture to the Happening & Be-In.

    Is this generation beginning to find itself? Its rave-era participants possess an uncanny organisational capacity—could it be directed toward reinvigorating the institutional Left? Overtaking it entirely? Are these generations beginning to vote en masse? Will new forms of party politics arise from these much more complex political landscapes of late-night bohemians that nonetheless have tasted the freedom of the TAZ?

    Evidently there are splits within the boomer demographic as well. The incumbent party that supposedly stands for fiscal conservatism—Canada’s delightful neoConservatives—has pursued a massive increase in military expenditure, including 30 billion dollars over 30 years on fighter jets (and without cost-saving measures of competitive contracts). The Conservatives have racked up the largest deficit in Canadian history, some 55.6 billion. Harper’s promise of fiscal conservatism is, moreover, encoded within a right-wing moral conservatism based upon fundamentalist Christian beliefs, including Stephen Harper’s involvement as a founding member of the pro-apartheid, pro-South Africa, pro-white Northern Foundation in the late 1980s (see more research on these connections here). The signs are everywhere of increasing neoConservative strategies: Conservative defunding of Planned Parenthood, and other indications of religious fundamentalists being placed in positions of power over, say, the portfolio of science and technology.

    Like, the Youth?

    As for the youth? A good point is made here, that winning the youth vote begins with respect. According to blogger AW Reeves, political parties need to

    talk about urban issues and green infrastructure; building better public transportation and supporting the arts; the importance of local and healthy food; of civic engagement, political participation, and the importance of taking pride in where you live (AW Reeves).

    In short, the issues of youth are, perhaps, more progressive and varied than those of mere education. I agree. I would’ve said the same in the mid-1990s when Generation Y came into the age of majority, but hey, we were too busy organising on cultural and political levels an entire collectivist movement of alterglobalization and electroniculture. And still, many voted. Or loudly protested its lack of options. However, it is worth noting that education is always defunded in proportion to the neoConservative increase in prisons. Education is a broader issue than just youth; it has to do with creating and sustaining an enlightened citizenry. Without it, we usher in the Tea Party mentality of the New Dumb. Is this not a neoConservative strategy?

    That Reeve’s optimism is tempered by his observation that seniors are a better bet strategically for enterprising political parties—”seniors have a stronger sense of the importance of voting, and more time on their hands typically”—only suggests yet more reasons to ignore the youth vote. Youth are the future of democracy, and always will be. In the ’60s the boomers understood their strength in numbers, which was repressed, it would seem, only through sheer violence (Kent State, COINTELPRO, assassination and imprisonment of activists) and over-indulgence (the excesses of the ’60s drug culture). While the Millenials do not exist as strength in sheer numbers, they can tip the scales if they vote.

    But is it feasible to expect an engagement with the papertrails and processes of democracy by a generation only connected through its disconnection, otherwise untouched by the concrete? The infiltration of existence by technical means of capture, screens & devices that effectively “capture consciousness,” has meant that an entirely new sphere of bubble-world existence is the new technico-ontological state of Millenial desire. And the highly powerful yet seemingly invisible nation-state does not appear within this social radar of the captured consumer kids—at least not until the VOTE APP.

    The Black Box of Control

    Indeed, why not a VOTE APP? The answer remains resoundingly negative for all the reasons the white hat hackers of 2600 have exposed concerning the control mechanisms contained within electronic voting machines (which probably delivered Florida on a few occasions for Bush) as well as the lack of security, transparency and accountability once information is rendered digital.

    This suggests that, quite profoundly, democracy is a fleshy and breast-to-breast encounter, if even with the ballot slip. Its effort of engagement underscores its significance to the collective capacity of discourse and organisation that sustains the nation-state. Like, dude, one cannot VOTE by hitting the LIKE button.

    ../…. .

      from the ashes: counter-file the DMCA

      April 15th, 2011 | 2 comments

      Recently, I had a draft copy of a published article removed from Scribd. The article, Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemet’s CaleNdarON, had been published in excerpted form in Leonardo Music Journal (13, 2003) and in full form in the February 2004 edition of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. However for many years it had been offline, with its original URL long dead. For these reasons I had personally archived not the final published copy but my Word document on Scribd—that is until a DMCA letter from the invisible lawyers over at MIT Press forced Scribd to remove the document. Needless to say I was flabbergasted that an academic press would be removing an author’s archives from the web when, as a Press, it had failed to provide legacy access to its published archives. You can read the details here.

      Two weeks ago I emailed off a counter-file DMCA notice to Scribd and to MIT Press’ legal team. Just yesterday I received the following from Scribd:

      What this probably means is that the two week window for a legal response has passed, and by default I’ve won this round. We’ll see what happens next.

      The article is now back online at Scribd: “Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemet’s CaleNdarON“.

      Two awesome things have come out of this intriguing episode:

      (1) Counter-file DMCA notices (sometimes) work.

      (2) I entered into a very enlightening and revealing conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Lanfranco Aceti. We discussed various options for republishing, including his team’s efforts to convert the LEA archives to Kindle, and the ups/downs of Amazon’s closed, proprietary format (for the record, I’m in favour of OpenLib and/or PDF, at least). We also talked about micropayment systems and the difficulty of managing hundreds of authors in such a system while acknowledging something of the necessity of doing so. From this conversation, something of an edited exchange will be published over on the LEA blog. I’ll keep you posted.

      .. // ../ ..

        when the night was young

        April 12th, 2011 | 6 comments

        we had dreams / when the night was young
        we were believers / when the night was young
        we could change the world / stop the war
        never seen nothing like this before
        that was back / when the night was young

        —Robbie Robertson, “When The Night Was Young” (2011)

        In this wasteland of democratic vision known as the Harper Government, previously the nation state of Canada, only 60% of Canadians vote. The absentee 40% is disproportionately composed of youth. Where are they?

        Well, besides the hopelessly lost millenials that are either too busy making videos of themselves online doing dirty things and/or otherwise engaged in some form of chat/text relationship that involves staring at a tiny screen for hours on end, there are engaged youth, and not only that, politically active and organised youth. Plenty of them. So then, which national party courts the largest youth support? The NDP? The Liberals? The new, young, suit & tie neoChristian Conservatives? Nay indeed, it’s the Green Party, which received a million votes nationwide and yet whose leader, Elizabeth May, has been barred from tonight’s national debate of party leaders.

        What are the psychosocial reasons for barring the Green Party from national politics? What reasoning could be so strong as to bring together a “unanimous” decision from all encumbered political parties and media organisations, including the “liberal biased” CBC?

        Let us restate the question: which element of the population is currently the dominant social group (and has been for generations), wielding vast ownership of economic assemblages and thus over political lobbying? The boomers. United as youth radicals, they are now apparently united as self-defenders of their own narrow interests. Or: the hippies are now aging potheads/growers in the Islands, and what’s left are the squareheads who missed the ’60s and, through attrition and devious underhanded support from the old Establishment, have come in to grasp the reins.

        Whatever the case, the old boomers are voting only for their aging interests. And like their parents, they are also silencing youth electoral politics. The boomers have easily adjusted to their role as the new Establishment in ousting the Greens.

        For the past 15 years, the fattest population swell in the Western hemisphere has retained its socioeconomic power by refusing to retire. Boomers are keeping jobs, claiming pensions and eating up health care. At the same time, a significant proportion of boomers want privatization of Canada’s health care system—at the expense of their own (grand)children. To paraphrase VICE from a few years back, the burden of their pampered lives will cost everyone else for the foreseeable future to-come. Welcome to Generation Mess.

        And so all the major parties are courting the boomers. Doing whatever it takes.

        For the children of the boomers, if this great game of appeasing the aging & empowered continues, there will be no pension plan, no healthcare, and no job security unless changes are made. There will also be no attempt to address climate change, but I digress. Steps to combat narrow-interested ageism need to happen by upsetting the current balance of power in the political arena. And this arena, thanks to the unanimous consortium of boomer interests, has been cordoned off into a 4-ring circus of the boomer elite. Without the Green Party, there is no representation of youth voters. And without youth voters, there is little hope for the future of democratic process in Canada. And with that, Canada has been sold hook, line & sinker to the greater behemoth—the global powers of corporatism and untethered greed. For the boomers will sell all, souls included, just to live a little longer. Water? Privatize it with P3. Health care? Dismantle & privatize. Two-tiers, of course, with the best for rich boomers, and the dregs for everyone else. FOX news loves it. So does Sarah Palin.

        By the time the boomers finally pass on, the state of the state will be a sorry one indeed. Progressive politics, forward-thinking positions that eschew left/right to seek solutions to the great problems of our time, environmental, economic, social and technological, that require studied approaches that remix socialist, anarcho-libertarian, conservative and liberal playbooks, and that seek coalition-building rather than belligerent name-calling—indeed all the various ways in which the Green Party confounds Canada’s dull spectrum of mainstream parties will be forced to take a back seat to the narrow interests of increasingly conservative agendas—based upon doctrines of fear & panic—as long as the fat & aging swell of the population exercises their narrow ageism over the vast diversity of Canadians.

        And that is what I learned years ago from Geography 112 (and a certain Mr. Fadum of IB Geography—but I digress, again). And nothing, unfortunately, has changed, except that all of us now are getting older. And by the time that whomever is left with patience and strength from the following generations grabs the tired reigns of this state, it will be be a smoldering shadow, indeed, of what once was.

         

         

          21C book burning: Scribd & the DMCA

          March 22nd, 2011 | 7 comments

          \ I’m not sure what to say about this, considering that the essay existed in PDF form not from Leonardo but from my own Word document. Leonardo never even gave me a PDF, nor a Galley proof, for that matter. Is it Leonardo / MIT Press that is blanket-searching Scribd for phrases that may correspond to their own published material?

          If so, I never signed over copyright to them [see below]—I wasn’t paid for this piece, nor was it printed on paper. It was relegated to an abstract at the back of the printed Journal, with the piece distributed over email and online. It lacked proper formatting and remained generally unread because of its poor presentation. From what I remember of discussions with other authors, those of us who were “bumped” in this manner were not impressed. This is precisely why I am behind cracking open the locked vaults of academic knowledge. Enough overpaid subscriptions to ivory towers. Viva Open Access Publishing!

          As far as I am concerned, this is censorship—not of the malicious, targeted-kind,  as if I am spreading some kind of samizdat here, but of the dumb, computers-are-fucking-us-over-kind, aided & abetted by some lawyer somewhere who is currently earning more than all the authors he is screwing-blind combined. Thus I proudly present the paper in its pirate lair, where it has been drinking merrily for years:

          Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemets’ CaleNdarON

          Leonardo Music Journal 13; Leonardo Electronic Almanac: Groove Pit and Wave. MIT P: 2003/2004.

          The more these commercial distribution services like Youtube, Soundcloud, etc, pander to blanket-DMCA requests generated by some robot somewhere, the more it forces a redistribution into decentralized nodes of underground information. Just imagine—in the future, you won’t even be able to use citation on a blog as the Internet Robot will immediately recognise the use of someone’s words without permission. (Remember, Hallmark owns the copyright to “Happy Birthday”…).

          Think it won’t happen? Think again. Because when machines do the reading, they don’t think—they just execute a binary decision based upon a percentile of a parameter matched. Think about that. The technocracy is indeed a troubling concern.

          ../../

          23 March 2011: An update–see my counter-file DMCA notice. I did sign over copyright to ISAST, but I retain specific rights which, as I interpret it, include publishing the article in my own “anthology” on Scribd. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’d sign such a broad agreement today for an unpaid piece that does not guarantee (a) a publication format; (b) reversion of rights to author should the Press fail to keep the work in print;  (c) renumeration rights for paid electronic distribution services (i.e. Kindle); and (d) the right to electronically distribute for educational and academic purposes (not just “photocopy” for teaching—note  the imbalance of rights, where the publisher retains all future-forward electronic rights of distribution while the author can only photocopy as a means of distributing their own article for teaching purposes!). From the Publication Agreement:

          Agreement:  We are pleased to have the privilege of publishing your Article in a forthcoming issue of  Leonardo Music Journal. By your signature below, you hereby grant all your right, title, and interest including copyright for the text, layout, and image placement of the Article, to The International Society for the Arts Sciences and Technology (ISAST).

          Rights Reserved by Author: You hereby retain and reserve for yourself a non-exclusive license: 1.) to photocopy the Article for use in your own teaching activities as long as the article is not offered for sale, and 2.) to publish the Article, or permit it to be published, as a part of any book you may write, or in any anthology of which you are an editor, in which the Article is included or which expands or elaborates on the Article, unless the anthology is drawn primarily from Leonardo Music Journal.  As a condition of reserving this right, you agree that MIT Press and Leonardo Music Journal will be given first publication credit, and proper copyright notice will be displayed on the work (both on the work as a whole and, where applicable, on the Article as well) whenever such publication occurs.

          It’s worth reiterating that I gave MIT Press free content. Their DMCA shennanigans strikes at the very core of why academics publish: to see the work distributed and archived. To this end, MIT Press is not meeting its obligations, as the content is no longer available online. This is the link provided for the article; it no longer exists:

          http://mitpress2.mit.edu/e-journals/LEA/TEXT/Vol_12/lea_v12_n02.txt

          So after failing to distribute and archive the article, MIT Press then strikes it off the Net with a DMCA. Why? I believe the answer is here:

          With the re-launch of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) we inherited a rich historical collection of writings and thematic issues that spans twenty years.

          Historical collections, particularly historical collections of digital media hosted over the Internet, have had a tendency to disappear with the closure of a server or to be left abandoned on a database hosted on the hard drive of a dusty computer in the department of a university. The editorial choice for LEA was not simply that of re-presenting the same material, but to propose to the academic, artistic and scientific communities to re-engage with issues and themes 20 years later. The idea is to develop new discourses, re-attempt to put to rest old diatribes and to engage with the developments in the field of the interactions between art, science and technology.

          The editorial choice I made was to collect the old material and make it available on Kindle, remediating the old format and rekindling old arguments and passions by finalizing arguments that appear to no longer have relevance and by breathing new life in to historical subject areas that are still relevant today, picking up from the threads left by the pioneers and commentators of the recent past.  [Lanfranco Aceti, Editor-in-Chief, LEA]

          What does this mean? It means that Leonardo/MIT Press/ISAST failed to keep up their end of the publishing contract, which is to maintain the electronic source online. Since they’ve now repackaged the lot and published it with Kindle, they’ve got the lawyers hopping across the internets striking down the content that authors have since self-published or otherwise distributed due to the complete failure of LEA to maintain a proper digital archive.

          And that, my friends, is why closed academic publishing in a digital, online environment is a complete mistake. Don’t sign such agreements. Renegotiate. Nobody wants their work locked up on some “dusty computer in the department of a university”, which is precisely what the LEA has done. Republishing on Kindle is not sufficient, in my opinion, to uphold the original contract, which called for online publication in the Journal. So where are the LEA’s archives? Why is content dating back to the early ’90s being sold when the content was never paid for to begin with? Why isn’t the LEA making such content free and open to the public?

          Indeed.

          ././.

            Dancecult 2 (1): we’re back

            March 21st, 2011 | 4 comments

            For many moons now I have been toiling away on Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture as the incoming Managing Editor. Lo, this is volunteer labour, and a hearty dose it has been, from taking over the reins of our Open Access publishing platform, OJS—which is a cranky beast indeed—to completely upending the Dancecult StyleGuide (DSG) so that it conforms—well, almost conforms—to the Chicago Manual of Style 16th ed.. The kind of labour I perform is exemplary of the overeducated precariat: technical server administration; web production; design and layout production and direction; editing and copyediting; technical manual writing and production; human resources; workflow management; all-around tinkering & troubleshooting.

            Here’s a slice into a typical Dancecult session—begin with double-espresso and/or late-night wine. Chat with Operations Assistant Neal Thomas as I edit PHP, tinker with TPL, use root SSH to get all CHMOD, manage a CPanel reinstall and transfer, setup MySQL databases and fix CSS, and do all manner of technical support for the Journal as we try to figure out how to upgrade this stubborn beast. At the same time, I am engaged in an email storm with Executive Editor Graham St John and the Copyeditors as we overhaul the DSG, where I act as a a senior copyeditor and the last pair of eyes for every single piece of text you see published. As my mind approaches meltdown, I run next door and meet with Art Director Cato Pulleyblank. We are transferring over the existing workflow to Adobe InDesign, redesigning the entire publication layout, from fonts to margins, styles to protocols, in the process. Cato redesigns Dancecult’s logo with Graham and I’s input, drawing up visual conventions for web promotions and style protocols, throwing down hours of pro bono in the process. And that is still not all. To get this beast underway, I check in with the Production Team, which has been assembled from a call for precarious labour. I check in on Director Gary Botts Powell to see how our new Production Assistants (Luis-Manuel Garcia, Ed Montano and Botond Vitos) are doing with the HTML conversions. From their feedback I improve the HTML production guide which I have writ to explain the rather complex process involved in converting Word’s garble to appropriate XHTML (Transitional, of course). Meanwhile I carry out all of the Journal’s InDesign layout for PDF production, and draw up a Guide for that too—though I doubt anyone else will be touching it for awhile, due to the complexity and attention to detail involved. As the midnight hour flips over into morning, I edit and fix all HTML returned from the newly-minted production crew. Eventually, after a few weeks of such routines, I publish it all on OJS and fix all the broken things. Graham and I celebrate over Skype. It is early afternoon for him, and a late night for me. We virtually clink the beers.

            Now that would sound like a lot of self-aggrandizing hype if it wasn’t for the fact that all of us involved do all this unpaid and yet—damn straight—produce an extraordinarily professional Journal. Meanwhile, I watch other academic funding agencies throw down bloatware cash to pay the poorly-trained to pump out some pitiful excuse for a research platform. I’m not sure what my point is here, though I am looking forward to seeing some capitalist renumeration for such a plethora of skillz. Bring on the meritocracy, I say.

            * * *

            DANCECULT | Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture
            ==================
            Volume 2 • Number 1 • 2011
            ==================
            http://dj.dancecult.net/

            Dancecult returns with two themes: the dystopian and remix aesthetics of Detroit and a special section on the Love Parade.

            While you read, take a look around. Dancecult has taken a new step forward in the visualization of the Journal, with a complete redesign of our PDF publications and logo. It is also our first edition featuring the volunteer efforts of our Production and Copyediting Teams. Congratulations to all for their efforts.

            Graham St John
            Executive Editor

            tobias c. van Veen
            Managing Editor

             

            ## Feature Articles ##

            Disco’s Revenge: House Music’s Nomadic Memory
            — Hillegonda C. Rietveld

            Hooked on an Affect: Detroit Techno and Dystopian Digital Culture
            — Richard Pope

            Maintaining “Synk” in Detroit: Two Case Studies in the Remix Aesthetic
            — Carleton S. Gholz

            Festival Fever and International DJs: The Changing Shape of DJ Culture in Sydney’s Commercial Electronic Dance Music Scene
            — Ed Montano

            ## From the Floor ##

            Nomads in Sound vol. 1
            — Anna Gavanas

            # Special Section on the Love Parade #

            Where is Duisburg? An LP Postscript HTML
            — Sean Nye, Ronald Hitzler

            Party, Love and Profit: The Rhythms of the Love Parade (Interview with Wolfgang Sterneck)
            — Graham St John

            Pathological Crowds: Affect and Danger in Responses to the Love Parade Disaster at Duisburg
            — Luis-Manuel Garcia

            ## Reviews ##

            Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification (Anthony Kwame Harrison) PDF
            — Rebecca Bodenheimer

            The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance (Graham St John)
            — Rupert Till

            Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound (Tara Rodgers)
            — Anna Gavanas

            Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures (Graham St John)
            — Philip Ronald Kirby

            Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Steve Goodman)
            — tobias c. van Veen

            Music World: Donk (Dir. Andy Capper)
            — Philip Ronald Kirby

            Speaking in Code (Dir. Amy Grill)
            — tobias c. van Veen

            ===========
            DANCECULT 2 (1)
            http://dj.dancecult.net
            ===========

              DiY Revolution

              March 4th, 2011 | 1 comment

              Adorned with all the signs of insecurity.

              If one did want to instigate a mass uprising against an authoritarian regime, how would one go about doing so? What steps are involved? Sure, one could look at various passages in Marx to grasp the economic motivators of social unrest – poverty, disparity, the mechanics of capital as a system of alienation and exploitation – but Marx, rather infamously, won’t teach you much concerning what to do about it.

              Ditto for Che Guevara — unfortunately in the best tradition of the (negative) dialectic, his Diaries only tell you what one should not do, which is start guerilla war in a foreign country where the locals aren’t particularly interested in having you there.

              Reading up on the French revolution is as engaging as it is instructive (and do watch Danton), though the lessons to be drawn from 1789 through Napoleon, and the American and English Revolutions respectively, is that any major upheaval that destabilizes the pillars of a society – including its engines of economic trade and fabric of social reciprocity – has resulted in generations of bloodsheed, counterrevolution, military dictatorship, soft reinstatement of previous systems of exploitation and privilege, organised criminality masquerading as revolutionary zeal, destructive and nihilist infighting and outright civil – if not Total – war.

              Indeed, it remains entirely unclear whether humanity is capable of undertaking massive socioeconomic change without such violence and its repercussions (and this includes the “hidden” violence of globalized capital), which brings one directly to the 20th century and the various attempts to commandeer such violence through a revolutionary vanguard. Yet even the good intentions and creative energies of the various antifascist socialist revolutions gave in to an overwhelming paranoia — that by beheading the despot king, a vacuum had been ripped open in the metaphysical fabric of the cultural imaginary that simply had to be filled. And so the abyss was given over to the singularity of the absolute once again, feeding the ravenous cult of the despot, that destructive violence of supplementarity – the addition necessary for the whole to become whole – rendered flesh. Even radical communism could not escape the logic of the sacrificial god (or as some would have it, rather did such a system only intensify the phallogocentrism of the golden bough). As each State became a surveillance State with its gulag archipelagos, its internal purges  met or exceeded – in its modern, industrial organisation of death and repression – whatever monarchical-autocracy that preceded it.

              And we have not yet even touched upon the echo chamber of violence that has seemingly overtaken postcolonial struggles and turned them inside out. Nearly each postcolonial revolution of the mid-20th century has turned into some caricature of its former self as it perpetuates the cycle of violence that brought it into power, rather than dealing with the more mundane task of organising some kind of peaceful and participatory State. Violence is addictive, a high, as any member of organised (or unorganised) crime will tell you: violence is hardwired into the human, and boy, do we love it, in all its most depraved and sadistic forms. Which brings us to the continent of Africa and the Middle East, replete with its petty dictators – many armed with nuclear weapons, of course – that preside over endless parades, publicly stroking their egos, playing out a kind of patriarchal onanism often fetishized with self-stitched uniforms, sunglasses, dorky hats and numerous long and ridiculous titles such as Leader of the Grand Revolution of Such-and-Such-Day, Hero Of Our Fallen Martyrs The SteelWorkers of Some Village, etc., etc., etc..

              None of which helps much when in our contemporary moment the entire populace living under the State terrorism of such regimes of absolute violence – cartoon leaders are always the most dangerous – suddenly tips over into a state of all-out insurrection. No-holds-barred, we will die for this style, absolute overthrowing of seemingly absolute power — this is what is happening and, despite all the revolutionary history behind us, new and old, the story is the same and yet every time the outcome is utterly unknown: we can know absolutely nothing about the possible outcome of any of the particular (yet connected) forces at work. Military dictatorships? More than possible. Slow transitions of existing institutions to democratic models? Possible too. Mass slaughter and civil war? Already happening.

              What is intriguing is possibly where some of the current dis/organisation comes from. Move over Marx, and meet Gene Sharp. Here’s DiY Revolution in eight (easy?) steps:

              • Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want
              • Overcome fear by small acts of resistance
              • Use colours and symbols to demonstrate unity of resistance
              • Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements
              • Use non-violent “weapons”
              • Identify the dictatorship’s pillars of support and develop a strategy for undermining each
              • Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement
              • Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence

                to punish & humiliate

                January 20th, 2011 | No comments yet

                The Brits understand that the basic purpose of comedy is not to delight or entertain, it’s to punish and humiliate. It’s to “make sport” and get as close to getting punched in the face as possible. Despite the general squalor of that country, they are still kind of the experts on certain aspects of western culture. [ Robyn Marshal ]

                .. commenting on Ricky Gervais, who began with this in 2010:

                Given free reign in 2011:

                More to be said on Gervais’ ability to humiliate & punish with restraint in near equal amounts.

                  yes, we are all individuals

                  January 20th, 2011 | 3 comments

                  Spiritualization became precisely the vehicle of authoritarian directives at the same time that it urges followers to embrace narcissistic individualism.

                  We’re really setting ourselves up for fascism, because as we empty more and more kinds of values – motivating principles, spiritual principles almost – out of the culture, we’re creating a hunger that is eventually going to drive us to the sort of state where we may accept fascism just because the nice thing about fascists is that they’ll tell you what to think, they’ll tell you what to do, they’ll tell you what’s important — and we as a culture aren’t doing that for ourselves yet. [ David Foster Wallace, 11 April 1996 ]

                  I am alone in this (with all these others) to defeat those who think otherwise. I alone will ascend upon the day of all days to the better place. It’s all about ensuring that I alone am picked for the afterparty. I know this because they told me so: that I am an individual and I only do what I want to do.

                  Thesis. The narcissistic individual is an empty contradiction: so hungry for meaning that he fills himself with the longing for transcendental absence; so convinced that any attempt to change the ways of concrete, cold reality falls only into the evil of human overdetermination (i.e., socialist barbarism), that all efforts at working for togetherness are suspect; thus so thirsty in proving that this individual relation with the One is all that there is, and all that there will ever be, that he will deny efforts by others to improve the situation of life on earth, in the hope that he will become one of the chosen few to experience true togetherness.

                  Indeed, proof of loyalty to the absent one consists precisely in organising against those who wish to live (and labour) through togetherness. To the work of togetherness is contrasted the promise of a very selective and chosen togetherness to-come, in which only those worthy and devoted enough to be together will be chosen by the master selector himself. To increase one’s chances, the task is to work together against those who seek to further the togetherness of work. Why is this?

                  1/ Contemporary fascism makes the individual believe s/he is part of a movement to take back control (from a representative structure, no less, i.e. government), when the matter is that the individual is a dead & dumb pawn in a powergame fought by nongovernmental powers, ie authoritarian entities, for control over the gameboard itself. Ironically, most individuals self-empowered believe that they know more of the truth of the situation and its levels of control (i.e., that Obama is a nonAmerican Muslim, that reptiles are fighting with/against the Illuminati — the realm of conspiracy theory).

                  2/ The structure of absence as a ruling power, and of the reward to-come, is operational perfection. Think about it. As a structure for control in which the Machiavellian wishes to convince the other to ultimate work against his or her interests, nothing can compete with having God on your side. Or rather nothing can compete, as nothing is precisely the ultimate weapon in the war over “hearts and minds.”

                  Strategy. Empowerment is deployed as the lure. The myth of the individual is the seductive strategy. The reward is believing oneself empowered (and possibly eternal), when the strategic result is that one has embraced long-term disenfranchisement. Spiritualism offers the conveniently unprovable and ultimate guarantee that the fight can indeed justify the sacrifice, the violence, the force. In various places on this planet, one sacrifices collective betterment (i.e. Health Care, good governance, democratic process), in others, one sacrifices life itself (enough said), both in exchange for a chance at the ultimate proof that one is, indeed, absolutely right about it all — that one is in control of one’s relation to ruling absence, and that this forever absent absence will, in the last word, reveal itself as the gift.

                  Yet what are the characteristics of this gift-giver? Or rather, given its absence, what are the effects wrought? For all there is of the gift-giver is not even its effects (for they too are absent), but the interpretation and archeology of their suspect signs.

                  Machiavelli today: what public relations firm has so warped the effects of the gift-giver that its signature trait can only emerge, today, as the force of violence? Or is violence the only possible trace, the only confirmation of the ultimate absence in its power? For anything else cannot be but anything less.

                    multitude & moloch

                    November 5th, 2010 | 5 comments

                    The evil within is worse than that without

                    For awhile I thought the inferences I had been drawing – of an unevenly distributed but nonetheless disastrous collapse of democratic institutions, from the precarization of labour to the corporatization of the university – were in part the afterglow of reading deep into the analyses and experiences of all-out totalitarianism. I had just completed Harrison Salisbury’s The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad, which had me imagining not only the horrors of war, but the horrors of a paranoid dictatorship seemingly incapable of recognising the danger in its midst, caught instead in a ceaseless and senseless purge of its own people…

                    The siege of Leningrad, which killed some 1.5 million through forced starvation alone, could not only have been avoided if Stalin had acted upon the early warning signs of Germany’s treachery, but was further compounded by Stalin’s paranoia, which froze independent thought and action among his generals and armed forces, paralyzing the defence of the Soviet Union from the Nazi blitzkrieg. Besides the fact that Stalin failed to heed the many reports and indications that Nazi Germany was amassing an army ready to annihilate the Soviet Union, the Kremlin politics of Stalin and his right-hand man Police Chief Beria ensured that the many who valiantly defended Leningrad, from the upper military echelons to the lower, as well as the many who sought to memorialize its tragedy, from artists to playwrights, from officers to museum directors and staff, were purged from within while the city was laid waste from without…

                    For years I have been reading William L. Shirer on the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Seven years ago nearly to the month, I began conducting historical studies on the topic, writing of some of it briefly in this post and here. Much has changed. At the time the figures involved were media supercaricatures, with the terrorist-fighting superduo of Bush and Blair paired up neatly against the evil  outlaws, the mysteriously invisible Bin Laden and the poster-boy of evil, Saddam Hussein. These supercaricatures rendered cartoon-like the embodied power of the sovereign even as their power operated, like classic Roadrunner cartoons of seemingly innocuous violence, through the politics of fear. To this end Massumi and Dean’s analyses of Reagan, the actor-president, the fiction of sovereignty – as the “Last Emperor” – proved uncanny and useful.

                    Each supercaricature had its trading-card qualities. Bush seemed so incredibly inept, so affable and stupid, that the violence of his gesture and the menace of his speech were all the more amplified. Bin Laden, gentle and effeminate, articulate and seemingly intelligent, was all the more horrific for he had successfully used his wealth to spawn a terrorist network that would live on even if he, as the head, was decapitated. Hussein was the most pitiful of them all. Dressed in the trappings of his ornamental uniform and adorned with the dictatorial moustache, Hussein the egoist tyrant seemingly never understood what he had done to upset his friends the United States, whom had previously supported his regime in the war against Iran. When Hussein was pulled from his hiding hole like a rat from the sewers, he had become a cartoon of power, and a convenient bogeyman for the noose.

                    The mad, mad multitude

                    Now it is not the supercaricature that rules the day. Rather, it is the undefined, faceless mass, the screaming, nonsensical, overabundance of flesh that weighs among the shouting many, the madding crowd, gun-toting, SUV-driving, flag-waving patriots, mouth agape, eyes angry and yet — so vacant, so devoid of worldliness. We are indeed witnessing the clash of the uncivilizations, whether it be a crowd of clerics screaming for the stoning of a women accused of dishonour because she was raped, or the mad yelling and gun-brandishing of Tea Partiers demanding that income tax be rescinded so that they can… so they can what exactly?

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