December 2003 Archives

Travelling breeze

Marianna, my partner in the perfect crime of a passionate life and delicious other half, has begun a bewitching new blog: travelling breeze.

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December 30, 2003 | 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Lycos voyeur

Search string voyeurism at its sexiest!

(via Nicolas Nova)

December 28, 2003 | 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
The beauty of Banksy

This revolution is for display purposes only - pure poetry and the sheerest stencil art from Banksy.

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December 28, 2003 | 03:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
I fought the Law (and the Lord won!)

Aljazeera reports on the first faith-based prison in the USA.

December 28, 2003 | 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Heretic thought for a sunday afternoon

I was just reading this transcript of a lecture on alchemy given by the wild man of ethno-botany Terence McKenna and thought I'd drop this quote into your sunday tea:

"We also are living in the twilight of a great empire, and I don't particularly mean the American empire, I mean the empire of European thinking created in the wake of the Protestant Reformation and the rise of modern industrialism, the empire, in short of science. Science has exhausted itself and become mere techni. It's still able to perform its magical tricks, but it has no claim on a metaphysic with any meaning because the program of rational understanding that was pursued by science has pushed so deeply into the phenomenon of nature that the internal contradictions of the method are now exposed for all to see. In discussing alchemy especially we will meet with the concept of the coincidencia apositorum-the union of opposites. This is an idea that is completely alien to science. It's the idea that nothing can be understood unless it is simultaneously viewed as both being what it is and what it is not and in alchemical symbolism we will meet again and again symbolical expression of the coincidencia apositorum. It may be in the form of a hermaphrodite, it may be in the form of the union of soul and Luna, it may be in the form of the union of Mercury with lead, or with sulphur, in other words alchemical thinking is thinking that is always antithetical, always holds the possibility of by a mere shift of perspective its opposite premise will gain power and come into focus."
December 21, 2003 | 05:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Visual landscape fossils

There's a great collection of hand-painted and hand-crafted signs over at NoRelevance.

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(via metal machine music)

December 20, 2003 | 04:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Illustrating noir

The artwork of Jean-Claude Claeys.

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(via cipango)

December 20, 2003 | 04:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
A shiver down my spine

History has a habit of repeating itself like a belch after a heavy meal. Sometimes I feel/think there are regressive, pest-like forces at work, gnawing away at the fragile fruits of freedom and democracy that began to timidly but insistently bloom in certain orchards of the globe last century. Then I wonder if this is just me.

Today I got an email from a dear American friend of mine. A guy in his seventies, a hard-boiled old-school reporter from New Jersey, a dig-wise archaeologist, former university professor. A man of many trades, lots of travel, a cynical outlook. Someone I spent many a day arguing politics with.

Of Italian origins, he's now trying to find out if he's eligible to apply for Italian citizenship. This is what he has to say:

"I can no longer accept the changed values in the US. I cannot in good conscience accept the current political structure. I fear for the future of my children and grandchildren... Bush is almost certain to be re-elected and my sister (a 78-yr-old retired lawyer and law professor) along with myself and 10's of thousands of other Americans, are truly fearful of a Hitlerian dictatorship in the not too distant future. If I can become a citizen, my sister will go the same route, and her children and grand-children will follow. Strangely, all of them are well-off middle-class professionals. They all are wealthy or border on wealthy. At the same time, all of us are political liberals... My sister and brother-in-law have already been 'fichado' by the FBI for participating in anti-Iraq war rallies..."
December 16, 2003 | 05:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
Downhill battle - music activism

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(via Elastico)

December 13, 2003 | 09:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
New fashions for an ancient job

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(via Spitting Image)

December 12, 2003 | 09:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
wsis? wfcr!

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December 11, 2003 | 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
wsis? we seize!

WSIS? We Seize! is an open platform for interventions in, outside of, counter to and as an alternative to the angendas and organization of the World Summit on the Information Society.

High Noon is one of its projects:

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(via Neural)

December 11, 2003 | 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
High school USA, just the other day

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(via American Samizdat and Spitting Image)

December 11, 2003 | 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
I saw a photo of Paul Bowles

I saw a photo of Paul bowles in a men's fashion magazine the other day. It was part of a photo-essay on dressing gowns. There he sat with a cat. So apt, for a writer so feline-like. Whose sentences move across his prose with the grace and leanness of a street cat roaming the oneiric alleyways of a casbah looking for the kill.

Bridging the dandy with the beat, Bowles was a unique figure and a great writer of the twentieth century. He peeked behind the exotica of foreign settings to reveal dark and dangerous places, often leading to derangement and death, in a handful of novels and short stories that burn and dazzle with the intensity of ice-cold gems.

I saw this other photo too, with only the back of his head in view, and as a portrait it was beautifully true:

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(The above image is copyright Cherie Nutting and resides on the authorized Paul Bowles site)

December 10, 2003 | 05:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Grid blogging II - Ritual (a new invitation)

Following the positive feedback and the desire to continue with the grid blog project expressed by a variety of different quarters, it seems like the right time to gear up to a second grid blogging day. Erik of hypothemic proposed a couple of themes: "ritual" or "information", with the former being seconded by Jean of creativity machine. I must admit that I find "ritual" particularly appealing and believe it has the potential to generate some very interesting contributions. I also think that it combines and contrasts well with the previous "brand" theme.

To provide a similar gestation period to the first grid blog, I propose the 15 of January 2004 as the date for the [grid::ritual]. Once again, a topic exchange channel (like the one set up by Abe of abstract dynamics for [grid::brand]) will provide an easy way to give visibility to one's participation and will provide RSS and trackback functionality. And perhaps we can give this second grid blog a different twist, a different taste.

But I'll leave my considerations on possible evolutions/mutations of grid blogging to another post. For the time being I hope those that took part in the first event will find the new topic exciting, and join in again. Just as it would be great to see new blogs on the grid.

What do you think?

December 09, 2003 | 05:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)
Prison cell pictures

Cellules: Michel Gasarian's pictures of pictures that adorn French prison cells.

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December 04, 2003 | 04:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
[grid::brand] lost in grid

It has been an exciting experience. Following the posts made ride a time-wave out of New Zealand westwards towards Europe and onwards to the Americas. Ending up in blog neighbourhoods never visited before. Tracing tribal clusterings.

The turnout has been positive. The quality and variety of contributions excellent. Prior to Dec. 1, I was not sure if there was going to be real sense or value in this kind of activity. My feeling today is that grid blogging can be an effective tool in drawing attention to the multiple facets that make up any issue of substance in these complexity-ridden times. And "brand" made for a powerful example of this. The [grid::brand] felt like a self-assembling anthology, a time stamped snapshot of what "brand" means and feels like to a group of diverse online individuals.

Loads of perspectives emerged: conscientious provided a mix of image and text that merged the personal with theory. Over at glowlab Heidi Cody provided a brilliantly concise history of Times Square, while junk for code approached branding from a city angle together with considerations on the gift economy. Abstract dynamics and antipopper offered a critique of Adbusters et al, with musing on culture jamming being offered also by synapse chronicles. Douglas Rushkoff posted a chapter on the history of brand from his book "coercion". V-2 tells the tale of Indian milk and the bi-directional flow of brands. Purse lip square jaw takes us up the Amazon with the Avon lady while musing on the way brands act. Anti-mega offered questions on interaction design, while confectious discussed why graphic design is not harmless. Visual interpretations were made by city of sound and quasimeta. Datacloud looked at the emergence of corporatesubjectivities, abyssal mind at self-definition through brand, and the chutry experiment mingled theory with the personal. Other musings were found at pedabloggy and hypothemic. Backburner looked at wearing history through brands while submit response discussed the English "casual" sub-culture. Nicolas nova proposed a game of psychogeographical branding.Creativity machine looked at what other grid bloggers were saying. Empires of the mind and consumptive offered link rolls. And freegorifero wondered if grid::blogging had become a brand!

In different languages,onde anda su? took part from Brasil, together with the Slovenian festival of radical communication memefest.

An interesting aspect of this first grid blog was the clustering of posts from specific communities of interest. Emergent kiwi, jonny barker, the corner, tall skinny kiwi, dydimustk, peregrinatio, bechurch and jordon cooper are all Christian-focused blogs that took part. And are now planning an Advent grid::blog for december 7!

Members of the coaching community in the U.S. also got turned on by the potentials of grid blogging: coach blog, reforming project management, how to become a hero, agile business, and seduction of the mind.

Finally respect to the following for taking part:corporatePR, engage, canuckflack, mediaburn, brett blog city, ferro lad, life(?) of trillian, the left end of the dial, concepts from a buntiful mind, dani, meow,something about nothing, MDN, funny face, I love you.

I'd be interested to know what other thought. Perhaps we can do it again sometime.

December 04, 2003 | 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)
[grid::brand] Brand new second-hand living

Between the glittering intersections of anywhere-America, the car speeds past billboards advertising other cars, on its way to a hospital. The red of the traffic light reminds the driver of how much he needs a maxi-sized coke. "Nearly there", he says to his wife in labour. Outside the delivery room he paces and leafs through one magazine after the other. "It's a boy. Have you chosen a name?" the mid-wife asks. "Timberland", he proudly replies.

Elsewhere a geek is getting an Apple tattooed on his shoulder. Deeper in the bowels of the transmetropolitan sprawl, someone is getting branded, skin-deep. On a TV screen, CNN helps brand the monster and the saint. The same image on a different screen reflects the view of a Bangkok street lined with stall-sellers pushing the illegitimate twins of cloned labels.

Years ago one afternoon, I stood in the Tuscan countryside, behind a Franciscan monastery, fishing in a pond. The 10-year son of a cousin being apologetic that the fishing rod he had given me was not a designer one.

On the train from Rome to Milan the other day, a guy from some food-watchdog NGO is lecturing the three twentysomethings sat next to him about what can and cant be eaten, like some alter ego of the Man from Del Monte. From time to the time, the three asked questions about brands and supermarkets, never about generic foodstuff.

All the above act as ads, random trailers, to the blockbuster movie of our times: the brand-saturated life.

Now, beyond all the urgent considerations involving the current hyper-liberalisation drive that replaces people with the prayer for maximising profit and which hides behind the smiling font of a shiny logo, what intrigues me is the level of intimacy reached by the pervasiveness of brand in what we know as life. The layer it interfaces between desire and act.

A brand is a name is a brand. As a species, after all, we are extremely fond of giving names. But what is recalled by a brand?

I remember one summer dawn when I was sixteen, after a night full of (no)future and Roman punks, dossing at someone's house, and everybody was asleep and a ray of light filtered through the blinds and shone across ten or so pairs of 10-hole Dr Martens in a row. The image of those boots blasting like a three-minute song.

There was some article somewhere blogged a few weeks ago about implanting brand-friendly false memories in "consumers". Beyond any fictional recollection, beyond the Saatchi & Saatchi-sad lovemarks, first-hand memories are peppered with brands.

But are they props or protagonists? In an experience economy, do we risk impoverishing the depth and breadth of our experience? Is not the act of consumption reductive? After all, a car consumes gas but we can delight in a banquet.

Ultimately, I find I return to the same question like I do to a pair of Levi's: excluding finances for a fanciful once, what makes us wealthy or poor?

It's getting late. Outside the lazy sound of rain is broken by the chime of a medieval church bell. A reminder of our antiquity.

Unsure if something has been said or if this has just been senseless zapping through satellite thought-channels. Feeling a bit like Travolta in Grease singing: "stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool..."

December 01, 2003 | 01:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
[grid::brand] Grid bloggers are go!

As december kicks in here in western europe, here's an updated list of today's grid bloggers a-go-go.

William Abraham Blaze has kindly organized some cool support to this jive here. It provides an easy way of giving visibility to and tracking/following posts and provides an RSS feed to those that like their blogs delivered to their home computer.

Enjoy!

December 01, 2003 | 01:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)