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Showing posts from March 31, 2013

critique in the age of whatever

I went to a groovy coffee shop the other day. Prayer flags. A wall dedicated to poor children, smiling toothily (or not) in photos, serving as an advertising prop to sell accessories in which the gimmick is assuring the consumer that the merchandizer will shift some of the ready, or an inkind equivalent, to the kids. Smiley clean moral people behind the counter. So there I am, and suddenly I feel an advent of that futile senile anger that I am sure I will spend years expressing. I become, in a word, more Walter Sobjackish – so after ordering a latte and a drip, I point to a camera high on the wall behind the cashier, under which there is a smiley face and the words, smile, you’re on camera, and I ask her whether she felt the slogan was a way of making us feel actually happy about losing our basic freedom not to be surveilled or watched. These words came out of my mouth, I am sure, in good order, nary a messup in syntax, but the woman’s face (she was probably nineteen) showed utt

Another note on Nostromo

Conrad was a logistics man before he was an author. Unlike Melville, whose sea experience, as Charles Olson notes, was in an assembly line – in as much as the whale was caught, cut up, and its oil extracted on board ship – Conrad sailed with the middle men, the truckers and dealers. This experience within a small node of the greater global market system made Conrad sensitive to both the pre-capitalist mentality – which lent its aura of romance to the seaman – that the dealer was constantly in contact with in the far places of the earth, and one of the fundamental facts of capitalism – the dominance of exchange. Everything turns into money in the system – everything is fungible. In actual fact, pre-capitalist notions pervaded, and still pervade, the system. When pure capitalism penetrates a certain a-capitalist level, the level of more complicated exchanges, it undermines itself, for capitalism is parasitic on the economies it supposedly supercedes. The x marks the spot wher