Friday, June 24, 2011

Interests

I have hated the vagueness of the word "interesting" in its most typical use for a long time. This has been so at least since I first went to a painting critique. It is a habitual word, and is surely vague for a reason, though this vagueness is exploited; a painting critique is an instance where the word will be misused for the sake of politeness, whenever someone, having nothing to say about a perfectly dull and unremarkable canvas randomly selects some detail to describe as "interesting."

I wish to speak economically, but I know some statements require qualifications despite the precise correspondence of the literal statement to the speakers own intended meaning.

There must be at least four different ways a person can utter the word "what." And there is a spectrum of subtly different meanings to be derived from this manifold, each of which is likely to be readily and easily understood by any hearing subject.

I think again about the idea that if cigarettes were to become more interesting it would be a disaster for the tobacco industry and I know what I mean. I mean to speak of something like a meta-interest, or an interest of an anthropological sort.

But at the same time, cigarettes already are interesting in themselves because they provide a source of additional detail about one. When I say that each new phenomenon which enters a culture complicates the meanings and values of things already established, this is where the interest of cigarettes inheres. Identity is not entirely given. It is provisionary. One's identity is expanded upon by partaking in the constructed meanings of things like cigarette brands. This aspect of their use -- that is, their meaning -- is the interest which is no threat to the persistence of smoking. It is in fact its greatest aid.

Yet this interest must be bracketed in a blind spot of conscious awareness while plainly manifest, lest it become the threateningly aware interest that it will become if it, too, appears in sight.

But I am always suspicious that distinctions like these two sorts of interest (one in cigarettes and the other about cigarettes) will only become obscured in and by the very light of their being explained.

What else is academia?

Every field of inquiry has advanced over the last century to a level that requires years of study just to become adequately acquainted with its groundwork.

Every thing is complex.

Why expect that understanding won't take any more work than sitting back and drinking a beer and watching an episode of "How I Met Your Mother?"

We think in the midst of gleeful, populistic nihilism -- self-righteous, eagerly indignant, quick to arbitrary moralization, and always absolutely certain.

Our thinking is only wanted to the extent it may further advance the wanting of wanting and the liking of liking.

Slims

The notion of smoking cigarettes is inextricable from the notion of a job to me.

I remember having a job where I worked with an old lady who smoked Misty's and everything about it was so depressing.

Isn't Misty's supposed to be like the spunkier version of Virginia Slims?

But how could one even know that?

I have the sense.

Nothing in my reality corroborates that sense, yet the sense is still palpable.

The package does have that pastel rainbow smeared on it.

Why do I think Virginia Slims are so much more stately than Misty's?

I know nothing of the taste of either, and I would doubt any substantial difference would be possible.

It is clear enough that marketing can only psychoanalyze, generalize, and make claims and suggest promises; it washes its hands of the miserable reality in which these claims and implicit promises will be received. And thus, spunkiness and misery go hand in hand.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

prompts

We are solicited constantly, if indirectly, for our opinions. And it is seldom that we really ought even have one, given the nature of the objects of these solicitations.

(Even the opinion that a given topic is absurd, once voiced through a prompt, becomes itself too positivistic as an opinion itself to possess the innocence of disinterest or "authenticity.")

Meanwhile, we are conditioned to only suspect those activities where cash is explicitly exchanged (or, more abstractly, produced.)

However, to suggest this conditioning involves no complicity on "our own part," so to speak, is equally naive as supplying an opinion or suspecting only blunt cash transactions.

If you only suspect Facebook is engaged in social control on account of its pointless and easily overlooked advertisements, the truth of technicity has completely eluded you.

If you imagine commercialism is limited to the hundred-or-so seconds between eight minutes of programming on any given television station, you have gravely misunderstood both the nature of commerce as well as that of programming.

The nature of consumer subjectivity, as it is presented, as it is imagined -- the very mode by which consumption is suggested as consumable -- is an anathema to the idea of "the consumer." Rather, it is the "rugged individual" with totally (or ostensibly) autonomous and free desires who is, ironically, courted by industry as a desirer.

But desire itself is so integral to normative socialization that it is too close for recognition, even as we engage in it jaded and ironically. In the same way that to imagine the apocalypse is easier than to imagine even a shift in the presiding economic structure, an evaluation of the nature of desire and desirability as it relates to social relations is a task which requires one to leave behind the horizon. And there are indeed even false horizons...

Deceit may deceive. 

Irony is a slave morality.

Affluence is over in more ways than one.


"The great mass of people naturally have no opinion but—here it comes!—this deficiency is remedied by the journalists who make their living by renting out opinions. Gradually, as more and more people are wrenched free of the condition of innocence in which they were by no means obliged to have an opinion and are forced into the ‘condition of guilt’ … in which they must have an opinion, what can the unfortunate people do? An opinion becomes a necessary item for every member of the enormous public, so the journalist offers his assistance by renting out opinions."