|363Disembodied coupling w/ Straw Dogs, the marginalization of atheism + living at 1% on the Mezzanine, w/ all rites reversed
Foggy mid-morning, mid-May. Now J's off in Ontario. Looked at the hourly forecast this a.m. + they said there was a 0% chance of rain so we set off lugging the day's load (34 lbs worth) of books (w/o umbrella or tarp) to the post office ... + what does IT do mid-way? Starts raining ... + not just a drizzle or passing shower ... not that we care about getting wet but our boxes did 2 so we paid more than we needed to to send them (supplying SPD w/ The Blast + The Luminol Reels ... so if they're water-damaged, that's why ... consider it a reminder that there's a human behind it).
Is there ever a 0% chance of anything? There's not even a 0% chance that a snake will eat the world today. Why not just say <1%?
We read or heard once about a term—«living at 1%»—that Hell's Angels or some organized crime group used to categorize select members who had (or were going to) commit heinous crimes ... they'd erase their IDentities (alter fingerprints, get cosmetic surgery, etc.) so these people əxisted outside our normalized legal + social structures. When we google now, the term «1%» has been co-opted to refer to the excessively wealthy.
In DC last weekend we read Straw Dogs by John Gray. We get where's he going w/ it, but something about it rubbed us the wrong way ... felt like we were being lectured to ... dumbed down dribble distilled for mainstream (religious) audiences, for zombies that want to be perceived as liberal, but their brain capacities are better aligned to the tea party. Straw Dogs is a pompous mess of infomercialized dogshit, thinly spread all over the map, rehashing existing dogma but adding nothing to the conversation. And Gray speaks in absolutes, summarizing a philosopher's life or trending pop culture topic in convenient bullet points, but offers no ideas or resolutions of his own ... oh, wait, that's not true, he says crap like:
Oh, great ... let's all go to the zoo + look at suffering caged animals w/ baby strollers clipping at our heels! No thanks, we'll take refuge in our own cage, reading D+G. And somewhere else Gray proclaims that no philosopher has ever written a novel ... so Ayn Rand, for example, doesn't count as either a philosopher or novelist in your eyes? Or is she too self-empowering or godless for your feeble-minded agenda?
Yeah, we know we're fucked + people suck + the human race is a plague ... Malthus already told us 200 years ago. And we too prefer the company of animals to people any day. But Gray (like conservatives) spends too much time blaming it on science + technology + morality + those not abiding by his god, when the real culprit is capitalism—the commodification of technology. U, INTurnet, are a great thing ... it's those that try to monetize + regulate it that ruin it for the rest of us. Then again, U are already 99% dead ... co-opted for social-networks + elite walled gardens requiring paid subscriptions.
And overpopulation, yes, is of course at the root of it. But Gray's misinformed ignorance + fundamental misunderstanding of science + philosophy is the real danger. He's just flat out wrong about some shit ... like he gives his own definition of what a meme is, than says «memes are not genes. There is no mechanism of selection in the history of ideas akin to that of natural selection of the genetic mutations in evolution.» What a fuckwit ... this is built into the definition of a meme, otherwise it wouldn't be a meme! It's like saying a dog is not a dog cuz it's a cat. Duh. Of course there's a selection process ... even the idea of Straw Dogs is a meme that is propagating, probly sucksessfully ... unfortunately. In the same way that it's for the most part the dipshits in this world who are reproducing their genes, it's dipshits like Gray that become hip best-selling authors.
And he's got his own puzzling interpretation of what post-modernism is that is not even worth going into. And Gray also says: «To deny the existence of God is to accept the categories of monotheism. As these categories fall into use, unbelief becomes uninteresting, and soon it is meaningless. Atheists say they want a secular world, but a world defined by the absence of the Christian's god is still a Christian world.» What a load of dogcrap. The sort of playground taunting we heard in grade school. Get your brainwashed head out of your ass, Mr. Gray. Or out of your god's ass. Wipe the dogshit out of your eyes. That's like saying denying the əxistence of UFOs validates their very əxistence ... or that believing in god proves that your belief in god doesn't əxist. Bet if u asked Gray if he was religious, he'd give that pussy-liberal response of «no ... but i'm spiritual. Now excuse me while i go into my down-dog pose.» Excuse me while i puke on your yoga mat + sick my dogma on your weak-ass karma.
Where does Gray get off denying some1's belief? We deny the əxistence of god but we don't deny the əxistence of those that believe in god. Is it cuz he's threatened by us godless types? The barriers are falling all around us—this week the 1st gay man was drafted by the NFL—but the last right to be accepted will be the right to not believe in a god. A black Jewish lesbian will be elected American president long b4 an atheist ever will. Just so u don't think we make unfounded proclamations like Gray, here's the polling data to back us up ... there we are, squatting at the bottom of the pecking order, just below Muslims. U'd think atheists would be at the top of the list since they are neutral + unbiased by personal beliefs ... but evidently the American political system is mired in personal beliefs + special intrests.
Also read The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker (which we picked up at Kramer Books in DC) ... the entire story takes place in the span of riding an escalator 1 story + we read it on the 3-hour train ride back from DC. Baker definitely has a knack for drilling down + making u think 2x about all the overlooked mundane details in life. It's not even like he's reflecting back on anything deep or his family or sex or how he wants to punch his boss ... he just goes over (+ over) all the tedious errands he just ran on his lunch break, (namely—spoiler alert—getting milk + a new pair of shoelaces at CVS).
On the way to the train, we took the longest escalator we've ever had the privilege to ride ... the 1 in Dupont Circle down to the subway. Didn't get a photo of it w/ the book unfortunately, but we did snap this 1 of it last time we were in DC (w/ the Whitman quote looming overhead) ...
In 1 footnote, Baker claims that escalators are safe ... tell that to the woman in Montreal who a few months ago got her scarf + hair caught in an escalator ... + died.
The best part tho, was Baker's table of thought frequencies:
Classic. Someone should do a whole book of just that. So Baker only thinks about birds regurgitating food to their young 2x a year? We probly think about that at least 12x a year ... just last week we made reference of this to J, since she was out of town + didn't get to eat oysters w/ us, we promised her upon return she could peck the red dot on our beak + we'd regurgitate some for her. And 2 posts ago in Chicago we took this photo mostly cuz we were wondering if the red X (or skewed cross) had something to do w/ the red • on the seagull's beak ... juxtaposed w/ the hand conjuring «bite the hand that feeds» ...
An xcerpt from The Becoming was accepted for BAX (Best American Experimental Writing) 2014 ... only problem is they wanted me to sign something that gave them copyright over the material, which we can't do since we didn't copyright it to begin with ... fortunately they are amenable to the copyleft we granted them (all rites reversed), not to mention the other biographical + typographical intricacies (they are running the opening section w/ the fade in... as is).
Got us to thinking tho that as of now (May 15, 2014), we will no longer publish any copyrighted works. Starting now (after The Blast + The Luminol Reels), all Calamari + Sleepingfish works will only be ɔopyleft. As we've said b4, to publish ('to make public') means to liberate information, not restrict it.
Stumbled across this research paper that a Steven Malčić wrote a year or so ago on ARK CODEX, entitled «In vivo, in silico: Ark Codex ± 0 and the vital forms of bookwork» ... speaking of copyright + open axess—yesterday we seemed to have axess to the PDF (maybe cuz we're in the Columbia network + it automatically logged us into to some sort of 'institutional' account) ... but now we can't seem to re-axess it [... we did download it tho—see link below if u r intrested in reading it] ... only the abstract is available + they want u to pay $36 for the PDF ... which is sort of ironic considering the nature of the article + journal + he keeps talking about how we charge (gasp!) $40 for the book. At least we don't charge that much for a PDF.
Malčić starts by getting caught in the self-defining ouroboros trap of quoting us describing Ark Codex:
Ha ha + yeah, he calls us THE Calamari Press. And just «Ark» ... said in the same way Rob Reiner says 'Tap' once we are all on familiar terms ... «So in the late fall of 1982, when I heard that Tap was releasing a new album called "Smell the Glove" ...» ...
Malčić's description/analysis of Ark follows a 3-pronged 'material approach' ... «the ‘matter’ of the book; the ‘material’ of the book; and the ‘materiality’ of the book.» The matter is the content + the layout (which to us are 1 + the same). The material of the book means «the object itself and any issues regarding production and distribution» which he then says exists both as paper-bound book + PDF ... tho he neglects to mention the original master copy, since for every page of the book is an actual life-sized original that at 1 point was assembled in that particular order to scan but has now been dismembered + individual pages sold or gifted away. The materiality of the book is what's important, as Malčić points out ... this is where the reader enters the picture as 'material witness' ... for yes, w/o the reader the book D.N.E. Only thru user intervention does the book enter a 'feedback loop' of realization.
Taking a page from Katherine Hayles (whose Posthuman book we recently discussed here + here), he classifies Ark as a technotext, a «literary work [that] interrogates the inscription technology that produces it [and] mobilizes reflexive loops between its imaginative world and the material apparatus embodying that creation as a physical presence». We'll buy that. Specially as we started our professional career as a 'tech writer'.
He goes on (the article is 17 pages long!) to give a typo/topographical analysis of Ark, w/ detailed insights, some of which (at least consciously) we never noticed or intended. Starting w/ how Ark takes place (time ticks) in the Arctic. Absolute zero. His act of deciphering how to read it is the very way to read it. «Legibility cannot be read as progress, for the way out is actually the way in.»
in regards to us saying «in an ark with me» (a line we admittedly appropriated from Derrida, who in turn stole it from Freud's father, as inscribed in a bible he gave to Sigmund), Malčić notes that: «We can modify this greeting slightly, to read, ‘in an ark (with m) e’, or ‘in anarchy’.» Which, if we insert into the original sentence we stole it from 2nd-hand, changes it to: «Since then the book has been stored like the fragments of the tablets [in anarchy].»
Right! .... now ... ha ha ha ha ha... I am an antichrist. I am an anarchist. Don't know what I want, but I know how to get it, I wanna destroy ... + in 2 weeks begins our sabbatical in the UK.
Malčić says the «The Ark itself is made of language, it is coded and therefore would subsist through the apocalypse; for it is made of the same stuff, even if it did not make it itself.» ... which is precisely why we give precedence to the paper version over the silico version ... tho we're curious to read the referenced Matthew Kirschenbaum article on the forensic materiality of hard drives ... for we admittedly have a hard time thinking of a harddrive as an artifact. It is merely a transitory receptacle ... what a TV is to a movie. A book is in itself a self-contained object, that is the beauty of it. It doesn't require technology to axess it. In the event of apocalypse, it doesn't require a knowledgeable engineer to xtract the information or reverse engineer it after the fact. Even if the finder of the object doesn't understand the language, any1 w/ an eye + a brain can perceive the object as an object + probly deduce that it is not a random amalgamation of symbols, but probly has some meaningful intent. And beyond just language, they can (hopefully) recognize, if not appreciate, the aesthetics of design. If we encounter a new species of animal in the wild, we might not right-away understand its traits + means of communication, but we can certainly distinguish it from random inanimate matter. A harddrive w/out the knowledge of what it is + how to power it is as useful + intresting as a rock.
Malčić also notes «Upon finishing the book, one cannot help but view the barcode as part of the work itself.» In fact, the barcode is used a few times within the book ... a sort of reflexive act that defies the logic of barcodes (usually you finish a book b4 making the barcode) ... the barcode gets grafted into the very DNA of the book.
Malčić quotes what we told J.A. Tyler when we 1st launched the ark ... that 6500 people had downloaded it + 0 had donated. This number reached 20K or so b4 we stopped keeping track. We just checked + 632 people DLed it in April (+ of course no 1 has donated since a handful at 1st). We've since posted PDFs of others—the book where birds are the words + The Becoming + they've received 100s or 1000s of downloads w/ few if any people ponying up in support. Does this stop us from continuing to post them? No, we'll continue providing 'pay what you want' PDFs (at least for our own works) as long as our bandwidth can handle it ...
We've also posted some of our older books (Marsupial + Poste Restante) + more recently issues of David Ohle + Roger Marten's City Moon. Last month, 4516 people downloaded issue 5 of City Moon alone + so far 1 kind person has honored the suggested donation of 25¢ per issue (what they charged for the original newspaper in the 70s). And last month alone saw 457 DLs of under the auspices + 412 DLs of The Becoming ... obviously not a sustainable business model + neither is mongering copylefted books. Hosting costs are somewhat negligible ($10/month or so) but it's getting to the point where some months we reach our xfer limit + our provider in HK is demanding we upgrade ... again (we already had to upgrade from personal to «business» once b4 when we kept surpassing our 20 GB/mo xfer limit ... same here w/5cense where we avg around 40 GB of xfer /mo, which perhaps is not much considering the personal files on our harddrive amount to 175 GB, which we just had to re-backblaze up to some nebulous cloud who knows where + it took almost a week. Our life in siliconed bits ...
Fortunately we are not in a position where we are strapped for cash + eat oysters weekly (even caviar this week), but what's concerning is the lack of non-monetary appreciation (which is all alleviated when we come across encouraging feedback/propagation like Malčić's article) ... or that the digital version is becoming replacement therapy for the actual object, as Malčić points out. «It is hard not to conclude, considering the vast amount of people who downloaded Ark Codex, that the PDF has indeed replaced the codex, at least in the case of the Ark.» While a digital copy does not carry the same weight as a physical copy + certainly doesn't even count as a copy of the material object, let alone a «view» (most likely not every download amounts to a unique view) ... in terms of replication + propagation, engagement happens w/ the interaction, akin to RNA replication .... + an engagement or experience w/ a book (in any form) is as ephemeral + intangible as the idea of a digital file being 'an object'. It's the disembodied action of the code that matters, what it re-incodes, re-inscribes, replicates. In the end, Malčić says Ark is not even really a book, but calls it a technology (which we'll take as a compliment, specially in light of Gray's ignorant rally against technology in Straw Dogs ... for, i am the antichrist!) + he quotes Mark Hansen in saying that it is a powerful technology that can «lend support to a phenomenological account of embodiment and expose the technical element that has always inhabited and mediated our embodied coupling with the world».
At the end of the day, we couldn't ask for more ... an 'embodied coupling with the world'. Such a thoughtful engagement w/ the book is worth countless downloads or book sales, better than a praising review in NYTBR or 10,000 pushes of a like button. And Book 2.0 seems generally worth checking out further—a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to book design, production + consumption—intrested to read more of their articles. Too bad that outside of academic circles it's hard to come by. There is an «open access option» but it's subject to a £750 fee, which seems far from open (unless you belong to some privileged academic circle, which we do only by marriage). It's not copyrighted, nor copylefted, but that complicated gray area in between ... «creative commons», where the extra c is for 'convoluted'. But reading this particular agreement, it seems we're allowed to redistribute it as long as we give the proper CC attribution (please correct us otherwise) ... so here it is:
+ speaking of City Moon, we've uploaded a few more issues ... up to 10 now (of 18). Had to censor a few things to conform to current notions of what's politically correct (like using the N word), things people didn't get too freaked about it in the 70s but do now. Also been posting some new pieces to Sleepingfish. And that's all she wrote...
|> 364 > On critical awareness, leotard entropy + what goes down the toilet