I agree with part of what you state below and disagree with part. I agree
that freedom can require some level of structure so that friction, say, does
not smother all movement. Yet that may not be the cause of changes here or
the only cause.
On Artforum Talkback for example, they enforce strong topic-adherence and
eject both posts and users for infractions. Yet the board is very, very
One explanation may be that there are general environmental considerations
in world events (not list protocols) that have changed Rhizome Raw. I think
there have definitely been some big changes in the world since 1998.
Perhaps we are in a time now comparable to the "Red Scare" of the early
fifties, when the new Cold War was getting started. Now we are in a Second
Cold War so to speak, the foundations of which are newer and a little more
frightening than those of the First Cold War were in 1998, if you get my
analogy. This fear is not all bad either I don't think. There are some
very serious concerns and stake and heck some degree of fear in life is
Talking about art, politics, religion, and humanity with no censorship can
definitely be a bad and dangerous thing which decent people avoid. Many
societies in history strictly prohibited such discussions by law. Making
the list "dangerous" again makes me think, "dangerous to the users?
Dangerous to Rhizome itself? Dangerous to the world?" What if Rhizome just
got "canceled" and everything was removed from the database and gone for
good? Or if bad tendencies on Rhizome contaminated the rest of society and
threw it into the abyss?
Dangerous to members' careers or peace of mind (well-being) doesn't sound so
fun either. Dangerous to the established art world? Well the New Museum is
established and they govern Rhizome so that would be self-endangerment.
Dangerous politically? There's already a big heaping helping of that to go
around. Dangeorus to the economy? The economy is semi-global and global
depressions often worsen life's problems astronomically for everyone.
If taking more risks or better risk, creative bold risk-management and
investment in risk, if that is the idea then it might be comprehensible.
Quality risk is neither destructive nor counter-mission for art, the
art-world, Rhizome, political progress, or the global economy. But
sometimes investor caution or bearishness is better still.
Perhaps there was a Rhizome danger-bubble that popped on say 911, the start
of the Second Cold War. As Richard Armitage said, "History started over on
911" and that counts for a lot.
Personally as to my own growing older, I am working now to get enough money
so as not to have to retire on welfare. I'm definitely older and need to
conduct myself more professionally so as to gain financial security. To
this end I am studying new skills and learning to live more carefully. But
the main reason I don't post here like I used to is the new war environment
and how this has affected aesthetic evolution and my own thinking about
same. I'm less infatuated with danger and dramatics and also need more time
to think and be by myself.
Definitely niche-topics can be more free-wheeling, because everyone knows
there's only so much you can allude to.
But frankly I think the best topic is whether we are in a new art-historical
period. I think that could be a big new topic people could discuss without
yelling fire in a crowded theater. But again, your point is very true that
many people don't want a new art-historical period because they've invested
a ton in the previous one. And if a new art-historical period would be a
good thing, why aren't the really strong experts ("grandmasters" of art so
to speak) like Harvard, the Sorbonne, and MGU formulating it and getting the
word out? It could be either that they are against having a new period,
unable to set one up, or sending the indirect message not to discuss one
yet. It could also be that they are not best suited to come up with one
because of many reasons. The uncertainty on all of this might indicate the
path of caution.
On the other hand, moderate efforts for innovation could be justified if
done with risk management, co-opetition, win-win negotitions, etc. Outsider
innovation is often called for in economic, technological, and
art-historical transitions. The New Museum people might like it if Rhizome
Raw invented a new art-historical period where other lists like Talkback
could not. On the other hand they might hate it and pull our plug. Who can
All in all I think that excessive fear is not beneficial as we see in the
sub-prime lender credit crunch and other locations. Not that psychotic
self-destructiveness is good, that's not what I mean. Just good
constructive entrepreneurship and intelligent risk for aesthetic investment
As to Curt's post, I confine myself almost completely to classical music
these days, like Beethoven's Violin Sonata #9. I also got some new
Stravinsky. I'm trying to get a better ability to hear the meter in plain
word-poems and prose. So I listen to rock etc. pretty much only at the
laundromat. But I like the lyrics of the song Curt posted just as lyrics.
Then again I see so much vitiation in everything now, myself exponentially
included, so I can't say for sure if "like" is the right word. Perhaps I
mean I see a glimmer of truth to it.
It reminds me of a poem I definitely like, which I think is from the First
Cold War times:
The Emperor of Ice Cream
Call in the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such clothes
As they are used to wear; let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.
Take from the dresser of deal
Lacking the three glass knobs that sheet
On which she embroided fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.
Best regards and happy Labor Day,
The Genius 2000 Network
New General Archive Online Nowwww.geocities.com/genius-2000
>From: Dyske Suematsu <firstname.lastname@example.org
>Reply-To: Dyske Suematsu <email@example.com
>Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Where is the Rhizome?
>Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 10:39:46 -0400
>I might have argued this several years ago, but the specific
>characteristics associated with Rhizome RAW are the results of its
>technological architecture and its policies, which is basically anarchy.
>Being open to everything and anything does not create or foster diverse and
>open discussions. Anarchy is simply one of many organizational structures
>we can have, with its own specific results.
>In anarchistic email lists, we often see the pattern of power law where
>something like the top 5% of members do over 90% of all the talking. And,
>as you would expect of any anarchistic organizations, what you see on the
>surface does not represent the majority views. In most anarchistic email
>lists, those who are most vocal dominate the list and set the course of
>discussions. Even if their opinions are a small minority, that’s what
>everyone sees, and naturally everyone comes to associate those opinions
>with the organization itself.
>What is more influential than views and opinions is attitude or tone. Most
>of us are not capable of seeing arguments solely for their truth values.
>Emotional content in fact plays a bigger role in deciding to agree or
>disagree with someone. The small minority of vocal members not only sets
>the content of the list, but also sets the attitude and tone. This has a
>snowballing effect of attracting others who share similar attitudes and
>tones. Eventually, those who cannot relate to the attitudes and tones of
>the list would leave. The list becomes increasingly homogeneous in this
>manner, and eventually the remaining members get sick of each other since
>they are essentially looking at themselves in a mirror. This is expressed
>in Curt’s list of why’s:
>“1. We've already argued about all there is to argue about, and we're
>tired of arguing about the same things.”
>I personally do not like anarchistic structure for an online community.
>Since the Internet itself has the anarchistic structure, it seems natural
>to have one, but it can become useless for the same reason. Imagine in a
>big department store like Macys, a section where it sells everything and
>anything. Since having a variety of products is the idea of the department
>store itself, having a section with the same idea is useless. Each online
>community, I believe, should be more structured. Marisa said: “We can't
>be all things to all people.” True; trying to be all things to all people
>ends up serving no one.
>A good interviewer would make the interviewee believe that, after a great
>interview with lots of interesting opinions and stories, he did it all by
>himself. Free flow of great ideas is usually not so “free”; it only has
>the facade of freedom. It is actually the invisible structure and control
>mechanism that lets the ideas flow in a useful and productive manner, which
>is what a great interviewer does. And this can be controlled with simple
>technical and/or presentational devices.
>As New York Magazine noted once, the online discussion boards at
>UrbanBaby.com does not display user names. This can cause a lot of
>confusions because you have no idea who is saying what. But because of the
>total anonymity, people feel free to say whatever they have on their minds.
>Some mothers, for instance, started confessing their regrets for having
>kids. In this way, a simple thing, like the lack of user name, has a big
>effect on the content and the tone of an online community.
>It would be interesting, for instance, to see what happens to Rhizome RAW
>if there was a simple and easy voting system for each comment posted.
>Suppose the system automatically kicks out members who get more than 10
>lowest votes in a month. Or, it would automatically give more
>presentational significance to those members who are consistently voted
>high. I am not saying Rhizome should implement these ideas; I’m only
>curious as to what would happen if they did. How would it influence the
>attitudes, tones, and content of the discussion on RAW? It would be
>interesting to see because it would reflect better what the majority of
>Rhizome members are thinking and feeling.
>People who are not vocal on RAW are not necessarily quiet because they are
>shy. I believe the number of people who are actually shy is as small as the
>number of people who are very vocal on the list. The vast majority of the
>people are more than capable of joining discussions, and offering
>interesting opinions and insights. What determines their participation is
>probably more about attitudes and tones than it is about the content.
>In email lists where lively discussions still go on, it is usually because
>the lists are carefully moderated in some way. Discussions on blogs, for
>instance, are usually moderated and organized by the owners of the blogs.
>The topic of discussion is set with each post on a blog. This forces
>everyone to stay on topic, and has the effect of automatically categorizing
>all the comments. If the topic is interesting, the discussion could go on
>forever without digressing too far. Or, on popular blogs, discussions are
>often closed after a certain number of posts, so people do not start
>arguing about the same thing over and over. In this sense, discussions on
>blogs are more useful and interesting.
>So, in my opinion, the reason why not much is going on within RAW is
>because its structure is too general and wide open. As the Internet grows
>in size, each site or community needs to become more specific. Again, the
>analogy to a department store would be helpful here. The bigger the
>department store gets, the more specific each section should be. Rhizome
>RAW simply hasn’t adjusted to that reality.
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