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A Year in the Life

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Max Herman Jan. 26 2008 14:37Reply


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Is the discussion board system down today? I've got blank columns on the right and left.

In any case, I also noticed some items have "leave a comment" and some don't. So I chose this one at random.

As to Beaumont's Hyperliving project, I don't have any particular thoughts on it though
a criticism of PC-based schedule planners for its own sake might fall dangerously close
to Low Networkism if there is not a valuable exploration of true aesthetic evolution
going along with it. I think that, aesthetic evolution, is the real matter behind fears
of committment and failure, not necessarily planners or the like, arbitrary tasks, or
intensive recording of same. There has to be a goal I think. The mention of quasi-zen I don't like so much, nor do I care for rehashing of Fluxus cliches. Those are noxious artschool sophistries in my experience.

Also I'd like to mention as my days of posting draw to an end for now, in fact until the announcement
of the Genius 2000 Conference 2008 topic in May or July, that I think Cory Arcangel's
work is probably Low Networkism. He seems to be the most successful Rhizome-related artist
of the last few years and so it is relevant to comment somewhat I think. I also follow
Artforum a little and they have covered numerous high-level shows and works by Cory and
Paper Rad, and Lauren is occasionally pictured attending artworld events with Cory in the Artforum social calendar section.

This is not to say Cory, Paper Rad, and Lauren are bad people or bad artists (or in Lauren's
case, a bad art administrator). However, being that they are so successful lately and
seeming to lead the representation of internet or new media related art in the establishment
artworld, I would be remiss not to apply my new art-historical framework to them.

This is mainly because Pop Art is not suitable for High Networkism. In fact one of the
greatest difficulties of High Networkism is to deal with a global liberal-democratic political
economy, in which consumer behavior is obviously so important, without resorting to
the camp irony of Pop Art and its durable but stagnant appeal. However, the Pop Art approach is perfect for Low Networkism, in which network phenomena and aesthetic evolution therein are under great pressure
to be formulated in a way that meshes with existing Postmodernism and the art market thereof.

This is nothing personal against Cory, Paper Rad, and Lauren, as I've never met any of
them or interacted with any of them over the internet. They might be very wonderful,
virtuous people, or they might be very sleazy and vicious. I have no idea. I can only react to
the art and, though somewhat less so due to its non-overt content, the art administration.

As to the ZKM show, I haven't had time to go look at it yet. However, I suspect that it takes
a Pop-Ironist inflected view of the 21st c. by calling it the century of the consumer. Moreover, inventing
art that the viewer "becomes part of" i.e. surround-art is not a High Networkism approach to the
problem of the individual during the network period of a technological species. On the contrary,
it is again the default, "weak," or reactive method characteristic of Pop and Postmodernism, i.e.
Low Networkism.

I could go on and on. The Radical Software Group also falls to Low Networkism because it makes the
mistake that the purpose of aesthetic evolution in the network period is to undermine the military-industrial
complex or the base of liberal democratic political-economic power. This is an easy mistake to make, and Noam
Chomsky among others makes it more or less constantly. It is a typical mistake of all art-historical periods and is characteristic again of Low Networkism. The real work of High Networkism is to accomplish aesthetic evolution in the present and protect its existence in the past and future specifically without attacking capitalist power, which is the necessary alternative to and bulwark against other, worse forms of power. High Networkism is by naming convention the art-historical era that gains peace and co-operation between freedom and power, because the truth is that neither can fully succeed without the other, and they have to co-operate constructively. Postmodernism in particular is very weak at dealing with this reality.

Last of all, I think it would have been interesting to argue and debate with Marisa, because competitive debate can
be a good thing both for the polis and for one's own skill and development. Her tenure here seemed rather mellow and that is certainly acceptable but given her study of rhetoric, as I read about in her profile here on Rhizome, you would think there would have been more of an emphasis on discussion and debate.

Speaking of which, I notice some of the featurettes are posted by the same people who post featurettes for Artforum, and they did not wish to answer my questions earlier. Therefore I just call upon the membership to consider that and to think whether the for-profit artworld may be insidiously affecting our activities here.

Max Herman
The Genius 2000 Network
Le Cafe online now
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000

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ps–What is a podadora? Is it like a gardener?

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Vijay Pattisapu Jan. 26 2008 16:53Reply

RE:
"The Radical Software Group also falls to Low Networkism because it makes the
mistake that the purpose of aesthetic evolution in the network period is to undermine the military-industrial
complex or the base of liberal democratic political-economic power. This is an easy mistake to make, and Noam
Chomsky among others makes it more or less constantly. It is a typical mistake of all art-historical periods and is characteristic again of Low Networkism. The real work of High Networkism is to accomplish aesthetic evolution in the present and protect its existence in the past and future specifically without attacking capitalist power, which is the necessary alternative to and bulwark against other, worse forms of power. High Networkism is by naming convention the art-historical era that gains peace and co-operation between freedom and power, because the truth is that neither can fully succeed without the other, and they have to co-operate constructively. Postmodernism in particular is very weak at dealing with this reality."
(my emphasis)

Max, I don't think you have to go so far as to say that capitalism "is the necessary alternative to and bulwark against other, worse forms of power." It is enough to say that High Networkism is independent of politics, at its origin. For High Networkist art, or any art, to count as art, it should be free, i.e., it shouldn't a priori owe anybody anything, from capitalist patrons to anti-capitalist revolutions. Now, to be independent of politics does not mean that HN is apolitical (separation from popular society can, of course, afford one a clearer perspective from which to comment on it).

In this connection I'll tip my hat to Joseph Epstein: "Orwell, Camus, Silone, Malraux, each of them lived in a time of great political passion, each was himself political in the most serious way. But as literary intellectuals they wrote on political subjects with the authority of literature. In the United States today things tend to run the other way around." I think you're right to class the Radical Software Group et al. with other art-historical periods that, fatally, put political commitments above artistic ones.

Max Herman Jan. 26 2008 22:14Reply

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Very well stated Vijay! I can't read the left and right sides of the site but I can see your comment here. I agree that art and literature has to be above politics, but as Leo Strauss said roughly security is the first and most necessary purpose of any state and virtue is the second and highest. Thus a certain acceptance of the political economy that will most make aesthetic evolution possible should be preferred, and art should both abstain from damaging that polity and when appropriate support it.

For example, in the 1950's many left-leaning U.S. writers such as Irving Howe, Saul Bellow, and Norman Podhoretz were asked by the CIA to support the U.S. against Stalin's USSR. They pondered it a lot, because they hated poverty, bad working conditions, and segregation, but ultimately decided Stalin was the greater of two evils. Hence they gave the U.S., for all its crimes and failings, the benefit of the doubt.

I think something comparable to this limited forgiveness of the U.S., which occurred at the start of the First Cold War, is appropriate now at the start of the Second Cold War. It is not as easy to do however because there is no gigantic totalitarian mega-state to be against.

In any event, I greatly appreciate your comments. I was going to reply to this item again so as to be able to post my conviction that not only does High Networkism, as the truly new aspect of the new art-historical period, have more difficult work to do than Low Networkism. It also has to develop and even deliver a new literature. Modernism and Postmodernism both were accompanied by a compelling new literature. Low Networkism does not require this and therefore it can succeed a more quickly and immediately. This is not to say that it is evil, though it may be guilty of banality. Creating a new literature, both from scratch and taking into account every detail of history and the current state of the world, is really the first work High Networkism has to do. I have certainly not accomplished this yet but have at least tried to work on it and in some degree have made modest progress. Nothing another fifty years of writing cannot improve upon though.

As to the essence of art and politics, I think the Hebrew poets still have the finest simple articulation of it, which would be "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's; render unto God that which is God's." This is very well and movingly expressed for both the secular and orthodox reader.

Whether globalized liberal democracy i.e. capitalist democracy is necessary now is not so apt as the question whether it is the plausible alternative least destructive of the future hopes of aesthetic evolution, limited and perhaps waning as those may be. Even though it is a greatly flawed system I think it is the least bad option during our very dangerous era. Making it work better and be more just is where art can help by making people and social systems better through aesthetic evolution, perhaps.

Max Herman
The Genius 2000 Network
Le Cafe online now
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000

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Vijay Pattisapu Jan. 27 2008 00:58Reply

Tell me, Max—if you support capitalism because right now it supports art, will you support Economic System X (which is better than capitalism) tomorrow because tomorrow it supports art? If so, then I’d be hard pressed to see a necessary connection between capitalism and High Networkism. In other words, if supporting capitalism is a contingency (like, I think, Saul Bellow et al.’s support of the US during the Cold War), dump it from the definition/manifesto/précis of High Networkism. Because “the least worst” seems pretty contingent, don’t you think?

If, on the other hand, there is a necessary connection, what is it about High Networkism that has anything to do with the form of capitalist exchange, or any worldview that that system engenders? And tell me about the other direction too: what is it about capitalism that correlates to or engenders High Networkism?

I think the weakness of postmodernism in addressing certain issues that you referred to earlier is its capitalism, or, more precisely, capitalism’s atomizing anomie.

(Aside: I support capitalism, but not for the reasons you state, nor do I think that a theory of Networkism should be shoehorned into that discourse (which is not to say that economics shouldn't figure in))

Eric Dymond Jan. 27 2008 01:08Reply

Leo Strauss said roughly security is the first and most necessary purpose of any state and virtue is the second and highest.

why is this true?

For example, in the 1950's many left-leaning U.S. writers such as Irving Howe, Saul Bellow, and Norman Podhoretz were asked by the CIA to support the U.S. against Stalin's USSR. They pondered it a lot, because they hated poverty, bad working conditions, and segregation, but ultimately decided Stalin was the greater of two evils. Hence they gave the U.S., for all its crimes and failings, the benefit of the doubt.

was that the correct choice, given the outcome of vietnam, The congo and the middle east?
According to most recent historic evaluations Russia was backward and ill prepared for actual conflict. Was it just the rantings of spin doctors on the far right? esp the funding model at the Hudson Institute.
Wouldn't enlightened criticism have been a better route to go?


"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's; render unto God that which is God's."

please name the Hebrew poet(s).


"Even though it is a greatly flawed system I think it is the least bad option during our very dangerous era"

that's just silly.
Eric

Eric Dymond Jan. 27 2008 01:34Reply

Passport revocation
In 1950 the State Department denied Robeson a passport and issued a "stop notice" at all ports, effectively confining him to the United States. When Robeson and his lawyers met with officials at the State Department on August 23, 1950 and asked why it was "detrimental to the interests of the United States Government" for him to travel abroad, they were told that "his frequent criticism of the treatment of blacks in the United States should not be aired in foreign countries"—it was a "family affair."[18] When Robeson inquired about being re-issued a passport, the State Department declined, citing Robeson’s refusal to sign a statement guaranteeing not to give any speeches while outside the U.S.[19] Robeson's passport revocation was similar to that of other individuals that the State Department deemed pro-Soviet, including the writers Howard Fast and Albert E. Kahn, W.E.B. Du Bois and Richard Morford, who headed the National Council of America-Soviet Friendship.

In a symbolic act of defiance against the travel ban, labor unions in the U.S. and Canada organized a concert at the International Peace Arch on the border between Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia on May 18, 1952.[20] Paul Robeson stood on the back of a flat bed truck on the American side of the U.S.-Canada border and performed a concert for a crowd on the Canadian side, variously estimated at between 20,000 and 40,000 people. Robeson returned to perform a second concert at the Peace Arch in 1953[21], and over the next two years two further concerts were scheduled. (Officially, the travel ban did not prevent Robeson from entering Canada, as travel across the Canada-United States border did not require a passport, but the State Department directly intervened to block Robeson from travelling to Canada.)

In 1956, Robeson left the United States for the first time since the travel ban was imposed, performing concerts in two Canadian cities, Sudbury and Toronto, in March of that year. The travel ban ended in 1958 when Robeson’s passport was returned to him.

I love this ome too:
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2007/4/3moe.html

"Best of all possible worlds"
Leibnitz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1755_Lisbon_earthquake
made Voltaire think there might be a flaw in the program, writes Candide..

But should you own a hammer?
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2007/4/3moe.html

" it's good life if you don't weaken "
Tragically Hip

Max Herman Jan. 27 2008 12:06Reply

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Excellent posts here everyone! I'm glad we are using this format even though the sides of the site are not showing up.

Vijay, you are absolutely right that the commitment to capitalism is contingent in part. High Networkism could be done under socialism, and would have had to be done even if the USSR had won the First Cold War. Why the contingency demands that High Networkism support and forgive global capitalism now and for the foreseeable future is because of the violence and danger of globalization. The overall difference between capitalism and socialism is also overstated, due to major errors by Marx. These topics are all discussed loosely in Le Cafe for context, as well as in Genius 2000: A New Network.

For example, Marxism calls for the worker control of the means of production. Yet in practice, the means of production are controlled by selected committees–"soviets"–on behalf of the workers. Each worker does not literally own the factory and decide what happens there. Hence the control of economic resources on behalf of the worker can in principle occur in capitalism too. That is a relevant division I think.

The reason for High Networkism to help capitalist globalization now is frankly that it needs art's help in order to acheive virtue. Without the active help of art it will be more vulgar and brutal, and in military-industrial terms I believe globalization in one form or another is unavoidable. This is all based on my rather unexpert recent study of military-economic doctrine and history, current events, etc.

I hope this clarifies a little. High Networkism does intrinsically call for certain things, but yes socialism could provide them theoretically. Yet we cannot forget that the network period is also the globalization period for any technological species, due to the massive and rapid increase of technological development caused by computers. This adds a whole new set of constraints and conditions that High Networkism has to work within. Therefore it is not profitable to attack capitalism but to improve it from within by what Norbert Wiener called "moral judgment," the only capability humans have that computers lack by definition. Globalization is necessary I believe and capitalism is the least evil route to that, so to make life as good as possible for the present and future art should support capitalism–the only real question is how.

So this is covering a million topics, each taking years to play out. It will also not be easy to think of art as obligated to support the U.S.-led War on Terror and the One Superpower Option. However my feeling and logic tell me that is the case. For the near term art and literature will certainly continue in the dissenting mode of Postmodernism, which is perfectly natural and fine but not the highest goal of aesthetic evolution possible and necessary for best outcomes this century.

Eric, regarding U.S. segregation, racism, etc., I can only allude to Daniel Patrick Moynihan's statement in his book Pandaemonium that he was willing to defend an imperfect democracy. That is the context I think is still relevant, and sometimes that means forgiving U.S. crimes or crimes by other pro-globalization governments. I don't see a logical or practical way out of that.

I have to work a few hours today so I can't address all the other urls you mention now, but I do think the basic point still stands. Plus there are some nuances here that I think are important. For example regarding Voltaire, William Blake has a poem "Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau," in which he says pure logic and reason are not sufficient, because of the transformative and redemptive power of art, which Blake likened to religion. "The Hebrew poets" was how Shelley referred to the Bible on occasion, I think in his "Defence of Poetry" for example. But the quote is what Jesus said in response to the Pharisees in the Book of Matthew, chapter 22, when they were trying to trip him up with theological and rhetorical connivances. Moreover, one does not have to be an orthodox Christian to find this fascinating and compelling. Blake said the Bible was the best and most entertaining book in the world, because it is the book of the imagination. Many secular people and artists ignore the Bible's undeniable value as art, just for their own testiness, and ignore the superiority of religion in aesthetic evolution over much secular art and philosophy I think.

As to Pete Seeger, I noticed in the recent Bob Dylan documentary that he became irate when Dylan switched to the electric format of "Maggie's Farm," because it broke from the ethos Seeger wanted. Seeger became so irate he picked up an axe and tried to chop the electricity cables for the performers. The idea of the documentary I think was that Dylan didn't want to join the Communists. This is in part a desire on Dylan's part to "stay above" politics as Vijay mentioned, perhaps because he saw the bunk side of U.S. fellow travelers. By the same token I can understand that it is not very comfortable to see someone suffer in poverty and disfranchisement and do nothing. Yet the question is what to do, and Communism in 1960 was a real threat I think and was inferior to the capitalist option because the main unique characteristic of Communism is not justice, prosperity, or fairness, but expropriation. And despite the vileness and lunacy of some oligarchs, attacking them head-on with hammers and sickles is not always the best plan even for helping the poor. Sometimes it is just frantic revenge, as with Aeschylus's The Eumenides.

In today's U.S. for example and the whole world for that matter I think it is much better to accept the political-economic reality (i.e. the War on Terror) more or less as it is, but adding the key ingredient of High Networkism. That is the best path I think. But I certainly respect that you may disagree, and you might be correct and virtuous to do so.

Regarding the Strauss comment, he is just arguing that military defense provides survival, and survival allows the development of virtue. It's pretty common sense I think–if you're dead, you can no longer develop. I first started reading Strauss in 2004, as he was mentioned as an influence on the Neoconservatives. I've read The City and Man, Persecution and the Art of Writing, the Strauss-Lowith letters which are online somewhere, and a book about Strauss and Nietzsche by Laurence Lampert (a chapter of which is also online I think). I don't think Strauss is as crazy or fascist as he is sometimes made out to be, and he is certainly interesting to read on Ancient Greece. The area where I think he can be improved upon or added to is in the aesthetic area. Like most pre-Networkism intellectuals the emphasis is on philosophy, whereas I think more emphasis can be given to art and aesthetics though with a very strong dose of philosophy and science integrated with them. This type of program would be what I am looking for in High Networkism.

I won't be able to write too much more today as I have to go in to work for a bit, but will certainly be very happy to continue this or any other discussion until the 31st.


Max Herman
The Genius 2000 Network
Le Cafe online now
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000

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Salvatore Iaconesi Jan. 28 2008 08:06Reply

the theories expressed are quite interesting.

the only problem i find in them is on their western-world centeredness.

all of the issues assessed place their focus on europe and US and that is not quite correct nor complete nor scientifical.

first of all: religion.
christianity is not by any means the most important nor influential nor diffused religion, and a whole set of considerations used in the messages above are biased on this.

then: economy.
the eastern/southern world is shaping the world much more that is described in these theories.
You might object that if you go west far enough, it becomes east (just look at China and it's "brutal" capitalism as it's developing), but the philosophical and historical connotations just cannot be compared.

and then: the ecosystem.
The need to define a global ecosystem is, now more then ever, a necessity. An ecosystem thet includes the environment, but that is integrated on economy, philosophy and anthropology in its definition.

An ecosystem of such kind finds itself structurally under-described in the theoretical architecture that is being depicted, as the elements added are just not enough to take into account the issues that will be the most relevant in what will happen in the next few years: energy, water and agriculture, and the anthropological issues that are starting to be raised from the progressive globalization.

i think that the globalization progress itself suggests paths that are more useful than "all comprehensive" theories.

globalization is showing, as a matter of fact, how standardization, communication, and economy are promoting a uniform levelling and classifying process which closely resembles the ones found in the books of Aldous Huxley or George Orwell.

The more it advances in this direction, the more it will probabily more interestign to research on the "personal", individual side of the world.

The end of Movements and Theories, as imposed by global homogeneity. The start of the possibility of the individual, in his/her temporarily autonomus zones, enabled and supported by technology.

Philip Galanter Jan. 27 2008 15:17Reply

Just a couple quick comments.

First, Max's notion of networkism may or may not be similar to the notion of "complexism" which I introduced as one of the writers in the collection "The Art of Artificial Evolution".

click here for book at Amazon.com

click here for free download of draft chapter

It's difficult to tell because, so far as I know, the Max's ideas are contained in a novel of some length, and require some time and effort to extract. Not that that is a bad thing in and of itself, but I wish there was something more like an essay presentation like my chapter above. (Not in terms of quality or ideas, just in terms of efficiency of communication).

So while the ideas seem vaguely related I can't really go beyond that in any detailed way. I suspect there are, in fact, some very significant differences beyond form.

For example, the tone of this discussion would lead me to believe Max's ideas are situated in a fairly politicized context. If so, and again I can't be sure, I think that is a mistake. One of the problems the contemporary postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive humanities culture is burdened with is an overarching tendency towards political reductionism. (This is well covered by Steven Hicks in Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault"

In my view what is likely to replace the dominant postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive school is a world-view anchored in projecting notions from complexity science into the problem space of the arts and humanities. Notions such as distribution, emergence, co-evolution, feedback, chaos, as well as uncertainty and incompleteness, may have political implications at the periphery, but are fundamentally orthogonal to any particular politics.

So from where I sit drawing complexity related ideas into a primarily politically driven discussion is a mistake. It plays into the same kind of political reductionism that postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive humanities culture does, and having made that wrong turn is sure to be off the path to the next paradigm.

Philip Galanter Jan. 27 2008 15:17Reply

Just a couple quick comments.

First, Max's notion of networkism may or may not be similar to the notion of "complexism" which I introduced as one of the writers in the collection "The Art of Artificial Evolution".

click here for book at Amazon.com

click here for free download of draft chapter

It's difficult to tell because, so far as I know, the Max's ideas are contained in a novel of some length, and require some time and effort to extract. Not that that is a bad thing in and of itself, but I wish there was something more like an essay presentation like my chapter above. (Not in terms of quality or ideas, just in terms of efficiency of communication).

So while the ideas seem vaguely related I can't really go beyond that in any detailed way. I suspect there are, in fact, some very significant differences beyond form.

For example, the tone of this discussion would lead me to believe Max's ideas are situated in a fairly politicized context. If so, and again I can't be sure, I think that is a mistake. One of the problems the contemporary postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive humanities culture is burdened with is an overarching tendency towards political reductionism. (This is well covered by Steven Hicks in Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault"

In my view what is likely to replace the dominant postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive school is a world-view anchored in projecting notions from complexity science into the problem space of the arts and humanities. Notions such as distribution, emergence, co-evolution, feedback, chaos, as well as uncertainty and incompleteness, may have political implications at the periphery, but are fundamentally orthogonal to any particular politics.

So from where I sit drawing complexity related ideas into a primarily politically driven discussion is a mistake. It plays into the same kind of political reductionism that postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive humanities culture does, and having made that wrong turn is sure to be off the path to the next paradigm.

Max Herman Jan. 29 2008 00:33Reply

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I think I see your point a little better now Philip. What I think is that in reality there is a kind of fabric of different elements in reality, for example military-industrial power and civil liberty. These are not really the same thing, but ironically they are not totally de-linked though they may be rightly viewed as orthogonal. This is the idea I think of as part of Networkism, i.e. that military-industrial power and civil liberty are on different wavelengths but in the same fabric.

So, you need a certain level of military-industrial power to protect civil liberty. Thus Art should not make the destruction of the military that defends it it's raison d'etre. And sometimes this rule takes the form of active forgiveness, you could say, tacit support, or what have you. It may even be that if the political economy is in the soup or in some tough times Art has to help it out in order to help itself. That's the connection in the short term, as well as the aesthetic importance of the polis in the long term as viewed in Blake's Albion, the City of God, or any social ideal in which value for the system matches value for the individual.

Max Herman
The Genius 2000 Network
Le Cafe online now
http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000

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