Jim Andrews
Since the beginning
Works in Victoria Canada

Jim Andrews does http://vispo.com . He is a poet-programmer and audio guy. His work explores the new media possibilities of poetry, and seeks to synthesize the poetical with other arts and media.
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Re: Resolution to Authorize Artistic Acts of Mediation

A thoughtful friend forwarded me a petition purportedly organized by the UN gathering signatures
against attacking Iraq. I visited the UN site referenced in the petition. There was a note on
the legitimate UN site saying that they were aware of this petition but that they did not
initiate it, nor would they ever initiate such a petition, and that if people wanted to express
their concern, there are better ways, named a few, and provided URLs to the U.S. government
agencies to be contacted.

My friend is normally quite astute in these things. He wanted to believe it was true, however.
So did I, but I visited the referenced site just to check because the form of the petition was a
bit like so many other email spams.

Now we have Randall posing as having been appointed by the president of the united states to an
office in charge of art and technology, promising many splendid things, among which is seeking
the removal from office of the Bush government. The email Randall sent to the list looked
somewhat governmental and he has gone to the trouble also of purchasing www.usdept-arttech.net
(though not a .gov) and having the ID of the sender be the "US Department of Art and
Technology", which is easy to do in any email client.

I initially wanted to believe this was truly from the U.S. government. But the more one thinks
about it and what is said in the email and on the usdept-arttech.net site, the clearer it
becomes that not only is it not from the U.S. government, but that any possibility that it might
be is sheer American fantasy, given that the current U.S. government is a pseudo elected, highly
militaristic, out of control mockery of democracy and that the American people are hardly awake
to how out of control this government is from them and also from international cooperation.
American artists can still dream, like Randall, that the government might tolerate appointing
somebody to such a post and agency and that a governmental agent could say

"There is a need for the American public to understand the dangerous tendencies of the Bush
Regime," Secretary Packer stated in his office in Washington, DC. "There has been some public
discussion, but relatively little. This resolution calls for regime change in America by
authorizing acts of artistic mediation in an effort to bring the artist message to center stage
of the political process."

Government agents do not say such things. Or if they do, the media does not cover it. Such is
the manufacture of consent.

I am torn between wanting to applaud Randall for his fine fantasy, because he says some
important things that need to be said in the email and on the site, and feeling that such
fantasy only perpetuates the idea that there really does exist a free and open political
democracy in the USA.





RE: Manufacturing Dissent


An interesting piece done during the bombing of Afghanistan.



RE: Manufacturing Dissent

You may recall there was considerable publicity concerning the potential starvation of millions
of Afghans in the absence of aide, given that the U.S. was starting an extended bombing campaign
there, was preventing traffic between Afghanistan and other countries at border points, and the
Afghan winter was about to set in.

So, yes, the U.S ended up being very generous with both food and bombs. Just how that would go
was not clear Oct 18. Extremely unpleasant of Chomsky to assume that the US would not care
whether they starved. Perhaps he was thinking of the sanctions against Iraq which have resulted
in many thousands of people, young and old, starving to death. Or how the Kurds were abandoned
by the U.S to face Iraqi gas once they were no longer of use.

Regardless of who is 'right' and who is 'wrong' it is usually innocent people who end up dying
in masses, Wally. In speaking out forcefully concerning the potential starvation of millions of
Afghan civilians, at a time when it was very much still a possibility, and in placing the
responsibility for averting this on the U.S. government, Chomsky did what needed to be done at
the time.

He was not spearheading a "jihad against America", but attempting to do what he could to avert
more senseless misery and death.

The article you posted, I note, was from www.frontpagemagazine.com . I visited that site to see
what it was like. Here are some of today's headlines from that site:

"Twelve thousand professors have signed a petition urging the President not to take the war to
Saddam Hussein; fortunately no one is listening to professors these days."

"Left-wing Fascism: An Intellectual Disorder
By John J. Ray
The current left owes more to Mussolini than to Marx."

"They want to kill us all
Forget the


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Maine Statement on Digital Poetry

> not only that, jim...to even see the activities as different is (to take your logic
> one step further) to disavow any involvement w/ one's own brain...not to say that the
> brain itself can be soulless (of course, it's a cliche that the intellect has no soul)....

Pretty much all undergraduate students of Computer Science study some of Noam Chomsky's work.
Most people know that Chomsky is a Linguist, but not too many know that he was originally
trained in Mathematics. He made some fundamental contributions to Computer Science via his
observations about the structure and properties of grammars. Computers have to parse language
quite a bit using the rules of a language's grammar, and Chomsky's work is relevant here. We all
know what he has done since then. He is not so much known for his work as a Linguist now as his
being a conscientious objector and critic of abuses of power, particularly in the west, and even
more particularly by the United States. And it is the language of power he pays particular
attention to in the media. "The manufacture of consent" being his most famous description of how
power industrializes discourse, how power machines consent.

I bring him up because he is really an inspirational figure not only to activists around the
world but also to many of his colleagues in Linguistics and Mathematics. A large part of the
'frame' of his life has been concerned with issues of language. In Linguistics. In Mathematics.
In politics. And in media. It is language and its powers and properties that he has dealt with
so passionately all these years, as a subject unfolding with great relevance to our time. The
foci and intensities of language are not the sole domain of poemy poets.

When we look at the role of language and the machine in what Chomsky has studied, or what Godel
accomplished, for instance, we sense that language has become a field of study and relevance
even in mathematics, never mind computer science, and that the most intense involvements in and
contributions to language shifted some time ago from poemy poems to this other kind of
perspective on language and the machine. It is, uh, the era of atomic language, perhaps, like
the previous era was of nuclear physics.

A moritorium on programming, literary or otherwise, is not exactly going to happen any day now.
A luddite approach to it is not progressive. One may legitimately wish to be conservative of
poetry's intensities of language while pressing on with discovering/creating the human
dimensions of language and art amid the machine. Because it isn't going away and, instead,
society is becoming increasingly mathematized and computerized, with no end in sight to this
process. Prometheus didn't put the fire out for fear it was too dangerous for humans. Who would
unknow what they know? And who does not want to know more? There is as much threat concerning
the 'loss of our humanity' via failure to grapple with this as there is in seeing what we
become, intensely, in the meantime and with blood running through these technological extensions
of our humanity. So that poetry informs the machine, not simply the other way around.



Re: Re: Re: Maine Statement on Digital Poetry

> > rock on, jim!!!
> ===i've enjoyed some of your work in the past, brian...but i tend to shy away from
> discussions of "digital poetry"....for one thing, said discussions tend to revolve
> around a few key and uninnovative workers (much like the above-ground underground of
> langpo!)...i agree w/ jim...be more adventurous....i'd like to see poetry merge w/
> net art, would love to see a poetry that operates with variables, one that relies
> less on mouseOvers and more on the inherent variability of computer=mediated
> works...thus far, i've seen damn little of it (& none on arras...though i've seen
> things i do admire there)...
> bliss
> l

Yes, computers are programmable. This is what distinguishes them from other machines and what
gives them their wide-ranging flexibility. Flexibility to the point where there is no proof that
the structure of the mind itself is different from what can be programmed.

To tap this flexibility of the computer, to create art and poetry that *at least is aware of the
sea change range of possibilities* that are opened up by programmable computers and
pseudo-global communications networks that depend on computers and exploit their flexibility,
this is where adventurous digital poetry and art is/can/will do unprecedented and amazing work.

Though of course you don't have to be a programmer to do the above, either. It's the intensity
of the engagement with language that marks strong digitally poetical work.

To relegate programming to a soulless activity at odds with the spirit of art may sound good to
some, but it sounds like an old mistake to me. How do we extend our humanity to the proportions
implied by new media? For those intensely involved in language and the digital, moving out from
traditional literary poemy poem practice into an exploration of many arts, media, and
programming offers ways toward intensities and transformations of language that threaten to
actually communicate beyond dinner-jacket-jury-speak.