“Direct action always returns us to basic questions of politics.” argues James Butler in a harsh critique of Andreas Malm: A Coal Mine for Every Wildfire (2021). The text offers a nice recap of Malm’s thinking and illustrates their attempts to dismantle fossil infrastructure as a borderline techo-utopian fantasy. The article provides a thorough summary of a recent book White Skin, Black Fuel co-written by Malm and the Zetkin Collective. I agree with Butler that activist-gestures are pedagogical: “There will be no flashpoint in the climate crisis, no moment with a self-revealing logic so clear as to be incontestable. Direct action can be a form of pedagogy, but it requires allies in press and politics” but I think they are reading Malm too literally; manifestos (and activist performances) are for building momentum, they are not intended to steer political movement. Also investigating climate change as a weapon of mass destruction is a potent approach.
They [Malm and the Zetkin Collective] see ‘fossil fascism’ as an emergent political formation, linking ‘primitive’ fossil capital – direct extractors, which can’t survive divestment – with racist politics. Aware of the slipperiness of definitions of fascism, they stick with the term because their new postulate has many of its hallmarks: fantasies of a nation purified of parasitical degenerates and outsiders; an indifference to mass death; emergence in an emergency where significant established economic powers are threatened.
[…] If only we knew, we would act in the right way. But there is no obvious point at which knowledge tips into action; in an increasingly mediatised political sphere, spreading awareness ends up as a substitute for action itself.
Trackers: The Sound of the 16-bit (2021) Ahoy is an entertaining mini-documentary detailing how music programming for games developed into DAWs. Plug-in Capitalism (2021) Michael Terren builds a compelling case against corporations that offer standardized tools for music production.
Any historian of technology will tell you that a technology that purports to increase productivity, under neoliberal capitalism and the atomized ‘creative industries,’ will only ever redistribute or delegate labour to other technical concerns.
They are planning to build a car tunnel under Helsinki. It is expected that this will boost the volume of cars passing the Sörnäinen district by 10%. They explain that this is not a catastrophe as most cars will be electric in the future. They explain the tunnel is needed to make the district more pleasant for habitants (as they won’t have to see or hear the cars) and they tell us that the businesses in the center will benefit from the influx.
Who are They?
They are people who own electric cars, own apartments in the district and own businesses in the center. They are planning to use our money to build a 180m€ tunnel. This is a retro-futuristic development process intended to make a city they have stagnated feel vibrant. Instead of lowering rents in the center and opening the city for grassroots initiatives, they are building monumental infrastructure for zombie lifestyles. Helsinki is becoming an appendix of Tehtaankatu.
The problem here is the top-down ethos of Helsinki planning.
Daily teaching at Kankaanpää Art School is progressing well. The group is acceptive to the activities I’m proposing and we are speeding along. The days are long and the weekly 6hx2 buss travels are rough but I’m feeling reinvigorated. Joined a local gym and got to perform kettlebell routines in a group. Planning to use the school facilities to build a new two row 104hp case. Sourcing wood from leftover bins.
Succeeded in swapping a busted usb-c port and changing the battery on my phone. I’ve serviced the usb port on this device twice.
The Eco-Politics of the Sublime (2021) Enis Yucekoralp attempts to reintroduce the sublime, so that we may gain a new political horizon. Yucekoralp argues that a division between humans and nature is beneficial for political decision making (citing Andreas Malm). They are calling for eco-socialist approaches instead of techno-fixes and define “climate apartheid” a political reality where the rich can keep distance from the destruction. Some parts are complicated but I think they are providing a critique of a virtuoso-male-survivalist-figure (built trough a critique of Kant: “[Who] exalts human reason to the extent that rationality is elevated to the level of transcendence”).
An eco-political sublime takes umbrage with the Kantian supremacy of reason and concludes that Nature can never be mastered. Instead, it represents a figuration of Nature that will never be totally knowable and that holds a mirror up to our own limitations of conceptualisation.
The Covid-19 pandemic represents a ‘sublime’ event insofar as its seismic calamity — by the force of its tragedy — also represents a naked revelation of societal immiserations and the possibilities for alternative socio-political formations.
Reconnected (2021) Paris Marx is an expose of core values at the heart of the internet. The text offers a useful listing of past alternatives too. This source led me to techwontsave.us podcast series by the author. Some episodes are light leftist rants (stating the obvious) but other episodes like How Race Was Central to Prop 22 w/ Veena Dubal are great for learning specifics on how workers in California have organized against the gig economy giants and what the historical framework of the gig economy is. #☭
Feeling restless and frustrated. Assembled a Pulses expander 1u for the Turing Machine (a no-brainer to have and relatively easy to assemble). Took it on as a meditative exercise. Repeating the transistor alignment 11 times, routing the same jumper-wires 11 times, powering the IC and reading the schematics like a holy book (tracing the signal paths over and over). Worked without a plan for the build but it turned out better then my previous expanders/1u thingamajiggies. Inspired by gnsk style approaches. This style for electronics is an acquired taste and I’m growing into it. I like the potential of errors and fear when plugging it in to the system. The mess which is not a mess.
Sent three Fairchild transistors to grm to be used in a RYO Paths build and was gifted two forestcaver / Benjolin PCBs and a voucher to their bandcamp in exchange. A nice realisation of the electronics as a social network approach and a sonic expansion for the initiative. Got in touch with the Benjolin PCB layout designer who consulted me on the VCA chip and acquired two Forrest Baer faceplates. Looking forwards to building a Rob Hordijk design and in preparation digging their text from 2009 The Blippoo Box: A Chaotic Electronic Music Instrument (The more I study the Benjolin, the closer it feels to SoftPop).
The digital heritage aspect of the Fairchild initiative led me to the inspiring compudanzas project: “explorations of computing at a human scale / explorando computación a escala humana”. I’m hoping to learn more about how computer logic could be performed as dance. This approach would work well for internalizing the transistor functions. Korsnäs wool coat patterns also look beautiful. Particularly live the weaving pattern which is performed in groups of three. Perhaps there is a base, collector, emitter logic at play there?
Preparing for a six week long gig at Kankaanpää Art School, I’ll be teaching first semester art-students “The Basics of Performance & Live Art”. Instead of infusing participants with texts, I’m trying to build their awareness of performance art praxis by using mostly other artworks as references. We’ll be analysing documented performances from the T.E.H.D.A.S ry D-Ark archive and the movement based exercises I’ve planned are linked artworks I’ve seen recently. The references and history of the art are introduced trough movement! The travel from Helsinki to Kankaanpää takes six hours. This is going to be an exhausting gig (leaving on Sundays, returning for Thursday nights and repeating the cycle for six weeks).
In the contemporary milieu, the idea of being negative is either regarded as a destructive mentality or else defeatist fatalism. But, at least in passing shades, negative emotions can hold great power. There resides in negativity the seed of critical thought and a beneficial duty to engage with one’s internal feelings.
The Art of Negativity – On Rejecting Positive Thinking (2021) Enis Yucekoralp. The text draws a link between capitalism, positivity and the “Likes” which social media devices employ. There is a determinism at play in positivity… As if things would “get to” or need to “go towards” to exist or feel good to be meaningful! I’m reminded of a previous claim that bitterness is in fact an emotional response of class awareness #ॐ. This is framed in a sentence: “Judgmental bourgeois attitudes towards revolt and protest necessarily represent hegemonic support for the status quo”. The text brings forth a useful concept: “toxic positivity”, which is deployed to against the stagnative argument that “negative emotions are inherently ‘bad'”. The author identifies trades of “cultist optimism”, which approaches critical world-views as a sin. Also loving the critique of “wellness capitalism” (Yucekoralp is citing Audre Lorde).
… the English Romantic poet John Keats formulated a concept, one which he termed ‘negative capability’. At root, it describes a propensity for living in the midst of mystery; or, more accurately, the power to accept enigmas and uncertainties with an open mind free from the imposition to hunt down order and clarity. His very use of ‘negative’ is not meant derogatively, but to represent absence in a more abstract sense – the positive potential of ‘being without’ something. In this case: knowledge or certainty.
Wellness capitalism is the symptom of a much more corrosive condition; as if more consumption were the answer to healing the wounds of capitalism. In reality, the promises of ‘mindfulness’, ‘positive mental attitude’ and ‘healthy living’ pledged by the industrial wellness complex are exposed as just one more arrow in the quiver of exploitation.
We should work to destroy ourselves nicely, not only to maintain the current but to destroy it! Authentic movement and authentic drunken slumber can possibly be equally healing. Authentic Drinking (or getting fucked up in other ways) was recently discussed with Leena and Heini.