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Topics - Cramulus

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1
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Discipline
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:06:23 pm »
Foucault's Discipline & Punish may be the most important book I've read in years.

In it, Foucault discusses the transition between the sovereign mode of power and what replaced it. He takes us from the public torture and execution to the modern prison. He documents in meticulous detail how the new "modality of power" manifested itself through several institutions: the prison, the military, the hospital, the asylum, and the school. Foucault documents how new methods of control quickly spread from one institution to the others, in the ultimate service of creating a "disciplined society".

The thesis of Discipline & Punish, put briefly, is something like this: We did not abandon the old ways because they were cruel. We abandoned them because they were ineffective. The new modality of power which followed the French Revolution is much more subtle and pervasive. We help operate it. Power is no longer held by a singular sovereign who can be overthrown, it's been distributed in a way to disguise its locus. Modern power does not manifest itself in a way that can be resisted. It's pervasive in that it fills every interaction we have, it expresses itself through what Foucault calls a "microphysics of power". We're the ones observing each other and applying the pressure of normalization.

Just to illustrate the above (dense) paragraph -- let's look at the Jury. It used to be that "justice" flowed from some noble, then it was handed to judges because nobles kept getting decapitated by the families of the "guilty". Then it was handed to a "jury of peers", so that people would feel like they were responsible for a lawful society. It's not that a "jury of peers" is inherently good at ruling on matters of justice - it's there so that you believe the verdict came from your peers and not the state.  You can't lynch a jury. And if you did, it wouldn't change anything.

And that is a microcosm of how power is distributed and maintained. Nobody really holds any power, but what little they have is a tool to reenforce a greater structure of power. Look at Occupy Wall st - there was a public acknowledgment that the bankers are cutthroat bastards who have been systemically screwing us. So what now? Do we lynch the bankers? It would make no difference. The bankers hold no power. They would just be replaced by more bankers who are beholden to the same power structure and would therefore pull the exact same shit. If you talk about changing the banks, the people you're talking to will tell you all the reasons we need banks and the current institutions and hierarchies need to be maintained.

The executioner's face is no longer hidden - Vader's mask came off and Luke's face is staring back at him.




One of the main concepts in Foucault's description of power is discipline. There is this idea of the "disciplined society".

Code: [Select]
dis·ci·pline
noun \ˈdi-sə-plən\

: control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior

: a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders

: behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders

The goal of disciplining a soldier is to turn him into an extension of the officer's will. Just as a soldier's gun should be a part of him, something he can control as effortlessly as his own limbs, a soldier is a similar instrument to his leader. And that leader is an instrument to another leader, and so forth up the hierarchy.

The goal of a disciplined society is that the lowest tiers are in harmony with the values of the upper tiers. Prison, mental health, education -- the goals of these institutions are to produce docile subjects who are extensions of the current power structures.

At some level, that's all that "homework" is, right? A way of getting the child to internalize the values of the institution while he's not actually there? It takes discipline to do your homework. And we tell students---this is preparation for the workplace. We are turning you into parts of a machine which produces ... itself.



I'm really just scratching the surface here, there's a lot in this book worth discussing. But what's been on my mind recently is this idea of Discipline, and how we individuals should relate to it. (individuation in the context of power, btw, also worth talking about, but let's save that for another time)

On one level, being disciplined is worthwhile. There are a lot of rewards for being able to focus and get shit done, being respectful of the hierarchy, being able to internalize a set of rules, etc. I don't think you can really get anywhere in western civilization without discipline.

But on another level, being disciplined is dangerous. It means you're under control, an object of power. If you're not disciplined, you're more skeptical and critical about the Mission Statement, the War, the Hegemony.

Sometimes I'm sitting in some corporate training and I just want to excuse myself and never come back. I can't help but think about the power and personal control I give up for that paycheck and 401K. We've all gotta do it. Which makes me wonder, was I doing myself a disservice by reading all this Foucault? Is being undisciplined something I should actually strive for? Am I just confusing myself and making myself less effective at my job by brewing up all this cynicism and criticism? To what degree am I served by being an iconoclast? Isn't it better to be focused on acquiring more power?

3


I am a big fan of this youtube channel called IdeaChannel. It's a weekly 10 minute show which mulls over pop culture topics and gives a new spin on them. It's usually pretty interesting, and was recently picked up by PBS, which gave it a nice shot in the production quality.

I wanted to share a video posted this week about our favorite past time, internet trolling. I want to say -- this is not the best first taste of IdeaChannel, (because I don't exactly agree with a bunch of the conclusions in this particular video), but it is at the very least thought provoking. It's also nice to see somebody talk about Internet trolling in a bit more depth than the typical "Trolls are just bullies with inferiority complexes" explanation.

Without further ado, The Experience of Being Trolled



I have my own opinions but I'll wait until some people have seen the vid before I weigh in.

4
http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Muchao-J-Moocow-KSC/e/B00HGRMDJG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

This guy, who calls himself Dr Muchao J Moocow KSC, (no relation to Prince Mu Chao) is rounding up all the kopyleft discordiana on the net and compiling them into omnibuses. A lot of the original works are kopyleft or have no explicit license (like the Om Nom Nomicon, or the postergasm collections). Fine. No problem there.

But he's selling (for profit) some material which is definitely not his, and does not have permission to sell - including the Chao Te Ching, posts from Iason's blog, The Etc. Discordia, Hey Jim, Intermittens, the Wise book of Baloney, and the Himeobs training manual.

I've sent a number of e-mails on this subject already, but I wanted to alert you guys to it. It fucking breaks my heart -- because for the most part I would rather have a fork in my eye than get in a legal copyright throw down over some stupid stuff I posted to the net which wasn't generating revenue anyway. But god damn it, it's definitely not cool to ignore a license because you don't understand the difference between "kopyleft", creative commons, and public domain.

5
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Philosophy Lectures with Rick Roderick
« on: November 12, 2013, 06:21:59 pm »

http://rickroderick.org/

Rick Roderick was a philosophy professor and journal editor at the University of Texas until 2002, when he died of a heart condition.

Roderick produced a series of VHS tapes of his lectures. They mostly focus on the existential philosophers and what he called "The Self Under Siege". After he passed, people scanned the lectures into youtube and freed them onto the net.

I've found his lectures very insightful, well organized, and easy to follow. He steps through some really complex topics with relative ease. I just wanted to share him with you cats, perhaps some people here will dig his work as much as I have.

His website breaks the lectures up into little 10 minute chunks (with transcripts) which are more appropriate to the short attention spans we develop on the net. But if you look him up on youtube, you can find the full length videos.

I'll leave you with Rick Roderick's lecture on Baudrillard's "Fatal Strategies", which happens to be his final lecture in the Self Under Siege series. I think it's his best one.

6
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / The Dril thread
« on: October 03, 2013, 04:34:20 pm »
Dril (also known as wint) is the most hilarious account on twitter.

https://twitter.com/dril





















7
Just read a few articles which suggest there is no archaeological evidence that the Jews (well, Israelites) were ever enslaved in Egypt... My mind is a bit blown!

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/the-jewish-thinker/were-jews-ever-really-slaves-in-egypt-or-is-passover-a-myth-1.420844

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Archaeology

EVERYTHING I LEARNED IN SUNDAY SCHOOL WAS WRONG  :eek:

8
RPG Ghetto / Warpheim: a discordian tabletop game
« on: September 24, 2013, 07:42:29 pm »
http://www.warpheim.com/

Saw this floating around the web. Website links straight to the PDF:
http://nebula.wsimg.com/8cc248140685df95f804ec643470741d?AccessKeyId=106E559DD1C408868CD5&disposition=0

Only just cracked it open, so I don't have any comments yet --- but I figured it should be posted here!

9
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / The Joy of MS Painting
« on: September 23, 2013, 03:44:28 pm »
Below, you will see an incomplete drawing I hastily made using MS Paint.

Copy this image to your clipboard, fire up a shitty image editor, and fill in a bit more of the picture, then post the results.



10
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / What is a spag?
« on: September 23, 2013, 03:39:58 pm »
Post your own definition/imagery of a "spag".


For me, the perfect image of a spag is:

an obnoxious ten year old boy making too much noise and windmilling his arms for no goddamn reason

11
Or Kill Me / like things that are cool, hate things that suck
« on: September 20, 2013, 02:16:39 pm »
"Beavis and Butthead like things that are cool, and hate things that suck."

Saw that description on netflix and it made me laugh, and I'm still processing why.

It's like a zen koan. It sounds so dumb! Why? Is it because B&B's dialog is so stupid, when you try to summarize it, it sounds even stupider? Like trying to describe the oft mundane plot of Seinfeld, "It's a show about nothing." Or when somebody asks me what I did today, and it doesn't make a great narrative, I say, "Ah nothing much."

And that line fascinates me because it's also a description of so many conversations I have. We're all collectively processing the news, pop culture, whatever thing comes down the reality tunnel into the perceptual field. Most processing happens on the first circuit of consciousness. Either you eat it (cool) or you run away from it (sucks). Approach or avoid. We add a lot of data to that decision but at its core it's very basic.

I heard that the kernel of inspiration for Beavis and Butthead was a moment when Mike Judge was eating lunch in a mall food court, and he was listening to these two teenagers talking, and they sounded so stupid, so utterly moronic, that he had to draw a cartoon about them----and the rest is history.

And meanwhile, I'm sitting in a living room having a spirited debate about Obama Drones Syria NSA etc etc etc, and what do I have to say about it? If you boil it down, I'm either saying "that's cool" or "that sucks".
                     




And in parallel

                      A student once asked his teacher, "Master, what is enlightenment?"

                      The master replied, "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep."




it sounds really dumb, and yet---                  does it need to be complicated?






IN CONCLUSION
maybe beavis and butthead     (read: us)
are enlightened masters     (read: cool)
but maybe     (hang on)
they are shitheads     (read: sucks)

12
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Teen Exorcists
« on: September 11, 2013, 02:13:14 pm »
From the "reality is too hilarious to be unscripted" file

TEEN EXORCISTS



Here's a quick intro

Three teen girls, trained by Rev Bob Larson, are being trained to exorcise demons. He is trying to get them a reality TV show, so he's sending them on these high profile exorcisms, like trying to save England from Harry Potter. (did you know that the magic in harry potter is REAL and those movies are the culmination of centuries of evil witch planning)

In this video, the journalist corners bob larson, who believes that half the global population is possessed by demons and will sell you his services as an exorcist. The money shot in the video shows one of the girls texting while performing the exorcism.

and the journalist is like, "Aren't you taking money from people who in some cases actually need real psychiatric help?"

and his answer is so great, he basically says, "I get paid well because what I do is important in the public eye"


right now I'm listening to Anderson Cooper's half hour episode on the topic. It is awesome. Anderson isn't pulling any punches.



I lovvvvve it. Somebody asks the girls if what they are doing is responsible, and they say "Oh we have parental supervision, Brynne's dad is there the whole time."




It's 2013. You have the right to believe any crazy shit you want, and sell products or services to poor suckers who are just as crazy as you.

 :dream:

13
Artemis is a Star Trek Bridge simulator. It's played with 6 people in the same room. It uses five to six laptops/tablets/mobile whatever.

Each laptop is a different control station: communications, helm, weapons, engineering, science... and then there's a captain who doesn't have any controls, but is basically the ship's brain, coordinating the different officers. You hook one laptop up a TV which acts as the "main screen".

You play a mission that lasts 10-20 minutes, then everybody switches stations. It's REALLY REALLY FUN.



gameplay footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Q2X32hZNk

14



UNLIKE THIS GUY
YUO MUST CHOOSE!


15
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Literally
« on: August 15, 2013, 02:57:53 pm »




HATE.

ZOMG like, literally, right?

:lulz:  :crankey:  I just...  So much.  So much :wail: :argh!: :stabbydeathkill:

I'm laughing, but mostly at how twisted people get when language changes.

If you listen to how people talk in 2013, yes, this is one of the meanings of "literally". That doesn't cancel the previous definition, it expands it. This process has happened at some point to most of the words in our language.

It's the same dance with AAVE (african american vernacular English, sometimes called "Ebonics") -- are AAVE speakers just speaking English wrong? or does that grammar and usage represent a legitimate dialect? For some reason, people get very hostile about this issue.  :lol:


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