What happens when self-destruction is taken as a means of interference; to be a decomposing presence over the ‘adjustment as accomplishment’ that neoliberal times demand? To manipulate precarity and be radically vulnerable within the limits of work, or non-work. To think of time-wasting, narcissism, melancholy and boredom as collective subversive practices. Self-realisation and happiness is no longer confined to the workplace, but extended to the realisation of fully functioning and mechanised social and personal relations.
When mainstream music tries to be “edgy” or “raw” it fails in ways which, in their very failure to secure those all-too-human qualities, often produces results that actually are weirder than the supposedly “weird” music that fills the “Out” section of hipster record stores. This winner’s circle of abject deep cuts from platinum artists — think Guns N’ Roses’ “My World” from Use Your Illusion II, or Michael Jackson’s “2000 Watts” from Invincible — is now joined by Cher’s vampire ballad “Lovers Forever.” It’s my favorite song on this album, and it sounds like Anne Rice sinking lysergic fangs into Patrick Cowley’s neck during a gothic rave inside the Cirque de Soleil. Well, maybe not, but its lyrical marriage of utopian politics to vampy theatricality hits a kind of nadir-as-high-point in which Cher’s do-gooder urges finally succumb to a darker agenda. Taken as a whole, the guitar solos, spiraling synth arpeggios, and raunchy orchestral stabs of “Lovers Forever” go so far beyond normative taste categories as to achieve a kind of deliriously tacky sublimity that perhaps only weapons-grade mainstream music can deliver. I guess sometimes it really is better to be further from the truth.
It is awesome to contemplate the sheer quantity of European and American images of the Indians, to consider the constant fascination and inspiration these images have held for five hundred years, and to recognize how terrifyingly irrelevant this overwhelming hoard of images has been to what individual Indians actually were, and therefore how relevant these fantasies became to forming white attitudes toward those individuals, to forming the prisms, the icons, through which we perceive Indians; and how responsible these fantasies are for what was done to those individuals. This is what Ford is about.
Any series of events that is unfolding for the first time, or in a new way, or with unanticipated intensity or duration threatens to overrun or elude the framing conventions of the recording artists (the cameramen and directors). This element of surprise is always in conflict with the image of smoothness, which has the semiotic function of marking the producer’s competence by emphasizing his mastery and control, his grasp of events. The signs of unpredictability and surprise are discontinuities and ragged edges that mark the boundaries of that competency by puncturing or lacerating that grasp. The image of smoothness depends always upon the appearance of the unimpeded forward course of the producer’s intention, of facility, which means that there must be no doubt in the viewer’s mind that what is transmitted is what the transmitter wants to transmit. And the only ways to achieve this were through (a) repeated preparation of the events, (b) very careful selection of highly predictable events, or (c) deletion of unexpected and undesirable aspects of events, which meant editing a recorded version of these events.
Online is not a bewitched place to treat with mystical apprehension. Like other modes of human experience—sex, the sacred, memory—one should develop a relation to it that is intentional and empowering rather than overwhelming and addictive. One step is to redefine the debate away from its current dilemma and toward an understanding of being human that contains being online.
Much of the show’s downfall and the bad vibes endured by the entire production was due to the technical tedium of the puppeteering. The 20-minute footage took around 20 hours to film. Imagine saying scripted dialogue over and over again to a glove. Remember that this was before the laugh-track was supplemented, and your lines are followed by the depleted patience of your would-be family members. Perhaps it was a real family after all. And yet, the actors’ hatred for Alf could never be fully actualized, cathartically, for Alf was, of course, not real. And it would have been irrational to hate on Paul Fusco, the puppeteer, who definitely suffered the most: non-ergonomically crouched under tables and counters hours at a time, moving his hands to the tune of heard voices.
Jimmy Chen, “Revisiting Alf

Linda Williams and the Feminist Porn Movement


Linda Williams’s Hard Core, which I’ve been reading (and talking and thinking about a whole lot), is the urtext of the feminist porn movement. Check out the crucial concluding paragraphs of the second chapter, “Prehistory,” which traces the cinematic beginnings of porn from Muybridge’s locomotion studies to Edison’s video of a sneeze:

On the one hand, we can say with Irigaray, and possibly with some members of the feminist anti-pornography movement as well, that as long as women find it necessary to argue about power or pleasure entirely on male (phallogocentric) terms, they will lose; whatever is distinctive and “authentic” in their own power and pleasure will be interpreted negatively and to their disadvantage. In this sense there is not much difference between literary confessions (written by men but often focused on women) of female pleasure for women and the more direct and graphic confession of pleasure by women’s bodies in hard core. Both are examples of men speaking about women’s sex to other men; both want to know more about the pleasure of women; both see this pleasure as excessive; both see it as opposed to power.

On the other hand, we can say with Foucault, and with most anti-censorship feminists, that there are important differences to be noted in the uses of pleasure from one society to another and one technology to another. Indeed, the particular interpenetration of power and pleasure can be extremely important in the local attempt to resist or counter the oppressive effects of each. Just as power exists as a multiplicity of force relations rather than a single force, state, or individual, so resistance to power is a “multiplicity of points of resistance” (Foucault 1978, 95).

The value of this plural conceptualization of power, pleasure, and resistance lies in its potential to prevent the feminist critique of patriarchy from succumbing to the same imposition of a unitary norm as the phallogocentrism being criticized. It also suggests that resistance can begin anywhere, wherever this power is felt to be oppressive. There is a danger, however, in thus reconceptualizing a previously unitary and static concept of sexual identity: namely, the decentering involved could cause women to lose the gender identification that most effectively recognizes our experience of oppression and provides the most dramatic impetus to resist. Women’s resistance must therefore continue to rely on the fiction of the unity “woman” insofar as oppression continues to make that unity felt. But women must also be flexible enough to locate their own empowering points of resistance within discursive practices that are no longer taken as essential truths. This is the lesson of the “origins” of cinema and of porno. These origins are not inevitable; all they show is that seeing from the single perspective of the phallus and the male orgasm is not to see woman at all but to see only, as Irigaray tells us, the one and the same of man against the more or the less of woman (pp. 55-56, emphasis mine).

According to Williams as I read her, one possible locus of resistance to phallogocentric forces of oppression is the ability to speak (both to each other and to men) about our pleasure, not as tiny pieces of a unitary idea of “women’s pleasure” only existing in opposition to that of men’s, but as individuals with specific experiences of pleasure, desire, and oppression. Each of our bodies, and each instance of pleasure and desire we experience within those bodies, is a potential “point of resistance.” Here there is room for individual experience, for the politics of intersectionality to be about pleasure and desire and resistance to the multiplicity of forces that oppress. Her cry, and that of the feminist porn movement, is not for the abolition of pornography, but rather for resistance to the “single perspective of the phallus and the male orgasm” in favor of an opening-up of the possible perspectives from which we can view and enjoy depictions of pleasure and desire.