inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #76 of 114: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sat 20 Dec 03 05:20
    
Tuff, yeah, like a bad steak, 'cause the Manilow-is-banal-and-complicit part
wasn't actually the *critical* part of the post. This isn't music reviewing
here, like which record to buy your nephew for his birthday, or eighty-five-
cus-it's-got-a-good-beat-and-you-can-dance-to-it stuff. White means to
critique culture, or genera within the culture, rather than, say, the
sainted Barry Manilow.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #77 of 114: Changes in attitude, changes in platitudes (gjk) Sat 20 Dec 03 08:49
    

>>> I am an avid reader of Tom Friedman, who I think is writing perhaps the
most insightful commentary about the Middle East extant.  I was introduced
to him by Terry Gross. <<<

I never get invited to the good parties anymore.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #78 of 114: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Sat 20 Dec 03 09:23
    
"In the largest sense, I can hope that the book becomes a touchstone
like Growing Up
Absurd that motivates and provides a way of thinking and arguing. 
That is in one sense an immodest hope..."

Indeed it is and it is also forlorn. There simply isn't a readership
anywhere near the size of Growing Up Absurd for this book or for any
book like it. If the book, in all incarnations, sells one twentieth the
copies it would be surprising. Corporate culture in the form of Barnes
and Noble will see to that.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #79 of 114: Curtis White (curtiswhite) Sat 20 Dec 03 13:32
    
Gail:  You know that's hard to say.  I have received a huge number of
letters and emails and presents from artists who have claimed that the
book was encouraging to them to keep doing what they've been doing.  I
think that what artists do is a form of political denial: they live in
the world as if the world were not the world.  That follows Antonio
Negri's revolutionary motto: "Refuse work."  Capitalism is dead the day
we 1) stop buying things and 2) don't show up for work.  Movies like
Office Space come close to encouraging just that before backing off
into, "Oh, shit, yeah, I forgot, we're getting rich."  The ironic part,
of course, is that the idea of actually defeating the present economic
order scares the shit out of everyone because that's when the really
hard work begins.  So we defer doing anything other than maybe saving
our own asses.  Save money.  Retire young.  Meanwhile, the current
economic order goes on its merry way to something even worse  in the
form of war without end (does Bush imagine that the war against
terrorism will ever be over?  would it be in his interest to have it
over?  Isn't it useful as hell to him?), environmental disaster (crop
yields in China and India are going down largely because in the course
of the next few years they will have depleted the ground water that
goes into producing the crops; in two years China will be competing
with US households for food on the open market; your corn flakes are
going to get expensive and so is your tofu; see Lester Brown "Who Will 
Feed China?) (anyone seen that freaky picture of the ozone hole as
seen from outer space? the thing is huge!).  Bottom line: either
because we think it's in our interest or because we're freaked out by
the challenge of how to replace global corporate capital or because we
honestly don't know what to do, the monster proceeds apace, following
its own implacable logic.  In the worst case, we root for something (Go
Dow!) that will eventually kill us.

But I did also hear from a teacher at a high school in San Francisco
who was confronted by her students and told: "You adults never tell us
the truth.  Read this book.  We're going to use this book and do what
we want."  They even made her go to a reading I was giving in the City.
 That's a nice thing for me to hear.

Boswell:  I officially share your pessimism.  Oddly enough, the chains
were huge buyers of the book.  Get this: freaking Target bought 5,000
copies and sold half of them.  Of course, sales don't indicate anything
significant other than that I've succeeded in becoming a successful
commodity.  I've achieved brand name recognition.  I'm a desirable
content provider.  And so it goes.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #80 of 114: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Sat 20 Dec 03 13:43
    
{slipage...}

There was one post I'd like to read your reaction to
/reflection on/clarification of "We're a
Done-Elsewhere-by-Somebody-Else culture" p.10  because I recently sat
in on a webinar from the founder of Sun's Java, speaking about the
upcoming release of J2EE Suite, passed the presentation off to a
fellow in the U.K. (I imagine) who passed the presentation over to a
demonstration which may have been in India(?) where even IBM jobs are
headed.  In the demonstration one need not write a line of code.

So we have IBM's eBusiness, Microsoft's .Net Asp.Net VB .Net and
BizTalk server, Sun One suite {formerly Netscape, iPlanet} in an
e-Learning called "Breakthrough strategies for the Web Economy"
'proprietary' is contrasted with 'standard' casting an opinion that
standard is agreed by a group and lends to an "Open" development
globality, but while America's software jobs are moving to other
countries the poverty appears to be spreading and the wealth
concentrating.

The demonstration's of the '60's and '70's helped channel cultural
changes assisted by the media, as the relaxing of social constraints
helped publicize these dynamics of change.  How to change or reverse
the oppression rendered in this management of culture is, to me so far,
elusive.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #81 of 114: Gerard Van der Leun (boswell) Sat 20 Dec 03 16:15
    
5000 copies with a 50% sell through works out to about 2 copies per
store. And Target targets the middle mind of the
Target/Mervyns/Marshall Field corporation. Right on the money and at
about the right level of sales. But that item is only likely to net
Harpers about 4-6 K so I don't know that they'd consider it a good
deal, only an assist. 
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #82 of 114: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sat 20 Dec 03 19:35
    
> Capitalism is dead the day we 1) stop buying things and 2) don't
show up for work.

3) Don't get sick.

That is, unless you can convince doctors to work for free.  (Some do,
of course, but it doesn't scale.)

re: #80, the "not one line of code" demo has been around for at least
20 years.  I guess it must work because people still fall for it.  We
are outsourcing even the rigged demos now?
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #83 of 114: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Sun 21 Dec 03 02:59
    
Sun Microsystems' "Enterprise Development in Internet Time with Java
Studio" (C) 2003--James Gosling is now involved with a rigged demo !?!

20 years--hmmm I didn't get  my first PC until 1984...
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #84 of 114: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Sun 21 Dec 03 09:17
    
Richard Florida, who you cite in your book, is the darling of Austin Texas'
mayors, past and present.  They have a love affair with him.  He's popular
and trendy as Jonl (another well member) would attest.

You talk about Florida's espousal of the three "T's": technology, talent and
tolerance.  You talk about Florida's commentary on the rise of culturally
rich centers like the Bay area, areas in between (like Austin) and the East
Coast as being based on the the three T's that these areas offer.

Yet you say that it "fails at the level of the imagination".  What do you
mean by this?  Do you invalidate or disagree with Florida's thesis?  You
further state that it is a "revealing example of the very creativity it
seeks to celebrate" (page 157).

You say that Florida's creative economy is "disturbing"!  Why?

You dismiss creative centers like San Francisco as "entertainment machines";
exactly what do you mean by this?

You also state that yoga and art are just funtions in the "Creative Economy"
that "make smart workers available and productive".  My wife's attendance
today at a Nia class is only making her available and productive so she can
show up Monday morning at her job as a rehab nurse?  And no meaning beyond
this?

You cite Santa Cruz, CA. as an example of artistic creativity gone haywire,
right?  You say "as a result, topless women, Uncle Sam on stilts, and
Grateful Dead fans (you'll find just a few here) have been marching past
surf shops, book stores and cafes chanting "We're here, we're poor, we're
not going shopping.""  Explain this critique of Santa Cruz, if you would.

You reduce the artists of Santa Cruz and in general to being "stupid smart"?

Also, what is the "next American sublime"?  Are we going to acheive this?
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #85 of 114: Curtis White (curtiswhite) Sun 21 Dec 03 18:21
    
Ceder:  Not quite sure what you're getting at.  It does suggest,
though, an older form of "done by somebody else, and elsewhere is
better if it can be arranged."  Capitalism has always, of course,
benefited by having value produced by someone else.  

That's the large part of the shipping of high tech jobs abroad (never
mind the insult to the domestic techies who are obliged to train the
people who will take their jobs for less money!).  Labor is cheaper in
Calcutta.  

So that form of "somebody else, elsewhere" is simply old fashioned
exploitation and distancing of the exploited.  Unless you're getting at
something more subtle that I'm not picking up because I really don't
know much about the tech world.

(Sorry, I forgot to put my paragraphs in yesterday.)

Bslesins:  Are you saying we need corporate capitalism so that we can
pay our doctor bills?  Cuz capitalism is dead the day we don't get sick
doesn't make much sense to me.

Terry:  I would very much hope that the section in which I deal with
Florida would itself answer your questions.  I must have done a very
bad job if it doesn't.

Of course I don't like Florida's book.  It's a free market paradise
book like David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise and V. Postrel's The
Substance of Style.  "What a beautiful, creative world we have in free
market corporate capitalism!  Who would have thought that the end of
history would be so good?"  (Last two sentences drip with irony of the
malevolent type.)

My problem with Florida is that his notion of creativity really only
applies to high tech geeks.  The arts are merely environmental: the
geeks won't want to move to Austin if there isn't a lively art scene. 
Of course the idea that the arts have any innate social value or that
that innate value might actually be hostile to the social order in
which geeks rule, that possibility is not on Florida's screen.  

The stuff on Santa Cruz is actually from an AP news report on strikes
by street artists in Santa Cruz.  The artists who make places like
Austin interesting and "vibrant" (as regional planners like to say) are
also often dead poor.  That creates some ironies for the well-heeled
yuppie-geeks.  ("well, I'm glad they're here to strum their guitars and
make me feel like I live in a hip place, but all that pan handling is
annoying.  Can't they just go into Starbucks and have a latte?")

No, I don't reduce artists of anywhere to being stupid smart.  I say
the creative workers (geeks) are stupid smart.  Smart enough to be
creative, stupid enough to think that what Sun micro systems allows
them is creativity.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #86 of 114: Curtis White (curtiswhite) Sun 21 Dec 03 18:26
    
boswell:  I'm surprised I sold book one in a target and so was my
editor.  I thought we'd get the whole 5,000 back.  My point was only
that the corporations are not necessarily going to prohibit sales of
such books.  They will prohibit the INTENT of the book, but by more
devious means.  They don't have to deny the book, they just have to
manage its consumption. 

 I think that the book has had some considerable sales success as
"scandal" and "sensation."  Terry Gross, the idea that Americans don't
think.  People who have bought the book because they want the arguments
and the ideas have mostly heard about it through word of mouth.  Or
they've heard me on one of the 30 radio programs I've been  on. Or so I
would suspect.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #87 of 114: David Freiberg (freemountain) Mon 22 Dec 03 10:29
    
When will you be on "Fresh Air?"
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #88 of 114: Jim Rutt (memetic) Mon 22 Dec 03 10:38
    
Hi Curtis.  I'm just finishing _The Middle Mind_ and will post some
thoughts later today or tommorrow.  Congrats on having the balls (and
thick enough skin) to come rumble in the snake pit!
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #89 of 114: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Mon 22 Dec 03 14:46
    
What I meant in #82 was that it's difficult to drop out of capitalism
if you think you'll be needing modern health care.  (We could talk
about how health care ought to be funded but it's going to be some kind
of system, one way or the other.)
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #90 of 114: Curtis White (curtiswhite) Mon 22 Dec 03 14:58
    
David Freiberg:  I'm ready when they are.  Say, were you in
quicksilver Messenger service?

Memetic:  So that's what I felt. Snakes!
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #91 of 114: David Freiberg (freemountain) Mon 22 Dec 03 15:42
    
Sorry I forgot the emoticon, Curtis ... ;-)  ... guess I'll never live
that quicksilver stuff down ... :-)
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #92 of 114: I'm on the Chet Atkins Diet. Pass the BBQ, please. (rik) Mon 22 Dec 03 15:44
    
Especially that trip to mexico with......      Nah.   That's another book.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #93 of 114: William H. Dailey (whdailey) Mon 22 Dec 03 21:32
    
A problem; people mistake the machinations of the banking cartel for
Capitalism.  The other day I saw in the S.F. Chronicle where David
Rockefeller had taken control of medicine in the United States.  Read
"The Creature from Jekyll Island."  All of the "Western Nations" have
private central banks owned by the banking cartel that drain our
wealth.  They also suppress advanced science.

See "Human Action" by Ludwig Von Mises for a better definition of
Capitalism.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #94 of 114: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Tue 23 Dec 03 10:14
    
::> 80 

The conundrum I was attempting to confront confronted me.  Since I
prefer to work in a job with which I am familiar I find it difficult to
consider "right action" without my self interest getting in the way.

In the computer world it began to look as though Sun had the correct
attitude but I'm not convinced that they are not taking advantage as
Microsoft has and as IBM will or has.  This exploitation has been
occurring in other businesses too:  manufacturing for one.

{It is more comfortable to ignore--considering what should be done
might put one in the position of having to do the right thing!}
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #95 of 114: Curtis White (curtiswhite) Tue 23 Dec 03 13:51
    
David Freiberg:  I'm honored, sir, if you are that quicksilver
Frieberg.  To this day, as a son of the Bar Area, I credit bands like
QMS with saving me from a job working power lines for PGE.  That and
Sputnik.  Dino Valente's solo album with Epic was my favorite get laid
record back then.    

I think I'm off topic.

Don't know much about the relation between banking and capitalism. 
Think I know enough about capitalism to say that it has a logic and it
will always follow that logic because it is both in its interest and by
definition in its nature to do so. 

 It's fundamental logic is called create profit through the mechanism
of "surplus value" which always means someone gets exploited.  No one
has ever shown this fundamental bit of Marxism to be wrong. 

 I've heard some say that we need a nation of petit-bourgeois
capitalists, not corporations.  I think this is deluded.  Corporations
exist because the competitive requirements of capitalism obviously
favor entities that are as close to monopolies as they can get.  Market
share is really just a way of talking about getting close to monopoly
status.  

Take Clear Channel.  It controls something on the order of 60% of the
radio in this country.  Is that market share or a de facto monopoly? 

The other fundamental Marxian discovery is "alienation."  that's where
my book starts.  With the way in which we experience work in the
capitalist order.  My claim is that there will always be a level of
resentment of work that the economic order will have to find a way to
manage because the resentment can't be eliminated entirely.

the important distinction is the one made by Foucault between the
power of the sovereign and the power of "disciplinary apparatuses." 
the Middle Mind is not a king, it is a managing or disciplining force
in the culture.  It controls and limits the power of people who resent
the nature of work (and other realities of capitalism) and would like
to imagine something other. 
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #96 of 114: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 24 Dec 03 06:02
    
Trying not to be so disciplined, trying to think with a social imagination,
leads me to wonder things like, "Were medieval barber-surgeons alienated
from their labor?" That strikes me as a concrete, historical wondering that
gets at some of the recent thrusts and parries in this topic.

Or just more drift. But I *like* drift, too.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #97 of 114: from BOB DANIELS (tnf) Wed 24 Dec 03 08:59
    


Bob Daniels writes:




As a member of the "masses" [heh] referred to pejoratively in this
discussion, (raised on teevee, high school education, etc.) it's hugely
entertaining to read axon and Curtis trading barbs.  While hotkeying over to a
dictionary to look up words like semiotic, figure out who the hell Hegel was
etc.  I read with a knawing sense of disdain for pedantic overkill.

I purchased this book because my impression of it in the bookstore seemed
to affirm two things. 1) consumer angst - continued disgust with the vast
majority of what passes as popular culture  and 2) personal guilt for not
having the creativity let alone the motivational impetus to do anything about
it.

I found the actual reading tedious, and abandoned it once I had the
gist.  Perhaps i should work on my attention span.  Perhaps attention span has
a lot to do with the one of the problems Curtis portrays.  Perhaps our
attention spans are regulated by the media at large.  We all seek our own
level and find value and entertainment in that societal caste.  Some of us
seek the novel and unique also, and in finding it also find an agent of
personal change.
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #98 of 114: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 24 Dec 03 09:32
    
> perhaps our attention spans are regulated by the media at large

Interesting idea... I think there's some truth to that. Look at how
television shows and TV commercials are edited these days as compared to
what they looked like in the '50s and '60s. Fifty years ago, a single
shot might last 15 seconds, 30 seconds or more before there was a cut to a 
different angle or scene. Now there are cuts every couple of seconds.
And commercials with a dozen cuts more more last 15 seconds. Everything
is so speeded up, so hurky jerky. 
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #99 of 114: David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Dec 03 09:44
    

On the other hand, TV shows in the '50s had one scrawny plot line that took
half an hour or an hour to play out.  Think about how much action and meaning
comes across in an episode of "The Simpsons."
  
inkwell.vue.203 : Curtis White, THE MIDDLE MIND
permalink #100 of 114: Angie Coiro (coiro) Wed 24 Dec 03 09:45
    
I found myself wondering about that last night, as I was watching
Bergman's Fanny and Alexander. It's set in a time when people had to
create their own home entertainment: dancing, singing, playing the
piano, kids tumbling and having pillow fights.

The movement that set this thought in motion was the Alexander
character opening a box of slides for the magic lantern. His movements
were slow, deliberate, thoughtful. Okay, I grant you, none of that is
rare in a Bergman film. ;)  But I did wonder whether our sense of time
has changed completely, so that what I was seeing was as much an
era-bound sense of lost peace and a wider space of time than we have
now, as it was a director's signature. 

Slippage. Oh, yeah! - watch an ep of The Honeymooners and see what a
tiny conceit (Ralph tries to get to an awards show) each one hangs on.

Shifting forward:  media speeding us up, as opposed to reflecting our
own speediness in the wider culture, strikes me as a chicken-and-egg
dilemma. Probably a good argument for both.
  

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