PROTOCOLLISION a project by CELL-initiators of incidents.
I went up to Groningen yesterday evening to visit with Jente and see her baby, Yulong. It was great to see her and the baby and be in Groningen again. After Rotterdam Groningen is so extraordinarily civil. Bicycles, trees, wet streets, warm lights. The whole town exudes the atmosphere of a university campus. Isolated from the worldly maelstrom in its quiet dignity. The center of the worldly cyclone in its heady promise.
Today, at the art school, I met with 7 of the 8 exam year students that I've agreed to mentor. Cool kids with stimulating ideas. And so completely involved in the physical and mental affordances of today's media environment! I absolutely love being around kids like this. (Especially since many art students in this country still tend to be reactionary and recalcitrant when it comes to technology.)
So everything was peace and beauty and light until my scheduled meeting with some of the school's administrators. And suddenly, out of the blue, my happy way of doing things, my prerogative to apply my own methodology to teaching and working with students -- to do what I think is best and practice an approach which the school has welcomed for years -- collided with the way the system now wanted me to do it.
Oops. And as I very slowly realised what was happening, my attitude and commentary didn't make the situation any better.
Went to Breda to view the 5 short films about social and scientific dilemmas which the students have made. Despite some communication difficulties with the project's client they've produced interesting work.
A few months ago a friend of mine described to me how she was diss'ed (dismissed) by a person she was talking with at a party who said, "Oh you're still stuck in that stage of your life."
Sound familiar? I'm sure, at one time or another, this has happened to each of us. And that when it happened -- we were supremely pissed us off by its obvious wrongness.
Who says reason and experience (usually the experience of disappointment) should be priviledged above emotion and desire?
Our favorite disestablishment seeker Celia Green addresses this issue very well in her book 'The Human Evasion' when she talks about the genesis of 'sanity':
"It is well known that the younger people are, the less sane they are likely to be. This has led to the heavily-loaded social usuage of the term maturity. It is an unquestionable pro-word. Roughly speaking, the mature person is characterized by willingness to accept substitutes, compromises, and delays, particularly if these are caused by the structures of society.
"Young people are usually immature, that is to say, they wish their lives to contain excitement and purpose. It is recognized (at least subconsciously) by sane people that the latter is much the more dangerous of the two, so the young who cannot at once be made mature are steered into the pursuit of purposeless excitement. This is actually not very exciting, and is well on the way to an acceptable kind of sanity, as it leads to the idea of 'excitement' being degraded to that of 'pleasure.'"
Bearing in mind Green's particular definition of sanity:
"A sane person believes firmly in the uselessness of thinking about what he does not understand, and is pathologically interested in other people."
See also: 26 August 1999 (Good Hermits and Bad Hermits).
No self respecting speaker can give a talk at the Doors of Perception Conference without a (new) Powerbook. (Eh Stewart?)
Gelukkig gulag. (Happy prison.)
Current Amazon.com Sales Rank: 129
Okay so today I finally got hold of a copy of Sigur Rós: Agaetis Byrun. (I was on a long waiting list for it at the discotheek.) After a few listens I'm not exactly sure it is the "music of the 21st century" that everyone is hyping it to be -- though it is obvious why so many people are so excited about it. The music of Sigur Rós exudes a certain exotic je-ne-sais-quoi freshness which one associates with Iceland. The isolated and ecstatic landscape. The infinitesimally small gene pool. The magic mix of history, mythology and high tech. And, of course, that princess of 'just a bit strange,' Björk.
I would like to go to Iceland. I think I would like living there. I've known people from Iceland. Every one of them strange and beautiful. I like islands, island sociology and island biogeography. The future is an archipelago. The future home is going to be an island in the net.
(Addendum: After a couple more listens I'm hooked. Who can resist such an exquisite mix of the naïve and the world-wise? Let's let a thousand islands blossom. Scotland should be encouraged to separate from the United Kingdom and Mogwai should be encouraged to produce their next CD in gaelic.)
First things first.
Self Organization -- Anatomy Lesson
Articulation. Differentiation. Teasing apart layers of delicate tissue. De-cyphering raw nerve.
On the slab:
the body -- The society of cells. The society of organs and structures. The society of trade and communication routes. The society of mind. The society of longings, hopes, habits and fears. The society of effort.
the news of others -- Will. Goals. Natural and artificial borders. Skin, skin and more skin. Fusion. The touch (of the few) replaced by talk and proselytization and coercion (of the many). Dialog and dialectics. Laws for the co-ordi-nation of all effort. The social machine. Evolution. Social complexity through blind watchmaker machinations. The media. Programs (with zero regard for our happiness). Horny hands. Emotions as control mechanisms. The ego and its own. Purpose.
At the end of the rainbow:
the gregarious Borg -- The hunger of Gaia.
"Investigations marks a new phase in Stuart Kauffman's seminal work on self-organization and complexity. In this fascinating extension of his theoretical approach to the generation of order in the universe, he focusses on the idea of the autonomous agent, which forms the basis for a new and more precise definition of the living organism. The autonomous agent, according to Kauffman, is an organization of matter that extracts works from its environment in order to maintain its structural and functional integrity over time. An autonomous agent is one that does work on its own behalf. Kauffman goes into considerable physical detail to show how this is not only possible but inevitable. Because of the intimate relation between work and self-maintenance in this schema, Kauffman speaks of organisms as exemplifying a fourth law of thermodynamics that allows for increasing organizational complexity in the midst of a universe whose entropy is constantly increasing.
"The fourth law explains how the diversity of the biosphere continues to increase through an exploration of "the adjacent possible," the realm of alternative organizations reachable through single mutations. In this view, the proliferation of life forms is not so much the result of chance as it is of a working out of the natural tendency of existing entities to self-organize into structures of greater and greater complexity."
I love it when technological development (our state of articulation) reinforms fundamental physical questions like 'What is life?'
Every day has meaning yes. (Re: that weekend horoscope you advised. I guess things get logically quite confused when it tells you to expect the unexpected.)
Temporary reprieve: in which the ex-princess rescues the ex-prince for the length of a fall afternoon and a major lesson is learned.
Rainy day Amsterdam.
Met up with Rogério Lira at the Sandberg Institute for a lecture about online databases (not really very informative I'm afraid). From there we retired to Cafe Vertigo in the Vondel Park to trade stories about our past (language, culture, servants). Later the two of us picked up Stewart Butterfield at his hotel (which was just across the park) and walked with him to Cafe De Jaren where all three of us joined Jouke Kleerebezem for dinner.
Finite games = making choices with limited resources (time), also known as "the stealing from Peter to pay Paul" experience.
Remembrance of Things Past.
After dinner Wednesday night the four of us paid a visit to 'EasyEverything' on the Regulierstraat, with 650 PC's currently ranked as the world's largest internet cafe. From left to right: Rogério Lira (Latenightpool.com), Jouke Kleerebezem (NQPAOFU.com), Stewart Butterfield (Sylloge.com).
Moment to Moment Buddha
...when walking, knows that he is walking, when standing, knows that he is standing, when sitting, knows that he is sitting, when lying down, knows that he is lying down. In whatever way his body is disposed, he knows that that is how it is... (Mahasatipatthana Sutta.)
They do not repent the past, they do not brood over the future. They live in the present, and that is why they are radiant.
Recently, circumstances -- starting with a conversation that I had with someone very likeable -- exposed a personal idiosyncracy of which I had previously been quite unconscious, namely that I think about the discussions I have with people for a considerable period of time after I've had them. (By this I mean a lot longer than the people I have my discussions with.) The same circumstances that brought this habit painfully to my awareness has now got me wondering whether or not it is 'normal' that I do this and whether or not it is 'desirable' for me to continue in this habit. I suddenly fear I am completely 'freakish,' and that my habit is a symptom of some sort of nasty attention pathology...
Funny, isn't it, how certain circumstances can suddenly precipitate such a paradigm shift, such a sudden movement from a state of unawareness to a state of uncomfortable self-consciousness au maximum.
On the other hand, it is always possible for me to justify myself and lessen some of my discomfort by claiming as my own Proust's famous ratio of attention (his ratio of new experience to rethinking old experience) or by taking refuge in that romantic notion of correspondence/'infinite conversation' conjured up by a couple of friends last April (see below).
But should I?
"One must imagine what one can imagine." Terence McKenna.
Today will be day two of the Doors of Perception Conference on 'Lightness.'
For me, yesterday's highlight was Bruce Sterling's talk about the environmental 'lightness' of the dead, specifically his dead grandfather. This reminded me of an observation once made by John Cage: that the human living now outnumber the human dead. I wonder whether or not this is really true, and if it is, what sort of population growth would need to be sustained for it to continue to be true. Is it possible to imagine a universe where the current living have turned the historic dead into an infinitesimal minority?
Demian Murphy (aka The Bovine Inversus Experience) writes:
"Your entry yesterday reminds me of an old favorite: A teacher once told his students, "When you do something, only do that one thing, don't be distracted from your one task. When you eat, only eat, don't think about the weather or contemplate scriptures. When you read, do nothing other than read, focus entirely on what you're doing in the present." The next day one of the students saw the teacher eating and reading the newspaper. He asked his teacher, "What are you doing? Did you not tell us to do only one thing at a time?", to which the teacher replied, "When you eat and read the newspaper, only eat and read the newspaper."
Doors Day 3. Yesterday's highlight was Fiona Raby's presentation of a series of cell phone proposals. I've been a big fan of Dunne and Raby's work since Doors 2 where they presented their ideas on Electromagnetic Climates and Ambient Pressure and Teleproxemics and Thresholds (and the piece that I have never stopped thinking about -- their teleproxemic bus bench).
"Dunne + Raby explore ways of relocating the electronic product beyond a culture of relentless innovation for its own sake, based simply on what is technologically possible and semiologically consumable, to a broader context of critical thinking on its aesthetic role in everyday life."
From Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne's website.
A few hours of decompression following three longs days at the Doors. A long afternoon nap, a couple phone calls, and a smidgeon of stress. Next up is the Dutch Electronic Art Festival (DEAF) which opens tonight here in Rotterdam.
Regossip is just the sort of community 'tool-game-facilitator-pressure cooker' which makes having friends interesting. Seen at the E-Culture fair (the excellent hands on fair surrounding Doors). In many ways it reminds me of the original Everything.com, now in its second generation as Everything2.com (probably more robust but unfortunately missing the earlier version's 'persons, places, things and ideas' taxonomy).
Attended (with Mr. Lira) the first session of DEAF's Digital Dive workshop on online archiving. Listened to presentations from Jennifer Crowe, artbase coordinator at Rhizome.org, Knowbotic Research on the Flusser Archive and Tomax Kaulmann on the Orang Audio Database.
"The idea that absence of corrective feedback stimulates the creation of fictitious relationships is an interesting one, but one that can apply equally well off-line as it can on-line."
Spending quality time with house guest Stewart Butterfield.
Over dinner last night Stewart explained Stuart Kaufmann's idea of random networks exhibiting 'order for free' (a lovely synonym for 'self organization').
DEAF: Attended a chaotic panel discussion between the participants of the online exhibition, Protocollision (protocol collision). Interesting to witness the different cultural approaches (Japanese and Dutch) to a shared space and consider the (practical and metaphorical) limitations of 'remixing.' While it is possible to remix music, it is impossible to remix algorithms (meaningful algorithms are as rare as 'order for free'). Mr. Butterfield's response to the afternoon's outburst of merry confusion: "Artists and architects have nothing to say."
Watched Andrej Ujica's amazing film 'Out of the Present' about life on the space station Mir during the fall of the Soviet Union (1991-1992).
Attended the morning session of the Digital Dive workshop (day two). Skipped the afternoon session to drink coffee and discuss with Mr. Lira various upcoming projects.
Went training for the first time in a week. After that I went to Ruigoord (a squatted village situated between Amsterdam and Ijmuiden) for the first time ever. Purpose of the visit: to speak with H.P. about ketamine and simulated NDE's.
The Midas Touch
Have you ever had the feeling that whatever you come in contact with -- ie. whatever you recognize, experience or otherwise 'touch' with your mind -- is irrevocably changed by the encounter?
Dipping in and out of a non-human environment. Attended Wiretap 6.11 -- 'Slow Crash: An Afternoon in Zero Gravity,' with talks and videos by artists (Slovenian and French) who've been able to make 30 second long zero-g parabolic flights with the help of the Russian and European Space Agencies.
"Linguistic Relativity is the examination of the relationship between thinking and the grammar of a language: how what is considered logical in any language grows out of what is grammatical. Linguistic Relativity claims that both Western logic and modern science arise out of the worldview presented by the grammars of European languages..."
Augustus Leopold Egg: The Travelling Companions.
"They say that only what is dead can be fully understood." (Bataille)
I've been in Groningen since Wednesday -- during the day having wonderful discussions with students (Wednesday at the art school and yesterday and today at the Frank Mohr Institute), and in the evenings reading chapters of Josette Jacobs doctorate dissertation 'Duurzaamheid in Meervoud' and playing with Jente's baby.
Home again this evening.
There is a lot of rudeness in Rotterdam. (Last night I saw a gang of ********* kids jump a long queue at the station -- just grinning in response to the scowls of those who had been waiting -- just daring them to say something. A few minutes later I saw a group of adults push their way onto a tram without letting the people who wanted get off -- get off first. Why?)
This morning I myself am off to London (armed with a brand new DCR PC-100E) to meet and have dinner (tonight) with Jamie King (who has just begun a weblog) and Karl Jansen (author of interesting articles like this).
Home at 2 A.M. Worked until 5 A.M.
Despite a major set back in my project plans -- I'm very happy that I went to London. It was great fun to spend some time with Jamie King (Head of the Techno-Chemical Division of the International Necronautical Society), Francis Uprichard (Chief Cartographer of the Society), Tom McCarthy (General Secretary of the Society) and Stewart Butterfield (who was also in London).
After Stewart had taught Jamie and I a new trick with a sawed-off plastic water bottle and I had shot some excellent tape of the two of them animately discoursing on the nature of alternate realities (*I LOVE my new DV camera!*), Stewart treated Jamie, Francis and myself to a tasty dinner at the trendy 'Vietnamese Canteen' on Englefield Road. (Karl Jansen could't make it last night, so I visited him this afternoon.)
From Jamie's log:
"I think Paul is now in possession of some video tape in which I compromise myself, perhaps severely. I noticed that Butterfield stopped talking whenever the camera was on him... This kind of cunningness, presumably, underlies the fact that he is a dot com lottery winner and I am not."
From chapter 4 of Karl Jansen's new book, 'Ketamine: Dreams and Realities' (chapers 4 and 5 of which he kindly printed out for me today) -- more cunningness in 'The Wish' by John Wilmot, the Second Earl of Rochester (1678):
Good and Bad Manners
From fellow Rotterdam expat Renee Turner:
"By the way, regarding queuing or the lack there of... I once experienced a similar thing. I was waiting in a long line at Central Station to use the ATM machine and a large young fellow butted straight in line. He cut in front of a little old man and woman. The old man tried to challenge him and the young guy responded with, "What are you going to do about it?" The elderly gentleman quite literally recoiled with impotence. Everyone in the queue witnessed this event in silence... no one intervened. I kept thinking... should I jump in?... my Dutch is not very good... I am quite small... Surrounded by bigger Dutch guys I wondered why none of them spoke up. No one did... and to my shame I remained silent too thus condoning this behaviour.
Later it really stuck in my head, my passive compliance, how humiliated the old man must have felt and what a sad collision between the past and present (youth and a previous generation). Also I thought about what was at stake. Manners are a sign of our ability to monitor our own behaviour in light of the other. This is a different understanding of manners than the social protocol illustrated in 1950's etiquette books; it is much more profound. I often remember that scenario and wish dearly that I could rescript the event."
Proposal deadline tomorrow. (NUON project notes: 14 June 1999.)
Had lots of fun yesterday at the Rijksakademie with fellow (Uriôt prize) jury members Marina Abramovic (she's so cool) and Cornel Bierens. Later we had dinner with some of the academy staff and the 'purchase commission' in the First Class Restaurant at Centraal Station. Even later the dreaded, late-night-train-trip home passed amazingly quickly in animated conversation with Rutger Wolfson (the new director of the Vleeshal).
I'm feeling very happy.
Today is L's 29th birthday.
Ian le Cheminant has cc'ed me a copy of a long mail he sent to Karl Jansen after reading Jansen's Ketamine - Near Death and Near - Birth Experiences (linked last Saturday). It's just as davidkremers once said (in our Introverts to Capital Markets discussion), "you can see how these discussion threads mutate over the net like molds..."
Dan Hawkmoon Alford: Reality Mind and Language as Field Wave and Particle.
Alan Sponberg: Green Buddhism and the Hierarchy of Compassion.
Hierarchies + meshworks = realised relatedness.
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