Author Archive

A criticism toward open-source Muppets…

by on Jan.06, 2012

Holding back the Muppets?

Media reactions to the new Muppet movie had me thinking it might be nothing more than a passingly enjoyable trip down nostalgia lane, and it did have its moments (80’s Robot, holding a serving tray with cans of “New” Coke and Tab, was a nice touch). However, after taking my kids to see it, I came away unexpectedly juiced at the cynicism underlying this extension of the Muppet franchise.

Before I get too far into my analysis, understand that I am a lifelong Muppets fan. I grew up with the Muppets and my dingy green stuffed Kermit, with velcro tabs on all four flippers, consistently rated as one of my favorite bedtime friends. (I also had a Roowlf the Dog, but both ended up in garage sale heaven.) Needless to say, I have fond memories and, as an adult, an appreciation for folks like Jim Henson and crew taking something as common and everyday and, yes, as passé, as puppets and turning them into something more than they had perhaps ever been.
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Inhabiting the Body of Protest

by on Oct.29, 2011


If Art can be thought of as an impulse of expression that protests impermanence and invisibility (which would include silence) by fashioning extraneous objects out of impermanent stuff (not in its totality, mind, but as one facet of its existence), then it seems reasonable to speak of the Art of Protest. Likewise, if there is an Art of Protest, then there is a Reception of this Art.

It has been interesting, then, to note the similar receptions given to today’s proliferation(s) of Art and Protest. Some art, often noted and championed on this blog, is dismissed as “too much,” as too “artsy,” too “unrestrained.” By these, what is variously meant is that some art is too in-touch with its materials, too permeable with the world of its making, not transcendent enough, excessive. It is incautious, ill-mannered, leans back and puts its muddy feet up on your kitchen table. It is supposedly or apparently meaningless, a collection of disparate elements, unrefined. It is too ornate, too pretty, too made-up. Etc.

Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hell

Its authors are too much in league with its viewers, with the masses — or else not mindful enough, too dependent on the viewer to fashion meaning — or too obvious and ironic. Bemoan the long-gone heroic auteur whose singular vision and singularly realized/universally fetishized totalistic art-object is now lost within the rush of the masses invading Art for themselves and making totems of permeability to set up all along the shamanistic inroads of the present moment. Bemoan the loss of high modernism!

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Fake Art/Fake Protest

by on Oct.25, 2011


There is fake art on the Chinese market. Art that is not authentic, art that has no author, whose author is not the name on the price tag but a group of art students who were merely practicing their craft more than thirty years earlier, many obscure angles on the same nude. In another case, a fake jade burial suit passed for ancient and was auctioned off as ancient in order to procure investment, to build up capital for the attraction of more capital for the purpose of funding a “development.”

What is “development,” anyway, and what does it have to do with Art?


There are fake protests in the streets and public squares of America. We need FAQs to explain them to people. They have no clear message. They are poets without a clue (or are they?) Their faces are not the right shade of green. Their complaints assemble themselves into no coherent strategy. They are only meeting, only occupying a space, only eating and rolling cigarettes.


They do not understand the structural problems in the system that have to be altered for any true change to happen. They need more theory than they’ve got, more planning behind their actions, more … oh wait, they’re gaining numbers. The media is watching. Call out the unions, bring in speakers, find figure heads, win elections, quick (Mainstream “Left”).


They’re just hippies smoking dope and ruining our (previously unused) public spaces. They’re a joke, a butt-face target for Wall Street hecklers hanging out of fourth-storey balconies drinking champaigne. No wait, they’re gaining numbers. Now they are commies, they’re in league with George Soros and his secret plan to destroy America he’s been talking about for twenty years. They are the long foretold beginning of the end, another sign of Armageddon. The world WILL end in 2012. The fall of America is imminent.
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Thinking, Words, and Filling the Spaces of the Subject's Dead Cavities

by on Sep.06, 2011

1) I have been thinking, about a lot of things. Thoughts, disembodied words, pale ghosts in chains, tied down, heavy though unlettered, each thought a death, single, unattached yet threaded, woven of many deaths, many names, many thinkers, oppositions: Fromm, Zizek, Riding, Palmer, Shaviro. Marx, Trotsky, Lucaks, Benjamin. Scattered readings, scattered thoughts, the process of being overwhelmed, influence.


The moment:

What to write now? Will I write? What genre will come out of me next? Out of what inner space? Time for a purging? A leftover suicide or an execution displayed in the streets? Castoff grains of (fill in the blanks)? What is needed? Find out what is needed and do the opposite?

The weight of too many thoughts, the task or maybe question of parsing. To parse or not to parse? Some would say to parse is the obvious, only answer. I don’t know. I don’t know how not to parse. I don’t know how I parse when I parse. I just do. I design myself anew every day.


2) In such a state, I revisit old touchstones. From the Foreword of Cathy Park Hong’s Dance dance revolution:

The language [in the Desert], while borrowing the inner structures of English Grammar, also borrows from existing and extinct English dialects. Here, new faces pour in and civilian accents morph so quickly that their accents betray who they talked to that day rather than their cultural roots. Fluency is also a matter of opinion. There is no tuning fork to one’s twang. (Hong, 19)
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On Proliferation, a third helping (or, the pleasure of the search and the gesture)

by on Aug.12, 2011

Mole Hand

Maybe (and I’m sure it has been said before) poetry proliferates exactly because of and in spite of its interaction with silences, boundaries not really there except they are drawn by some hand or eye or ear, by perceived absence. I always think poetry describes absence by the presence of the missing, the chalkline often referenced in this webspace. Poetry exists alongside silence, the differences between persons, the necessity to communicate, the inability to speak, to know ahead of time what one means to say, to elaborate after the time has passed or in absence/death.
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On Proliferation Part B, Having to do with 3.141592653589793238462643383279…

by on Aug.06, 2011

Why to stop where we stop? Why break it off where it’s broken? To round up or down? By what standard? To what place? Pi to the millionth place and still going…this post a continuation that will only trail off after digression, implication, circulation…
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On Proliferation

by on Aug.02, 2011

Having just seen our fifth child into the world, my wife and I have some experience of proliferation:

1. The growth or production of cells by multiplication of parts

2. A rapid and often excessive spread or increase

Maybe not an exact description of having children, but when you’ve hit the number of five kids and look back at the relatively short time (that nevertheless feels like a long time, a profusion of times both alike and particulate), that short time it took to get from 2 adults to 7 human beings is (to me) proliferation.

It only takes some of the looks we get in public to know that, at least from some perspectives, five kids is excessive. It only takes a few moments of the natural noisiness that is our household for us to agree. Truth is, we like that noisiness, the sense of a haven of various personalities thrown together. Glorious messiness par excellence… (give or take the French accent…), delectable differences, acutely denied similarities in multi-duplicate, the exquisite noise of a fuzzy receptor, lots of yelling and only some ears covered.

Captured 2007-04-05 00049B by Karen Randall

There are many kinds of proliferation, of messiness. The many spellings/pronunciations of Quadaffi, Ghaddafi, Qadafi (how does that go?) comes to mind. Perhaps nuclear proliferation comes first to mind (probably) for most of us: a debatable and ongoing proliferation despite outward gestures toward pruning, the reality and its many shadows. Clearly the quickest way to a nuclear- and Gadhaffi(however spelled)-free world is to convince our leaders to push the buttons, fire the rockets, get it over with. Proliferate into extinction. Proliferation, the inverse of categorization, opening up to close down instead of closing down to open up.

In fact, there are numerous ongoing, halting, and/or recent attempts to control proliferation in interesting ways: China’s One Child policy, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s (at least perceived) attack on public sector labor unions (whatever “public sector” means), Maine Governor Le Page’s tearing down of children’s sandcastles and workers’ murals, the War on Terror and killing of Osama bin Laden, weeding my garden out back.

Something strange grew up with my radishes, something with little green pods and masquerading as radishes.

Mixed seed in the packet? Previous resident of the previously (in)fertile neighborhood? (What, really, grew there before we moved in, over the years gone by?) Are the green pods edible? Do I even want to know? (Yes, I do want to know what they are, but I enjoy the mystery of it, the waiting for someone else to see and recognize what I have there. The mingling of voices over a divisive plant grown up unwanted makes for other fertile landscapes.)

To pull, or not to pull, that is the question (with apologies to my radishless garden salads). The rooted and the rootless. 90% of my lettuce plants next to the radishes wilted and died despite adequate watering and drainage. Did I say 90%? That just slipped out. I haven’t actually quantified, calculated, tabulated. It’s probably closer to 98%.

While weeding, my daughter accidentally pulled out tomato plants I had transplanted without anyone’s knowledge. They were dead for a day before I realized. There are more where those came from. More plants and more deaths. More stories, more endings, more, more, more. Deaths and lives multiply until…what?





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We the False-Conscious Bombers of Planet Earth, Part 2 (w/ a reprise of Osama bin Laden's death…)

by on May.28, 2011

Reprise of Osama bin Laden’s death…

So, I’ve been absent, AWOL, gone. Beyond a busy and unpredictable patch of life weather (children with head lice, junk-car-buying, a load of freelance work to do, the usual culprits), like many, perhaps, I’ve spent the past several weeks adjusting to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. Did it really happen? What are we not being told? What does it mean? Does it change anything? Add in the hysterical-tragic-silenced tale of the Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan and the mind can easily be stunned into silence.

I have not been stunned silent, however. My mind is a wanderer, and I let it. Not silent, just gone away. On the smallest whim I embark on journeys of epic discovery, backyard camp-outs. I don’t even leave a sign in the shop window: “Be back in X days.” I can’t help it. I never know when I’ll be back. I wander until I find something back where I started. Distance brings everything closer.

TIME, a chess-piece marker...

And so I’m back with a roll of reflections under one arm and nightmares in my back pocket. As one who has followed the “War on Terror” with chagrined interest, bin Laden’s death has been a startling development. To say otherwise would be to lessen the significance of the moment, and I’m not into that. Biting back the bitter bile, swallowing and claiming it doesn’t rankle the taste buds or burn the throat the whole way down, only lessens the radical moment of refusing to vomit.

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We the False-Conscious Bombers of Planet Earth, part one

by on Apr.06, 2011

V for Victory

“One should not act or speak as if he were asleep.” -Heraclitus

~ ~ ~

Suspect my every word, sleepwalker. We, first of all, because who are we. Are we asleep, are we sick, are we sickening? Is a drunken sleepwalker to be woken? Are people to touch one another through a radioactive fog? The body politic stumbles through dreams, false-conscious projections. All the bombs are ours. This will not be true tomorrow. What will. Bombs dropping are roses, are razor blades, are fig leaves, are the Obama (non)Doctrine, are emancipation, are budget deficits, are…
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Solidarity: Does the Body Bleed? Does It Tear or Tear Up?

by on Mar.18, 2011

The People's House

A week ago, I posted on the possibility of realizing the connectedness of widely scattered bodies and hinted at the existence of a larger body politic than the one we are accustomed to acknowledging ( Whereas bodies politic are often thought to be limited by national borders, provinces, districts, and voting bodies, I suggested that the slogan “We Are Wisconsin” is a key marker of the present state of solidarity as well as a potential opening to increase our awareness of solidarity beyond traditional borders. One of the most quoted recent examples of this in the social imagination comes from the report of an Egyptian ordering pizza for protesters in Wisconsin.

In this context, “We Are Wisconsin” means “We Are Egypt” means “We Are Tunisia” means “We Are Libya” means “We Are Yemen” means “We Are Bahrain.” The present state of affairs in all of these places are potentially relatable in sundry and subtle ways. We should add to the list: “We Are Michigan.” I predict that Michigan will rise from its ashes or fall further into domination by corporate heads based on the lived reality of this slogan. I put the slogans in quotes because we must realize that they are inactive until actually spoken, until we have changed posture in some way to accommodate their reality in actual life lived beyond the realm of internet likes and commentary. And it bothers me, really, that more Americans outside of Wisconsin have not yet expressed this reality with more than words, not yet with their bodies. The difference between Wisconsin or Egypt or Tunisia or Bahrain or Libya and Michigan, for example, is that the tweeters were in the streets, not sitting at home. But there is still time.
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