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Showing posts from 2012

come the end of knowledge

Eric Smith (2007)

If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis that all things are made of atoms - little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling on being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.
- Richard Feynman

Asked some mates what single piece of information they would pass on were all modern knowledge destroyed. Was hoping their answers would reveal something essential about them, but I did expect some trolling too - which can anyway also be essential. (JH: "Careful now that swan could break your arm".)

CW: "Eat lots of veg."

RM: &q…

houmous and a handful of pills

An update on the old better-living-through-chemistry regimen. I now take 12 pills -mostly just nutrients, but still enough to unnerve people. It freaks them out less when I mention the red wine, green tea, and chocolate that form the core of the therapy first. (Not coincidentally, those are three quite intense foods.) Folk find the mere daily regularity of it all about as unsettling as its unnatural substance.

I have to take these jitters seriously because I'm not in the business of making veganism look hard, and thereby letting people off: all any vegan needs to thrive is B12 fortified food and a very varied diet. The rest, below, is a hobby, a nerdy attempt at optimising my shiz. For the incorrigible hippies amongst you, I've given wholefood alternatives where they exist.

In a day, then:

100ml matcha green tea (10x the polyphenols of ordinary green tea. Shitloads of catechins, 140mg caffeine, 100mg theanine). What for? There's a raft of weak results: cholesterol dow…

cheap mental health

my people are as they are
because they shrink from those
small sources of cheap mental health
that are available to things like us:

exercise, stupid art,
bold conjectures, pissing outside,
uppers, group affiliation,
coupling, writing about yourself,
laughter, early nights,
framing one's pain as the small pain it is,
eating right, and embodying your morals.

(all otherwise called


a tragedy [is] a human interaction in which both antagonists are,
arguably, in the right
- David Mamet
for justice harden your heart.
hurry away; hang the dj.
this town we've shorn of innocence.

take turns for injustice,
that how it works?
in this town the shit clings readily.

the definite fire, the ridden tiger,
doggy shame in my dog soul
in this town I'm shamed and unashamed

(but then again, too few to mention)

I disappoint; please
imagine the depth of my disappointment with you
this town soon shot of me.


so the sad sadden,
the bitter embitter,
the stressed bestow distress.

but the inspired do inspire
and at least half of the time
love does not strangle!

Poem inscribed on some Undies

[Right cup]
You are my wild orchids;
you were my deep confusion.
you soothe and, better, kill
the prude, the prig and puritan I am.
you dance though asleep,
off line in lieu.

[Left cup]
I bear the happy cross self-expression;
I welcome piercing - but shy from mother's mind,
pert haptics & most people most times.
I fill finery because nothing
else makes sense, or rings out
so sweetly above the racket of time.

I am what goes beneath,
closer to the middle
of an unpretending life -
and, in our instance,
closer even to the heart.
right in the thicket of it.

no man is a AAA nation

I should like distinguish myself & Scotland. But can I?
Seems easy: he, Scotland, is thirty-thousand miles big
& likes oil, bankers, and distorting history;
I, Nemo, am a hundred percent nothing
& like sunlight, empiricism and meat-free things.
But I am belched forth from him,
filled with his faults and his smells I cannot smell,
and we both say we crave independence,
(though mine's from Britain andScotland both).

LISTEN: 'Chop My Money' (2011), by P-square, feat. Akon & May D

Sexual corruption - cos I'd kill anyone for your time."

God, how deliriously unpleasant is this? 'Chop My Money' distils all the helplessly evil symbolism from our club hits, delivers it concentrated. Things indirectly championed in R&B (the blaming and objectification of women; the naked materialism and unbridled egoism) are here openly endorsed, with a smile, ten hooks, and a ready-made irresistible dance move.

On first listen you could mistake it for a lovely Beatlesy theme - "oh, just take the money - I don't care about it...only you." The actual story: "you, girl, are desired by many. Go out with me; I have more money than them. I have so much money that it doesn't matter that you are a grasping she-devil; I am confident my balance will soak up your avarice. Again: I don't care ...cos I gettin plenty."

I took the line at 1:40 to be the baffling, terrifying: "You know dem believers gonna die, die-e-i..." - which made…

and thence fall into jobs that feed the bourgeois nation-state

We must laugh at our anger and still be angry.
- Carl Hancock Rux

Hey! hark at their coming, oi! quake at their bells:
it's those dastardly jobs that feed the Bourgeois Nation-State.

what dyou think you are doing! where do you think your work goes!
all clocked hours, all leisures feed the Bourgeois Nation-State.

it'll eat all progression, it'll use up your every ounce,
that repressively tolerant Bourgeois Nation-State.

o profane your enjoyments, o racist roundabout;
orgiastic job creation for the Bourgeois Nation-State.

o resist them do deny them please, Buy Nothing and bite back,
say boo to all its agents and flash them your arsecrack;

but o sweet cultural studies, o countercultural airs,
o student with that One Idea and intentions fair,

does your garden grow purely, organic, and innate?
does your ignored critique starve out the Bourgeois Nation-State?

Eternal Sofa Surf Blues

...only the one enduring the experience of being deprived of a home can offer hospitality.
- Jacques Derrida

And best of all, we don't pay council tax!
- Max & Paddy

We don't think of rent as consumption spending. But it is. (This year I'm going to live without an address - circulating, instead, around the sofas of a kind and bohemian group of friends.) Pardon? A year of bourgeois homelessness?

Now, I'm a stubborn man, and I enjoy runningexperiments on myself, but it remains to be seen how long I can last at this, owing to 1) my long-established need of long solitude, 2) the burden it places on my relationships, and 3) my poor back.

Also since we're after much more than warmth and storage space for our bed when we sign a lease. You purchase privacy; you obtain the possibility of giving hospitality (and the possibility of refusing it); and perhaps even the possibility of dignity. In fact, Derrida talks about being homed as a condition of being a complete pe…

having just graduated

having 'just' graduated I'm just
a ghoul on campus, a drunk who's lost a bet, and
happy, though just
an upturned Transit just spinning its wheels through long air guitar miles.

see some other dregs, just
magnetic years giving structure to
the idle existentialist, the hopeless arriviste,
the butch mens sana, and I, tiny colossus.

each just a graduate, just
straining to hear a song just stopped,
in this bright young world entirely
unchanged by us.

Some Kihaya Vocabulary

Mwaa, ebitoke enmeli: agandi mbi muno!

Kihaya is a Bantu language spoken by about a million people around Tanzanian Lake Victoria. Despite being one of the larger surviving tribal tongues - with as many mother-tongue speakers as the mighty Kiswahili - at time of writing this, there were no resources online for it, and only one academic text in forty years.*

I was taught by several people, young and old, and they conflicted over basic meaning ("omushana" is used for 'afternoon' and 'rainy season' supposedly without homophony, for instance). I suppose this is to be expected in real, unliterary, unacademic languages. Anyway Kihaya shares a great deal of vocabulary and structure with Kiswahili, and the orthography I've used is its - 'e' for 'ay' and so on. It loans a lot less from English than Kiswa does: I only found two cognates in the 200 or so words I learned ('ebegi' - bag and 'etoche' - torch). Note the loans from Arabi…

sentimental graduate, 22, seeks desperately to instrumentalise himself

...there is an internal ethical urge that demands that each of us serve justice as much as he or she can. But beyond the immediate attention that he rightly pays hungry mouths, child soldiers, or raped civilians, there are more complex and more widespread problems: serious problems of governance, of infrastructure, of democracy, and of law and order. These problems are neither simple in themselves nor are they reducible to slogans. Such problems are both intricate and intensely local...
- Teju Cole
Specialisation is for insects.
- Heinlein's Lazarus Long

Turns out that a degree - even one limited to 'real world' topics like, supposedly, economics - isn't a skill. Isn't really much to do with much. This is galling, because I have bottled action in me and have failed to get moral hydraulics to steer it.

Is that too reductive? I might not have such a quantity of good intentions without my years among the humanities; they only suck for obtaining hard skills. And 'hy…

Perth / Dundee

hard, dark
and hardly started

crap, familiar
bus distorting our demesne

Perth? Dundee?
I should know but know you don't know

frantic, the
yellow-spot-road, and vague places past it

note: ticket
includes each other on tap

but legroom
and peace aren't included

we cargo
are silent, hummed and whined and shook from sleep

lesson: no
lesson, I just wanted you to know

she who gradually wasn't

First she lost her beepcard
(so beepdoors didn't know her)

then she lost her licence
(the road no longer hers)

next she lost her passport
(was trapped inside one border)

and she lost her phone
(and distant friends went mute)

losing then the wallet
(goods and comfort blanked her)

she went and lost her cloud
(the past, what would've come)

then she lost her throat-chords
(couldn't invoke absent things)

her breasts and other jumbles
(she was proclaimed unsexed)

and last lost all her body
(so sat godlike, and vexed)

to the bigot beat

[Trigger Warning: Everything.]

"Interviewer: What does the "Bitch Magnet" [next to] Dave Riley's name on the back cover of Atomizer mean?

Steve Albini: Bitch magnet! That just means bitch magnet. Whenever we go anywhere, Dave has all these women just follow him.

I: But are they all bitches?

A: Well, no. Bitch is just a generic term.

I: You're a feminist, eh?

A: Well, I don't believe you have to be completely dogmatic and pure in your language to think reasonably. Certainly none of the band are sexist in the traditional sexist notions, or have sexist leanings, right? But because that's understood, we don't have to keep haranguing on it, to keep reaffirming to ourselves that we believe what we believe ... A lot of people, they're very careful not to say things that might offend certain people or do anything that might be misinterpreted. But what they don't realize is that the point of all this is to change the way you live your life, not the …

Economic Satires

"Social Reform", (c) George Cruikshank (1819)


"I'm a-coming! I'm a-coming! I shall have you! And though I'm at your heels now, I'll be at your heads presently."

The best way to begin learning anything is to read satires of it; this is because satire will present the field's cliches concisely and criticise them memorably, as a part of the gig. However, most economists cannot write, and most writers have naive economic views, so economics is short of this source of instruction, deflation and self-consciousness. Here are some corkers:

"A Modest Proposal"(1729) by Swift

The original: "solve poverty; make 'em eat their kids." Swift was targeting the treatment of labourers as commodities found over hundreds of years of mainstream economic thought (the Malthusians before Malthus, Walrasians before Walras). Callous scientism is still around in places. It was quite hard to spot the satire at the…

balance sheet for doing philosophy


1. It matters
2. It lasts
3. It transforms
4. It can be useful in any context
5. It's inescapable*
6. It's cheap
7. Sensitises you to bullshit


1. Sensitises you to bullshit
2. It's interminable
3. It can feed arrogance
4. It can feed madness
5. It can make you unlikeable.
6. It forces you to listen

6 < 7.

* Yeah yeah Wittgenstein, keep talking.


In Italy they call estate agents
and so they are,
wormed deep as they are
into the unspoken plan path
of almost everyone.

It is not mostly via vices
or secrets that they get us
but by our dreams.


Come, please, do! I am open to critique!
Truth is my first wife, ho ho!
(But queue yourselves,
and come slowly,
along my line of sight,
and wait for the nod,
and punch with your hand closed,
on limbs that were anyway gangrenous
and do not smile.)

degrees of Inglourious Basterds

This is my 'bunch of guys on a mission' movie. You’ve got to make a movie about something, and I’m a film guy, so I think in terms of genres. - Quentin Tarantino
Ways to see it:
As sheer or mere sensation. It's a diabolically entertaining thing. "Hurr. Oh-hoh no! Eee! Hahaha! Ooooooh. (Christ this music's loud.)" It is easy to treat it as if its violence were its content and purpose.
As perfect token of a style. "Hmm. Revenge is the sole motivating logic; there are many converging plot threads; the 'good' guys are psychotic; the 'bad' guy is utterly charming; protagonists are massacred in deadpan fashion. I wonder who the director is?" All of his films are (or contain) simplistic on-a-mission plots; it's the various subversions that elevate them. This one's obv the Dirty Dozen subverted with blaxploitation, Spaghetti Western, and modern spoof ingredients.
As comedy at the extremes. Sensationalism and the baiting of film archetyp…

Epicurus is not Dionysian!

...our court, infected with their manners
Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
Than a grac’d palace
. - Goneril, King Lear (1606)
Such a view of life is the meanest form of selfishness, leading in general to vice ... If sincerely embraced and consistently carried out, it undermined all that was chivalrous and heroic... - New Advent Encyclopaedia (1913)

(In which I complain that the word 'epicurean' is really misleading - and accuse Christians, Jews, and rocknroll. There could be snakes in here: addressing your marginal concerns with excessive urgency since 2010.)


I like Epicurus for his lack of melodrama. (Which he manages to have despite living in a melodramatic culture - Hellas - inset in a melodramatic species - us.) Unlike the trendy philosophies of the last 200 years, Epicureanism is able to include and dignify everyday things. (One synopsis of his philosophy is just f…

anti matters

"A thing is a hole in a thing it is not."
– Carl Andre
hairdressers sell negative hair;
sculptors negate stone.
cleaners mess with mess,
prostitutes try and siphon lust;
judge hurls negative freedom.
priest spits fear and negative fear.
killer sells negative life,
musician, negative death.

Self Hacking (self-mythologising songs)

The idea that we teach in the Gospel of Hip Hop is self-creation - that hip hop gives us the ability to self-create... A new kind of creative visualization. A new kind of way to notice God, in that sense."

- KRS-One (...)

music allows even the most grave of performers to become wildly eccentric extrapolations of their own self-perception...

- James

What's Pop got to do with reality? It is ubiquitous ghetto fabulous candy-flipping phantasy - its lack of realism is why it's popular in the first place - it sprays righteous fiction over our lives. The population of pop with aggressive personalities is not (just) driven by the egos of performers: we do so like to have gods before us.

Hip-hop is completely obviously founded upon The Front, The Show, The Braggadocio Exaggeration Extravaganza, but it is far from the first. Its 'realness' never measured authenticity, so much as how much the schmuck lived up to racist myths about blackness. (If realness were about reality, t…