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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Nay

Eric and I are boycotting Valentine's Day this year as usual.

Neither love nor loyalty is testified to by the purchase of cheap crap squirted into a heart-shaped mould on an assembly line in the presence of who knows what human suffering. But you know all that already.

It's funny, but Eric and I actually met in person (after a week or so of flirting first online) the day after Valentine's Day six years ago, and an awesome punky dyke notarized our domestic partnership forms in a dusty downtown San Francisco office the day before Valentine's Day five years ago. Our indifference to Valentine's Day has twice contributed to our failure to notice that key moments in our romantic itinerary were freighted with the high cheese factor of close proximity to corporate cupid's dimpled ass cheek.

Nice to see that we're not the only ones [via Open Left] who feel the way we do:
How much do I hate Valentine's Day? Let me count the ways. Oppression is the hallmark of this Hallmark Card holiday: the cheap chocolates made from cocoa beans harvested by child slave labor on the Ivory Coast; the fungicide-filled flowers picked by exploited Ecuadoreans; the sleazy lingerie stitched together in a Jordan sweatshop. Only in the lexicon of the Great American Lemming could these global grotesqueries say "I Love You."

Just in case all this comes off as one of my "too negative" posts, here's the incomparable Nico singing My Funny Valentine to pick you back up:



Of course, if it really is true that Valentine's Day is just another crapitalist hokeyday manufactured like "the consent of the governed" or Cheez Whiz to provoke consumers into shopping for still more future landfill to stave off panic at the prospect that they will die alone (you will, you know), then nothing could be more true in America than the truism of the song's last, curiously imperative, line: Each day is Valentine's Day.

20 comments:

Robin said...

Mmmm, Nico!

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day either, and I had a particular "duh" moment yesterday when J. told me his company moved a product release up a day (to yesterday) so people could go out to dinner on Valentine's Day.

My response? "Oh, when is that?"

It apparently registers about as high as garbage day (which was also today!) on my radar.

Although I think I'm being offered a job later today - so henceforth this will be Job Offer Commemoration Day.

giulio said...

Come on Dale, what the hell is wrong in giving loved ones flowers and chocolate once a year. We should do that more often of course, but isn't once a year better than never?

I enjoy your blog and am probably one of your most faithful readers, but every now and then I find one of these over intellectual and elitist rants against simple things that we the people like to do.

I wish the Left would shed this elitism and learn to talk the language of the people. Thinking that it is not intellectually sophisticated enough, and leaving it to the Right, often results in the Right winning the elections with the results that we all know.

G.

Eric said...

Giulio, I would hope that you would show affection for your loved ones because, you know, you LOVE THEM, not because some corporation badgered you into it and oh by the way don't forget to give us your money.

Remember, every kiss begins with Kay!

Dale Carrico said...

Giulio wants to know what the hell is wrong in giving loved ones flowers and chocolate once a year.

What part of "cheap chocolates made from cocoa beans harvested by child slave labor on the Ivory Coast; the fungicide-filled flowers picked by exploited Ecuadoreans; the sleazy lingerie stitched together in a Jordan sweatshop" don't you understand?

I don't know, Guilio, what is wrong with child sweatshop and slave labor? Like, der, I forget? Izzat, uh, all bad and stuff?

[E]very now and then I find one of these over intellectual and elitist rants against simple things that we the people like to do.

Sweetheart, the elitist is the one who thinks it's cute to exploit poor vulnerable suffering people the better to indulge one's vulgar taste in crap. And there is nothing "over intellectual" about this point unless you're a complete tool.

I wish the Left would shed this elitism and learn to talk the language of the people.

Giulio Prisco, man of the people, ladies and gentlemen.

Tell all the down home "folks" how you plan to become an immortal sooperhuman by uploading your brain into a computer and how you think a Robot God will direct the nanobots one fine day to make you rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

It is, no doubt, my "elitist" refraining to indulge completely batshit crazy techno-utopian crap talk of the flavor your kooky crowd peddles that accounts for the power of the political Right.

Go to bed, Giulio, you're done.

PS: Hey, and thanks for reading so faithfully, oh how I adore each and every single one of my marvelous fans!!!

luvyall! uh, meanit!

giulio said...

Dale, what the fuck does my "plan to become an immortal sooperhuman by uploading your brain into a computer" have to do with Valentine and chocolate? And when did I refer to the "completely batshit crazy techno-utopian crap talk of the flavor my kooky crowd peddles"?

I thought we were talking of something else. Aren't you a bit obsessed this days? Perhaps _you_ are done and should go to bed, or have some chocolate, they say it helps to calm nervous people.

I like chocolate like the next guy but I also have friends working in the chocolate industry, so I can tell you that the child labor things is true in some cases and false in others. Just pick a more ethical supplier, there is plenty to choose from.

Eric, I show affection for your loved ones because I love them, and give them whatever I think makes them happy. Corporations have nothing to do with it, they do their thing and I do mine.

Dale Carrico said...

Yer dumb.

GP said...

Re: "Yer dumb".

If thinking so makes you happier, please continue thinking so. But remember the advice about hot chocolate, you really need some.

De Thezier said...

giulio said:

I enjoy your blog and am probably one of your most faithful readers

It mystifies me how someone can be one of most faitful readers of the Amor Mundi blog yet remain the poster boy for everything that is wrong with transhumanism.

but every now and then I find one of these over intellectual and elitist rants against simple things that we the people like to do.

What is Giulio talking about? Rather than being an expression of "intellectual elitism", criticizing the crass commercialization of Valentine's Day or any holiday is actually an expression of populist concern about how people are manipulated and exploited by corporations into equating personal happiness with the purchasing of material possessions and consumption.

Whether or not they are effective, does Giulio seriously believe that the following initiatives are examples of "intellectual elitism"?

Christmas Resistance Movement
http://www.xmasresistance.org/

Buy Nothing Day
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buy_Nothing_Day

I wish the Left would shed this elitism and learn to talk the language of the people.

Although this valid point is totally irrelevant in a debate about whether or not his criticisms of Valentine's Day are legitimate, Giulio is actually right that Dale could reach a larger audience of both academics and laymen if he talked the "language of the people".

As Howard Zinn (author of A People's History of the United States) argued:

"The Left hasn't reached out to people with a clear, coherent, and emotional message. The Left often does not know how to talk to other people. Tikkun magazine appeals to intellectuals. I've never spoken the language of ivory tower academics. And there are other voices on the Left that speak in understandable language. For instance, Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, in which she took menial jobs across the country and wrote about those lives, was a bestseller. There's an emotionalism to her message that makes contact and touches thousands. Michael Moore's movies have been seen by all sorts of people. GI's in Iraq watched his movie. We just have to do more along those lines."

Dale Carrico said...

Zinn is right that the authorized voices of the Left too often have failed to speak to everyday people effectively. I think this is mostly a consequence of the inherently reactionary division of "intellectual" from physical labor and a resulting tendency of even many notionally left-leaning intellectuals to function primarily as water-carriers for incumbent interests rather than as people empowered to speak truths to the powers that be. This, among many other things, has produced what has too often been a harsh tradeoff for dem-left folks between our democratic ideas and the demands of organizational effectiveness in a pre-p2p epoch.

Part of the reason this doesn't lead me to despair is because we are living in an era of emerging p2p democratization that is undoing this impasse -- blogs among other things are filled with passionate voices from all walks of life, inspiring change with knowledge, emotion, character, good sense, helpfulness, wit, and provocation. p2p formations are also loosening the financial and time constraints that have circumscribed effective rapid pushback against mass-mediated deceptions, exposure of corrupt and secretive practices between representatives and incumbent interests, educated people in real time about anti-democratic manipulations of parliamentary processes in the service of incumbent interests, organized petition drives, small donor aggregation in support of people doing good work at great personal risk, and countless other things. Even so, probably the deft-left will never manage a message so "coherent" as the right does, but that is because diversity is as real and as valuable as equity is for the dem-left and perfect coherence is always only the marching orders of incumbent interests.

The word "often" in Zinn's second quoted sentence, is more true than the categorical "hasn't" of the first, though. The left often hasn't been as effective as it could have been and surely should have wanted to be in connecting to the very people who would benefit most from the work we are trying to do. Often... but hardly always. And as you well know, I love Zinn's book and his work more generally and recommend it because it has affected me powerfully personally, in part because he manages to do precisely what he says more people of the dem-left need to do. I think he is certainly right about that.

However, there are more things to do in the world, and more ways to contribute to the diversity of human expressions and knowledges and lifeways than just the one Zinn refers to here.

I'm a theory head. I am capable of writing in the clear and emotional way Zinn prescribes here and do so here on this blog from time to time. But I also write dense, theoretical, provisional, sometimes exploratory and meandering prose on topics of concern to me from time to time. Welcome to me.

Let me speak some everyday language here.

I don't give a fuck if anybody doesn't like any particular facet of the expression I engage in here. I don't give a fuck if people are disappointed I don't stick to the topics and stylistic mannerisms I exhibit in their favorite posts. I don't give a fuck if some people decide I have become preoccupied with the wrong issue and want to talk about it here. I don't give a fuck if some people think I'm an "elitist" because they don't understand or aren't interested in some of writing I do.

Nobody knows just what writing, just what style, just what formulation, just what perspective, just what frame, just what provocation will be the one to make the best contribution to the collective work of greater democratization and expressivity and consensualization and justice in the world.

Maybe we would indeed find our way to global permaculture and democratic world federalism with a universal basic income and healthcare if everybody wrote like Howard Zinn. But Zinn does not know that this is true, nobody does. Nobody can. We do know that it hasn't only been "plainspoken" work (already, actually, a rather problematic notion in my view -- but, hey, I'm a snarky elitist, don't mind me) like Zinn's that has produced democratizing accomplishments the left celebrates now.

And, besides, there are other good things to do and other enriching contributions to make to the sum of human equity and diversity than just the ones Zinn is making, absolutely fabulous though they are and celebrate them to be. (Please don't take any of this as a denigration of his wonderful work!)

Even the dem-left should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. And worse than that, when people get too strident on this particular line (I do not refer here to Zinn) they often start to endorse highly anti-intellectual and expurgationist attitudes in my view that are much more suited to reactionary than to progressive politics when all is said and done.

As an example of what I mean by that last point, contemplate the endless variations -- mostly on the Right but increasingly among some on the Left -- accusing them effete elite English major types of being a right relativist menace with their fancy wordgames and such. All that is just bullshit, and the dem-left does not benefit by it, nor do the emancipatory practices of consensus science demand the denigration or sacrifice of poetry or theory to do their good work in the world as some of science's would-be Priestly and Curatorial "Champions" seem to want.

Greg in Portland said...

Come on Dale, what the hell is wrong in giving loved ones flowers and chocolate once a year.

And diamonds are a girl's best friend too I assume. Lessee now - Valentine's day, engagement/marriage rings, the annual bloodsport of Christmas (also known as Mad Max, Santa's Revenge), Easter (celebrate zombie Jebus with even more chocolate). Are there any other other corpo-consumo-crap rituals Americans have been suckered into that I'm forgetting? I'm sure there are. People will someday look back and wonder how a continent full of people got so completely p0wned by the sort of mindless, cheesy, self-serving propaganda that any fucking 1st grader should have been able to see through.

giulio said...

Re: "It mystifies me how someone can be one of most faitful readers of the Amor Mundi blog yet remain the poster boy for everything that is wrong with transhumanism".

I may be the poster boy for transhumanism and whatever you like - btw thanks, I had not been described as a poster boy since decades.

But the fact remains that this has nothing to do with the very concrete point that I am trying to make here, one with which you agree at least in part as in Zinn's quote.

So I can only conclude that you guys are so obsessed with your hatred of transhumanism that cannot have a rational conversation about anything else. Like those rabid anticommunists who see a red menace everywhere.

Yes, I am a faithful reader of the Amor Mundi blog and yes, I disagree with Dale on some things. Does that surprise you? Do you think one should only read authors that he always agree with? The world would be a very dull place then.

Robin said...

Come on Dale, what the hell is wrong in giving loved ones flowers and chocolate once a year. We should do that more often of course, but isn't once a year better than never?

I'd have to say "no" to this. If they are actually loved ones, you would be giving them thoughtful little gifts or reminders of your love probably 300+ days a year. As long as a "holiday" like Valentine's Day exists, people can walk around feeling smug 364 days a year because they gave their partner a box of chocolates and some roses 1 day this year. It's pretty much an excuse to NOT openly demonstrate love the rest of the year. It can be excused when Big Tough Guy #1 gives his girlfriend roses on this day because it's expected. Any other day of the year, though, and his friends will point and laugh and call him whipped. It's a way to institutionalize treating your loved ones poorly the rest of the year while sleeping soundly because you've acted appropriately on the one day that allegedly matters.

Nick Tarleton said...

Surely "...the better to indulge one's vulgar taste in crap" is a bit elitist?

Dale Carrico said...

Is it elitist for me to say your comment is crap?

Greg in Portland said...

As long as a "holiday" like Valentine's Day exists, people can walk around feeling smug 364 days a year because they gave their partner a box of chocolates and some roses 1 day this year.

There's a commercial on TV for jewelry. It shows a guy giving his girlfriend a manicure or handing her a card he made himself with elegant calligraphy. Then the voiceover says "because you're not that guy..." followed by the pitch for crap jewelry. That's the spirit, pay for her love with trinkets and you can sit on the couch the rest of the time with a beer balanced on your expanding gut and the remote in your hand watching ESPN. This commercial cries out for satire. Perhaps just showing the guy handing his girl a wad of cash followed by a sharp "now get me another beer and take your top off bitch!"

giulio said...

Re: "Is it elitist for me to say your comment is crap?"

Yes. Also rude.

De Thezier said...

giulio said:

But the fact remains that this has nothing to do with the very concrete point that I am trying to make here, one with which you agree at least in part as in Zinn's quote.

And my point is that you made the mistake of bringing up a concrete point (the language of the Left) in a debate that wasn't appropriate for it (valid criticism of the commercialization of Valentine's day).

I may be the poster boy for transhumanism and whatever you like [...] So I can only conclude that you guys are so obsessed with your hatred of transhumanism that cannot have a rational conversation about anything else. Like those rabid anticommunists who see a red menace everywhere.

Not at all. It's just that you always set yourself up as a target for a personal criticism that is too hard to resist making. Otherwise, I would never have mentionned the T-Word. ;)

Yes, I am a faithful reader of the Amor Mundi blog and yes, I disagree with Dale on some things. Does that surprise you? Do you think one should only read authors that he always agree with? The world would be a very dull place then.

*sigh* As usual, you miss the point. I agree with many things Dale writes as much as I disagree with some of the things he writes. However, Dale Carrico's writing is among the many sources for a critical thinking process, which makes me more aware of my own fallibility by:

1. accepting that everyone has subconscious biases, and accordingly questioning any reflexive judgments;
2. adopting an egoless and, indeed, humble stance;
3. recalling previous beliefs that one once held strongly but now rejects;
4. realizing one still has numerous blind spots, despite the foregoing.

So I find it stunning that you can be one of his most faitful readers yet 1) continue to hold beliefs which the vast majority of your comtemporaries recognize as not only false or, at the very least, pseudo-scientific but also ludicrous; and 2) arguing with you is useless, because you will invariably dismiss all evidence or arguments which contradict your cranky beliefs.

Dale Carrico said...

Giulio finds me over-intellectual, elitist, negative, and rude. And the whole world dies of boredom.

Robin said...

Greg in Portland -

I've seen that commercial!! I've seen at least 3 in the last 2 weeks that I could practically see the satire overlaying the actual commercial, too. I wonder if we've just got our Portland Goggles on :)

-Robin (also in Portland!)

Greg in Portland said...

Nice to meet a fellow Portlander Robin. The Jared commercials are lovely too - "he went to Jared!". Makes me want to puke diamonds and molten gold. I live out here in the Beaverton slumburbs and I drive past one of those Walmart-of-Jewelry things frequently. I can never suppress a snicker.