Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pack 'n Prep

Not as naughty as it sounds -- reading thesis drafts for tomorrow's MA cohort workshop, and bagging accumulated trash in my office in anticipation of the looming move. All very exciting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Klassic Kultzpah

Recommending skepticism about someone recommending skepticism about confused hyperbolic pseudo-scientific futurological claims isn't actually recommending skepticism at all but recommending credulity. And there is nothing reasonable about recommending credulity, using the word skepticism to enjoin credulity is just unreasonableness in bad reasonableness drag.

PS: When I point out (and I regularly do) that "the internet" offers no reasonable grounds for techno-transcendental wish fulfillment fantasies about the rise of a history-shattering sooper-intelligent Robot God or about folks "uploading" as immortal cyberangels in Holodeck Heaven this isn't the same thing as saying the internet "isn't a big deal." When I point out (as I regularly do) that the disruptive technodevelopmental transformation that made some twentieth century humans witness ubiquitous horses and buggies supplanted by automobiles, the emergence of aircraft in war supplanted by passenger air travel, the emergence of radio supplanted by television, the emergence of the New Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society's transformations of government, healthcare, education, welfare administration, social expectations, cultural norms, and the Moon landings makes a complete mockery of futurological "accelerationalists" who preach we are living in an age of an acceleration of acceleration of change -- all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding -- right now the sheer momentum of which is irresistibly pushing us into a post-human sooper-human transcendence simply because of the so-called digital, information, or internet "revolution," a latecoming echo of earlier transformations almost all the hardware for which actually arose in a WWII context and most of the sociocultural normative scrambling from which had clear antecedents in, for example, the nineteenth century assimilation of global telegraphy, once again this isn't the same thing as saying the internet "isn't a big deal." I happen to have chosen to write my PhD. dissertation at Berkeley on the impact of digital network formations on our experiences and expectations of privacy and attributed to these impacts no small significance to basic assumptions about politics and subjecthood. While it is true that I didn't see much reason to lose my lunch over these impacts and jump feet first into the deep end of the pool, making a bid to be the next New Media guru -slash- corporate-military apologist and TED squawk charlatan or declaring we are living in a science fiction scenario on the verge of techno-heaven or robocalypse, I don't happen to agree that one has to indulge in such nonsense to talk in a useful way about material differences that make a difference in people's lives arising out of ongoing technodevelopmental social struggle. But I guess that's why I am not a transhumanoid Robot Cultist in the first place, now, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaching Day

More Marx in the City -- also, Benjamin and Adorno. Why the late Marx already proposed the Debordian Spectacle and why he advocated close reading as indispensable to the critique of capitalism... then why Benjamin proposes the Auratic event as fetishistic anti-commodity, new media as rematerialization of consciousness, and post-Marxist anti-war radical democracy... then why Adorno accused mass culture of not amounting to common culture unless the masses have style (with assists from centuries of German aesthetic philosophy).

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Traditional Media's White House Tiger Woods Tantrum Signifies

Traditional media outlets have complained loud and long over the weekend because the White House did not release a photo of a recent golf game the President played with world-champion but not nice guy Tiger Woods. About this I have a few observations to make, about none of which I claim anything like ferocious insight or originality.

First, when traditional media outlets or Fox News' Ed Henry go on defensively to claim that their sordid little tantrum actually matters because the possibly slightly scandalous gossip-column photo they crave but were denied is a symptom of a larger openness problem that also eventually connects to conspicuously important issues like the Obama Administration's secrecy and deceptions about extrajudicial assassination by aerial drones, it is important to remember that if these traditional media outlets or Fox News' Ed Henry wanted to raise a ruckus about the Obama Administration's secrecy and deceptions about extrajudicial assassination by aerial drones they actually could and should have done this but mostly have not done this at all while they are indeed raising their ruckus over the possibly slightly scandalous gossip-column photo of the President with Tiger Woods.

Second, when in connection to their current fit of pique over their denied photo-op traditional media outlets go on to castigate the terrible hypocrisy of the Obama Administration because it once promised to be one of the most "transparent" administrations in modern history, it is important to remember that the disintegrating audience share of traditional media outlets coupled with the proliferation of social and specialized media outlets has sufficiently transformed the media terrain that providing less access to traditional media and more access to emerging media formations may indeed represent increased aggregate access and transparency even if traditional media outlets do not experience it that way nor want to testify to their recognition of the implications of that fact.

Third, these observations are importantly related, since BOTH the White House's rather unprecedented media access policy priorities AS WELL AS the fact that it was the denial to traditional media outlets of a salacious photo-op rather than the truly significant and dangerous secrecy about extrajudicial assassination and drones that provoked their outrage, reflect exactly the same calculation in the face of the recognition of exactly the same changed media terrain. The White House has limited time to devote to making its case to the public and is providing access in ways that reflect their accurate assessment of where the audience they need to reach to achieve their policies are most reachable. And traditional media outlets seeking to retain audience share in the face of competition from social and specialized media are remaking themselves ever more in the image of those social and specialized media formations, satisfying shrinking but reliable audience expectations through superficial pseudo-analysis that ignore troubling evidence, contrary cases, and contending stakeholders in their existing diversity, while consoling and amplifying their prejudices through interminable scandal-mongering.

Again, I wouldn't claim these are exactly original or incisive observations, but certainly they do not seem to me to be the prevailing terms through which this idiotic brouhaha are being adjudicated. Meanwhile, I'm still swamped with elaborate exhausting moving preparations and this notional genuflection toward an actual daily blogging practice is the best I can manage for now.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Harrumphus Interruptus

Spent yesterday in my driveway, selling off accumulated albatrosses that won't fit into the new apartment, spending today bagging contents of closets and file cabinets for disposal.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Teaching Day

Teaching still more Nietzsche, this time to graduate students, in the City today. Ecce Homo.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Na Ga Ha Pen

Asked in the Moot (by someone in on the joke) to offer up an Ode to the techno-transcendental preoccupations of superlative futurologists, I provided as my contribution the Atrios-inspired subject line. I leave to the specificities of context the question whether the best musical accompaniment to my Ode be a yawn, a giggle, or a fart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Febfluary and So On

So, yes, of course, February has been a pretty bleak business here, I know. Just to offer up a latest and last installment in this more dire diaristic phase of Amor Mundying, let me say that I feel mostly well at long last, well enough to no longer be taking medication or sleeping more than usual and that sort of thing. Also, Eric and I have signed the lease on a new apartment not too far off that we both like rather a lot and so everything is turning out well. We're getting rid of an enormous amount of accumulated furniture and books (which kills me) and junk, and this is keeping things more fraught than usual for a while, but we can see the happyesque ending ahead. So, there you go and now you know.

Saga of the Neoliberal Academy

One: Faculty outsource governance of the academy to businessmen who care only about profit.
Two: Businessmen then outsource academic faculty to adjuncts and MOOCs for profit.
Three: Academics then express shock at this predictable result as they clean out their desks.
Four: Academy looted until there's nothing left to loot, then businessmen move on to loot elsewhere.
Five: Either civilization dies or academics rebuild academy ripe, soon enough, for looting again. REPEAT.

More Faulty Ivory Towers here.

Won't Let Nobody Turn Me Around

In a recent exchange with a self-described anarcho-transhumanist pseudonymously-monikered "Summerspeaker," I defended the demanding project of democratizing the state over the reactionary-narcissistic fantasy of "smashing the state." (By the way, to be clear, when you see the phrase "anarcho-transhumanist," you should take care properly to translate it to "still-mortal, still-aging, still-vulnerable, still-finite death-denialist, eugenics-facilitating, digi-utopian hence anti-environmentalist, facile techno-deterministic, hyper-consumerist, gizmo-fetishizing corporate-militarist apologist and self-congratulatory pseudo-radical.") Most of this exchange is available only here, since "Summerspeaker's" much vaunted devotion to freedom and liberty did not extend to actually allowing my comments to appear on their blog even on posts that directly engaged with me by name. While I recognize the necessity of moderating those who commandeer threads and the fitness of moderating those who indulge in rank abuse, I daresay reading the exchange as it plays out here will reveal these are likely not the motives that drove "Summerspeaker's" censorship in this case (in a move fairly typical of Robot Cultists).

In a nutshell, I argue in that exchange that violence both precedes and exceeds the state form and hence it is a double fantasy to imagine one can dis-invent violence through smashing the state, quite apart from imagining it possible to dis-invent or smash the state form altogether in the first place. Further, while it is obviously true that historical and existing state-formations have facilitated and exacerbated violence, exploitation, war, and crime, it is also true that the democratization of the state-form is indispensable to the work of disabling and redressing such violence, exploitation, war, and crime, as well as the work to create and maintain spaces for the nonviolent adjudication of disputes, the provision -- through general welfare and recourse to accountable law -- of a scene of informed nonduressed consent to the terms of everyday commerce, and to overcome the structural violence of the abuse of common and public goods.

While I admit this isn't the easiest argument in the world to understand neither is it the hardest, and certainly it is not contradictory or impossible to grasp. I admit mine is not a common view in all its points, but neither is it so far afield from democratic commonplaces that it cannot eventually prevail as I hope it will. I also admit that very spoiled, lazy, or ignorant people may enjoy contemplating the smashing of the state in its patent imperfection, or the accomplishment of the democratizing ideals of sustainable consensual equity-in-diversity without engaging in the slow, heartbreaking, compromised work of education, organization, and reform that are actually demanded in a world shared by an actually existing diversity of stakeholders. But I do not grant that there is anything particularly idealistic, admirable, or useful in such denials of the political realities actually at hand.

Anyway, I just noticed that the title of the post in which "Summerspeaker" reviles my position (idiotically falsely claiming that my views amount to an endorsement of Native American genocide and a host of other crimes I quite obviously do not endorse at all -- and no good faith interlocutor would imply otherwise, while no one with the meanest intelligence would mistakenly regard such an endorsement as even remotely entailed or implied by my actual positions, my stated views on such historical and ongoing state-sanctioned state-facilitated violence clearly condemning them) is "Treason to the State Is Loyalty to the Species."

About this title I have to say that in addition to all of the other egregious errors and revolting hypocrisies it countenances, this view seems to disregard that democratization is the work to give ever more people ever more of a say in the public decisions that affect them (including decisions concerning what counts as public), and that to the extent that the state is democratic it is a state of by and for the people and hence that the desire to smash it is the desire to smash the people, hardly an expression of loyalty to them, and represents the profound disloyalty of a person who disdains the work of education, organization, and reform through which the people's say is vouchsafed in the world.

To this I would add, further, that the democratic value of equity-in-diversity is not one that is exclusive to human beings (presumably "the species" loyalty to which is somehow supposed to be demonstrated through throwing a useless anarchic tantrum against the state-form as such), and that the work to ameliorate the mistreatment and exploitation of nonhuman animals by human ones is (or certainly should be and often is) recognized by democratically-minded citizens at any rate as indispensable to the work of ensuring the standing and flourishing of human beings in the world. Just as cruelty to nonhuman animals tends to correlate to criminality in humans, so too indifference to the suffering and exploitation of nonhuman animals tends to facilitate indifference to the suffering and exploitation of human beings -- through the creation in the ethical imagination of a category of beings whose suffering is real but does not matter, the creation of a category that then attaches promiscuously to "bestialized" humans via racism, misogyny, anti-gay bigotry, xenophobia, disdain for the poor, and so on (about which I say more here).

Loyalty to the spirit and interminable work of democratization is loyalty to justice, diversity, sustainability, nonviolence, secularity, and peer to peer polyculture. Don't let anybody turn you around.

Monday, February 18, 2013

China Mieville's "50 SF/F Works Every Socialist Should Read"

I think the list might be more aptly pitched to every "lefty" since the connection to socialism or even social democracy is awfully loose in many of the choices, but the list is still mostly excellent. I'd be well pleased to see Philip K. Dick vanish from that (and every such) list to make room for, say, Atwood, Di Filippo, Ruff, others, but lists are made to quibble with. I've actually taught quite a few of his chosen titles to undergraduates over the years.

From Futurism to Retro-Futurism

Upgraded and adapted from my reply to comment in the Moot to this post:
To the extent that Robot Cultists regard themselves as a sooper-genius elite fit as no-one else is to shape history through their technological choices (usually involving buying things or talking about sf, hilariously enough) and/or explicitly genuflect to would-be gurus and celebrity tech CEOs they regard as a sooper-genius elite who are the real protagonists of history and/or implicitly shore up plutocratic elite/incumbent interests through their devotion to hyper-consumption, gizmo-fetishism, technofixes for all dis-ease, climate crises, poverty, and so on it isn't the least bit difficult to grasp the structural affinity of the transhumanoid/singularitarian techno-transcendentalists to reactionary politics. One hears a self-congratulatory pining after aristocracy in many of their works (often inflected with eugenicism/evo-devo, often it's just scarcely stealthed class privilege/nationalism), in fact, and, needless to say for my readers, I would hope, the sorts of "spontaneisms" that crop up so often among futurologists of both the crypto-right market and the pseudo-left luddic anarchist varieties almost inevitably amount to an endorsement of maximal consumption and acquiescence to the status quo. It is certainly no surprise to me to find futurological discourse in the service of reactionary anti-democratic politics, as I always say, "Every futurism is always a retro-futurism."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Subway Singularitarianism

Upgraded from the Moot, "JimF" notes: I did, in fact, overhear two random subway passengers last week talking about the singularity.

Who, on the subway, has NOT pined for transcendence? I submit, in evidence.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Long Teaching Day

More Nietzsche in the City today, from nine to noon, then my MA thesis cohort till four. Feeling better this morning, but my hour long slog through the swamp of sputtering commuters in rush-hour trains each way should help.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bed Head

Yeah, I'm a broken record these days, but spent the day napping. The ordeal of a long demanding teaching day beckons tomorrow, and I've been resting up. Presumably, the blog will become less boring soon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Actually, not quite so dramatic as that, but did spend the day in bed not feeling very well again. Most annoying flu ever.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teaching and Househunting

Teaching Nietzsche in the City this morning, then Eric and I are meeting back in Rockridge to have a look at a new apartment. Here's hoping the ordeal of house-hunting ends at the beginning with little muss or fuss.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Century of Futurological Brickbats

There are more than a hundred futurological brickbats now.

Shall We Play A Game?

Computers no more play games of chess than chess boards do.

More Futurological Brickbats here.

Sashay... Away

Sick Bed Confessions

So, I'm still feeling unusually worn out and my cough persists but I'm definitely on the mend. This has been an unusually sustained low-blogging period, I know. It's been a particularly virulent strain of flu, and it has thinned the ranks of my students as well as thickened my head with goo. In the meantime, Eric and I received a call from our landlord of ten years telling us the owners have decided to sell this place and so we have to find a new place to live. This time of year the rental market offers slim pickings, not to mention the fact that over the decade the rent we've grown accustomed to paying doesn't have quite the bang for the buck it did when last we looked for a place so the prospect seems a bit bleak. It's been rather a tough week.

The Politics of Futurological Anti-Politics

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, Jim wrote:
The uber-rationalists over at L[ess]W[wrong] (taking their cue from their uber-rationalist fearless leader) have calqued their own SF-fan proverb on this bit of SFnal lore: "Politics is the mind-killer." [*] So don't expect them to declare as "reliable allies" to any "movement" except their own. You might well expect them to vote Republican, though, faute de mieux. ;-> [*] Note that this piece, in isolation, has a soothingly reasonable tone. In other contexts, or as taken up by other Robot Cultists, this mantra can have distinctly less benign interpretation. In practice, it seems to be used on LW to ban any discussion that doesn't align with the prevailing politics-that's-not-politics. (You can guess what that might be.)
Yes, the politics of a-politicism tends to be reactionary, since it is almost inevitably premised on the naturalization as "non-politics" of the political assumptions and workings of the status quo.

Consider the familiar conceits of futurological anti-politicism. Self-congratulatory utilitarian and technocratic anti-politics (the transhumanist advocacy of "enhancement" is a conscpicuous example, but only one among many) simply pretend their values are neutral or optimal or beyond reasonable contestation -- a frankly anti-democratizing gesture.

Still rampant among futurologists -- though savvy Robot Cultists prefer suave neoliberal pieties to the full-throated Randian and Friedmanian extremes of their earlier Extropian phase -- market libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism, though it likes to peddle itself as "beyond left and right" is an especially egregious form of reactionary right politics, pretending plutocratic exploitative hierarchy is a "spontaneous order" and declaring contractual exchanges -- whatever the reality of inequity, misinformation, or precarity that articulate their terms -- "voluntary" by fiat, and then, to add insult to injury, crow about how their sociopathic celebration of violence constitute a supreme politics of love and nonviolence.

The so-called left libertarians are scarcely better -- recognizing the permanent vulnerability of the state-form to violence and injustice they eschew its indispensability to the work for justice and of non-violence, and divert energy from the work of democratizing education, agitation, organization, and reform into non-sustainable non-scalable party-events among the privileged that function as amplified modes of the generalized consumerism through which notionally representative state-forms domesticate the permanent possibility of real democratic work in the service of equity-in-diversity in the first place.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Introductory Lecture for Fact, Figure, Fetish

A student who recorded the introductory lecture to my graduate seminar "Fact, Figure, Fetish" has made it available here, for anybody who is curious how my teacherly persona meshes, or not, with my bloggity persona. Opening lectures tend to be a free for all since stage fright always pre-empts any preparation for facing a new group, so I warn you that I'm rambling without any notes or parachute in this recording. Listening to it myself, out of a kind of perverse fascination, I notice that I smudged some dates and fudged some tropes into schemes in moments when I spaced out and went on autopilot but I suppose it wasn't so bad overall... Also, I clearly queerly have the faggiest voice on the whole planet, which my answering machine message long lead me to suspect but this lecture shows beyond doubt. I warned you all what an effete elite aesthete I am -- now you have the proof.

Flu Bug Blue Bug

I'm actually feeling a bit better this morning, though I am still bone tired and coughing up a storm. The slog to and from a long work day in the midst of convalescence did me no favors, but seems to have done no great harm. I'll probably get back into the swing of things over the next couple days. So, have I missed anything?

Advice to a Sad Robot Cultist

Upgraded from the Moot:
You don't have to join a Robot Cult to approve of and make consensual recourse to effective available healthcare and mental healthcare resources and support, or to advocate for wider access to these resources and for more public research. There are vibrant communities and organizations of support and activism for universal healthcare, for advocacy for disabled/differently en-abled folks, neuro-atypical folks, transfolks, and although some Robot Cultists seem more than happy to showboat at the edges of some of these movements from time to time to score points I do not see them as actual contributors to any of these movements in any substantial way or even as reliable allies when it comes to the actual work these campaigns are doing. Now, it isn't for me to tell you what your daydreams should look like, but I'm afraid that hating your embodied life isn't exactly going to get you anywhere while therapy might. Contrary to your assertion, however earnestly intended, the actual claims of techno-immortalists and transhumanoid enhancement "sooper-humans" are indeed pseudo-scientific at best (as witness their absence from actually cited scientific literature or the course material of universities in the relevant fields) -- and at worst they function as apologies for BigPharma profiteering and embarrassing face-lift/boner-pill scam-artistry and ugly eugenicism -- and all that is palpably true however fervently you wish otherwise and that means you are wasting your time with them. The fact is that you will always live in a mortal, vulnerable body among frail error-prone humans sharing a finite world from which they want infinitely many different things that will always need painstaking reconciliation. There's no getting around it. You are going to die. Until then, learn more, help out, choose love over fear, and live a little. This is actually not so tragic as all that, and it's really not sad at all, in my book, it is the horizon within the terms of which the whole measure of connection, freedom, expression, discovery, and joy in unimaginable complexity is given on this earth.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Long Teaching Day

Fetish, Figure, Fact in the City from nine to noon, then my MA Thesis cohort one to four. Unfortunately, still feeling like hammered shit from the flu and an hour on an overcrowded overheated rush hour train thronged with wet sniffling humans each way to bookend my hours of lecturing is a bit worrying.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Things Futurologists Say

Futurologists saying things we can't do would be cool if we could do them aren't actually contributing to science. Futurologists saying things we can't do could be done if we discovered how to do them aren't actually saying anything. Futurologists saying we will discover how to do things we can't do just because we don't know we can't is fraud, or at best false advertising.

More Futurological Brickbats here

And on the Seventh Day...

...feeling better but scarcely well enough for anything but rest.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Six Sicks

Still bulldozed by this flu, coughing like a kennel of dogs, getting enormously bored by the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

It's Gun-Nuttery All the Way Down

Prioritizing a "right" elaborated nowhere in the Constitution of a minority of gun-owners -- however "nice" they assure us they are and may be -- to hoard private arsenals of military weapons and hardware, OVER the defining Constitutional values of domestic tranquility, common defense, and general welfare asserted in the explicit justification of its preamble actually isn't reasonable. It isn't non-nutty. Gun-nuts are always whining about being vilified as gun-nuts even when they are not as completely off the rails themselves as the mass-shooters they enable as the price for their continued enjoyment of their little hobby. It's actually quite easy to imagine common sense policies banning weapons with no legitimate private uses that are demonstrated threats to public safety while otherwise providing for a regime of testing, tracking, licensing, and compulsory insurance for the comparatively safer and legitimate private uses of guns for hunting, safety, sport, collecting, and so on. Even if you are perfectly law-abiding yourself, but are unwilling to accept reasonable limitations on the ownership and operation of military hardware, however high the bloody body-pile rises from criminal uses of that hardware then, sorry, you're a nut, too. We should stop coddling assholes and reassuring them that their paranoid fantasies matter more than the lives lost and damaged by the lack of effective safety regulation and oversight over private arsenals. Why should they define so many of the terms of this debate in which they hold a marginal view? Why do the rights of citizens like me -- who don't own guns and don't like guns -- not to get shot in random gun violence enabled by minorities who do own guns and like them a lot so rarely frame discussions over "gun rights"? Why do we endlessly collaborate in the pretension that the much vaunted "law-abiding gun-owner" isn't actually expressing priorities skewed to the point of sociopathy?

Engaging Robot Cultists on the Specifics

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, Mitchell asserts "Dale doesn't engage with the specifics of L[ess] W[rong-ism] very much."

People caught in the gravity well of this or that sect of the Robot Cult endlessly make this point. Once one determines that a futurological discourse or program is ridiculous, reactionary, dangerous, or otherwise off the rails its adherents are actually no longer in a position to dictate the terms on which the "specifics" are debated.

To go down the Rabbit Hole with Singularitarian Robot Cultists and debate the Robot God Odds on their preferred terms consolidates their discourse even if one assumes a contrarian position in the debate. It confers on them a legitimacy that they otherwise could not produce from their actual position of marginality from actual technoscientific and technodevelopmental consensus.

Within their pocket universe the Singularitarians may endlessly reassure themselves that theirs is a vital and legitimate movement/program but that is of course a delusion. In fact, they are a serially failed, and always only failing, fundamentally conceptually flawed, palpably symptomatic, minute marginal subculture saying the most patent nonsense on a regular basis. This remains true even if sometimes some of them say things that also aren't nonsense, as even stopped clocks are right twice a day, and even complete fools can tell you where the coffee is kept.

What Robot Cultists think are the important "specifics" are often not the "specifics" that happen to be the most important from the vantage of one who is observing and analyzing or criticizing their discourse as an object rather than as a Believer whose needs it is meeting (at whatever cost).

Even where Robot Cultists occasionally talk about real scientific results or developmental issues here and there, who in their right mind would choose a Robot Cultist as a serious interlocutor in such discussions? Since superlative futurological faith-based initiatives for techno-transcendence essentially extrapolate, project, hyperbolize, or emphasize logical compatibility with some real, qualified, circumscribed scientific results none of which get them remotely where they think they want to go, and also from the accident that endlessly many of the results that must be discovered between where we are and where they think they want to be have simply not yet disappointed their hopes as surely many will -- and setting aside considerations of political priorities and the vicissitudes of stakeholder struggles, funding, regulation, education, distribution, infrastructural affordances, the play of accidents and passions in actual technodevelopment -- I personally disagree that the "technical questions" and "central debates" within their orthodoxies are really, substantially the specifics they are pretending to be in any case.

What matters for the Robot Cultists are less the actual results than the rhetorical significances that idiosyncratically attach to these results in their discourse. It is not surprising that True Believers and futurological fans do not share my perspective on the rhetorical operations in play within their arguments and aspirations or the salience in my estimation of their connection to mainstream neoliberal, competitive eugenic, consumer fetishistic assumptions or theological frames they may or may not individually disapprove. Contrarians who snipe at the Robot Cultists primarily in terms only the Cultists themselves understand seem to me to be functioning more or less as a loyal opposition in service to Robot Cultism. That may be a perfectly respectable way to get your kicks, especially if you don't make their mistake of confusing science fiction with science practice or wish-fulfillment fantasizing with though-experiments, but I personally have no interest in performing such a function.

I engage with Robot Cultism in terms of the specifics that actually matter by my own determination.

Given the citational richness of my critiques no one can honestly pretend I am not highly knowledgeable of and materially engaged with the actual textual specificities of the actual texts of the Robot Cultists I critique. It would be one of the characteristics of their cultishness that their adherents and camp followers would disdain as non-engagement an insistent engagement that simply does not attach the same significance they do to the specifics under scrutiny.

Day Five, and Possibly...

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Full-flowered flu now. I intend to spend the day watching British political thrillers on DVD and sipping theraflu.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Very Long Teaching Day Ahead

And worse yet, feeling soupy, loopy, and droopy in a possibly flu incipient way. Gack.