Saturday, March 01, 2003

Rolling Stones Inc

My argument that the Rolling Stones, who are currently visiting Australia, are primarily a business corporation has been reinforced by this article in the Financial Review.Called 'Stones have all the right moves' it says that this corporation is part a culture industry that has all the right moves for making lots of money. Rolling Stones Inc. can be seen as as cash cow, which is:

"... a successful enterprise in a mature phrase, no longer developing new product, or investing in new businesses, just consistently bringing in the money....what sets them apart is that they have sustained that fundamental intellectual capital---and they have made money from it...Each song, each unity of intellectual effort, is leveraged through recording, licensing, touring merchandising; from the organizations point of view."

My sentiments exactly. That is why is difficult to get enthused by their presence in Australia. Once they sold themselves as quality culture in a junk music market-- elitist, arrogant rock culture that pushed the boundaries of the form that resisted and contradicted a repressive social existence. They stood for freedom in a world of unfreedom. They were serious musicians in a world of frivolity and light-heartedness.

That avant-garde facade has been shattered. Now the talk is about how their business method is text book. Their conglomerate is driven by synergies between different business units, touring, recording, royalties and merchandising. Their:

"success is due to them having pulled their way out of a crowded market---which is more down to product and brand. They operate in a a popular market with extremely low barriers to entry, long term intellectual capital development costs, and, usually short-term periods of high return."

What I see from media accounts of their current tour is that their yea-saying performance is prescribed to tired business people, politicians and journalists looking for a bit of nostalgia and needing a shot in the arm. No one, not even old radicals, are asking the band to be serious creative musicians who produce songs that act as a critique of the brute existence everyday life that has been imposed on us by the neo-liberals. They are accepted as a part of kitsch that cheerfully fits into the way of the world.

Yesterday was highlighted by household chores, renovations, Ari chewing the mobile phone and problems with the server. I wasn't able to go online for a large part of the day. So much for the virtual office structured around the mobile and internet. I was no longer able to tap into those living networks that are transforming and shaping my work and leisure relationships and promising to liberate myself from conventional organizations. Not that I have much leisure time anyhow. My mood is such that I fear I'm breaking down in the face of reality and enter a netherworld where humor no longer an expression of our humanity.

Then again, my subjectivity could be all to do with the paint fumes, dust and aching back associated with renovating an 1890s innercity workingman's cottage. How I long to shift into the new townhouse in the heart of the city. I want to escape from my entanglement with Adelaide heritage; to free myself from the tradition and convention of the provincal; to avoid becoming an unhappy caricature of tv advertising that says make your house into a home with a bank loan.

Great photo at Helen's Loom to view. More Nietzsche at Whisky River to read. And this site Dogs in Cars brings a smile to my face, as it captures an aspect of my existence that I rarely see expressed on the web. And this is an interesting weblog v-2 Organization even if the post on emergent democracy and post-national states is to cosmopolitan for me. Thats all the surfing I could do. Oh, and Loren Webster's reflections on the war, pop cutlure and the media at In a Dark Time are well worth reading.

Here we have music that is more lighthearted because it has refused to be taken in hand by the culture industry that works its myths to pull us into a reconciliation with life as it is. The songs Lora mentions have an endearing seriousness to them. They use arts freedom to refuse to accept their place amongst the consumer goods in the marketplace.

Some good comments on creative commons licences at Math class for poets. Link courtesy of Jonathon Delacour who has interesting comments on this issue.

That's all I have time for.

Friday, February 28, 2003

The right order of things

I have been firmly put in my place by the learned Scott Wickstein about my off-the-cuff comments about the Australian Cricket team boycotting a match played in Zimbabwe. Scott points out that the Waugh brothers are from the traditional working class areas of Sydney. Ricky Ponting is from the wrong side of the tracks of Launceston. Glenn McGrath and Matthew Haydon are from harder rural backgrounds, as was Ian Healy. They are from tough workingmen's backgrounds

Good oh. So where is the tough working class politics huh? Where is seeing through the bullshit, calling a spade a spade, concern for justice, outrage at the battlers being trodden on?

Forgotten. These guys are now hard-nosed professionals.They have joined the progressional middle class they were once excluded from. They crossed the railway tracks long ago, as they have become business people making big bucks out of their commercial endorsements. Sport is about sport they say---I only think about cricket says Shane Warne.

Nonsense. Sport is about money. The politics is now wealth creation through becoming celebrities---tall poppies who have become a brand name who give capital new opportunites for investment. They have embraced commercialism with gusto and mixed it up with a bit of criminality to give their celebrity a bit of spice. Makes good copy for their sponsors does it not. From what I can make out the World Cup is about sponsorship contracts and "amended clauses"; advertising and image rights; compensation claims and who should earn how many millions of dollars, or, more accurately, who should earn how many millions upon millions of rupees. it si about money.It is a business that is called a sport.

The Australian cricket team was used by Mugabe. Roasted. These white heroes did not fight back. Nor even show a bit of resistance. They went along with the dirty politics and gave Mugabe's regime credibility. These heroes gave no solidarity or support to the victims of oppression. These big tough guys on the sports field who take no shit from anyone when playing other nations were a bunch of wimps when it came to Mugabe. They did not even have the courage to thumb their nose at him. Whatever spirit of Ned Kelly that once flowed through their working class culture has long been discarded.

It made me sick in my stomach.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Social Priorities
If you had a choice to give money to:

A. enable a young women to have silicon breasts so that she canhave a pair of big beautiful breasts?

B. enable an independent journalist to go to Baghdad send back news reports to his weblog from that city during the forthcoming war for all to read.

Which would you choose. Would you now.

Like to know what others have chosen? Then see Annals of Inanity: Rational Choice?. Its a great post.
French Poodles
Our two standard poodles, Agtet and Ari, have decided that they will not join any US class action to take the "French" out of French Poodle. They are proud of their heritage. They would like to point out that the roots of their heritage reaches back into Germany---to German hunting dogs.

On the poodles understanding of things France and Germany are two great European nations. So them dam Yankees had better watch out and learn to tone down their arrogance and moderate their abuse about accommodation and appeasment. Poodles are used to being treated with respect.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Australian cricket
I am not a follower of cricket though I do think that it is a fine game. I do not feel patriotic about the Australian team and generally prefer the underdog to win in any match that catches my eye. Nor have I followed the early rounds of the current World Cup. And I have no sympathy for Shane Warne whatsoever. He is suitable material for the NSW Labor Right to use.

What I have noticed is the politics of cricket. I did notice that the Zimbabwe skipper Andy Flower and his teammate Henry Olonga donned the black bands in the opening Zimbabwe game to signal their contempt and disgust for the brutal Mugabe regime by wearing black armbands. They will pay dearly for that gesture.The Mugabe regime will not forget that act of defiance and opposition.

I noticed that the England team refused to go to Zimbabwe. By doing so they refused to sanction the daily murder and purposeful starvation conducted by the Mugabe regime to stay in power.

I noticed that the Australian team went to Zimbabwe and refused to wear black arm bands when they played even though the Australian Government has been outspoken in its condemnation of the Mugabe regime and acted to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.

Nor should the Australian cricket team have acted politically I hear people saying. It is not the right thing to do. Or it would not be effective says Scott Wickstein

That response is too easy, given the history of Australian cricket in the context of Africa---recall the history tacit support of apartheid in South Africa, briefly outlined here.

Thats what I noticed. A poiltical gesture would have been useful and it would have carried a lot of symbolic weight.

My response? I hope Australia does not win the World Cup. I hope that a non-white team wipes them out and, in doing so, crushes the arrogance out of them.

I also hope the governing body of world cricket is taken over by nonwhites. The politics of that body has been disgraceful. And I have little time for the Australian Cricket Board (ACB). It is a secretive organization that spins dishonesty.
By the seat of our pants

We live our lives on the razor edge of luck-----floods, bush fires and droughts.

I thought about the power of luck today. Luck---our exposure to fortune---creates anxiety and fear. The conservatives then advise us to live our lives within established conventions as a way to cope with the bust and boom fortune of the market. The economists response to 'tragic reversal' is to embrace the eternal world of mathematics and marvel at the beauty of the theorems. That is the way to control the contingency in our lives.

The power of luck? It haunts me. I feel so vulnerable. And fragile.

The power of luck? It's what makes our lives tragic.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Have we forgotten about luck?

I was sitting in the River Murray Forum in Adelaide yesterday listening to the fine speeches, the stirring sentiments and the big concerns about the poor old River Murray. I won't bore you with the content. See here, if you are interested.

Then I got to wondering, cos I was only an observer not a participant on the floor of Old Parliament House. A lot of what is happening is out of the control of us human beings. That was my big thought. Here we have the politicians going on about big changesthat are needed to ensure the good life and all that; and yet all of this deliberation, choosing and making plans is actually dependent on all the nourishment from the river. The river is dying especially down by the Murray Mouth and this death event in the world of nature undercuts our self-sufficient life based on reason.

My big thought was about the vulnerability of human life. We are like fragile plants. We need water to nourish us. If the water is too salty? We get sick.

There was a sense of passivity and dependence here as a subtext --we are at the mercy of luck. Yes luck--on the big rains coming soon and sending the flood waters down the River Murray. If not, then it is a catastrophe for those dependent on the River Murray down Goolwa way. So said Dean Brown, whose state electorate of Finniss includes the Murray Mouth. Yet, the long, hoped-for event of the big rains coming soon are outside the control of human agency. We are so dependant on the rains. Without the rains we die---just like plants.

Needless to say, the question of the assault of luck on the good human life did not play a central role in the forum's proceedings. It was not seen to be a genuine question that could asked of the participants by the observers. For the modern utilitarians in the room---and there were many of them there ---such a mode of thinking was primitive. Why agonize over contingency when big reforms need to be implemented urgently?

Human beings are like plants? Who could possibly take that seriously these days? Everybody wants to be a master of the universe.

Monday, February 24, 2003


..."academia and the feuilleton have always mistrusted one another."

Adorno said that.

When you attack the junk of the culture industry there is nothing to argue with. Only the hollowness.

I said that.