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PART 2: TECHNOLOGY & THE NETWORK ASPIRATIONAL COMPLEX
xi. within information technology and business nomenclature; a node is part of a network; represented by a small black dot; that connects you with other encoded dots (like nodes within computer networks) we are now little packet-datas; encoded with professional curriculum vitaes. of course, our networks have disjunct-and-conjunct-neighbouring-nodes: there are families, and loves connected; and some of that occasional thick and wet desirous sex-longings we seek on tinder and grindr apps.
but, always, always, a seeking of the mega-node: the internationally renowned and adored artist; the lovely panelist. the ted-talker. the often played composer; the professor or lecturer. the arts council board member. the vice-chancellor. these are the array of successful neo-liberals who secretly believe in fucking free-markets; in their skills above others; in their right to be exceptional (above humans and non-humans alike). and by being “excellent” in this competo-way, they feed into the larger processes that commodify and quantify and extract through data-mining systems that prey (and reduce us numerically and thus sociopathically) on our:
interests-and-skills, and they even fucking tabulate our fucking movements!!!!
and deep into the social-darwinist mentality behind the “meta-market” and the quantifying-capital systems, behind the accolades, grants, awards, and successes of the golden children (i mentioned) translates to this stark maxim:
that those who can’t make it according to the (technical, socio-personal-political) will flounder, or become dispossessed or die - and be punished ad nauseum for this so called “natural failure.”
vii. but the fact of the matter is that: that this protestant work-ethic narrative, (that which the sociologist max weber speaks of “as the spirit of capitalism”) i.e the “rational: hard-working pursuit of capital. this, in tandem with the those old liberal ideas from post-revolutionary america are perverted and subverted and inverted; now reframed: we are both aided and abetted by neoliberal governmentality: there is no real meritocracy; for some people’s nodes are always growing bigger than others. their networks are like masses of strangler figs; sprawling and empowered by these real-fake ideas of autonomy and agency.
these node-works are upwardly mobile; aspirational and to an extent, saturated by teleological-narrative-ambition. the node-work is a web we did not create, but we maintain, and as we try to scale its stickiness; we will become entangled; become stuck; we will oscillate and vibrate; ultimately, before the 8 legs of precarity: (joblessness, poverty, houselessness, hunger, poor health determinants, mental illness, isolation, and death) will devour, or purposely trip up others along the way;
or, as they cauterise the web behind them as they go;
or, they may leave their own waxy excretions along the way as they go;
as they solidify further the exo-system that engineered and perpetuated the web-structure in the first place.
but who has a right to this web-work? who really has the right to dream in the way we speak of dreaming? or fulfil life as an artist at the cost (competition) of others with similar dreams?
notions surrounding excellence and technique (all of which deny the able bodied privileges inherent in this: for a “working” “healthy” body is its own method which is rewarded for simply being: more so if it is maled-riched-white; there are many poor denied opportunity; and “hustling” or “networking” really just boils down to the spoils of education; or your parents doing lots of favours for you; and you will win a house at the end of it too, so there is nothing to lose! lay around and leisure and think!
the clock is inexhaustible for you, beautiful one!
xiii. we must be wary of what the romantic and modernist baggage of the fucked up idea of this “artist”: the ultimate uber-identity; the subjectivity-master; the vision-renderer; who bends materials, objects, people, and non-humans to their whims; the little autocrat. the romantic archetype has cast this character in stone; they love technique; they love beauty; they love purity of thought whilst they maintain and keep alight a whole array of problematics the non-educated will never be privy to; a belief in the essential, is for workers, a necessity to survive, you post-structuralistfuckhead sycophants; how do you maintain all this whilst being casual? whilst slummin’ it, taking non-prescribed ritalin, and reading foucault. those bougies fail upwards all the time the real precariat, fall into disrepair, decay and addiction. these bougie artists are congratulated for shitting on the pavement and then filming it and selling it for $1700 a usb. the artist is a glutton for actualisation; either reflecting the greater ethos of neo-liberal self-hood (or from formative-psychic-wounds) wants to be loved, and desired to an abject fault; without question; at any cost. the artist plays our levi stauss’s hero's journey which is a noble-narrative; but merely a deep mimesis of the larger judeo-chistian-sacrifical-code; they merely do not want to exist and be excoriated by the whims of the market; they want to either disrupt it; or be their own market. produce, disrupt, repeat are the main tenets of neo-liberal-individo-commodity-systems. the artist does this by embodying the politics of cool; and in this nietzschean-zarathustrian-accent after emerging from the cave; the artist seeks to start anew; ultimately becoming both commodity-libidinal-desirable. the uber-super-duper-subjectivity – and who don’t actually give a shit about uber-workers’ rights, but who gain more capitals for saying that they do.
xiv. this is the defining condition of this late-stage of our shared capitalisms: the self-aggrandising subject; the actualisation at any costs: but these costs are severe and real: these are the costs of bangladesh workers who make our designer clothes; huddled in small sharehouses and sending money back home; the costs are for the underage, african cobalt miners, stuck in dodgy supply chains, who die getting the metals for our computers; for workers committing suicide in endless-day-electronic-parts-factories:
the pre-moderns, as according to the philosopher girard, were terrified of “identity” and would go to violent sacrificial measures to stop identity from being expressed; this is confronting to the identity glutton and uber-profesh-strategists. and yes, group identity is important in contexts; it is neccessary when the state discriminates in terms of politics of difference; but there is reason to be suspicious of how identity markers are co-opted by the always fleeting, vestiges of big financials; of the way in which neo-liberalism then uses identity politics for its own advantages: co-opting and not adopting or saving or sharing: when banks are promoting queer politics; or pepsi stealing from the momentum of the black lives matter movement; there is cause to be very, very suspicious, because this process results in a limiting of popular struggle against capital – not an enabling of it; because it draws the limits of transgression into those of repetition: the real efficacy of revulsion, and revolt, and thus, will to action is dulled at this point: popular struggles can only be popularly legitimised now through properly prepared capital marketing: thanks for all the hard work: we will now take over in the legitamisation mechanism. facebook will keep us scrolling onwards, onwards into streaming glittering histories.
xv. this network aspiration capital model is not everyone’s model and many many resist or carve new ways in the fast melting plastic speckled glacier: but this narrative does instill a type of trajectory which seeks to emphasise an ethics-of-care-tethered-to-personal-rubrics-of-capital-value; the artist is now craftsperson of the network of professional language; of rubrics of: ”how does this innovate?; the artist as researcher as positivist; sneaking up, arbitrarily, like the varicose veins of the grants councils: the governments, the donors, the patrons. the artists’ greater postmodern project is not necessarily the materials they use; the things they write; their ideas, feelings and experiences they share, but the node-work is their greatest project; their hegelian-spiralling ascension upwards; that is the thrill of the egoic-fortification; the deep neural and social reward centres open 24/7; the constant and grating congrats, congratulations, and abundance of erotic-beauty everywhere; but, for some it is more of a poker machine than for others; to attain mastery of the node-work, and then the market (jeff koons for example with his $500million) is the artwork; however, the actual “work” that goes behind the making of success in this way, can include elements such as: the hidden labour behind the artist (family-care-capital; private schooling; university; nepotism; ablebodied-ness; heteronormativity; white-privileges), which to varying degrees; invisibly and silently, prop the artist up why they make installations in mummy/daddy linen-lined lounges; or condusive spaces fostered over time through highly valuable fret-works.
xvi. but what is this upward-ascent inscribing in the neuron-nervous-behaviors of us all? this exists outside the obligatory care; to care which many religious groups; ngo’s; careworks; nurses, hospital workers; and family carers exude in varying degrees, and according to various needs; there is real, tangible good in some of these places, there clearly is; but nothing is perfect and there are always cases of mis-care, neglect, mis-deed, and/or abuse in all care-spaces.
for companies and artists alike there is a delusion of care; when we are using the language of caring/altruism/community; for upper-networks for applications for morality-applauses and little likies and smilies and memes.
but why can’t i choose who i care for? of course you can: but to care for those who will benefit you; to be interested for the most part in the upper node; because focus and attention are the precursor to care activities: but if capitalism incentivises certain types of cares; then these should be questioned; and no, the state does not always do this; care workers; home carers; and nurses are all drastically underpaid; and most of this work is done by women. conservative governments in this country (and abroad) have successively cut money from state funded care-works; leave it to the market they say; the market will determine if people are worth keeping alive;
they keep cutting, and cutting, and cutting, and “budgeting” for what?
for there is already a lack of readily available crisis accommodation; mental health services: drug and alcohol rehabilitations centres; a profound lack of abundance of care’n.
the key impetus of neo-liberals is “to pick yourself up by the bootstraps”: to care for yourself to enact “self-care”; to make it on your own; dreams can happen and if they don’t: you are fucking defective! only those who generate capitals deserve to be “cared for”; don’t you see how this brine-piss; this fucking torrent of dirty glass, like a white angry god throwing spears, strikes us; and infects every aspect of our motivations.
at this point, you might say, well this author is doing a lot of projecting; this author is fucked up! but next time you go to your gallery function: have a look at who is getting the most attention; who is cared for the most, as you step past the homeless person sleeping on the pavement outside.
and this discourse (but this is so much more worser) is manifest in the on going health care system crises around the world; caring for those with capital: precarious workers forced to sell organs to feed their families while gluttonous americans can live another life of greed; an emphasis on neglecting those without: a loop as old as massed-hierarchical-societies; but the problem is, now most of us know better, and continue to buy apple products, and order on amazon, and move to burn the house down.
we desperately need to seek forms of caring-in-the-node-work – if we are going to exist in it. but isn’t all type of moral-care selvish you have questioned, agitated with friends while stoned at parties? you come close to eclipsing the ayn randian idea that “all virtue is selfishness.”
well, i don’t think anyone caring for a palliative relative/patient would tell you that this type of emotional-physical-existential-labour is virtuous;
do care workers post selfies next to their sick patients? of course fucking not.
xvii. we ought to question our care-incentive-languages when they are enabled by an upward ascending hierarchical node-work; the conception that we are free-agents working on our own merits is a myth: and so is the illusory professional network; all of this is pertinent, particularly when we are rewarded to be virtuous; or incentivised to care-for/about those above us in the network; here there is a cognitive dissonance in the creative communities; how do i sustain myself (and care for others)?; how can i compete in a scarce world (and be altruistic)? why are we seeking questions always so enshrined within commodo-care: but why should it be a question of if/or? there would ideally be integration in some way: for example, how do we consider the question of the novice, naive, or precarious artist?: those lower down in the node-work; what are we doing to seek to be altruistic; to create a horizontal or lateral node-work with space for them: a smashed-network; less of a pyramid and more of a nourishing rhizoid structure.; and tutoring or mentoring is not necessarily enough. in 1902, the anarchist philosopher kropotkin proposed mutual-aid as a form of shared commonality between the common good, having observed strategic survival mechanisms in the animal kingdom; his theories challenged the survival of the fittest, and eugenics of the social darwinists which was prominent at the time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
but i mean can’t we fucking see it.
the residue of these social-darwinist ideas: that you must be clever, strong, smart, beautiful to survive, and make it in this world!
don’t you see how this discourse shapes our fucking art world? how much art is made and “hustled” by “able-bodied beauties” who are rich and righteous and fucking white.
these fucking ideas; this fucking language: of technique, critique, virtuosity. whilst having some useful (i guess) postmodern lingerings and progessive-smelly-post-human spores, they still permeate how we talk about how art is made, and keep the gates firmly welded shut by their preclusive linguistics. fuck!
xviii. there is no overcoming the market for the time being (but i still dream) but we can beat or defy its directives if we isolate them; i am in this network and so are you; the question is how do we exist outside of it? how do “we,” in our art-community-struggles emphasise the multiplicitous “us” as opposed to scaling and maintaining the empty-architecture for our great network building monolith, which ends with you sitting alone at the end of your life surrounded by objects and awards and not people who love you for you; how do we make altruism as an essential part of our practice? i leave this term for you to unpack and figure out what it means for you; one instance of what i could mean here could concern collaboration: if one has more capital than another in a collaborative relationship, then we should be compensating equally, so both are the same-off; or we should be distributing grant money more easily among peers: and always constantly questioning these litanies of what is excellence, what is innovation, what the fucking hell is “good”? why are some artists hoarding the limited money there is: this is predicated on the cumulative assumption principle that they are making better-art: but what the fuck is good art? a progressive-spectacle at carriageworks, or vivid, or the tate; or a folk-song written in a foster home in a rural town; what is our value system; what are the conditions; and on whose directives, agencies, narratives, trajectories, and terms? maybe i’m naive, but i think art can (and has existed) in spite of the bourgeoisie neo-liberal baggage of history. there are those who can remember times before it.
xix. in these stilted-frozen times, there is fertility for re-organisation, reconfiguration and new social imaginaries: maybe it's time to stop the rat-race that is often strengthening class and race and gender inequalities: how can we really-radically extend our-care, and collaboration in support of well being? to do away with encodings of notions of skills, goods, values, excellents, which serve to exclude those who wish to practice art making but who might not resonate with these terms or fulfil these rubrics to perform appropriate to their implicit ideological agendas: why is the art being promoted and fostered in australia and other western countries predicated on graduations of ability/knowledge/bodily-methodologicals. here, again, we re-turn to excellence as another word for virtuosity:
but, let’s try and trace way back to those early mediocrities we all share and stay with them for a lil’ while?
we can resist commodo-cares by reaching and sharing outwardly (which many do already and have always done): but this is a question of the hidden imperatives of horizontalised-discourse, while we have resources to care for our lateralised-precarious-artists: to care for those who are struggling in the professional lattice: we need to emphasise these values over competition, we ought to do this, primarily for the sole purpose of redistributing existential well-beingness: the more artists the better: noam chomsky and delta goodrem both agree when they say “we were born to try”; to make, to create.
we must always try to be conscious of the precarious who do not survive in this world; or thrive as we do - or live less longer because of poorer health determinants;
precarity prevents the facilitation of the right conditions to create and survive; to make it as a “professional”; this is the acute mixture of education; skill building; and leisuretime to create art; why is it that the bourgeois or skilled network builder should predominate in the arts as they do in business? this is not the reason i signed up for: to create new and acute and clever forms of “elite products” or practices for discerning consumers with exponentially disposable incomes: why is it that the precariat’s body is damaged by the same capitalist processes that engender the proliferation of commodo-art; the computers and phones we use; the objects we involve; the technologies we “innovate” with.
arts a good. yes – a good product for discerning buyers. but, really, to invoke a cliche: at what cost?
moreover: beware of object-oriented-ontologies proliferated by rich artists who care more about objects then living humans! fuck the flat ontology! i want the retribution of equitable circumstances.
hierarchies are social and bio-social – but these aesthetic value economo-gradations should not exist at the expense of others.
xx. business deceptively appears to be becoming more ethical but it is still ruthless, and sociopaths or narcissists are often rewarded for their cunning activities; is the art world radically different? if you don’t want to be defined by business-consciousness then we have wiggle-room here; but if you are competitive on purpose or want to ascend in this way: then stop tricking me. but if not: we ought to say no to commodo-care (caring for commodities, caring in pursuit of commodity, or fortification of commodity or ourselves as commodity). we have the ability now to touch more than ever; touch is more important than connection sometimes - for it is the sinewy basis of connection: touch through screens, hands and minds: words, and sounds etc.
and once these neo-liberal-discource imperatives dissolve; and these rigid aesthetic and social criterias break like a stale biscuit, then we will have diversity in the arts, and a real structural intersectionality that allows the poor to have a shot to create in a supported way: and not be locked out by the superficial (and often invisible/encoded) rubrics of favourtised (therefore regulated) competitions. as an artist, i desperately yearn for new forms of post-capitalist-intimacies. but solidarity is important. being wary that collaboration is not utopia: for do the disadvantaged/ people you work with for your grant social-praxis project have the same material conditions as you? can they sleep on your lounge if they are struggling? can you lend them money? be a guarantor on a lease because you own your own house? are they really your co-collaborators; or merely-materials? we ought to think about our commod-cares in this way.