Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fan mail, 'project ghetto,' k-holes and a-holes

Dear Ben,
I notice you spend a lot of time referencing your PhD as a miserable experience. You also make references to tangential interests spawning from your PhD, while disparaging it: Specifically in your post about Ghetto Bike Racing and semiotics. However you have never once, on this blog, mentioned what exactly your PhD is about. Your readers want to know, what are you working on?
XXXXXXX [A loyal fan]

Dear [Loyal Fan],
Since you asked, I will tell you. At the moment, I am working on deploying visual-ethnography of sensorial affect to subvert the visual and visualicity of material culture.
Hope this helps, and keep on reading!

Times are strange. Not only am I getting fan mail again, to which I always happily respond, I am also being ‘plagiarized,’ and have had in the last week two near relations with recreational veterinary pharmaceuticals.
It would seem that Adam is stealing my words and representing them as his own. Actually, he’s not. Adam has dutifully used my words; in this case a discussion centred on the developmental praxis of ghetto bike racing, and he has cited me. Usually, I have nothing but disdain for intrinsically atavistic endeavours, such as the ghetto bike racing project—or as I prefer, ‘project ghetto.’ But as I injected myself with yet another 50mls of caffeine, I concluded that atavism only applies in perspectus, like in my use of Latinized sounding words in order to sound more social sciencey, which if you recall is a tenet of ghetto bike racing in the first place. To me, considering ghetto bike racing is truly an atavistic end. To others, practicing ghetto bike racers for instant, it’s as current as John McCain (running for president). So, with this justification, I can now more fully comment on this act of supposed plagiarism. From the Adam’s explanation, he too is moving towards a working definition of ‘ghetto bike racing’ with the hope of one day launching this on a website. I am intrigued because it more or less proves my main point about transitory semiotic mobilities. Only this time, the term is being re-appropriated and commoditized by the practitioners who originally appropriated it in the first place. It is a nearly classic (by classic I mean Ecoian) case of sign-signified-symbol-icon and if my eyes have the right kind of gaze (or glaze) dare I say ‘brand.’ Hence, ghetto bike racing is to be subsumed and therefore rarefied into and by the commodity system. And, I am not sure how I feel about this. From a philosophical point of view, this represents a collapse of the subject-object divide as both Baudrillard and to a lesser extent Eco, in his theory of the visual (see Victor Burgin’s text on this) predicted. In the process, the icon itself would be devalued, jeopardizing any cultural ‘value’ the term may have once implied. On the other hand, as one of the owners its intellectual property by right, I would be entitled a percentage, which is cool.

Pharmacology 1
Many of you may know and/or remember that I am not adverse to pharmacological experimentation; my preference, before retirement, being heavy duty phsychotropic hallucinogens and stimulants. So, it is little wonder that a friend of mine, upon hearing of my travails, jokingly invited me to a bump of special K that I politely declined. First off, Ketamine, besides being widely regarded as a club drug,’ is a horse-tranquilizer. Second, the notion of falling into a ‘K-hole’ doesn’t so much appeal to me, mainly because it sounds too much like ‘A-hole’ and I have no interest in falling into one of those, equine or otherwise. Finally, the best reason, if having no desire to wake up smelly isn’t good enough reason, writing a PhD is a lot like long term tranquilizer use; if practice is defined symptomatically, then PhDs have all of the classic characterizations of NDMA inhibitor abuse: wide eyed middle distance staring, slumped posture, slurred speech, infectious time-out-of-mind experience, not to mention the potential for adverse reactions to alcohol. Face it, writing a doctorate degree means staring into the time-vortex of a computer screen for hours, if not days, weeks, really who the fuck knows how long-on end. And, lost in that time-fog is any remembrance of the present, while unfurled before the blank eyes are long uninterrupted albeit fragmentary memory sequences—if that doesn’t nail drug use to a tee, I don’t know what does. Some espouse, manly recovering drug addicts, that one can get much higher without drugs than with—and though I don’t support that postulate, I can see why someone might think it if for no other reason than the placebo effect.

Pharmacology 2
In my daily internet trawl where I investigate whether friends’ blogs are updated I cam across something from Rob (cyclist at law to the right. The link’s broken, so just delete the last slash in the url and it should take you there). Rob has been referenced before in the blog—potentially in a discussion of hard points in the GBR analysis. Rob is a nice guy who writes eloquently about his experiences racing bikes and being a law talking guy. His recent post, however, has caused me some alarm—it would seem that he has been dabbling in some product branded ‘Mane ‘n Tail’ which according to their website is a topical equine analgesic liniment to make his (well horses’ legs stop hurting. All I can say (after ahahahahahahaha!!) is dude, seriously...I mean, sure, it’s no ketamine and therefore falling into the k-hole is unlikely, but ‘icy hot for horses’ can’t be many steps behind, and well frankly, I’d hate to find out what happens when that stuff gets anywhere near, well, anywhere (you thought I was gonna do it, didn’t you? I am above such cheap laughs). So please, if anyone here knows Rob, speak to him, tell him it’s not worth it. Or, if its anything like the o’le Crisco on the wheel rim gag, get him to try it out as chamois cream...which would be funny, because that stuff is moisture activated...