“That it’s deeply boring. An excess of boringness does not make something interesting except in the driest academic sense.” (Iain M. Banks, “The State of the Art”)
It’s clear that the primary problem, both aesthetic and political, with contemporary pornography, is how boring it is. The particular boringness of porn encapsulates a specific vision of the world and of humanity, which is not at all attractive. Read more↴
It’s not a surprise that the celebrity reality genre arrived in the UK so much earlier than in the US; as with so much else (Thatcher, financialization), the UK exhibits the tendencies of late capitalism in a purer form, with celebrity having been abolished over there a long time ago. Read more↴
Describing Joan of Arc, Dworkin writes that her “story is not female until the end, when she died, like nine million other women, in flames.”1 To be female, that is, is to be subjected, indeed to be killed. For Dworkin, Joan of Arc is a hero because of her refusal to accept this subjection, a refusal to accept subjection that makes Joan a subject in her own right, autonomous and self-determining. But for Dworkin, these two sides, of subject and subjection, never seem to connect to one another. She endorses a particular conception of subjectivity, a form of subjectivity traditionally associated with men but denied to women, but does not consider that this model of subjectivity might depend on subjection (the subjection of somebody: in particular, women) for its coherence. “To want freedom is to want not only what men have, but what men are,”2 Dworkin writes, and I will contend that this is true in a more fundamental sense than Dworkin herself realizes: this construal of freedom is not something merely appropriated by men, but is fundamentally masculinist, implicated in systems of male dominance. Thus, “feminist revolution” requires a rethinking of the notion of subjectivity. Read more↴
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, on which people are blogging about “unsung heroines,” the women who have all too frequently been erased from histories and representations of technology. There’s something paradoxical about this erasure, as women have been integral to the history of technology at least since the industrial revolution. As Marx points out, it was women whose conditions of work were first changed by the introduction of machinery into factories. Infinite thought mentions Shulamith Firestone as a women who thought about hwo this relationship to technology could liberate women; in this context, one could also mention Lucy Parsons. Like many anarchists, Parsons was a rationalist who thought that freedom was natural and, because the natural world was rationally knowable, science could be used to bring into reality that natural freedom:
Anarchism is the usher of science-the master of ceremonies to all forms of truth. It would remove all barriers between the human being and natural development. From the natural resources of the earth, all artificial restrictions, that the body might be nurtures, and from universal truth, all bars of prejudice and superstition, that the mind may develop symmetrically (“The Principles of Anarchism”).
Which is not to say that Parsons was only interested in science as a theoretical enterprise. Rather, she emphasized how technology changed the conditions of labor and resistance; including in some unconventional ways:
Each of you hungry tramps who read these lines, avail yourselves of those little methods of warfare which Science has placed in the hands of the poor man, and you will become a power in this or any other land.
Christ, this is repulsive. An organization focused on ending classism by “bridging the class divide.” Actually, I wonder if it wasn’t set up by some old lefty to demonstrate the limitations of the theraputic model of identity politics. I’ve sometimes been worried that certain discussions of, for instance, white privelege, end up being about allowing white people to feel good about themselves, but surely this is the nadir: “because of intense class segregation in the U.S., we don’t benefit from each other’s strengths and grow past our limitations.” Oh yes, because that’s the problem with class society; we don’t get to “grow” from the splendid diversity of poverty. Read more↴