Marxism As Commodity

The proletariat screams, but their cries are muffled by the plush cushions of capitalist comfort. Marxism, once a revolutionary fist raised against the iron cage of capital, has become a trendy t-shirt slogan, a badge of rebellion ironically displayed on iPhones assembled in exploited factories.

The critique of the bourgeoisie has been co-opted, repackaged, and sold back to the very class it sought to dismantle. The simulacrum of revolution becomes the revolution itself. Protests are staged events, meticulously curated for social media consumption. Dissidence, a performance art, dissenters playing pre-assigned roles in the grand social drama.

The masses, lulled into a sense of false consciousness by the spectacle. They believe their ironic consumption of Marxist symbols is a form of rebellion, unaware of the elaborate game they are playing.

We’ve entered the phase of simulacrum communism. The critique of the system has been absorbed, packaged, and re-sold back to the masses as a comforting critique. Bourgeois society, in its infinite cunning, has co-opted the language of revolution, turning it into a fashionable pose. Critical theory, a cut-up job gone wrong, the scalpel turned dull by overuse. Academic jargon, a virus infecting discourse, turning complex ideas into sterile abstractions. The revolution becomes an intellectual game, played out in seminar rooms, far removed from the grimy realities of the working class.

The dialectic, a dead meme. Class struggle, a retro fashion statement. We critique the system within the system’s own marketplace of ideas. Dissidence becomes a commodity, rebellion a boutique brand. The bourgeoisie co-opts the language of revolution, selling us Che Guevara t-shirts and ironic Marxist mugs. The masses, wired on instant gratification, channel their frustration into performative anger on social media – a fleeting rebellion that evaporates with the next dopamine hit.

The revolution becomes a spectacle, a pre-scripted performance where the lines between the actors and the audience blur. Everyone gets a taste of dissent, a sense of participation, without ever truly disrupting the power structures. The commodity form conquers all. Marxist merch floods the market – vintage hammer and sickle pendants dangle next to Che Guevara baseball caps. The very tools of critique become objects of desire, their power to challenge the system neutered by the logic of consumption.

The word “alienation” becomes a hashtag, a meaningless signifier in the vast social media swamp. Workers are alienated, yes, but mostly alienated from their iPhones, their carefully curated online personas. The factory floor replaced by the endless scroll, the assembly line by the algorithm. The proletariat fragmented, a million micro-revolutions waged in comment sections and Twitter threads. The revolution televised, livestreamed, monetized. No grand narratives, just fleeting outbursts of outrage, quickly forgotten in the next news cycle.

But wait… a glitch in the matrix! Beneath the layers of simulation, a flicker of genuine discontent. The system, in its relentless pursuit of profit, creates the very contradictions that will eventually lead to its downfall. The revolution may not be televised, but perhaps it will be live-streamed. A chaotic eruption, a viral uprising that breaks free from the pre-ordained script. The Naked Lunch beckons, offering a glimpse beyond the hyperreal, a taste of the raw, unfiltered anger that could yet consume the hollow simulacrum.

Or perhaps it’s all just a cynical game. We play along, aware of the absurdity, forever trapped in the loop of simulacrum revolution. A hollow laugh echoes in the vast emptiness of late capitalism, the only sound that dares to challenge the comforting hum of the simulation. Is this rebellion or just another performance piece? Does it matter in the end? We are all players, all consumers, all trapped in the Marxist Marketplace. The only escape? A laugh, a scream, a glitch in the system, a reminder that beneath the simulation, the anger still burns.

The ghost of Marx, a digital spectre haunting the halls of Starbucks. Perhaps the true revolution lies not in the ironic display of symbols, but in the act of jamming the system itself. A cynical smirk. Perhaps the only act of true resistance is the awareness of the hyperreal charade. To see through the simulacrum, to laugh in the face of the commodity revolution, and to create something truly new, something outside the pre-defined script.

SIGN AND SYMBOL

MUSIC IN PHASE SPACE EPISODE 3

Art by RA

Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used “to tell” at all.”

Umberto Eco

Art allows for the subjective aspect of our lives to exist outside us, which is to say that in art, the subjective becomes objective. For the most part, however, a “sign” is some unit of communication that stands for something else, while a symbol is a unit of communication imbued with deeper and more complex meaning.

SIGN

A sign is simply something that stands for something else. For example, the word “cactus” directly correlates with the idea of a spiny desert plant, so the word is a sign signifying the plant. Signs are not limited to a single meaning. The sign “cactus” might refer to a specific prickly pear plant or to an entire species. The word still correlates directly, or stands for, something else. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

SYMBOL

Symbols are best understood as signs that have deeper and more complex meaning. Signs translate directly to objects or ideas, and have something of a life of their own. The Christian cross or the Star of David, for example, do not have a direct translation. Rather, they carry symbolic meaning that can differ in different contexts. Worn on a chain around the neck, the cross might be a symbol that a person is Christian. To the person wearing it, however, the cross might be a reminder of personal faith or a means of identifying with a particular sect. This deeper meaning distinguishes the cross as a symbol instead of a sign.

“the difference between poets and mystics . . . The mystic nails a symbol to one meaning that was true for a moment but soon becomes false. The poet, on the other hand, sees that truth while it’s true but understands that symbols are always in flux and that their meanings are fleeting.”

Symbols cannot change without also changing their meanings. This is because symbols point us to unseen regions of the Real. They are not signs of this world so much as signals from elsewhere. In a sense, the symbol is itself the thing it refers to, even though in its self-reference it shoots out to a myriad of other things. The moon as a symbol might correspond with femininity (through its connection with the menstrual cycle), silver (its luminescence), dreams (its connection with sleep), the ocean (its influence on the tides)

SYMBOL ETHIMOLOGY

Symbols belong to a non-temporal space in which all things are interconnected, not causally but imaginally. The term symbol compounds two Greek words, syn- and bole, which combined mean “thrown together” The symbol is a partial object, the only sensible part of something real yet invisible. It is like the mushroom, which in reality is just the sex organ of the sex organs of the psyche. The word symbol is closer to a neural network or dynamic process than to a static thing. The moon itself, the night, the sea are symbolic images reaching down to a living organism.

Symbols are lenses for observing the imaginal world beyond the range of normal awareness. Moby Dick tells us about Ahab’s decline, as a warning sign that he missed his one and only chance to beat the white whale because of it. The task of art is to get the symbol across in a way that allows it to be preserved and passed on. There is only potentiality for something to be, until the right situation presents itself.

WHEEL, PLOW, ALPHABET

We’re so busy holding onto signals that have been carried to us by symbol systems that you could say we are being ruled by the inventors of the wheel, the plow or the alphabet. Muscle memory is a thing for musicians. You forget by which processes you learned some stuff and vice versa. At the sub-symbolic level as there’s definitely atrophy with respect of prosody, meter, rhythm.

It makes you think if it’s all the symbol-mediated the ones that are gumming up the works. Symbols, signs and icons protect an image of reality, at the expense of reality itself. They fail to represent forces and flows correctly or use a variety for when they talk about the same hyper object. They bind us to narrativium whose function is to make us legible

It’s the bravery of being out of range culturally that instead of using planes to explore the unconscious, or even using planes to fight other planes (signifiers/signifieds/signs) we’re just designing flaps, spoilers and ailerons.

According to Swiss linguist and semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure, there are two main parts to any sign:

  1. Signifier: This connotes any material thing that is signified, be it an object, words on a page, or an image.
  2. Signified: The concept which the signifier refers to. This would be the meaning that is drawn by the receiver of the sign.

A great example of effective use of semiotics is found in the use of metaphors. These commonly understood concepts tend to resonate easily with your target audiences. For example, “a glass half full” is perceived as a sign of optimism.

COMMUNICATION VS EXPRESSION

Communication consists of reducing things to signs. It assumes a universe of transmissible data from which the depth dimension of the Imaginal is absent. Only expression allows the symbol to occur in the guise of an aesthetic event. It is the frame drawn around the signs, and not the signs themselves, that begins the process of symbol formation.

The original appearance of the symbol that prompted the creation of a work of art was a unique and unrepeatable occurrence, so each encounter with that symbol within the work will be unique. The painter was possessed of a kind of second sight that allowed him to perceive the excess of meaning in a given situation. Only expression allows the symbol to occur in the guise of an aesthetic event, The process of symbol formation is the frame, not the signs themselves, that begins the process of expression.

The Imaginal can lead to truths that don’t jibe with conventional expectations, sound reason, and common sense. Wilde’s warning on this is clear: “Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril” Wilde: “The symbols that come our way have a secret purpose, it is to reveal to us what we need to see — and so are most afraid to see. The Imaginal is infinitely older than civilization, older even than humanity itself.

GOOD VIBRATIONS

In 1978, the original “Good Vibrations,” sung by the Beach Boys, was used to introduce consumers to “The Sunkist Soda Taste Sensation.” In 1981, Sunkist Orange Soda became one of the ten best selling carbonated soft drinks in the United States. Today, the tradition continues; Sunkist and Diet Sunkist, sold by Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages.

For this ad, a strong message is effectively communicated without the use of much words. Music is different to the spoken language in many ways, but possibly the most important way is that it can communicate without pointing to something in the real world or having a precise meaning. In other words, it has a degree of non-conceptuality.

VC does not find signifieds in which to invest. Instead, it offers the equivalence of all signifiers, thereby deterring them from signifying anything. The system of interpreting signifiers overgrows its referents. It develops with no relation to whatever it signifies.

REIFICATION OF SYMBOLS

To reify something means to make something that is abstract seem real and concrete. Marxians use the term reification to refer to situations in which people see qualities of social relations as being qualities of abstract objects derived from those relations.

Of all the terms that have arisen to explain the impact of capitalism, none is more vivid or readily grasped than “reification”-the process of transforming men and women into objects, things. The principle of reification, emerging from Marx’s account of commodity fetishism, provides an unrivaled method for understanding the real effects of capital’s impact on consciousness itself.

Our point is that contemporary perceptions of sense and reality have been reified, and that aesthetics can express why this is the case, with major consequences for understanding the role of music. If you can harness the trappings of a style — taking its surface level idioms and cliches, while deliberately leaving behind any emotional authenticity to be a backing track that helps someone sell something, you’re probably half the way there.

Reification signs are proliferating around us-from the branding of products and services to ethnic and sexual stereotypes, all manifestations of religious faith, the rise of nationalism, and recent concepts such as ‘spin’ and ‘globalization.’

Reification of religious symbols enables a person to hold a religious identity that is at odds with their everyday life practices, values, and beliefs. Money is a concept independent from the economic transactions from which it derives. Is a diploma or degree more important than the education it is supposed to represent? Which would a student work harder for? In the military which matters more: expertise or rank? How can a credential be more important that the thing it is intended to indicate? It seems our culture is one that values, it seems, the credential over the education, he writes. The religion of reified symbols is another form of tribal totem, he says. It is a tendency for formal religious institutions to see their religious symbols per se to be sacred. At its extreme this becomes idol worship: the belief that the symbol is itself a god.

REIFICATION: HOW LICENSING KILLED ROCK’N’ROLL

Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. Twenty years ago, licensing a rock song in a TV commercial would be met with immediate cries of “sell out.” It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance.

Within the last decade, commercial syncs are providing an additional source of income as record sales continue to slump — so it’s no surprise that the number of classic rock songs in advertisements has increased. As AC/DC (whose music is now in an Applebee’s commercial) once pointed out, “Money Talks.”

Classic rock songs are being used in more and more commercials. Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” and Springsteen’s “Born In the U.S.A.” are used in adverts. John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son” is a biting critique about the privilege and hypocrisy of rabidly patriotic politicians. “Welcome to the Jungle” is about selling your soul to make it in Los Angeles and “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley vs. Viagra. The Western canon’s aura makes it just the thing for pitching luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz with the 2017 holiday ad unfolded over a track of Shostakovich’s swoony Waltz 2.2.1. Capital uses music to carry out its teleological purpose.

SIGNIFIER, SIGNIFIED, SIGN: AGAIN

Reification is the mental process of transforming the non-concrete into something concrete, a ‘fact’ The US national anthem will be a perfect example of a reified piece of music. Music can provoke vague and difficult to define emotions. It can exist without communicating anything specific and can mean different things to different people. Many say that the allure of music is that you can say things with it that you never could with spoken language. The mind does not go off on an interpretive journey when we hear it — this music means USA, we know it is the national anthem, and this is the only way we can really understand it. The word itself is reified to construct an approximation of experience to work around the limitations of our senses and leave out a whole world of information in doing so.

So, if you’re wondering where I’m going with this — here it is. A shorthand description: When music is reified, it behaves a lot more like a spoken language. It means something specific. It can be described easily. It is unable to change because its meaning (or for semiotics people, its signifier) is fixed. The melody of the US National anthem doesn’t require me to engage with the non-conceptual. I know what it is.

So one good way of telling whether a piece of music is overly reified or not is if you’re able to describe it easily in words. They have all in different ways become a thing. A known musical object. This is of concern to composers because we recognize the value of the abstract nature of music, which allows us to communicate in a way that the spoken language is often unable to do.

If you have problems wrapping your head around this how the iconic banjo duel scene in the movie ‘Deliverance’ caused a powerful association with his instrument that has overpowered how audiences listen to it ever since. In this case, it’s not any particular melody or song that’s reified but the instrument itself and it’s also worth noting that it’s happening against the musician’s will. In the example of the banjo — it is no longer free to communicate musically — instead becoming a humorous shorthand for backwardness.

And the US national anthem represents its country so strongly that it can’t be mistaken for anything else. In all these examples, interpretation is resisted and the music is unable to change.

There are so many other ways that music can be reified: rules for example can lead to reification — for example the idea that chorus must always follow verse or that the opening movement of a symphony must use sonata form. Over-reliance on rules or patterns may create repetitive musical artifacts that do not engage the listener but merely remind them of what they’ve heard before. Especially in music, lyrics are a kind of reification by people like Taylor Swift who use them to convey to the listener what they should feel, in case they turn their brains on to perceive meaning for more than five seconds.

LETS ROCK — CREATIVE PROBLEMS

No matter where you stand on this, it’s obvious that all facets Rock’n’Roll, be it prog, Metal, blues, indie, etc face a mounting artistic problem: that almost everything about it is a foregone conclusion: from the intro riffs to the choruses all the way down to the lyrics. Getting new is harder and harder because there’s too much desire to be the same.

There are riffs and there are bridges and there are choruses And this wouldn’t be so bad if was in service of a larger musical idea. But no. But all we get is well worn references linked together with forgettable filler. A greatest hits medley of what the philosopher Theodor Adorno calls ‘the handed-down musical materials of history’ — which are the genres, tonalities, structures and other musical traditions that we all grow up with.

Things that already have meanings, rules and associations tied to them. So music is always reified to a certain degree. While writing the music for their albums, The Black keys or QOTSA or the Foo Fighters draw from a large range of well known sources. There’s heavy referencing of Led Zeppelin, Canned Heat, Jim Kimborough, Bachman Turner Overdrive etc. While Patrick Carney grew up on punk groups like The Clash and the Cramps, Dan Auerbach came up on bluesmen like Junior Kimbrough and southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Throw in Steppenwolf, T. Rex, and Captain Beefheart/.

I’m not saying that Black Keys or QOTSA are plagiarists or hacks because the artistry in their music is in combining musical ideas with pre-existing meanings to form new meaning, breathing life into the original genres and conjuring a sense of otherworldliness and fantastical adventure. Like all music, there is a certain degree of reification going on, but it’s creative.

So the problem then is one of degrees. In other words, there comes a point where a piece of music is so reified that it’s glued up completely; where its meaning is so obvious that there’s no room for maneuver. This can be illustrated by looking at the newer albums QUOTSA, FOO FIGHTERS — which for me sit here on the reification-o-metre (pretty reified,-very reified).

Since so many big moments rely on pre-existing material. And the problem with reusing pre-existing material is one of diminishing returns. At its worst, rehashed music can descend into meaninglessness. To give an example of what I mean, let’s look at the use of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ in film.

When used in Apocalypse now it was a deliberate artistic juxtaposition — drawing from the original meaning of the music to provide a subtext of false glory and horror. It was done to make us think. Now let’s look at it’s reuse in the film ‘Watchmen’ directed by Zack Snyder.

The music here isn’t appropriate at all because the intention of this part of the story, written by Alan Moore, was to illustrate the complicated inner struggles and regrets of one of the main characters. But Snyder, as always, employs the lowest common denominator approach: ‘since Apocalypse Now takes place in Vietnam and this scene takes place in Vietnam let’s just use the Apocalypse Now music.

The music is now super-reified. Ride of the Valkyries isn’t being used for any deeper meaning — it just means ‘Vietnam — but also, remember Apocalypse Now?’ And it’s this meaninglessness that Rock’n’Roll is in danger of going towards with most bands lifting well worn constructs we’ve heard a million times and placed them at strategic moments to achieve maximum cliche.

GUITARS

Keith Richards proposes that Chuck Berry developed his brand of rock and roll by transposing the familiar two-note lead line of jump blues piano directly to the electric guitar. Country boogie and Chicago electric blues supplied many of the elements that would be seen as characteristic of Rock and Roll. Perhaps it’s time to consider organizing rock’n’ roll in a different way. It doesn’t have to be based on guitars. It could be a different think.

65 years later and there is never a moment when I feel it is being used as a storytelling device as much as a dog whistle. Music that stands for Late Stage Capitalism. Pretending to be something a human would write. No matter how hard it tries, it just can’t help but reflect the banality and inauthenticity of the corporation that uses it .It doesn’t provide any kind of deeper meaning or allow me to ponder or interpret what is going on. Its sole function is to point out when something rock related is happening, which I already knew about because I’m listening to the album. This is extreme reification and it hurts the songs, it hurts the bands and it hurts the fans.

The music is now telling you what to feel. It isn’t earned. It’s cashing in that cheque written by the original generation. Eventually, this theme will lose its potency completely, it will become a known artefact that disallows interpretation. Being different is dangerous but it’s the only way to achieve new heights. What’s left of the music industry is too afraid to deviate from customer expectation and choosing bands who are happy to churn out very similar material over and over again but what about Indie?

It is up to you to decide to what extent this is happening but it seems to me pretty obvious that it is, at least, happening.

Perhaps it’s time to consider organizing rock’n’ roll in a different way. It doesn’t have to be based on guitars. Or it could be different guitars. Think King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizard microtonal guitars.

Tchaikovsky was working on the first movement of his 4th symphony in 1877 when he was suffering from depression and alienation. He wanted to express his emotions in a way that didn’t sit well with some Romantic composers at the time. We should not as audiences expect to be pandered to by relentless reference to stuff we know. The original tunes were, well, original. That’s the only thing that has any hope of delivering a truly breathtaking new Rock’n-Roll experience.

www.bravojohnson.com

Selling Out

You dig? Selling out ain’t about empty shelves. It’s when the product pimps you, the consumer, to the real score. They don’t refine the sugar, they refine you. Dumber, twitchier versions of your former glorious self, slavering for the next dopamine drip, the next gaudy trinket.

You dig, selling out ain’t about empty shelves. It’s when the product pimps you, the consumer, to the real product: data, desires, your whole damn identity. Forget quality upgrades, that’s a square’s game. No, they dissect the first cats who bought in, the ones wired hungry and tuned-in. Now they broadcast a roach motel neon glow, attracting a generation lobotomized by flickering screens, all craving the pre-chewed, pre-digested simulacrum of the original product. They become roaches, scurrying down the manufactured happiness funnel, leaving a trail of dopamine clicks for the machine to feast on.

These ad men, they’re word shamans in pinstripe suits, hawking a future of pre-packaged rebellion, pre-fabricated individuality. They fragment your desires, sell you back slivers as the new status symbol. You ain’t a consumer, you’re a fragmented circuit board, plugged into their matrix, spitting out data exhaust like a mindless roach on a sugar rush.

Back in the day, artists weren’t peddling pre-packaged rebellion for the corporate machine. They were slinging raw, bloody steaks of truth – music that ripped your guts out, movies that held a mirror to the rot in society, writing that punched you in the face and made you see straight. It wasn’t about mass appeal, it was about sparking a goddamn revolution in your soul.

Now, some artists have gone belly-up to the sizzle machine. They’re all flash and no bang, a bunch of glitter-coated roaches buzzing around a lukewarm patty. They churn out noise engineered for maximum attention spans shorter than a fruit fly on Red Bull.

These corporate vultures see dollar signs in that sizzle. They can dissect your taste through this artist’s work, a Trojan horse of rebellion music that’s really just a targeted advertising machine. Bam! You’re bombarded with ads for the latest flavor of corporate Kool-Aid. But that’s not all, these vultures also package and sell your data – your likes, dislikes, and every click you make on this artist’s “rebellion” platform. You’re just another data point in their algorithm empire.

The corporations have the muscle to crank this sizzle machine to eleven. They can turn a one-man band with a flickering Bic lighter into a stadium act bathed in a thousand strobe lights. But all that amplification comes at a price. The artist gets squeezed into a mold, their message neutered, their bite turned into a whimper.

They Used to Sell You Freedom, Now They Sell You

You.

In the bygone era, companies competed for your attention with quality products, that “sizzling steak” of functionality and satisfaction. Now, the product itself becomes secondary. The real game is data. Your browsing habits, the apps you use, the things you click on – it’s all meticulously collected, analyzed, and sold. You are the product being shopped around, a walking profile ripe for targeted advertising.

You, the consumer, are the product.

Your data, habits, and attention are what companies are truly selling. They don’t necessarily need to constantly improve the “steak” itself (the physical product) because they can make more money by selling you (the data) to other businesses.

These other businesses use your data to target you with advertising for even more “inane stuff.” The goal is to keep you distracted and engaged with their platforms and products, maximizing the amount of data they can collect and sell.

The “sizzling freedom” of the original steak has been replaced by a manufactured illusion of choice. You’re bombarded with options, but they’re all filtered through algorithms designed to keep you in the loop, not necessarily to offer the best product.

This is the heart of selling out in the digital age. It’s not about empty shelves, it’s about emptying out the value of the product itself. They win by keeping you distracted and data-generating, not by offering genuine value.

Companies don’t necessarily need a “dumbed down” version of you. They can create the illusion of it. By bombarding you with distractions and manipulating algorithms, they keep you scrolling, clicking, and consuming content. The “fire in your eyes” for genuine connection gets replaced by a dopamine drip-feed of fleeting satisfaction.

Remember the first rush? That wide-eyed blaze of possibility? Now it’s a dusty memory, replaced by a curated feed of nostalgia ghosts. They dangle the faint echo of that first high, whispering promises of regaining a bygone self you never truly had. It’s a hall of mirrors, man, reflecting a distorted image you chase in vain, all the while feeding the machine your essence.

The product itself? Stagnant. A lukewarm carcass of what it once was. They don’t need innovation, not when they can manufacture a generation of mindless drones content with the illusion of choice. These ad weasels, these marketing messiahs in three-piece suits, they’re slinging snake oil promises of individuality – but it’s all pre-fabricated, pre-approved by focus groups and algorithms. You’re not a consumer, you’re a lab rat in their Skinner box, pushing buttons for a sugar rush of dopamine.

Remember the roar of the engine, the wind whipping through your hair, the raw, unfiltered experience of the open road? Now it’s a curated feed of vintage motorcycles and staged road trips, all designed to make you chase a ghost. They dangle the faint echo of that original rebellion, whispering lies about a bygone self you never truly had. It’s a mirage, man, a shimmering illusion in the desert, luring you deeper into their corporate wasteland.

You’re Not Just a Consumer, You’re the Data Mine

Forget the “walking billboard” plastered with logos. You’re the data mine itself. Every click, like, and purchase feeds information back to the system, creating a detailed profile that advertisers can exploit.

So, the next time you see an artist shilling for the Man, remember: that ain’t rebellion, that’s a goddamn roach burger. Hold out for the artists who still cook up the real deal, the ones who’ll leave you bloody, battered, and begging for more.

The Takeaway, Man:

So, you wanna break free? Don’t be a roach. Hack the feed, scramble the message. Remember the first spark, the one that ignited your need. Find the raw data, the unfiltered you, and build something new, something that screams in the face of their pre-fabricated reality. It ain’t easy, but that’s the only way out of this roach motel, man.

Selling out ain’t about empty shelves. It’s about turning art into a goddamn data farm. It’s about artists becoming shills for the man, peddling pre-packaged rebellion to a generation with attention spans shorter than a hummingbird on a sugar high. Don’t be a lab rat, man. Don’t be a shill. Seek out the artists who still bleed the real thing, the ones who haven’t been sucked dry by the data vampires. There’s still good art out there, buried beneath the mountain of corporate crap. You just gotta dig a little deeper.

Leaving Flatland

“Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted”
― William S. Burroughs

Feels like leaving Flatland. In addition to the usual three spatial co-ordinates, these notes have an extra label, which can act like a co-ordinate along space time. By tracking all four co-ordinates together, we map out in real time how a music moves in four dimensions. When you go from three to four dimensions in math, your right brain shifts from visual geometric intuitions to symbol-rewriting intuitions, where your right brain is trained on patterns in how the symbols move around instead of the underlying shapes. When this happens, you lose sight of the forest for the trees, and putting together larger jigsaw puzzles becomes much more difficult because the space is larger than your visual intuitions can cover.

Leaving Flatland is a fascinating concept that can be applied to various aspects of human experience, from mathematics to music. The concept of Flatland is taken from the 19th-century novella of the same name by Edwin A. Abbott, where the characters are two-dimensional beings living in a two-dimensional world. The idea of leaving Flatland refers to the shift from a limited perspective to a more expansive understanding of the world.

In the context of music, leaving Flatland means exploring music in four dimensions, rather than just the traditional three. By adding an extra label that acts as a coordinate along space-time, we can track how music moves in four dimensions in real time. This opens up new possibilities for understanding and exploring the complexities of music and sound, and challenges our traditional understanding of how we experience and perceive these elements.

However, as we move from three to four dimensions in math, our right brain shifts from visual geometric intuitions to symbol-rewriting intuitions. Instead of relying on visual intuition to understand the shapes and movements in space, we must rely on our ability to manipulate symbols and track patterns of movement. This can make it more challenging to understand larger and more complex structures, as the space is larger than our visual intuitions can cover.

Despite these challenges, leaving Flatland can also be a liberating experience. It allows us to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries of our understanding. As we leave the limitations of Flatland, we are able to see the world from a new perspective, one that is more expansive and open to new possibilities.

In conclusion, leaving Flatland is a concept that challenges our understanding of the world, whether it be in mathematics or music. By exploring new dimensions, we are able to push the boundaries of our understanding and open up new realms of possibility. While the shift from three to four dimensions can be challenging, it also allows us to see the world from a new perspective, one that is more expansive and open to new possibilities.

Earthquake Weather

The sky’s the color of a week-old margarita, the kind with the mystery fruit chunks floating like half-digested dreams. It’s earthquake weather, folks. Can feel it in my bones, a low rumble like a bad batch of mescaline kicking in. The air hangs heavy, thick with the stench of something fundamental shifting beneath our feet.

You see it everywhere, this tremor in the culture. Streaming services? They’re like industrial meat grinders, man. Shoving whole goddamn cows of content through the machinery, spitting out a lukewarm slurry of mediocrity. No flavor, no texture, just the processed, pre-packaged pablum of a thousand forgettable shows. Back in the day, a film was a feast, each frame a bite of raw, bloody art. Now? It’s all been pre-chewed, predigested, force-fed through a digital feeding tube.

And the people, man, the goddamn people are lapping it up! Xers, those cynical bastards, they see it for the hustle it is. Same way they saw through the empty promises of the American Dream. But the Millennials, bless their naive hearts, they’re the true believers. Missionaries of instant gratification, spreading the gospel of endless options and ten-second attention spans. They drown themselves in this digital deluge, convinced they’re swimming in a sea of limitless creativity.

But it’s a lie, a goddamn holographic facade. We’re all knee-deep in the slurry now, folks. Wading through a wasteland of remakes, reboots, and reality shows that wouldn’t know genuine human drama if it bit them on their perfectly sculpted asses.

The earth is shaking, that’s for damn sure. The question is, what are we gonna build on top of the rubble? Will the next generation rise from the ashes, demanding a return to substance, or will we just keep slurping down the pre-digested dregs of pop culture until our brains turn to mush?

One thing’s for sure, this earthquake weather ain’t going anywhere. It’s a storm brewing, a hurricane of homogenization. We can either batten down the hatches, or grab a surfboard and ride the goddamn wave. But make no mistake, folks, the ride ain’t gonna be pretty. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go find some real goddamn tequila. This pre-mixed swill just ain’t cutting it in earthquake weather.

Aliens in the Cave

In Werner Herzog’s documentary film “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” he explores the discovery of the Chauvet Cave in France, which contains some of the oldest known cave paintings in the world, dating back over 30,000 years. Herzog draws a comparison between the experience of exploring the cave and the hypothetical discovery of extraterrestrial artifacts, in that the images in the cave seem to belong to a familiar but distant universe, and can evoke powerful emotional and psychological responses in those who experience them.

Additionally, the level of technical skill and artistry displayed in the cave paintings suggests that they were not just simple representations of reality, but rather complex and sophisticated works of art. This level of skill and sophistication implies a deeper understanding of the world and its workings, and could be seen as evidence of an ultimate truth or reality that transcends any one specific cultural or religious tradition.

Herzog also notes that the experience of exploring the cave can be a profound and transformative experience for those who visit, evoking powerful emotions and memories that seem to come from a distant past. One scientist interviewed in the film describes having overpowering dreams during his first visit to the cave, and Herzog describes the paintings as “memories from long forgotten dreams.”

Overall, Herzog’s comparison between the Chauvet Cave and the hypothetical discovery of extraterrestrial artifacts highlights the power of art to evoke a sense of wonder and mystery, and the importance of preserving and studying our cultural heritage.

Plato’s Cave

In Plato’s allegory, the cave represents the world of appearances, where humans are chained and forced to perceive only the shadows on the cave wall, which they mistake for reality. The outside world, which represents the world of true knowledge and enlightenment, is represented by the sun.

Similarly, the Chauvet Cave can be seen as representing a hidden world of ancient art and culture, which was unknown to modern humans until its discovery. The cave paintings can be seen as representations of a deeper reality that was previously hidden from view, much like the outside world in Plato’s allegory.

It could be argued that the Chauvet Cave paintings are in fact representations of an ultimate truth or reality, and that this truth is not necessarily tied to any one specific purpose, such as religious or cultural expression. Overall, while the meaning and interpretation of the Chauvet Cave paintings may be debated, there is evidence to suggest that they represent a deeper reality or truth that is not tied to any one specific purpose or tradition, and that this truth has the potential to transcend time and culture.

DMT

There are some interesting parallels that could be drawn between the Chauvet Cave paintings and the DMT experience, particularly in relation to the idea of encountering a deeper reality or truth.

During a DMT experience, users report intense visual and auditory hallucinations that are often described as otherworldly or mystical. These experiences can include encounters with entities, landscapes, and dimensions that are beyond the normal realm of human experience. Many users describe feeling as if they have encountered a deeper reality or truth, one that is not accessible through normal sensory perception.

Similarly, the Chauvet Cave paintings could be seen as a means of accessing a deeper reality or truth that is not accessible through everyday experience. The paintings depict animals and landscapes in a way that suggests a profound understanding of the world and its workings, and their technical skill and artistry suggest that they were not just simple representations of reality, but rather complex and sophisticated works of art.

In both cases, the experience of encountering a deeper reality or truth is often accompanied by a sense of awe and wonder, as well as a feeling of connection to something greater than oneself. This connection may be seen as evidence of a deeper reality or truth that transcends time and culture, and has the potential to unite individuals across vast distances and differences.

Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu structure

The poem “Spring Dawn” by Meng Haoran is a wonderful example of the Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu structure, a narrative framework commonly used in various art forms including manga. Let’s break down how each of the four lines contributes to the poem’s structure:

Ki (Introduction):

  • Line 1: “I slept too much this lovely spring morning, the sun’s already up.”

This line sets the stage by introducing the speaker waking up late on a beautiful spring day. The use of “lovely spring morning” establishes a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere.

Sho (Development):

  • Line 2: “From everywhere I hear the birds, chirping happily”

The second line builds on the introduction by describing the joyful sounds of birds singing. This reinforces the serenity of the spring morning.

Flashback: Wind howls, a banshee’s wail. Rain lashes like a million needles. Fragile petals, once vibrant, now a slick smear on concrete. The city, a graveyard of forgotten blooms.

Flowers? Dead. Crushed under the boot heel of progress. Or maybe… maybe they pushed through the cracks, defiant neon in the urban jungle. A flicker of life amidst the decay. But who knows? Reality’s a cut-up job, meaning fractured, nonsensical.

Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu? Bullshit control grid. Language, a virus rewriting our perception. This poem? Just another shard in the kaleidoscope of fractured experience.

Ten (Turn):

  • Line 3: “Last night, I heard loud sound of wind and rain, I hope the flowers are okay, but who knows how many flower petals had fallen?”

The poem takes a turn here. The speaker recalls the sound of wind and rain from the previous night, introducing a sense of worry about the spring flowers. This unexpected shift disrupts the peaceful mood established earlier.

Ketsu (Conclusion):

  • Line 4: (Missing from the quoted poem)

The concluding line, though missing here, would ideally tie the two contrasting ideas together. It might express the speaker’s hope that the flowers survived the storm or describe their joy at finding the flowers unharmed. The conclusion offers a sense of resolution, leaving the reader with a specific feeling or thought.

In conclusion, “Spring Dawn” demonstrates the effectiveness of Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu in creating a concise and impactful poem. The introduction establishes the scene, the development builds on it, the turn introduces a challenge, and the conclusion (though missing) would bring the poem full circle.

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Spring Dawn – A Burroughs Cut-Up

Ki (Introduction):

Sun hemorrhage. Bleary eyes crack open to a chrome landscape. Not spring. Steel canyons, not blossoms. Where’s the goddamn birdsong? A roach scuttles across the threadbare sheet, its carapace a parody of sunrise.

Scratch pleasant, this “lovely spring morning.” Sun’s a harsh bulb, glaring down on tired retinas. Sleep? A roach motel, dreams buzzing with static. Birds? More like steel claws scraping on the fire escape. Civilization’s symphony – a discordant thrum.

Sho (Development):

Memories flicker. Neon jungle symphony. Screaming saxophones, laughter like shattered glass. A woman with eyes like polished obsidian, voice a purr that promised oblivion. Did it rain last night? Or was it sweat, slick on our skin?

Ten (Turn):

A single petal, bruised and fragile, clings to the fire escape. Ghost of a flower choked by exhaust fumes. The city never sleeps, just grinds its teeth, devours beauty whole. Did the storm come for the flowers, or for us, huddled in our tin can dreams?

Ketsu (Conclusion – Burroughs Cut-Up Remix):

Option A:

But under the chrome, a pulse. A green shoot pushing through the cracked sidewalk. Maybe spring finds a way, even here. A roach, defiant, raises its antennae to the poisoned sky. Let them drown us in fumes, we’ll still bloom, metallic and obscene, a mutant bouquet for a dying world.

Option B:

The wind howls, a metallic beast. No birdsong here, only the wail of sirens. The petal disintegrates, sucked into the city’s hungry maw. No resolution, just the endless, churning nightmare. We are all flowers, wilting in the concrete jungle, waiting for the final, beautiful oblivion.

A Solution in Search of a Problem

A chrome-plated roach scuttles across the cracked vinyl reality. It drags a spool of ticker tape, its message a writhing serpent of nonsensical code. This, chums, is the solution. A problem-eater, a glitch-gobbler born in the reeking underbelly of the machine. But the world spins on an axis of human misery, a jukebox of anxieties wailing their broken tunes. The roach pauses, antennae twitching. Where’s the itch it was designed to scratch? The code unravels, nonsensical poetry spilling onto the greasy floor. Is it a prophecy of woes to come, or a desperate plea for a malfunction to justify its existence? The roach scuttles on, a silver ghost in a world prefabricated for despair, searching for the problem it was built to devour.

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In the flickering neon jungle, a chrome-plated greaser with a shark’s grin hawks a vial of pulsating green liquid. This ain’t your daddy’s snake oil, chum. This is existential angst emulsified, bottled despair distilled to a radioactive fizz. It’ll cure the soul-sucking malaise you didn’t even know you had. Problem is, most folks are too busy drowning their sorrows in bathtub gin to notice the gaping existential hole in their gut. The greaser, slicker than a greased weasel, whispers of a world painted gray by monotony, a world craving a good jolt of cosmic horror. He rattles on about the hollowness gnawing at your reality, a hollowness this green elixir will fill with a satisfying dread. The question hangs heavy in the smog-choked air: is this the cure or the disease? The greaser just flashes a toothy grin, the vial glowing like a radioactive emerald in his grease-stained palm. Buy the fizz, chum. Buy the existential dread. It’s the future, baby, and the future ain’t lookin’ too pretty.

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A chrome-plated beetle scuttled across the cracked vinyl reality. It wasn’t a real beetle, of course. Not anymore. It was a problem cast in insect exoskeleton, a glitch in the matrix twitching its metallic legs. In the corner, a man in a rumpled sharkskin suit, his face obscured by cigarette smoke and a fedora tilted at a paranoid angle, nursed a lukewarm martini. He was the exterminator, a troubleshooter for a world gone digital. The beetle whirred, its antenna twitching for non-existent radio frequencies.

“Another roach, huh?” the man rasped, his voice sandpaper on gravel. The client, a nervous fellow with eyes that darted like trapped flies, stammered an explanation.

“N-not exactly, sir. It just…doesn’t belong. It disrupts the, uh, flow.”

The man in the fedora chuckled, a dry, hollow sound. “Flow, huh? Now that’s a word I haven’t heard in a good long time. Flow’s a luxury in these parts, chummer. We deal in glitches, bugs in the system, solutions crawling around looking for problems to fit into.”

He reached into his coat pocket and produced a gleaming chrome fly swatter, more sci-fi weapon than household implement. The client flinched.

“Relax,” the man drawled. “Sometimes, the solution is just a good whack on the head. Resets the whole damn system.”

The beetle scuttled closer, its metallic legs clicking a manic rhythm. The man raised the fly swatter, a cold glint in his eyes that mirrored the chrome of his weapon. This wasn’t about extermination, not really. It was about maintaining a broken order, fitting a solution, however brutal, into a world constantly teetering on the edge of chaos.

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A greasy spoon reality, neon signs buzzing with promises of instant gratification. A weary hipster shuffles in, trench coat slick with yesterday’s rain. He slams a chrome briefcase on the counter, the diner denizens flinching at the metallic clang. Inside, no wads of cash, no stacks of bills. Just a tangle of blinking circuits, pulsing with a cold blue light. “Here,” he rasps, voice laced with code-addled paranoia, “the ultimate answer. A world without friction, a solution for every itch you ain’t even scratched yet.” The waitress, a woman with eyes like burnt chrome, stares at the contraption. “What problem does it solve, pal?” she drawls, skepticism thick as the cigarette smoke curling from her ruby lips. The hipster leans in, his voice a conspiratorial whisper, “That’s the beauty of it, doll. It solves problems that ain’t even been invented yet. A future-proof cure for a non-existent disease.” He pushes the box towards her, a salesman peddling snake oil in a chrome dreamscape. The waitress shakes her head, a sad smile flickering on her lips. “Looks like you got a hammer, fella. But the only nails around here are the ones holding this joint together.” The hipster slumps back, defeated. Outside, the rain falls, a cold, digital drizzle, washing away the neon promises and leaving behind the gnawing emptiness of a solution with no problem to solve.

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Dig this, daddy-o. You ever seen a hipster with a pocket full of bespoke screwdrivers? Yeah, that’s a “solution in search of a problem.” They walk around flicking chrome and muttering about “optimized torque” while the world crumbles in perfectly serviceable hex-less bolts.

Same goes for these button-down eggheads with their algorithms and flowcharts. They cook up these existential Etch-A-Sketches, lines of code swirling like smoke signals in a forgotten language. But what the hell are they trying to say, man? What message is this chrome-plated equation supposed to receive?

The world, it’s a junkyard of real problems, mountains of misery taller than any skyscraper. But these cats, they’re stuck fiddling with pocket change while the real loot walks right by. It’s like having a hammer for a head, everything looks like a nail to be pounded.

Maybe that’s the problem, huh? Maybe the solution is to smash these pre-fab problems, shatter them into a million nonsensical shards. Let the confusion bloom, let the world rebuild itself with questions instead of pre-programmed answers. Now that’s a problem worth a solution, wouldn’t you say?

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A greasy spoon reality, neon signs buzzing like a hive of angry hornets. A lobotomized businessman in a rumpled suit sits at a chipped Formica counter. He pushes a chrome capsule across the surface, its surface rippling with a digital mirage. “Here you go, chum,” rasps the chrome-domed waitress, her voice dripping with apathy. “Guaranteed problem solver. Latest model. Eats inefficiency, devours delays, munches on mismanagement.”

The businessman stares at the capsule, its surface reflecting his tired eyes. Problems? He hasn’t had a good, meaty problem in years. The world runs on autopilot, a well-oiled machine lacking the glorious friction that used to be his bread and butter. He pockets the capsule with a sigh. It’s like having a chainsaw in a world made of marshmallows. Everything feels…soft. He eyes the overflowing ashtray next to him, a sudden, desperate glint in his eye. Maybe…just maybe…he can jam the capsule in there, create a little glitch, a malfunction. After all, a problem solver needs a problem, right? A shark needs water, a gambler needs a fix, and a man with a problem solver…well, a man with a problem solver needs a problem, dammit.