Friday, June 1, 2007

Take this to be a personal eulogy and obituary.

Noel Francese died tonight, he was the first man to ever call me "Fatrick" and although only an uncle by marriage, as close as family can get. I always enjoyed his humor, his demeanor was enjoyable and he was just generally a good person. I know that he was at peace when he went and that due to illness it was his time. I worry more now about those that he left behind, however I do take solace in the fact that we have all benefited from his existence and although nothing will be the same without him, it is all better because he has been.
If you ever met him, you knew he was a great guy, if not I'm sorry that you'll never get the chance, but either way if you would take a moment to yourself for him and everyone we have ever lost, it would be appreciated.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This may be a little long...

Jean Baudrillard writes in such a way as to provoke thought and action, yet gladly admits in interview that he is playing with us, that is he shows us a problem which it would appear we should fight against and then goes on to say that the problem perhaps should not be fought against at all, rather embraced and pushed forth. Heidegger in his writings about technology and the future that it holds for us, poses the problem, seems to seek an answer yet does not provide one for us except to say that the pre-Socratic Greeks had it right, so perhaps we should go back to our roots in an attempt to become more “authentic” and let big ‘B’ being run it’s course. In my mind, and as a way of avoiding us being turned into standing reserve, Heidegger would have all of us strip naked and lay under fruit trees with our mouths open, letting the rain slake us and the falling fruit feed us, to sit and do nothing more than muse and think and become nothing useful but merely to be and be as nothing and everything at once. I clearly have a slightly sarcastic tone when talking about Heidegger as while I did enjoy his writings and saw his prescription of the problem as interesting for the time, his notion of “Being” bugs me. I see a sense of mocking in Jean Baudrillard that plays off of this post-modern problem presentation, yet rather then fighting against this so called problem, perhaps we should reframe ourselves into using it for the best.
In “The Evil Demon of Images” (which plays upon the idea in Descartes’ meditations about the evil demon god [lying in direct contrast of the Christian all loving god] which could supplant ideas into our minds without us knowing, thereby making the unreal real) Jean Baudrillard tells us that A) events such as wars in modern society do not occur in the sense that we understand them to because of the way in which they are televised and therefore never have any reality outside of the images which we see B) that past atrocities (such as the Holocaust) occur in an infinite sense because of the way they are reshown again and again in film and television, as real if not “realer” then when they actually occurred. Baudrillard discusses the image in “The System of Objects” as the signifier of the signified, but since we have been caught into a history of trying to create images that just relate reality, we have made hyper-reality that by contrast creates reality as the “real” and hyper-reality as the “fake”. Real or fake no longer matters however because even what we have come to understand as real is another signifier to some signified, and the signified being something so far removed from our conscious we now can create signifiers to signify anything and it is just as real as any other. This all sounds like the most disgusting and vial accusations, it appears to cheapen the death of lost soldiers, haunt the past of Holocaust survivors and cast an altogether accusing light on the film and television producers of today and worst of all that even reality is cheap enough to be reduced to something arbitrary and useless. I would like to say however that personally I believe this to be the most freeing news of all. No longer are we to be held under the harsh world of the “real” as we are now free to create our own using the tools of image in a new way. First of all the idea that wars are not occurring except in their images, to me, signifies that we could gladly fill our blood lust with actors and special effects and leave the “real” dying behind, secondly we can stop showing images of the Holocaust and other past atrocities while replacing them with a sunshine and rainbows sort of history filled with acceptance and love. While at first offended by this, older people who remember the truth will slowly die out and the young who replace them will know nothing but this kindness! This is where the beauty of hyper reality lies, in the absolute creation to which we are now given.
To put all of this another way Nietzsche discusses the notion of the eternal return, as a demon visits you and tells you that your life and every instant within it will be repeated an infinite amount of times. From this point you have two options: you can either gnash your teeth and be horribly disgusted by the mere idea that every moment of your horribly pained life will have to be played out again OR you can thank him and rejoice in the absolute joy that is the eternal replaying of your life which you controlled and enjoyed. Now then in today’s society the demon has a much larger proposition for all of us, and Baudrillard brings it out, today’s demon comes to all of us and tells us that we will be forced to live on this earth for all eternity, generation after generation will be born, live out and die here, there will be a never ending line of humanity. Now looking in the past of this world we could think how horrible this will be, that the wars and pestilence, disaster and atrocities will continue on forever OR we could look to the present and realize that we can now change the past, monitor the present and control the future, and all through the beauty that is the image!
All of that being said however in today’s society we do not use these things to create a new world, to make beauty and erase pain. In today’s society we choose to do what every early conventional painter chose to do, and that is merely try to represent that which is already around us, that which we already perceive everyday through our own eyes. We see this sort of rawness as good and our plastic replacements as nothing but attempts at getting back to the basics. Those with a better understanding of this phenomena do little better though, as we have advertisers and psychologists who recognize the human brain as something easily toyed with, and so use the image to support their own campaigns of greed and power. Advertisement in my mind is the image turned weapon, where as Baudrillard states that the image goes beyond good and evil, and has an immorality about it (which he explains as a furthering of the idea of amorality, only the image goes beyond having no morals to the point of playing with morals and the idea of amorality itself), this is shown when the image is perversely used to lull us into purchase or consumption. So while the image itself exists in this realm of indefinable moral standing, it’s common use is that of perversion and betrayal.
“The System of Objects” and “Consumer Society” truly get at this perversion of the image. First of all as objects are in the sense, signifiers, they have become a new language that we in society use to design and define ourselves. Everything from social class standing down to personal expression is pushed through small, predetermined holes that crap out a limited line of possibilities. In this sense we have taken it upon ourselves to use “Brand” as a way of branding ourselves (ironically) and think that in doing so we are free and unique. Art is replaced with mechanical reproduction in advertising and the image is reduced to a tactic rather than a tool. The worst thing about all of this is that as consumers we would think that this sort of branding and predetermined personality would allow us to get together and be as one, but it has (as Baudrillard says) the opposite effect. Instead of coming together, we are separated and quarantined because we seek out what we are told to seek out, and cannot relate to others for we see it all as personal. As I see it, all of this is a wasteful use of the true power and glory of the image. To me the use of the image in today’s society would be like Superman using his limitless powers as he does, to save one person (even at best a city, or occasionally the world), when he could change the foundation itself (it perhaps is odd and silly of me to use metaphor at this point, as I am signifying so many concepts at once, I am probably outdoing myself, but in the hopes that you have read Superman he is a powerful concept to employ especially when discussing images. If there were more ‘supermen’ in our literatures and films, presented in such a way as not only role model but instead reality, I believe that would be one step in the correct direction).
Here comes the kicker though, all of my writing on the beauty of the image has a fantastic optimism in it (which I believe Baudrillard has as well), however, all of this would come at a price which I believe very few would be willing to pay or even admit. The price would be the loss of the concept of freedom as we have come to understand it. Freedom is supposedly the ability to do whatever whenever, say think and feel anything at any time and screw anyone who doesn’t do the same. True freedom is a ridiculous notion anyways, but that is because it would lead to anarchy and destruction at its core, think if molecules chose to be free, we would all just fade away. Freedom with tolerance is the idea that America employs, and it says that I can do whatever whenever as long as nobody else is getting hurt or infringed upon, I can say think and feel whatever I want, as long as I do not act angrily upon it or as long as it doesn’t lead to the reduction of another’s freedom. This is a dead end however, as it leads to a world where everyone has this pride in their freedom, while feeling fine about others being held down or oppressed, even people who feel awful about repression argue that it is better that we allow the KKK to exist as long as we can still have the same freedom that they are allowed. All of this would have to go out the window with the new use of the image.
Now then, at the end of “Consumer Society” Baudrillard prescribes the real problem, “The People- these are the laborers, provided they are unorganized; the Public, or public opinion- these are the consumers, provided they are content to consume.” And this is where we are now, believing ourselves to be so great, and yet so pained by our past and our inability to get past our guilt and our historical misdeeds. What holds us is the image, and the only thing that can free us is the image. The image is the way advertisers convince us, the image is the way that we are reminded of our transgressions with no option to fix them, it is the image that chokes us on our current situation by providing an instantaneous replay of the present. It is the image that leads us to believe that we should be proud and yet guilty, peaceful and yet angry, loving and yet hateful! But we do not need to be this way any longer.
There are no words to describe the way by which we can do this, the closest thing I can think of is brainwash, but allow me to redefine the word so it appears as I want it to. To wash is to remove the dirt and filth that has accumulated on an object; we find it healthy and pleasant to wash our clothes, our cars and ourselves. Our brain is the source in modern identity of what we are, it contains our rationality our emotions, its chemicals are everything we experience and its wrinkles are everything we know. So when I speak of brainwash, I mean that we should wipe away all that ails us, to pick the speckles of dirt and decay off of our minds, and to start anew clean and kind.
The only way to escape our condition is to brainwash ourselves using the image. Since there is no intrinsic truth contained in the “reality” which we find ourselves in, we have the ability to change it through our presentation of it. In a way reminiscent of Plato’s “Republic” we can curtail our images to contain only things that are desirable. The image as I have been talking about it has mostly been about film and television, but even textbooks for school children, print such as the newspaper and so on is a form of the image. Also imagine as we have all heard the myth that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow, and no word for green, we can employ this to concepts such as hate and love (in the over dramatic sense), if there is no image to display the notion, if there is no longer a word for it, they will cease to be. Also as in Plato’s “Republic” however only new generations will be able to benefit from this, we who have already been shaped and controlled by the consumer’s portrayal of the image are in my mind, doomed. Unless there is a way to physically brainwash those of us who are still around, the concept of brainwashing will deal more on a generational level instead of a personal level. Also as I said above the notion of freedom needing to be removed, well I mean this in the way that the only reason we have the word or concept itself is due to the fact that we can see people who are physically restrained from doing or saying what they want. What I am talking about is not the inability to do or say anything that you want, but rather having the understanding and responsibility to not want to say or do these things that are anti progressive. Instead of seeing it as freedom vs. enslavement, you could see it as being enlightened and rising above the concepts themselves (the notion of freedom as we use it is in fact an enslavement as Baudrillard talks about in “Consumer Society” where he says we as consumers have been “glorified, flattered and eulogized as ‘public opinion’,” this freedom is merely a joke and a lie). So what I am writing in this paragraph sounds like a call to homogeneity, a removal of concepts from world consciousness and the censorship of the image, and perhaps it is, but let me rephrase. What I am calling for in this paragraph is a unified humanity, the lack of a need for certain concepts in a world which has no strife and the responsible use of the image to turn reality and hyper-reality into one all encompassing work of beauty.

Now then most philosophers write down their ideas in one of two ways, as a prescription for living or as a problem for solving. I would like to think that I have done both in this paper. Unlike a philosopher who gives a problem merely to ask it be solved, I have already given my own idea of where we can go from here using what I think to be the natural progression of Baudrillard. As where anyone who through vocative language calls or tells us how to be usually waits for another person to critique them, I plan on pulling out the own problems with what I am saying (using Baudrillard as my foundation), mainly that I am unsure if the sacrifice of all I am asking to be sacrificed will really make things better. Contentment is nice, but it allows for no art, no true progress and certainly no sense of accomplishment or pride. Contentment is what would occur, as I see it, if the plans I laid out were followed. Contentment also has no dissatisfaction or pain, nothing but light-hearted enjoyment in a state of mildness for all eternity. It would be enjoyable and non-challenging, and I am fairly certain that George Orwell or Aldous Huxley would hate me for saying that I think it’s what we need (but what they missed is that in utopia, there would be no individual to fight against the contentment which everyone else was feeling anyways). Also as I stated before I am unsure if there is anyway to work in ourselves to this equation of salvation, but rather we would be doing it for the kids. So now critique, pull apart and examine away! If I have done injustice to what Jean Baudrillard was saying, it is hardly of any worry now, as all texts are open to interpretation and this is mine.

Monday, May 14, 2007


During a discussion today I have realized that it does not matter whether or not the world can become a Utopian society, at least for me, because I could never exist in that society.

As far as I can understand the only possibility for a utopia would be to have a totalizing world view that everyone was in agreement with, however when I say everyone I do not mean everyone on earth at this moment. I doubt there is any possible perspective that everyone in the world could get behind, due to language barriers, class structures, religious beliefs and a myriad of other distinctions that people pride themselves on. So after removal of however many millions it would take to slim out the population enough to have one idea that could encompass all people, they could continue on, following the one principle, teaching their children that it was always like that and moving forward from there.

Many writer's who have attempted to explain the future as utopia always introduce an individual as being the only blip in an otherwise perfect world, but being individuals themselves, the writers often time try to show the positive side of individualism, as containing art and beauty and love. Problem being that until the individual shows up (be it Guy Montag, John the savage or Winston Smith, etc.) no one is dissatisfied, no one is unhappy, no one is hungry, no one is poor, and so it is that the utopia is literally the best thing for the most people. Depth in life causes pain, loving one person over others causes jealousy and rage, everything about an individual that makes him/her unique is their flaws or by contrast their superiority over all others (which makes those peoples flaws all the more obvious) and we live in uncertainty through this world.

Now I argue that love is a perfectly acceptable sacrifice to remove hate, that in fact we should give up the practice of art, war and politics to make way for the Utopia that would ensure all people's pleasure and satisfaction throughout their lives (without a guarantee or even notion of a just afterlife I believe we should maximize contentedness and destroy displeasure in life). But I said before that I could not fit into a utopia, and that is because I am a product of this world and this life, have developed love and hate and a range of other human emotions, have learned to actually love stoicism and generally believe myself to be important.

If Utopia is guaranteed I will be the first to march to the volcano to make way for infinite generations of contented people, but until then I will be petty, artful and generally kind as long as the world is the way it is, and I am a part of it (whether I like it or not).

In conclusion I love and hate for the lack of ability to do anything else.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

थे उर्गे तो देस्त्रोय

The title of this entry happens to be "the urge to destroy" but of course with the amazing world of blogs, I have the ability to write something in English and have it instantly change into Hindi. This is of course pointless because I do not think that anyone that may be reading this will be able to read Hindi, nor is anything of any consequence written in Hindi within this blog, but hey, it looks neat so I'm leaving it.

All of that being said, I am writing this on the topic of the human urge to destroy, my musings on the topic and perhaps where it came from and why it exists. First of all I suppose I should specify what I mean by destroy as I'm sure it could be interpreted in different ways. When I say destroy I am going to be specifically talking about the destruction of objects, whether physical or not, for no inherent gain or purpose other than the destruction itself. The use of the word destruction in my definition of destruction is sloppy, so I will define the word destroy as a mode of changing something to an all new form which is first of all very little to nothing like the way it was and secondly altogether useless as compared to it's previous functionality and purpose. Also in my definition I talked about two different types of objects, those being physical and non-physical objects. Physical objects as a concept is not that hard to grasp, anything containing matter, made up of molecules and atoms and just being generally solid, liquid or (i suppose) gas. Non-physical objects are still nouns, but in the sense that a noun is a person, place, thing or idea, these objects are ideas. So how does one destroy an idea? Well of course I will say that it is near impossible to expect to destroy an idea on a whole, however for the destruction which I am talking about, it's more the idea that can be held by one or a few (or perhaps many depending on your power position), that can be exploited or denied. An example of these ideas I will say would be like the belief of Santa Claus that a young person may hold, or to become more complex, a relationship between two or more people. Of course by telling the young child that there is no Santa, and proving to him/her beyond a reasonable doubt that this is so, would be the destruction of that idea. There would be many ways to destroy a relationship, as a person who is involved you could change yourself to a point of disgust to the other(s) and as an outsider it is always possible to twist the image of those involved.

Karl Marx had an opinion about the need of humans to alter their surroundings to reflect themselves in order to find fulfilment. This was his way of saying how we as humans could avoid the feeling of alienation (which was a sort of notion that we felt like we didn't belong on our own earth through the taking away of the product of our labor, leaving us with processed goods from other factories). By changing our surroundings to reflect one's wants, needs, beliefs and ideas then the world became a familiar place that accepted us. In today's world however (especially in America, and mostly in Urban or Suburban places) this is next to impossible. We inhabit houses and apartment buildings that had nothing to do with ourselves, we are too busy to use interior decoration and we work on things that we cannot see ourselves in. So we are alienated, but alienation doesn't necessarily lead to destruction, but I will say that the feeling of alienation is one necessary part to the equation.

The other part, I believe, comes out of nihilism. Nihilism is the belief that nothing matters, the universe is void of all or any intrinsic meaning. This nihilism stems from many things, but Nietzsche saw nihilism as coming out of the slow but steady rise of science disproving religious standards causing the notion that if there is no god and no greater purpose, then there is no purpose to anything whatsoever. When a nihilist looks into themselves they see nothing, and when they look outside of themselves they see nothing.

Now since I have said that the urge to destroy came out of parts of alienation and nihilism. So as we grow, so does our feeling of alienation, that the world is not our own and we as a human being do not belong in nature, and nature is all that belongs on earth. Then our beliefs are challenged and our morals are pushed aside and we begin to think ourselves nihilists. Now then our alienation makes us want to fight against our not fitting in by transforming our surroundings, and our nihilism makes it so when we look inside we see no intrinsic meaning. But the world still tries to convince us that there is meaning, every institution has it's morals, every school it's teachings, every vein of art work it's techniques, and we grow to hate this unequivity. So there is one logical conclusion, to make the world fit ourselves we must destroy, and destroy without prejudice. Everything must be reduced to nothingness as we think that we are nothingness.

Monday, November 13, 2006


A real blog, this is frightening, perhaps I'll use this to type my philosophies and revise them, or perhaps I'll never write anything after this... We'll see.