Thursday, July 07, 2011

Two interesting posts from Excerpter with texts from David Greaeber's The sadness of post-workerism and Friedrich Kittler's The City Is a Medium.

David Greaeber on avantgardism, prophecy and so-called “immaterial labor”

Politics is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them. The problem is that in order to play the game effectively, one can never acknowledge its essence. In this sense politics is very similar to magic, /…/ something that works because people believe that it works; but also, that only works because people do not believe it works only because people believe it works.
Yet the same bankers and traders who produce these complex financial instruments also like to surround themselves with artists, people who are always busy making things—a kind of imaginary proletariat assembled by finance capital, producing unique products out of for the most part very inexpensive materials, objects said financiers can baptize, consecrate, through money and thus turn into art, thus displaying its ability to transform the basest of materials into objects worth far, far more than gold. More

Friedrich Kittler – The City Is a Medium

MEDIA exist to process, record, and transmit numbers. A Greek city, probably Milet, provides us with two of our oldest forms of media: the coin and the vowel alphabet. 13 Rome, in order to extend itself from a city into a state, adopted the most advanced form of oriental transmission media: the Achaemenidian postal system. 14

Thus our terms for media, if not directly, like “heart” or “brain of a circuit,” derived from the human body, stem nonetheless from the city. From the day Shannon applied George Booles’s circuit algebra to a coupling of telegraph relays, the elements which are logically the most simple, and which have no memory, have been known as gates or ports. Circuits, on the other hand, whose initial and final positions are not only a function of the gates and ports, but also of the circuit’s own prehistory, presuppose (no less municipal here) a built-in memory. When the World War II mathematician John von Neumann laid down the prin-ciples for sequential working-off or computation for almost all present-day computer “architectures,” he bestowed the fitting name “bus” on the parallel channels between hard drive, gate, and memory, and thus extended the Biedermeier tradition of metropolitan traffic. Von Neumann’s prophesy that only computers themselves would be capable of planning their own, more intelligent, next generation, because the complex knot of networks would surpass the planning ability of the engineers, has been fulfilled by computer programs called “routing”: network models, like Shannon’s mouse, which operate as if they were street plans (with all the aggravations of jaywalking and traffic jams). Entire cities made of silicon, silicon oxide, and gold wire have since arisen. Yet the living units or houses in these cities must be measured in terms of molecules whose total surface area, even after having been reproduced millions of times, barely fill a square millimeter. The technologic media miniaturize the city, while magnifying the entropy of megalopolis. Not only have the technological traffic modules of modernity, such as parking garages and airports, rendered obsolescent the age-old module “life-sized,” indeed, it seems to me that modulization itself has been rendered obsolescent. And graph theory is responsible. The more one thinks about a capital like Paris, wrote Valéry, the more one learns about oneself from the city. No system, however, is self-governing, neither the city nor the module. It is hence more urgent, in a grey field without reference points, to connect up networks without value systems, and to take leave of..(More)


Non-Newtonian Fluid on a Speaker Cone

More on "cymatics" (study of visible sound and vibration) here.