Nowhere Man

44 years after The Beatles film ‘Yellow Submarine’ depicted the ‘Nowhere Man’ himself we finally have the nowhere man, in the flesh, in the form of Mitt Romney. But whereas The Beatles parodied something akin to the academic/journalistic ‘view from nowhere’, Romney and his cadres of 1%-er ultra-rich capitalists, are the future of displaced persons – though by choice and opportunity, rather than because of political, economic, or climate ‘push factors’. Matt Taibbi makes the point in a lengthy section at the conclusion to his utterly depressing profile of Romney, and it’s worth quoting at great length:

Listen to Mitt Romney speak, and see if you can notice what’s missing. This is a man who grew up in Michigan, went to college in California, walked door to door through the streets of southern France as a missionary and was a governor of Massachusetts, the home of perhaps the most instantly recognizable, heavily accented English this side of Edinburgh. Yet not a trace of any of these places is detectable in Romney’s diction. None of the people in any of those places bled in and left a mark on the man.

Romney…is a perfect representative of one side of the ominous cultural divide that will define the next generation, not just here in America but all over the world. Forget about the Southern strategy, blue versus red, swing states and swing voters – all of those political clichés are quaint relics of a less threatening era that is now part of our past, or soon will be. The next conflict defining us all is much more unnerving.

That conflict will be between people who live somewhere, and people who live nowhere. It will be between people who consider themselves citizens of actual countries, to which they have patriotic allegiance, and people to whom nations are meaningless, who live in a stateless global archipelago of privilege – a collection of private schools, tax havens and gated residential communities with little or no connection to the outside world.

Mitt Romney isn’t blue or red. He’s an archipelago man.

It’s a depressing state of affairs, yet we aught to refuse to be depressed – a conclusion I’m borrowing form Nicholas Merzoeff, who mentioned at last  weekend’s ‘Sense of Planet, Sense of Place’ Symposium that the amount of SSRI anti-depressants prescribed in New York is so much that traces are detectible in fish that swim in the harbour. If for no reason other than to push back against Big Pharma, we aught to remain hopeful. I found the following bible passage encouraging for obscene, personal reasons:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” – Romans 4:18

Untitled, 1920 (Murdering Airplane) by Max Ernst


Christ who flies higher than the aviators…
Icarus Enoch Elijah Apollonius of Tyrana
Hover near the original airplane…
Everyone eagle phoenix phis
Fraternizes with the flying machine.

– Guillaume Apollinaire, “Zone”

I’m writing about Max Ernst, dadaist and surrealist painter/collage/sculptor/artist and his fierce exploration of Hybrid beings. Neither machine nor men, but something like a God; a Cylon.

Momento Mori

I was on a train that hit and killed someone this afternoon.

I don’t know anything more than that. I didn’t see it. I didn’t even hear it, as I had headphones on. I think I felt it but even that might have been post-impact emergency braking. A body is not a very solid thing, and a train is.

I’m reasonably sure it was a woman, because I recall something vaguely said by another woman who did see it happen (we were in the very front carriage). She and another seemed close to tears shortly afterwards, and the driver (or guard?) was audibly in shock when he spoke over the intercom to say “the train is indefinitely delayed”.

Some passengers didn’t handle the delay gracefully, as is I suppose their prerogative. The train was not well air-conditioned and it smelt pretty strongly like someone had been living in it for a while. We sat and waited on “police action” for an hour. I got a few tweets out but even though I had good theoretical reception most of my time was spent waiting for a loading screen that never changed.

I’m writing this all out because I’m trying to figure out what exactly I feel about this incident?

I’m kind of distressed – but not even because of the event, since it barely touched me beyond a lengthly delay to an already long and exhausting day. And not because it distressed other people – though I certainly felt it most keenly when other people were affected.

No, I’m distressed at something else, something larger than the event – something more abstract, something harder to touch and see and feel, but which right now I’m feeling keenly. Something like a song, or an emotion, but with more ground and made of different stuff.

Who’s responsible for this tragedy? The easy answer is: “It was a senseless tragedy” or “She took her life in her own hands”. No! Fuck those answers. Who is really responsible? The driver? No, what could he (?) do in time? There would not have been time to stop such a heavy train. What about the train itself for being a heavy piece of swiftly moving metal? We could get angry at it – in fact do wish it were destroyed – whatever little symbolic good that would do. Are we responsible? What about us, the train riders? We who use City Rail? We who live in Sydney; in a ‘liberal’ democracy; in Australia; in a world with so few remaining corners left untouched by the greasy, metallic fingers of capital and it’s system of relations?


We are responsible. We are responsible.

“But why?”

Because we let this happen.

“Let what happen?”

Let this system of relations – which we benignly call CAPITALISM – between owners and workers and between the means of production and those who extract use value… WE who suffer this every day, and at the end of the week say ‘thank you, deposit my payment into X account please’, we caused… all of this. Nothing is untouched by us. There is no ‘nature’, just one giant world…. systems of connection, relation, being, and becoming. “I seem to be a verb”.


There is a concept that psychologists often use to describe what happens on those occasions when, for example, no one calls the police to report an accident or a crime because everyone thinks everyone else will do it. Psychologists call it ‘diffusion of responsibility‘, and I have a passion that it must be fought. “Everyone is at fault, therefore no one is.”

No, give up on that old chestnut – that’s bullshit. If everyone is at fault, everyone is at fault.

At least religious language captures the spirit of it:

…when all the congregation saw that Aaron had perished, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days.

Numbers 20:29

When did we stop mourning? Judith Butler (probably) thinks it was political.

I don’t have to know you to mourn you. I don’t have to know you to know that the world is irrevocably changed by losing you.

“But does the world really notice, let alone care when someone is lost?”

Fuck you, the “world” doesn’t even exist – what you’re thinking of is displaced god – something omnipotent, and unsleeping. Lidless, listless, utter lizard-like. That’s not the “world”. The world is ALIVE it is VIBRANT it is full of energy and motion and colour and the stability is the lie. It takes a lot of effort (displaced elsewhere; to coal fired power stations, cut down rainforests, etc) to maintain the illusion of a smooth, uninterrupted journey. All it takes is one, small, squishy little body.

So no. I don’t need to “know” who she was to grieve for her and to feel responsible – full responsibility – for her. I accepted my responsibility when I stepped on the train. No one will hold me to account for it though. Maybe I have to hold onto it myself till we regain something of a sense of congregation.

“Oh you’re just looking for an excuse to feel guilty – to feel something.”

Fuck you, you don’t know me. Here’s another piece of religious wordage: “Get behind me Satan”. That attitude is perhaps as far removed from what I am attempting to explain, attempting to reveal from my heart (mind? soul?), as I could imagine.

So what am I saying? Am I trying to shame you or judge you?

No. (duh)

I’m trying to say this; please believe me when I say we need new relations, these ones are fucked up; Live your lief because you never know what hurtling chunk of metal is coming your way.

28 At the sound of the cry of your pilots
the countryside shakes,
29 and down from their ships
come all who handle the oar.
The mariners and all the pilots of the sea
stand on the land
30 and shout aloud over you
and cry out bitterly.
They cast dust on their heads
and wallow in ashes;
31 they make themselves bald for you
and put sackcloth on their waist,
and they weep over you in bitterness of soul,
with bitter mourning.
32 In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you
and lament over you:

Ezekiel 27:28-32

Rivers of Orange


About 8,000 liters of the concentrate used to make the soft drink Sunny D, formerly known as Sunny Delight spilled into a creek in England in May, 2006. The spill killed dozens of fish, which is a little scary. The spill was caused by a crack in an underground fiberglass tank at the Gerber Foods Soft Drink factory in Bridgwater, Somerset. The tank was used to hold sub-standard juice waiting for disposal.


Reggie Watts making fun of things

The whole TED/Tech conference confection is long overdue some serious criticism (and it’s been getting it) but this half-hour set from Reggie Watts takes the critique to a new, performative level. Daring to make fun of the conference while at the conference takes some guts, and probably injected some much needed levity to the otherwise serious conference scene.

“Your politics are boring as fuck”

Your politics are boring as fuck‘ by Nadia C.:

The truth is, your politics are boring to them because they really are irrelevant. They know that your antiquated styles of protest—your marches, hand held signs, and gatherings—are now powerless to effect real change because they have become such a predictable part of the status quo. They know that your post-Marxist jargon is off-putting because it really is a language of mere academic dispute, not a weapon capable of undermining systems of control. They know that your infighting, your splinter groups and endless quarrels over ephemeral theories can never effect any real change in the world they experience from day to day. They know that no matter who is in office, what laws are on the books, what “ism”s the intellectuals march under, the content of their lives will remain the same. They—we—know that our boredom is proof that these “politics” are not the key to any real transformation of life. For our lives are boring enough already!

 Something something videogames something something AltLit something something #nodads something something something alcohol something something fuck it.

Another generational fault-line exposed, this time in Journalism

A brouhaha has been brewing for the past couple of days between an undergraduate intern Journalist and The Hun over a piece that was highly critical of the paper’s Newsroom culture. The paper, in full ‘destroy the enemy’ mode fired back an overblown salvo that just goes to show the former intern’s criticism were probably right on the money.

The generational fault line is raised explicitly in the following New Matilda editorial:

The response to the Farrago article speaks volumes about generational misrecognition and disdain. Young journalists are useful for their tech-savvy, or their angle on “youth issues”, but not their values. This is why it’s particularly striking that Burden’s sign-off has got less attention than the rest of her article.

“If Australia’s big mastheads all function like this then I say bring on their decline. Rip down the banners that have led to media exclusivity and elitism. Huzzah to the future of online, diverse reporting.”

If you love something, sometimes you have to let it die…


From Metafilter:

I honestly tried to find the least confusing introductions to the #nodads line, but as you can see they tend to refuse that kind of discourse. The point, if I can summarize, is to argue that philosophy, politics, and theory have been predicated in a kind of dad-ness — these discourses seek to discipline people, to reproduce themselves, to boss everyone around, to shout everybody else down, to do all the sorts of (bad) things dads do. #nodads as a slogan (or a “principle of solidarity”) is an attempt to think outside those tendencies.

Now, in practice, #nodads seems to be mostly used to troll people, but there is a kernel of an idea at its core that I thought might be interesting to talk about on this, the most daddiest of days.

Also the rest of the thread is actually some bloody fantastic discussion. There’s weird shit going down right now, even if it is working it’s way out in a weird deferred-adulthood way.

Clint Hocking on ‘Replayability’

Clint Hocking writes about my favourite bugbear – the word ‘Replayability’:

Replayability is an oft-debated concept in game development…

But what does ‘replayability’ even mean? The word itself implies an obvious definition: that the game can sustain player interest over the course of multiple playthroughs. Yet in a practical sense, data shows that players rarely finish our biggest games, never mind play them multiple times.

I think the above definition of replayability is an oversimplification of a couple of concepts that deserve closer scrutiny.
Which… is kind of what I was proposing in my polemical ‘Replayability is not a word‘ post from a while back (which, incidentally, still gets a ton of hits). Perhaps a kind of eliminatism is in order – get rid of the word in favour of a multitude of descriptions instead. That’s what I (sort of) advocated in my immersion/attention video also.
Interesting to note though that even Clint still needed to explain the “obvious definition” of replayability – it’s easily still a contested and contestable term.