Sarah Kelly, Jonny Liron, Francesca Lisette, Joe Luna, Nat Raha, Linus Slug, Josh Stanley, Timothy Thornton, Anna Ticehurst, Jonty Tiplady, Mike Wallace-Hadrill, Tomas Weber and Steve Willey are all represented in this new anthology from Chris Goode's Ganzfeld imprint; exchange paper for paper here. Huge thanks to Chris Goode, whose limitlessly exacting blog is here, next to list of his forthcoming appearances in meatspace. Hola Chris!
I'll sing you a new ballad, and I'll warrant it first-rate,
Of the days of that old gentleman who had that old estate;
When they spent the public money at a bountiful old rate
On ev'ry mistress, pimp, and scamp, at ev'ry noble gate, In the fine old English Tory times;
Soon may they come again!
The good old laws were garnished well with gibbets, whips, and chains,
With fine old English penalties, and fine old English pains,
With rebel heads, and seas of blood once hot in rebel veins;
For all these things were requisite to guard the rich old gains Of the fine old English Tory times;
Soon may they come again!
This brave old code, like Argus, had a hundred watchful eyes,
And ev'ry English peasant had his good old English spies,
To tempt his starving discontent with fine old English lies,
Then call the good old Yeomanry to stop his peevish cries, In the fine old English Tory times;
Soon may they come again!
The good old times for cutting throats that cried out in their need,
The good old times for hunting men who held their fathers' creed,
The good old times when William Pitt, as all good men agreed,
Came down direct from Paradise at more than railroad speed.... Oh the fine old English Tory times;
When will they come again!
In those rare days, the press was seldom known to snarl or bark,
But sweetly sang of men in pow'r, like any tuneful lark;
Grave judges, too, to all their evil deeds were in the dark;
And not a man in twenty score knew how to make his mark. Oh the fine old English Tory times;
Soon may they come again!
Those were the days for taxes, and for war's infernal din;
For scarcity of bread, that fine old dowagers might win;
For shutting men of letters up, through iron bars to grin,
Because they didn't think the Prince was altogether thin, In the fine old English Tory times;
Soon may they come again!
But Tolerance, though slow in flight, is strong-wing'd in the main;
That night must come on these fine days, in course of time was plain;
The pure old spirit struggled, but its struggles were in vain;
A nation's grip was on it, and it died in choking pain, With the fine old English Tory days,
All of the olden time.
The bright old day now dawns again; the cry runs through the land,
In England there shall be dear bread — in Ireland, sword and brand;
And poverty, and ignorance, shall swell the rich and grand,
So, rally round the rulers with the gentle iron hand, Of the fine old English Tory days;
Hail to the coming time!
- Charles Dickens, 1841
from The Common Muse: An Anthology of Popular British Ballad Poetry 15th-20th Century (Penguin, 1965). Victorian Web has the following information: Dickens wrote this savagely satirical ballad for the Liberal journal The Examiner; it was published on Saturday, 7 August 1841, shortly after the Tories had taken over the government in a parliamentary election. The anachreontic song is a parody of a popular ditty about a Fine Old English Gentleman who, "while he feasted all the great, / He ne'er forgot the small."
"There is a world by negation, then, and it presses on us. Bathos and failure are both crucial here, and their differences subtly but keenly felt: as bathos necessitates a bifurcation of value and its appropriate distribution, here and there, cross-hatched in the shadow of the cosmic faux pas, failure tends irredeemably towards a linear end-stop of utter cancellation; where bathos has the potential to act prosodically and diagnostically as the mark of an experience that derives its legitimacy from a latent truthfulness hardly yet disbanded, failure cannot be so easily or comfortably entrained into the services of measure-taking because so relentlessly immeasurable; we are the progenitors of bathos, it is performative and alive to the possibility of its success, but failure is the very opposite of success, and does not thus shed the light of understanding any more than it confers the historical weight of the tragi-comic; bathos must have its object, but failure is merely viral; failure is the pit that opens up beneath the limpid cloud of bathos."
- from the insert toHi Zero 6, which is out now, featuring poems by Samuel Solomon, Adam Weg, Ian Heames, Amy De'Ath, Justin Katko, Eric Linsker, Tom Bamford, Tim Atkins, Luke Roberts, Emily Critchley, Jeff Nagy and Richard Owens.
Since Blogger seems to have disabled commenting on comments, this goes here for now, in reply to Helen Bridwell's comment on the original post, below. If anyone knows how to fix my internets, please let me know. Yours incapably, etc.
That bit about net utopianism, that is the single most torturous sentence in the whole thing, Timothy Thornton picked me up on those objects too, and in fact suggested "phantom" as a means of distinguishing them as the most ghostly part of the whole set-up. By me, that is. They are the significant lack of the whole thing. What are the objects that net utopianism purports to critique? Tim was right to say that they are at least phantom, because the "critique" of some of this stuff is non-existent. Still, the sentence felt *right* to me, in a way that perhaps only scrolling down some of the comment sections on Art Fag City blog posts could ever attest to. For example, this from a year ago in response to Price's piece:
"Hi, Seth. It seems you are more interested in books than the Net. Many of your references to the Net are negative or written in a dry, anthropological tone. ("Self-consciously generous transparency," "an infantilizing rationality," "circumvent[ing] traditional ethical standards," and so on.) You sound at times like a threatened print writer criticizing bloggers. Your collection is also a disconnected hoard of images but the subject matter is books and magazines. Is having the fingers in each shot to distance yourself, as the antiquarian lover of one type of medium, from the complained-about effects of the medium in which you are communicating? The idea of showing books as a retro "hoard" page is great but could probably do without the accompanying talking down to Internet users. Books and magazines have their limitations and pathologies as well. (Maybe that's the point you're making--if so it could be clearer.)"
The same astonishing distinction between being, like, "negative" about the innernet, but having a "positive" outlook crops up everywhere, which is slightly alarming, a kind of binary code dialectics for schmucks. In "Kool-Aid Man in Second Life" Jon Rafman / Kool-Aid Man bats off this exact nonsense when his interviewer poses the question: "Yeah, a lot of this sounds very pessimistic, yet the work...seems very optimistic", to which Rafman / Kool-Aid Man responds: "Yeah that's a good question, how can we take so much pleasure in a movie in which all humankind is completely annihilated?".
It's a speculative piece, so in a sense I'm creating a version of "net utopianism" out of all the bad net art and half-baked London shows I've seen over the last year and a half or so and then lambasting it with an impossibly shit parody of itself. Those "objects of critique" are actually just what bad net art ignores, or rather, what feels to me is being deliberately and scathingly dispensed with when I'm enjoined to celebrate amorphous and nebulous concepts like "multiplicity" and "plurality". That's what got my goat about the Vierkant article. Consider his:
"The use of “We” is not to advocate solely for participatory structures of art but to insist on a participatory view of culture at large, and ultimately of taking iconoclasm itself as a quotidian activity. Whereas in previous times it was legitimate to conceive of culture as a greater system with impassible barriers to entry and a finitude of possibilities, culture after the Internet offers a radically different paradigm which our “They” idiom does not allow for. This is not to say that we have entered a fully utopian age of endless possibilities but simply to claim that culture and language are fundamentally changed by the ability for anyone to gain free access to the same image-creation tools used by mass-media workers, utilize the same or better structures to disseminate those images, and gain free access to the majority of canonical writings and concepts offered by institutions of higher learning."
So what, we haven't quite got to the "fully utopian age of endless possibilities" yet, but since regular folk can freely torrent a cracked version of the latest Photoshop and spam away we're at least on the right track? The necessary but unspoken corollary to this thinking is utopia as image management, the point at which the best of all possible worlds is not one without any advertisements but one in which we all make our own advertisements, and they're all equally as effective and equally as fucking massive. This is what Ciscso Systems is telling us, if only we could all listen at once. Net utopianism, insofar as I've constructed it, can't critique anything, let alone an object, because what it wants is for us all to imagine that a free online community is interesting to the world at large for anything other than selling discount Xanax. It's a necessarily gross speculative construct, because I wanted to argue against an extreme side of things that probably doesn't really take effect outside of a general tendency not to think too hard about what the work is doing.
Next I want to have a go at this:
"my best guess is that they/it are the real world of commodities, which is to say infinite plurality of virtual worlds, which is to say RL?"
Because I think what you've written there, and what you infer, and what happens when I read that, are all different and competing things, the structures of contradiction inherent in every object virtual or otherwise, the snake eating its own tail in the animated .gif of fetishized transcendence.