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  • mono 7:18 pm on September 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Name, , Reputation, The Devil, The Fall into Time, Web 2.0   

    The Beast of Fame – E.M. Cioran: An Explication of “Fame: Hopes and Horrors” (Lesson One) 

    People talk about us and we talk about other people, too. We are, simultaneously, connected and divided by our talk with others. What remains of me after I have a conversation with you is out of my control. Who I become for you is decided by you and through those conversations you have with other people. We arise out of what we do and out of of how we are perceived by self and others. Our name, our own special flavor, slips from our tongues and onto the tongues of others. It is a virus. “Reputation” is that slippery wraith, which we must wrestle with, from which we cannot escape.

    E.M. Cioran, from his essay “Fame: Hopes and Horrors,” writes, “Just as each of us, in order to ‘make a name for himself,’ strives to outstrip the others, similarly in the beginning man must have known the vague desire to eclipse the animals, to affirm himself at their expense, to shine at any price (108).” For Cioran, this tendency toward, what could be called “personal branding” or “reputation” is not a recent phenomenon, but is rooted in our very being, in the everydayness of our “minding” of the world. That is to say, this desire toward recognition and reputation, while perpetually settled in front of our eyes as something as natural as falling snowflakes, comes from a suspect source: the Serpent’s kingdom. Nonetheless, us humans like to shine, to be in the “spotlight,” to be seen, to increase our visibility. More than “like,” we crave it.

    Cioran continues, “Man alone, in the state of nature, wanted to be important, man alone, among the animals, hated anonymity and did his utmost to escape from it. To put himself forward, such was and such remains his dream. It is difficult to believe he has sacrificed Paradise out of a simple desire to know good and evil; on the other hand, it is easy to imagine him risking everything to be Someone (108).” The shift that occurred from selflessness to selfhood, is something that we cannot know, by virtue of our ability to be knowledgeable about the world and about ourself. But, a faint glimmer of selflessness remains, can flourish if nurtured, can, at times, overcome the Beast of Fame.

    To be anonymous in a Web 2.0 world is to not exist, to fall off the map of the social media grid. Take away the technological connections from our life and we are once again in confrontation with the raw presence of ourself and those immediately present to us. Nonetheless, give us a sandbox and we will build profiles, vanity sites, products, commercials, microblogging clients and ten thousand other things. Why? Simply put, to be someone. “Personal branding” involves shifting the focus from the Other to oneself. The network that one chooses to be a part of shapes the image, helps build a sense of self and gives the Other a context from which to form an opinion about someone. Our name itself becomes more than a name, but a brand, a logo, a marketable representation of our greatness, of our strive toward fame.

    “When one cannot save one’s soul, one hopes at least to save one’s name (109).” In our everyday experience, the soul seems to flee from us as we engage in various tasks. That elusive thread follows behind us, throws itself in front of us and projects itself onto us, faint and wispy. The name, on the other hand, is ever present, it is who one is to others (and to oneself). Reputation and name are intimately connected, are two sides of the same coin. The character in the old Western film declares, “Mah good name was a slandered.” In Japan, the family name is the first name you give when introducing yourself. The family name is the larger unit from which you came, to which you are still joined: your most precious circle. In American culture, the first name is one’s skeleton key to a world of unabashed self-creation and individualization. The way of the name may differ from culture to culture, but the value of the name does not. The name is conjoined with the human world, the soul sits between this world and another, the place before birth; it arises from the place of pre-birth.

    On the “mania of reputation,” Cioran concludes, “If this mania were to seize any animal in its grips, however “retarted” that animal might be, it would press forward and catch up with man (109).” Thus far, no other animal has strived for the kind of otherworldly sense of reputation that us humans possess. We are the kings and queens of the imagined world, of the creation of our self and the responsibility to be someone. So, who are you?

    E.M. Cioran – “Fame: Hopes and Horrors” from the book “The Fall Into Time.”

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  • mono 12:51 pm on September 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adbusters, American Apparel, article, Dead End of Western Civilization, Hipster, , , Web 2.0   

    Adbusters article – Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization 

    This Adbusters article on “hipsters” is still kicking up quite a storm. I just read it this morning and wanted to share it with you. In these times of “personal branding” and Web 2.0 social media connectivity, the “hipster” has arrived; an amalgamation of styles, a pastiche of meaning, a de-centered center of culture. Now, where are my non-prescription designer glasses and my American Apparel V-neck?

    The comments alone make this article worth reading. Very insightful.

    Adbusters – Hipsters: The Dead End of Western Civilization

    I would like to see some research done on the influence of the Japanese “kogal” on the “hipster” movement.

    Pestilence, Death, Skinny Jeans

  • Hipsters = hippies – subversion + Twitter [Journalist Math]
  • Deconstructing Hipsters
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  • mono 6:34 pm on September 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bachelor's degree, , , , , , Culture of Japan, Introduction, , life coaching, , The Eyeslit-Crypt, Web 2.0   

    A Belated Introduction to this Enterprise 

    Earlier this year, there was a void in my creative life. Perhaps, it was the lethargy of living for so long in a foreign country, amidst a foreign tongue, falling out of touch with artistic communities in the USA and so on. Friends leave. The day job repeats its yearly cycle. All those nice “daily life” things that happen.

    On one normal Saturday afternoon, I decided to take yet another leap into social networking territory and start blogging. I chose WordPress randomly, having heard its name before and, upon signing up, enjoyed the ease of use and the interface. Around that time, I was reading books everyday, taking notes on what I was reading and, often times, re-reading the same texts for various purposes. But, I had no one to discuss my texts with and wanted someway to share my findings, to learn more about the texts by committing them to writing and hope for some kind of feedback. I wanted to develop my written “voice.” I dove into E.M. Cioran, Bernard Rudofsky, Jacques Lacan, Carl R. Rogers and others, with all my might. Their world’s came alive to me. Their feats and ideas challenged me. Explicating the reading, helped bring it to life for me. This holds true for today, too.

    After exhausting myself, I started studying the styles of other bloggers. I had no idea as to the power of the blog and the great labyrinth of sites that are available, obscured by search engine optimization. The well seems to run deep. The blogs I read helped craft new articles for this blog, articles about social networking sites, publicity and Japanese culture. From this, I blended explications and Communications pieces with more “techie” articles. This was not the part of some master design, but more the workings of a mind with a lot of strings attached to it, too many limbs reaching around and finding things of interest. My sporadic pulling of different things can be seen in the piece “Crowley + Cioran + Morita,” a synthesis of three seemingly unrelated thinkers, a hopeful article.

    At times, the seemingly apparent connections would slip away from me and I felt sorry for my readers, those of you kind enough to read my words and spend time with me. I have been like a whack-a-mole, popping up somewhere different just as you slam the hammer down upon my head. Hopefully, you find some comfort or value in that.

    Recently, I have been working to filter down The Eyeslit-Crypt, to narrow the passage a bit more. In the recent months, I have taken great interest in writing about living and breathing people, people whom I admire and who I think are doing great things, whether in art, film, music or literature. I have written about the wonderfully prolific Ken Tanaka, America’s Funnyman, Neil Hamburger, Adult photographer/Film director Dave Naz and more. For some reason, studying other people makes me happy. I don’t mean this in a shallow “I’m so happy, its sunny today,” kind of happy, but a deep respectful happiness to see the work of someone who has sacrificed a life of ease, for a life of creative action. It is the least I can do to connect with these people and help spread their work around, work, which I truly believe in.

    So, if you look to the left-hand column, you will see “The Eyeslit-Crypt Information” been altered, reconfigured and I will briefly try to explain that change. It has been broken down into three sections:

    1. Creative Expression: I know this is still a large category, but basically, encompasses all forms of expression, the people who express and/or art/business that is making a difference, taking a more difficult path. It is about art that moves me or music that makes me want to go crazy (in a good way). It is also new social media tools, books, music, film and fashion.

    2. Life Coaching: This includes ideas and strategies of living from Lacanian Psychoanalysis to Constructive Living. Hopefully, pieces falling under this broad category will in some way be relevant to you while you set out making your own life and facing your own personal challenges.

    3. Cultural Studies: This is tied in closely with Creative Expression, but will focus more on language use, media ecology, interface humanities, sartoriasis and other topics. Awhile back, I wrote an article on the Japanese expression “KY,” which would fit nicely under the “Cultural Studies” umbrella.

    I hope this brief elucidation brings together the aims and purposes of The Eyeslit-Crypt.

    Some people who read “The Eyeslit-Crypt” may be wondering a little about who I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’ll be brief, but hopefully clear. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from an American university and spent a great deal of time studying Communication Theory and Japanese. My undergraduate thesis was about the phenomenology of the garment and its relation to the human body. I have made a lot of music in my life and have albums available through records labels like Audiobot, Pac REC, Obscurica, N0-age, Impossible, Swampland and Self-Satisfied. I also have one album available through the iTunes music store. I’ve been behind the camera as an actor for many non-nationally distributed and viral films/videos. I’ve written and directed some of those films, too. Contact me if you want to see them. You may get a laugh out of them or not.

    I have worked in corporate marketing, participated in training seminars and conducted face-to-face training/advising with corporate backing. A bit scattered, but relevant, I spent one week working closely with the Australian rock band AC/DC, translated four chapters of a Japanese philosophy book from Japanese to English, played concerts in Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea.

    Well, these are the things that come to mind at this point as some of the more memorable things that I have done. I know that they are just fragments, but hopefully they will give you some insight into where I’m coming from, experientially.

    Thank you for lending me your attention.

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  • mono 6:39 pm on May 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aggregation, Aggregator, , Business and Economy, , , Lifestream, , , Network, Sharing, , Social Networking Service, System, , Web 2.0, Web search engine   

    Friendfeed Through a Systems Looking Glass: Feeding the Beast 

    love

    The following is a systems approach to the increasingly popular website Friendfeed. Recently, there have been many articles written about this site (I will provide links at the end of this post). I have written what follows through a Media Ecology systems framework with the hopes of “fleshing out” the system known as “Friendfeed.” The inspiration from this piece comes from various writings by Neil Postman.

    Where Lies The Purpose

    The purposes of Friendfeed are to accumulate and aggregate shared content from different social media websites. In turn, the aggregated content can then be re-shared, commented upon and “liked.” One can find purposes in this such as tracking brand popularity and public opinion, finding other relevant sources that may relate to content that you like or creating a network of information (a “feed”) as deemed relevant by certain “friends” that you subscribe to. Also, there is the purpose of oneself pushing likable or relevant content into the stream.

    The Roles

    People are assigned the role of “feeder” and “subscriber.” If one achieves a large amount of subscribers, then one’s shared content will potentially reach more people, which then could possibly be fed again back into the system creating a ripple effect of information flow. Subscribing to a large amount of people also results in a dramatic increase in one’s daily information intake depending on the social media activity of the person (or people) whom you are subscribed to.

    Assumptions, Keywords and Change

    The underlying assumption is that the information that others feed is of importance to themselves, their world, or to those in their knowledge-network. Some keywords that could be assigned to Friendfeed are the following: aggregator, aggregation, social media, lifestream, information-network, media accumulation, sharing and perhaps responsible browsing. The system is changing to the extent that users are starting to post comments about the shared content directly on the Friendfeed stream and not on the particular blog post or shared item’s page. This has upset some bloggers who wish to have their community gather and comment directly on their own blog. Also, it seems that the system will continue to change depending on the social media feeds that are available for feeding. Finally, with the development of various Friendfeed applications, the site is beginning to act as a nexus from which one need not stray too far from. Firefox has already created the “MySocial” Add-on, which neatly integrates Friendfeed into the Firefox Browser.

    The effects

    The actual effect of Friendfeed on users could be an increased willingness and openness to share content in a public space, the ability to keep track of others through their online activity and even as a search engine function whereby one can search fed content. On a different note, Friendfeed creates a mixing spot where the content that one feeds and “likes” are grouped together under the same feed. Friendfeed works against fragmentation by opening the stream flow of social media, while at the same time creates fragmentation by allowing others to comment on fed material directly through Friendfeed and not through the actual article’s site.

    Alternatives and Otherwise

    As of writing this post, I am not aware of an alternative to the service that Friendfeed provides and perhaps it is because of this that it has gained so much attention as of late. This leads to the next question: Can we do without Friendfeed? The answer would be “yes, but…” What I mean by this is that due to the fragmention that occurs through the stretching out of oneself via social networking and social media, there is a lot of switching to different websites to keep track of friends and others. Through Friendfeed, one can gather the activity of certain others and monitor activity from a centralized location. Through a Friendfeed application, one can even Tweet through the Friendfeed website itself. While we can do without Friendfeed, it does create an interesting spot from which to perpetuate interesting web media.

    This is system is related to other systems of knowing and behaving in a couple ways. First, with the proliferation of social media, there seems to be the desire to “keep in touch” with others, and by keeping in touch I mean, following their web activity. At this point, Friendfeed serves the purpose of being able to stay updated on one’s friends’ social media activity. Also, Friendfeed allows the anonymous tracking of certain others by the creation of an “imaginary” friend, a kind of online social media peeping, in which one can feed the “imaginary friend’s” content. Moreover, this site is a social networking site stripped of its symbolic overload of images and personal self-identification. That is, one’s Friendfeed page is minimal and based solely on streamed content.

    Finally, the million dollar Neil Postman question “To what problem is Friendfeed the answer?” It seems that Friendfeed answers the problem of social media fragmentation, information-desire and the interest in anonymous tracking. Also, it acts as a stripped down social networking service constructed solely by one’s and other’s fed content. In this system, the human user is the food that sustains the site, food largely gathered from afar…and shared.

    Some articles relating to Friendfeed include, but are not limited to:
    Why You Should Use Friendfeed
    Ten Friendfeed Visitors Beats 1,000 StumbleUpons Any Day
    Friendfeed is This Year’s Twitter, But Why?
    Friendfeed Applications
    Related articles

     
    • kgjames 7:25 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink

      Interesting and informative post. I’m new to FFd as of the past week. Liking it so far but do find it overwhelming. I’m also trying SocialThing and Plurk just because I’m curious.

    • jgrefe 11:53 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you for the comment. I haven’t used “SocialThing” or “Plurk,” yet, but will have to check them out.

  • mono 3:48 pm on April 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Decentered Self, Extimacy, , , , , , , , Social Media Fatigue, , , , Web 2.0   

    The Extimacy of the Interface 

    Photo by Late Night Movie

    Between the person and the interface of social media, there is a human or humans. In this medium of the blog, I present the reader with static yet increasing snippets from my side of existence and from the zone of other networked friends, bloggers, writers, musicians, designers, critics and thinkers that are blended as a part of me and projected through me into this particular interface. This interface is likely to be one that is quickly passed over in the “stumbling” search for interesting (read: instantly consumable and sharable) web content, or aggregated into a syndicated reader of which one can skim the title for potential after-dinner relevancy. Perhaps this page will appear in a “Google” search for such oddities as “man in mini-skirt” or “Japanese character.” Or, the interface between myself and you could share some kind of interaction in the form of the comment, the email, the mutual subscription to our Twitter feeds.

    The New Sky

    The human body weakens with time spent sitting in front of one’s computer. Legs become restless, throats parched, yet the fingers and the eyes remain alert, remain active, irking out some yelp to be heard by a random passerby. Although, perhaps the yelp is felt in a close friend who is interfacing with the Web at the same time. Your legs, still growing restless for communication with the Earth outside, disappear from your consciousness, the power of the fingers taking control, the imagined presence of the close friend being delivered to your interface via a network, across multiple networks achieves some kind of satisfaction which stirs within you. Outside, there is the sky and the wind, but the Web has created a new kind of outside for you: the Web is not like gazing into the vast emptiness of the sky, but akin to strolling through the labyrinthine streets of Tokyo. Around this corner, a small restaurant located next to a contemporary art museum. Your options have expanded…you feel connected, but you are merely connected to the symbolic, the imaginary, to the interface of the other, a responsible interface nonetheless.

    Extimacy

    Psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan coined the word “extimacy,” to express the intersubjective workings of the subject and of the unconscious. For Lacan, the subject is not only within him or herself, but also realized in the other. We could look at the interface of the Web and, moreover, Web 2.0 as a mode of exercising extimacy with other people. A social networking profile is created and within that profile is a blending of various symbols from film, TV, art, others’ photography and so on. Contacting others and “friending” others based on similar web-surfing habits expands one’s online self and entwines within one, the interests and symbolization of another person. Moreover, when looking at the interface of the computer screen, one experiences the decentering of one’s self-image, a fragmented mirroring back of oneself occurs. Desires that are posted by other people, become one’s own desires, desires that one did not even know existed. By expanding one’s network, one comes to see oneself as projected by these other people. Again, there is an intertwining, a conjoining of self and other and in this conjoining, an extimate self is realized.

    Meanwhile, you are brought back to your physical body, the body that wishes to move, to temporarily suspend time with this interface. You cannot see your own face, the reflection from the interface is put on “sleep mode” and you step away, into another interface.

     
    • ysinembargo magazine 6:28 am on April 1, 2009 Permalink

      Very interesting, J.G. We’re thinking on the extimacy concept for a future YSE issue.

      We enjoy your website.

      Salut,
      fernando.

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