Friday, December 17, 2010

I'll say this for the internet

Jody McIntyre and Emily Henochowicz. The apparatus of the state attacked them brutally, in Henochowicz's case damaging her permanently. The result? People know who they are now. Googling either of their names comes up with their personal sites as the first result. Anyone who sees the Israeli government and sympathetic media saying Henochowicz deserved to have her eye shot out* can, if they're so inclined, google up her gentle and whimsical art and her simple, but radical, view that humans should be treated like people. Anyone impressed with McIntyre's performance in front of the most hostile interviewer imaginable--or, more importantly, anyone seeking confirmation of the interviewer's terrifying claim that McIntyre self-describes as a revolutionary--can google him up and hear it from his own perspective--with all of his extraordinarily well thought out and explained reasons for describing himself thus. In other words, when presented with State organs' negative portrayals of these people, there is a whole body of their own work readily available contradicting it. I don't know how many people avail themselves of it, but at least some small number must. And there is a chance that some tiny number of people who would not otherwise have been exposed to this kind of thinking now have. That is a good fucking thing.

*Still the best (or at least my favorite) comment on that is hist's on a SMBIVA post: "If I wrote a fictional villain who put out a young art students eye and laughed about how she deserved it, I'd be accused of laying it on too thick."

More, different: Aaron Bady and Barnaby Raine. Neither of them are known now for violence done to them by the state (though Raine, at least, has had some experience of that; I don't know if the same can be said for Bady or not). Instead, they're known for putting opposition to what the state is doing into lucid, eloquent words. Bady's article on the philosophy behind wikileaks was linked to from all over the place, including The Atlantic and The New York Times. Even people who take what the fucking NYT says seriously have been given the easy opportunity to click around his site and see other recent writing like "when it suits the imperial hegemon to give a shit about death and suffering, they do so because it suits them to do so." Raine hasn't, to my knowledge, been quite so widely linked, but, hell, I came across him at Digby's blog of all places. And so again we see people with a body of thought out there available for reviewing getting eyes directed to that work.

The Baronette has alerted me to the fact that Gang of Four's "Natural's Not In It" (opening lyrics: "The problem of leisure/What to do for pleasure") is currently being used in commercials for some sort of XBox product; the commercial can be seen here. This is of course horrifying in many ways, and in other ways there is of course a kind of dark hilarity to it. The glimmer of possibility mixed in, though, is that someone, somewhere might see the commercial, think, "That guitar riff sounds great! I wonder what it's from," look it up, listen to Gang of Four, and learn something. Or maybe one or two of the 141,671 people who have watched the commercial on youtube as of this writing read some of the comments about how terrible it is that this song is in this commercial and looked into it a bit. Who knows. It seems unlikely to me that this hasn't happened at least once. And that's a hell of a lot better than nothing.

This is the kind of thing that makes me persist in seeing the internet, in the context of the shit civilization that is the only kind of foundation that could support such a thing as the internet, as a good thing, and why I think it's terrible that the internet as currently composed is surely about to come to an end while the civilization still marches on strong. I've got my eye on what The Pirate Bay is up to. It's not much, yet, but as I keep saying, it's something. And something is better than nothing.


JRB said...

The world and its power arrangements are complex, as are the preferences we form in response. We can't negotiate them with simple slogans alone.

We have to be able to evaluate the things we like and don't like on their own terms and decide whether they are incompatible with what we want to achieve, or a potential component of it; and we have to make these choices both as individuals and as communities.

I think you illustrate this really well.

Randal Graves said...

Wait. Humans are people? Since when?

The rub comes in, as you guys have pointed out, the small small small percentage that actually take the time to process things beyond a soundbite, a 60-second video or a third & subsequent paragraph, to perhaps put a 'simple' face on the grainy footage or childish scribbling that's always pointed out, with vehemence, to be too 'complex' for the rubes.

Something's always better than nothing, just like the Wikileaks gig. Is the power bus going to stop rolling? Fuck no, but it isn't a bad thing to shoot a tire out so it has to stop and put on the spare.