Friday, July 16, 2004
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Earlier this month, for instance, CNN reported that police officers across the United States are carrying handheld wireless computers on which they can access private details from large commercial databases about anyone they encounter on their beat. Emboldened by a new post-Cold War role in the U.S.-led "war on terrorism," security and intelligence agencies are exploring new electronic technologies that will enhance the collection and dissemination of the private records of citizens across international borders. "It's all about data gathering and integration of databases, information sharing and risk assessment by computer generated profiling," says Roch Tassé, coordinator of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), a coalition made up of NGOs, churches, unions, environmental and civil rights advocates and groups representing immigrant and refugee communities in Canada.Thomas Pynchon, 1997, Introduction to Stone Junction:
The other day in the street I heard a policeman in a police car, requesting over his loudspeaker that a civilian car blocking his way move aside and let him past, all the while addressing the drive of the car personally, by name. I was amazed at this, though people I tried to share it with only shrugged, assuming that of course the driver's name (along with height, weight and date of birth) had been obtained from the Motor Vehicle Department via satellite, as soon as the offending car's license number had been tapped into the terminal -- so what?
Stone Junction was first published in 1989, toward the end of an era still innocent, in its way, of the cyberworld just ahead about to exponentially explode upon it. To be sure, there were already plenty of computers around then, but they were not quite so connected together as they were shortly to become. Data available these days to anybody were accessible then only to the Authorized, who didn't always know what they had or what to do with it. There was still room to wiggle -- the Web was primitive country, inhabited only by a few rugged pioneers, half loco and wise to the smallest details of their terrain. Honor prevailed, laws were unwritten, outlaws, as yet undefinable, were few. The question had only begun to arise of how to avoid, or, preferably, escape altogether, the threat, indeed promise, of control without mercy that lay in wait down the comely vistas of freedom that computer-folk were imagining then -- a question we are still asking. Where can you jump in the rig and head for any more -- who's out there to grant us asylum? If we stay put, what is left to us that is not in some way tainted, coopted, and colonized, by the forces of Control, usually digital in nature? Does anybody know the way to William Gibson's "Republic of Desire?" Would they tell if they knew? So forth.
An elderly American tourist had to be rescued in Germany after he got lost while using a 90-year-old guide book. Hank Edwards, 79, ended up stuck in a German forest for two days after finding his way with a book bought by his father in 1914. Throughout the years he kept the book, practising the German words and studying the places mentioned in the copy of Beautiful Bayreuth. When he was finally able to make the trip, he got lost trying to find attractions that had long since disappeared.... "It's still very beautiful here even if it's not what he expected."Mason & Dixon, p. 141:
Occasionally Insanty roll'd a sly Eye-ball into the picture. Treatises on "parageography" arriv'd, with alternative Maps of the world superimpos'd upon the more familiar ones.Thomas Pynchon, Introduction to Slow Learner:
That old Baedeker trick again.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
a year-long project that explores the organization and representation of contemporary armed conflict. The project consists of a series of organized discussions that will occur online and in Rotterdam, throughout the year 2004. The discussions will involve participation from individuals working in politics, theory, criticism, the arts, and journalism from both the West and the Middle East. A series of publications will be released during the course of the year.Thanks to NEWSgrist for the heads-up.
....It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now....
.... the Nazis' popular leisure organization, "Strength through Joy" (_Kraft durch Freude_, or KdF) .... in many ways reinforcing the recent historiographic emphasis on popular consent to Nazi rule, yet also complicating the picture through its focus on a variety of deep-seated, overlapping tensions--between individual desires and collective welfare, between sacrifice and pleasure--that so strongly molded "racially valuable" Germans' experiences of the regime.... Rejecting both the Marxist vision of collective entitlement and the "Fordist" model of standardized production and high wages, the Nazis attempted to construct a distinctly "German" model of consumption free from the rampant individualism and shallow materialism associated with America, yet willing to reward individual talent and performance so long as it served the interests of the "racial community." ....As by far the most popular aspect of the Nazi regime, and as nothing less than its answer to the conundrum of "guns or butter," KdF mushroomed into a sprawling network of package tours, theater tickets, cruise ships and film discounts, gradually occupying the vast bureaucratic space that opened up between the concrete imperatives of rearmament and the overarching aim of reducing class conflict and the appeal of Marxism. Yet as the third chapter demonstrates, the development of KdF was not all fun and games. Its "Beauty of Labor" (_Schönheit der Arbeit_) program clearly reflected the Nazi adherence to a productivist vision of leisure as inseparable from work....Although the outbreak of the war in 1939 severely curtailed KdF's tourism offerings, the organization nonetheless served the war effort by providing entertainment for troops and civilians alike.... KdF contributed significantly, if indirectly, to the rapacious and racist mentality that so characterized the Nazi occupation of Europe, encouraging territorial expansionism, furnishing both motive and alibi for plunder, and eventually abetting mass murder.
...from Gravity's Rainbow, p. 419:
In a corporate State, a place must be made for innocence, and its many uses. In developing an official version of innocence, the culture of childhood has proven invaluable. Games, fairy-tales, legends from history, all the paraphernalia of make-believe can be adapted and even embodied in a physical place, such as at Zwolfkinder. [...] From Peenemunde they had come 280 kilometers, which was to be, coincidentally, the operational range of the A4.
Monday, July 12, 2004
The list is led by Felipe Alou, revered manager of the San Francisco Giants. In 1957, his second season as a professional, he played for the Eastern League's Springfield Giants at Pynchon Park. Two others played at Pynchon as visitors: Tony LaRussa of the Cardinals, with Binghamton in 1962; and Lou Piniella of Tampa Bay, with Elmira in 1965 (the last year of professional baseball in Springfield).