To whom it may concern

Dear all,

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m shifting some of my (obviously marginal) blogging activity onto another site. As witnessed here, a lot of my blogging has always dealt with socio-political and economic issues, and I wanted to create another domain where I could address those issues more fully and more purely and with less of the “personal” touch that was behind the creation of this blog (ostensibly as a means of documenting my experience abroad, although that was rarely the case in practice). Thus I’m making an attempt to separate the “personal” from the “political,” Carol Hanisch be damned, and however difficult that may be in practice.

An element of this decision has to do with my increasing uncomfortability vis the manner in which social networking (and blogging, etc.) leads to the production of self as sellable “commodity.” (For more on that, see this or this or the whole damn site really.) I feel like personal blogs, and sites like Facebook, take something that is natural and desirable and human –the desire to connect, to share with others– and transforms it into something unnatural and undesirable and inhuman. Human relation and commodification are, I would argue, inherently opposing tendencies, but social networking collapses the distinction between the two, transforming our desire to reach out and (metaphorically) touch into the desire to reach a target audience and sell – both in terms of the way the self is sold, and in terms of how these sites quite literally profit from our activity, in terms of ad revenue, etc, as a pervasive form of immaterial labor.

The upshot of this is that this blog, which was designed to reach out to you –to a community of people I know, and love, and trust– has come to seem both alien and alienating. While my own chosen community is now scattered at various locations across several continents, the attempt to address you all generically and collectively (and yet, paradoxically, personally) has made me feel rather more isolated than less. The blog form lends itself inherently to soliloquy rather than dialogue, and maybe it’s just that I’ve become more interested in real, specific, human conversation than in speaking a lot of hot air, and into thin air. While I miss very many of you, very much, you cannot authentically say “I miss you” to a blog.

I still feel like this format can be useful for addressing political issues, which by nature demand a broader audience – hence the new site. The political problems of our time are so egregious as to demand collective action and general consciousness-raising by any means necessary; and, while I have no illusions of success, I feel compelled to try to do my part. But I would like to separate out that process –as it were, my public persona– from my private and personal life. For so, so many reasons. Primarily, happiness.

This decision coincides (more or less) with the end of my séjour in Holland; I will be moving back to the States in mid-September, which will give me the opportunity to see many of your actual faces that I so actually miss. As for anyone else, I’d encourage you to keep or get in touch by other means: e-mail, telephone, or carrier pigeon. I have been better recently about my correspondence, and have largely succeeded at domesticating a pair of neighborhood doves, who might prove trainable for courier purposes.

For the rest, those of you who are interested in political analysis from a fervently anti-capitalist perspective are more than welcome to check out my new project here; the ultimate goal of that project is collaborative –to build community, in every sense– so I would more than welcome your feedback or even your writerly participation. Meanwhile the apolitical and the differently politically-abled are invited to stop by this current blog, still, when whimsy dictates; there’s a possibility I will be updating sporadically, if and when the mood takes me.

In closing, thank you, and go love life.

-Bennett

July 30, 2011 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Links and Thoughts

I seem (still) to be in link-and-comment mode rather than cogent-rumination mode – no doubt a lamentable symptom of our hyperactive culture and ever-diminishing attention spans, though there have  been a number of more personally difficult events this week that have rendered writing difficult. That said, I feel (re)committed to this blogging thing and have several larger topics on the back burner for the coming days/weeks. Anyway. (more…)

January 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Hello World

Just when I think I’ll get out of this whole blogging thing, a new slew of incredibly depressing/outrageous facts emerge which prompt me to feel the need (however ineffectual) too try and do something about them. Or at least draw attention to them. So, here’s a bulleted list, with links, of things that I think we should be talking about: (more…)

January 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

After the break

As someone somewhere recently said, everyone should have a blog which they have been meaning to get back to. (Actually I just checked and it was Paul Ford, former web editor at Harper’s, in an interview with The Awl, which you should check out if you’re into that sort of thing.) I agree, and simultaneously apologize to my loyal readers (all 12 of them) for the long absence– unless of course you’ve been enjoying the break, in which case, fuck you.

Anyway, picking up the pieces after this long blogging-break leaves me with a lot of scattered thoughts and sundry minutiae that I’d been really meaning to blog about, so this first (re)startup entry will mostly contain notes towards future and potentially more substantial posts, recommended reading links, and totally inapposite details from my personal life – a.k.a. all the things you associate with quality online media. Here goes: (more…)

March 20, 2010 at 12:56 am 3 comments

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Here’s a fun “true or false” quiz: only one of the following news stories is fictive. Guess which one! [Answers after the jump.]

  • ‘CSI’ Set to perform at Super Bowl halftime show: just 10 days before its highly anticipated on-field performance at the Super Bowl XLIV halftime show, the popular CBS crime drama CSI is gearing up for what network executives are promising will be a “thrilling, high-tech whodunit on fourth and inches.” According to CBS sources, the hour-long live performance on the Dolphin Stadium 50-yard line will feature the CSI cast and crew moving briskly through a tightly plotted narrative involving the investigation of several grisly murders in the greater Las Vegas area.
  • Osama bin Laden abandons old “jihad” tactic, takes up crusade against global warming: “The effects of global warming have touched every continent. Drought and deserts are spreading, while from the other side floods and hurricanes unseen before the previous decades have now become frequent,” he said, adding that Washington’s rejection of the Kyoto protocols shows that they and their corporate sponsors are  “the true criminals against the global climate.” Tapping into recent populist anger against the bank bailout, he added: “The world is held hostage by major corporations, which are pushing it to the brink. World politics are not governed by reason but by the force and greed of oil thieves and warmongers and the cruel beasts of capitalism.”
  • Lancaster Mennonites launch plan to kidnap teenage girl, bring her to Kentucky: It’s a tale as old as time: A teen defies parents, plots an escape and runs away from home. Except this 14-year old didn’t want to walk on the wild side, as many teens do. She wanted to join a strict, splinter group of the Mennonite church. Three church members were arrested Wednesday for allegedly concealing the girl from her parents and from police after she ran away from home.In arrest warrant affidavits filed in the case, an unusual tale unfolds of escape plans that were to be burned or destroyed, a middle-of-the-night getaway, a change from modern clothes into Mennonite garb, a hiding place in a chicken coop and a stubborn refusal by church members to hand over the girl.

(more…)

January 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm 1 comment

An Oasis of Horror in a Desert of Boredom

 

But cities today are well known for popping up in the middle of nowhere, history-less and incomprehensible. [...] Today’s cities are made up, viral, fungal, unexpected. Like well-lit film sets in the distance, staged amidst mudflats, reflecting themselves in the still waters of inland reservoirs, today’s cities simply arrive, without reservations; they are not so much invited as they are impossible to turn away. Cities now erupt and linger; they are both too early and far too late. Cities move in, take root and expand, whole neighborhoods throwing themselves together in convulsions of glass and steel.

– Geoff Manaugh @ BLDGBLG (pic from Cedric Delsaux’s “Dark Lens” series)

Years ago, on a road trip across America that maybe I’ll write about at some point, my friend Eli and I pulled into San Francisco in our oversized 1985 Ford van (complete with a bedframe built into the back – it was the classic, Kerouac-inspired trip). It was my first time visiting the city, and the first few hours were spent viewing it from the passenger side window as we drove around and around in ever-widening circles, looking for a place to park.

In the end we found a streetside space in the dilapidated slums south of Market. (For those with some knowledge of the city, I believe it was on 6th Street, and well below Mission.) It did not look like the best of neighborhoods, and my unease was only increased when, stepping out of the van, a man idling against a nearby building suggested we give him five (or was it ten?) dollars to “watch our car.”

Walking north in (what we hoped was) the direction of Union Square, we passed through what I can only describe as a gauntlet of street people. Time paints our memory in exaggerated strokes (and perhaps what I think of as truth is only a nightmare of history) but what I remember is rows and rows of entreating faces and endless hands – hands thrusting, demanding, pleading; hands shaking in anger or like they were strung out on drugs or in remission; hands grasping at shirts and coat pockets. This sounds unbelievable, and it was: a scene more surreal (precisely because it was real) than any Dali painting. (more…)

January 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

How the Left was Pwned

Things are looking grim for the Democrats in Washington. By which I mean, the Democrats in Washington have decided that things are looking grim for the Democrats in Washington:

“It’s like they [freshman Democrats] walked in and got hit upside the head with a big jackhammer.” –Allen Boyd, D-Fla.

“It’s like in Roman times, they’d be trotted out to the coliseum and the lions would be brought out. I mean, they’re wanting blood and they’re not getting it so they want to protest, and, you know, you can’t blame them.” –Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.

That’s right, folks: the loss of one Senate seat, in a special election, with a particularly uninspired Democratic candidate, is equivalent to those early Christians being thrown to the lion’s den! For the sick pleasure of the rabid masses hungering for blood! If this continues, soon Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will be thrown naked into a mud pit filled with piranhas with only a ball of string and a shiv – and only one majority leader will make it out alive! (more…)

January 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

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About

Bennett Carpenter
Leiden, Netherlands

Random musings about literature, art, politics and (occasionally) my life as a graduate student in sunny Holland. Click on the pic for more about me.

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