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So in 1999 I spent New Year's Eve in Chicago at a Morphine concert. There was an obvious anticipation in the air for what might transpire as we hit midnight in the club with the band still on stage. Near the time for countdown Mark Sandman, the late singer, stopped and said something to the effect of; "For those of you that are still counting, I guess tonight is something important," while the sax player freaked out a version of Aude Lang Syne on two horns at once.

"for those of you that are still counting..."

Mark died later that year, of a heart attack on stage, but his words stuck me good that night. Perhaps a man beyond even counting years had earned the right to pass on, while on stage, like a proper rockstar.

My NYE was a wacky combination of half-Italian catholic wedding, cruise around East Lansing in a stretch SUV, a bizarre party in haslett with drunken conversation about food quality and distribution, some confusion over where to land for the night and proper late night chill-out session that was certainly not expected. I started 2006 with a diner breakfast, a wander around Ann Arbor and a quiet evening perusing Counterculture Through the Ages.

So happy 2006 to all out there. And if you read my xmas bitch-missive then be assured that I successfully purged my angst in the writing of said weirdness and thoroghly enjoyed my holidays, even with all it's micro-planning and familyness.

Bring on the even-numbered years, kids, let's play 06...
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So it's Sunday evening and I'm writing in from my mother's place, a small farm house a few miles of dirt road from Chelsea, MI. I've based my nomadic reacquaintance with life in North America out of this humble house for the last eight weeks, though I've been all over the state and managed a couple of excursions out to such Meccas as Cincinnati and Minneapolis. I'm still recovering - it's been dark for an hour - from a hangover I'm blaming on a compulsive smoking habit that's been ruthless when given some space to work. Last night's session was brought on by an afternoon of cookie baking and Sandi Patti style christmas hymns, the classic example I often give of why i get so shitty and depressed this time of year. I've spent years cultivating a kind of happy rage from within, a directed scream, some bizarre lifeforce that keeps me driven and often disheveled. But the cooking, baking, frosting and sugaring of cookies in cute bell and tree shapes required an enormous effort of restraint for me. I never notice it at the time, I always think I'm relaxed and finding some space where I can enjoy this kind of family occasion without being annoyingly hard-core about it all. But after a time I start to fidget and I can't really think right. When I finally leave the house I usually end up screaming in the car, as a release, banging my hands on the steering wheel and then laughing. It's always been this way. Afterwards I meet Jill for the requisite liquor binge and chain smoke.

I haven't been home at christmas since 1999. I worked hard to manage that. My yearly visit to the family was usually in the summer, so as to avoid the seasonal plans that have built up all this stupid christmas angst of mine. When I was younger there was always a week long micro-managed plan that was necessary to accommodate the 4 or more families and various divorce decrees that legislated the holiday visitation schedule. Sure, we kinda pretended that all didn't exist once we were older, but the tradition of alternating christmas day versus christmas eve visits, with the multiple fancy meals and evenings of watching step-cousins open toys one by one, stayed strong until one half of my weirdo family unit broke apart a couple of years ago. But yeah, I'm back here to stumble through the holiday season again, just like old times, but with a section of the plans cut out due to my mother's divorce, a new element added in with Kimberly's family, a neice, an ann arbor house-sit for solace, and the awkwardness that family conversation is when you've basically been missing for about 10 years. It's strange, I thought the surrealism that runs through my life was somehow linked to Belgium, but it must be in my head somewhere.

So hello there... I'm in a good mood now that I got that out. I'm going to attempt to laugh at the folly that is the holiday season because any time I've tried to make it holy, or even just "special" because of the time with family and friends, I've failed. I'm a new-years, halloween kinda guy I suppose. I did attempt a photo shoot of all the psycho xmas consumerism as Woodland mall a couple weeks ago, but that just annoyed me more. The ode to the Jews in the form of a giant wooden draedal (that can't be spelled right) was amusing but the rest just made me sad.

So now that I've shared my humbugness and told of issues best kept to myself I'll wrap up this little epistle with some concrete news:

I'm back in North America until the fascism becomes unbearable. Or until we all decide to bring down civilization for good. Ahh.... 'twould be so much fun...

I'm moving to Oakland in a month, to live amongst those too poor for San Francisco proper.

I'm not nearly as distraught or issue-ridden as the above few paragraphs might suggest, I just suck at writing without recipients - and I needed to vent.

May your celebration of the birth of an obscure jew two thousand years ago, which oddly coincides with the ancient observance of the winter solstice, be pure, holy, joyous, wild, fun and full of love. I mean it.

Be careful not to wear that "peace on earth" embroidered sweatshirt to the mall though, we don't want none of that traitor pinko commie shit in our public space.

May our chopping down of millions of pine trees please the Goddess. blessed Yule.

With laughter, madness and abracadabras...

John Ryan
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pssst.... if you add pixelgrain to your friends list you'll get to see a photo of mine every few days...

thanks vidicon.
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So... after a year studying anthropology and all its word-play I've been on hiatus from writing for the last few months. I think I am starting to feel the itch to write again, but until it strikes me I've only got 2 things to mention here:

1. I've been mute when it comes to words, but rather active lately when it comes to images. If you're curious you can check out pixelgrain.org to see what I've been up to.
** psst... if there's someone nice out there with a pro account maybe they'd like to syndicate the RSS feed so it can be added to people's friends pages?? **

2. There's a group of anarchists in Christiania, a section of Copenhagen, that perform a beautiful Christmas ritual - they dress up as santa claus, loot toys from fancy shops and give them away to poor street children. The true joy of the celebration is to watch the police beating up Santa and taking toys away from screaming kids. brilliant.

Anyways, tot straks...
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So, thanks to our brilliant friends Dan and Marisa I've now go this embedded into my right arm:

if you are into black art or tribal tattoos then have a look at Dan's work, especially Marisa's insanely award-winning back.
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My father was here visiting me in Leuven for two weeks during the study session for my exams. He and my step-mother have never been to Europe and were rather intimidated at first by what to expect. My father, for instance, was surprised that he could get breakfast cereal at the grocery store. It's expected, i suppose, but was amusing. I'd been stressed about this visit for months. I haven't really spent much time, other than some dinners and evenings, with my father in close to ten years. In that time he's survived becoming a grandfather, being downsized from the job he'd worked since i was born and two serious cancer removal operations. i had no idea what to expect.

It turned out that the visit was incredibly calm. They liked to sleep in and this was the first time, as was commented, that i've ever been up in the morning before them day after day. Walks around Leuven took hours as they marveled at door handles, dogs in restaurants, flower boxes and the hidden back gardens around the town. Hundreds of photos were taken and many a lesson in digital photography techniques came my way, an education I intend to take advantage of in the coming months I have free of school. Conversation was light most of the time, our religious and political stances being nearly polarized, and I learned much about the disastrous state of health insurance and the pharma/medical industry in the US. What a scam, the medical system seems to be destroying people's health, local pharmacies are being put out of business, brand names are practically subsidized by HMOs and everyone seems to be on some kind of anxiety drug. My plan is to sign up for the Ithaca Health Alliance and encourage Kim's plans to become an herbalist. No way I'm joining this cultish HMO world.

Anyways, rant aside, I survived the visit remarkably and enjoyed getting to know my father in the way I had my mother a couple years back after her divorce. Anyone that's spent enough time talking to me knows that I'll randomly spout out my family issues from time to time, but I've made some massive progress in this time that I've been in a different continent from them.


I spent Tuesday night with Rapha, a much needed time out after I dropped the rents at the airport and had the house to myself for a couple weeks of study and writing. It was not only the day they left, but also the summer solstice and a full moon at nearly the exact time the night began. My claim that the night would be quiet should have never been allowed to leave my mouth considering the circumstances.

Beers and discussions of our fathers led to a sneaking into the park for a visit to a friend's birthday "party." The crowd was certainly not in the same place as us, different chemicals, it was silent and a collapse of the birthday boy seemed to allow a graceful end for everyone. But the park was great, I felt I was in tallahassee again, drinking secretly outside in the sweaty air and awkwardly trying to have conversation with a disparate group of personal backgrounds. We escorted M. home, beer funnel hat in all, and wandering into Libertad for a seemingly innocent nightcap.

We were quickly involved in conversation with a man who apologized off the bat for being a "psychiatric patient." I've never experienced such an apology, it was bizarre, i told him we're all mental patients in some way and that he certainly shouldn't be sorry. We've been discussing madness, Foucault, perception, mindscapes and all too much anthropology lately. This was hard not to see as an experiment, a case study of so much that's been in my head lately. A self-proclaimed "psychiatric patient," an eloquently political one at that, engaging us in conversation at 5 am.

So says Rapha: "what about that? is that too much anthropology or the landscape is really becoming the mindscape (or vice-versa)?"

Yes, perhaps it is, manifestation was running strong Tuesday night. Blessed solstice and happy full moon.
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My brain has been saturated with ideas to the point of uselessness lately. I keep finding myself lost in thought in the middle of a room, half-way through some task and often with something in my hand or even in mid-stride through the house. The last 9 months of research, lectures and attempts at writing seem to have filled my mental space almost completely. Or at least I've been consuming too much information and not creating enough. I can't really see things without alot of effort, my vision feels like it's been relegated to some practical aspect of my motor skills and little else, I am not taking in what is around me. I'm sure I look like I'm staring off, but I'm really staring in, in a way it feels like my physical existence is secondary to my mental space. So what's this all about? Could it be as simple as an over-saturation of anthro. theory, philosophy and staring at screens and papers all day?


A week or two ago this hit me so hard I was quite unable to interact with the physical world around me. I had to write a paper so I went to a cafe to free me from my typical surroundings and proceeded to write 8 pages of random thoughts about my life, how I've gotten to this point, how my father was coming to visit and what I may want to do before the upcoming end to this 5 year stint in Belgium. It helped. That's why I say I've probably consumed too much information and not created any. There is a tirade of information on the other end of the screen you are looking at, whether it be the television, the computer or even the massive amount of printed words and images circulating everywhere we look. It's even in the streets, on our clothes, advertisements, anti-advertisements, instructions, prohibitions, encouragement and warnings.

Sometimes it all breaks me down, I lose the ability to discriminate and too often just binge on the feast whatever the actual content.

I could probably use some meditation, a bit of gardening or some other activity that is free of this information deluge. But I think I'll try writing some and see if it's the medium itself that is driving me so completely inward or just the fact that I am an information consumer instead of a creator and need to keep the balance right to live in this bizarre new culture in a healthy way.
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We cannot rule out the possibility that the anthropologist, following Freud's example, might care to consider himself as indigenous to his own culture -- a privileged informant so to speak -- and risk a few attempts at ethno-self-analysis.

Mark Augé

I spent a gorgeous Tuesday afernoon and evening lurking about underground in the Brussels metro system to do some observation of a "non-place," as such an environ has been called by Augé. "Participant observation" this was not, as I soon found myself to be both subject and observer of the day. I've never consciously attempted observation in the anthropological sense, at least never by name, so a large part of my day was spent trying out various things; writing everything i saw as it happened, watching intently and then jotting some notes, attempting to put myself in the mindset of those around me, sneaking photos of people and surroundings, etc. I found the experience both exhausting and depressing. I imagine that had i been observing people laughing with friends at cafes in the sun, instead of traveling alone underground on a beautiful day, the depression wouldn't have taken over, but I was surprised at its tenacity. I was expecting this to be an impersonal place, but I didn't think it would have such a blatant emotional effect. I guess the double detachment of observing the already detached environment really hit me.

There majority of the communication that took place around me was with people not physically present. Telephone calls broke the silence on a number of occasions, giving nearby passengers half conversations to pretend they couldn't hear. I'm sure i wasn't alone in completing the other half of the conversations in my head for my own amusement. Text messages were even more prevalent, something i've been pondering over often lately. Our little computers that we carry everywhere allow us to communicate textually, globally, but also seem to reduce the need to communicate with those immediately present. We are slowly transcending physical location, at least when it comes to communication, but the implacations are strangely alienating at the same time. In this (non-)place, often crowded with bodies, we still often choose to communicate with people we already know, even if they're someplace else.

Last week when i was talking about this "observation" I was planning a friend told me about her "train buddy." This man shares her daily commute to Brussels from Leuven and they've established a habit of finding each other and sitting in the same set of 4 seats in the train in such a way that others are discouraged from joining them. They've never spoken.

Here are a few snippets from my notes:
  • The metaphor here is that of blood. Vessels, veins, individual cells. The escalators funnel everyone into a tiny space (capillary) which carries us along. Though there is room for only two persons side-by-side it quickly becomes a two-lane path with a slow and fast option.

  • The fact that people are often across the tracks or in a vehicle about to depart made for some interesting photo situations. By taking pictures across the track people could register little complaint, just put their heads down or glare if they happened to notice. It's rude, sure, but much about this place is. Maybe I just accentuated it a bit in the process.

  • The movement of bodies seems to be as limited as possible inside the here. There is no real movement in the space inside a moving Metro. There is, however, an ongoing web, a criss-cross, of looks. The constant movement of stares and gazes, usually to avoid each other's, creates a kind of web here, of projected perception or something. At this time, the rush-hour, it is a crowded place of solitude.

So it was a strange day, certainly, and there's much more stuck in my head that i will hopefully manage to get out. But "observation" of this sort is an odd experience, an extremely personal one. I keep coming back to this thought of Augé's:
"the Nuer, in the end, teach us more about Evans-Pritchard then he teaches us about them."
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I spent Tuesday doing "participant" observation in the Brussels public transport system.

Mark Auge calls this 'Non-Place,' the impersonal, controlled zones of non-communication that have become a feature of what he deems 'Supermodernity'.
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A couple weeks ago i was struck by an immanent need to use all my old 35mm photo gear. I think i'm just over-saturated in anthropological theory and web programming and my eyes are begging for a break. Between the books and the screens i spend all my time staring at i'm afraid my vision is going to permanently focus in the 18-24 inches range one of these days. Luckily, I've been dragging the makings of a simple darkroom from home to home over the last 4 years and it's nice to finally be using it again.

Nearly immediately I found that darkroom work is ideal therapy for my congested brain and over-used eyes. To finally be able to work with my hands! And in the dark. The procedural, repetitive process seems to be saving me from floating off into an acdemic world of abstraction and theory. thank god.

So far I've found about 10 rolls of undeveloped b/w film in the various metal boxes that hold my personal belongings. There's a photographer with a little shop on my way to class who i've been bringing the film to for processing for the time being, since i have no hypo-clear and my negs have always turned out shitty when i've done them myself without a serious darkroom. I've taken to scanning my contact sheets so i can see a decent preview of the images before i print them and the results are rather impressive. They're not clean by any means, and nothing printed on this 30-year-old enlarger ever will be, but they have that grit and texture that digital photos seem to have lost.

I've been luggin' around my old Minolta and i'm hooked (again) on that click of the manual shutter.

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George Bush says: John Bolton should be the next US ambassador to the UN.

Stilldancer says: Watch this video to see what John Bolton thinks of the UN.
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I made it to the last day of The Influencers festival in Barcelona over the weekend:
The festival is part of a research project that began in Bologna, Italy, in 2000 under the name ‘Digital is not analog’ and has gradually focused on exploring controversial strategies for radical intervention in mass communication. They may make use of revolutionary technological tools such as the internet or p2p networks, act by breaking into popular culture (mainstream media, pop music, advertising), or twist marketing strategies and show no mercy in taking over the imagery of the most out-of-control consumerism.
The Yes! Men gave a talk about their work in the last couple of years, most of which they deemed rather unsuccessful. They had been going around using satire to critique Bush policies, getting people to sign petitions saying that the US should intentionally increase global warming as a market advantage, etc., but they found they were rarely understood to be satirical. Maybe we've lost all subtlety when it comes to US politics? That last election sure seemed to be a competition to see who could yell their rhetoric the loudest or during the most TV shows.

The most interesting part of the talk was about their prank on DOW chemical for the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy. The group had set up a satirical website critiquing Dow a few years ago at DowEthics.com. The site was seemingly mistaken for being real by the BBC, who sent an email requesting a live interview with DOW for the Bhopal Anniversary. The fake DOW representative who was interviewed live on BBC television announced that DOW was finally taking full responsibility for Bhopal, would be liquidating Union Carbide to finally give money back to the victims and clean up the still-toxic disaster site. He also made a number of claims about this being the first time that a corporation has gone against the interests of their share holders in order to do the right thing. DOW's stock priced dropped a couple billion dollars as a result and Bhopal made it into the mainstream news across the world to a much larger degree than ever before.

Goes to show how the effect something has on the market is more important in the eyes of the media than the effect it has on people...

The best part of the story was that DOW then had to issue a press release later in the day, after being commended for doing the right thing, and say that none of it was true, that they were not taking responsibility, and that they had no plans to compensate the victims. You really should check out the broadcast.

This is classic Media Activism, good work guys...
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by the time this gets posted it'll probably be approaching 1 am here and i'm dead stuck on a paper that seemed to be flowing rather well just a week or two ago. that last minute extension of the deadline really knocked my momentum down to near stasis, damn...

in addition to dealing with the case of Steve Kurtz and the CAE as I've written on here before, I stumbled across Luke Helder again today. I remember this case completely cracking me up at the time, a 21-year-old art student who was planting pipe-bombs in mysterious locations around the United States until he finally admitted that he was basically creating a giant smiley face across the country connect-the-dots style. Sure, it's rather warped and far from safe or humorous to those who experienced the 'project' first hand, but the press coverage of this kid always showed him in goofy poses for the camera or in some form of complete disregard for the violent nature of his 'performance.' He even claimed he was simply creating a performance art piece and that the work should be protected under the first amendment. Eric S. Raymond posted some thoughts on Helder and their being a result of the dumbing down of our ideas of art, contributing a great quote for the paper:
It was inevitable, I suppose, that sooner or later terrorism would become bad performance art.
Yes ESR, your words are most appropriate and I will be quoting you on paper for the second time this year even though i find your politics a bit wacky, naively patriotic and rather ethno-centric for a self-proclaimed anthropologist.

I've been musing on another individual from the anthropologist mind-field as well, namely Michael Taussig and his book The Nervous System. Taussig discusses Walter Benjamin's thoughts on terror as the normal state of affairs, where little respite can be found from the tension inherent the "nervous" system that is society. The most striking part of the essay for me was the discussion of the terror and alleged violence perpetrated on the residents of southern Chicago in order to carve out the space necessary for the University of Chicago's current home. I came very close to attending this school myself as an undergraduate, but i was surely never informed of this little piece of it's history. Nor will most it's graduates likely realize how their alma matter came to be. Reminds me of the EU 'neighborhood' in Brussels, or the Palais du Justice a century before it. Here's Mr. Taussig basically nailing my thoughts on this whole terrorism issue:

Hence "terrorism" is not so much a thing or a state-of-being as it is a reflection of this necessary fiction, necessary, that is, to the art and practice of war. "Terrorism" is the act of creating terror, which of course is as likely to be carried out by a lawfully acting force dropping bombs on civilians, for example, as is it is by an unlawfully acting gang of religious extremists blowing up the Federal building in Oklahoma. The former get medals while the latter get the electric chair.

On a final note, I read part of the Unibomber Manifesto this afternoon and the man had some interesting things to say. While being inspired by people famous for blowing things up isn't setting me on the path to some Tyler Durden-esque mayhem quite yet (remember the smiley face bombing?), I am beginning to see that the ones we deem 'terrorist' are those responsible for the quick, sensationalised acts of violence. We need a good concise term for the people who's actions cause slow, long-term violent results from their economic policies, arms sales, imbargoes, policy decisions and the like. a good term the media can pick up and trump around like they do with terrorist. If we've got eco-terrorists and cyber-terrorists, it's high time we start slinging around the corpo-terrorist or econo-terrorist labels with equal recklessness. just to keep things fair...
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Civil Disobedience in the Public Sphere

Those familiar with CAE's modeling of ECD [ Electronic Civil Disobedience ] know that it was an inversion of the model of civil disobedience (CD). Rather than attempting to create a mass movement of public objectors, CAE suggested a decentralized flow of particularized microorganizations (cells) that would produce multiple currents and trajectories to slow the velocity of capitalist political economy.

-- From Digital Resistance ( review )

I wrote a couple days ago about the case a Steve Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) who was arrested for under terrorism charges after the police found what appeared to be biological agents in his home. Apparently they had arrived at his house after he called 911 following the death of his wife and even her body was confiscated in the process. More information about Kurtz's case can be found at www.caedefensefund.org. Well over the weekend I started reading some sections of the books written by Kurtz and the CAE crew. Digital Resistance lays out some rather developed theory and critique on what CAE has dubbed "Electronic Civil Disobedience," along with some discussion of the broader "tactical art" phenomenon. They are openly calling for the use of digital technology to disrupt and inhibit "the velocity of capitalist political economy."

hey, this is my kind of stuff. But it does twist my brain a bit when i start to think about the art / terror veil that i am studying for the moment. Sure, this guy isn't looking to unleash biological agents into a subway or crop-dust a suburb with anthrax, but he is promoting a disruption to the mainstream economic system of the US. Don't we hear about how 'the terrorists' want to destroy our way of life, or want to disrupt the economy, or whatever rhetoric is en vogue? Is violence what makes a terrorist? Noam Chomsky has given entire lectures that deal with the problem of definition when it comes to what terrorism really is, and he's a godfather of linguistics. I can't seem to find a precise definition of terrorism anywhere, actually, and even the UN is having a bit of trouble deciding just what it is. So how about cyberterrorism?
While some people use the term "cyberterrorism" (which was coined in the 1980s) to refer to any major computer-based attack on the U.S. government or economy, many terrorism experts would not consider cyberattacks by glory-seeking individuals, organizations with criminal motives, or hostile governments engaging in information warfare to be cyberterrorism. Like other terrorist acts, cyberterror attacks are typically premeditated, politically motivated, perpetrated by small groups rather than governments, and designed to call attention to a cause, spread fear, or otherwise influence the public and decision-makers.

-- From the Council on Foreign Relations

so looking at this, i say CAE are cyberterrorists. they're definitely actively attempting to effect the US economy, call attention to a cause and influence the public. And there are plenty of groups and individuals in the art world that are offering suggestions and theory on how to disrupt society. Hakim Bey with his poetic terrorism is certainly of a similar esthetic. Are we talking blatant subversion under the cover of surrealist art, vice versa or both?

Or what about ®TMark and their calls for funds and proposals that include hacking mainstream media sites? Is this a call for cyberterror parading as a bunch of activists throwing together ideas? vice versa? both?

If you hide your calls for revolution behind a mask of creative insanity are they ignored by anyone they may threaten? Or perhaps just ignored by everyone?

i have a feeling this may turn out to be a wacky paper...
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lookie here, it's the pope, still alive, ushering in the spring equinox with what looks like a branch of a freshly budded palm and some pussy willows. thank you Fox News for keeping us abreast of the pope's late-life pagan leanings.

whoa.... ok, wait. i just used pope and pussy in the same sentence, and then thanked fox news, change is surely in the air.

blessed ostara, oestre, palm sunday, spring equinox and all the rest. welcome back the life...
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I've been doing research on a paper entitled "Art, Terror, Anthropology." I got interested in the case of Steve Kurtz, who was arrested under terrorism charges for the biological agents he had in his house but was using for some rather intense creative projects as part of the Critical Art Ensemble. This is prime material for a paper on the fine lines between art and terror. The case itself is intriguing and the implications to the art world are important, but my web meanderings led me to http://eyesoflaura.org/.

Information about the site is scare and a bit intentionally vague, but it appears as if this woman has managed to hook up one of the surveillance cameras at her job to her website, where you can control it. The detail in the feed is excellent and the zoom is phenomenal, the makings for a rather twisted voyeuristic addiction. It's still dark in Vancouver right now, but I can't seem to stop watching people in the street putting up signs and other odd happenings.

Her journal entries are equally vague and haunting making you wonder if it's true or just some kind of bizarre dadaist performance project. either way i'm a bit hooked...
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Saturday found us in Anterwepen for a much anticipated Sixteen Horsepower show at the Openlucht Rivierenof. It was pouring as we arrived, on the outskirts of the city beyond the ring, to this open air theatre in the middle of the woods. a gorgeous place for a concert, sourronded by trees with a pond separating the stage from the seats, a fountain that took over between sets to take attention away from the changes on stage. The rain had caused people to sit in every other row, so as to see over the umbrellas in front of them, so we managed to sneak into a second row center position and settled on getting wet. As the second support band was playing the rain cleared as quickly as it had come in earlier, the umbrellas fell away and the crowd filled up. damn good seats, a few drinks in, and a killer show.
Sixteen Horsepower

The set started out rather slowly, musically that is, with what i expected, Hutterite Mile. i'm not sure why it was such an obvious opener, but the haunting sound of the track was brilliant in such a setting. the drummer was up front with a single snare drum from the beginning, but about half an hour in the pace really built up. the full drum set started, the accordian came out and the show took off. It was over a bit too fast for my liking, but this was a hell of a performance, the darkening skies and devoted crowd just filled out the experience. the encore ended with a strangely beautiful cover of joy division's "heart and soul."

Turns out we had missed the last train back to leuven, so we topped off our already wasted chemical states with some more bollekes and started looking for a ride back. Our "naar Leuven?" sign got a lot of chuckles and well wishers, but just ended up causing us to miss the tram as well. we started the 90+ minute walk back to the station around 1:30. at this point the whisky and smoke was really starting to haunt us, as we wandered our way out of the woods to the follow the tram tracks back to civilization. Kim was keen on sleeping in a few unlikely places, the side of the road or standing up, but she powered through and we made it, back over the ring and into town, beat, drunk and verging on collapse.

the central station area bars in antwerp that are still open after 3:30 are not the kind of place you want to go to collapse and regroup before a 6am train. the few that weren't strip clubs had pounding house music and belligerent patrons, so we settled on a late-night kebob joint and tried to keep from passing out in the booth. finally, a phone booth beside the door the the station become our last home for the night, and we managed to head back around 5:30 without any loss of possessions or sanity.

I've had some great nights staying up for morning trains after concerts, Patti Smith in Oostende being the top of the list, but this one kicked my ass. It was still, though, worth the trouble for the 90 minutes that 16HP played. jesus, check them out, even if you have to spend the night in a phone booth in order to pull it off...
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wall in barcelona

wall in barcelona
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thoughts have surfaced in the recent days of what i have been doing over the last few years of critical life observation and random research. i found myself explaining to kimberly just what is happening to me mentally at the moment and why i am suddenly motivated to dive into this study of cognitive science, consciousness, alternative science and planetization concepts.

I sat and explained to her and myself that i have spent a good portion of my life trying to make sense of the unexplainable experiences in my life and those i have heard or read about from others. i've also been severely obessesed with religion as a phenomenon, where it arrives from, how it develops and what role it pays in human understanding and behavior. this has all been scattered curiousity and entertainment up until now, but i think it's becoming a more serious persuit of mine.

after a bit of a nudge from Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger i've begun thinking about the ability to change the concepts, themes and framework of my mind to accomodate the things that have stumped me over the years. my need to understand the workings of life could never really deal with psychic experience, shared dreams, religious experience, unexplained creative outbursts, obnoxious synchronicities, manifestion of ideas and the like. Recently i've come to understand that it is possible create a new mental framework which not only accomodates these phenomena, but helps to explain them in an analytical way. i can rarely sit easy with an explanation of something as just "magic" or "spiritual", i always fight to understand more concretely.

So i've begun to recreate my mental assumptions and conceptual framework through serious research, study, observation and experimentation. I hope for an overarching explanation of my existence that encompasses everything i read, hear about, see or otherwise experience. the more common approach of ingnoring or denying phenomena that don't fit into ones ideas is a dangerous approach which i hope to avoid. i wish to expand my understanding with each experience i have, however mundane or extraordinary.

so, to begin, this goal of mine alone has helped me to understand why i've spent the last few years reading books with titles like "The Crack in the Cosmic Egg" and "The Center of the Cyclone" along side more culpable subjects as ecology, media theory, anthropology, political activism and sociology. i was beginning to think i was just lost in some sort of intellectual abyss, but i can see its purpose now.

that subtle confusion aside, i hope to begin fleshing out a concept that helps me understand the insane experiences of this world. At the moment i think the core of it all is an understanding of the global organism. This is going to be tricky thing for me to ever really comprehend, but i do believe we are a single organism on multiple levels. this idea alone can reframe a large number of odd experiences, as a global consciousness is easily capable of communicating from person to person, across any expanse of space or even time, and psychic experience of nearly any kind no longer seems odd. The ability to foresee what may be around the corner, or to come next week/month/year, begins to make some more sense as well. once we understand that our feeling of being an independent entity, separate from the rest of the world or universe, is simple a byproduct of our rudimentary consciousness we will be well on the way to understanding most of the unexplained phenomena of our time.

Our concrete understanding of the world is severely limited by the fact that only about 5% of our thought is conscious. i think we are so overwhelmed by that tiny part of our minds that we come to think of it as the whole of our intelligence, and that is why we are so utterly confused. I think that we are actually sharing a global consciousness but are not able to experience it as individuals most of the time. i think all the religious and spiritual leaders of the past had intense experiences with this global consciousness and that is what they have all been teaching but their messages have been corrupted by people who do not understand and are simple out for power and influence. i think that we are all capable of such an experience, in fact i see such expereinces increasing rapidly as the world becomes more global focused and communcations technology allows for information to be shared.

i'd bet that a true global consciousness is our next major evolutionary step, i think humans will be the forefront of this, but not the only species involved by any means, and i expect that not too far into the future this global organism that we have all been participating in, yet too small a part of to truly comprehend, will become conscious of itself as a whole.

these are the ideas i am attempting to understand, and the concept i am absolutely envigorated to develop. when i am able to see my existence from this conceptual framework i expect every day will be more enjoyable and i will be filled with excitement, positivity and amazement at the world we all live.
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no really, how do you tell the difference between instinct and programming? its been driving me nuts for months. are the urges just what i've been taught, or are they what i somehow know to do? is there any difference?

and can't i just change them all with a little bit of mind-play?
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