by Chris Bowers, Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 12:26:19 PM EDT
While the poetic and artistic avant-garde sought to relocate the primary purpose of art away from the aesthetic function, I had a very difficult time figuring out what the Blogosphere sought to do differently than the Political Opinion Complex. However, at long last I think I have it.Three years later, I no longer agree with some of the specifics of that formulation, but I still subscribe to the general sentiment (for example, I wrote something similar in an article for the BBC last October). What I would change in my original formulation is that we are not just agitating toward action, which is of course important and the tremendous rise in progressive political activism in recent years is a testament to our success in that department, but also that we are also seeking to create a new political reality and alter the national political conscious. In so doing, we are challenging the political reality created by what I once vaguely called the Political Opinion Complex, and perhaps now even more vaguely refer to in class based terms such as the establishment media and political aristocracy. It is a political reality that has gone unchecked and unchallenged for a long time. Remarkably, and unlike most avant-garde movements, we have actually had a tremendous amount of success in our challenge to this reality. Peter Daou, who perhaps first, and perhaps still best, articulated this important function of the progressive blogosphere, must be proud, even if it isn't necessarily to the benefit of his candidate at this point in time. :)
While the corporate funded Political Opinion Complex seeks to distribute information primarily for the purpose of consumption, the primary goal of the Blogosphere is to distribute political information for the purpose of agitation / direct action. The POC only wants you to consume what it produces. The Blogosphere seeks for its consumer to act after, or even as a result of, consumption of its product. To put it another way, The Blogosphere is a counter-institutional formation that seeks to relocate the primary purpose of political and opinion journalism in agitation toward action rather than in profit-based consumption.
More Sunday blogosphere avant-gardism in the extended entry.
ARTIt is remarkable how easily the terms "political punditry" and "political pundit" could be substituted in this manifesto for the terms "art" and "artist," and suddenly you have a manifesto for the political blogosphere and the fake news of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. In many ways, this is the same divide between the "serious" people of political opinion journalism and the amateurs to be found online or at Comedy Central. In fact, the progressive political blogosphere has succeeded where the art-amusement movement of Fluxus failed. We have demonstrated that political pundits are dispensible, that anyone can do it, that your audiences are self-sufficient and included in the production of our work. We have lowered the entry costs to the field, and made political punditry obtainable by far more people, produced by far more people, no longer only accessible by the social elite and no longer only occurring in established institutions. And even though I spend much of my time trying to change this, we have also succeeded in lowering the commodity value of political punditry to such a degree that it is difficult to make a living doing it. It is ironic that an avant-garde enthusiast such as myself would be seeking to reverse this process within the progressive political blogosphere, considering that it seems to be an undeniably successful avant-garde movement of the past few years. Or, maybe we are just neo-Fluxus instead of avant-garde.
To justify artist's professional, parasitic and elite status in society, he must demonstrate artist's indispensability and exclusiveness, he must demonstrate the dependability of audience upon him, he must demonstrate that no one but the artist can do art.
Therefore, art must appear to be complex, pretentious, profound, serious, intellectual, inspired, skillful, significant, theatrical, It must appear to be caluable as commodity so as to provide the artist with an income.
To raise its value (artist's income and patrons profit), art is made to appear rare, limited in quantity and therefore obtainable and accessible only to the social elite and institutions.
To establish artist's nonprofessional status in society, he must demonstrate artist's dispensability and inclusiveness, he must demonstrate the selfsufficiency of the audience, he must demonstrate that anything can be art and anyone can do it.
Therefore, art-amusement must be simple, amusing, upretentious, concerned with insignificances, require no skill or countless rehersals, have no commodity or institutional value.
The value of art-amusement must be lowered by making it unlimited, massproduced, obtainable by all and eventually produced by all.
Fluxus art-amusement is the rear-guard without any pretention or urge to participate in the competition of "one-upmanship" with the avant-garde. It strives for the monostructural and nontheatrical qualities of simple natural event, a game or a gag. It is the fusion of Spikes Jones Vaudeville, gag, children's games and Duchamp.
From a letter posted by BooMan yesterday:
I have to say that a remarkably intimate, yet expansive, community of thought seems to be forming across television, film, and the Internet. There's a rather quiet, yet intense, movement of thought and expression building. It focuses not so much on any particular ideology ("right" or "left"), but on a common, critical-mass thirst to dispel the deception, irrationality, and utter hubris that has been corroding our proud country for what seems like an eternity.From another Fluxus manifesto:
An undeniable intellectual and social confluence is rapidly gaining momentum and solidarity. This solidarity is amazingly organic, not hierarchical -- its only guide is the sixth sense of skepticism, outrage, and, yes, reason.
Promote living art, anti-art, promote NON ART REALITY, to beAgain, sounds, pretty similar, doesn't it? Just substitute political punditry for "art." Rinse and repeat.
fullygrasped by all peoples, not only critics, dilettantes, and professionals.
More from Atrios:
Often people, usually in the course of needing to explain the almighty power of blogs to people who don't get it, want to describe blogs in terms of specific tangible successful events. You know, "blogs took down Trent Lott," and whatnot. And while there are certainly occasions where I think blogs have played a very important and clear role in defining and shaping events, I always think it's wrong to focus on those events as what's really important about the blogosphere.By changing the entry costs to political opinion journalism, the blogosphere has also changed the people, outlets, and institutions who produce political and opinion journalism. This was necessary in order to produce a competing vision of political reality to that being offered both the conservative movement and to the neoliberals elites such as Doug Schoen and Joe Lieberman who had secured a strangehold over the Democratic Party. The blogosphere thus achieved the ultimate avant-garde victory, by changing both the consciousness of what constituted political reality, and also the location of production, distribution, and dissemination of that reality in a broader institutional economy. Outsiders to the process built-up and utilized new institutional mechanisms to relocate the production and purpose of political and opinion journalism away from an entrenched elite, and severely altered political reality in the process. And it is a new reality, one where progressive ideas like the need for universal health care, that the invasion of Iraq was destructive disaster, that grassroots activism and insight can make a difference, that Democrats can win without triangulating against progressives, and that establishment media is complicit with establishment political power are now givens. Not only was none of this a given just five years ago, all of it was counter-intuitive to the prevailing versions of political reality in America. Beliefs like that mattered about as much to the construction of political reality five years ago as a lunatic such as myself who spent $25 to write a single blog post at a Kinkos in Modesto, California that would be read by fewer than 1,000 people. But those beliefs, and the people who hold them, matter now.
Left of center blogs filled various connected vacuums which were created by a triangulating-against-itself-Democratic party, a media with a "no liberals on TV or radio" rule, and the post-9/11 media prostration to the Bush administration and its complete abdication of its responsibility with respect to the Iraq war, all of which followed its campaign 2000 prostration to the Bush candidacy. Overall what blogs have been able to do is create an unfolding political narrative which has been largely absent elsewhere. Sometimes it's about emphasizing different things, sometimes it's about combating DC conventional wisdom, sometimes it's about highlighting things which are being ignored. But taken all together it's about telling the story of politics in a different way.
While there are other elements - fundraising, various types of activism, etc... - day to day the power of the blogosphere is that it offers up a competing version of political reality, in opposition to the Russert/Matthews/Dowd version and in opposition to the Limbaugh/Hannity/Fox News/Heritage Foundation version.
And now, for no reason, here are excerpts from three progressive, political blog posts that read like avant-garde poetry:
- Janet Harris's "tag clouds" of the recent Democratic debate:
- RonK, Seattle's Presidency of George W Bush, condensed:
... our nation is at war, our economy is in recession ... rid the world of thousands of terrorists ... Terrorists ... allies against terror. ... Afghanistan's new government ... we are winning ... Ground Zero ... "Semper Fi ... our cause is just ... loss of innocent life ... outlaw regimes ... terrorists ... terrorists ... terrorist underworld ... terrorists ... terrorist parasites ... the face of terror ... weapons of mass destruction ... these weapons ... poison gas ... axis of evil ... weapons of mass destruction ... will not wait ... war on terror ... terror states ... win this war ... problems here at home ... not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans ... It costs a lot ... Whatever it costs ... vigilance at home ... improve intelligence ... alert citizens ... people on that plane ... a deficit that will be small and short-term ... one word: jobs ... good schools ... teacher training ... affordable energy ... trade promotion authority ... tax relief ... stimulus package ... the dignity of a job ...health security ... accounting standards ... personal retirement accounts ... faith-based groups ... fear and selfishness ... faces of rescuers ... our First Lady ... we are citizens ... "Let's roll." ... join the new USA Freedom Corps ... homeland security ... children whose parents are in prison ...compassion ... values that will bring lasting peace ... the midnight knock of the secret police ... liberty and justice ... no intention of imposing our culture ... around the world ... with friends and allies ... God is near ... unique role ... choose freedom ... freedom's power ... God bless.
- A pre-MyDD post of mine called Warblog:
Bush's Declaration of War, March 17, 2003, 5:29 p.m.
The Americans occupying THE Land of the Free by the Carib Sea! Our manhood we pledge to thy liberty! No tyrants here linger, despots must flee. This tranquil haven of democracy. The blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
What, me Prevaricate? March 18, 2003, 3:23 p.m.
President's justification for war did they exaggerate one particular reason and that is to be EXAMINED, EXAMINING Her. As-
Chickenhawks pile on Daschle, March 18, 2003, 6:06 p.m.
now forced to war Saddened that we have to Speak out against the war, in Iraq and the Middle East
Real Leadership, March 18, 2003, 8:56 p.m.
The best pro-war piece I ve ever seen on the Web. A guide to the Internet and the world Wide Web Virtual Library It is not the answer! on site coordinator is responsible for the fall of the ROMAN Empire- The Empire of the Sun is in your Hand The Beatles I am the walrus goo goo ga JOOB Mister city policeman SITTING pretty little policemen in a pair of Blue Eyes
This is a delicate subject, March 19, 2003, 1:06 a.m.
died during the war and the Intellectuals. Collected ESSAYS
There seems to be a few folks who misunderstood, March 20, 2003, 5:05 p.m.
Going to war With Iraq A refugee crisis in THE Balkans. The Middle East, is a country That` is not, a Little Girl Lost
What happened to "Shock and Awe?", March 20, 2003, 5:45 p.m.
prosecute their war against the Americans Occupying the LAND of the Lost. Ark. of the Covenant, Proceedings of the American Revolution is a great Idea. for a new American CENTURY PNAC) is a Washington- DC Appraiser,
Flash Updates VII, March 20, 2003, 6:30 p.m.
last night's attack on the US: War on terror? in Baghdad blood and bandages for the Innocent
Desert Storm Revisited, March 21, 2003, 12:15 p.m.
the first Gulf War by the Joint FORCES Command in Norfolk, Va. and the Midwest regional Office of the Federal Register. and the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
Chemical Weapons Attacks, (Part II), March 21, 2003, 12:16 p.m.
Biological weapons attacks on the Rise. By the year human rights Watch HRW) is the largest Penis. in the world? and the West? Bank, and Gaza Strip. The Political Economy of the future Web site of The Day! is Done and the darkness The Darkness The Darkness of the night
Is Saddam Dead? Who Cares?, March 21, 2003, 4:20 p.m.
The history of warfare and, its Interrelationships with the rest of the Story by the way, is a disposable, live- action cartoon. A DVD is available. for pre- order.