Monday, January 31, 2011

Against being your best/being a vampire

More often than not, I refrain from encouraging people, the kids, to try to change thangs for the better. "Be the best you can be" is — once the supportive exterior is scratched away — an unpleasant sentiment.

Embrace this life, your life, and those imperfections that — rather than detract from you — are you. So, just get on with your thin wallet, weak dick, or fat ass... I've already seen that commercial. Yet,  I am not suggesting people "be happy" or "look on the bright side"... fuck that too, that's terrible. Just stop trying to improve yourself, that's insane... enjoy yourself without improving yourself. I like that. Don't assume things should be better, because... uh... you know... that's a hard mindset to break free from.

But. But, I don't like thirsty mouths and empty bellies. This could be better. I understand that some would have it this way:
Nature is a state of suffering. Put more food on the table, and we'll put more babies in the seats until we're starving again. (I'm not quoting anything here)
And maybe that is correct. Maybe that is the default path — should there be such a strange thing. But, if that is our way, then it's too terrible to not try to improve. So, I think the virus, the vampire, is worth trying to understand. I got to thinking about a conversation looking at what Marxism does — an understanding v. action kind of thing. Now, I try tinkering with my means of communication, try to figure out how and why my body and words fail and succeed. Nothing much to report, obviously. But I did like what's below. I like how it moves. The pace is fast, but not hurried. Harvey's tone isn't grave, but he's not fucking around either. And, my lovely reader, it's not terribly reductive — considering all that happens in a mere eleven minutes. Embracing a wider discourse. Maybe.


  1. Useful. Thank you.

    Especially since he uses "contradictions" in a non-mystical way, and avoids any attempt to dialecticize that which needs no Engelian mysticism.

  2. I agree. Save the truth systems and epistemology for another day.

  3. That's a good way to show things, that particular whiteboard method with cartoons/drawings... and as Jack says, in more normal language too.

    Gracias for bumpage!

  4. PS:

    One big gripe I have with the presentation is the notion of "regulators asleep at the switch." This assumes rather incorrectly that regulatory entities intend to, and try to, moderate the commercial climate to benefit the citizenry as a whole.

    The truth in America is that regulatory entities are the handmaidens of industry and essentially, being "asleep at the switch" is a bad accusation because it implies they've just had a fleeting moment of inattention. This is mistaken because what looks like people not paying attention is exactly what the regulatory entity WANTS, because that's what the regulated industry/interest wants.

  5. Yes, I'm with you. Hilariously, sadly, it is common — for me, at least — to hear people lament some thing or some institution for going astray from its proper "intent" rather than concluding that the official company line — what we're told something is meant to be — is where the bullshit actually lies. Judge based on what something does... not what it says it does.

    But... I think your gripe is off. Check it out again, and you'll see that he is reviewing "explanatory formats" or genres of explanation... ways in which people make sense of financial crises. I don't think he's endorsing that angle — "regulators asleep at the switch" are to blame — as true cause. Rather, he's just outlining how people think about the crisis, and I think he's correct... plenty of assholes blame the regulators, rather than the system.

  6. I think I first saw this at Ethan's place, some time ago. It's good to see it again -- pretty amazing production.

  7. Maybe I was seeing/hearing what I wanted? I sensed he was suggesting "regulators asleep at the switch" also is one of the many types of crisis in capitalist systems. Anyway I thought it was a good review of things.

  8. So well done. The illustrations are great and I love the touches of humor and emphasis that the illustrators add. However, as succinct as it is, I think it might overtalk the topic.

    The Marxist vice, in my view, is an almost mystical assessment of systems to the exclusion of individuals and cultures. Therefore i think he paints with too broad a brush when lumping all the various explanatory genres together. Culture and regulation are largely to blame in my view. The United States, and by extension, the world, are afflicted with a ruling class, so greedy and parasitic that it is intent on killing the host. Whether this or the deregulation that has allowed them to run wild in the States and Britain is a largely meaningless chicken/egg question. Harvey seems to get it in the end when he starts talking about greed and he's right that the solution is to call bullshit on the whole rotten thing.

    I, frankly, can't quite wrap my head around why intelligent, fairly well-informed people can't see the American government as anything but crime syndicate at this point.

  9. bonobo, on what you're struggling to wrap your head around:

    Perspective doesn't lend itself to easy — or perhaps any — explanation. I assume that "we" — each one of us — is the result of an impossible equation (I'm tempted to say, a sum of our experiences... but that might suggest there is a way to "figure it all out"... which seems unlikely).

    Thanks for jumping in.