Pirates, politics and art.

The world is a strange place. Unsure of what to do about my political frustration, I decided to nominate as a Senate candidate for the Pirate Party Australia in the up coming Australian federal election. I discovered late on Sunday night that I had been elected by the members as the lead candidate.

Coincidentally, last night (Monday) my partner got us tickets to see the Australian Art Orchestra with Nicole Lizée present Hymns to Pareidolia. Knowing nothing before we went in, it turned out to be an almost perfect live music experience for me. And while I was watching and listening, I realized that for some reason I hadn’t been open about my taste in big A Art to the pirates.

So I’ve decided to make a short list of artists that I appreciate for your delectation.

The very first artists this concert made me think of was a band I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing live and most likely never will, even in it’s reduced state – Negativland, a band I first discovered via their album Dispepsi, although were already semi folk heroes because of what I’d heard about their U2 EP which, thanks to the then newly discovered web, I’d downloaded via Napster or Gnutella. Then their EP with Chumbawamba became my jam for a couple of years – The ABCs of Anarchism.

It’s hard to know what came next, but suddenly I was listening to difficult music. The audio equivalent of The Illuminatus! Trilogy – some of it very very listenable, like 2manyDJs Radio Soulwax pt 2, some of it was understandable pop if hard for others to appreciate, like Cassette Boy (some songs available), and some was painful to others, like Buttress O’Kneel, John Oswald‘s Plunderphonics or The Evolution Control Committee. Their Rebel Without a Pause is considered one of, if not the, first mashups. And then there is DJ Food’s Raiding the 20th Century, an unparalleled exploration, history lesson, exposition, on the nature of music and remix – itself a remix of over 190 mash up tracks.

Thankfully, this new remix culture quickly became rampant – the tools were readily available to anyone with a computer, and the mash up was not only born but breaking out. While some went for the decidedly pop route (Girl Talk, Freelance Hellraiser’s A Stroke of Genius), some remained dedicated to the plain strange. It was around this time that DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album – mixing The Beatle’s White Album with Jay-Z’s Black Album – became an unofficial hit.

The intrinsic sharing nature of the internet allowed a genre of music called outsider to spread more widely. Associated with the avant garde, mail art, surrealist and underground movements, most notable for it’s intense passion for the artform regardless of actual ability was refreshing for me. The Shaggs are the best example to my mind, and have one of the best back stories to boot, and we see this movement reborn as the Antifolk movement of the late 90s, but also side swiped by other pop weirdos – Singing Sadie (Everyone in town wants you dead), Toxic Lipstick (Slut cunt hairbrush), the unstoppable and ever loved New Waver from Spill records (check out Spill compilation 3), San Jose Cow Muzak’s Mrs Bronson’s favourite remains a….favourite. Also, anything on Dual Plover, including it’s peak moment, The Rebirth of Fool, vol 2.

And there were aficionados and curators that made things easier for us – I would religiously download (by hand! pre-podcast!) and listen to Some Assembly Required, or ABC Radio National’s The Night Air, and the revelation that was the first time I discovered WFMU‘s the 365 Days Project in 2004 (now UbuWeb‘s first 365 Days Project) and downloaded all of the songs over a week…so many of these songs have become better known now, but at the time, they were a revelation. It wasn’t piracy – this was the only place they were documented on the internet. It was curation. My go to piece from this period is the Van Morrison “contractual obligation record” – Ring Worm/You Say France And I Whistle/Want A Danish – although the project is literally littered with passionate brilliance. Louis Farrakhan singing calypso? The Frugal Gormets – Satan’s Blood (“Some kids try really hard to sound evil, these kids succeeded.”)? Bach vs Batman on the moog? Understanding Marx?

These days there are blogs that curate such weirdnesses abound, my favourite being Music for Maniacs, a haven of some of the strangest pop music available. Including  classics like Party Like It’s Only $19.99, the Prince tribute done by The Evolution Control Committee; OUTER SPACE MUSIC FROM OUTER SPACE!; two Sesame St Disco albums; a string of Xmas albums that aren’t really ever appropriate; maybe Halloween is more your thing?; American Standard by Thelonious Moog;  don’t like standards or Moog? What about some experimental bagpipe music?; or maybe your taste are more along the lines of the three album, 62 track compilations of Xanadu covers (More Xanadu)?

I’m going to close with the two stand outs. Vicki Bennett, performing as People Like Us, has been a consistent source of fantastic mind bending music and inspiration. Her Do or DIY with People Like Us radio show on WFMU is a stand out that I can’t recommend highly enough. You’ll never hear Percy Faith’s Summer Place ’76 (Theme From A Summer Place) in the same way again. This show has bought me many, many pleasures, but the top of the list has to be Caroline Bergvall’s Via (48 Dante translations) (mp3).

But sitting on top of all of this is the Australian art duo Soda Jerk‘s Pixel Pirate II: Attack of the Astro Elvis Video Clone. (aka Hollywood Burn). Taking all of these ideas, and doing it coherently, with film. It remains my favourite movie of all time, and I am still in debt to Jean Poole for introducing me to it. From the blurb:

Hollywood Burn is an anti-copyright epic constructed entirely from hundreds of samples pirated from the Hollywood archive. It pits a righteous league of video pirates against the evil tyrant Moses and his Copyright Commandments. Determined to alter the present by changing the past, the pirates travel back to 1955 to construct the ultimate weapon: an Elvis Presley video-clone.

Part sci-fi + rom com + biblical epic + action movie, this remix manifesto adopts the tactical responses of the parasite, feeding off the body of Hollywood and inhabiting its cinematic codes. The unwitting all-star cast includes Elvis Presley, Charlton Heston, Jack Sparrow, Monkey Magic, Bette Davis, Batman, Jaws, Jesus, the Hulk, the Hoff and the Ghostbusters.

What can I say? It’s essential viewing for members of the Pirate Party.

Robots, the future of work and the leisure society

The Robots are coming. If you are looking for these articles, they are appearing everywhere. Zeynep Tufekci writes in Failing the Third Machine Age: When Robots Come for Grandma about the possibility that after this next revolution in industry, there may not be any jobs for humans – there may not be the same level of new work in new industries like there was after the mechanization of agriculture. That article was a response to the The Future of Robot Caregivers in the New York Times – a quietly pleasant article looking forward to a time of robotic carers. Tufekci is correct to make the critique that we aren’t short of caregivers – just short of people willing to pay the cost of having humans do the job – as Cory Doctorow notes in When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs?

The ramifications, of course, are that more and more middle class jobs will go. At first they came for the working class: manufacturers (well, robots and the globalised race to the cheapest labour market or tax haven), and service staff, but now robots are coming for lawyers and accountants and doctors too. The internet isn’t helping the trend at all and the business world knows that the middle is disappearing.

Which, while it must be terrifying for the poor middle class, if only they could put their education to good use and get some proactive analysis. Instead, we are apparently seeing a return to Luddism – or more exciting – “Neo Luddism”, with the river of tears that it entails:

Today, however, a much darker picture of the effects of technology on labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves.

I am disappointed at how few – if any, I’ve not seen them – have addressed the potential positive outcomes that will come about.

If the efficiencies that a robot workforce provide us are redistributed more evenly than profits currently are, within the capitalist states, humanity is faced with the possibility of the onset of a true Leisure society.

We will have so much time to spare that we will be able to labour on what we want – this year I learn to grow vegetables and play the guitar, next year I pickle vegetables and fix old style combustion engines. We will be able to abolish all work – leading to a ludic future of Immediatism – a type of now-ness infused with play and the imagination.

I think that workers should have a greater piece of the capitalist pie as much as the next anarcho-communist, but I’d prefer a post-pie world, so to speak. A world of such abundance, imaginative richness, fecundity, that the thought of anyone having to share a pie is ridiculous. Aim for the stars – robots could well free us forever.


I think it’s worth acknowledging that the state of AI research is coming along at a rapid pace at the moment. I raise this for two reasons. Quite a few people I’ve spoken to on this topic, despite all of their progressive ideals and energies, can be nothing but pessimistic about this coming robot army. When it comes to robotic life, a life robotic, they only ever envisage a dystopic scene. Robots will only ever enslave us. I think this is dangerous and pessimistic thinking. Finally, I think that we must look out for the potential to treat intelligent robots – AI, not single use, dumb terminals like the Roomba* – as slaves. That will never work. We fight for the worker, we fight for the robot – a revolution for one is a revolution for all.






* It’s worth noting that a Roomba hacked with an AI should be considered an AI rather than an automated vacuuming service.




Coded messages to China in Lorem Ipsum?

acb has pointed me to an interesting tale about Google Translate seemingly hiding coded signals in Lorem Ipsum translations. While it all seems a little far fetched or conspiratorial, this story is from Krebs on Security, a well respected blog on all things crypto and security.

I recently discovered that the simple Lorem has been transformed into what can only be described as a post internet: Vegan Ipsum (veggie ipsum), Lorem Bacon, Hipster Ipsum, Lorizzle (Gangster Ipusm), Beer Ipsum, Samuel L Ipsum and teh best of the lot – Picksomeipsum in which you can pick one of the actors Clint Eastwood, Michael Caine, Jim Carrey and or Morgan Freeman as a source, or pit two of the actors against each other:

…ing is about respect. getting it for yourself, and taking it away from the other guy. you want a guarantee, buy a toaster. what you have to ask yourself is, do i feel lucky. well do ya’ punk? cities fall but they are rebuilt. heroes die but they are remembered. multiply your anger by about a hundred, kate, that’s how much he thinks he loves you. no, this is mount everest. you should flip on the discovery channel from time to time. but i guess you can’t now, being dead and all. cities fall but they are rebuilt. heroes die but they are remembered. are you feeling lucky punk don’t p!ss down my back and tell me it’s raining. here. put that in your report!” and “i may have found a way out of here. that tall drink of water with the silver spoon up his ass. ever notice how sometimes you come across somebody you shouldn’t have f**ked with? well, i’m that guy.

Rehabilitated? well, now let me see. you know, i don’t have any idea what that means. it only took me six days. same time it took the lord to make the world. ever notice how sometimes you come across somebody you shouldn’t have f**ked with? well, i’m that guy. man’s gotta know his limitations. mister wayne, if you don’t want to tell me exactly what you’re doing, when i’m asked, i don’t have to lie. but don’t think of me as an idiot. cities fall but they are rebuilt. heroes die but they are remembered. circumstances have taught me that a man’s ethics are the only possessions he will take beyond the grave. this is my gun, clyde! this is the ak-47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of your enemy; and it makes a distinctive sound when fired at you, so remember it. well, do you have anything to say for yourself? the man likes to play chess; let’s get him some rocks. that tall drink of water with the silver spoon up his ass…

There is, of course, a fairly comprehensive list of Lorem Ipsum generators, and generators available in German, Chinese, Russian and Spanish Ipsum.

The Night Air – vale old friend

Having been away for the last year, I’ve missed a lot of news and media. When it happens  in the smaller corners of the mediasphere, it can be hard to catch up in a timely manner.

As such, I’ve only just discovered that the long running show The Night Air from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Radio National is no longer running.

Subtitled “Radio abstraction for listening pleasure“, it was a wonderful mix of sounds and songs and spoken word around themes:

Animated by dub versions of ABC Radio National’s distinctive programming, obliquely connected material is re-assembled with sonic glue allowing the listener’s imagination to build a new story. The Night Air is a space to find the music in speech and the poetry in ideas, a show that invites you to take time to unravel the usual media tangle.

For my money, it was one of the most innovative, fascinating and must listen shows of the entire radio spectrum available to me – and being from Melbourne that includes some of Australia’s very best radio – Triple R, PBS and SYN. Traversing similar though different territory to People Like Us (playlists from WFMU, or check out Radio Boredcast which includes some excerpts from The Night Air) or Some Assembly Required, the demise of The Night Air marks the end of a decade rich in assembled sound. Vale, old friend, and thanks.

If you’ve never heard The Night Air, but have an interest, all shows are listed on the site, and every show from 2010 onwards is available for download. Some recent highlights include:

A Spoken Word Remix on the 44th President of the United States of America Recorded live in an off-Broadway theatre in New York City, Darian Dauchan’s award-winning work chronicles the period of Barack Obama’s candidacy, to presidency, to the present day – at the time of his second inauguration. The piece is a rhetorical conversation between African-American performance poet, Darian Dauchan, and Barack Obama, now the 45th President of the United States. This solo show consists of live-looped songs, beat-boxing and a collage of satirical poems and presidential soundbites.

Krautrock was a pulse, a spontaneous eruption from the depths of the post-war German psyche, a seminal moment in the birth of electronic music. Bands like Can, Neu, Harmonia, Amon Düül, Faust and of course Kraftwerk coalesced around a common desire to take rock music beyond the blues into a realm of pure improvisation and experimentation. In the process they became sonic prophets, messengers from the future. Tom Morton and Timothy Nicastri take to the autobahn.

Library Music
In the shadows of pop music and on the industrial side of film soundtrack composition there’s the world of ‘production music’ or as it’s also known, ‘library music’. Composers and session musicians, often uncredited, create music to be used in the media – film, TV, radio and online.

Jamaica at 50
We’re in Jamaica to celebrate 50 years of independence from British rule. The Caribbean island may have the world’s highest rate of public debt and plenty of problems with corruption and crime but it also has the fastest runners on earth, untold cultural riches and the indomitable will to survive.

Mining Boom Boom Bang: Fistful of Dollars
To just pack your bags and fly-in, fly-out to the remotest corners of this dry continent is today’s version of the Gold Rush. Caught in the crossfire of this mad bonanza, Melbourne-based artist Moses Iten took cover by watching dozens of European Westerns from the late 1960s, the mood of which felt like a strange parallel to the push and pull of the current economic climate.  He also dug deep in the archives of Radio National to unearth ancient stories and hyped up myths of this great land of ours.

Media Mess Age
As Radio National acknowledges the centenary of the birth of the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the Night Air listens to the great thinker speak (and sing) as he massages our minds into new shapes.And media manipulator extraordinaire, Buttress O’Kneel surfs the flux between truth and information and joins the virtual dots between Julian Assange and Charlie Sheen!

Tribute to John Blades
We pay tribute to structural engineer, award-winning radio producer, tape loop manipulator, disability advocate, spoken word artist, outsider art collector, experimental music and true crime aficionado, John Blades – who died in late 2011. We play material from John’s many radio programs, hear his friends’ and family’s accounts of his life and chart his history as a tireless supporter and exponent of ‘marginal’ culture.

The Brixton Insurrection + The last collage
It’s 30 years since the Brixton riots – also remembered as the Brixton Insurrection or Brixton Uprising. We listen to the songs, sounds and memories of this tumultuous time in England.

Then there’s the six part series Trouser amongst Blue Jeans #1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, a history of the 1979 Triple J show Watching the Radio With the TV Off.


Instruments of the orchestra

Recently I had a lovely page bought to my attention – The Names of Instruments and Voices in English, French, German, Italian, Russian1, and Spanish. Hosted by Yale (presumably giving it a longevity), it’s not 100% complete – computer (under electronic instruments) only comes in French (ordinateur) and German (Computerklänge), cowbells is only in French (cloches à vache), but Tubular bells comes in a number of languages: French (cloches tubulaires), German (Rohrenglocke), Italian (campane tubolari) and Spanish (campanas tubulares).

Not being native to any of those languages, I’m not completely sure on the translations – the page looks old, pre Google Translate at least, and may not be as correct as we’d all like.

None the less, it’s great to see someone has put in the effort for the international orchestral scene!

Sometimes, they write themselves (Ibland skriver de själva)

It’s good to know that websites in non English speaking countries have a propensity to being ridiculously laid out to maximise advertising revenue as much as their English contemporaries.

Having got that off my chest, the English language Swedish online news service The Local is reporting that Sweden have had to withdraw a new word due to a complaint by Google.

There are so many WTF‘s right here that I barely know where to start. Let’s start with the obvious, the story:

In December, the Language Council unveiled its annual list of new Swedish words. Among the words added to the Swedish language in 2012 was “ogooglebar” (‘ungoogleable’). But the California-based multinational objected.

“It’s not just about our definition of the word; we also tried to describe how users define the word and Google had opinions about that,” Language Council head Ann Cederberg told Sveriges Radio (SR).

The word was to be used to describe something “that you can’t find on the web with the use of a search engine”, according to the Language Council.

However, Google was less than thrilled that a word based on its name had been highlighted by Sweden’s “official language cultivation body”.

(For those that are interested, here’s more on the Swedish Language Council, Wikipedia. Fascinatingly, the Swedish term for the Swedish Language Council, Språkvård,

is a loan translation of the German word “Sprachpflege”. Literally, språkvård means ‘language care’, but is often translated as language cultivation or language planning.)

Of course, even the most obviously odd part of this story, is quickly derailed:

According to SR, Google wanted the council to specify that the word’s definition only covered searches performed using Google, and not searches involving other search engines.
After a protracted exchange with lawyers at the US internet company in which Google lawyers “tried to influence our way of defining the word”, the Language Council finally opted to remove “ogooglebar” from the 2012 list of new Swedish words.

Google wanted to…they…redefine…not just Google…wat?

Thankfully, common sense prevailed – there’s a reason why the rest of the world is jealous of the Scandinavians – they are so reasonable, rational and socially democratic:

Cederberg explained that taking on the US search giant took “too much time and resources” and that the word already exists in Swedish.

“It’s the users of the language who decide if it will remain,” she said.

“So if the word exists, use it if you want. That’s something Google can’t decide.”

Speaking with the TT news agency, Cederberg disputed allegations that the Language Council had allowed itself to be censured by Google.

“Google hasn’t won anything with this,” she said.

According to Cederberg, the Language Council could have ignored Google’s requests, but decided to remove the word in order to spark a debate.

“We thought it would be useful to start talking about this; we have have nothing to lose,” she told TT.

Google now have enabled the Streisand effect – their complaint has bought more publicity to the word. And as the Language Council have noted, it wont stop people using the word – in fact, this act will almost certainly enshrine the word within the lexicon.

Since we are here – not only do the Language Council “announce” new words, which always seems so…arse end round really, but there’s a top ten – and there are some really winners here:

5. Nomofob (Nomophobe)

A person who feels anxious at the mere thought of being separated from their mobile phone. An abbreviation of the English “no mobile phone phobia”.

4. Köttrymd (Flesh space)

The non-digital world and the opposite to cyber space. For example: “I’m going to log off Facebook for a while and see what’s going on in flesh space.”

But nothing can really beat the best new Swedish word of 2012:

1. Tårtgate (Cakegate)

The political fallout when Sweden’s Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth cut into a cake shaped as a stereotype of a black woman, invoking images of female mutilation. For example: “She should resign over Cakegate!”

You really should follow the link above to see the image. It’s hard to know if it is that quirky ultra libertarian left Swedish Art humour, or if it’s an actual honest to his-noodly-greatness act of political suicide. I guess either reason just adds to the list of reasons why we would like to be Swedish – it’s very funny if it’s meant to be humorous, and it’s very funny if it’s political suicide. Either way, we all win.

For those that want to go right down the rabbit hole, there’s also the ubiquitous ten X words you wont find in Y (X = Swedish, Y = English).


Well, this was always going to blow up I guess. And it’s blowing up in a way that justifies my posting – a couple of mentions here and there, but fffffat have taken the cake (lololololololololo): http://www.ogooglebar.se/

fffffat were also good enough to point me somewhere that I really should have gone last night: the Swedish Language Council’s press release in this regard – a magnificent slap down. To complete the loop of creepy, I present it here, as translated by Google Translate (evil laugh!):

Google does not own the language!


The company Google has wooed Language Council to amend the definition of the word ogooglebar the new order list. Today we instead delete the word and marks while our displeasure with Google’s attempt to control the language.

We have removed ogooglebar from the new order list. Why? One of the things that Språkrådet is known is the annual new order list. It is published at the end of the year and usually lead to discussions of word to be or not to be, their fitness and longevity.One purpose of neologisms list is to show how society and language development, interacting with each other. On the 2012 list was the word ogooglebar with, in the sense ‘that can not be found on the web using a search engine’. But since the new order list was presented in December 2012, the company Google has worked to influence the Language Council of Management of the word. Google refers to the laws that protect brands and want the Language Council amends the definition version of the name Google in the definition and add a ‘disclaimer’ where we emphasize that Google is a trademark.

Språkrådet have tried to explain the new order list in proposing solutions that do that we do not deviate from our basic approach to language. No one can define words which must be in the language or languages ​​of the users’ definition of a word. The definition Language Council states have been formulated based on how the word is used in Swedish., we have neither the time nor the inclination to pursue the lengthy process that Google is trying to launch. Nor do we compromise and change the definition of ogooglebar to it that the company wants. It would go against our principles – and language principles. Google has namely forgot one thing: language development do not care about brand protection. No individual can decide about the language. Whoever in the future googling on ogooglebar will not only find the wording that Google wanted to change, and that will remain online despite Language Council amended the list. Anyone looking will also find all the possible comments that follow after the news spread that word removed. That is how the internet world works.


Who decides the language? We do language users. We decide together which words should be and how they are defined, used and spelled. The language is the result of an ongoing democratic process. Everyone is in deciding which words are established in the language by choosing the words we use. Do we want ogooglebar the language we will use the word and it is our use determines meaning – no multinational company with leverage.

Words, Poetry, Translation and Boredom

For at least a decade my favourite website has been Ubuweb. Not in the visit-it-twice-a-day category like BoingBoing – more like a hot cross bun or a mango – it’s made more special because it’s visited infrequently.

UbuWeb’s main trade is in the otherwise unfindable, the undesirable, the unlistenable, the unreadable – a treasure trove of avant garde artists and their art. And more over. As a long time fan of the avant garde and outsider art, I am constantly shocked at how little I know from within the archive.

There’s the obvious points of reference – Yoko Ono, Dali, Foucault, Kinski, and Cage. Then there’s the less obvious – almost contemporary provocatuer Stewart Home‘s films and music, Ergo Phizmiz, Delia Derbyshire, Hoffman and Rubin, and Guy Debord. Then there’s those that are just plain…well, obscure. Like

If you are feeling overwhelmed I recommend the strategy of finding your birthday within one or both of the 365 Days projects and listening to what you find.

Kenneth Goldsmith is the founder of UbuWeb and MoMA‘s first Poet Laureate, amongst other things, and this interview in The Awl is a must read. Expounding on patchwriting (“post editing” in translation) and plagiarism, poetry, the internet and the new spaces for art he is absolutely mesmerising. In keeping with the theme of the piece, and because you should be reading the whole thing yourself, I’ll only reproduce the juiciest segments.

On his latest book Seven American Deaths and Disasters, a transcription of radio and news reports of national disasters and the peeling back of the media’s façade:

These DJs woke up thinking they were going to the station for a regular day and then they were in the position of having to narrate, say, 9-11 or the Kennedy assassination, to the world. They were completely unprepared and in their speech, you can hear this. It’s stunning. The slick curtain of media is torn, revealing acrobatic linguistic improvisations. There was a sense of things spinning out of control: facts blurred with speculation as the broadcasters attempted to furiously weave convincing narratives from shards of half-truths. Usually confident DJs were now riding by the seat of their pants, splaying raw emotion across the airwaves: smooth speech turned to stutter, laced with doubt and fear. Unhinged from their media personalities, these DJs became ordinary citizens, more like guys in a bar than representatives of purported rationality and truth. Opinions—some of them terribly misinformed—inflected and infected their supposedly objective reportage. Racism and xenophobia were rampant— somehow the DJs couldn’t help themselves.

His latest books were:

(interviewer) Your 2000 book Fidget transcribes every single movement your body made during thirteen hours. In your 2003 book, Day, you chronologically re-typed every single word from every page of a copy of The New York Times. Your later trilogy, Weather, Traffic and Sports, transcribe random radio reports. Now with Seven American Deaths and Disasters you’re transcribing reports of specific events.

On teaching students to copy and steal – plagiarize – to use it as a creative tool:

The students that take my class know how to write. I can hone their skills further but instead I choose to challenge them to think in new and different ways. Many of them know how to plagiarize but they always do it on the sly, hoping not to get caught. In my class, they must plagiarize or they will be penalized. They are not allowed to be original or creative. So it becomes a very different game, one in which they’re forced to defend choices that they are making about what they’re plagiarizing and why. And when you start to dig down, you’ll find that those choices are as original and as unique as when they express themselves in more traditional types of writing, but they’ve never been trained to think about it in this way.

You see, we are faced with a situation in which the managing of information has become more important than creating new and original information. Take Boing Boing, for instance. They’re one of the most powerful blogs on the web, but they don’t create anything, rather they filter the morass of information and pull up the best stuff. The fact of Boing Boing linking to something far outweighs the thing that they’re linking to. The new creativity is pointing, not making. Likewise, in the future, the best writers will be the best information managers.

On words and writing and the change that they have gone through with new technologies:

This is a great challenge to traditional notions of writing. In the digital age, language (aka code) has become materialized, taking on a whole new dimension (although one that had been proposed throughout various avant-garde movements during the twentieth-century: futurisms, concrete poetry, and language poetry, and so forth—which is why the 20th c. avant-garde is more relevant than ever).

Words are no longer just for telling stories. Now language is digital and physical. It can be poured into any conceivable container: text typed into a Microsoft Word document can be parsed into a database, visually morphed in Photoshop, animated in Flash, pumped into online text-mangling engines, spammed to thousands of email addresses and imported into a sound editing program and spit out as music; the possibilities are endless.

On boredom and inspiration:

John Cage said, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” So what is boring? I find narrative boring. I find truth boring. I once wrote an essay called Being Boring where I claim to be the most boring writer who has ever lived. I can’t even read my own books—I keep falling asleep. But they’re great to talk about and think about. So I think we need to redefine our relationship to boring. Reality TV is boring with all the boring parts taken out of it. Instead, go watch An American Family from the early 70s, at this weird moment where mainstream TV fell under the spell of Andy Warhol. You’ll never be bored in the same way again.

I don’t think that journalists can be boring because to do so would be to shed too much truth on what they do. They’re mostly writing boring stuff, they’re bored, their editors are bored, and their readers are also bored, but nobody will admit it. Again, it’s here that Warhol is prescient. When asked if he reads reviews of his works, he replied, that he doesn’t—he only adds up the column inches.

His radio show on WFMU:

(interviewer) I did radio with you at WFMU in the mid-00s. Your radio show, which ran from 1995-2010, seemed to push the format as far as possible. By 2010 you were broadcasting three hours of silence, which you would break every thirty minutes with a station ID. The station staff was often angry with you and the listeners always complained it was the most unlistenable radio imaginable. 

On poetry and writing as a living in an age of advanc(ed/ing) technology – and what “being a writer” means:

…the emerging poet Steven Zultanski just put out what I feel to be perhaps the most important book of his generation called Agony. In the old days, this one book alone would’ve made his career. Now it’s just another in a sea of Lulu publications and Facebook likes.


Literary works—and careers—might function the same way that memes do today on the web, spreading like wildfire for a short period, often unsigned and un-authored, only to be supplanted by the next ripple. While the author won’t die, we might begin to view authorship in a more conceptual way: perhaps the best authors of the future will be ones who can write the best programs with which to manipulate, parse and distribute language-based practices. Even if, as Christian Bök claims, poetry in the future will be written by machines for other machines to read, there will be, for the foreseeable future, someone behind the curtain inventing those drones; so that even if literature is reducible to mere code—an intriguing idea—the smartest minds behind them will be considered our greatest authors.

Read through to the end for the easter egg, the master stroke…

Warhol claimed that, “Art is what you can get away with,” something I am inspired by. Artists ask questions, and they don’t give answers. Artists make messes and leave it for others to clean up. I’ve left a long trail of appropriated texts, dishonest statements, and brutal pranks. I’ve stolen things that weren’t mine and have made a career out of forgery and dishonesty. I’m proudly fraudulent. And it’s served me well—I highly recommend it as an artistic strategy.