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Cargo Cult – an extract from Alberto Toscano & Jeff Kinkle’s Cartographies of the Absolute

This is an extract from Cartographies of the Absolute, the new book by Alberto Toscano & Jeff Kinkle, out later this month from Zer0 – TS

Cargo Cult

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Cargo Cult is a photomontage from Martha Rosler’s series Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain, produced between 1966 and 1972. The series, starkly inter-cutting the devices of female domestic labour (fridges, washing machines) and commodified nudity, was produced – initially for political circulation and intervention rather than gallery display – concurrently with Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful (1967-72), another series which projects the imperialist carnage of the Vietnam War into the feminised décor of American domestic space. Though its theme – the profitable ‘industrialisation’ of women’s beauty – is blunt enough, the possible connotations of the image are not exhausted by its apparently direct materialist-feminist intention.

The term ‘cargo cults’ is commonly used to refer to the collective ritualistic practices of certain groups, principally in Melanesia and Micronesia in the Pacific, which reacted to the traumatic encounter with colonial power and capitalist technology by mimicking the appearances of the devices of alien domination (say, by building a wooden airport and airplane) in the messianic belief that this would bring the ‘cargo’, the unexplained plethora of goods which the white man – who could never be seen producing these goods – seemed to dispose of in unlimited amounts. In the 1950s and 1960s radical anthropologists – most memorably Peter Worsley, in his The Trumpet Shall Sound (1957) showed that, against a condescending gaze on this primitive reaction, many dimensions of the cargo cults showed a rational response to both the trauma and the fluctuations of capital (a system which viewed from these islands seemed to involve no production and a thoroughly irrational and unpredictable fluctuation in values). Continue reading Cargo Cult – an extract from Alberto Toscano & Jeff Kinkle’s Cartographies of the Absolute

Austrians Everywhere!

This post is by Carl Neville, author of Classless: Recent Essays on British Film and No More Heroes?: Steroids, Cocaine, Finance and Film in the 70s. He is writing Resolution Way for Repeater. — P.J.


Austrians Everywhere

In 1990 body-builder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an ex Mr Olympia and probably the biggest box office star of the previous decade, gave an enthusiastic introduction to an updated edition of Milton Friedman’s highly influential 1980 TV series Free To Choose.

This what he said:

“Hi, I am Arnold Schwarzenegger. I would like a moment of your time because I wanted you to know something. I wanted you to know about Dr. Milton Friedman’s TV series, Free to Choose. I truly believe that the series has changed my life. When you have such a powerful experience as that, I think you shouldn’t keep it to yourself, I wanted to share it with you.

Being free to choose for me means being free to make your own decisions; free to live your own life; pursue your own goals; chase your own rainbow; without the government breathing down on your neck or standing on your shoes. For me that meant coming here to America. Because I came from a socialistic country in which the government controls the economy. It is a place where you can hear 18 year old kids already talking about their pension. But me, I wanted more. I wanted to be the best. Individualism like that is incompatible with socialism. So I felt I had to come to America. I had no money in my pocket, but here I had the freedom to get it. I have been able to parlay my big muscles into big business and a big movie career. Along the way I was able to save and invest and I watched America change and I noticed this, that the more the government interfered and intervened and inserted itself into the free market, the worse the country did. But when the government stepped back and let the free enterprise system do its work, then the better we did, the more robust our economy grew, the better I did, and the better my business grew, and the more I was able to hire and help others. Continue reading Austrians Everywhere!

#VoteSyriza2015 rolling coverage by journalist Kevin Ovenden

Please follow this link for Kevin Ovenden’s rolling coverage of the 2015 Greek General Election on January 25.

44-kevin-ovenden Kevin Ovenden is a longstanding progressive journalist, writer and activist who has followed Greece’s politics and social movements for 25 years. A National Officer of the Stop the War Coalition and a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, he led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010.

Please support this venture. Kevin’s reporting is funded by the sale of ‘Syriza: Greek For Hope’ T-shirts , get yours from Philosophy Football

Syriza s-s

Page 3 was the least offensive thing in The Sun

We’re cross-posting (with permission) this great piece by desiredxthings on the demise of Page 3 — T.S.


A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE DEMISE OF PAGE 3

Well, the tits are gone and now all of our lives are meaningless. Wherever will feminism go now the patriarchy is crushed?

The No More Page 3 campaign has been a mess from the beginning – it was the online milieu of the middle class, white feminists who have been stomping all over minorities for decades. Anti slut-shaming has become trendy, so rather than telling other women not to get their breasts out in the first place, mainstream feminism is dictating how and when to get your breasts out – and evidently getting your breasts out for payment is verboten. But this is okay, of course.

It initially came across as a fairly benign campaign, to keep boobs out of a family paper. We can’t have kiddies staring at norks, can we? But… to try and position The Sun as a family newspaper, a main argument of NMP3, is laughable. If you want your children to have access to misogyny, homophobia, racism, antagonism towards those on state welfare, ableism, xenophobia, whorephobia and a whole host of other oppressive bullshit, that’s your own bad parenting; but don’t call it a family newspaper.

Let’s get this straight, I don’t really care about the titillation of men and I’m not even going to trouble myself analysing this as a free speech issue – those aren’t what I’m concerned about. I’m concerned as a sex-worker in a time where the well-funded face of feminism sees us, at best, as an inconvenience on the journey to the gender equal utopia and, at worst, despicable gender traitors. No More Page 3 has tried to deny claims that they are opposed to sex workers or nudity; that’s all well and good, but why does what they do completely counteract that? Their claim is that other glamour modelling opportunities exist; but they either fail to grasp or completely ignore the importance of page 3 to a glamour model. The Sun is the most popular publication in the country and high circulation means higher exposure. One photo in The Sun can lead to countless other opportunities. NMP3 have removed a stepping stone for many glamour models (many of which do not have agents and have to navigate the industry alone) and hacked away at a career route. Continue reading Page 3 was the least offensive thing in The Sun

Ambient House: “This was the sound of that future”

Among other things, including presenting a radio show (The Mystery Lesson) Daniel Spicer will be doing a book on Turkish Psychedelia for Repeater. This is his review of the Ambient House: The Compilation by DFC. — P.J.


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How often does a compilation album change your life? It happened to me very early one morning in 1990 when I was a first-year undergraduate living in halls of residence in Manchester. Towards the end of an LSD trip, just as dawn was beginning to grey the sky, an LP I’d never heard before ended up on my friend’s cheap plastic turntable, squatting like an oracle on the carpet of his tiny box-like room. It stayed there for the rest of the trip and, as we played it over and over, it completely and irrevocably rewired everything I thought I understood about the potential form and function of music.

The album was – and remains – an enigma to me: Ambient House, a 10-track collection, compiled and released by a benignly anonymous pan-European body calling itself Dance Floor Corporation. The sleeve notes, in a cheerfully translated English, promised “a revolutionary new form of dance music that mixes moody atmospheric sounds of new age and ambient music with pulsating house beats.” This wasn’t what I was used to at all. I was a white teenager from suburban South East England, brought up on rock and folk, with a nascent interest in jazz. To me, the recent explosion in dance music meant flimsy radio fodder like S-Express and Black Box. It was something you heard in shopping centres and fast food outlets. I’d never even for a moment considered that anything to do with house music might be worthy of attention. But here, as the sleeve notes proclaimed, were audio concoctions designed to live “in your hearts, not the charts.” In the hours that followed, those sounds beamed new information directly into my brain, like the revealing purple light of Philip K. Dick’s toothache delirium.

The KLF’s “Last Train To Trancentral” collages field recordings of rumbling freight trains, clanging bells and bleating sheep with soaring, sci-fi synths; The Orb’s “A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules The World From The Centre Of The Ultra-World” swirls together wafting choral vocals, ascending heavenly chords and an impossibly incongruous sample of Minnie Ripperton singing “Loving You”, all somehow oblivious of and unconnected to the tough electro rhythm shoving it on like an unstoppable, intergalactic engine. These two tracks have since become well-known examples of the genre but, to these ears at least, still sound fresh and otherworldly. If some of the other selections have aged less well they were, at the time, equally mysterious. “Transparenza” by Extreme builds a humid exoticism around a circular three-note keyboard riff and repeated samples of a droplet of moisture plopping into a pool and a single, sensuous human exhalation. Sueño Latino’s self-titled track samples Manuel Göttsching’s minimal electro-kosmische prototype, E2-E4, adding rainforest canopy chatter and Balearic piano, as though soundtracking a lost afternoon in some mythical jungle cocktail bar.

But it was the timeless perfection of “NYC Smile On Me” by Aqua Regia that took me furthest away from any psycho-cerebral situation I’d ever encountered before: an endlessly repeating orchestral sample of unfolding sun-burst joy, riding a gentle acid thump and the quintessential, toe-curling 303 wibble. A female voice, squirming in distraught ecstasy, exclaims “Oh, God, please, oh God, I can’t stand it, 24 hours a day.” It felt like a slice of eternity, something that had been happening forever, something that was always happening, never-ending in some untroubled plane of existence, to which we were simply allowed access for a few minutes at a time by dropping the needle on the record. As the dawn strained through a milky, overcast sky back in 1990, my friends and I narrowed the album down to this one track, constantly repeated as we clung on to an inexorably evaporating high. Even now, almost a quarter of a century later, it still sounds like boundless optimism.

For me, this album did something that all great compilations should do: it provided a glimpse of a whole new world of sound and adventure, an alternate reality that was already there, fully-formed, ready to be passionately embraced, given over to, completely immersed in. I’m talking specifically about a special moment in the early 1990s when the counterculture seemed to be experiencing a surge of bright, fresh, optimistic momentum; when the present seemed about to collide with a glorious, inevitable utopian future of designer drugs, smart drinks, cybernetics, neuromancy and virtual reality. It’s absolutely right that the gatefold cover of Ambient House is bursting with lurid Madelbrot Set fractals. Scientific hedonism was going to blow our minds and there was nothing we could do to stop it. For me, this music was the sound of that future beginning to happen, of the great transformation made manifest, right there in that small room in Manchester. It encouraged me, invited me, compelled me to throw myself with utter conviction into the swiftly coalescing vectors of UK rave culture. I didn’t waste any time.

Daniel Spicer

Blog: A little introduction

We are people who discovered, during our years working together on our previous project, Zero Books, that in general it is easier to assume that the public is stupid than it is to find a truly stupid reader. As Tariq Goddard, publisher of Repeater, has often said, it pays off to overestimate the intelligence of your readers.

One obvious, and particularly unfortunate, consequence of the way everything in the media and the arts keeps sounding a little dumber is that intellectual courage ever more easily dwindles; the freedom to say something critical and insightful is still there, but it is made to look like a burden, or something only an elitist would cherish. And artistically, the exhilaration of doing something new might as well come with a health warning: “This brings financial ruin.” Whatever the reality, it feels like it is harder than ever to justify serious artistic risks on economic grounds, as if that were the point.

These are old complaints. No need to be nostalgic; every age will have its jeremiads. What is spurring us on at Repeater is the knowledge, which we have gained through practical experience, that it is perfectly possible to raise the tone of hard political discussions without losing readers. It is not some messianic avant-garde that will shock the world out of its slumber: people have always been awake and murmuring. Speak up.

Likewise, artistic risks are as valuable as ever, and we know they can be more rewarding, to more people, more often than our cynical cultural assumptions would admit. If those who distribute art — publishers, for example — would only take equivalent risks, this would be made plainly evident. This is the gap we want to help fill.

We are still setting things up: tweaking contracts, making sure we iron out some of the weird kinks that always come up in the initial stages of projects like this. We’ve always improvised a lot. That’s part of the point.

We’re going to be using this blog as a way of promoting things our authors are working on, sharing extracts from our titles, and cross-posting from other blogs or sites with which we have some friendly affiliation. We also hope to have some original content, submitted by our own authors. At the moment, it looks like we will be splitting curating duties. Please get in touch if you have any ideas or you want to help.

— PJ