Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Question: To Post or Not to Post

eden ollie one arm 21c blacked out faces cropThe cute, defaced.

Some of you may have noticed I’m haven’t been posting much. There are reasons for that. Here’s one reason:

I am experiencing a great ambivalence about using the Internet, and putting “content” on the Internet, not just on the Tent Show, but in particular on Facebook and Twitter, because every word, image, click is a donation, an abdication of self and others to the great hydraulic engines of surveillance capital.

“Great hydraulic engines of surveillance capital” is a high-falutin’ way to put it, but here’s the spot where it rubs: I take many, many pictures of my grandchildren, and I used to post these pictures on Facebook for friends and relatives to view. Now I have trouble persuading myself to share these images via Facebook, even though Facebook is the primary conduit between me and most people I know, particularly my family. But the thought that thousands of images and posts of and about my grandchildren will belong to Facebook, and be the dominating narrative of their childhood, as “curated” by Facebook, is deeply disturbing. All done without their adult consent. And people all “around me” continue to post such things to Facebook with apparent thoughtless abandon.

I want to share all the pretty pictures of my grandkids too, but this is where I feel most the acute sense of apprehension about posting anything online. Particularly anything personal, but even a meme or viddy posted is a data point collected. I don’t feel the personal danger, but that the whole enterprise has gone wrong, or been wrong from the start, and that contributing my mite to monetized parasocial media like Facebook is giving to the wrongness, not subverting it. Rather, the medium absorbs and converts any subversive intent into commerce.

So, Pilgrims, I’m asking what you think (crowd-sourcing, in today’s parlance). I should disregard the apprehension I feel, and post rants on the Tent Show and pics of grandkids on Facebook, with rueful ruthlessness? Resign myself to/embrace the role of me and mine as spare change in the algorithmic cloud banks of Mark Zuckerberg’s back pocket? Is there a middle way? Or no way?

My grandkids are really impossibly cute.

 

 

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Grendel’s Laundry List: Bentham on Stilts

jeremy-benthams-head-qmark-holgaMummified head of Jeremy Bentham

That which has no existence cannot be destroyed — that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts. But this rhetorical nonsense ends in the old strain of mischievous nonsense for immediately a list of these pretended natural rights is given, and those are so expressed as to present to view legal rights. And of these rights, whatever they are, there is not, it seems, any one of which any government can, upon any occasion whatever, abrogate the smallest particle.

Whenever you are about to be oppressed, you have a right to resist oppression: whenever you conceive yourself to be oppressed, conceive yourself to have a right to make resistance, and act accordingly. In proportion as a law of any kind—any act of power, supreme or subordinate, legislative, administrative, or judicial, is unpleasant to a man, especially if, in consideration of such its unpleasantness, his opinion is, that such act of power ought not to have been exercised, he of course looks upon it as oppression: as often as anything of this sort happens to a man—as often as anything happens to a man to inflame his passions,—this article, for fear his passions should not be sufficiently inflamed of themselves, sets itself to work to blow the flame, and urges him to resistance. Submit not to any decree or other act of power, of the justice of which you are not yourself perfectly convinced. If a constable call upon you to serve in the militia, shoot the constable and not the enemy;—if the commander of a press-gang trouble you, push him into the sea—if a bailiff, throw him out of the window. If a judge sentence you to be imprisoned or put to death, have a dagger ready, and take a stroke first at the judge.

The day has been, I grieve to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not Can they reason?, nor Can they talk?, but Can they suffer?

Jeremy Bentham, A Critical Examination of the Declaration of Rights