Weeknotes 2013.1

Weeknotes again. Here we go…!

I got back to Brooklyn on Saturday to find that my ceiling had fallen into my bed.

Presented the laundromat with the most gigantic crusty ambiguous stain ever, preemptively babbling about radiators-and-how-its-like-not-blood-or-body-fluids-I-swear, but then got the weird suspicion that they wouldn’t care if it was and then spent the rest of the day wondering if that’s just like a thing they deal with all the time and if there’s an SVU episode in there for me to write.

Anyway, like the other Casey Gollan always says:

Got the cheap ($5!) shitty bike of my dreams from mom for christmas. Bought a helmet and lock.

Biked to Manhattan and back for a meeting about working for free. Biked home fast.

Realized how much getting a bike is like getting a dog, namely that you hate people who have dogs and bikes for being so annoying about it until you get a bike and suddenly everyone who you used to be able to make fun of bikers with now despises your cooing.

Felt bored so I IM’d every Facebook friend that was online at the same time. This is the best use of Facebook I’ve found since uploading an entire book. You feel like you are FLYING slash trying to man all the phones in a busy call center and then people come over because nobody’s doing anything on Facebook anyway and you just like rip all the paintings off the wall in excitement.

Then it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I read some of his writing:

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advised the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

And in my head I couldn’t stop thinking about a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.

I was also chewing on this part:

"I hope you can see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law as the rabid segregationist would do. This would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do it, openly, lovingly (not hatefully as the white mothers did in New Orleans when they were seen on television screaming, “nigger, nigger, nigger”), and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust—and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice—is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law."

I had just read the Guerilla Open Access Cookbook, which has some good parts like:

"We must abandon the image of the lone hacker as the symbol of our movement and recognize that any successful guerilla movement depends on the work of people filling many different roles.

But it also deals a lot, in part through that distribution of roles, with working around a system without getting caught. “It is unwise to be an open voice for radical illegal action and also its agent.” This seems to go against MLK’s public stoic acceptance of penalties and reverence for just laws. I was reading the GOA Cookbook, of course, in the aftermath of Aaron Swartz’s suicide, which I at first observed as cautiously separated-out from his legal troubles…and then saw it definitively smashed together. So it’s confusing, how laws can crush people and if they should stand up or be covert.

Other good MLK things:

This quote about fixing systems, or as he so eloquently puts it: restructuring edifices that produce injustice…in the name of compassion!

"A true revolution of value will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies…True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth"

And, on politicians watering things down, Cornel West Explains Why It Bothers Him That Obama Will Be Taking The Oath With MLK’s Bible:

It’s in the back of my head to read and watch more MLK soon.

But then, a stream of the worst panel I’ve ever seen came on and Aaron and I watched people our age bloviate about their artistic practices. The theme of the panel was: born before 1989. AND YET everyone had founded some sort of Institute legitimizing their practice. More than once, images of NOTHING, like a cardboard box, would appear on screen and the speaker would explain, “This is a project on sustainable networked shelter interventions deployed throughout blah blah blah.” Another panelist explained a group they had founded which releases research reports about technology and commerce, dropping brand names like FIT BIT but apparently using, “imaginary data from our wrist bands that didn’t work”. Or something.

I don’t. Even know.

I could probably argue the flip side of this: that speculative projects are actually really exciting because being young you don’t have resources to like actually do certain kinds of stuff and you don’t need to anyway if you can think about it, render it, and share it, and how it’s both possible and relevant for young artists to pretend to be institutions because on the internet nobody knows you’re a DOG. That’s plausible.

It’s more plausible, however, that International Art English enables anyone who has been through art school to EXPLAIN to a room of people who travel on global conference and art world circuits how a cut up cardboard box is mind-blowingly subversive and provocative. The part that I guess made me sour besides boring work tinted by art-professional-ism, was the youth-exploitation-factor behind curators presenting “the next generation to watch out for”.

I had responded to a vague request from these same people over break, not really knowing what it was about. But watching the stream put in me a mood to SALT THE EARTH. So, in a rage blackout I wrote a few angry tweets and sent this NOT A THREAT I SWEAR email.

Even if I burn all the bridges in the world I will probably still end up on a panel talking about my godforsaken keywords: “system design, software studies, trolling, activism, and idleness.” I cringe now looking at the bio I sent them…

Casey Gollan was born in 1991 in Los Angeles, California. He lives in New York where he is about to finish studying at Cooper Union — if the administration decides to grant him a degree after all the trouble he’s caused them.

His work crosses wires between autobiographical writing, system design, software studies, trolling, activism, and idleness. He has written about software as politics for Rhizome.org and post-internet art for Pooool.info.

SO LIKE why did I write that?! It’s painful to gauge my own amount of hot air (90%?) and think about the lame industries which lay ahead: panel discussions and curators and writers who want to be published.

Other people’s KEYWORDS: liminal identities, the intersection of gender, religion, and technology in the Gulf, Amazonian jungle in relation to the ones that wonder too deep, the pedantic qualities of the Broadcast as a language, class differences, social stratification, cultural capital, class imitation and seduction, hierarchies, power relations, charity, empathy, psychological relationships with globalized phenomena catalyzed by the Internet, the hyper-sexual consumer-driven ego-centric society of the then and now, the dynamics of urban space, gentrification, the artistic act of inserting work into the public domain.

Tyler rewrote my bio for me after I sent him the one above:

Casey was born in LA. After failing as a child star the family packed up and moved to the New York suburbs in hopes that his younger sister Niki could make it on Broadway. After finding himself one night in the East Village, Casey discovered that there is actually more to nothing than most think. Since then Casey has spent most of his time in the void creating PDFs and preaching the gospel of Github. Casey is adept at using the computer and has a lot of thoughts about the internet and administrative bloat. When he isn’t impersonating Lana Del Rey, Casey is most likely found creating the world he wants to live in at the beach. Going from bloat to boat, Casey splits his time between a condo in Boca and a Williamsburg flat. Casey has no children.

Commodify that, bitches.

Tuesday was my last first day of school. Biked there! Tried with Kristi and Jon to put up Hope’s banner again, since all the building’s Free Cooper flair came down over break, but it snapped three separate times. Waiting for more cooperative weather and people who are better at rigging banners.

Art history was cancelled. Ran around a little bit trying to organize for a protest outside a board committee meeting at one. That meeting turned out to not exist. I wrote about the goose chase on the Save Cooper group:

The Case of the Phantom Meeting

In a Nov. 14 email Jamshed Bharucha wrote, “[A] special meeting of the Board of Trustees will be scheduled for late January to decide on our course of action.” On Calcium (events.cooper.edu), the Board Room had been reserved for an “Executive Committee Meeting” today from 12 - 5pm.

Just before noon, students gathered to go stand outside the meeting, while two students planned to go inside to take public minutes and livestream.

Only…there was no meeting. The lights in the Board Room were out and the door was closed.

A student elsewhere in the building said that she heard an older man and woman talking about the meeting, and that they would “Skype in from within the building”.

Four students went up to Jamshed Bharucha’s office and handed a petition for student representation at Board meetings with 434 signatures to Lawrence Cacciatore.

I went up to the office and asked Geoffrey Olsen about the meeting. I’d think he would know, being the one who confirms Student Council’s Board Chair meetings. Geoffrey said there is no meeting today.

Lawrence popped out of Jamshed’s office to shut the door, and ask me if I could come back later because he is “in the middle of three things”. I asked Geoffrey about the March Board Meeting being rescheduled, as Kelly from CUAA had reported below to this group, and he said it has not been rescheduled.

I made an appointment with Geoffrey to meet with Lawrence tomorrow at 11am. I hope to clear up this misunderstanding, get correct meeting dates, get an updated list of who is on what committee, and check-in on the bylaw archive that he refused to let me help with, promising that it would be online by the end of December.

I bumped into David William, who coordinates events in the School of Art, and asked him who reserves rooms on Calcium? He directed me to Brenda Ferebee, the college’s Coordinator of Records and Room Reservations, who I tried calling. She didn’t pick up.

Going into the computer lab across the street, I noticed that all the blinds in Jamshed’s office were down, while him and Lawrence (and maybe others?) were in there.

It’s our first day back at Cooper and students are ready to go(!). But we’re already contending with disappearing meetings and straight answers from nobody.

Who reserved a room for a meeting that isn’t happening? Is this meeting happening now? Did it already happen? Is it happening in the next 8 days, as “late January” comes to a close?

One of our librarians got back to me in the comments and said that the bylaws/archive/git-like administrative workflows project I had been pursuing had actually rolled along a little bit and there were PDFs online now. So I scraped those haphazardly versioned PDFs into Markdown, threw them into a Github repo, and wrote a little screed.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

A lot of people have approached me up in arms about shutting up unless I’ve got a financial solution. I’m of the opinion that financial solutions with any integrity at all will only happen in conjunction with other types of more important changes: systemic, rhetorical, technical.

So here is something nerdy:

This repository contains an archive of Cooper Union's Bylaws from 1996 - 2012. Having done nothing more than pull these documents together into a folder, they already highlight the sloppy and outmoded manner in which Cooper's administrators create, distribute, and archive information.

Going forward I hope to use these documents as raw-material for experiments outlining best practices for living documents and content management systems that are transparent and accountable.

If this collection doesn’t look particularly interesting that’s because it actually isn’t! But getting access to this ostensibly public document’s history has been an arduous, bottlenecked procedure (it shouldn’t have to be)…and the collection isn’t even complete. Where, for example, are the original 1972 Bylaws which all these revisions amend? Where is the history of every document? If we weren’t keeping it already why aren’t we starting this second?

After a month of heckling the Secretary to the Board of Trustees, a mixed-bag of documents was passed to the college’s Library, whose staff quickly posted them online. The files varied substantially in formatting and accessibility and were therefore hard to compare. I set about standardizing the documents as much as possible so the ways that this governing text has changed over time can begin to surface.

The first step of this is that most of the PDFs have been converted by hand into Markdown, a plain-text writing format that provides for a little bit of structure. If you’re adventurous, you can already download the files in the /markdown directory and plug them into a diff tool like Kaleidoscope.

In my dream-world I use this space to build tools that shoehorn these principles directly into the administrative workflows responsible for creating and distributing this mess, so that ridiculous retroactive unpacking efforts such as this are not necessary.

But this is a start.

The original documents were accessed from the library website on January 23rd, 2013. The six PDF files available on via the library are archived in the /pdf directory of this repository. One version of the bylaws, made available by the library in HTML, is not yet archived here.

┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ)

On Wednesday I realized I had missed a karaoke birthday party the night before because I was, um, busy reformatting governance documents.

Met with Lawrence, Secretary to the Board of Trustees, and I showed him my Bylaws Repo and explained how this accountability could be built into the way things run around here and not have to be some bottlenecked late night rogue archival project. He wrote down the word “stigmergy”, which is the title of the best post in a series of writing on Systems of Mass Collaboration by Heather Marsh that I read over the break. That felt like some abstract kind of progress, although ultimately he told me my expectations for how I want Cooper’s administration to function are too high. Really. He said this. And then went on to confirm the extent to which a kind of purposeless toxic incompetent secrecy and disorganization plague Cooper’s management. For example, he confirmed that it is not public information — not for us to know! — when the board meets, where they meet, what they talk about, and who is on what committee. I get that um, some corporations and institutions are private, but, like, we are being governed completely in secret by a board to whom we have no recourse and who doesn’t have to tell us what they do or who does what. Oh yeah, and my expectation — that they disclose these simple facts and archiving their documents in a way where they don’t just disappear — is too much to ask. Got it.

The real shame is that the board members are the owners but not the stakeholders here. Sure, they are generously volunteering their time to lead this institution and each donating some money, but when it shuts down or turns to shit because the trustees can’t be expected to listen to their constituents or run their proceedings in a legible manner, it’s the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who really lose out. Trustees maybe have their reputation dinged for a little bit or something.

In other governance-ish news, I discovered a majorly stupid security flaw in the multi-million dollar unified database thingy that our shopping-addict Vice President decided to go ahead and buy, so that I or anybody could pretty easily log into most accounts. Which I didn’t. I met with somebody who is going to try to fix it. This system cost millions of dollars and it sucks. There are six “password complexity rules” that end up making me forget my password and having to spend ten minutes figuring out a new one every time I want to log in. There is no justice!

Realized, when I was signing up for sculpture, that my Wednesday class is really small and we are all friends already, so I got a class list and we all got margs beforehand. Niki did her insane sculpture rant and everyone giggled.

Put on Century of the Self in an empty room and watched it in a marathon showing with Alex and and a few other people who walked by. But fell asleep before getting to the end of the last part.

On Thursday I attempted to clear everyone’s lock-in shit out of my studio, which proved unsuccessful.

Wrote a little post about weird spam emails I’ve been getting.

Had a “drawing” class with Seth, who is a visiting artist, and it was fun because he isn’t one of the old-timers who just goes on a tirade. Went around introducing ourselves and it felt butterfly-y like a real first day.

I was handed-off a folder with a few missing pieces for my bylaw archive by the library.

The envelope had been used and reused so at points it had held things from the Vice President and CONFIDENTIAL things from a financial lady and now on the last line it had my name including the fake aristocratic preposition which indicates we-met-on-Facebook.

Anyway, Documents on paper. I felt weirdly like I had…nothing to do with them.

Sherry Turkle gingerly laments how hitting [send] is the most important part of having feelings today. “Technology does not cause but encourages a sensibility in which the validation of a feeling becomes part of establishing it, even part of the feeling itself…things move from ‘I have a feeling, I want to make a call’ to ‘I want to have a feeling, I need to make a call,’ or in her case, send a text. What is not being cultivated here is the ability to be alone and reflect on one’s emotions in private.” I don’t know if she’s right. I mean, I don’t want to think she’s right. I mean I want to think well I read her book therefore I can have an emotion without posting about it see!

But then I was opening and closing the INTER-DEPARTMENT DELIVERY folder’s little red string clasp like an idiot because I never intended to read the words end-to-end, and I didn’t actually reeeead the versions, and I don’t intend to proper. I copied and pasted and refactored and saved and committed and SHAREd a feeling I had about what the words mean and do. It’s so stupid and simple that you have to print something out to get me to read it. BECAUSE “Digital language foregrounds its material aspect in ways that were hidden before…its malleability, language as putty, language to wrap your hands around, to caress, mold, strangle." And being passed ink-and-paper in the middle of a text-as-in-bits basketball game is like being thrown a brick.

It’s something I thought about the other day when I read what Allen wrote:

Printed publications can be categorized by how they bracket time — dailys, weeklies, monthlies, quarterlies, annuals — and are as much tied to their pace of production as to their worldview of what is the most interesting span of time?

We haven’t yet formed good answers to this online. Streams reflect our ability to instantly put things out there, but what is the right amount of time to talk about an idea? To deep-dive into a subject? To have an argument? To celebrate, or to mourn?

One answer: every possible timespan. Online publications and content are, at their core, databases. In a way that printed things are not. Query your content 10 different ways! Show me a stream! Show me a graph! Show me > 1 year ago next to today and shuffle it every five seconds! Show me them all at the same time each on their own screen!

I know there’s physical hypertext and accordion books and scrolls on paper, but paper is mostly codexes to be r → e → a → d. "Everything on the internet is instantly contemporary."

Lots of thoughts that don’t make that perfect sense but are banging around:

  • "the validation of a Reading becomes part of establishing it”
  • "wrap your hands around digital language, to caress, mold, strangle"
  • "Print is tied to pace of production and worldview of what is the most interesting span of time"
  • "query your content 10 different ways"
  • When the tree that made the paper for the booklet fell I think it made a sound. But a tree falls offscreen in a videogame, for efficiency reasons, it usually won’t be rendered for reasons of efficiency so it actually never makes a sound.

Friday morning has sculpture with Dennis. Forgot how good he is at the first day rant thing. So good. Went out and bought Montaigne’s Complete Essays after he talked about it for a while.

Had Biology with Oliver, he runs Genspace, the really cool community genetics lab in Brooklyn that Kevin took us to when I had him. The class is exactly high school, but it’s okay because everything else I’m taking is similar in a way where you just sit around and rant and show and tell. So taking a high school-ish bio class feels kind of exotic and important or something. I have a feeling I’m going to be sad about not dropping it though, with homework, and quizzes, and presentations and stuff.

Aaron started a weekly freeform 15-minute Slideshow Club at school which is a really fun idea. Couldn’t decide between presenting something about genetics or business books or screens or skeuomorphs or something new or a thingy I’d been writing about Cooper. So I printed them all out. Then got REALLY cold feet and was feeling generally terrible about everything I’ve ever done and not done and am going to do. Then went out for drinks beforehand, but like WAY TOO MANY drinks. Like I only vaguely remember Slideshow Club happening and apparently spoke for 40 minutes drinks. Like everything linked to above and the drafty thing about Cooper below drinks.

Look at this list of trades that Cooper whisked students out of in 1859! Amongst the pupils were: a Coachmaker, two Melodeon makers, a Burnisher, four Penmakers, a Telegraph Operator, a Gilder, and eighteen Stone Cutters.

Last year the quarry in Connecticut that provided the Brownstone for the Foundation Building closed because it had been mined until there was nothing left. Did Cooper offer scholarships to those out of work Stone Cutters?


Global capitalism has complicated what it means to be working class in America.

Do any of the other vocations admitted in 1859 still exist today in New York City as working class jobs? Makers of Melodeons? Coaches? Telegraphs? Pens?

Do they exist as jobs at all? Maybe amongst trust-funded Brooklyn artisans capitalizing on the almost charming obsolescence of an identifiable human making factory-lined and outsourced things.

The two pens on my desk, a Sanford and a Paper Mate, are made in Korea and Mexico, respectively. But I’m not writing, I’m typing on a computer etched with the somewhat awkward phrase, “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” The subtext being that it was assembled in China by an army of anonymous workers employed by a company who’d probably rather not be named, but is actually Foxconn, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry, the #10 largest employer in the world (BBC).

Some of the other largest employers in the world today are #1 US Department of Defense, #2 People’s Liberation Army of China, #3 Walmart, and #4 McDonald’s.


Education has continued to grow into a global industry replete with teeth and tentacles. It would appear from this roster that New York City’s working classes in 1859 didn’t go to school, they went to work. I suspect that only a small minority of admitted students at Cooper today were independent, working class laborers before coming here. Today’s incoming classes arrive in orderly masses from the extended adolescence of high school.

In a recent essay Clay Shirky identified a change in higher education from being a mechanism of class mobility into a hostage situation where you either go to college or actually risk falling down the class ladder. And of course, many people’s parents work at Walmart or make lots of money but live just as outside their means as anyone else, so they can’t afford tuition.


Reading this document left me with some questions about how things have changed: When did Cooper switch from admitting the working class to admitting high schoolers on merit, irrespective of class? How has the “working class” changed in the past century-and-a-half? What’s the point of higher education today? Why does college cost so much? Despite these questions, I don’t really want to quibble about history. Cooper obviously isn’t what it was founded to be. (It’s hard to imagine how it could be…maybe by recruiting students from Walmart and Foxconn.)

But with a fair amount of patching, this place stands (precariously) as something unique in the landscape of higher education. We need to think about how to carry forward the idea of using an educational institution to do something about class immobility.


Rewriting history. An hour became 50 minutes. Tuition was never part of this mission.


It doesn’t matter. It’s what it means today. We’re strong.


James C. Scott “while the planner cannot create a functioning community, a functioning community can, within limits, improve its own condition”

Jane Jacobs community


That idea is timeless.

150 years after this institution was founded, those entrusted with its mission need to ask big questions all over again

Peter Cooper declared that this place should, “instruct, elevate, and improve the working classes of New York City without charge”. But Cooper isn’t really about educating workers anymore. It’s not a women’s school. It’s not a night school. They knew this would happen, which is why they wrote: “Of course, defects in the plan and its execution will from time to time appear, for which the remedy will be promptly applied…all suggestions for its improvement will receive a respectful consideration.”

Here’s a suggestions: those for a Free Cooper Union should return not the the historical instantiations, but to the timeless idea behind this place: using an educational institution to do something about class immobility.

Today we’re dealing with a whole different beast.

“[The Trustees] earnestly request that all persons who take an interest in popular education, will visit the institution; and from such, all suggestions for its improvement will receive respectful consideration.”

If everyone is equalized by being a high schooler heading, the hope is, to college: let us not forget that families are of different socioeconomic backgrounds, are sometimes not there or not supportive, and high school educations range in quality from boring to okay. I’ve heard insane stories from classmates and professors about life situations—dead-ends or worse—which Cooper whisked them out of. But I applied to Cooper straight out of high school from a wealthy suburb of the city, having only “worked” an unpaid internship. I knew nothing about

Later, I found out that my great-grandpa had taken classes in the engineering night school. Whoa.

But

We live in an entirely different world where this institution has, for whatever reason, emerged as a stronghold of free education. This institution has changed. from its stated intent, sometimes to “remedy defects in its plan and execution”, but recently for worse reasons.

We made it h

Bharucha told a journalist that he wants to strengthen “our commitment to access for students who most need it”

It even seems like some of the compelling Cooper Stories I’ve heard draw indirectly on the past

I don’t care about Peter Cooper’s commitment to access in 2013. I’m grateful beyond words for this institution and happy to have Peter Cooper as an icon, but actually, looking back, not every single one of his ideas is still brilliant and relevant.

The Alumni Association has been soliciting stories of where people would be “Without Cooper.” My story feels kind of conflicting.

What it means to be working class has changed.

Before college students even get to be any kind of class they go from High School to College.

„ and higher education has become a lucrative bullet-proof industry.

I’d be curious to see a socioeconomic breakdown of Cooper’s current student body today.

The planet has changed materially, culturally, socioeconomically.

We don’t live in the same world and we don’t go to the same school.

>

What do the “working classes of this city” which Cooper was founded to “” look like today?

>

Does Cooper still recruit working class?

Did these

>

I’m grateful to the Library for archiving and posting this amazing documents, but I’m tired of quibbling about history. Look what a different world it was!

Thanks to our librarians—Julie, Carol, and everyone—for archiving the document.

As you can see, that last part isn’t finished at all and there isn’t really a point yet. So I’m not sure how I got through it. In fact, I think I just like knelt over mid-sentence at some point in that and died. Somewhere in there my glasses broke too.

Later somebody told me, “your presentation had a lot of topics.” I was like, thanks.

Somehow made it to a party and there was dancing.

On Saturday went to Jackson Heights with Aaron and Tyler for infinite Indian food yay. Then MoMA. Where if you have a laptop in your backpack you have to carry it around with you. We basically saw it all and nothing did anything did anything for me oh well. In some galleries we were like WTF HOW DO WE GET OUT OF HERE WE’RE TRAPPED because I guess they curate shit all snake-like and infinite-loopy these days.

Tweeted at Susan Powter, who I can’t stop impersonating, and she fugging tweeted back.

Got contacts to replace my glasses, which are probably better suited to my spastic, flailing ways.

Then got ice cream with Aaron and we were next to Katie Holmes and Suri lol.

More dancing.

On Sunday we regrouped as Bread & Cheese aka the Cooper Lock-In to talk about our Student Judiciary hearing coming up on Friday. We will see how that plays out.

Then tagged along to Brad’s new reading group Chatroom with Aaron. Speed-read Hi Haters! by Rob Horning on the way there. Good reading. Good conversation.

Headed straight to a Spokescouncil meeting, which is the Occupy-ish structure full of mediation and painstaking horizontality that was set up for student action on the ground in December. But everyone was tired of talking about talking and lost regarding the fact that there aren’t super clear dates or goals right now and everyone hates meetings so it was hard. Seemed like people could get behind of stigmergy!!!!, a.k.a. just do things and people will help you. Although that doesn’t work for a lot of people who still want to be involved in a capacity that doesn’t involve starting projects all the time and leading them. A non-annoying structure that’s less cumbersome might not hurt but we haven’t found it yet. Really it’s all flailing all the time and always will be, I suspect. Doesn’t get easy. Makes you tired. But it’s important. Things to work on: common ground, creative actions, new shape for spokes council, meeting less often, stigmergy and sudo leadership, bylaws project, dance parties, idea oriented meetings, board meeting actions.

Had a work-related stress dream that’s actually hilarious where I was hired to design a children’s library but it had to have corporate slogans and brand names all over the chairs and stuff and I couldn’t tell if I should do the project or turn it down. One of the chairs had to have the word STOCKINGS on it, as some kind of sponsorship placeholder. Even my dreams want to go off the grid maaaan omg.

On Monday had Dore’s class. Didn’t bike because it was snowing(!). We basically just talked about whatever and she told us that’s how the class will run and she picked a random word as the title “Synartesis” and nobody has ever asked her what it means and it doesn’t matter anyway, and then read aloud to us / told us to read Nietzsche, Valery, Don Quixote, and Coleridge. I got annoyed when a few people started rambling about their ideas of objectivity, an endless discussion. But Dore was pretty insistent that we not worry about pinning things down and instead float two inches off the ground like that, speculating.

In relation to the idea of pinning down, remembered the Barr Chart, which I once almost wrote something about kind of.

And thought about the Inventing Abstraction show we’d run through at the MoMA, where years later they’re still trying to pin down art history. This time, zeitgeist-ily enough, in a graph.

Did a lot of weeknote compiling. Forgot that damn it takes a long time.

Met a client about a project.

Went to mooooore meetings for Student Council and Board Meeting action prep, which were all well and fine. I want to go to less meetings though.

Stayed up late at home discussing who would walk out of school alive if there was a post-apocalyptic hand-to-hand combat battle for survival against each other. Probably all the extra security they’ve hired going to our heads.

Tuesday, today, wrote my weeknote again in the morning. Biked to school in the fog, which made for a beautiful bridge crossing.

Had Walid’s projects class. We listened to everyone’s projects. I recapped my last semester presentations which were: passing out a booklet of my User-Generated Content essay, giving a slideshow on Ted Nelson, doing some of the same readings I drunkenly re-did last week, making weird long boring videos of myself reading lists of words, reading, writing about, and tinkering with the bureaucratic/organizational structures and workflows at Cooper, and then getting sucked into the lock-in and politics here a lot. Then I sort of ranted and raved about how all I want to do, I think, or can figure out how to do, is to rant and rave about systems and technology around me and controlling the world. I want to babble more. Speak and write. Walid said I did that last semester. LOL. I talked about how differently I feel when I’m thinking about art (CYNICAL ALERT! MUST DESTROY.) versus political action (optimistic and inclusive). How I think it’ll actually be easier once I graduate because I’d probably operate well and get some material from inside some organization or corporation or just real life, but art forms usually feel futile to me. He asked why I’m not taking a leave to do that. Um, well, I don’t actually want to get sucked into some bureaucracy. I guess I love the necessary amateur-ness of artists thinking about things they’re not experts in is really exciting to me. But I’m kind of floating without a particular goal right now. What am I showing next week? Um, I don’t know. We argued as a class about artists writing about their work. I think I’ll make a wiki as my proposal.

I’m also slated to show for Dennis’s class on Friday. Hm. Hrmph. AAHAHhhhh!!!