Weeknotes 2013.7

I’ve been feeling totally lethargic and procrastinate-y for the past two weeks, even when sleeping a lot. Think I might be sick with something subtle but pretty debilitating.

On Wednesday stopped by the library to see if they had any more versions of Cooper’s Bylaws. The versions that I got by hounding the Board’s secretary only go back to 1992, and they’re all amending a 1972 version which I still can’t find. I had also gotten two older versions from Julie a few weeks ago because she stumbled across them. I was directed to thumb through the CARD CATALOG, where I photographed a bunch of records like this:

card catalog

Then emailed them to Carol, the archivist, to set up an appointment. She told me she could pull everything they had by Monday.

n+1 Magazine published a super smart, thorough essay by Sangu on everything that’s happened so far at Cooper, with a lot of historical context. Sangu also spends lots of time in the archives. When I was picking up my things I saw a folder with her name on it. I like this quote that she dug up:

”The dealers in money have always been the dangerous class,” Cooper wrote in the last year of his life. “There may, at some future day, be a whirlwind precipitated upon the moneyed men of this country.” In his unpublished autobiography, Cooper recounts his frustrations with the bankers who controlled Congress and were creating a national debt. They had the power to control the volume of currency, issue credit, and charge unfairly high interest rates. In the spirit of Cooper’s beliefs, the original Cooper Union charter stated that the trustees should never mortgage the property or go into debt for more than $5,000 a year (except in anticipation of rents and revenues), and that they would be held personally liable for any deficit. In his turn-of-the century biography, Rossiter Raymond notes that Cooper claimed to pay all his debts every Saturday night, tracing “that horror of debt” to the time of debtors’ prisons.

I didn’t even know what a badass place I was walking into when I came here. As far as I can tell, it was somewhere between 1996 and 2006 that the Bylaws gained a section stating that officers or Trustees shall not be held liable. That recent.

I don’t remember Niki’s class.

Seth’s class was cancelled. Wanted to stay at home anyway.

Metahaven came out with an essay, published by Strelka, called Can Jokes Bring Down Governments?:

> These are serious times, or so our governments keep telling us. Strangling economies with their austerity policies, they assure us that they have no choice. In a world where “there is no alternative”, how do you dissent? Once upon a time, graphic designers would have made political posters and typeset manifestos. Today, protest has new strategies. Enter the internet meme. With its Darwinian survival skills and its viral potential, the meme is a way of scaling up protest. Hackers and activists have learned to unleash the destructive force of a Rick Astley video. They have let slip the Lolcats of war. Pranks have become a resistance strategy. As the rise of Beppe Grillo in Italy testifies, this may be the hour to fight nonsense with nonsense. Jokes are an open-source weapon of politics, and it is time to tap their power.

Since the title is a question, Betteridge’s law dictates that the answer is actually just: “No.” I had like $10 in my bank account, but I bought it anyway because I wanted to find out. Read it all in one sitting and liked it. Reminded me a lot of the way we’ve done things with Free Cooper.

“The politics of capitalist realism can only be countered by a strategy that removes itself from its political-discursive frame. Instead of being heard and listened to, people are continuously being told they have no idea of the magnitude of the threat that is underway – which is a manner of silencing them and enforcing a frame of reference”

“Responding to a sensical question with a meaningless answer is an effective tool to negate the politics of the frame in which the question was posed. And politics has become so dispiriting that it inspires a Dadaist troll mentality. The question, “do you condone or condemn,” is a trap, a gotcha, intended to force all opposition to accord to a neoliberal frame – in other words, it is an exercise in sense-making. The absurd response refuses to participate in this exercise. It removes itself from the frame”

I concur. One of our sort of mantras is: keep Cooper weird.

Went crazy on Facebook, dumping every quote that had been banging around in my head into statues and sorting them into related comment piles.

I get really concerned when I can’t remember any of my classes, but, um, don’t remember Dennis. And Bio was boring.

Biked a way that I had never gone before: up through Greenpoint, into Long Island City, and over the Queensborough into Manhattan. Looked at an apartment in midtown with Mom, who’s thinking of fleeing the suburbs now that Niki is headed off to California. Ate Indian food and then I biked down to Cooper. Dragged my pillows and some books downstairs to hang out in the Colonnade, where Jenny was starting to install her show. Read a little bit of The Arcades Project, which felt meta. I want to play around in the space but it’s a little hard because it’s constantly booked.

jenny n sarah

window drawing

Biked back to Brooklyn with Tyler, Ryan, and Emma. Markitect had a bonfire. When you sit at a bonfire with a bunch of architects you will inevitably end up making Modernist can structures.




Think I left my laptop there. Haven’t seen it since.

Got my copy of Jack’s book These Days, which I helped fund in part on Kickstarter. Really cool to see that result in a real book. I love the section separators, little loading indicators shown in a different frame of their animation at each section:

these days

Did laundry. Also someone else’s laundry. That kind of day.

Biked into school for a “student convergence” meeting in the park, trying to coordinate student participation in, or in relation to, the big labor march on May Day. Cool to see students from all different New York schools coming together to get shit done. Hopefully that’ll be a longer-term organization and the start of more networked New York student activism.

Took down the papers I’d been testing in the Colonnade so that Jenny can actually finish her install.



Went home early and watched The Net. Turns out that I have the same Histomap as Stewart Brand! Pretty interesting documentary. Like a weirder Adam Curtis. I liked how instead of title cards the filmmaker panned over a mindmap to connect sections. Reminded me…of…me. It was also just strange how the filmmaker’s iBook is the main character in the movie, appearing in the periphery of almost every shot. That was all probably pretty scary at the time, but I found it almost hilarious when I realized that the Unabomber had to ransom newspapers to publish his manifesto. Today it’d probably be published via Kickstarter.

the net

Had art history. There was one short presentation and then we had a rambling discussion for a while.

Headed to the library and scanned in seven new-to-me versions of the Bylaws for my archive.

Missed student council, oops.

Had a meeting with Dbilly and everyone else whose show is on May 7th. It’ll be me Keagoe, Micah, Zoe, Fern and Jenny. Ran over what we know of our logistics together.

Went to the library to fix the PDFs I’d made yesterday because they somehow accidentally got passwords on them. Thumbed through a Library of Congress Taxonomy guide while I was re-running the files through Abbyy.

library taxonomy

It’s reminded me of this Stephen Jay Gould quote that’s been banging around in my head about taxonomy:

Some people dismiss taxonomies and their revisions as mere exercises in abstract ordering, a kind of glorified stamp collecting of no scientific merit and fit only for small minds that need to categorize their results. No view could be more false and more inappropriately arrogant. Taxonomies are reflections of human thought; they express our most fundamental concepts about the objects of our universe.

Had Projects. Mauricio showed an amazing video where he was basically tripping out in Walmart with his girlfriend. I showed in the last 20 minutes but was in a really bad mood so basically had a mental breakdown and started whimpering about how I haven’t done that much work and it’s all really boring and stupid and I don’t know why I’m doing it. I get the sense that it was awkward to watch. Walid took me into his office and we looked up the etymology of boring and stupid and it was…stupid…but I felt slightly better. Went to openings and then out drinking with Al and Jo.

Worked on things like Bylaws, shred beanbags, and weeknotes but didn’t make too much progress. Had weird sculpture class where Niki was, despite being funny, mostly belligerent and mean.

Met at Bruce for Seth’s class. Some rando had been invited to talk to us about the economics of being an artist, but it turned out that Seth hadn’t really screened him and the talk was mostly sad and unhelpful. It touched on a lot of things I think about in a kinda incompetent way.

Went to an internet art opening with Aaron which was kind of terrible.

Slept from 8pm to midnight. When I woke up the Boston bombers were on the loose and I complained to my roommates about the newscycle blah blah and then accidentally got totally sucked into Twitter until literally 5am when they caught him.

Woke up at 3pm, having slept through sculpture and bio, exhausted and a little frayed and feeling weird for knowing better but still having followed the news drama like an action movie. Did dishes.

Read the _why spool. A really good read.

And it occurred to me that I’ve been basically working on my own printer spools.

Had thai food with Hannah, who I haven’t seen in years(!), and showed her around Cooper. Hung out with Niki for a little which was nice.

Read the Julian Assange/Eric Schmidt transcript, which was long but super interesting:

I believe the most effective activists are those that fight and run away. Not those who fight and martyr themselves, but those who fight and run away to fight another day. So that’s about judgement, when to engage in the fight and when to withdraw so as to preserve your resources for the next fight.

why do powerful organizations engage in secrecy? Well, usually because the plans that they have if made public would be opposed by the public. And plans that are opposed before implementation often don’t get implemented. So you want to wait as long as possible. And then implementation eventually makes them public by the very fact that they are being implemented but it is too late by then to alter the course effectively. So an organization on the other hand that is engaged in planning behaviour that if revealed is not opposed by the public doesn’t have that burden. It doesn’t have that planning burden where it is forced to take things off paper.

If you have perfect anonymity you can fight forever, yeah. You don’t have to run away.

you can change the behaviour of many people with a small amount of information. So the question then arises as to what kinds of information will produce behaviour which is just? And disincentivise behaviour which is unjust?

Shredded a ton of old papers and notebooks, reading through as I pulverized.

Printed off every draft in the last couple of years really and spread them out in a long hallway to jump around and edit. Did that for a bit.

Went to a fun potluck at Liz’s.

Got to Dore and it was cancelled. Handed in the forms and deposit for my show. Slogged through logging these last two weeks.