Oops, she did it again: Britney naked (yawn) and the Hoff, hassled

May 5, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Britney Spears, Celebrities, video | 7 Comments
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EDIT: Here’s the latest post with VMA 2007 and the latest upskirt short form right after the event

That woman just can’t keep her clothes on. Photographs have emerged showing Britney Spears pose with a bare chest and flowers to cover her nipples. The upskirt crotch shots were bad enough, the pictures of her bald head that followed only to be topped by the pictures of her bald umbrella attack. And I doubt that caricatures like these will get her any closer to regaining custody of her kids either. Isn’t there anyone in her immediate environment who can help her gain control of her clothes and, more importantly, of her life?

EDIT: Because you asked for it: here is a pic from the latest nipple slip on June 12 2007:

Britney Nipple Slip

It must be really lonely at the top. What surprises me the most is that she (or her management, in case she has a management) does not even seem to try to avoid cameras, no matter which act she gets caught in. Normally such pictures get leaked by someone – even if you lose the right to your picture as a celebrity, that cannot possibly include nude pictures that weren’t intended for circulation. Unless they WERE intended for circulation of course. Maybe Britney should be considered a po-mo artist who celebrates the dispersal of identity. Here’s the video of her latest ‘performance’ in a night club – in full-playback, and the lousiest full-playback I’ve seen in a while (videos from The Sun take a while to load).

The Hoff is a much more reliable celebrity in that respect, with his own daughter leaking a video of him, rolling half-naked on the floor in a state of complete intoxication, trying to eat a burger. Someone should tell her that there is no point in arguing with drunks.

Put Yourself to the Test: with Twitter, 24/7 (23/40)

March 15, 2007 at 7:48 am | Posted in Digital Culture, Lent, Tagging, Web 2.0 | 8 Comments
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Thank God the twitter craze, which has already found its antithesis in the Twitter hater, has not yet made it to (non-English speaking) European shores – or if it has, I am blissfully unaware of it. It is another more or less Web 2.0 social platform, describing itself in its own words as

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!

Today I signed up to see what the fuss was all about, and tell Twitter what I was doing I did:

Twatter

While this might sound like a rather pointless activity to some, it seems to be warmly embraced by those digital, decentred PoMo subjects out there who hardly have a sense of themselves anywayr. Twitter won’t help them to find the way back to a more integrated self, but console them with the illusion that, if their self is scattered all over the place, at least they might have an idea where they can retrieve the bits and pieces. For a brief moment, they can inscribe themselves on the surface of the simulations that surround them. The whole thing gets a (little) bit more interesting by the fact that twitter allows you to notify your friends to tell them what you are doing and to get notifications about them. Hmm.

The twitter homepage gives you an idea of the things those desperate souls are up to:

Twatter

Not convinced? Ha! In a way it was useful that Baudrillard ‘died’, otherwise I wouldn’t have dug him up from the sediments of my memory nor have been receptive to other folks’ writing about him. If you look at the phenomenology of Twitter, you’ll soon find out that it takes on the form of what Baudrillard has described as ‘the test’:

This regulation on the model of the genetic code is not at all limited to laboratory effects or to the exalted visions of theoreticians. Banal, everyday life is invested by these models. Digitality is with us. It is that which haunts all the messages, all the signs of our societies. The most concrete form you see it in is that of the test, of the question/answer, of the stimulus/response. All content is neutralized by a continual procedure of directed interrogation, of verdicts and ultimatums to decode, which no longer arise this time from the depths of the genetic code but that have the same tactical indeterminacy – the cycle of sense being infinitely shortened into that of question/answer, of bit or minute quantity of energy/information coming back to its beginning, the cycle only describing the perpetual reactualization of the same models. The equivalent of the total neutralization of the signified by the code is the instantaneousness of the verdict of fashion, or of any advertising or media message. Any place where the offer swallows up the demand, where the question assimilates the answer, or absorbs and regurgitates it in a decodable form, or invents and anticipates it in a predictible form. Everywhere the same “scenario,” the scenario of “trial and error” (guinea pigs in laboratory experiments), the scenario of the breadth of choice offered everywhere (“the personality test”) – everywhere the test functions as a fundamental form of control, by means of the infinite divisibility of practices and responses.

We live by the mode of referendum precisely because there is no longer any referential. Every sign, every message (objects of “functional” use as well as any item of fashion or televised news, poll or electoral consultation) is presented to us as question/answer. The entire system of communication has passed from that of a syntactically complex language structure to a binary sign system of question/answer – of perpetual test. Now tests and referenda are, we know, perfect forms of simulation: the answer is called forth by the question, it is designated in advance. The referendum is always an ultimatum: the unilateral nature of the question, that is no longer exactly an interrogation, but the immediate imposition of a sense whereby the cycle is suddenly completed. Every message is a verdict, just like the one that comes from polling statistics. The simulacrum of distance (or even of contradiction between the two poles) is only – like the effect of the real the sign seems to emit – a tactical hallucination. (The Tactile and the Digital in: Simulations. The Order of Simulacra)

Twitter’s perpetual question ‘What are you doing?’ is precisely such a litmus test of the twitters’ contained form of existence. The content of their messages, denoting what they seem to be doing, is completely irrelevant, but in answering, they’re integrated into the system of production. Who would ever have thought in the 1970s, when the first data security officers had to be hired by governments and companies alike, that people would one day crave to be controlled in this way!

More posts regarding twitter:
RIP Twitter (2007-2007) (con)
Could Advertising Pollute Twitter? (pro-ish)
RIP Twitter – A Rebuttal (pro)

P.S.: I have myself taken up a new hobby: tagging my images on flickr with tags that don’t make sense in order to shift the signal/noise ratio a bit more to the incomprehensible. For my twitter screens, I chose ‘twatter’. But I am not a real revolutionary, as you can see if you look at my vast array of WordPress tags – I have to admit that it’s basically copyright issues that I want to circumvent in doing so. Garbage in, garbage out!

P.P.S.: Another thing I am trying to understand for the third time now are trackback links. Is my blog trackback enabled? Yes/No? What do I need to do with someone else’s trackback URL? I am going to incorporate the trackback URL to the Twitter hater post, but I don’t really think that that’s the way to do it? Must I maybe click on it later? EDIT: I did, but nothing of what happened seemed to make sense.

P.P.S.: The final countdown: 17 more days to go until the end of Lent!

Jean is dead 15/40

March 7, 2007 at 8:50 am | Posted in Lent | 14 Comments
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Jean BaudrillardI think I have now finally arrived in the blogosphere. I learned about the death of Jean Baudrillard not through tagesschau.de (my channel for IMPORTANT news in the classic newsworthy sense, ever since I stopped reading newspapers in 2000) and certainly not through television (stopped watching TV in 1998), but through Jetsam’s blog. Who is left now of our befabled postmodern thinkers and French countrymen? The famous dead so far are:

Pierre Bourdieu died in 2002 (age: 72), but he’s not exactly postmodern (but I deeply adore him for having explained to me why I felt so alienated in certain circles).

For the time being, our hope rests on Paul Virilio (thanks to n00ne), born in 1932, meaning that he has already outlived everyone but Baudrillard agewise.

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EDIT: While my original Baudrillard post was secretly converted into a Günther Anders post, I’d like to give a slightly different note to it at the end of this day. I spoke with a number of people about Baudrillard today, I even promoted him to a colleague who works in the mechatronics department during our staff meeting.

The staff meeting was a disaster. For years now, the board of directors have been trying to get more control of the lecturers. They have introduced several measures already, one being an online system in which you have to enter your hours and specifiy what you have done and when.

The system doesn’t work (apart from the fact that such a system is irreconcilable with the nature of the work of a lecturer). I tended it accurately and then was summoned by HR to change a whole month’s entries because I had entered that I had been working “more than I was allowed to” and at times that I “wasn’t supposed to”. In other words: I was asked not to work less, but to enter figures that would correspond to the work regulations for office workers (I am not a secretary, I am lecturer).

The have “improved” the system now which was announced today, and I will now have to choose from 13 different categories (instead of the two of the first system) and assign them to all my hours worked (only the hours spent in class and with preparations will automatically be added). I am still not allowed to enter my actual hours if I work more or at times that I shouldn’t be working. I am actually happy to work more if the results I get improve by doing so and I normally wouldn’t demand to have every hour recognized. But if a system is forced upon me that seeks to control and record what I do, then I do of course want proper recognition.

What I tried to explain to my colleage was that we are forced to partake in a simulation of control (to please the patriarch – I didn’t say that bit in brackets). I am asked to create a digital simulacrum of myself, of me as a workforce, broken down into hours and up to 13 different tasks, which may not correspond to my actual work hours, but to the hours and pattern of work that are acknowledged by the system. This is farcical!

That experience made me think of Jean Baudrillard in a much more affectionate way. A colleague pointed me to an article in The Guardian which has already won my prize for my favourite quote from Baudrillard – a punch in the face of the people who think that The Matrix (the film) offers a demystification of the politics of the real:

“The most embarrassing part of the film is that the new problem posed by simulation is confused with its classical, Platonic treatment … The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce.”

Thanks, uncle Jean!

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Continued: List of dead French philosophers.

Have I forgotten anybody? Who might still be alive? They are all so French and male… what this list also shows is that it seems less likely that you would live to be very old or die of age if your are a French, 20th century philosopher. Unlike Günther Anders who, by many outside of the German-speaking countries, is mainly known as a poet or the first husband of Hannah Arendt (which is why there is only a tiny stub about Anders in the English Wikipedia). Anders actually pre-empted Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacra, and in my view with even more verve and political concern, in his volume Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen: Über die Seele im Zeitalter der zweiten industriellen Revolution* with his description of the world as a phantom and a, uh, how to translate Matrize, (matrix? stencil?), in German Die Welt als Phantom und Matrize. If you read the chapter on television, in which he proposes a phenomenological analysis of TV, you’ll find that Adorno seems to have copied from him too in his own writing about the role of television within the culture industry.

But Anders never had his breakthrough in the philosophical arena, probably because he was a “too” serious philosopher. The atomic bomb plays an important role in his thinking, as the most atrocious example of a technology that has become too big and too cumbersome for us to understand, in particular to understand it morally. Instead of sucking up to the conference circuit, he consumed himself in the anti atomic energy movement.
With that stance, he could impossibly be welcomed by the later to be postmodern crowd, although he survived quite a number of them, dying on 17 Dezember 1992 at the age of 90, still giving interviews weeks before his death.

N.B.: The great anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss is still alive!!! He is 98 meanwhile… just another thing I learned through blogs today.

LentDaily Lent (Day 15): If you are looking for a suitable philosophic diet for Lent, then I’d definitely recommend reading Günther Anders, instead of mourning Jean Baudrillard for too long. It will give you moral strength and fuel you with the energy that you need to not succumb to postmodern relativism and laziness. I would quote a bit from his work here, hadn’t I lent (sic!) my copy of the Antiquiertheit to a student. I don’t even know to how many students I have already lent this book – I am probably a bit missionary about it (simply because I never thought it was fair that Baudrillard became the shooting star of pomo with his often incoherent, sensational writing, whereas somebody who really made difference and never shmoozed with anybody is hardly known to a greater academic public).

*: (1956, roughly: The Antiquatedness of mankind: About the soul in the age of the second industrial revolution, the second volume – About the destruction of life in the age of the third industrial revolution followed in 1980)

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