It’s getting ugly

There’s been a lot of activity on my graduate program’s listserv about the continuing destruction of Lebanon.  It’s been getting a little heated and personal — I’m as guilty as anyone else.  As I mentioned in an email to the list, I don’t think it’s appropriate to use the school’s communication tool for a political argument in which people may get offended and accusations begin to fly.  Let’s use my blog instead!  So if anyone shows up here from that list, I welcome your comments here, where we can continue the conversation.  If it doesn’t happen, I guess that means blogs really aren’t they best method of communication this time.



  1. blogs are important, and I’d wear the shirt.

    but i do also think that since the discussion started there, it should be finished there. Yes, things are being said, and all 160 people on the list are reading them. It is important that the discussion comes to an appropriate close on the list so that all readers can come to their own conclusions. (and who said it was just for announcements, and not for discussion?)

    that being said, there is no reason not to begin a discussion here of the key issues that were posted there…

  2. Agreed. The more I think about it the more I think it should stay there. However, I also think that something that is not seen by all of our peers and teachers might make people relax a little. Or maybe they would just get nasty.

  3. Josh,

    As the person who initiated this discussion, I’m extremely happy that it sucseeded in making everyone stop and think about what’s going on.

    The responses have been overwhelming.

    Also, a good debate in private vs public message boards and control of information.

    Right now, I DON’T WISH to have this discussion controlled, but I do wish to take it out of the blogosphere and into a public gallery, in which visitors to a physical space can join and extend this discussion.

    Let me know if you feel OK about taking this blog link and discussion out there.


  4. Shiri, I agree about not wanting the discussion controlled. I’m not sure it was right to take anything out of the listserv, only because that discussion has momentum that you might want to preserve. Anyway, the idea was to free us from the gaze of the “panopticon,” as Jarah puts it.

    But yes, I’m fine with you linking to this.

  5. I’d like to revisit an idea Simone brought up. How about we build a rocket and jettison ourselves to another planet.
    It’s too massive to change. Anyone who tries gets shot by the CIA, infiltrated and disrupted by the FBI. Any country who dares defy the US, or Isreal’s best interests all of a sudden finds themselves in a civil war. Promoting unrest in various reason to “prevent the reemergence of an economic rival” is hardwired into the founding philisophy of the CIA, a secret organization with a secret budget, that also works overtime to promote such unrest and make it look like it was someone else. Blow up a Sunni Mosque, Blow up a Shiite Mosque, then sit back and watch them blow each other up. Bingo, Iraq is unstable, they can’t switch to the Euro for Petrol transactions (as they began to do under the Oil-for-food program), we have to stay there. Iran’s Oil Bourse? Google it, for God’s sake, Google it. If Iran dare move away from trading petrol in dollars, it would “not be in the best interest of the US” to understate it. So, Lebanon. We need instability, Isreal needs it, Britain needs it. That’s why we executed the coup in Iran in 1953. It took decades, decades before we really knew it was the CIA who were throwing bombs, planting stories in the media both in Iran and the US, organizing demonstrations against Iran’s DEMOCRATICALLY elected (and quite moderate religiously, compared to the backlash) leader, Mosaddeq. It was about oil then, we needed to have control of it, there was a coup (organized and executed by the CIA, now a known fact, then an apparent indiginous conflict), and we maintained control. Now, we need it again, any move away from the dollar from a oil exporting country would be disastrous. we not only need the oil, we need the dollar to remain valuable to the rest of the world.

    If we can in any way blame anyone who supports Isreal, then we can as easily blame anyone who’s ever paid taxes to the US government, Isreal’s greatest supporter (militarily). I support the US government financially because they force me to pay income taxes. They throw up these bullshit puppet candidates in their charade of democracy so they can tell me I voted for it all. And if I don’t vote, I’m being irresponsible; if I vote for a third party, it’s a wasted vote. I agree with Gekko, but want to carry it further to anyone who supports the greatest supporter of the Isreali government, the US government. So what to do? Stop paying taxes? Yea, try it. Stop dining with my fucking self? Well, I’m not going to blame every American who pays taxes unless I’m ready to go underground. Until then, I better hold my tongue in guard against hypocrisy.

    Move to the fucking woods? Start a farm, at least become less reliant on a system that puts so much money into the hands of greedy maniacs? And what an insignificant dent that would be. I just hope the oil really does run out before we burn the fucking planet to the ground.

    In 1971, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler penned a song called Into the Void . It was about making a rocket ship and going to find another planet where the war generals and endless pollution won’t destroy everything. Of course it is a pipe dream, quite literally in Geezer’s case. But perhaps it is at least a little comforting to know these frustrations are not new. Sing it with me now!:

    Rocket engines burning fuel so fast
    Up into the night sky they blast
    Through the universe the engines whine
    Could it be the end of man and time
    Back on earth the flame of life burns low
    Everywhere is misery and woe
    Pollution kills the air, the land and sea
    Man prepares to meet his destiny
    Rocket engines burning fuel so fast
    Up into the night sky so vast
    Burning metal through the atmosphere
    Earth remains in worry, hate and fear
    With the hateful battles raging on
    Rockets flying to the glowing sun
    Through the empires of eternal void
    Freedom from the final suicide

    Freedom fighters sent out to the sun
    Escape from brainwashed minds and pollution.
    Leave the earth to all its sin and hate
    Find another world where freedom waits.
    Past the stars in fields of ancient void
    Through the shields of darkness where they find
    Love upon a land a world unknown
    Where the sons of freedom make their home

    Leave the earth to satan and his slaves
    Leave them to their future in the grave
    Make a home where love is there to stay
    Peace and happiness in every way.

  6. Applause, wags.

    This current operation on the border smelled bad from the start, and is on a too-large scale to pass as spontanious.

    All the while Israeli media feeding the public with retro 1967 heroic bravado which is so displaced and out of time from back then’s naivite.

    Iran is waiting in line, and everyone should be afraid.

    In fact, folks are slowly moving out to the country-side and chosing to live a simpler life away from media headache.

    Powered by the web, information is accesible wherever there is wireless.

    And it is out responsibility to keep information open to all.

  7. I hear ya James. very powerful.

    When I posted on the list earlier, it was this that I was trying to get at- (though you say it better)

    we should not be ‘left’ or ‘right’ we should not spit out the rhetoric they feed us- we should think for ourselves, do the research and understand what we are up against (the terrorism of governments to name one) so that we can begin to cause change.

    Krishnamurti once talked about not being able to revolt from within the prison. This then means that we have to leave. But until then, we can practice a form of freeganism
    ( )

    If everyone who was at the demonstrations against the war stopped purchasing things, and instead tried to use what has already been produced, the people power would be incredible.

    This is one way to become less reliant on a system of production, blood and oil. If enough people committed to it, it could be powerful.

  8. Hey Bushie,

    Yeah, the idea I had to go to another planet is really serious. But what planet?? Yesterday, you asked me: “Why don’t you come back to Brazil”? “Do you want me to get shot in Sao Paulo in the middle of another war??” I answered. We are fucked, man!!!! What’s going on right now goes beyond any solution. It goes beyond rationality. I don’t even know if I will be done with the IMA program. The good thing is in 2 years of IMA for the first time we have such a lively debate about something really crucial for all of us. I love this. Thanks. I am proud of being part of this group.

    Just one question: isn’t it funny that our dear professors haven’t said a word about this??? Any thoughts??

  9. Jarah,

    I agree with your comments. Stop purchasing would be powerful and also I suggest a media strike.

  10. There’s a great article in this month’s Harper’s called “Imagine There’s No Oil.” It talks about the widespread belief that the world’s oil supplies are destined to dry up, and it’s going to happen quicker than everyone thinks because the demand for cheap energy is of course going up and up. And nobody uses more energy per capita than the good ol’ US of fuckin’ A.

    Of course, everyone else wants energy too. So we have to grab it or our economy is going to drop so hard they’re going to have to change the name of the “Great Depression” to “The Not That Great Depression”. And you can only laugh when Condoleeza goes over. As America collectively wipes the sweat from our brow and thinks, “things will be OK now, Ms. Rice is on the case!” Yea right, “Peace”? Nobody wants it, not the power people anyway. They won in Iraq. This is really what I believe. They won. So the place is falling apart. Good. They get to spend as much money on “defense” as they want to and stay in the region, which is what they said they wanted. And Iraqis can’t make any real headway in setting anything up themselves because they are occupied by a country who has a secret organization with a history of promoting instability in vital regions. And now we get to see Isreal act with “virtual impunity” so we can implicate Iran, or push them into doing something, then we get to go in and “establish democracy” there too.

    THere’s too much shit out there. We’re saturated by media, art exibits, protests, books, articles, just another fucking art protest against the war. It’s totally true, and I’ll say it again, Whatever Gokcen said, whatever problems you may have with his word choices, I can’t imagine we haven’t all felt THAT. I can bust my ass, try to dig, research, report, create. Because I want to see change…
    then I turn on my TV and see some legless five year old crying because of a bomb I helped pay for.

    Is art really dead? Is it useless? Then it’s our fucking fault. If art is irrelevant, then we’ve all failed. And I’m not ready to roll over just yet, not until that five year old gets her fucking legs back.

  11. Art doesn’t stop wars; never did and never will. I’ve never had the delusion that anything I do or say can stop the wars perpetrated by the U.S. or anyone else. I prefer to see my influence on the world on a much smaller scale than that. I can interact with and influence a relatively small group of people, but that’s what most people’s lives are like. We have friends, acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, students, etc. who constitute our social universe. If we can make an impact within that then we’re doing something.

    It’s part of the goal of the mass media to make everything seem so big that you have no control. We have control over the smaller things in our lives.

    As far as Gekko goes, he’s been completely unapologetic about the plain fact that he offended the Jewish students in our program. We’re not saying his politics are wrong, but that he used language that has historically been used to implicate all Jews in the wrongdoing of a group of people. We’re sensitive to that kind of rhetoric and notice it when its uttered.

  12. I also haven’t seen an apology from MJ for telling me I should not dine with myself. These kinds of comments are very hurtful and uncalled for.

  13. She has a history of this kind of insensitivity. Although we all know you should not dine with yourself, we never mean to say it public.

  14. Art may not stop wars, but people–ordinary people–can, not individually, but collectively. My first demonstration against the war in Vietnam was in 1963. Most Americans couldn’t have found Vietnam on a map then. It took far too long and cost us far too much in spirit and lives, but our movement made a difference. Often we despaired; often we concluded, as many people on the Hunter listserv said they had, that demonstrations had become futile. (There’s a Phil Ochs song called “I ain’t marchin’ anymore.) People went nuts. A dear friend killed himself, saying he couldn’t do enough to end the war. Some of the brightest people I knew turned into thugs: their organization, Weatherman, was essentially an expression of despair. But I have no doubt that the collective action of thousands of people, marching, sitting-in, rioting, speaking out in every fashion they could devise, helped end the war. Do I know what tactics should be employed now? Nope. But I think we have to go beyond the small universe Josh outlined of family, co-workers, friends, to reach out more broadly to our fellow citizens, to take risks, and to avoid despair.
    Bernard L. Stein


    In this day and age, (yes this is going to be an essay) art has changed its meaning, not lost it.

    What used to be “art” , signifier for visual imagery hung in white-cube spaces, has no further meaning then a signature on a check book.

    What is the role of an “artist”, then?

    artists are community.
    artists help eachother survive, elevate and make change. artists are not about money.

    therefore, “art” in a new definition – IS making social change.

    (if you do seek further explanation on the matter,
    contact me in person or read my article on here

    a bit raw, yet the feeling remains)


  16. Sorry, but I’ve never been much interested in this idea of what is art and what isn’t. It’s kind of a vanity exercise on the part of “artists” to have to constantly define for themselves who they are. I say, make the work you want to make and don’t worry about giving it labels.

  17. Demonstrations have become futile.

    To a large extent I agree.

    There might be a few hundred thousand people there, but two things are happening- one is that the media underreports it, only shows violence …etc..

    the other is that we are not all united under the same thing. It may be anti-Iraq war- but there are signs saying don’t eat meat, kill the Israelis, etc. It is hard to make a statement when we are making hundreds of statements.

    So, I go back to the anti-consumerism thing-
    we are all activists- a lot of us are media activists. Let’s use our voice, our technology, and our reach to actually do something to hurt the pocket of those who hurt the world.

    Stop purchasing new items that are made with oil and coal. Begin a media campaign using newer web/mobile technologies- use the tools we have at our disposal to educate and inform the public on how to begin to move away from being a consumer – from being an unwilling pawn in the game of money.

    We need to DO something, and not just talk about it. That’s why people marched against Vietnam, and that’s why it changed the world.

    While making art is (and is not) social change- art is not open to the masses. We have the media making tools and are (hopefully) learning to use them in the IMA program.

    Someone please tell me that you are willing to do more than talk on a blog. blogs are important, if thats all you can do. But we can do more.


  18. Sorry, but I’ve never been much interested in blog posts that start out: “Sorry, but…” It usually translates into: “I’m so above you people, the petty, petty worryings of those who dare philosophize about who they are and what they’re doing.”

    I’m tired of it, I’m going to do an advanced studio next semester. I’m going to kick Josh’s ass and label it art, and anybody who asks if it really counts as art is just exercising their vanity. Maybe that will make an “impact on my local community” motherfucker!

  19. Sorry, but you are so right, James. The phrase does come across as snobbish.

    But I wasn’t trying to say that people shouldn’t philosophize or analyze what they’re doing. It’s not petty to do so at all! I just get tired of that word, art. It’s not the making of art, or the analyzing of it, that’s vanity, it’s the constant ”am I an artist?” questioning that is vain. Tolstoy defined it one way, Giuliani another. So what? Get on with the making.

    James, if you succeed at kicking my ass it is most definitely art. Or is it? Are you the artist or am I? Is ”kicking” art or is ”ass” art? What is art? …

  20. Perhaps a useful definition:

    art1 (ärt) pronunciation

    1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.

    I would add “nature, society, or Josh’s ass”

  21. I have undeniable intelligence information.
    Josh has been stockpiling weapons, and is planning on bombing the IMA lab. If I don’t attack him first, the smoking gun will be a mushroom cloud over the grad lab…and before anyone ponders whether or not that would be a bad thing after all. Well, he also killed a bunch of people back in the ’80s, so I have to take him out. Not because I love violence, but because I love peace: peace through violence.

    But seriously, how about we start a commune? Become self-sufficient. Not only could we minimize our anguish when the oil-driven global economy collapses, but we could act as a beacon to the world as to how to become less addicted to oil. Today, it is cheaper for me to go into a store and buy a pair of shoes made by someone in asia (making $1 a day or so) and shipped halfway across the globe (thanks to cheap oil) than it is for me to make them myself or buy them from a local shoe maker. When the oil dries up, that won’t be the case. But nobody knows how to make shoes anymore, or grow food, or say, set up a solar panel or windmill. We abhore it when our government goes into the middle east, but take a look at your lunch. How did it get hear? You’d starve without oil. We’re all addicts, but don’t like how our habits are provided.

    We’ll have to divide up the necessary tasks and start learning how to survive. Again, the real advantage would mean less of my money would go to the US war machine.
    Who’s in?

    Of course the main drawback is the country is mad boring.

  22. dear ass-fellows,

    i do not claim to sit on my arse all day and contemplate semiotics.

    however, in a time of constant change one must keep judging WHAT they are doing in order to not lose touch with the outside world.

    one can not sit on they’re royal arses, one must react while thinking on one’s feet.

    watch this innovative idea, for anyone who has not bothered with my blog:

    visual content is property of the public right now, thus taken out of the hand of “artists”
    therefore, visual content making is now public domain and without aura.

    therefore, visual content = media,

    thank you.
    now go make change.

  23. Dear all,

    I agree with Bernard when he says we should go beyond the small universe to make a change. That doens’t mean though we shouldn’t try to talk and influence our neighbors. I truly believe this is important too. The anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam War were a great example, but back in the 60’s things were very different. Now, we live in a time that the senate found a way to pass a resolution that allows punishment for journalists considered enemies of the state. There is a similar law approved recently in Egypt as well. It’s getting harder and harder to be a critical journalist everywhere. However, instead of complaining about the future of my profession, I would like to say that in my view there should be a combination of efforts involving the whole society for a change. In this case, we are talking specifically about the current war situation. The equation would be: real critical education to form a conscious society able to demand real representation from the media system. Not simple, but possible. I have to believe that while I pack my stuff to go to another planet. Thanks Si

  24. How do you propose to get “real critical education to form a conscious society” without leaving for another planet?

    in the meantime … book me on that flight to another planet

  25. hey my dear,

    That’s our challenge and I am trying to find out how. Maybe, less hypocrisy and cynicism would be a good start. I truly believe that the debate that we are having in the listserve is a great step. Do you have any idea about how important this is now, coming from an university?? It is beautiful and I don’t think we should stop it. However it is a learning experience for all of us. Instead of being excessively concerned with terminology and personal ofenses we all, and I include myself too, should try to look at things from a broader perspective. How to do that?? This answer I have: just keep doing what we are doing, meaning interacting, exchanging ideas, sharing, debating and of course trying to be fearless critical media makers every damn day as journalists, web designers, teachers, filmakers, artists…It’s up to us. You might ask: so what?? What’s going to change because we have been debating in a damn listserve?? I don’t know but we have to try, anyway, perhaps just for the hell of defying the repressive power system we live in. In the meantime, the 5 year old legless girl crying because of a bomb, as James mentioned in his comments, will still be without her leg FOREVER!!!! And we have to see the fucking president of this country saying to the world that Israel has the right to defend itself. FUCK ALL THE BASTARDS IN THE UNIVERSE!!!!!

    Having said, I am going to show you my optimistic side: Listen, I know we’ve been talking about the dark side of the world here. On the other hand, there are so many interesting things going on right now regarding Media Reform and Human Rights activism in this country without bullshit such as fake balance or neutrality. Seriously. There are so many new possibilities coming out from this new media world…but maybe all I just said is only in my mind. So you can disregard it if you feel like. And to tell you the truth I think I already live in a different planet in my disturbed mind.

    Thank you to all of you who are serious and concerned people. This is precious!!!! Si

  26. Instead of being excessively concerned with terminology and personal ofenses we all, and I include myself too, should try to look at things from a broader perspective.

    Simone, I think you’re referring to some of our complaints about Gekko’s comments. There may have been personal offense taken, but I stand my disappointment at his use of age-old falsehoods about Jews. Regardless of who’s right or wrong in this or any war, things are more complicated than “fuck all the bastards in the universe.” I’m especially disappointed that, when it was clear that a some Jewish people on the listerv were offended, Gekko offered no apology. Instead he was smug and self-righteous, congratulating himself for making us talk about the war. I’ve been talking about the war plenty and didn’t need his pseudo-anti-semitism to make me think about it more.

  27. Dear All,

    I have started a blog that will be a part of the gallery show, extending it into the blogosphere.

    You’re most welcome to comment on it, email with links and media-bits.

    I am going out to shoot in the protest today and will post the clip shortly after.


  28. Gecko raised some possibly interesting starting points in a discussion on the usefulness/uselessness of art, but should offer an honest apology for sounding racist in some of the less interesting parts of his original statement.
    It is true that while debating important issues, there are still rules of human decency. I’m not ready to pat Mel Gibson on the back for opening a debate on stereotypes and drunk driving (oops, did I just compare Gecko to Mel Gibson?); and I would request that Gecko (or anyone else) not assume all conspiracy theorists are wingnuts, just because a few of us are. OK, does that make sense to anybody? Me watching Mel Gibson give conspiracy theory a bad name is like Josh watching Isreal bomb Lebanon…glad I cleared that one up.

    Also, the day Simone stops screaming “FUCK ALL THE BASTARDS IN THE UNIVERSE” is the day I pack up and go home. I would request that we not see that as an over-simplification, and more a desire that all the bastards in the universe fuck off. It is a statement with which I can find no quarrel.

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