Donella Meadows, “Leverage Points” Places to Intervene in a System”
“What is needed is much slower growth, much different kinds of growth, and in some cases no growth or negative growth.”
“The systems analysts I know have come up with no quick or easy formulas for finding leverage points. When we study a system, we usually learn where leverage points are.”
nassim taleb has written brilliant things that i only vaguely remember about this, i think when he writes about heuristics.
“People care deeply about parameters and fight fierce battles over them. But they RARELY CHANGE BEHAVIOR. If the system is chronically stagnant, parameter changes rarely kick-start it. If it’s wildly variable, they don’t usually stabilize it. If it’s growing out of control, they don’t brake it.”
Hal Foster, “The artist as ethnographer?”
foster lays out walter benjamin’s critique of the author-as-producer, what foster is calling a “productivist” model. this model defines art as a thing made by a singular genius auteur-type. built in are bourgeois ideas of who/what an audience is, the concept of taste, etc., which are inherently anti-proletariat even though, theoretically/ideologically, these makers may be proletariat sympathizers. benjamin says it is not sufficient to be a sympathizer; in fact, it is not an actual position at all. these artists reinforce the capitalist structure they claim to critique.
from there, foster argues that left artists today do something similar. they put otherness on a pedestal, always removed from themselves, so that the artist’s role becomes one of anthropologist. the logic that justifies the artist’s removed, anthropological position is a primitivist fantasy, where the artist imagines that the other has access to a kind of creativity that the white bourgeoisie does not.
foster’s interested in the structural, as opposed to the individual, effects of this positionality. he contests its logic by arguing that globalization has erased any clear insider/outsider distinction (which i’d argue is arguable). he’s worried that the “projection of politics as other and outside may detract from a politics of here and now.”
theory, theory, theory. ethnography becomes an appropriate mode of artistic intervention, which often takes the shape of site-specific work that comments on a particular space, increasingly to fucked up ends as these sites are mined by other institutional departments (fundraising, outreach, PR) and developed or used to grease the wheels of development (as in: gentrification).
the gems are in this paragraph, where foster discusses how the institution
“imports critique for the purpose of inoculation… displaces work it otherwise advances… the show becomes the spectacle where cultural capital collects.”
“…the application of these methods has illuminated much. But it has also obliterated much in the field of the other, and in its very name. This is the opposite of a critique of ethnographic authority…”
Adam Rothstein, “How to See Infrastructure: A Guide for Seven Billion Primates”
“We know that capital fantasizes about the annihilation of space and time as its moves goods from space to space, but I want to experience the long, slow journey that is responsible for moving ninety percent of the world’s trade.”
— Charmaine Chua
“In effect, I am arguing for the continued importance of maritime space in order to counter the exaggerated importance attached to that largely metaphysical construct, “cyberspace,” and the corollary myth of “instantaneous” contact between distance spaces.”
— Allan Sekula, Fish Story
Vision in this technological feast becomes unregulated gluttony; all seems not just mythically about the god trick of seeing everything from nowhere, but to have put the myth into ordinary practice. And like the god trick, this eye fucks the world to make techno-monsters.
— Donna Haraway, “God’s Eye View”
“We do not need a snatching away of the shroud, a techno-monster captured and paraded on stage. Not like an animal or person harnessed to a profit-generating machine. Not a big board of big data, constantly tweaked by a wizard’s wand. But a description of what the shroud is doing, and why it is there. To discover who it is hiding, why, and how they came to be there.”
i’ve been thinking a lot about this issue in both pcomp and icm. in icm, even the software interface (which feels like the real, the “under the hood”, because it requires us to speak the computer’s language rather than ours) still occludes the mechanics we’re studying in pcomp. and the perfect mechanical parts we study in pcomp never reference their production, the mines they came out of, the hands that collected the raw materials that compose them.