Peter Lunenfeld on 15 Jan 2001 20:20:17 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Deeply boring age

Mark Robbins wrote:

>Deeply boring age is perhaps the most succint enumeration of the conceit 
>that I have ever been in earshot of. Not only has conflict been relegated 
>to levels which most are either unable or unwilling to participate on, but 
>the gravity which those conflicts, or simply great individuals, produces is 
>absent as well. 

I cannot disagree more strongly with this statement. I don't think that
Geert believes that we live in a deeply boring age -- his life and work are
eloquent enough denials of that. I sensed he was talking more specifically
about one cultural mode of production -- network interface design -- that he
feels has run out of steam . His original post was not a wholesale
condemnation of an age, it was a call to thought and action.  

Geert began this thread by posting a question to a community of makers and
thinkers: Has the quest for usability become a dead end? This was a
proactive stance to take about a problem with "boredom." Identify the dead
zone, and prod oneself and others to take action, or at least begin to
formulate a critique that could lead to action in the future. Call this
attitude whatever you want to -- a holdover from punk's DIY spirit, an
example of networked, open source cultural production, etc. -- it is hardly
the defeatist and numbing sentiment that you seem to have taken it for.  To
bemoan a lack of invention or leadership  in the age in which one lives
often strikes me as wistful nostalgia in disguise. It's a notion voiced by
adolescents reading Hemingwway's "A Movable Feast," dreaming of moving to
Paris. but not their Paris, for that would be a real plan. Instead, they
yearn to move to the mythical Paris of the 20s, secure in their teenaged
fantasies of befriending Picasso and Fitzgerald.  

In the late 1970s, I was a teenager in Buffalo, NY. My buddies and I would
sit around in the freezing cold, drinking Canadian beer (it was cheap and
had a higher alcohol content than American brews) and bitch about how boring
everything was. At that very time, within walking distance, Hollis Frampton
was making his Magellan Cycle of avant-garde films, Robert Longo and Cindy
Sherman had opened an alternative art gallery, a bar called the Continental
was mounting punk shows of every band that mattered, and Michel Foucault (in
his first American teaching gig) was holding holding forth about the history
of sexuality. Buffalo wasn't boring, I was.

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