fetterdave said: Cara, has the entire world lost its goddamn mind?

caraellison:

What’s the best painting? What’s the best tv show? What’s the best game? Let’s rate them all in a listicle. Let’s put them in numerical order. Let’s get the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo and put them side by side and go HMM, which one is the ACTUAL best? GAMERS NEED TO KNOW. GAMERS MUST KNOW WHICH ONE IS NUMBER ONE. OBJECTIVELY.

 

I could have a cold one day and it would affect how I viewed a fucking reload system on an FPS. But it’s my job to explain how I relate to these things. People do not come to me for my omniscience. They come to me for my foibles, feelings and biases. I am a critic not a metre stick and I don’t care if you don’t share my opinions. I can explain why I have them well and you can take it or fucking leave it.

 

Why do gamers demand this thing that actually does not exist? Because capitalism demands it. As capitalism’s shitty little puppets, everything must be rated ‘objectively’ so they can manipulate you into saying it’s the best so they can market it back to you, even though no opinion in the world is objective. We live in a great wide world where everything is infinite and appeals to different people. Ever notice when you find someone else whose favourite film is the same as your favourite film? It’s rare right? Do they like it for the EXACT same reasons as you? Probably not. Yeah. Maybe you don’t even have a ‘top’ film because that’s stupid fucking question. That’s how fucking opinions work. Art is not a number, commercial bullshit just wants you to think that it is so that you can be manipulated into buying more of its shit.

 

All the Games Media Awards, the Games Journalism Awards, Metacritic, Greenlight, the App Store, ratings systems, metrics, pageviews: all of this stuff is just a way of figuring out what is The Best so a list can be made, even though the reality is nothing is the best to everyone at any time. It’s trying to lead you to think there is anything but a huge variety of beautiful, weird and interesting things out there that are appreciated by different people at different times.

 

You cannot make a work of art that will destroy other art things. You can only stop that person from making art which in my opinion is a MASSIVE FUCKING VIOLENT ACT. Do you know what is a selfless, beautiful thing? Someone who gave you art for free. Because it’s there if you want it. And it’s not taken anything away from you if you don’t.

 

Capitalism’s insidious ploy to get you to buy only the stuff they have ploughed insidious fucking stacks of cash into en masse is the one thing killing the games industry. Surprise, you think it’s ‘the best’ because they spent a huge PR budget on it and made fancy commercials. Well done. Keep literally buying into that ploy and attempting to suffocate anything that deviates from it. You will have the same boring things to play over and over whilst huge companies make you into their slimy little zombie slave. You don’t want to play what I like? I don’t care. There’s room for us to exist on this earth, and you trying to exterminate everything that isn’t what you want is something entirely sinister and fascist.


If you succeed, there will just be you in your shitty underpants in a wasteland trying to jerk off to some free-to-play shit that hates you. Because you wanted The Best. Well The Best survived. It is only one kind of thing for one kind of person. Enjoy.

(Reblogged from caraellison)

For all of [Bioshock] Infinite’s allusions to miscegenation, lynching, genocide, eugenics, etc., Booker and Elizabeth have no relationship to the racism that surrounds them. Instead of exploring either character’s prejudices or privileges, Booker’s stoicism and Elizabeth’s naivety ensure they are never “colored” by racism. They recognize it as a moral wrong but have no relationship to it. Racism only touches the game’s villains, implying it as the unique attribute of the corrupt and monstrous, as opposed to something everyone deals with and has a relationship with their entire lives. It’s an archaic take on racism that privileges the isolationism the game reserves for Booker and Elizabeth. It’s especially frustrating since Booker begins mowing down black men Resident Evil 5 style in the game’s final act, (color)blindly deciding they were as bad as Comstock’s men.

A racially conscious game is one that recognizes relationships with race/racism aren’t voluntary and doesn’t use racism as a strawman to characterize the bad guys. That’s neither the identity of racists nor the function of racism. It’s a frankly pathetic way to mimic social evolution. It’s time games stepped up and made the same commitment to narrative innovation and character exploration that they have to technical advancement.

Sidney Fussell & Jed Pressgrove, "A Conversation About Race In Games" (via samdodsworth)

BUT THEY WERE AS BAD AS COMSTOCK’S MEN BECAUSE THEY WERE KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE WTF

(via 54goji)

Also the game takes place in 1912 so not really much social evolution goin on yet

(via 54goji)

Well, we could talk about the (American) Civil War as an important bit of “social evolution” from before 1912. But I think you’re focussing too much on the internal logic of the story and not thinking about why it was written that way and what other stories could have been told.

I’m more interested in the wider point about how racism works vs how it’s represented, but if I was going to start teasing out specific problems with Bioshock Infinite I’d start with solipsism. In one sense, the only real people in the story are DeWitt and his daughter - and Elizabeth’s adult self is erased by the ending, so she’s more of a plot token than a character. So we could say that everyone and everything in the game is just set-dressing for DeWitt’s internal struggle with guilt and anger and redemption.

Now, that’s a perfectly valid (if overfamiliar) story, but consider what it does to the “big themes” of race and oppression and revolution. They’re just part of the set-dressing. We’re not asked to engage with any of it - we’re literally told it’s a waste of time and that the only important thing is this one white guy and how bad he feels about abandoning his daughter.

(Reblogged from 54goji)

For all of [Bioshock] Infinite’s allusions to miscegenation, lynching, genocide, eugenics, etc., Booker and Elizabeth have no relationship to the racism that surrounds them. Instead of exploring either character’s prejudices or privileges, Booker’s stoicism and Elizabeth’s naivety ensure they are never “colored” by racism. They recognize it as a moral wrong but have no relationship to it. Racism only touches the game’s villains, implying it as the unique attribute of the corrupt and monstrous, as opposed to something everyone deals with and has a relationship with their entire lives. It’s an archaic take on racism that privileges the isolationism the game reserves for Booker and Elizabeth. It’s especially frustrating since Booker begins mowing down black men Resident Evil 5 style in the game’s final act, (color)blindly deciding they were as bad as Comstock’s men.

A racially conscious game is one that recognizes relationships with race/racism aren’t voluntary and doesn’t use racism as a strawman to characterize the bad guys. That’s neither the identity of racists nor the function of racism. It’s a frankly pathetic way to mimic social evolution. It’s time games stepped up and made the same commitment to narrative innovation and character exploration that they have to technical advancement.

Sidney Fussell & Jed Pressgrove, "A Conversation About Race In Games"

Till recently the European in India had an essentially superstitious attitude towards heat apoplexy, or sunstroke as it is usually called. It was supposed to be something dangerous to Europeans but not to Asiatics. When I was in Burma I was assured that the Indian sun, even at its coolest, had a peculiar deadliness which could only be warded off by wearing a helmet of cork or pith. ‘Natives’, their skulls being thicker, had no need of these helmets, but for a European even a double felt hat was not a reliable protection.

But why should the sun in Burma, even on a positively chilly day, be deadlier than in England? Because we were nearer to the equator and the rays of the sun were more perpendicular. This astonished me, for obviously the rays of the sun are only perpendicular round about noon. How about the early morning, when the sun is creeping over the horizon and the rays are parallel with the earth? It is exactly then, I was told, that they are at their most dangerous. But how about the rainy season, when one frequently does not see the sun for days at a time? Then of all times, the old-stagers told me, you should cling to your topi. (The pith helmet is called a ‘topi’, which is Hindustani for ‘hat’.) The deadly rays filter through the envelope of cloud just the same, and on a dull day you are in danger of forgetting it. Take your topi off in the open for one moment, even for one moment, and you may be a dead man. Some people, not content with cork and pith, believed in the mysterious virtues of red flannel and had little patches of it sewn into their shirts over the top vertebra. The Eurasian community, anxious to emphasize their white ancestry, used at that time to wear topis even larger and thicker than those of the British.

But why should the British in India have built up this superstition about sunstroke? Because an endless emphasis on the differences between the ‘natives’ and yourself is one of the necessary props of imperialism. You can only rule over a subject race, especially when you are in a small minority, if you honestly believe yourself to be racially superior, and it helps towards this if you can believe that the subject race is biologically different. There were quite a number of ways in which Europeans in India used to believe, without any evidence, that Asiatic bodies differed from their own. Even quite considerable anatomical differences were supposed to exist. But this nonsense about Europeans being subject to sunstroke and Orientals not, was the most cherished superstition of all. The thin skull was the mark of racial superiority, and the pith topi was a sort of emblem of imperialism.

George Orwell, “As I Please” 20th October 1944
What does it mean to assume we have “got over” something? This claim might participate in a genre of argumentation I describe as “overing.” In assuming that we are over certain kinds of critique, they create the impression that we are over what is being critiqued. Feminist and anti-racist critique are heard as old-fashioned and out-dated, as based on identity categories that we are assumed to be over.

It is not always the case that “overing” arguments are made explicitly. I would say that in the landscape of contemporary critical theory there is a sense – sometimes spoken, sometimes not – that we need to “get beyond” categories like gender and race: as if the categories themselves have restricted our understanding; as if the categories themselves are the blockage points. Those who point out restrictions and blockages become identified with the restrictions and blockages they are pointing out, as if we are creating what we are describing. The hope invested in new terms (movement, becoming, assemblages, capacities) can thus be considered a way of “overing” as if these terms are how we “get over” the categories themselves. And in turn, academic work that works on questions of gender, or race, or which works with existing social categories (whether are not these categories are the starting points, and whether or not the categories are assumed in advance of starting), becomes associated with stasis.
feministkilljoys, "Making Feminist Points"
You know you are a woman who said something interesting on the internet when you receive death threats. It is like graduating but instead of smiling at your parents you cry to your pillow for several weeks when no one is around and contemplate your own worthlessness until you get angry and creative and emerge some sort of burning, fuschine dragon.
Cara Ellison, “Embed With… Nina Freeman”

Nullos esse deos, inanae caelum
adfirmat Segius: probatque, quod se
factum, dum negat haec, videt beatum

'There are no gods, there's no one in the skies',
Says Segius: and there’s proof
Would he be wealthy otherwise?

Martial, Epigrams 4.21. (A very free translation that improves the punchline, based on James Michie’s translation for Penguin Classics.)

One of the reasons the subordinate’s exercise of agency so agitates the conservative imagination is that it takes place in an intimate setting. Every great political blast—the storming of the Bastille, the taking of the Winter Palace, the March on Washington—is set off by a private fuse: the contest for rights and standing in the family, the factory, and the field. Politicians and parties talk of constitution and amendment, natural rights and inherited privileges. But the real subject of their deliberations is the private life of power. “Here is the secret of the opposition to woman’s equality in the state,” Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote. “Men are not ready to recognize it in the home.” Behind the riot in the street or debate in Parliament is the maid talking back to her mistress, the worker disobeying her boss. That is why our political arguments—not only about the family but also the welfare state, civil rights, and much else—can be so explosive: they touch upon the most personal relations of power.

Still, the more profound and prophetic stance on the right has been Adams’s: cede the field of the public, if you must, stand fast in the private. Allow men and women to become democratic citizens of the state; make sure they remain feudal subjects in the family, the factory, and the field. The priority of conservative political argument has been the maintenance of private regimes of power—even at the cost of the strength and integrity of the state….

Conservatism, then, is not a commitment to limited government and liberty—or a wariness of change, a belief in evolutionary reform, or a politics of virtue. These may be the byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and ever changing modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose.

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not. When the libertarian looks out upon society, he does not see isolated individuals; he sees private, often hierarchical, groups, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees.

Corey Robin, “The Reactionary Mind”

(Source: coreyrobin.com)

The Enlightenment - for whom? The Industrial Revolution - for whom? The Space Age - for whom? I began to wonder if I was living in a Golden Dark Age of Reason.
Jem Cohen, introducing “This is a History of New York”

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Margaret Atwood, “Siren Song”
Half the shouting and social upheaval on the internet today comes from entrenched groups who are outraged to learn that their opinions and views are not universally agreed upon; the other half comes from those whose silence was previously mistaken for assent.
Charles Stross, YAPC::NA 2014 keynote
For there hath Spaniardes come into these contries which, havinge lefte their consciences and all feare of God and men behinde them, have plaied the partes not of men, but of dragons and infidells, and, havinge no respecte of humanitie, have bene the cause that many Indians, that peradventure mighte have bene converted and saved, are deade by divers and sondrie kindes of deathes. And althoughe those people had not bene converted, yet if they had bene lett to live, they mighte have bene profitable to your Majestie and an aide unto the Christians…
This day the Masons finished a house which Captaine Fenton caused to be made of lyme and stone vpon the Countesse of Warwickes Island, to the ende we might proue against the next yeere, whither the snow could ouerwhelme it, the frost brake it vp, or the people dismember the same. And the better to allure those brutish and vnciuill people to courtesie against other times of our comming, we left therein diuers of our Countrey toyes, as belles, and kniues, wherein they specially delight, one for the necessary vse, and the other for the great pleasure thereof. Also pictures of men and women in lead, men on horsebacke, looking glasses, whistles, and pipes. Also in the house was made an Ouen, and bread left baked therein for them to see and taste. Also here we sowed pease, corne, and other graine, to proue the fruitfulnesse of the soyle against the next yeere.
We tend to be patronizing about the poor in a very specific sense, which is that we tend to think, “Why don’t they take more responsibility for their lives?” And what we are forgetting is that the richer you are the less responsibility you need to take for your own life because everything is taken care for you. And the poorer you are the more you have to be responsible for everything about your life….Stop berating people for not being responsible and start to think of ways instead of providing the poor with the luxury that we all have, which is that a lot of decisions are taken for us. If we do nothing, we are on the right track. For most of the poor, if they do nothing, they are on the wrong track.
Esther Duflo

(Source: coreyrobin.com)