Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Vogliamo tutto?

Trade unions and precarity.

A nice example both of how unions fail to deal adequately with issues of outsourcing, agency work and precarity and of how unions, like parties, are frequently part of the problem. This is union convenor Bernard Moss at the Cowley plant speaking to the Oxford Mail for 17 February and putting his position as BMW's talking poodle quite succinctly:

'The problem we had was that we were under clear instruction we could not give out any information until the company said so. That caused a lot of concern from the workforce over the last couple of weeks. Although we are a trade union we are employed by the company.'

Two-handed Conversations

Communication is asymptotic.

On the one hand:

The subject begins the analysis by talking about himself without talking to you or talking to you without talking about himself. When he can talk to you about himself the analysis is over.
(Lacan: Introduction to Jean Hyppolite's commentary on Freud's Verneinung. Cf Écrits, 1966, p373)

And on the other:

We have to be patient with each other, and rejoice whenever we manage (both us and other people) to move forward. We can't just stay where we are.
(Károly Kerényi, letter to Furio Jesi, 5 October 1964, as quoted by Wu Ming I)

Friday, 20 February 2009

Clara Petacci

On the death of Clara Petacci.

Like Mussolini, Clara 'Claretta' Petacci was shot in 1945 and her body hung upside down at a petrol station at piazzale Loretta in Milan. But with this difference: that her skirt was tied around her knees. To prevent her knickers showing, according to Giuseppe Genna in Grande madre rossa. Because she had taken them off, according to some reports. Because she had been violated, according to Giorgio Pisanò.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

After the Mass Society

C Wright Mills and post autonomism

In The Mass Society (from The Power Elite, 1956) C Wright Mills looks at 'public opinion' as the mythic seat of democratic power. This is what New Labour's Gordon Brown deceitfully invokes whenever he bleats about 'the British people', whose needs he always knows. Essentially it is 'an 18th Century idea' which 'parallels the economic idea of the market of the free economy': a world of freely competing actors where price (not value) is formed by 'anonymous, equally weighted, bargaining individuals' and opinion arises out of 'little circles of people talking with one another'. So that autonomy is assumed in both cases and autonomy of discussion in particular is important for the idea of how it legitimates, of how 'no one group monopolises the discussion or by itself determines the conditions that prevail.' So that 'the discussion of opinion is the important phase in a total act by which public affairs are conducted.'

According to the reusable metaphor which Wright Mills then goes on to create out of the birth of British industrialisation, the opinionated public thus conceived 'is the loom of classic 18th Century democracy' in which 'discussion is at once [both] the threads and the shuttle', tying things together as it were.

And yet, then as well as now, this description is implausible: merely 'a set of images out of a fairy tale: they are not adequate even as an approximation of how [...] power works [...] The idea of the community of publics is not a description of fact, but an assertion of an ideal' which 'is recognized by all those who have considered it carefully as something less than it once was.'

Writing out of his own particular time and place, Wright Mills develops out of what he finds a notion of a 'society of masses' in a way that parallels the identification of the 'mass worker' by Italian operaisti. In the latter, not wholly brave new world of post miracular Italy the opinion-forming Estates had either broken down or become irremediably repressive, rather as the unions and the trade and craft distinctions had either come to break down or had become oppressive in the Republic founded on Work:

'Boss, you haven't fooled us
with your creations, with the unions
your plans have gone up in smoke,
it's us you're up against.

And the qualifications, the trade distinctions,
we want them all abolished.
The divisions are at an end.'

(Alfredo Bandelli: La ballata della FIAT)

Or as an Autonomist slogan put it not long after dear, democratic Doctor Kissinger's splendid 11 September coup against Allende: 'In Chile they've got the tanks, but we've got the unions.'

And so, speculating now, out of this particular time and place, long after we got what we asked for, which wasn't at all what we wanted (who was it, by the way, who described Berlusconi, friend of Tony Blair and client of David Mills / Mr Tessa Jowell, as the bastard child of Radio Alice?), we can recycle. Indeed Wright Mills' metaphorical observations seem to need updating only slightly. In the era of cognitive capitalism, of immaterial labour, of precarity, the loom has been dismantled, or possibly repossessed. Instead there are simply small transmitter/receivers bobbing on the surface of the boundless ocean, linked only by the thread of their capacity endlessly, repetitively, to transmit and to receive. This is Negri's multitude, but before it achieves self consciousness as a social subject. The movement of the ocean is titanic. Events go on 'elsewhere'. Until the crash. But until then, in the thin and airless little world of the post Fordist polity as a viable public space, presence is everything, so that whilst these devices may disperse and recombine, whilst they float upon it they do not partake of the ocean in any active way, so that the overall effect is (at best) one of empty, mutual advertisement, of our affectless reincarnation as mindless, self documenting emoticons. Cf, for example, the examples of the bishop who would put confirmations on Twitter, as though the act of being formally received into the Church were a sort of spiritual happy slapping, or of Gordon Brown, looking and behaving like a gloomily aspirant Celtic Tony Hancock, over on You Tube. But there are plenty of non Establishment examples of the same sort of thing.

And meanwhile actual or social disappearance, not now the effect either of a real historical iceberg or of a metaphorical one but just a process of slow or rapid withdrawal, of absence, is merely radio silence, over and out, of death amidst white noise.

And we are, most of us, for the most part, still living out that death.

The Sociological Imagination

Wright Mills on the public / private split

Nowadays men often feel that their private lives are a series of traps. They sense that within their everyday worlds, they cannot overcome their troubles, and in this feeling, they are often quite correct: What ordinary men are directly aware of and what they try to do are bounded by the private orbits in which they live; their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, neighborhood; in other milieux, they move vicariously and remain spectators. And the more aware they become, however vaguely, of ambitions and of threats which transcend their immediate locales, the more trapped they seem to feel.

(C Wright Mills: The Sociological Imagination, 1959)

Britain's Torture Policy

Further evidence as to why New Labour are unfit to be in office:


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Politics as Bullfight

Politicians are like bogus toreadors, with all their banderillas and their lances, and the public in its entirety yelling and egging them on. But there isn't any bull any more. The bull is in the biotech labs, in the garages where they write software, in the production houses of imaginary futures, in Hollywood, in the MIT Media Lab in Boston.

(Franco Berardi, aka Bifo, in Settantasette, la rivoluzione che viene, eds Sergio Bianchi & Lanfranco Caminiti)

Politicians as Porn Stars

Agamben argues (Cf Il volto, in Mezzi senza fine) that politics is a process first of being put on public display and then, unlike animals, of taking control of that display: of separating the image from its object, of giving objects names. A process of (en)closure in which the Open is transformed 'into a world, which is to say into the battleground for a struggle which is political, which gives no quarter. And this struggle, whose objective is the Truth, is what we call History.'

But is this accurate? Aside from whether we differ from animals in this way, one must (of course) distinguish between two different sorts of situation.

On the one hand there are those in which apprehension itself is suspect, insufficient, in which there is a surplus which vests beyond either capture or control: a possessed without a possessor, neither something which is open nor yet some sort of Commons. In this sense History is just a frosting over of what was warm and freshly baked. The point about History being its potential for the future: ice can melt.

And on the other there is the missing surplus of advertising: the Exchange & Mart of the damned in which all one's yearnings for what might be or might have been in some longed for bulky package achieve a passing, spurious satisfaction through receipt of the package alone, of its contentless appearance, of its bits of cardboard, paper, sellotape and string. And this is deficit, the emptying out of History in the furtherance of a numb and endless present: bogus product, successive bogus rewards, the prancing ninnies of New Labour; politicians not as the citizenry acting as sovereign participants in some polity nor yet (in the representative model) both inspiring and being inspired by the citizenry but as narcissistic menials in some 'customer facing department' (offstage but grandly self important, as though speaking for grand ideals); the politician as porn star, writhing for the camera in the name of missing Love.

Just as advertising and pornography 'escort the commodity to the grave like hired mourners' (from La comunità che viene) so the modern professional politician empties political institutions of their life force and makes of them hollow tombs.

Or to put that more concretely:

'To whom is [the porn star] indifferent? To her partner, certainly. But also to the spectators, who become aware (to their surprise) that the porn star, whilst knowing perfectly well that she is exposed to their gaze, is not complicit with them in the slightest. Her impassive features thus shatter any relationship between what is seen and what is expressed. She doesn't express a single thing any more but makes herself available to be viewed as a locus chaste of any expression, and purely as a means.' (from Profanazioni)

Monday, 16 February 2009


Revolution isn't seizing power but seizing the power of life and over life. Seizing power isn't the culminating moment of the revolution but rather counter revolution in its purest form, in its triumph and its mockery.
(Pino Tripodi, in Gli autonomi vol I)


'Please don't seize power.'
(A/traverso, September 1977)

Miliband Exposed

David Miliband, the torturer's friend, continues to deploy the 'simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play', inherited from the almost equally squalid Jonathan Aitken.

Here is part of a letter from Miliband published on page 32 of today's Observer:

'Your leader ("Tell us the truth about torture, Mr Miliband", Comment, last week) suggested that I had "suppressed evidence" linking British officials to serious offences allegedly committed against Binyam Mohamed, and that my decision to seek public interest immunity against public disclosure of the documents might be from "fear of offending an ally".

'The truth is quite the reverse.'

And here is The Observer itself rebutting Mr Valiant-for-Truth on page two:

'The Foreign Office (FCO) solicited the letter from the US State Department that forced British judges to block the disclosure of CIA files documenting the torture of a British resident held in Guantánamo Bay, the Observer can reveal.


'A former senior State Department official said that it was the Foreign Office that initiated the "cover-up" by asking the State Department to send the letter so that it could be introduced into the court proceedings.


'The former senior State Department official said: "Far from being a threat, it was solicited [by the Foreign Office]." The Foreign Office asked for it in writing. They said: 'Give us something in writing so that we can put it on the record.' If you give us a letter explaining you are opposed to this, then we can provide that to the court."

'The letter, sent by the State Department's top legal adviser John Bellinger to foreign secretary David Miliband's legal adviser, Daniel Bethlehem, on 21 August last year, said: "We want to affirm in the clearest terms that the public disclosure of these documents or of the information contained therein is likely to result in serious damage to US national security and could harm existing intelligence-sharing arrangements."

In other words, once again Mr Miliband is correct. Rather than wishing to cover US backs, as The Observer shamefully alleged, it was the back of the UK government which he had intended to protect. Meanwhile he appears intent on applying the bad apples / Abu Ghraib defence to Britain's role in government sanctioned torture.

Good for him!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Conjunction versus Connectedness

At last year's Radical Philosophy Art & Immaterial Labour conference at Tate Britain Bifo spoke of a shift from conjunction, the world of the connotative where subjectivities interact, change one another unpredictably, become 'other', to the connectedness of machine like functionality, a denotative and objectifying world of unaltered and non altering singularities. In Infanzia e storia Agamben looks at the decline of experience as accumulation into time as mere succession.

These two observations are by no means unrelated. Read by their lights Lucarelli's Un giorno dopo l'altro becomes a sort of road novel about that connectedness, constructed out of the subjective experience of three quite separate individuals of the (objective) links between them, and about how time and distance now present themselves as repetition.

Alessandro is a youth who works for an ISP, where he monitors internet chat rooms. Time has stopped for him since his girlfriend went back to Denmark. So he has set Luigi Tenco's song Un giorno dopo l'altro, itself about repetition, to play as an infinite loop: 'Day after day / time disappears: / the streets are always the same, / the same houses. // Day after day / and everything as before; / step after step, / the same life.' He has a docile dog (called Dog) which others mistake for a pitbull. When he first encounters Vittorio (as he himself squats in an otherwise silent chat, surrounded by the empty noise of other rooms) it is simply as lines of text replying to earlier text from someone called 'the old guy'.

Vittorio is a contract killer. He is not a serial killer, though he constructs that image for himself: 'the pitbull'. This, however, is a sort of nickname or tag used with the aim, apparently, of returning (once it becomes appropriate) back to his former anonymity through a semiotic death: 'In order to kill himself the pitbull had first had to be in existence.' His real death is experienced, subjectively, paradoxically, as a semiotic death, a literal loss of signal, as descending into white noise, as 'fading into a hissing whiteness, like plunging into a sea of grass. He thought: it's ending. He thought: for real. He thought: here.' End of signal, end of journey, end of time.

Grazia is a police officer. She is one of a team keeping villains under surveillance. In the course of her work (and the novel) she is objectified at various points by the male gaze of Alessandro, of Vittorio and of her fellow officers. Initially she encounters Vittorio as an absence, a murderer of three people who has somehow managed to slip through the net of hidden microphones. So technology fails at this stage. But her method of tracking down her suspect is taken straight out of set theory ('Narrow down. Connect. Exclude and narrow down again.') just as Alessandro's initial and very indirect contact with the person behind the 'pitbull' nickname, mediated through his colleague Luisa, is by checking through IP numbers.

Throughout the novel runs a network of roadways traversed (subjectively) by Vittorio not really as the means towards some end but as the pattern of life itself: 'On the motorway life is movement. If you stop it's because you need help.' As well as two different binaries. Grazia's putative pregnancy, which could still be resolved by a test which Grazia never quite administers but instead reveals, more or less accidentally, first to Alessandro then to her fellow officers, as a sort of item of her trailing or extruded subjectivity. And the dilemma Alessandro faces: to get his girlfriend back or move on; ie What to do about time? Which he resolves (or fails to resolve) by flying to Copenhagen, winding back the tape, turning the clock back, foreshortening distance, right at the end of the book.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Active Passivity II

Very simply I mean that we are the objects of messages and treatments that we must absolutely be aware of and learn about. The images 'addressed' to us 'preform' us, giving culture an appearance of naturalness that we must be vigilant about. Distance and observation are permanent necessities.

(Marc Augé, in interview)

The Metropolis

If during the touch down at Trude I hadn't read the name of the city written in nice big letters I would have thought that I'd arrived at the very same airport from which I'd taken off. The suburbs they made me cross were no different from those other ones: the same houses, yellowish and slightly green. I followed the same arrows, I drove round the same flowerbeds in the very same piazzas. On display in the streets in the centre were goods, packages, signs that didn't change, not even slightly. This was the first time I had come to Trude, but already I knew the hotel in which I happened to be staying; I'd already gone through my dialogue with the ironmongers; other days, exactly the same as this one, had ended with me looking through the same tumblers at the very same undulating navels.

Why come here to Trude? I asked myself. And already I wanted to leave.

You can resume your flight whenever you please, they told me. But you'll arrive at another Trude, exactly similar to this one in all its particulars. The world has been covered over by a single Trude that neither starts nor stops. The name that's shown at the airport is the only thing that will change.

(Italo Calvino: Trude, from Le città invisibili)

Driving II

On the motorway what matters isn't being but moving. At a reasonable distance you can talk about being at Pescara even if you're not there, because that's where you're going. For a body in continuous motion direction is more important than any particular point that won't be there moments later [...] On the motorway life is motion: continuous, constant, without interruption.


When driving along the motorway you can still do lots of things. Listen to music, speak on the phone, think, sing, drink. You can give yourself a scratch. [...] What you can't do is raise your legs onto the seat and knot them into the lotus position. You can't read a book or watch television. Or sleep. You can't maintain your gaze in another direction that isn't straight ahead.

(Carlo Lucarelli: Un giorno dopo l'altro)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Power and Opposition

The consecration of power must not carry greater weight for us than the halo of irreducible opposition.

(Cornelius Castoriadis)

Lenin on Social Constructivism, according to Dunayevskaya

‘Man's cognition not only reflects the objective world but creates it.’

(Lenin on Hegel’s Science of Logic, according to Raya Dunayevskaya, 1987)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Safe as the Bank of England

'The owners of capital will incite the working class to buy more and more costly goods, more houses and items of technology, pushing them to take out more and more lines of credit until the burden of debt becomes unsustainable. The outstanding debt will lead to the bankruptcy of the banks, which will then have to be nationalised, and the State will be forced to undertake a journey that will lead, eventually, to Communism.'

(Karl Marx, supposedly in 1867, though it's probably an urban myth, as quoted by Marco Niada, retiring correspondent of Sole 24 ore, at a farewell dinner held in his honour in the City, presided over by the Italian Ambassador to London and attended by a number of Italian bankers, 3 February 2009)


David Miliband, the UK Foreign Secretary, is of course perfectly right. Friendship requires confidence, trust. Lots of cuddles and warmth. And little bits of torture here and there.

When we were at school together, I and another friend brought Carol Thatcher to see David Miliband. She had been a friend too until she'd offended him in some way. Anyway, we held her down whilst David stamped on her hands. Naturally we felt badly about this afterwards, although our consciences were clear since only David had done the stamping.

And so time passed, as it always does...

One year at the school reunion I said to him, 'David, don't you think you behaved rather badly, stamping on Carol's hands?'

'What do you mean?' he replied. 'I only held her down along with you. It was Hassan who stamped on her hands.' And, of course, he was right. I remembered that after he said it.

A short time later, we were all sitting together in the green room of a well known TV company when we overheard Carol Thatcher saying in her inimitably loud and rather vulgar way, 'You know three of them attacked me after school and took turns to stamp on my hands.' And, obviously, after a breach of trust like that, no friendship can survive. So we dropped her. And, in addition, we sued her for defamation.

Well eventually the case did get to Court where it was heard before Jonathan Ross LJ, a Law Lord of some note. In his rather testy summing up, Ross stated:

'I am unable to try this case. The plaintiffs have hidden the evidence. I find it intolerable that any Court should be put under this kind of pressure.'

Tonight David and I are going round to Ross's house. We are going to stamp on his hands.


The Soviet agent and Keeper of the Queen's Pictures, Anthony Blunt, famously defended himself with E M Forster's observation that it was better to betray one's country than to betray one's friends.

David Miliband has adapted this principle. It is, in his view, better first to go along with torture in secret and then to go against international law than to go against whichever friendly country carries out these acts.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


'Technology is a way of so arranging the world that we do not have to experience it.' (Max Frisch)

'The lift is a machine for ignoring one's co-tenants. The car for ignoring people who go by tram. The telephone for not looking people in the face or going into their houses.' (Don Lorenzo Malini: Lettera ad una professoressa)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A Good Childhood

Having previously rescued children from the chimneys of industrial capitalism we have put them to work on the sofas of cognitive capitalism.

A Good Childhood is a so called ‘landmark report’ from the UK Children’s Society. According to a selective article in the Telegraph, it argues, inter alia, that television makes children mentally ill partly through advertisers' messages that 'you are what you own' and partly through that medium's practice of celebrity:

'Children today know in intimate detail the lives of celebrities who are richer than they will ever be, and mostly better-looking. This exposure inevitably raises aspirations and reduces self-esteem.'

The reference to 'aspirations' here is peculiar. For a start, aspiration is more usually seen as one of capitalist society's major drivers: you look across at the field belonging to that other chap, you see that it is greener, you apply some fertiliser to your own field and very soon everyone gains. It is this that underpins the hugely patronising (and often White) belief that inhabitants of US projects and slums are going to look up at Obama over the coming years and see not only a brave fulfilment of the dream of Dr King but also an inducement to themselves to give things one further heave.

And that, essentially, is its function in this view of how things work, an inducement to further effort, to fit in. But it's a position from which, even though Tim Gill, for example, notes that children need to be autonomous, self directing and so forth, the Report as a whole will probably not dissent, its own sort of aspiration, other than at the margin. Aspiration, in other words, doesn't seesaw with self esteem. Rather it works as social control in a way that desire, for instance, never can; which is what makes desire so subversive.

So here we have it: the dynamic model of capitalist aspiration. A carrot moves forward endlessly and therefore you do too, failing again and failing better, goaded onwards by a stick. Don't do drugs and/or go to prison. Join the Democrats instead.

In a more topological model, one reaches towards the object of aspiration which always lies on the boundary of the very system within which one starts aspiring in the first place. In L'Europa e l'Impero, for example, Toni Negri notes how the US 'empire' is the skin or outer surface of a container for which we provide the contents, within which we live. And this, no doubt, is why (in a British context) the same mindless New Labour clique has looked successively to the vibrancy, if that's the word, of WJ Clinton, GW Bush and now of BH Obama. Policy here is secondary if it's relevant at all, because the issue is one of marques.

Nor are things much different in some Christian contexts. Christ is the object of imitation, the source of 'living waters'. However, that imitation is always radically incomplete. Either one never reaches that boundary (becoming fully alive is therefore always postponed) or else imitation fails in some other way: '[they have] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water' (Jeremiah).

As to the message that 'you are what you own' here are the children of Don Lorenzo Milani's school in 1960s Barbiana (from Lettera ad una professoressa):

'The poor create different tongues and then they struggle to renew them for ever. The rich crystallise these so that they can keep down those who do not speak as they do.'

Now what these children were complaining of was this: firstly that they were excluded from or dispossessed by others of a language which was theirs and secondly that a false and 'crystallised' form of that language (and this is similar to the commodification of 'dead labour') was then turned back on them prescriptively and proscriptively as a source for their (new) identity.

And this is actually quite serious. On the one hand there is an asymptotic relationship pre-existing between two aspects of language, a sort of ecology of the potential, which must not be destroyed:

'The true culture, that which no one has so far possessed, is made up of two things: belonging to the group and possessing the power of individual speech.' (Lettera...)

And on the other hand there is the sort of observation about that destruction which is made by Roland Barthes:

'To rob a man of his language in the very name of language; this is the first step in all legal murders.' (Mythologies)

But of course children living today are by no means dumber (or less dumb) than were their counterparts in Barbiana. Certainly they are experiencing a similar negative loop whereby they too become forced consumers of their own production, now fed back at them in crude and distorted ways: for example as reflections of their desire to be like their peers or like their older siblings, or as their desire to create new friendships, now reflected back as the bogus friendship of celebrity. And, almost certainly, like the children of Barbiana, they know this at some level. Yet they are hardly unique in this. Rather they are victims of the process common in cognitive capitalism and which applies both to children and to adults whereby (as Alquati and others have noted: tourism is an example) production and consumption coalesce:

'They have sold us one by one. They have sold our poor lives and our history to make a history combined with others, a fake history, that doesn't even have a happy ending, one that finishes in indifference for everything and for everyone.' (Stefano Benni: Saltatempo).

Monday, 2 February 2009

Active Passivity I

'How does one actively do the passivity thing?' asks the narrator of Tiziano Scarpa's Kamikaze d'Occidente. One attempt might be that of the fireman of Guccini's locomotive. You set up the situation; the technology does the rest: 'Remind your soul to listen and obey ... you will face decisive situations ... be patient ... things get easier without your intervention ... ' (Mohammed Atta, document written just before 11 September 2001; 'things get easier...' comes from another translation)

Or to turn that around entirely, 'Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.' The emptying out of the self; the 'imaginary institutions' of whatever greater (but absent) entity instantiated, made carniferous through not entirely elective prosopopœia. These walls may not have ears, but they certainly do have tongues.

Or as Hegel said (or at least Engels summarising Hegel, later quoted by Plekhanov), 'Freedom is the recognition of necessity.' And Necessity, the Law, is dark or occluded only insofar as it is insufficiently understood, the container that's to be breached, the potential for destruction, from within. This is subjectivity conceived in Avicenna's terms, as ontological Russian dolls. Not the ground beneath one's feet (elephants all the way down) but successive ceilings, the impositions stemming from others' objectification, against which subjectivity has to push. Until some terminus ad quem is eventually reached, be it God, Historical Necessity, the biggest dead whale in Lombardy (Cf Aldo Nove). Or whatever. And Pie in the Sky When We Die.

Joe Hill offers 'pie in the sky when we die', whence the phrase. But right now we have to 'work and pray [and] live on hay', which is a nicely acerbic sneer at the tension running through so many parts of Christianity (as a religion of achievement) between the modally present, optative and aspectual ('God be with you') and the temporal, deontic and modally future ('Heaven shall await you': God postponed).

Guccini's God is Dead draws a somewhat similar contrast, this time between a world in which:

'on the kerbsides God is dead
in the cars picked up on instalments God is dead
in the myths of summer God is dead'
and 'a new world' which is in the making, precisely because:

'in terms of what we believe in God has risen
in terms of what we wish for God has risen
in the world we wish for
God has risen'

but also in which the Resurrection precedes, as it were, the Revolution rather as velleity precedes conation before the arm can be raised. Or in this case the whole of the body from the not yet emptied tomb.

And there may be still other ways into this notion of active passivity, always presuming it exists, one of which might be to think not about inaction versus action but instead about how presence relates to pretence, of presence without pretence, and about absence. From outside each ontological boundary (ie looking in) content is an image, a representation: its reality is subordinate, diminished. Whereas 'there could be another way, of making of it only presence, only absence.' (This is Antonio Moresco.) So 'to hell with representation! This is the time for presence. Fewer metaphors, fewer mediations. Meaning things directly. Making literal sense.' (Tiziano Scarpa)

And if meaning now becomes key, is meaning itself then simply a series of jugs or boxes in which to capture the world? This is ontological containment, meaning conceived of as though it were mastery over the world. Or is it a set of tails which one haplessly attempts to pin upon the donkey flux of sensation, which is what the world, as we experience it, comprises? This is nominalism, whose two ontological realms, somewhat estranged, comprise Reality on the one hand and the Naming of Reality on the other, rather as essentialism (which treats of what is true and thus unchanging against a flux of names) and nominalism (not quite vice versa, but nearly) are themselves estranged. Or is it rather a suit of clothes with which to cover up the nakedness of being? Maybe. Because Nature abhors undressed emperors above all things and therefore so should we? Or because Tinkerbell exists precisely through our belief?

But I don't, in saying that, wish to make fun of what is simulation semantics at a personal level, social constructivism at the interpersonal. The creation of meaning, the production of some sort of glow of value, maybe if only a glimmer even, is a much more important and complex thing than its pricing through re-production, through the quotidian exchanges of all our busy social lives.