A ONCE-A-WEEK (or so) LIST OF WHAT I GIVE A DAMN ABOUT. WITH 10 = MOST IMPORTANT; AND 1 = NOT SO MUCH
The Monsanto Corporation employs 'Seed Police' to enforce their patents. Seed Police? Are you kidding???? This enforcement group is based on intellectual property rights that are established law in the United States.
I think the Catholic Church is missing out on a great opportunity here. They could be monitoring the actual sanctity of life if they re-branded the Swiss Guards as the “Human Seed Police”. Il Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Spermatoza.
It’s the Onan Squad.
Big Pharma is engaged in constant litigation with regard to the patent rights of life-saving drugs. Here pragmatic economics must win out over ethics. Corporations, recently proclaimed by Clarence Thomas and his cronies as Actual People are only responsible to their immediate family, that is, their Shareholders.
The larger family, the actual human family has yet to be so blessed with personhood by the SCOTUS.
Who owns our inventions? Who owns our ideas? Who owns our very thoughts? Who owns our seed? Dr. Strangelove?
QQ:1 CAVEAT EMPTOR
In a recent interview, Sean Parker describes the demise of the recorded music industry quantitatively in terms of a devastating, total financial collapse. The figures he quotes are an annual drop from $45 billion gross to $12 billion and falling.
This devastating loss of an infrastructure, an industry, of a culture, of employment, of a social movement and of artistic quality is all the result of the ownership debate. It has become a stolen commodity. Recorded music is essentially free.
Thus lifted, it has become the very foundation of YouTube. The shareholders of Google are happy. They made money from stuff they didn’t pay for. Google is the biggest 'fence' in history.
QQ:2 SIZE MATTERS
Big Media tells us that there is more music being made, shared and consumed today than at any other time in human history. More music makers have access to a larger audience than ever before. In fact, one seventh of humanity will be members of the Zuckerface oligarchy by end 2012.
Zuck sells us stuff while we delude ourselves that we belong. We do belong.
We belong to Him.
Is Quantity a viable measure of Artistry and Culture? The more the merrier,
I say! With today’s technology, Leonardo Da Vinci could have achieved a billion-plus Mona Lisa hits on YouTube. Imagine the advertising revenue.
That enigmatic smile could sell genetically modfied corn to the corn-less.
Now, anybody has a shot at being Bach, Shakespeare, Hendrix or Dylan.
I'm on a Picasso kick right now. I figure that if I post my paintings, hire a hacker to manipulate some algorithms and really hone my social-media skills, accumulate a few million fans, give a bunch of stuff away for free, make a viral video and tweet about my prejudices, therapy, divorces and digestion...
I could make some serious dough. Picasso would be jealous. He did not have the same access to the kind of audience or algorithms that I can connect with. This is the new democracy and it’s great. Andy Warhol's prediction has come true, almost. He said that in the future everyone would be world famous for 15 minutes. I just think that 15 minutes is turning out to be a bit too long.
QQ: 3 IT’S BACTERIAL
I keep hearing Defenders of Free Media (DOFs) point to viral spread as a good thing.
This video has 50 million hits; that twit has 50 million followers; or that Zuckerface member has 50 million friends.
The problem is that I have never ever heard a DOF address issues of artistry, or quality, or culture, or innovation. There are just numbers and possibly some resulting advertising revenue. This concept, where the numbers are thought to equate to a social and economic value can have significant negative repercussions if they are scrutinized within some frameworks.
Adolph Hitler gained power ultimately as a result of a real, fair election. Was that a good number? French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America. Is that a good number? Kim Kardashian has over 12 million twitter followers. Is that a good thing? The Muslim Brotherhood and their fundamentalist brethren have the vast majority of numbers in Egypt. Are we pleased with the Arab spring?
Is cultural quality control a concept worth examining?
QQ: 4 WAGNER’S FRENCH FRY ORATORIO
There have always been multiple and layered cultural forces relating to the arts.
There has been the culture of the ruling class and the culture of the ruled.
Great and significant artistic statements have come from the oppressed, especially in musical expression. The music of the oppressed has given rise to the work songs and chants of labor from all cultures and ethnicities throughout history including the Blues and Jazz.
Religion has inspired music more profound and spiritual than any of the religious Institutions it is supposed to represent.
Potentates and rulers have commissioned music as designed by the most skilled musical composers and craftsmen that money could buy.
None of these movements apply to the viral, number-based DOF phenomenon. There is no gatekeeper, no church, no potentate and no slave driver.
What we do have, is the potential of our exposure to music being determined by the Hitler elector, the Kardashian follower the Hamas supporter and the French fry consumer.
The quality of music is strained.
QQ: 5 STICK THIS IN YOUR EAR
The manner in which we consume recorded music has suffered a marked and significant degradation. No matter how poor any musical reproduction system was in the ‘old’ technology, the resonance of the physical environment and the sharing of the listening experience mattered. Speakers resonate in a room, or in a car. We listened within a group.
Currently, we listen alone through cheap ear plugs. We plug our ears with music? What is it exactly that we hear? What is the emotional message?
Mp3s were created by deleting a significant portion of sonic information. When harmonics are missing, the resulting experience resonates mainly to the sound of percussion and to the spoken word.
If harmony and melody do not translate via an mp3 through an ear plug, then hip-hop surely will. Will-I-Am. There are always exceptions. The Peas actually got away with some real memorable melodic themes. But that was so early 2,000's. Old hat in our fast changing twit-verse.
QQ : 6 ROSEBUD
I hate to have to agree with a Rupert Murdoch on anything. But he's correct in his take on Google.
In fact, I would like to see him personally sell his newspapers standing on a street corner somewhere. There's some real 'one-on-one' human interaction. However, the principal of Rupert creating a product that contains concepts, ideas and commentary that he has commissioned and paid for gives him the right to stand on a corner and sell the damn thing. In principal, Rupert owns the right to sell his rags.
Except, of course, when the information has been stolen. In that case, he and/or his cohorts will suffer the legal consequences. It seems to be an open and shut case.
So when Sean Parker, Google and YouTube provide the conduit that 'shares' my stuff that they haven't paid for, sell advertising on the back of it and only compensate me if I come after them, I get pissed.
QQ : 7 ALGORITHMIC DEMOCRACY, A FASCINATING ALGORITHM
Cultural anarchy, creative democracy, the rule of the mob, fragmentation or the ultimate form of free expression are all in play as the algorithms work their numbers.
It is fascinating though, to watch Adele and Michael Buble find a path to the economic peak of 2011 that would seem to defy the culture of the DOF.
Some people, in fact some 10 million or so people paid for CD albums by these artists. Are these aberrations?
On his recent album, Buble performs the song "White Christmas". The Bing Crosby version is the best-selling, single song of all time. Buble has no problem creating yet another version adding millions more to the songs' track record. "White Christmas" is an anthemic, musical statement that transcends time, genre, culture and trend. It continues to celebrate, to unite, to inspire and to bring people together.
This is one-helluva powerful phenomenon. I would suggest that this is also a positive and important phenomenon. We need anthems that join us together in our common humanity.
I routinely challenge my songwriting students to name a recently written song that has even a remote likelihood of meeting the same resonance and reach as "White Christmas" 50 years from now.
They can’t because there isn't one.
That, I maintain, is because there is no songwriter today working at the level of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin or Harold Arlen. The economics of the business simply do not allow for that degree of artistry, commitment or work.
It's hard to compose an anthem. If it was easy, everybody would do it.
I would even take the idealistic conceptual leap to suggest that a contemporary anthem could and would find its way to us, if it were composed. But, perhaps this concept has disappeared... somewhere over the rainbow.
QQ : 8 JUST LIKE THE ONES WE USED TO KNOW
The DOF’s (defenders of free media - in case you have forgotten) maintain that anthems are being created everyday. We just don't get to hear them. They are wrong.
The DOFs maintain that there is as much artistry and talent out here as there ever was. They are wrong.
Inspiration is 10% of the equation. There is way too much anti-perspirant in the world today. We don't want to sweat. We just want to be famous, if not for 15 minutes, then for any time we can get. American Idol here we come. We will even sing "White Christmas" or "Stairway to Heaven" Any anthem will do. One old anthem is as good as another. There are no new ones.
QQ : 9 RUPERT AND ME
The bought-and-paid-for US Congress is currently raising re-election funding on the back of powerful lobbying forces dedicated to opposing points of view regarding the ownership of ideas. The proposed, bogged down "Stop Online Piracy" Act, SOPA, has become a cash cow for this corrupt election process. Clearly, Google wants to continue channeling stuff they have lifted while I, on the other hand, would like to be compensated for the millions of YouTube hits of my intellectual property. Within that paradigm, I find myself in an unholy alliance with Monsanto and Murdoch.
I don't wish to be on their team or a member of their club. It is a dilemma.
QQ : 10 ONCE UPON A TIME
"Innovation" implies forward, positive movement. "Culture" implies growth.
Every major thinker who ponders the current, economic world crisis points to education as the first order of business on our road forward.
What is education but the route to innovation and to growth?
But, innovation and growth also need to be applied to the arts. Art is not secondary to Engineering or Science. In fact, artistic exploration can be the very conduit, the route to innovative thinking and invention at the highest level of scientific exploration.
Artistic innovation and artistic growth can only occur within a conducive environment where artistic expression is considered to be worthy and important.
We, as a society are now colluding in the new, accepted form of transmission of the arts; of intellectual property; and of creativity... by stealing it.
By not compensating creators, we suffer a deep loss, even a moral bankruptcy.
The Monsanto Corporation and Leonardo Da Vinci are not equivalents. Pablo Picasso and Johnson & Johnson are not equivalents when it comes to the protection of ideas.
I have no interest in being embedded with them or their ilk or their ‘Brave New World’ of ‘Seed Police’.
Further, I believe that the concept of ‘cultural democracy’ is deeply flawed.
Cultural nutrition is essential for life. French Fries will not sustain us forever.
Our humanity is expressed in our stories, our paintings and our songs. They are more than worthy of our acknowledgment, our development, our education and our protection.
Engraved on my Stone Tablet. Edited by Batsheva