Wednesday, September 1, 2010

link to New Yorker Article

Koch brothers war against Obama

interesting in view of our discussion tonight.......

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back to Bucky

This is really late, but I just got around to our round-up of things we liked about Bucky, even if he is nuts:

1) It's not technology that saves us, it's the implementation of technology. The goal is "livery."
2) There is abundance. It is generous but finite. Abundance vs. limited resources and grasping for power.
3) We each create our own "omnihood." Omni is a big concept from the book; a sort of variation of act locally but try and affect the major systems and learn how they interact and how systems need plurality and dissension (part of his omni-vision is very naive).
4) Have a master plan.
5) Don't accept the words of experts; test things for yourself. Rely on direct experience/
6) Don't forget to do.
7) Don't forget the process (and documenting the process) is as important as the work.


When Merely Discussing Raises Hackles

I read this today in one of my many email alerts, and it reminded me of Zizek's discussion of torture (page 50): below we have an open discussion AND a law about the limits of extra-judicial killing!


Two civil liberties organizations said they will file a legal challenge against the government's suspected targeting for assassination of an American supporter of Al Qaeda, arguing that under the U.S. Constitution no citizen can be "deprived of life... without due process of law."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights first filed suit against the Treasury Department, which said they needed a "license" in order to act on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been designated as a terrorist. After the lawsuit was filed yesterday, the Treasury Department said the license to proceed would be granted.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and several House colleagues introduced legislation last week "to prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens."

"No United States citizen, regardless of location, can be 'deprived of life, liberty, property, without due process of law', as stated in Article XIV of the Constitution," their bill said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday that the targeting of al-Awlaki was not done entirely without process. "There's a process in place that I'm not at liberty to discuss," he said.

"If... we think that direct action [against terrorists] will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that," then-DNI Dennis C. Blair told a House Intelligence Committee hearing (pdf) on February 3, 2010.

But the Kucinich bill said that "No one, including the President, may instruct a person acting within the scope of employment with the United States Government or an agent acting on behalf of the United States Government to engage in, or conspire to engage in, the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen."

Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual (film)

If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can enjoy this  lecture given by the man himself in London, 2003.

The first 15 minutes or so are spent clarifying his understanding of Lacan's Imaginary, Symbolic, Real triad.   I did not stay up late enough last night to watch all the way through to the end, but will finish the movie tonight.

Netflix has other documentaries on or including Zized available through the mail.  You Chicagoans might want to plan a watching party!


p.s. awesome talk last night. thanks to all for persevering over the technology hurdles. we might all have a bit of the revolutionary in us, yet. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Hi campers,

I'm happily following up on our discussion from last week with a reference that came up. Around page 258 in Latour, we started to question the limits of his description of the law, and how well his case for the law's stability functions when applied to, for example, developments in European law leading up to WWII. We were looking at the section where he establishes that the difference between police and thugs depends on the entirety of the law (a fabric of sanctions and decrees makes the act of search and arrest legal rather than an act of thuggery -- there is a lot to unpack).

There is a footnote on Vichy in Latour, but not much else to contextualize what his conclusions here regarding the Council of State might say about systematic removal of civil rights, states of exception, and so on, which led me to mention Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer. 'Homo sacer' is a feature of Roman law, a person who can be killed but not sacrificed. It does take a book to sort out what that means, a paradox in which someone is excluded from the law and thereby included and identified under it -- in Roman law it applied to banishment, and today we would also talk about it in terms of stripping civil rights. Agamben looks at the early roots of these laws regarding the 'sacred man' and in particular at developments in European law leading up to WWII.

So if you finished Latour thinking, 'What about ..' -- this book may add to the conversation.

Happiness with a cup of tea and Zizek in hand to you all --

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lost Causes from Rio

Hey campers. I am back online and looking forward to Tuesday at 8 (Chicago time/10 Rio time). I will read to about page 100. I figure we can give this book five weeks, as it is long and we did not choose a September book. As this book touches on just about every book and movie ever made, there are lots of connections to past readings. No doubt there will be lots to talk about. Viva la revolution (at least ones that pose deeply inspiring and motivating symbolic value to the world outside the brutality and specificity of violence-as proposed by Zizek)!



Monday, July 19, 2010

Making the Law

Bruno Latour is a curious spectrum shift from Bucky. While Fuller offers a (historically imaginative) totalizing world view, Latour give is a microscopic look at French Administrative law. He outlines the movement, the verbs of the place-where people stand, how chairs move, how the files rotate, the organization and shifts in the mailboxes and the redirection in conversation. Latour is the HOW of how power moves, whereas Fuller is a broad stroke why.

The contrast is startling, but...useful. The frustration at Fuller's obsessive need to fit every bit of everything into his call to throw one's self into the cause of humanity is matched by an underlying frustration that Latour seems to be purposefully obfuscating his position as an agent and collector of information. He simply states what he sees at movement, or like an active verb, instances of shift or change, but refuses (so far p. 175) to make any broad social or narrative assumptions based on his observations.

Latour's openness to observe an institution is remarkably refreshing. I just hope it is not like so many modern novels where the words just end, right in the middle of a some larger narrative left for the reader to interpret. And yet, that is so often how it really is.

Somewhere between grand narrative and hands off narrative could be a good spot for me.


And So Bucky

So we all agreed Bucky deeply stumbled when it came to accuracy or implementation. Yet, we found a deeply generous spirit towards humanity that was intriguing enough to keep us reading.

Below are Annie Heckman's musing/notes (slightly abridged).

Over-emphasis on technology
Top-down approach


Gems throughout notes – marked with *
*Local information gatherer

Globally active – act local think global

Omni – absolute
Perhaps he overused this word, just a little, every other sentence or so? (AG comment)

Jane Jacobs/Direct articulated lens/Areas of city healthy/unhealthy
Fuller – work for all of humanity

Things that humans all share globally: gravity, sunlight, air
Resources generous but finite
*Posture of abundance and generosity
*Counteracting a fear of limited resources
Mother hen
20th century Ben Franklin

history of power
documenting history
owning things
*power of one
*local efforts
*apply yourself
*methodology of creating

art and design
research and development
burden of development on the individual in the art world
design process more closely follows collaborative practice in architecture
architects who don’t want doors in their offices because it slows down collaboration

*taking responsibility
*interest in honoring what the individual directly experiences as a source of data
*setting out personal principles
*personally developed way of life
*consciously creating your own worldview independent of how you were raised

impressed with his ego
*believing that smaller things that happen along the way will be somehow important in the future/ once the process is realized
sometimes we might tend to labor away and downplay the importance of the backwork
*valuing background work enough to document it
*finding useful reminders of the relationships between thoughts and actions
*idea that the universe regenerates and that using this it is possible to recreate within the system

technology emphasis is a mistake
it’s not technology that saves us but the implementation of technology
weaponry livingry

*his way of figuring out how to get things done
*examining the process of invention

obsessive documentation
the idea that if you say it often enough it will be true

All, every
world game
World-wide energy grid
Dome – gravity
NPR piece about $2,000 sustainable living space for Haiti, inventor who wants it to be helpful

One person
Creating new problems
Involving the whole neighborhood
Not being aware of the law of unintended consequences

The whole idea of having a world plan
Chris Rock bit about jobs vs. careers
*Influencing us to Find little things we can do to change things – why don’t I just do this?
*Open possibilities
burden of humanity
*allowing small things to be important to the whole
Marianne Williamson
Fear is that we’re powerful
Rebecca Solnit -- Hope in the Dark

Larry Kramer – having a plan, idea that there are people with awful intentions who have made careful plans and therefore it is your responsibility to make your own even if the idea of making a master plan seems in itself wrong
Relating the idea of master plan to efforts in US to further strip LGBTQ rights

Good intentions
Stepping back and seeing how much things have changed
Happier to live in 2010 than in 1927
Seeing the changes that have been made

Life work
*Having a cause - 1 thing that you care about deeply
too many things in the world for everyone to mind everything
*finding out what needs to be done that is more important than what we’re actually doing
what are you spending your time doing?

*Idea that if everybody worked on it, it would be better
Don’t forget to do, and not just think

DO-ing got complicated for Bucky
Dealing with unintended consequences
Awareness of the things that we’re working on

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesdays become Latour-days

Good evening everyone.

Soon a Bucky re-cap will be posted. I just need to be in the same physical space for more than a few days.

So onto Latour and French Administrative law. If you like files and listening in on closed door conversations, this could be the text for you.

Still, every Tuesday at 8pm, Chicago time.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our own critical path

Ok, so we clearly don't want a technocracy or fascisms, but Bucky is right on a few things. The world is round and we understand there are finite resources, know-how and how-know are vital essential for change and we are stewards of the “spaceship earth”. From our discussions it is clear we think technology isn’t gonna save us and we want to allow for more cultural difference and bottom up development than Bucky. For this last bit of the book then, the question is - What is the critical path?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Critical Path, 30 years old, but quite topical...

Bucky may have been a wild story teller and might have cherry-picked which historical events to highlight, but then again, this story in today's paper sounds like it came straight from his book.

Read the article here: U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Next week 8pm Tuesday night


So, first of all, if you are online and want to join, please email me. I keep my email open for just such things. Tonight Melissa was online, but my Skype did not see her. Bad Skype! Glad you could join us, if late.

Reading for Tuesday. June 15/100-178
Reading for Tuesday. June 22/179-252
Reading for Tuesday. June 29/253-346
Appendix I and II - as desired.

Tara was the most generous among us, allowing Bucky full license with history not as an "scientist-artist" but as a philosopher-bard. With varying degrees of latitude, we all seem to be finding some kind of sea legs on this ride of a book.

Happy reading,


Monday, June 7, 2010

Updated time this week: Thursday night 8pm

Alrighty then, we are set for Thursday at 8pm, Chicago time. If you and I are not connected as Skype friends, send me your handle or friend me at amberginsburg.

Topic: The wild historic ride as provided by Bucky Fuller, through the middle of chapter 3, page 100 in my St. Martin's Press version.

Until very very soon,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh Shit

Hey campers. You all know me. Well, I am about to be fully myself. I have double booked Tuesday. I have the final critique for my University of Chicago class on Tuesday from 6-10pm (potluck of course.) This timing is so out of the ordinary, I did not notice the boo-boo until this very moment.

So....let's do Wednesday night. Let me know if that is a conflict for anyone. If so, we will re-group and pick another time. So very many apologies for this lameness on our first date of the year.

All lameness on my part aside, what do you all think of Bucky. I think this book is a wild ride of assumptions, particularly about how the computer is going to save us and break down all cultural, political and natural barriers (remember de Certeau anyone?) and a curiously intriguing guide book fostering resource equality to all. Parts of the book read like Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror and reminds me of the ever repeating tropes in history, while other bits are pure fantasy. When is the last time anyone wrote dolphin and whales are descendants from humans holding their breath?

Unlike more dispassionate books, this wild ride is oddly inspiring.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And so it begins

Dear Campers,

It is the first week of Camp and time for Buckminster Fuller's, Critical Path. The chapters to do not fall into tidy divisions for us, so let's read chapter 1, 2 and part of three up to about page 100, just over 1/4th, but a generous start.

Happy reading.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Initial Response to Critical Path

Great googly mooglies, is Bucky Fuller wild, or what?  And by wild, I'm not sure whether I mean brilliant and prescient, or just plumb insane.

Fundamental complimentarity... unity is plural and at a minimum 6-fold.
I love that what, "[He] is trying to discover is why God included humans in Universe." Nothing like setting lofty goals, eh?

To be nobody but yourself, to attempt as an individual what the traditional power structures could never become a "local universe information harvester and problem solver in support of eternally regenerative Universe."  (I need to order new business cards!!)

On the one hand, he seems to think we're in big trouble if we've not realized his vision by 2000 (which clearly we have not). On the other, he encourages us that we, "will find the world responding to [our] earnest initiative."  I am SOOO looking forward to spending the summer with a brilliant, crazy, cynical optimist!
What's jumping out at y'all?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Books for the summer

Dear all,

These are the books for the summer of 2010!

Book One- June:
Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

Book Two-July:
Bruno Latour, The Making of Law.

Book Three-August:
Slavo Zizek
, In Defense of Lost Causes

Monday, March 22, 2010

Possible summer titles

I sent out an email with the following possibilities for summer reading. Additionally, suggestions from various campers are listed. In the next month we will vote on summer reading.

Bruno Latour, The Making of Law.

Slavo Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes OR
Zizek, Violence

Martha Nussbaum, Woman and Human Development (Capabilities theory)

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
I am a partial Solnit fan, but think a walking focused book could be good. Suggestions?

Glenn Adamson, The Craft Reader

Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

something by Walter Benjamin? (that you've not done already?)

Lewis Hyde: Trickster makes this world mischief myth and art

Nature of design
by David W. Orr

Earth in mind: on education, environment, and the human prospect
by David W. Orr

The Gift of Good Land
by Wendell Berry

Kinship to Mastery: Biophilia in Human Evolution and Developments
by Stephan R. Kellert

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukoka

Why we Garden: Cultivating a sense of place
By Jim Nollman

The Language of Landscape
By Anne Whiston Spirn

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time to pick for summer

Dear Campers and potential Campers.

Art Theory Summer Camp is just around the corner, which means it is time to select four books. Below is an initial list, but I am seeking suggestions. This summer will follow past summers- a book a month for June, July, August and September.

Bruno Latour, The Making of Law.

Slavo Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes OR
Zizek, Violence

Martha Nussbaum, Woman and Human Development (Capabilities theory)

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
I am a partial Solnit fan, but think a walking focused book could be good. Suggestions?

Glenn Adamson, The Craft Reader

Art Theory Summer Camp, briefly described-

When: Weekly meetings (subject to change based on the schedules of participants)
Where: On skype
What: A book a month June-September
Who: Anyone interested and perhaps a friend