Void Manufacturing

“Turning and turning in a cell, like a fly that doesn’t know where to die.”

Archive for December, 2009

More Terry Eagleton on Christianity with paintings by Walton Ford

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 30, 2009

Religion for Radicals:
An Interview with Terry Eagleton
by Nathan Schneider

Literary critic Terry Eagleton discusses his new book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, which argues that “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens “buy their rejection of religion on the cheap.”  He believes that, in these controversies, politics has been an unacknowledged elephant in the room.

Nathan Schneider: Rather than focusing on “believers” or “atheists,” which are typically the categories that we hear about in the new atheist debates, you write about “a version of the Christian gospel relevant to radicals and humanists.”  Who are these people?  Why do you choose to address them?

Terry Eagleton: I wanted to move the arguments beyond the usual, rather narrow circuits in order to bring out the political implications of these arguments about God, which hasn’t been done enough.  We need to put these arguments in a much wider context.  To that extent, in my view, radicals and humanists certainly should be in on the arguments, regardless of what they think about God.  The arguments aren’t just about God or just about religion. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Marx, The Brits, Words | 1 Comment »

Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 28, 2009

Hans Ulrich Obrist

In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem

Hans Ulrich Obrist: I just visited Edouard Glissant and Patrick Chamoiseau, who have written an appeal to Barack Obama. What would your appeal and/or advice be to Obama?

Raoul Vaneigem: I refuse to cultivate any relationship whatsoever with people of power. I agree with the Zapatistas from Chiapas who want nothing to do with either the state or its masters, the multinational mafias. I call for civil disobedience so that local communities can form, coordinate, and begin self-producing natural power, a more natural form of farming, and public services that are finally liberated from the scams of government by the Left or the Right. On the other hand, I welcome the appeal by Chamoiseau, Glissant, and their friends for the creation of an existence in which the poetry of a life rediscovered will put an end to the deadly stranglehold of the commodity. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anarchy, Cops Suck, Poetry, Spectacle, The French | 2 Comments »

Rebecca Solnit on climate change from tomdispatch

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 21, 2009

The Future

Terminator 2009

Judgment Days in Copenhagen By Rebecca Solnit

For Isaac Francisco Solnit, born December 17, 2009

It’s clear now that, from her immoveable titanium bangs to her chaotic approximation of human speech, Sarah Palin is a Terminator cyborg sent from the future to destroy something — but what? It could be the Republican Party she’ll ravage by herding the fundamentalists and extremists into a place where sane fiscal conservatives and swing voters can’t follow. Or maybe she was sent to destroy civilization at this crucial moment by preaching the gospel of climate-change denial, abetted by tools like the Washington Post, which ran a factually outrageous editorial by her on the subject earlier this month. No one (even her, undoubtedly) knows, but we do know that this month we all hover on the brink.

I’ve had the great Hollywood epic Terminator 2: Judgment Day on my mind ever since I watched it in a hotel room in New Orleans a few weeks ago with the Superdome visible out the window. In 1991, at the time of its release, T2 was supposedly about a terrible future; now, it seems situated in an oddly comfortable past. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Animals, Dystopia, Ecology, The Americans | Leave a Comment »

An interview with William t. Vollmann about his visual art from the ‘Quarterly Conversation’

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 21, 2009


William T. Vollmann appears at the door just as I turn in to his driveway. It’s raining, so he helps me carry my camera bags in. I offer up a Christmas cactus and a box of tangerines. Vollmann has a Christmas cactus story, and after he first checks that I’ve locked my car, he tells it: as a child he saved one segment of a Christmas cactus, and it lived, soon to germinate in his rooftop garden.

Although Vollmann is best known for his writing, I am here to see his visual artwork. I’m prepared to talk art all day long, but with Vollmann the divide between the arts is always fluid: our conversation ranges from Noh theater to contemporary music to his novels and everything in between.

Once inside Vollmann’s studio I’m confronted with walls that are covered, salon style, with art. Just past women’s and men’s restrooms painted in rough strokes of bold color (in the restrooms hang longtime Vollmann collaborator Ken Miller’s prostitute photos) there’s a dark bedroom/library complete with Vollmann’s oft-mentioned meat-locker closet. After that an art-lined corridor where art hangs on blonde wood runners, ready to be critiqued. Over the studio entrance is a collection of Soviet propaganda posters. It appears that Vollmann’s prodigious writings are matched by his capacity to produce and collect visual art. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in aRT, Poetry, The Americans | 6 Comments »

The Subversion Dialogues… Another Vollmann Interview…followed by the times article about his latest ‘Imperial’

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 21, 2009

The subversion dialogues

Kate Braverman holds a genteel conclave with William T. Vollmann about guns, whores, whiskey, death, and other literary matters

When I moved to the Bay Area a few years ago, I gravitated to the second-hand section of Berkeley’s Black Oak Books. It’s the cult library of books you meant to read but didn’t quite get to. The first year, the novels that most astounded me were Paul Bowles’s The Sheltering Sky, Don DeLillo’s Underworld, and the fictions of William T. Vollmann. In particular, Vollmann’s The Royal Family is a savage, glittering novel of the San Francisco underbelly of prostitutes, pimps, private detectives, and drugs written with the audacity, skill, and authority of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. But the social and psychological issues are more complex and ambiguous. Vollmann’s uncompromising antiauthoritarianism, his daring deviation from conventional narrative into literary criticism asides and essays, the sheer epic scale of the ambition, unhinged me. I felt as if I was in the presence of punk high art, renegade genius, and a contagious subversion I wanted to join.

Kate Braverman Black Oak has a wall of your books. I read your novels and short fiction and inquired about you to other writers. You have an enormous reputation as an outlaw, a recluse, and a profoundly important literary force.

William T. Vollmann I’m sure they’re all making a mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Mexican Food, The Americans, Words | 5 Comments »

Amy Goodman talking to Evo Morales about climate change

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 17, 2009

AMY GOODMAN: This is Climate Countdown. It’s Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from inside the Bella Center.

It’s just one day before the COP15 UN climate summit comes to a close. The summit has been described as the biggest gathering on climate change in history. And now, ten days after it started, are the talks on the brink of collapse?

The dispute between rich and poor countries, between the Global North and Global South, on key issues, including greenhouse gas emissions and climate debt, remain unresolved. World leaders from more than 110 countries have begun arriving at the summit and are delivering their addresses to the main plenary as we speak. As for civil society, the only thing worse than the endless lines of thousands of people trying to get into the Bella Center are no lines, because civil society has largely been locked out.

Well, just before we went to air today, I interviewed Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president. He was re-elected in a landslide victory earlier this month.

On Wednesday, Evo Morales called on world leaders to hold temperature increases over the next century to just one degree Celsius, the most ambitious proposal so far by any head of state. Morales also called on the United States and other wealthy nations to pay an ecological debt to Bolivia and other developing nations.

    AMY GOODMAN: President Morales, welcome to Democracy Now!

    PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Thank you very much for the invitation.

    AMY GOODMAN: You spoke yesterday here at the Bella Center and said we cannot end global warming without ending capitalism. What did you mean?

    PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] Capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity. Capitalism—and I’m speaking about irrational development—policies of unlimited industrialization are what destroys the environment. And that irrational industrialization is capitalism. So as long as we don’t review or revise those policies, it’s impossible to attend to humanity and life. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Animals, Ecology, Hell | Leave a Comment »

Interview with James C. Scott

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 17, 2009

From Wikipedia:
James C. Scott (born 2 Dec 1936) is Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Before being promoted to Sterling Professor, he was the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Anthropology. He is also the director of the Program in Agrarian Studies. By training, he is a southeast Asianist.

Scott is one of the most profound critics of high-modernist human development planning. He believes that the process of state-building, leading to what he calls the legibility and standardization of society, fosters control and domination rather than enlightenment and freedom. Scott started his academic career studying small village communities in the forests of Malaysia. When he left the rain forest he took with him a number of vital observations on how nation states organize their society. His monumental book, Seeing Like A State (1998)[1], became the basis for a fundamental and elaborate critique of how governmental planning for the advancement of society can go utterly wrong: compulsory villages in Tanzania, scientific forestry in Prussia, high-modernist Brasilia, industrial agricultural planning in the USSR and its modern day variant the Millennium Development Goals. According to Scott, these are all examples of rational-utopian blueprint thinking that proved fatal. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Our Maniacal Optimism Is Ruining the World

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 17, 2009

“The shift had a lot to do with down-sizing, when corporations grabbed onto it as a means of soothing their disgruntled workforce. The alternative is realism.”

December 15, 2009 

By Barbara Ehrenreich 
and Anis Shivani

Source: In These Times 

Barbara Ehrenreich’s ZSpace Page 
Join ZSpace

 “Many people are not getting by. The human species faces dire ecological threats. Pretending everything will be OK helped get us into this mess, and it won’t get us out.”

In her new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (Metropolitan/Holt, October 2009), Barbara Ehrenreich traces the origins of contemporary optimism from nineteenth-century healers to twentieth-century pushers of consumerism. She explores how that culture of optimism prevents us from holding to account both corporate heads and elected officials.

 Manufactured optimism has become a method to make the poor feel guilty for their poverty, the ill for their lack of health and the victims of corporate layoffs for their inability to find worthwhile jobs. Megachurches preach the “gospel of prosperity,” exhorting poor people to visualize financial success. Corporations have abandoned rational decision-making in favor of charismatic leadership.

 This mania for looking on the bright side has given us the present financial collapse; optimistic business leaders — assisted by rosy-eyed policymakers — made very bad decisions.

In These Times recently spoke with her about our penchant for foolish optimism.

Anis Shivani: Is promoting optimism a mechanism of social control to keep the system in balance?

 Barbara Ehrenreich: If you want to have a compliant populace, what could be better than to say that everyone has to think positively and accept that anything that goes wrong in their lives is their own fault because they haven’t had a positive enough attitude? However, I don’t think that there is a central committee that sits there saying, “This is what we want to get people to believe.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Matt Taibbi on Obama’s economic team

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 16, 2009



Obama’s Big Sellout

The president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway


Posted Dec 09, 2009 2:35 PM

 Watch Matt Taibbi discuss “The Big Sellout” in a video on his blog, Taibblog.

Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers “at the expense of hardworking Americans.” Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it’s not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

Then he got elected. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Jonathan Lethem discusses his new book with Salon.com

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 16, 2009

“Chronic” overachiever: Interview with Jonathan Lethem

The writer talks about his new novel’s ambivalent take on New York, and how cultural obsession can lead to madness

By Kerry Lauerman

Oct. 23, 2009 |

As Jonathan Lethem grew into what critics like to call one of our most important novelists, he became increasingly difficult to pigeonhole; fluid across genres, Lethem’s biggest books (“Motherless Brooklyn,” “Fortress of Solitude”) can feel like sparkling new works from a new author rather than someone you’ve enjoyed before. His latest, “Chronic City,” with its flashes of pot-fueled magic realism and ripped-from-the-tabloid-headline riffs again reads as something completely different from Lethem, but no less enthralling.

“Chronic City” features one hapless Chase Insteadman, a former child actor adrift in New York as his fiancée, an astronaut, hovers above, prevented from returning to Earth by an orbital minefield. He soon falls under the mad spell of Perkus Tooth, a writer and inveterate cultural critic-obsessive, who becomes friend and Svengali, sharing with him his love of all things Brando and an increasing paranoia.

Lethem stopped by the Salon New York office to discuss his new novel, his Brooklynite  critique of Manhattan, his MacArthur “genius” grant and the dark side of cultural obsession.

Most anyone with a deep love of film, books, movies has had a Perkus Tooth in their lives at some point, sort of tutoring them on the good stuff. I read that Paul Nelson was an inspiration.

Sure, Paul Nelson was part of that image for me. I mean, Paul Nelson was not frantic, actually. And he wasn’t a dandy, and he wasn’t a pot smoker, so there’s a lot of ways in which if you knew Paul Nelson you’d never associate the two. But something about Chase’s innocence meeting Perkus’ cultural worldliness comes from the fact that as a 20-something — 21, 22 — I kind of fell into Paul’s sphere for a little while and he gave me this instant education in his version of American vernacular culture. Ross Macdonald, Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, Chet Baker. And it was this flood of references for me to sort out and absorb and he became very important. A lot of the things that Paul taught me to value are still really the center of my sensibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Scientists grow pork meat in a laboratory

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 16, 2009


From The Sunday Times

November 29, 2009

Scientists grow pork meat in a laboratory by Lois Rogers

 SCIENTISTS have grown meat in the laboratory for the first time. Experts in Holland used cells from a live pig to replicate growth in a petri dish. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Mega Questions for Renowned (and controversial) Psychologist Dr.Arthur R. Jensen posed by Christopher Langan (highest I.Q. in the US), subjects include intelligence, education, and creativity

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 15, 2009

Mega Questions for Renowned Psychologist Dr._Arthur R. Jensen

– Interview by Christopher Michael Langan and Dr. Gina LoSasso and

members of the Mega Foundation, Mega Society East and Ultranet


[4]Arthur R. Jensen is a prominent educational psychologist who

received his PhD from Columbia in 1956. He did his postdoctoral

research in London with [5]Hans J. Eysenck, author of the absorbing

HIQ must-read, [6]Genius: The Natural History of Creativity. Jensen

is best known for a very controversial essay on genetic heritage that

was first published in the February 1969 issue of the Harvard

Educational Review. His research work on individual differences in

intelligence led him to conclude that intelligence is 80% due to

heredity and 20% due to environmental influences. Even more

controversial were his findings regarding robust and replicable ethnic

differences in fluid intelligence. The publication of the extremely

well-conceived and executed research findings reported in [7]The g

Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (1998) on the heels of

Herrstein & Murray’s very controversial work, [8]The Bell Curve, moved

the heritability debate into an arena where it could finally be

satisfactorily explored and challenged.

We contacted Dr. Jensen in May and introduced him to the Mega

Foundation, our work and our communities. We asked him if we might

forward to him a few member questions on the topic of intelligence.

Although he is in the process of writing a new book, Dr. Jensen very

kindly took the time out of his busy schedule to answer all 31 of our

member questions, edited by Christopher Langan. Many thanks to Bob

Seitz, Andrea Lobel, Garth Zeitsman, and others who took the time to

submit questions and a special thanks to Mega Foundation’s Coordinator

of Volunteer Services, Kelly Self, for help with transcription. This

extensive and fascinating interview will be serialized in Noesis-E,

beginning with the current issue.

Question #1:


Christopher Langan for the Mega Foundation: It is reported that one of

this centurys greatest physicists, Nobelist Richard Feynman, had an IQ

of 125 or so. Yet, a careful reading of his work reveals amazing

powers of concentration and analysispowers of thought far in excess of

those suggested by a z score of well under two standard deviations

above the population mean. Could this be evidence that something might

be wrong with the way intelligence is tested? Could it mean that early

crystallization of intelligence, or specialization of intelligence in

a specific set of (sub-g) factors i.e., a narrow investment of g based

on a lopsided combination of opportunity and proclivity – might put it

beyond the reach of g-loaded tests weak in those specific factors,

leading to deceptive results? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

James Hansen of NASA on carbon trading followed by Paul Krugman’s response from the Dec 7 NYT

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 15, 2009

From Wikipedia

James E. Hansen (born March 29, 1941) heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Earth Sciences Division. He has held this position since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.


Published: December 6, 2009

AT the international climate talks in Copenhagen, President Obama is expected to announce that the United States wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. But at the heart of his plan is cap and trade, a market-based approach that has been widely praised but does little to slow global warming or reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. It merely allows polluters and Wall Street traders to fleece the public out of billions of dollars. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy…. Vanity Fair article on Blackwater founder Erik Prince

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 15, 2009

Erik Prince, recently outed as a participant in a C.I.A. assassination program, has gained notoriety as head of the military-contracting juggernaut Blackwater, a company dogged by a grand-jury investigation, bribery accusations, and the voluntary-manslaughter trial of five ex-employees, set for next month. Lashing back at his critics, the wealthy former navy seal takes the author inside his operation in the U.S. and Afghanistan, revealing the role he’s been playing in America’s war on terror.


Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm (recently renamed Xe), at the company’s Virginia offices.Photograph by Nigel Parry. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

An interview with Nic Clear from the Ballardian

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 11, 2009

Here is an interview with architect/theorist/educator/etc Nic Clear concerning ‘The Near Future’, the issue of Architectural Design guest-edited by Nic. The interview covers a number of topics including the relationship of J. G. Ballard’s work to architecture. On the Ballardian site are included videos made by some of Nic’s students (www.ballardian .com, this is a very good resource for anyone interested in Ballard). We here have replaced the videos with images of some of the more ridiculous projects proposed in Dubai… the oasis of idiocy.

For example this classic:

“A journey. A saga. A legend. The World is today’s great development epic. An engineering odyssey to create an island paradise of sea, sand and sky, a destination has arrived that allows investors to chart their own course and make the world their own”… a vision realized… an ecosystem eliminated

In recognition of the sophistication of Ballard’s architectural analysis, a raft of discourse has been produced in recent times from within both academic and pop-cultural realms. This takes the form of tributes, analyses, ‘reimaginings’ and course syllabuses. In the influential architecture blog BLDGBLOG, for example, Geoff Manaugh sounds the note:

We have more to learn from the fiction of J.G. Ballard … than we do from Le Corbusier. The good city form of tomorrow is a refugee camp built by Brown & Root; the world’s largest architectural client is the U.S. Department of Defense. More people now live in overseas military camps than in houses designed by Mies van der Rohe — yet we study Mies van der Rohe. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Dystopia, Economy, Evil, Hell, Insanity, Nightmare | 3 Comments »

Tariq Ali on Communism’s legacy

Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 11, 2009


The Idea of Communism: An Interview with Tariq Ali

By Aaron Leonard

Mr. Leonard is a freelance journalist and writer. He is regular contributor to hnn.us..” His writings can be found atwww.aaronleonard.net .

Seagull Books has just published the latest in its “What Was Communism” series. The new title, “The Idea of Communism” is written by journalist, author and filmmaker Tariq Ali. This short book was written on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It serves as both introduction and brief historical assessment to this most radical of theories — with such a fraught legacy. Freelance journalist Aaron Leonard talked via phone with Ali about the book.

Given it has been 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is occasion for a lot of looking at the whole notion of communism, but beyond that why did you write this book now?

I think it was really for the anniversary. Seagull Books which is this new transcontinental publishing house was doing a series and asked my advice. I gave them my advice and they insisted I do a book on the idea itself. I did a short essay and put it out. Essentially the idea of it was that there are young people, students who have only heard about these things in a very vague way, in sound bites, to give them something that might interest them, then they could go and do their own reading. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Communism | 1 Comment »