2.13.2006

three things

here are three things (or maybe more--i never know) for your reading enjoyment:

1) although i'm very computer illiterate, i've been trying to figure out a problem with my computer. if this were a click and clack show, i'd say to you all that my computer is a year old gateway notebook and it's lately started going "wherennnt. ttsk!" that sound is the hard drive like freezing up a second, and then going on about its business.

the thing is, through trial and error, i've been able to establish that's it's one of two programs that make it do this: either mozilla firefox, or a...um...well, an "un-official" copy of photoshop. i've been downloading fixes and deleting/re-installing programs, physically removing the hard drive, etc. and it turns out that when i get rid of these programs, the computer doesn't make that sound anymore.

at this point, i guess i could re-install one or the other and find out which one does the damage. however, that sound "wherennnt. ttsk!" has come to haunt my dreams. i overheard a conversation between two people the other day in which someone said something suspiciously like "wherennnt. ttsk!" and it made my eye twitch. i don't want to ever hear it again. anybody got any ideas?

besides, i really should install a proper version of photoshop, anyway. is it illegal to borrow a friend's real copy? if not, why don't one of you people send it to me? i can't go on without photoshop. really. i need it to do my work--not just for fun. i simply can't afford it. are there any patrons out there?

2)speaking of photoshop:

well, there's supposed to be a close-up picture of the side of my face right here. the blogger photo uploader thing seems to be mis-behaving, however. i'll try it again in a minute.

what i wanted to address with this picture was the dangerous areas of aging and beauty. where do i draw a line as far as cosmetic "work" goes? personally, i really like my crow's feet around my eyes. they're a historical record of my life. of too much time squinting in the sun--acquired either through recreation or working outdoors. i'm getting balder and what hair i've got is getting grey. i like all this. but what about the stuff i don't like?

i mean, i've knocked my front teeth out three or four times in my life. i replaced them. i don't need front teeth all that badly, it just helps me put a prettier face out there for the public. bad teeth, for instance, can lose you a job. but i think we've arrived at a point in this country...well, we've always been at this point in this country: cosmetics gets you the job. for instance, white skin is hired before black skin.

now, however, we're taking it further with the fact that a full head of hair gets a job before bald, for instance. we have a stringent beauty standard and are not above appying the hell out of it. and it's a class issue. beauty has become the territory of those that can afford it. more egalitarian perhaps than being lucky enough to be born attractive (although that version has historically smacked of classist tendencies, i.e. a better diet made you better looking).

women have always been held to this standard, but...and get ready for this one...i think the cultural-behemoth-marketing-machine of gay male culture (as opposed to an actual gay-male culture--more about that in a moment) has now helped open up men to the same ridiculous scrutiny tht we've been putting on women all these years. one visit to provincetown, mass with all the its bronze skin, toned abs, scary square white teeth, hair transplants, moisturized faces and suspicious lack of crow's feet and it becomes pretty obvious that beauty and youth are pre-requisite for both genders now. (i've never watched queer eye, but i've seen commercials and that one guy is the spittin' image of any aging hollywood starlet what with his face all yanked back and stuff.)

culture, it appears, just seems to inexorably unwind itself. instead of the demystification of outrageous feminine beauty standards, america has simply inadvertanty leveled the playing field by holding men to the same standard.

so. my own debate is, how far do i let myself follow this trend? i look critically now at sun damage, rather than seeing it as a battle scar or historical marker.

which brings us to 3)

in guy deboard's society of the spectacle he addresses this in a way. see, that beauty standard i mention above is part and parcel of the spectacle. whereas, anthropologically speaking (well, anthropologically speaking out of my ass, that is) that beauty standard might once have been a measure of health, it now just represents a veneer of health. we have replaced all that is real with an image that represents the real.

that's not what i want to talk about with debord, though. this is what i really want to get to: his book is amazingly prescient. written in 1968 or thereabouts, he pretty much summed up one of current cultural dilemmas. the thing is, though, as i've been reading it, i'm not so much informed as i am...well, reinforced. to me, the spectacle is a done deal (it's the extent i can't fathom, yet.)

for those that don't want to trudge through 221 thesis statements of

psedo-cyclical time is in fact merely the consumable disguise of the time-as-commodity of the production system, and it exhibits the essential traits of that time: homogeneous and exchangable units, and the suppression of any qualitative dimension. but as by-product of time-as-commodity intended to promote and maintain the backwardness of everyday life it necessarily finds itelf laden with false attributes of value, and it must manifest itself as a succession of artificially distinct moments (an example selected dada-style by me and a ouiji index finger, and more for effect than relevance)

what debord is addressing is the matrix. like in the movie. except in the spectacle, perhaps, we are all aware--like the guy eating the steak--of our position...or so i thought...

here's the rub: alison and i had a long conversation yesterday about this, and i implied that most all of us (including teenagers and thier perception of the construction of paris hilton) were at least slightly conscious of the level of abstraction, of veneer, of construction, of image-replacement with which we all live. she said, no, most people weren't.

well?...

4 comments:

Jason C said...

More advice from strangers (subtitled: "Isn't the Internet Great?"):

I actually use Adobe's Photoshop Elements. It has about 90% of the functions of Photoshop and "feels" very similar. I highly recommend it as a much more affordable option if you're considering going legit (also highly recommended). Of course, if you really need that last 10% of functionality; well, you'd better start a collection.

Note: Elements is in no way guaranteed to stop wherennt ttsk-ing. Nor will it remove crow's feet or society's dislike of them. It can however make heady discussions about society's dislike of them appear to be embossed with a lovely drop-shadow.

Anonymous said...

See, I think they are, too. To some level. Students often have a post-post -modern understanding of the facade/veneer. Isn't that what reality shows and the parodic reality shows (like Beauty and the Geek) are all about? Or, are they about people trying to buy in to the "reality" of the fiction? Is this a new trend, though?
djl

Walter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Walter said...

jason, you're a funny guy. really.
i'll look into it. i don't need a lot of functionality, but there may be some critical parts missing. i don't know, but i'm interested.

djl: yeah, good comments, but can you say more? i hadn't considered reality television. oh yeah, and i'm claiming i've got dibs on the post-post modern. here's the buzzword for popomo:
commitment.
(so, while comprehension is part of moving past the pomo, they probably aren't quite there yet.)