Wednesday, October 27, 2004

pHinnWeb Politics - A New Mailing List Starts

This new group is meant for the discussion of political issues that would be off-topic for the pHinnWeb's mailing list. Differing political opinions are tolerated (bar extreme right-wing, chauvinistic-nationalist, racist, sexist, homophobic, religious bigot, etc. views) but all members are advised to follow netiquette. The discussion on this list is mostly in English.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Jori Hulkkonen On The Sad State Of Finnish Music Journalism

Here's a quickie translation of this column by Jori Hulkkonen which appears today at the Nyt weekend supplement of Helsingin Sanomat and can be read in Finnish here.

The Electronic Bubble
- pop journalism without electricity

[Jori Hulkkonen, 22.10.2004]

Finnish pop journalism has returned, after a few more hopeful years, to the state that has always been taken for granted -- the Helsinki-based rock journalism.

Obviously the new writer generation, when writing for Finnish music magazines, has to legitimate their own place there by continuing along the conservative style of those mags. It is the outcome of either a conscious process, or then the starting journalists only try to be faithful to the assumed agenda of their employer or their perceived cultural Zeitgeist.

This trend that started a couple of years ago, has gone so far during this year that you haven't been able to find articles on electronic music or reviews even from those magazines specialized in pop music -- not taking into account some domestic exceptions or electronic rockers like Prodigy.

What has been most characteristic to these articles, though, has been their division in two. On the other hand, there's the naive lack of criticism towards electronic music coming from Finland. For some peculiar reason, domestic media has taken on the image of Finland being some sort of a New Mecca for electronic music, and that the last glimmer of hope for the dying genre is here amidst the Arctic

On the other hand, it is not uncommon that all genres of electronic music are just made up into bundles, and it is all overlooked as a phenomenon that already had its heyday in the 90s.

It has to be admitted that this is quite understandable concerning Finnish marketplace that holds an emphasis with rock music. Local radio stations seem to have already lost the more alternative electronic music, and its future without open and critical press only seems hopeless.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Limits To Growth

The Club of Rome published in 1972 a book called The Limits to Growth, which gained a huge success. The book predicted, based on computer calculations, how the population growth, industrialisation, the increase in food production and pollution are going to expand in such an increasing volume that a total collapse is expected in only a hundred years' time.

Using a technique known as systems dynamics, developed by Professor Jay Forrester at MIT, a large-scale computer model was constructed to simulate likely future outcomes of the world economy. The most prominent feature of systems dynamics is the use of feedback loops to explain behaviour. The feedback loop is a closed path that connects an action to its effect on the surrounding conditions which, in turn, can influence further action.

There are two feedback loops, negative and positive, the total outcome of which would create pessimist or optimist models depicted in the book. Using some over-simplified examples here, pollution and damage to the biosphere caused by industry would be a negative feedback loop; on the other hand, the jobs and prosperity created by that same industry would be a positive feedback loop. The different combinations of these feedback loops would have an effect on whether the future developments would be benevolent or not.

The basic message of the Club of Rome in 1972 was that there will be a collapse if the population increase and industry growth go on without any limitations. The turning point was to be in twenty years. Dennis L. Meadows, one of the writers of Limits to Growth, tells that the calculations of 1972 were just checked for the third edition of the book, and that the predictions had become true within the accuracy of a few per cent units.

Dennis L. Meadows says that the limits were exceeded in 1980; now we are twenty per cent above those limits, and have to turn back. According to Meadows the modern world differs from the state of sustained development as much as the ancient Mesopotamia would differ from the world of industrial era.

During its recent summit in Helsinki the Club of Rome didn't speak about the limits to growth any more but the "limits of ignorance". Their concern is that the risks are well known, but in spite of that, no changes are put through. (One recent example of this would be USA's reluctance to accept the proposed Kyoto Protocol.)

The real problem here is that almost religion-like current economic thinking, which emphasizes the idea of ongoing and continuing growth. Unfortunately, it only seems that this growth can be gained at the expense of natural resources and people's mental well-being. We can't buy happiness.

More info @ DieOff.Org

Fair Warning? The Club of Rome Revisited

Beyond The Limits To Growth

Monday, October 11, 2004

Without Conscience

Dr. Robert D. Hare, considered one of the world's foremost experts in the area of psychopathy, is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. His book Without Conscience is now translated also in Finnish.

The pioneer of the research of psychopathy was Dr. Hervey Cleckley who released in 1941 a book called The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So-Called Psychopathic Personality. Later on, Dr. Robert D. Hare came up with his Psychopathology Checklist to assess the main characteristics of psychopathic behaviour.

The psychopathic (or sociopathic) syndrome consists of many different symptoms. In every-day use of this term people normally consider psychopaths as dangerous and hardened criminals they have learned to know from media, but reality is far more complex. A psychopath has a good self-esteem, he is self-centered and dominating. A psychopath can be a person with short attention span, of impulsive and unpredictable behaviour; with no real emotional ties to other people, a parasite taking from others but never giving anything back. He feels no empathy nor love; neither guilt, remorse or shame. A psychopath may be great in pretending these emotions, but not able to really feel them.

Psychopathy is characterised as a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissism and psychopathy are not exactly the same thing, even though they are close to each other. Robert D. Hare says that what is common to a narcissist and psychopath is that they both love themselves, but only a psychopath takes advantage of other people.

Hare emphasizes that there are psychopaths in any communities and social classes. He estimates there are two per cent of them in populace. Psychopaths are often those well off in society; great manipulators with fluent verbal output and charming appearance. A psychopath loves power and considers himself intelligent and bright, but mostly only has an average IQ.

What is problematic considering his environment is that it is really hard to recognize a psychotic there. These modern times favour those values that are characteristic for psychopaths: selfishness, greed, superficial human relations and elbow tactics.

Excerpt from Hervey Cleckley's The Mask of Sanity

Antisocial Personality, Sociopathy, and Psychopathy

See also:

Psychopathological Cult Leaders

Friday, October 08, 2004

DaDaDa: Strategies Against Marketecture

Pil and Galia Kollectiv are an artist couple from Jerusalem, Israel, who moved to England a couple of years ago. I got to know them through Chicks on Speed -- how else -- when the Chix performed in Israel in 2000 for an event called Trash which was organized by Pil and Galia, and I put a photo report of that event to pHinnWeb's CoS page. We got in e-mail correspondence, and now they're having an exhibition at London's Temporary Contemporary Gallery, and asked for my pHinnMilk Comics collages to be displayed there too. There will be a computer at the gallery on which one can browse through pHinnMilk Comics. I guess it's unnecessary to say that I'm pretty excited about my own "outsider art" being exposed this way...

DaDaDa: Strategies Against Marketecture
Curated by Pil & Galia Kollectiv

@ Temporary Contemporary
2nd Floor, Atlantic House
The Old Seager Distillery
Deptford Bridge
London SE8 4JT

22 October - 21 November, 2004
Fri-Sun 12-6pm

Private View: Thursday 21st October 18.30-22.00

The exhibition is a unique opportunity to explore the visual aesthetics of resistance. Taking in work that mixes up art, music and design, artists from the US, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Finland and the UK, provide a critical and often playful opposition to contemporary hyper-structured consumer culture. 'DaDaDa: Strategies against Marketecture' deals in appropriation & DIY revolution, craft & hi-tech collage through 2D, video, music and installation pieces that examine the relationship between present technologies and the more traditional cut and paste methods employed by ideologically motivated artists in the twentieth century, a movement from Mertz assemblages to current computer screen manipulations.

As well as a live performance from Anat Ben-David on the opening night, the exhibition will be accompanied by a fanzine format catalogue with texts by Amanda Beech and Avi Pitchon and a limited edition compilation CD featuring: 3puen, Anat Ben David, Charlie Megira, Chicks on Speed, DAT Politics, Gelbart, Frederik Schikowski, Simon Bookish and Patrick Wolf.

Strategien gegen Architekturen (vols. I-III) is a series of three compilations documenting the music of German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, famed for their attempts to conquer the repressed rebuilt surfaces of postwar Berlin by beating on the physical structures of the city and using them as instruments. "Far from suggesting that the buildings should be destroyed, they attempted to release the cacophony they perceived to be trapped within the static forms, motivating the energy potential in solid objects". As for marketecture, nobody's quite sure what that is. The Internet's Word Spy dictionary has it that it is:

marketecture (mar.kuh.TEK.chur) n. 1. A new computer architecture that is being marketed aggressively despite the fact that it doesn't yet exist as a finished product. 2. The design and structure of a market or a marketing campaign. Also: marchitecture.

Elsewhere it is refered to as the business perspective of the system's architecture.

To us, however, it is like Einstürzende Neubauten¹s city, a repressed, hyperdefined space that needs to be conquered. We are surrounded by the collapsing new buildings of mass mediated consumer culture, which we seek not to destroy but to make our own, to release their buried meanings. These are the raw materials on which we impose our strategies.

The exhibition features artists, writers and musicians, who each strategically position themselves in relation to this great living/dead cityscape. Some find ready made objects, sounds, ideas in the debris, using them against the grain to reveal a truer nature. Others add pixel to pixel or frame to frame to explore the beauty seen only through the eye of the machine. Some see spaceships in tea cups, insects in shopping carts, pagans in Tesco, erotic eruptions in videogame consoles and wonderful weird druid songs in polyphonic ring tones. Others dance to a different tune, recorded on makeshift instruments in a bedroom all their own. This is democracy with a Œd¹ for d.i.y., and you're welcome to make your own.

Artists: Anat Ben-David, Jessica Broas, Chicks on Speed, DAT Politics, Christopher Dobrowolski, Pil & Galia Kollectiv, Mister Ministeck, Noriko Okaku, Erkki Rautio, ROR (Revolutions on Request), Hiraki Sawa, Hideyuki Sawayanagi, Dallas Seitz.

A review @ BBC site (with image gallery)

See also:

Turn to the Left

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Right Man And The Fear Of Losing Face

These excerpts are from Colin Wilson's A Criminal History Of Mankind (1984).

Here Wilson discusses the interesting psychological concept of the "Right Man", which might in other uses also be called the "Dominant Male" or the "Alpha Male", though we are, of course, speaking here about the negative extremes in behaviour of this human type, not just ordinary dominance or leadership.

The "Right Men" can be domestic household tyrants terrorizing their families but they can be found in all fields of life: in business, politics, art, culture. Everyone must have encountered one: a dominating boss, school headmaster or teacher, army officer, father, son, boyfriend, bully.

Essential here is that the "Right Man" must always have his way and is afraid of losing face above all ("How dare you talk to me this way?"): anything that might be an indication of his infallibility or erroneous ways, something that he can never admit.

And if things don't exactly go his way, he may scare people into submission by breaking into outbursts of rage or downright violence. He may demand absolute faithfulness from his woman but "play around" himself, since as a God-like "Right Man" this is his divine prerogative (he thinks). Colin Wilson also points out that there are "Right Women" too, so this is not exclusively male behaviour.

"The notion of 'losing face' suggests an interesting alternative line of thought. It is obviously connected, for example, with the cruelty of Himmler and Stalin when their absolute authority was questioned. They were both men with a touchy sense of self-esteem, so that their response to any suspected insult was vindictive rage. Another characteristic of both men was a conviction they they were always right, and a total inability to admit that they might ever be wrong."

"Himmlers and Stalins are, fortunately, rare; but the type is surprisingly common. The credit for recognising this goes to A.E. Van Vogt who is also the author of a number of brilliant psychological studies. Van Vogt's concept of the 'Right Man' or 'violent man' is so important to the understanding of criminality that it deserves to be considered at length..."


"In 1954, Van Vogt began work on a war novel called The Violent Man, which was set in a Chinese prison camp. The commandant of the camp is one of those savagely authoritarian figures who would instantly, and without hesitation, order the execution of anyone who challenges his authority. Van Vogt was creating the type from observation of men like Hitler and Stalin. And, as he thought about the murderous behaviour of the commandant, he found himself wondering: 'What could motivate a man like that?' Why is it that some men believe that anyone who contradicts them is either dishonest or downright wicked? Do they really believe, in their heart of hearts, that they are gods who are incapable of being fallible? If so are, are they in some sense insane, like a man who thinks he is Julius Caesar?"

"Looking around for examples, it struck Van Vogt that male authoritarian behaviour is far too commonplace to be regarded as insanity. [...] [For example,] marriage seems to bring out the 'authoritarian' personality in many males, according to Van Vogt's observation."


"... 'the violent man' or the 'Right Man' [...] is a man driven by a manic need for self-esteem -- to feel he is a 'somebody'. He is obsessed by the question of 'losing face', so will never, under any circumstances, admit that he might be in the wrong."


"Equally interesting is the wild, insane jealousy. Most of us are subject to jealousy, since the notion that someone we care about prefers someone else is an assault on our amour propre. But the Right Man, whose self-esteem is like a constantly festering sore spot, fliers into a frenzy at the thought, and becomes capable of murder."

"Van Vogt points out that the Right Man is an 'idealist' -- that is, he lives in his own mental world and does his best to ignore aspects of reality that conflict with it. Like the Communists' rewriting of history, reality can always be 'adjusted' later to fit his glorified picture of himself. In his mental world, women are delightful, adoring, faithful creatures who wait patiently for the right man -- in both senses of the word -- before they surrender their virginity. He is living in a world of adolescent fantasy. No doubt there was something gentle and submissive about the nurse that made her seem the ideal person to bolster his self-esteem, the permanent wife and mother who is waiting in a clean apron when he get back from a weekend with mistress..."

"Perhaps Van Vogt's most intriguing insight into the Right Man was his discovery that he can be destroyed if 'the worm turns' -- that is, if his wife or some dependant leaves him. Under such circumstances, he may beg and plead, promising to behave better in the future. If that fails, there may be alcoholism, drug addiction, even suicide. She has kicked out the foundations of his sandcastle. For when a Right Man finds a woman who seems submissive and admiring, it deepens his self-confidence, fills him with a sense of his own worth. (We can see the mechanism in operation with Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.) No matter how badly he treats her, he has to keep on believing that, in the last analysis, she recognises him as the most remarkable man she will ever meet. She is the guarantee of his 'primacy', his uniqueness; now it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks. He may desert her and his children; that only proves how 'strong' he is, how indifferent to the usual sentimentality. But if she deserts him, he has been pushed back to square one: the helpless child in a hostile universe. 'Most violent men are failures', says Van Vogt; so to desert them is to hand them over to their own worst suspicions about themselves. It is this recognition that leads Van Vogt to write: 'Realise that most Right Men deserve some sympathy, for they are struggling with an unbelievable inner horror; however, if they give way to the impulse to hit or choke, they are losing the battle, are on the the way to the ultimate disaster... of their subjective universe of self-justification."

"And what happens when the Right Man is not a failure, when his 'uniqueness' is acknowledged by the world? Oddly enough, it makes little or no difference. His problem is lack of emotional control and a deep-seated sense of inferiority; so success cannot reach the parts of the mind that are the root of the problem."


"The Right Man hates losing face; if he suspects that his threats are not being taken seriously, he is capable of carrying them out, purely for the sake of appearances."

"Van Vogt makes the basic observation that the central characteristic of the Right Man is the 'decision to be out of control, in some particular area'. We all have to learn self-control to deal with the real world and other people. But with some particular person -- a mother, a wife, a child -- we may decide that this effort is not necessary and allow ourselves to explode. But -- and here we come to the very heart of the matter -- this decision creates, so to speak, a permanent weakpoint in the boiler, the point at which it always bursts."


"He feels he [is] justified in exploding, like an angry god. [...] he feels he is inflicting just punishment."

"What is so interesting here is the way the Right Man's violent emotion reinforces his sense of being justified, and his sense of justification increases his rage. He is locked into a kind of vicious spiral, and he cannot escape until he has spent his fury. [...] The Right Man feels that his rage is a storm that has to be allowed to blow itself out, no matter what damage it causes. But this also means that he is the slave of an impulse he cannot control; his property, even the lives of those that he loves, are at the mercy of his emotions. This is part of the 'unbelievable inner horror' that Van Vogt talks about."


"This is 'magical thinking' -- allowing a desire or emotion to convince you of something your reason tells you to be untrue. [...] Magical thinking provides a key to the Right Man."

"What causes 'right mannishness'? Van Vogt suggest that it is because the world has always been dominated by males."


"But then, this explanation implies that there is no such thing as a Right Woman -- in fact, Van Vogt says as much. This is untrue." [...] the central characteristic of the Right Woman is the same as that of the Right Man: that she is convinced that having her own way is a law of nature, and that anyone who opposes this deserves the harshest possible treatment. It is the god (or goddess) syndrome."


"... the one thingthat becomes obvious in all cases of Right Men is that their attacks are not somehow inevitable'; some of their worst misdemeanours are carefully planned and calculated, and determinedly carried out. The Right Man does these things because he thinks they will help him to achieve his own way, which is what interests him."

"And this in turn makes it plain that the Right Man problem is a problem of highly dominant people. Dominance is a subject of enormous interest to biologists and zoologists because the percentage of dominant animals -- or human beings -- seems to be amazingly constant. [...] biological studies have confirmed [... that ...] for some odd reason, precisely five per cent -- one in twenty -- of any animal group are dominant -- have leadership qualities."


"The 'average' member of the dominant five per cent sees no reason why he should not be rich and famous too. He experiences anger and frustration at his lack of 'primacy', and is willing to consider unorthodox methods of elbowing his way to the fore. This clearly explains a great deal about the rising levels of crime and violence in our society."


"We can also see how large numbers of these dominant individuals develop into 'Right Men'. In every school with five hundred pupils there are about twnety-five dominant ones struggling for primacy. Some of these have natural advantages: they are good athletes, good scholars, good debaters. (And there are, of course plenty of non-dominant pupils who are gifted enough to carry away some of the prizes.) Inevitably, a percentage of the dominant pupils have no particular talent or gift; some may be downright stupid. How is such a person to satisfy his urge to primacy? He will, inevitably, choose to express his dominance in any ways that are possible. If he has good looks or charm, he may be satisfied with the admiration of female pupils. If he has some specific talent which is not regarded as important by his schoolmasters -- a good ear for music, a natural gift of observation, a vivid imagination -- he may become a lonely 'outsider', living in his own private world. (Such individuals may develop into Schuberts, Darwins, Balzacs.) But it is just as likely that he will try to take short-cuts to prominence and become a bully, a cheat or a delinquent."

"The main problem of these ungifted 'outsiders' is that they are bound to feel that the world has treated them unfairly. And the normal human reaction to a sense of unfairness is an upsurge of self-pity. Self-pity and the sense of injustice make them vulnerable and unstable. And we have only to observe such people to see that they are usually their own worst enemies. Their moods alternate between aggressiveness and sulkiness, both of which alienate those who might otherwise be glad to help them. If they possess some degree of charm or intelligence, they may succeed in making themselves acceptable to other people; but sooner or later the resentment and self-pity break through, and lead to mistrust and rejection."

"The very essence of their problem is the question of self-discipline. Dominant human beings are more impatient than others, because they have more vital energy. Impatience leads them to look for short-cuts. [...] Civilisation, as Freud pointed out, demands self-discipline on the part of its members. No one can be licenced to threaten people with carving knives."


"When the Right Man explodes into violence, all the energy is wasted. Worse still, it destroys the banks of the canal. So in permitting himself free expression of his negative emotions he is indulging in a process of slow but sure self-erosion -- the emotional counterpart of physical incontinence. Without proper 'drainage', his inner being turns into a kind of swamp or sewage farm. This is why most of the violent men of history, from Alexander the Great to Stalin, have ended up as psychotics. Without the power to control their negative emotions, they become incapable of any state of sustained well-being."

See also:
Colin Wilson interview, August 2005