Tattoo You?

Based on this article on BBC website and the research of Dr. Andrew Timming and various assumptions that can and are drawn from research regarding tattoos and employability.

I’m not really concerned with majority of the article. In many ways it’s a nonsense piece. However, there are some assertions made that require being put into some sort of perspective.

This passage from the section subtitled ‘Tidal wave’ is of particular note:

However academic Andrew Timming at St Andrews University, who has researched the role of tattoos in hiring practices, says a change in attitudes is inevitable.

“There’s a tidal wave of young people with tattoos these days and they’re not always going to be young.”

“Employers are going to have to accept that they’re integral to the fabric of society and accept that they may potentially have a place at work.”

 

The second comment is worthy of reading several times. Surely the BBC researcher/interviewer didn’t quite do their job as thoroughly as they should have? Makes Andrew appear somewhat confused in what he’s trying to say.

What’s even more ridiculous is the suggestion that tattoos have agency and a role to play in the action/decision making process. Are tattoos active? Let’s not try and gift them with some sort of power. The decisive power and choice lies with the people who have tattoos and those who decide against them or are concerned about the effect tattooed employees might have on their businesses. Are tattoos integral to the fabric of society? Perhaps that’s still a while coming.

A change in attitudes is inevitable, is also questionable. Yes, some attitudes change, perhaps soften around the edges, but someone who has a spider’s web tattooed on their face or CFC on their forehead, does not mean that they will be working for the Palace anytime soon.  We’ll have to wait for that revolution, regardless of what ACAS might say.

The final assertion in the section labelled ‘Missing out’, requires some examination.

In his research Dr Timming found there were some organisations where a tattoo might be deemed an asset – those marketing towards younger people, including bars and clubs or in the creative industries where it can be seen as a sign of original thinking.

 

Marketing towards younger people.  Are these the same people in the tidal wave of which some won’t even be young? Are those working in bars and clubs really going to spend a lifetime doing this job because of their tattoos?

The creative industries where it’s a sign of original thinking? Does that mean anyone who doesn’t have a tattoo is somehow lacking in original thinking? Really? The degree of modification, recuperation and absorption into the daily fabric is quite perplexing. A couple of propositions from Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle seem especially relevant and applicable here:

165 The capitalist production system has unified space, breaking down the boundaries between one society and the next. This unification is also a process, at once extensive and intensive, of trivialization.

and

172 … But the general trend toward isolation, which is the essential reality of urbanism, must also embody a controlled reintegration of the workers based on the planned needs of production and consumption. Such an integration into the system must recapture isolated individuals as individuals isolated together.

 

To my way of thinking, the recuperation, that this article is clearly an agent of, is generally presented by quite benign, non-threatening means. Slightly ‘fluffy’ newspaper articles, usually backed by some sort of research of a qualitative nature transformed into ‘numbers’ and attached to an illusory pretence of a scientific method. Humorous end of the news, light hearted pieces that everyone can chuckle about.

Essentially this is really an attempt to get everyone employed regardless of possible barriers or impediments and to create favourable conditions of reception and acceptance.

196 … meanwhile, from within the various disciplines in which structuralism has taken root, an apologetics of the spectacle is disseminated as the thought of non­thought, as an authorized amnesia with respect to historical practice. As forms of enslaved thought, however, there is nothing to choose between the fake despair of a nondialectical critique on the one hand and the fake optimism of a plain and simple boosting of the system on the other.

 

There are some marvelously, descriptive phrases here that really capture the working of the system and the promulgation of its ideology by unwitting agents using the scientific tools of the day to create the winning argument to create acceptance being disseminated by an official, authoritative outlet. I might well be using a very large hammer, in the shape of Debord’s text, to counter a ‘fluff’ piece but unfortunately this is a good example of the Spectacle at work. Ideology at its best!

Whilst the probable aim of this article is perhaps to offer solutions to ensure employment is maintained as much as possible and that exclusion, for whatever reason, is maintained at low enough level,s to ensure ‘full’ employment, one should keep in mind that whilst something might appear to have a sort of rationality, you should not confuse the things of logic with the logic of things.

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BoJo Blue Plaque – Love It

The British are such an enterprising people, especially Londoners!

You have got to love a response like this as an alternative to egg or tomatoes!

“Boris Johnson, 1964 -, BOJO, destroyer of cosmopolitan unity & passer of buck lives here,”

 

Wish there was more of it.

 

Clint Eastwood and Authority to Speak

I like Clint or at least I like some of his films, pretty much across his career. However, his inability (and it is inability) to see what’s inherently wrong and has always been wrong, causes one to ponder what sort of position this speaks of?

So, in the first instance we should consider whether the thoughts and opinions of someone who is successful in a particular part of industry, Entertainment in this case, should be given prominence. Sure he may well be influential to those who ‘identify’ with his ‘hard ass’ image. However it is/was the cultivation of an onscreen persona and habitus that has drifted into the ‘real world’ to become reified and verified as ‘concrete’.

In this instance are his thoughts and opinions more valid and noteworthy than anyone else? Are they meaningful and what do they tell us that we did not already know or, at least, suspect? Sure a magazine wanted to interview him because they want to ‘sell some issues’ but at what price your soul when it can be bargained so cheaply?

Who grants authority to speak? The papers, magazines, TV stations, journalists? On one level they all do.  They create a means, ‘the story’, by which a form of ‘truth’ is supplied but always presented with little challenge or counter balance. That is not the purpose of these reports ‘we just report the facts’. It’s a shame really that there’s little in the way of interplay and challenge. Eastwood is essentially allowed print and airtime to put forward a rather crooked set of values under the guise of integrity.

Perhaps the most worrying part of all of this is that his claim that there was a time when none of the spiel put forward by Trump was considered as racist. It is here where one questions, yes there were different rules in place but these were at the point of lynchings, shootings, having to use different restrooms, bars, eateries, buses and so on. Because it happened does it somehow excuse what goes on now when clearly Trump is playing the race card in a play of divide and conquer? The US Military used black soldiers, racial inferiority, for experimental programmes. This was also believed, at the time, to be OK and a ‘rationally’ based decision. In fact there are a catalogue of unethical medical experiments conducted on black slaves and their descendants. Some of the issues are around race and some around poverty. However all of them were deemed to be sound for their time.

There was a time when women didn’t have the vote, or go a bit further back most men were not allowed to vote or own property or you could purchase opiates and cocaine quite legally. Whilst all of these have been past practices and are now acknowledged as being wrong can or should they be excused just because they happened? Eastwood in many ways deploys ambiguity by playing games with historical perception (dehistoricisation) and universalism (there was a time when this was OK). Following Eastwood’s logic you could employ a form of legitimacy for every aberrant societal convention that hid the true facts of what was going on. Namely the total domination and subjugation of a race(s), class, gender or other, for the benefit of the ruling class which is everyone in the society who believes their practices to be ‘natural’ and ordained by God as a means to obscure their arbitrariness.

The real problem isn’t that Eastwood spoke his mind. He can think whatever he wishes to. No, the real issue is that he’s been given coverage and access, and that his utterances remain wholly unchallenged on a face to face, point by point basis. Essentially they’ve let some old rich bloke have his way and it’s been allowed to happen in the name of the ‘special interest’ as a cover for family values. It’s not. It might as well be a couple of blokes in an EDL pub in Bermondsey. The lack of challenge is the problem. Where violence is committed against a society, a race, a gender, a person and so on and that violence remains unchallenged, then it is considered Symbolic. What Eastwood has done is not going to lead to outbreaks of civil unrest. The Symbolism of the event however is not defused. This is what journalists should be doing. Rendering a service to the world by negating and nullifying acts of Symbolic Violence that are perpetrated on a daily basis. But the lifestyle mag coupled with resyndication has allowed the violence to propagate.

When the words on side of the Brexit bus were found to be false, has anyone been held to account? Nope, make BoJo Foreign Secretary, he’ll keep all those Johnny foreigners in their place; Norman Tebbit and ‘get on your bike’ definitely symbolic violence perpetrated against a class of labour and the destruction of community. Blame Liverpool fans at Hillsborough? All are examples of Symbolic Violence, because they remained largely unchallenged and held to be ‘truthful’, conducted by the state or a political class (if there’s such a thing). Any dissent was curtailed quickly. Murdoch is responsible for so much of this, but then you knew that didn’t you?

The violence continues publicly in a number of forms especially where celebrity is allowed to pronounce without being challenged on fact, where power is allowed to soften its image so as to beguile, wherever money is allowed to win because its money and everyone seems to be so horny for it that they no longer think rationally when it’s around. See it for what it is. Call it what it is. The simple solution to Symbolic Violence is to challenge it at the moment it happens. Diminish its power and expose it for what it truly is.

Overall, I doubt anyone in the press or media will change partly because of job insecurity but also because no one likes a smart arse! Everyone seems to prefer inhabiting the surface rather than diving deep.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Orwell

He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it

Belated Response to John Harris – @Guardian

So, here’s an interesting article that essentially outlines a position that I recognise and identify with. Unfortunately I’m a bit late to the party as I’m not a Guardian reader.

There are a couple of things to observe here. The first is a key, missing aspect of Debord’s work from the Society of the Spectacle and that is the activity identified as ‘Recuperation‘. I say this partly because Harris has left it out and it is a central part of the theory. But more importantly in the comments section there is clear indication of how little some people have understood.

Is Debord an example of metaphysical meandering? No. I think it’s reasonably straight forward and has obvious application, more so now than ever.

Is it a difficult read? Yes and no. I think one of the goals is to read and to consider applicability in the everyday. One sees it all around us. However the Matrix analogy used by Harris is one that has occurred to me on numerous occasions.

Is it right to identify an aspect as practised by society, e.g. social media, as the locus for this discontent? No. It is everywhere. Whether it is gambling responsibly (is there such a thing?), or lottery winners to political parties aligning with ‘hard working families’ whilst profiting from compound interest and inheritance. Wherever there is the possibility of resistance and difference, then it is the purpose of the ‘Recuperation’ to ‘nullify’. It is like a single celled blob/virus that has the capacity to incorporate (consume), regardless, and allow a variety of practices to be absorbed before they can threaten the ‘construct’. How else can you account for corporate punk rock? If ever the words pivot were applicable, rather than in a business sense, then it is in this instance. The Spectacle has the capacity to pivot and absorb quite schismatic ideas and concepts into its framework. Almost everything operates or achieves a meme like status that allows it to pass unrecognised into daily use and to hide in plain sight.

The question of what would be an adequate resistance is complex. I do believe that one part of a resistance is to not use someone else’s name, such as Richard Dawkins or Malcolm Gladwell etc, to stand in place of individual thought, opinion and discussion. It is here where the ‘recuperation’ can claim a victory, where the use of a ‘star’ to stand in place of considered argument, dissension or resistance.

Perhaps to break off into smaller particles of thought, spread amongst all of humanity and not managed by government or corporations or the media, is probably part of the solution to the problem of the ‘recuperation’.

A Shout Out To Louis Barabbas

@Louis Barabbas

first of all I want to say thank you for playing my track on your radio show. It was an unexpected bonus, if that’s the right way to express it. I’m glad that you liked the interplay. Can this be said??, I am a fan of critical theory and find the applicability of ideas and concepts in the everyday to be enriching. I find that these ideas and approaches inform quite a lot of the material I choose to write.

I thought I’d give you a bit more background. A while ago I decided to do a drum and bass album entitled Critical Theory (seven tracks in total and not like the record label) which would be accompanied by mini-essays elaborating on the ideas that formed the impetus for the pieces. Ideas were drawn from people such as Marx, Althusser, Gramsci, and a fair slice of Bourdieu, as a means of allowing a discussion of sociological/philosophical ideas/works facilitated by music. The idea was that the music would always point to the larger written work and ideally disseminate these idea/theories in and amongst a listening public. I’ve completed the tunes and have the short-essays/abstracts to complete. I want the music and essays to enable ideas around music, its production and consumption to be debated by placing accompanying or competing arguments together rather than merely providing a one sided, totalising view but also its position in a changing world and its role as agent of social change.

Many of my ideas for pieces are triggered by everyday phrases or writing that seem to have a poeticism or meaning beyond the initial application and I feel the need to represent it in someway. I find the writing of Bourdieu or Foucault and many others to have these qualities. For example this passage from Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge:

‘It is influenced by the climate of ideas in any given era, and it therefore betrays – often unwittingly – the prejudices of its time and place’

To my mind this entirely applicable to Albini and anyone else who seeks to assert some sort of authority and control over taste making, expressive vehicles? I think the most difficult part of the Albini piece is the notion that there’s some sort of criterion or standard for the creative act/impulse and that the impulse or act for dance music is somehow inferior and therefore not ‘creative’ and comes up short. This blanket assumption should have been challenged by Hobbs but it seemed outside of her remit or that of her producer to do so.

Even though I don’t agree with Albini, his flow is quite interesting. His use of the pause, his quite musical lilting speech patterns located in and around Bb minor (Dorian mode due to the G natural rather than Aeolian). It’s a very measured diatribe and if there’s anything to be learned here it is that music and its valuing systems have been contested for far longer than many expect and that standards, whilst most will appear to be fixed, are flexible and constructed. The real questions though are, how and what does it make you feel? If, as Albini attests that he doesn’t like it nor listen to it, then why waste energy commenting on it? The quest for superiority/significance can manifest in many guises and the illusion or affectation of disinterest in his diatribe I feel is the real message to be examined. Put simply, it is an illusion!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your time spent talking about the work and the ideas it brings up and for playing it on your show. I certainly find myself spinning off in other directions to counter the Albini Position and I’m glad it’s been received positively.

I’ll finish with a Mark Twain quote:

‘Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world–and never will.’