Interests, Aims and Engagements
This blog is a forum for me to share tidbits and explore some thoughts and ideas about radical social change, broadly conceived, with perhaps particular attention to globalization, corporate capitalism and environmental destruction – the complex of forces that Kim Stanley Robinson summed up in the term “Götterdämmerung capitalism.”
My academic background in cultural studies combined with my work in the IT field makes the intersection of popular culture and the internet another key area of interest. The internet and IT technology have spawned whole new areas of cultural meaning-making – such as social network sites like Facebook and myspace. And the internet – blogging in particular – has also become a key site for commentary on and circulation of both new forms of culture and more traditional texts/artifacts of popular culture as well.
And since culture is the “commanding heights” at this stage in the struggle, the contestation over cultural meanings – processes of definition, of reclamation and recuperation – is key. So from time to time I will also be responding to the “meaning making” of mainstream cultural sites, such as newspapers, contesting their attempts to frame and shape particular discourses (such as with the furor of the collapse of the financial sector recently).
History is always important, and looking back at radical and social history serves (at least) two goals: as a way of boosting morale, reminding us that we are not alone, not crazy for imagining that things could be different; and also to help us understand how we reached this moment and where we might go from here. Looking back at cultural texts of the past that have retained or regained their relevance, recirculating them for the present, is part of this attention to radical social history, and will hopefully be a fairly regular feature.
A Biographical Note
Most of my life has been spent in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I am very much a product of that place – as much as, if not more than, of the time in which I was raised, that liminal period between Baby Boom and Gen-X. I sometimes describe myself as “a stereotypical Bay Area guy” – by which I mean backpacking, Mac-using, Berkeley-educated, bicycle-riding, coffee-addicted, REI-outfitted, polymorphous perverse or at least kinky, therapy-going, left-leaning (in my case, falling over), probably/partially vegetarian, pierced or tattooed … You get the idea. But while I write from and about the Bay Area, I also write with the perspective of having spent more than a quarter of my life traveling and living overseas, mostly in Canada and Australia, but also Europe and Asia.
What’s in a Name
The former name of this blog and the word that begins the URL, annares, is an intentional misspelling (the correct spelling being already taken, on WordPress and elsewhere) of the name of the planet Anarres from Ursula Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed, which has served as inspiration for two generations of radical activists and anarchist dreamers.
The current name – “the bad days will end” – comes from the title of an entry in the “Spectacular Times” series of pamphlets put out by Larry Law in the early 1980s, about which I’ve written in the blog. I hope its meaning, my reason for choosing it, is self-evident. The header image usually tries to present the same idea in a visual form.
The slogan in that image – “another world is possible” – is the semi-official slogan of the alter-globalisation movement and is reflected in the beautiful quote from Arundhati Roy that appears at the top of the sidebar.
A word or two on links… When books, music, etc, are mentioned, I may include links to places where these items can be purchased. Given my critical stance towards consumerism and capitalism in general, there is a certain irony in this, but I am primarily trying to facilitate people following up on things I raise. Where feasible, I point people to less offensive sources – eg, Powell’s rather than Amazon for books. And since it is possible, I also sometimes use “affiliate” links, potentially generating some income which, if it materializes, will be donated to progressive causes. I’ve also included small ads in the bottom corner of the blog for a few of the less offensive sites I’ve come across in my travels; again, any funds generated through these ads will go to progressive causes.
Links to web pages of organizations should by no means be taken as any kind of endorsement of that organization – or by them of me – or even as a sign of approval for (the remainder of) the content of the web page or site. Applying the revolutionary situationist argument that “the ideological supermarket–like any supermarket–is fit only for looting” [full text here] to the internet, I loot sites for what I need – though wherever possible I link back, to give credit where credit is due (or blame, for that matter) and again to allow you to follow up on things I raise.