Monday, February 11, 2008

Steal This Blog

Why am I blogging about S/M art? I’m not really into it, per se. But I like that in theory it represents a whole host of transgressive acts of liberation.

In America, however, the really revolutionary acts are not sexual but economic.

As befits an Economist reader, I find Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor's most transgressive act is not him singing, “I want to fuck you like an animal, You get me closer to God,” (though I do love that), but him telling concert-goers to revolt against unfairly high CD-prices by stealing them:

It puts him in league with Abbie Hoffman, the Sixties revolutionary who wrote Steal This Book.

It’s not an invitation to get ripped off, anymore than S/M is an invitation to rape; Reznor doesn’t really want to live on a bus-driver’s salary—though Mr. Hoffman did envision life without money.

Reznor and bands like Radiohead are revisioning the economic structure--record labels that rip people off, artists and fans alike, for huge profits.
Not surprisingly, many bookstores wouldn't carry Steal This Book, since people stole it, but musicians (and writers, like us) have an avenue Hoffman didn't:
the Internet.

Reznor said in a 2007 interview:
"The greatest thing about the Internet is that everybody is their own distributor. Being your own distributor is power and the thing that labels once held over artists."

In 2007 Radiohead got around the record companies by offering their latest release on the Internet, asking downloaders to “pay what you want”.
This opens plenty of other cans of worms;
but it’s a adaptation that could shake up the stranglehold of a greed-driven music industry.

Reznor knows this is revolutionary:
"The power of getting your message out to an audience is very empowering as an artist.
"These are exciting times and things are happening that I couldn't imagine just a few years ago."

And--back to the Economist--Alan Greenspan, chair of the Federal Reserve until 2006, says something very similar:
"Progress is not automatic... it will demand future adaptations as yet unimaginable.
"But the frontier of hope that we all innately pursue will never close.”

--Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence; Adventures in a New World (2007).

And--since I haven't mentioned Star Trek in a while (uh...that would be 48 hours)--let me add that Alan Greenspan's words, “The Enlightenment’s legacy of individual rights and economic freedom has unleashed billions of people to pursue the imperatives of their nature...." echo Mr. Spock's in "Amok Time":

"It would be illogical for us to protest against our natures.
Don't you think?"


barrett said...

Yes, it would be illogical, IF. . .we didn't cheat someone else in the process.

I'm sure Greenspan was talking about the hoards of people running to get rich by throwing their money into the stock market in the hopes of getting rich, thereby causing the market to inflate, then dip and consequently make little people with little (like myself)lose money and eventually have large companies rip off their clients and eventually cause a recession. Ah! Aren't blogs wonderful!! Nobody will ever want to steal your blog, only read it every day. And you will get another meaningful horoscope like todays: "When you present your ideas, you may not get the response you were hoping for, but be assured, this was a positive step. Accept that your project is a work in process and you're definitely on the right track."

bink said...

I remember standing before a display of "Steal this Book" books...and wondering how/if I could really steal it (was a kid about 12). I didn't seriously try. I didn't have big enough pockets or a coat. Besides I was the good kid who never even stole Baby Ruths or Butterfingers at the drug store even when my friends did. As an adult I had to work up the courage to pop a grape into my mouth at the grocery store to see if they were sweet enough to buy...that's how goody-two-shoes I I was not about really "steal this book".

But Robin Hood was one of my earliest heros...and I'm still a big fan. Having been stolen from, I know it hurts to get robbed...but I can still get behind the "robbing from the rich to give to the poor" in concept....because it's the problem there that the rich aren't giving it away to the poor in the manner they ought to enter the kingdom of heaven anyway? Robbery as a key to the kingdom of heaven? Maybe...maybe not.

Saints relics used to be stolen all the time in the middle ages. It wasn't considered a sin because if you managed to steal the relics (which could mean a major economic boon from pilgrims to your church/abbey/town) then it meant the saint wanted to go with you and approved of the theft.
Maybe that's the case with more stuff than relics...
those Baby Ruths wanted to go with me...I just wasn't listening.

fresca said...

Thanks for the horoscope Barrett!
Trying to figure out transgressive economics is for sure a "work in process" all right! It's a tangled skein.

I don't think Alan Greenspan is a hero of the little people, though.
No Robin Hood, he!

Bink--that is VERY IMPORTANT info about the saints relics!

My main interest is the way the Internet opens up options for artists of all sorts to share their work.
How it will radically change our economic system is a secondary interest but of huge, vital importance. It could be for the better...or not...
Could it be much worse than the stranglehold of our multinational corporations?