Friday, January 25, 2008

A Glossary (expanded)

It’s been brought to my attention that I use a number of terms unfamiliar to individuals who aren’t me.

So, as part of my ongoing pursuit of clearer communication, I’m attempting to define some of them.

In cases where the terms are in common use, I’ve defined them according to my understanding of them, because I’m not 100% sure I see things the same way everybody else does.

1. The means by which the public is made aware of products or services in a competitive marketplace.
2. A propaganda organ for the capital interests of a free-market based Democracy.

Dead-end Advertising
1. A phenomenon in which more wealth is invested into the advertising or marketing of goods or services than is available to purchase them to the extent that the only people who can afford to purchase said goods or services are those who are employed to market or advertise them.
2. The thirty-second spot in the Age of TiVo; the internet banner after AdBlock Plus.
3. Marketing strategies based on the Quantitative Personality (see below)

Quantitative Personality
1. The summation of a human being based on the conglomeration of quantitative data such as annual income, credit rating, browser or search history, NetFlix queue, iTunes playlists, etc.
2. A wide-spread sociopathic condition by which an individual bases their own worth, status and identity and the worth, status and identity of others entirely on quantitative measures including but not limited to those above.

Suicide Economy
1. An economy defined by the first definition of Dead-end Advertising.
2. An economy in which unregulated markets cease to be the means of moving capital and become the primary engine for its generation.
3. An economy in which the amount of real capital circulating through the entire social system is insufficient to maintain the abstract financial constructs at the top of it.
For example, the decision to package mushrooming “sub-prime” debt as securities which would increase in value with the interest rate, could theoretically have been sustainable if job creation and wages had continued to increase at the levels established in the 1990s. With the supply-side money-grab that began with the collapse of the dotcom bubble (see below) and continued to be nurtured by the government, the house of cards was bound to collapse.
4. A bubble, in which investment floods into industries without anyone taking the time to establish or agree upon revenue models.

1. Impossible to quantify.
2. “I don’t know about x, but I know what I like!”
3. Q: What did Farmer Brown’s wife say when she was caught licking the bull’s balls?
A: “To each their own.”

Branded Lifestyle
1. The comprehensive unification, synthesis and packaging of all commodifiable or consumed aspects of a life including but not limited to the car one drives, the clothes one wears, the music one listens to, the coffee one drinks and the sofa on which one plants one’s ass according to a fixed set of aesthetic principals.
2. Hopelessly rooted in the Quantitative Personality.

Programmed Lifestyle
1. The establishment of a branded lifestyle by way of forced or coerced exposure to a prescribed menu of quantitatively associated commodities.
2. Niche marketing.

When three or more otherwise capable, intelligent individuals bond together to form one giant idiot.


A noun denoting the relationship between physical or metaphysical coordinate points defining, at its most basic, no less than two subjects, i.e. one observed, the other observing; one nearer, one further; or the relationship of a subject to its spatial surroundings or context. Since my definition encompasses metaphysical points, “object” would be an incorrect designation, as well as impolite. I don’t want to objectify anything. I mean anyone.

Culture of Life
1. The belief that every human life is both valuable and sacred; every body a blessed vehicle of an immortal soul. A culture in which all children should be able to be brought up into healthy independent adulthood regardless of the circumstances of their birth, and where women should be able to safely and legally abort a pregnancy should they choose.

Surveillance Culture
1. The particular, and rapidly expanding, community of surveillance professionals in both the public and private sector, including law enforcement intelligence-gathering and data harvesting by corporations such as Google or Digitas which track spending habits, establish Quantitative Personalities, and market branded lifestyles .

Surveillance Industry
1. Fostered and nurtured by maturing media-saturated generations of celebrity-gawkers who have developed intrinsic aptitudes as watchers and exhibitionists. Care to take a quiz on fucking facebook anyone?
2. Information-brokering. Operations like Google or Digitas do it on a macro scale, raising corporate revenue from their ability to target, identify and reach quantitative personalities; Government and Law-Enforcement on a smaller private-contractor basis. Here’s a hundred bucks to text me when you see this guy.

Celebrity Culture
Albert Einstein observed in an essay that human progress is often pushed forward by what he called strong Personalities. So, often, is human catastrophe. Regardless, he bemoaned the fact that there was always a disproportionately small ratio of Personalities to population, and at the root of his observation is the fact that human societies have always had a tendency to ascribe to certain individuals a theoretical plane of existence other than that in which they feel the rest of them dwell, upon whom they are able to cast their own hopes, fears, understandings, condemnations, love and enmity, and from whom they receive at most a tool with which to engage with the world around them and at least an abstract form of personal validation. Like Fiction used to do.

Celebrity Industry
A system in which wealth is generated and circulated around the construction, promotion and exploitation of Celebrities, their images, and information related to them.

Historically a difficult concept to reconcile with the reality of human communities, it defines a state of being unmonitored and unrecorded by others. As such, it is inherently difficult to define as a right in a society with a deep Surveillance Culture or in a society supporting a Surveillance or Celebrity Industry. Strong communities develop borders defining public and private spaces and activities.
In the great city of Napoli, where strong, densely populated communities have sustained themselves through hundreds of generations of corruption, dysfunction, live volcanoes, poverty, pestilence and everybody’s being up in everybody’s grills all the time they have a saying: fai i cazzi tuoi. Loosely translated, it's 'mind your business'.

A cognitive social mental construct which can serve as a fail-safe mechanism for the maintenance of Privacy, it is without foundation in the absence of Perspective.

My familiarity with the term comes from the HUAC hearings in the 1950’s, when it was used to describe the systematic economic exclusion of individuals in the media by corporate structures at the direction of the federal government to discourage or penalize them for dissenting but lawful ideologies, beliefs or actions.
The definition extends to private corporations outside of the media in whatever capacity they may employ it, and also to social groups, where it typically manifests itself as character assassination. If a society with a deep Surveillance Culture and Surveillance Industry doesn’t want to cross the line into Fascism or Totalitarianism, it’s a line that mustn’t be crossed.

The threat by an individual or organization to make public unseemly or discrediting information damaging the reputation or character of an individual if denied currency, goods or services.

1. A social system in which a population decides upon leadership by consensus and majority vote. Cannot function without Education (not defined).

1. A Democratic society in which power rests in a group rather than in an individual.
2. Can be Democratic. Typically an apparatus for selecting leaders, such as an electoral college, is maintained that can supersede the popular vote should those behind the levers of power find it necessary.
2. Better than a monarchy? I guess it depends on the monarchy.
3. May co-exist with Totalitarianism (see ancient Rome).

A society in which a central power controls all aspects of individual life. Should be avoided. Sorry Rudy, it just should.

In a Republic in which the many live in conditions set by the few, Fascism is a dangerous and surprisingly subtle tool for the advancement of Totalitarianism and the suppression of Independence. The Blacklist is a fave. Should be avoided.

The ideologically retarded notion that large human socio-economic systems can successfully function free of laws and administrative structures. I mean, come on.

The use of violence against a civilian population in order to advance or protest economic, political or religious agendas. Unacceptable.

1. A state of being free of artifice or pretense.
2. A concept with which American culture began to develop a troubled relationship in the twentieth century as each subsequent generation experienced more and more of the world and their own lives through media.
It currently seems to somehow coexist as a pre-requisite for credibility and a threat to the ego of the majority living programmed lifestyle.
3. Q: Are you for real?
A: A yam what a yam, swee' pea.

1. A victim of the same phenomena that beat the crap out of Authenticity, compounded by the fact that it exists in a fundamentally complicated relationship to reality, clouded by the prevalence of lies and the general bullshit widely used in Advertising (see above).
2. All lies and bullshit are rooted in fiction, but not all fiction is a lie or bullshit.
3. If journalism is accepted as the writing or reporting of facts or events based on research performed by the writer, and propaganda is accepted as the writing or reporting of research provided by the subject, then Fiction could be described as the crafting of observation, speculation and imagination by the writer.
4. Entertainment.

1. The primary component of freedom without which freedom becomes irrelevant.
2.The power of an individual to choose where, how, and to what ends they apply their time, talents and efforts.

1. An aesthetic born of economic necessity, which became an aesthetic of choice, and then a marketing niche and branded lifestyle, which is now a meaningless syllable-and-a-half.

1. Like Indiana Jones. Some of my wife’s relatives in Italy, unfamiliar with the name “Andy,” called me “Indy” for a little while. I didn't bother correcting them.


copyright, © 2008 Andy Biscontini