Clay Richards, anarchist blogger, writes about politics, art, sexuality and emerging digital realities. More poststructuralist than postmodern, politically incorrect to some, harshly critical to others, the Postmodern Anarchist believes in anarchy without anarchists, yet will freely discuss anarchism at the drop of a hat. Contact: postmodernanarchist(at)netweed(dot)com

The Postmodern Anarchist now resides at!


Game Studies Building Momentum 

The NY Times has a not too bad article on academic research focused on video and computer games. One of the better aspects of the article is the sense of a new field of studies emerging with an academic association, the Digital Games Research Association, and a doctoral program in digital media at Georgia Tech, among other institutional developments.

Of course, discovering new objects of study that seem oddball to people who don't study such things is old news in academia and video, computers and the Internet have inspired many new areas. However, partly because of the timing, this is the first developing area I've seen with blogs as an integral part of that development, including Terra Nova,, Ludonauts, buzzcut and grand text auto.

The discussion of some of the problems of developing ways to study such games is interesting, including the part where a researcher admits to a major fuckup:
"Dr. Atkins admitted that he didn't finish Half-Life before writing about it in his 2003 book, 'More Than a Game: The Computer Game as Fictional Form,' (Manchester University Press), and only later realized he was two minutes from the shocking plot reversal at the end when he stopped. 'I am very nervous that I got it wrong,' he said."

I can understand why he's nervous since, in fields that more people care about, such a sloppy approach to research could limit one's future possibilities in the field. But such is apparently not the case for game researchers, especially since many academics immediately discount the notion of game studies.

Most of my awareness of game studies is through Terra Nova. It's kind of an odd blog because it was created by people that are primarily from law and economics, at least that's my impression. Both those fields employ discourses and perspectives that I have trouble relating to. The one comment that I posted at Terra Nova didn't take that into account and my post was ignored in a rather active discussion.

The thing about academia is that disciplines and subdisciplines tend to develop approaches that one has to spend some time with to get a sense of how they work. Sometimes what sounds rather nonsensical seems more reasonable in the context of an ongoing conversation. Other times, one stumbles into discursive terrain that seems mostly beside the point. Also, with objects of study that inspire an interdisciplinary approach, the researchers still tend to work from a particular disciplinary perspective that sometimes results in prior work in other fields being ignored.

For example, this article talks quite a bit about what it means to study games yet I have not run into any discussion of the study of play, which has been considered quite a bit in such discounted fields as the philosophy of sport and educational research. But then, I haven't been thoroughly examining the work that's going on, so I can't assume that folks aren't looking at that material.

However, calling "close gameplay", in which a researcher examines one part of a game by playing it repeatedly, a "unique methodology" must be an error of the writer or of a researcher who hasn't kept up with other fields of research. The only thing unique in such an approach is the object of study. The similarity to the term "close reading" is one clue that this is the writer's error.

Another minor concern I have is the brief discussion of cheating in games. An academic is quoted as saying that, "To get a really good idea of how the game plays, you shouldn't cheat." Now that may be true if you're trying to understand what a game is like when you don't cheat, but many gamers do cheat. It's a massive element that has spawned many websites. So to never cheat is to miss out on the actual experience that gamers have who do cheat. And some game developers add elements to the game that can only be discovered by cheating or, at least, pursuing possibilities that aren't really a part of what one might consider the normal game. In fact, never cheating is to miss the total dimensions of a game.

Of course, I've seen a lot of academics misquoted by recontextualization. So I don't want to attack the researcher before I'm sure of whether or not she really imagines that such a purist approach is the only way, rather than one way of studying games. Unfortunately, in the social sciences, the envy of lab science still holds sway, and many researchers believe that certain kinds of purity are possible.

I guess overly reductionist thought isn't going away any time soon. At least it will give younger scholars the opportunity to take other angles in establishing their careers. Just like in every other academic game, I mean, discipline, that exists today.


Atrocities Everywhere 

In my ongoing coverage of atrocities, I must include the situation in the Congo where mass rape is a weapon that destroys the psyche while spreading HIV.

Multiple reports have been released on abusive Catholic priests including one that was released on Thursday by the Boston Archdiocese and two to be officially released today that indicate that over 10,000 children were abused by priests from 1950 to 2002. These numbers are felt to be low due to the fact that the studies were based on self-reports by priests.


Ralph Nader 

You know, Ralph Nader's a very articulate guy and he's running for President again. Lots of people don't want him to run, like some of the folks at The Nation, and some still blame him for Gore's loss.

As I've mentioned before, I don't think Ralph should run. But not because I think he's a spoiler or a loser. Actually I think Ralph Nader is a great man who did a poor job of campaigning last time and doesn't admit to having learned anything from that campaign that would make him a more likely candidate. The thing is, I don't think he can win the Presidency and I don't think he can substantially affect the dialogue, though I'd love to be proven wrong on that last count.

I'm not against him because I don't think he'll win. Building alternatives means working for long term goals, but if your tactics include running for President, you need to put up a credible campaign. That means having a visible running mate and getting that 5% of the vote, thus achieving a real victory. He didn't do that and doesn't seem likely to do so in the future. I'm also unconvinced that he's building an alternative to the two party system that can effectively change that system. And that's not good cause he's the best we've had in quite a while. Nevertheless, I'm very open to being convinced otherwise.


The Lying Families of Lying Liars 

So I should have posted more recently, especially when the media is covering the history of Bush family lies in their rise to power and covering more specifically George W.'s lies on so many things plus the science lies the Bush administration tells the American public which scientists are now exposing. Those fucking lying liars!

Googlemania, BioArtTech, Issue(s) 

I know I should post a wider variety of sources, but, damn, Wired News sure is good! Especially with this Complete Guide to Googlemania and this coverage of the intersection of art and biotechnology.

OK, something new? How about an Austin student lefty publication, Issue. Although a print publication, Issue is also available online in PDF form with recent coverage of topics like the Austin PD infiltrating activist groups, experiences with attempts to organize Whole Foods in Madison and the FTAA protests in Florida.


Wargames, Death, Love and Censorship 

Although the America's Army game may be mainly a recruitment tool, extensive work is going on that could lead to a realistic virtual earth for military simulation as well as communication during actual engagements.

Once again, researchers show it's the people we know that are most likely to fuck us up, rather than stranger danger. In this case, it's the people who drive their kids while drunk.

In happier news, Reclaim the Streets - SF had a fun Valentine's Day invasion of Haight Street.

Apparently marrying the deceased in France is a sentimental gesture legalized by De Gaulle. Disturbingly, I find myself disappointed that consummation is not discussed.

February 24th has been declared Grey Tuesday, a day of action against censorship of Danger Mouse's Grey Album that mixes the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's Black Album to interesting effect.


Do Not Forget the Women of Juarez 

A Valentine's Day march in Juarez, Mexico has generated quite a bit of publicity due to the presence of various celebrities, such as Jane Fonda, Sally Fields and Eve Ensler. These well know figures were attempting to bring attention to a series of crimes against women that would be a national scandal in the U.S. But across the border, in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, the murder of at least 370 women, a large number of whom were also sexually assaulted, has continued unabated for the last 10 years, according to Amnesty International.

Although many appreciate the support of well known figures, and I feel they should be using their celebrity in this way, OperationDigna has posted a letter from Bring Our Daughters Home, "an organization consisting of mothers, families and close friends of the disappeared and assassinated women of Juarez," that indicates that figures such as Eve Ensler need to be working with local activists more closely.

I can't sort out all the details based on what I'm reading but it's certainly not news that rich white activists often impose their own interests in the course of aiding such struggles. Nevertheless, Eve Ensler says she will keep working to bring attention to this drastic situation, a situation whose urgency cannot adequately be expressed in words, and I hope she does.

For further links to relevant organizations and sources of information, please see this page from the Mexico Solidarity Network and this report from NPR


Sex, Sheroes and Vaguely Related News 

Susie Bright has long been a guide to the world of sexual/cultural experimentation with a radically guilt-free perspective. According to this review, her new book, Mommy's Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn, and Cherry Pie, continues her process of honest self reflection and exploration.

Speaking of Sheroes, Autonomedia's having a calendar sale, half off for Sheroes and Womyn Warriors and for Jubilee Saints.

In only vaguely related news, a new issue of The Filter is now available online. This newsletter from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School covers a lot of the issues that interest me with links to news on RFID, P2P networks, spam, SCO's assault on Linux and other important things. For future reference, it's much easier to read if you get it by email due to the problematic site layout.

In other seemingly unrelated news, a coworker was telling me that researchers are trying to find a way to eliminate the need for sleep. Such counterintuitive approaches to life are the kind of thing that military dreams are made of, like this vision of soldiers who don't need to eat.

Available from Amazon:
Mommy's Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn, and Cherry Pie.


Silence and the Devil's Workshop 

Recent attention has been paid to the fact that various silent tracks of albums have been sold individually at Apple's iTunes site, some labeled "explicit". After hearing the news, a track by Sonic Youth was removed for individual sale at the request of somebody from Geffen but the track was again made available at Sonic Youth's request. I only wish John Cage were still around to find out what he'd have to say about this development.

This surprisingly interesting article about the relationship of a radical architect and an even more radical visual artist and the house they built reintroduced me to the architectural work of Jersey Devil, a nomadic design-build crew active from the late 60s to the early 90s.

Available from Amazon:
Whitey Album by Ciccone Youth (Sonic Youth)
Silence: Lectures and Writings by John Cage
Devil's Workshop: 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture.


Back to Politics and Stuff 

I've been neglecting this blog somewhat lately yet, at the same time, trying to bring some new themes in, or rebalancing themes, or something. So I want to post some news items from the last week or so that I think are important. But I also want to point you to a dialogue over at Hip Hop Logic that began with a post about noncoverage among hip hop bloggers of the Outkast performance at the Grammys that offended Native Americans. It resulted in an exchange with two really sharp bloggers that Clyde often links to at Hip Hop Logic. The whole experience seems to have been a really positive one that reveals some ways that online community can be built.

There's been so much going on, plus interesting coverage of regional issues that relate to broader settings. I've been meaning to link to this article about mistreatment of integrative doctors in North Carolina. It's an important issue because alternative, natural or integrative medicine (depending on one's focus) is often misrepresented and generally treated in a way that lessens our health choices.

I've also wanted to do some followup posts on recent developments with
biowarfare-related germ research labs in the States and further coverage of the film Osama. While checking out those NY Times pieces, I also found a piece on the Virus Underground. Check out those photos and tell me they don't romanticize virus creators!

Burlesque has been a topic of late and the Austin based project, Burlesque for Peace, is a pretty interesting combination of reasonably transgressive performance and left politics.

I hate to end on a downer, but this review of Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel's Detention of Palestinian Children signals a new topic I want to spend time with, the mistreatment of children globally, including forced military conscription and sex slavery. Not a happy topic, but an important one.

Till next time.


Final Thoughts on 24, Season One on DVD 

The review posted previously was written when I was actually only about 18 hours (or 18 forty-five minute units) into the show. Since then I've been gradually sickened by the realization that this show is part of Fox's ra ra agenda to, in this case, make the FBI, the U.S. electoral system and the American public appear inherently good when we know they are, in order, killers, a con game, savage idiots who mostly deserve the abuse they bring on themselves.

OK, the third is maybe an overstatement. I mean, I know 20 or 30 people that aren't savage idiots, but that's not much of a list. And I don't want to get into blaming the victims, but I sure do blame the thugs, petty bureaucrats and management at all levels.

I should point out that this show makes light of the Balkan Conflicts, turning them into conflicts between a few individuals, as is typical in Western narrative. This show also presents women as annoyingly hysterical creatures incapable of behaving appropriately in difficult situations. Male hysteria is treated as heroism, as usual.

High points:
When Jack cuts off a dead assassin's thumb without hesitation, revealing the depths of what he's capable of.

When the car with Bauer's daughter rolls down the hill and explodes, for a while it looks like she's dead and the wife will be finished off by one of the killers. (I didn't take pleasure in the wife's death at the end, however).

When an unidentified prisoner turns around and Jack Bauer recognizes him as an evil figure that he supposedly killed two years before. But before he identifies him in this "chilling" moment, we realize that their prisoner IS . . . Dennis Hopper! It's an accidentally funny moment and they should have known better.

When Bauer shoots the leader of the bad guys right when you think he's going to follow protocol and take him in. Soon followed by the presidential candidate splitting up with his wife.

Bottom line:
I regret the time spent on this misadventure and I will not be seeing further seasons.


TV on DVD Review: 24 

I finally saw the first season of 24 on dvd, the Fox Network show featuring Kiefer Sutherland. It feels kind of off-topic to be talking about this show, even though there are many themes one could discuss in relationship to the issues I tend to cover in this blog. But my comments aren't about that.

I like the format of the show, the hour by hour coverage of a single day. I also find it incredibly stressful. All sorts of stuff happens, some of it believable, some of it not. I think it would actually be better seen as a weekly show. But the dvd is commercial free and my tv reception is a joke.

I really wanted to fall in love with this show and I almost did during the first 3 or 4 episodes. Internal FBI involvement in a plot to kill an important presidential candidate is pretty believable. But once the main character's family gets kidnapped, it's all downhill from there. Still, it's interesting enough that I watched the whole thing.

The problem is, I don't think there are that many cool people in the FBI. I can believe that some of them aren't dicks, but that's about it. I also can't believe that a presidential candidate, like the one in this show, could really believe that the "system" can be trusted to do the right thing or that complete honesty is a viable political option for a candidate at his level. Except for Jimmy Carter and he got fucked royally in the White House. It was also very disturbing for me to find myself agreeing with one of the play by the book FBI overseers who ends up supporting Jack Bauer, Kiefer's character, while trying to rein him in.

All the family relationship stuff is also unfulfilling. Bauer's wife and daughter are totally unsympathetic characters. They're basically a pain in the ass every step of the way, finding ways to fuck up the situation worse than it already is. It was so bad that I was happy when it looked like they were finally going to die about halfway through. And that says a lot cause I am taken in by some pretty cheesy emotional scenarios, at times.

The candidate's family are a little better, but the soap opera quality intrigues just got a bit old. The candidate preaches honesty, then lies to his family, then decides to be pragmatic, then tries to talk people out of things by appearing to be doing the right thing.

I mean, damn, I have some mood shifts over the course of the day and I know the whole show takes place in a disaster zone but can't anyone on the show handle themselves with any degree of focus for more than 10 minutes of a crisis situation?

On the other hand, maybe everyone's constant fucking up is what makes the show realistic. It would certainly help explain the totally fucked up nature of contemporary society and maybe even the fact that the Bushes can't even come up with convincingly falsified documents and some broken down National Guardsman to cover G.W.'s ass prior to an election.

OK, I'll try to get back to linking to news that I find reveals important elements of the world that is currently emerging. One in which the master narratives of modernism have collapsed, the surveillance systems are going so deep that internalization will soon be a matter of embedding a chip in one's body and postleftist liberatory transgression opens things up for about a week before it's marketed to suburban middle schoolers at the mall.

Filesharing, Rexroth, Anarchism 

The February issue of First Monday, an online Internet research journal, is now available. Of special note is an article entitled Digital music and subculture: Sharing files, sharing styles.

The Bureau of Public Secrets has added new material to the Kenneth Rexroth Archive including Two Talks on Poetry and Society.

The Institute for Anarchist Studies has an interesting looking essay on Anarchism's Promise for Anti-Capitalist Resistance.


Filmmaking and Abuse in the Middle East 

In Iran, unsanctioned filmmaking is a crime, but filmmakers do it anyway.

The first film produced in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over in 1996, Osama, focuses on the issues of women in a repressive state.

For U.S. military women in Iraq and Kuwait, sexual assaults by fellow soldiers makes it kinda like home. I guess the Coalition Forces just need to blow off a little steam after torturing Iraqi detainees.


Privacy, Politics, Art and Vigilanteism 

Anti-RFID activist Katherine Albrecht has issued a press release about the discovery of RFID chips in customer cards at a store in Germany. Apparently the store had set up a deactivation scanner that actually just rewrote data. This is a pretty major scandal cause the store had lied about it and German activists take this shit pretty seriously. The press release should be up at Stop RFID any moment now, however it's not up at the time of this post.

In related privacy news, has your id been scanned in a bar recently?

Democracy Now has a couple of nice pieces up, one an interview with Howard Dean, the other an examination of George W. Bush's year AWOL.

Don't forget, in the digital age, photographs are lies.

If you've seen various reprints of the AP report on the raid on KAZAA offices in Australia, you've probably wondered what they meant by "raid." Here's some professional coverage that explains what happened. The music industry has consistently taken the law into their own hands whenever possible. The situation in Australia is a good example of what happens when the law supports corporate vigilanteism.


Rashomon - It's a Movie and a Blog! 

Clyde just alerted me to a pretty cool blog, Rashomon. It's got a nice blend of art, politics and general sociopolitical discussion and, at times, makes a point of revealing multiple perspectives with the author's changing views and dialogues with friends. Hmm, perhaps not unlike the multiple perspectives of the film Rashomon?

(Just a reminder that I know my classic film references).

(And if I didn't, I could always look it up online and front).

(Kind of like the net tricks of Bruce Sterling's Distraction).

(You know, I could go on like this for awhile).

(But it's probably annoying so I'll stop cause I love you, oh my readers)!

Seriously, Rashomon, the blog, turned me on to a lot of interesting things, for example, Bobby Neel Adams' Age-Maps.

Available from Amazon:
Bruce Sterling's Distraction.



I just saw Thirteen and I'm glad I finally did. I missed it at the theater cause I have an aversion to showing up on time. But it's out on dvd and is well worth watching.

Thirteen is the first feature film by Catherine Hardwicke. Her extensive work in art direction and production design shows in the visual details of the movie, from the settings to the accessorizing. Hardwicke is apparently now working on Lords of Dogtown, a movie about the early days of contemporary skateboarding. It will be interesting to see if she can portray young males as well as she did young females, although it seems like she'll do well, based on the young men in this film.

A lot of reviews focused on the fact that the script was cowritten and based on the insights of Nikki Reed, one of the teen actresses. To some degree it reminds me of the accomplishments of KIDS, initially written by Harmony Korine as a teenager and directed by Larry Clark. Kids also presented a convincing portrayal of teens, although without the intervention of parents. The biggest difference is that Thirteen is full of great performers. Plus it had a bigger budget.

Nikki Reed and Evan Rachel Wood were excellent, although Wood was the break out talent in terms of acting. Wood's emotional range was pretty amazing and I hope she can continue as a young blonde with depth. Holly Hunter, who I tend to dislike, was awesome. She fit the mother on the verge of relapse into drug and/or alcohol abuse really well. The other supporting parts were excellent from the middle school kids to the adults.

It's really nice to see a well funded meaningful production do well. Especially since it manages to portray the alternate universe of teens without lumping them all into the same category, shows how that universe intermingles with life around adults and displays the stresses of adolescence for both kids and adults. That's pretty damn difficult.

Available from Amazon:


Other Players, Open Access, Online Community 

The Center for Computer Games Research at the University of Copenhagen is preparing for a "conference on multiplayer phenomena" called Other Players. I'm trying to think of something witty to say here but mostly I'm thinking about how nice it would be to go to the University of Copenhagen.

Peter Suber has released a new issue of SPARC, his monthly newsletter on open access. In addition to a variety of news and links, he's making some predictions for 2004 and also writes about possible reasons for the slower response of humanities scholars to becoming involved with open access projects.

A new issue of Online Community Report is also available. One of the coolest things about this newsletter is the job listings. This issue is kind of sparce but the whole idea of having a paid position as an online group moderator just seems kind of cool.


Biowarfare, Dead Bits and Zombies 

I miss the Bay Area. Where else could you be at risk from your neighborhood biowarfare research center while shopping for dolls inspired by "skulls and dead bits" that were created by the woman who brought us Zombie Pinups?

Digital Film and Animation 

If you're poor in any real sense of the word, the whole computer thing is still out of reach except for public libraries and related programs. Yet it's quite true that computers have provided some low cost tools for making films (and other media) that used to be way beyond the reach of people like me. Plus, software like iFilm, designed for users with little technical expertise, has made indie feature success for folks like Jonathan Caouette a low budget reality.

Although Caouette is premiering at Sundance, online film festivals are a related and important phenomenon.

Since both of the articles above are from Wired, I should also point out that Wired has a really nice animation section that regularly features new work.

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