?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Hello! This is Click Opera. - click opera Page 9
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Page 9 of 9
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
Wed, Feb. 10th, 2010 03:39 am
Hello! This is Click Opera.

1. What's this? This is the last entry in the blog called Click Opera, which means that, in the funny through-the-looking-glass world of blogs, it's the first page future internauts and web adventurers will come to. So think of this not so much as an ending as an entrance. What you've reached is the door to "probably the best-written blog on the Anglophone web", according to Warren Ellis. "It doesn't get any better than Click Opera," said novelist Dennis Cooper.



2. Who's behind Click Opera? The best introduction to who I am is this article in The Guardian Review. I'm a Scot, a musician, a writer, and -- according to this page, gulp! -- the 4697th most significant contemporary visual artist working today. My Wikipedia page is here. You can download six of my early albums free here. Books I've written are here and here. I want to write more books, so if you're a publisher email me! That goes for people wanting to reproduce bits of this blog in print, too.

3. Where can we find out what you're up to, post-blog? From my "personal digital assistant" Maria Wolonski, who announces my engagements in the charming, ringing tones of a talking clock. From the Momus concerts page on LastFM. From my Flickr page and my two YouTube accounts, momasu and bookofjokes. I may even revive my old website (1995-2003), imomus.com.

4. What do you plan to do now? I want to write books and articles. Maybe teach at an art school. Deliver lectures in many lands. Make some more records. Play concerts. Walk around the world. Learn to speak Japanese and live in Japan. Write my own regular newspaper column of cultural commentary (I've written for people like Wired, The New York Times, Frieze, Spike, The Wire, 032c). Hold some more art shows. If you can help me realise these dreams, email me, please!

5. If I want to stage a Momus concert, what do I need to do? Tell your friendly local promoter (or it could be an art gallerist, store owner, festival director) that all I require is travel expenses (from Berlin), accommodation, plus a fee of around €1000 for a regular Momus show (festivals tend to pay more). If that works for the promoters, get them to drop me a line and we'll take it from there. I also do art performances -- live storytelling and unreliable tours.



6. Will you keep the Click Opera archive up indefinitely? Yes, I will. If you feel like helping with the modest LiveJournal and PhotoBucket hosting costs -- or compensating me directly for some illegal mp3s of my songs you've downloaded -- you can make a donation via PayPal here.

7. What's the best way to search the Click Opera archive? Simply type the word imomus plus your search term into a search engine, then follow the links headed "Click Opera".

8. Will you keep reading and responding to comments left under this entry? Yes, I will. Leave your email address if you want a personal response.

9. Why did you stop updating Click Opera? Not because anything went wrong or it got unpleasant. Quite the reverse, in fact. Click Opera was just too damned good: too compelling, too time-consuming, too satisfying. It took over my life. It became my job, the main topic of my conversation, the hub of my self-mediated fame: "Aren't you that guy from the internet?" (Read the piece called Clickswansong if you want to know more about why this blog came to a "happy ending". Or listen to this radio interview with KCSB's Colin Marshall.)

10. Can I step through the door now? Please do! There's a lot to read! You can browse backwards from here, or start at the beginning (Thursday January 15th 2004) and work forwards. The calendar is your friend, or you may prefer to read through the titles displayed in the month view.

Thanks to everyone who's contributed to Click Opera, this big vineyard! You've given me years of pleasure! Happiness, as T.E. Lawrence said, "is a by-product of absorption", and blogging -- the best hobby I ever had -- has been absorbing indeed.


310CommentReplyShare


(Anonymous)
Fri, Apr. 29th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Your new book's cover

Maybe I missed your nod to it, but your new book cover is an afterimage of the Japanese flag.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, May. 2nd, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Your new book's cover

Yes, that was designer Zak's intention. Not so much an afterimage, maybe, but a reversal of the original colours. Which of course produces an afterimage.

(Wow, it feels strange leaving comments on Click Opera after all this time! Which avatar should I use?)


ReplyThread Parent
count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, May. 15th, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
Re: Your new book's cover

red baron!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, May. 30th, 2011 05:37 am (UTC)

Momus, I can’t help noticing something of a contradiction in two socioeconomic strands that run through Click Opera. One is that a high gini coefficient is an evil. The other is that there’s a financial threshold of happiness of around 20,000 pounds or so, and that if you earn more than that per annum it statistically won’t make you any happier. If the second proposition is true, then surely the happiest society is the one that gets the greatest number of people over that happiness threshold. But that won’t necessarily be the one that has a low gini coefficient, because those nations tend not to be so good at generating wealth. Cuba probably has a pretty low gini coefficient, but that doesn’t make it a happy nation, because it simply doesn’t generate enough wealth to get everyone over the threshold. The UK, on the other hand, has a fairly high gini coefficient, with high disparities of wealth. And yet because its economy generates significant wealth – enough to finance a national health service etc. – then a lot more people will get to the threshold, regardless of the disparities. So why do the disparities matter, as long as a healthy percentage of the population are over the threshold?


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jun. 19th, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)

But that won’t necessarily be the one that has a low gini coefficient, because those nations tend not to be so good at generating wealth.

This is where your argument falls down. Go to this page, click the little symbol at the top of the UN Gini column, and you'll see that the nations with the lowest Gini are highly efficient wealth-generators: Denmark, Japan, Sweden, Czech Republic, Norway, and so on. The CIA Gini tab gives similar results. Being equal does not mean being poor.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)

Thanks for the reply, a mere month later - so much for the Click Opera cut-and-thrust of yore! But I still don't think you're right, Momus. You're looking at the extremes. Yes, the countries with astronomically high gini coefficients are utterly fucked up places that contain nothing more than barely surviving populations plus corrupt pariah elites, with nothing in between. The story is more complicated if you scan out these outliers and focus on relatively developed countries. If you take a look at, say, the top forty countries in terms of per capita income, you won't see any particular correlation between gini coefficient and wealth generation. You'll see a mix. You'll see small countries with oil, whether they be low gini countries like Norway, or higher gini ones like Qatar. You'll see the US, UK in there etc. What we really need is a list of countries by percentage of population that earns more than 20,000 pounds per annum (although a figure of $75,000 is also mentioned on the "happiness economics" wikipedia page, which I think would skew things towards the US). It's worth noting also that the large economies that are growing the fastest (China, India, Brazil etc) are countries with high gini coefficients, but are presumably those that have pushed the greatest number of people over the "happiness threshold" over the last decade or two.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Jun. 28th, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)

The source of wealth -- oil, services, whatever -- isn't really material. When it comes to Gini all that matters is how national wealth is distributed. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but your argument seems to be edging towards that reaganomic lemon, "trickledown". Let the rich get rich, and that wealth will trickle down and help everybody over the happiness line. Firstly, that doesn't happen; just look at America today. Consolidation of power in the top echelons, poverty creeping ever-further into the middle-classes. Secondly, it's not particularly important whether the happiness line is $25,000 or $75,000. What matters is the purchasing power that bare minimum income level allows, and purchasing power depends on what other buyers can afford. Look at London, where bonuses paid to high-earners have made whole sections of the city unaffordable for the very people the rich require to carry out their basic services.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Fri, Jul. 1st, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)

The trouble is the economics of this is very vague - how do you establish a happiness threshold (are self-reported levels of happiness really very reliable?), and where are the statistics to show which economic system gets most people over the line? But when I think about it, the contradiction that I find at the heart of your socioeconomic posts isn't really about economics at all. It's about two different models of happiness. On the one hand, hiding behind concern about gini levels is the idea that happiness is essentially relative. That our happiness is about how we measure up against others. If we earn $50,000, but everyone else in our peer group earns $150,000, then we won't be happy about that. At least, not nearly as happy as the person who earns $50,000 when the rest of his/her peer group earns $20,000. But the notion of the happiness threshold says that's not true. You only have to earn a certain amount, and anything beyond that won't do you any good. You coopt both these ideas, but they're not compatible.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 6th, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)

Well, you've combined two different arguments of mine and you're attempting to say they're inconsistent, and in order to do this you're now claiming they're both about happiness. But the Gini argument isn't about happiness, it's about justice and about ethics: high Gini, or inequality, is the closest thing we socialists have to a concept of evil. You say that this implies a world in which happiness means earning more than one's peers, but no socialist would ever see that as a valid model of happiness, or an extension of the concern-about-Gini worldview. That's because this worldview is not, as you claim, a relativist one but an ethical one, with equality as its vision of the good.

By the way, what's your take on the trickledown theory? You've said nothing about that, not even to disavow that your arguments seem to endorse it.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Fri, Jul. 15th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)

But doesn’t all social policy boil down to happiness? Equality would be a pretty lousy vision of good if it didn’t take account of people’s happiness. What would be the point of correcting injustice if it didn’t make the victims or anyone else any happier? The interesting thing about the happiness threshold argument is that beyond a certain point it becomes an anti-redistributive argument. If we accept the fact that having more than a given level of purchasing power won’t make us any happier, then it also follows that once most people have reached that level, we shouldn’t worry that some people have more than others, even a great deal more. Their having more won’t make us any less happy. I’m not saying that’s my position, in fact something seems off about it. I wonder if the happiness threshold argument is not a pernicious one, when you look at its implications. It’s an argument based on individual rather than societal welfare. It’s saying, why should I have to struggle when by doing so I won’t be making myself any happier? But by renouncing your share of the commonweal, you’re ensuring that someone or something else will get it, and that entity may not be a benign force. It might be funding wars, for example.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Jul. 17th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)

But doesn’t all social policy boil down to happiness?

Absolutely not! Would you lobotomise people if you found it made them happier (as it very well may)? No, social policy has a whole range of goals, and for socialist social planners equality is one of them. But fairness isn't just a core value for socialists, kids also know that you don't need to justify fairness with happiness. When did you last hear a kid saying "That's not fair!" and another kid asking why, only to be told "Because it makes me unhappy!"? No, unfairness is left to stand alone as something self-evidently undesirable. What it connects to is our sense of justice.

If we accept the fact that having more than a given level of purchasing power won’t make us any happier, then it also follows that once most people have reached that level, we shouldn’t worry that some people have more than others, even a great deal more. Their having more won’t make us any less happy.

I've already gone into the practical reasons inequality will tend to make us unhappy: relative deprivation is one, and the relativity of pricing is another; the poor are getting priced out of cities like London.

Your mistake is to think that the happiness threshold argument is saying not only that our own wealth won't increase our happiness, but also that other people's wealth won't decrease it. This, like your idea that the concept of fairness stands or falls by the happiness it promises, is your own invention.

Also, it's not about "renouncing your share of the commonweal". It's about not striving to get more than your fair share, more than what you need.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Jul. 21st, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)

If you accept relative deprivation as a valid concept (and I do), then you can’t accept the happiness threshold as a valid concept. We’re right back to the starting point: it is simply incompatible to suggest there is a threshold beyond which further wealth will not make us happy, and also to suggest our level of wealth relative to others affects our happiness. One makes a nonsense of the other. It means that the supposed threshold just happens to be what most of our peers are earning, and therefore it becomes a totally redundant concept – ie, we can still never step off the hedonic treadmill, we’re still always keeping up with the Joneses.

I’m using “happiness” in a fairly general way, to describe general fulfilment with our lives. I can’t see how lobotomy could ever fit with that, it seems a silly analogy on your part. Your focus on equality and fairness as aetherial goals, even if they don’t raise general happiness levels, seems strange coming from an ethnic relativist like you, from someone who rails against the very concept of human rights. But you seem quite essentialist about fairness, even evoking children as having an intuitive idea of the concept as apart from the seeking of happiness. But how is this notion of fairness compatible with, for example, Japanese culture where harmony trumps everything, even fairness? (Go back and read your own entry on the Japanese horror of litigation: you quote, approvingly I imagine, a case where “a Western academic whose son cracked his head on the concrete of a school pool tried to litigate against his own school. Everyone he knew said it was against Japanese culture, he should drop it. He persisted, and basically everyone drifted away from him and he had to leave Japan, possibly also dissolving his marriage to a Japanese woman too.” How fair is that?)


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Jul. 22nd, 2011 04:33 am (UTC)

If you accept relative deprivation as a valid concept (and I do), then you can’t accept the happiness threshold as a valid concept.

Nonsense!

1. Earning more than about $20,000 a year doesn't make you significantly more happy.

2. However, other people earning a lot more than you does make you significantly less happy.

3. Therefore, the ideal society is one in which most people earn around $20,000 a year. In other words, a highly egalitarian society.

What's so difficult to understand here? What's inconsistent or illogical?

But how is this notion of fairness compatible with, for example, Japanese culture where harmony trumps everything, even fairness?

"Trumps" sets harmony and fairness at odds, which is a poor metaphor and an inaccurate model. There's a strong connection in Japan between harmony and fairness. It continues to be one of the most equal societies in the world, in fact the second most equal, according to UN stats.

You're peculiarly keen to set up conflicts and contradictions between things that are entirely compatible! I actually have no idea where your ideology is coming from, except that you have an "equality blindspot". You don't seem to believe it socially possible.


ReplyThread Parent
w_e_quimby
w_e_quimby
hobbes
Wed, Jan. 4th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)

Momus we love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Mon, Mar. 12th, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
come back

would you consider doing a u-turn and resuming this journal?


ReplyThread
ztz42
ztz42
ztz42
Sat, Sep. 1st, 2012 06:42 am (UTC)
Photo in post

Photo with mountine is very attractive!


ReplyThread
postsquotes
postsquotes
postsquotes
Thu, Jan. 21st, 2016 01:43 am (UTC)
I like

i love you momus


ReplyThread