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Blogger Royale! - click opera — LiveJournal
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Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:17 pm
Blogger Royale!

So give us an amusing intro referencing a popular film, Momus, please!
Okay. On an internet just off the coast of Japan, extraordinary internecine conflict has this week broken out. The eigo-gaijin Japan bloggers -- Marxy, Momus, Jean Snow, Digiki, Alin and Roddy Schrock -- are hunting each other in a bloody struggle. Who will be the last left alive and blogging? Alliances shift daily. Nobody quite knows who to trust. One blogger wields the weapon of sarcasm and fake blood spurts from his associate's cosplay Bapewear. Another decamps to higher moral ground with a trustworthy ally... but will things be the same come nightfall? The actors make their names, the punters pull up seats. Everyone has a favourite, everyone has an opinion. But how did this all begin?



Yes, recap how the storm got into this teacup, please!
Well, noisy debate turned into open conflict when Marxy announced last week that "I have started to ply my blogging services for my employer". The annoucement was greeted by a round of polite applause from Neomarxisme's faithful regulars. Momus, though, predictably launched a broadside on Click Opera.

What is Clast?
Clast is Marxy's new blog for Diamond Agency. It does not replace his old blog, but Neomarxisme is due for a radical change in format soon, and Marxy has expressed dissatisfaction with it several times. The word Clast has a double meaning: "clast" as in "iconoclast" -- a reference to Marxy's "maverick" status as a controversialist who speaks his mind -- and "classed", which contains the sense that this blog will see Japanese consumer groups sorted, ranked and classed.

And the mysterious Diamond Agency?
Adamu, a contributor to Neomarxisme, explains that the Diamond Agency is "an old ad agency. Not as old as Dentsu mind you, but they were founded in 1962 as the ad agency for Diamond Co., the publisher of various bunko, the Chikyu no Arukikata travel guide series, and Shukan Daiyamondo, a personal favorite. According to their history, the company was acquired by “Tozai Capital,” an IT-related holding company (complete with a young Cool Biz-donning startup kingpin type chairman with sculpted facial hair who looks kind of like Dante from Clerks) in 2005, which has completely reworked the company and placed the Marxy-written Clast in a flagship content position."

So Marxy is "blogging for the man"?
Yes. If you want to visualize who that man is, it's the fellow next to Karl Marx here, the chairman of Tozai Capital, owners of Diamond Agency. Whereas Karl Marx says things like "Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity," the man from Tozai Capital says things like "Our challenge during the next few months is to truly maximize the synergy that is generated by the unique combination of our various skills. The next step will be to look carefully towards the Asia-Pacific region in search of companies that perfectly match our style and our needs."

We all have to work for "the Man" at some point, don't we?
We do indeed.

So what kind of thing is "classed by the 'clast" on Clast?
It's actually quite an interesting read -- if you're the kind of person who reads the business pages of newspapers. Stuff about magazine circulations declining, profiles of "Can Cam Woman", an article in which Marxy tells us that "Refreshment is the ultimate desire for the U35 male -- whether that be from mints, quiet places, aromatherapy, or a nice tea... Since the U-35 crowd are only passively-LOHAS and partially anti-consumer, they could possibly be brought back to the table - if the table is nice and clean."

What have the bloggers been saying about it?
Go read them yourself:
Marxy: Clast (note: original set of comments erased by his blog host, Trevor).
"The articles on clast will be decidedly more informative and absolutely less sarcastic... I will continue providing antagonizing and often über-ironic critical judgments on the state of Japanese popular culture here at néomarxisme for the time being.. I have been promising a "big change" here at néomarxisme, and I can say that things are moving behind-the-scenes towards the planned total site rehaul."
Momus: A cure for the squib (reproduces erased Momus comment).
"Blasting the status quo... will be extremely difficult if what you're doing is providing pen sketches in the Experian style for marketers and politicians... The appropriation of academic disciplines for market research means the replacement of the ideologies underpinning all these disciplines (Enlightenment ideologies about knowledge, humanist ideologies about mankind, or the cultural relativist ideologies underpinning comparative social studies) by a single rationale: the ideology of the market."
Jean Snow: The State of Blogging in Japan: To Clast or Not to Clast
"Here we are, writers, who love doing what we do, blogging, and then something comes along where we can be put in a position to continue doing what we’re doing, but with a revenue, and suddenly we’re making deals with the devil! Oh, I’m (we are) so sorry for wanting to make a living... Here YOU sit, high and mighty, criticizing everyone for not following the one “true” (and noble) path, calling us sellouts and slaves to the man (and his word)? That’s just ridiculous, and it reeks of egotism and a sense of grandeur to which I’m fast developing allergies... Does writing “professionally” or accepting ads/sponsorship on your site mean that you’re giving up on any and all editorial independence? Fuck no."
Digiki: Blogging for the man
"Why are we still in an "I speak, you listen" configuration? How dare you call yourself a "truly unique media and communication agency" or a "trendsetter" when you are actually not listening ? Don’t serve me the usual "we can’t do it" answer. This is BS and you know it. We know it. If you want to be on the internet, fine, but you have to understand how things work here: interactions. Faster. Smarter. Provocative sometimes too. Nothing to do with the contents, but everything to do with the way it’s executed. And again, if this doesn’t fit with your business model, time to change it... I had the feeling Marxy wants with Clast to get rid of the discussion and debate of Neomarxisme and offer a clean, Momus-free view of the Japanese market. Again, very interesting contents, but very unbalanced at the same time."
Roddy Schrock: Life online
"The issue of selling out is just, well, a total NON-issue in Japan. Content and its distribution are going to be controlled by certain social and power groups, whether it be the company you work for or your family, and you've got to scratch their back too... The only people this kind of nepotism would bother are those westerners, like myself, who have some naive idea that public acknowledgment of these kinds of ties are somehow unseemly. But why live in a fantasy world? Of course they need money and support to make these things happen, of course Jean Snow needs advertisers on his page to pay for what he does, and lucky him that he has such a large audience to make it worthwhile!... When I get paid to make music, it usually turns out to be the most unmarketable and uncompromising music I do, not consciously, but perhaps by some unconscious need to redouble efforts to not be tainted by that money, which must be inherently dirty, of course. How silly I am. People like Jean Snow, Digiki, and Marxy are much more realistic about these things. But then, what can I say, when I actually did get around to reading Clast I couldn't help but be totally disappointed to see that Marxy was putting his brain to work help sell "refreshing" alcohol products to an under 35 age group that was no longer interested in traditional drinking habits. No, I am not anti-marketing, and I am also not NOT pro-marketing (r., did I get that right?). But I am definitely not pro-sell-stupid-stuff-for-lots-of-money-just-because-we-can! If all the intelligent marketers of the world could just unite! No... That's not quite right either. I guess the best we can do is just be as ethical as we can and try to make sure that our day job isn't something that is going to make the world worse, which actually is probably extraordinarily difficult."

A nice spectrum of views there, from purists to pragmatists, artists to businesspeople, left to right!
I'm not sure you can break it down as neatly as that. For me, this is about context and how it changes meaning. The arguments Marxy makes on Neomarxisme mean something very different on Clast. For instance, “There are new class divisions appearing in Japanese society” on Neomarxisme sounds like a sociologist lamenting new gaps between haves and have-nots. Exactly the same statement on Clast has the meaning “Advertisers, here are your new emerging elite markets”. It’s not so much that “he who pays the fiddler calls the tune” as that the exact same tune means something different depending on context. Over the past three years I've learned that Marxy disagrees with that — he thinks that a swastika or a Barry Manilow sample retain a fixed meaning even when worn by a Visual Kei fan in Harajuku or inserted into a Daft Punk track. This is a weirdly naive belief for someone so intelligent, and for someone who works in marketing, which is surely all about how meanings are changed by fashion, by social status, by price, by brand, and so on.

So this might be a battle between the Context-Changes-Nothing Gang and the Context-Changes-Everything Gang?
Yes, I think so. For instance, an article appears in Nylon magazine this month endorsing Kiiiiiii, who happen to be touring the US at the moment. Does it change the meaning of the article if we know that Marxy wrote it, and that Marxy is married to the lead singer in Kiiiiiii and is touring with them? Yes, of course it does. Kiiiiiii are a great band, but we might take that claim more seriously if it comes from someone not married to the singer (from me, for instance -- they're great!). Another example: Jean Snow is the curator of Gallery Pause. Does it change our view of Jean's role, and the artists involved, when we learn the context -- that this is a rental gallery, and that Jean only gets to choose between people willing to pay the price to display their work? Of course it does.

Okay, some quick questions, because I'm getting a bit bored of this silly little battle. Should you blog for money?
I think I'm going to write something about blogging for money for Wired. There are all these schemes now that encourage bloggers to mention products and get paid for it, and I think the thing is that we the readers should know that's the situation, and the bloggers themselves should know that their credibility will take a hit when we know.

Should you write about your friends?
It's fine to write about your friends, or your wife, or whatever. I think a declaration of personal interest is pretty essential, though. Tell us (as Marxy did) that you're getting paid, and who by, or that you happen to be married to the Next Big Thing you're boosting.

Is there anything wrong with doing things for money?
There isn't, but we need to bear in mind that there's more to life than markets, more to citizens than consumers, and more to information than vested interest.

Are bloggers better when they blog together, or apart?
I'm a big fan of dialectics. I think people like Marxy, Jean Snow and me are better blogging dialectically, in other words being free to disagree. And I'm glad to report that Marxy agrees: on Digiki's blog he commented that "if there is anything I’ve learned about blogging over the last three years, it’s that dialogue is really important for building readership".

Does he who pays the fiddler call the tune?
No. But the tune's meaning is changed by who's playing, who's paying, and why.

Might there be a certain liberation in a 100% commercial environment?
You know, from a certain angle, I think there might. For instance, a gallery system which includes anyone who can scrape up the required $2000 a week is, in some very limited sense, an egalitarian one. No more curators, no more art experts, no more magazines, no more snooty gallerists! Give them the money and the bastards have to give you a show! Yay! And anyone can save up the money, if they really believe in themselves, to pay that $2000 a week, right? Although the rich will obviously have a big head start. But they do anyway, right? But, you know, what's nice about a 100% commercial environment is that the consumer is always right. For instance, after three years of telling us how deeply wrong the Japanese consumer was on Neomarxisme, isn't there a certain poetic justice in the sight of Marxy struggling to justify this same consumer's every whim with stats, facts and figures on Clast?

Will you have to avoid these people (the ones on the other side, anyway) when you're in Tokyo later this year?
No, I love them all and I'm going to buy them a big dinner at Maisen when I see them. The vegetarians will obviously have to order salad.

So, tell us, which is your favourite English-language blog about Japan, the one you think has most to tell us, the one you can't find a single fault with? Which, in this game of Blogger Royale, is the last blog left standing?
Pingmag. Surprise!

82CommentReply

imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC)

Stop Press: St Petersburg, Russia, October 1917:
In a sensational vindication of the views of conspiracy theorists, Karl Marx was today revealed to have been, throughout his working life, in the employ of the British East India Company. Russia's cities are today witnessing extraordinary scenes, as thousands of workers burn their copies of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto in the streets. The revolution has been cancelled.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:35 pm (UTC)

It's interesting that you brought the word Machiavellian in. I was just going to add another Stop Press:

Stop Press: St Petersburg, Russia, November 1917
Despite last month's revelations, motley alliances continue to champion communist revolution. The Machiavellians say it doesn't matter that Marx was paid by the British, because the end -- a glorious revolution -- will justify the means. The Absolutists say it doesn't matter that Marx was paid by the British, because his statements about the relationship between capital and labour were objective in all contexts, and scientifically verifiable. The two groups march arm-in-arm, the Machiavellians wielding fists, the Absolutists shaking test tubes.


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rhodri
rhodri
Rhodri Marsden
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)

Nick, your entries are too long. I have to print them out and read them at bedtime, and it's laying waste to the fragile environment. Just saying.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)

But can't you see, Rhodri, that THIS IS A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH to those of us on the island?


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)

How does Pingmag make money?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)

I have no idea. They've just recently been acquired by Yes Communications.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 12:50 pm (UTC)
boring

this self propagating storm in a tea cup is such a non event it's laughable. Stop writing about yourselves and do something interesting again, please.

Pingmag doesn't need to make money, it's a vanity project/promotional tool for it's design company owners. but what a nice vanity project.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
Re: boring

I second this sentiment. This is in not interesting in itself.

I don't even care about this whole thing, and I am supposed to be in the eye of hurricane.

Marxy


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)

Momus, how much do you get paid for your Wired "column" (but since it doesn't appear aznywhere in print, and is published on the Internet complete with comment function, we may as well say "blog")? And how do you think the pecuniary nature of the exercise changes the meaning of the content?


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)

Also, have you ever mentioned in any of your Wired "columns" that you are being paid for your comment?


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desant012
||||||||||
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:31 pm (UTC)

Momus, why aren't you "maximizing synergy"? C'mon, man. You've got so much synergy potential untapped.


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eustaceplimsoll
Eustace Plimsoll
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Freud's not completely full of Shit

Sorry, I don't want to be a bore, but I've just posted a reply to winterkoninkje on an old thread - and copy it here because I don't want it to languish unread. Cheers!

I was so busy before that I could only skim your reply, and giving it a bit more time now I see that there is much value and subtlety in what you say. However, to return to the original issue - Islam and postmodernism - I'll just quote you...

And even if we do not use the terms now available to us, the fact that they are available at all changes the meaning of every other term at our disposal and so still changes the meaning, the existence, of such beliefs.

There is no absolute level of truth from which we can look down and claim things to exist or not to exist, and even if there were it would avail us none. Meaning does not exist outside of that which we create.


...and then say this: we could go on tracing the the relation between Islam and postmodernity in its dialectical complexity, but enough has been said over the course of these threads to indicate what has been my basic point. There is no settling of the debate: Islam's resistance to absorbtion by postmodernity is a refusal to grant that the meanings of Islam are contained and subsumed in postmodern thought and life, and appreciation of that refusal is essential for the 'postmodernist', tempted as she might be to claim a distorted and paradoxical kind of finality that - according to postmodernism's own theoretical frame - never actually ends.

Now, I know this isn't the conclusion of the debate, but unfortunately it must be my final word for the moment. Thank you both for your very stimulating and enlightening points of view ( - not lip-service, I mean it!).


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
Finally, a chance to use this

Alright alright, any excuse.



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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)

wow, i had no idea there was this much going on.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)

There isn't this much going on. There's Momus's unreciprocated obsession with Marxy. That's all that's going on.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 03:10 pm (UTC)

yep, your just a plain old asshole.
a chav? a twat? whatever you want it to be. thats you.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)

blog, blog, blog.....so when are you building a new album or putting your tangible pen to the paper Nick? Talk about talk is fine and good, I guess, but perhaps the real deep sea diving of creation is what the mind likely needs now? Don't you think that focus on a substantial bleeding, pulsing, living and breathing project rather than poking your friends with sticks over their diary dos and don'ts is much more interesting? Are you living in Japan at the moment? If not, I would have to imagine that your blog about Japan may suffer a bit in the area of hyper-contemporary concerns and fads...and that is what blogs thrive on afterall, right? Would a favourite blog about Japan really be English-language based?
-John F.F.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)

John, I suspect that you are telling me that my challenge during the next few months is to truly maximize the synergy that is generated by the unique combination of my various skills, and that my next step should be to look carefully towards the Asia-Pacific region in search of companies that perfectly match my style and my needs.


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lame_no_antenna
amber and softly
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)

i get paid to read this blog, and now i want a raise!


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)

"Okay, some quick questions, because I'm getting a bit bored of this silly little battle. Should you blog for money?"

Isn't that what you do...blog for opinions, then use those to write articles and get paid by Wired.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)

I would think so on this point. Momus is always asking for help on his next Wired article, then using the information he has gather here to write it. or some of the information. i assume just the parts that support whatever theory he has at the time. then gets paid. i would find it hard to believe he writes for wired for free.


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polychromatica
polychromatica
Plunder Bunny
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC)
Radical grandfathers!

I think with this post that regular old Marxy/Momus slash fanfiction is officially old hat. Here's the new story:

Marxy and Momus are happily married to their Japanese wives and each produce one offspring. You can see where this is going of course - years pass and their children fall in love and get married and suddenly everyone's family! Hilarity and mayhem ensues.

Bonus question: if two people who are half Japanese have kids, are their children also half?


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freesurfboards
freesurfboards
freesurfboards
Wed, Mar. 14th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Radical grandfathers!

an alternate story - their children burn in resentment but end up working in the same field. Eventually their multi-national companies have to directly compete with each other raising questions about honor loyalty and unity.


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