When I type, sometimes, writing to somebody I’m not too interested in (or don’t have much to communicate to although I owe this person an email), I get some phrase that stays in my head a few seconds until it hazes to something as hard to recall as a dream. It may be the string “bbbbbbbbbbbb” that I press into my keyboard and stare through before I delete it from my screen and my brain. I can’t say whether the sound or the image of the string comes first; they seem to occur simultaneously and disappear in much the same way. And I can’t say with surety that the way the string looks influences how I pronounce it in my head. This sequence can loop for minutes before I remember where I am in my workflow and in my schedule. I raise my face out of the white text entry field into a desk space surrounded by printed paper and hand-written notes. And grinning like a tiger!
Even before 2017’s floods, fires and explicit nuclear threat, the doomsday clock had been ticking towards midnight, spurred on by the warming planet and the hothead in the White House. Survivalists have been around since the 1930s, but all of a sudden, prepping (making plans for civilizational annihilation) started to feel like the not-crazy thing to do. But how to go about it? Become a one-person militia and stock up on camo and bullets? If you’re a too-rich tech bro, you disrupt the apocalypse: get Lasik, build a panic room and buy an apartment in a luxury tower submerged below the surface of the earth. Or at the very least you could get a few chickens and learn to can and pickle in the spirit of a 1960’s utopian commune. As speculative preparation and luxury homesteading become more mainstream, they have dovetailed with the broadcasting of lifestyle through aesthetic and dietary choices. While we flail towards an unknown future, we decide whether to prep or to simply accept our fate as the last generation of human beings, the ones that finally ruined everything.
This collection of digital objects scratches the surface of some of the questions we like to puzzle over the most: What are the possibilities for public speaking now? How is learning something we do with our bodies? What is the materiality of acquiring knowledge? And what is important about being in a room with others, watching something together? We hope these 10 works offer some methods for reconsidering the possibilities of showing each other things in public.
Blueprint. Bodies. Tennis. Clock. Air. Surgery. Windmill. Accused. Ronin. Bread.
Here is a best-of digital objects list that aims to be useful, entertaining and unsettling, if perhaps as haphazard as any 10 things pulled off the internet would be. We have combined both the substantial or regular — books, series, other websites — as well as reflexive digital objects, textured and justified by their milieu. These all viscerally object to the idea that digitality entails any meaningful shift in capitalist power dynamics; the question of property may be reconfigured by the digital, but is, as yet, far from resolved. So these objects, each in some way, enact an antagonistic relationship to the limited sensorium of capitalist property relations. We have: an application that consumes and regurgitates all others, a teen noise rant, pyrotechnic materialism, a dictionary of the negative, a militant exercise of the right to be forgotten, and a pretty decent meme, among a few other forms and strategies. Despite apparent seriousness or frivolity, they each smuggle a secret cargo of critical humor…
The thought of compiling ten items for inclusion in the annals of Library Stack as a de facto recommended set was all but physically crippling to this typist, which is why her list appears only now, some five, long, dark fall and winter months after its existence was first and very kindly requested. This is also the reason why, instead of compiling a best-of, I’ve compiled a currently-in-the-middle-of, or an at-least-at-the-beginning-of. That is, here are ten books I’m reading now, together, deliberately together, albeit for purposes yet to be discerned. My list doubles as a suggestion that “top ten” be reconceived as “arbitrarily long ingredient list for a precognitive recipe,” though I’d wager my entire, staggering fortune that lubricated Teflon™ is at least 100% stickier than this proposal.