June 11th, 2010

[MUSIC] Foucault and The Wall

Do you know that I've never listened to The Wall?

It's true. In fact, I've never listened to a complete Pink Floyd song. The closest I've come is the live performance of David Gilmour with Kate Bush on her "Running Up That Hill."

I don't know why this is the case, how I missed it. All I can say is that, somehow, I managed to miss out on the Pink Floyd socialization stage that every adolescent seems to go through. On a later Thursday, this will be blogged at length.

For a variety of reasons, this past week has been rather complicated, rather difficult, rather epochal. As those of you who may have followed the [MUSIC] tag may have observed, this is exactly the kind of thing that prompts me to look for appropriate music. And so, Wednesday night following (in part) John's advice, I decided to fill my Pink Floyd gap and $C15.99 later, a nice used copy of The Wall sits on my CD player.

I'm looking forward to this. I've not listened to many concept albums, it's true, never mind anything by Pink Floyd. Now I'll get to hear the original version of that song that the Scissors Sisters covered! All on my lonesome, I'll get to hear the South African schoolchild anthem that shook the apartheid regime! Et cetera.

Am I overthinking it, abstracting the music? Perhaps; perhaps not. I must be allowed to find it amusing that the Wikipedia article for "Another Brick in the Wall" refers the reader to the article on Discipline and Punish for further reading. Stay tuned.

[BRIEF NOTE] On Lacan

I really don't understand the systems of Jacques Lacan.

Back in 2003, when I went to Queen's, on account of my theory-light background I was sent to Literary Theory class. I actually enjoyed it; I understood most of it. But not Lacan. The man's thought was so impenetrable that even Introducing Lacan, that wonderful illustrated guide to his thought, was no help.

No more. I want to beat Lacan; I also want to be able to judge whether his Slovenian disciple Žižek has anything worthwhile to say. So, back to Introducing Lacan! I'll share my learning--at least what I think will be accurate learning--with you later on.

[BRIEF NOTE] On Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

The fact that I'm involved in the Tirane Sourcebook project, aimed at fleshing out the populous and prosperous human colony world at Alpha Centauri known as Tirane in the 2300AD/2320 setting, and my enthusiastic hope that there are Earth-like planets orbiting one or the other or both Alpha Centauri A and B, certainly has something to do with the fact that Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is my favourite computer game. It has been for a decade.

A spiritual successor to the famous Civilization series, seven different players--fourteen different players if you've the Alien Crossfire expansion module, including two alien factions--with different ideologies compete for supremacy. I like strategy computer games very much, and I like science fiction very much. There's something about the contention of the many different ideologies--technocratic, mercantile, Gaianist, bureaucratic, and so on--that makes the universe seem real. Plus, there's something fun about sending mind worms to terrorize your enemies.

Guess what game I'm playing a lot more of lately?

[BLOG-LIKE POSTING] Why Cyberpunk 2020 lets me understand the dynamics of Turkish-EU relations

It's because of Cyberpunk 2020 that I know why Turkey's not likely to get into the European Union.

Cyberpunk 2020 is a roleplaying game setting in the classic dystopic cyberpunk mode: advanced computer and biotech, oppressive governments, hegemonic corporations, environmental decay, and the beaten-down yet struggling individual. One of its background modules is Eurosource, an introduction to the terribly dystopian yet hegemonic Europe of 2020. Britain and Greece are ruled by military dictatorships, the former having exterminated the British royal family, while Germany is a militarily aggressive corporatist state, Spain and southern Italy are economic wastelands, the South Tyroleans live in a diaspora after the terrorist attack on a nuclear fission plants, and the European Parliament's members are elected not according to population but rather by tax revenue. (The City of London has more MEPs than Turkey.)

Turkey's a European Community member-state? Yes. Not only that, but the various post-Communist states of central Europe, from a Poland that's under partial military occupation to a Czechoslovakia that suffers food riots to a Yugoslavia that just conquered Albania, are only associate members, ruthlessly exploited for their natural resources and cheap labour. Turkey might be a put-upon member-state of the European Community, but it still has all the advantages that its neighoburs to the northwest lacks.

Why was Turkish membership a possibility? I suspect it's because, in the 1980s, there was nowhere else the European Community could expand. With Sweden, Switzerland and Austria remaining neutral, Norway remaining independent and Finland locked into its loose Soviet orbit, there was no post-1973 prospect for central or northern European expansion. With the admission of Greece in 1980, and of Spain and Portugal in 1986, there was no prospect for further expansion into southern Europe. With the eight post-Communist states that did get into the EU in 2004 and the two that got into the EU in 2007 Communist states under Soviet occupation locked into Comecon, there was certainly no prospect of eastwards expansion. Integration with Yugoslavia was a very distant possibility, as one author noted in 1989, but very distant. If the European Community was to expand, then the only realistic prospect would be into Turkey, a capitalist NATO member-state that was already reasonably integrated into western Europe.

The collapse of Communism in 1989-1990 changed all this. Once initial adjustments were survived, all of the member-states that joined up in 2004--the Baltics, the Visegrad Four, Slovenia--quickly surpassed Turkey. Their democratic systems were solidly implanted, certainly safe from Turkey's praetorianism; living standards and GDP per capita were substantially further ahead than Turkey's, with higher economic growth than Turkey after their nadirs were reached; most critically, these countries were culturally and historically closer to western Europe than Turkey, with Germany particularly committed to establishing a stable central Europe. Once these possibilities opened up, why expand into Turkey?

Turkey might yet become a likely prospect for EU membership, if the European Union economy recovers and its expansion, whether into the western Balkans or deeper into the former Soviet Union, comes to an unwanted halt. Might. A booming Turkey has other options than to join the European Union, and European electorates for their part seem decidedly hostile to including Turkey. Imagine, though: If Communism in central Europe had fallen only a few years later, Ankara might be the capital of a European Union member-state.