WOID XVI-15. Your meme wears Manolos
[reprinted from WOID: a journal of visual language]

Dario Fo, the only clown to win a Nobel Prize for being a clown (not despite it), has a shtick that shows how two polite Venetians would greet each other in the seventeenth century:

(Smiling): "Your mother's a whore."

(Sweetly): "So's yours."

Venice being, from the twelfth century on, a republic that gloried in its reputation as the kind of place where the guy trying to sell you his virgin sister on a street corner was required to file an IPO.

Which reminds me of the ongoing dustup that began in Sunday's "New York Times," and which boils down to the following, from the author of the original Times article:

"I do think it's interesting that some bloggers made a name for themselves by fighting the establishment and billing themselves as revolutionaries but at the same time are willing to work for campaigns. That, to me, is part of the establishment -- at least in a broad sense."

Apart from the language, which is disrespectful to women (you shouldn't refer to a lady, even a gray lady like the Times, as a "broad"), it's a very Venetian exchange: beyond the apparent insult, everybody's in agreement. Speaking for the bloggistas, David Sirota gives an adequate explanation of why working for Ned Lamont's senatorial campaign while blogging rates no worse on the whorometer than wiping counters at your local lattefundia. And I think he's right. But then comes the mommy quote:

"And I guess that's the bottom line point: separating out "bloggers" as some sort of special species different from the general pool of political activists and operatives is absurd. A blog is a kind of medium - that's all. It's like a telephone, or a newspaper, or a radio. The medium is a way for activists, organizers and operatives to get their message out - nothing more, nothing less."

The secret handshake, the smiling deal, is that both the bloggers and the Times can now agree that we're all whores, and it will always be that way. That reminds me of a group of workers known as the Luddites who were faced with a new technology. The Luddites understood that a machine, in the proper hands (theirs), would change forever how the boss spoke to them, and paid them, and treated their wives and daughters. They might all remain whores, but whores at least of a different color. The bosses understood this too, hence they pretended (as does Sirota) that the machine changes nothing. The workers will be paid the same, they'll still be treated like shit and their daughters, and their daughters' daughters, will be whores. Of course it's easy for reactionaries (the factory owners, the New York Times, the Sirotas of this world) to argue that human nature is immutable, and hence its relationship to technology is always fixed: a machine "does the same work" as X workers, you can't fight the machine, all working people are whores etc.

That the Internet has, or will, or can change the meaning of whoring (meaning: the manner in which relations of production are affected by changes in the productive forces), is something both the New York Times and the Democratic bloggers have agreed not to think about, just as they've agreed not to wonder how, exactly, a Democratic congress might change things, but really change things forever, because it won't, and it can't, and it doesn't want to. The Times challenges Sirota to prove he's not a "revolutionary," but if Sirota were (or anyone else in his shoes), he might have gone to work for Lamont all the same, but with the proviso that his relationship to his employer had to be rewritten in view of their relationship to the new technologies, not in spite of it. If Sirota, or any other, had been true to the high standards of the Luddites he might have responded to the Times: "Yes, obviously, the bloggers' standards are no lower than yours - how low could they? But since the Internet opens up the possibility of higher standards of openness, of self-criticism, of democratic pluralism, this is how I attempted to meet these standards while collecting a paycheck for myself. "

Sure. And your sister's a virgin.