— New RSShole


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via Stamatina

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I’ve been trying to redesign this blog, gettin my shoes muddy with CSS.  It’s going slowly.  In searching through old web files I found an original New Asshole “about me” image I made in the spring of 2009.  It seems appropriate, and I don’t know why I never published it.


I was trying to locate an online PDF of Buchloh’s scathing essay on Beuys, “Twilight of the Idol”.  Maybe I am bad at Google, but I couldn’t find it.  However, I did find a PDF of lecture notes on a talk about Buchloh’s essay.  It’s pretty much all you ever need to know.  Screenshot for you viewing pleasure:

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I was spring cleaning documents folders on my computer and came across 62 happy megabytes of puppet research I did in the summer of 2007.  I will upload some of it gradually.  It’s really good.

Here is one of my favorite essays, available as a PDF for all of us without EBSCOhost logins.

Love Among the Puppets [PDF] : The puppet thus seemed a thing subject to pain as well as reverie, entities with bodies such as ours are, the ponderable form of a spirit. But this phantasm of care contributed to a vision of things transformed: these performing objects were neither commodities, nor fetishes; they were lucidly present, but subject to dream; possessions freed of possessiveness, precious, but easily set aside, even trashed; sexual, yet without fixed gender; both weightless and grave, vehicles of an ancient tradition, yet without solemnity; things subject to our playful remaking, but demanding an odd kind of responsibility. These small things measured the size of souls. The life they offered was a peculiar gift, something wrought out of the ambiguous exchange of puppet and puppeteer. That life was a risky return on a gamble, a gamble that still kept about it an eerie innocence.

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One night we were talking about pet cemeteries, and thought how absurd it would be if pet cemeteries were virtual.  Google quickly showed us that our idea was real.  Virtual pet cemeteries are a souvenir of the early days of the internet.  I am amazed that they still exist, and exist with the exact same geocities look that they had when they were created 15 years ago.  I suppose it’s perfect that they are so preserved.

Virtual cemeteries also exist for people (and are just as outdated as their pet counterparts).  Virtual Memorial Gardens, below, began in 1995.  The memorials range from a single name/date to pages and pages of single-spaced text.   Roughly 30% are letters to the deceased, and in many cases there is a guest-book to sign at each memorial.

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Most web cemeteries evoke images of traditional cemeteries, with pictures of gates or gardens on the opening page. The homepage invites visitors to “enter” the cemetery.  Once inside, web cemeteries tend to be visually consistent; memorials have similar features and there are simple methods of traveling from one memorial to another (usually through a list of links to memorials or letters of the alphabet). This visual continuity provides a sense of place and to many, a feeling of community; as with traditional cemeteries, other losses and the people who mourn them are nearby.

Although most sites are free, many of the web cemeteries charge some fee for the posting and upkeep of memorials. Fees range from ten to fifty dollars for most web cemeteries and generally do not reflect the breadth of services provided by each site. On cemetery.org, one can leave flowers for the deceased by making a donation (pictured below).

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I am less interested in the memorials themselves.  Some of them are poetic in an earnest way.  But it feels disingenuous to do anything with them (like post them here).  Frankly, it feels disingenuous to read them–they are so intensely personal I can’t help but feel uncomfortable.  What intrigues me is this community that was a product of the early internet.  We know that the internet created a sharing space for disenfranchised people.  Geeks, fanatics, and people searching for something specifically seedy united with the assurance that they were not alone.  It had never occurred to me that the grieving were also among those for whom that early internet was perfect.  Pet grievers have been particularly shut out of the death system and sympathy of the public, so it makes sense that they would be among the most prolific authors of virtual memorials.

These are quiet sites.  Pages and pages of people missing their loved ones is a little much to handle for a Sunday evening.  But I suggest a short stroll.