5.31.2017 Doc of the Day

1. The Charlotte Town Resolves, 1775.
2. Walt Whtiman, 1860 et seq.
3. Timothy Leary, 1990.
4. Jim Hickey, 2014.

Numero Uno“Whereas by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament in February last, the American Colonies are declared to be in a State of actual Rebelion, we conceive that all Laws and Commissions confirmed by, or derived from the Authority of the King or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil Constitution of these Colinies for the present wholly suspended.  To provide in some Degree for the Exigencies of the County in the present alarming Period, we deem it proper and necessary to pass the following Resolves, viz.1. That all Commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these Colonies, are null and void, and the Constitution of each particular Colony wholly suspended.

2. That the Provincial Congress of each Province, under the Direction of the Great Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive Powers within their respective Provinces; and that no other Legislative or Executive does or can exist, at this time, in any of these Colonies.

3. As all former Laws are now suspended in this Province, and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it necessary, for the better Preservation of good Order, to form certain Rules and Regulations for the internal Government of this County, until Laws shall be provided for us by the Congress.

4. That the Inhabitants of this County do meet on a certain Day appointed by this Committee, and having formed themselves into nine Companies, to wit, eight for the County, and one for the Town of Charlotte, do choose a Colonel and other military Officers, who shall hold and exercise their several Powers by Virtue of this Choice, and independent of Great-Britain, and former Constitution of this Province.

5. That for the better Preservation of the Peace, and Administration of Justice, each of these Companies do choose from their own Body two discreet Freeholders, who shall be impowered each by himself, and singly, to decide and determine all Matters of Controversy arising within the said Company under the Sum of Twenty Shillings, and jointly and together all Controversies under the Sum of Forty Shillings, yet so as their Decisions may admit of Appeals to the Convention of the Select Men of the whole County; and also, that any one of these shall have Power to examine, and commit to Confinement, Persons accused of Petit Larceny.

6. That those two Select Men, thus chosen, do, jointly and together, choose from the Body of their particular Company two Persons, properly qualified to serve as Constables, who may assist them in the Execution of their Office.

7. That upon the Complaint of any Person to either of these Select Men, he do issue his Warrant, directed to the Constable, commanding him to bring the Aggressor before him or them to answer the said Complaint.

8. That these eighteen Select Men, thus appointed, do meet every third Tuesday in January, April, July, and October, at the Court-House, in Charlotte, to hear and determine all Matters of Controversy for Sums exceeding Forty Shillings; also Appeals: And in Cases of Felony, to commit the Person or Persons convicted thereof to close Confinement, until the Provincial Congress shall provide and establish Laws and Modes of Proceeding in all such Cases.

9. That these Eighteen Select Men, thus convened, do choose a Clerk to record the Transactions of said Convention; and that the said Clerk, upon the Application of any Person or Persons aggrieved, do issue his Warrant to one of the Constables, to summon and warn said Offender to appear before the Convention at their next sittinbg, to answer the aforesaid Complaint.

10. That any Person making Complaint upon Oath to the Clerk, or any Member of the Convention, that he has Reason to suspect that any Person or Persons indebted to him in a Sum above Forty Shillings, do intend clandestinely to withdraw from the County without paying such Debt; the Clerk, or such Member, shall issue his Warrant to the Constable, commanding him to take the said Person or Persons into safe Custody, until the next sitting of the Convention.

11. That when a Debtor for a Sum below Forty Shillings shall abscond and leave the County, the Warrant granted as aforesaid shall extend to any Goods or Chattels of the said Debtor as may be found, and such Goods or Chattels be seized and held in Custody by the Constable for the Space of Thirty Days; in which Term if the Debtor fails to return and discharge the Debt, the Constable shall return the Warrant to one of the Select Men of the Company where the Goods and Chattels are found, who shall issue Orders to the Constable to sell such a Part of the said Goods as shall amount to the Sum due; that when the Debt exceeds Forty Shillings, the Return shall be made to the Convention, who shall issue the Orders for Sale.

12. That all Receivers and Collectors of Quitrents, Public and County Taxes, do pay the same into the Hands of the Chairman of this Committee, to be by them disbursed as the public Exigencies may require. And that such Receivers and Collectors proceed no farther in their Office until they be approved of by, and have given to this Committee good and sufficient Security for a faithful Return of such Monies when collected.

13. That the Committee be accountable to the County for the Application of all Monies received from such public Officers.

14. That all these Officers hold their Commissions during the Pleasure of their respective Constituents.

15. That this Commission will sustain all Damages that may ever hereafter accrue to all or any of these Officers thus appointed, and thus acting, on Account of their Obedience and Conformity to these Resolves.

16. That whatever Person shall hereafter receive a Commission from the Crown, or attempt to exercise any such Commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an Enemy to his Country; and upon Information being made to the Captain of the Company where he resides, the said Captain shall cause him to be apprehended, and conveyed before the two Select Men of the said Company, who, upon Proof of the Fact, shall commit him the said Offender, into safe Custody, until the next setting of the Convention, who shall deal with him as Prudence may direct.

17. That any Person refusing to yield Obedience to the above Resolves shall be deemed equally criminal, and liable to the same Punishments as the Offenders above last mentioned.

18. That these Resolves be in full Force and Virtue, until Instructions from the General Congress of this Province, regulating the Jurisprudence of this Province, shall provide otherwise, or the legislative Body of Great-Britain resign its unjust and arbitrary Pretentions with Respect to America.

19. That the several Militia Companies in this county do provide themselves with proper Arms and Accoutrements, and hold themselves in Readiness to execute the commands and Directions of the Provincial Congress, and of this committee.

20. That this committee do appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kennedy, to purchase 300 lb. of Powder, 600 lb. of Lead, and 1000 Flints, and deposit the same in some safe Place, hereafter to be appointed by the committee.”      The Charlotte Town Resolves; May 31, 1775

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Numero DosSOURCES OF CHARACTER—RESULTS—1860To sum up the foregoing from the outset (and, of course, far, far more unrecorded,) I estimate three leading sources and formative stamps to my own character, now solidified for good or bad, and its subsequent literary and other outgrowth—the maternal nativity-stock brought hither from far-away Netherlands, for one, (doubtless the best)—the subterranean tenacity and central bony structure (obstinacy, wilfulness) which I get from my paternal English elements, for another—and the combination of my Long Island birth-spot, sea-shores, childhood’s scenes, absorptions, with teeming Brooklyn and New York—with, I suppose, my experiences afterward in the secession outbreak, for the third.

For, in 1862, startled by news that my brother George, an officer in the 51st New York volunteers, had been seriously wounded (first Fredericksburg battle, December 13th,) I hurriedly went down to the field of war in Virginia.  But I must go back a little.

OPENING OF THE SECESSION WAR

News of the attack on fort Sumter and the flag at Charleston harbor, S. C., was receiv’d in New York city late at night (13th April, 1861,) and was immediately sent out in extras of the newspapers.  I had been to the opera in Fourteenth street that night, and after the performance was walking down Broadway toward twelve o’clock, on my way to Brooklyn, when I heard in the distance the loud cries of the newsboys, who came presently tearing and yelling up the street, rushing from side to side even more furiously than usual.  I bought an extra and cross’d to the Metropolitan hotel (Niblo’s) where the great lamps were still brightly blazing, and, with a crowd of others, who gather’d impromptu, read the news, which was evidently authentic.  For the benefit of some who had no papers, one of us read the telegram aloud, while all listen’d silently and attentively.  No remark was made by any of the crowd, which had increas’d to thirty or forty, but all stood a minute or two, I remember, before they dispers’d.  I can almost see them there now, under the lamps at midnight again.

NATIONAL UPRISING AND VOLUNTEERING

I have said somewhere that the three Presidentiads preceding 1861 show’d how the weakness and wickedness of rulers are just as eligible here in America under republican, as in Europe under dynastic influences.  But what can I say of that prompt and splendid wrestling with secession slavery, the arch-enemy personified, the instant he unmistakably show’d his face?   The volcanic upheaval of the nation, after that firing on the flag at Charleston, proved for certain something which had been previously in great doubt, and at once substantially settled the question of disunion.  In my judgment it will remain as the grandest and most encouraging spectacle yet vouchsafed in any age, old or new, to political progress and democracy.  It was not for what came to the surface merely—though that was important—but what it indicated below, which was of eternal importance.  Down in the abysms of New World humanity there had form’d and harden’d a primal hardpan of national Union will, determin’d and in the majority, refusing to be tamper’d with or argued against, confronting all emergencies, and capable at any time of bursting all surface bonds, and breaking out like an earthquake.  It is, indeed, the best lesson of the century, or of America, and it is a mighty privilege to have been part of it.  (Two great spectacles, immortal proofs of democracy, unequall’d in all the history of the past, are furnish’d by the secession war—one at the beginning, the other at its close.  Those are, the general, voluntary, arm’d upheaval, and the peaceful and harmonious disbanding of the armies in the summer of 1865.)

CONTEMPTUOUS FEELING

Even after the bombardment of Sumter, however, the gravity of the revolt, and the power and will of the slave States for a strong and continued military resistance to national authority, were not at all realized at the North, except by a few. Nine-tenths of the people of the free States look’d upon the rebellion, as started in South Carolina, from a feeling one-half of contempt, and the other half composed of anger and incredulity. It was not thought it would be join’d in by Virginia, North Carolina, or Georgia. A great and cautious national official predicted that it would blow over “in sixty days,” and folks generally believ’d the prediction. I remember talking about it on a Fulton ferry-boat with the Brooklyn mayor, who said he only “hoped the Southern fire-eaters would commit some overt act of resistance, as they would then be at once so effectually squelch’d, we would never hear of secession again—but he was afraid they never would have the pluck to really do anything.”

I remember, too, that a couple of companies of the Thirteenth Brooklyn, who rendezvou’d at the city armory, and started thence as thirty days’ men, were all provided with pieces of rope, conspicuously tied to their musket-barrels, with which to bring back each man a prisoner from the audacious South, to be led in a noose, on our men’s early and triumphant return!

BATTLE OF BULL RUN, JULY, 1861

All this sort of feeling was destin’d to be arrested and revers’d by a terrible shock—the battle of first Bull Run—certainly, as we now know it, one of the most singular fights on record. (All battles, and their results, are far more matters of accident than is generally thought; but this was throughout a casualty, a chance. Each side supposed it had won, till the last moment. One had, in point of fact, just the same right to be routed as the other. By a fiction, or series of fictions, the national forces at the last moment exploded in a panic and fled from the field.) The defeated troops commenced pouring into Washington over the Long Bridge at daylight on Monday, 22d—day drizzling all through with rain. The Saturday and Sunday of the battle (20th, 21st,) had been parch’d and hot to an extreme—the dust, the grime and smoke, in layers, sweated in, follow’d by other layers again sweated in, absorb’d by those excited souls—their clothes all saturated with the clay-powder filling the air—stirr’d up everywhere on the dry roads and trodden fields by the regiments, swarming wagons, artillery, &c.—all the men with this coating of murk and sweat and rain, now recoiling back, pouring over the Long Bridge—a horrible march of twenty miles, returning to Washington baffed, humiliated, panic-struck. Where are the vaunts, and the proud boasts with which you went forth? Where are your banners, and your bands of music, and your ropes to bring back your prisoners? Well, there isn’t a band playing—and there isn’t a flag but clings ashamed and lank to its staff.

The sun rises, but shines not. The men appear, at first sparsely and shame-faced enough, then thicker, in the streets of Washington—appear in Pennsylvania avenue, and on the steps and basement entrances. They come along in disorderly mobs, some in squads, stragglers, companies. Occasionally, a rare regiment, in perfect order, with its officers (some gaps, dead, the true braves,) marching in silence, with lowering faces, stern, weary to sinking, all black and dirty, but every man with his musket, and stepping alive; but these are the exceptions. Sidewalks of Pennsylvania avenue, Fourteenth street, &c., crowded, jamm’d with citizens, darkies, clerks, everybody, lookers-on; women in the windows, curious expressions from faces, as those swarms of dirt-cover’d return’d soldiers there (will they never end?) move by; but nothing said, no comments; (half our lookers-on secesh of the most venomous kind—they say nothing; but the devil snickers in their faces.) During the forenoon Washington gets all over motley with these defeated soldiers—queer-looking objects, strange eyes and faces, drench’d (the steady rain drizzles on all day) and fearfully worn, hungry, haggard, blister’d in the feet. Good people (but not over-many of them either,) hurry up something for their grub. They put wash-kettles on the fire, for soup, for coffee. They set tables on the side-walks—wagon-loads of bread are purchas’d, swiftly cut in stout chunks. Here are two aged ladies, beautiful, the first in the city for culture and charm, they stand with store of eating and drink at an improvis’d table of rough plank, and give food, and have the store replenished from their house every half-hour all that day; and there in the rain they stand, active, silent, white-hair’d, and give food, though the tears stream down their cheeks, almost without intermission, the whole time. Amid the deep excitement, crowds and motion, and desperate eagerness, it seems strange to see many, very many, of the soldiers sleeping—in the midst of all, sleeping sound. They drop down anywhere, on the steps of houses, up close by the basements or fences, on the sidewalk, aside on some vacant lot, and deeply sleep. A poor 17 or 18 year old boy lies there, on the stoop of a grand house; he sleeps so calmly, so profoundly. Some clutch their muskets firmly even in sleep. Some in squads; comrades, brothers, close together—and on them, as they lay, sulkily drips the rain.

As afternoon pass’d, and evening came, the streets, the bar-rooms, knots everywhere, listeners, questioners, terrible yarns, bugaboo, mask’d batteries, our regiment all cut up, &c.—stories and story-tellers, windy, bragging, vain centres of street-crowds. Resolution, manliness, seem to have abandon’d Washington. The principal hotel, Willard’s, is full of shoulder-straps—thick, crush’d, creeping with shoulder-straps. (I see them, and must have a word with them. There you are, shoulder-straps!—but where are your companies? where are your men? Incompetents! never tell me of chances of battle, of getting stray’d, and the like. I think this is your work, this retreat, after all. Sneak, blow, put on airs there in Willard’s sumptuous parlors and bar-rooms, or anywhere—no explanation shall save you. Bull Run is your work; had you been half or one-tenth worthy your men, this would never have happen’d.)

Meantime, in Washington, among the great persons and their entourage, a mixture of awful consternation, uncertainty, rage, shame, helplessness, and stupefying disappointment. The worst is not only imminent, but already here. In a few hours—perhaps before the next meal—the secesh generals, with their victorious hordes, will be upon us. The dream of humanity, the vaunted Union we thought so strong, so impregnable—lo! it seems already smash’d like a china plate. One bitter, bitter hour—perhaps proud America will never again know such an hour. She must pack and fly—no time to spare. Those white palaces—the dome-crown’d capitol there on the hill, so stately over the trees—shall they be left—or destroy’d first? For it is certain that the talk among certain of the magnates and officers and clerks and officials everywhere, for twenty-four hours in and around Washington after Bull Run, was loud and undisguised for yielding out and out, and substituting the southern rule, and Lincoln promptly abdicating and departing. If the secesh officers and forces had immediately follow’d, and by a bold Napoleonic movement had enter’d Washington the first day, (or even the second,) they could have had things their own way, and a powerful faction north to back them. One of our returning colonels express’d in public that night, amid a swarm of officers and gentlemen in a crowded room, the opinion that it was useless to fight, that the southerners had made their title clear, and that the best course for the national government to pursue was to desist from any further attempt at stopping them, and admit them again to the lead, on the best terms they were willing to grant. Not a voice was rais’d against this judgment, amid that large crowd of officers and gentlemen. (The fact is, the hour was one of the three or four of those crises we had then and afterward, during the fluctuations of four years, when human eyes appear’d at least just as likely to see the last breath of the Union as to see it continue.)

THE STUPOR PASSES—SOMETHING ELSE BEGINS

But the hour, the day, the night pass’d, and whatever returns, an hour, a day, a night like that can never again return. The President, recovering himself, begins that very night—sternly, rapidly sets about the task of reorganizing his forces, and placing himself in positions for future and surer work. If there were nothing else of Abraham Lincoln for history to stamp him with, it is enough to send him with his wreath to the memory of all future time, that he endured that hour, that day, bitterer than gall—indeed a crucifixion day—that it did not conquer him—that he unflinchingly stemm’d it, and resolv’d to lift himself and the Union out of it.

Then the great New York papers at once appear’d, (commencing that evening, and following it up the next morning, and incessantly through many days afterwards,) with leaders that rang out over the land with the loudest, most reverberating ring of clearest bugles, full of encouragement, hope, inspiration, unfaltering defiance; Those magnificent editorials! they never flagg’d for a fortnight. The “Herald” commenced them—I remember the articles well. The “Tribune” was equally cogent and inspiriting—and the “Times,” “Evening Post,” and other principal papers, were not a whit behind. They came in good time, for they were needed. For in the humiliation of Bull Run, the popular feeling north, from its extreme of superciliousness, recoil’d to the depth of gloom and apprehension.

(Of all the days of the war, there are two especially I can never forget. Those were the day following the news, in New York and Brooklyn, of that first Bull Run defeat, and the day of Abraham Lincoln’s death. I was home in Brooklyn on both occasions. The day of the murder we heard the news very early in the morning. Mother prepared breakfast—and other meals afterward—as usual; but not a mouthful was eaten all day by either of us. We each drank half a cup of coffee; that was all. Little was said. We got every newspaper morning and evening, and the frequent extras of that period, and pass’d them silently to each other.)

DOWN AT THE FRONT

FALMOUTH, VA., opposite Fredericksburgh, December 21, 1862.—Begin my visits among the camp hospitals in the army of the Potomac. Spend a good part of the day in a large brick mansion on the banks of the Rappahannock, used as a hospital since the battle—seems to have receiv’d only the worst cases. Out doors, at the foot of a tree, within ten yards of the front of the house, I notice a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, &c., a full load for a one-horse cart. Several dead bodies lie near, each cover’d with its brown woolen blanket. In the door-yard, towards the river, are fresh graves, mostly of officers, their names on pieces of arrel-staves or broken boards, stuck in the dirt. (Most of these bodies were subsequently taken up and transported north to their friends.) The large mansion is quite crowded upstairs and down, everything impromptu, no system, all bad enough, but I have no doubt the best that can be done; all the wounds pretty bad, some frightful, the men in their old clothes, unclean and bloody. Some of the wounded are rebel soldiers and officers, prisoners. One, a Mississippian, a captain, hit badly in leg, I talk’d with some time; he ask’d me for papers, which I gave him. (I saw him three months afterward in Washington, with his leg amputated, doing well.) I went through the rooms, downstairs and up. Some of the men were dying. I had nothing to give at that visit, but wrote a few letters to folks home, mothers, &c. Also talk’d to three or four, who seem’d most susceptible to it, and needing it.

AFTER FIRST FREDERICKSBURG

December 23 to 31.—The results of the late battle are exhibited everywhere about here in thousands of cases, (hundreds die every day,) in the camp, brigade, and division hospitals. These are merely tents, and sometimes very poor ones, the wounded lying on the ground, lucky if their blankets are spread on layers of pine or hemlock twigs, or small leaves. No cots; seldom even a mattress. It is pretty cold. The ground is frozen hard, and there is occasional snow. I go around from one case to another. I do not see that I do much good to these wounded and dying; but I cannot leave them. Once in a while some youngster holds on to me convulsively, and I do what I can for him; at any rate, stop with him and sit near him for hours, if he wishes it.

Besides the hospitals, I also go occasionally on long tours through the camps, talking with the men, &c. Sometimes at night among the groups around the fires, in their shebang enclosures of bushes. These are curious shows, full of characters and groups. I soon get acquainted anywhere in camp, with officers or men, and am always well used. Sometimes I go down on picket with the regiments I know best. As to rations, the army here at present seems to be tolerably well supplied, and the men have enough, such as it is, mainly salt pork and hard tack. Most of the regiments lodge in the flimsy little shelter-tents. A few have built themselves huts of logs and mud, with fire-places.

BACK TO WASHINGTON

January, ’63.—Left camp at Falmouth, with some wounded, a few days since, and came here by Aquia creek railroad, and so on government steamer up the Potomac. Many wounded were with us on the cars and boat. The cars were just common platform ones. The railroad journey of ten or twelve miles was made mostly before sunrise. The soldiers guarding the road came out from their tents or shebangs of bushes with rumpled hair and half-awake look. Those on duty were walking their posts, some on banks over us, others down far below the level of the track. I saw large cavalry camps off the road. At Aquia creek landing were numbers of wounded going north. While I waited some three hours, I went around among them. Several wanted word sent home to parents, brothers, wives, &c., which I did for them, (by mail the next day from Washington.) On the boat I had my hands full. One poor fellow died going up.

I am now remaining in and around Washington, daily visiting the hospitals. Am much in Patent-office, Eighth street, H street, Armory-square, and others. Am now able to do a little good, having money, (as almoner of others home,) and getting experience. To-day, Sunday afternoon and till nine in the evening, visited Campbell hospital; attended specially to one case in ward I, very sick with pleurisy and typhoid fever, young man, farmer’s son, D. F. Russell, company E, 60th New York, downhearted and feeble; a long time before he would take any interest; wrote a letter home to his mother, in Malone, Franklin county, N. Y., at his request; gave him some fruit and one or two other gifts; envelop’d and directed his letter, &c. Then went thoroughly through ward 6, observ’d every case in the ward, without, I think, missing one; gave perhaps from twenty to thirty persons, each one some little gift, such as oranges, apples, sweet crackers, figs, &c.

Thursday, Jan. 21.—Devoted the main part of the day to Armory-square hospital; went pretty thoroughly through wards F, G, H, and I; some fifty cases in each ward. In ward F supplied the men throughout with writing paper and stamp’d envelope each; distributed in small portions, to proper subjects, a large jar of first-rate preserv’d berries, which had been donated to me by a lady—her own cooking. Found several cases I thought good subjects for small sums of money, which I furnish’d. (The wounded men often come up broke, and it helps their spirits to have even the small sum I give them.) My paper and envelopes all gone, but distributed a good lot of amusing reading matter; also, as I thought judicious, tobacco, oranges, apples, &c. Interesting cases in ward I; Charles Miller, bed 19, company D, 53d Pennsylvania, is only 16 years of age, very bright, courageous boy, left leg amputated below the knee; next bed to him, another young lad very sick; gave each appropriate gifts. In the bed above, also, amputation of the left leg; gave him a little jar of raspberries; bed J, this ward, gave a small sum; also to a soldier on crutches, sitting on his bed near…. (I am more and more surprised at the very great proportion of youngsters from fifteen to twenty-one in the army. I afterwards found a still greater proportion among the southerners.)

Evening, same day, went to see D. F. R., before alluded to; found him remarkably changed for the better; up and dress’d—quite a triumph; he afterwards got well, and went back to his regiment.

Distributed in the wards a quantity of note-paper, and forty or fifty stamp’d envelopes, of which I had recruited my stock, and the men were much in need.

FIFTY HOURS LEFT WOUNDED ON THE FIELD

Here is a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the Patent-office. He likes to have some one to talk to, and we will listen to him. He got badly hit in his leg and side at Fredericksburgh that eventful Saturday, 13th of December. He lay the succeeding two days and nights helpless on the field, between the city and those grim terraces of batteries; his company and regiment had been compell’d to leave him to his fate. To make matters worse, it happen’d he lay with his head slightly down hill, and could not help himself. At the end of some fifty hours he was brought off, with other wounded, under a flag of truce. I ask him how the rebels treated him as he lay during those two days and nights within reach of them—whether they came to him—whether they abused him? He answers that several of the rebels, soldiers and others, came to him at one time and another. A couple of them, who were together, spoke roughly and sarcastically, but nothing worse. One middle-aged man, however, who seem’d to be moving around the field, among the dead and wounded, for benevolent purposes, came to him in a way he will never forget; treated our soldier kindly, bound up his wounds, cheer’d him, gave him a couple of biscuits and a drink of whiskey and water; asked him if he could eat some beef. This good secesh, however, did not change our soldier’s position, for it might have caused the blood to burst from the wounds, clotted and stagnated. Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty severe time; the wounds proved to be bad ones. But he retains a good heart, and is at present on the gain. (It is not uncommon for the men to remain on the field this way, one, two, or even four or five days.)

HOSPITAL SCENES AND PERSONS

Letter Writing.—When eligible, I encourage the men to write, and myself, when called upon, write all sorts of letters for them (including love letters, very tender ones.) Almost as I reel off these memoranda, I write for a new patient to his wife. M. de F., of the 17th Connecticut, company H, has just come up (February 17th) from Windmill point, and is received in ward H, Armory-square. He is an intelligent looking man, has a foreign accent, black-eyed and hair’d, a Hebraic appearance. Wants a telegraphic message sent to his wife, New Canaan, Conn. I agree to send the message—but to make things sure I also sit down and write the wife a letter, and despatch it to the post-office immediately, as he fears she will come on, and he does not wish her to, as he will surely get well.

Saturday, January 30th.—Afternoon, visited Campbell hospital. Scene of cleaning up the ward, and giving the men all clean clothes—through the ward (6) the patients dressing or being dress’d—the naked upper half of the bodies—the good-humor and fun—the shirts, drawers, sheets of beds, &c., and the general fixing up for Sunday. Gave J. L. 50 cents.

Wednesday, February 4th.—Visited Armory-square hospital, went pretty thoroughly through wards E and D. Supplied paper and envelopes to all who wish’d—as usual, found plenty of men who needed those articles. Wrote letters. Saw and talk’d with two or three members of the Brooklyn 14th regt. A poor fellow in ward D, with a fearful wound in a fearful condition, was having some loose splinters of bone taken from the neighborhood of the wound. The operation was long, and one of great pain—yet, after it was well commenced, the soldier bore it in silence. He sat up, propp’d—was much wasted—had lain a long time quiet in one position (not for days only but weeks,) a bloodless, brown-skinn’d face, with eyes full of determination—belong’d to a New York regiment. There was an unusual cluster of surgeons, medical cadets, nurses, &c., around his bed—I thought the whole thing was done with tenderness, and done well. In one case, the wife sat by the side of her husband, his sickness typhoid fever, pretty bad. In another, by the side of her son, a mother—she told me she had seven children, and this was the youngest. (A fine, kind, healthy, gentle mother, good-looking, not very old, with a cap on her head, and dress’d like home—what a charm it gave to the whole ward.) I liked the woman nurse in ward E—I noticed how she sat a long time by a poor fellow who just had, that morning, in addition to his other sickness, bad hemorrhage—she gently assisted him, reliev’d him of the blood, holding a cloth to his mouth, as he coughed it up—he was so weak he could only just turn his head over on the pillow.

One young New York man, with a bright, handsome face, had been lying several months from a most disagreeable wound, receiv’d at Bull Run.  A bullet had shot him right through the bladder, hitting him front, low in the belly, and coming out back.  He had suffer’d much—the water came out of the wound, by slow but steady quantities, for many weeks—so that he lay almost constantly in a sort of puddle—and there were other disagreeable circumstances.  He was of good heart, however.  At present comparatively comfortable, had a bad throat, was delighted with a stick of horehound candy I gave him, with one or two other trifles.

PATENT-OFFICE HOSPITAL

February 23.—I must not let the great hospital at the Patent-office pass away without some mention.  A few weeks ago the vast area of the second story of that noblest of Washington buildings was crowded close with rows of sick, badly wounded and dying soldiers.  They were placed in three very large apartments.  I went there many times.  It was a strange, solemn, and, with all its features of suffering and death, a sort of fascinating sight.  I go sometimes at night to soothe and relieve particular cases.  Two of the immense apartments are fill’d with high and ponderous glass cases, crowded with models in miniature of every kind of utensil, machine or invention, it ever enter’d into the mind of man to conceive; and with curiosities and foreign presents.  Between these cases are lateral openings, perhaps eight feet wide and quite deep, and in these were placed the sick, besides a great long double row of them up and down through the middle of the hall.  Many of them were very bad cases, wounds and amputations.  Then there was a gallery running above the hall in which there were beds also.  It was, indeed, a curious scene, especially at night when lit up.  The glass cases, the beds, the forms lying there, the gallery above, and the marble pavement under foot—the suffering, and the fortitude to bear it in various degrees—occasionally, from some, the groan that could not be repress’d—sometimes a poor fellow dying, with emaciated face and glassy eye, the nurse by his side, the doctor also there, but no friend, no relative—such were the sights but lately in the Patent-office. (The wounded have since been removed from there, and it is now vacant again.)”       Walt Whitman, “Sources of Character–Results–1860” et seq.; in Complete Prose Works, 1860 et seq

Pixabay Image 1564323

Numero Tres“In 1990 surveys show that the average person in America, Spain, Catalunya, Italy, Andalusia, Japan, Indonesia, etc. is addicted to spending over four hours a day watching artificial, fake, plastic-fantastic, narco-technicolored realities on television screens.

This is more time than they are spending on most waking activities in the flesh-material reality like eating, drinking, exercizing, reading, love-making.

Working?

Since 1980 I have spent around four hours a day looking at computer screens, not passively watching but actively creating my own personal, private, singular virtual realities.  At first I used word-processing programs which allowed me to ‘screen-write’ my ideas and to edit, cut-paste them.  And to print them out or modem them to others at the speed of light.

Since 1983 I have been designing software programs which allow users to interact with my scripts and move around simulated environments of my own design.

Recently I have been working with graphic and sound wizards developing a software program called The Home Video Studio.  The aim of this program is to give the individual human being the power which has, until now, been wielded by the leaders of large organizations.

These exercizes in translating thoughts to digital codes and screen images have helped me understand how my brain works, how the universe evolves in terms of information algorithms.  And, in the most practical mode, to understand: 1) how we can avoid Television Dictatorships and 2) How we can personalize, humanize, democratize the Cyber-Screen Politics of the future.

AMPHIBIAN MEANS “TWO LIVES”

My experience, far from being original or unique, seem to be part of an enormous cultural metamorphosis. Like millions of others I have been mutating gradually, imperceptibly into an amphibian form.

(The word “amphibian” comes from the Greek “amphi”-double  and “bios”-life).
Like millions of others I have come to feel as comfortable dealing with artificial realities over there in Cyberia, on the other side of my electronic reality window, as I do operating in the closed-in Terrarium of the material world. My brain, like yours, apparently craves, demands, needs to be bathed, inundated in oceans of electronic data.

Surely we mutants can be forgiven if we are confused by all this. Organisms in the process of metamorphosis are forced to use the metaphors of past stages to anticipate the future stages. An obviously risky business. “They’ll never get me up in one of those”, says the caterpillar to the butterfly.
So let me venture you some shaky allegories.

FROM AQUARIA TO TERRARIUM TO CYBERIA

In our early marine forms we lived under water. Trapped in Aquaria we could peer up through the sea ceiling and sense a wide-world up there.
In the Devonian period (400 million years ago) we started developing the technology needed to migrate to the shoreline. I am talking state-of-the-art terra-wear. Skin-tight dry-suits and lung respirators to maneuver around in the land-world.

Thus we became Amphibians, able to live both in Aquaria and in Terrarium.
During the Triassic Period we evolved to the mammalian stage and lost our ability to inhabit Aquaria.

For the last 225 million years mammals crawled and ran around the earth surface nervously improving their survival technologies.
Then, around 25,000 years ago human beings developed these enormous information-organs which they did not know how to operate. Those hairless primates, banded in social groups, living in caves, fashioning clubs to fight tigers, were actually equipped with the same brain-hardware that we are just now learning how to boot-up and program.

And for thousands of years the more poetic or neurologically advanced among us, have gazed upwards on starry nights sensing that another universe exists up there in space and that we are trapped in the Terrarium of earth’s gravity well.
The around 1900 quantum physicists explained to us the fact of life. Their equations demonstrated that the elements of all energy-matter in the universe, out-there or down here are charges of electronic information.

During the Roaring 20th century the equations of quantum physics lead to the development of cyber-appliances which allowed humans to receive, process and transmit electronic images. Suddenly humans were creating digital realities which were accessed on living-room screens. This universe of electronic signals accessed through the screen is called Cyberia.
The operators of fish-brains had to don dry-skin terra-suits to inhabit the Terrarium. Humans have to don space-suits to migrate into Outer Space. From 1950-1980 humans approach to the TV screen was passive. We sat with our noses against the glass compliantly watching artificial realities produced by those who controlled the screen. But now inexpensive Cyber-Wear, Cyber-Gloves, Data-Suits allows the individual to move through the screen of the home-computer and inhabit Cyber Space.

The point is that as our brain evolves it develops new vehicles and information processing devices.

THE BRAIN AS DIGITAL TRANSMITTER

Take me, for example. In the last eight years the metabolism of my information organ (brain) seems to have undergone a dramatic change. My eyes have become two hungry mouths pressed against the Terrarium window through which electronic pulses reach the receptive areas of my brain. My brain seems to require a daily input of several billion bytes of digital (light-speed) information. In this I am no different than the average televoid American sluggishly reclining in the botton of the Terrarium.

But my Personal Computer has transformed my brain into an out-put organ emitting, secreting, discharging digital information through the Terrarium window into the cyber-world.
Just as the heart is programmed to pump blood, my sinewy brain is now programmed to fire, launch, transmit, beam cataboloized-thoughts through the electronic window into Cyberia. The screen is the revolving glass door through which my Cyber-Brain both receives and emits its signals.

As a result of personal-computers and video-arcades millions of us are no longer satisfied to peer passively through the Terrarium wall at the Screen-land filed with cyber-stars like Reagan and Pac-Man and Vanna White and Donkey Kong. We are learning how to enter and locomote in Cyberia. Our brains are learning how to exhale, as well as inhale in the data-sphere.
Of course not all humans will make this move. Many of our firmy ancestors preferred to remain marine forms. “You’ll never get me up in one of those”, said the tadpole to the frog.

Many humans will be trapped by gene-pool geography or compelled by repressive societies or seduced by earthly fame and fortune and will be content to reside in the material-flesh world of mammalian Bi-Peds. They will not don Cyber-suits and room into Screen-Land.
We Bi-Brains who learn to construct and inhabit auto-realities will spend some time in the cyber-world and some in the material organic world.

On the flesh plane, our left-brains are limited to mechanical-material forms. But in Screen-Land our right brains are free to fabricate digital dreams, visions, fictions, concoctions, adventures. All these screen-scenes are as real as a kick-in-the-pants as far as our brains are concerned. The brain has no sense organs and muscles, you recall. The brain commands the body and sends space-ships to Neptune by sending signals in only one linguistic: the quantum language of zeros and ones.

PLEASE DO NOT WORRY ABOUT US AMPHIBIANS NEGLECTING THE BODY

Those of us who choose the amphibian option will spend many waking hours suited-up and moving around in the cybernetic-psybernetic Screen-Land. But please don’t fret about our neglecting the beautiful body.

The first point to register is this: We Bi-Brains do not use our precious flesh-ware to work. Think about it. Is it not a sacrilligous, desecration to waste our precious sensory equipment on toil, chore, drudgery? We are not pack animals, or serfs, or executive robots garbed in uniforms rushing around lugging brief-cases to offices.
Why should we use our priceless, irreplaceable bodies to do work that can be done better by assembly-line machines? To use the body to work is like using the penis as a hammer or the mouth as a cleaning device.
But who will plough the fields and harvest the grapes? The mid-western farmer will don his cyber-suit and recline in his hammock in Acapulco operating the automated plough on his Nebraska farm. The Mexican migrant will recline in his hammock in Acapulco using his cyber-gear to direct the  grape-harvest machines in California.

When we finish our work, we will take off our cyber-suits and don our play suits. To work-out. When we migrants sweat, it is in athletic or sensual pleasure. When we exert elbow grease it is in some form of painterly flourish or musical riff. When we operate oil-gulping machines, we joy-ride for pleasure. The only mechanical vehicles we actually climb into and  operate by hand are sports cars. We “tran-sport” our bodies for aesthetic-artistic-recreational purposes only. Our bodily postures are thus graceful and proud. Our body-movements are delightful, slow, sensual, lush, erotic, fleshly, carnal vacations from the accelerated, jazzy cyber-realities of cyberspace. Where the brain-work is done.

HOW I LEARNED COMMON-SENSE QUANTUM PSYCHOLOGY

The principles of quantum physics always seemed, to my immature material-mind, to be incomprehensible, bizarre, abstract, and totally impractical. Now that my digital-brain-lobes have been activated, quantum physics seems to make common-sense and to define a practical psychology of every day life in the Bi-Brain mode.
Einstein’s theories of relativity, for example, suggest that realities depend upon points-of-view. Instead of the static absolutes of space/time defined by my material reality, quantum-brain realities are changing fields defined by quick feed-back interchanges with other information sources. The Hindu yogis have sensed this for some time. Now our computer brain-wear allows us to perform Einsteinian fast feedback transformations on our laptops.
Werner Heisenberg’s principle states that there can be no objective determinancy. This restates Einstein. If every one has a singular viewpoint, then every one creates a unique reality. This gives the responsibility for reality construction not to a bad-natured biblical god or to an impersonal, mechanical process of entropic devolution, or to an omniscient Marxist state, but to the individual brain. Subjective determinancy operates in Screen-land. Your brain creates your own spiritual worlds. Or, as they say along the Ganges, you get reality you deserve. And now our activated brains can project wonderland realities on our screens and hurl them around the globe at light-speed.

Notice the political implications, Quantum psychology, stressing singularity of view-point, defines the ultimatedemocracy. The screen is the window to the new world. Who controls the screen controls reality. Therefore, it behoves you to control your own reality screens.

These two notions of relativity and self-determination are street-smart-common-sense. But Albert and Werner and Max Planck and Neils Bohr lost the crowd when they said, around 1906, that the basic elements of the universe were bits of off/on (yin/yang) information. And that solid matter is temporary clusters of frozen infomation. And that when material structures are fissioned they release energy. E = mc2.

These guys were explaining these electronic ideas by using their muscles to scrawl with paleolithic chalk on a slab of black slate. Almost no one knew what they were talking about.
During the next 50 years quantum appliances became household items. The application of Quantum Physics to engineering produced radio, film, teletype, telephone, television, FAX.
Now recall, these gadgets do not move “matter-energy” around. They move information. Data-buzzes. Electronic means “informational”. Sticks and stones may break you bones, but electrons can never hurt you. Although they can, alas, totally control your mind.
So it becomes clear that basic elements (the quanta) making up matter are bits of “information”. Matter is still-frame information. Energy is just the dumb smoke and sweat that matter releases in its lumbering transformations. The famous formula changes to I = MC2.
Where “I” am information.

At the quantum level the Newtonian “laws” are seen as local ordinances. It turns out that the smaller the linguistic element, the greater the I.Q. (information quotient). The larger is the lumbering vehicle for the miniturized Platonic info-units it carries around. The universe is an intelligence system and the elements of intelligence are quanta. And suddenly we understand that the brain is an organ designed to “metabolize” digital information.

VIRTUAL REALITY APPLIANCE

In 1989 the nature of Quantum Politics of thought-processing and the human-computer interface was dramatically changed by the introduction and marketing computer clothing. The Data Suit. Cyber-Wear. The basic idea is that you create realities on the other side of the screen not with a keyboard or joystick or a mouse. You wear the interface. You don a cyber-glove, cyber-lens, cyber-cap, cyber-vest. Cyber-shorts! Your bodily movements create the images on the screen. You walk, talk, dance, swim, float around in the digital world. And you interact, on screen, with others who are linked in your net.

Cyber-wear is mutational technology which allows the individual brain to indulge in O.O.B. (Out-of-Body) experiences just as land-ware like legs and lungs permitted the individual fish to escape the ocean and indulge in O.O.W. experiences.


THE PIONEERS OF CYBERSPACE

The basic notion of O.O.B. artificial reality was introduced by Myron Kreuger and Ted Nelson in the 1970’s. The nitty-gritty realities of creating and inhabiting digital universes were described in 1985 by William Gibson in “Neuromancer”. Gibson described the Matrix, the data-world created by human digital communication. By 1989 Cybernauts like Jaron Lanier and Eric Gullichsen were developing “cyberspace” realities built for two.


THE POLITICS OF ARTIFICIAL REALITY

The election of Ronald Reagan, an actor, to the post of Commander in Chief of the world’s most potent Nuclear Military Force established “artificial reality fabrication” as the access tool for political power. Government becomes a prime-time television show the aim of which is, of course, to maintain the power of the regime. Power in the consumer democracy no longer comes from the barrel of a gun. Power is Hooper rating and market share percentages. Popularity depends upon television “news” which entertains the voters. If the ratings for the Oval Office Show drop, a replacement show will be voted into office.

The semiotic truth is that who controls the screen controls the minds of the people.
The bad news is that 250 million Americans spend 4 hours a day docilely hunkered down to be narco-neuroticized by fake-news dramas featuring violence-Heisenberg scenarios scripted by politicians to cover up their corruption and mismanagement.

The good news is that inexpensive cyber-wear now beginning to come on the market will make it possible for individuals to control their own screens in the future.

World War I was a land war, pitting some feudal monarchies against the  industrial democracies.

World War II was a land-sea-air war in which enormous industrial empires contended for global power.

World War III has just begun.  It is a Cyber-War, pitting the power of the state, the network, the multi-national company against the singular individual.  The symbol of this contest is Wang Weilin, the 19 years old Chinese student who single-handed held off 18 tanks.  How?  Why?  Because at that glorious Andy Warhol moment, he was he Global Screen star.  He had managed to have his digitized image beamed into living rooms around the world.

And that is where World War III will be fought.  Not on land, not at sea, not in the air -but in your living room.  In the virtual realities which you bring into existence on your electronic screens.

This ART FUTURA conference in Barcelona could well be seen as a liberating moment in human history.  Virtual reality devices allow the individual to become reality-architect, cyber-artist, screen-writer, screen-star, screen-director.  This empowering and ennobling of the individual may mark the end of 4000 years of partisan politics.

My modest and cheerful mission at this moment is to popularize, personalize, humanize Quantum Psychology and to advertize the interactive Cyber-Wear devices being created by people like William Gibson, Ted Nelson, Jaron Lanier, Myron Kreuger, Edward Fredkin, Scott Fisher, Todd Rundgren, Professor Mel Seesholtz, Professor Linda Nolan, Bumbar.

Suited in these electronic star-suits the individual human being is enabled to cross the Merlin Wall and realize our most noble dreams of joy, freedom and fairplay.”       Timothy Leary, “Unlimited Virtual Reality for Everyone! How We Became Amphibians;” Art Futura, 1990: http://www.artfutura.org/v2/artthought.php?idcontent=10&idcreation=65&mb=6&lang=En.

Numero CuatroAn Initial BriefNone other than William Blackstone, storied British jurist and intellectual progenitor of much of the contemporary nexus of ownership and production, had a very astute insight.

‘There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe.’

In few places in the contemporary arena is ‘Sir William’s’ notion so resonant as in matters of ‘intellectual property’ and copyright.  Unfortunately, this ‘exercise of despotic dominion’ has for some time been having the opposite effect as the proponents of authorial ownership propound—creators are making less, or less than nothing; information monopolies in such areas as textbooks and science preclude public access and the ‘flowering of the arts’ that copyright exists to induce; only very well-heeled ‘owners’ end up availing themselves of either registration or remedies.  These anomalous, or perfectly routine, results effect serious economic, social, and political detriments, which ought to cause a union of writers to discuss matters of so-called intellectual property with open minds and not assume that established practices and protocols are beneficial to working writers.

The economic nightmare associated with contemporary copyright is also a windfall of course.  I.P. has for some time been the prime source of exports for the oligopolistic media-and-technology establishments.  However, for law students and other such strivers; for high school pupils in less-than-prosperous neighborhoods; for writers and creators who don’t have sixty-five bucks—now only $35 through the new eco portal–to invest every time they write something and thus will never be able to ‘remedy’ infringement; for communities here and elsewhere who desperately need access to information that they can only obtain in a legally ‘monopolized market’ of often exorbitant prices; and for many others, both scribes and citizens, the operation of the current copyright regime is, at best, suboptimal and at worst a disaster. Of course, these policies do encourage the rich to get even richer, but why should a labor union back rules that help big business and harm a substantial proportion, perhaps the vast majority, of everyday wordsmiths?  Inquiring minds might want to consider such queries, even as I and every other union member absolutely commit to fight like fiends for writer-members’ legitimate copyright claims.  The point is, that commitment is not nearly enough.

The social impact of today’s copyright morass represents a complex and multifaceted mess that largely elicits negative consequences.  One need only consider that a substantial majority of the planet’s teenaged-and-older inhabitants, were a strict enforcement regime in place, would at least technically and potentially be felons under today’s copyright rubric.  Moreover, rather than fostering creative congruence and generosity, copyright now operates to cause everyone to hide ingenuity away, to treat the potential for cooperation and sharing with disdain or suspicion.  In a networked world that absolutely requires joint, multidisciplinary, cross-border, intergenerational, multicultural ventures to solve a host of hideous problems, fostering a psychology of “it’s-mine-and-you-can’t-have-it” is likely suicidal.

The political outcome of the legal thicket in place today is equally insidious.  An invasive police apparatus has to be legitimate if ‘sacred property-rights’ are at stake.  The further polarization between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ means that electoral democracy becomes a charade and participatory democracy becomes either a crime or an impossibility.  At the very least, the plutocrats’ lobbyists write the legal caveats that further ratchet up the rapine of the present process; ordinary citizens become cynical, ripe for the latest divide-and-conquer scheme or, perish the thought, ready to find some ‘strong man’ who will always end up being a straw-man and a puppet for the forces that originated and gained from the system as it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat should be the National Writers Union stance in such a pass?  One answer would be to foster a lot more dialog, call for the equivalent of a ‘Writers Constitutional Convention on Copyright,’ and generally to dig deep into the archives of government and the annals of history to facilitate a nuanced and rich comprehension of these matters.  Amelia Andersdotter, a member of Sweden’s Piratpartiet and member of the European Parliament, summed up simply when she said, “Copyleft and Copymore Instead of Copyright and Copyless.”  Her analysis is at least persuasive, deserving a lot more attention at all levels of the union than it is currently receiving.

The current legislation is adapted for, and even wants to promote, scarcity of information.  You won’t find users of information services or indeed any citizens at all who have a relationship with information corresponding to a scarcity model.  When thinking carefully about it, you will probably find that having such users and citizens isn’t even desirable. So our information management laws need to change.  Essentially, legislators and lobbyists all over the world will have to abandon the idea that restricting access to individual pieces of, or copies of pieces of, information is good.  It’s not.  We need laws that encourage abundance of each piece of information, and make use of the wealth derived from the fast spread of those pieces.

A Bibliographic Promenade

I am a public intellectual.  One thing I might do at this point would entail fleshing out and deepening the simple, and inevitably oversimplified, thesis in the first five paragraphs.  However, I’m going to follow another approach.

What follows in a sense does imply argumentation.  But it will show up in the form of a tiny slice—a small fraction of a small fraction—of the data and analysis that others have been providing.  It will be akin to a literature review or a bibliographic essay, two types of writing that I’ve done in one way or another for lo these forty-odd years.

ResearchFolks may well trust that I am all too capable of seeking to be exhaustive in such efforts as this.  In these posts, on the other hand, I will point out again and again how initial and partial and exploratory are the links and information that I proffer.  One critical piece of taking action is to make a start from which more powerful subsequent work can flow.

What will consciously not be here, at least for the most part, are mainstream views, corporate propaganda passing itself off as ‘expertise,’ and other defenses of or attempts to extend further the present-day standard operating procedure.  Working people, unions, and grassroots communicators need such repetition of the fatuous ‘received wisdom’ about as much as we need tiny little holes drilled into our skulls.

What would I like readers to do?  Ideally, they’d find the reasoning, data, and linkages that show up here useful.  More importantly, they’d jump in and proffer correction, disagreement, amplification, or any “special knowledge” that they have about this topic area.  Anyone who e-mails me useful, pertinent links and ideas will generally see their input appear in edits of these main threads.  Most importantly, though, visitors here would also willingly help to facilitate and participate in ongoing dialog that leads to powerful grassroots action about these matters.

solidarity handInstead of complaining and waiting vainly for others to rescue the world from extremely troubled times, we have to take part in learning and struggle among ourselves to figure out as clearly as possible what has happened to cause the present pass.  Then, should survival and a decent existence and the prospect of grandchildren-or-something-similar appeal to us, we have no choice but to put what we’ve learned into action, somehow or other insisting that we, the people, are in fact the ones who are in charge.

TIMELINES

educationNeither the future nor the present can cause the past.  A first step in orienting ourselves, therefore, has to be a general awareness of the order in which things have taken place.  Here are some gateways to timelines on the web, followed by very rudimentary benchmarks for readers to note in any circumstance that involves a copyright discussion.

VARIOUS HISTORICAL ASSESSMENTS

Plenty of legal analysis is in the marketplace that nods in the direction of history.  Recently, however, an upsurge of critical examination has happened.  A teeny bit of this shows up here.

  • from digital-rights.net — a very scholarly but also very thought-provoking and outside-the-box monograph, freely downloadable, from Open Book Publishers
  • from commlawreview.org — a law review article that considers disconnects in current practice from a historical and constitutionalist perspective
  • from utexas.edu — the historical chapter from R.V. Bettig’s classic on the political economy of copyright
  • from archive.org — a 1904 book from the American Publisher’s Copyright League of legal cases
  • from amazon.com — a classic in the young field of copyright history
  • from openedition.org — chapter fifteen of Privilege & Property, by William St. Claire and important enough to list in its own right
  • from princeton.edu — a Princeton professor’s factual and richly detailed examination of media, politics, and social relations, a volume essential to include in any such discussion as this

EXPLORATIONS IN THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COPYRIGHT

no trespassing signAll too often, those to whom the present occurs like a load of bricks falling from the sky fail to consider issues such as this.  Here’s some help, in that regard.  At some point, of course, we should all be talking about what we mean by, and what we know about, the parameters of political economy, without which the discipline of economics is arguably fatuous fantasy.

  • from tandfonline.com — one link to Ronald Bettig’s central study, Critical Perspectives on the History & Philosophy of Copyright
  • from law.ed.ac.uk — Christopher May’s brief overview, bracing and radical
  • from history.upenn.edu — another brief by William St. Claire, which provided key contextualization of many issues of knowledge, power, and law
  • from papers.ssrn.com — an exploration of “Copyright’s Hidden Assumption,” that a lengthy inheritable property interest makes sense instead of being an absurdity, except for its profitability
  • from publicknowledge.org — a “withdrawn” GOP White Paper attacking the party’s corporate masters
  • from arifyildirim.com — a Media, Culture, & Society article with this many interesting points to make.

COPYRIGHT & SOCIAL RELATIONS

Here, where the terrain is especially complicated and difficult to tease out without immersing ourselves, just a couple of links should suffice.  This matter—concerning all manner of culture, class, color, and conflict pointers, would be well worth a colloquium and more, however.

CRITICAL FAILINGS OF THE STANDARD REGIME

Even the most hallowed experts are often enough decrying the SOP and bemoaning ‘unintended consequences’ that quite logically are part of the purpose of the system.  In any event, a few such old hands’ critiques emerge below.

‘COPYLEFT,’ A RESURGENCE OF THE COMMONS, AND OTHER ALLIES

Plenty of help is available to our union to assist in fomenting positive change, to foster creative and empowering alliances, to develop strategic programming and action.  But we will probably never reach most of these potential ‘fellow travelers’ unless we’re willing to climb out of the copyright hole that we’re presently occupying.

  • journals.uic.edu — an incisive critique of present practice, radical and Marxist to boot
  • cscc.scu.edu — movement overview and analysis of its likely benefits to the likes of union writers
  • from gnu.org — technical writers’ and programmers’ solidarity with copyleft perspectives
  • from ssrn.com — a neutral, thorough overview of the processes in these arenas

CRITICAL LEGAL STUDIES, MARXISM, SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

A variety of ideological methods contain useful ways of thinking as we writers struggle to make sense of things and find ways to reformulate and transform this morass of pain that is the way things happen now

  • from law.unh.edu — an overview and analysis of Critical Legal Studies as a ‘game-changer’ in helping to create democratic information and distribution systems and networks
  • from cardozo.yu.edu — a forum on politicization, information law, and CLS
  • from digitalcommons.law.byu.edu — subtitled “Copyright, Consecration, & Control,” this article seeks to deconstruct intellectual property regimes in a reconstitutive way
  • from wwwords.co.uk — a Marxist assessment of often negative impacts on the possibilities for education under the current rubric
  • from lexisnexis.com — a philosophical and legal Marxist assessment of the ubiquity of self-dealing among standard legal-economics assessments
  • from marxists.org — a plethora of possibly useful and indubitably thought-provoking assessments of various aspects of culture and cultural production

PHILOSOPHY, DEEP-ANALYSIS, & EXPERTS WHO ARE HONEST BROKERS

Useful materials are present that grapple with our problems in innovative and unanticipated ways.  We just have to do some downloading, find ways to lay our hands on e-readers that make engagement palatable, and start reading

    • from virginia.edu — a precis of a McLuhan work that is widely accessible elsewhere
    • from sciencepolicy.colorado.edu — an excerpt from Lewis Mumford’s Technics & Civilization, which readers can also find in its entirety in various spots
    • from kropfpolisci.com — a recent Richard McChesney analysis; his Rich Media, Poor Democracy remains a must-read
    • from cnqzu.com — a potent explication of media and political hegemony, in which the author makes this chilling point:

“Together, these points suggest a scenario in which elites are simultaneously the main sources, main targets and some of the most influenced recipients of news. If this is so, it could be concluded that a major function of the news media is not merely to reflect political differences but to act as a communication channel for the regular conflicts, negotiations and decision-making that take place between different elite groups. This is also to the exclusion of the mass of consumer-citizens. Decisions, which involve such things as the development of institutional policies, corporate strategies, legislation, budgets, investment decisions, regulatory regimes and power structures, take place in communication networks in which the mass of consumer-citizens can be no more than ill-informed spectators.”

  • from naima.staff.ub.ac.id — one of Doug Kellner’s many piercing investigations of media and society, in which the reader sees clearly how basic assumptions are so often wrong and pathways to liberation are opposite from the standard prescription

ESTABLISHED INSTITUTIONAL BROKERS NOT ENTIRELY DISINGENUOUS

By their nature, established institutions—major foundations, universities, international or national organizations—cannot help but make deep bows to the ‘gatekeepers’ whom we want, openly and forthrightly, to displace from their places opening and closing ingress and egress to the common citizens whom they view as ignorant fools.  Nevertheless, a wealth of information—some of it useful, a small bit of it truly profound—emanates from such locations.

  • from cardozoaelj.com — a place to start were one to hope to defend supposed free-markets, precisely because of the incisive and open critiques that so often show up here
  • from www.amazon.com — Christopher May’s monograph on the current international regime, with plenty of critique built in, available for free from WIPO as an e-book
  • from www.wipo.int — one of the plus-or-minus ten WIPO Journals that is freely available, all full of data and analysis from many points of view

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS

The best that a person can hope for, in some senses anyway, is that he or she has interesting problems to solve.  A final note to ponder is how we all too often merely shrug and give in to whatever is prevailing in the current regime.  Johan Soderberg makes this point well, in a way that might provide both closure and encouragement to continue digging and fighting.

‘Mainstream writings and official commissions treat intellectual property as exclusively a financial and legal technicality; they operate within the consensus that intellectual property is an indisputable entity.  Those writers that do recognize intellectual property as a contested terrain also write to campaign against it.  Approaches in the latter camp originate either from the experiences of hackers or from academic Marxist analysis, and the two branches are equally detached from each other.’

Before we move forward, in other words, we’ve got to talk about these things more thoroughly.”      Jim Hickey, “If Copying Is Wrong, Then What’s a Copyright?”; Southeast Review of Media, Culture, & Politics, 2014