January 7th, 2012 / 5:54 pm


there’s nothing i want more than a way to understand the world that does not rely on money and power

1. call-to-action buttons are a revolution in political control design

2. nobody understands what is not sold

3. dissent is terrible to look at

4. the people who want the economy to end don’t understand the economy

5. the people who understand the economy – feel cool and calm and quiet

6. the dying earth is the only true change that has happened

to humanity in the last 10,000 years – and very few people get it


  1. M. Kitchell

      #1 & #6 are the only points here i can agree with in any way

  2. M. Kitchell

      I mean, how the hell is #5 anything but wrong?  even economists are freaking out at this point

  3. rawbbie

      I think he meant to say “The people who understand the economy are not rioting in the streets like the poor people.”

  4. Jimmy Chen

      this is an example of the new weird conservatism

      ‘erik stinson – celebrated corporate – elaborates on how ads makes him thinky’

  5. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Money has a way of making you feel like a superior cow who “gets it.” It’s like that David Mamet play, where the girl makes the smug professor get fired.

  6. Adam Humphreys

      What the hell is this even about?

  7. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Battle between consumerism and anti-consumerism and how success warps an individual’s perspective on the shit.

  8. Adam Humphreys

      Erik: …”there’s nothing i want more than a way to understand the world that does not rely on money and power”… Is this an honest statement or are you attempting some kind of glibly sinister ‘performance’…? Are you attempting to reflect our ‘collective spiritual impoverishment’ or is it just your own? 

      Additionally, the following statements seem oversimplified and / or inaccurate:
      2. nobody understands what is not sold
      4. the people who want the economy to end don’t understand the economy 
      5. the people who understand the economy – feel cool and calm and quiet

      <3 u

  9. Guestagain

      true that, scarily so

  10. Noonesutopia

      Ah sincerity, I wonder if those who abandon it for long enough can ever reclaim it.

      Although #2 isn’t true it is interesting, it is almost as if we want it to be true.

  11. Anonymous

      nice collage.

      jenny holzer?

  12. Jonathan Safran Foer


  13. Brooks Sterritt

      it could mean that those who invest for the long term (and can afford to) are less worried about the economy’s current condition, due to its cyclical nature, etc

  14. Anonymous


  15. Anonymous


  16. Brooks Sterritt

      not saying i agree, but that seemed to be the gist of the statement

  17. Brooks Sterritt


  18. Dildo=Provocative

      The initial post is just poorly written is all. Tries to subvert advertising-speak and instead manages merely to be muddled. (It’s not as easy as one thinks to subvert advertising-speak. Jenny Holzer makes it looks easy, but that’s because she’s fucking ace.) Number 6 is the clearest because it uses sufficient words to make its point.

      the rest = glib

  19. Emma

      Best part is the cubicle fish

  20. shaun gannon

      i could go for that fruit’n’dillido basket

  21. M. Kitchell

      zing, you got yr chance & used it well bb

  22. deadgod

      1.  numbers provoke concerned reactions

  23. Anonymous



  24. Adam Humphreys

      1. People with money are scared. Their money has been safely earning them money for a long time, and this is no longer the case. Nearly all investments appear unsafe / unstable. There is the latent feeling that a new paradigm is emerging. Free markets capitalism is failing. I think even financial people believe this, to a degree. They are humbled. Their efforts, the smartest ones, going forward, will be focussed on gaming this new shift to create money and or clout.
      The financial services industry lost 200,000 jobs last year.2. Nobody understands the economy. The “most involved” financial people probably watch bloomberg all day and are fed so much conflicting and contradictory information it makes clarity impossible. There are too many variables, too many interconnections.Maybe the “financial geniuses” and “quants” have the best overall picture – but they operate in abstractions. Returns on hedge funds are down, on average, below market value this year, also.3. OWS people don’t “not understand” the economy. The idea of “the economy” is just an idea, a theory with a set of possibilities associated with it through which people can project future outcomes. It is this idea, this mental schematic, the way we constitute ourselves in relation to the greater world, what we use to plan for our own futures in relation to the greater world, that is failing us, that fails to explain what has happened over the past 20 years.
      4. Images of dissent are the most powerful and seductive images there are. 

  25. deadgod

      2.  This meme-on-steroids – triumphantly dismissive in the ‘we’re all tired of the partisan bickering’ vein – is just wrong.  There might not be anybody who’s perfectly conversant with every single financial instrument extant, but plenty of people “understand the economy” as comprehensively as, say, many physicists “understand” physics despite their not knowing every single contemporary physical theory inside and out.  It’s also contradicted, or qualified to the edge of contradiction, by 3.

      3.  This mental mapping is very well put, but why include all of “us” in the claim that the “schematic” is “failing”?

      4.  I think that “images of dissent” are distressingly easily folded into patterns of conformity.  It’s the nature of “seducti[on]” that it not be to be trusted, no?

      I’d caution that disagreement – and even intractable disagreement – doesn’t mean that there’s no or not sufficient “understanding”.  In the case of disputes about “the economy”, people with power have an interest in getting it wrong, and that is not “nobody understands the economy”.

  26. A D Jameson

      I’m not sure I entirely agree. I’d put it more like this: capitalism is continuing to do what it has always done, which is channel wealth into fewer and fewer hands. The gap between rich and poor, domestically and globally, is greater than ever, and will continue to stratify. Again, this is what capitalism does and has always done; Marx identifies it clearly in Capital Volume 1.

      The wealthy people who are now freaking out are those who are realizing that being part of the top 10%—positions 2 through 10, formerly pretty insular and safe positions to be in the culture—won’t protect them in the long run, because even their money will eventually go to the top 1%.

  27. MindReadingIsFun

      GOOD 4 U.

  28. Guestagain

      it matters little whether the 1% are communists or capitalists, if banks are allowed into financial markets, if government is corrupt and running unfunded liabilities, if industry is exported or abandoned, then you end up like the former soviet union or the former united states, or any other former great empire/society/system that has a recorded  decline, it’s axiomatic

  29. Adam Humphreys

      This is not partisan, and I’m not sure what you are talking about re meme-on-steroids. What do I seem like, here? I’m not even sure. 

      The piece seems to reduce and obfuscate “the economy” in an attempt to poet some kind of sinister dystopic thing. I find this disempowers the reader and I wanted to call bullshit.

      Re #2 you’re right I suppose, but the idea that there are some people who have it all figured out and are laughing somewhere on an island with hydrogen infused water as the rest of the world struggles and fights is also misinformed conspiracy level bullshit.



  30. deadgod

      Well, perhaps I phrased my objection to your 2. – I refer to your #s, not Eric’s – more belligerently than I’d meant–that’s a first!

      I wasn’t saying that you are “partisan” in your claim that “nobody understands the economy”.  I meant, by mentioning the meme of ‘tired of all the partisan bickering’, to pose an analogy between that to-me irritating prophylaxis against ‘partisan’ conversation and what I take to be your rote dismissal of the many competent “understand[ings]” of “the economy” to be found even in the mainstream media.

      (‘X on steroids’ is a way of saying that X is an unusually, perhaps unnaturally (and therefore illusorily), well-developed exemplar of its category.  “Meme-on-steroids”, then, is a way of saying ‘a meme that’s grown all out of proportion to a reasonable estimate of its explanatory power’.)

      I did already say that “understanding the economy” isn’t the same as “hav[ing] it all figured out” (in the sense of ‘grasping every single detail of every single kind of commercial or financial transaction or relationship’).  My assertion is that there is economic expertise to the degree that some people can be said “[to] understand the economy”.  –and that is no positing of “conspiracy level bullshit”.

  31. Lilzed

      I read “dissent is terrible to look at” as oblique saying, “we don’t recognize dissent unless we see it in an extreme / physically violent way.”
      Cos, people express dissent all the time on the internet.
      Going by the post’s title, “the language of consent”, the statement also has meaning because it’s talking about looking not reading. Not “dissent is terrible to read,” “dissent is terrible to feel,” “dissent is terrible to enact,”  …. just “dissent is terrible to look at.” There’s no way to read the sentence and image without being implicated in its narrowing logic. If you say, “no it’s not, images of dissent are seductive!” then you are just helping that narrowing because you are effectively saying that your affinity is unauthentic. I think these narroawings are accurate delineations of how something works in media or something. Wish I could see more stuff like this.
      The same goes for “ppl who understand the economy feel cool and calm and quiet” – I don’t read this as going for literal truth but as a statement that reflects how many ppl unconsciously feel / are encouraged to feel. How in crazy times, when no economist can reliably explain what’s happening, coolness and silence radiates authority and knowledge. The double bind in this statement is that there’s nothing being communicated. So whatever trust you give by feeling drawn to “health” may result in only an empty quotient.
      I liked this post thru and thru.  People talking about Marxism, etc. seem to not be picking up on the post’s intial wish to not understand the world in terms of money and power.

  32. Anonymous

      liked it too, more unstable than its surface may appear.

  33. Lilzed

      yeah and if that’s not literature, then what is?