Hollow Earths and Infernal Devices

by John Holbo on May 20, 2011

I remember back when it seemed like, maybe, in the future everyone would get paid in whuffie. If we all worked together. Now I think I know better. In the future, everyone will get paid in ukelele covers of pop songs from the 80’s. If we all work together.

I just pledged $40 to kickstart LINDA, ‘a hollow earth retirement adventure in 23 singing, illustrated installments’. I am very far from saying you should do the same. Daniel Davies, just for instance, is sure to find the artist’s vocal and instrumental stylings intolerably twee. He will prefer to spend his money on Budweiser. But if none of you do as I do, I am perhaps going to keep my money and not get any adventure or singing. But it’s up to you. (The story is going to run on hilobrow.com, whose editors are my friends. They aren’t your friends, I assume, so that may weigh in your calculations.)

In related news, I see on boingboing that someone else is trying to Kickstart “a huge 20-foot-tall kinetic sculpture with a 25-foot long spinning painting in the center, which include a zoetropic animation.” I think I might chip in $11 so I can get the coloring book.

But this is unrealistic, you say. In the sense that it is not a model for a barter economy based on ukelele covers and giant zoetropes (which would, after all, make using giant stone discs with holes in them as your currency seem comparatively sensible.) No no no. This is just the first stage. Next, we build a kind of cross-kickstarting platform on which the people trying to kickstart their crazy art follies do so via complicated latticeworks of artistic cross-commitments. ‘I’ll cover a song of your choice on the ukelele, and knit you a badge, if you build a 20 foot tall zoetrope in Michigan, and send me a coloring book.’

Next, we get Wall Street hipsters to pool all the Kickstart projects, slice them into tranches, resell these collateralized aesthetic obligations to … oh wait.



dsquared 05.20.11 at 5:56 am

I can actually play “Every Step You Take” on the ukelele. I’ve always regarded it as evidence of a fundamentally decent core to my otherwise horrendous personality, that in general I do not do so.


John Holbo 05.20.11 at 6:05 am

More like Puff Daddy cover or original, Police version? (Ladies and gentleman, I think we’re ready to kickstart something here!)


reason 05.20.11 at 6:58 am

I checked it isn’t April 1. Is this some sort of World Whimsy Week?


John Holbo 05.20.11 at 7:14 am

“Is this some sort of World Whimsy Week?”

If enough people will pay us $10, I’m prepared to knit a hat that says so.


Dave Maier 05.20.11 at 8:35 am

Don’t you have any work to do?


John Holbo 05.20.11 at 10:07 am

I could learn to knit in the evenings, after work. And then I could knit the hat.


SusanC 05.20.11 at 11:18 am

Thanks, John! That was hilarious.

Though come to think of it, I would kind of like to see The Infernal Device.

(And, I hate to say it, but I suspect some of the grant proposals I’ve written would look at least as crazy to an impartial observer. And as for the proposals my colleagues on the other side of campus in the Philosophy department have actually got funded…[*])

[*] I’d better not single out anyone in particular by mentioning an actual project. Suffice to say I’d rather see a giant Zoetrope than another paper on Trolley Problems.


deliasmith 05.20.11 at 11:31 am

I’d pay for something like this. I think I can identify Daniel Davies (far left), Michael Berube (the American just to his right) and Eszter Hargittai (“All right my lover?”).


SusanC 05.20.11 at 11:49 am

P.S. Apologies if I sound too snarky above. What I’m really getting at: the current academic funding regime is in some ways similar, but makes academics too conservative (and therefore boring) in the projects they propose.


John Holbo 05.20.11 at 1:29 pm

“I’d rather see a giant Zoetrope than another paper on Trolley Problems.”

Damn, and here I was thinking of building a giant Zoetrope ABOUT Trolley Problems.


Mr Punch 05.21.11 at 11:43 am

The trouble with papers on trolley problems is that they’re inevitably written by people who have never even tried to throw a fat man off a bridge.

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