Today we bring you a taste of madness, a bit like the Ronnicles, but from the opposite direction. Rather than exhibit for your viewing pleasure a person whose reading moneys are grossly underfunded, we bring you a veritable plutocrat of words. I present for your scrutiny the works of Ken Warren, public librarian of Lakewood, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.
This man spoke recently at my college. He is known by someone who knows a professor, who got him invited. This man is mad. What follows is a series of excerpts from a paper he presented to his lecture’s audience, some of which is available online.
Let me first share with you the title of the paper he presented:
The Lakewood Observer’s Hyper-local Dojo:
Self-Defense and the Ecology of Civic Engagement
Bad opening, Ken. Mixing karate metaphors with urbanism is so early-90s-management-technique it makes me want to kick Mr. Miyagi through a boardroom table.
What is the Lakewood Observer? A little googling turns up a blog-newspaper, a sort of unholy amalgam of local news, gossip, civic opinion, and straight up editorializing.
The mission of the Lakewood Observer is to attract, articulate, and amplify civic intelligence and community good will in the city of Lakewood and beyond.
Ok. A bit “hey, lets discuss the minutes of our recent city hall meeting” but OK. But then, a few lines down,
In this twenty-first century urban experiment, the Lakewood Observer will strive to construct for the city an open and unbiased ensemble of white papers for mapping community solutions, advancing responsible economic development and sustainability strategies, and tracking results.
Too much, man. Already I can see where the over-credentialed non-profit leader speak is coming in. They aren’t opinion articles. They’re white papers, a term for political or business reports sent out by marketing departments hyping products. Also known as “horrible fonts of grade A bullshit.” And apparently we don’t actually need solutions, just maps of them. That’s weasel words, man – that’s asking for change but creating deniability. That’s more weasels than a whole fucking forest planet of weasels. I’m imaging Return of the Jedi shown in an inappropriately tall aspect ratio here, so all the Ewoks look like Anna Nicole Smith (as opposed to looking like Anna Nicole Smith). (ZING!)
Oh fuck. Goals. Almost as bad as mission statements. Hopefully these are tangible.
Create a municipal revolution in civic chops and community norms through a retro-experiment in Polis. That is to say, enact the myth of the whole community in the central location, i.e. an independent, economic, social unit with strict boundaries.
I was wrong! As an urban studies major I can tell you officially that this statement basically says “we should make our city more city-like by doing things that people might do in a story about a city, in order to add some city-like qualities to our city. We realize this is an old idea, but the “youth” of today seem to like that kind of crap, so we will call it a retro-experiment. You know. Retro. Like ‘That 70s Show.’ Everyone loves that show!”
Well, you know what? I don’t love that show. I think that Michael Kelso can go get AIDS from a tire iron, for all I care about That 70s Show.
Build from Jim O’Bryan’s “I Love Lakewood” narrative circuits for affectual barter upon the vertical mysterium and across the postmodern horizontal.
OK, as an English major I can tell you that that just doesn’t mean anything. It is at this point in the paper that we have indeed crossed the postmodern horizontal and entered the vertical mysterium. Also known as the Vagina of Thought. Or Plato’s Cave. Maybe the world is just shadowplays being enacted on the walls of Anna Nicole Smith’s uterus. (ZING!)
Anyway, things quickly go downhill from here. If you know what I mean.
The Mytho-Logics of Local Roots
LO advances through the logic of commonwealth, critical consciousness, deep image, mytho-poetic narrative, social order, territoriality and tribe the vision of the “Supreme Land” or “Holy City.”
LO is a local roots civic engagement, reinvigoration and self-defense strategy with an economic development component designed for the global era of corporate de-localization.
LO envisions a robust ecology of civic engagement and hyper-local identity with individuals, businesses, institutions and political regimes each supplying narrative kernels and good deeds documented in the newspaper and on-line.
LO documents the good deeds of the tribes in territorial field of the city to create a sense of common ground.
Oh god. Yes, Jerusalem is the same thing as a Cleveland suburb. Yes, your blog truly is a civic defense strategy. Do you get Homeland Security Funding? You should! Oh fuck. Narrative Kernels. I shit out narrative kernels for breakfast. Tribes. I don’t even want to talk about that part.
I can’t really take much more of this tonight, but I will say this. This brief taste of Ken Warren I have given you is kind of like the roofies I’m going to feed your girlfriend later tonight–they come from a larger source, and work best when combined with sleaziness.
Here’s how I think this soup of pseudo-philosophical bullshit came about. Ken Warren took the Kool-aid of some random management cult. Rather than drinking it, he saved it and let it fester out in the sun. He took it and a half dozen other Kool-Aid samples from other terrible late-80s New Age Guru Cults and neo-racist, poorly-covered-over eugenics movements, and mixed them all into a sort of “jungle juice” (oh, man, there’s a joke about black people in there somewhere). He then took this “jungle juice” and reduced it in the bathtub still of madness, until it became a fine liqueur of meaningless multi-syllabic garbage. Apparently if one bakes the cake of English hot enough and long enough, all meaning and content will actually evaporate from the words.
What just happened and what will follow in the next few installments of the Hyper-Local Civic Dojo is going to be an examination of this stuff.
Now remember, children, it may be statistically identical to the English language, but it doesn’t actually mean anything, and it’s not really English, or language. Strip away the managerial and misguided academic jargon, and you will only find the abyss, staring back at you with its awful, awful eyes.
You will soon learn that there is no mercy in the Hyper-Local Civic Dojo.
WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?!?! HA HA HA HA!!!