Apropos of Everything • 10 April 2008

It looks like Laurie Anderson is making all the connections. In Melbourne, they called her show the concert of the year. Tonight she’s at Royce Hall, so I’m cutting out early from Thursday faculty cocktails (where the cognac is free but one strange bird drinks only tea).

How amazing is she? Here’s an except from her talk with Wire and a piece from Homeland complete with wicked Oprah jokes, WMD riffs (at 3:45) and open talk on preemptive war (5:50).

There is no country called Terror that you can invade their borders or protect their borders or cross their borders. It's a war of phantoms and it will never go away…. And that is used to create a situation of control – and that combined with the absolute maniacal excess of late capitalism is very scary.

Our army is run by private companies who run it for a profit. The same with jails. Twenty years ago, there were 300,000 people in jail; now it is a privatised industry there are almost 3 million in jail. They're customers, unique customers – and you need customers for your war, which is waged as a business, as is healthcare…

…I became very interested in why you dream and no one really knows. There are so many theories. Is it the brain in idle mode? Is it processing material? Nobody knows. It is unbelievable how much we don't know about how your mind works…. I'm really interested in this book by Tibetan author, Mingyur Rinpoche, the Joy of Living, where he links meditation and brain states to neuroscience in a way that's thrilling. Mingyur and a lot of Tibetans study minutely what happens as thoughts and sensations travel through your body.

It makes you remember that people literally don't know how their minds, how their brains work. 'Things are always going through my head.' But they don't know, they don't have a clue what they're doing or what they've been influenced by as well, so they are perfect targets for people coming along to tell them what to be afraid of or what to love or what to go for, how to be famous. For what? To what end? It's just like demagoguery was invented here and you watch it in motion when there is a lot of corporate heft behind it and it's powerful. And it can hypnotise people in poisonous ways, because people don't know how to use their minds. They don't know what they're doing. This is supposed to be the age of information!