The problem with Jaron Lanier’s program

Lanier is insisting that we should have more licensure. In order to protect the middle class jobs we need to have licences, permissions, training courses and protections for such jobs.

In short, a return to the medieval economy of guilds.

Hmm.

As a musician, Lanier has been active in the world of new classical music since the late 1970s. He is a pianist and a specialist in many non-western musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. He maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played rare instruments in the world. Lanier has performed with artists as diverse as Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman, George Clinton, Vernon Reid, Terry Riley, Duncan Sheik, Pauline Oliveros, and Stanley Jordan. Recording projects include his acoustic techno duet with Sean Lennon and an album of duets with flautist Robert Dick.

Lanier also writes chamber and orchestral music. Current commissions include an opera that will premiere in Busan, South Korea, and a symphony, Symphony for Amelia, to be premiered by the Bach Festival Society Orchestra and Choir in Winter Park, Florida, in October 2010.[18] Recent commissions include “Earthquake!” a ballet that premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in April 2006; “Little Shimmers” for the TroMetrik ensemble, which premiered at ODC in San Francisco in April 2006; “Daredevil” for the ArrayMusic chamber ensemble, which premiered in Toronto in 2006; A concert-length sequence of works for orchestra and virtual worlds (including “Canons for Wroclaw,” “Khaenoncerto,” “The Egg,” and others) celebrating the 1000th birthday of the city of Wroclaw, Poland, premiered in 2000; A triple concerto, “The Navigator Tree,” commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Composers Forum, premiered in 2000; and “Mirror/Storm,” a symphony commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which premiered in 1998. Continental Harmony was a PBS special that documented the development and premiere of “The Navigator Tree”[19] won a CINE Golden Eagle Award.[20]

In 1994, he released the classical music album Instruments of Change on POINT Music/Philips/PolyGram Records.[21] The album has been described as a Western exploration of Asian musical traditions by Stephen Hill on “The Crane Flies West 2″ (episode 357) of Hearts of Space.[22] Lanier is currently working on a book Technology and the Future of the Human Soul,[23] and a music album Proof of Consciousness, in collaboration with Mark Deutsch.[24]

Lanier’s work with Asian instruments can be heard extensively on the soundtrack of Three Seasons (1999), which was the first film ever to win both the Audience and Grand Jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival. He and Mario Grigorov scored a film called The Third Wave, which premiered at Sundance in 2007. He is working with Terry Riley on a collaborative opera to be titled Bastard, the First.

Lanier has also pioneered the use of Virtual Reality in musical stage performance with his band Chromatophoria, which has toured around the world as a headline act in venues such as the Montreux Jazz Festival. He plays virtual instruments and uses real instruments to guide events in virtual worlds. In October 2010, Lanier collaborated with Rollins College and John V. Sinclair’s Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra[25] for his Worldwide Premiere of “Symphony for Amelia.”

Lanier contributed the afterword to Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture (MIT Press, 2008) edited by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky.

I see no evidence at all that Lanier is licenced to compose or perform music. No evidence that he has ever been trained in doing so. Has never sought permission from anybody.

So, why is this man allowed to compete with those professional musicians who have gone through such professional hurdles?

Why does everyone else need to have barriers put in their way to getting a job but not Lanier?

17 comments on “The problem with Jaron Lanier’s program

  1. That’s not *the* problem with Jaron Lanier’s program, Tim – describing it as such allows others to make the same suggestions while waving a bunch of certificates.

    Though it’s another excellent exposure of the hypocrisy involved in statements of this type made by many such people.

    Tim adds: I’m thinking about doing a long (ie, short book length) piece running through Lanier’s arguments. Thing is, I can’t work out how to finance the work. I’d have to take a couple of weeks off other writing work and as a book it wouldn’t sell more than a few hundred copies I wouldn’t have thought. So it’s a bit tricky.

  2. Tim: speaking of you taking a couple of weeks off, I haven’t seen any new postings at Forbes since the Amazon tax article. Have you and Forbes parted ways, or are you too busy?

    Tim adds: They’ve asked me to take a month off while they consider changes to what I do there….

  3. @Tim
    that in itself is an interesting comment on libertarianism. The left has a very long history of organising itself a way of disseminating its philosophies. Almost any town of size will have its lefty bookshop & lefty writers can get a paying audience for small circulation polemic. For libertarian stuff, it’s almost impossible to find what’s been written or obtain it. Truth is, libertarians expend more energy arguing with each other (see Samizdata) than they do disseminating their views to a wider public. Does the view from the libertarian assole have to be so limited or should heads be pulled out?

  4. Do it as an eBook and back-fund it via sales? Maybe with a bit of crowdsource funding up front to pay your bills?

    @BIS

    This is who whole problem with the right, vs the left (for want of better terms).

    Our goal is individual freedom – hard to organise for that.

    Their’s is collectivism, for most of us, which is by its very nature easier to organise for. It’s a natural part of the process.

    They are basically hapy to be dishonest, in pursuit of their goals. The end justifies the means, which is why they go on long marches, literally and figuratively, and why once they get where they are going they are happy to throw their best friends and family members under the bus in show trials, denunciations or exile.

    Whereas we are more concerned with truth and principles, so we do the throwing before we get going. I prefer us, but it does – in conjunction with a stupid electorate and a lying ‘liberal’ state media – make it a harder battle to win.

  5. indeed, Interested.
    But if you wish to obtain a consensus in favour of your philosophy, you have to work in the existent world. The left has no problem working with the tools of capitalism to sell (that wholly market notion) its literature. There’s no notion of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” in left publishing. It’s money on the counter for the book.

    It’s an argument I’ve had over at Samizdata. ie The EDL are a bunch of dissatisfied people. So talk to the EDL & convince them libertarian ideas may be a solution to their dissatisfaction. But, apparently, lofty nose-holding is the response to dissatisfied people. In a similar situation, the left would be all over the people with Trot pamphlets. it’s how they hijack so many issues.

  6. And
    “Whereas we are more concerned with truth and principles, ”
    No you’re not.
    That’s a line straight from R. Murphy.
    The truths & the principals are different.

  7. Yes, I am.

    I am not sure what you mean by the truth and ‘principals’ being different. I was not saying they were synonymous.

    Equally, merely because R Murphy lies when saying something, that does not mean everyone who says the same thing is lying.

    The inverse of that statement is that I am concerned with lies and propaganda. The Left has a long history of this; I don’t, and neither do most of my fellow travellers.

    For instance, it is the truth that the freer the market the better it is for poor people, and that the more socialist a country the worse it is for the poor. But who says this, and who lies about it?

  8. Lanier is a white, dreadlocked dickhead. Assuming he still has his barnet. Last I heard of him was 20 years ago in the pages of the old “Mondo 2000″ magazine. He thought of himself as “futurist”. The return of Guilds–real futuristic that is.

  9. BIS-

    In a similar situation, the left would be all over the people with Trot pamphlets. it’s how they hijack so many issues.

    I’m not so sure. The “left” haven’t won because of the SWP and the like. It’s won by being the Establishment, basically. The Progressivism we live under is basically the consensus value system of the ruling class.

  10. @ Interested
    There’s nothing internally inconsistent about socialism. It’s entirely possible to have a socialist society cares for the poor. So within its context, socialism’s true.
    Ditto libertarianism.
    It’s where they interact with the real world’s the problem, because the real world’s neither socialist nor libertarian. Either would work if all could be convinced.
    But you do need to go through the process of convincing people. There’s no “truths” in philosophies outside their own context.

  11. @BIS

    You talked about ‘in the real world’, and on that basis I disagree with this:

    ‘There’s nothing internally inconsistent about socialism. It’s entirely possible to have a socialist society cares for the poor. ‘

    And so disagreeing I cite Zil lanes and dachas vs queues for tomatoes and gulags in the USSR; Killing Fields in Cambodia; disabled lesbian outreach workers in Sheffield; Stasi spies in GDR; no bog roll in Venezuela…

    Wrong here too:

    ‘the real world’s neither socialist nor libertarian. Either would work if all could be convinced.’

    Leaving aside a definition of ‘work’ – in mine, libertarianism works because each receives according to his abilities and input, with voluntary local help for those who can’t help themselves – socialism can *never* work because of two immutable truths, that men are not born equal, in any meaningful sense, and certainly don’t put in equally, and that anything (certainly anything that is arduous and complex and unpleasant to build or maintain) owned in common (beyond a very accountable, very local level – say village cricket pitches, though even here the people who keep the wicket flat and the outfield mown are doing it for the love of it, while others just pay a small and uneconomic sub to play) is pretty much invariably ruined. There’s a reason north sea trrawlermen are well-paid.

    On any meaningful scale, the profit motive, and the ingenuity and work of individuals, is king.

    Greed. Is. Good.

    You’re spot on with this, though:

    ‘But you do need to go through the process of convincing people. ‘

    Absolutely. Though as I said at the start, we tend to argue amongst ourselves because we can’t accept (OK – what we see as) bullshit.

    But again I believe wrong in this (see Zil lanes/profit motive):

    ‘There’s no “truths” in philosophies outside their own context.’

  12. @IanB

    ‘The “left” haven’t won because of the SWP and the like. It’s won by being the Establishment, basically. The Progressivism we live under is basically the consensus value system of the ruling class.’

    Correct (though BIS is right that we should still try to spread ‘our’ message more and better).

    The ‘progressive’, ‘liberal’ class are insulated against the realities of life by the work and suffering of the poor, basically; only when judges are stabbed in the street, and BBC journalists are laid off in favour of Albanians, and council chief executives are forced to live on the 14th floor of the worst tower block in their area, will we start to see a turnaround.

    Imagine if the children of Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair had been in the first armoured vehicle to roll out of Bastion. You’d only have wars of national survival, instead of arrogance and caprice.

  13. Interested.
    You’re arguing the failings of socialism from the perspective of a libertarian. Don’t try that in N.Korea.
    it’s perfectly possible to argue all the failings of socialism from a socialist perspective. N. Koreans may ague the things you cite are the price paid for the wonderful life they enjoy in Pyongyang. if you’re a N.Korean socialist, you may regard that as true.

  14. Ian
    What’s that expression describes the “middle ground” as being wherever the extremes drag it? You live in a “progressive” world because in one extreme you have SWP et al pulling in that direction & bugger all pulling the other way. The ratchet can only move in the one direction.

  15. @BIS

    ‘N. Koreans may ague the things you cite are the price paid for the wonderful life they enjoy in Pyongyang.’

    FFS, as the kids say.

  16. Ian B,

    And this is where UKIP fit in.

    I’m sure that a lot of people vote UKIP over the European issue, but there’s a more general thing that a lot of people want non-establishment politics. They want a government that deals with criminals, fixes roads, makes sure that schools and hospitals are good and protects our borders and will vote for parties that will scale down the state.

  17. “They want a government that deals with criminals, fixes roads, makes sure that schools and hospitals are good and protects our borders and will vote for parties that will scale down the state.”

    I’d agree that most people would probably want the first five things on that list but scale down the state ? I doubt it. The reverse if anything, they would like to see the state acting strongly to protect and enhance the things they want and restrict the things they don’t. The contradictory nature of that seems to pass most people by, wherever they are in the political spectrum. I suspect this is at least as true of most UKIP supporters as it is of Labour voters.

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