wood s lot        july 1, 2008

Aaron Siskind

July 15, 2008

Rachel Barrett

via Shane Lavalette


Psychoanalysis: An Elegy
Jack Spicer

What are you thinking about?

I am thinking of an early summer.
I am thinking of wet hills in the rain
Pouring water. Shedding it
Down empty acres of oak and manzanita
Down to the old green brush tangled in the sun,
Greasewood, sage, and spring mustard.
Or the hot wind coming down from Santa Ana
Driving the hills crazy,
A fast wind with a bit of dust in it
Bruising everything and making the seed sweet.
Or down in the city where the peach trees
Are awkward as young horses,
And there are kites caught on the wires
Up above the street lamps,
And the storm drains are all choked with dead branches.


What are you thinking?

I am thinking of how many times this poem
Will be repeated. How many summers
Will torture California
Until the damned maps burn
Until the mad cartographer
Falls to the ground and possesses
The sweet thick earth from which he has been hiding.

What are you thinking now?

I am thinking that a poem could go on forever.

Jack Spicer at Penn Sound and the Electronic Poetry Center

Jack Spicer Feature
Jacket 7


Experience is the outcome of work; immediate experience is the phantasmagoria of the idler.
    - Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project

Walter Benjamin
July 15, 1892 - September 27, 1940

The wrinkles and creases on our faces are the registration of the great passions, vices, insights that called upon us... but we, the masters, were not home.
    ---   Walter Benjamin

The Author as Producer
Walter Benjamin
Address at the Institute for the Study of Fascism
Paris, April 27, 1934
translated by Edmund Jephcott

What is the relationship bewtween form and content, particularly in political poetry? This kind of question has a bad name; rightly so. It is the textbook exambple of the attempt to explain literary connections undialectically, with clichés....

The dialectical approach to this question ... has absolutely no use for such rigid, isolated things as work, novel, book. It has to insert them into the living social contexts. ... when a work was subjected to a materialist critique, it was custumary to ask how this work stood vis-à-vis the social relations of production of its time. This is an important question, but also a very difficult one. Its answer is not always unambiguous. And I would like now to propose to you a more immediate question ... Rather than asking, "What is the attitude of a work to the relations of pruduction of its time?" I would like to ask, "What is its position in them? This question directly concerns the function the work has within the literary relations of production of its time. It is concerned, in other words, directly with the literary technique of works.

A Small History of Photography
Walter Benjamin
The camera is getting smaller and smaller, ever readier to capture fleeting and secret moments whose images paralyse the associative mechanisms in the beholder. This is where the caption comes in, whereby photography turns all life's relationships into literature,and without which all contructivist photography must remain arrested in the approximate. Not for nothing have Atget's photographs been likened to those of the scene of a crime. But is not everfy square inch of our cities the scene of a crime? Every passer-by a culprit? Is it not the task of the photograopher - descendant of the augurs and haruspices - to reveal guilt and to point out the guilty in his pictures? "The illiteracy of the future", someone* has said, "will be ignorance not of reading or writing, but of photography." But must not a photographer who cannot read his own pictures be no less accounted an illiterate? Will not the caption become the most important part of the photograph? Such are the questions in which the interval of ninety years that separate us from the age of the edaguerrotype discharges its historical tension.
* the "someone" was László Moholy-Nagy according to this footnote:
(5.) The famous phrase, "The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the pen and the camera alike" is Moholy's. It has gained its considerable currency mainly by way of its paraphrasing --without attribution -- in Walter Benjamin's celebrated "Kunswerk" essay of 1936. Moholy's observation, originally in English, was written in 1932 and first published in "A New Instrument of Vision," Telehor (Brno) I, 1-2, Feb. 28 1936, 34-365 (Reprinted Kostelanetz, ed., Moholy-Nagy, [London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press, 1970], p. 54).
in In Focus: Laszlo Moholy-Nagy Nancy Roth Afterimage, July-August, 1997

thanks to Helquin Artifacts


A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

    - Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History


"Imagine Lucifer..."
 Jack Spicer

Imagine Lucifer
An angel without angelness
An apple
Plucked clear by will of taste, color,
Strength, beauty, roundness, seed
Absent of all God painted, present everything
An apple is.
Imagine Lucifer
An angel without angelness
A poem
That has revised itself out of sound
Imagine, rhyme, concordance
Absent of all God spoke of, present everything
A poem is.
                   The law I say, the Law
What is Lucifer
An emperor with no clothes
No skin, no flesh, no heart
An emperor!


The Task of the Translator
Walter Benjamin

Melancholia, Mourning And The Task Of The Translator
Adam Rosen

The Storyteller [PDF]
Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov
Walter Benjamin

the storyteller is a man who has counsel for his readers. But if today "having counsel" is beginning to have an old-fashioned ring, this is because the communicability of experience is decreasing. In consequence we have no counsel either for ourselves or for others. After all, counsel is less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding. To seek this counsel one would first have to be able to tell the story. (Quite apart from the fact that a man is receptive to counsel only to the extent that he allows his situation to speak.) Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out. This, however, is a process that has been going on for a long time. And nothing would be more fatuous than to want to see in it merely a "symptom of decay," let alone a "modern" symptom. It is, rather, only a concomitant symptom of the secular productive forces of history, a concomitant that has quite gradually removed narrative from the realm of living speech and at the same time is making it possible to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Walter Benjamin (1936)

1940 Survey Of French Literature
Walter Benjamin
Paris, 23 March 1940
Translated by David Fernbach


Reading in the Ruins
Fragments of the Passagenwerk
A meander through the Arcades project of Walter Benjamin
Other Voices 1.1 (March 1997)

Surreal Dreamscapes: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades [PDF]
Michael Calderbank


This article examines Benjamin’s theoretical writings on the dream as a crucial aspect of his engagement with Surrealism. Given his ambivalence towards Surrealism’s potential for mystical thinking, it addresses Benjamin’s encounter in the Arcades Project with the work of Louis Aragon, and its resonances with the writings of vitalist philosopher Ludwig Klages, whom Benjamin had known in his youth. The article traces the ways in which Benjamin’s dream theory formed part of his understanding of the revolutionary project of Surrealism, only to lose its critical force in his later 1930s work, and it suggests ways in which Benjamin might have developed this project more successfully

The Passageways of Paris:
Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project and Contemporary Cultural Debate in the West
Christopher Rollason

Remains To Be Seen
Stanley Cavell reviews Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin

So it was for this that Walter Benjamin summoned voices to blend and to contend with his, and with each other's, ones that he found to flow along his dreams (e.g., p. 467)--his and (he claims, as a philosopher must) ours (e.g., pp. 212, 391)--from which the work of this work is variously to join in awakening us (e.g., pp. 388, 458), rescuing (e.g., pp. 473, 476) or say redeeming (e.g., pp. 332, 462) the phenomena of our world, processes that require blasting phenomena from their historical successions (p. 475), suggesting thought as a volcano (p. 698), forming new constellations (e.g., p. 463), allegorizing (e.g., pp. 211, 330, 367) the dialectical in every genuine image (e.g., 462, 473), where the place one encounters such an image is language (p. 462), in which the past and future are polarized by means of anticipating as it were the present (p. 470) (a thought Benjamin compliments Turgot for formulating [p. 478]; for us it is quite pure Thoreau), and where, further, "the present" is not a fixed point but a scene of ruins (p. 474), illuminated by flashes of lightning (e.g., pp. 91, 226, 456) (a melodramatic but recognizable vision of Wittgenstein's Investigations), each of which marks a now, a dawn, of recognition (e.g., pp. 463, 473), allowing thought to be drawn, as by the magnetic North Pole (p. 456) (which others correct for, which Benjamin claims to correct by), not toward purported permanencies and their petrified (p. 366) understandings (supporting our familiar forms of social cohesion) but to the debris or detritus of a culture (pp. 460, 543), occasions for reading, for rebuking the idea of decline as much as the idea of progress in history (e.g., 460).

For those of us frightened away from this most rumored of unfinished or unpublished or unwritten modern works by how much we must miss in Benjamin's deployment of German, the labors of love manifested in this English presentation expose us--I speak for myself--to a preliminary question: How much do I understand of my present state, as registered in my opening improvised recording, in reading this work?


The County Arcade, Leeds
Architect: Frank Matcham
(1898-1900) Photograph: B. Toomey


Shopping for Truth
[with Walter Benjamin's ghost]
Adrian Gargett

Why all the interest in a treatise on shopping in 19th century France? There is no doubt that to rationalise and design Benjamin in preparation for his comfortable digestion by capital's cultural machine is a piece of twisted prostitution of the kind he would fully have appreciated. A recovery of the sense of Benjamin's writing is the surest path to its radical impoverishment. The object of philosophy, insofar as the reflective meditation upon thought could be taken to characterize it, is arbitrarily prescribed as undisturbed reasoning. It is thus that successfully adapted, tranquil, moderate and productive reason monopolizes the philosophical conception of thought, in the same way that the generalized somnambulism of regulated labour precludes all intense gestures from social existence. Who cares what "anyone" thinks, knows, or theorizes about Benjamin? The only thing to try and touch is the intense shock wave that still reaches us along with the textual embers, for as long, that is, as anything can still "reach us." Where Descartes needed God to mediate his relations with his contemporaries, secular humanity is content with the TV-screen, and with all the other commodified channels of simulated communication with which civilization is so thoughtfully endowed. Such things are for our own protection of course; to filter out the terrifying threat of a realisation that would awaken us from our dream.

Metaphysics of the Profane
The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem
Eric Jacobson

Walter Benjamin and the Virtual: Politics, Art, and Mediation in the Age of Global Culture
Transformations, November 2007

“Politicizing Art”: Benjamin’s Redemptive Critique of Technology in the Age of Fascism
Amresh Sinha

Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate

History is photography: the afterimage of Walter Benjamin
Jeannene M. Przyblyski

Dangerous Memories
Epilogue to The Work of Memory
Steven T. Ostovich

Walter Benjamin's understanding of memory is bound up with his philosophy of language and history and his theology, but it is based on an experience he characterizes as the "chaos of memories." There is a resistance to narrative ordering and control associated with memory for Benjamin. He specifies this resistance further: "I find in my memory rigidly fixed words, expressions, verses that, like a malleable mass which has later cooled and hardened, preserve in me the imprint of the collision between a larger collective and myself" in which "isolated words have remained in place as marks of catastrophic encounters." Catastrophe engenders memories whose rough and hardened edges preclude placement in smooth-flowing narratives as a form of coming to terms with the past. These memories are disturbing in a manner similar to dreams. Like dreams, these memories involve crossing a threshold and stepping outside the closed world of normalcy. They "arrest" thought: "Thinking involves not only the flow of thoughts, but their arrest as well. Where thinking suddenly stops in a configuration pregnant with tensions, it gives that configuration a shock, by which it crystallizes into a monad." The political theologian Johann Baptist Metz, under the influence of Benjamin, describes these memories as follows:
There are memories in which earlier experiences break through the centre-point of our lives and reveal new and dangerous insights for our present. They illuminate for a few moments and with a harsh steady light the questionable nature of things we have apparently come to terms with, and show up the banality of our supposed "realism." They break through the canon of all that is taken as self-evident, and unmask as deception the certainty of those "whose hour is always there" (John 7.6). They seem to subvert our structures of plausibility. Such memories are like dangerous and incalculable visitants from the past.
These memories are dangerous in their threat to attempts to master the past through constructing historical narratives.
The Work of Memory
New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture
Edited by Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche


Passages: The memorial to Benjamin
Dani Karavan
photo by Jaume Blasi

Walter Benjamin’s Grave: A Profane Illumination
An excerpt from Walter Benjamin's Grave, Michael Taussig, The University of Chicago Press

Beaches and graveyards
Europe's haunted borders Les Back visits Portbou

The Case of Extreme Danger: Central Europe, Kafka With Benjamin


The Autumn of Central Paris
(after Walter Benjamin)
R.B. Kitaj


The street conducts the flâneur into a vansihed time. For him, every street is precipitous. It leads downward - if not to the mythical Mothers, then into a past that can be all the more spellbinding because it is not his own, not private. Nevertheless, it always remains the time of a childhood. But why that of the life he has lived? In the asphalt over which he passes, his steps awaken a surprising resonance. The gaslight that streams down on the paving stones throws an equivical light on this double ground.
    - Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin

'A Question of Tomorrow : Blanchot, Surrealism and the Time of the Fragment' [PDF]
David Cunningham


I am honoured by the s lot's inclusion in Ralph E. Luker's list of 80 history blogs

Käthe Kollwitz
July 8, 1867 – April 22, 1945

1 2 3 4 5 6


My Problem
Rae Armantrout

It is my problem
to squeeze
the present from the past
by demanding particulars.

When the dog is used
to represent the inner
man, I need to ask,
“What kind of dog is it?”

If a parasitic
metaphor grows all
throughout – good!
Why stop with a barnacle?

Ron Silliman, Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Charles Bernstein on Rae Armantrout's "The Way."
Rae Armantrout at Penn Sound and the Electronic Poetry Center

Singing Through The Echo
Charles Alexander reviews The Pretext, by Rae Armantrout


The Mourning Parents
Vladslo German Cemetery
Käthe Kollwitz


the symptom » Universalism versus globalization
This at least will be our US chapter - to be read as United Symptoms

Philosophy as Biography
Alain Badiou
nine stories embedded in an essay

... contrary to the usual assertion according to which “the end of metaphysics” you know, is being accomplished, and all that, philosophy precisely can not have an end, because it is haunted, from within itself, by the necessity to take one more step within a problem that already exists. And I believe that this is its nature. The nature of philosophy is that something is eternally being bequeathed to it. It has the responsibility of this bequeathal. Your are always treating the bequeathal itself, always taking one more step in the determination of what was thus bequeathed to you. As myself, in the most unconscious manner, I never did anything as a philosopher except respond to an appeal that I had not even heard.(....)

The companions of the poet are different from the companions of the philosopher. The companions of the philosopher are the different societies within which the question of a truth is at least posed. The companions of the poet are often the companions of his solitude, which is why Saint John Perse enumerates them as companions in exile, at the moment when he himself must go into exile. And aftet the enumeration of his companions, he returns to his solitude, and he says that:

Stranger, on all the beaches of this world, with neither audience nor witness, press to the ear of the West a seashell without memory: Precarious host on the outskirts of our cities, you will not cross the sill of Lloyds, where your word is not honored and your gold has no title…
‘I shall inhabit my name’ was his response to the questionnaires of the port;
And on the tables of exchange, you have nothing but trouble to produce,
Just as these great moneys in iron exhumed by lightning. (....)

That is why we mobilize so many resources. That is also what our monotonous biography can be used for: to constantly begin again the search for the conditions by which the proper name of each one can be inhabited.


After the battle
Käthe Kollwitz


War Is the Health of the State
Randolph Bourne


The Permanent American Go For Broke War Culture


Status and Curiosity - On the Origins of Oil Addiction
Nate Hagens

... most of our energy conversations, at conferences, schools, institutions, and the blogosphere, focus on the means, and not the ends. The ends have generally remained unquestioned. There seems to be an implicit assumption that worldwide energy demand will continue to grow something akin to a natural law, and that solutions should focus on ways to increase supply and/or efficiency of energy. But in an economic system based on self-interest on a finite planet, the true drivers of demand will need to be better understood beyond the microeconomic mantra "price will change behavior".

This post examines our own history on the planet, outlines how the ancient-derived reward pathways of our brain are easily hijacked by modern stimuli, and concludes that in very real ways, we have become addicted to the 'consumptive behaviors' linked to oil. "Traditional" drug abuse happens because natural selection has shaped behavior regulation mechanisms that function via chemical transmitters. Just as an addict becomes habituated to cocaine, heroin or alcohol, the 'normal person' possesses neural architecture to become habituated via a positive feedback loop to the 'chemical sensations' we receive from shopping, keeping up with the joneses (conspicuous consumption), pursuing more stock options and profits, and myriad other stimulating activities that a large social energy surplus provides. In order to overcome addictions, it is usually not enough to argue about which year the drug supply is going to begin its decline. It's a better path to understand the addiction, admit it before one hits rock bottom, and either begin the cold turkey process or become addicted to something else.

via The Corpus Callosum


Paintings by Michael Helsem

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism
graywyvern g. graywyvern

The big Lie. Nothing is so conntagiouly inspiring as total commitment to a blatant fraud. It is as awesome as levitation. We Americans are so childishly delighted with the bare act of choosing, like Midas in the first hour of his "golden touch", it hardly matters what; but vry often i am as weary with the plethora of indistinguishables, as Midas after years of the curse, till i cry out: only give me one necessary task & the barest sustenance, & i will ask no more! But my art refuses me.


Even cultures require an Art of dying. -- so do our previous selves.


Freedom is the 'phlogistion" of our times. Eventually they'll have to coin a new set of phrases when they want to talk about what that really involves. And as for love, we are like the laity tossing around the technical terms of medieval theologians -- who themselves are ignorant of what the mystics have see.

Emmanuel Goldstein's The Theory and Practice Of Oligarchical Collectivism (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four) comes to life.

Michael maintains graywyvern and is also a contributor at TaKinG thE BriM_ TooK thE BrOoM

Michael Helsem
1. There, I am me.

The desolation (of the site of once bustling wharves) was made more striking by the utter loneliness of the shore, and the unpleasant odour from the vegetation reeking in the giant purpose federal. Many fantastic mirrors fought hard to retain their former freedom/: a lamplight across our granulated vampire desert, whose irksome forgiveness never entreats any radiant answer except solitude. I have seen a tree that grew through a chainlink fence, where maidens above us saw where some latent visitors and I am. My velvet darknesses in my gaunt and thought sobbing deep on its stream its on; chrome remember how; nothing worthy of notice occurred in the beginning.--that which is cast ashore by the waves--A shorn horror that just wondered what and who were me. Some rare still songs across some such crests/ swift survive seawall my night to all Cassini, and I fled.



...creek and forest become One
From Wahkanee Falls
Loren Webster hikes the Columbia Gorge


Michael Helsem
break the banded light
of overhanging trees as
    this bus, so unlike
my forest dawn-walk, evokes
its haze and its perfect poise. 

If not, not
R. B. Kitaj


Four Kitaj Studies
Michael Palmer
Parmentier (17:2, June 2008)

Prose for the World’s Body

Perhaps there is danger; perhaps
It was only a creak
in the floorboards. Perhaps a
body will have entered, is
about to depart, the frame.
A socket lacking a bulb.
Hanger hanging by its shadow.
Redness of this interior, not
blood-red, not bloodless, not a
remembered red. But an inflection.
He means to say that
there are so many books
we have lost count of
The books that are not.
On the cover of this
One, who will say, though
He cannot. He absolutely cannot –
Will not. On the cover
Of this one, a table
With daubs and tubes, brushes,
Bottles, canisters and cans. On
The cover of this one,
A melancholy aphorist, a whore
With green hair and red
Leggings, a sweeper. A man
Lies dead in the street.
Maybe it is Schulz. Perhaps
They are unaware of this.
Perhaps he was shot while
they were coming. Behind the
Sweeper, to our left, a
Woman in a yellow dress
Is hailing a cab. Here
Benjamin says, It’s blood itself,
It’s a stain on a
wall, even a lexicon. ...


Le Colonel Chabert

Perhaps most interesting about Hardt and Negri and their fifteen minutes of fashion is how their anarchist flavoured echo of the longer-lived and firmly centrist, bourgeois fashion of Stakeholder Theory, enjoying undiminished vocab hegemony at the EC today, offers an illustration of the protean qualities and adaptability of ideology and the efficacy of image-regime innovations in discourse. More revealing than any specific suggestion, image or assertion found in Empire and Multitide are the astonishingly agile mechanisms and the speed of image and vocabulary replication, and the relations between the little circuit of conversation it created, establishing a fairly rigid paradigm though flying the banner of openness, and the parallel circuits of the mother discourse of neoliberal globalisation and stakeholder supremacism. The pairing makes an especially instructive contrast to similar pairings of dominant and dissident discourse which predate television, and those which predate cinema. One could perhaps number among the items of the newness announced a logic of parasitic-ironic transformation, accompanied by a covert cooperative dramaturgy of framework management, in the relations between dominant and leading dissident political discourses in the postwar (post tv, post modern, post Fordist, whatever) era, replacing earlier, perhaps cruder logics of rhetorical contest common in periods, and still today in places, where management of the spectacle is less concentrated and its functioning more fragmented and contested.
The first of an 8 part series at Le Colonel Chabert


Goya's Disasters of War

Illegible Bodies: On Not Seeing Goya's Disasters Of War
Lela Graybill

Goya in Times of War
Robert Gibbons

I don’t know, & don’t have a lot of ammunition to waste, but it seems like we go from day-to-day, week-to-week, in some inattentive mentality, where once was Caesar, then Napoleon, ultimately Bush. It’s as goofy & unlearned of the past as the latter’s smirk.

Presidential candidate Barak Obama, "The Peace Candidate", supports a stronger commitment to the war in Afghanistan and has proposed "sending at least two additional combat brigades -- or 7,000 to 10,000 troops -- to Afghanistan, while deploying more Special Operations forces to the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Make Way for Field Marshall Obama
Hunkering Down in Afghanistan

Mike Whitney
It was all hogwash. None of the promises have been kept and none of the goals have been achieved. Besides, war isn't an instrument for positive social change; it's about killing people and blowing up things. Dolling-up military aggression as "preemption" can work for a while, but eventually the truth comes out. Democracy and modernity don't come from the barrel of a gun.

Far from being the "good war", Afghanistan has turned out to be a brutal war of revenge. Three decades of fighting has left the country in ruins and the violence is only getting worse. As victory becomes more elusive, the US has stepped up its bombing campaign making 2008 the most deadly year on record.(....)

Michael Scheuer, former CIA chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station, made this statement at a recent conference at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC: "Afghanistan is lost for the United States and its allies.

We don't have enough troops to even form a constabulary that would control the country. The disaster occurred at the beginning. The fools that run our country thought that a few hundreds CIA officers and a few hundred special forces officers could take a country the size of Texas and hold it, were quite literally fools. And now we are paying the price."

Scheuer added, "We are closer to defeat in Afghanistan than Iraq at the moment."


Almost Independence Day: Bare Life
Gavin Keeney
a look at Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life

It is the city that is formulated as the foundation of social and political life, insofar as its founding established the critical difference between physiological life (bare life) and community (polis). The difference seems to be the issue, as well, as Agamben finds in the course of his tour through the ontological foundations of social orders, social mores, and political structures a profound shift from one form of life to another, always predicated on hidden and sometimes sinister ritual rites that signal sovereign power arrives through the state of exception which is also apostasized in 'bare life' (homo sacer), a figure that he describes as life "that may be killed and yet not sacrificed" (passim). Bare life is secret analog for Power.

The rites of passage of this decidedly Western topology run through various incarnations of law, or what constitutes a citizen versus 'bare life' (which by definition is posited as outside all law, but secretly inside law, nation-states, and techno-biological life as delimited form of excommunicated being). This figure is determined by law but as exception to law, and it is that exceptional state of being without rights that qualifies bare life.

But what is truly exceptional in Agamben's analysis is how this biopolitical frontier has been crossed today in the form of all life becoming bare life -- or, how present-day politics and the metamorphosis of nation-states to economic machines has led to citizens being de facto exiles within states.


Adam Kotsko wraps up his Notes on Agamben's Il Regno e la Gloria


This Bird Has Flown...
Irene Suchocki Photography

Irene Suchocki on Flickr and Etsy


The truth of violence both destroys and destroys itself. It shows itself to be what it is: nothing other than the truth of the fist and the weapon. It is the thick twat’s kind of truth. It is the kind that snickers, spits, and yells, that enjoys its display of violence (enjoyment, for violence, is without pleasure and without joy; it feeds on the very image of its violence). The violence of truth is something completely different from this. It is a violence that withdraws even as it irrupts and—because this irruption itself is a withdrawal—that opens and frees a space for the manifest presentation of the true. (Once again, let us put something on hold: are there not, corresponding to each side, two kinds of image?)
The ground of the image
Jean-Luc Nancy
Translated by Jeff Fort
download pdf
Two assertions about images have become very familiar to us. The first is that images are violent: we often speak of being ‘‘bombarded by advertising,’’ and advertising evokes, in the first place, a stream of images. The second is that images of violence, of the ceaseless violence breaking out all over the world, are omnipresent and, simultaneously or by turns, indecent, shocking, necessary, heartrending. These assertions lead very quickly to the elaboration of ethical, legal, and aesthetic demands (and there is also now the specific register belonging to the arts of violence and violence in art), for the purpose of introducing regulations that would control violence or images, the image of violence or the violence of images. My intention here is not to enter into the debate concerning such demands. Instead, I want to get behind the assertions themselves in order to interrogate what can link, in a particular way, the image to violence and violence to the image. If we can expect from our inquiry some clarification at least in our thinking on this matter, it will no doubt relate to the ambivalence that pervades, in a parallel and therefore remarkable way, our general sense of both terms. There is something good and something bad in both violence and the image. There is something necessary and something unnecessary. It is as if there were constitutively two possible essences of the image and of violence, and consequently also two essences of the violence of the image and of the image of violence. It would be easy to list instances and configurations of these double dualities or redoubled duplicities in the history of the modern world.

To broach this question, I will not start with the pair ‘‘image and violence.’’ I will first for a moment consider violence on its own, setting out to examine the proper mode in which violence operates in relation to truth. From there we will gradually discover the traits that will lead us to the image.


The Charm Of The Countryside
Zhang Huibin


Colloquy > Issue Fifteen

Blurring the Boundaries: History, Memory and Imagination in the Works of W G Sebald [PDF]
Diane Molloy

Wounded Space: Law, Justice and Violence to the Land [pdf]
Jennifer Coralie

Neil Young and the Poetics of Energy [PDf]
William Echard
reviewed by Andrew Padgett


Transmodernity, border thinking, and global coloniality
Decolonizing political economy and postcolonial studies
Rámon Grosfoguel


The Poet, or Half Past Three
Marc Chagall
7 July 1887 – 28 March 1985


Melissa Pritchard

Mother’s Day—our last, ma petite mere, sugared battle-ax, thorny womb, my life’s obsession. Forgoing easier tributes, bath confections, a silk nightie, I challenge Mater Magnificat, nearly ninety—nonagenarian!—to the old backyard nine-wicket two-stake Double Diamond game, croquet, from the French, croquet, meaning crooked stick. Invite yonder MeeMaw, right-winged Francophile, to the garden sport invented by fourteenth-century French peasants using stout brooms and hoops of bent willow, later gentrified by courts of crushed cockleshell, wild flowers twined round wire hoops and torches of tallow set ablaze for erotic night play. Sport of sequence and no consequence, barbed with rules, pickled in etiquette, its wire wickets once described by a Victorian preacher from Boston as the gaping Jaws of Hades, yet a game put forth by Captain Mayne Reid, hero of the Mexican War and author of sentimental books for boys, as a wholesome substitute for war.

We have warred quietly, Mamma and I, for years.

Franz Kafka
July 3, 1883 - June 3, 1924

The Kafka Project

Das Schloss
Franz Kafka at the Modern Word

We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and weep and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful? For that reason alone we human beings ought to stand before one another as reverently, as reflectively, as lovingly, as we would before the entrance to hell.
   -  Franz Kafka, in a letter to Oskar Pollak


Everything I read since then has been a reading of Pessoa. Everything that search for a kind of hammock in the day - not for reading, but for living of a type that was not allowed anymore. Pessoa lived on a street near the cafe. He belonged there; even Bernardo Soares had his two feet on the ground in Lisbon; he was no ghost: that's what I tell myself this morning, however foolishly. Or he was a ghost who still belonged to a place, haunting it to show that another life was possible, that you might live in another way. But here, now? No ghosts, no possibilities; no high place to reach by way of reading.
    -  Spurious, The Hammock

Wislawa Szymborska
b. July 2, 1923

Nothing has changed.
The body is susceptible to pain,
it must eat and breathe air and sleep,
it has thin skin and blood right underneath,
an adequate stock of teeth and nails,
its bones are breakable, its joints are stretchable.
In tortures all this is taken into account.

Nothing has changed.
The body shudders as it shuddered
before the founding of Rome and after,
in the twentieth century before and after Christ.
Tortures are as they were, it's just the earth that's grown smaller,
and whatever happens seems right on the other side of the wall.

Nothing has changed. It's just that there are more people,
besides the old offenses new ones have appeared,
real, imaginary, temporary, and none,
but the howl with which the body responds to them,
was, is and ever will be a howl of innocence
according to the time-honored scale and tonality.

Nothing has changed. Maybe just the manners, ceremonies, dances.
Yet the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same.
The body writhes, jerks and tries to pull away,
its legs give out, it falls, the knees fly up,
it turns blue, swells, salivates and bleeds.

Nothing has changed. Except for the course of boundaries,
the line of forests, coasts, deserts and glaciers.
Amid these landscapes traipses the soul,
disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away,
alien to itself, elusive, at times certain, at others uncertain of its own existence,
while the body is and is and is
and has no place of its own. 

The Poet and the World
Wislawa Szymborska
Nobel Lecture, December 7, 1996


Nuts & Bolts: How U.S. Organized Torture Program


Plan Mexico Gets Rough
US Contractor Leads Torture Training in Mexico
Kristin Bricker

The existence of a training led by a US defense contractor to teach Mexican police torture tactics in order to combat organized crime and the local government's adamant defense of the program is particularly disturbing considering the US government's recent approval of the $1.6 billion Plan Mexico, also known as the Merida Initiative. Plan Mexico is an aid package specifically designed to support President Felipe Calderón's deadly battle against organized crime. It will fund more US training for Mexican police and military, in addition to providing them with riot gear, spy equipment, and military aircraft. Plan Mexico allows funds for the deployment of up to fifty US defense contractors to Mexico.

Die Schachpartie
Max Oppenheimer
1885 - 1954


Two Essays on Reason
Jacques Derrida
Translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas

The "World" ofthe Enlightenment to Come
(Exception, Calculation, and Sovereignty)

What if it were we who had called ourselves, as if we philosophers, In these tlmes of danger or distress, these tempestuous times of loss, had to save the honor of reason, so as to save the honor of reason and, in the same and single, indivisible gesture, to do so in the French language, if not in the name of the French language, which is to say, in a European language of Latin, rather than Greek or German, lineage (reor means I believe, I think, I calculate, and ratio: reason or calculation, account and proportion)? In a Latin language, therefore, already burdened with translations, already bearing witness to an experience of translation that, as we will later see, takes upon itself the entire destiny of reason, that is, of the world universality to come? It is as if we were called on to take this responsibility here and now, the responsibility of saving the honor of reason, as philosophers of the French language, on 'the shores of the Mediterranean, in a city in France with a Greek name fixed by war, like the monument of a victory that consists always in winrning our over [avoir raison de] the other, over and against the other. We (would already begin to make out, at dawn, in the mist of beginnings, a shoreline and the ports of Europe. Whether armed or disarmed, the great iquestion of reason would already begin to unfurl its sails for a geopolitical "'Voyage across Europe and its languages, across Europe and the rest of the world. Is reason (logos or ratio) first of all a Mediterranean thing? Would it have made it safely to port, with Athens or Rome in view, so as to remain until the end of time tied to its shores? Would it have never really lifted anchor or been set adrift? Would it have never broken away, in a decisive or critical fashion, from its birthplaces, its geography, and its genealogy?

   -  Teleology and Architectonic: The Neutralization of the Event

What would this history of reason have taught us? How are we to think this at once continuous and differentiated becoming of reason, this essential link between, on the one hand, what will have dominated, it seems to me, the philosophical genealogy in its most powerful institution, and, on the other hand, reason in more than one European language, reason as the reason and raison d' être of philosophy?

It would thus be ... a certain inseparability between, on the one hand, the exigency of sovereignty in general (not only but including political sovereignty, indeed state sovereignty, which will not be challenged, in fact quite the contrary, by the Kantian thought of cosmopolitanism or universal peace) and, on the other hand, the unconditional exigency of the unconditioned (anhypotheton, unbedingt, inconditionnée).

Calculative reason (ratio, intellect, understanding) would thus have to ally itself and submit itself to the principle of unconditionality that tends to exceed the calculation it founds. This inseparability or this alliance between sovereignty and unconditionality appears forever irreducible. Its resistance appears absolute and any separation impossible: for isn't sovereignty, especially in its modern political forms, as understood by Bodin, Rousseau, or Schmitt, precisely unconditional, absolute, and especially, as a result, indivisible? Is it not exceptionally sovereign insofar as it retains the right to the exception? The right to decide on the exception and the right to suspend rights and law [Ie droit]?

    - To Arrive-At the Ends of the State
(and of War, and of World War)


dreams delivery
Alin Ciortea

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America Adrift
new home of The Atlantic Community
"transatlantic perspectives on america."


The non-efficient citizen
Identity and consumerist morality

Tomas Kavaliauskas
Translation by Kristina Aurylaite

Citizens, both producers and consumers, or prosumers, have become objects of control – individuals who are examined not only according to Foucault's definition, but also by the entire economic structure. If there is no control, the prosumerist society will simply disintegrate. It would be naïve to assume that prosumers can choose identity. It is ascribed to them by default. Today, one is even born with it. Such is the order of the capitalist system, when individuals are free to choose professions but not the status of the producer and the consumer. (....)

Remembering the "flower children", alcoholic writers, and rock'n'roll artists of the 1960s, and the great cultural, political, and social freedom they achieved in the USA during that decade, one can see a stark contrast with the 1970s and 1980s, when economically "unproductive" class of "asocial" individuals obediently returned to embrace market structures. This is empirical evidence that a cultural politics that encourages economic independence, rejection of the social order, defiance of circumstances, and hatred of pragmatism cannot survive for longer than a decade.


Ralph Gibson

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Endless Summer
Thousand Islands, St. Lawrence River
Toni Frissell
1907 - 1988

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Where Is The Babylonian Meter With Its Lovely Caesura?
from Disobedience
Alice Notley

A smell of sun-baked earth water origanum and also
a clove-scented flower

That tree with crimson blossoms gold-centered
almost opened up what memory center in me?
But it won't come.
It was some sort of happiness.
The happiness oozed up materially.


Where is the story the path through
I want a unity for it--because I,
      I am unified exactly
the human world is unified in a different way...
by technology and aggression.

Alice Notley at the Electronic Poetry Center


Just a walk...
Rui Palha


Come, Come to Me Now That I'm Old, Not Love
Carlo Betocchi
Translated by Ned Condini

Come, come to me now that I’m old, not love
but you, love’s shadow, dust of mute, humble things,
views of roofs, roads, shutters ajar where lovers
spy their love coming, of convalescing windows,
and weak progressions of sorrowful days,
and umbrous peace that vanishes
the way a duck shot in flight vanishes
into the marsh and drowns and a few feathers
float in the air: I’m reality here
that wavers hopelessly if you don’t come, my love,
love’s shadow, o dear sleep, to give me rest.

Absinthe: New European Writing

Absinthe blog


I Haunt Myself
Dylan Trigg

Can we speak of memory as falling prey to the seizure of a death throe, caught thereafter in a state of artificial animation? Where am “I” in this process, that is to say: the real me? Of course, in the least we know the following: the power of place is not strong enough to wholly contain time without the side effects of contamination, rupture, and disease. Even in the sunlight, the broken rays of the past collide with the clarity of a given place: a city, town, hill, street, house, room, cupboard, or even the alcove of a drawer. Place breaks, and the discharge of time enters the scene.

Rui Palha


A Tongue of Lead
Fransesc Serès
Translated from the Catalan by Helena Buffery

There are nights when dreams run stories one into another, preventing the sleeper from making a clean break between scenes that strange actors link together in his head, and so it seems that the night has been no more than the prolongation of a day that gradually has made the light disappear to make room for this palpable life shadow of that which is real. Nightmares to make your legs shudder and to talk about when awake, bare hints of laughter on the threshold of wakefulness, feeling the dreamed pains so distinctly that you could describe them with precision. This is why Mother listens behind the door and when she sees that she is screaming or crying in her sleep, she wakes her. Of all this, Joana knows nothing, nor of the mattress that we place in front of her door, where we take it in turns to sleep, now my mother now me, listening attentively, making her sleep ours, leaving our selves beside her.

Say you want a revolution
Words Without Borders - July 2008

In the spirit of Independence Day and Bastille Day, we salute freedom fighters of all stripes with writing about revolution. In the pulsing heat of Che’s Havana and the gray chill of Lenin’s Moscow, on ravaged battlefields and blasted domestic fronts, writers storm citadels and oust tyrants in campaigns for personal and political liberty. Maïssa Bey, Liliana Blum, Izzet Celasin, Fritz Glockner, Michael Kleeberg, Belkis Cuza Malé, Leonardo Padura, Richard Marazano & Xavier Delaporte, and Francesc Serés file dispatches on upheaval at home and abroad.

Nature Rhythms
Lawren S. Harris
1885 - 1970

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Encounters and valedictions, summons and replies: the communication of meaning implies an act of the heart, an openness that may lead to embarrassment and pain, muddle and contention; but that communication also trusts that something will come, something essential will be passed on between people, between the cosmos and ourselves.(...)

What will connect us? What gives us vision and voice? I venture this: under the official news, the editorials and opinions, the corporatist propaganda and the prepared speeches of many rulers, and the soul's chatter which comes with the noise of our media daze, people sense a spirit and a motion, not yet articulated, still felt, one possessed by premonitions of hope and transformation. When a government or a transnational turns its citizens or workers into objects, digits, counters, and decimal points, then people may begin to feel acutely human in their estrangement. Alienation and loneliness plant the seeds for rebellion and consciousness, new stages of learning. What systems, polls, and corporate strategies deny is the aspiring individual, the source of purpose and value. Systems always push things downwards; their method is one which imposes structure, freezes meaning. It's the individual who must learn how to rise up, evaluate, interpret, and care. Paradoxically, the severe bottomline approach to the economy - programmed by people whose responsibility and compassion, awareness and generosity we question - may inspire the vital contrary move: the desire to retrieve personal authenticity, a humanism that may balance the images, spectres, glows, and bytes, the fantasias and ethereality of the electroscope we created but cannot control.

    -   B.W. Powe, A Canada of Light

Happy Canada Day


"Clouds, Lake Superior"
Lawren S. Harris

The Group of Seven: Painters in the Wilderness
CBC Archives
14 television clips - 7 radio clips


The World And I

This is not exactly what I mean
Any more than the sun is the sun.
But how to mean more closely
If the sun shines but approximately?
What a world of awkwardness!
What hostile implements of sense!
Perhaps this is as close a meaning
As perhaps becomes such knowing.
Else I think the world and I
Must live together as strangers and die—
A sour love, each doubtful whether
Was ever a thing to love the other.
No, better for both to be nearly sure
Each of each—exactly where
Exactly I and exactly the world
Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.
   -  Laura Riding 


Questioning "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction":
A Stroll around the Louvre after Reading Benjamin
Jonathan Davis

The history of Guernica also calls Benjamin's binary typology of aesthetic experience into question. One can contemplate Guernica and recognize that one's encounter with a work of art might mean, contrary to the thinking of Bentham, Robbins, and Benjamin, that aesthetic experience might involve more than the satisfaction of preferences; as we gaze at the picture, we become aware that Guernica might be awakening desires and fears hitherto dormant within us, cultivating new ways of seeing, and, in the most general terms, allowing us to lose ourselves within a particular visual experience so that we might find ourselves anew. ... We might understand our contemplation of Guernica as an element in a continuing collective effort, and this understanding should remind us that we should not allow ourselves to be browbeaten by either the ultraleftist disciples of Benjamin or the neoliberal followers of Robbins into believing that the individual is simply the contrary of the collective.

In fact, the relation between the collective and individual experience of art can be complementary; it is almost certainly complex, just like the relationship of modernity to tradition, elite to popular, or "original" to "reproduction" ? a complexity of which Guernica postcards, coffee mugs, and key rings remind us as forcibly as the versions of Watteau. This complexity and the passage of seven decades mean, of course, that we cannot simply take the cultural politics of the Popular Front as a substitute for those advanced by Benjamin in the artwork essay. We might, though, ask ourselves which provides us with a better starting point for thinking about the fate of the art object in an age of mechanical destruction; when in the midst of a war of aggression, soldiers stand by as museums and libraries are looted, are our responses better served by contemplation of Guernica or by distracting ourselves with "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"?

Contemporary Aesthetics
Volume 6 (2008)

via Continental Philosophy


Péter Horváth
Demeter Galéria