J.H. van den Berg
New & Selected Work
1977 - 2007
The Age of Briggs & Stratton
prelude to civilization_______________________
June 15, 1903 - March 12, 1966)
Ten Dispatches About Place
Every day people follow signs pointing to some place that is not their home but a chosen destination. Road signs, airport embarkation signs, terminal signs. Some are making their journeys for pleasure, others for business, many out of loss or despair. On arrival they come to realize they are not in the place indicated by the signs they followed. Where they now find themselves has the correct latitude, longitude, local time, currency, yet it does not have the specific gravity of the destination they chose._______________________
They are beside the place they chose to come to. The distance that separates them from it is incalculable. Maybe it’s only the width of a thoroughfare, maybe it’s a world away. The place has lost what made it a destination. It has lost its territory of experience.
Sometimes a few of these travelers undertake a private journey and find the place they wished to reach, which is often harsher than they foresaw, although they discover it with boundless relief. Many never make it. They accept the signs they follow and it’s as if they don’t travel, as if they always remain where they already are.
More than thirty years ago Guy Debord prophetically wrote: “the accumulation of mass-produced commodities for the abstract space of the market, just as it has smashed all regional and legal barriers, and all corporate restrictions of the Middle Ages that maintained the quality of artisanal production, has also destroyed the autonomy and quality of places.”
The key term of the present global chaos is de- or relocalization. This does not only refer to the practice of moving production to wherever labor is cheapest and regulations minimal. It also contains the offshore demented dream of the new ongoing power: the dream of undermining the status of and confidence in all previous fixed places, so that the entire world becomes a single fluid market.
The consumer is essentially somebody who feels or is made to feel lost unless he or she is consuming. Brand names and logos become the place names of the Nowhere.
Other signs announcing FREEDOM or DEMOCRACY, terms plundered from earlier historical periods, are also used to confuse. In the past a common tactic employed by those defending their homeland against invaders was to change the road signs so that the one indicating ZARAGOZA pointed in the opposite direction toward BURGOS. Today it is not defenders but invaders who switch signs to confuse local populations, confuse them about who is governing whom, the nature of happiness, the extent of grief, or where eternity is to be found. And the aim of all these misdirections is to persuade people that being a client is the ultimate salvation.
Yet clients are defined by where they check out and pay, not by where they live and die.
The concept of citizen-selected leadership itself is ancient, but we are witnessing today the latest chapter in how technology is strengthening that democracy, one byte at a time._______________________
One need look no further than the 140-character updates streaming in from Iran on Twitter, the photostreams pouring in on Flickr, and the blossoming Facebook pages to understand and appreciate the revolutionary effect social media has had on how civilizations engage in and react to democracy.
The saying popping up over the last several hours has already become cliche: the revolution will not be televised, it will be Twittered. Stripping away the hyperbole of that statement and we are left with the very real and grounded fact that the way citizens across the world organize, react, and participate has forever been altered by the cornucopia of 21st century mediums, each of which presents a new platform for how citizens interact with and even select their government.
In print, that other medium, Maureen Dowd tackles the media’s HDTV problem. Dowd focuses on the fear that is stoked in the hearts of celebrities when they must face a camera that examines every pore and imperfection. The internet is HDTV for democracy. Its hyper-realism—in full display in caught-on-tape videos and 140 character streams of consciousness—empowers citizens to explore every aspect of their democracy, from what’s going on in City Hall to what’s really taking place in the White House. Politicians, previously enjoying the soft-focus glow of a complacent press corps, now face the critical eye of thousands of citizen journalists. Governments, previously able to control and improve their images internally through control of the media, now cannot control the masses of citizens, armed with cell-phones, video cameras, and laptops, that will scrutinize their every move.
Americans, Iranians, and populations across the globe are still adjusting to this high-definition version of democracy. At the moment, it’s a messy, grainy, frantic transition from the obedient to the obeyed. We are still a long way off from the realization of what it means for a government to be both "by" and "for" the people, much less an actualization of that concept. But byte by byte, chip by chip, the wall between governments and their people is eroding. And thanks to today’s technology, we can watch it all happen online, frame by frame and tweet by tweet.
Photography for me:
Personal, Emotional, Therapeutic…
text and photos by Douglas Ljungkvist
My personal work is more about feelings and moods rather than decisive moments. It’s confessional and therapeutic, too. Control is an important aspect for someone with social anxiety. Many photographers wait for something to happen in the frame. I usually wait for people to leave the frame. Metaphorically I often replace people with static and controllable objects or include people as blurred foreground objects. My series of discarded items is a good example of that. I would call my personal photography vernacular urban landscape photography.(....)
Douglas Ljungkvist Photography
I embrace my social anxiety as a part of who I am and a big part of my photographic voice. As I mentioned earlier, I love the solitary pursuit and my intuitive process. Seldom do I feel more energized than when traveling and photographing in a new city for the fist time. I've met many strangers and fellow photographers thanks to photography. My ADD allows me to work on multiple projects simultaneously and keeps me from getting bored (needless to say I'm not a fan of the Düsseldorf School of Photography). So you see, photography is the perfect career for me from a process, lifestyle, passion, and self expression perspective.
From Among Hundreds of Masts
d. June 15, 1889
From among hundreds of masts
Leaving shores and banks and bays,
Are there many to be lost
Broken by the winds and waves?
From among birds of passage,
Flying over lands and seas,
Are there many to be drowned
By the waves and by the sea?
If you chase away your luck
Or ideals, all you have,
You are followed everywhere
By the winds and by the waves.
Undeciphered is the thought
That keeps passing through your chants
As they fly, they murmur it
All these winds and all these waves.
- Translation by Gabriela Bernea
Mihai Eminescu - Poetry - 1 2
The Cute Cat Theory Talk at ETech
I’d offer the hypothesis that any sufficiently advanced read/write technology will get used for two purposes: pornography and activism. Porn is a weak test for the success of participatory media - it’s like tapping a mike and asking, “Is it on?” If you’re not getting porn in your system, it doesn’t work. Activism is a stronger test - if activists are using your tools, it’s a pretty good indication that your tools are useful and usable.(....)
With web 2.0, we’ve embarced the idea that people are going to share pictures of their cats, and now we build sophisticated tools to make that easier to do. as a result, we’re creating a wealth of tech that’s extremely helpful for activists. There are twin revolutions going on - the ease of creating content and the ease of sharing it with local and global audiences.
via I cite
One man's normal is another's armed escort
This is a country desperate to be seen as returning to normal. But is it? Can it ever? And, after a generation lost to war, isolation and occupation, would the Iraqi people even know "normal" if they saw it?
A trip to Baghdad is one surreal experience after another, almost all of them involving the highly paid private security contractors that have become the enduring symbol of this conflict.
Everywhere are the sad eyes of the Iraqi people themselves, the men looking straight into your own eyes searching for some indication that we believe their claims that things are getting better, when one doubts they believe it themselves.
There was just too much evidence to the contrary, sometimes frightening and sometimes odd, even humorous, to believe than normalcy was anywhere near.
via riley dog
Mainstreaming Right-Wing Extremism, Eliminationism, Violence
The accusation that the American media are biased towards liberalism has been so common and repeated so often that it's pretty much reached the point of accepted wisdom by now. People don't repeat it anymore as a conclusion to an argument, but rather as an unquestioned premise in some other argument. As a result, no one bothers to even look for any evidence to support this position; if they did, they would find that not only is the evidence not there, but in fact there is significant evidence for very different — and far more disturbing — conclusions._______________________
Anyone who looks very closely at what sorts of material, views, and ideas keep being repeated in America's news media will find not only a surfeit of conservative ideas as compared to liberal ideas, but in fact an incredible amount of right-wing extremism that is presented without any attempt at critique or challenge. News talk shows frequently host multiple guests who are all very conservative and maybe one moderate — yet no liberals, much less far-left liberals.
Thus extremist ideas, beliefs, and claims are presented to the public as if they were normal and justified. News media regularly feature extremists making claims about Obama being a secret Muslim or not really being an American citizen, about America becoming more fascist because of government spending, that God is punishing America for being tolerant of gays or abortion, that basic liberal government policies are really examples of creeping socialism, and so forth.
Featuring such claims as legitimate "news" might be almost forgivable if the news media at least tried to exercise a bit of "balance" by giving equal attention to ideas that can be found on the equivalent extremes of the left side of the political spectrum. Then again, there is little to be found that far out to the left — yet even those who do qualify as being "far-left" in American politics are completely ignored by the media. Indeed, even just those who might qualify as "very liberal" and "very progressive" rarely get much attention from the mainstream news media.
God, Guns, and Blood on the Wire
In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, deeply held religious beliefs became the scaffolding for a broad, and often violent, white nationalist movement
The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers
Over the past few months, right-wing extremists have unleashed a series of attacks that have included the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, increased attacks on abortion clinics, the killing of three police officers in Pittsburgh, and the shootings at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, June 10.
"In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the deeply held religious beliefs of an assortment of white nationalists became the scaffolding for a broad, and often violent, movement of racists and anti-Semites. Leonard Zeskind'r recent book, "Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream," details the growth of this movement and why they are not to be ignored.
Zeskind told CNN that at this point, the "shooting cannot be shown to be motivated by the fact that Barack Obama is president. "What white nationalists believe is that Barack Obama confirms their worst fears about the United States, that the government is in the hands of people that they consider racial aliens," Zeskind said. "It's a confirmation of long-held beliefs rather than something entirely new."
Hard-core haters resolutely dismiss any “mainstream media” debunking of their conspiracy theories. The only voices that might penetrate their alternative reality — I emphasize might — belong to conservative leaders with the guts and clout to step up as McCain did last fall. Where are they? The genteel public debate in right-leaning intellectual circles about the conservative movement’s future will be buried by history if these insistent alarms are met with silence.
Profil de Lumiere
The Shudder and the Other
And if, "Knowingness is a state of soul which prevents shudders of awe," then, too, "aesthetic comportment is to be defined as the capacity to shudder ... life in the subject is nothing but what shudders, the reaction to the total spell that transcends the spell. Consciousness without shudder is reified consciousness. The shudder in which subjectivity stirs without yet being subjectivity is the act of being touched by the other." _______________________
Theodor W Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Burn the Panopticon: Irigaray's Ethics, Difference, Poetics
At last, we arrive at a "conclusion," one that opens on a future instead of closing on the past. Wonder is a faculty of the mind, lust one of the body. In an ethics and poetics of difference honors, promotes, embraces and is curious about the differences between wonder and lust, the mind and the body, thought and pleasure. These "opposites" must be made to harmonize, to resonate with each other. The subject-self represented by the ideal subjectivity of the poet has burned the Panopticon within. She or he works to eliminate the paranoid watcher, the jailer, who sees the other as only a "hostile freedom" or as only an object of use. This section of the essay describes that subjectivity, its Diotiman relation with itself and the other-subject. At last, here the argument is completed that this mode of subjectivity and selfhood is the key to a future of mutual fecundity, of mutual and healthy expansion of self and spirit in a future history other than the bloody and bilious past._______________________
What these ventured subject-selves need in themselves is a rebirth of wonder, self-reliance, and courtesy. People seem, these days, a little sick from experience, callused. Not that this condition is really our fault. Very few people are trained to remain open to possibility, to seek action, to remain compassionate while protecting themselves from scarring in the face of one global, national, local or private atrocity after another. It is a very difficult balance, and a disaffected kind of withdrawal seems the most common response to it all. But that ironic apathy will not do. Wonder may be the way out.
It is so silent all around me that I can hear
the moonbeams when they strike the windows.
a stranger’s voice has come awake
singing of a longing that is not mine.
Bent also maintains Lumpy pudding
and Ordinary Finds
Petals Of Zero Petals Of One
Panning the river of where
he went for signs of where I
went, the gunmetal blue in
hemlock & water, rush grass
I can start
again can start again:
the moon is awaiting a
makeover, sun plays
satisfied with itself
& a speedboat
its destiny on the dark
for don’t know who,
do not know why the wasp
the pebble, purslane &
tree line, unable to
stay on the coast of a
concept a singular
thing that only happens
hail, rain, wave
upon wave, someone,
somebody else: & his
ragdoll figures of difference
with their foreign, faceless
god, that it runs,
rattles to & fro
before running out
as a woman, at the end
of a party, will up &
scarf & gloves
behind, the sky eliding
from damask to cobalt
varicose over the barn,
& zydeco light
yard, open never open
enough in a winter at one
remove— oh look a
cloud that slipped its
drift & got
Daniel Shoemaker reviews Petals of Zero Petals of One
Jennifer K Dick reviewsAnabranch by Andrew Zawacki
Afterwards: Slovenian writing, 1945-1995
b. 14th June, 1904
1 2 3
Photographing the Representative American:
Margaret Bourke-White in the Depression
Margaret Bourke-White History Making Photojournalist and Social Activist
Margaret Bourke-White: A Photographer's Life_______________________
what is false consciousness?
" Only in Candida’s presence does the magic have no power over me: then is and remains Mr. Zinnober a dumb, dreadful mandrake!”
Who does not feel these terrible moments of surrender? And must projection drive out projection and so on, without end? "
We all know that false consciousness can be manufactured by the yard, like ribbon. We have merely to pick up a newspaper or see a movie to confirm this belief. In fact, the most popular story about false consciousness, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’ New Clothes, uses thread as the emblem of false consciousness – for in its essence, false consciousness is that nothing at all for which someone gets paid. And haven’t we seen them sewing the invisible thread? What was Tarp, what was the Iraq war, but the work of the tailors? Who wove justifications through which it was quite easy to see – it was quite easy to see that Iraq, a country that had been crippled by ten years of sanctions, couldn’t even properly attack its breakaway Northern half, much less threaten a power that spends more on the military each year than the rest of the world spends in five years. Just as it was quite easy to see that the middle and working class, hit by a business cycle that had been put in motion by the financial sector, were going to pay the people, pay them richly, who had caused the disaster, all in the name of an essential function that they had not performed in years, and have no plans to perform in the future: moving capital into venues productive of the social good.
The problem is that false consciousness implies true consciousness, but who manufactures the later? Or are we to assume that it isn’t manufactured at all?
Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?
William Butler Yeats
June 13, 1865 - January 28, 1939
WHY should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.
from On The Boiler
Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world pierced by a ray of sunlight, and suddenly it is evening.
poet, critic, and translator
August 20, 1901 - June 14, 1968
The Poet and the Politician
—in translation by Anny Ballardini
eratio poetic language issue six, fall 2005
Thanatos Athànatosin Drunken Boat 7,Spring 2005
translated by Wayne Chambliss
And must I now recant,
God of tumors, God of the living flower,
and begin again with a no
to the dark stone “I am,”
consent to death and inscribe
on every tomb our only certainty: Thanatos Athànatos?
Lacking a name to describe
the dreams, the tears, the fury
of a man defeated by questions unanswered?
Our dialogue changes;
becomes, quite possibly, absurd.
There--beyond the mist,
within the trees, the potency of the leaves--
true is the river that clings to its banks.
Life is not a dream.
True is Man and his invidious plan of silence.
God of silence, open the solitude.
that we would provoke a nearness, sitting inside the sunlight knowing grass was no less sunlight, nor were we: there we found already we were wrong. What vicinity unconcealed itself between us — its disposition of cautious advance, rapids a fervid assurance under the bridge — solicited the distance we sought to erase. Shoots enfolded in green, translucent foil, the ground evolved according to inarticulate parry and play, as rosebushes stood on their roses, roots awave in a zephyr, distracted by a formal mouth that moved, was moved upon. In disparity, a givenness conferred: cantus hailing a corner of winter, a summons pressed together and scattered apart. To set a preposition at a vertical affording a view, to dance with parentheses, dance with a stone, to blind and be blinded by, to make up words for what would not otherwise enter and fly in the face of: we drew closer by drawing one pace away, turning forward and turning — different — back. Sun was only a legible smear of the absence it disguised: a shirt, a dress, the red of a cloud, this wounded thing that carried itself through the maiden, the missing snow. There was no hypocrisy in the forfeit thought of a door. That we would be as anabranch to each other: air that opens and closes in air, wind that opens and closes inside the wind.
Time Standing Still
Global Warming, Globalization, and Environmental Literary History
... the incommensurability of the problems we face and Natural Capitalism's seemingly pragmatic response gets more glaring by the day. For instance, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, does a great job of presenting all the latest scientific facts and figures about global warming, and it gives jaw-dropping examples of the potential consequences of inaction. Then, in its last five minutes, the film addresses its audience directly, taking up the question of what is to be done. Its answer is that viewers should reduce their personal carbon emissions by carpooling, checking their tire pressure, buying low-wattage light bulbs, changing the settings on their thermostats, and so on. This conclusion falls horribly flat after the film has spent so much time showing that climate change is a global problem, driven by impersonal socio-economic forces like the hydrocarbon economy and population growth. Likewise, Ecocriticism has accomplished a tremendously important task in the last two decades by demonstrating that we can learn a great deal about the planet and our relationship with it by studying representations of nature in literature. But when ecocritics suggest that if enough people will just read Walden or Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, then Earth's fever will break, it's a little like telling people to buy umbrellas to ward off Katrina. It reveals a profound ignorance of the total environments in which the world's workers and poor struggle to survive._______________________
Despite the continuing dominance of ecocritical neo-Romanticism, a small group of scholars has been working steadily to develop more theoretically sophisticated approaches to the environmental history of literature and culture. They are a diverse group and cannot be said to constitute a definite sub-discipline, but in surveying their work, I've identified several points of agreement that I'd like to synthesize into a theoretical framework for a redefined critical practice in which we tell environmental histories of literature and culture rooted in the world's archives, and we do so with the specific goal of refuting the newly dominant ideology of Natural Capitalism.
Imaginary Maps, Global Solidarities
Incommensurably large with respect to human perception, what we call "the world" appears first in the domain of representation – most concisely in the form of maps. For the literary mind, a map is the round earth on a flat sheet of paper, the planet at your fingertips: an invitation to dream of far-off continents and climes. In practical terms, a map is the graphic or computer-generated depiction of a clearly outlined territory, with features that are natural (mountains, oceans, rivers) or artificial (highways, cities, borders). Most people use these printed or pixellated guides to get somewhere, asking only for effectiveness in motion. Yet so-called "thematic maps" (or "information graphics") carry a far wider range of knowledge about human beings and their activities, their relations to each other and to the environment (demography, industrial production, political orientation, cultural and linguistic grouping, educational levels, infrastructure, etc.). What's more, topological figures, derived from landforms and mathematics, are now used to chart processes and relations outside any geographic frame, the most obvious example being the virtual realms of the Internet. In these representational adventures we rediscover the terra incognita of the ancient cartographers. By condensing complex information about the human world, thematic maps can have the uncanny effect of making us feel disoriented – lost amidst the flows and the conflicts. In a period of political, social, and technological upheaval like the one we're living through now, when ordinary people find themselves entangled in processes of global scale every day, maps can help us to expand our perception of ourselves, of our present situation and our closest or most far-off possibilities. The stuff of dreams then mingles with the challenge of reality. But how to meet that challenge, the way one meets another human being on common ground?_______________________
My conviction is that we need radically inventive maps exactly like we need radical political movements: to go beyond received ideas and orders, in fact, to go beyond representation, to rediscover and share the space-creating potentials of a revolutionary imagination. In the thoughts and images gathered in these pages you will find an extensive, intensive and sometimes borderline-delirious exploration of the ways that maps allow us to constitute an image of the world, to move through the physical world that confronts us, and to exchange our worldviews and our experiences with the others whose solidarity we depend on.
Where do maps meet the intricacies of minds, bodies, aspirations?
Nomenklatura of Signs
Warring out of depression
Roosevelt used Keynesianism at home and war abroad to save capitalism. But Obama is not inheriting Roosevelt's circumstances; his war will fail, and his "Keynesian" measures remain so contaminated with neoliberalism's residues that it will leave the US domestic economy in a shambles that his dangerous (potentially nuclear) military adventures will only exacerbate._______________________
Obama is applying an anachronism in his emulation of FDR, and compounding his foolishness by taking a page or two from the LBJ/Nixon playbooks for Vietnam, as we see in his nomination of the smooth-talking torture-chief and “unconventional” warfare commander, Stanley McChrystal, to head up the Afghanistan-Pakistan surge, coming soon to a theater near you. The Phoenix Program redux… writ larger still.
I shouldn’t blame Obama; and I don’t really. But he’s the name and address where the buck stops these gray days as the foundations of the Empire crack: pyramiding debt, weakening dollar hegemony, and the myth of American military invincibility unmasked. He gets to be at the helm during that ambiguous phase where he is subordinate to domestic political forces that are still in place but threatening to go under — Wall Street on the one hand, and an increasingly anxious Suburbia that delivers votes for the candidates and policies that Wall Street approves. He’s mortgaged the future of the great political bloc of Suburbia in order to rescue Wall Street — from his perspective, and the perspective of all Chief Executives of the US state, an inevitable decision.
It is that inevitability that defines Obama’s powerlessness… and the powerlessness of us all here in the wounded core nation.
Paul Craig Roberts
The power of irrational fear in the US is extraordinary. It ranks up there with the Israel Lobby, the military/security complex, and the financial gangsters. Indeed, fear might be the most powerful force in America.
Americans are at ease with their country’s aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, which has resulted in a million dead Muslim civilians and several million refugees, because the US government has filled Americans with fear of terrorists. “We have to kill them over there before they come over here.”
Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps, apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.
Most Americans dismiss such reports. “It can’t happen here.” However, In northeastern Florida not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.
What is it for?
In other news, I have decided that Continental Philosophy in Britain, both in its turgid, nepotistic, insanely conservative academic form and its concomitant fan-boy-looking-for-a-new-master-oh-boo-hoo-now-it's-too-popular-I-don't-like-this-band-any-more forms are to be derided, dismissed and disregarded.
- infinite thØught
Owen Hatherley interview
I've occasionally been accused of a nostalgia for Modernism, and there's a lot of it about nowadays. There's a difference though, between nostalgia and archaeology, between historical materialism and museum culture...and this is why I invoked Walter Benjamin, because without degenerating into the nothing-will-ever-happen-again time of postmodernism, his philosophy suggests a kind of temporality where creating a new society doesn't necessarily involve a linear advance towards the glorious future, something about which we have every right to be dubious, and which the right does just as well as the left – note the Blairite language of 'modernisation', or of 'no turning back'.
V.I Lenin gave a wonderful definition of dialectics which sums up what I was trying to do, I hope successfully:
a development that, as it were, repeats stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis - a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line; a development by leaps, catastrophes and revolutions; ‘breaks in continuity’... the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon (history ever revealing new aspects) - these are some of the features of dialectics as a doctrine of development that is superior to the conventional one.
Owen Hatherley's blog - sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy
his first book -- Militant Modernism
Cooling Tower and Apples
John Wood: On the Edge of Clear Meaning
Grey Art Gallery
via gmtPlus9 (-15)
Triangle in the Landscape
Eleven Second 90 Degree Turn of a Paper Triangle
August 6, 1985 (Hiroshima Day)
John Wood: Quiet Protest
A Photographer Who Refused to Think Like a Photographer
Beginning in the 1950s, he made unique objects with combinations of drawing, collage, printmaking and early forms of photography (cyanotype, photogram, cliché-verre). The only rule, to paraphrase Jasper Johns, seems to be: Take a photograph. Do something to it. Do something else to it.(....)_______________________
The quality of his works varies as much as the process. Some are simple cut-and-paste jobs; others require an understanding of darkroom wizardry. But in the best of them, impure photography becomes pure poetry.
The path is created by walking
Translation from the German by Kai Kresse.
...the internet provides some means for a new path, breaking with monological decisiveness, a new path to a polyphone vitality eliminating all borders. However, there remain many hurdles which are hard to overcome: poverty, language, oppression; or the hurdles in ourselves. Establishing borders that negate humanity and culture often provokes protest and justifiable civil disobedience._______________________
This is so in times of terror and helplessness in the face of such negations caused by conflicts and wars; in oppression and exploitation; in wrestling intellectually to create paths towards a promising future in our globalizing world; or due to the concrete experiences of otherness, the worry about the self and the search for self-identity, or the quest for historical justice. Intercultural philosophy has many faces and languages; it is pluralistic from the outset. It takes inspiration and encouragement from the multiplicity of discussions in which voices from all over the world find listeners, without being lost in arbitrariness.
Something fails to realize
(1954 - 2006)
Something fails to realize, something casts another other opaque profit bloom elsewhere. I ask someone for more time in a field of time, where there is a chokehold on language, in the masses, in the throat, in a gag reaction, in the unbroken people yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Afraid to speak to something anything, fearing the fear of fear, afraid to speak to the fear of fear, or tell tale hearts turning to something rewritten to too many forgotten first mistaken, before not written. To be sure, someone invades the margins, secures the premises, quotation marks disappear and reappear. Everyone attempts to guess who is looking under what underneath layer of flesh. The many missing, impossible possible, overdetermined nonbelievers, acknowledge the road does not exist, the line does not exist, forever is forever broken, never a conduit for listening, call out, our blood is your blood, our house is your house, listening for another exit possibility to exist, in another other's cry for love
Horizons of Media Theory in America and Germany
John Durham Peters
In linking a national civilization (America) with media, this conference suggests a road less traveled in media studies. Media studies as a field has generally taken three main forms. One is textual and interpretive: to read and figure out what is taking place, for example, in The Sopranos. Part of the historic burden of this approach is to defend the cultural worth of media texts as comparable to the literary canon. The second is social and explanatory: to understand the demographics, uses and gratifications, or interpretive resources of audiences. Part of the historic burden here is to defend audiences from the charge of being mindless blobs (to rescue them, in part, from the Frankfurt School). The third is historical and institutional: the political economy of media industries, including their laws and policies. Part of the historic burden here is carrying on the Enlightenment fight against concentrated power of the market and the state, a fight that can take liberal, populist or Marxist forms. It doesn't take much squinting to see that all three faces of the media studies triangle - text, audience, and industry - are tied to an implicitly democratic project: redeeming popular culture, crediting civic intelligence, and creating access for ordinary voices. American studies of course shares much of this spirit, both generous and anxious._______________________
But there is another, more elusive, tradition of media studies that ponders the civilizational stakes of media as a cultural complex.
The Consolations of Pessimism
Alain de Botton
It's time to recognize how odd and counterproductive is the optimism on which we have grown up.
City Journal Spring 2009
The Desert Island And The Missing People [PDF]
Translated by Justin Clemens
Deleuze could never have written on the arts. He could never have given us tools for interpreting them. Because, contra the procedure that interprets and explicates works, his own consists in extracting from them modes of existence. A strange project that implies that cinematographic images, literary or pictorial images are indiscernible from things of the world, from beings or bodies. Identified with phenomena or with the ensemble of what appears, the images sustained by art neither have a different status from those of other forms of experience, nor a specific perceptible matter: images are things themselves, and, as such, they only have value through the modes of life and activity that they recount to us and which they allow us to see. Such is the relation that Deleuze knotted between art and philosophy. Art is practically always invoked, but finally by never being there, or rather by being always already there as a form of life. This identification between art and life is the index that we must grasp to be up to considering—and naming—what Deleuze does with art. In effect, if Deleuze doesn’t write on art, then of what does he speak when he appeals to Vertov, Rouch, Perrault, the Straubs? What does he do when he speaks to us of cinema? We propose the following response: he speaks to us of belief and fabulation, he manufactures giants, he recounts mythological tales, he appeals to a missing people. What is this tortuous project then, perhaps unfinished, where art, at the same time that it is caught in questions of images and signs, works more subterraneanly for the fabrication of mythical figures and for the recovery of beliefs that bind men to the world? Is it a question of a political project, of the construction of a fable, of a utopian program?Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane
Five Spot Café
The Jazz of Social Media
... while traditional marketers and MBAs and HR folk understand what it feels like to “broadcast their message,” they don’t know what it feels like to “jam,” to play with micromarkets in an already-in-progress composition, an evolving melody, on the market’s own stage, in the customer’s own house._______________________
You see, Marketing 1.0 had charts.
Social Media is improvisational.
It really comes down to that.
It’s a struggle for classical marketers to feel comfortable playing social media jazz, because engaging with your market can feel REALLY uncomfortable. You can get dirty. It doesn’t always sound right. You have to Let Go. You can be misinterpreted. You don’t always look good. You can’t control the flow.
chora and nous
Mary Ann Sullivan and Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino
A kinesthetic illustration of the synthesis
of Plato's theory of chora and Anaxagora's theory of nous,
as they pertain to poetic language.
The Tower Journal Summer 2009
Up out of
the suppurating vocabulary
and monosyllabic wad-
rancor of dunghills
literary and down
into the dulcet
moiling accruals of
the natural world,
oh yuh. Petulant
Charles Mingus, bolster-
big and tired
of a hammer’d
suburban drunk’s haranguing
commands, thrusts it
out like Sisyphus,
the bull stanchion
of the bass:
“You play it.”
And isn’t writing’s
work a little
like that? No.
Photographs and Writings
Plep - NY
Cinema As A Democratic Emblem
Translated by Alex Ling and Aurélien Mondon
Philosophy only exists insofar as there are paradoxical relations, relations which fail to connect, or should not connect. When every connection is naturally legitimate, philosophy is impossible or in vain.
Philosophy is the violence done by thought to impossible relations.
Today, which is to say “after Deleuze,” there is a clear requisitioning of philosophy by cinema — or of cinema by philosophy. It is therefore certain that cinema offers us paradoxical relations, entirely improbable connections.
The preformed philosophical response comes down to saying that cinema is an untenable relation between total artifice and total reality. Cinema simultaneously offers the possibility of a copy of reality and the entirely artificial dimension of this copy. With contemporary technologies, cinema is capable of producing the real artifice of the copy of a false copy of the real, or again, the false real copy of a false real. And other variations. This amounts to saying that cinema has become the immediate form (or “technique”) of an ancient paradox, that of the relations between being and appearance (which are far more fundamental than the relations everywhere exhibited between the virtual and the actual). We can thus proclaim cinema to be an ontological art. Many critics, André Bazin in particular, have been saying this for a long time.
I would like to enter into the question in an infinitely simpler and more empirical manner, removed from all philosophical preformation, starting with the elucidation of a statement: cinema is a “mass art.”
From Barthes to Foucault and beyond – Cycling in the Age of Empire
'Whilst the onomania lasted, bickerings and divisions endured.'
Barthes is right in that he tells us that there is an onomastics of the Tour.
But in the time since Barthes, in a manner the semiotician may not have envisaged, that onomastics has descended from the heights of myth and epic having the status of Greek gods. They have descended from being these lofty signs of the valor of the ordeal, of beings signs of old European ways and ethnicity – Brankart le Franc, Bobet le Francien, Robic le Celte, Ruiz l’Ibere, Darrigade le Gascon; to being patronymics of the biopolitical, of homo sacer and the spectacle that sustains Empire.
Although Barthes' idea of an onomastics of the Tour still holds fast, sadly, in the time in which we live, Barthes' classic piece on the Tour de France as Epic no longer depicts the essence of events such as la Grande Boucle.
Cycling, entangled in the process of its own globalisation, is a game in flux. It is no longer the pure myth or epic as Roland Barthes wrote. Mont Ventoux remains a moonscape, bare, barren, rising out of the lavender plains of Provence and on this landscape those playing this game are no longer heroes of epic proportions but bare life, homo sacer.
The precarity of existence better depicts the state of the peloton today: Free as the birds to soar to the greatest heights – Pantani, Rasmussen, Dajka, Valverde, Vinnicombe, Vinokourov … the list is endless; but unlike those Greek gods of the time of Barthes in this age they are free to be shot down at a whim.
The onomastics of the Tour today is an onomastics of criminality.
Cycling has always been an assemblage and a line of flight – from the factory, the farm, from the peloton itself. Cycling finds itself in the eye of the storm as the processes of globalisation seek to reform it in their own image. On the frontline is the very body of the cyclist – this is the object of control.
Lines ForSix Poems from "One Hundred Etudes"
A Fortune Cookie
For Heiner Müller
He who has
Something in his
Grimace can face
The grim reasoning
Of those who
Have nothing but
The Ultimate Land
translated by Ünal Aytür
he thinks that waking up is of the nature of enchantment.
This life turning into a broken mirror, a cristal bowl, offers him
piecemeal inconstant sights.
If only he knew how to take, if only he said or could say
it was richness,
if only he saw that the day he awaited expectantly is
not different from today.
The present time turns into yesterday in an instant.
He goes and squats under a tree.
As if he could conquer his fears in this serenity...
Would it be better if he knew the world he refused is lodged in him?
But I haven’t interfered with anybody’s life, he says.
A butterfly flaps wings in obscurity,
far away, somebody writhes with pain.(...)
He tries to walk through the dust,
earth and sky merge,
life advises him to protect himself, to run,
and to make a bouquet out of the signs flying about.
Has he understood?
Those awkward sentences he’s constructed, can they be read in
his eyes in future?
Behind words, sentences, and voices there’s a world;
tell him to communicate with it.
That dream surrounding the world, may it be broken,
and may voice take on matter...
May signs finally get reborn and merge with substances...
If only this ultimate and which they say is not for him was his land;
If he could touch words here, take them in his hand and fling them
towards moonlight, he would attain language; he could be daring, he
could be lost.
Will he be clever enough to say, love is to understand.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves, but worse.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
July 28, 1844 - 8 June, 1889
Quietism rises up
and yawns the deeper answer:
Things to do on Christopher Street.
When the cat’s away,
the mice play hardball:
Lock and load.
a nasal passage:
Pinch a loaf.
Ben Friedlander at PennSound
Benjamin Friedlander: Poet's Sampler
Religions have promised immortality and certainty in afterlives of various kinds, but for many today this is an inadequate antidote to despair. There are people who want to focus on the present and in it to feel a sense of exultation in being alive here and now, not in a postponed ‘later.’ This desire cuts across all class, race, gender, political and economic lines. In some religious lore, the ruins of human forms will be restored to their original states, protected and enhanced by the omniscient, enduring power of a divine entity. But for those who feel this is too late, the postponement of a full existence is less than ideal. For them, the present–always both decaying and coming into being, certain only in its uncertainty, perfect only in its imperfection–must be a kind of existential ideal. The ruins of something once useful or beautiful or symbolic of human achievement, speaks of the cycles of growth and decay that animate our lives and give them particular meaning relative to time and place. This is the way existence goes, and therefore we must find our exultation in confronting its ambiguity, even its confusion of losses and gains.
The role of art in all this has varied historically and is very much open to question from the viewpoint of the present. The painting and poetry of the Romantic era made extensive use of ruins to symbolize what was called The Sublime, a kind of exalted state of knowing and experience very similar to religious transcendence, lacking only the trappings of the church and overt references to God. Hovering close to religion, Romantic ruins were old, even ancient, venerable. They were cleansed of the sudden violence or slow decay that created them. There was something Edenic about them— Piranesi’s Rome, Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” Friedrich’s “Wreck of the Hope.” The best of such works are unsentimental but highly idealized, located intellectually and emotionally between the programmed horror of Medieval charnel houses and the affected nostalgia for a lost innocence of much architecture and painting of the late nineteenth century.
Taken together, these earlier conceptions are a long way from the fresh ruins of the fallen Twin Towers, the wreckage of Sarajevo, the blasted towns of Iraq, which are still bleeding, open wounds in our personal and collective psyches. Having witnessed these wounds—and in a palpable sense having received them–gives us no comfortable distance in which to rest and reflect on their meaning in a detached way. Hence, works of art that in some way allude to or employ these contemporary ruins cannot rely on mere depictions or representations—today that is the sober role of journalism, which must report what has happened without interpretation, aesthetic or otherwise. Rather it is for art to interpret, from highly personal points of view, what has happened and is still happening. In the narrow time-frame of the present, with its extremes of urgency and uncertainty, art can only do this by forms of direct engagement with the events and sites of conflict. In doing so, it gives up all claims to objectivity and neutrality. It gets involved. By getting involved, it becomes entangled in the events and contributes—for good and ill—to their shaping.
Thinking of Goya, Dix, Köllwitz, and so many others who bore witness and gave immediacy to conflict and the ruins of its aftermath, we realize that today the situation is very different. Because of instantaneous, world-wide reportage through electronic media, there no longer exists a space of time between the ruining of places, towns, cities, peoples, cultures and our affective awareness of them. Artists who address these situations are obliged to work almost simultaneously with them. Those ambitious to make masterpieces for posterity would do well to stay away, as no one of sensibility has the stomach for merely aestheticizing today’s tragic ruins. Imagine calling in Piranesi to make a series of etchings of the ruins of the Twin Towers. They would probably be powerful and original, but only for a future generation caring more for the artist’s intellectual and aesthetic mastery of his medium than for the immediacy of his work’s insights and interpretations. Contemporary artists cannot assume a safe aesthetic distance from the ruins of the present, or, if they do, they risk becoming exploitative.
How might the ruins of today, still fresh with human suffering, be misused by artists? The main way is using them for making money. This is a tough one, because artists live by the sale of their works. Even if a work of art addressing ruins is self-commissioned and donated, some money still comes as a result of publicity, book sales, lectures, teaching offers and the like. Authors of such works are morally tainted from the start. All they can do is admit that fact and hope that the damage they do is outweighed by some good. It is a very tricky position to occupy, and I would imagine that no artists today could or should make a career out of ruins and the human tragedies to which they testify.
Lebbeus Woods and Kiki Smith
via la main gauche
A Different Sound_______________________
There’s a different sound to the month of June with broader bandwidth silences between motor noises in distant skies, or close at hand on the road, these long, delicious silences perhaps reflecting certain rare moments in adolescence when the rigid, confining, imperious adult world of education, politics, peers & family impinged upon a grand desire for Freedom. Silences of Freedom heard in their broader bandwidths heralding return of subtle, internal revolt against the world’s prescriptions. ... June with her broader bandwidth silences between dog moans & children’s cries, between fears & angst of a newer world gone wrong, again, the unmistakable & recognizable silent tone of June I crave & savor.
b. June 7, 1943
it's not the crutches we decry
it’s the need to move forward
though we haven’t the strength
women aren’t allowed to need
so they develop rituals
since we all know working hands idle
women aren’t supposed to be strong
so they develop social smiles
and secret drinking problems
and female lovers whom they never touch
except in dreams
men are supposed to be strong
so they have heart attacks
and develop other women
who don’t know their weaknesses
and hide their fears
behind male lovers
whom they religiously touch
each saturday morning on the basketball court
it’s considered a sign of health doncha know
that they take such good care
of their bodies
i'm trying to say something about the human condition
maybe i should try again
if you broke an arm or leg
a crutch would be a sign of courage
people would sign your cast
and you could bravely explain
no it doesn’t hurt—it just itches
but if you develop an itch
there are no salves to cover the area
in need of attention
and for whatever guilt may mean
we would feel guilty for trying
to assuage the discomfort
and even worse for needing the aid
i really want to say something about all of us
am i shouting i want you to hear me
emotional falls always are
and there are no crutches
to swing back on
The Tree of Influence
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
June 7, 1868 – December 10, 1928
After Bacon’s death in 1992, his studio was moved from London to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and the excavations began. Barbara Dawson, director of the gallery, relates in her foreword to Incunabula how “the archaeologists made survey and elevation drawings of the space before taking out the material item by item.” The debris was carefully sifted through in the city where Bacon was born, back in 1909. Dawson and her colleagues realized, as the dig proceeded, that he must have been fascinated by the ever-shifting significance of pictures juxtaposedoften by chance—on the studio floor. Their meanings are multifarious, and Dawson is convinced that Bacon relished “this surrealist ‘exquisite corpse’ connection between objects.”
The longer we study the images reproduced so handsomely in this book, the more we appreciate how indispensable they were to the artist himself. Harrison emphasizes that “the study of these objects is still in its infancy, but the first criterion governing this new selection was that it should reflect the great diversity of Bacon’s visual archive.” All signs indicate that this archive’s continuing stimulus was essential to him. Bacon moved into 7 Reece Mews in the summer of 1961 yet seems to have been dependent on what he called his “source imagery” well before then.
June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000
"The Kindergarten of New Consciousness":
The Lovers of the Poor
arrive. The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment
Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting
In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag
Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting
Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair,
The pink paint on the innocence of fear;
Walk in a gingerly manner up the hall.
Cutting with knives served by their softest care,
Served by their love, so barbarously fair.
Whose mothers taught: You'd better not be cruel!
You had better not throw stones upon the wrens!
Herein they kiss and coddle and assault
Anew and dearly in the innocence
With which they baffle nature. Who are full,
Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all
Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit,
Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt
Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise.
To resurrect. To moisten with milky chill.
To be a random hitching post or plush.
To be, for wet eyes, random and handy hem.
Their guild is giving money to the poor.
The worthy poor. The very very worthy
And beautiful poor. Perhaps just not too swarthy?
Perhaps just not too dirty nor too dim
Nor--passionate. In truth, what they could wish
Is--something less than derelict or dull.
Not staunch enough to stab, though, gaze for gaze!
God shield them sharply from the beggar-bold!
The noxious needy ones whose battle's bald
Nonetheless for being voiceless, hits one down.
Keeping their scented bodies in the center
Of the hall as they walk down the hysterical hall,
They allow their lovely skirts to graze no wall,
Are off at what they manage of a canter,
And, resuming all the clues of what they were,
Try to avoid inhaling the laden air.
Gwendolyn Brooks and the Social Construction of Childhood
Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry and the Heroic Voice_______________________
D. H. Melhem
Securitization: The Biggest Rip-off Ever
Is it possible to make hundreds of billions of dollars in profits on securities that are backed by nothing more than cyber-entries into a loan book?
It's not only possible; it's been done. And now the scoundrels who cashed in on the swindle have lined up outside the Federal Reserve building to trade their garbage paper for billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded loans. Where's the justice? Meanwhile, the credit bust has left the financial system in a shambles and driven the economy into the ground like a tent stake. The unemployment lines are growing longer and consumers are cutting back on everything from nights-on-the-town to trips to the grocery store. And it's all due to a Ponzi-finance scam that was concocted on Wall Street and spread through the global system like an aggressive strain of Bird Flu. The isn't a normal recession; the financial system was blown up by greedy bankers who used "financial innovation" game the system and inflate the biggest speculative bubble of all time. And they did it all legally, using a little-known process called securitization.
The Tree of Personal Effort
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Screening the Page/ Paging the Screen:
Digital Poetics and the Differential Text
Marjorie Perloff dot com
–Art is a series of perpetual differences.
It is fundamentally problematic,” writes Peter Bürger in his Theory of the Avant-Garde, “to assign a fixed meaning to a procedure.” Bürger’s reference is to montage/collage: he argues that just because two collages —say, a still life by Picasso and a satiric collage by Raoul Haussmann– use similar techniques of paste-up and collocation of unlike material, doesn’t mean that the two works actually have a shared aesthetic. On the contrary, Bürger observes, German Dadaists like Haussmann took what was, for Picasso, essentially an aesthetic form and adapted it for political purposes.
Tristan Tzara, “Note on Poetry”
The same principle, I would suggest, applies to the new electronic poetries. As in the case of any medium in its early stages, digital poetry today may seem to fetishize digital presentation as something in itself remarkable, as if to say, “Look what the computer can do!” But no medium or technique of production can in itself give the poet (or other kind of artist) the inspiration or imagination to produce works of art. And poetry is an especially vexed case because, however we choose to define it, poetry is the language art: it is, by all accounts, language that is somehow extraordinary, that can be processed only on re-reading. Consequently, the “new” techniques whereby letters and words can move around the screen, break up, and reassemble, or whereby the reader/viewer can decide by a mere click to reformat the electronic text or which part of it to access, become merely tedious unless the poetry in question is, in Ezra Pound’s words, “charged with meaning.”
In Through the Out Door: Sampling and the Creative Act [PDF]
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid
Silence is one of contemporary info culture’s rarest commodities. In a world where there are several thousand satellites in the sky constantly beaming down at us information, cell phone relays, GPS signals, and weather patterns, even the idea of light pollution takes on a more than metaphorical value. We see the lights in the sky, but we don’t hear the frequencies beaming through every nook and cranny of a world put in parentheses by human-made objects in the sky. It’s a different sentence, to say the least, when nature and nurture blur to the extent that they have over the last century, and we’ve created a new syntax of human culture, as our inability to find another ‘‘intelligent species’’ in the universe attests—we speak only to ourselves, so far—we’re alone in the universe. That’s the current info-culture scenario. We speak to ourselves because that’s what lonely people do sometimes. If the metaphor of architecture and frozen music evokes structure, then I need to update the phrase, give it a spin, and see what pops out of the centrifuge—after all, if there’s one thing Sound Unbound is about, it’s the remix—it’s a sampling machine where any sound can be you, and all text is only a tenuous claim to the idea of individual creativity. It’s a plagiarist’s club for the famished souls of a geography of now-here. Get my drift?
Sampling Digital Music and Culture
Edited by Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid
Foreword by Cory Doctorow
Introduction by Steve Reich
Green Shoots, Red Ink, Black Hole
Truly terrifying data about the real state of the U.S. economy.
Nonjudgmental Ethical Studies Boom as America Slides into A Pit of Corruption
Ethics Studies are a big business today as were Papal Indulgences under the Borgias. Ok, yes, I am just bitter because I have yet to find a way to get paid for morally correcting and improving my superiors. I tried it once as a young man and had to sign a letter from HR agreeing that I had been insubordinate. Now, I just cite the moral literature in general terms and do as told. I would suggest you do the same. You owe it to yourself to keep your own ass out of a sling, as have the authors linked above.
Treachery and Torture:
Female Warriors and the Weaknesses of Western Culture
An Encounter with:
Kelly Oliver. Women as Weapons of War: Iraq, Sex, and the Media.
What is more dangerous than a natural body is a body that won’t stay put, a body that moves between nature and culture, a body become a political statement.This quotation from Women as Weapons of War encapsulates the book’s main topic of analysis, its specific questions that ultimately lead Kelly Oliver to a more general question of why we are so willing to see violence as constitutive of humanity. Much of her discussion is focused on how we figure women as weapons, how we conceive of female sexuality as dangerous, and how Western culture defines women’s freedom too narrowly as a sexual freedom that is subject to market forces—a freedom that she quite wittily terms “the right to bare arms”. But these questions of meaning and interpretation are not treated as discrete puzzles; instead they are carefully traced back to our cultural understanding of violence. Indeed, this concern is cited in the book’s preface as a motivation for its writing. Oliver writes of wanting “to try to figure out why ‘normal’ American kids engage in deadly violence” and also wanting to examine the “symptoms of a culture of violence, which is the result of having limited options for articulating emotions, especially violent ones” (xii). She is particularly interested in challenging what has become a fairly standard gloss on the question of how we (should) recognize and respond to each other’s humanity: that the process of recognition so crucial to each individual’s self-esteem is a struggle. “[W]hy,” she asks, “do we continue to imagine humanity as a struggle, a fight, a war? How can we get beyond violence if the best hope we have for overcoming it is violence itself, the so-called struggle for recognition?”
journal of existential and phenomenological theory and culture
Vol 4, No 1 (2009)
via Continental Philosophy
Entering the Nollendorf Theater
Making visible, making strange:
photography and representation in Kracauer, Brecht and Benjamin
By the early 1920s--in western Europe and the USA, at any rate--there had developed two clearly articulated but polarised discourses on photography, namely the documentary and the fetishistic, the scientific and the magical, which betray their roots in the aesthetic theories of the 1880s and 1890s. On the one hand, we have the photographer as witness, producing images of reportage which ostensibly provide empirically verified and verifiable information. On the other hand, we find the photographer as seer, using imagination to transcend empirical reality and express inner truths. Certain aspects of these artistic discourses are particularly relevant to Kracauer's critique of photography. For much of 'Die Photographie', Kracauer characterises photography in Realist/Naturalist terms, in such a way as to disqualify photography from attaining artistic status. He even suggests that photographs are the representational counterpart of historicism, in that they merely record the detritus of History rather than its authentic truth-content. The mediation of truth is the prerogative of Art, but Kracauer's conception of Art is radically anti-mimetic. Although he concedes that since the Renaissance, Art has entertained a close relationship with nature, he contends nonetheless that Art has always sought to achieve higher aims, by presenting knowledge in the medium of colour and contour. Art-works do not strive to resemble the objects they depict, nor is their configuration governed by an object's spatial appearance. Instead, Art grasps the significance of an object and mediates that significance spatially. As a result, Art is fundamentally anti-photographic, so that if History is to be represented in Art, then the surface context associated with photography must be destroyed.
Theory of film: the redemption of physical reality
In the contemporary world, however, Art has reached a turning point. Kracauer notes that the epoch of nature-based Art inaugurated by the Renaissance may be coming to an end, and he refers to three categories of contemporary Art that seek to reject natural verisimilitude. First, he mentions modern painters--presumably Cubists, Constructivists or Dadaists --who put their pictures together from photographic fragments in order to underline spatially the simultaneous coexistence of the reified appearances they represent. Secondly, the works of Franz Kafka are said to be imbued by a liberated consciousness which has demolished natural realities and has disarranged or displaced the resulting fragments against one another. Finally, film is credited with the capacity to transcend 'normal' or usual relationships between elements of nature by assembling strange or alien configurations through cutting and editing. The implication would seem to be that in the contemporary world, Art can only fulfil its epistemological role by adopting the radically anti-Naturalistic representational techniques of the modernist avant-garde.
via Americansuburb X
By Siegfried Kracauer, Miriam Bratu Hansen
Ornaments of the metropolis:
Siegfried Kracauer and modern urban culture
Crimes of reason : the Berlin inquiries of Siegfried Kracauer
Urban Space and the Spectacle of Progress: [PDF]
Kracauer, Benjamin and marginality in Weimar visual culture
Culturepoles: City Spaces, Urban Politics & Metropolitan Theory
Proceedings of the Second Annual Canadian Association of Cultural Studies Conference
All this living embodiment this rationality
This finite maximal production, these borders
Between the final astonishing collapse accompanied
By a resounding redundancy a pervasive pall of fear
Over the invoked legacy ultimately denying
The capacity of possibility for future
Fogged Clarity - An Arts Review
Peter Cicariello - invisible notes
How to see (3)
Seeing has always been the privileged sense for philosophers, the sense that most closely approximates to the transparency of thought, the sense that seems best equipped to render the object as it really is, the sense that inserts a distance between us and the world so that we think we are removed from tampering with the seen. Sight doesn’t manipulate things; it is the detached, neutral observer. It is objectivity itself. Seeing is believing.
The Perceiving Body
Seeing seems always to escape from the body outwards into the visible. We don’t have any sense that we create the visible, yet we ourselves are visible within this sphere of visibility: “my seeing body subtends my visible body, and all the visibles with it,” the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty says in The Visible and the Invisible. Seeing’s invisibility to itself is what makes it approximate to thought, to transform itself into “insight” to capture itself as “reflection”. We are always seeing; seeing can stand for consciousness as a whole. Our seeing reaches into sleep. We see even in our dreams. We need to pay careful attention to all the different kinds of seeing – staring, glaring, looking, glancing, gazing, inspecting. There is a rich plurality to the practice of seeing.
...as the Moran article shows, sight is not synonymous with vision. And here Merleau-Ponty shines through directing thought “downward” – a direction at odds with traditional accounts of aesthetic experience. But this is no simple replacement of cognition with the body: Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological aesthetics attests to the “bodily teleology” latent in all appearances. Latency is an important idea.
down these mean streets
A conversation with Will Steacy
Where is my mind?
Jerry Fodor reviews Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action and Cognitive Extension by Andy Clark
If there’s anything we philosophers really hate it’s an untenable dualism. Exposing untenable dualisms is a lot of what we do for a living. It’s no small job, I assure you. They (the dualisms, not the philosophers) are insidious, and they are ubiquitous; perpetual vigilance is required. I mention only a few of the dualisms whose tenability we have, at one time or other, felt called on to question: mind v. body; fact v. value; knowledge v. true belief; induction v. deduction; sensing v. perceiving; thinking v. behaving; denotation v. connotation; thought v. action; appearance v. reality . . . I could go on. It is, moreover, a mark of an untenable dualism that a philosopher who is in the grip of one is sure to think that he isn’t. In such a case, therapy can require millennia of exquisitely subtle dialectics. No wonder philosophers are paid so well.
So, for example, you might have thought that the distinction between, on the one hand, a creature’s mind and, on the other, the ‘external’ world that the creature lives in is sufficiently robust to be getting on with; and that commerce between the two, both in perception and in action, is typically ‘indirect’, where that means something like ‘mediated by thought’. But plausible as that may seem, the thesis of Andy Clark’s new book, Supersizing the Mind, is that the mind v. world dualism is untenable.(....)
The world doesn’t mean anything and it isn’t about anything; it just is. So, contra EMT, there would seem to be plenty of differences between, on the one hand, Otto’s notebook and my vacuum cleaner and the world, and, on the other, Inga’s memories. If these aren’t the kinds of difference that make the distinction between having a mind and having a notebook ‘principled’, I can’t imagine what kinds of difference would. There is a gap between the mind and the world, and (as far as anybody knows) you need to posit internal representations if you are to have a hope of getting across it. Mind the gap. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
via Philosophy's Other: Theory On The Web
An old, old story,
to defy belief,
the darling child
and in his rightful place,
These toys were never his.
These rules were never his
to keep, or disobey.
These transparent people
never could be his,
even in this pallid light,
paling as they look at him.
They’d distract him with the stories:
how the son who slew his father
flourished in his wickedness,
how the son honoring his parents
flourished in his sickness.
How the honored father
went blind amid such glory.
How the blind man saw the light,
the pallid light, rejoicing.
The story of his murderer,
lacking means, enamored of his end.
Shadowed by the lovers,
enchanted with beginnings,
enchanted with the radiance
that blinds them to their ends.
Of the thoughtful man, who sees
all this, bemused
A story that won’t stop,
as he’s aware, a war
that’s undeclared, besieged by thought.
Of the soldier, enamored of his wounds.
Of the deserter, enchanted by his fate,
to find each man’s hand against him,
helping him. Of the teller of the tale,
too easy to believe him
enchanted with its outcome,
its familiar outcome.
Of the poet, enchanted, enamored & bemused
by others’ words, those toys,
& others’ tales, those rules
they mean to keep, & disobey.
The mocking, wistful poet.
But nothing can distract him.
The story of the fool
stumbling on the truth,
blinded by its radiance,
a light like that striking up off ice,
he warms to, but only till it’s clear.
So they tell him
the hardest to believe of all,
the child sought everywhere,
the enchanted foundling.
October 22, 1933 - June 3, 2009
An Interview with David Bromige
Too Many Stars (Sean Durkin and Sam Witt)
TMS: What purpose has poetry served in your life, other than as a career.
Ten Poems from As In T as in Tether
DB: It's given me my life. It's given me being. It was my entry to being. I didn't know what else to do with my life. I had no idea what to do with my life. It seemed like there wasn't anything to do, with a life, and that in itself is a poetic recognition, I think. I didn't get there as soon as I might have, but I had a very strong "get a job" ethic instilled into me, so I guess I felt the purpose of life was to find a job, and do it as well as you could, and then have all the fun you could fit in, around the edges of it. But when I started to write, then I realized that there was something else that I could do that filled me and was a space I could keep filling with myself. And also that it was something to be obedient to. It was a reason to have conscience, for me, because I really didn't have much reason to have a conscience. I believe this is often an affliction of the young. So that I wouldn't consider other people's feelings. But as a poet, I felt like I had to. Now I'm sure you can meet plenty of people who will tell you I didn't consider their feelings, thanks very much, but at least I was trying. It's an incentive to consciousness. It's an incentive to be conscious, because if you can notice things, you never know when the next thing that you can join with is going to appear. So it was an instigation of consciousness. And that's what I welcomed about it. Although of course there's a lot of other stuff. There's the beauty of the sounds, there's the beauty of a Wallace Stevens poem, and then there's the different beauty of a D.H. Lawrence poem where he can't be bothered to write a poem, and just wants to sound off. And then, bit by bit, there's such variety to look at. I was interested in the theatre always, always, from childhood on up. So I always liked the display. And I liked the display in poetry—it's subtler, in a way, you don't usually have to hire a hall for it. It's there on the page. But there's all kinds of fireworks that happen on the page. So let that be my answer. It gave me someone to be, or something to do.
David Bromige feature
David Bromige at PennSound
Men, women and vehicles: prose works
Honored to Meet
Reflecting on the work of poet David Bromige
David Bromige in Poetries of Canada
David Bromige: A SelectionMore
by Meredith Quartermain
from Desire: Selected Poems 1963-1987
from From the First Century (of Vulnerable Bundles)
The poet seeks the lost picture of thinking, he wants to show people how thinking actually occurs. He thinks this would be a good thing for people to see. And he also seeks to create another picture of lost-in-thought, of enrapture and preoccupation. Why? To help others avoid tripping up or slipping in? Certainly, he would not be averse to bringing some bracing disillusion to his readers. Much public thinking “these days” done to sell one (on) something. Like, that those “pavements” (of thought?) are safe – which they could never be! (Something about this entire process resembles a run of luck, a gamble, with this difference, he can never actually win or lose beyond a shadow of doubt). Charles Bernstein: “Poetry is a swoon/ with this difference:/ It brings us to our senses.”
The lost picture of thinking
The picture of lost-in-thought
What are you looking for
Some poems including history
Why are you looking for
There are cracks in thinking
Bits jut up of its smooth mosaic
Trying to sell you something
Those are safe pavements
But all words are beautiful
Like the eye of the beholder
Like four bars without singing
Admit the sinking feeling
Live in the ecstasy
It’s only an opinion
Lying fallow between furrows
The corporation yard is next
Never get lost for long
Often long to get lost
That brings us to our senses
There are opinions, and then there are corporations, who make their opinions stick. There are seizures which register as the truth, that do not communicate. Poetry? A telegram is more like legal tender. Grandson of ostlers scene-shifters & gamekeepers.
at Golden Handcuffs
Experiencing the Everyday in Maurice Blanchot’s “Everyday Speech”
Space & Culture
Do You Suppose It's the East Wind?
Translated from the Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon
The enormous weight of three hundred and sixty-five days once again slips from my hand and falls down into the dark cavern of the past. The windows in this desolate room are wide open. How improbably strange the sky looks, draped in a sheet of dense gray clouds, behind the luxuriant green trees. It seems as if someone has filled space itself with a sweet, melancholy beauty. A cool breeze has finally started to blow, after much heat and sun.
Could it be the east wind?Words Without Borders
Papers and books lie in a disorderly pile before me on the desk. I suddenly stop writing, screw the cap back on my fountain pen and clip it to my collar—not because the weather is absolutely delightful and the grapevine maddeningly beautiful and one simply cannot write a book on dairy farming in a setting so entirely out of this world; one cannot discuss the significance of the chemical components of milk any more than one can expound on the proper proportion of corn husk and mustard oilcake in cattle feed. All right, not another word about cows or water buffaloes.
My problem is that I'm very absentminded. I search for my pen everywhere, while it's clipped to my collar all along. I look at faces I have seen so often and wonder who they might belong to—I have never seen them before. And my memory is so bad I can hardly remember who has hurt me and who I have decided to hold a grudge against. Worst of all, the day I'm supposed to take care of some enormously important matter, I seem to end up spending in some atrociously silly matter.
Well, that's what it's come to with me. My one abiding fear is that the landscapes of my memory might become a yawning wasteland—derelict, empty, blanched. That I may lose my grip on familiar things and no longer recognize them at all. That's why I have pushed aside the sheets of paper and clipped my pen back on. Just so that I may lean back and squint into the horizon and not let my eyes waver—trekking back along the past's interminable highways, so that time may twist around and look back. It just might. What! It really has! There, look, the past is calling me.
June 2009: Writing From Pakistan_______________________
On Game Art, Circuit Bending and Speedrunning as Counter-Practice:
'Hard' and 'Soft' Nonexistence
In The Exploit Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker speculate that "[f]uture avant-garde practices will be those of nonexistence." This extraordinary claim is a response to the current ubiquity of digital technology and its impact on cultural politics; if existence becomes a question of being classified informatically, the avoidance of this classification, or nonexistence, becomes of paramount importance. The discussion of nonexistence in The Exploit opens with a question, one that forms the basis of this essay: "how does one develop techniques and technologies to make oneself unaccountable for?" Directly following this question comes a specific, material example through which a crucial distinction between "unaccountable for" and "invisible" or "absent" is made -- the use of a laser pointer, aimed into a surveillance camera in order to 'blind' it. In this situation, the camera is not destroyed nor is the individual shining the laser actually hiding, or invisible; instead, they are simply not present on the particular screen or data set recorded by the camera in question. The same is true of the tricking of a server, causing it to record a routine event when one goes online. These kinds of tactics, "tactics of abandonment", are "positive technologies" for Galloway and Thacker. They are entirely distinct from absence, lack, invisibility and nonbeing because they are "full" or rather, because they "permeate." The practical consequences of Galloway and Thacker's formulation of nonexistence are clear: It's not a question of hiding, or living off the grid, but of living on the grid, in potentially full informatic view, but in a way that makes one's technical specification or classification impossible.
via Joerg Colberg
The Rise of Critical Animal Studies: [PDF]
Putting Theory into Action and Animal Liberation into Higher Education
This growing popularity of animal studies, moving it from the theoretical margins toward the academic mainstream, is both laudable and lamentable. For as animal studies becomes a potential force of enlightenment and change in public attitudes and behaviors toward animals, its academic proponents can only advance it by currying for respect, credibility, and acceptance, which can only come by domesticating the threatening nature of the critique of human supremacism, Western dualism, and the human exploitation of nonhuman animals. Throughout the world philosophers, sociologists, historians, literary critics, and others who embrace this fascinating and fecund field of study seek their rightful and equal place within academia, without realizing that animal studies is in grave danger of becoming co-opted and contained, if it has not already been muzzled and neutralized by a corporate-bureaucratic machine and its codes and logics. For once it takes shape within the sterile, normalizing, hierarchical, and repressive environment of academia, animal studies, like any other knowledge or discourse, is tied to abstract, arcane, technical, and apolitical codes and discourses, and is reified as a marketable academic product and commodity as well. The Faustian pact that any discipline or professor-employee signs with academia demands that they obey the logics of abstraction, profit, utility, and careerism; that they will never seek to mediate theory with practice (unless they wish to risk their reputations as “scholars”); and, above all, that they will never question the legitimacy of social power and organize against it, or they shall quite possibly be exiled from the ivy-walled kingdom.
Journal for Critical Animal Studies (JCAS)
via Philosophy's Other: Theory On The Web
June 3, 1881 – May 10, 1964
Analects On The Influence Of Artaud
How Sickness Is, And Isn’t, A Prerequisite For Poetry
In those days: Genet and Derrida and Barthes and Foucault and Deleuze, as well as Artaud. Thus, the specific Artaud influence was a general French influence, and the general thrust of that French influence, as I understood it, included trusting in imagination as an anarchic force, the unstoppable force, a force in the midst of forestalling the attempts of society and metaphysics to control and organize. “Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack, lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access to reality. Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems” (Foucault’s preface to L’Anti-Oedipe). I therefore loved the surrealist manifestos, too. I got bored only with the surrealists when the principals became too enamored with politics. Artaud got bored early, too. He turned on them with a vengeance. The spurned lover.
My hypothesis: Artaud is part of a European and specifically French intellectual lineage obsessed with the rigors of truth-telling. (“We are born, we live,” he said, speaking to a tradition of paradoxical truths, “we die in an environment of lies.”) Artaud aspires to be a magus of truth, a sorcerer of truth, and he is willing to die for it, or to be driven insane by his perceptions: “I believe that our present social state is iniquitous and should be destroyed. If this is a fact for the theater to be preoccupied with, it is even more a matter for machine guns.” Does he believe what he’s saying exactly as he’s saying it, or does he simply believe that the truth is in the avowal, which avowal changes its utterer, makes it nearly impossible for him to bring the message back to the place where it most needs to be brought—the place of mendacity?
“Should I be writing like Artaud? I am incapable of it,” Derrida says, “and besides, anyone who would try to write like him, under the pretext of writing toward him, would be even surer of missing him, would lose the slightest chance ever of meeting him in the ridiculous attempt of this mimetic distortion.”
Jean Oliver Hucleux
The Reinvention Of The Human Face
'The human face
It is difficult to say anything unique or original about Antonin Artaud who, after his death, first in the sixties and now again two decades later, has become such a celebrity that everyone seems obliged to have an opinion of him. That is why I found the intention of this series of talks attractive: the idea of one winter talking about another in the form of a more or less personal report inspired by admiration or love.
is an empty power, a
field of death ...
... after countless thousands of years
that the human face has spoken
one still has the impression
that it hasn't even begun to
say what it is and what it knows.'
Antonin Artaud, from a text to introduce an exhibition of his portraits and drawings, Galerie Pierre, July 1947.
And it remains attractive, although I must say that I don't think it can so easily be reduced to a case of me, Donald Gardner, actor and poet, talking about Antonin Artaud, also actor and poet, not to mention sufferer, path-breaker and reinventor of the human face, who died when I was 9, a time of my life when I had to endure deliriums and sleepwalkings in the cold dormitory of my English boarding school. From the school windows on a clear day you could see the French coast, so that I am tempted to fantasize that some vibrations of poor Artaud did cross the Channel and plant themselves in my forebrain the day he died. March 4, 1948 - of cancer of the rectum, an organ that figured centrally in his work. I can claim that, a couple of years later, also in bed in that same school, I heard the explosion of one of the first nuclear bombs on Bikini Atoll and that the windows shook from this event the other side of the world, a kind of experience, the verity of which I would however be at a loss to know how to prove, that was in some way similar to the one that Artaud described in his great text on Van Gogh, whose neck they or their fathers so well wrung when he was alive.
Jiri Georg Dokoupil
A Place Weeping
A few days after our return from what was thought of, until recently, as the future state of Palestine, and which is now the world's largest prison (Gaza) and the world's largest waiting room (Cis-Jordan), I had a dream.Threepenny Review
I was alone, standing, stripped to the waist, in a sandstone desert. Eventually somebody else's hand scooped up some dusty soil from the ground and threw it at my chest. It was a considerate rather than an aggressive act. The soil or gravel changed, before it touched me, into torn pieces of cloth, probably cotton, which wrapped themselves around my torso. Then these tattered rags changed again and became words, phrases. Written not by me but by the place.
Remembering this dream, the invented word landswept came to my mind. Repeatedly. Landswept describes a place or places where everything, both material and immaterial, has been brushed aside, purloined, swept away, blown down, irrigated off, everything except the touchable earth.
Issue 118, Summer 2009
Two Men in Fog
Sleeping Soundly in DaytimeGu Cheng, Four Poems in parralell translation from the Chinese by Aaron Crippen
translated by Aaron Crippen
people sleep lightly in the dark of night
and sleep soundly in daytime
lids drooping they smile
turn their faces and go
parasols turn too
flowers bloom skirts
lie on green sofas in a daze
fat babies and mothers sleep on stones
dusty boys draw up their legs
mumbling that they want to go see the black bear
old men ream tobacco pipes
opening their mouths painfully wide
the sun too sleeps soundly
breathing among pale blue flames
motionless as they flicker
the clouds are asbestos
the lead is brand new
silver distorted pain
glitters in each grain of sand
and the night hasn’t moved
in the photo studio
a wind coolly blows
behind smiles of every dimension
a wind coolly blows
the dust is getting sleepy
the camera's empty magazine is empty
Introductions and incomplete bibliography written for the Anomalous Parlance series I organized at the Kootenay School of Writing in 2000.
If ontology is the luxury of the landed, what is the necessity of the nomadic? In one of Warren Tallman’s letters to Robin Blaser he suggested that the New American Poets each demanded a cult of readers, because each poetry proposed a world requiring domestic inhabitation. The 6, 7, or 8 poetries in this series permit squatting only: perfect hide-outs from the authorities. They’re anomalous not in the sense of being abnormal (a psychological notion), but in their uncomfortability to common orders. They’re lawless, but not uniformly so. The word “parlance”, however, strikes me more deeply than ‘anomalous’ – it points to a conference to discuss terms, a conference that I hope will arise. Let’s defer the problem of specifying this writing as a poetics of _______, to prevent vaccination against the work itself...
via mosses from an old manse
June 2, 1840 - January 11, 1928
Moments Of Vision
Which makes of men a transparency,
Who holds that mirror
And bids us such a breast-bare spectacle see
Of you and me?
Whose magic penetrates like a dart,
Who lifts that mirror
And throws our mind back on us, and our heart,
Until we start?
Works well in these night hours of ache;
Why in that mirror
Are tincts we never see ourselves once take
When the world is awake?
Can test each mortal when unaware;
Yea, that strange mirror
May catch his last thoughts, whole life foul or fair,
The crisis faced by combat veterans returning from war is not simply a profound struggle with trauma and alienation. It is often, for those who can slice through the suffering to self-awareness, an existential crisis. War exposes the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. It rips open the hypocrisy of our religions and secular institutions. Those who return from war have learned something which is often incomprehensible to those who have stayed home. We are not a virtuous nation. God and fate have not blessed us above others. Victory is not assured. War is neither glorious nor noble. And we carry within us the capacity for evil we ascribe to those we fight.
Yes, it's entirely likely that releasing the photographs of torture and sexual assault – including homosexual rape and, God forgive us, the defilement of children – would lead to dangerous and potentially lethal complications for armed government employees who are killing people and destroying property in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, countries they invaded and continue to occupy by force.
If our rulers were genuinely concerned about danger to "our troops," they would release the Abu Ghraib documents and bring the troops home. There – problem solved! Instead, they are illegally suppressing the photos and keeping the troops in the field – and now letting it be known that the U.S. military will remain mired in Mesopotamia (which is the more tractable of the two ongoing conflicts) for another decade or longer.
William Norman Grigg
General Rick Sanchez Calls for War Crimes Truth Commission
"during my time in Iraq there was not one instance of actionable intelligence that came out of these interrogation techniques."
I interviewed General Sanchez after the event and asked him to elaborate on why he felt the US needed such a commission. "For the American people to really know what happened, " he replied, "...this was an institutional failure, a personal failure on the part of many...."
Dancing the Afghan Jig
"If we do not find out what happened," continued the General, "then we are doomed to repeat it."
Does President Obama think about what victory means in Afghanistan? Converting Afghanistan to the US order? Or, stopping terrorist attacks against the United States? Either way the military –with its long no-win record – seems unlikely to accomplish the job. Did Obama think of Lincoln as General Sherman burned -- only military targets? -- Georgia? Afghanistan didn’t secede from the Union. Obama understands police agencies not military regiments can infiltrate violent cells to prevent future 9/11s. Obama might focus more productively on Saudi Arabia, the source of most of the 9/11 attackers and the funders of the Taliban, as a place to apply some pressure. I feel oily even saying something like that.
Fred Herzog: Philosophy of photography
from interviews with John Mackie of the Vancouver Sun in June, 2005, and January, 2007
Images of a lost Vancouver
Fred Herzog's photos offer a rare, authentic picture of the city
Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs
- 80,000 photographs, 50 years, 1 photographer and 1 city
The philosophy of ravens
One landed near me, in the gynecologically
spread limbs of an aging oak. His black
eye shone darker than his body, ruffled
with plumage that boasted a bluish-green sheen
in intractable midday sun. I had an eerie
premonition, taking in his long, curved legs and claws
that glittered as if tar-drenched, that he needed
to impart some secret untranslatable from his caw-
language into mine. All day I’d listened to students
nattering on about the inherent meaninglessness
of Kant’s work, Descartes’, Spinoza’s,
their suffering an Ur language that couldn’t match up
with my more emotional taxonomy. Where
was meaning located, if not in a sleek black raven
perched in a crumbling oak?
by Terri Brown-Davidson
The Prose and Poetry of Terri Brown Davidson
by Elizabeth Glixman
for the book Children of Captain Kohl
Šechtl & Vosecek Museum of Photography
Why Flaherty loves his $50 billion deficit
It is astonishing given all the commentary and news stories about the "sudden" $50 billion federal deficit there has not been a single story in the mainstream media that focuses on the principal explanation: the huge tax cuts made by the Liberals and Conservatives since 1995.
First it was former finance minister Paul Martin with his $100 billion income tax cut over five years starting in 2000. Then it was Jim Flaherty in 2007 with $60 billion over five years. Add to that the $12 billion lost each year by lowering the GST from seven per cent to five per cent and the $50 billion is no mystery. It was an inevitability whenever the next recession hit.
But what to make of the sudden embrace of deficits by those who built their political careers on fiscal conservatism? There is no mystery here, either. Neo-cons like Jim Flaherty don't really care about deficits per se -- their ultimate goal is downsizing the social and redistributive role of government. From that perspective, the $50 billion shortfall is a godsend: a useful crisis that will provide the rationale for huge spending cuts.
The change in America’s financial rules was Reagan’s biggest legacy. And it’s the gift that keeps on taking.
— Paul Krugman
Marc Riboud interviewed by Frank Horvat
"The target of our line of sight is reality -
but our framing can transform it into a dream."
Translated into English by Julia Mclaren
I must tell you that I don't really feel in the autumn of my life, in fact I'm in better shape than twenty years ago. The two most important days in my career were the one I entered Magnum and the one I left. Since I have been independent, I have more time for photography, while still being open to other influences. I don't know if my personality has changed, but I believe that I have found a better way of expressing itself. I more often experience those moments of grace, when your eyes see with a multiplied intensity, when you discover what you wouldn't have even noticed at other times and what other people don't notice, when the beauty of a face makes you tremble with emotion. That's another aspect of photography : knowing how to recognize those moments, how to get back to that line of vision that Henri Cartier-Bresson so rightly talks about.
May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892
I wander all night in my vision,
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory,
Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.
How solemn they look there, stretch'd and still,
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their cradles.
The wretched features of ennuyes, the white features of corpses, the
livid faces of drunkards, the sick-gray faces of onanists,
The gash'd bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their
strong-door'd rooms, the sacred idiots, the new-born emerging
from gates, and the dying emerging from gates,
The night pervades them and infolds them.
The married couple sleep calmly in their bed, he with his palm on
the hip of the wife, and she with her palm on the hip of the husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed,
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps with her little child carefully wrapt.
The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the runaway son sleeps,
The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he sleep?
And the murder'd person, how does he sleep?
The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps,
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day sleeps,
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions, all, all sleep.
I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering and
the most restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches from them,
The restless sink in their beds, they fitfully sleep.
Now I pierce the darkness, new beings appear,
The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not the earth is
I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with the other sleepers
each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers,
And I become the other dreamers.
I am a dance--play up there! the fit is whirling me fast!
Whitman on google books
Democratic vistas: and other papers_______________________
Leaves of Grass
Song of Myself
A Working Boy’s Whitman
The sane governments, insights, and human affections Whitman intimated were not present where I lived, but he caused me to imagine there was another world, a parallel world, a shadow world of sorts, the way our labor unions were a shadow government. Perhaps in that other world, if I could find it, I would discover the source of his optimism and philosophical certainty, colored with its odd, all-embracing skepticism: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then . . . I contradict myself; I am large . . . I contain multitudes.”_______________________
But first I had to understand what he saw when he scanned the wage slave, wife beating, war-scarred motor humpers of the multi-racist working class I was part of, a world where you could be pounded with a bottle if you disagreed with someone, or smashed with a chair if you agreed. What did Whitman see? People with dreams but no money to accomplish them, I concluded, people who mistook work for freedom and poured everything into it, people who lived at the top of their lungs because they were used to being ignored, and people who lived in perpetual motion because they always had somewhere to go for someone else’s sake.
What he praised was not so much our quotidian lives as our loyal industry, unabashed directness, and our impulse to move and change. Change into what? Into anything. In that world only a fool would want to remain the same, though most had no choice but to live out static lives interrupted only by child birth, military service, layoffs, and death. Perhaps, I thought, Walt Whitman was trying to drum up compassion for our world, while trying to lift our spirits and encourage us to break loose — it struck me that way, and there was no one around to argue otherwise. For all I knew, his work represented the sort of political bombast my father was fond of pointing out, but I didn’t want it to be so, and luckily it wasn’t. Like any other adolescent, I cautiously wanted something pure to believe in, and while baseball and basketball won over many of my friends, I went for Whitman....
a project by Ruido Photo
an independent non-profit organization founded in 2004 by a group of international photographers dedicated to independent documentary photography.
via Jim Johnson
Close to heaven
"Reaching the flat roof is like being closer to heaven,
dominating the city with a glare and feeling unique."
In that sense abandonment of stanza, or free verse line is challenge, rebellion, risk most contemporaries ignore, of what could simply be called writing. That act. But don’t write for them. No label, definition, genre, surely not bothering counting feet nor stress amounting to meter, (where’s the slot to plug my nickel?) but desire Art. Want alchemical thrust of visceral language bone capillary hair follicle brain stem fingernail toothache gastric juice saliva sweat intimate drive inside handshake dive swat & gulp glottis tattoo needle jouissance through immediate desire for a music of spontaneous combustible improvisation without calculation breathing free.
I'm glad to see Robert's log
back in opoeration after it's unscheduled hiatus.....
I'm tired of monotheism.
I, for one, for many, prefer the cockroach
emerging from the ivy, reading
the night with quivering antennae,
the fat rattlesnake that turned me back
out of the canyon's rocky throat,
presences in a hallway of willows.
Of Unity And Wholeness
The problem with unity is the problem
with the thesis, the ego, monotheism:
Everything must fit into the Idea
or be disregarded, pushed away, driven out.
So the man came looking for his lost book,
mumbling something about quantum mechanics,
growing louder and angrier as he searched
our tables, shoving aside our books
and papers, puncturing the atmosphere
of our poetry reading, his face, hands, clothes
burnished with dirt, eyes flitting like moths
behind thick glass. When he suddenly asked
if he could take a turn at the mic, we said no.
Right about then the sun would have been rising
in Manilla. An old woman I will never know,
and can say nothing more about, opened her eyes.
Library of Prayer Books
Beginning at the Abyss (Vom Abgrund nemlich . . .)Nine Poems
Translated by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover
We began of course at the abyss
And have gone forth like lions
In doubt and anger,
For men are more sensual
In the heat
Drunk with light, and the spirit of animals
Lies down with them. But soon, like a dog,
My voice will wander in the heat
Through the garden paths
In which people live
In France . . .
The Creator . . .
Frankfort, rather, for to speak of nature
Is to take its shape--human nature, I mean,
Umbilicus to the earth. Our time
Is also time, and of German making.
An overgrown hill hangs above
My gardens. Cherry trees. But a sharper breath
Blows through the absences in stone. And there I am,
All things at once. ...
Translated by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover
Always on the side of the egg?
In most cases, it is virtually impossible to grasp a truth in its original form and depict it accurately. This is why we try to grab its tail by luring the truth from its hiding place, transferring it to a fictional location, and replacing it with a fictional form. In order to accomplish this, however, we first have to clarify where the truth lies within us. This is an important qualification for making up good lies.(....)_______________________
It is left to each writer, however, to decide upon the form in which he or
she will convey those judgments to others. I myself prefer to transform
them into stories - stories that tend toward the surreal. Which is why I do
not intend to stand before you today delivering a direct political message.
Please do, however, allow me to deliver one very personal message. It is
something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have
never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the
wall: Rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something
"Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will
always stand on the side of the egg."
The Challenges of Enthusiasm
M/C Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2 (2009) - 'enthuse'
“And let them have a laugh at their passions, because what they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world.” Stalker (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 2009)
The role of the media is to isolate and capture the specific conditions of enthusiasm that belong to a particular event what could be called the ‘action’ of a scene. To use something of a platitude, enthusiasm is active when ‘rising to a challenge’, but there is a passive dimension of enthusiasm as expressed on the faces of the burnout competition spectators. The cultural industry that services the scene of an enthusiasm has to balance between capturing the conditions of the spectacle’s passive enthusiasm, so enthusiasts buy magazines for example, and the challenge’s active enthusiasm, so enthusiasts reproduce the conditions of the scene that the cultural industry services. The cultural industry distributes and repeats the event of enthusiasm; its power is to modulate the affects of enthusiasm in active and passive inflections.
Enthusiasm as Affective Labour: On the Productivity of Enthusiasm in the Media Industry
Goetz Bachmann, Andreas Wittel
The Well RoomThe Pedestal Magazine - Issue 51
Lift the old board and a coolness
shaped like the inside would rise
with the held-in smell of rust, webs, wet
cinderblock and earth, many-legged lives
thriving in the blind black, forgotten
hollow that thumped like a drum under
our bare or sneakered or snow-booted feet,
in the very center of our yard, beneath
kick-the-can and hide-and-seek, below
our noise, drama, schemes: another room.
Once, to be as brave as my brother, I crouched
in that squat hole while he pulled the board over,
the bright summer day and all that was in it
drifting too easily away without me.
When the pump failed, our father would lower
himself in, stooping to the work, cursing, rising
to search his tool chest for a different wrench, the one
that would bring the water back, the top of him
sticking out of the mouth, going down again.
April 21-June 21 (2009)