October 30, 2014
The Banks of the Seine in Autumn
b. October 30, 1839
Six poems from Charms by Paul Valéry
Written by Paul Valéry
Translated from the French by Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody
The Faux Death
b. October 30, 1871
Humble, tender, against the charming tomb,
That out of shadows, leavings, offered love
Conjures your weary grace,
I fall, dying against you, dying — Yet,
No sooner fallen across the low grave
Whose lawn littered with ashes summons me,
Life reawakens in her seeming death;
She shakes, reopens lambent eyes, and bites,
And wrenches from my chest still other deaths
Dearer than life.
Another Night in the Ruins
1927 – 2014
Nine years ago,
in a plane that rumbled all night
above the Atlantic,
I could see, lit up
by lightning bolts jumping out of it,
a thunderhead formed like the face
of my brother, looking down
lightning-flashed moments of the Atlantic.
He used to tell me,
“What good is the day?
On some hill of despair
you kindle can light the great sky—
though it’s true, of course, to make it burn
you have to throw yourself in ...”
Wind tears itself hollow
in the eaves of these ruins, ghost-flute
that build out there in the dark:
into which night sweeps
our cast wings, our ink-spattered feathers.
I hear nothing. Only
the cow, the cow of such
down the bones.
Within correlationism, the beings of the world are treated as screens upon which we project ourselves. These are strange projections because we don’t experience them as issuing from us, but as being properties of the entity itself. The critical and philosophical task thus becomes one of recovering these meanings, of showing how they structure our relationships to entities, of showing how they issue from us, of showing how they are constructed by us. I hasten to add that these are valuable projects that should not be abandoned. The point is not to abandon these modes of analysis, but to broaden the modes of analysis open to us.
If realism has any critical significance, then perhaps it lies in asking what entities contribute as the entities that they are independent of any meanings we might attribute to them. What do entities do– not what do they mean –and above all, how do they affect us and our social relations? How do they modify, by virtue of what they are, our ways of doing, acting, and relating to one another in the world?
Utopia or Hell: The Future as Posthuman Game Strategy
As I was thinking through the last chapter in David Roden’s posthuman adventure in which a spirit of speculative engineering best exemplifies an ethical posthuman becoming – not the comic or dreadful arrest in the face of something that cannot be grasped , I began reading Arthur Kroker in his book Exits to the Posthuman Future, who in an almost uncanny answer to Roden’s plea for new forms of thought – to prepare ourselves for the posthuman eventuality, tells us that we might need a “form of thought that listens intently for the gaps, fissures, and intersections , whether directly in the technological sphere or indirectly in culture, politics, and society, where incipient signs of the posthuman first begin to figure.” We might replace the use of the word “figure” with Roden’s terminological need for an understanding of “emergence”._______________________
As Kroker will admonish we seem to be on the cusp of a strange transition, situated at the crossroads of humanity, and the future presents itself now as a gigantic simulacrum of the recycled remnants of all that which was left unfinished by the coming-to-be of the technological dynamo – unfinished religious wars, unfinished ethnic struggles, unfinished class warfare, unfinished sacrificial violence and spasms of brutal power, often motivated by a psychology of anger on the part of the most privileged members of the so-called global village. The apocalypse seems to be coming our way like a specter on the horizon, not a grand epiphany of events but by one lonely text message at a time. (Kroker, 193)
Exits to the Posthuman Future
Evening in Moret, End of October
The Posthuman and the Information Guerrilla
Deterritorial Investigations Unit
(....)Informatic Guerrilla Warfare
Yesterday’s template for derive is today’s algorithmic architecture, and the language of our intellectual escapes is that of data. The post-postmodern metropolis is a smartcity awash in the Internet of Things, where absolute freedom is the universality of control. Every utopia is someone’s dystopia, and vice-versa.
Today’s dark precursor to the posthuman is the Mathematical Man, who is in movement whenever the individual becomes an active participant in their exploitation, whenever he or she gleefully triggers the data flows of production and consumption, whenever they find that the rational flexibility of post-Fordism, neoliberalism, democracy, whatever you want to call it, is the pinnacle of expression and the peak of experience. The Information Guerrilla, by contrast, is out on a derive in the digital architecture (regardless of whether or not it is bathed in the blue glow of the computer screen or the light of the sun), looking for tools, elements to destabilize, channels to subvert, open up, leech, make leak. The Information is on a quest for the ludic. It is a noise machine. As Michel Serres said, “Noise against weapon. Noise is a weapon that, at times, dispenses with weapons. To take up space, to take place, that is the whole point… And noise occupies space faster than weapons can.”
October 28, 2014
Even the most immersive consumption bleeds into the world. We exit the movie theater and blink at the street's new lights. We close the book and reconsider the motives of our nearest and furthest.
And likewise on the production side we sometimes take our immersion out of its cone of isolation for a walk._______________________
Of course, it may decide to interrupt the real-world just as rudely as the real-world interrupts the Zone. We're trying to take a break, take care of business, reconnect, recenter, while the unresolved worries at us like a bone spur.
But it doesn't always drag us back to the kennel. Our evil darlings might instead prefer to scavenge and mark, most ravenously among the village-explainers: systematizing philosophers, psychologists, fundamentalists, essentialists, political and conspiracy theorists, and so on.
1937 - 2014
R.I.P Genpei Akasegawa
Geert Lovink on Bifo, Dark Media, and Resistance
Deterritorial Investigations Unit
Berardi’s study fits into the recent turn from the Joyous to the dark Deleuze. As the Anarchist Without Content blog puts it: “those who knew Deleuze consistently note his firm commitment to joyful affirmation and his resentment of negativity. Beatifying this sentiment, Deleuze has been used to establish a canon of joy. But what good is joy in this world of compulsive positivity?” According to its author, Andrew Culp, it is “time to move from the chapel of joy to the darkness of the crypt.” Many of the characteristics of Dark Deleuze also count for Berardi. The overall task of ‘destroying worlds’ can be exemplified here with collapsing financial markets, epidemics as signs of failing health care, crumbling infrastructures, lacking social services due to budget cuts and environmental degradation. The word ‘mutation’ often appears in the thesis. The same can be said of elements and movements such as withdrawal and old autonomist motives such as the interruption. The politics here is cataclysmic, not molecular.
The most important reason we have copyright laws is to encourage authors to create new works and communicate them to the public. The most important reason we want them to do that is because we hope that people will read the books, listen to the music, see the art, watch the films, run the software, and build and inhabit the buildings. That is the way that copyright promotes the Progress of Science. Recently, that not-very-controversial principle has collided with copyright owners’ conviction that they should be able to control, or at least collect royalties from, all uses of their works. That's never been true in fact or law, but representatives of copyright owners have gotten used to arguing that it should be true. A particularly ill-considered manifestation of this conviction is what I have decided to call copy-fetish. This is the idea that every appearance of any part of a work anywhere should be deemed a “copy” of it, and that every single copy needs a license or excuse, whether or not anyone will ever see the copy, whether or not the copy has any independent economic significance, whether or not the so-called copy is incidental to some other use that is completely lawful. In this chapter, I focus on two well-known instances of copy-fetish: the contention that any appearance of a work or part of a work in the random access memory of a computer or other digital device is an actionable copy, and the assertion that the copyright statute’s distribution to the public right encompasses possession of any copy that is publicly accessible. Both arguments have their inception in difficult-to-justify court of appeals decisions, which were then embraced by copyright owners as tools to expand secondary liability. Neither one makes much sense on its own terms. The political economy of copyright, however, makes it overwhelmingly likely that any comprehensive copyright revision bill will incorporate both of them. That makes it imperative to recognize readers’, listeners’ and viewers’ copyright liberties expressly, and to protect them with explicit statutory provisions.
Orchestrating Translations: The Case of Murakami Haruki
How will adaptations for local readerships in all the different translations of his books be approached when the English versions no longer serve as the master copies? Or has Murakami perhaps adapted his style of writing for a global market in a way that makes these adaptations no longer necessary? This is one of the many fascinating questions which will inspire research of scholars of Japanese literature and of translation studies. It is worth noting that the overall rate of direct versus indirect translation via English and a few other languages into German has in fact remained fairly stable since 1868 through the present, amounting to 88% versus 12%. Indirect translations today mostly apply to manga and to popular literature, including crime and mystery novels. We must consider how to appraise these figures, to compare them with translations into other languages, and to relate them to our case in point.
via the Literary Saloon
October 27, 2014
b. October 27, 1877
Op. posth. no. 1
Darkened his eye, his wild smile disappeared,
inapprehensible his studies grew,
nourished he less & less
his subject body with good food & rest,
something bizarre about Henry, slowly sheared
off, unlike you & you,
smaller & smaller, till in question stood
his eyeteeth and one block of memories
These were enough for him
implying commands from upstairs & from down,
Walt’s ‘orbic flex,’ triads of Hegel would
incorporate, if you please,
into the know-how of the American bard
embarrassed Henry heard himself a-being,
and the younger Stephen Crane
of a powerful memory, of pain,
these stood the ancestors, relaxed & hard,
whilst Henry’s parts were fleeing.
John Berryman, His Toy, His Dream, His Rest - 308 Dreamsongs
Happy 100th birthday, John Berryman
Berryman is (relatively) unusual among poets because he’s funny. Daniel Swift, who has edited some handsome centenary reissues of Berryman’s work for Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US (Faber, feebly, isn’t marking the occasion in the UK), suggests that his status as a minor major poet – his not quite getting his due – is in part down to this. People still don’t think funny poets are as important as the non-funny kind. But Berryman is the proper sort of funny: the funny that is involved with heartbreak. His friend Lowell called him a “great Pierrot … poignant, abrasive, anguished, humorous” – and that seems to me an unimprovable description of the mix. The Dream Songs is a slapstick Book of Job.
Dirk de Herder
“In All Them Time Henry Could Not Make Good”: Reintroducing John Berryman
“The high ones die, die. They die. You look up and who’s there?”—so writes Berryman’s alter ego, Henry, at the start of “Dream Song #36,”a poem which is ostensibly an elegy for William Faulkner. Berryman is writing in the early 1960s, when the High Ones, all the heroes of literary modernism as well as a sadly large percentage of the poets of the generations following them, were passing fast and furiously. This makes parts of Berryman’s masterwork seem less like a poem suffused with elegy than an obit page with its syntax roughened up and fashioned into six-line stanzas. Henry makes note of every death, and he has to work hard to keep up: Frost is eulogized in the Dream Song which follows, and later Williams and Eliot. And soon the bodies of Berryman’s contemporaries start to pile up: Plath, Roethke, MacNeice, and most notably his friends Delmore Schwartz and Randall Jarrell. And though they are High Ones, they tend to die pointlessly and ingloriously. Plath gets her gas jet going; Jarrell springs in front of a passing sedan; Roethke’s heart stops during a boozy dive into his neighbor’s swimming pool, and Schwartz’s in a flophouse hallway, his body unidentified for days. Die, die, die: Berryman’s repetitions not only underscore the benumbing frequency of the High Ones’ demises, but also remind us that poets are often bestowed with the dubious blessing of dying more than once, just as Henry does, several times, over the course of The Dream Songs’ 385 sections.
Crucial poets are supposed to be immortal, but we’ve known for quite some time that they’re not. Reputations ebb and flow; the patient goes into cardiac arrest, and it takes a while for the ICU staff to hustle the paddles out and administer the electrical current. Sometimes it seems that the patient will never revive. Donne was a dead horse for three hundred years, and there was a time—a fairly long time, given the relative shortness of American literary history—when Dickinson and Whitman were regarded as quaint eccentrics, by no means among the crucial poets. And on the ICU for Literary Reputations, John Berryman has languished for a couple of decades. Some of his ward-mates have already been wheeled to the morgue. Big Shots of yesteryear, ranging from Conrad Aiken to Anne Sexton and Richard Hugo, are all lying cold on the slabs downstairs. Several of Berryman’s pals are down there too, among them Schwartz and Jarrell. True, there have been some surprising recoveries—who would have thought that Amy Lowell and Edna St. Vincent Millay were anything but goners? Yet now they’re both up and about, subjects of new biographies and selections bearing the august imprint of the Library of America. Berryman, however, does not look to be leaving soon. His breathing is labored, his vitals weak.
Dirk de Herder
(1914 - 2003)
The Silence of the Masses Could Be Social Media
It may be a gross distortion of what Baudrillard actually was trying to say, but I find it useful to think of Big Data and predictive analytics every time Baudrillard starts talking about simulation and deterrence. We are “deterred” or steered into certain ranges of behavior by the way reality is mediated to us (“simulation”) based on predictive analytics, recommendation engines, filter bubbles, and so on. In “The Masses: The Implosion of the Social” Baudrillard describes this with unusual clarity:
This is our destiny, subjected to opinion polls, information, publicity, statistics: constantly confronted with the anticipated statistical verification of our behavior, absorbed by this permanent refraction of our least movements, we are no longer confronted with our own will. We are no longer even alienated, because for that it is necessary for the subject to be divided in itself, confronted with the other, contradictory. Now, where there is no other, the scene of the other, like that of politics and society, has disappeared. Each individual is forced despite himself into the undivided coherency of statistics. There is in this a positive absorption into the transparency of computers, which is something worse than alienation.
To me that sounds a lot like the combination of social media and Big Data: Surveillance and quantification produce the self as a set of statistics, a manipulatable data object. Baudrillard says this is “worse than alienation”; in the past, I’ve called this condition “postauthenticity.” Rather than capturing “our own will,” it circumvents it; it predicts what we want without our willing anything. Even if the prediction is initially wrong, preferential placement in the platform, and the efficacy of the subsequent feedback loops can make it so, as David Auerbach points out in this essay on the recent Facebook and OKCupid experiments. Postauthenticity (social media plus Big Data) makes our will superfluous.
Zizek & Deleuze: On Desire
Of late I’ve been tracing down the two forms of desire that interplay through much of the past two-hundred years in discourse. I was rereading Zizek who is a student and epigone of Lacan/Hegel who both conceived desire as lack, while Deleuze on the other hand conceived desire as fully positive. I had discovered in Nick Land’s works this same sense of desire as in Deleuze. There is this undercurrent of philosophers that seem to battle between these conceptions of desire as if it were a central trope and mask for aspects of drive and energy that those following the transcendental Idealists despise with a passion. I’m just taking a few notes here and there as I trace this strange battle of the philosophers over conceptions of desire. It seems important.