day 188 – 202: Joe Biden’s true identity revealed

One of Our New Allies, Japan, c.1901-02

by Australian artist: Mortimer L. Menpes, courtesy John M. Harrison.

Таисия Ювелева writes, my humour is the best and I am strongest of all. Then: “I am Tara I create account wiht my amazing photos. I will waiting youth messages”

you could look at the recent democratic referenda–you might not want to but you could–as not at all being about what they were purported to be:

one was for the market;

two was for medical science.

two might have been objected to on the basis that support for euthanasia desacralises life, but in fact the sanctity that life has is returned to it with the illegible signature of medical authority, like on a prescription.

the power of life and death–there’s to be a law written about it, but it is not in the law’s name, or for the sake of any legal principle, except that medical science can be believed properly to respect a will to die. Now I understand for the religious veto on suicide or otherwise taking a life, abortion as well, to be removed is a good thing. But …

several beers into a new acquaintance I made an argument in favour of having the courage to throw oneself out of a window before the medical authorities got hold of one. Better to die on the streets of Hong Kong, of any great city, than in a hospital bed…

I supported my argument with the case of my father and the medical professional’s insistence that their drugs had not–because no clinical trial had shown them to have–passed over the blood brain barrier.

What a phrase!

My dad could not have been hallucinating on haloperidol, or the mixture of it and the wonderfully named Effexor and others … Doctors said he was not.

you want to trust them when it’s time?

not that they … would get it wrong. But that it–that death–would be to their standards, according to their understanding, when they have not understood life.

one is obvious: the market is a better arbiter and a fairer one when it comes to the disproportion in the numbers of brown people done for possession as compared to white: … again it’s not that it wouldn’t be fairer, better to let the market decide, but in that arbitration who is going to be the winner? the consumer, or the supplier? … Price will be the winner on the day.

there was an old man called … Trump again-again or Joe Bideninnen …

… there’s only one thing worse than not being accepted, being undesirable … not even worth exploiting, subordinate …

: perhaps this is the rule of subordination at work in sadopopulism … there’s only one thing worse than being exploited, not being accepted even for that, being excluded;

and this would be the rule decreeing that any blame and resentment is passed on down the line, collecting interest as it goes ever downward. A snowball of hell.

Sadopopulism is not answered by a masochism but as we know from the triad of perp, victim, witness, the victim becomes the next perp…

and then it was done. And Humpty Trumpty kept sitting in his white house behind his wall or fence and all the new king’s horses and all of his men could not put America back together again.

time for a song

President Elect Joe Biden in … his early pilot TV show (he had one too, just like his predecessor):

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day 167 – 187 incompetence & transformation

The full headline ran … Incompetent Ardern …

someone pointed out, R. I think, that we don’t get journalism of the above quality because Murdoch does not own our media.

not only are they reptilian satanist pedophiles, they’re shapeshifters! 3’30” here

It’s not that David Icke does not support his claims or that there’s bucketloads of evidence to the contrary (just like there are against those stupid beliefs that economists cling to Mark Blyth talks about), it’s rather that his claiming personally to know in manifesting the original seduction of the patently untrue repeats it, producing effects on the real world (just like those stupid beliefs economists cling to).

(Do people prefer stupid beliefs? Is belief a category which it remains heretical to question? So that a personal belief is an intimate part of the individual, somewhere between personality and sexuality, which may in fact be quite impersonal. (Although, Lingis points out with sex we are at our most vulnerable; so to be questioned sexually–even when it is just a matter of words–invokes that vulnerability we physically experience, we physically experience each time.

((And this would also link sex and defecation, not with a primal shame and not in organic unity, engaging the same parts, but with an original compromise–a squatting dog knows it is in a compromising position, like a human caught short.))

on the question of political courage:

The political will to economic courage … this is the subjectline under which I sent Mark Blyth’s three lifts for a post-COVID world to the office of the then PM before the present PM—who are the same person—before the election and before the election her office answered I could be sure that Jacinda would see it; whereas when I sent it to the Mayor of Auckland—as well, come to think of it, as Grant Robertson—silence.

Today, the last day of October, the Rt. Hon. Ardern announced her cooperation agreement with the Green Party, which also made history. The Labour Party having done so for doing what is not supposed to happen—pulling the sword of absolute majority from the stone of MMP, as one cartoonist depicted it—the Greens did it mostly through the personality politic worked brilliantly by Chlöe Swarbrick.

A journalist put it in Q&A to PM Ardern that, with the absence of NZ First holding the balance of power, this might lead us to expect a more transformational government, mightn’t it?

Might it not? might it?

What would a transformational government look like?

I have become interested in the process of applying for a position in a local theatre, run under a charitable trust: a ten year plan / vision statement is a requisite of the application—meanwhile the theatre’s website is all bragadaccio about, well, transformation & disruption. There’s even a bit about between bangin’ art and bangin’ profit choosing art every time. The position currently pays between $90 and $100K. The French have a word for this: bobo. Bourgeois Bohemian. Les bobos sont au pouvoir.

The question I have, looking at the faces of the bobos, is can transformation really be that easy? to sit on a salary of see above and preach bangin’ transformational shizzwazzle?

… of course the same cannot be said of the Ardern government, despite Chlöe Swarbrick saying politics should not be fucking boring, should not be a chore.

So the statement made by Labour of cooperation with the Greens makes no demands for transformation of either, of either … politics or business. After all, did the Greens ever stand on the transformation which would be required to avert climate change being passed into law?

— You will be able to ask questions as well so that you understand what is going to be involved, and to help you participate fully in the decisions.

— You will be able to ask questions, not to be enabled to participate fully in the decisions, but so that you understand what is going to be involved.

— You will not be able to participate fully in the decisions, but you are going to be involved, so ask questions so that you understand.

— You are going to be fully involved in the decisions so ask questions as well on the understanding that this will be your only participation in making them.

— As well as being involved in the decisions which are made, your questions enable it to be understood that you have fully participated in submitting yourself to them.

— Your questions participate fully in the decisions involving you as well as help you to understand that you have voluntarily submitted yourself to them.

— As well as understanding your involvement to have resulted from your decision to participate by being able to ask questions, your questions help you to adjust as well.

–You will be able to ask questions as well so that you understand what is going to be involved, and to help you participate fully in the decisions.

“This is the first in an experimental Media Tropes prison,” said the governor, “designed in order to make inmates feel that they are not being brutalised by a barbaric and outdated system of incarceration, but involved in something more along the lines of a reality TV show.”

“I’ve heard of this,” I said, looking around curiously.

“The layout on the wings is just one of the many TV Prison Tropes that are promoted here at HMP Leominster,” said the governor. “You’ll find the prison is pretty much as you’d expect: the guards are generally mean and unpleasant–except one who is meek and easy to manipulate. The prisoners, instead of being those with a shaky grasp on the notion of consequences, mental health issues or having the misfortune to belong to a marginalised minority, are mostly pastiches of socio-economic groups mixed with regional stereotypes. And rather than fume about the vagaries of providence that got them here before descending in a downward spiral of depression and drug addiction, they prefer to philosophise about life in an amusing and intelligent manner.”

“Does it work?”

“Recidivism has dropped eighty-six per cent,” he said, “so yes, it seems so. It’s certainly a lot easier on the prisoners unless you get caught up in Gritty Realism Month when it all gets dark and dangerous and we have riots and people end up getting shivved. That’s just been, so you’re fairly safe for another ten months.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Don’t count your chickens. Understated violence that counterpoints a wider issue in society can break out at any time, and we have the biennial Prison Break Weekend in eight weeks, so if you want to be part of that, you have to prove yourself with the right crowd.”

— Jasper Fforde, The Constant Rabbit (2020), pp. 271-272.

… “if you think about it,” says one of the characters in Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit, a talking rabbit, “talking rabbits spontaneously anthropomorphised have a chance-factor of around 1 x 1089, which, while not totally impossible, is about as likely as the universe spontaneously turning into cottage cheese. The fact that we’re here suggests that tremendously unlikely things can happen–which would make Gaia reappearing to tweak a few things for the better not so very daft at all.”

“You’re formulating a mathematical proof for the existence of the primordial earth mother based on talking-rabbit probability?” I said. “Wouldn’t that make everything possible?”

“Within the multiverse,” said Kent [the talking rabbit talking], “everything is possible.”

— Ibid., 252.

“You’re trying to run a twenty-first-century world on Palaeolithic thoughts and sentiments.” [another rabbit said.]

“I think it’s in our nature.”

“I disagree,” [said the rabbit]. “Humans have a very clear idea about how to behave, and on many occasions actually do. But it’s sometimes disheartening that correct action is drowned out by endless chitter-chatter, designed not to find a way forward but to justify petty jealousies and illogically prejudices [Mark Blyth’s ‘stupid beliefs’]. If you’re going to talk, try to make it relevant, useful and progressive rather than simply distracting and time-wasting nonsense, intended to justify the untenable and postpone the real dialogue that needs to happen.”

Sometimes it takes a non-human to say what it is to be a good human.

— Ibid., 300-301 {I have included these last two excerpts because they relate to themes I explore in my other writing not because they are indicative of the style or humour of Fforde’s book, which is one of his good ones, one, as can be seen from the prison excerpt above, that as well as making me laugh, I also found moving. And not for its sentimental stereotypes: here they are turned to satirical effect … although sometimes leak around the edges.}

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day 150 – 166: the president is … & other fun facts, like…

 “The American people are all Blanket now.”

— Marina Hyde, the genuine article here.

— found here and shown as it appeared, unedited or altered in any way.

Reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts–writes Adam Thirlwell introducing his interview with Enrique Vila-Matas by stating what he calls the ‘proposition,’ the ‘basic proposition,’ of the author’s A Brief History of Portable Literature (1985), a proposition that transformed Vila-Matas, in his sixth book, into a true original as well as representing “a new moment in European fiction,” since from now on reality can only be apprehended through a comical, dazzling network of texts.

There is nothing wrong with this as a proposition for fiction, but doesn’t it declare war on reality? [see here–for a war more total and more radical than anything yet imagined]

As a basic proposition for fiction it even sets the standard, a standard that reality has trouble living up to–that it be dazzling.

Comical is a bit easier to live up to for reality. A better word for it in fiction, in the novel, might however be humour in the sense Kundera gives it in Testaments Betrayed.

This work by Kundera is called a novel but titled Testaments Betrayed: an essay in nine parts. It accuses European culture of betraying its own creation, the novel, in failing both to read Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and in failing to defend it.

Falling in other words into the moralising trap which is the opposite of humour.

So it’s entirely appropriate that Vila-Matas represents, in the humour of his novel, a transformation in European fiction, and a new moment, making him a true original.

When thinking of the comical what comes to mind, after world politics and after its representation in local NZ media by comedians–presenting, it should be added, news and current affairs in a comical way (to increase ratings)–so bringing about the comical representation of reality, but not the dazzling representation, of reality; after these what comes to mind are the paintings of Yue Minjun.

— Yue Minjun, The Execution, 1995

It is easy to imagine why Yue Minjun chooses not to smile in photographs. He says:

I was born at the tail-end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, so there were a lot of government-commissioned propaganda paintings around that illustrated the apparent joy of being working class. In most of the these paintings, the subjects were laughing, but it was never clear why. People would be standing around Chairman Mao or around the produce resulting from a clearly bumper harvest, laughing… [and laughing

[laughing their heads off…]

Featuring: the normalisation of absurdity in society … acknowledgement of absurdity brings ontological insecurity of the What the hell’s going on? kind… 32’57” we see the normalisation in digital delivery of the absurdity of glitch: this is called the normalisation of a Mixed Delivery model in higher education. …

You will also notice something strange happening in the above webinar which is an absurdity in itself–the neutering of hypernormalisation as the critical concept it was never intended to be, since it is a technique, a politico-aesthetic technique. This is its HYPER criticality.

And is better dealt with by Adam Curtis:

DADA names the tendency of absurdity to eat itself, starting from the toes, chewing its way up the legs, pausing for a big surrealist gulp at the pelvis, seat of the famous sexual organs, and savouring the crunch and fizz thereof, before moving on to a ping, pinging of flying bits of ribcage, ricocheting off the roof of the mouth, until with a pop, the skull, place of the last stand of the infamous ego, delivers its precious cargo … to be shat out the other end.

What is lost by the good doctors of Lincoln is the aesthetic one-way transaction… in favour of a recuperation which is the DISCRIMINATOR between HUMOUR and COMEDY or POLITICAL as opposed to CRITICAL ABSURDITY

declaring the war of the comical on reality: is this the totaler Krieg that is also Kürzester Krieg? or would be in the sense that it is already won.

his eyes were so blue, it was like looking straight through to a blue sky through a skull.

— Jane Birkin on Graham Greene [from here]

The characters in This Storm [2019] are lurid, brash, vulgar. There is now an occupant of the White House who could fit that description. What’s your opinion of him?


I don’t talk about politics in any circumstances. The current day in America has nothing to do with my books.

— James Ellroy in interview with Andrew Anthony [here]

… one of the things that the pandemic has done is it has shown to millions of workers who have been treated as most disposable, whose work had been most degraded, who were told that they were unskilled, that they were so easily replaceable, that they are, in fact, the most essential workers in our economy. They were labelled essential workers.

And if you look at who the essential workers are, it’s the working class, it’s the people who keep the lights on it. It’s the people who deliver the mail. It’s the people who take care of the elderly. We know who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the people who make the world run.

— Naomi Klein, Jacobin Magazine, here.

While philosophy seems to be reserved for a minority, anyone can have a glimpse of it by falling into sickness or depression. When our vital energies are weakened, Smith claims, our sympathy also diminishes, allowing ‘splenetic philosophy’ to reveal that most of the projects central to our lives have no other basis than the imaginary pleasures of sympathy. Seen in an ‘abstract and philosophical light’, gossip about the rich and powerful or striving for economic advancement no longer seem meaningful. Most people, however, forget this lesson as soon as they recover, and resume chasing illusory pleasures.

Choosing to see the world as we do when we’re ill might seem absurd. Smith’s account of sympathy and philosophy in Moral Sentiments, however, implies that we often mistake ourselves for others, the dead for the living, and illness for health. Indeed, it might be that our everyday experience of the world is sick, and the philosophical life is the cure.

— Blake Smith, Psyche online magazine, here.

A more total and more radical war than any you can imagine.

… still, something about hypernormalisation rankles with me. Is it too ideological?

Hypernormalisation as a component in the strategy of a war more total and more radical than any you have so far pictured to yourself: Note–

NOT Total War, MORE total and radical war, is it the war taken into the living and bed rooms of civilians? We have reached a more total and radical phase of this kind of war, and we have surpassed it.

The earlier phase was already that in which ideology was surpassed. Goebbels is explicit in 1943: this is not von Clausewitz’s Total War–the one of ideology.

Ideological war is only a war of ideas. Ideas have not survived the End of History, 1989, the death of Communism, the self-surpassing moment in which Capitalist Democracy loses its ideological component, and wars lose theirs.

All of those post-1945 wars (it’s W-pedia, but here‘s an interesting list of wars 1945-1989) are being fought without ideological pretext, because such a support is no longer necessary, the Total War has already been won, by Western Liberal interests: … but where was it really fought, if not in the two great wars of the early 20th century, the first of which was the war to end empires, the second of which was the war to end nations, nation-states?

Was it in the earlier nation and empire building wars of colonial expansion that the Total War of Ideas was won? … these wars were not ended by world wars I & II. Post-1945 they just lost their ideological pretext, which was the one of nation and empire building.

Ideas: Wars. What is the next step? Imagination? The war of imagination in which Surrealism aligned with Communism?

Is this the reason for the shrinking horizon of imagination? … As the generation of ’68 dies out… Go ask TINA.

I am shouting: transparency: THEY ARE NOT TRANSPARENT TO THEMSELVES!

this is a conversation which is going on outside the lines I am writing here but it has some sense of general cogency, an applicability to the problem of appropriative strategy: capitalist will is transcendent for incorporation of all strategies that would be in opposition.

it has some applicability to governments–at local as well as state as well as federal level–that bury in justification the hegemonic ideologies they embody.

… yes, I find I myself resorting to the ideological. For the exemplary case of a local council expressing its ideology in the way it spends the rates of its citizens, see Auckland in relation to Wellington at this link, called, wonderfully, experimental: here.

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days 144 – 149

Death is not supposed to be part of the American dream, begins Richard Wolffe’s article for the Guardian. [here] Above this is a photo of a banner reading The Lasting Monument to Trump’s Presidency is Being Built One Death At A Time, above a Goyaesque pile of severed heads.

I watched the first NZ Leaders’ Debate of 2020 last night. It’s posted below, with, the YouTube comments say, the commercial breaks intact, but I don’t recommend watching it. It is not something one chooses or wishes others to watch. It is a troubling watch and this is the best that can be said about it.

It is troubling in the sense that political content ought to be troubling. I am writing about it now because I remain troubled by it and Wolffe’s article reminded me why, with its blandly ironic opening line.

Watching it last night–until I reached the point I could see it would go no further and I could watch no further–I saw clearly the attraction of Trump, Trump, the Monument to whose Presidency is Being Built One Death At A Time. I saw it clearly in the coldest harshest light–in the light of the NZ Leaders’ Debate, in the light of the poverty of vision in the Vision Statements of the Leaders (only two: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins) and in the light of it looking like it was edited by a child.

The problem for a politician in the Post-COVID state is we know she knows where the lever is that stops the economy. Yet the vision of both Ardern and Collins went straight to the economy–and to growth. No mention was made of it being slowed or stopped.

Back to America: The New Yorker, Sept. 7 2020, leads with a Comment column by Amy Davidson Sorkin, who writes that the dominant theme of the Republican National Convention in the week previous was control. America is in danger of ceasing to be America. Evidence to support this claim is suppressed. Sorkin cites Kimberly Guilfoyle saying at the Conference, “They are coming for me, because I am fighting for you!” and “cosmopolitan élites … want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.” The Wolffe article above puts this down to a strain of individualism endemic to America.

Told the ‘crux’ of QAnon’s “family of conspiracy theories” is that he is “secretly saving the world from [the] satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals” and of course cosmopolitan élites, according to Sorkin, Trump asks, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?”

Sorkin writes, “A St. Louis couple who pointed firearms at Black Lives Matter marchers were rewarded with a speaking spot at the Convention.” She ends: “fear and suspicion cannot be the means by which this country is controlled”, then adds, “That isn’t how America remains America.”

This is not disturbing. It is not politics. This is the secret meaning–which you have to dig deep into the web to find–of Trump not being a statesman: an animal, perhaps, but not a political animal. He is not a politician. He is not available to the bodysnatchers.

Deleuze writes about something called ‘control society.’ [here] He didn’t have this in mind. He had in mind the autoveillant society of self-scoring on performance and psychic investment in types of scoring, ranking and measuring, in individualist competition–as a form of control belonging to the sort of capitalism we have come to think of as neo- or neuro-liberalism.

Here is a quote from “Postscript on the Societies of Control:”

…the factory was already familiar with the system of bonuses, but the corporation works more deeply to impose a modulation of each salary, in states of perpetual metastability that operate through challenges, contests, and highly comic group sessions. If the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it’s because they express the corporate situation with great precision. [which we can extend to the US Presidency]

On a banner–another banner–in the background of a photo of Joseph Goebbels, 18 February 1943: something I have not seen before in association with Total War–Totaler Krieg – Kürzester Krieg.

Shortest War.

Totaler Krieg. In his speech, pictured below, courtesy of the commons, Goebbels asked those at the convention–another convention–whether a war was wanted more total and more radical than anything even yet imagined.

totaler und radikaler, als wir ihn uns heute überhaupt erst vorstellen können?

You notice that the spelling of totaler remains the same whether it means more total or just total–the German for a total war is ein totaler Krieg.

What the banner then reads is in English not Total War–Shortest War but The More Total War [is the] Shortest War.

Goebbels had earlier referred to the depraved and perverted threat of Bolsheviks and Jews facing Germany–not unlike the threat of the pedophiles and cannibals (and cosmopolitan élites) facing America.

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J05235 / Schwahn / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5434259

Goebbels–at least as far as the banner speaks for him–therefore goes further than von Clausewitz in announcing not a total war–opposable to a limited war–but a more total war.

If you look at the online entry, you will see that the idea of a total war going beyond the political and diplomatic objectives to be achieved by a limited war–going all the way to ideological conflict and achieving an ideological victory, or victory of the idea–is linked by Brittanica.com to Goebbels’s announcement in his speech of February 18 1943. Except that he didn’t announce or ask the conference whether a total war was wanted and neither did the banner behind him advert to a total war being the shortest.

The question then is what is a more total war than one achieving the victory of an idea?

The other question is, with whom is it to be achieved–so that

ham’ se alle Ja geschrien–

they all cried YES.

…? perhaps it is this list from US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera:

those who fight for you

write for you live for you act for you study for you dance for you

parade for you paint and construct for you carry for you build you

inform you feed you nanny you clean you vacuum for you swipe

the grease off your clothes chef for you serve you teach you carry

carry you rock you to sleep and console you

— from “You Just Don’t Talk About It,” Juan Felipe Herrera, in Every Day We Get More Illegal, 2020.

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days following, 105-143

I just watched Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz. More frightening, I just watched a plane disappear above the clouds.

The advice is insistent on how to deal with COVID. From the Stoics. It is part of the general onslaught, a how to of personal reconciliation that would be worthless were it not for the Romantic and soteriological tradition of personal salvation. (That would be the Romantic tradition of nationalist salvation and the soteriological tradition of personal salvation.) For example, suicide and the idea of a personal death. See Schopenhauer.

The two, nationalist and personal, are combined in the idea of Brexit:

Here is a snapshot of nationalist culture in auto-affectionate self-parody. And here is a portrait of Schopenhauer with his poodle.

painting inside my skull

it might be useful to think of it shaped like a donut.

and be not conformed to this world

— thanks Isaias Braga

“It was bad back then; society was diseased.”

— writes Julianna Baggott, Pure, (London, UK: Headline, 2012), 63.

“[He] imagines that this isn’t real, that, instead, it’s just some elaborate reenactment of destruction, not the actual destruction itself.

“He remembers once being in a museum … Each display was dedicated to a theme: before the impressive prison system was built, before difficult children were properly medicated, when feminism didn’t encourage femininity, when the media were hostile to government instead of working toward a greater good, before people with dangerous ideas were properly identified, back when government had to ask permission to protect its good citizens from the evils of the world and from the evils among us, before the gates had gone up around neighborhoods with buzzer systems and friendly men at gatehouses who knew everyone by name.”

— Ibid., 236.

“My body is the truth. It’s history.”

— Ibid. 413.

Notes, you might say. But don’t you think we are no longer free to float happily with fragments?

No need.

Yet the demand is more imposing than ever personally to reconcile the contradictions, that are quite public, evident in our political lives.

I would say that our political lives impose but that they are equally irreconcilable for being mutually incompatible, a clamping down here with a liberalisation there, liberalisation of cannabis or euthanasia laws with mandatory mask-wearing and the possibility of mass vaccination being mandatory as well.

The rift is not between the public and the private, making one irreconcilable to the other. It is a general crazing of the public to which the private is not equal, is not enough crazy.

There is no point of view given by state mandate but the mad movement of a conflicting polity, so that any attempt personally to reconcile oneself to it can only end in disaster.

Or in the absurdity of believing a conspiracy is behind it.

As we used to say, undercover of human malice or stupidity, the conspiracy of confusion and disinformation serving political ends–but this time, unpoliticisable, irrecuperable to any recognisable political viewpoint, ends set for self-destruct.

And yet, are we happy to be getting on with the craze of fragments?

There seems to be something like an expectation we ought to be able to understand we take on; we should be able to make sense and reconcile for ourselves the competing interests the results of which we can only anathematise.

That is we cannot undo them.

Cannot analyse them.

Slippery as,

So neonatology as well as neontology concern the study of neons.

— at the antilockdown rally aotea sq. 4.9.2020,
courtesy Simon Wilson
(note cap)

One sometimes thinks that for a voyage to the depths of the human soul one needs a powerful submarine, and in the end is surprised to find oneself in a wetsuit trying to sink into a standard household bathtub.

— Andrés Barba, A Luminous Republic, Trans. Lisa Dillman, (New York, NY: Mariner Books, 2020), 11.

…the demands of international treaties trumped by nationalist interests…

…but also the ramifying in the nationalist arena of conflicting global interests…

It is worth restating these are not macro interests, rather a micro fragmenting … and this bespeaks a kind of vulnerability to the broader strokes–hammer blows–of which the Left seems to have become wary.

Given that you are a force of opposition, what do you want?

Calming devices used to be those narrow perspex boxes in which you could see and witness particulate sorting processes. Sometimes with oil.

Then diving you see a skate, a ray, shake off the sand in which it is camouflaged, and the sand settle.

…it settles without you doing a thing.

This is what you are watching slowly coming down–the pretence is that it happens quickly.

The pretence is that it can–that it can operate by some human, humanly imposed scale of time, of time reduced to the technologically available advanced scale of minute increments speeding past, speeding into the past under what Virilio calls dromological pressure. Speeding into the future. This is what you get speeding into the future.

This is what you get, I have been writing in my other writing: it is not speed except that it is communicable and the speed is of the communication. Which makes a joke of communication.

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days 88 – 105: including the comeback of lockdown, ackl; or, papa goff gets a payoff

what kind of report to make, not a record of the days, and this music playing, with its dark intimations, which make you yearn for WAP feat. Megan Thee Stallion and its easy innuendos of something beyond both sex and death. For so it must be.

It must be further out than the body’s passions and further in than the deep well.

Perhaps it belongs to the totalitarianism of data Refik Anadol visualises:

— thanks K!

just as perhaps it is in the ludicology of fluxus, so imagine us saying, who that woman was is not important, but art is alive. I mean let’s keep names out of this.

As I was saying…

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there are no boundaries in art … or it is the very boundary that is its sustaining cheesewire g-string

a light, fluent surface.

— from here is M. John Harrison talking about a story in his own collection, Settling the World, that taught him how to …

and on this surface, say the philosophical surface or its equivalent in one of Leonard Cohen’s songs, there are mining operations.

These are as energy intensive, writes Bloomberg, or have been, as in 2018 to require 140 TWh of electricity, “rivaling the entire annual electricity consumption of Argentina.”

In 2017, the cost of mining a single bitcoin varied between $11,000 and $26,000–says Investopedia.

What’s more is that the majority of mining takes place in China, and, Business Insider writes, “tightening government security is pushing miners to relocate to places like Kazakhstan and Venezuela.”

These places are Politically Unstable–as my source for these figures presents it:

Hive’s Vision, by contrast, is to build a better digital currency mining infrastructure–go deep in the well–using green power for the blockchain.

Hive is building their “rigs in stable jurisdictions to prolific industrial scales–making them some the world’s largest and most energy-efficient datacenters.” [sic.]

the ascent of Hive

Lockdown

on the edges of a storm. Out the window deep grey tones broken by a white edge of ermine. Fading light but it has been circling all day. The heat and humidity amplified by curtains on each side thick and dark walls of dark water. Solid walls black like black mould creeping up a wall. Like being in an old fridge, hotter for having been an appliance to keep things cold and insulated, its heat exchange broken anyway. Not plugged in beside the road.

We are insulated in the sick insulation of what was once a natural product but is now synthetic, a thready material that is barbed. Not so bad as Pink Batts which is made of glass fibre and gets in our lungs, blows free from the cracks in rooftiles, or under eaves, cracks in never well put together New Zealand homes, gets in our eyes. I remember reading about such glass fibre insulation being recorded as present in the Yosemites. This now spills out globally from the world’s broken fridge. A zoonotic thread made of stripes and bars of genomic fibre.

It’s hot in here, even here, on these evening islands. Windblown by virus fibres.

Perhaps it is pollen.

Like sickly orchids in a hothouse we are being pollinated.

Ah, on another tangent or asymptote it is so refreshing to read Ulrik Ekman’s questions that are network critical but that feed in to the other writing I am engaged in in parallel, the reason for my absence here over stretches–but then I’m never sure there are readers for this here.

Mark Blyth is another voice important to listen to–thanks D.–for his curmudgeonly critical pugnacity on economic matters. He explains what it is the market values, and, as byblow, why it might be whole countries and cities can be shut down–from an economic point of view. Why has the world, the muchbruited and feted globalised world of the global marketplace, not simply sat down and given up and … frozen to death or burnt to a crisp … given the shuttings-down governments have now figured out they can do?

It is that the market values assets and capital liquidity and secondary financial products. The general economic market values nonexistent stuff.

This is why existence can get on very well without it.

Let it.

That’s all we ask.

Finally, the pornography of the human condition we didn’t know we needed:


Not finally. How can there ever be any finality ever again?

the palms of the Bush dynasty reaching out to the Trump.

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day 74 – day 87 of the world winding up business

“When times are hard, like they are now, what’s the use of knowing stuff?”

— the end of Cixin Liu’s Of Ants and Dinosaurs (Trans. Elizabeth Hanlon, (London, UK: Head of Zeus, 2020), 248).

OPERATION LEGEND: “a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative across all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight the sudden surge of violent crime.”

MEETS

Wall of Moms

Portland

…although involuntary hospitalisation and treatment is deemed to violate an individual’s civil rights in the US, running for president would seem to meet the conditions of posing a danger either to themselves or others in order to be held for evaluation…

“Police said they have recovered 420 bodies from streets, vehicles and homes in [Bolivia’s] capital of La Paz, and in [its] biggest city, Santa Cruz, in the span of five days. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of them are believed to have had the virus.” — from here.

…winding up business:

For those who might have thought a drug to treat COVID-19 might have a value beyond measure, no. That its value is capable of measure is a measure of its value.

COVID-19 presents–and is presented by the Guardian article breaking news of the breakthrough–an unprecedented (the article says there ought to be a stronger word) opportunity … to make money.

This is not turning others suffering into profit, profiting off others’ suffering, as the soul is said to off the body, as the body is said to turn the soul’s suffering to its own profit, but a profitable speculation on turning the suffering of others around, profiting off the prospect of the positive outcome of their future health.

You can read it for yourself and make sense of what kind of breakthrough is being celebrated here.

Have you been wondering about representation? American critics have been pointing out the debt–suppressed–still owing–20th century dance in the West owes to Africa, and in America, black dancers.

This is not any kind of reciprocation, payment or token but look at Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring being prepared for a tour that with COVID-19 didn’t happen:

Evening. I have been reading about von Zemlinsky in a poem by John Ash. The first part dwells on or in this word evening in English, German and Turkish. Ash has adopted Istanbul as his home city. I wonder how he feels about the Hagia Sophia, about Erdoğan leading the first prayers–at least in the front row of bent over figures, for the camera op–since it has become a mosque and is no longer a museum. Did I imagine him wearing a mask? Erdoğan that is.

What does it mean for the Hagia Sophia to become a mosque? has it reverted to being a mosque? is this a reversion or is this progress? and if progress to what far horizon are we bound? and we might even ask so literally.

I have been following Tim Mackintosh-Smith in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta. He stops in Turkey, second leg of the journey, in three episodes [1, 2, 3]. The Hagia Sophia is a place when our documentarian visits that epitomises the interpenetration of Christianity and Islam in its architecture–high above the heads of those bowed in prayer now, are images, not so much graven as mosaic, Christian icons.

Strange to have seen that the Hagia Sophia twice in very different circumstances so recently.

Von Zemlinsky is yet to reappear. Or perhaps he has pre-appeared.

Besotted with the Alma who wed Mahler and on Mahler’s death married Gropius, of Bauhaus–of the building, incidentally we used regularly to visit of an evening in Berlin, evenings spent following the Wall in its nearby span through our neighbourhood of Kreuzberg–he, von Zemlinsky, held himself to be so ugly he could not bear the sight of himself. A dwarf. And writes Ash, how many of these giants of the Western musical canon were short: Berg towered over most of them. Stravinsky. Mahler himself. Schönberg. Von Zemlinsky, the dwarf.

Where would he have pre-appeared but in the poetry of Bolaño? where there’s always a dwarf, and a hunchback, like he inhabits a Tom Waits song.

There exist slow-acting déjà vu. Perhaps I am yet to hear von Zemlinsky’s 4th Quartet, to have tears–what does Ash say?–dashing from my eyes? Unless I … and haven’t we all imagined we would sooner or later meet this criterion … have not the heart, not the sensitivity, cannot feel, do not understand the musical language, have lost the sense of its symbolic relatability? have been rendered with the rest of these generations who are now living deaf to it? We might not be falling into hyperbole to ask whether this is not a deafness or an intellectual dwarfism, a dullness that afflicts the whole of our civilization. And what would it mean if it did?

My friend–long distance–by email–but I hope she does not mind that I name her as a friend–Aliette Guibert-Certhoux liked to say we have lost in the West a common symbolic frame of reference–we have lost the Symbolic. She includes among her own friends Guy Debord and Baudrillard.

She wrote very movingly on the death of Baudrillard he was a favourite of the nurses, the old … I was about to write roué, and, as I am lacking acute accents within easy reach, I looked up the word. We know that a roue is a wheel. What roué refers to is the wheel which would be the punishment for a debauchee, for all those litanised by the #metoos: he would be broken on a wheel.

Does this make any sense?

The wheel. The Wall of Moms. The #metoos.

I was surprised that an Australian feminist thinker could not countenance–that means face–the late Irigaray. She would only consider the early Irigaray. Not the Irigaray of the evening who wrote so strongly it is perhaps only a true understanding of sexual difference that will, that can, save us.

And Oscar Wilde? will it also save Wilde? … He enters the poem of Ash, by way of “The Birthday of the Infanta.” And this pre-appearance is so striking I have to quote what it turns up, noting first that it handles of a dwarf hunchback:

“The Dwarf mistakenly believes that the Infanta must love him, and tries to find her, passing through a garden where the flowers, sundial, and fish ridicule him, but birds and lizards do not. He finds his way inside the palace, and searches through rooms hoping to find the Infanta, but finding them all devoid of life.

“Eventually, he stumbles upon a grotesque monster that mimics his every move in one of the rooms. When the realisation comes that it was his own reflection, he knows then that the Infanta did not love him, but was laughing out of mockery, and he falls to the floor, kicking and screaming. The Infanta and the other children chance upon him and, imagining it to be another act, laugh and applaud while his flailing grows more and more weak before he stops moving altogether. When the Infanta demands more entertainment, a servant tries to rouse him, only to discover that he has died of a broken heart. Telling this to the Infanta, she speaks the last line of the story ‘For the future, let those who come to play with me have no hearts.'”

You see? It is as we feared.

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days 62-73 showing 60% at 17:17

There is nothing “most beautiful and most wonderful” about the coronavirus, to return to Darwin’s words, but it, too, is a thing of nature. We cannot wish away our connection to it.

— from LA Review of Books

We cannot wish away our connection to COVID-19. Darwin, Karl Kusserow writes, doesn’t allow us to forget the connectedness of all life and to wish away the parts we don’t like. Not that we have a right to life equal to or comparable with the virus, any virus; not that it can be claimed the virus, that viral life, because alive, mutating, reproducing, like us, is alive in the same way as us. This is not connectedness–and is as far from connectivity mediated in communication as we can go. Still our connnectedness constitutes us together. We are as connected conditions. For different forms of life.

We don’t simply depend on the same or a comparable structure of particles in aggregate. We depend as much as the virus on life being possible, on the conditions being available. They are to us and they are for the virus.

We don’t need to understand COVID-19 in its clever opportunism or admire its survival strategies. How like a body, how like a gene of our bodies, it is selfish, as Dawkins wrote, and how its wants are not so dissimilar from ours.

But the virus, this one, and the next zoonotic species-leaper, are connected to us and the climate we have and continue to disrupt, parts of the same planet we are spoiling. And this is Kusserow’s point. That image of “magnificent desolation”–the earth floating in darkness. The darkness on the face of the deep. Swirly blue marble–a kid’s thing. The darkness undivided and too deep ever to be divided.

So what did God actually do? to make such a strange bedfellow for hermself as Creation, and such a strange one for us as our virus, the one we are connected to; the one whose claim is that of a gene, a viral gene, like ours.

My note here read: what if connection in community were more like this?

How develop communities when we are in community with the agents of our destruction?

It is for the sake of everyone in the world that the slave asserts himself when he comes to the conclusion that a command has infringed on something which does not belong to him alone, but which is the common ground where all men–even the man who insults and oppresses him–have a natural community.

— Camus

the big nudes

if we can delay one day

On the virtues and aporia of economics:

In the meantime, the reduction of a society and culture to dependence on mathematical abstraction has infantalised a grown-up civilization and is well on the way to destroying it. Civilizations self-destruct anyway, but it is reasonable to ask whether they have done so before with such enthusiasm, in obedience to such an acutely absurd superstition, while claiming with such insistence that they were beyond being seduced by the irrational promises of religion. Every civilization has had its irrational but reassuring myth. Previous civilizations have used their culture to sing about it and tell stories about it. Ours has used its mathematics to prove it.

Yet, when this relatively short-lived market-society is gone, we will miss its essential simplicity, its price mechanism, its self-stabilising properties, its impersonal exchange, the comforts it delivers to many and the freedoms it underwrites. Its failure will be destructive.

— David Fleming, Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy, Ed. Shaun Chamberlin, 2016, from the epilogue.

Roberto Bolaño warns of the dangers of picking up and reading Osvaldo Lamborghini with bare eyes. He also attributes to Lamborghini a third but secret strain running through contemporary Argentinean literature, from the writer Bolaño calls his literary executor, César Aira.

Lamborghini, writes Aira , “insisted that all of the great novels were run through with a slight melody, a little jingle.” He has earlier remarked on Lamborghini’s fascination for a single line in Dickens’s David Copperfield which makes the rest of this work redundant.

David accompanies his maid Peggotty to feed the chickens. She throws the grain and the hens peck. “But the boy is looking at the freckled arms of the woman and he marvels that they don’t prefer to peck there.”

Aira writes, “That passage enchanted him.”

Aira, who, Bolaño writes, takes up the secret third strain running through Argentinian literature commencing with Lamborghini, invokes Leibniz to explain this monadic aspect of Lamborghini’s writing, of expressing the whole universe in microcosm.

He writes, “I remember, incidentally, Osvaldo had a method for writing when, for some reason, “he couldn’t write”: it consisted of writing one small, unremarkable phrase, and then another, and then another, until he had filled a number of pages. Some of his best texts (like “La mañana”) are written that way; and it is conceivable that everything may have been written that way.”

Bolaño has several times saved my life. Reading his Unknown University led to this work: a kind of record.

I had just finished my PhD. I thought I was doing what I should be doing. In the academy, but not of the academy, since also engaged in artistic research, I thought I had proven myself. Both as a teacher–I taught through the years I was working on my doctorate–and as a scholar-practitioner. But…

And just the other day I picked up his essays, Between Parentheses. His work returns me to the fact of the value of literature. Of course it’s religious but not ass-kissing. And sometimes Kundera will do, with his emphasis on humour and the irony the regime can’t stand. And with his reminder of how easily we sink into moralising, moralising by proxy, decreeing on behalf of … Phoebe Bridgers’s screaming has just now interrupted my thought

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days 51-61 Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 25 September 1964 – 19 June 2020, RIP, and the friends he didn’t know he had

Kundera’s description of Czechoslovakia after the Prague Spring, ’68:

“A system was born (with no advance planning, almost by chance) that was truly unprecedented: the economy 100 percent nationalized, agriculture in the hands of cooperatives, nobody too rich, nobody too poor, schools and medicine for free, but also: the end of the secret police’s power, the end of political persecutions, the freedom to write without censorship, and consequently the blooming of literature, art, thought, journals. I cannot tell what the prospects might have been for the future of this system; in the geopolitical situation of the time, certainly not great; but in a different geopolitical situation?”

— Milan Kundera, Encounter, Trans. Linda Asher, (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009). Original work published as Une Rencontre, 2009.

Alejandro Zambra writes, “I think that the story can’t end like that, with Camilo Sr. crying for his dead son, his son who was practically a stranger to him. But that’s how it ends.”

This is from the same work, in which the writer calls the present a suspiciously stable place.

From the same place, “thinking about … the future, which wasn’t my favorite subject … we had imagined a life full of flying cars and happy teleportations, or maybe something less spectacular but still radically different from the soulless and repressive world we lived in.”

And: “she drew a too-thick line around her eyes, as if fencing them in, as if she wanted to keep them from jumping out of her skull and escaping.” But: this last sentence is beyond the page I read up to, the page I mean to return to when I at last pick up this book, Documents, again, page 61. For now I’m putting it on display.

The topic for the display is Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 25 September 1964 – 19 June 2020, RIP, and the friends he didn’t know he had.

I am writing this on the 5th anniversary of Fr Craig Larkin’s death. I wrote this piece for him. Fr Costello in his homily said about Craig, “He generated life wherever he went.” (The homily was delivered at Craig’s Requiem Mass.) I get the feeling Ruiz Zafón would approve if these words were to be applied to him.

Zambra and Ruiz Zafón–both writers who are not overly literary: Zafón the classic story-teller; Zambra the conversational writer, Valeria Luiselli talked about as being like a late-night phonecall, the relaxed voice of night-time intimacy.

I remember being in the South of France, chez la famille Chaigne, at a time when Catholics talked about tours of the Holy Land.

In fact, they didn’t just talk about it. We had slideshows. And included in the tour of the Holy Land were shots of the pyramids. It was not so unlike the episode in Brideshead Revisited of Mr Samgrass with Sebastian always out of shot, showing his slides. And when I say we, I mean the family at Aix, on the occasion of a visiting South American priest. Was he Argentinian? He was from a meat-eating country and I remember M. Chaigne taking charge of the gigot, the leg of lamb, whereas previous to the visit it had always been Madame to whom the territory of the kitchen belonged.

He pierced the leg of lamb with a small knife and stuffed it with slivers of garlic and rosemary and doused it with olive oil. He had the oven as hot as it would go so the house filled with smoke, searing the lamb, cindering the rosemary spines, then reduced to a moderate temperature, cooking it for only as long as the flesh would remain pink, and sitting it for as long as it was cooked to absorb the blood. It was a performance.

It had nothing on the priest’s. In what had been a household as spartan as a seminary–where young seminarians were routinely housed: a crucifix hung above the bed in my cell of a room–the wines flowed, through and beyond the lavish meal, then M. produced cigars, which, if I rightly recall, I was offered as well, from the humidor.

No, it was Colombia: the Colombian priest had come directly upon reaching France from his tour of the Holy Land, with his slides, to the maison Chaigne. A lowlying white stucco villa with terracotta Roman tiles.

M. Chaigne had cooked the meal for our special guest and even the errant daughter and prodigal son were present. I detected from the son some animosity towards the daughter. It seemed she had greater lee-way around the town than he. And with the priest present it was an excellent opportunity to land some sarcasm-cloaked blows to her reputation as a cyclist and trampolinist. If I recall, she accepted from her father the offer of a fat Cuban cigar. And he cut the end without comment but with teeth clenched. And she glowered at her brother from behind the volumes of smoke she emitted that we would today call a fat vape.

What I most remember is the unwonted profligacy of the household. That I had up until the evening of the tour of the Holy Land slideshow and the appetites that everyone in the household was for once permitted to admit at the excuse of the presence of the Colombian priest and his own Gargantuan capacities for wine and food and hilarity, that I had only known the family’s austerities, and the barely concealed distaste for me M. displayed. He had his own coffee bowl for the morning. And Mme. would entertain no distraction to his morning rule, of reading the newspaper in its entirety, without interruption.

And it wasn’t fair of the son as far as I could see, given his own flouting of his father’s, and mother’s, Catholic-church-approved codes, to lambaste his sister for hers. I recall admiring Mlle. Chaigne that night, practically the only time I saw her, particularly for seeming to have escaped the family’s rigidity. She lounged, smoking a cigar.

She left before the slideshow; her boyfriend picked her up. I was even more impressed with him, then more impressed with her again. The boyfriend roared in on his motorbike. Her brother’s crew all rode vespas. She brought him in to introduce him to the visiting Colombian priest, representative of God. She was cool, and, it seemed as though M. already had met him and approved, because he was offered a glass of red wine from a bottle from the cellar. M. was disappearing regularly throughout the evening, returning with another label to pass under the gaze of the Colombian priest, who nodded, drained what he had, and held out his glass.

The boyfriend was on the verge of accepting when Mlle. took his arm before he had a chance to get out of his leathers. I remember the opportunity given M. to make the offer: she was absent for a second, coming back in a black leather jacket.

I thought, Who is this priest, turning everything I had been led to expect from this family around? I loved him for it. I wondered if he was not just a priest but someone higher up. A bishop? But surely even a bishop if he came from Colombia would not have been treated this well? An Anti-Pope?

He laughed as hugely as he ate and drank. He laughed when I said where I was from and he said we were near neighbours. And it was probably his approval that got me M.’s, who was suddenly proud to have me in his house. Who refilled my glass, offered me a Cuban.

The next day everything returned to normal.

The slideshow was indescribable, just like Mr Samgrass’s. I missed Mlle. Chaigne. She would have been like Julia but there was no Sebastian to ask after.

I am recalled to it by a line in Robert Harris’s The Second Sleep comparing the gables of Durston Manor receding behind the young priest Fairfax to the pyramids, because, at that time, I was surprised a tour of the Holy Land should take in Egypt; but of course: then escape from the strictures of Pharaoh, parting seas, exodus.

It wasn’t the connection of priests, although there is a connection, to what I was intending to say–rabbitholes, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s Secret Passages in a Hillside Town–which was about hypocrisy.

As usual, now I haven’t said it.

It is remarkable in an era of networked moral censure, the too-much bruited #metoo-ness of it, that the networks, the providers of it, the platforms, are free from censure, are neutral, are technologies. Progress.

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days 40-50 – or, walking in circles

Doug McEachern, says his bio, in the book I have in my hand, left school wanting to be a writer. The book I have in my hand evidence he succeeded.

Having left school, he was caught up in the ’60s. The bio puts it that he was “led astray by the political urgency of the campaigns against the Vietnam War and conscription.” This was in Australia.

It gives some indication of what is to follow, Stardust and Golden–the name of the book I have in my hand.

The author then enjoyed a long and “successful” academic career, where is not stated, before leaving university tenure for South Australia “to become a writer.”

This, his first novel, might give us a clue: Stardust and Golden is published by The University of Western Australia, 2018.

It returns us to the 1960s–

Several days of persistent heat forced forward memories of life before all-pervasive air conditioning.

–runs the first line of the novel, making redundant all of the foregoing.

We might recall the opening line of Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers: It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.

And we might consider there is no common measure.

Or we might consider the 1 million planets Raymond Ruyer invokes to demonstrate “that the power of chance is very limited”:

“Consider 1 million planets, each inhabited by 2 billion humans. Each of these humans (106 x 2 x 109) during 1 billion years, tosses every day a die forty thousand times (in one thousand series of forty), that is, practically does nothing else. Approximately how many times would a series of forty sixes arise?” The impression is that such a series will be produced at least some of the time. We can wager 19 against 1 that it will be produced, because (106 x 2 x 109) x (109 x 365 x 103) is still 20 times smaller than 640. Because the duration of life on earth is approximately 2 billion years, it is easy to see why it is extravagant to attribute to chance alone the formation of a nervous system, a circulatory system, the eye or the internal ear, whose ordered complexity has no common measure with the arrangement of a series of forty sixes.

— Raymond Ruyer, Neofinalism, Trans. Alyosha Edlebi, (Minneapolis, MI: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 163. (Note: original work published in French in 1952.)

From the puffline of Graham Swift’s Booker Prize winning Here We Are the phrase–

pulls back the curtain on the human condition.

The removal of the statue of Hamilton in Hamilton, Morgan Godfrey writes, augurs in a new age: …”and after him every statue celebrating the men who made the empire. It’s 2020, after all, and postcolonialism is giving way to decolonisation.”

There are then in his article for the Guardian some nice turns of phrase with “the tragics” and “the nostalgics” used to call out the empire defenders. That is defenders of the misbegetting of colonial monumentation in the present time of decolonisation.

Morgan Godfrey ends with, “The only way to acknowledge the history they made–invading the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and Taranaki–and the society they’re responsible for–where Maori are on the wrong side of every statistic, from incarceration to joblessness–is to tear it all down.”

There are many wears of tearing it all down.

Consider the work of Nicola Samorì:

– from the Cannibal Trail series, 2017, oil on copper, detail
– from the Malafonte series, black Carrara marble, 2018

Donna Tartt recently described the process of writing a novel as like “painting a large mural with a brush the size of an eyelash”. My own favourite–

writes Edward Docx, also for the Guardian

is that it’s like trying to fill a swimming pool with a syringe. Or, in a different mood, that writing a novel is like trying to hold a vast and intricate maths equation in your head that seeks to represent reality and through which you are trying to lead people without them ever getting wind that said equation is, in fact, impossible to solve or that, actually, it might not represent reality at all.

Docx, a writer, is introducing his review of Daniel Alarcón’s novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, which, he writes, makes gains (walking in circles?) on the side of the equation, while losing on the side of “immediacy, intimacy and involvement.”

Docx, the writer, answers the question, what we might call the ontological question, on his personal website, of the meaning of the writer’s existence, by writing that being a writer means “to give precise and enduring expression to the human experience”.

Alarcón is not found to have failed in this regard. But the assumption that immediacy, intimacy and involvement are what is being calculated in the above equation is not given as part of the equation.

Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream makes me think of two other perfect short novels, or novellas, Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami, and The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima.

I just noticed that the puffline on the front of Alexandro Zambra’s novel Documents is Daniel Alarcón’s.

On page 51 of Documents, Zambra writes this suggestive phrase–

I sometimes think, from this suspiciously stable place that is the present

From this–the same?–suspiciously stable place that is the present, I think–

the poem

is much better

now you

are looking at it.

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