August 2008

this just in from Berlin…

– photo courtesy Dominic Taylor

…Jeff Koons has mouldy balls!

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Is Chris Trotter good company? Not if we are to choose our friends on their looks.

Chris Trotter in the Sunday Star Times, July 20 2008.

You might already have seen this. You might not have. Worth a read. Classic Trotter-waving – the sort the left are wary of these days. To the point of forgetting how to do it. And to the extent that one Nat blog called it ‘hate speak.’

We might call them so, but don’t wasps bite for lack of pricks?

The response has been largely predictably ad hominem – who signs Chris Trotter’s pay-cheques? He’s in the pay of… Or he’s simply a fuckwit, and so on.

What interests me is the confusion the piece has elicited between who the Nats are and the company they are said to keep. That Chris makes the distinction is I think the piece’s singular distinction. I live in John Key’s electorate. And he lives in Remuera. In better company, indeed.

Until the Trotter op-ed piece came along, we had to be getting on with the “bland leading the bland.” A state of affairs which could only have ended with a ‘bland-slide.’

Who, to consider the man is John Key? What do his upper-palatal speech habits, constricted, tell us about him? like the boy we used to feel sorry for at playcentre? And Bill English, whose transcripts show he barely speaks it. And Lockwood – I used to know his son – Lockjaw? Well, tongues are wagging but jaws are barely moving.

There’s a faint tickle on the line, which is terrifying and comical when one knows one is at sea. With heavy weather or extreme events certainly approaching. Like finding ocean diminished to rockpool. And, canst thou draw out a shrimp with an hook?

– John Key (never has it seemed so appropriate to doctor an image with Gimp)

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OUR LADY of the CISTERN

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… like a mask they then forget they are wearing

The outside world exists like an actor on a stage: it’s there but it’s pretending to be something else.

Mask, Ferdinand Khnopff, c.1897

Someone, more free or accursed than the rest of us, suddenly sees (though even he only sees it rarely) that everything we are is what we are not, that we deceive ourselves about what is certain and are wrong about what we judge to be right. And this individual, who for one brief moment sees the universe naked, creates a philosophy or dreams a religion, and the philosophy spreads and the religion grows and those who believe in the philosophy wear it like an invisible garment, and those who believe in the religion put it on like a mask they then forget they are wearing.

– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, pp. 236-237

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the death of God is the death of Man, and so on

I considered that God, because unlikely, just might exist and might therefore deserve to be adored, but that Humanity, being a mere biological idea designating nothing more than the human race itself, was no more deserving of adoration than any other animal species. This worship of Humanity, with its rituals of Liberty and Equality, always struck me as being like a revival of the ancient cults, in which animals were gods or the gods bore the heads of animals.

Thus, not knowing how to believe in God and being unable to believe in a herd of animals, I maintained, like others on the sidelines of the crowd, that attitude of distance towards everything, which is commonly called Decadence. Decadence is the total absence of unconsciousness, for unconsciousness is the very foundation of life. If the heart could think it would stop beating.

To someone like myself, and to the few like me who live without knowing they live, what remains except renunciation as a way of life and contemplation as destiny?

– Fernando Pessoa

Unable to take anything seriously and believing that we were given no other reality than that of our feelings, we took shelter in them and explored them as if they were great undiscovered lands. And if we work assiduously not just at aesthetic contemplation but at finding expression for its modes and consequences, it is because the prose or poetry we write, stripped of the desire to influence another’s perceptions or change someone’s mind, has become rather like someone reading out loud in order to give a heightened objectivity to the subjective pleasure of reading.

For me life is an inn where I must stay until the carriage from the abyss calls to collect me. I don’t know where that carriage will take me because I know nothing. I could consider this inn to be a prison, since I’m compelled to stay here; I could consider it a kind of club, because I meet other people here. However, unlike others, I am neither impatient nor sociable. I leave those who shut themselves in their rooms and wait, lying limply on their beds unable to sleep; I leave those who chatter in the living room, from where the cosy sound of music and voices reaches me. I sit at the door and fill my eyes and ears with the colours and sounds of the landscape and slowly, just for myself, I sing vague songs that I compose while I wait.

Night will fall on all of us and the carriage will arrive. … If what I leave written in the visitors’ book is one day read by others and entertains them on their journey, that’s fine. If no one reads it or is entertained by it, that’s fine too.

– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, trans. Margaret Jull Costa, Serpent’s Tail, London, 1998, pp 207-209

Thanatos, Jacek Malczewski, 1898

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