February 2011

home (a note on new Christchurch earthquake music video: my city’s in ruins: no link) & away (but maybe these Arabs were there all along: a link to electronic intifada)

quite apart from the monetarisation of every relation, there appears the as if of our neo-colonised and neo-liberal social setup: as if a relation belonged to the world of commercial communication. The models set by the commercialisation of culture hereby extend beyond what may – usefully or not – be exchanged outside of the possibility of making money. So the Christchurch earthquake has its music video, played just after the advice on preventing kids from seeing images that are too graphic, this sentimental pornography. … Although we do not preclude the possibility that this product will make money – and it may and such funds as are raised may go to a worthy cause – the fact is that a commercial model is being followed, that the product is to all intents and purposes commercial and therefore commercialises disaster.

bad for the Jews

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thoughts, prayers, business, shit and jelly: the Christchurch earthquake

The jolt was felt as far away as Tauranga, which is an hour south of Auckland, and all over the South Island. But it was shallower and more localised than the last quake in Christchurch. The last measured 7.1, its epicentre 50 km out to sea and 10 km down, this one, 6.3, 10 km out and 5km down into the earth. Which representational coordinates register in experience, if you’ve lived in an earthquake-prone area for long enough.

Bodies have been shown being pulled out wreckage, officially numbering 75, expected to rise. A massive disaster for NZ. Another. And, as has become a familiar complaint from me, it is an event that has been responded to in terms of reflection … too soon. Footage set into tightly edited circular vignettes. Highlights revisited at increasing frequency. A stasis in the way media present and the way then the event comes to be represented in conversation.

We are already ‘pausing’ to consider the effects. Rather than suffering them, as affects, and communicating them, as affects. Among which effects number, naturally, those relating to economics, to the well-being of businesses, and business per se as an abstract entity, the business of the nation, and GDP. So an aspect, not the main one, but a notable element in our ‘thoughts and prayers’ is concern for the economics of the disaster. The business section of the paper talks about the old one, two. And he’s down! I am indicating a constructed, pointed characteristic to this soup of mediated reflections, cycling on pause. That in effect it has been spiked. Cost is being counted as we watch pain and destruction occurring.

A friend wrote that the footage showed more urgency among reporters than among rescue workers, comparing this to Haiti, where within 6 or so hours, bodies were being pulled from wreckage by the score. Contributing to this circumspection, there is also the regulated nature of our society’s understanding of itself, and self-regulation, stopping people who might from rushing in, to the extent that one man who tried to help was arrested. Obviously for endangering others.

I don’t think this pertained in Haiti’s case, since looting was a major problem, and given the impoverishment of the people. Here, we see traumatised office workers, the middle-classes prevailing, and men wearing hardhats and fluoro vests. All with that harried look of the firefighters in NY on September 11. But I have to admit to being perturbed to see what looks like a public service attitude despite the harriedness of its officials, rescue-workers in throngs, standing around, as if leaning on spades, over photocopiers, around the water-cooler, you might say, while one guy wields a hammer.

We are a careful nation it seems. Not wanting to be disturbed or disturb each other. This earthquake is called an ‘aftershock,’ despite being more devastating than the preceding quake. TV news precedes cycles of footage with warnings about its ‘graphic’ nature that ‘may disturb some viewers.’ Another acquaintance was told by someone he knew to ‘tone down’ his language on facebook. To which he responded, I will not fucking tone it down. Sometimes an aftershock is not a toned down version of an earthquake.

What fascinates me most is actually the fact of ongoing aftershocks. Over several thousand from the quake in September last year. But watching the responses of reporters and by-standers in live coverage to the hourly-or-so shocks and rumbles and jolts. How doubt in the solidity of the ground affects people at the moment the ground moves. They don’t necessarily all reach for something onto which to hold. More frequently the talking face of the journo or the background faces will withdraw into itself, into themselves. A far-away look – not just wishful thinking – moves across the face. One guy could not concentrate on the question coming from his earpiece while in every physical respect he responded with nonchalance to the aftershock. It made him listen to his inner ear. Perhaps to find balance.

Another under-reported aspect to the quake is the smell coming from the ground. It’s not simply shaking like jelly, it’s smelling like shit. ‘Liquefaction’ is the word, if not the fact, on everybody’s lips. The oscillations in the ground having reorganised the strata underneath, sorting them so that lighter particles rise, liquefying to the extent that rock and sand begins to act like liquid and percolate up to and through and onto the surface. Along with broken liquid flows already underground. In Christchurch’s case, acquifers, multiple subterranean rivers – the city is built on a vast alluvial plane – and sewage and water mains.

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this disaster… will rip the heart out of Christchurch, once again, and for a long time to come

– from here

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that aftershock made me lose my place in your question

– from here

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I was careful but I hurt you






















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Teresa Brennan and the transmission of affect


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here time goes in reverse a catachrony












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panic in the streets














I saw something strange in the streets of the city today. Another city.
You know how they talk about normality, how its intrinsic oddity can
barely be contained?
Today, I was amazed how actively citizens were unseeing the city,
as in China Miéville’s City and the City.
The city’s grotesquely aberrant quality, its headlong flight from normality, was
not just barely contained but its
containment bespoke an array of factors, structures, strategies, psychological,
architectural, historical. And creative. In the sense that a consensus
is created about that which we refuse to acknowledge. The strangeness
was not barely contained, it had been gagged and was in the very act
of being pulled into a van and sped away. It was being held by force.
All this was happening everywhere around. We were all witnesses.
We were all called on to bear witness to a kidnapping. Weren’t we?
The reality demanded we bear witness. The angles were all wrong.
The way the light played off them. People stood as if on a stage.
A man talked into his earpiece in an accent that must have been faked.
Chief fucking executive. American. A man slouched down the street
in jandals, swinging his right arm wide, the hand holding a lit cigarette.
Implausibly relaxed. As they do in New Zealand, gatherings of four or five
occupied the maximum of space, one on a bench, another standing, two
further off, hardly connected but still engaged, in some drama collecting
them, arranging them, distributing them. Nodal points in space. People either
moved, rapidly, on insane trajectories like rips, or held their position.
Outside the backpackers. A diminishing order of figures. The dog. The dog.
By the library. And a perfectly suited man standing at an acute angle
to the dog’s stare. With the same perfect equipoise. A woman with cellphone
texting, intent on so doing, electromagnetic tentacles gripping her skull.
Crossing the road towards me. But the corners opened into looser angles.
A partly torn down poster announced a doorway to Narnia. No wonder they had
come and removed it. Only to the degree that it would not compel belief.
Rips and tears. In the fabric of the city. Too soon a motley, a Frankenstein
assembly of ill-fitting parts. The stitching undoing to reveal…
Not quite putrefaction. The outrageous thought that put a dead man’s
arm to another’s torso. A woman in white shorts, her tan hastily
painted on, her thighs affectedly muscular. A building from the 1970s.
Proud as any mausoleum. Grave-robbers for citizens. Taking what they needed
to provide a simulation of life. Getting on with it. ‘Its’ everywhere
around. De-subjected materials. Inorganic parts in the thrall of
performance art. Common everything. Good ignorance. Good ignorance.
Why did I see it and nobody else? I looked for recognition in the faces.
Later I thought of a joke: Even the mirror frustrated his efforts
to find recognition. The man in the mirror averts his eyes.
Citizens of Auckland likewise, but not really citizens of anywhere.
The wooden barricade running down the footpath was always there.
It may as well have been. The streets were uninhabitable. But
occupied by people who didn’t realise it. As if after the bomb.
Of course after the bomb. Inchoate cancers even now progressing
to incipience in every unconscious body. Caused by a failure to flee.
Run for your lives! The city is contaminated! What else gives the
building that line? Those clouds are not naturally formed. That light
turning concrete plastic. Like those yellow bricks that show no age,
unlike their Victorian counterparts, that just get dirty. So writes
Miéville in the Kraken. Because this is where
I was going. To buy a book. Pushed off the footpath by the man
with sawing cigarette arm. Eyeballed by the male half of the couple
drinking from stalked goldfish bowls of urinous wine. And the one
who’d dropped from space, his tie in forced nonchalance draped over
his shoulder, with hair like a dry tussock, at lunch with the
younger woman dissembling ignorance of his ulterior motive, balding.
They were all central casting. All self-consciously self-absorbed.
To not notice the strange flatness of the meagre public space.
To notice it as a mere platform. To stand on. Laugh with a girlfriend
against the scenery. And the scale – forced perspective.
Women with unaccountably large heads. The toes of men. To place
onself in a doorway to a closed and commercial upstairs,
to grab the next passerby by the arm, to engage her in intense
conversation about a shared past, a past that is sheer invention,
that was invented just then. The memories! Invented. The shared
acquaintances – a litany of similar sounding names, names with the
same root, like conjugated Latin verbs. Only the minute flicker
of fear that she will be found out. Covered by a surfeit of eye
make-up. A surface leading directly into her temple. A sucking
sound nobody else can hear. But me. From a tiny blowhole –
saliva not the sea. The voice of the aporetic, of the missing gene
in the chain, the series that can’t complete itself, the gear
with missing teeth, the faint grind, the wheels that spin but don’t
connect. That gain no traction. The tiniest wheelspin. The littlest
graunch. A smell of oil by-products and sickness. Later Radiohead
sing “Fake Plastic Trees.” And Thom Yorke, the interview read out,
talks about a lonely drunken evening and a sort of minor breakdown.
How the polystyrene man line made him laugh.
He just crumbles and burns. Memories! Just like the building
from the 1970s, shared and made up a second ago. A shared
mausoleum. A bare container.

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the prose of suicide following the injunction to rend the curtain which every novel worthy of the name must do, destroy, experiment, say NO! to current interpretations, to the given & pre-interpreted, the world of logic, of the rational, & both the common & privileged points of view

Let us review the situation: Anna has gone to the station to find Vronsky, not to kill herself; once she is on the platform, she is suddenly surprised by a memory and seduced by the unexpected chance to give her love story a finished, beautiful shape; to tie its beginning to its end by the same railroad station and the same motif of death beneath the wheels; for, without knowing it, mankind lives under the seductive spell of beauty, and Anna, stifled by the ugliness of existence, has become all the more susceptible to it.

“A sensation gripped her like one she used to feel long ago when, off for a swim, she prepared to plunge into the water.”

– Milan Kundera (quoting in the second case Tolstoy), The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts, trans. Linda Asher, Harper Collins, New York, 2006, p. 25

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more pictures of me “dead in Riverhead,” includes a chance invention for seeing 1) western lands & 2) new monitor







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