June 2019

19 June 2019: Anne Sauvagnargues & Gregory Flaxman, Kondo Kazunori, Uno Kuniichi at Chiyoda – Akasaka, Hotel Felice

Anne Sauvagnargues and Gregory Flaxman (two whose separately written books I greatly admire, and now get to meet, now working together) present “Techno-Genetic Semiotics”:

…which concerns the status of images, no longer seen as representation, but a new form of individuation.

In 1989’s Schizoanalytic Cartographies Guattari shows production of subjectivity is with machinic assemblages (agencements—but as here the emphasis is on the machinic assemblages is not entirely misleading).

Guattari’s 1969 “Machine et Structure” review of Deleuze: structure is not only an ideal structure in the mind but it has an affectivity in machinic systems, involving technical social agents and human agents (i.e. assemblage-agencements), for example—the smartphone.

In Deleuze’s Cinema 1 sensory-motoric image involves technical and biological production of subjectivity—to achieve a “geology of morals” as the plateau of that name in A Thousand Plateaus puts it.

Leroi-Gourhan’s Gesture and Speech is read closely by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus.

—tools made by hand feedback to the human:

moving forward into dimensions of images—cinemas is a threshold for technology.

Cinema no longer produces an image we can call human.

In cinema a spiritual agent or mind (Anne uses the English “spiritual” when I think she means d’esprit which rather means of mind than the French spirituel. In fact, Massumi makes this mistranslation in A Thousand Plateaus where he translates Plato’s republic of free minds as republic of free spirits.) … in cinema, spiritual [I just left the ‘p’ out of that word and got siri-tual, is this the source of virtual spirit, Siri?] or mind is not trying to master an agency in the film camera.

The scandal of cinema is that it is no longer possible to attribute to the human the film-making: film/camera has its own agency/agencement.

Image of thought is how thought represents itself to itself.

Cinematic image is not related or relatable by way of representation. It has no image or model. The cinematic image appears as an apparition in itself. It is itself the actualisation of a perception (the camera’s/film’s). It therefore involves an individuation. (The image is not part of representation because it itself individuates.)

The cinematic image, the image in cinema, shows that it is possible for the image to have perception and motoricity. So the cellphone has agency.

Signs are no longer just to be understood under human language.

Semiology passes—outside of human language—to semiotics.

Image or sign does not have a specificity to the cinema because of the same feedback loop of tool and hand.

Technik—in Greek—does not separate out literature from technology and science.

A Western metaphysics is needed to perform this split between higher ‘spiritual’ (mental) production and the applied arts of the technical or technical arts (that is any art that has a technical aspect which can then be separated from it, and separated from it have its own pedagogy). This split does not obtain in Japan at all.

There are symbioses between living agencies and technical agencies.

Noo – image of thought in cinema as in la noologie.

Mechanism + software:

Greg: we do not see the camera in the image. Its agency is invisible.

(Again I was taken to the thought of Merleau-Ponty, because of this distinction between visible and invisible and flesh: so that in a certain way, in a sense, the camera, the mechanism, is visible in the flesh. … like code and computerthere is a self-consciousness of agency and to separate the viewer in this way is to play into the notion of a separable perceptual field, which presupposes an abstract and disembodied viewpoint that can that partition some of itself off, and say this to you is the portion we call perceptible and visible. In fact, Greg and Anne’s argument is towards the relative viewpoint of the film and camera as a subject distinct from the human subject—a technical subject. But then there are technical, biotic and symbiotic subjects—and are they not anorganic?)

… breaking out of this parenthesis, it is not a subjectivity of image, the image not subjective, if this is thought only as being human subjectivity.

What is an image in Deleuze?

Deleuze says, It is time.

The subjective production of science is cited as one “no longer reserved to human subjectivity.”

Cinema is neither a [human] language nor language system. Semiotics refers then to a “system of images independent of language in general.”

aesthetic – system of sensibility

Image and perception (and perhaps even the entire perceptual field) are the same thing. This is speaking from the point of view of Cinema 1 and 2.

Subtractive model of subjectivity: whole field of perceptual images—as immanent—is that, a whole field or plane of immanence—without “everything that does not interest my perception.”

Anne: “Subjectivity comes to be the problem of the earth. … Culture is something that happens to our planet earth.”

It is not simply an ecology of subjectivity, but an ecotechnological transformation, or in ecotechnological transformation.

Geology of morals—again in A Thousand Plateaus—means the elision of culture and nature. The problem of the earth understands or comprehends as problematic this elision.

Deleuze does not turn to Bergson’s Creative Evolution but rather to his 1896 book Matter and Memory, particularly in view of taking Bergson to the cinema in the two cinema books.

For evolution, for evolution following this subtractive model of subjectivity, all phenomena are included except that which does not interest the perceiving, as the thinking, the conscious subject.

Greg spoke of an “acentred universe” (quite a good phrase, I think) meaning the “englobing or an image around a particular centre of indetermination.”

Centring on “indetermination” ours is a provisional centring that obscures the subjective field rather than revealing it—obscuring this other dimension of images.

What does the concept allow us to do?

Provisional acentring—englobing an image of indetermination …

“There are no other aesthetics not pragmatic” – Anne.

Habit – is both habituation and habitation. Habit is the only way to exist as a subject. (This is Deleuze’s first synthesis, in Difference and Repetition.)

No longer ego cogito but ego habitus—the habitus of rhythmicity and periodicity defines the subject, or its subject.


Matter-life-spirit: if we don’t want ontology so split, we need to open up subjectivity. (This also resonates strongly with the work I have been doing independently—this and the acentring of the subject of and by indetermination. For me, this means the torroidal space of the durational event of subjectivity.)

The sign is both nonsyntactic and asygnifying, writes Deleuze: “even human language has always been asignifying.”

Anne on Deleuze citing Jacobson and Sausurrean structuralist (formalist) linguistics: “There is no inner signification.” (The division between signifier and signified is nonspatial, nontemporal—nondimensional.)

Anne also cites—as a beautiful book—Howard Cohen’s How Does the Forest Think.

Greg: What is a sign?

What makes a sign?

The cut is arbitrary—if we think about it—as to where we say a sign begins and ends. Is it phonemic? Orthographical?

The image in cinema makes explicit this implicit practical problem of what is a sign.

Benveniste’s 5 pages on Saussure are some of the most revealing.

Greg: the “relationship of sign, signifier and signified, AND the real therefore cannot be simply parsed.”

Irony is that of Derrida’s favourite trope of catachresis—meaning a misuse, of the sign, that becomes habitual, creating a new meaning, from misuse—when deconstruction itself is subject to catachresis. That is deconstruction is rolled out as a sign for everything from the demolition of a building to the most banal of interpretative strategies of analysis.

Anne—in somewhat pedagogical mode—and here we can see she is a very good teacher, but perhaps does not need to make everything polemical: So, 2 series, continua, one signifying, and one signified (easier to imagine in French, in the gerundive form of signifiant). The sign comprises these two continua. But it is not a meeting point and inside the sign there is no signification. We cannot plumb its depths or uncover its secrets. It is bare of depth, empty, because purely formally differential.

Anne: for Lacan the question of signifier and signified leads to a new theory of subjectivity. — to endure symbolic means to endure the cut. (Cf. castration as it is presented by Deleuze in Difference and Repetition.)

flows of series – cut between – where one ends another begins

“Language is a virtual system existing in each of our heads simultaneously,” says Saussure. – says Greg.

Language is an automatism (a MACHINE IN THE ESPRIT or GHOST – says I).

Bergson’s – line on language and signs – language is a structure that is not given by my own invention. It is a mode of subjectivation that is unconscious and productive of subjectivity.

Phenomenology is not produced by an act of consciousness. Phenomenology relies on the vécu.

But I cannot access language in self-consciousness.

The Sartrean ego cannot any longer obtain when you are interested in collective modes of subjectivation.

(Deely’s Poinsot—I want to add to the genealogy of semiotics being unfolded.)

I am informed, intelligenced. Consciousness results from a social and political construction.

Saussure—Beneniste—Jacobson— the shifter, the deictic I you he she one …

You have to have a consciousness outside of consciousness to say I.

Discourse is language in action.

Anne overstates her non-hospitality to human language.

What is the tense of the moving image?

It is an existential dimension, the clause “there is …” (Cf. Blanchot and Bataille and Levinas, I think, all three concerned with the there is.)

Cinema is not privileged because its subjectivity is avowable: say, this is me again, in Dziga Vertov’s I am camera.

Marxist analysis of Deleuze and Guattari: the person comes after the Middle Ages at the entry of the capitalist subject.

Simondon’s metaphysics mean also differenciation of sytheses of time:

1. – habituation, actualisation, territorialisation;

2. – territorialisation as deterritorialisation – “a machinic assemblage, a collective assemblage of enunciation and assemblage of machinic bodies. Deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation. So in Simondon, deindividuation and individuation.

These, de- and re- are in mutual presupposition.

Territory is an act, a gesture.

Every territorialisation begins with a deterritorialisation.

Greg: territory begins in a hunting ground. But now, in societies of control, we live in an open field in which we are being surveilled and tracked. (We are no longer the hunter, but hunted within a specific dispositif.)

Decoding in this open field is difficult.

The relationship between presignifying image and prelinguistic signs is difficulted – vantage, POV.

Greg: Bonitzar [?]: “every image is a moral” – a valence. Every sign is a perspective. (Now we are getting close to semiotics again.)

A sign presupposes a valence, a vantage, an evaluation. The object it creates is but an evaluative disposition. (And we are leaving the perceptual field.)

Deleuze writes that cinema is not a universal or primitive language system.

Rancière “stupidly” says Anne says Deleuze uses cinema to provide theological insight into matter itself. This is because cinema is more capable than human consciousness to delve into matter itself. You cannot distinguish degrees – for cinema, matter equals acentred images. There is no ontological hierarchy of the three levels, only the relationship between uncentred and centred.

Cinema presents a type of image that is not humanly produced.

Nietzsche gives a metabolic as well as symbolic interpretation. (Metabolic is a good way of addressing the symbolic against the physical framework of bodies and proxemics.)

Anne: Habit – external relationship.

Greg: Whitehead says “life is robbery.” All life lives off other living forms.

Greg: psychomechanics and Spinoza’s “spiritual automaton.” Spinoza uses the spiritual automaton in The Treatise on the Intellect. Leibniz takes up this term.

Cinema is a material automaton: the image, says Greg, exists as




(Is this, I asked later, not the definition of the neoliberal market? (i.e. its vantagepoint, exactly, as the conceptual mechanism giving rise to it.)

– the brain on top of the previous brain,

an animation and autonomous, an automatism in thinking.

What brings together mots and choses is the spiritual automaton (singularity) – a little divine thing.

Deleuze: the cinema is a cinema of the world—is a meta-cinema.

Thinking in relationship to an image.

Anne: Conception of world – Spinoza and Descartes – “removed a closed world to an infinite existence.” This means infinite extension – the problem of the spiritual automaton connects matter and mind.

The modal idea is then where there is thought, where there is body.

Anne: “when you read Spinoza under God you can understand necessity and you can understand chance.”

God? Anne: it is writing. (This again links to the work I have been doing on writing and AI, as the late working-out of a dispositif present in writing from the first: the Word, God, the Law.)

God today is automatic automatism.

I ask my question, thinking also, why Norbert Wiener and cybernetics in the feedback from the tool to the hand? Isn’t the automatism of the marketplace as conceived and promoted by the neoliberal thought collective here in play? Like a projection of the projection transferred to the projector—cinema.

Greg asks for clarification. He doesn’t get the leap to market neoliberalism. But we talk later … and tend to agree. Particularly when it comes to cinema’s intrication in the market. That is that the market does not exist.

After this, Koichiro-san announces that the sponsors of the event will be presenting their product for trial and for sale: JT.

JT is of course Japanese Tobacco.

The product is e-cigarettes, using small capsules, englobing the drug / flavour of choice.

Christoff comes up and says, I like that your last question was followed by the introduction of … the market.

That there is nothing ironic and not even critical in the Japanese attitude to an academic event being sponsored by a tobacco company seems to me to be quintessentially Japanese. It acts as a reflector to all those oddly proxy attitudes of censure built on ressentiment—an American later declared, on finding out that the sponsor was JT, that maybe he oughta leave right now.

The catering as usual was great for lunch. Was it bento today? I think it was Katsu chicken bento. If it was, it came from a nearby restaurant that Koichiro-san had approached. Again, this opposing movement to abstraction of localising and terroir—eating from the territory. It is opposed in its intention.

Kondo Kazunori:

It is 1300km to Kondo … Kazunori-san has written on Cavaillès—mathematician and Victor Delbos—his two books on Spinoza.

He offers a textual survey, which he calls an archeology, of Deleuze’s notion of immanence. It’s difficult and unrelenting stuff, and he quotes extensively in French and then subsequently in English from his sources. It’s also admirable, but sometimes seems to suffer from the presumption of scientism that comes from the accumulation of proofs, as well as an accent that is reading rather than speaking from a pre-prepared text in English.

Léon Brunschvig 1869-1944 – the first pairing cited, immanence and transcendence distinguished between as the difference between the “directions of the two beliefs towards God.”

André Laland 1867-1964 – Kant’s “transcendent principle” distinguished from the “immanent principle” in Kant.

Deleuze uses ‘immanence’ on its own in regard to Spinoza’s “immanent cause” in the Ethics.

‘Univocity’ is retained throughout Deleuze’s oeuvre. But the first time it is in regard to Spinoza that Deleuze brings univocity thought together with immanence. It is his invention, because univocity is a concept of Duns Scotus.

In Logic of Sense there is immanence of the ‘quasi-cause.’

Deleuze does not originate use of immanence in relation to transcendence (and Kant). But what is original in Deleuze is linking univocity to Spinoza and immanence with univocity.

In Anti-Oedipus “champ d’immanence” appears in association with capitalism.

According to Kazunori-san the second major threshold in the use of ‘immanence’ is its association with Hjemslev.

“Champ d’immanence” is entirely original to Deleuze and Guattari.

Relative immanence is distinguished from pure immanence: relative immanence occurs in relation to transcendence.

1977 marks another threshold in the definition of immanence.

– “Désir et Plaisir” in Two Regimes of Madness;

Spinoza and Us: Spinoza’s Practical Philosophy;

Dialogues with Claire Parnet.

Here “champ d’immanence” changes to “plan d’immanence” (usually translated as plane of immanence. But as you can see, there is elision in the French between plan and plane with important consequences.)

In Dialogues with Parnet, there appears the optional clause: either plane of consistency or plane of immanence. They may not be the same thing but they are presented together.

It is ‘plane of consistency’ again in Spinoza and Us. Here it could also be a ‘plane of immanence’ as well.

Anne asks whether the cut of a threshold in the use of these notions begins a new continuity, as in a rhizome, where the cut of a threshold is a new beginning.

Kazonori-san answers that the plane is folded with the singularity. He draws a picture of a wavy line on the curve crossed by a straight line, which is the singularity of a threshold cutting across the wave but also at the fold.

I ask whether Deleuze gives reliable or adequate representation of his concepts. Is there a correspondence between terms and concepts in Deleuze? Joe Hughes calls Deleuze a “surly interlocutor.” Perhaps he is an unreliable narrator, unreliably narrating, and initiating a mobility of terms, which do not necessarily cleave—at least not at all rigorously, as has been presented—to their concepts?

Kondo Kazonori-san’s answer is that there are patterns. There are in fact three.

Uno Kuniichi-sensei has arrived at lunch. He is wellknown to many of the professors, including Anne, who introduces him to Greg.

The theme of his presentation is that Deleuze and Guattari—either unfortunately or fortunately—contrast the Eastern sagesse of thinking with figures with the Western philosophy of thinking with concepts. The figure is inadequate to the concept; Eastern wisdom does not arrive at philosophy, identified with the creation of concepts—autochthonous in Greece, @5th century BCE.

Western ego is contrasted with Eastern figure. Do they hold a notion of the soul in common?

The soul sees war as struggle in combat. While the East flows.

Figure in East and concept in West: a rhizome of flow.

Hegel provides an image of the sensible, that is a symbol: only spirit can grasp the concept.

Kuniichi-sensei makes the point of Hegel’s symbol being almost like a figure.

He cites the translation by Andrew Cole of vorstellen as “picture-thinking.”

For some reason I note: first there is externalisation of relation, then internalisation of relation, in subjectivation(production of a subject).

And: making a thought in the encounter with cinema’s non-feedback in non-cybernetic imagery. (The inclusion of Norbert Wiener in Greg’s presentation is still worrying me, thanks to Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.)

The figure is a disaster.

“We see the damage the figure has done.”

“What is the figure of the Orient? And then the figure of the Orient in relation to the immanence of Deleuze and Guattari?”

The sense here is that the figure does not and perhaps cannot reach immanence.

Izutsu’s book [sic?] on Eastern religions is cited.

Zen immaculates beings from the all. (Compare this with the obscenity of the tree root in Sartre’s novel Nausea.) Zen launches the all into chaos.

“The concept belongs to the philosophy of the West and the figure to the wisdom of the East.”

Perhaps, from excessive use or misuse of the figure, a singular translation has been elaborated in the East.

For Hegel the Figure blocks the East from forming concepts.

However, there is another type of the figure in Deleuze’s Logic of Sensation, which differs from that of Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy?

The figure found in Francis Bacon’s painting bears no relation to the wisdom of the East invoked by Deleuze and Guattari.

Kuniichi-sensei elaborates Bacon’s disfigurement and distortion and damage to the figure in his figuration on a coloured plane.

Isolation deformation dispersion modulation – captured: to make visible the invisible forces in a

matter of fact

all that is on the plane of sensation

Bacon’s figure has the same name as what is observed as the opposite of the concept.

The haptic, the manual or tactile aspects of Bacon’s painting, is distinct from the optical or purely optical.

“In the spatial zone of closeness, the sense of sight behaves just like the sense of touch, experiencing the presence of the form and ground at the same place.” – Maldiney.

Deleuze discovers his own East and deterritorialises the figure—it has become a sign of the outside.

Bergson: the figure is like fabulation. Its sensory surplus enters into the supersensory.

Figure appears in the encounter of the finite with the infinite.

In Difference and Repetition thought without image is figured by Antonin Artaud.

Artaud says to himself, I cannot think. His is a thought that constantly turns about a point of pain and impossibility.

The Artaudian thinking machine seems to lose all image.

Figures appear in Artaud’s poems (the poems are articulated in and by figures): 1921 stones become figures.

Artaud lost the image but he did not lose the figure—not reserved to the theatrical figure and to a theatre of cruelty.

The thinking body and the theatre of a body in crisis defines the theatre of cruelty.

Artaud, in being done with the judgement of God, puts an end to the institution of thought. (The institution of thought might be identified with the concept.)

The “figure works the thought—more real than an image; less abstract than a form.” And: “less visible than an image.”

The immanent and intensive use of the figure of Artaud’s invention does not contradict that of Bacon. It is another figure than that invoked in relation to the wisdom of the East.

He suffers from the transcendence.

– there is certainly a transcendence of the figure;

– from the beginning of Buddhism there has been a strong immanentism in combat with Hindu transcendentalism: a place of immanence of oneself—emptiness and nothingness;

– a betrayal of immanence.

Nietzsche and Spinoza arrive at immanence by introducing an intense seduction of life. In Artaud, it is by thinking the unthinkable, by figures, that a singular body, a body without organs puts an end to the judgement of God.

Matter, genesis, sincerity, haptics, fragile, fluctuating, harmony of sorts …

… it is possible the figure is crucial for immanence.

Kuniichi-sensei’s presents a poetics—could it be anything else?—of the figure, reticulated around the physical and mental alienation to thought suffered by the body in pain, the mind in pain of Artaud.

I try to form a question: I start by saying that I am a fan of the damage done by the figure. Although without the context of Minus Theatre, and its method of decomposition, this statement on its own does nothing.

Immanence seems to be articulated as an agonism in Artaud.

Is immanence which can be said of the immanentist aspects of (Zen) Buddhism, equally agonistic?

Before Kuniichi-sensei can answer, Anne, who is now sitting opposite me, repeats agonism? Qu’est-que ça veut dire? Agonisme?

Oui, ç’est agonisme. Someone confirms.

She does not seem happy with the question.

Kuniichi-sensei’s translator, assisting him, repeats the question in Japanese to him. It is the same person who translated for the students presenting their work in the exhibition associated with the Camp and Conference.

I back up the question with the background of Western agonism—the tradition of trials and struggle—supposed to fit the spiritual hero for enlightenment. This also extends to the mortification of the flesh and austerities of all sorts which are still visited on Western peoples. (I am aware of a variation of this tradition in so-called Eastern wisdom: and I am thinking also of Zhuang-zi and traditions of rupture through laughter, through dancing, which is again Nietzschean, music and trance—all of which Japan participates in.)

Kuniichi-sensei answers that there are also trials in Buddhism.

I ask more generally about Hijikata Tatsumi, inventor of Ankoku Butoh.

Kuniichi-sensei answers he spoke many times and at length with Hijikata about Artaud. Neither one of them shared the almost religious mythologised view of Artaud that was common in Japan at the time. Hijikata’s book is an exploration of immanence, Kuniichi-sensei said.

Immanence can change into transcendence.

“I have to see exactly what happens: when something happens to reverse”… immanence to transcendence, transcendence to immanence.

Two associated questions arise: is enlightenment—in the only sense of reaching a plane of consistency or immanence—singularity, a threshold at which the plane is folded? Or, rhizomatic, a cut commencing a new series?

Is immanence—moreover, in this sense—“spiritual” or in thought? i.e. might not the whole confusion over spirituel and d’esprit, between mind and spirit, devolve on this point?

I made a note here on Ainu being the indigenous people of North Japan. There is a picture in the park fronting Chiyoda Arts Centre of the aristocrat whose residence it had been. He is wearing a long atavistic kind of necklace, threaded with stones.

Koichiro-san asks, By what do we receive the figure?

Form, answers Kuniichi-sensei, by the intellectual eye. By the image of sensation.

The haptic is key for understanding the figure. So, I noted, a proxemics is in play, an imperceptible relation between that which was seen… a relational perception.

The link of misosophy, about which Jae asks, with violence: we can only think with some sort of violence. That is in the encounter.

Violence on a more physical dimension detects some undetectable perception—a relation between violence and impossibility.

For Artaud it is the impossibility of thinking, this violence. The unthinkable became some sort of figure very concretely—the stone, the Stone.

A background appears on the screen where Kuniichi-sensei has been showing quotations. Anne: Dürer’s mother. No, says Koichiro-san: Spinoza, the hypotenuse.

I approach Kuniichi-sensei after the presentation. I tell him of our friend in common. He says, You are from Brazil? No, I say. Not a good time for Brazil, he says.

After this Koichiro-san addresses me as Simon-sensei. I treasure this moment.

I leave for Akasaka, to which Chiyoda Line provides a direct route. J. flies in today. We meet at Hotel Felice, the corridor above. And pictured also is our first meal two doors down from the hotel.

on tour
point to point
thigein & conatus

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18 June 2019: Chiyoda Arts Centre – National Noh Theatre – Yoyogi

Koichiro Kokubun asks, Does schizophrenia remain the key concept in understanding Deleuze and Guattari?

Psychosis was not sufficiently analyzed because inaccessible to psychoanalysis.

In oppressive excess—neurosis ensues.

Kokubun-san makes three “completely indefensible” hypotheses:

1) the 19th century is neurosis;

2) the 20th century is schizophrenia;

3 the 21st century is autism.

As in previous sessions, there is a possible confusion within the epistemological field of psychoanalysis, if not the field of philosophy, of ontology with the field itself, or the horizon and conditions of its appearance: the pathology that is diagnosed—is it a thing? Is it something—an existent?

Domination of (father’s) authority—malfunction of discipline—liberation of individual—gives to 20th century psychosis.

W.H. Auden calls the early 20th century the Age of Anxiety.

“your perception of the world presupposes what you do not perceive.”

“the part of the object I do not see I posit as visible to others.”

—this is from Deleuze’s work on Tournier’s Robinsonnade: “A World Without Others.”

And: “the margins of the world disappear” on a desert island or in a world without others. “I am nothing other than my past … past is not present for me. No self without others.”

Shin’ichiro Kamagaya:

our next speaker, was born in 1977 with cerebral palsy. He suffered procedures of normalisation as a child and found them physically painful, and “as you see,” he says, from his motorised wheelchair, “they did not work.”

He first practiced as a pediatrician and in 2001 began work on autism using a method developed in Japan called Tojisha-kenkyu.

The method came out of the paradigm shift to coexistence with disabled people in the 1980s. The person with disabilities should not have to change. It is rather society which must change.

Shin’ichiro notes the differences between a social model of “disability” and a medical model of “impairment” and the friction between the two.

Co-production or participatory or user-led research—with the ‘subject’ of the research, that is ‘tojisha’ participation—tojisha-kenkyu developed in 2001 from the work of the group Schizophrenics Anonymous, which had begun the year before, in 2000. It was therefore started by schizophrenics.

The beautiful distinction is made between disempowerment in the sythesising of different viewpoints and empowerment in the juxtaposition of different narratives to form a polyphony.

Tojisha-kenkyu has 5 steps:

1) assuming a metacognitive position, of myself as others see me;

2) putting my problems into words and sharing them with others;

3) making up hypotheses about why we are living like this;

4) experimentation in how to live of the tojisha where failure disappears and where failure is an important resource to update our hypotheses;

5) testing and updating our hypotheses; building up a shared database: giving rise to manuals, worksheets and a literature in tojisha-kenkyu.

Individual characteristics indicate impairments. But the social dimension exists between people.

Autism is the misfit here because communicative disorders of miscommunication cross both social and medical lines: autism is both impairment and disability at once.

“We cannot ask whether there is a cause on the part of society, if we adopt ‘impairment of social interaction’ as our definition of autism.” The medical definition of autism has to be replaced.

In the last several decades the number of diagnoses of autism has increased by 3000 per cent. Academic research cannot explain it. A biological explanation can only account for a small portion of the diagnosed number.

Another factor for consideration is that the condition expresses itself differently according to the social context. Auditory processing characteristics have been shown to differ between the UK and Japan in the literature. The autism is different from culture to culture.

“It is not an example of a pure natural kind” and calls into question social contract thinking.

Part of autism is socially constructed. The rest is biologically describable.

The approach of “primary deficit in social cognition is not only empirically but also logically problematic.

Theory of mind does not suffice to explain autism because it goes to the sender as well as the receiver in communication.

Variability in autism from place to place is in view of social norms—of communication, registration, sending, receiving.

Local social culture determines autism as a ‘deficit in social cognition.’

A 2010 study by Elinor Ochs and Olga Solomon, “Autistic Sociality” shows Austistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to be socially specific.

Unlike other ‘disabilities,’ ASD people do not have the option of demanding that society change to allow their coexistence with and within it. But they must either be isolated from it or must themselves adapt to it.

Individuation in characteristics amount to an heterogeneity in the symptomatology of austism, quite apart from talking about a ‘spectrum’ of disorders of sociality.

This leads me to wonder about there being a Japanese phenomenology and a Japanese Merleau-Ponty, both for the construction of a perceptual field perputed to belong to the autistic person and for the epistemological construct as well as the ontological speculation which brings autism, in its individuating heterogeneity, to light on these levels, phenomenological, epistemological and ontological.

Social cognition can be divided into identification—sense of self—and autobiographical memory—mentalising, empathy based on self-other discrimination, where sense of self works by “intentional or emotional contagion.” The latter provokes the consideration of similar neuro-atypical others in the case of the autistic individual.

Ayaya Satski is a tojisha-kenkyu researcher with autism. For her, “a familiar face is seen as an assembly of parts.” She has no automatic recognition of either her mother’s face or of her own.

“Unconscious and automaticity” are very important in autism, conscious and unconscious control—this is a very good hypothesis for tojisha-kenkyu’s with autism.

Kokubun Koichiro-san: the hypothesis is connected to capitalism today, to an increase in the diagnosis of ASD.

People go for diagnosis because they fear their own inability or impairment in view of social cognition.

“In order to entrust our perception to others, these others must be similar,” says Koichiro-san.

I’m thinking about narcissism, a narcissism spectrum: depressive cannot escape from self. ASD cannot but. Cannot return (to self).

Is the desert island model—of Deleuze’s “world without others”—a normalising one?

Danilo asks: Is a protected [isolating ASDs from others] better than integration?

Shin’ichiro-san cites the deaf community as rejecting integration: “people with invisible impairments tend to be neglected [by society]; they have to adapt [not society].

The problem is the included minority rather than individuation.

“Mainstreaming” necessitates adaptation.

“Inclusion” ought to cover minority but in practice does not.

Next to speak is Takuya Matsumoto, a very young professor, flicking his fringe from his face.

Eugene Bleuler 1911 described schizophrenic patients as autistic because they were withdrawn from the outside world.

Leo Kanner 1943 described infantile autism from the start as “extreme aloneness,” unlike schizophrenia, of which it was first diagnosed to be a symptom, in which a previously existing relation is disrupted.

The 1970s distinguished autism from schizophrenia.

ASD is a recent development.

1981 Aspergers was recognised as a syndrome and named for him.

1995 Lorna Wing introduced Austistic Spectrum—inclusive of Aspergers.

2011The Wall: Psychoanalysis at the Test of Autism a propaganda film made by Sophie Robert disparages psychoanalysts in France for not distinguishing autism from schizophrenia.

Donna Williams, autistic writer, in Nobody Nowhere, described autism as a battle to “keep out of the world and a battle to join it.”

Lewis Carroll, Louis Wolfson and Raymond Roussel have all recently been diagnosed ASD.

The process of a “minor literature” in minorisation of language in particular is not so much schizophrenic as autistic.

Hypersensitivity to temperature, from which Carroll famously suffered, is part of ASD diagnostics.

Carroll and Artaud are differentiated in The Logic of Sense, the former a writer of the surface, the latter a writer of depth, due to their suffering from different disorders: Artaud schizophrenic, Carroll autistic.

“The problem is not to go beyond the bounds of reason, it is to cross the bounds of reason as a victor. Then one can speak of good mental health.” Deleuze on Wolfson, in Essays Critical and Clinical.

Matsumoto Takuya-san cites Lacan’s the sinthome as useful for understanding ASD.

Is the question one of the radical outside as invoked by Deleuze in Foucault?

…rencontre…encounter… Ritornello … refrain, exists as autistic trope of echolalia, forming a territory. [What about Beckett?]

We all followed Koichiro-san through the metro system to the National Noh Theatre.

Here we were introduced in a talk to the ritornello underlying Noh performance—Jo Ha Ku.

Jo—slow plateau of rhythm;

Ha—rapid increase in speed leading to peak;

Ku—abrupt completion of rhythm.

Each performance, each scene in each performance, each movement, down to gesture, in each scene develops in jo ha ku.

The Jo Ha Ku system was formalised in the early 15th century.

In Noh, there is no intention in the actor. The movement, gesture, stylised or natural, just happens. Jo Ha Ku follows the shape of natural impulse. It is spontaneous. Necessary for this spontaneity and naturalness is to cultivate mental nothingness.

The shape of impulse: it has not yet differentiated itself; it is inchoate; it begins not knowing its goal; this leads to an exponential curve of individuation in the movement, gesture, sound—for example birdsong—and its release; then its abrupt completion, as the impulse cancels itself in release.

Noh is between manmade and natural.

Control—but then let it go.

Noh—importantly, and in light of what Hijikata says of Butoh, that it is performed for the dead—is performed for the gods.

We tour the theatre, both auditorium and backstage. The dressing rooms are the series of identical tatami rooms, each with an identical locker, each identical to the one beside it, each one separated by sliding screen, extending in series. Each one is therefore characterless and impersonal. A formal structure is present in the backstage. But this formalism prepares an intensive structure of spontaneous—although formalised—gestures and movements and sounds, a theatrical language, onstage. Separating backstage from onstage is a symbolic threshold marked by a change in the wood of the floor: we were told that we were not to step over this threshold, onto the wood of the stage, even before it reaches the curtain covering the entrance to backstage—not wings because singular, wing—without the special toed white booties.

We were each given a pair of these and came to use them on the practice stage, a replica of the mainstage set up in a rehearsal room, complete with entryway bridge (to wing), stage marked by pillars, bearing a roof—Noh was originally played outside, under the cover of this tithing-house type awning, in shrines (separated from the audience by an empty space—for the gods?) and the traditional backdrop of the pinetree.

The Deleuze|Guattari-campers were split into fives and each group sent to a station situated in and around the practice auditorium. Here we knelt and learnt the basic different techniques for three types of drum used in Noh performances—one played on the left knee, one on the right shoulder, the base drum taipa on a stand with fat wooden drumsticks: each of these is assembled onstage by the player. All are horseskin. Players not only provide a rhythmic background but also vocalisations for the different characters, whooping to a high note for the young woman mask character. We learnt the transverse flute, getting breathless blowing over the hole, learning the most basic trill, again low to high—jo ha ku—the only melodic instrument in the band.

Performances are also accompanied by a chorus of singers in an almost continuous recitative, the origins apparent of Noh in trance, with odd asymmetrical whoops and offkilter rhyhmic and melodic motifs.

At each of the instrumental stations we had to kneel, feet tucked under bums, and make a bowing greeting, and at the giving a bowing thanks. Where this was too painful to sustain—it was—we were allowed to sit cross-legged, but if a camera was present, and at the start and end bow, return to traditional kneeling upright position, spine straight, and head level, keeping the rhythm, coordinating the whoops.

The last station our little group got to was the walking onstage. We put on our white toed slippers, stood in a line. The posture requires feet together, sternum angled to the ground, but head and chin back, to keep the mask—which we were not wearing—facing flat on to the audience. Arms are held out, elbows slightly bent, hands lightly clenched, with thumbs to the frontward plane. The master came around and corrected arms, angle of head and neck, hand rotation, then demonstrated what we were to do: feet are in continuous contact with stage—hollow to resonate when stamped—and toes lift at end of each sliding step.

Approach front stage in the jo ha ku rhythm, slow, accelerating, and performing the gesture of lifting the fan, closed, as if making a strong point to an interlocutor, while keeping arm slightly bent at elbow, moving arm from shoulder, hand lightly clenched. Then both arms, the left as if holding fan, the right hand holding one.

“Lift the fan as if the entire weight of all the air in the room lay on its end.”

Our lessons complete, our ankles bruised from kneeling, we became the audience for a demonstration performance. First the actor was dressed.

He explained in Japanese (translators were supplied who were PhD students for the workshops and a German translator, from Tokyo University, working on Noh, translated into English for this section) that this was embarrassing for him, since he had never been dressed in front of an audience before.

The dressing began with a skull cap and long underwear. The dressers were male, both in male kimono. They moved around the actor attaching and fitting the different parts of the costume for a drowned samurai spirit who makes his entrance at the end of a Noh drama. (Noh is sometimes referred to as the theatre where no one laughs; its sister form (kogyen?) is therefore the satirical form of Noh, using Noh elements—we saw a performance of this type in Hiroshima.) Costumes for Noh are all of the same size and worn by men and women—the acceptance of female performers into Noh is a recent development. Wearing a brilliant blue and gold-splashed stiff skirt-style kimono, the actor explained that this was a new costume but that in the next several hundred years it would develop a more beautiful patina. Costumes are still in use that are over 200 years old.

The final stage in the dressing is donning the mask. The actor said, When I put on the mask, I will no longer speak. My dressers, however, will speak for me.

The mask was only to be touched and held by its edges. The actor disappeared behind it. The dressers fitted him with his long fronded black wig. He has been in the sea, this spirit, so the hair does not need to be neat, but hangs over his face like seaweed.

The actor received his halberd. He retired backstage and the four musicians took their places on the practice stage. We had been told that filming was strictly prohibited during the performance; even the cameras recording the event were lens-capped: it seemed that this was less in reverence or out of tradition and more that the gods would not abide the competition of a technosemiotic eye.

The two dressers took their place stageleft, kneeling, to sing the chorus parts.

The samurai spirit returned to the stage by the bridge leading from backstage through a curtain to stageright. Bearing his halberd, he charged and jumped and raged and postured. The leaps took him off the stage, the surface of which boomed when he landed back onto its resonating surface. The voices of both chorus and musicians whooped and hooted, and the chorus chanted.

The rhythms and interlace of instruments and voices sounded as if each, apart from the recitative chanting (we were told that Japanese do not understand the words), were following his own (all male today) line. Drum. Hoot. Chant. Whoop. High to low flute trill. Leap. Posture. Jo Ha Ku. … like a crazy cart with wheels off-centre at each corner, less moving forward than in chaotic and cacophonous motion, back and forth, side to side, up and down.

The spirit came out again, after the performance finished and offered poses to the camera—as you might see from the snaps above.

R. stayed for dinner in the area, I headed away, relieved to be left to wander the subways and … in fact, I got out at Yoyobi station–on the Oedo Line from Sendagaya–not Yoyobi-Koen, and headed in what I hoped was the right direction, passing finally down the famous clothing market street in Harajuku, Takeshita, turning right, walking walking—I found I had performed a huge circle, and made no progress, but back and forth, side to side, uphill and down.

A handy map informed me I ought to have turned left not right at the end of Harajuku’s famous street, Takeshita (see UFO candy-floss above), which, when I got to it, I did. This took me to the bottom of Yoyogi park and soon I was back by the entrance to Yoyogi Youth Memorial Olympic Hostel. I walked right by to come to the street of food over the railway line. It was around 9.30pm when I bought, starving, after the drumming, the whooping, the walk of Noh, and the circuit I had taken, a ramen, which was heated at the Seven Eleven, and a salad. These I took back to my room. Delicious greasy pork noodles and sesame Japanese spinach.

a nice note on the white stones around the perimeter of the Noh stage: there for outdoor performances to reflect light into the masked faces of performers as footlights—now redundant, but retained; the poles define the stage for the masked performer—without them, she or he would not know where the edge of the stage is, the masks difficult to see out of, and the steps at the front of the stage are there just in case he or she misses the edge and tumbles from the stage to get back onto it.

on tour
point to point

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  1. End use–including production, manufacture and distribution of refrigerants.
  2. End use–including extraction, mining, refinement and distribution–of carbon-based fuels for energy production.
  3. Devolution to local level (500 persons) of care, housing, clothing, food and water, for most vulnerable.

principle 1. is first priority because refrigerants are primary in the production of greenhouse gases.

principle 1. provides test case for the implementation of principle 2. It will demonstrate speeds and costs of transition in both human and economic terms. It will show if existing market forms are able to respond to global people-led change–that is legal and enforceable change–or whether they must be reformed. Such changes as must be made will be transferred to the implementation of principle 2.

principle 3. exists to protect those who are most vulnerable during times of transition.


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17 June 2019: 3331 Arts Chiyoda Deleuze|Guattari Camp 2019 Tokyo

Director and coordinator of Deleuze|Guattari Studies Asia 7th International Conference 2019, Koichiro Kokubun, introduced Ian Buchanan as the ‘Boss’ of Deleuze Studies and born in the AUS he sang. In this first lecture there were some promising initial moves but these quickly gave way to justification through application of concepts from the collaboration of Deleuze with Guattari—in the first instance the assemblage or, in French, agencement—to reductive examples informed, unquestioningly, by sources from popular scientific writing (Steven Jay Gould) and National Geographic.

Of the initial moves, this might be adduced: do we not sometimes wake up in the middle of the night … screaming. No, not screaming … with the feeling—one I have never been able entirely to shake—that the collaboration between Deleuze and Guattari, to which we have, in some cases, devoted our lives, is a hoax?

The alloplastic stratum might be equated with a technosemiology.

The wheels began coming off around the time the idea of the refrain, as giving the one whistling in the dark (sing They Might Be Giants) the sense of a home away from home, became a home value which has surplus value. This surplus is the extra sense of a space, a dimensionality, that of a dimension to be moved through, because the worst thing is to get stuck. Getting stuck means falling into the black hole, arresting one’s movement in proximity to an assemblage. The surplus is produced out of the labour of whistling, perhaps. So the thinking leading into this reading of surplus value, and that leading from it, back around to the assemblage, works, moves, if not under its own steam. But the value extraction model is highly questionable in its application here.

Deleuze’s answer to Guattari’s black hole—the place in which movement is arrested—is the white wall. The white wall, too, can be a slippery notion: but we can grasp in it the social censure or the group expectation, insofar as they amount to the same thing, entrapping the individual through exclusion, or inclusion with conditions. To be one of us you must … .

If not, you are plunged back into a black hole. The beginnings of psychology—perhaps—where the refrain, that snatch of tune you whistle, becomes a mobile territory, opening out from the inside onto a milieu for further action, and enabling you to pass by way of other assemblages, agencements.

Deleuze’s Cinema 1 permits us to see the shift from a directional layout to one with the attributes of a dimension one can pass through in its transitions from sensory-motor schema—the classic Chaplin motoric vision of stimulus engaging more and more absurdly body-machine-like response, for example, going faster and faster—to Cinema 2”s deep focus (Welles) and time narratives (Antonioni) and characters in suspended action, contemplating their scenery, if not actually chewing it up, where the camera takes on the eye-function in the dimensional scenery of a new kind of filmic assemblage and agencement of image.

Strange things were said: the aboriginal population was so sparse that—“600 people can never do as much damage as [the] 300,000 people who live there now” where once they did, from which land, they have been expunged, effaced, and of which they, with their lives, have been dispossessed.

Cyclists are lions among lambs on footpaths, but lambs among lions on the road. This rivalry, and the liminal position of cycling in view of driving and walking, is where we see the psychology of territorial behaviour at work. But is it Deleuze and Guattari’s? Or is the illustration a motor-schema response to it? Does it thicken and deepen Deleuze and Guattari’s thought, or expunge, efface, and dispossess it of depth?

Next Jae-Yin Kim spoke. Foucault and Deleuze misinterpret Nietzschean genealogy. Deleuze holds that the total critique—all the way to the transformation of values and the creation of concepts—is the only way to philosophise with a hammer. For Deleuze critique is not about the destruction of the adversory’s position. It is rather to regard that position in relation to and as a field of forces, externalising a field, opening from a position, a posture, an attitude onto a field or as Lingis writes of Merleau-Ponty onto a level. But Deleuze brings critique and genealogy together.

Values are differential elements. Genealogy is the creation of these elements. Genealogy is itself an element. …to find, catch, make or create the forces which take possession of … territory, land, money, philosophy.

Forces appropriate a thing. Take it by … force.

All has a history of being appropriated by different forces at different times. All comprises the signs of these appropriations.

We can change all in its constellation by intervening in it and taking it by force, and change its internal form.

All is and can be constituted with new or different forces.

We can destroy only as creators.

But Jae insists here on the untouchability of the past—and does not consider Deleuze’s thinking about time and the past, in its Bergsonian and Nietzschean permutations, its taking by forces that are theirs and then his.

Isn’t Foucault’s distinction between past and history and past, history and genealogy—even as it constitutes and historical method, one, note, one in a multiplicity—here reversed?

“Past is untouchable and cannot be undone.”

Past in the future is the present we can create—the truth of the world to come.

It seems only accessible in the present. Is this Foucault’s and Deleuze’s misinterpretation?

Is truth in question here? Does Foucault, or does Deleuze, really set genealogy to the task of making truths—a truer history, a truer future, a truer past—that is with the moralising understanding of improving our lot in the future?

Anne Sauvagnargues asks … past is something that changes … ?

Jae’s approach, she says, remains theological in stating Nietzsche as origin of genealogy and itself is subject to a reflexive critique. Since in what sense is Jae doing genealogy? Is Nietzschean genealogy as it is presented Ursprung—absolute origin—or Herkunft—the process of transmission to the present—where presumably the action is, and where any intervention will be staged?

Origin or descent?

Jae: “In my life, what is the best thing?” And: “To justify [ourselves] we need art.” Art is a higher form of life.

Gregory Flaxman asks: To what degree does ontology still play a role for you in Deleuze?

He comments that ontology seems to be eternally recurring.

A pattern begins that will be repeated: not just ontology (if one can say “not just ontology”) but the polemical and pedagogical pincers of a double articulation effectuated by the Anne Sauvagnargues series with the Gregory Flaxman series will be produced after so many of the presentations, sometimes to temper, sometimes to tease, sometimes to plunge into cold water, that is, putting the hot metal to the test of a rapid temperature drop … will it shatter? Or will the inner qualities be teased out? … I never saw hammer blows of the philosophical forge. And that is to their credit.

Masaya Chiba—is the first revelation of the Camp—or its first instance of Nihonification, territorialisation in this Japanese context, tuned to it—or toned, and attuned.

He presents in laconic, not to say sardonic, fashion the thesis of his book, Don’t move too much, taken from Deleuze’s phrase, Il ne faut pas bouger de trop.

Vacuoles of noncommunication … les foyers?

Mayasa-san presented through bare statements the “disconnective Deleuze” to oppose the “connective Deleuze” of communitarian interest. That is he laid out in terse terms a current and powerful Japanese reading of Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari, but Deleuze particularly, as a philosopher of autism.

First came his provocative displacement of Bergson’s prevailing spirit to Hume’s in Deleuze’s oeuvre: of “Humean discontinuity and Bergsonian continuity” the former has more relevance for this interpretation.

“The Deleuzian self-enjoyment is autistic rather than schizophrenic.”

“In Bacon’s ‘figure’ what matters is not only deterritorialisation but also ‘saving its contours’.”

Masaya-san is working with Takuya Matsumoto, a Lacanian at Kyoto, among others on this project, picking up on Lacan’s sinthome—the singularising one.

“There is a relationist and antirelationist divide in Japanese thought.”

Wataru Hiromata, Shinnhichi Nakazawa—are for relationism.

Asada and Azuma—antirelationism.

“Asada and Azuma developed the so-called ‘critique of negative theology’.” This is a critique amounting to a system of thought organised around an X—the impossible.

From Azuma, it is NTS: Negative Theology System.

Lacan’s ‘real’ in RSI (Real Symbolic Imaginary) represents the instance of X.

The impossible organises from the inside of thought—around X—the outside.

Cites Asada’s Structure and Power (1983).

NTS diagrammes movements of instance X:

1) hierarchical movement

2) Klein bottle (endless internal reticulation)

3) rhizomic movement (multidirectional, multidimensional and open)

The fundamental lack in thought (X) is also at the same time excess (X).

Abundance and lack are foregrounded in the West. (Lacan and Bataille for example.) There is no such distinction in Japan. From the Japanese perspective, poststructuralism is concerned with and concerns the Negative Theology System, i.e. it fits within its categories.

Masaya-san moves to the titular terms of his presentation: Hole and Stone. (These will recur as motifs throughout the Deleuze|Guattari Camp.)

Lacan’s lack, impossible, hole, also means ontological abundance of signification. An absence organising an excessive thought, as if thrashing around in confrontation with lack—overproducing, and overcompensating. Or, the withdrawal of Kant’s Ding an Sich.

Another sort of “secret of things,” stopping the infinity of interpretation (stopping the hermeneutic bicycle wheel turning) is stone secret.

Hole secret is nonsense with … sense!

Stone secret is nonsense without sense: reality of the radical finitude of being.

Tony See spoke then, taking, perhaps to the chagrin of some, his cue from Heidegger: “The Orient does not thing.”

But, although this too is a problem, according to Deleuze and Guattari, philosophy was brought to Greece by immigrants. Strangers. Asians, even.

Tony cited the 3 ecologies of Guattari as providing something of a solution to our current impasse—largely thought to be that of humanity confrontation with extinction, its own—psychic, social and environmental economies.

These three are linked by abstract machines.

An ecosophy.

Gregory Flaxman comment to Why Greece? Well for the very reason of environment! Distance from Persian empire. Cyclonic. Waves crash on the shore .. a fire burns … friends of wisdom get together…

Ruth Irwin comments, since her cue comes from Heidegger as well, that in order to get past this impasse—thought largely to entail something that is not happening, rather than what is—we have to stop thinking from failure and fault … and one might add guilt and resentment.

But I wonder if this is also (as if) to bring finitude very close to being a fault and a failure—we poor mortals; and aligning it with a negativity against the human? Or is it against the planet?

The question of finitude—is it a hole or a stone secret?

I have wholly failed to mention the subject to which is given the bulk of these snaps: an exhibition specifically for the Deleuze|Guattari Asia event, at Chiyoda Arts Centre, presented by students.

What was great about this was that the students presenting works could and did speak at length and with seriousness about their approaches to both Deleuze and Guattari and making art. There was no question of a polemic or a reaction, a shitting on the source, or a diminution of one’s own status in view of it. No need.

A painter referred to the theory of the haptic in Logic of Sensation.

A sculptor to the rhizome in A Thousand Plateaus.

The bed you see at a weird angle, takes off from Masaya-san and a disconnective Deleuze.

on tour
point to point

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16.6.2019 Shibuya – Yoyogi, Yoyogi – Akasaka & back

And the sun shone. Setting out at 9 into the Shibuya sunshine I walked from that place down the hill into a zone of great Sunday migrations, on observing their patterns, this day being the day of meetups and malltimes. And I found myself at the famous crossroads; because I had been dreaming of it, I sat and watched the washes of people sashay first one way, then the other, like untethered fronds or minnow schools. There was a type of dress for every sort, not a patchwork of styles, but characters, complexly signifying, with this brand top or notbrand, and these shoes, platformed, or flat, and these accessories, to bring out the total picture, express the whole, with this hairstyle and no other will do.

And I walked off in what I expected might be the wrong direction, ending up deep in Aoyama, then branching down Omote-Sando, the great boulevard of high end. You will notice a market with a protest outside the United Nations University. I talked to a stallholder about his lavender, not having seen such fine stuff since Provencal planes. His father had begun growing it, in Japan—he gestured in a southerly direction—50 years ago, and extracting the exquisite oils, one from morning plants for revivifying purposes, one from evening effluvia for their sedative and calming properties.

And deep in Yoyogi ‘forest’ the Meiji shrine, outdone, for queues, by a public demonstration of traditional sweetmaking. And also the iris gardens—for which I captured the sentiment, the legend, and so didn’t need to pay the entryfee.

On into the depths, through the shrine, much of it closed for the autumn reveal: a centenary restoration. Sideways in the welcome green, leaving the wide way, going ‘Off Limits’ where there was a rice paddy, experiment, of some sort, and horse trail. Then on the outside of the park, forest, the stables: here ponies were walked in desultory circles bearing glum children, who if not glum, were intent on internalising the experience.

On I went, to find the entry to Olympic Youth Centre, set to be accommodation for the next several days, which I found, in shades of pink, pinking up from the greenery beside Yoyogi, an early 80s architecture. … But although I was leery of it, now here I am ensconced in it, having followed the circular corridor, which freakily reminded me of one of those labyrinthine ones veering into weird in Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami—perhaps it would continue and spiral and lead me deeper losing its pink like a day does into a dark forest where are entities older than the 80s. But it’s a friendly room, a single little bed, and a bathroom with a bath, a fridge, a veto on alcoholic beverages and food in rooms, one of which I have already broken, and a miniature element and pot for hot water, that I have already used to brew some coffee. I have also handwashed some clothes, against which there must be a rule as well.

But I only got in because I left, was told no checkin before 3pm and then checkin all night long; so I decided to preempt or rehearse the journey I will be making on the 19th when J. arrives to Hotel Felice in Akasaka.

What a joy, the Chiyoda line: fast and uncrowded, debouching into the classy but not uptight part of town where we will be; and here, the best part, I had lunch, very near Hotel Felice—happiness of Omekase, 3 x 3 different fish sashimi-ed; and a SuperDry Asahi. The couple beside me were served giant whelks on a tabletop grill; another couple lit up cigarettes. It was like some time in the past when you could. A nice grunge to the place, which had attracted me in by playing Marisa Monte. I stayed and ooshi-ed and then—see the snap of the thousands of queuing young women? I don’t know what for, maybe some boyband? A show or something with an especial appeal?

Then I Chiyoda Lined back to Yoyogi-Koen, back to the still pink monster. I waited and waited. Until she arrived, the one who kept the keys for the Deleuze|Guattari Camp goers; and she greeted me effusively, and on her second arms thrown wide gesture I capitulated with an oddly slippery embrace, the sort you give ones with thin bones. She knew Arendt but not Deleuze or Guattari and it stands to reason: she is very young. She is not even a student, but admin, kooky admin, doing things decidedly unJapanese like hugging and laughing uproariously at the Mystery of it all—i.e. what is supposed to happen; why noone else had turned up; when they might; but she knew of R. and it seems despite reports there is not to be, at this Youth Hostel, a division of the genders on different floors: we are all on the same spiral.

Nobody showed. I trolled up and down the consideration of eating places, over the pedestrian bridge, over the rail line, from the pink (& pale blue) monstrosity of National Olympics Memorial Youth Centre—an 80s remembered youth—, escaping it, but then held in thrall, that is in suspended decision, for the eating place for one. For it is not easy.

Up the street, down the street. English menu. None. Shall I risk it. Walking in, a machine ordering system: apart from matching characters, no clue as to what is ordered, money put in the slot. Difficult. Walking out again. At last, a random walk-in to a family-run joint, with a Chinese menu. And owl figurines on the bar. I walked back and forth through the menu too, finally 404, fried rice cake. So chewy and savory, perfectly dosed with salt and umi.

Looks like a full moon… which my fried rice cake clearly resembled.


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15 June 2019 – Waiheke to Shibuya

I am looking out up at one of the towers of Shibuya. The tatami is fresh and green. It’s about a 6 tatami room—about because it’s cut on a diagonal at one corner, this room in a 120 year-old ryokhan. The doors are low onto the corridor and the narrow stairwell, as well into the private bath room, while the dimensions expand as one enters the sleeping room, leaving one’s slippers on the polished wood steps up to it.

The smell of tatami—ah, but the exterior sliding door is open and I’m getting regular whiffs of something that smells like jet fuel. It’s not the sake.

Less than a block away an express-way cuts through the builtup. A series in fact. As one dives underground, another rises above. But some pact has been made with the presiding genii loci and it is peaceful. That’s not the sake either.

Fukudaya Hotel. I asked for directions in three different Family Marts. The first, after I left Shibuya Station, off the Yamanote Line, by the South exit, confirmed that I had correctly interpreted the map by compass bearings: leaving by South, left then to South East. The second misled me entirely, but I had also by that time asked two strangers. The first, a young man smoking a cigarette, drinking from a narrow can, holding a cheap umbrella, like me, recognised the square sign on my map as marking a Family Mart. The second, a young woman, had a phone and looked up the directions. These sent me on a loop past the Family Mart—the site of my second consultation.

By the third Family Mart I had become less sure I was at all in the right vicinity. I went down the road. I came back up the road, and hearing English being spoken, but knowing being understood was the least of my worries, since the young woman who had consulted her cellphone understood where I wanted to go, I held up my by now creased and soggy map to a couple sharing a black umbrella.

She too looked it up on her phone. He turned it sideways, rotated it, reversed the rotation and declared that they would go with me. Were they happy with that? Was she happy with that?

Yes. He had worked in Australia for a year, and in Alice Springs, as a tour guide. I asked if he had lost any Japanese, wondering if he would say if he had.

No. He had also spent 6 months in Papua New Guinea. Had he lost..

His girlfriend was from the Philippines. He had the pride of guy who has done stuff, was proud also of the girl on his arm.

Crossing a road, he said, I used to do Air BnB. But then they changed the law… He pointed down a road. That’s where I live, he said.

Central Shibuya. Lucky, I said.

We came to Fukudaya Hotel—and it was still attended by the concierge who had me read the information sheet and when I asked about the shoeboxes it mentioned, showed me where they were, said I could take slippers. These were shoe-sized wooden lockers, some with leather slippers above them on a narrow shelf.

I transferred my shoes to the shoebox and swapped the white leather shoes marked with a black pen ‘toilet’ on the shelf above it for the dark tan ones without markings. Toilet slippers date from the times when getting to the loo out back would have meant dirtying one’s indoor slippers.

I was then shown the code to get in should I be out past the lockup time of 11.30pm. Perhaps I would have been out late to one of the ‘live gallery show’ joints.

I went out. Picked the Seven Eleven for the better snack—which was all I really wanted—and sake place and, having had my salmon rice seaweed pickle dish warmed for me, I returned to my fresh tatami, opened the terrace slider to the occasional jetfume, and resumed my wearing of the yukata provided for me and my friend. The booking form didn’t seem to want one person for one room. It seemed to prefer two.

The concierge had been perturbed I was one. I understand why. In the room, when he showed me it, were nicely arranged two single futons side by side. But he had lightened at the thought I might be out beyond the 11.30 limit to his attendance at the desk and have to enter the code he conceded to give to me, handwritten, on a small piece of card. There was a sort of complicity in the way he conveyed this information; he was probably disappointed when I came back early.

It has happened many times in Nihon: the world ended last night with a CLANG, as if a giant brass tank had been hit by a pendulum hammer high above the city.

Awoken I listened for and felt out for the shock waves and sirens or wind of matter that would ensue—the screaming concrete metal and organic matter that would tear me away… But there was a silence. Then, in the distance what might have been thunder, some flashes of lightning, and nothing.

A bird chup chups in the dawn. Now later, a repetitive whistle—sounds plaintive and the roar of the expressway restored by Sunday.

point to point

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