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day 296 – 319 illogical imagery|of|nonconsecutive events

he wanted no part in the continuity

What I was experiencing was not déjà vu. Reality was repeating itself. This country moves through history too slowly for time to go forward, so it folds back on itself instead.

— Ahmet Altan, I Will Never See the World Again, Trans. Yasemin Çongar, 7.

a dinosaur in the holy sepulchre

cartoon in a classical landscape

“the affected part of people is the interesting side to me. It’s the real side of them that’s boring” — George Condo [from here]

…”I like what Miles [Davis] said, “Play what’s not there.” That’s why people like Rembrandt’s portraiture. He really painted what was not there. He used paint. That’s what painting is all about, discovering a way to paint because you love paint. I could roll myself in it, drink it, eat it and kill myself, suffocating in it. Some people hate paint and I understand that, too. I can understand people who claw through it, can’t get out of it, can’t put it away.”

— Ibid.

““This is a painting. It’s not a fake painting, it’s a painting from an imaginary character’s reality.” That’s why I work with a cast of characters, all created carefully. As each of them becomes real, so do their environments, their place of being. Sometimes, I think they even come from some imaginary character’s mind. (laughter)”

— Ibid.

“The sexual aspects of my women paintings … what are those?” … “From my point of view, they are used to enhance any sexual qualities that humanity may have left, not to diminish them. I try to make sexuality into something else, maybe it’s not what you’d want, because it can assume any form. And yet, it’s not repelling sexually. For example, the food chain could be an analogous subject. I’ve discussed this with Felix Guattari, he’s a good friend of mine. He deals with incredibly hard-core cases of schizophrenia. He does rip things apart, but not to degrade them.”

— Ibid. (Guattari and Condo lived in the same apartment building in Paris)

… “and I picked up this charcoal gray latex. I came home, put down the canvas, got out some scotch tape and put it on. I was just about to make this white line all the way down, I made the stroke and suddenly—the gray—when the light went on, the gray became a deep forest and the white became a streak of light that started to move between the pines. And it broke like a shimmering apparition. And then it paused, left a space, a black space and a charcoal gray space, and then it continued again. I looked at it. I went over and took some paper towel to scruffle the edges of each of the white lines. This painting had just become a shattered line, a line that could never be connected again. Barnett Newman could have done it. He did it. A lot of people did it. But there was no truth in it for me until that moment.”

— Ibid.

Condo’s interviewer, Anney Bonney, says: “How could God have created the universe if he’s everywhere? Where was there room for the universe? The answer is that God’s ability to withdraw allowed him to create the space for the world.”

— Ibid. and that ties in nicely with what David Chai has to say about meontology, for example here. … grounded in nothingness … the void. It’s a stage, really, isn’t it? A space where a cartoon figure walks into a classical landscape.

“What if you’re seeing a news broadcast, they just bombed the White House and in the middle of that you have little Miss Daisy doing her dishes …

This is the ideal psychological foreshortening we talked about earlier. This is not Cubism and walking around the canvas. This is Psychological Cubism.”

— Ibid.

“The future of painting is to be determined at the moment when the fuse of the present is ignited, a fuse lit many years before in some forgotten cave by primitive man as he etched out what came to be the future. That is and will always be how man perceives his own reality. Reality, which, since its initial definition as the world which exists external to us, independent of our perception, is now comprised of artificial components. Thus bringing the lexicon of art and reality together to create what I have arrived at and call artificial realism.

— George Condo, quoted at Simon Baker, George Condo: Painting Reconfigured, 2015, p. 53. And this segues, without transition, or is psychologically foreshortened into what I’ve been thinking with regard to David Abram’s work on pre-alphabetic, nonliterate cultures and their relationship to the land and landscape. Alphabetic literate cultures have a corresponding orientation towards and in a topography of logos, a symbolic landscape, and a literature, so long as we think of literature as being composed, as Foucault seems to say, Deleuze’s archivist, of statements. Proximities and distances are measured according to statements, so that what I say can be a cartoon in a classical literary landscape.

Antipodal Being (1996)

Another thing Condo is great on is the little fractal beings, our antipodes, as antipodeans:

First Huxley, to situate Condo’s statement:

“Like the earth of a hundred years ago, our mind still has its darkest Africas, its unmapped Borneos and Amazonian Basins … The self-luminous objects which we see in the mind’s antipodes possess a meaning, and this meaning is, in some sort, as intense as their colour. Significance here is identical with being; for, at the mind’s antipodes, objects do not stand for anything but themselves.” [from Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, 1963]

“Thousands of miles across the earth primitive man [again!] experiences identical encounters with the antipodal self. As did Leonardo da Vinci many years later: his laughing maniacs were merely Pods admitting they exist–humiliating Leonardo… Forcing him into an anatomical safari to hunt them down. His enemy was not himself but the army of antipodal beings lodging in microscopic camps nested in his own body.” …

And further:

“The visionary taps into the periphery. Within the periphery of our consciousness there exists an entire species of beings that are subject to the artist’s description. Guston described them his way, Bruegel described them his way, and I describe them my way. They are basically out there in the bleachers, cheering; they’re driving forklifts; they organizing the molecules that make us work as humans, yet they live a life totally independent to ours.”

–at ibid., pp. 77-78

“If the art was good enough, I tried to destroy it. You have to be severe with art, because you don’t want to be a slave to it. Why would Picasso take David’s painting of the Sabine Women and tear it apart? Because that’s what you do. If you don’t love it enough, you walk away.”

“the realistic representation of that which is artificial.” Artificial Realism. Or, Irrealism.

— from here.

“In effect, the novels are a prelude, the stories an aftermath, each gesturing urgently at the scale of the biographical explosion that must lie in between.”

— from a review of Bolaño’s Cowboy Graves, here

… I have been thinking about what it might mean to be rejected from one’s autobiography … or memoir.

… “the loss of youth inscribing a larger loss of historical possibility, in an elegy for a future that never came to be.”

— Ibid.

“But at least inside the fiction, the possibility of” … we are conducting more tests to exclude possibilities… [change, of] “poetry, isn’t lost for good — just gone underground, like Bolaño”… whose poetry, we remember, in Hemingway’s words, sits in front of a typewriter and bleeds… as if his prose did not.

if one is rejected by the memoir one is writing, is the Mythic World then disturbed? is it, as a Terry Brooks title has it, put up for sale?

necessarily a fire sale… then isn’t this what the memoir is?

the memoirist fleeing the fire?

this would indicate that “The living are only a species of the dead, and a rare species at that.” — Nietzsche, quoted here

that one had died

from the New Yorker ‘user’s guide’ to the Bolaño ‘labyrinth,’ explosively centred, cited above:

“Avoid “2666” for as long as possible, and for heaven’s sake, don’t start with it. The book is a desert of negative space across which the panting reader will search in vain for the traditional pleasures of the novel: form, character, coherence, meaning.”

here

“It’s strange how the event one remembers attaches itself to the moments surrounding it, which without it would have been lost, since they don’t contain anything memorable. Yet those are the moments we live our lives in, while those we remember, which we construct our identities around, are often the exceptions.”

— Karl Ove Knausgård, Inadvertent, Trans. Ingvild Burkey, 2017, p. 19. …in other words: we are the exception to our own memoir.

“This was what I had been longing for. This was writing. To lose sight of yourself, and yet to use yourself, or that part of yourself that was beyond the control of your ego. And then to see something foreign appear on the page in front of you. Thoughts you had never had before, images you had never seen. It was the form that created them, for if what I put into the writing was my own and familiar to me, the form changed it, and that change demanded that I put something else into it, which in turn was transformed, so that even without moving I was moving away from myself.”

— Ibid., p. 81

…”annexed by the other.”

— Ibid.

…”Turgenev’s characters and descriptions don’t lead to anything beyond themselves, they are not part of a larger chain of events, and they stand open to everything–except the moment and the place. And that moment and place are the locus of our experience of the world.”

— Ibid., pp. 89-90

…”after ten years of trying and failing, I one day wrote a few pages about something that had happened to me, and which I felt so ashamed about that I had never told it to a single person, and did so in my own name, I didn’t know why I was doing it, and I didn’t at first see any connection with the novel I was trying to write, it was just something I did. I sent it to my editor, he called it “manically confessional,” and I got the impression that he was taken aback, for it was pretty intense, and in literary terms rather poor. But it had something, both he and I could see that.

“What was it?

…”freedom.”

— Ibid., pp. 91-92

…”the remnants of Marx no longer form any logical system of ideas, but only a series of suggestive images and slogans (a smiling worker with a hammer, black, white, and yellow men fraternally holding hands, the dove of peace rising to the sky, and so on and so on), we can rightfully talk of a gradual, general, planetary transformation of ideology into imagology.”

— Milan Kundera, Immortality, Trans. Peter Kussi, 1999, p. 118

“Their vocabulary is limited to fewer than fifty words, and their sentences mustn’t contain more than four words each. Their speech is a combination of three technical terms I don’t understand and of one or two breathtakingly banal ideas. These people aren’t ashamed of being themselves and haven’t the slightest inferiority complex. And that is precisely the proof of their power.”

.”I’d be willing, when it comes to it, to give in to those cretins and change the weather reports into a dialogue between clowns”… and the news too, if I worked for the New Zealand media.

— Ibid., pp. 122-123

…”in all languages derived from Latin, the word ‘reason’ (ratio, raison, ragione) has a double meaning: first, it designates the ability to think, and only second, the cause. Therefore reason in the sense of a cause is always understood as something rational. A reason the rationality of which is not transparent would seem to be incapable of causing an effect. But in German, a reason in the sense of a cause is called Grund, a word having nothing to do with the Latin ratio and originally meaning ‘soil’ and later ‘basis.’ From the viewpoint of the Latin ratio, the girl’s behavior, sitting down on the highway, [waiting to be run over] seems absurd, inappropriate, irrational, and yet it has its reason, its basis, its ground, Grund. Such a Grund is inscribed deep in all of us, it is the ever-present cause of our actions, it is the soil from which our fate grows. I am trying to grasp the Grund hidden at the bottom of each of my characters, and I am convinced more and more that it has the nature of a metaphor.”

“Your idea escapes me” …

“Too bad. It is the most important thought that ever occurred to me.”

— Ibid., p. 243. But is this really so? Is it not the other way around? Isn’t the ground of every metaphor a character?

…”Laura swam the crawl, clumsily but all the more passionately and with a sort of anger.

“It seemed to me that each stroke was falling on Paul’s head like successive years: his face was visibly ageing before our eyes. Already he was seventy and a moment later eighty, and still he stood there holding his glass in front of him as if he wished to stop the avalanche of years hurtling toward him. “I recall a famous phrase from my youth,” he said in a voice that suddenly lost all of its resonance: “Woman is the future of man. Who actually said that? I forget. Lenin? Kennedy? No, no. It was some poet.”

“Aragon”…

… “What does that mean, woman is the future of man? That men will turn into women? I don’t understand that stupid phrase!”

“Literature will die out, and stupid poetic phrases will remain to drift over the world”…

— Ibid., pp. 350-351. Just like the characters, ideas, images they are. Over a world that is nothingness, the nothingness that is their root cause, soil, generative, reason and ground.

If we think of ratio in terms of measure, we can see that effects are measured against their causes. And rated. For something, some event, to be significant, to be worth talking about, is for it to have significant effects, perhaps even far-reaching effects.

For Raymond Ruyer, writing his metaphysics of biology, in biology it is entirely a different case that causes should cause proportionate effects. It is the opposite: the first cell stimulated into division will have the effect of giving rise to a form completely out of proportion to the original stimulus and incommensurate with it.

No matter how many environmental, genetic stimuli are present, as causes, these are insufficient to have the consequence of effecting, in all its complexity of form, the human nervous system. This form is against all reason.

Liu Yong, 柳永, 987–1053, poet of the Song Dynasty, died an ‘ignominious death’ with noone but a poor prostitute to mourn him, and the principal character of Qiu Xiaolong’s detective novels asks himself if he is so different? What is he good for, in a materialist society? the author of a few sentimental songs.

Where shall I find myself

Tonight waking from the hangover--

The riverbank lined with weeping willows,

The moon sinking, the dawn rising on a breeze.

Year after year, I will be far,

Far away from you.

All the beautiful scenes are unfolding,

But to no avail:

Oh, to whom can I speak 

Of this ever enchanting landscape?

— at Qiu Xiaolong, Death of a Red Heroine, 2000, p. 348

“It is not people that make interpretations, but interpretations that make people.”

— Ibid., p. 457. The actions we make are interpreted by others and, no matter what we say, we cannot change others’ views of what we have done, of what we do, or of what we will do. This against Kundera’s character, narrator of Immortality, who finds the essence of a character in the metaphor that nails him or her.

“They should be able to live in the world of their own discourse, not just in other people’s interpretations.”

— Ibid., p. 462

hoju – void element in Japanese sotoba

Perhaps the Quixotic can be accurately defined as the literary mode of an absolute reality, not as impossible dream but rather as a persuasive awakening into mortality.

— Bloom on Cervantes (Edith Grossman’s translation of Quixote) (here)

In consuming internet porn–as everyone here does some way or another–we observe and feed into this [algorithmic—for which Galera uses the brilliant example of Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom] logic’s production of the erotic. And yet, this same logic extends to all fields of human experience. We also apply it to our own genetic material, to the succession of fad diets and our behavior as spectators and readers, our sleep and work routines, our concepts of happiness. We apply it to scientific research, dating apps, or those apps that count a users’ steps and heartbeats. We’re talking about the absolute quantification of existence. We’re talking about digitalizing every cultural manifestation imaginable. We treat all our free-world desires in the same way that de Sade, confined between the stone walls of a cell deep inside a castle, treated them.
— Daniel Galera, Twenty After Midnight. Translated by Julia Sanches. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2020. Original work published as Meia-noite e vinte, 2016. p. 84.

Writer Angélica Gorodischer on the situation in Argentina under conditions of monetary devaluation and public debt, where there is no arts policy, there are no official cultural policies, no funding for the arts and those who would support, sponsor and back the arts, not only have no incentive but have no money to do so in 20 questions to Angélica Gorodischer … then, given the dissimilarities, why do I relate to it…?

… they have stolen everything from us — our money, our future, public education, work, everything except culture. And they can’t steal this from us because it doesn’t interest them. And it doesn’t interest them because they don’t understand what it’s about. But we, those of us who write or paint or sculpt or make movies, this is something that we do understand.

what this recalls, this failure to understand, this success of the arts in slipping free of official understanding, is the Wallfacer Project in Cixin Liu's Three-Body Problem (see here).

thanks, Z.

art expresses nonhuman species

isn’t pigment at base a mineral so that painting involves a becoming-mineral?

meaning, we have to include in species anorganic species

also, I would replace the notion of becoming: art–the hallucination of what it is not to be human. i.e. it shows the dream that human being is. Showing it for the dream it is. Both psychic and social.

— Why is it a certain kind of love brings out our worst selves?

— That’s the real one does that.

— Jenni Fagan, Luckenbooth, (London, UK: Heinemann, 2021), 21.

I have a … well, this book moved me towards a feeling of impending doom, by reminding me principally of the miners’ strikes when Thatcher was crushing the Trade Unions and of the hope that flowered briefly at Tiananmen…

…and that now is crushed.

Is being crushed, with the right to protest.

Nothing is being done to help humanity. Not even any self-help efforts are any use. Humanity is named shamed and blamed for the despoliation of the planet. Kill it, they say. Those that will survive the arrogation to the market of political will and decision-making because they are rich and powerful. Kill it.

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day 203 – 231 … Children, Go On Strike!

at 9:16 am on 16 November 2020, M. John Harrison wrote on Twttr:

Complexity, weirdness, characterisations like little stained glass sideshows. Characters do things because they want to. Equally, the text shows you something because it wants to. I see a book controlled by its own mood swings and emotional surfaces. But then I always do.

Today I’ve been writing about hikikomori and the cynicism–without experiencing it–of the answer to this ‘social problem’: restating the social imperative–to participate, engage, make contact, connect–that led to their being shut-in; as if in the great transparent snowglobe or bubble of communications’ technology–aka affective data industries.

The smartest people I knew at school lost their brains when they reached puberty. What is intelligence in children?

What is intelligence to children?

How do children understand intelligence?

Andrés Barba’s novels, The Luminous Republic (2020 in translation from Spanish to English), and Such Small Hands (2008 in translation), give an idea of an intelligence belonging to children. Here children are not captured in or at some kind of developmental state or stage. Neither is there moralising about the capacity to form judgements, the judgement-forming faculty belonging to morality, that children are said not to have acquired; nor in these books do we see an emotional view–in the image of which children’s inner emotional lives create their worlds: no magicking and no sciencing.

The intelligence of children is shown to be that of reason, of a reason unencumbered by … a hesitation here: is it experience of which children’s use of reason is unencumbered? is it judgement? or the judgements of others of which children’s reason is free? … No.

I would say that children’s use of reason is free because it is free of play, unencumbered by play–or free of a freedom with conditions. It is free of the kind of freedom that comes with conditions, the conditions that play has, where you might say to me, You’re not playing any more!

Children’s use of reason does not have parameters within which it has play. The reason of children is free of the parameters of play, unencumbered by the conditions experience of others–the word of others–might impose.

Where did I read that children’s perception of the world was close to that of schizophrenics?

Deleuze writes in The Logic of Sense that we have to take care not to mix metaphors, to go from the series of children, poets, to madmen, madwomen. He cites the example of Artaud against Carroll.

And it would be possible to go in the opposite direction to a similar effect and similarly to err. To go from the pure reason of children, via the application of pure reason in the adult world, that is, science, to the madness of things like human instrumentality or holocaust. The madness of the human object.

According to this second madness that is a surfeit of reason, what is in reason would be insensitive. It would lack empathy. Its very neutrality and purity would have become its liability.

Children lack emotional maturity–a phrase that has evolved with a hole at each end. One end eats what the other shits. What one end eats the other shits.

The automaton-like reason of children. Yes, this only goes so far to explaining it. What it lacks is not emotional experience, the experience of consequence. It lacks system.

And the lack of system of the use of reason in children is the same as that lack of system Kundera finds–and I suspect Deleuze finds–to be characteristic of Nietzsche. Nietzsche lampoons the savants for their system. Kundera places this ‘freeing from system of philosophy’ in apposition with ‘freeing from form (the rigidity of the sonata in particular)’ characteristic of Beethoven, the winning of new freedoms … that can be referred to the problem facing any artist, which has to be answered each time anew–I can’t think of a better word, although I don’t like it, neither anew nor afresh. This problem can be usefully compared with what Julio Ramón Ribeyro (whom I talk about further and cite a reference for below) says about the novel: “For some time now, French novels have been written by professors for professors. [The citation of Ribeyro below might shed light on why it is French novelists.] The French novelist today is a gentleman who has nothing to say about the world, but very much to say about the novel.” And, “Each new writer cross-checks his work with that of the writers who came before, not with the world. In this way we reach rarification in the novel’s material, which could be confused with esotericism.” New writers, Zambra [another novelist, cited below] writes that Ribeyro writes, “try to make of their work not the personal reflection of reality, but rather the personal reflection of other reflections.” [see xv in the work cited below]

Deleuze and Guattari say of Nietzsche’s aphorisms–and speak in a similar way of Kafka’s researches–that they must be plugged into the world. That is, they came from the world. Not its reflection. Not in esoteric abstraction from it. Not trying to curry favour with the taste-judges of today on Instagram. And are not founded, therefore, in emotional maturity, that maturely sets its own expectations of consequence. Ambition.

The reason of children is free of system.

This the works of Andrés Barba show.

Speaking before–although whether this is in the sense of ‘in front of’ in spatial or temporal terms is uncertain*–the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord, Greta Thunberg said “there was a state of complete denial when it came to the immediate action needed, with leaders giving only distant promises and empty words.” The same Guardian article [here] reminds us of her solo school strike that “snowballed into a global youth movement” (strange choice, snowballed).

More effective than going on strike from school might be following Greta Thunberg’s example and going on strike from being children.

What if all the children of the world walked out on their parents, their caregivers, accusing them of the grossest incompetence?–bearing them into a world for the calamity facing which they, the adults, take no responsibility–proclaiming their care, their love, for children equates with setting them into a situation which they, the children, are helpless to reverse or stop–by making children, parents, grownups, are, in fact, making them children, that is, helpless!

So they should quit.

So, they leave being children from henceforth to the adults.

We have seen that most of the adults who wield real power are in fact children.

Children, walk out! Go on strike!

Walk out on your own heavy responsibility of being helpless!

Emotionally immature? Not at all!

You have reason! And reason gives you the reason to act!

In other words, stop performing as children. You don’t even get paid!

Take control!

Sieze it!

… Or,

Steal it!

*[it’s not in fact uncertain. The UN-led summit on climate change has been … postponed. A one-day online summit replaces it. One day! Ridiculous when students are paying to attend classes day after day online.]

{also, see here for a nice summary timeline naming climate change milestones … or nails in the coffin … or just stages in the snowball picking up speed …}


“A man should neither conceal nor misrepresent the facts concerning the way in which he conceived his thoughts. The deepest and most inexhaustible books will certainly always have something of the aphoristic and impetuous character of Pascal’s Pensées.” — Nietzsche, The Will to Power: An Attempted Transvaluation of All Values, Trans. Anthony M. Ludovici, available online here, section 424 p. 342

Considering its source, in the volume The Will to Power, selected from the notebooks by his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, wife of Bernard Förster, whose antisemitism she endorsed, the original German source of the foregoing in the Nachlaß eludes me.

Nietzsche’s strongest statement of affinity with Pascal is cited with approval by Kundera in Testaments Betrayed, the first section of Part Six, “Works and Spiders” which I quote in full:

“I think.” Nietzsche cast doubt on this assertion dictated by a grammatical convention that every verb must have a subject. Actually, said he, “a thought comes when ‘it’ wants to, and not when ‘I’ want it to; so that it is falsifying the fact to say that the subject ‘I’ is necessary to the verb ‘think.'” A thought, comes to the philosopher “from outside, from above or below, like events or thunderbolts heading for him.” It comes in a rush. For Nietzsche loves “a bold and exuberant intellectuality that runs presto,” and he makes fun of the savants for whom thought seems “a slow, halting activity, something like drudgery, often enough worth the sweat of the hero-savants, but nothing like that light, divine thing that is such close kin to dance and to high-spirited gaiety.”

“Elsewhere Nietzsche writes that the; philosopher “must not, through some false arrangement of deduction and dialectic, falsify the things and the ideas he arrived at by another route…. We should neither conceal nor corrupt the actual way our thoughts come to us. The most profound and inexhaustible books will surely always have something of the aphoristic, abrupt quality of Pascal’s Pensées.”

“We should not “corrupt the actual way our thoughts come to us”: I find this injunction remarkable; and I notice that, beginning with The Dawn, all the chapters in all his books are written in a single paragraph: this is so that a thought should be uttered in one single breath; so that it should be caught the way it appeared as it sped toward the philosopher, swift and dancing.”

Nietzsche to his sister on the subject of her–it can be assumed?–future husband:

“It is a matter of honor to me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal regarding anti-Semitism, namely opposed, as I am in my writings… I have been persecuted [pursued; verfolgt?] in recent times with letters and Anti-Semitic Correspondence sheets; my disgust with this party … is as outspoken as possible, but the relation to Förster, as well as the after-effect of my former anti-Semitic publisher Schmeitzner, always bring the adherents of this disagreeable party back to the idea that I must after all belong to them…” – from here

apologia pro vita sua

“It’s not uncommon for music superstars, after decades atop their scenes, to try to demonstrate fluency in the music of prior generations to bolster their claims to contemporary authority.” — Jon Caramanica on Bad Bunny, NY Times, 2.12.2020

sadopopulism:

“Permitting either the State or the individual to use murder as part of a political or ethical process forecloses any hope of partaking in a legitimate future. It is like the vengeful Marquis de Sade who, locked in his prison cell, dreamed of a twisted oligarchy that sustains itself through the murderous consumption of everything other than itself. However, the killers are unable to escape the very logic of their system, and they inevitably fall victim to the violent energies they have been fueling.”

— Joseph McClellan, Michel Onfray’s translator, on Camus (in The Translator’s Introduction, A Hedonist Manifesto: The Power to Exist, Trans. Joseph McClellan, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2015), xi-xxxviii, xvi)

These themes meet in the shared theme of brutality, a subject on which the following sheds some light:

William-Davies-The-New-Neoliberalism-NLR-101-September-October-2016

“What mysterious alchemy vaults people who were largely ignored, or at least by their own lights insufficiently valued, in their own time to this privileged niche in the imagination of their posterity is never fully explainable and is not to be confused with reputation in the conventional sense. … Musing on one of these cult people, their admirers often exclaim, “’ink what she would have accomplished had she lived.” — from here

ink what?

from the same: “In the early 1950s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, [Susan] Taubes and her then husband, the rabbi and philosopher of ideas Jacob Taubes, were the closest friends of my parents, Susan Sontag and Philip Rieff. … It was left to my mother to identify [Susan Taubes’s] body. Much later, she told me: ‘I will never forgive her . . . and never recover from what she did.'”

..

.

In literary land this week: the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been cancelled, Roald Dahl’s family has apologized for his anti-Semitism, and John Freeman has been named Knopf’s new Executive Editor. — from lithub book marks bulletin 12/11

“Ribeyro’s face is that of a law student who had contempt for the legal profession, or a Lima native who wanted to live in Madrid, who in Madrid dreamed of Paris, in Paris longed for Madrid, and so on, chasing grants and lovers, and especially in search of time to waste writing, in the solitude of Munich, or Berlin, or Paris, again, for a long stay.”

— Alejandro Zambra, in his introduction (“Ribeyro in His Web”), to Julio Ramón Ribeyro’s The Word of the Speechless [which might have been better mute, closer to the Spanish: La palabra del mudo], Trans. & Ed. Katherine Silver, (New York, NY: NYRB, 2019), vii-xvi, vii.

Ribeyro called the diary he wrote, which spans four decades (“Even in the most confessional pages of his diary, an impersonal mood persists,” writes Zambra, “that keeps him safe from exhibitionism or anecdotalism.”

(“Ribeyro writes to live,” he continues, “not to demonstrate that he has lived.”

(“A fragment from 1977 is, in this sense, revealing: ‘A true work must start from the oblivion or destruction (transformation) of the writer’s very self. The great writer is not one who truthfully, in detail and intensely, describes his existence, but one who becomes the filter, the weave, through which reality passes and is transfigured.'” [Ibid. viii]) La tentación del fracaso.

The Temptation of Failure.

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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 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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day 52 – 55: our demands

… we have just discussed it. And together, as a team or nation or society or whatever the hell it is, we can do it! We can beat this normality back into the slimy hole from which it has once again begun to slither. Or the right off the barren promontory from which it has once again begun announcing itself. Like those poles with loudspeakers on them announcing the party line. We can hack it down, we can Hone Heke axe it down because the flag should not be a loudspeaker.

All that needs to happen… perhaps I should put it in bullet points, talking points, Trump decision points, that he prefers above facts … but it is no more than a suggestion. A necessary one.

All that needs to happen is that you and I and yours and mine, that we tell the government 2 things:

  1. government is about taking over permanent control of those controls that control the economy–including taking power over them from off the so-called automated mechanisms and systems of the market: such automatic systems were anyway installed sometime, their operation managed and maintained, by actual people, so can be suspended;
  2. we are going into lockdown on an annual basis. We are appropriating social isolation. We, the people. Whether bosses and managers and businesses and so on like it or not, every year, for a period not shorter than 4 weeks, we do not go to work, to school, and so on, except to engage in essential industries: we need food, and obviously, from our experiences this year, toilet paper and some other basic goods (and wine, or sake, or vodka, beer, marijuana, and other legal highs), and we need access to medical facilities for the vulnerable, and the vulnerable equally need our care, and the little errands we might run for them which make all the difference in our communities. And then we choose a date… And we do it.

This is better than the occupy movement, if you think about it.

But you want to know if the good will of banks and lending institutions and landlords and service providers for electricity and gas and water and telephone and internet connection will be there in the absence of a pandemic, like COVID-19?

We must insist that the government insists that it is.

Be kind, we say, to the planet and to our social and psychic ecologies, for the well-being of our hearts and spirits and minds and what is wrongly called psychological well-being, as if it were treatable (no, it simply exists under conditions which are less internal to human bodies and brains than social, under whatever (economic) conditions are those of society), so also for the social ecology, which term we today must use in preference to the more usual economy–for obvious reasons.

As for the planetary well-being, this should also be obvious. 8% reduction in carbon emissions. Each year until at least the end of the century. 2100.

80 years. 80 lockdowns x 4 weeks–or longer if you like? why not extend for six?

Not quite the sabbatical principle–but that’s OK.

We can. We can beat this thing. This capitalism. This normality. This planetary degradation. This human and species extinction.

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day 50, 51

but who’s counting?

The return to work. The return to normality.

Well, let’s not. It is as we have known for some time.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi writes, is worth quoting at length, because so good:

…we will never be able to return to normality ever again. Normality is what made the planetary organism so fragile and paved the way for the pandemic, to begin with.

Even before the pandemic exploded, the word “extinction” had begun to appear on the century horizon. Even before the pandemic, the year 2019 had shown an impressive crescendo of environmental and social collapses that culminated in November with New Delhi’s unbreathable nightmare and Australia’s terrifying fires.

The millions of kids who marched through the streets in many cities on March 15th, 2019 demanding to stop the death machine, have now reached the core and the climate change dynamics have been for the first time interrupted.

If we simply pretend to return to “normal” we might have to face violence, totalitarianism, massacres, and the extinction of the human race before the end of the century.

Normality must not return.

We won’t have to ask ourselves what is good for the stock market, or for the economy of debt and profit. Finance has gone to hell, we don’t want to hear about it anymore. We will have to ask ourselves what is really useful. The word “useful” must be the alpha and omega of production, technology and activity.

I realize that I am saying things bigger than myself, but we must prepare ourselves to face huge choices. When the story ends, if you want to be ready you need to start thinking about what’s useful, and how you can produce it without destroying the environment and the human body.

from here

This is perhaps the reason I am still counting the days.

Bifo ends with the question he says is the question the revolution must begin with: who decides what happens next?

If we let the powers that be, if we let be the powers that be, we are letting the political managers continue in the delusion they are taking temporary control–let us stress this: if we let the powers that be be, they, governments, will continue in the delusion their takeover of the controls governing economies from nation to nation across the globe to be a temporary one, pending the return to force, the resumption of normal mechanisms for economic governance and management.

We know these normal mechanisms to be markets and their governors, monopoly producers and financial institutions and ratings agencies (that is those rating economic performance for entire countries). (And by producers we should understand also those in the business of harvesting data, our data.)

Can we afford for governments to step back from economic control? Or ought we not be saying this is what governments ought to be doing?

And the proof they ought to be is that they can.

How extraordinary that governments have become the alternative to capitalism. But then who could really accept that capitalism and democracy are compatible, or able to be said in the same breath or phrase: Capitalist Democracy is like saying Cainist Abelism, or Abelist Cainism.

So the revolution is the renationalisation of national economies?

Normality must not return.

Instead of returning to work tomorrow, I am waiting for the results of my first COVID-19 test. I took the test yesterday.

I took the test because I went to a day of preparation for the public performance of my official role, as a representative of a social (civic) service, with a catch in my throat. Not a metaphorical one. Although the metaphor is appropriate.

And upon asking whether I ought to be amongst my colleagues, with respiratory symptoms–albeit of the lowest order, the matter was put to their vote.

I left in great uncertainty. Which the test entirely rid me of.

Even if I test negative, under NZ’s current status of a Level 2 Alert, those with respiratory symptoms should stay home.

It is extraordinary for governments to provide an alternative that is less devastating to humanity or the earth and its forms of life than free market capitalism simply by taking over the controls of national economies.

It is equally extraordinary at a much reduced scale that even a social (civic) service, such as my employer, should pursue the uncertainty which would allow it to return to business as usual.

The uncertainty now, 50, 51 days in from the announcement of lockdown in NZ, pertains to the difference between following the rules, which are social, voluntary, soft, and abiding by the law, set by the legislature–under a state of emergency as it would be under normality–that is the principle of democratic government: that is the principle that a democracy makes, imposes and imposes as enforceable, its own laws.

So I have misled you but not entirely.

I have misled you on the order of the instructional manuals masquerading as information, which come in powerpoint format, in facile slides with tasteless ornaments, sad graphic interventions, off the shelf.

(I remember in the 1980s the word for what was cheap or a bargain in the BDR–a country which like the DDR no longer exists–was democratisch. What was cheap, even if nasty, was called democratic.)

I have misled you because their voice is not declarative: they are not stating a case. The voice is imperative.

  • wash your hands
  • stand well back from the toilet
  • wipe the lid
  • lower it
  • raise it
  • sit on it
  • take 20 minutes to warm it up (COVID-19 hates warmth)

The imperatives they voice apply to the state of affairs which they do not articulate, let alone declare for, but which they assume.

Do these documents–these instructions in conduct, or what is called where I work, behaviours, in order to differentiate them from a code or discipline (itself assumed)–then produce the states of affairs to which they apply?

Yes.

It is like religious instruction–in fact has an element in this country of religiosity to it for the adoption of karakia, prayers that are the lipservice to honouring Treaty obligations through the adaptation to managerial ends by public institutions of Te Reo, Maori language.

It is like a discipline. But like the law of COVID-19 management that dare not speak its name, but chooses to go by a rule–a monastic rule. But like the government that dare not take on the command of the economy–even in the face of a pandemic! and the normality of the ongoing state of emergency that human society is in now. It is a voluntary discipline which has become one and the same thing as personal decision.

Who decides on normality these days?

I am also reminded of a scene in which Foucault, in Philip Horvitz’s account, remonstrates against the terrible and absurd fact that after all the freedoms won by gays, with AIDs it has been willing to give away to the experts the right to have the pleasure of sleeping with whom one pleases how one pleases.

The danger, is not the disease!, it is in renouncing desire that the danger lies.

(The need for a discourse of renunciation then is taken up in the document of instruction: the one it is imperative to read… before your return to work.

(It explains how to wash your hands,

(and how to go to the toilet.)

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day 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 a plethora of performative pamphleteers

If you’re anything like me which there is no reason to suppose to be the case you are being subjected to a plethora of performative pamphleteers.

You know which there is every reason to suppose the .ppt effect or the .pptx effect–not unlike the QR-code effect in being that of technology supposed to be dead and buried but now everywhere–: information presented as slides, landscape format documents, sometimes with graphic ’embellishment’–a colourfield brightening up the margin, a wavy line in orange, or other ornamental excrescence; and declarative statements in bullet points, usually passive but for that no less aggressive, paggro, as they say.

  • Bang: social distancing is to be observed
  • Bang: gloves are to be worn
  • Bang: hands are to be removed regularly and dipped in preserving fluid
  • Bang: this is the bullet point the point of the bullet pointy or hollow rubber and bouncy eyegouging and … just a warning. OR is it?

punctuation is to be used sparingly not to mess up the graphic effect

  • Bang

David Byrne used powerpoint as an artistic medium for his 2001 work called ENVISIONING EMOTIONAL EPISTEMOLOGICAL INFORMATION

it was not ironic. But prescient.

Although the product of an effect, what effect do they have, these informative presentations?

Is it, as David Byrne’s work suggests, an artistic one?

What do they do? They do not so much apply to a situation–say, for example, the return to work–aka the opening of the economy[!]–augured by NZ’s decreasing its level of alert–becoming less alert?–to the Level 2–as declare for one. And if that state of affairs did not exist before–as Level 2 did not for Level 3–they produce it.

In fact these patronising and pretentious powerpoint presentation style pamphlets or documents envisioning emotional epistemological information produce the states of affairs to which they apply.

They are therefore performative.

  • to put it into perspective, by Fabio Gironi (which I have helpfully reformatted to bulletpoints to aid informativability and so on):
  • It is obviously a medical science crisis, straining our current-best understanding of viral behavior.
  • It is a healthcare crisis, which should lead us to reconsider the political and economic attention we’ve so far given to our national healthcare systems, particularly for what it pertains to the care of the elderly.
  • It is an economic crisis, an unprecedented stop of the global productive machinery the effects of which nobody can completely predict, and once again questioning the sustainability of global capitalism.
  • It is a social crisis, highlighting the gaps that divide social classes in terms of access to healthcare and personal freedoms.
  • It is a psychological crisis, forcing millions of people worldwide to be locked in their houses and in their heads, shouldering the burden of a crippling anxiety about the future (or perhaps even fighting alone their own demons and pre-existing mental illnesses) as well as isolating children, for whom frequent social (and physical) interaction is a condition for a healthy development.
  • It is a technological crisis, demonstrating how many countries’ data communication infrastructure is far from ready to offer internet access to everyone, something that now as never before in history is being perceived as a basic need, on par with access to electricity and running water.
  • It is a logistical crisis, for both the spread of the virus and the consequent lockdown have highlighted the problems that accompany the constant movement of goods and people across the globe.
  • It is a political crisis (both at the national and at a global level) since the governments of most countries have proven unable to offer a convincing, effective, and unitary response to the crisis, almost invariably failing to quickly adopt containment measures, and since it is putting to a hard test political and economic international agreements, ill-equipped to truly face a global emergency.
  • It is a democratic crisis, since the current lockdown status quo raises questions about if and to what extent democratic countries have the right to curtail personal freedoms in the name of public health (or indeed if a democracy is at all able to deal with the problem), and since the state of forced captivity in which many are living is causing the emergence of selfish, illiberal and intolerant sentiments.
  • It is an educational crisis, for our school and university system was never designed around the remote delivery of knowledge, and both teachers and students are struggling to adapt to the constraints they have to deal with.
  • It is (the symptom of) an environmental crisis, where the emergence and spread of these new viral strains is facilitated by the unconstrained anthropic modification of animal environments. … there is essentially no domain of human activity that wasn’t (or will not be) touched by the consequence of this global viral outbreak.
  • [and just to be clear Fabio Gironi wrote these crisis-descriptions, I did not; he did not know how much more effectively they might be presented as bulletpoints, I did; although I did not go all the way and choose a slide format, landscape, that you might click through and so be thought to be engaging or activating the information herein presented; despite that neither your engagement nor your activation make any difference to the performance–it’s like participation in the old days. A pretence. Prescient.]

I have always thought sincerity to be the enemy of art. There is some distance between the humour of a great critic and the grim nit-picking sincerity of a minor one–and it resides in the grimness, the sincerity, the humourlessness. And this finding is backed up by Milan Kundera in Encounter. A friend contests the validity of works by a novelist who maintains his apolitical stance in the face of Communist occupation.

Hrabal is, the friend says, a collaborator. Kundera comes back at him: but his humour is the opposite of the regime which afflicts us, like a virus, with its grim certainties. Think of the pleasure a single one of his novels gives to people. (He published several under the regime; his apoliticism even though it could not be coopted to its cause was thought not to be a threat to it.) Think of the world without them!

So perhaps the threat to the sincere is the enjoyment people get from the insincere? And we must proceed here, as the great Raymond Ruyer says when approaching the notion consciousness is generalised over scales of self-survey rather than over species of animal including the human, with the greatest delicacy. Because comedy is sometimes sincerity at its worst, grimmest and most defensive. (NZ news is now dominated by comedian presenters.)

What then differentiates humour from humourlessness? What makes it decisive in the face of a regime like the Communist one?

Unfortunately we have the added complication of political correctness to deal with. But also the grimness and sincerity in the struggle to have identities recognised which fall outside the square, the straight, the white and the world as it is.

The millions who don’t fit in, as the brilliant Manifesto of Julian Rosefeldt has it. Remarkable for its humour. Brilliant also for dealing with artistic manifestos in this way, performatively, in a time when performativity itself is pursued with such grim seriousness. J.L. Austinesque.

But how to square this with the notion of the anaesthetic theatre–or music or painting or architecture–that does nothing to challenge existing values? That has a laugh.

Hence the delicacy.

Is every dystopia, when done right, quite apart from pushing out from the now to speculate on a worst possible scenario, not also very funny?

And is it not so because it does not take off from now but from a caricature arrive at the ridiculous?

And is it not not speculative–also such a grim category–but Rabelaisian? I seem to remember that Rabelais in English translation was placed in the same manger as that in which and from which English philosophy was swaddled and sprang. That is in that it was not better but already back in the seventeenth century, with Thomas Urquhart, already Pythonesque? or Jam-like in the age of Chris Morris? Possibly the one thing English philosophy ever had going for it. Until infected with the virus of analytical sincerity. Positivistically chaste, sober, correct and… grim.

Maori language is currently supported in the same spirit by public institutions in NZ. That is the support of Te Reo such as it is has a purism about it, a chastity, sobriety and correctness which have nothing to do with a language.

Humour is always on the side–language is–philosophy–and art are–of the mistake.

Preeminently, mistaken identity. The humour that is not one. The language that is not one. The philosophy that is not one. The art which is not. The ethics of an anti-ethics, of Vila-Matas‘s refusal! and Busi‘s No!

More prescience [bulletpointed for ease of understanding let it slipdown with the well-lubricated ease of a spoonful-of-honey, or if too phlegmy think of a greased pig slipping quickly between your legs, whoops!, before you knew it]:

  • Even before
    • social media,
    • dating apps,
    • smart devices and
    • highly personalized forms of media streaming,
  • one can think of the
    • modern,
    • Western,
    • affluent social subject
  • as a distinct center of
    • self-management, for whom
    • the rest of the world
    • – including others – appears as so much
    • data to be managed. [Claire Colebrook]

The question is how much of this inanity can one put up with? before saying no. Before announcing an antiethics. Before calling it quits. Before quitting it and calling it.

All this would have benefited from being in slides. Like those TED talks have. Like any pitch worth its pitch–or is that pith?–has. (And isn’t it strange that academics now do this, like tech-app-designer-webbed-fingered persons seeking confirmation and money from the so-called angels?)

I set up square white world not to be. (And was assisted by K. at Version, thanks K. You will note that K. too is taking the art route.)

I already knew irony not to be the sort of fancy trick it was claimed to be. It was again David Byrne whom I first heard say

  • no more irony

So how about sarcasm? as the lowest form of wit

how about it? and cliché as the lowest form of critique

  • now we have ironic sorts of currency, like
    • Bitcoin

Of course, on an industrial scale–and scaling is key–irony becomes cynicism–as long as someone’s doing well out of it.

Can one ever do anything as sincere as saying no?

I’d given K. (another K.) an early epic to read: on a visit to her room she said she had read it, and, handing it back she added

  • Do you really feel like that?
    • Is it really how you feel?

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day 39-43: what is political beauty?

On day 33 why is religion the thought that corresponds to the preceding virtues of good wine & food, good politics & sex, good art & conversation? Why is it not philosophy? When it is a matter of thought.

Because it is a question of practice.

Is philosophy not a practice? Well, I ask you: Is philosophy a practice?

Or is it eminently impractical? Do we not look for a practical philosophy in our popular intellectuals? Alain de Botton. Even Slavoj Žižek. Or Noam Chomsky. And Naomi Klein. And those whose star is sinking or has sunk. Susan Sontag. Edward Said–who gave to intellectuals a task in wider society. Michel Foucault–now seen as a prophet, to the undoing of his philosophy (we might say, exactly). Who else?

The Classics? Aristotle is still rolled out to examine unexamined lives and provide a happy medium. Plato is disenfranchised of his franchise in Socrates, who is rehabilitated as the sceptic he was not. Manqué, perhaps.

Do we not look for an application first then fit a name to it, later? And are those public intellectuals not most popular who come with an application already flagged? Waving their flag? Kings and Queens and Jacks and Knaves of philosophical territories whose craftmarks are emblems sewn in appliqué into the general motley. Or melee. Houses and lineages of refereed citation. Schools and academies of followers?

The undoing of philosophy is in authorship and authority. Religion has no such qualms. And note: in the Western tradition, we still leap a couple of thousand years to prefer the Greeks over the sainted pedagogues, Anselm or Aquinas, or John the Scot. Or earlier, Augustine in Algeria: Lord make me pure but not yet.

Even the apostates are passed over for the pagans. Or we want to see in rebellion the scientific spirit not the philosophical one. (Spirit in the Humanist construction is not suspicious.) Religious means only a discipline of thought … How funny when you think of it that our scientific spirit is pursued religiously, without, except in academic journals, attribution of names; while philosophy is all who said what. (Mirowski maps the ramifications of opening science with the spiritual can-opener.)

In places Voltaire did not reach or that Rousseau did either a respect for the nobility of a Natural thought unsullied by Culture (i.e. Enlightenment Humanism) still prevails, or one is celebrated for not having suffered the castration of an original philosophy from its root in religion. Buddhism, as we know well, becomes a useful household cleaner. Yoga is the recognition the body is the spirit from many thousands of immeasurable years ago (time immemorial) (although a matter of Western projection). So also projectively, Islam spawns radicalism (although a matter of a Western inspiration for Pankaj Mishra (here) going back to our first two figures).

Nonwestern religious thought is seen to be superior in the same Rousseauean sense that gave us the noble savage. Few of nobility have resulted. But many optative savages, whose minority belonging need only be attested to by the declarative, I identify as … a cannibal or an algorithm?

Philosophy, the Enlightenment legacy, the cogito, the churchy inheritance which held onto the split between mind and body, materialising it in the discourse of neurology, like a psychic vacuum cleaner, sucking aesthetics into the bag–neuroaesthetics–and relegating metaphysics to a cultish following and the gender-class-race politics of Dead White Men: what could be more a religious undertaking than eternal return? But then Communism is now metaphysics. And metaphysics is a matter for belief. And its childish suspension. Studies in mental health have shown it’s healthy to have something to believe.

Isn’t a religious experience one we seek out?

Isn’t a philosophical experience one of consolation? (Boethius imprisoned could ask, where is this famous consolation of philosophy?)

Isn’t a poetic experience one of whimsy? made of fancy bread?

And isn’t scientific experience one of the mundanity of existence? engaging a loss of innocence that everything is really as dull as it appears to be.

Until there is an unprecedented event …. “[The disease] can attack almost anything in the body with devastating consequences,” says cardiologist Harlan Krumholz of Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, who is leading multiple efforts to gather clinical data on COVID-19. “Its ferocity is breathtaking and humbling.”

Good politics, what might this be? Does the Center for Political Beauty have the answer? (It is interesting how different it looks unEnglished.) Is good politics not now more problematic than good religion? (K. sent me links to this and this. And I find all I want to say is that to hinge political beauty on the Holocaust is the aesthetic effect which has been sought for it under neoliberalism to the abdication of the power in politics and the commendation of the beauty in letting the market–including the art market–run it.)

… where is that breath of fresh air? that mind breath Ginsberg said was a poem, is it here or hereunder

Or is it that data turns consumption against itself?

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day 38

Who wins from the complete re-orientation to data as standard of value for the global economy? who, in the completion of this process I wrote about in the previous post?

As is perfectly expectable but quite unbelievable for a philosopher not a pulp fiction writer–but perhaps he himself would contest contesting or policing the distinction–Žižek’s COVID-19 book is out. I remember Welcome to the Desert of the Real, after the 2001 attacks, taking up Baudrillard, who had taken up Deleuze and Guattari’s formula, what would be called a meme today, writing 9/11 never happened. (D & G: ’68 never happened.) “But Pandemic!: Covid-19 Shakes the World is thin on humour. ” writes Yohann Koshy for the Guardian. And thin on this kind of scalpel-sharp kind of humour, this oyster-shucking humour–the kind that flipping back and forth, puts the oyster back in isolation, violently extracts it. Puts it back in.

It is left to something or someone called Medium (Julio Vincent Gambuto) syndicating to the Milwaukee Independent to say it never did: “A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge.” Welcome to the deserted real of post-Chernobyl-like re-wilding.

J. walking on the northern ridges above the Hauraki Gulf, looking down on the bays, saw the seas begin to boil, saw flights of birds a thousand, two thousand of them, descend from the hills and skies. Black shadows had corralled kingfish and kahawai as effectively as a net. The orca ringfenced the bigger fish and schools of smaller fish they were and continued to poach on. The boiling seas extended from bay to bay.

She crossed to the southern side of the island, again patches of calm water began to agitate. A guy chucked in a line, lost his hook. Tried again. Lost the hook again. The fish too big. A third time, he pulled in kahawai 2 foot long.

Žižek’s book says wait for the recession. It repeats Adbusters, who call it 1929 come again. They call for Occupy 2 in response. And for those able to give to foodbanks. They end, Let the bosses know, if they fuck us, we multiply.

Who wins from the migration of media–of total human cultural media, of what we might call the apex predators of human cultural mediation–online?

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