luz es tiempo

Dubravka Ugrešić R.I.P. literature? 27 March 1949 – 17 March 2023

Who knows, maybe one day there will no longer be Literature. Instead there will be literary web sites. Like those stars, still shining but long dead, the web sites will testify to the existence of past writers. There will be quotes, fragments of texts, which prove that there used to be complete texts once. Instead of readers there will be cyber space travelers who will stumble upon the websites by chance and stop for a moment to gaze at them. How will they read them? Like hieroglyphs? As we read the instructions for a dishwasher today? Or like remnants of a strange communication that meant something in the past, and was called Literature?

— Dubravka Ugrešić, from her website,

I loved Europe in Sepia and regularly dip into her other writing. If you haven’t read her books, they remain and, despite what she says above, that literature does not mean forever, they are forever literature.

(And that of course means that literature and she herself are only, as my friend P. says, dead at the moment.)

In another of Dubravka Ugrešić’s books, The Age of Skin, LARB notes that she is documenting

…“the last battle […] being waged between banning the red star and fully destigmatizing the swastika. The swastika is winning the fight […] black and swarming like cockroaches.”

luz es tiempo
National Scandal
network critical

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the free and creative play of transcendental ideas ::: illustrated with three paintings by Wolfe von Lenkiewicz

Another kind of madness, constantly wanting to draw attention to one’s own insights, like some placard-carrying apocalyptic in Time’s Square.

— Damian Lanigan, The Ghost Variations, Weatherglass Books, 2022, opened at random, p. 69

I’m writing a long note about cinematic time but, as always, encountered something along the way, only tangentially related to that theme, but that seemed to demand another note. Unless I am mistaken and as I write the note up here the tangent feeds back in again to the long note on cinematic time. The tangent was suggested–the same source as the seed for the note to come–by John Ó Maoilearca and Keith Ansell Pearson’s introduction to Henri Bergson: Key Writings.

There they write, Bergson’s Kantianism and his Berkeleyism, in short his idealism, is shallower than either Berkeley’s or Kant’s. It does not have its roots in the categories of human understanding, as with Kant. It does not originate solely in the perception of the mind, as with Berkeley. It is instead virtual.

What is Bergson’s idea of the virtual? what is it in light of his views on time? Time for Bergson is duration. The time marked out by the clock is time translated to the dimension of space, since the clock is counting spatial divisions. These divisions are contingent on conventions of counting the day and night as fundamental units, so they are broken up in space, according to a conventionally 12 hour day, but not in time.

Science tends to use clocktime. Philosophy says Bergson need not, because a philosophical understanding of time should try to get at what time is in itself. Bergson also takes duration, time as duration, to be free of the determinism that its contingency installs.

He thinks duration free of the constraints the conventions of measuring time lead to, that duration is a freedom for creativity beyond conventionalism. This creativity is neither abstract, like the geometric measurement of time as space, nor actual, like the spacetime given in relativity theory as a chrono-geo-determinism. It is instead virtual.

– Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp, 2018

What this shallower of Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson means to me is a reflection. Transcendental ideas for Bergson are as shallow as a reflection. I see a reflection on still water of the trees above, and above them, the sky and stars, but this leads me to think of another sort of reflection, one equally as shallow, as on-the-surface, as the reflection in the water. Whereas this one is in space, the other is a reflection in time.

Everything that makes up the reflection in space, in the water, is actual. The surface is an actual surface. It exists. It may only be made of light but that light exists and it is the condition for there being a reflection. I say this because of the mystery and magic, the not-quite-real quality, mirrors traditionally invoke. Their not-quite-reality is not yet virtuality.

A reflection in time is virtual. So the virtual for Bergson relates to time, time as it relates to itself and is in itself, apart from space, contingency and the conveniences of measurement. The virtual is time reflecting on itself, on its own duration.

Deleuze further qualifies the virtual as being distinct from either the possible or the potential. What is virtual is not a pool of possibilities that are held in potential. Possibility and potentiality relate to reality along that continuum going from possible reality to existing reality. The constraints of possibility are again in evidence.

The virtual in contrast relates to actuality and is unconstrained by either possibility or its potential for realisation. Freely creative, the virtual resolves, works itself out in what is actual. The virtual is real without existing in actuality.

The possible exists without being real. Existence adds to possibility what was missing, reality. The formula stating that the virtual is not yet, not quite and no longer is insufficient and misleading. It limits the virtual to complete realisation only when actualised, when nothing is missing from virtuality.

– Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, A Lady Writing a Letter, 2018

Thinking about a reflection in time I think is a better idea. It also relates virtuality to Bergson as an aspect of his insight into time being pure duration. Like the reflection in space, from it nothing is missing and everything is at the surface. This is what I take from Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson’s shallower.

It doesn’t necessarily lessen the difficulty of imagining the virtual. However, if we move from this surface or across this surface according to Deleuze’s ideas about counteractualisation I think we can come closer to understanding how the virtual works, and how usefully to think of it. Counteractualisation is to go from the actual back to the virtual.

Counteractualisation of transcendental ideas, for example, without removing their reality removes their depth or height. It sets ideas jostling on the same plane or surface. It returns them to their shallowness.

No longer are they standing in judgement. No longer transcendent, not yet subjected to a moral tribunal, they are not quite themselves but no less real. The reflection in time effected by counteractualisation reintroduces the freedom and creative play to what was thought to be determined and determining.

The question of idealism for Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson comes up in relation to Bergson’s use of the term images. All four chapters of Matter and Memory, 1896, feature the term. Bergson’s use breaks with philosophical convention and is suggestive of a link, as I said at the beginning, to cinema and to the note on cinematic time I am concurrently working on: what are images if not pictures, whether moving or not?

Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson point out that in other places than Matter and Memory Bergson makes use of the word ideas to mean the same thing. The etymology of idea is from the Greek word εἶδον for to see and then to ιδέα, meaning form or (visual) pattern. Bergson’s shallow idealism more or less flattens the meanings of idea and image. Images are as much physically present as they are in play on the surface, as they are registered on a reflective surface or recorded on film.

– Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Iodame, 2018

The note to come, that on cinematic time, will take up on the confusion of images in play and bodies in movement and what that means for our sense of time and duration. The purpose here is to go in the reverse direction, rather than from (cinematic) images to (temporal) forms or ideas, to go from images that have a reflection in time to ideas which have virtuality, virtual and transcendental ideas. Counteractualisation is not only meant for either ideas or images, ideal forms or transcendental ideas.

I think of counteractualisation as engaging a surface or plane of temporality or, as Deleuze and Guattari say in What is Philosophy?, I think of it as taking slices of chaos, and of art, science and philosophy each doing so in their own ways. My practice with Minus Theatre was to bring to the depthless surface of the stage the deepest and most intensely felt experiences where they could be brought into play, like transcendental ideas, where they could jostle against one another, free of their baggage, of judgement, of moral implication. This free and creative play, whether it is of transcendental ideas or physical bodies freed from defensive moralising, is of the virtual reflection in time or, better, is on it.

Not then improvisation, the movement in play is ex-temporised. It takes place by coming into being. The reflection in time is what makes in chaos the virtual slice.

luz es tiempo
theatrum philosophicum
thigein & conatus

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Julio Cortázar says, “Each of Pizarnik’s poems is the hub of an enormous wheel.”

Si pour un fois de nouveau le regard bleu dans le sac rempli de poussière–je parle de moi, j’ai le droit–cette attente, cette patience–si pour une fois de nouveau–qui me comprend?–je pale des jouets brisés, je parle d’un sac noir, je parle d’une attente, je parle de moi, je peux le faire, je dois le faire. Si tout ce que j’appelle ne vient pas une seule fois encore quelqu’un devra rire, quelqu’un devra fêter une blague atroce–je parle de la lumière sale qui courre à travers la poussière, les yeux blue qui patientent. Qui me comprend? Une seule fois encore la petite main entre les jouets brisés, le regard de celle qui attend, écoute, comprend. Les yeux bleus comme une réponse à cette mort qui est à côté de moi, qui me parle et c’est moi. Si pour une fois de nouveau mes yeux terrestres, ma tête enfoncée dans un sac noir, mes yeux bleus qui savent lire ce qui exprime la poussière, sa lementable écriture. Si pour une fois encore.

— Alejandra Pizarnik

If for once again the blue gaze inside this sack full of dust–I speak of myself, I have the right–this expectation, this patience–if for once again–who understands me?–I speak of broken toys, of a black sack, of an expectation, I speak of myself, I can do it, I ought to do it. If everything I call doesn’t come to me just once again, someone will have to laugh, someone will have to toast with an atrocious joke–I speak of dust riven with sullen light, blue eyes patiently marking time. Who understands me? Just once again the small hand among broken toys, regard of her who waits, listens, understands. Blue eyes as a response to this death right next to me, which speaks to me and is me. If for once my earthen eyes, my head stuffed in a black sack, my blue eyes which can read what dust scrawls, its pathetic handwriting. If again each time.

— trans. Forrest Gander

luz es tiempo
thigein & conatus

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in his image

listen to the deep
	along the lines of
the face and darkness.

a spark, a sink
	among the eggshells

outside it all was broken into pieces

and I said, the darkness is not total
	the chaos is not     fatal
		or even original

although, what did Brian think?
	it is genetic	his favourite
drink     his Boy George hat but
      he was skinny  a grenadine
a double, sinking in his beer like pisschrist,
shotglass   wobbles to the bottom of the pint.

bi   drunk and on her single bed he was having
  a threesome with Tracey he came out and said
    with Tracey and a friend, punk girlfriend 
      and he had to stop to take timeout
        he said, two punks and a goth
            he had come they had not
              because of his one lung
          use his inhaler have a cigarette
            then go back in again   because
              he said he liked to watch,

Depth-charge, depth-charger Brian says
   he said it so it rhymes with plays
     it's not a competition to see if he could
       break the record he set on 
   the last time dole day, Thursday's dole day
           of how many he could drink
             and more than once 
           he comes home to the flat bashed in
             and spent the rent and 
               Tracey fixed him up, and he 
                 liked women 

but he said,
    he was sad and had     one lung:

     how many can you 
       and can you afford to

    the shot glass sinks to the bottom
                of the pint glass

       it goes it goes wobbly then goes

softly too,

	afterwards, after Brian's bashed in for
		   what he says it rhymes with lays
               to the men at the bar 
        and jokes that pieces are always
      falling off him always are and they
    say fucking queer and Tony pulls him away

		he was deaf in one ear.

		  too soft to hear.

I left him in the mall at Cashel Street
          it was the eighties '83
  badges clinking on his blazer the satin
    lapels stained with dribbles or semen
      always are     I saw him
                with his one leg
                  and crooked smile
                    walk a crooked mile

to see a sad friend that he had who
                topped herself
  so he says it rhymes with stays
    and a man    about a dog
    and a man    about a pea, Miranda said
      who shrinks down to the size
        of suicide
          and is dead         who
                    gets inside your head
            inserts himself in your ear
                                is bent
who means it always did and stays there

down deeper than a vacuum cleaner
  deeper down than vomit vomit that
    they cannot clear
      a human vacuum cleaner

Tracey now is picking at the carpet
  pinching fluff between her fingers
    finding coins 
      and applecores 
        behind the sofa
          the flat
            came down in a demo
              don't look for it
         I read the cantos in the turret
       but that is not where it began

I began as we all do and I did not become
 insufficient   brothers sisters brothers
                  take my arms

take me outside no I'm not like we all do 
                going to be sick take
                  my hair    need
                    something from me

along these lines and on the fourth day
                    he found inspiration
                      it came to him
                        as it was on
           the first day of creation and
                          God said
                            Order up!

He thought 
        I do think the birds sing to me
                      piu piu piu piu
                        like owls the
                          ringneck doves
                              and a bird
        sang Speak speak speak speak
                            as he passed

            casting shadows on the deep
         and as it was 
            as it was what he was thinking
      at the time I think at the time
            the present
   passed over like clouds casting
                    shadows on the deep

                    why write when I can
                    speak     ? why work
                    when I can sleep   ?

so he dreamt he was a famous star
  playing in a famous scene and
    at the bar a minor bird called out
      Mister where have you been?

he dreamt he was Julie Andrews
  skiing with her groom
    on the mountains of the moon

dreamt of sweeping wide and wider still
  round the corners of a frozen hill
    a snow-carpeted hill
     he dreamt he was in Switzerland

He dreamt of sitting in the window
  with a garden view and his love
    who was a woman who
      He stood up in and
        saw into his soul

and   how many   needed nothing

and he dreamt so he dreamt 
   of the groom and the vacuum
     of the scene and the actor
       of the pea in his ear
         of the man and the beer

         of steps being taken
       suspicions he was faking

how many thoughts are dreams    ?
  and how many dreams are
    how many dreams    are there

as if dreams are our mother
  when she married memories
    after sleeping with chaos

he dreamt of an eternal cafe table
  and of waiting on it
    when God said Order up!
      but he was unable

how many dreams are memories
  and how many thoughts are
    how many thoughts    are there?

his mother in the bath
  her pubes all tangled in the water
    a tattered butterfly 
     who he said to he thought
       it's worth it
         I think so too 
          and waited to

each shall be given
    the deserving and the non
      the believing and the non

god's gift    he said   as an actor
you're not    too soft  
                  for the extractor

Tracey was a human vacuum cleaner
      no, not that way
Is the light on   ?
  Have the right steps been taken
    is the vomit clear?
      is there a man in your ear?
        a man here and   he says
         it rhymes with pays
           no, not that way

suspicions he was faking 
          were mistaken
he did not awaken   god's gift

from the lucky and the un
forsaken and un
  from father son and holy one
      will be taken   God's gift
       he was not and from a man
        in your rear depth-
         charging your beer
          the fizz
           holy un
 from the gearshift she sat on
 to Brian with his hat on
   Louie frothing at the mouth
          one is 
            not enough

from the fizz of creation this
  one man is not      this man
    was my brother    he was
      in arms     taken
        in his image  as was
          God's gift  in his

from mother and daughter
  to mother-daughter too
    to unmother daughter
      my daughter
        how deep is
           the water is it
in his image    god's gift
            too    ?

[11 March 2023]

luz es tiempo
point to point
thigein & conatus

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who killed my father

I picked up today Édouard Louis’s book with this title. I added a question mark. Then removed it.

Because without a question mark it is a statement. I couldn’t see it at first. It doesn’t ask who killed my father. Rather it states who did it.

I cite it only to lead where it led me when it was a question, since I could ask the question, who killed my father. And I could answer the question but I could not state who. Who killed my father?

I have been writing about my father. Writing imaginatively, not factually, and without thinking very much about… what can I say? Who killed my father.

First there was the responsibility I felt towards his life. Second is responsibility for his death. What killed him was his life, but his life, for such a little phrase, carries with it a load.

His life entails, although it doesn’t follow from it, all that he gave his life for, all that he lived for. It engages in fact everything that was not him. His life is small compared to what for him life was about.

How do I, how does anyone address themselves to the dreams, principles, the values and ideas, that a father lives for? If I think of my mother. In contrast I think of her living for life. Not like my father, living for some thing.

And many would and should side with someone who lives for life. Perhaps they say it is more admirable to live like that and that living for some thing, some intangible purpose, is not at all what it purports to be. It is actually self-centred, selfish and even cruel.

My mother also lived for my father and her children and out from them for those they in turn loved and lived for. But she did not live for what my father lived for, although she sympathised with it. She loved my father for that little bit of him that was his, which he probably couldn’t see, which I doubt any of us ever really can.

As I said, I felt responsible too for his responsibility, the responsibility he chose. I felt less responsible for his life, the responsibility he didn’t choose. So that I can say who killed my father turns on the responsibility he took on, the fate he chose.

It is to do with what he thought himself to be doing when alive. It is implicated in what he struggled and fought for. And what he thought was worth the fight.

A book by Barack Obama passed through my hands called Dreams from My Father. In it the dreams might be of an imported cultural inheritance, finding a place in a new culture for them. I suspect many fathers die on the job of this, but is it the job that kills them?

As a question who killed my father is both gendered and generic. Who killed my mother doesn’t translate it. It pertains to a general state of affairs. As a statement it is the particular story of who killed my father. There again is the question of responsibility that is of a calling, that is ethical and political.

What my father was called to do was particular but is applicable to fathers in general inasmuch as they take on and become answerable to it. Some ethical or political mission you might say. And why should this be?

Do all fathers die in the way that the question who killed my father can be asked? If asked, is it only askable by a son? Is it only asked by a son inasmuch as a son is, as I have said of myself, at least in part answerable, responding to a father’s calling in a way that calls on him too?

Can we put down the burdens of our fathers? We can choose not to respond, choose to make that choice, but I know that if they are sins then, got rid of, they can bounce back in unpredictable ways. There are of course matrilineal sins and gifts and griefs.

And grand missions that sons can see as much as daughters. Is this mostly due to them being unfulfilled, unfulfilled dreams, things left undone or partly done? And is this the case because of men and often because of that other choice, having children? Or not choosing to but having children anyway and then being forced into a position of self-denial, of living one’s life for one’s children, having had them, regardless of any mission one might have had in one’s life? (I forget the writer whose first advice to students in her lectures on writing was always, Take control of your fertility.)

I’ve just reached the part in Retrospective, a book I am reading slowly on breaks, by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, when Sergio Cabrera has gone to visit his ninety year-old father and been told by him that he, Sergio, has betrayed everything they had lived their lives for. It is another book, after The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura (some excerpts here), about the failure of communism. His father, Fausto, like Sergio a real character whose life has by Vásquez been imaginatively reconstructed, of course includes in his condemnation his son: You have betrayed everything that we lived our lives for.

Sergio Cabrera Cárdenas was appointed, by President Gustavo Petro, ambassador to China in 2022. And this makes sense because in the novel based on his life, his life and his father’s, Fausto moves the family to China, almost out of the blue, where Sergio and his sister acquire the language, and Fausto and his wife teach Spanish to the Chinese. With his father’s words on his betrayal, Sergio enters a deep depression.

You might say that this is the point the novel comes alive for me. I ask myself about who is to blame for the failure of communism. In Padura, it is Stalin. But I also ask myself if my own father were alive would he think that I had betrayed everything we had worked for in our lives? And I quickly answer no.

It’s not that the stakes are so much smaller for me. When dealing with the responsibility for a life how could they be. I still take my father’s side on who killed him. I can see their faces.

Some of them would be the ones he himself would have pointed out and some are not. And his face is of course among them. For not taking responsibility for the part of his life he didn’t live for, the part he was loved by my mother for, that part that we can’t simply reduce to his physical health or his living being or his beating heart. His face is among his killers’ for another reason too.

And this is more complex. It is also more or at least it has been more burdensome, more difficult as his son to disinherit, to shuck off. Another oversimplification: it is that his dream was quixotic… And again, I would add, too quickly, perhaps every such dream is?

My honorary grandmother, Davina Whitehouse, recognised it as such in the most elegant way, in the form of things. She brought him gifts from what in those days we used to call overseas. One of these gifts was a Man of Straw, from Mexico, a crucifix made of straw. Another was a beautifully carved wooden sculpture of Don Quixote, the man himself, that my ex-wife now has in her possession. You see, I still couldn’t keep it.

Fanny Howe’s The Winter Sun is subtitled Notes on a Vocation. In it she asks, What could I call what was calling me? Her answer is, A vocation that has no name.

I am led there by “Since early adolescence I wanted to live the life of a poet. What this meant to me was a life outside the law; it would include disobedience and uprootedness. I would be at liberty to observe, drift, read, travel, take notes, … and struggle with form.” Jennifer Hodgson quotes it. She writes, “‘outside the law… struggling with form’ pretty much hugs together everything I think about/can’t stop thinking about”.

When my mother said to me, You are a born teacher, it felt like a death sentence. The year at teachers’ training college, where she had lectured but had not continued for not having gained a degree or higher qualification, where my grandmother had been more-or-less sent while her sister, Ava, whom she never spoke of, was one of the first women to enter Victoria University, that I would have been required to do to get my teacher’s certificate, seemed like a forced admission of guilt. The guilty acceptance of what I was born to do.

When, as Ginette McDonald visiting the café he was running at the time told my father how she had loved working with him as a director in theatre, he said to her, You should try working with Simon. He’s a great director, it felt like being sentenced to live rather than a life sentence. The more so for being indirectly given.

I’d recently staged Antimony. Here’s Francis Till’s review, attributing all the magic to Kim Renshaw, the producer, who did work wonders but it was my brother and I who were responsible for transforming the space. Mum and Dad attended with Beanie, Davina Whitehouse. It was if not the last one of the last pieces of live theatre she attended. (She died on Christmas day 2002. Here’s a piece I wrote for her.)

The part of life we cannot see is our insertion among material things. We can take it up as our calling to make a temple of the body. In attending to it as a temple we make an idol of the materiality and lose sight of the life. Is it better to put the temple that is the body to the service of something else?

I am suggesting our insertion among material things concerns not only the organs we cannot take out and inspect, to establish their health or proper function, their malfunction or the affects of accumulated time and habits on them. It includes also the rhythms of those organs, their breathing, pumping, living periodicities, that in sum are equal to what it means to be living, since they, from the largest organ of the skin, to the smallest bacteria, equate to its time or to its timing.

Its own time produces the inner experience that it cannot have any experience inner to. It is at the surface, a timing, and what we normally think of as our identity is no more than a key to it, a connecting dash, and discontinuous with the living tissue, connecting to it by contiguity, by a cut.

The cut is also question of when, of timing. To make it so or measure time in the materiality of the body, life, is to place a cut in the cut. It is to place it at further and further removes while maintaining its contiguity. So the temple of worship can be superimposed on to the body and coincide with it in space but not in time.

When I was very young my father explained to me the difference between vocation and avocation. You can have an avocation for the priesthood, he said. The distinction seemed to hang on belief.

What did my father believe in deeply enough he might consider it his avocation, give his life for as well as, and at the same time as, having it taken from him? To say my father believed deeply enough in theatre he might have agreed it to be an avocation at once goes too far and not far enough. Too far because he would not go all the way with theatre directing being any more than a profession, a vocation. Not far enough because saying theatre makes it the answer to a question that is not fully formed.

The question would have to have a political component. I think a political theme has been lurking here the whole time. It’s in the title to Édouard Louis’s book and I’m sure it’s in the content of the book. As being in the nature of fathers in general the theme’s political tinge or seriousness is perhaps what has drawn me on. Does this mean mothers are exempt from or excluded from political seriousness?

Who killed my mother as a title, although it might have political resonance, would not have the same resonance. Perhaps I am wrong but I am imagining two sets of generalities, pertaining to my mother and to my father, ethical and political, and necessarily then to my relationship to them. I am thinking out from these two personal cases and imagining them to bear on some general things that can be said.

The difference in resonance applies to my mother’s avocation. She was a born teacher, and as such saw this in me, but she was not born a teacher. She was born an actress and she directed from the perspective that gave her. She also taught from the perspective given her by directing from the perspective of an actress, if that makes any sense.

Who killed my mother. Neither in the form of a question or of a statement does this work for her. My mother died for medical reasons not for political ones. Although the medical reasons were exacerbated by her grief over the loss of my father so it is possible there is a reflection here of the complication of her living for him and him not for himself.

He lived for something other than himself. It was a greater health and a political reason to which he was responsible. I would say it was the responsibility of necessity. And it is this political reason that makes work both the question and the statement of who killed my father.

The hardest thing to get rid of is my own answerability to what he took to be his responsibility. His responsibility was to say what was necessary. In Minus Theatre, Edward Scheer, noted writer on Artaud, in his report on my doctoral thesis project said that I had reduced theatre to ground zero. He meant to nothing.

I had got rid of the whole apparatus of the literary theatre. Productions were in multiple languages. I had got rid of most of narrative. In getting rid of the dramatic conflict my father said was essential to drama, I had got rid of drama. And yet would he have called it, as in Vásquez’s Retrospective Fausto did to his son Sergio Cabrera, a slap in the face of everything you and I did in this life? No. That’s why to call his avocation theatre is not enough.

He insisted that theatre has to say what it is necessary to say and, in a move away from an overtly political, programmatic or issue-based theatre, what cannot be said in any other way. He also insisted, in line with this second point, that theatre is an art form. Certain plays are necessary, and normally get written, at the time, but theatre is in service to itself as an art form before literature.

The art of theatre has its own artists. These include playwrights but they are members of a collective engaging in the collective work of artistic creation. I tend to think of the group artist being the company (as you can see from this manifest from the 90s). Although artistic responsibility follows from it, I am concerned with the first point here, the responsibility of necessity.

The formula, responsibility of necessity, suits the ideas I am trying to express of an avocation as a calling. The religious sense of calling meets the political one and social responsibility meets responsibility to one’s brain and heart and sex. This is to put into words a gesture my father made to Paul Minifie, then directing at Theatre Corporate. The gesture was intended to express just this necessity, of theatre having to appeal here and here and here, and, preferably all of them.

Minus Theatre was a form of theatre as necessity. And so it was found to be irrelevant, passed over as an academic exercise, by the same considerations, if not the same people, who killed my father. I have no doubt focused down too narrowly over the course of this writing but I think it is the question or statement that has drawn this out of me.

Who killed my father is important. It’s important to remember. It’s important to remember for me personally since so few still do. Yesterday I heard Grant Bridger had died.

Yes, there are some who die of not wanting to remember. Of those who are still living I can only think of Shirley Kelly, member of the Southern Players, one of the first theatre companies in New Zealand, who remembers the ones who would rather forget than acknowledge their debt and she is very very old. In German, the word for debt connects with the word for guilty, Schuld and schuldig.

There are some who would rather die than admit in failing to acknowledge their debt they are siding with the killers. Since by their actions they have found the killers innocent, they would protest their innocence all the louder. It is always a very loud silence surrounding guilt.

And the guilt of the killers is the source of the silence, who maintain their silent exclusion zone, while making the usual theatrical gestures of mollification, like the noise around cancel culture. The necessity of responsibility is the necessity that there be responsibility. The question who killed my father is answered by the statement.

It is not the necessity of holding those responsible who are but of being responsible, answerable to the memory. To be answerable to what might be called a political memory or a memory of politics. In this case what does it mean truly to remember? What does it mean for a son, for a daughter to be called on to answer for memory?

luz es tiempo
thigein & conatus

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T H E___D E E P

The present passes over like clouds
casting shadows on a
deep and undecidable sea




3 March 2023
– Hiroshi Sugimoto

luz es tiempo
point to point

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juan gelman 2 poems \\// a small piece of Animal Joy by Nuar Alsadir

Hay que hundir las palabras en la realidad

hasta hacerlas delirar como ella.

You have to bury the words in reality,

make them hallucinate the way reality does.

- José Galván

epigraph to Relations, poems 1971-1973, Buenos Aires, by Juan Gelman, translated by Joan Lindgren


he sits down at the table and writes
"with this poem you won't take power" he says
"with these verses you won't make the Revolution" he says
"nor with thousands of verses will you make the Revolution" he says

what's more: those verses won't make
peons teachers woodcutters live better
eat better or him himself eat live better
nor will they make a girl fall in love with him

they won't earn him money
they won't get him into the movies free
he can't buy clothes with them
or trade them for wine or tobacco

no scarves no parrots no boats
no bull no umbrellas can he get for them
they will not keep him dry in the rain
nor get him grace or forgiveness

"with this poem you won't take power" he says
"with these verses you won't make the Revolution" he says
"nor with thousands of verses will you make the Revolution" he says
he sits down at the table and writes

- Juan Gelman

– Valerio Bispuri, from Encarrados

“confidences” and the next poem, from Selected Poems, Juan Gelman, edited and translated by Joan Lindgren, University of California, Los Angeles, 1997


beloved friends / friends dead
in combat or by betrayal or torture /
I do not forget you though I love a woman /
I do not forget you because I love / as

you yourselves once loved / remember? /
how you walked in beauty through the air / how you fought? /
and the warmth of a woman loomed up in your face /
remember? I remember

having seen in you a woman shining
in the midst of painful combat /
then you shone immortal
against pain / against death /

now sleeping ones some
sweet shadow silently touches you
preparing your stand
against the dogs of oblivion

here’s my idea of character in short: “The essence of pleasure,” writes Søren Kierkegaard, “does not lie in the thing enjoyed, but in the accompanying consciousness.”

Nuar Alsadir, where this is found, continues: Think of a madeleine… When I do, I think of the accompanying consciousness for which the madeleine is no more than the schematic.

Intuition, the most familiar kind of embodied knowledge, often has the adjective feminine preceding it. Hysteria, marked by the conversion of feelings and thoughts into bodily symptoms, is generally seen as a feminine disorder (its etymological root is hystericus, meaning “from the womb”) and carries a negative connotation associated with an emotional excess that obstructs reason–being too much. Even my beloved Joyce reportedly said, in response to being asked what he thought of writer Gertrude Stein, “I hate intellectual women.” What is so threatening about this way of knowing?

“We have been raised,” according to the writer Audre Lorde, “to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings” because it threatens any system that calls upon us to prioritize external logic over internal knowledge. “The True Self comes from the aliveness of the body tissues and the working of body-functions,” explains writer Winnicott of his version of the yes within ourselves, “including the heart’s action and breathing.” Trained to suppress the True Self and what Lorde calls the erotic power of “nonrational knowledge,” we settle for lesser understanding, permitting essential meaning and emotion to be lost.

— Nuar Alsadir, Animal Joy, (London, UK: Fizcarraldo, 2022), 69-70

… the yes within ourselves … aliveness of the body tissues and working of body-functions including the heart’s action and breathing equate with Deleuze’s affirmative power (of the false and) of philosophy, positive difference; and equates with duration, for Bergson. Life animated by duration, in the living tissue and rhythms of breath and heart: it is a wealth, energy source and source of creative energy.

– Joan Miró, Metamorphosis, 1936


— Alsadir, op. cit., 297

luz es tiempo

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speculatively, to see what would happen.

the title of this post is from John Ash’s poem, “Second Prose for Roy Fisher,” page 54 in the volume, The Branching Stairs, published by Carcanet, Manchester, UK, although, England, might be more appropriate, in 1984, and refers to a “missile thrown without anger: speculatively, to see what would happen,” but I was struck by the line because of something that is present in many of Ash’s poems, suspension.

The volume, Disbelief, had a poem in it about suspension bridges. It could not but help recall when talking of suspending bridges on hightension wires suspending disbelief. Belief… disbelief… is one of the things, the human things, Bergson writes of as being elastic, as having plasticity, I have in mind…

…belief of a spiritual nature… …the belief required by convention in order to be upheld (for example, that of a fiat currency for it to retain its value)… …disbelief that anything really bad is going to happen… …the disbelief that anything really bad is going to happen that is really a disbelief in death… …belief and disbelief in the process of trauma, subject to traumatic processes…

Fear transmutes into phobia when it obsessively repeats itself, coding its dread and loathing in a symbolism that may in fact make it more difficult to face real threats.

Catherine Keller says this in view of the tehomophobia of the psalmist who invokes an angry god to smite the people’s enemies. She brings up the tradition of theomachy, struggle with or amongst a god or gods. More than this, she brings up the disappointment at god’s uselessness when confronting enemies of the people, whether these be other people or spiritual or material forces. What these constitute in view of tehomophobia is a fear of chaos, of the chaos that comes to disrupt any given order. It becomes phobic, tehomophobia, when it obsessively repeats itself, or is obsessively repeated, by coding its dread and loathing in a symbolism. This symbolism is not a coating, is not symbolic in the sense of not being real. It is, instead of not real, kryptonite to reality or rather antimatter to the matter at hand. It denies the reality its reality. It does not coat reality with symbols. It displaces reality without replacing it. It displaces it nowhere.

…and the displacement of reality nowhere effected by the encoding of dread and loathing into a more or less pervasive symbolism for me brings up this line of Ash’s addressing what speculatively means, to see what would happen. It does so because threats that are made more difficult to face are threats at hand. They belong to the present so the question becomes is it a nowhere of the displacement of reality or is it a nowhen?

to see what would happen, speculatively. In my last post I had an issue with Rebecca Solnit’s vision of social transformation as a kind of edifice of ideas. In it, Solnit said there were walls and towers. It was a kind of architecture. (I made a play on the arche of architecture, its coming first that an anarchy would be against… but not refuse…) Change happened so that those who were outside the walls might wake up and woke find themselves included, included in the inclusivity of a transforming, expanding social architecture. I said I find this scary. I still find it scary. Horrible to be walled in.

I would rather be anywhere else than in an expanding inclusivity identifying itself as a transforming distending social edifice. Than eaten up by it (Leviathan?) I would rather be nowhere.

I ask, Leviathan? because the symbolism Keller is concerned with as a coding of a fear gone phobic belongs to Leviathan. Leviathan is tehomic. Feminine. Oceanic. Fluid. Chaotic. And ungrounding.

תְּהוֹם, tehom, ungrounds. Tehom unoriginates origin. And it does so from biblical genesis.

והארץ היתה תהו
ובהו וחשך על־פני
תהום ורוח אלהים
מרחפת על־פני

[emphasis added, from here]

terra autem erat inanis et vacua et tenebrae super faciem abyssi et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas

And the earth was waste and without form; and it was dark on the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God was moving on the face of the waters

…from formlessness, anarchy, comes formation. Keller’s book, The Face of the Deep, counters the tehomophobia encoding a fear of formlessness, of the deep, of the womb, that gives the formula to genesis of a creatio ex nihilo, with a creatio ex profundis. It’s a big job. It’s big because, Keller says, from the creatio ex nihilo, from this arche, comes what else but creation. And what other kind of creation can there be ex nihilo than one that has a single origin from which it progressively extends in a line. It is the point at which linear time starts. And it figures that point each time, for each time there is linear time. Or, that point is the figure of the start of any time considered to be a line, a line of progressive improvement in standards of living, of scientific progress, of technological accomplishment, for example, and a line toward the end, toward any end, whether it reach it or not. So out of nothing grounds all teleology.

Keller argues for a creation from the deep ungrounding all teleology, making the architecture break open, and bringing on new acts of creation, in some cases stalling progress, stopping growth, exploding in an ongoing explosion, of human and all things, elsewhere … or elsewhen.

…and this again is the speculatively, to see what would happen. When is it? then? now?

… not now but suspended …

[and just like that I went out to get some lunch]

Happening now ex nihilo apart from extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, like after the Big Bang, like that but happening now, it is said we are hastening, accelerating towards first anthropocide, suicide on the scale of all human things and then anthropogenic biocide, killing off if not all then most living things… but if then when?

Science is for, enables us to attend with extreme sensitivity, the extreme sensitivity of its instruments, to initial conditions, so that we can say we are moving ever faster towards a significant extinction event or horizon. It is drawing us on, yes, perhaps, but more important than this is the point at which we find ourselves, are found to be, by instruments of measurement, now, in the now. We are somehow fixed here and this fixing is entailed in, presupposes a timeline we are on. The timeline is both of human scale and at the scale of a geological movement, of geological time, and so called anthropocene.

What has happened to speculatively, to see what would happen? This is no time to see what would happen. This is no time for experimentation. It is no time for experimentation not because time is running out but because time is the timeline established by instrumental sensitivity to existing conditions as initiating an inevitable chain of cause and effect, to end in disaster or apocalypse… some version of the disclosure that the closure of time entails.

We know then, now, that something is going to happen along the way. It will be revealed that is. The end will be revealed. But we cannot act otherwise than in the knowledge of what we know. We cannot above all see what happens.

When is there time to?

When is the time to see what happens but in another sort of time?

Speculatively does not mean being displaced from this timeline onto another timeline. It is not possible to replace, unless we are multiverse-believing, one ex nihilo timeline by another. Multiverse-believing, perhaps we can refuse this one and opt for a leap. Such a leap would however come to land and would not be suspended and indeterminate, between being a wave and a point for example. It would have to come to a terminus. It would therefore also start from nothing. It could not from the unoriginating origin of formlessness.

I mean, even if the concept formed from the formlessness preceding it, the prevenient formlessness of the deep, a kind of Big Time, Biggodaddytime, there might be room for other times contesting it but as concept it would not could not be an indeterminate time, neither would it nor could it be both form and formless.

In the Kabbalistic tradition there is a room set aside for such things, the zimsum. God in this tradition is preceded by ein sof. It is not a matter of a preceding state of affairs and one following it that a time cannot be suspended, speculatively, to see what happens. The happening has to be construed a certain way. All I am really saying is that the dominant construction of temporal matters in our time is linear.

Ex nihilo linearity dominates. It is repeated obsessively. Repeated obsessively, timeline-likeness has been coded in a symbolism more or less pervasive, since this is how it is represented.

The timeline in accelerating has become unalterable. The faster we go, the more difficult to break forward momentum. And the greater the accusations in resisting it that we are trying to turn the clocks back, not speculatively but fantasisingly.

…and yet we know we can’t keep up. We know we can’t keep up. We know we can’t do nothing. We know we can’t do anything that’s going to make enough of a difference and time is running out.

Solnit’s answer is that differences are being made. It’s just that we don’t see them at the individual level. It’s only at the level of a million that the differences being made are visible. Then we who thought ourselves outside the walls will find we are inside the walls.

Solnit counts herself among those who have made a difference in making what was previously invisible visible. The previously invisible injustice comes into sight, and, she says, resistance to this structural expansion has most often made recourse to justice. Using the law does not make injustice invisible again. There is it seems a compulsion at work, a dominology.

…speculatively, to see what would happen. The appeal is in the sense of the speculation not having a stake in what is going to happen. It is also in the sense the speculation has no control. Sight itself has no claim, since it’s not for sight or for the sight or for the over-sight. I can imagine surprise.

It doesn’t matter what kind of act it is. It’s a light thing. It has no longer to do with making visible or invisible however. Does it then matter at all?

Well, yes it does. Something, some human thing, has been lifted up to the surface from the deep. It has arisen not like a tower, a wall, a pulpit, concept or moral principle. And if it has been heavy this human thing has gained from being on the surface a share of lightness. And the lightness that has been superadded has enabled it to move once there. I should say, once here. You might ask, can it move in time? No in one sense. Yes in another. Since its happening is only as much as to see what would.

Better to describe it then as a falling object. But one coming from a profound height to which has been added gravity while from it has been subtracted weight. The time it occupies is not measurable but the vacuum caused by an intake of breath.

luz es tiempo

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John Ash

Poetry magazine suggested, “John Ash could be the best English poet of his generation,” which prompted John to remark wryly, “Why ‘could’?” [- from here]

I know I mix the present with the past,
but that’s how I like it:
there is no other way to go on.

- John Ash [- from here. Chancing on an old post [here] where I quote some of John Ash's "Unwilling Suspension," from Disbelief in a book from the Poetry Book Society that was how I first read him and finding the interview [again, here] was the occasion for this post.]

John Ash was a great poet and a meditator on spiritual landscapes, which in his case, was all too casually named as "travel writer." [- from here]

I should like to write something for John Ash
I should like to write something to John Ash

                                                       John Ash,

I should like to have written something to you
I should have written sooner.

so, I should like to write something for John Ash
I should like to write something

I should write something
              write something



I should like to leave the city
                                               for the island
I should like to leave the island
                                                  for the city

I should like to leave for 

I should like to leave these ruins

                                                 for those
Nero subjugating Armenia, personified and depicted after Penthesilea, the Amazon Queen, at Aphrodisias, 20-60CE, Western Anatolia.
The inscription:
Καῖσαρ Σεβ-
5αστὸς Γε-
– in its place the name of Claudius,
the name of Nero, in the dative case,
indicating that Armenia is subjugated to him?
has been erased after damnatio memoriae,
his memory damned, his damned memory

John loved the waiters who made him feel at home; in fact, they were part of both his physical and emotional landscape. [- from here]

my father also made this discovery in hospital, Simon! Come on! He’d smile like he knew the game was up and I’d be forced to admit it. Yes, those swing doors did go through to the dining room and kitchens of a restaurant and not out onto the ward.

When my father was dying,
he did a lot of traveling.
There were nights in the Tyrol,
Days spent by the banks of the Rhone
or Rhine, and for reasons we couldn't
fathom, frequent trips to Bristol.
Then there was the matter of his sight,
which had begun to betray him years before.
We didn't know what he was seeing,
so each day became a desperate act
of interpretation, but sometimes
the things he saw, or thought he saw,
made him almost happy for a time,
and towards the end, he invented
an underworld that took the form
of a crowded bar or pub, located
directly below his hospital room.
It was entered by means of a long staircase,
And a narrow passageway, at the end of which
the doorman checked your papers carefully.
Once inside, there was singing and dancing,
And everyone drank "good, Irish whisky."
This was puzzling:  he never drank whisky,
never frequented a pub.  Even his phantasm
of the good life was not his, and soon
these inventions or borrowings failed him.
He became convinced that a key was lost
under his chair.  Nothing more. Always the lost key.

- from To the City, John Ash

luz es tiempo
thigein & conatus

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“Everything that matters is outside.”

title is from the final page of Clayton Crockett’s Energy and Change: A New Materialist Cosmotheology, published by Columbia University Press, 2022.

I don’t really intend a review. I wrote to the author to say I enjoyed his book, that I was led to read it by my appreciation of an earlier book of his, Deleuze Beyond Badiou, that I regretted how badly subbed Energy and Change was, filled with egregious errors, including misattributing through a whole section Malabou’s work, and spelling mistakes, missing words, wrong words. I wrote to say that I really got into it in the third chapter, “Political Economy and Political Ecology.” Chapter four was OK, “Of Amerindian, Vodou, and Chinese Traditions.” And there are, particularly in Crockett’s taking up of the “tehomic theology” of Catherine Keller, some mindbendingly good moments in the last chapter, “Radical Theology and the Nature of God,” mindbending I say because of this deep, tehom, תְּהוֹם, coming right after I’d been dealing with something called a deep personal conviction, that I imagined coming from just such a deepness. Deep personal conviction is one of two conditions for the political act, I’d written, and I attached the article saying so in my letter to Crockett, the other condition being that the political act come out of time or out of the blue. There are similarities with the form of theatre practiced as Minus Theatre here. The article where I write about the political act is here.

For the first three chapters of Energy and Change, I was asking myself, and I asked Crockett the same thing, why is Bergson, as preeminently a philosopher of change, not here? I wondered if it were not the curse of Russell, who seems to call Bergson downright effeminate and say, with Morrissey, Do as I do and scrap your fey ways, Grow up, be a man, and close your mealy-mouthdial-a-cliché.

– Ivana Bašić, belay my light, the ground is gone, 2018

here’s some bits of the book I enjoyed:

…neoclassical economics takes shape around the nineteenth century concept of energy as understood in physics.

The counterpoint to the concept of energy in neoclassical economics is utility. Utility is a measure of satisfaction or value, one that measures the usefulness of economic goods similarly to the way that energy measures the work that can be accomplished in any system. If utility is analogous to energy, then the phrase that indicates entropy would be marginal utility. That is, as consumption of goods increases, there occurs a decrease of utility. This is the law of diminishing returns, which was formulated in terms of the conservation laws of physics. Overall utility is conserved, whereas there is a necessary diminishment in marginal utility.

The transition to neoclassical economics is often described as a marginal revolution. Mirowski asserts that the fundamental break in economic theory in the 1870s and 1880s is not simply a new conception of utility, understood in terms of marginal utility, but is the result of “the successful penetration of mathematical discourse into economic theory.” These mathematical theories are drawn from physics, although Mirowski points out that most economists did not accurately understand the physics and mathematics that they drew upon. Economists base their discipline on physical understandings of energy, but these are being mathematically treated in such a way as to dissipate energy as a real thing.

The difference between twentieth-century physics and twentieth-century economics, Mirowski claims, is that physicists understood that energy was becoming an abstraction with the adoption of formalized mathematical models, even as they were clinging to the idea of an integrable system. Economists, on the other hand, still maintained that they were modeling and measuring something real. One way to describe both physics and economics during the twentieth century is to say that they were caught up in symbolic mathematical representations …

— Op.cit., p. 149

During the [post-war] Great Acceleration, the world saw unprecedented levels of increasing production, based on the widespread utilization of an almost unbelievable source of energy in the form of hydrocarbon petroleum. The so-called Green Revolution in the 1960s was actually the application of petroleum products and methods to agriculture, which produced unsurpassed yields. But beginning in the early 1970s, real productive growth began to slow in per capita terms, and the dreams of utopia in First World nations as well as the hopes for development in Third World countries–not to mention the drive for communist revolution in the Second–all ground slowly to a halt.

The early 1970s constitutes a key time period in the transition to disaster capitalism or neoliberalism. According to David Harvey, “the liberation of money creation from its money-commodity restraints in the early 1970s happened at a time when profitability prospects in productive activities were particularly low and when capital began to experience the impact of an inflexion point in the trajectory of exponential growth.” This inflexion point in the trajectory of exponential growth is the first impact of a physical limit on post-World War II capitalism. As profitability begins to decline, surplus money was lent out to developing countries in the form of government debt, generating a Third World debt crisis that rages through the 1980s. Another response to this inflexion point was the development of new asset markets, including speculation on the financial system itself in the form of derivatives–futures, swaps, and collateralized debt obligations.

— Ibid., p. 144

It is in the early 1970s that, for the first time in global terms, human societies start to come up against physical ecological limits as a planet. In 1970, domestic oil production peaked in the lower forty-eight United States, not counting Alaska. In 1971, President Nixon was forced to abandon the Bretton Woods accord that established the post-World War II economic framework with a dollar that was pegged to $35 for an ounce of gold. After this gold standard disappeared, the U.S. currency became a fiat currency. Soon afterward, the OPEC oil embargo, which was a response to the U.S. support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, shocked the American economy. As a result, the United States reaffirmed its special alliance with Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis pledged to ramp up supply to fuel the U.S. economy and to sell oil in dollars. In the early 1970s, the financial economy essentially delinked from the real economy, which is why the stock market continued to grow tremendously over the next four decades while inflation increased dramatically and real wages stagnated. The early 1970s also saw the emergence of a global ecological movement, including the famous Club of Rome’s book The Limits to Growth, published in 1972.

This shift toward a new form of capitalism called neoliberalism coincides with the abandonment of Lyndon Johnson’s ambitious War on Poverty as well as the intensification of U.S. military engagement in Vietnam, the murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the 1968 insurrections in France and Mexico, the betrayal of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the rise of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.” Capitalism is based on indefinite growth, but surging population levels, industrialization of remaining rural areas across the globe, and overutilization of finite resources have combined to make it impossible to grow anymore in overall terms. We are running up against real limits. If corporate capitalism cannot grow in absolute terms, then the only way that it can grow is in relative terms. That is why the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer. This is happening both within the United States and other countries and between rich and poor countries. It’s a physical process, and we need to come to terms with it if we want our thinking and our actions to be efficacious. [emphases added]

— Ibid., p. 145 [the Great Redistribution follows the Great Acceleration]

… how we think, act, and live occurs along an open line of existence, even if this line is not linear.

— Ibid., p. 39

Leibniz is an important precursor to thermodynamics because he coins the term dynamics, although he uses the word, dunamis, that for Aristotle means potential energy. Leibniz understands dynamics to refer to what we call actual or kinetic energy. For Leibniz, actual energy is vis viva, which is a living force that animates nature. On the other hand, his idea of a dead force, vis mortua, is closer to what we call potential energy. Dead force is the propensity to motion, which can become actual force or vis viva.

— Ibid., pp. 39-40

Science is fundamentally about developing and testing ideas as empirically as possible, often in mathematical terms. Philosophical thinking is not derivative of scientific explanation; both are a distinct kind of change that “repeats” the change nature performs.

— Ibid., p. 25

Metabolism only works by means of rifts, even if the rift that is created by capitalism between humanity and the earth is one of the largest rifts in planetary history. There is no metabolic process without rift, without chance or change.

— Ibid., p. 9

… change is always exchange, because it exists in complex relationship with everything else, including itself.

— Ibid., p. 8

luz es tiempo

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