National Scandal

Lecture on Academic Writing–delivered online for AUT 14.9.2021

Part I
Part II
Lecture-2-in-5-parts-with-intro-1

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fourteenth part, called “a way in XIV,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

A way in

It’s a funny idea that the resources we draw on are within. Psychic or subjective resources. We might want to draw on the theory of humours. Invoke all the shades of bile, call for a bloodletting when we find ourselves too sanguine. Seat the different sources in the organs, the spleen, our hysteria in the womb.

It’s as funny to say it’s from the womb as it is to say that nurture, with its atmosphere of trust, or that early self-disgust that was inculcated when banned from dealing, or handling, the bodily humours, brings about such narrowness or breadth of range—in what we are able to metabolise of social life, of social psychic life, psychically: as if on one side as a subject you were once tabula rasa and on the other the fix was in, the genes had it in for you or had it at all, and all that was necessary was the trigger, the trigger points. Or switch points, for latent or recessive capacities. And as funny is the idea of a social interpellation, a social dynamic, that we are filled with contents, subjectively, by the social institutions of our time and place. And so filled to a limit, but told the filling is infinitely divisible: we can be anything.

We can be, but on the understanding that it is not a thing. It is a one. And the division is a choice. We can make it. It is made for us. Which is it?

We are no doubt split between the two. And sometimes we have no choice about this. The one rears up and severs our social, psychic relations, and those of the will itself: taking away the ability of the will to will. Which it can, when it did, not because I let it, asked it or even was aware of it. And what can I add through the will that now I cannot? Because it seems to me we feel its free exercise not in the choice we make, not in the use we make of it, but in its uselessness. It comes to us and we let it take us like a wave.

Then I have contradicted myself. The will is able to will not because I let it. Then it comes and we let it.

It’s almost as if in the first instance it comes as an opportunity, then it takes us with it, or bears us. As if it is a matter of compunction, or moral lesson of the will, that I would be a fool to miss. That I, as we’ve said, will be disappointed, but only after the earlier disappointment, for having left it too long, for being afraid. But what has happened has been the division itself, that we, in our finitude, infinitely experience. We are either looking into the black hole, in the process of being swallowed, or are looking out to sea.

It’s a funny idea, that the will bears us, that the other I am is borne of the self. The self one isn’t. But where does this actually occur? What produces the subjective resources that might be infinite within our finitude? Within your finitude that is only the finitude of the one. To say, one was.

Isn’t this talk the interval talk that the silly talk abjures? That dealing with the profundities in the comfort of the foyer, in respite from the play, film or show, putting to rights our understanding, hashing out whatever intention was to be communicated, whether there was one, and leaving, in company or on one’s own. With the connotation that here society confronts its depths. A certain society does. Having come and paid, in the best possible scenario, for the experience.

What am I saying? In the best possible scenario society confronts its depths as a right, and not the privilege of a certain bourgeois or colonial type. And, in the best possible scenario, it’s not even for its own good that it does. It demands edification as much as entertainment, finds one in the other, and these not to the preclusion of any one class, type or group but part of its belonging as a whole. Another one who come collectively to exercise free will to will themselves other than the one society they were.

The failure of the notion of inclusivity, in cultural participation as in political engagement, for these, is the same as that of diversity, for and in political and cultural representation: its exclusion of difference, its exclusion of actual division, internal and in depth, as separating the itself of society from what it may become. The oneself of the individual from what it may become. It is a staging not of a surface—surface differences, because aren’t they all?—we are only superficially divided as a society—this inclusivity and diversity attest to, because we’ve got to try!—without depth, but of a depth without surface. A profound superficiality, as Warhol once said.

The profundity of silly talk. The superficiality of interval talk. Where performance is useful to us is in its profound superficiality: it is, on the surface of the stage, in constituting an outside.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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sixth part, called “what is theatre? VI,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

What is theatre?

What is it necessary to do now? What is it necessary to say? Two suicides come to mind. Why?

Neil Roberts’s and Mark Fisher’s. Neil Roberts wrote “we have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity,” drew a peace sign on the wall, and blew himself up in the toilets outside the Wanganui Computer Centre on the 18th November 1982. He was 22.

Mark Fisher taught at Goldsmiths. He was ten weeks from the end of a seminar called “Postcapitalist Desire” when he died. 13 January 2017. 48.

Fisher’s writings are voluminous. Of Roberts’s we have that one line. Police said of his body that they’d be picking up bits for weeks.

Then the infamous statement of Stockhausen on 9/11, that it was “the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos.” Next to it, he wrote, composers are nothing. 17 September 2001.

Why do I submit these to my timeline here? Because these are not performances. And perhaps this is what, despite everything, I want to affirm in them.

I was going to begin with Beckett. After asking what is it necessary to do, what is it necessary to say, I was going to say, we can’t go on. We go on.

Until of course we don’t. And this is what, in his way, Beckett was affirming too. The three other figures each go in quite another direction.

I don’t want to reduce the lamentable to the gestural. Make light, or exhort to action. Joshua Cohen, psychoanalyst and writer, says of a case of depressive inertia, the desire not to do anything, completely to stop, is not symptomatic.

Telling yourself to stop is not symptomatic of any other desire. The impasse to productivity has no other outcome, than, Beckett again, failing better. What is as impossible as imagining an alternative to capitalism is always that, not merely difficult.

From this point I was going to talk about the decision to step out onto the void that the line the stage draws under events is stuck to. You will recall Nietzsche’s Seiltänzer, whom Zarathustra bears on his body and buries as a friend. The wire artist. The risk and the necessity.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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fifth part, called “what is theatre? V,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

What is theatre?

I want to address two lines. The first we have seen. It is the line splitting representation into what is represented and that which it represents. Into what it is, and what’s doing the work, we might say, of representation. In theatre this is the whole theatrical apparatus. Even the curtains we can suspect of meaning something, of referring to a veil, and unveiling, and yet staying visible.

This line was important for Weber, you remember, since by remaining visible, the curtain marks a kind of limit. Again, it has meaning. It limits represented action to that which occurs onstage, but in doing so remains accessible to trespass. So the action of Oedipus at Colonus, of his death, being offstage, trespasses the limit of representation to have effects on the world.

The world that is no longer beyond but included. The world the invisibility of which no longer guarantees its security, it not being placed in jeopardy. Or, for Oedipus—for Sophocles—guarantees that it is available—and, for Weber, means we can entertain the possibility that when Oedipus promises his death, the secret place of it, will protect Athens more than shields and armies, neither he nor the playwright are speaking in vain. So we can entertain the notion that his promise is, was, will be kept by the medium of a theatricality that is inclusive of this split, this line.

You no doubt recognise it as the fourth wall. I think this is to misrepresent it, if I can say so, because a wall in theatre is never just a wall. For example, the theatre productions that erect a mirror to the rear of the stage, so that the whole audience is reflected behind the action. Or the crude methods Alan Read talks about, where audience members are brought into the action, to do what is called participate, but who are never entirely there, can never entirely suffer the consequences, and are limited to personal reactions, like shame. (That is, they participate but in themselves.) Where the undoing of illusion backfires. And there are for Read political consequences of this, just as there were for Weber, with Oedipus, when theatre crosses the line from the inside.

The line here is that separating the stage from the world, one that is highly mobile. We find it cropping up in our personal lives when we accuse others or ourselves of being fake. Again, this is an oversimplification, the oversimplification of what has come to be known as performativity. An oversimplification because it does not come from the side of theatre but assumes a world outside it. And so re-inserts the line in order to make a stand on what is real, so reinforcing and fortifying it, claiming and then defending it. Making it the real of the real. Or Big Real. What is really going on I think is more subtle.

It goes to the answer to the question ‘what is theatre?’ The answer I might’ve made at different times of my life is that theatre is, as Weber, Read and Blau all maintain, about risk. It entails risk and the responsibility that comes with that risk or that it imposes, which we can either assume or not. And the despicable people of American theatre Blau describes I would say do not. Risk anything.

My answer is like Blau’s then: it is a charge, a judgement on those who get on with playing the nice plays to the Cynthias, as one such person in New Zealand theatre described them: because these are the ones who will pay to ensure theatres stay open. Until they don’t.

In a sense, then, the risk for being shirked, is all the more acutely felt, because it is of losing one’s livelihood. … Then, the talk goes, what are you going to do with your fancy ideas about theatre? if there is no audience!

My answer would have been that necessity comes before reality. That there is a principle worth, as Blau does, getting angry over. And being passionate about.

And writing about! Also. My answer would have been to take the risk is imposed by the necessity of theatre. Like a vow, certainly, to one who does not requite one’s love. And if my answer now is different it does not come out of finding that this is the case.

We can look at Blau’s life. Rather than get bitter and stay in theatre he went to academe. My father did not, didn’t have this recourse from theatre to theory, and did not make it.

Then, what is the necessity of that implies this risk, that one imposes on oneself? The answer pure and simple is the choice between risking the world or the soul. And the soul of theatre is about necessity and the world of theatre is about that soul.

The other part of the answer has already been touched on—the answer I would have given at a different time of my life than now: it is time. The necessity placed on us by time, by this particular time. Now. As well as this instant: the instant we see the young, golden and invulnerable Rimbaud, or those beautiful young men … as they should be seen … under arc-lights, beautiful and golden and in that instant immortal. Says Chinchilla in Robert David MacDonald’s play of the same name.

So: the necessity placed on us by the time, for which we risk everything. And I say we have touched on it because it is that certain type of realism we ascribed to theatre of a temporalising temporality. This necessity is also to speak to the time.

If the time cannot have the revolution it deserves say it, show it. Even if that means pissing off the sponsors. The donors. Or the funding body, with its functionaries in their sinecures. The latter has meant the destruction of many theatres in this country, a destruction that cannot be thought of in any other way than politically motivated.

Do I now disagree with my former answers? Have I made recourse to theory from theatre? No. Not really. And, no. But I would say now, still with this first line, that it is not between audience and theatre. It does not demarcate the stage. In theatre’s relation to an audience is not found its definition. That is, in what defines the stage. Because a stage need not be in front of an audience.

So, it is of another necessity and risk that I write at this time, that this writing concerns, with an urgency not simply speculative. This line, the line of theatricality as a distinct medium, for Weber, or as the defensive line of performativity for thinkers of performance, is not lost in any workshop, studio or rehearsal room I have encountered, where I have seen actors, non-actors, some musicians, dancers, graphic designers, the curious, risk it. This line confused when it’s called the fourth wall takes place in any place theatre is done. As soon as any one enters the stage.

We come finally to the second line. Where the first lets us see the work of representation and what does the work, or who, the second is the line of the stage itself. Where it is stuck by gravity. Its necessity. Over the top of a void. Its risk.

The second line is a line drawn under events. That is, the stage is no more than a line drawn under events. The events that take place on it. But not actions.

Why not actions? Because of what the line does to actions. It depersonalises them, it makes them impersonal

This, then, is the risk posed: of making an action. The second line does not split what is fake from real, what is done for theatrical effect, made-up, from what is done for real, or in the real world. Does not split the real world from what goes on on stage. It divides the personal from the impersonal. And this is what the actor risks.

The moment any one steps out onto the void is a suspended moment. A movement that cannot move. With all the force of an event.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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fourth part, called “what is theatre? IV,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

What is theatre?

Theatre takes place. Whether under a bare tree, or at Colonus, the place divides along the line splitting representation between what is represented and that which it represents. And then there is the unrepresented death of Oedipus, off-stage, packed full of meaning.

If it is kept a secret, this place, Colonus, Oedipus promises it will better protect Athens than shields or armies. Because it is not Colonus. But wherever the show is put on.

This is the line dividing theatre from what happens, protecting what happens in truth from pretense. And it is here that what happens in truth is most vulnerable, at this threshold… What Sophocles’ play stages, for Weber, is both theatricality and medium, of representation. Its theatricality is in crossing a threshold. Crossing it each time it is performed, from what is no more than representation to what it represents, it goes by way of what is outside of the theatre, off-stage and unrepresented, unable to be represented. For it to be would show the rule, all the more clearly: you can’t cross the line.

So for Weber this is the case each time, a referral onto the real that the audience are sometimes said to represent because of a mobility of place. It also gives rise, in theatre, to the participatory–because the audience is the real representation, as opposed to the fake one, it is asked to cross the line. Crossing it, for Alan Read, is the occasion for shame.

Shame to which the individual is prone, to which the individual is sacrifice. For the community, whose community the sacrifice was supposed to affirm, to bind in community, the sacrifice disaffirms and negates community. The opposite effect is achieved from that Herbert Blau find for in the sacrifice of the actor, on stage.

Under the stage the bodies are buried, according to Weber, and will not stay so for long. Something similar is happening in Blau, but it has to do with the proximity of bodies, the theatrical appearance being the threshold between life and death. And so ghosts passing this way and that, with real bodies on the line.

No. I would note how theory raises the stakes, its own as much as those that are theatre’s own, stakes that are political, ethical, as well as epistemological, ontological, and although I would quote the opening of Herb’s book, The Impossible Theater, this writing is not to put forward a theory. Neither is it to follow a practice, to hang a theory of theatre on a practice in theatre–or to follow more closely the problem that is a practice’s. Neither exegesis nor thesis is intended here, but something more useful that I don’t have a name for yet, out of which, the urgency not purely speculative, a time-contingent writing, a static genesis.

Here’s the Blau quote from The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto, where for ‘America’ you may substitute wherever you happen to be:

The purpose of this book is to talk up a revolution. Where there are rumblings already, I want to cheer them on. I intend to be incendiary and subversive, maybe even un-American. I shall probably hurt some people unintentionally; there are some I want to hurt. I may as well confess right now the full extent of my animus: there are times when, confronted with the despicable behavior of people in the American theater, I feel like the lunatic Lear on the heath, wanting to “kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!”

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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first part, called “what is theatre? I,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

What is theatre?

We don’t at first know. Theatre is not like poetry, since poetry, being a poet, having a written a poem, makes us think: Well, really, I have I written a poem? And how many do I need to write before I’m a poet? If that’s what we aspire to be.

If that’s what we aspire to be, poetry provides us with, has inherent in it, an aspirational quality. A quality of uplift, which theatre does not. Poetry asks us to come up to a standard, and it’s up to us whether that’s a standard of the past—taken from a canon of the greats, from whatever period—or a standard of the future, one by which, as Pound said, we Make it New.

To Make it New we may want to drop the standard. Into the unformed or the deformed, to achieve an art, as the Nazis said, that is entartete. Still, there’s a standard from literary modernism and postmodernism for us. A precedent on which we call when we write doggerel and call it poetry. Poetry that is unschooled. Or that is in the language of everyday life, like Lou Reed’s, or that is all quotes, all stolen, not in what in poetry is sometimes called our voice at all. Or that does not use recognisable words or sounds, like Dada poetry and concrete poetry. Or poetry written to achieve an effect of the language itself speaking, the written language, mind you, called Language Poetry.

Theatre too provides us with some canonical understandings but to ask What is theatre? doesn’t seem to rely on them. The answers that are most immediate are most easily set aside, abandoned for not being satisfactory. Can we say the same thing about modern art? art that is modern?

Doesn’t ‘What is art?’ confront us with the same problem? …but we want to, that’s the difference. We want to come up with as many definitions as possible and abandon them as soon we make them. Theatre—not so much.

With art, I want to say, art is for the animals! Not just the outcasts, outsiders, the outsiders cast out inside society, the artists whose art has been institutionalised as Art Brut. No. The actual animals. And other species outside the human men, women and children. Art is to bring down the dream of human exceptionalism!

I mean, you can see this already with painting. Isn’t, since every pigment is at base mineral, dealing at the level of pure pigment a mineral-becoming? Mineral Art, much as we might say Language Poetry.

When I define art to express the non-human, the process of abandonment does at first resemble that that gave us ‘Theatre—not so much.’ For art it’s because of art’s implication in ideology and the politics of gender, race and class. We point to the artistic canon as we do the poetic canon and notice the voices of the excluded. And to champion them, we can’t be going around saying, these excluded voices are non-human, or express the nonhuman. Puncture the dream of human exceptionalism. For the reason it is their inclusion that we want. Diversity. Heterogeneity. Multiplicity. And so on, up to equality and radical democracy. In the arts first, at least.

We don’t rush in with definitions of theatre because … it is political from the start. And this impugns its status as an artform. So first we’d have to lift theatre up, like poetry, raise it to being an artform. Then, taking into account the politics, we’d have to drag it down from its elevated institutional cultural status. Burn down the operahouses, as Boulez said. Cancel culture, as it is now said.

Or like a commentator in New Zealand wrote, the breaking apart of the theatre institutions that occurred from when free-market economic reforms were introduced in New Zealand in 1984 brought about a renaissance of grass-roots activity in theatre. All those voices not previously represented in the big theatres were able to gain support on their own behalf—without the big theatres sucking up the resources—, take the stage, empowering the communities they come from. As the slogan went and has remained: Our stories in our own words.

Do we know that ‘What is theatre?’ is a political question from the first? No. I would say we don’t, but that it is a political question leads us to abandon the definitions we might bring to it, quickly, as Nonhuman leads us to abandon that definition, eventually, for art. Eventually, once we consider the political implications.

Although, I would add there is currently a politics at stake that is exactly nonhuman, a bigger political picture, taking in climate politics. And it is for this reason we might re-designate the Humanities to be the Inhumanities—taking into cognizance also the cultural politics—and art as the art of the nonhuman.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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day 383 – day 444: forget Thought Police & newspeak – it’s time for the NEW MORAL ARMY – in extreme contrast with Janet Malcolm’s double-secret meta – and the arachnocapitalism of the webwork

“the spiders are taking over the interior, and capitalism—that dirty bitch—is still unstoppable and fucking is all up”

— on Antoine Volodine and post-exotic literature, here

and I don’t know if it is appropriate or not. Whether it is entirely inappropriate … for the missed-aches of Volodine, Bassman, Draeger’s postrevolutionary decadence to be marrked by mistakes. Fucking, I suppose, is all up.

Or, like this, when the use of whose goes bad : “Camp 801 in this place was composed mainly of abandoned construction sites and houses whose windows were sealed with bricks or planks, or which were demolished.”

— Manuela Draeger, Eleven Sooty Dreams, Trans. J.T. Mahany, (Rochester, NY: Open Letter, 2021), 107.

“The camp belonged to a distant epoch, that’s all. It had been abandoned, the door had been forever shut and padlocked by its last occupants. The humidity, lunar acidity, terrestrial gravity, silence, and wind had seen to its disintegration.”

— Ibid., 46.

“She couldn’t stop herself from having a sexist thought. It’s often that way with men, she reflected. When the situation is a dead end, they don’t know what to do.”

— Ibid., 120.

RIP Janet Malcolm June 8 1934 -16 June 2021

Writer of my favourite book on psychoanalysis, particularly psychoanalysis as critical method, The Purloined Clinic. In which, as the blurb has it, she expresses her conviction that the best criticism is “an exercise in excess and provocation,” a process of “disfiguring the work of art almost beyond recognition” that allows us to see it in a radically new way.

Janet Malcolm exemplifies “all of the best truth-gathering instincts a journalist can have”–introduction 6’12” aka Crabmeat Pie.

The introduction also considers the meta and meta meta levels to Malcolm’s writing, particularly in its self-critique as journalism. Here the source of the title to this post: double-secret meta for the extreme subtlety of Malcolm’s writing.

13’33” Malcolm reads from 41 False Starts.

Every book I’ve picked up today has involved the disappearance of people. Juan Cárdenas’s Ornamental, in the best scene in the book–not the best idea. The best idea is very close to describing Minus Theatre: it’s the action that creates beauty as its ornament left to itself without a product; some might say an empty gesture, devoid of any meaning, but Cárdenas calls it through one of his unlikely female characters grace.* The best scene is the one where the female character referred to only as Number 4 applies cream to her mother. Her mother lies naked on the floral bedspread. Too many cosmetic surgeries have made her painfully hypersensitive to any sort of covering. And the daughter is required to rub cream over every part of her but the cream is vanishing cream. Erasing cream. And the body starts to smudge under her hands. The flesh does not disappear without effort. Number 4 leaves a mouth. An eye. In the streaked smudge of her mother’s face.

– Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait of
Henrietta Moraes, 1964

Then I was passing a shelf on which Paula Cocozza’s How to be Human was on display. I opened it to the page where the principal character has woken up drenched in sweat. We are told her duvet froths on the floor. The side of her finger is slick with sweat when she runs it between her breasts. And she imagines an early menopause might be induced by the absence of sexual activity. Her boyfriend appears, he walks at her, up the garden into the kitchen, until he presses her, with his new muscles, up against the unit, its knob kneads into her buttock. Just as he slides his finger into the leg of her knickers, like a blade opening a tin, we are told, he starts to disappear. Unlike the mother in Ornamental, he comes away in strips. The description suggests wallpaper or burnt skin and here again an effort in the gradual removal of the pieces, strips coming off his face, revealing underneath the face of the fox. The fox is something like the character’s tutelary spirit animal, as well as an image of an irrational wild sense that is growing in her.

At the end of the same set of shelves was Richard Flanagan’s The Living Sea of Waking Dreams. Here the disappearances of parts of bodies as they fly out through an open window concerns, as in Ornamental, the relationship of mother and daughter. It illustrates the death that is taking the mother away piece by piece but is also an infection that the daughter contracts as pieces of her fly off … or so the frontispiece says. Perhaps in the body of the text nothing quite so literal takes place.

*Ornamental–too much struck me, even as the arbitrary and the necessary are the work’s themes, as being too arbitrary. Too little struck me as necessary, except this idea of the accident of meaning, and of the action to which the beauty produced is ornament, and nothing more–is not the point, target or purpose, but a residuum. Like Francis Bacon’s “slugtrail” of human presence. And where reviewers have contrasted the formal self-consciousness of the doctor’s prose, in a narration that is part doctor’s report and part diaristic, with the informal poetic prose, stream-of-consciousness-like, of his experimental subject and then lover, Number 4, I found hers the more self-conscious, but having the self-consciousness of the author, whose female characters–and characterisations–do not, to me, ring right and I found neither the doctor’s wife nor Number 4 convincing. In the latter’s case, trying too hard for the irrational feminine voice, and a cliché.

These we do have: Adam, Aymer, Oddo, Gilbert, Hemmet, Gerolt, Roger, Hugh, John, Ralf, Nicolas, Wilkin and Watty. These we don’t: Bonnacon, Basilisk, Chimera, Siths, Fauns, Devils, Leucrota, Ghosts and witches folk. Or either foul things in the forest. Or neither objects that don’t obey. Screaming in the houses–that we do. But not little people that are no bigger than a conker. Trees that have voices, never. Hunchbacked longears–that we do too. Childers born with two heads, a pig with six legs, that sort of thing–no, no we do not.

— Edward Carey, “These Our Monsters,” in These Our Monsters: The English Heritage Book of New Folktale, Myth and Legend, 2020.

Ezra Pound, from Canto CXV, “The scientists are in terror”

— ubuweb, sound: https://ubu.com/sound/pound.html

after that brief musical interlude, he goes on. Fails again. Not better. If anything worse. Because what does it mean to us that the Gulf Stream stalls? (aka AMOC – Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – aka a major component of earth’s heat conversion unit – and conveyor belt of minerals and nutrients to the oceans – here)

is that even news anymore?

is a new word required?

a word that would sound like a whimper and build and increase in volume over days months years and decades, so gradually you would not notice it? … that would build into a moan, increasing gradually in volume to a howl …

over years decades becoming shriller … building to a scream and … more years … a shriek …

[this is turning into a children’s picturebook. Picture it!]

louder than a jet, louder than a tornado, rising in pitch to a scream … and …

SCREAMING

yes, I can imagine such a word.

of course, beyond a certain point there is silence. Or simply the sound that is in your head right now.

…a word then that deafens. But thereafter does not so much cause hearing impairment as cognitive dissonance: causing the inability to hear it.

A form of news and therefore information that brings about the state in which it cannot be heard.

Sometimes I think we are in a camp where we are submitting to experiments. Experimental technologies are trialed in the camp because in a camp we are expendable. We voluntarily submit to these experiments because we are in a camp. Not only this, the trials are by no means logical.

The introduction and the withholding of technologies is in fact entirely arbitrary. One day that which we came to rely on as an effective treatment for our ongoing anxiety is withheld. The next month an improvement is introduced, but by this time our anxiety has increased beyond the point that its replacement has any sort of effect. … One month the virtual, the next the placebo, the next the real drug. So that we no longer know, can no longer know, which is which, what is what, because we are in a camp.

We might trial new foods on the populace. We might be told one week that what we were eating the last is no longer available. That it never was. Far from doubt that might lead to questions, we move on, because in a camp.

New policies might come into force that restrict our movement and by way of compensation we may be told we are being kept from harm, from risk of infection, and so on. And by way of compensation, we may be told we no longer need to work, because, by way of compensation, we will be paid as usual, for not going to work. Or, in compensation for our inability to have social contact or indeed any kind of contact with those outside the bounds of our domiciliary arrangements we may be encouraged to find new ways of interacting with others, through devices. We may be encouraged to form relationships with our devices so close they amount to intimacy. We may be required to transfer our intimacy from persons to devices, along with our memory and cognitive faculties.

We are in a camp so that the rules managing us, making for the efficient running of the camp, the country, and so on, are beyond us. We will have to put up with the reasons we are given knowing they are at least partially, if not wholly, untrue, for how things are run. We must endure being told what we know is untrue. While not believing it, we will not fully be able not to believe it. After all, it is we who are in the camp and that explains everything.

We may live and die without ever knowing anything but this. All the rest is subject to change at a moment’s notice, whether it is the truth of the matter or not and while such changes as do occur one moment, day, week or decade are readily deniable the next. No, it has always been like this. Yes, it has always never been otherwise.

The same applies to words: what meant one thing yesterday or last year means something else today and this year, as if it always did. If it means now the opposite to what it did is the same as if the meaning had only shifted by a shade, a fraction. This shift is not even to be accounted a process, it is, as Adler recognises, to do with the imposition of the amorphous.

H.G. Adler on Theresienstadt:*

Although I made an effort to write this book using an untainted German, because of the topic involved–an SS camp set up for Jewish inmates–the text came to reflect and was often subject to the general deterioration of language in the age of mechanical materialism, as well as, in particular, the amorphous, coerced language of the National Socialists and the colloquialisms and written language of Theresienstadt. But the demon that created this camp and left it to vegetate must, certainly, also be conquered linguistically. To show that a sound mind seeks to distance itself from amorphous words and phrases, which have been emptied of meaning, have been perverted to mean their opposite, or are simply wrong, I most often put such terms into quotation marks, even if I make frequent use of them. I purposely placed the glossary–which helps explain the nature of this “ghetto” and also demonstrates what components went into creating the camp’s language–at the beginning and not the end.

Experimentation and Destiny in History

In introducing his essay “Psychology of Life in Theresienstadt” (327), Emil Utz remarks that the camp was an “experiment” like no other, and other prisoners, too, could not avoid the feeling that they had been the objects of a monstrous experiment (91, p. 8a). But this expression should be used only with great caution. Every experiment is premised on conscious preparation and implementation. Yet this hardly was the case in National Socialist Germany, and particularly not in Theresienstadt. The SS leaders were, to be sure, imbued with a fantastical play instinct; they could also be curious and sometimes developed a bizarre love of systematic processes, but in the strict sense, they certainly were not experimenters. One must not be misled by the fact that the reality of the “ghetto” was the result of tendencies that developed into a caricature of a planned economy and thus forced human beings into a network of instructions and prohibitions, to the point that their natural independence virtually vanished and they took on the character of objects of decreed measures.

*from the preface to the first edition of his book, Theresienstadt, 1941-1945: The Face of a Coerced Community, Trans. Belinda Cooper, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017, xxiii, and the second excerpt from chapter 20, entitled “The Psychological Face of the Coerced Community,” 557.

Interesting this phrase Adler uses, mechanical materialism. As a rider on whether conscious agency engages in preparing the arbitrary experiments of our submission, we will say that such agency has been taken out of the hands of those who serve it, who serve in the experiment as the kapos and functionaries, whose governance engages the policies conducing to the experiment in its pursuance. So if we are in a camp it will be due to perfecting techniques that were already in play in Adler’s description–that is, the technical itself, the discourse of technology as a self-contained consciousness. The market after Hayek fulfils the role of the ‘brain.’ That is, it is the locus of rational decision-making preparing the experimentation to which, because in a camp, we submit. Here it is not a matter of our coercion but of our adoption into, as Adler writes, a network of instructions and prohibitions, to the point that our natural independence virtually vanishes and we take on the character of objects of decreed measures, otherwise known as data.

und jetzt das Lied zur Erde

and because minus theatre has not yet performed for the land:

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day 320 – Ideonella Sakaiensis – day 382 – Underland

I have just finished Robert Macfarlane’s Underland, subtitled A Deep Time Journey. It ends with the image of a network. The chapter, ‘The Understorey,’ has already dealt with the wood wide web. So it’s not that kind of network. And in a way it is a social network. Although multimillion-dollar-earning and data-farming corporations have done their best to discredit the notion.

Macfarlane is at Onkalo, the deeptime repository for depleted uranium from nuclear power stations in Finland. There is a documentary, Into Eternity, about this burial site, that, as Macfarlane writes, exists to protect the future from the present. It too is as worth seeing as Underland is worth reading–for the excavation of the problem of living in a humanscaled time, a time scaled to human interests, self-interest, in the age of the Anthropocene. The problem that stuck with me from Into Eternity (available here) is that of communicating with whatever future beings come across the burial sites for uranium. Existing languages are unlikely to survive the millennia separating us from what comes after us.

Macfarlane’s book is an excavation of the problem of the Anthropocene, as it persists from the past into the present and will do so into the future, hence, A Deep Time Journey. Deep in the caverns of Onkalo, not as deep, Macfarlane writes, as he has ever ventured into the earth, but over a thousand feet into the bedrock, on a plastic panel attached to the wall of this ‘hiding place’ that is still under construction, he sees the print of a right hand … “left there at some point for the keeping of balance, for the taking of rest–or just for the making of a mark.” (418)* You can see that Macfarlane’s orientation, despite digging into the prehuman past and the posthuman future, remains humanist.

He writes, recapitulating scenes from earlier in the book, “I think of the black and red hand-prints left on the cave walls at Chauvet, of the red figures of the dancers with their outstretched arms, of the spray-can hand stencil on the catacomb wall in Paris, of Helen reaching a hand down to haul me out of the moulin. I think of the many people I have encountered in and through the underland who have been committed to shared human work rather than to retreat and isolation. Many of them have been mappers, really, of networks of mutual relation, endeavouring to stitch their thinking into unfamiliar scales of time and space, seeking not the scattered jewels of personal epiphany but rather to enlarge the possible means by which people might move and think together across the landscapes, in responsible knowledge of deep past, deep future and the inhuman earth.” (418)

… the scattered jewels of personal epiphany… immediately recalls me to my own efforts, in regard to stitching thought, in encounter with the problem of outside the human, or, what David Abram calls the more-than-human world, in his book, The Spell of the Sensuous, my own efforts, in their failure to make networks and to be able to maintain them except for the briefest of times… that enlarge the possible means by which people might move and think together … in responsible knowledge … and efforts made in mapping mutual relations in the absence of social and cultural institutional recognition that the most basic elemental relations are mutual–those in regard to the elements of warmth, light, air, and of earth, of the earth below our feet, our paws, where the fungal fingers find the roots of trees… The elemental refers here to Lingis’s notion of an elemental imperative that we worked through, with, in Minus Theatre, for the brief time it was in existence. (It would persist, persists notionally perhaps, but for my failure to provide the means for this persistence–

(were it not for the retreat and isolation I have bought into… and in the absence of institutional, cultural support mechanisms for this type of venture. Which is the type of venture Macfarlane records, is his own, but also that of the Paris underground, and… is that of many of the people he meets, stays with, journeys into the underland with, in the writing of his book.)

Then… a book. What is it? … or think about the publication I am currently courting for the writing I am doing outside of this website… Or ask yourself as I do, what can I do, what do I think? What do I think with what comes from the outside the human?

And I like that he calls them, these mappers of networks, those not seeking the scattered jewels of personal epiphany, but I cannot also help recalling Rilke, whom he cites, up in the karst of Northern Italy. Poetry. That effort to go down below the personal strata of experience into the bedrock of human experience… and passing through human experience to find the mutual relations that extend to and subtend all of life. All of living experience.

Benjamín Labatut’s book, which I have been reading alongside Underland, is called When We Cease to Understand the World. And as he mentions Heidegger I don’t think it such a stretch to interpret understand from the title as unterstehen. It is this understanding, this sense of undergoing the world, from its bedrock in the earth, and of supporting its living processes that is invoked in Lingis’s elemental imperative. So that ceasing to understand the world performs a counterpoint to the journey of Macfarlane’s book.

Ceasing to understand the world is what the characters in Labatut’s risk. It is their adventure. And it is so for the efforts they make, the lengths they go to, physically, psychologically, spiritually, to understand the world, but to understand it in that other sense of understanding with which we are more familiar than with Heidegger’s, or Lingis’s that he gets from Heidegger, that Heidegger’s effort was ever the tutelary effort for to de-familiarise. So as to start thinking. To start thinking and so form responsible knowledge. What else is philosophy for?

This familiar sense is understanding irresponsibly for Labatut, for his characters, a misunderstanding that doesn’t understand mutual relations of support and nourishment, that shits in its nest for the sake of Knowledge. For his characters it is mathematical understanding as the bedrock of science that reaches a point where it ceases to understand the world.

It is probably this book’s seriousness, where it abuts up against Macfarlane’s. Fritz Haber, the inventor, father of chemical warfare and of synthetic nitrogen production. The latter enabling the nourishment of an exploding population at the turn of the 20th century. The former enabling the destruction of thousands of men in the field–and animals–and anything that ventured into the released gasclouds–horses, mice, rabbits & men–in the most horrific of ways. Grothendieck’s retreat from the world when he recognises the deep horror at the heart of the heart of mathematical understanding. Heisenberg’s and Schrödinger’s negative epiphanies. Their discoveries coming at the expense of crises, of psychoses. And these all being of the nature of seeking the scattered jewels of personal epiphany only to find in them inordinate and impersonal destructive potential.

Then Macfarlane writes, citing Jebediah Purdy’s After Nature, that humanity does not change its course, science neither, we might say, unless the hand held out is burnt; but the burning is not enough. Humans have also to find something to love. Something to affirm in responsible understanding. (419) What is it?

Macfarlane seems to think humanity needs to love humanity once more–in its social mapping, its networks of responsible understanding.

He also writes: “What did the mountaineer-mystic W.H. Murray say after being released from years spent in German and Italian POW camps? Find beauty, be still.” (241)

*references to Robert Macfarlane, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, (London, UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2019)

to Benjamín Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World, Trans. Adrian Nathan West, (London, UK: Pushkin Press, 2021)

These two NASA pictures show the blue dunes of Mars.

Macfarlane, in his marvelous book–his book of marvels, every chapter–Underland, is in Norway, speaking about the literature of the underland of the early 1800s, when it was believed, by one writer, whom I can’t help think of as capturing in this idea a common belief, in the imaginary of the time, that the earth was a series of concentric spheres, like Dante’s hell, but with the difference that by gaining entry there was under our feet a limitless earth, a limitless series of nested inner earths to exploit, to settle, to discover–in reverse order: to discover new lands, to settle them, and exploit the resources they provided.

Reading this, I couldn’t help thinking of the later science fiction that informs now our cosmology of the multiverse–limitless resources for there being, after every branch in time, another fully perfectly formed ripe universe, all hanging on the same cosmological tree, ready to pick or be picked–and before that the imaginary of the time: other worlds waiting for us to get there, with their opportunities for discovery, settlement and exploitation. Another reverse order of nested boxes of plenty.

So to situate in our time, that I can’t help thinking of tonight as the time of the unexplainable–because it refuses to impart to us its sense and has been set up as a posthuman or nonhuman imaginary. An abdication by it or by us–although it is by us–of human sense-making. Unexplainable. The course of events we now find ourselves locked into. So to situate what was this inner inner earth desire for an underland of riches as for us an outer outer world of … the blue dunes of Mars, of the mineral riches to be found of the moon, of all the astral opportunities on offer through our telescopes.

And worse: to be technologically delivered these riches. Contact with extraterrestrial intelligent to be the fulfillment of this technological delivery. And to deliver our salvation.

From the world’s problems.

When an earlier writer, Eiseley can say, unlike Liu in the The Dark Forest, where to be found is to fall prey to superior civilizations, a universe where to hide successfully is to survive, that Eiseley can say there is no chance of life at all elsewhere than earth given that the chances of it here are infinitesimal. And that despite the infinitesimal probability of life it has here occurred … and is by its own tenets of evolutionary development wiping itself out.

Although written a year almost exactly a year ago, Joseph Nechvatal’s piece, “From Viruses to Algorithms, We Are Always Under Threat,” on the Hyperallergic site, is the smartest I’ve read in dealing with our viral times. (April 19, 2020, here) This is my favourite paragraph:

Locked-down at home, hiding, you are under ever-increasing pressure to conform, to survey, and be surveyed. Probably you are not against this temporary necessity of surveillance and conformity, but these are the perfect conditions in which totalitarianism flourishes. It is ruinous for the creation of daring new art, and effects the shrinking of places that exhibit nonconformist acts of imaginative spontaneity. You may pour your aesthetic energies into your stay-at-home work, but algorithmic cultural calculus is an obstacle you must overcome to realize your aesthetic freedom. Pathetically, algorithm-driven popular culture that uses optimization-driven, actor-critic, neural network for deep learning emotion analysis (such as Apache MXNet, the deep learning framework in Amazon) puts your cultural choices to work even in your imposed quarantined space of leisure. Probably you have little access to art with which to inoculate yourself and think unpredictably with. You dwell in a viral copy culture of increasing cultural homogenization as Google tracks and guides your tastes.

— Joseph Nechvatal, Hyperallergic

It is my favourite for asking the question with what art to inoculate ourselves and with what to think unpredictably?

This inoculation of the virus is like the virus in the sense Nechvatal imagines it to be both medium and message: unpredictable thinking is that with which you inoculate yourself to think unpredictably with it. You inoculate yourself with a nonconformist act of imaginative spontaneity so as to be able to engage in a nonconformist act of imaginative spontaneity. This act is an art act. It is not a performative. Despite the resemblance between the viral (being both medium and message) and the performative there is a difference. It is an act.

Before considering how it works, how, you might say, art works, to stand against the copy format, so that, in face of contemporary art’s challenging stimulus, you enter into yourself and re-emerge with expanded capacities you never knew were there, as Nechvatal writes, I want to say what I disagree with in this piece, either because it is too predictable or because it compounds what Jarry writes of as the powers of the Disembraining Machine.

Andrew Murphie, in a nice essay, “Bicycling to the Limits of Being: Deleuze and Guattari’s machinic thought, Heidegger, and Alfred Jarry’s time travel,” has it that the Disembraining Machine provides the “full Heideggerian nightmare” by attempting to construct systems of total machinic enslavement. What Nechvatal calls totalitarianism.

Although Murphie associates the Disembraining Machine with contemporary cognitivist culture that is a contemporary embraining of the brain I see this cognitivism as itself symptomatic of a displacement of cognition onto the market-brain, the market insofar as it is site of speculation, thought, at as-close-to-the-speed-of-light as contemporary computation (the stakes in this computation being speed and power of computation, speed as power), with which cognitivism aligns itself, can manage. So as to be an active choice of disembraining to attain the advantages of the acceleration in rates of data calculation afforded by the machine. All the rest is infographics.

…aka propaganda… the subject in Nechvatal’s view remains the human. Only in the human world are the characteristics of algorithmic digital viruses transferable to the molecular variety. I want to pause here to consider what this means for the machinic that is Guattari’s invention, since in Guattari’s view machinism is not special to the human world but is a fact of the world outside the human. What takes the machine from human to more than human is its asignifying capacities, its nonperformance of communication, of the communication of meaning, its nonperformativity, but that it acts, its activity. This activity is against the machine of cognitivism–that is, the brain. Against the brain’s understanding as it is commonly understood. And with the brain, against the social network as being modeled on the brain, the brain a network, the three networks: psychic, social and that of the life of the planet, the living planet.

Guattari’s three ecologies and his machines are indifferent to the moralism, the anthropocentric moralism, in its understanding of the brain, the network and the world.

This is then where I depart from Nechvatal, since it is only in the all-too-human world, which valorises symbolic exchange, that the metaphor can be sustained of the computer virus and the molecular virus, of the one transposable–wilfully? poetically? artistically?–into or onto the other. Not only do I maintain that they are mutually irreducible, I find art to be a work of the outside the human. Not an inoculation. An exoculation.

Consider painting–Herzog’s homo spiritualis of Chauvet; never is, never has been homo sapiens: has never known anything–and how painting thinks–or to recapitulate the less common sense of understanding, how painting understands. What the hand of the painter has to undergo is becoming mineral. Because pigment is always at heart a matter of minerals.

In other words, this old art form, painting, is not the awakening of modern human awareness as Herzog in his Cave of Forgotten Dreams at first has it. It is the awakening of nonhuman awareness. Of a mineral thinking. Of what Deleuze calls anorganic life: life in the understanding of the outside the human. That is, the nonhuman.

And perhaps we can think of this as spiritual.

— from here

https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/16-06-2016/five-things-i-was-thinking-about-while-writing-mysterious-mysteries-of-the-aro-valley-an-essay-by-danyl-mclauchlan/

Tranquility and Ruin.* There is an aspect to Danyl McLaughlan’s book that is he has gone there so that you don’t have to. Like Louis Theroux, in the porn industry. But, like Louis Theroux, in porn, why would you want to?

That McLaughlan chooses to, makes me suspicious. Nowhere more so than in the hope industry of the effective altruists. Here’s the webpage: Using reason and evidence to do the most good. Not the webpage for the book but for the hope addicts who support this industry. Like the porn addicts who support that industry.

(Incidentally, hope addiction has been statistically verified to be the number one killer of spontaneous creative acts in the developed world. It is, as they say, a first world problem.)

What do I suspect McLaughlan of? is it naivety? No.

As D. pointed out to me, what hooks you in to McLaughlin’s studiedly plain prose (read: refuses to flatter itself with an intellectual posing pouch by refusing to fill (an intellectual) one) is that his own neuroses keep manifesting. He keeps breaking in to his narrative with his own indecision, depression, twisty fuckupedness. D. finds this, although it is more distasteful than charming, disarming. It makes me want to throw the book against the wall. No. I wanted to read about this evidence of the disembraining machine at work. The disembraining of cognition–using reason and evidence–at the hand of cognitivism (see above).

To cleanse my subjecto-aesthetico-political palate, I wanted to re-read Josh Cohen’s Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. The injunction held in Cohen’s title seems eminently more sensible, practicable, reasonable and self-evident than anything in Tranquility and Ruin. Just stop! What your body and mind are telling you in your breakdown is that you have to stop working. Or trying to work. Or trying to be useful. And above all don’t try and do any good: end your addiction to hope.

(This could also be Rob Doyle’s message in his novels … but they are about the addiction to hopelessness or nihilism that only affirms the addiction to hope: like giving up is part of the addiction, to smoking, for example.)

McLaughlin cannot imagine any alternative to capitalism. This is reasonable evidence that the full Heideggerian nightmare has already occurred: isomorphic with capitalism, cognitivism is the system of total machinic enslavement.

Not by coincidence do we find ourselves experimental subjects in the capital-concentration camp. (This is why I envy Antoine Volodine his “anarcho-fantasist post-exoticism” and it makes me think that in a way Murray Edmond may have been right when he said to me that he didn’t consider the last century to be the American but to be the Russian Century. We had just been talking about Ernie Abbott.)

*Anyl McLaughlin, Tranquility and Ruin, (Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press, 2021).

“Unlike other species, we have cosmological belief systems that give meaning to experience and to events like the death of a loved one.” said Professor Nicole Bovin on the oldest human burial found in Africa, here.

“your local shopping centre is actually an elaborate sound collage lampooning the cacophony of commerce”

— Ben Beaumont-Thomas, from here.

from here

https://aeon.co/videos/time-is-fundamental-space-is-emergent-why-physicists-are-rethinking-reality?

Lee Smolin on a universe of events: cf. Hanjo Berressem’s Gilles Deleuze’s Luminous Philosophy (companion volume = Félix Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Ecology) the light on the other side of the dark is the plane of immanence.

On feelings:

“I see it like this,” Benedikt said. Where other people had feelings–in their head, their heart, wherever–he had … He hesitated.

“Well?”

“Things.”

“Things?”

“Things wrapped up. Like little, dark, shapeless presents.”

“And you don’t want to unwrap them?”

“I wouldn’t know where to start.”

[this is a conversation, although a bizarre conversation, as the participants recognise, between a male and a female–both detectives]

— from Oliver Bottini, The Dance of Death, Trans. Jamie Bulloch, (London, UK: Maclehose Press, 2019), 179. The original work has the much more original title, Im Auftrag der Väter.

On the dance of death:

At night the dreams came, for years. … [he] would wake up sobbing and always told them the same dream–hundreds, thousands of men, his father among them, dancing in the rain in a clearing, very slowly as if they were hanging from threads, like puppets being operated in slow motion, and they appeared to laugh and be happy. But then in his dream [he] realised that the men and his father were “dancing” because they were being shot at, bullets peppering their bodies. They were crying, not laughing, and then he saw them die.

— Ibid., 274.

The Man

 (He did more than twenty portraits of the man.)

You could be the Pope and not be able to stop it.

“Anarcho-fantastic post-exoticism.” 

The Nativist Programme

first start with indigeneity. Move on with this as if it is a political programme. (Don’t worry. It will be.)

although truth be told, not a political programme so much as a function or output of ideological programming.

indigeneity itself will perform this function, since it can assume the character of an ideological+political progamme+that of a corrective, positively to discriminate itself from the function reserved to it. The it will come

so from the start we can say, indigeneity as method.

official institutional endorsement is essential. As it has been so will it be–recognising the indigenous at last.

This, then, finality–meaning we can say, finally recognition! Recognition for:

  1. the nativist identity–where it all starts
  2. its mode of address–language
  3. inferring from these, identity+linguistic subject, a set of values to be restored. Finally!
  4. feedback loop between items 1 & 3.

an organisation–adopting indigeneity methodically to euphemise for, to give oversight to oversights, and gross mistakes, translating them into a native idiom that is also nativist: mining a “deep vein of xenophobia and nativism” and “protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants.”

striking wordage on mass email app:

NEW AGE EMAIL MARKETING AT AGE OLD PRICING

Level up your email marketing game using our futurist technology at a one-time low fee.

No recurring fee and no success tax!

SKY’S THE LIMIT

– from here

R.I.P. Anita Lane 18 March 1960 – 28 April 2021

wow, the google search returns: Also known as: Dirty

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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 285 – 295 dears protect me. And: Who is … ? or Hooton hears a hayek

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works of subversion, of critical subversion, of the dominant digital culture, works critically subverting, for the minority interested in such things, the domination of digital culture, as clever as they are, sometimes ingenious, remain as clever and ingenious as the objects of their critique, they remain as a paean to human ingenuity, forgetful of the other species who lack that ingenuity, but, still, who underwrite the ongoing survival of this clever ape

We have no confidence in this attempt at the man in full.

— email from Christopher Hitchens’s widow and agent to all who would act in complicity with his biographer, Stephen Phillips or the publisher of the proposed bio, W.W. Norton

Who is … ? or Hooton hears a hayek

Matthew Hooton, a PR consultant1, writing the Politics column for the NZ Herald of 5 February 2021 (PR–with the bloody beating heart of politics in its hands), warns that the Climate Change Commission’s advice to government, if followed, would make 1984’s reforms seem like kid’s stuff. He says the report, prepared under the chair of Rod Carr–the Rogernome in question–“combines the chilling indifference of the most swivel-eyed 1980s Rogernome with the absolute certainty in analytic ability of the hardest-line Soviet apparatchik.”

Rod Carr himself shown in the photo beside the column looks more like Tolstoy in his muzhik phase than any apparatchik–that or a Roger-Gnome. But the language is striking in its evocation of another era altogether.

carr, with symbolism

“Give Carr,” Hooton writes, “a ready-made ideology, whether written by Friedrich Hayek or Arne Naess, and he undoubtedly has the intellectual capacity to drive it to its logical end.” While the intelligence is not doubted, the wisdom is. “[Simon] Upton,” Hooton continues, “now Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has always displayed similar fervour, making the same transition from free-market radical to deep-green mandarin.” This is a striking observation, about mandarins … but it has nothing to do with Arne Naess’s whose deep ecology cannot be called an ideology, and whose injunctions on public debate I am here breaking–avoid tendentious quoting, he says. Avoid tendentious use of straw men.

It has everything to do with Hayek, as a lot does since the war, except the war. It has not least to do with the era in which he propounded his thesis.

this is hayek

Apart from sounding the alert about the dangers of communism (“Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion”)–like Henny Penny (the sky actually was falling)–Hayek wrote: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men [sic] how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” (The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, 1988) He also said that if socialists studied economics they would not be socialists. Or deep-green mandarins.

Hooton writes the “commission says bluntly that some businesses will need to be closed, but says the benefits of climate action must be shared across society, and for the costs not to fall unfairly on certain groups of people.” I’m not sure what he means, and suspect a meddlesome sub. But then he goes on, and this is the Hayekian bit:

“To achieve this [sharing both costs and benefits of climate action equally?], [the commission] says we must consider the connectivity between “the material and non-material”, between “the people, the land, the atmosphere and the oceans” and indeed “the connectedness of all things, including the past, present and future”. It claims to have in fact taken all this into account when setting budgets for each gas and advice for each industry.2

“No human mind can do this, as understood by everyone but fanatics.”

I think that bears repetition: No human mind can do this, as understood by everyone but fanatics.

But what about a deep-green mandarin who has the intellectual capacity to drive a ready-made ideology to its logical end?

Hooton recommends that Carr move back to his “old belief in using prices to gather information and markets to make decisions.” This is despite the Letter from the Chair, the Carr-seat, stating on page 3 of the report, “As a country we should use only our fair share of the remaining global carbon budget,” and despite budgets referred to throughout the report being not financial but carbon. So that a market does seem to be at issue, one where carbon–and its emission in the form of gases–is monetised in order that price information can be used by that market to make decisions.

Hooton signs off with, “The Soviet economics he seems to have adopted…” this is Rod Carr he’s talking about “…more recently…” seems to have adopted more recently, or, more recently “…has a record unparalleled in history…” ? “…not just of causing unnecessary disruption and incalculable costs…” incalculable! “…but of delivering everything but what the policy-maker intended. There’s only 37 working days to tell him so.”

Only 37 working days to work up a parallel history to show that the record of these Soviet economics Carr–he’s only chair of the Commission mind you–has more recently adopted, or, these that more recently have a record of producing everything but what the policy-maker intended–the report contains only advice not policy mind you–and of causing disruption that is unnecessary, probably because it involves action on climate, the costs of which are incalculable, despite the best efforts of the report to calculate them.

But only fanatics could! Only the fanatical would attempt to! No human mind could do so.

However, and this is the clincher for Hayek’s thinking, what no human mind can do, except the fanatical, the market can, using the mechanism of price to gain information. And this is in fact exactly what the Climate Change Report proposes. With the rider that the auction reserve and cost containment reserve price triggers in the NZ ETS need to be higher and that the price corridor they signal should be sufficiently wide, precisely, to allow price discovery by the market to occur and to factor in inflation to prevent the price levels from eroding in real terms.3

The belief underlying the Climate Change Commission’s Report on climate change is in its quantifiability in keeping with current economic thinking. The problem is seen as one belonging to the carbon economy. This is the economy that trades in carbon stock, storage and the reductions of its release into the atmosphere quite apart from any deleterious effects it may have there. When the sky is actually falling.

The report and the advice it contains refuses the political courage that in a time of plague protected NZ from its worst effects in favour of an economics in mitigation of those effects.

This leaves open the question of what is driving Hooton’s attack on Carr, which offers the grotesque spectacle of an Hayekian using Hayek to attack an Hayekian. How many Hayeks could an Hayekian Hayek if an Hayekian could Hayek Hayek? As understood by everyone except fanatics, no human mind can do what a market can.

Meanwhile, in a parallel history in the multifactualmediawurst, advertising himself on Twttter and weighing in at a healthy midbeard length, seemingly unaware of Hooton’s PR pro bono work for Carr, in the same newspaper the day after, Simon Wilson plays down the red scare Hooton hacks up.

…”the most shocking thing about the CCC report is that it isn’t very shocking. … The proposals seem, somehow, obvious.” (Saturday 6 February 2021, Weekend Herald)

Wilson concedes they will be lifechanging. But he is fearless, looking down the barrel of a “mere 1 per cent per year hit on GDP”. It’s like it’s a barrel of fun–“a mountain of new economic opportunities”–and Carr is a barrel of monkeys.

But, scarily, “lurking between the lines on those 188 pages”, and likely what has stirred the Hooton from its hole, “the hope that we’ll do it using good democratic processes.” Like cheese. I suppose.

carr with cheese

Carr ends the interview thumping on his tub so hard Wilson can’t decipher the words, having, perhaps, got beardlash from Carr. “And then it was over.” Wilson writes. “He walked off into the bright sunshine, a little skip in his step. Let the debate commence.

“Read the report. Submit on the report.”

Or just submit.

  1. “The eloquent, sometimes angry, dependably provocative commentator from the free-market right of politics. The bête noire of very many on the other side [sic]. The founder and owner of Exceltium, a political PR firm, a role which his detractors contend should disqualify him from …” – for who Hooton is see here
  2. The oddity of a budget for “each gas” has sort of been addressed earlier in the article, having to do with “emissions reductions” in the Commission’s report, itself a grammatical oddity, since it is not a question of the reduction of emissions such as the addition of an apostrophe would express, as in emissions’ reductions.
  3. The relevant passage is taken with minor alterations from page 131 of the report. NZ ETS–New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme–is a carbon market towards decarbonisation (a favourite word of the report), that is, turning a negative to positive account, for the sake of measurement, by price, that is monetisation. But this magical trick is not without the consequence that the new positive will then obediently go back to being a negative.

, it is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds …

, email us with your favourite historical lovers.

— from Auckland Art Gallery’s newsletter promoting Ammonite.

and now to end with the very quite music of Lotte Laserstein’s Abend Über Potsdam (Evening Over Potsdam), 1928:

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