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the déjà vu of an extensive and multifarious declaration of perplexity, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, The Shape of the Ruins, the past that is ruined, in its jealousy, by the present’s 2 minutes hate

… the worst vices of our digital societies: intellectual irresponsibility, proud mediocrity, implausible denigration with impunity, but most of all verbal terrorism, the schoolyard bullying the participants got involved in with incomprehensible enthusiasm, the cowardice of all aggressors who used pseudonyms to vilify but would never repeat their insults out loud. … our modern and digital version of the Two Minutes Hate: that ritual in Orwell’s 1984, in which they project an image of the enemy and the citizens give themselves over to physical aggression (they throw things at the screen) and verbal aggression (they insult, shriek, accuse, defame), and then go back to the real world feeling free, unburdened and self-satisfied.

— Juan Gabriel Vásquez, The Shape of the Ruins, translated by Anne McLean, 2018, pp. 180-181

– Gordon Matta-Clark

I don’t know when I started to realise that my country’s past was incomprehensible and obscure to me, a real shadowy terrain, nor can I remember the precise moment when all that I’d believed so trustworthy and predictable–the place I’d grown up, [the] language I speak and customs I know, the place [the] past [of which] I was taught in school and in university, [with a] present I have become accustomed to interpreting and pretending I understand–began to turn into a place of shadows out of which jumped horrible creatures as soon as we dropped our guard. With time I have come to think that this is the true reason why writers write about their early youth: you don’t write about what you know and understand, and much less do you write because you know and understand, but because you understand that all your knowledge and comprehension are false, a mirage and an illusion, so your books are not, could not be, more than elaborate displays of disorientation: extensive and multifarious declarations of perplexity.

— Ibid., p. 439

– Majestic Theatre, Wellington, 1987

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Rodrigo Garcia: Gabo, Mercedes & an image of death as impenetrable, as object of a singular encounter, as departure

each person has their own singular encounter, not just with the deceased but also with the event itself, … death … Nobody can be denied their relationship to it, their membership in that society. And death as something that is, rather than as the lack of something, is sobering to behold. That seems to be the case even for the nurses in the room. They go about their business, but it seems to me that they are now in their heads, unable to avoid reflection. It’s not an occurrence that must ever get old.

— Rodrigo Garcia, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes: A Son’s Memoir, 2021, printed in the typeface of Sabon, created by Jan Tschichold between 1964 and 1967, p. 59.

The men move expertly, but nothing in their demeanor betrays any excessive familiarity, let alone boredom, with a task that they have performed innumerable times, with people of all ages and in all circumstances. Their attitude imbues the task with dignity. It’s what even strangers do always and everywhere for people who have died: take care of their bodies with seriousness. As he is carried down the stairs slowly, the stretcher has to be tilted until it is almost vertical, to negotiate the turn at the landing. For a moment I imagine my father upright, as if at attention, unseen and unseeing in the dark. We are all standing at the top or at the bottom of the stairs, watching in silence. Only my mother is seated, looking on, inscrutable. Unlike the death earlier, or the cremation later that evening, the feelings regarding this moment are devoid of mystery. They cut to the bone: he is leaving home, and he will never return.

— Ibid., p. 73.

The captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintery frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.

— Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, at ibid., p. 105.

The sight of my father’s body entering the cremation chamber is mesmerizing and numbing. It feels both impossibly pregnant and meaningless. The only thing I can feel with any certainty at that moment is that he is not there at all. It remains the most impenetrable image of my life.

— Ibid., p. 84.

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antinomy–or the opposite is true, even the opposite of the opposite, oddly

Narratives of crisis emplot events to create a meaningful sequence. The way they construct this sequence is prior to and entails the choice of explanatory mechanisms and the fingering of guilty parties. To speak about “post-truth,” declining trust in science, and/or the “death of expertise” is to sketch the faint outlines of a sequence, a set of slots into which the usual suspects will slip naturally and self-evidently. The sequence of events is linear, leading to a break: a long-term process of decline that ultimately leads to a “collapse of the relationship between experts and citizens,” a breakdown of trust that threatens to send “democracy itself [into…] a death spiral.” Sketched in this way, the linear sequence implies a culprit: the “foundation of all these problems,” the soil in which all the other dysfunctions have taken root and prospered,” is the “abysmal literacy, both political and general of the … public.” The public is worse than a phantom; it is willfully ignorant. Enter the Great Multiplier–the internet and social media–and the secular trend combusts into full-fledged crisis: “a google-fueled, wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laypeople.”

— Gil Eyal, The Crisis of Expertise, (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2019), 82.

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“That the Holocaust…” —Jacqueline Rose: on getting stuck inside your mind by experience, as a traumatic diktat

…could have become a premise–that is, a proposition which produces its own logical conclusions–is striking, or rather strikingly different from seeing it, for example, as unrepresentable atrocity, as unassimilable, or barely admissable trauma in the way Judith Butler, citing Primo Levi, has so powerfully described…

— Jacqueline Rose, The Last Resistance, 2017, p. 214

— Antoni Tàpies, lithograph

As I thought about it, it seemed to me that the idea of ‘premises’ as diktat over the future might also do as a working definition of trauma. When I was studying Sylvia Plath a long time ago, and trying to understand the appearance of the Holocaust motif in her writing as something other than the opportunism of which she was accused, I read an article by German psychoanalyst Ilse Grubrich-Simitis on working with second-generation Holocaust survivors that has stayed with me ever since. She described how the language of these patients was characterised by a dull, thudding referentiality, with no mobility or play, as if they were saying–in a way only made clear after the most difficult analytic listening–‘this happened,’ ‘happened‘ ‘happened‘ over and over again, to compensate for the silence, the psychic refusal to acknowledge the reality of the Holocaust, in the generation before. And in one of his evocative articles, ‘The Trauma of Incest’ of 1989, psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas describes how trauma shuts down the mind of the patient. The problem is not believing what they say, but the fact that that is all they have to say, so that there is nowhere else left for them to go inside their minds.

— Ibid., 215

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LOVE AFTER LOVE
by Derek Walcott

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself

at your own door, in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you



all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,



the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

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some lines out of Marina & Sergey Dyachenko’s Vita Nostra from the dark academy & the Ukraine + two works by Ivan Marchuk

Everything would amalgamate in front of her eyes, and then clear again. Strange harsh outlines swam out of the darkness. Sasha saw a city, sharp roof peaks, intertwined ropes and wires; one-dimensional creatures, brown like coffee grounds, jumped over them like fleas on unwashed hair. Resembling check marks drawn with a thick brown marker on a list of groceries, they twitched their legs, wriggled, and then made sudden jerky movements. Sasha would never be able to explain why she found these creatures so repulsive, but every time she shuddered at their appearance.

“Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Thirty-three…”

At “sixty,” the brown check mark insects would notice that they were being watched. They saw or felt Sasha’s presence and crawled closer, up to her very eyes, and moving her head was impossible.

Perfectly defined graphical landscapes unfolded in the background: mountains, arches, building, and towers, a gorgeous and sinister city. The oily pavement glistened, like a carbon-black ear of corn. From one fragment to another the distant landscape changed, filled with details, became three-dimensional; the amount of brown check marks grew with it. They threw themselves at Sasha, like a cluster of starving bedbugs. Lacking arms, unable to breathe, she chased them away the only way she had at her disposal–by concentrating. By staring.

— Marina & Sergey Dyachenko, Vita Nostra, translated by Julia Meitov Hersey, 2018, pp. 215-216

– Ivan Marchuk, From the series New expressions 1994-1997 #431

“Nikolay Valerievich…”

“Yes?”

“Am I no longer human?”

“And why is it so important to you?”

Sasha looked up. Sterkh sat across the table from her, calm, benign. His ash-blond hair framed his pale triangular face in two parallel lines.

“I’m serious, Sasha: what is so important about being human? Is it because you simply haven’t experienced anything else?”

“I’m used to it.” Sasha looked down.

— Ibid., pp. 260-261

– Ivan Marchuk, Warning, 1986

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Arriaga, writer of Iñárritu’s “Trilogy of Death,” the films, Amores perros, 21 Grams & Babel, his immersive novel, The Untameable, some lines from it illustrated with works by David Gremard Romero

With pain, at least it feels as though that part of the body is still alive. Numbness is a near certainty that something in you has died.

— Guillermo Arriaga, The Untameable, translated by Frank Wynne & Jessie Mendez Sayer, 2021, p.13

– David Gremard Romero

the story of David and Absalom … Faulkner had written a novel inspired by it. “And if Faulkner chose it, it’s because it’s ambiguous and intense,” …

In the Bible story, Absalom sends his servants to murder his half-brother Amnon, who has raped his sister Tamar. For his crime, and because of issues of succession, Absalom comes into conflict with his father, King David, and raises a revolt against him at Hebron. It pains the king to be at war with his son. There is no ceasefire between the two armies. King David’s followers find themselves at an advantage: Absalom is surrounded and tries to flee on a mule, and the mule walks underneath the thick boughs of a great oak, and his hair is tangled in the branches, and he is taken up between Heaven and Earth; and the mule he is riding walks away. Absalom is found by Joab, the king’s commander, who orders his summary execution. When King David hears that his son Absalom has been killed, he greatly sorrows and goes into the chamber above the gate, and weeps; and as he goes, he says: “Oh Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would god I had died for thee, Oh Absalom, my son, my son!” But Joab rebukes the king, saying that Absalom had been a fierce and implacable foe; this was no time for remorse, but for retaking of power and regaining the respect of his subjects. Overcome with grief, but resolute, King David decides to retake command.

— Ibid., p. 165

– David Gremard Romero

The Good Boys believed that the Devil was slowly leeching into the modern world, corrupting humanity and distancing Man from god. It was their moral duty to stop this. They were the vanguard of the evangelical moral army that would halt the Fall of Man.

— Ibid., p. 164, against which I noted, forget Thought Police. Hail the New Moral Army.

– David Gremard Romero

“You can take the tiger out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the tiger.” I understood Borges and Spinoza: the tiger eternally wants to be a tiger.

— Ibid., p. 196

A lion does not wonder whether it is a lion. It is a lion.

— Ibid., p. 197

– David Gremard Romero

While he was hunting Nujuaqtutuq he had forgotten the golden rule: stop every hundred metres and look behind you, because the landscape you see ahead is not the same as the landscape you leave behind.

— Ibid., p. 285

– David Gremard Romero

The doctor grudgingly wrote [Chelo] a prescription and we stopped at a drugstore to buy contraceptive pills.

The woman behind the counter seemed reluctant to hand them over. She slid them across surreptitiously, as if they were illegal drugs. As Chelo was paying, the woman leaned closer: “Let god be the one to decide whether or not you have children, not you.” Chelo glared at her. “If that’s true, then let god be the one to tell me,” Chelo said.

— Ibid., p. 674

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five questions to assess whether you are human

…”five questions Laurie Anderson had shared with [Sam Anderson], “a sort of test that she uses to figure out whether a piece that she’s working on is good or not. And she said she thinks about this every single creative project, every single medium, whether it’s a song or a painting or some kind of talking sculpture …

‘Is it complicated enough?

‘Is it simple enough?

‘Is it crazy enough?

‘Is it beautiful enough?

‘And finally, Is it stupid enough?’

“And I thought that was kind of a great criteria for proceeding with life, with whatever you are doing.”

— from here, bigness and formatting added

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Camille Paglia & others in Electric Ghost

I recommend David G. Hughes’s interview with Camille Paglia from an online magazine I will be reading more of … when I’ve finished the Cristi Puiu interview… Electric Ghost is here

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a musical interlude on the harlem river

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