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

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

— Dubravka Ugrešić, from her website, https://www.dubravkaugresic.com/

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

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

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

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

luz es tiempo
National Scandal
network critical

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T H E___D E E P

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




3 March 2023
– Hiroshi Sugimoto

luz es tiempo
point to point

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

Hay que hundir las palabras en la realidad

hasta hacerlas delirar como ella.

You have to bury the words in reality,

make them hallucinate the way reality does.

- José Galván

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


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

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

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

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

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

- Juan Gelman

– Valerio Bispuri, from Encarrados

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Joan Miró, Metamorphosis, 1936


— Alsadir, op. cit., 297

luz es tiempo

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“Everything that matters is outside.”

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

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

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

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

here’s some bits of the book I enjoyed:

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

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

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

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

— Op.cit., p. 149

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

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

— Ibid., p. 144

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

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

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

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

— Ibid., p. 39

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

— Ibid., pp. 39-40

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

— Ibid., p. 25

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

— Ibid., p. 9

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

— Ibid., p. 8

luz es tiempo

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in between time

Bastarda takes us on another musical journey, this time delving into Hasidic Nigunim. These mystical Jewish songs, almost always sung without lyrics, originated in the Hasidic revival movement of the 18th century and often drew from local music patterns and traditions. Ecstatic dancing and singing of nigunim was a way for the Hasidim to enter “the chamber of God”. Drawing mainly from the legacy of the Modzitz dynasty, as well as from the collection of Hasidic songs discovered by the musicologist Moshe Bieregowski, Bastarda brings out the beauty of Jewish melodies, filtering them through its unique and mature artistic language. The non-verbal nature of the Hasidic songs allows for free improvisation and a more personal form of expression, while their internal narrative force is just as inspiring. Without the use of words, they tell stories of joy and sorrow, of life lived in its full sensual spectrum, therefore embodying the essence of Hasidism, which always fluctuated between waiting for the end of the world and a joyful, almost ecstatic affirmation of life.

The mystical Hasidic compositions create a space in which the musicians move with ease, elegance, understanding and tenderness, creating cutting-edge, outstanding work of great power and beauty. [emphasis added to see below]

I was on z/s/f uckerbook the other day, using someone else to explain something to myself.

The post was about Martin Hägglund, presumably in relation to his book,

This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, which I hadn’t read, in relation to time. It was like, I think Hägglund is right, time is all we’ve got and it’s how we use time that gives value to our lives…

and I was like, but it’s the inbetween time that matters, time out of time.

I was thinking about the stammer in time, the processing pause, of for example being about to fall down a flight of steps and seeing one’s life flash before one’s eyes… when time speeds up or stops altogether, when we are not acting but subject to time… and I was thinking about cinematic time. So I said something about that and had in mind also what I’d written another time about how cinematic metaphors predominate in descriptions of time since the rollout of the technical means to replay the unrepeatable, to record and repeat chunks of time, recognisable as those chunks and no others for the repetition (the mystery of the shot) of chaotic and natural movement in them. The passage of a cloud in the background is just that cloud on just that day at just that time that the foreground action was being registered technically. It’s just that we’re used to this now so we don’t spend our time marvelling at the art of time but look to where the action is at…

and this Hägglund thing seemed to be talking about where the action is at and not the art of time at all.

I had a look at the book online and I thought, Hägglund’s time is cinematic time.

Hägglund is like a movie director directing a movie towards his authentic vision.

…in explanation, I should add that the use of time seen to have value was that where the time is truly one’s own, and genuine, authentic.

I’d also commented maybe there maybe somewhere else, in view of a time of one’s own, that it wasn’t Bergson or Heidegger worrying at me, but Lou Reed, You made me forget myself … Perfect Day.

and just checking on the lyric just now I’m reminded of those lyrics that get me every time I hear that song and that follow,

I thought I was someone else

Someone good


which is not so unlike Hägglund’s finding of moral betterment and authenticity in a better use of time, although, I was like, doesn’t this mean time off, or in between times, not clock time is genuine, alive & free? Free time that is not useful time, can it be ‘used’ or used up? and,

Hägglund’s time is cinematic time.

Hägglund is like a movie director directing a movie towards his authentic vision.

time that is truly one’s own and authentic, well, when is time truly one’s own? and isn’t that other sort of time when we really get it, get time? when the ego is free? and when the time is free of the ego? and when the time is free?

anyway, what I wanted to say is that the quote above gets the kind of time I’m talking about that is not cinematic time, not Hägglund’s time that is there to use, to make one’s own, to be authentic in, or to project oneself into…

the context of the above quote is everything. It’s about music.

Now, when does music occur?

in particular, the music of Bastarda? The name comes from viola bastarda. It means highly virtuosic and extemporaneous musical composition.

virtuosic has links to virtual, meaning, as I understand it, dipping or diving into the time that is not expressible in cinematic metaphors but may actually be the time of cinema because cinema is an art of time

the quote in question goes, …”embodying the essence of Hasidism, which always fluctuated between waiting for the end of the world and a joyful, almost ecstatic affirmation of life.”

always fluctuating between waiting for the end of the world and a joyful, almost ecstatic affirmation of life seems to me the best description of a time that cannot be used up, that is useless and excessive, subject to



where ecstatic is like what Lou Reed sings

luz es tiempo

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“Do you know what it is to feel marginalized, forbidden, buried alive at the age of thirty, thirty-five, when you can really begin to be a serious writer, and thinking that the marginalization is forever, to the end of time, or at least until the end of your fucking life?” – Leonardo Padura’s The Man Who Loved Dogs short excerpts, illustrated

… Asturias, where things were steaming following the drastic abolition of currency and private property and the creation of a proletarian army.

— Leonardo Padura, The Man Who Loved Dogs, translated by Anna Kushner, p.80

With arguments that were perhaps more passionate than rational, Lev Davidovich [Trotsky] tried to convince the Frenchman [André Breton] that a dog feels love for its owner. Hadn’t many stories about that love and friendship been told? If Breton had met Maya [a borzoi] and seen her relationship with him, perhaps he would have a different opinion. The poet said that he understood it and clarified that he also loved dogs, but the feeling came from him, the human. A dog, at best, could show that it made a distinction based on how humans treated it: by being afraid of the human being who could cause him pain, for example. But if they accepted that the dog was devoted to someone, they had also to admit that the mosquito was consciously cruel when it bit someone, or that the crabwalk was deliberately retrograde… Although he didn’t convince him, Lev Davidovich liked the surrealist image of the purposefully retrograde crab.

… Lev Davidovich was the one to blame for Breton’s physical and intellectual freeze: the secretary called it “Trotsky’s breath on your neck,” which, he said, was capable of paralyzing anyone who had a relationship with him since, according to van Heijenoort, exposure to his way of living and thinking unleashed a moral tension that was almost unbearable. Lev Davidovich didn’t realize this, because he had been demanding that of himself for many years, but not everyone could live day and night facing all the powers in the world: fascism, capitalism, Stalinism, reformism, imperialism, all religions, and even rationalism and pragmatism. If a man like Breton confessed to him that he was out of reach and ended up paralyzed, Lev Davidovich had to understnad that Breton was not to blame; rather, Comrade Trotsky, who had withstood everything he had to withstand all those years, was an animal of another species. (“I should hope I’m not a cruel mosquito or a reactionary crab,” Lev Davidovich commented to the secretary.)

— Ibid., pp. 350-351

– Diego Rivera, Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) & André Breton

“How is it possible for a writer to stop feeling like a writer? Worse still, how can he stop thinking like a writer? How is it that in all this time you didn’t dare to write anything? …”

“It didn’t occur to me because it couldn’t occur to me, because I didn’t want it to occur to me, and I searched for every excuse to forget it every time it tried to occur to me. Or do you not know what country we live in right now? Do you have any idea how many writers stopped writing and turned into nothing or, worse still, into anti-writers and were never again able to take flight? Who could bet on things ever changing? Do you know what it is to feel marginalized, forbidden, buried alive at the age of thirty, thirty-five, when you can really begin to be a serious writer, and thinking that the marginalization is forever, to the end of time, or at least until the end of your fucking life?”

“But what could they do to you?” she insisted. “Did they kill you?”

“No, they didn’t kill me.”

“So … so … what terrible thing could they do to you? Censor your book? What else?”


“What do you mean, nothing?” She jumped, offended, I think.

“They make you nothing. Do you know what it is to turn into nothing? Because I do know, because I myself turned into nothing … And I also know what it is to feel fear.”

So I told her about all of those forgotten writers who not even they themselves remembered, those who wrote the empty and obliging literature of the seventies and eighties, practically the only kind of literature that one could imagine and compose under the ubiquitous layer of suspicion, intolerance, and national uniformity. And I told her about those who, like myself, innocent and credulous, earned ourselves a “corrective” for having barely dipped our toes, and about those who, after a stay in the inferno of nothing, tried to return and did so with lamentable books, also empty and obliging, with which they achieved an always-conditional pardon and the mutilated feeling that they were writers again because they once more saw their names in print.

— Ibid., pp. 398-399

for an Independent Revolutionary Art

Signed: André Breton and Diego Rivera

link here

National Scandal
Trans-European Express

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a note on T H E__A C T__O F__P O I N T I N G__OUT illustrations by Travis Bedel

Theatre is the act of pointing out. Performance is dissimulation. Theatre is simulation.

Where everything has been pointed out, even more, where chaos can be pointed out, there is no room for time. Performance cannot simulate chaos; it can but only as dissimulation. Theatre spatialises time.

Cinema, the moving image, is also an act of pointing out. It is said it is the act that points out time. It is, however, cinema, the moving image, the act of pointing out its pointing out of time. That is to say, it dissimulates, is a performance of, time.

Cinema, the moving image, in whatever way it is produced, is able to reproduce chaos. Cinema can isolate and point to chaos. In this respect, it is a theatrical event.

The fact of its spatialising time is not as important for understanding the theatricality of cinema and the moving image in general as its ability to represent chaos. Neither is it really important if this representation is actual. To best understand the theatricality of cinema is to understand it firstly to point out chaos. This is an aspect of cinema, in the history of the moving image, that its history elides.

– Travis Bedel

Along with this lovely description of what we do when we try and reconstruct a philosopher’s philosophy from influences and so on, in this case Bishop Berkeley’s:

Let us then take these slices of ancient and modern philosophy, put them in the same bowl, add by way of vinegar and oil a certain aggressive impatience with regard to mathematical dogmatism and the desire, natural in a philosopher bishop, to reconcile reason with faith, mix well and turn it over and over conscientiously, and sprinkle over the whole, like so many savoury herbs, a certain number of aphorisms culled from among the NeoPlatonists: we shall have–if I may be pardoned the expression–a salad which, at a distance, will have certain resemblance to what Berkeley accomplished.

Alongside this, from his lecture, “Philosophical Intuition,” given at the Philosophical Congress In Bologna, 10 April 1911 (yes, 111 years ago) [here], Bergson, still with Berkeley, talks about the natural order, the order of the universe. It is in one of his typical cascades of conditional propositions, If a body is made of “ideas”…If it [a body] is entirely passive and determinate… If we are mistaken when under the name of general ideas… that, from if so, never seem to come to a then conclusion, or the conclusion is given in part halfway through, as here, completely throwing you off the trail of the conditionality that is its predicate:

…if it [a body] is entirely passive and determinate, having neither power nor virtuality, it cannot act on other bodies; and consequently the movements of bodies must be the effect of an active power, which has produced these bodies themselves and which, because of the order which the universe reveals, can only be an intelligent cause.

You will recognise this as Berkeley’s going to God; and in fact Bergson’s pulling apart of reading-learning philosophy–from the outside of historical influences, all the way to the inside of the intuition animating it but that it never seems to be able clearly to state, leading to the philosopher having to revisit and revisit the initial insight of her (his, in this case) intuition in work after work, never satisfied she has finally provided it with its definitive formulation–his pulling apart of how philosophy works is outstanding, but difficult.

Reading Bergson is like slipping into another timeframe. I think there is a reason for this feeling, that it has to do with the displacement of a time-of-chaos by a time-of-repetition, the advent of cinematic time, screentime; and that this, screentime, has replaced the inner experience of time. A theatrical and therefore subjective event.

What however drew my attention was the phrase because of the order which the universe reveals, because, what is the order which the universe reveals?

It is definitely not that of chaos or, in Deleuze and Guattari’s formulation, that of chaosmosis. Neither is it of a time that unreels, one thing after another, or that neuroscientists have lifted this metaphor from to explain how the brain processes ‘real time’ in consciousness.

If the universe reveals an order, what is it?

We might want to account for it through recourse to Newtonian physics or Euclidean geometry, or even to the classical physical order of Einsteinian relativity, where No one is playing dice with the universe.

Does the universe on the 29 October 2022 reveal an order?

Ask yourself, does it?

What has changed to make us think that it does not?

(Unless it does, for you; unless the universe does reveal an order: but in order to do so, I would guess it would have to go by way of something or somebody transcendent, like Berkeley’s God. I would guess that if the universe does reveal an order to you that it would have to be a transcendent order; and I would be surprised if it was not.)

Although… Smart Design… aren’t scientific explanations, like evolution, of an order?

Doesn’t the explanatory model of science produce an order of events? in order that they may be explained?

Isn’t Climate Change of this order? (Isn’t this the reason we ought to trust the climate scientists? because their models extrapolate from historical tendencies foreseeable results?

((there is more to making Climate Change the order of business of time, there’s the virtualhere’s a bit more from 11 years ago.)

(Yes, there may be debates between models: but when the disparities come down to details is when we really ought to be afraid.)

The universal order of the arrow-of-time is thermodynamic: it goes towards entropy. Although the flow is orderly, entropy is not but is its cancelling out. Ultimately the universal order ends in heat death.

Flows cease.

– Travis Bedel

quasiunique beat signatures (QUBS): the original article, “Quantum watch and its intrinsic proof of accuracy,” distinguishes QUBS from DS–conventional delay-stage derived values of the time, saying that, although QUBS itself derive from DS, as a ‘measurement’ of the delay between wave packets being sent out, QUBS beat-signatures more accurately indicate the time. Where there exists a discrepancy, the fault lies with DS.

QUBS is the unique signature of that instant in time, a time that can no longer be considered a continuum or to belong to continua. The quantum watch time of QUBS is its fingerprint. The measurement between or relative or relative to zero of a time-setting does not apply here.

The quantum fingerprint points out an instant of time, rather than in time. Or: it’s already in time and requires no other points of reference outside it.

This use of quantum effects can be compared to the quantum accelerometer enabling navigation without ‘outside’ reference points. (here) This is said to be the way migratory birds navigate. (here)

– Travis Bedel

Does the universe on 2 November 2022 reveal an order? Not like in the old days.

In the old days order was manifest. We didn’t need quantum effects to reveal it. Then, neither did we need classical physics. And it was still a negotiable order: the sun would rise in the East; the seasons would cycle through; and to every life there would be a cycle of birth and death. The negotiable bit was its measure of freedom. That is, fiction.

The sun rose in the West. Summer came one day and was chased away the next. It was winter for the following hundred years.

Before my death I was regenerated and lived in immaculate suspension. After it, I was born and yet I was not. It was not until I ceased to be that I became who I was.

The universal order does not need, did not need to reveal itself, in the old days. Today the Nobel is awarded for proving that the universal order as it had been revealed does not exist. It is a fiction. (here)

– Travis Bedel

The order goes to utility. That’s how it’s played. That’s how inaction in the face of imminent global catastrophe is castigated.

Yet, where do we get this idea of time unrolling? As it unrolls towards, well, it could be chaos, entropy, catastrophe or a positive outcome through technoscientific mitigation of the mortal risks, that is progress: where do we get this idea either of progress? or of an orderly progress towards inevitable and universal disorder?

From the utility of time conceived like this, says Bergson. And in a way and unholy alliance or abberant nuptial, so does Bataille.

Bataille speaks of expenditure without expectation of return: that’s life. That’s the life of the sun. It’s what it does. Its inaction is composed of thermonuclear expenditure in radiation without expectation of return.

Lingis’s reading of the ‘accursed share’ (Bataille) refers to the ‘organs of display’ that tropical fish have and the organs of profligate floral display in the vegetal world.

Flowers are self-conscious enough to want to look their best. Their best goes far further than is necessary for the useful purpose of attracting germinatative species. Bees might care whether they’re blue or yellow, red, orange, white, attractive on ultraviolet spectra, but that is about the limit of their concern. They don’t go in for frills, flutes, formal arabesques, barocco volutes, tendrils, patterns and extra elaborations: these are extraneous. They comprise a share that is accursed for being inutile, useless; and when we think of human display, sexual, predatory, aggressive, territorial, erotic, individual, social and the fashion, the curse is there too.

This uselessness may be borne out in the current climate by practices of extraction and exploitation that go far beyond need, as far beyond as floral or piscine and avian peacockery does in nature. We are cursed by the curse of extra, an unfair share.

Who gets it is not the point. Saying it’s in our nature, as animals, possessing organs of display, is not the point either. The point is, whether it’s to the end or the beginning of the end, the progress fallacy.

Progress passes. It is always on the way. So it is never inevitable but ever in/de/terminate.

And in/de/terminable.

Another way of saying this is that progress, to adapt Malabou, resists its occurrence to the very extent that it forms it.

(Malabou’s statement is on identity: identity (here the identity of progress) resists its occurrence to the extent that it forms it.)

Where is the generosity in the view that the future approaches head-on like a truck? (The phrase is John Ash’s.) And there’s no getting away from it, like the dream where you’re paralysed; and, there’s no getting away with it, like the dream where you’re guilty.

Where is the generosity in a future foreclosed to possibility? foreclosed to the virtuality of the present that leans over it? This second foreclosure points out a secondary impoverishment.

A future foreclosed to the virtuality of the present impoverishes the present of potential, of power. It saps the political will: there is really nothing to be done. Without delay.

Delay, farting around, as Vonnegut put it somewhere, is where time is not a dead thing but living and lived. This is as true for the protein swapping that creates it for cells as for the hesitation presupposed by the profligate elaborateness of the human nervous system, comprising locally networked nerve-centres and the costliest organ in the body, where all display is focused, the brain (costly in the sense of accommodating surplus expenditure, expenditure without expectation of return: fireworks). Brain screen, Deleuze puts it.

The brain is a display screen. The expense of it is not calculated for any sort of return, just more expense. This ‘compensatory’ expense ratchets up nervous tension around other sorts of accumulation, wealth, status, elevation, speed, erecting skyscrapers, superyachts and supercars and spaceships; and sublimates it in (the compensations of) art (cinema and so on), porn, eroticism and fetishes.

The brain is for display only. Thinking goes on in the delay, during the hesitation. The delay is thinking.

The stammer is consciousness.

Identity, I wrote on a wall recently, is an accursed share?

– Travis Bedel

At 3:20pm 4 November 2022 is there a universal order?

Will the sun set, daylight saving, around 5 to 8? and rise again tomorrow over the eastern hill-line?

Will the suburbs still be here? Will business go on … as usual?

The business of human societies follows the order set down in nature, more or less, and the order of business in nature follows that in the cosmos, in the great and greatest harmony. The ‘more or less’ comes from generating and interposing circuits of delay into the general order of the universal economy, and paying for them, because they’re worth it, whatever the cost. In fact, the higher the better, to suck up the surplus.

Lighting rooms, prolonging life, sheltering and feeding ourselves, providing entertainment and decoration, fashion and frivolity, these are all about extending delay. They go entirely against the idea we have of time unreeling, since they wind it up, switch it back, hold it in systems of relays and pass it through obstacle courses and traps we set for it, so that time eddies and spirals, stretches and recoils, and so on. Time thickens, Bergson says.

If the delay is thinking, the systems we have for trapping time are called knowledge.

Doesn’t it happen that we have thickened time to the point of entropy and disorder?

Hasn’t there been a change in phase-state?

Time has ceased to be the order of time, is rather orders of time. Byung Chul-Han (The Scent of Time, 2017), goes as far as to say that from time being date-stamped, to order, it has become dyschronous. Chaos besets time itself. There is no longer any duration to time. It is unthickenable.

To-order time he associates with the vita activa of the perpetually entrepreneurial self. Time chaosifies from its maximum use, where there is no time to spare and, as a result, no content to time.

He wants to promote the vita contemplativa as a means of reclaiming time. That is useless time.

I think he confuses content with form. But so to do can only be accomplished by first spatialising time, as an empty form to be filled. Once filled, time is of no duration and cannot hold content. Too thin, it is Unzeit.

Another way to say this is that once the repetition of chaos is possible in time, the confusion of time and chaos also becomes possible. In fact, the representation of chaos in time makes the confusion of time, its representation as chaos, possible. Dyschronicity is presupposed by the possibility of the moving image to repeat the unrepeatable, chaos.

The order of the day, 4:16pm 10 November 2022, does not follow the order of Bergson’s, 111 years ago. It is not universal. This year’s Nobel Prize winners for physics declare it not to be, prove it not even to be, locally real. Then isn’t the question of non-time, empty, Hunger-Artist thin time, anorexic time, Unzeit, its irreality?

It unreels. Nothing much more can be said of it. Stiegler contends that it cannot be wound up, that this is the problem technics have bequeathed us with to be knowledge; and that as a result there is the crisis in knowledge of its technicity, a technicity that can only be retrospective; and yet it entails a loss of memory.

However irreal time does not spool out in a straight line. It is not that labyrinth. It runs out like a natural occurrence, like leaves moving randomly on trees, or waves, each wave unique, and repeatable as its cinematic image, as its moving image points out. It winds up, impending over the future, like a storm.

– Travis Bedel

luz es tiempo

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luz es tiempo

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Terry Sheat’s “Time For A Public Inquiry Into Creative New Zealand,” for Scoop (30.09.2022), excerpts

Creative New Zealand (state funding body for the arts), responding to Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s application for funding, “specifically questioned ‘the role and relevance of Shakespeare in Aotearoa.’ It […] also stated that ‘the genre [Shakespeare] was located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa’ (interestingly, not Aotearoa/New Zealand). One assessor [on the CNZ advisory panel] felt the need to ‘question whether a singular focus on an Elizabethan playwright is most relevant for a decolonising Aotearoa in the 2020s and beyond.'”

–Terry Sheat, “Time For A Public Inquiry Into Creative New Zealand,” 30 September 2022, here

excerpts from the article follow and are followed by a call to support an independent public inquiry into CNZ:

I believe that there is a systemic failure within Creative New Zealand and the Arts Council by having allowed “the development of a New Zealand identity in the arts” to become the dominant factor in their considerations as opposed to being one of a number of factors to be taken into account.

CNZ is failing in several duties under the [Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 2014], including, in particular, upholding and promoting “the rights of artists and the right of persons to freedom in the practice of the arts” and supporting “activities of artistic and cultural significance that develop the creative potential of artists and art forms”. 

CNZ, perhaps in the mistaken belief that they are tackling elitism, are in fact creating their own elitist model of what art in New Zealand should be.

With all the threats in the modern world to literacy, culture, understanding and tolerance, who knew that CNZ would add their name to the list?

I am calling for a Public Inquiry into (i) the fairness and lawfulness of Creative New Zealand’s funding priorities, (ii) the way in which arts organisations are treated by CNZ and (iii) the effects CNZ’s decisions have had and are having on the state of the arts and arts organisations in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

–from here

To email in support of an independent public inquiry into CNZ:

The persons to email are any or all of:
carmel.sepuloni@parliament.govt.nz (Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage)
jacinda.ardern@parliament.govt.nz (PM and Associate Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage)
grant.robertson@parliament.govt.nz (Minister of Finance)
simon.oconnor@parliament.govt.nz (National Party spokesperson for Arts, Culture and Heritage)
nicola.willis@parliament.govt.nz (National Party spokesperson for Finance)
chris.bishop@parliament.govt.nz, (National Party MP)
Heather Baggott (CEO Ministry of Culture and Heritage) c/o her executive assistant bridie.cooper@mch.govt.nz 
Stephen.Wainwright@creativenz.govt.nz (CEO Creative New Zealand)
Caren.Rangi@creativenz.govt.nz (Chair of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, the governing body of Creative New Zealand)

please cc emails to ArtsFundingInquiry@gmail.com

for further related links here on squarewhiteworld.com

— from here

In 1960 the government set up an arts council, which three years later it renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council in honour of the queen, who was then visiting New Zealand. She is seen here with the council’s charter at a royal performance in Auckland in 1963. [source]

It was replaced in 1994 by the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act, which is administered by Creative New Zealand. [source]

National Scandal

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Mario Levrero’s unnecessary masterpiece The Luminous Novel: excerpts therefrom; the part about a terrifying experience; illustrated with images by Jan Švankmajer & his 10 Commandments follow boldly in red

Mario Levrero’s The Luminous Novel came out in 2005, a year after Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.

Where Bolaño’s work is full to the brim, Levrero’s is, writes Annie McDermott, his translator into English, empty–but empty to the brim.

– Jan Švankmajer

Mauro Libertello writes:

If Roberto Bolaño showed us it was still possible to write the great Latin American novel, Levrero told us it wasn’t necessary.

Another writer, Juan Pablo Villalobos tells us on the back cover of his unnecessary masterpiece, “Levrero is an author who challenges the canonical idea of Latin American literature. If you really want to complete the puzzle of our tradition, you must read him.”

– Jan Švankmajer

I don’t want to complete any puzzles, least of all those dealing with traditions, literary or not. But I have, after many weeks reading it in breaks at work and at lunchtimes, reading it slowly and carefully and sometimes dismissively, finished The Luminous Novel, and if I had stopped reading it, as I was sometimes tempted to do, due to the temptation of other books, perhaps even of necessary ones, if I had stopped, if I had before the section of the book, that really amounts to about a fifth of its 530 pages in the English edition, if I had stopped during the interminable diary making up the other four fifths, if I had not read through to the end, racing through the last section called The Luminous Novel, that the rest is really an excuse for not writing, and if I had made my excuses before then for not reading, I would not be calling Levrero’s book a masterpiece. I would probably be calling it unnecessary and, in the belief they were necessary even if they were not, I should much earlier have moved on to other books. But I did not; and if I were to recommend you read Levrero’s masterpiece it would not be to solve the puzzle of Latin American literature but to understand what it means, that Bolaño showed with 2666 it was still possible to write the great Latin American novel and Levrero, with The Luminous Novel, that it was unnecessary. Because it is.

– Jan Švankmajer

I see that now, in view of any literary tradition. Although can we say that of any literary tradition?

I would not be recommending The Luminous Novel to understand this puzzle, or any puzzle. Although, it seems, by certain things Levrero says, that he likes or used to like puzzles.

It’s an interesting question, though, for where I am writing from, in New Zealand, where it seems every work has some kind of compulsion or compunction behind it. Some wound, platform or soapbox. Some confession or excuse. Some kitsch. Some actually necessary. What is the novel that shows us it is still possible to write the great New Zealand novel? and, more importantly, what the one that tells us it is not necessary?

Any contenders?

Unnecessary does not mean, as opposed to soapbox, soap bubbles: an unnecessary work can still be a masterpiece, as Levrero tells us and The Luminous Novel shows.

A masterpiece of what is not needed. No, what is not needed, I think Mauro Libertello is saying, is the great Latin American or the great New Zealand novel, or the great work in any tradition. Then, do we listen to Bolaño or to Levrero?

This is the question of the puzzle again. Bolaño is only part of the puzzle, but the puzzle can only be completed by reading Levrero. So in this way is Levrero necessary.

I think he’d say this is claiming too much. I can’t be sure, however.

Levrero is conscious, even when writing just the diary about not writing The Luminous Novel that makes up about four fifths of the book, of writing badly. And yet he says he thinks of Kafka as being his spiritual father because Kafka showed him how to write badly.

He doesn’t say Kafka told him worrying you are writing badly is unnecessary. Kafka showed him how to.

Kundera says something similar in Testaments Betrayed, but there it comes as a comment on Kafka’s translators. Kundera cites the French and English translators who tend to prettify Kafka’s prose. Of course, the German ones don’t get the chance.

Prettify is perhaps the wrong word. What they do is refer to good style. Good style is not repeating the same word. It is something Kafka does, repeatedly. Cleaned up, synonyms cover over this stylistic failing.

Kafka for style does something similar to Levrero for the novel: writing the great whatever novel, the great representative novel, is unnecessary. (This goes to a theme in Deleuze, against representation.)

– Jan Švankmajer

I was saying however that had I quit the book during the diary part I would not hold The Luminous Novel to be a masterpiece, that I needed the part called The Luminous Novel to come to the conclusion that it is.

And yes, this is already too much, or too little, because I did not conclude that The Luminous Novel is a masterpiece at its conclusion, rather the first page of the part called The Luminous Novel, the first few paragraphs of that final fifth of the book, had me yelling This is a masterpiece.

It had me yelling that even though I knew it was both unnecessary to because others had already said so and because The Luminous Novel is an unnecessary masterpiece.

In other words, the diary four-fifths, approximately, of the book prepared an impression that was completed at the beginning to the last fifth not at its conclusion.

It was prepared under conditions of misdirection, you might say. Although misdirection makes it sound as if Levrero was up to something all along and then sprang it on an unsuspecting reader, like the solution to a puzzle, the solution having been in plain sight all along.

– Jan Švankmajer

There is some truth in this.

The answer was in plain sight. It was in plain sight not however as the solution to a problem or to a whodunnit might have been. What was and had been in plain sight throughout was the problem and the answer that appears is exactly that, the problem to be formulated. The appearance of the problem completes the puzzle, much as we might say the appearance of the puzzle, the puzzle or problem assuming its essential characteristics, and finally although without any finality becoming a well-formulated problem.

What is the problem?

How to speak of certain things.

Levrero says it at the start, transcendental things: how to write about transcendental experience.

Misdirection is wrong. Indirection is better. Levrero comes sideways at the problem, like prying the lid off a jar. He circles it.

At the part called The Luminous Novel, he gets a knife under its edge and it makes a soft but satisfying pop. The pressure equalises.

It’s not like blowing the lid off of something. It’s not even like the lid comes off. That revelation becomes unnecessary.

– Jan Švankmajer

Now, this idea of pressure equalising can be used to describe the difference between the diary part and the Luminous Novel part, because there is really no great difference, just that soft but satisfying pop.

Or it’s like a change of gear. The voice remains the same, but what it was avoiding saying, although touching on in passages, skirting around, nudging at, or, as I said, outright avoiding, talking about something altogether different, it says. But it says it in the same way as it doesn’t, as it had not and was not prepared to before, as I also said, by not being prepared to preparing for, at least, preparing the reader for, unconsciously. Indirectly.

A nice thing: I like how Levrero believes in the unconscious. He trusts it. It gives him the reason he needs to talk about what he had no intention of talking about; but it does so in and as his experience.

– Jan Švankmajer

His experience comes first. I’m going to copy out some excerpts, of note, in view of the primacy of experience to his writing, is his contention that Flaubert does not place experience first and so his writing is in the end valueless, whereas Thomas Bernhard’s for the narrowness of its focus ends up as grand as the universe.

The grandness of universe in Levrero is the strange and unique experience of the individual, whether it is the experience of transcendental things or the observation of an ant.

Dear reader: never dream of mixing your writing and your life. Or rather, do; you’ll have your fair share of suffering, but you’ll give something of yourself, which is ultimately the only thing that matters. I’m not interested in novelists who grind out their four-hundred-page doorstoppers with the help of index cards and a disciplined imagination; the only information they transmit is empty, sad, depressing. And deceitful, since it comes disguised as naturalism. Like the famous Flaubert. Pah.

–Mario Levrero, The Luminous Novel, translated by Annie McDermott, 2021, 68

– Jan Švankmajer

I’m very jealous of a writer like W. Somerset Maugham, whose The Razor’s Edge I’m currently reading. … He’s an excellent writer, though for some reason underrated. I used to underrate him myself, in fact … When you’re young and inexperienced, you look for dramatic plots in books, as you do in films. With time, you come to see that the plot has no importance at all; and that the style, the way the story is told, is everything.

–Ibid., 71

– Jan Švankmajer

It’s difficult to spot one’s prejudices, which take root in the mind in a strange and inexplicable way, accompanied by a certain sense of superiority. Those dwarves settle in like absurd dictators, and we accept them like revealed truths. Very rarely, because of some accident or chance occurrence, we find we have to reconsider a prejudice, argue with ourselves about it, lift a corner of the veil and peer through the gap at how things really are. In those cases, it’s possible to uproot them. But the others are still there, out of sight, carrying us foolishly in all the wrong directions.

What I’m saying is that I’d like to write with the same serene pleasure as Somerset Maugham.

–Ibid., 72

Since the very early days of my computer addiction, I’ve been convinced that my dialogue with the machine is, deep down, a narcissistic monologue. A way of looking at myself in the mirror. This diary is also a kind of narcissistic monologue, though in my opinion it doesn’t have the same pathological connotations at all, but it also has a few positive effects that somehow balance things out. …

… I thought I’d have a quick look through some issues of Cruzadas. I did a couple of crosswords, and then turned almost automatically to the letters to the editor. But the issue was from a time when I no longer dealt with the letters. That didn’t do it for me, so I looked for the bound collection. I came across one of the letters I’d written myself, and there I stayed, locked in the cycle, in the narcissistic monologue, and unable to get out. I read, one by one, all the pages of all the letters to the editor with responses written by me, and then I found another volume in the collection … and so it went on, until seven in the morning. … I even found a letter from a reader who’d included a few paragraphs in code at the end, a message with the letters swapped, something like CBJHF XFR. And I found my response, in the same code. What did those cryptograms mean? I decided to solve them, and some time later I was able to read what the reader had written, as well as my reply.

That whole section of my past is a cryptogram I need to decipher. The narcissistic monologue is working on a higher level. I mustn’t condemn it or reject as pure pathology, because there are many different routes back to where I need to go. And I mustn’t forget that where there’s no narcissism there can be no art, and no artist.

–Ibid., 160-161

NB: back might mean back to the beginnings of The Luminous Novel, its first several chapters, retained in the section of this book called The Luminous Novel, written by Levrero in 1984. The diary, making up the rest, is written between August 2000 and August 2001.

The book was published posthumously.

– Jan Švankmajer

Doña Rosa must have been trying to fit into some trend or other; her autobiographical writing never hides her desperate longing for recognition and a place in Spanish literature. Naively, she believed merit along would be enough, unaware that in literary careers, as in all careers, everything is primarily a question of politics, or nepotism. Rosa Chacel’s talent and nature should have made her remain in obscurity out of choice, dedicated to developing her writing simply out of a spiritual or vital need, but that wasn’t what happened. And that must be what led to freakish creations like The Maravillas District.

–Ibid., 195

– Jan Švankmajer

The moment she realises it’s a joke, she switches off. She stops following. When it’s over she doesn’t laugh, or understand why I find it funny. And yet she’s capable of understanding perfectly well and laughing at more subtly funny stories, as long as they’re not in the form of jokes. I’ve concluded that Chl, like many, many women, intuitively captures the psychological significance of the system of telling jokes and realises that it’s actually a form of disguised sexual penetration. Laughter is the equivalent of an orgasm. When a man tells another man a joke, he’s exercising his right to sublimated homosexual desire, which is one of the few such rights that are socially acceptable. This is what I think, and it sounds very convincing to me. It’s highly probable that women who shut themselves off from jokes also shut themselves off (one way or another) from sexual penetration. By ‘one way or another’, I mean they shut themselves off both in the sense of closing their legs, and in the sense of not participating in the sexual act or reaching orgasm, even when they open them. That’s why they don’t laugh at jokes. Not because they don’t understand, but because they understand all too well.

–Ibid., 258-259

– Jan Švankmajer

Since I haven’t touched this diary for many, many days now–although, as usual, I haven’t once stopped thinking about it–events have been accumulating, filling my memory to overflowing; and the memories that remain have probably lost whatever interest or emotional charge they had at the time they were formed, or shortly afterwards, which is when I should have been writing them down; and whatever wording I imagined I’d use to record them has certainly been lost as well. Meaning that now, when I try to return to them, the same thing will happen as is happening, or would be happening, with the grant project [The Luminous Novel]: they’ll turn into a kind of fraudulent literature.

–Ibid., 266

But what I’d begun to say, or rather, what I wanted to begin to write, was something else. I wanted to write that a while ago I sat in the greeny-grey-etc. armchair, with the light off, and watched, fascinated, as the clouds blew past. The clouds form a roof over the city, a roof that doesn’t let the humidity evaporate, and although that roof travels at a considerable speed up there, it seems like it never ends, and never will end. It runs from the rambla towards the bay. The clouds are white and they look like smoke, white smoke, because they have a tendency to disintegrate, although they never fully do, and there are holes in them that gradually change shape, as if some parts of a cloud move at a different speed to others. These holes, through which you can see a dark sky, constantly threaten to give the cloud the form of a skull; but I was watching for a long time, and the threat never materialised. Other holes come along and almost do the same, and they don’t manage either. I’m glad, because the signs from the sky are always frightening, and besides, I already have too much death in my midst. There aren’t many of us left.

–Ibid., 277

This how the part called The Luminous Novel begins:

Fairly often, for some time now, an image has been occurring to me spontaneously in which I’m writing calmly with a pen and India ink on a sheet of very high-quality white paper. And now I’m doing just that, giving in to what seems to be a deep-seated desire, even though all my life I’ve tended to use a typewriter. Unfortunately, this image that springs upon me unannounced on an almost daily basis never includes the words of the text I’m presumably writing. At the same time, however, and completely independently of this image, I have a desire to write about certain experiences of mine. This would become something I’ve been describing to myself as a ‘luminous novel’, which is the counterpart to what I’ve been calling–again, only when I talk to myself–a ‘dark novel’. That dark novel exists, thought it’s unfinished and perhaps unfinishable. I feel imprisoned by it, by its mood, by the shadowy images and even more shadowy emotions that have been pushing me to write it for the past couple of years. There are periods of weeks or months when I wake up almost every day with an overwhelming urge to destroy it.

–Ibid., 425

and so it goes on… and I had to pull myself up: the urge to keep on copying, keep on tap-tap typing it out was so strong.

– Jan Švankmajer

This simple rumination–but the reader would have to have been in my place, under that sun and that sky, among the aromas of the trees and the beach, and with all the time in the world to do nothing in … Anyway, this simple rumination had noticeable effect on the wiring–or, to be more up to date, on the chemistry–of my brain. It felt rather like a complicated series of cogs grinding into motion–not heavily, though, but lightly. I felt the joy that follows an intimate discovery, and the fright, the fear, as if I’d just trespassed on some mysterious land that belonged to someone else, or opened a forbidden door. Not for nothing do I associate the taste of adrenaline with literature, although literature hadn’t yet appeared …

–Ibid., 428

– Jan Švankmajer

Now and then I feel, or think–via the superego–that these laidback ants and I are like the respective cancer cells of our respective socially minded individuals. If I fight hard enough against the superego, however, I sometimes manage to think the opposite: that these ants and I are the salubrious cells of our societies. As far as I can tell, the anthill is a wholly sick individual, decaying and useless, and capable only of looking after itself (sub-existence); and I see contemporary human society–that crazy bus I was talking about at the beginning–in the same way. If I were God, I’d pardon it solely on the basis of the few ‘just men and women’ in the Bible, or, from my own point of view, on the basis of those magnificent individuals, those all-round great people who have gone down in history as such or are personally know to us. And the ones I know personally are great regardless of their apparent social function and way of thinking; I’ve found them in the ranks of communists, Nazis, Catholics, occultists, Masons, etc., or simply as unaffiliated lunatics. What they have in common is that, one way or another, consciously or unconsciously, they participate, and make you participate, in what I’ve called the ‘unknown dimension’; and I should point out that the ‘events’, if we can call them that, which occur in or form part of that dimension, don’t always look like ‘luminous’ experiences; these great people may have their sinister side, or even be entirely sinister, and yet, because of their disproportionate sinister side, they’re worthwhile.

–Ibid., 480

– Jan Švankmajer

Have you ever been looking at an insect, or a flower, or a tree, and found for a moment your values, or you sense of what’s important, have completely changed? … It’s as if I’m seeing the universe from the point of view of the wasp–or the ant, or the dog, or the flower–and finding it more valid than when I saw it from my own point of view. Civilization become meaningless, as do History, cars, cans of beer, neighbours, thoughts, words, and even mankind itself and its undisputed place at the top of the pyramid of living beings. In that moment, all forms of life seem equivalent. And, … inanimate things are no longer inanimate, and there’s no place for any kind of non-life.

–Ibid., 490

…even good old Jung thought participation mystique involved a kind of regressive perception, corresponding to a time before the ‘self’ is formed in the child. But this ‘self’–has it not hypertrophied within us, has it not grown at the expense of a psychological formation that would be a source of health for humanity? In other words: is there anyone, for God’s sake, who is satisfied with this thing called ‘reality’? Is there a single imbecile out there who thinks the world is inhabitable? Yes, I know, I know; there is. There is, there is, there is. Anyway.

–Ibid., 491

– Jan Švankmajer

That’s it for the excerpts from The Luminous Novel. I was thinking, before I went into my shed to do a bit of licking this (not this, another) piece into shape, like a bear-whelp: Levrero writes from experience. While he’s experiencing he’s also thinking of the words to use and composing, writing the experience in his head; does that not take him away from the experience, or take something away from the experience? take away, for example, its purity, by fitting it into the forms of the given, of the conventions of ordinary usage, setting meaning to that coming ready-made in a language? or, displacing the sensibility of the one experiencing onto one who observes the one experiencing, who is the ghost at their (writing) machine in the ghost in the machine? Or, more simply: writing from experience can mean experiencing for (the sake of) writing, just like, when writing dreams, you wind up dreaming for writing, and no longer dreaming for the sake of it. Or, again, simply: is part of me at my desk (in my shed) and only part of me having the experience? … I thought all of that, although it boils down to only a little, as well as thinking, I don’t really have experiences worth writing. … Then I came back to Levrero’s point about the greatness of Thomas Bernhard precisely because of the ‘narrowness’ of the world he writes of, and the fraudulence of Flaubert. Still, I can’t think of my own experience like that, and to do so would probably add an angle, a subjectivity, to outside experience, that, for me at least, would be falsifying, a falsification. I like the problem posed by experience to be its being-without-subjectivity, its resistance to the subject, who, like water on a duck’s back, runs off and cannot stick.

And having done some shed work, I jumped on my bike to go to work, work work. But I was still in that mindset, the mindset of writing, of sitting at my desk in my shed and fixing sentences to the page. And I said to myself, I was on the ridge by this time and the sun was shining, the air still, and the cold wind we’ve been experiencing lately absent, a relief, You’ve got to get out of your head.

– Jan Švankmajer

David Abram says the present is breath. I was going up a slope, not steep, enough to get me breathing and for me to feel myself breathing rhythmically; I thought, each breath, a present. Imagine dying each breath.

And each breath, each present, dead to the next.

The air dead to itself, the earth, the sun and the hills, and the bay below, all dead to the passing present, because dead to its passing, its passage. And I, too, dying on each breath, with nothing to prolong being, my being. Its being.

– Jan Švankmajer

Julian Barbour writes about the universe in this way, as being without time, about time not existing for it. It seems many theoretical physicists are beginning to agree with him that time does not exist.

Barbour is then the anti-Bergson, who says that time is an anthropomorphism, a projection, childish almost, of the sense of time we have with our bodies at the centre of our universe, but that this inner experience of time is true.

To die each present is not to endure: it is the opposite of enduring. The feeling of not enduring from one moment to the next was terrifying, frightening because plausible.

Perhaps I was having a Levrero-type experience?

– Jan Švankmajer

Guillermo Arriago’s book The Untameable in the most unforced and natural way brings in Spinoza, the conatus. The conatus is the will to persist as what it is that every living thing has. Arriago says the tiger wants to carry on being a tiger, the wolfdog a wolfdog: each wants to endure in itself to itself.

– Jan Švankmajer

And how does the human conatus endure beyond the present that in itself to itself does not?

– Jan Švankmajer

Well, writing is one way; and writing experience is one way experience in itself to itself endures. This doubling consciousness that works its way out in symbols… as Bergson writes, If I make a line on a piece of paper with my eyes shut, it is with a single unbroken movement; now, upon opening my eyes, I see, juxtaposed with that movement, the line that will be its symbol. Or something like that. And it is through this spatial detour and this symbolic detour that human conatus in particular endures.

Or, it is through the habit of composing in your head, of formulating, symbolically, the record of the experience that the internal experience persists. But these detours through space and symbol displace the experience… and, more still, in the case of the moving image entirely replace it.

The moving image replaces an inner experience of time not because it moves but as an image, an image of time, so that our tendency is to prefer to the actuality of an inner experience of time its technical double.

– Jan Švankmajer

This was not the case with the symbolic detour, in writing, for example, (or in dream) since the inner sense of time a written record possesses or evokes is not experienced socially: the fact of social attendance changes the quality of the experience.

It convinces us of the temporal nature of the image, while that of the symbolic double in writing or dreaming is all in my head, a matter of the local and individual imagination, and of knowledges of genre, register, tone, tropes and archetypes, and so on. But this individual experience, although another experience than the experience providing its raw material, and processed, by narration and so on, is in a way truer because it, like the inner experience of time, is in me, and part of me; it is part of the interaction that I bring to reading the text, and, as Bernard Stiegler says, giving the strongest sense possible to reading, repeating it in a living, unfolding duration.

Human conatus endures, is not instant by instant, breath by breath, thanks to a doubling of consciousness. This doubling has to do with the manipulation of symbols, with a symbolic form of knowledge. Stiegler is one who is very conscious of the deleterious effects of semi-autonomous digital technologies on this knowledge, causing it to be lost. (In contrast to Stiegler, from Bergson, I get the idea of knowledge as being a determination of the future, a way that the present impends over the future.)

The other side of this is that any sense of duration in the present makes recourse to a kind of artifice and that this artifice is natural to the human. It is human nature not to notice itself enduring in itself. The human occupies a time that is partly outside of direct experience.

Does the world then die to itself with every passing instant? In some ways Bergson encourages this (terrifying) view. There follows from it the idea of technical field, a field of technics (Stiegler), separate from the world; of this field separating the human from the world: and yet if it is accepted the human conatus includes this field, as its will to persist to and in itself as human, the human is no longer immanent except to itself, to its own human-technical world. This is what might be called the ideological view, the entrapment in their own historicity or episteme, as forms of technically mediated cultural understanding and knowledge, of human beings.

– Jan Švankmajer

In works after Matter and Memory, Bergson encourages the idea that only humans are the subjects of duration. Where Deleuze goes further than Bergson is in speaking of pure immanence, where the human subject is not at the point of disconnection between world, culture and technics.

He relieves us of the terrifying possibility of the world being dead to itself with every passing breath, in every passing present.

an interview conducted by Mario Levrero with Mario Levrero, from here:

I notice that something is bothering me: an image, a series of words, or simply a mood, an atmosphere, an environment. The clearest example would be an image or mood from a dream, after waking up in the morning; sometimes you spend a long time almost tangled up in that dream-fragment; sometimes it fades in the end and sometimes it doesn’t. It can come back, whether spontaneously or evoked by something else, at other points in the day. When this goes on for several days, I take it as a sign that there’s something there that I need to deal with, and the way to deal with it is to recreate it. For example: I have a story, ‘The Crucified Man’, which stemmed from this kind of disruption, although it didn’t come from a dream. I noticed that for some days I’d had a crucified man in my head, someone whose arms were permanently outstretched. In fact, I didn’t realise the man had been crucified until I stopped to examine that disruptive image, because he was dressed; you could clearly see that he was wearing an old jacket. Looking more closely, I discovered that under the jacket he was nailed to the remains of a wooden cross, and right away I began work on that story. Another story, ‘The Sunshades’, arose from a phrase overheard in a dream: ‘Nohaymar’ [‘No hay mar’, or ‘There is no sea’]. In the dream, a girl was jumping on a bed and saying something like ‘nohaymar’, or rather I was hearing ‘noaimar’. While I was in the shower, that image and that phrase came back to me and I decided it meant ‘no hay mar’, and by the time I got out of the shower I already had a fairly well-structured story. My novel Displacements also arose from a brief scene from a dream: a woman in her underwear washing dishes in a kitchen. It took me about two years to unearth the whole little world contained in that image. And in case you take an interest in parapsychological phenomena, I’ll tell you something else that happened with ‘no hay mar’: a few days after the story was written, I ran into a friend who told me that he’d been writing a story himself at more or less the same time, and a character had infiltrated it with a kind of obsessive force. This character was called Mariano. As you may have noticed, ‘Mariano’ is a perfect anagram of ‘no hay mar’.


What’s more, I think that’s the true function of criticism: preventing the craziness contained in a work of art from spreading through the whole of society like a plague. It’s a repressive function, a kind of policing, and I’m not saying it’s wrong; I think it’s necessary. But personally I find it irritating, because it happens to be repressing me, or at least what I write. It’s fencing me in, putting barriers between the reader and the writer. This, of course, actually ends up benefiting literature, allowing it to grow, to find new ways of saying what it wants to say – in the same way that policing allows different forms of crime to evolve.

– Jan Švankmajer
What is your view of the digital medium? Do you feel there is any relevance in regard to celluloid being more tangible, or is this irrelevant?

Here lies the central point of my reservations about computer animation. Virtual reality has no tactile dimension. It is an „untouched reality“. It is therefore not charged by strenuous human emotions. It is a stillborn child.

thank you to Jan Švankmajer.

Prague, November 2011
Jan Švankmajer’s ten commandments, here compressed into ten lines:

1. Before you start making a film, write a poem, paint a picture, create a collage, write a novel, essay, etc.

2. Surrender to your obsessions.

3. Use animation as a magical operation.

4. Keep exchanging dreams for reality and vice versa.

5. If you are trying to decide what is more important, trust the experience of the eye or the experience of the body; always trust the body, because touch is an older sense than sight and its experience is more fundamental.

6. The deeper you enter into the fantastic story the more realistic you need to be in the detail.

7. You should always use your wildest imagination.

8. Always pick themes that you feel ambivalent about.

9. Cultivate your creativity as a form of self-therapy.

10. Never work, always improvise.

luz es tiempo

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