14 December 2011
Strangely indistinguishable from the familiar terrain of normality
The show explores what it means to step over this barrier and to set foot into the inexplicable and illogical world of humour
These strategies, and those of all the artists in 'Ha Ha Road', serve to illustrate the liberating freedom of thought at work in humour.
A REAL COMEDY SPECIALIST WE HAVE HERE FOLKS:
"I really doubt a member of KEK or an aficionado of Broodthaers actually wants an explanation, but a photo's worth a thousand words, one's i agree with more than the curators write up."
CHARLES STANKIEVECHDie Mauer (The Wall), 2009Nine vinyl records with coversCourtesy of the artistCharles Stankievech (b. 1978) is a Canadian artist who often usesinstallation and sound art to tell stories inspired by landscape, architectureand history. Embedded in this practice, Stankievech's minimal installationDie Mauer intertwines languages of conceptual art, cold war iconography,institutional critique and rock ‘n’ roll pop culture. In 2009, exactly 30 yearsafter the album release (1979) and 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall(1989), the artist bought all The Wall vinyl records by Pink Floyd for sale atthe popular Mauer Park Market in Berlin. That day, there were 9 used LPsof various editions and prices available from various independent sellers. Inthe context of Ha Ha Road, the long assemblage of freestanding covers withtheir album art of white bricks daubed with graffiti resonates with the ideaof the “barrier” at play in the exhibition’s title. But positioned on the galleryfloor, due to their specific design, the covers make a humorous reference alsoto one of the UK’s greatest art scandals ever: the vandalisation of CarlAndre’s Equivalent VIII at the Tate in the 1970s. Protesting the idea of “apile of bricks” actually being art, someone smeared this work with paint. Wewould invite you to be a little more gentle.
13 December 2011
8 November 2011
"Austerity might also strengthen the most well-known building block of Italian society: the family. Many foreigners are rather sneering when they observe extended families living in the same block of flats, if not the same flat. It creates childish, immature grownups, they say. It's not usually true at all, and what those criticisms fail to realise is not only the fact that living together is very often an economic, rather than an emotional, choice (wages are extraordinarily low: the average monthly pay packet is €1,286 [£1,100] net); they also ignore the fact that the strength of the family is the reason that Italy's social fabric is so much better knitted than Britain's. And there are useful economic consequences: almost every successful business is built upon the family. Benetton, Fiat, Ferrari, Panini – all were created by many siblings, or many generations, of one family. If austerity means relatives have to huddle once again under the same roof, it might be claustrophobic, but at least it might mean that Italy, once again, resists the disintegration of the family unit."
—Tobias Jones, "Berlusconi's exit – what does it mean for Italy?" The Guardian, Nov. 10, 2011
1 November 2011
31 October 2011
27 October 2011
I had the unfortunate vantage point of meeting Kittler in the early
1990's, when perhaps his persuasiveness was fading. As for his person,
I was stunned by his open misogyny and a talk he gave in which women
were zeros and men were ones (the second being a far more attractive
proposition). I followed him outside, where he dragging on a cigarette
to ask him if he meant this to be taken seriously. He brushed me off.
As I took a closer view of him in the sunlight, I realized that he was
covered with cigarette ashes. I, in contrast, had white cat hairs all
over my black suit.
Your remark about his early death is the thing that moves me about
your reminiscences. It suggests how affectionately you remember him.
In another way, though, his smoking was such a part of him he seemed
to be courting death; furthermore, given that he appeared to be
suffering a mental decline, death could have been kind.
I wondered whether I should share this memory but I decided it was OK.
I seldom describe what it meant to be a woman when confronted with the
actual Foucault, for instance, but it is part of the story. It colors
the work for me; I can' t think it away, but it doesn't negate what it
25 October 2011
"It is 2009 and Jobs is recovering from a liver transplant and pneumonia. At one point the pulmonologist tries to put a mask over his face when he is deeply sedated. Jobs rips it off and mumbles that he hates the design and refuses to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he orders them to bring five different options for the mask so that he can pick a design he likes."
19 October 2011
"Characteristic of such dietetic regimes (régime diétetique) is the view of mushrooms as 'anti-food'. This view is testified to by legends about the fact that at one time, a time prior to the beginning of 'culture' and the emergence of the first culture hero, the ancestors of the given collective ate mushrooms (cf., for example, certain myths of the Mundurucu and Tucuna tribes cited and analyzed by Lévi- Strauss, or Russian nicknames of the type griboedy 'mushroorn-eaters'). Often the refusal to use mushrooms in cooking is connected with one of the first and most important acts of the culture hero of the given tradition and is equated to the transition from the state of 'nature' to that of 'culture'. Mushrooms as food are usually identified with the mold or fungus that, in many versions of such myths, appears on the hero's corpse. Such myths go back to a period prior to agriculture or cuisine, the introduction of which resulted in the formation of the oppositions raw-cooked, rotten-fermented (cf. the opposition honey-beer). From the point of view of the 'culture' as a whole, mushrooms begin to be viewed as something related to death and hunger (as is the case among many South American Indians), as the food of the dead (the Ojibwa Indians), as excrement, often that of celestial objects (e.g. of thunder among the Siciatl or Seechelt Indians, of the rainbow among the Toba Indians and so on). Yet many cultural traditions with such a negative attitude toward mushrooms, once they have made the transition from 'nature' to 'culture', turn to mushrooms with more particular needs. (Cf. the burning of mushrooms for the archetypal conception, a function of sorts, that may be embodied in a whole series of concrete signs, mushrooms being only one of them). If one is attempting to define this function and the conceptions, legends, myths, etc. corresponding to it, then, naturally, one must turn to the whole class of objects which are synonymous (isofunctional) in the given relation. In general, we can state that the objects are chosen in such a way that the opposition of active, penetrating and passive, penetrated (receptive) principles is particularly underscored. Such a structure permits one to define the function and pragmatics of this entire relation as the overcoming of disconnectedness, the achievement of a state of unity, of primeval fullness and self-sufficiency." Leaving aside for the moment an examination of these two principles, it is sufficient to limit ourselves here to three remarks.
The first of them has the aim of establishing a certain temporal reference point in the development of these forms (convex: concave, round: pointed, and the like). This has to do with the fact that the ancient megalithic culture reflected by monuments extending in space from the Mediterranean to India, Tibet, China and Indochina, used objects which embody these oppositions. The evolution of these objects led to the appearance of such structures as the stupa, the pagoda, and so on, on the one hand, and the pillar, the pole, the scepter, the Vajra, and so on, on the other hand. (It should be emphasized that both types of objects have a direct relation to funerals and weddings.) Moreover, in several traditions the semantics of these objects was preserved with extreme clarity; cf. the distinctly expressed phallic meaning of the pole Ma-ni or its diachronic variant, the arrow, the spear, and so on, in Tibet. (Incidentally, one or another of such forms may have entered as well into a set of other identifications.)
The second remark relates to the umbrella or parasol as the isofunctional object which is most clearly linked with mushrooms. Inasmuch as the identification of these two objects assumes, in many cases, a sufficiently direct character (cf. the names of mushrooms,' riddles," symbolism," and so on), the complementary data relating to the image of the parasol and its unconscious reflections in mythology and symbolism may be used, albeit with care, in a semiotic analysis of the image of mushrooms as well.
The third and last remark is aimed at directing attention toward the purely hypothetical, but in principle quite important, assumption that visual images for the convex and concave, which are constructed by identical forms conversely positioned to form an opposition, may corre- spond to linguistic expressions built precisely according to the same principle and used correspondingly as names of mushrooms. Moreover, in some cases, it is quite probable that such 'converse' linguistic expressions were used precisely for the differentiation of 'masculine' and feminine' types of mushrooms. We have in mind the successors in various languages of two nostratic roots which are in a relation of metathesis one to the other, namely *b/p-N-g/k-:*g/k-N-b/p- (where N is a nasal irchephoneme) or, on the Indo-European level, *bhoNg-:*goNbh-. Cf., on the one hand, Uralic *paqg-1*poqg- (cf. Mordvin [Mordva] payga, o, Cheremis [Mari] poyge, pagge, Hanty Ostyak [Khanty] poyx, payx, yga, Vogul [Mansi] paqx, pi,7ka), Paleosiberian *poy (cf. Ket haYgo, Yukagir [Odul], Chukchi, Koryak, Kamchadal [Itelman], and others, all extinct)," Indo-European - Ancient Greek u7r6yyoq, u7r6yyq, o-(p6yyoq, Latinfungus, and so on, and, on the other hand, Slavic gpba (Old Indic gabhd-), Hungarian gomba (cf. bolondgomba 'mad mushroom', similarly German Narrenschwamm, Serbo-Croatian ljula g1jiva, and so on), Lithuanian guthb(r)as, Old Icelandic kumbr, and others. In the capacity of io paUg pa semantically marked members, cf. Ket haygo in connection with the igend mentioned above and Slavic gpba in its two meanings. If this hypothesis is correct, it opens the way toward the explanation of a series of other words which, until now, have also remained etymologically unclear. Finally, it is not to be excluded that words of this root may occur in other languages as well."
—V. N. Toporov "On the semiotics of mythological conceptions about mushrooms"
4 October 2011
This rentier class is an oligopoly that makes French aristocrats of the 18th century look like serious, well organized administrators. If the rhetoric of their political mouthpieces is to be believed, this rentier class are such hot house flowers that they won't get out of bed in the morning for less than a thousand dollars a day, and their constitutions are so sensitive that if anyone says anything bad about them they will take their money and sulk in the corner. They have, to cap it all, so mismanaged their own affairs that vast tracts of public money were required to keep them in business.The abstraction that is Wall Street also stands for something else, for an inhuman kind of power, which one can imagine running beneath one's feet throughout the financial district. Let's call this power the vectoral. It's the combination of fiber optic cables and massive amounts of computer power. Some vast proportion of the money in circulation around the planet is being automatically traded even as you read this. Engineers are now seriously thinking about trading at the speed of light. Wall Street in this abstract sense means our new robot overlords, only they didn't come from outer space.
How can you occupy an abstraction? Perhaps only with another abstraction. Occupy Wall Street took over a more or less public park nestled in the downtown landscape of tower blocks, not too far from the old World Trade Center site, and set up camp. It is an occupation which, almost uniquely, does not have demands. It has at its core a suggestion: what if people came together and found a way to structure a conversation which might come up with a better way to run the world? Could they do any worse than the way it is run by the combined efforts of Wall Street as rentier class and Wall Street as computerized vectors trading intangible assets?..."
27 September 2011
17 September 2011
"This effort of thought seems to meet with its greatest resistance in attempting to define the thingness of the thing, for what else could be the reason for the failure of the above attempts? The inconspicuous thing withdraws itself from thought in the most stubborn of ways. Or is it rather that this self-refusal of the mere thing, this self-contained refusal to be pushed around belongs precisely to the nature of the thing? Must not, then, this disconcerting and uncommunicative element in the essence of the thing become intimately familiar to a thinking which tries to think the thing? If so, we should not force our way into the thing's thingness."
—Martin Heidegger, The Origin of the Artwork
15 September 2011
—David Graeber, An Anthropological Theory of Value
8 September 2011
6 September 2011
—Barry Sautman, Peking Man and the Politics of Paleoanthropological Nationalism in China
5 September 2011
"From a starting point in Christmas folklore, with its central figure of Father Christmas, in just a few unforgettable pages Levi-Strauss reconstructed the meaning of initiation rites; behind the adult-child opposition, he discerned a more basic opposition between living and dead. In fact, as we have seen, children correspond less to the dead than to ghosts. Within the perspective of signifying function, adults and dead belong to the same order, that of stable signifiers and the continuity between diachrony and synchrony. (From this point of view, there is little difference between cold societies, which represent this continuity as a circle in which the living become dead and these in turn become living, and hot societies like ours, which develop this continuity in a rectilinear process. In either case what matters is the continuity of the system.) But children and ghosts, as unstable signifiers, represent the discontinuity and difference between the two worlds. The dead person is not the ancestor: this is the meaning of the ghost. The ancestor is not the living man: this is the meaning of the child. For if the dead immediately became ancestors and ancestors immediately became living men, then the whole present would in an instant be transformed into past, and the whole past into present, and this would diminish that differential margin between synchrony and diachrony on which is based the potential for signifying relations, and with it the potential for human society and history. Thus, since ritual allows the persistence in the churinga of an irreducible diachronic residue, and play allows a synchronic residue in the toy, so the passage between the world of the living and the world of the dead allows the persistence of two points of discontinuity which are necessary to maintain the operation of a signifying function. So the passage between synchrony and diachrony, between world of the living and world of the dead, occurs in a kind of 'quantum leap', in which the unstable signifiers are the cipher:
Within this perspective, ghosts and children, belonging neither to the signifiers of diachrony nor to those of synchrony, appear as the signifiers of the same signifying opposition between the two worlds which constitutes the potential for a social system. They are, therefore, the signifiers of the signifying function, without which there would he neither human time nor history. Playland and the land of ghosts set out a utopian topology of historyland, which has no site except in a signifying difference between diachrony and synchrony, between aion and chronos, between living and dead, between nature and culture.
So the social system can be pictured as a complex mechanism in which (unstable) signifiers of signification are counterposed to stable signifiers, but where in reality an exchange takes place between them to guarantee the functioning of the system. Thus adults submit to becoming ghosts so that the ghosts can become dead, and the dead become children so that the children can become men and women. The object of funeral rites and initiation rites, therefore, is the transmission of the signifying function, which must resist and endure beyond birth and death. Thus no society, whether the hottest and most progressive or the coldest and most conservative, can altogether do without unstable signifiers and, in so far as they represent an element of disturbance and threat, must take care that the signifying exchange is not interrupted, so that phantoms can become dead and babies living men."
—Girorgio Agamben, "In Playland" in Infancy and History, 1978.
1 September 2011
"I have no hobby. Not that I am the kind of workaholic, who is incapable of doing anything with his time but applying himself industriously to the required task. But, as far as my activities beyond the bounds of my recognized profession are concerned, I take them all, without exception, very seriously. So much so that I should be horrified by the very idea that they had anything to do with hobbies - preoccupations with which I had become mindlessly infatuated merely in order to kill the time - had I not become hardened by experience to such examples of this now widespread, barbarous mentality. Making music, listening to music, reading with all my attention, these activities are part and parcel of my life; to call them hobbies would make a mockery of them. On the other hand, I have been fortunate enough that my job... cannot be defined in terms of that strict opposition of free time, which is demanded of the current razor-sharp division of the two..."
—Theodor Adorno, "Free Time," in The Culture Industry
29 August 2011
"In a sample of the residents interviewed, it was found that for above-ground dwellers of white-collar occupation, 4 out of 10 would be prepared to live in modern earth-covered housing compared to 8 out of 10 of the total sample. For these people, a large brick house was a cue to socioeconomic status. The fact that they chose to live above-ground despite the obvious drawbacks such as air-conditioners which were often inoperative due to irregular and uncertain power supply and clogging dust in fierce temperatures, suggest that some people must have had good reasons for so doing (as the lifestyle was adopted in spite of its obvious drawbacks.) Unfortunately these reasons were not investigated as they were not relevant to the subject of the research, but the following statements epitomize their attitudes: "I'm hot and miserable, but it's a good way to live—above-ground." "They're cooler underground and a lot more comfortable, but I still think above-ground is better." Most Australians and British people stated that they would live underground in modern earth-covered housing, whereas a high proportion of Greeks and Italians said they would not. Apart from the variables of racial origin the extreme climate was the main reason given for adopting the underground lifestyle, one English underground subject (U.Ss) commenting: sane sorts of people who want to get out the heat live underground." Approximately half of the residents of Coober Pedy lived above-ground and half underground; hence all either had experience with or at least knowledge of, the advantages and disadvantages of the underground lifestyle. Survey results indicated that 75 per cent of the population sample (including 50 per cent of the above-ground subjects, A.Ss) stated that, given the opportunity, they would live in modern earth-covered homes.
The sampling procedure followed was that of attempting to obtain an equal number of above and below-ground subjects. However, a disproportionate amount of time was spent in the field trying to equalise the numbers of above-ground subjects and underground subjects. Despite heroic efforts made on the part of interviewers when unbearable conditions prevailed (daily temperatures maxima ranging from 40 to 46 degrees C with dust storms blowing for half the period that the survey was in progress), and sometimes under threatening circumstances of savage guard dogs and gun-carrying home-owners, it was not possible to achieve equal sample numbers. Of all A.Ss approached, it was only possible to interview 26-per cent of them. When U.Ss were approached, without exception all agreed to be interviewed. The attitude of most U.Ss was open and enthusiastic. Even before the purpose of the survey as stated interviewers reported that a distinct attitudinal difference existed between A.Ss and U.Ss. A major proportion of A.Ss were suspicious, stating they thought the interviewer was a taxation official. Amongst those A.Ss who refused to be interviewed, there were some who were unexpectedly aggressive or abusive, those who slammed doors without speaking, those who shouted through closed doors: "Go away," and others who did not answer the doorknock even though sounds could clearly be heard from within. Most U.Ss gave their names freely and were eager to answer the questions and talking about living underground. (...)
That there were obvious differences towards the interviewers in the attitudes of most A.Ss compared to U.Ss was surprising. What could have caused these differences in attitude? Both sexes and a wide range of occupations, nationalities and age groups were represented in both groups. It seems reasonable to infer that environmental determinism of some type was operating. Although there were many variables involved, all environmental factors: heat, glare, drying winds, dust, geographic isolation, long periods of summer temperatures, and so on, would have been experienced by all respondents. However, the one factor that clearly separated the population of this multiracial township (52 nationalities were recorded) was the adopted mode of living. Occupants of conventional above-ground dwellings would have been more exposed to many of these environmental factors, while those in dugouts would have been comparatively sheltered.
To facilitate discussion on these observations, it is necessary to explain a concept originally proposed by Mehrabian and Russell, ad adopted here. Pleasure, arousal and dominance are considered as mediating variables (between environmental stimuli and resultant behavioural responses), and used to describe degrees of anxiety in relative terms of low pleasure, high arousal and low dominance. As used here, "pleasure," "arousal" and "dominance" have the following meanings:
"Pleasure: Pleasure/displeasure is a feeling state that can be...assessed with self-report...behavioural indicators...scored on a dimension of pleasantness...independent of their own arousal quality and dominance-submissiveness. Thus these cues provide an important behavioural end...pleasure is distinguished from preference, liking, positive reinforcement of approach-avoidance.
Arousal: A feeling state varying along a single dimension ranging from sleep to frantic excitement...most directly assessed by verbal report.
Dominance: Dominance-submissiveness is a feeling state that can be assessed from verbal reports...An individual's feeling of dominance in a situation is based on the extent to which he feels unrestricted or free to act in a variety of ways."
In the literature, certain environmental physical factors that have been associated with higher levels of arousal may have been influencing A.Ss. As A.Ss would have been subjected to an increased degree of exposure (compared to U.Ss), the possibility that this may have contributed to their attitude is discussed under the following headings:
1. Above-ground Subjects (A.Ss): Possible increased sensory stimulation from the environment due to conditions of: (a) low humidity; (b) high temperatures; (c) wind exposure; (d) glare and high levels of illumination; (e) positive air ionisation.
2. Underground Subjects (U.Ss): Possible decreased sensory stimulation from the environment due to conditions of: (a) absence of, or reduction in the number of windows; (b) noise attenuation; (c) heat and light, low intensity effects."
—Dr. Sydney A. Baggs "Environmental Factors Possibly Influencing Attitude in Australians Living in Above- and Below-Ground Dwellings in Arid Region Mining Town" in Report on the International Symposium on Earth Architecture, March 1986
27 August 2011
"At issue now is the positioning and posture of King in the 28-foot-tall statue that will greet visitors when the memorial is completed in 2009. Last year, the foundation caused a stir among some in the African-American community, particularly the Black art community, when it chose Lei Yixin--a Chinese "master sculptor" who has carved monuments of many of China's most prominent figures, including Mao Zedong, father of communist China--to design the monument of King.
Lei's goal, which was approved early in the planning process by the commission, was to depict King as a towering figure emerging from the "Mountain of Despair" to the "Stone of Hope." But in a letter written to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation on April 28, the seven-member, all-White fine arts commission expressed concern that without further refinements, including changes to make King look more "sympathetic," the sculpture would be "inappropriate as an expression of [King's] legacy."
"The original concept showed an image of Dr. King that was asymmetrically composed, dynamic in stance, meditative in character, and modeled as if emerging from the Stone of Hope," the letter stated. "[But] the development as shown now features a stiffly frontal image, static in pose, confrontational in character-and appearing as if it had been affixed to the surface of the Stone of Hope."
The letter from the commission went on to criticize the technique represented by the statue, saying, "The colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries."
The commission "recommended strongly that the sculpture be reworked, both in form and modeling, to return to a more sympathetic idea of the figure growing out of the stone with increasing detail and emphasis of the upper part of the figure."
In an interview with JET, Thomas E. Luebke, secretary of the fine arts commission, said that, while the language in the letter is strongly worded, the changes being requested are relatively minor. "It's subtle things," Luebke said. "There seems to be a shift from where it was to where it is now. Our interest is aesthetic. The commission has always supported the concept, the idea and design of the memorial. What we are asking is nothing drastic."
Foundation President Harry S. Johnson said that the objections of the commission, whose approval is necessary for the project to move forward, are part of a long back-and-forth process that every memorial has had to go through. Johnson said that the foundation plans to make minor "tweaks," including setting King's body back into the stone more, in hopes of satisfying the commission's desire to make King appear less dictatorial.
"This is normal," Johnson said. "If you look at the big memorials on the Mall, they all go through a very lengthy, and important, discussion because everyone wants it to be correct."
But even with these changes, some Black artists, including sculptor Ed Dwight, who had vied to be the project's sculptor, believe that depiction of King is anything but correct. Dwight has said that King would "be spinning in his grave" at the idea of a representative of the Chinese government--which once called King "a political lapdog"--being the lead sculptor of the memorial.
"This guy knows nothing about King," said Dwight of Lei, who is collaborating with Black artists James Chaffers and Jon Lockard, both University of Michigan professors, on the sculpture. "I've seen his rendering. It's not a good likeness of King. King never stood like that. He's standing with his legs spread like he's guarding something. His brow is larger than it should be. King never wore a bulky suit on that. The suit looks like the kind of suit that the Chinese people wear.""
18 August 2011
“Have you eaten yet?” is a collection of artist practices that work with farming and food production and consumption. It is meant as a database to find, compare and learn from these art practices, and their intentions, their methods, their networks. This is an ongoing list being compiled for the project Country Fair, within the context of China and the information available here, but it seeks to connect information of these practices internationally. It is presented online as well as at each Country Fair.
《你吃了吗？》是一篇有关农业以及食品生产和消费的艺术家实践汇编。本汇编相当于一个 数据库,其目的是帮助人们收集,对比,和学习这些艺术家的实践,意图,方法,社会网络。它是一 个正在进行中的列表,这一列表是在中国的语境和可获得的信息条件下为《市集/Country Fair》项目 所做的。但它也寻求这类实践的国际信息。本汇编在网络和市集上都可以找到。 因为这类艺术实践在现代艺术中谈及的较少,所以本数据库是很有必要的。颇具讽刺的是可及性还是许多这类艺术 家的项目所关注的。泛泛地说,虽然这些艺术实行常常跟本地环境、经济和社会体 系有关,但是它们大部分也关系到共有知识网络,在许多情况下 也巧妙地,综合地使用了科技手段。 当 然,艺术家个人网站上的信息是更深入的;《你吃了吗？》只是走近他们工作的一个切入点 。
请访问！ Please visit!
16 August 2011
"There was a time when the image of the voter was limited to a person in an institutional or economic role—trade unionist, organization man, bureaucrat, manager of the domestic economy, reproducer of labour power or whatever. Early socialism was based on the sibling-like solidarity of fraternalism and male bonding which moved on to the caring mother model of the postwar welfare state. Conservatives tended more to a paternalist mode—being a more or less kindly father, doing what was necessary for the family business to continue without unnecessary interruption. Voters/children were to be seen and not heard and should be grateful for whatever was done for them and should certainly fight for their rulers when told to do so. Admittedly this shifted to a determination to make the children stand on their own feet and not be "moaning minnies" in Mrs Thatcher's phrase, always asking for a helping hand instead of just getting on with it. Politicians fall easily into fatherly or motherly roles, chiding voters for not recognizing the difficult time they have in providing for 'the family', that is, all of them, and keeping the United Kingdom neat and clean and safe.
Rarely do politicians relate to voters in a truly unpatronizing and friendly way, expressing their feelings and hopes as one friend might to another. Nor do politicians let us see them as people enjoying pure friendly relations: we see them formally as mothers and fathers or patrons and clients, yet their close personal friendships remain hidden from view. If the family is the chief model for political relations, with much parliamentary debate being, as it were, a struggle between the authority of the father and the authority of the mother, this produces a highly directive, secretive and exclusive style of politics. The voters as children or siblings can do little more than react to what is done on their behalf. They cannot engage as friends. The more the political process is centralized, the greater will be this tendency. The principle of subsidiarity, to locate responsibility for decisions and actions at the lowest possible level, is certainly more friendly.
The larger formations of social life—kinship, the law, the economy—must be different where there is, in addition to solidarity and dutiful role performance, a willingness and capacity for friendship's surprising one-to-one relations. This difference alone may be enough to transform social and political life."
—Ray Pahl, "Friendship: the Social Glue?" in The Politics of Risk Society
8 August 2011
7 August 2011
"The idea of sleep as dream = caught up in a mythology of productivity, of work: "dream-work": sleep is useful for something; not only does it restore, "regain," "recuperate," it also transforms, labors: it is productive, rescued from the disgrace of the "good for nothing." (Psychoanalysis instituted the idea of the producing dream, material for analysis. Ideology of work: one doesn't dream "for nothing") ≠ utopian sleep (dreamless), falling asleep: unproductive : is even defined by the fact that it is a kind of unconditional expenditure (= the very essence of "perversion": all in all, it would be a perverse sleep):
1. Affinity with drugs, since, in both cases (Also Rescio on Walter Benjamin and H), it is a matter of "immersing one's important thoughts into a long sleep," into a "non-place," into the "fatherless" (but obviously not the "motherless": (worn out!) theme of the fetal sleep).
2. Affinity with the theme of immortality, through the figure of suspended time. Recall a frequent theme of the iconography of Greek vases or reliefs: night distributes its poppies, which are like the plant of immortality.
Diogenes Laertius tells a very beautiful story about Epimenides (one of seven wise men): "He was a native of Knossos in Crete, though from wearing his hair long he did not look like a Cretan. One day he was sent into the country by his father to look for a stray cheep, and at noon he turned aside out of the way, and went to sleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven hours. After this he gt up and went in search of his sheep, thinking he had been asleep only a short time. [...] So he became famous throughout Greece, and was believed to be a special favorite of heaven. [...] He lived one hundred and fifty-seven years." To take note of (at least in my view):
a. Selective suspension of time: his body ages, but his memory does not: he looks for his sheep; interestingly enough, I believe, since memory is not an act of pure recollection of the past, as if it were external to time the better to grasp it: memory is itself submitted to time, to its injustices → cf. process of writing that I have called anamnesis, it is the sheep of the Cretan, "as if it was yesterday," but in an aged body ≠ Myth of Sleeping Beauty: cruder since it's the whole setting of life that is frozen and then restarts: immortality by means of ice: freezing of the past as a whole (cf. cryothanatology: present-day sect that freezes corpses, because they believe that in several years science will have found new means of bodily survival). Greek myth more beautiful: sleep somehow more alive, "warm," because it separates (cf. above): lets the body (hair and face) age but suspends the time of memory.
b. A certain thought of immortality, since the Greeks think that a sleep of this kind is a gift of the gods: longevity of a stretching out of life; not the mathematical, "stupid" immortality (never to die, without taking the trouble to fantasize about what such an infinite life would be, what of our real life it would prolong, at what age it would lock us) but idea of the subject as set of traces (waves) recast according to different wavelengths.
c. Finally, notice that even for the Greeks the idea of an unproductive time triggers a resistance. True: Diogenes Laertius, Greek of the third century after Christ. Laertius: Cilicia, Anatolia. "Some are found to maintain that he did not go to sleep but withdrew himself for a while, engaged in gathering simples": he didn't sleep, he did something that, by the way, can relate to immortality, drugs."
—Roland Barthes, The Neutral
31 July 2011
Come in here, Dear boy, have a cigar.
You're gonna go far,
You're gonna fly high,
You're never gonna die,
You're gonna make it, if you try;
They're gonna love you.
Well I've always had a deep respect,
And I mean that most tensely.
The band is just fantastic,
that is really what I think.
Oh by the way, which one's Pink?
And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.
We're just knocked out.
We heard about the sell-out.
You gotta get an album out.
You owe it to the people.
We're so happy we can hardly count.
Everybody else is just green,
Have you seen the chart?
It's a hell of a start,
It could be made into a monster
If we all pull together as a team.
And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.
27 July 2011
26 July 2011
"Did any of the world religions, in some of their sects, recommend the perfection of ambivalence as a spiritual course whereby the novice ensures that he'll never be completely disappointed even as he also disqualifies himself from any true satisfaction? I wondered this."
—Benjamin Kunkel, Indecision
25 July 2011
“From being inside the center of the storm, I’ve learned not just about the structure of government, not just about how power flows in many countries around the world that we’ve dealt with, but rather how history is shaped and distorted by the media,” Julian Assange
24 July 2011
"For the 1889 Paris Exposition, Jules Bourdais, a prominent French architect, proposed to erect a tower 360 metres (1200 feet) high in the centre of Paris, near the Pont-Neuf, with arc-lights strong enough to illuminate the whole city. By this means the street lighting of Paris, which at the time consisted of thousands of gas-lamps, was to be transformed into city lighting. This proposal by the builder of the Trocadéro was the subject of a detailed discussion, along with another vision involving a tower, that of the bridge builder Gustave Eiffel. Eventually, however, the committee preparing the exposition decided to accept Eiffel's project. No one doubted that it was technically possible to illuminate the whole of Paris from one source of light. In the end, Eiffel's tower was built, not because it was considered less far-fetched than Bourdais'—on the contrary, contemporaries feared being blinded by such a centralized light source."
—Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Disenchanted Night
20 July 2011
4 July 2011
“If contemporary art, marginal and minute as its influence is, doesn’t get it together and offer new models for a future some of us still hope to have, chances are at this point nobody will, and that’s more than a shame.” Holland Cotter, “Doing Their Own Thing, Making Art Together,” The New York Times, January 19, 2003
27 June 2011
"Legend has it that the poet Simonides recited a soliloquy for a banquet held in one of the great halls in ancient Greece. Shortly after he left the building, the roof caved in, killing everyone inside. The bodies were so mangled they could not be recognized and authorities went to Simonides to see if he could remember at least who some of the people were. Surprisingly, he was able to recall everyone in the hall simply by remembering where the person sat around the tables in the room. He remembered them by their location.
The Roman orator Cicero, around the turn of the first century, expanded this concept by mentally placing ideas around the tables instead of people. He could recite volumes of information by seeing visions and symbols in the chairs. Like icons that we have on our computer desktop screens, his mental icons represented the critical points he needed to recall in his arguments or debates. Cicero became world renowned for his ability to make clear, lucid points in his debates without using notes. This technique became known as the Roman Room method. By projecting onto his mental screen a room equipped with tables and chairs, Cicero could simply walk around the area in his mind and elaborate his key points. He organized information in his mind so that he could mentally go around any table picking up the memories he had stored in various chairs and simply describing those memories to his audience. (...)
When I look carefully at our living room from the doorway, over to my left is the speaker stand in the corner. The TV console is located along the adjacent wall, and the rocking chair is in the next corner of the room. The fireplace is located on the wall opposite the doorway, and my favorite chair in the third corner of the room. The third wall is actually a larger doorway that leads to the dining room, and a lamp table occupies the fourth corner. Along the fourth and final wall is the sleeper sofa. The floor, carpeted, has a large walnut coffee table in front of the sofa, and a fan hangs from the ceiling. (...)
If I close my eyes, I can see this room completely in my mind. If I apply the third Reversible Rule of Engagement and give action to the picture in my mind, I can move the lens of my mind's eye—just like Ken Burns does in his excellent documentaries, beginning with the speaker and moving the camera lens all the way around the room, seeing each object in its very specific location. (...)
The mind doesn't distinguish between what is real and what is vividly imagined. In my mind there is no difference between looking at a room while standing in the doorway or looking at a room while seeing on the page. To make the room vivid, I mentally dust the room (my wife will tell you that I do a lot more imaginary dusting than I do real dusting). If it's appropriate, I mentally pick up each object, like a vase on a stand, and note its shape, texture, and feel while dusting it with a mental cloth. If it is something like a fireplace or a painting on the wall, I still take my cloth and feel the subtle grooves in the mantel or in the picture frame. Again, I am noting and picking out detail and applying deliberate intensity to each location in the room. Sometimes I even use aromatherapy or light a scented candle to help establish in my mind the overall environment of each room. Smell is a powerful memory stimulant, and it adds to the vividness of the environment. When you apply this technique, you understand how unlimited your mind and memory can be, because there are an infinite number of pictures of rooms in a seemingly infinite number of magazines on the bookshelves each month."
—Scott Hagwood Memory Power (2006)
19 June 2011
"Nobody's safe," said the trader. "If I felt safe, I wouldn't be talking to you next to a fridge in a dark space at the back of the stall."
"But, there were still bits of action. One guy was caught on the same stairway that I had been trapped on. He was caught there with his head under some girl's skirt. Then one of the girls who worked in the cafeteria complained that she hadn't been paid, as promised, for a bit of oral copulation she had supplied to a general foreman and 3 mailhandlers. They fired the girl and the 3 mailhandlers and busted the general foreman down to supervisor.
Then, I set the post office on fire.
I had been sent to fourth class papers and was smoking a cigar, working a stack of mail off a hand truck when some guy came by and said, "HEY, YOUR MAIL IS ON FIRE!"
I looked around,. There it was. A small flame was starting to stand up like a dancing snake. Evidently part of a burning ash had fallen in there earlier.
The flame grew rapidly. I took a catalogue and, holding it flat, I beat the shit out of it. Sparks flew. It was hot. As soon as I put out one section, another caught up.
I heard a voice:
"Hey! I smell fire!"
"YOU DON"T SMELL FIRE," I yelled, "YOU SMELL SMOKE!"
"I think I'm going to get out of here!"
"God damn you, then," I screamed, "GET OUT!"
The flames were burning my hands. I had to save the United States mail, 4th class junkmail!
Finally, I got it under control. I took my foot and pushed the whole pile of papers onto the floor and stepped on the last bit of red ash.
The supervisor walked up to say something to me. I stood there with the burned catalogue in my hand and waited. He looked at me and walked off.
Then I resumed casing the 4th class junkmail. Anything burned, I put to one side.
My cigar had gone out, I didn't light it again.
My hands hurt and I walked over to the water fountain, put them under the water. It didn't help.
I found the supervisor and asked him for a travel slip to the nurse's office.
It was the same one who used to come to my door and ask me, "Now what's the matter, Mr. Chinaski?"
When I walked in she said the same thing again.
"You remember me, eh?" I asked.
"Oh yes, I know you've had some real sick nights."
"Yeh," I said.
"All right, Mr. Chinaski, now what's your problem?"
"I burned my hands."
"Come over here. How did you burn your hands?"
"Does it matter? They're burned."
She was dabbing my hands with something. One of her breasts brushed me.
"How did it happen, Henry?"
"Cigar. I was standing next to a truck of 4th class. Ash must have gotten in there. Flames came up."
The breast was up against me again.
"Hold your hands still, please!"
Then she laid her whole flank against me as she spread some ointment on my hands. I was sitting on a stool.
"What's the matter, Henry? You seem nervous."
"Well... you know how it is, Martha."
"My name is not Martha. It's Helen."
"Let's get married, Helen."
"I mean, on the work floor."
She wrapped on some gauze.
"You mustn't burn the mails."
"It was junk."
"All mail is important."
All right, Helen."
She walked over to her desk and I followed her. She filled out the travel form. She looked very cute in her little white hat. I'd have to find a way to get back there.
She saw me looking at her body.
"All right, Mr. Chinaski, I think you better leave now."
"Oh yes... Well, thanks for everything."
"It's just part of the job."
A week later there were NO SMOKING IN THIS AREA signs all around. The clerks were not allowed to smoke unless they used ashtrays. Somebody had been contracted to manufacture all these ashtrays. They were nice. And said PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. The clerks stole most of them.
I had all by myself, Henry Chinaski, revolutionized the postal system."
—Charles Bukowski, Post Office
"For its competitions, ---- has developed a form of crowd sourced ---- that asks as many as 200 people to take part in the voting process. Our ---- system is designed to be as democratic as possible and the ---- identifies the two winning ---- without any input from ----. ---- read and evaluate ---- online. Each ---- reads a random cross section of all the ----, and our system ensures that each ---- is viewed and voted on the same number of times. All ---- are reviewed without the ---- names attached, and each ---- receives as many as 25 votes."
17 June 2011
"There must be historic reasons for the rise of the compartmental conception of fine art. Our present museums and galleries to which works of fine art are removed and stored illustrate some of the causes that have operated to segregate art instead of finding it an attendant of temple, forum, and other forms of associated life. An instructive history of modern art could be written in terms of the formation of the distinctively modern institutions of museum and exhibition gallery. I may point to a few outstanding facts. Most European museums are, among other things, memorials of the rise of nationalism and imperialism. Every capital must have its own museum of painting sculpture, etc., devoted in part to exhibiting the greatness of its artistic past, and, in other part, to exhibiting the loot gathered by its monarchs in conquest of other nations; for instance, the accumulations of the spoils of Napoleon that are in the Louvre. They testify to the connection between the modern segregation of art and nationalism and militarism. Doubtless this connection has served at times a useful purpose, as in the case of Japan, who, when she was in the process of westernization, saved much of her art treasures by nationalizing the temples that contained them.
The growth of capitalism has been a powerful influence in the development of the museum as the proper home for works of art, and in the promotion of the idea that they are apart from common life. The nouveaux riches, who are an important by-product of the capitalist system, have felt especially bound to surround themselves with works of fine art which, being rare, are also costly. Generally speaking, the typical collector is the typical capitalist. For evidence of good standing in the realm of higher culture, he amasses paintings, statuary, and artistic bijoux, as his stocks and bonds certify to his standing in the economic world.
Not merely individuals, but communities and nations, put their cultural good taste in evidence by building opera houses, galleries and museums. These show that a community is not wholly absorbed in material wealth, because it is willing to spend its gains in patronage of art. It erects these buildings and collects their contents as it now builds a cathedral. These things reflect and establish superior cultural status, while their segregation from the common life reflects the fact that they are not part of a native and spontaneous culture. They are a kind of counterpart of a holier-than-thou attitude, exhibited not toward persons as such but toward the interests and occupations that absorb most of the community's time and energy."
–John Dewey, Art as Experience, 1934.