31 October 2011

PlAtItudE QuEEn

Whilst having a routine clear-out Paul, a member of staff, mentions to his colleague Mark that, when he’s finished with his documents, he takes them home for his children to use for drawing pictures instead of placing them in the confidential waste bin. Mark mentions this to his line manager but takes no further action.

The 'New' 'Weird' Al Yankovic

"My life then was marked with great discord, seven long years of malaise. Although there was no desire to go back to that anointed but trapped self, there was the tension of having to shed this self. To have gone back meant a life lost to anxiety, to a constant dread of not ever finding one’s way home, a life so ill-fitting, I had no choice but to stay untethered in the new territory where the only fear was the unknown. Consequently, a technique of attention to be used in and on my daily life (Fisher 9) was needed to do the work via negativa: work not amongst people or for others but with and for oneself alone; painful arduous work, isolated, invisible, intimate, valuable only to oneself; work with the self as prima materia, the subject demanding to be the object of reflection, relentlessly attended to. Eventually there came a time when having lived long enough at the periphery, I started to know the periphery. Having painfully attended to my being there, a different self started to emerge, a self formed within and "of the periphery."" 
—Judy Freya Sibayan, Scapular Gallery Nomad: Beyond the Limits of the Center and Into One’s Own

27 October 2011

Take It Back

"Dear Geert,

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

Best wishes,


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

Stress the Civilization

"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

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.

Knowles Eddy Knowles: the magazine.


"...The abstraction that is Wall Street already has a double aspect. On the one hand, Wall Street means a certain kind of power, an oligopoly of financial institutions which extract a rent from the rest of us and in exchange for which we don't seem to get very much. “What's good for General Motors is good for America” was the slogan of the old military industrial complex. These days the slogan of the rentier class is: “What's good for Goldman Sachs is none of your fucking business.”
This rentier class is an oligopoly that makes French aristocrats of the 18
th 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?..."

McKenzie Wark: 'How to Occupy an Abstraction'