Greedy for the Experiences of Others
Is the coveting of experience the same as the coveting of property?
Resting and Reloading
Experienced my first tennis lesson.
Listening to P. J. Harvey, '4-Track Demos.'
Contemplated the The First Manifesto of the International Necronautical Society.
4. "Our ultimate aim shall be the construction of a craft that will convey us into death in such a way that we may, if not live, then at least persist. With famine, war, disease and asteroid impact threatening to greatly speed up the universal passage towards oblivion, mankind's sole chance of survival lies in its ability, as yet unsynthesised, to die in new, imaginative ways. Let us deliver ourselves over utterly to death, not in desperation but rigorously, creatively, eyes and mouths wide open so that they may be filled from the deep wells of the Unknown."
"In your worship of women, never forget that they die. In your enjoyment of pleasure and delight, never forget that your sensations and feelings are fleeting, and never absolutely enough. Women can attract you, heal you, and inspire your gifts, but they will never satisfy you absolutely. Never. And you know this.
"This is why women are so frustrating to you. Their promise attracts you, in one way or another, perhaps many times a day. And yet, throughout your life, you have learned and will continue to learn that they cannot make good on the promise. The fulfillment that seems like a woman is actually unavailable in her form."
David Deida, Chapter 43: Use Her Attractiveness as a Slingshot Through Appearance, from 'The Way of the Superior Man' (1997).
Responding to my entries on the psychic aftermath of NDE's (June 24 and June 25) and 'On the Sudden Loss of Self,' Dirk Hine (proprietor of the Subterranean Notes Weblog) sent me a note describing depersonalization disorder and the following two URLs:
What did I do today?
I read books and I read email. I sent and answered email. And I went shopping to replenish my dwindling stock of fruit and vegetables.
I washed the dishes left from last night's dinner with Mark Kremer. I sent Mark an email and received his reply a few hours later from Goteborg. (He flew up there this morning as one of the curators for this summer's 'Amateur' exhibition. When I queried him last night -- over the dinner table -- about Duchamp's conception of 'guests, hosts and ghosts' he advised me to address all 'guest, host, ghost' questions to Tout-Fait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal.)
I had Bartomeu Mari (the director of Witte de Wit) for a studio visit.
I made a telephone call to Mike and Isabelle. Isabelle told me the project that she and Stefan did last week in the De Balie was a grand success. I told her that since Dimitri had been invited by Jos Houweling to study at the Sandburg Institute that Eva would probably move back to Amsterdam.
I asked Mike his opinion about the proposed Arti exhibition, Is There Really Any Difference Between Life and Death? which we've both been invited for. He tells me his opinion. We agree that while the theme is interesting, there are reasons for reticence. The artist list is impressive, including scions like Mark Dion, Marc Quinn, Damien Hirst -- but what is the chance that they will actually join? And doesn't the exhibition concept seem very naïve in its ambition? (Why doesn't Arti just screen videos of Dexter's Lab?) Discussion drifts to NDE's and flotation tanks. We wonder whether or not it would be fun to go together to the Transhumanist conference next week in London.
I made a telephone call to Linda Nijenhof (who is organizing the 'expert meeting' in the Groninger Museum on the 19th) to find out to which institution I had been ascribed in the invitation sent to the other 'experts.' (The answer was 'as an artist' and not, as I was afraid, as a representative of 'Media-GN.') And yes, there is an honorarium.
The telephone call to my sister-in-law Jane was easier than replying to her emails pending in my in box. Calls to Jane provide much wonderful counterpoint to balance life in the lowlands (especially during the trials of the last half year). The news from Hopkin's Landing: only one of the wild ducklings in the pond has survived. Deer visit the yard now on a daily basis (once bringing along a baby fawn). And the salmon run is so poor the government is closing the sport fishery.
Telephone call from the Gemeente Zoetermeer requesting the status of the replacement canoes for Victory, Love, Conquest. Called Tiekano, the canoes have arrived. Called Zoetermeer for where they should be delivered. Mailed Tiekano the delivery details.
Listened to P. J. Harvey. It took a couple of weeks to burn through her complete catalog, but it's done now. Last stop (in my own non-chronological hop-scotch) is Dance Hall at Louse Point.
Searched. Good search is never simple. I spent a huge amount of time hunting for a good search phrase to find information about 'the film that flashes before your eyes at the moment of death.' It turns out that the technical term, borrowed from geriatric psychology, is 'life review.' Glad I know that now.
Went to Erik Odijk's opening at Stroom. JK turned up and after a bit of socializing with friends we found ourselves sitting off to the side on a bench, ignoring the opening around us, deep in discussion about the future. Devising devices, planning and scheming inevitably happens whenever the two of us come together -- I think we've come to expect this of each other -- we cogitate and banter ideas back and forth until the desired magic words appear in the air before us, blinking on and off like little navigation lights, providing each of us with a sense of accord and temporary direction. Today's session produced two new-old names: Jeffrey Deitch and John Brockman.
Later, back behind the keyboard I wonder: what's the sense of invoking such doyens? Somehow the thought of standing on someone else's shoulders (no matter how many sets of shoulders they're standing on...) seems neither wanted nor needed.
So what was the question again?
The trouble with any set of coordinates is that they define 'the space' (and thus close the space) right from the start. And even if it were possible to 'unlearn' a set of coordinates, at some point the 'learning' starts again. But what if we begin by accepting ALL possible points and coordinates? So that there were no distinctions? No selection? No sense?
Could we develop a repertoire that included absolutely everything?
Fly Me to the Moon
Where there's a market for everything.
"This leads us to the concept of Dharmadhatu, as it was understood in the Gandavyuha Sutra. Buddhists of the Chinese Hua-yen school listed four ways of viewing dharmadhatu. Of these four, Suzuki considers the last one as most characteristic for Gandavyuha: Dharmadhatu as a world where each one of its particular objects is identifiable with every other particular object, with whatever lines of separation there may be between them, all removed."
"Dharmadhatu is from one perspective different from Lokadhatu (world of diversity and individuality), while from another perspective it is Lokadhatu. It is full of individual concrete realities. The individualities are fused (interpenetrating) unobstructedly (anavarana), and each one is reflected in the other, while retaining their separateness."
Thich Nhat Hanh on Dharmadhatu and Lokadhatu:
"In the teaching of the Buddha there are also two terms that are equivalent: Lokadhatu and Dharmadhatu. Lokadhatu is the world and Dharmadhatu is also the world, but in Lokadhatu it seems that everything is outside of everything else. You are not I, I am not you. You are not your father; your father is not you. But if you live deeply and you touch deeply, you will touch the Dharmadhatu where everything is in everything else."
Trained. Took the train. Took coffee. Took the bus. Walked and talked. Took a photograph. Took apples and bread. Took the bus. Took the train. Took the tram. Walked and talked. Took a taxi. Took the dinner. Walked and talked (part of the way under the umbrella).
After the vernissage the dinner. Last night's company from L to R: Annelys de Vet, Jop van Bennekom, Janet Abrams.
"Then she met Robin. The Denckman circus, which she kept in touch with even when she was not working with it (some of its people were visitors to her house), came into New York in the fall of 1923. Nora went alone. She came into the circle of the ring, taking her place in the front row.
"Clowns in red, white and yellow, with the traditional smears on their faces, were rolling over the sawdust as if they were in the belly of a great mother where there was room to play. A black horse, standing on trembling hind legs that shook in apprehension of the raised front hooves, his beautiful ribboned head pointed down and toward the trainer's whip, pranced slowly, the foreshanks flickering to the whip. Tiny dogs ran about trying to look like horses, then in came the elephants."
"A girl sitting beside Nora took out a cigarette and lit it...
"... Then as one powerful lioness came to the turn of the bars, exactly opposite the girl, she turned her furious great head with its yellow eyes afire and went down, her paws thrust through the bars and, as she regarded the girl, as if a river were falling behind impassable heat, her eyes flowed in tears that never reached the surface. At that the girl rose straight up. Nora took her hand. "Let's get out of here!" the girl said, and still holding her hand Nora took her out.
"In the lobby Nora said, "My name is Nora Flood," and she waited. After a pause the girl said, "I'm Robin Vote." She looked about distractedly. "I don't want to be here." But it was all she said; she did not explain where she wished to be."
Djuna Barnes. Nightwood (1937).
JK arrived at the studio in Rotterdam and we passed the day devising devices, planning and scheming. And somewhere in the middle of our discussion we came up with what we think of as a 'rilly, rilly' good idea that contains many, many interesting affordances.
Charting this new thing's precedents and headwaters:
"...she turned her furious great head with its yellow eyes afire and went down, her paws thrust through the bars and, as she regarded the girl, as if a river were falling behind impassable heat, her eyes flowed in tears that never reached the surface." (DB)
And I'm (dreamily) listening to: E luxo so by Labradford.
Precipitation, the fall of water from the atmosphere in the form of hail, mist, rain, sleet, and snow. Deposits of dew, fog, and frost being excluded.
Precipitation, very basically, comes in two forms; a liquid and a solid. The liquid variety of precipitation is known as rain or drizzle. The solid variety of precipitation falls in the form of snow, graupel , snow grains, sleet, or hail. A given vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere will determine whether liquid or solid precipitation will fall.
A Typology of Precipitation
(Comphrensive. Composited from various sources.)
RAIN - precipitation in the form of liquid water drops that have diameters greater than that of drizzle (greater than 0.5 mm). Most rain actually starts out as snow high in the atmosphere but, during the warm season the snow falls into the warm air in the lower atmosphere melting the snow into rain drops.
DRIZZLE - precipitation from stratus clouds consisting of numerous minute, fine water droplets that fall slowly or appear to float. In drizzle, the droplets are much smaller (0.2 and 0.5 mm) than in rain.
VIRGA - streaks or wisps of precipitation falling from a cloud but evaporating before reaching the ground.
SNOW - a solid form of precipitation composed of ice crystals in complex hexagonal forms. Most precipitation forms as snow. If the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere is such that the temperature is below freezing from the top of the troposphere to the ground, then snow will fall to the ground.
FALL STREAKS - precipitation associated with cirrus clouds. Formed when ice crystals or snow forms in cirrus and fall from the cloud with typical speeds of 1to 8 m/s. Fall streaks tend to stretch horizonally as well as vertically.
SLEET - a type of precipitation consisting of transparent pellets of ice 5 mm or less in diameter. Also known as ice pellets. The shape may vary, but usually sleet is spherical. Sleet and hail are often confused, but they are two very different events. Hail accompanies thunderstorms, whereas sleet is primarily a wintertime event. Sleet is formed when snow falls into a fairly deep layer of warm air causing it to melt into rain drops. The rain drops then fall into a moderately deep layer of subfreezing air which may extend to the ground. The rain drops then freeze into ice pellets which bounce off of surfaces on contact.
FREEZING RAIN or FREEZING DRIZZLE - liquid drops which fall into a shallow layer of subfreezing air close to the ground. The drops freeze on contact, glazing surfaces with a coating of ice. Very often during the cold season, storm systems will become strong enough to bring warm air into the mid and upper layers of the atmosphere. The warm upper atmosphere causes snow to melt into rain drops which fall to the ground. In the case of freezing rain or drizzle, warm air never makes it into the ground layer of the atmosphere, so the rain that falls freezes on contact.
SNOW GRAINS - a form of solid precipitation consisting of very small, white, opaque particles of ice. Snow grains are essentially the solid equivalent of drizzle and resemble snow pellets in appearance but generally have diameters less than 1 mm. Snow grains never fall in the form of a shower like snow pellets do, but instead fall in small quantities from stratus clouds or from fog.
SNOW PELLETS or GRAUPEL - ice particles between 2 and 5 mm in diameter that form in a cloud. In most cases graupel falls in a shower, often before and sometimes together with snow and mainly when the surface temperatures are at or slightly below freezing. Graupel is formed as a result of an ice crystal falling though a layer of supercooled water droplets which accrete on the ice crystal's surface.
HAIL - formed in thunderstorms, which characteristically have tremendous updrafts and downdrafts. A hailstone begins as a tiny ice crystal which grows in size by accretion as it is thrown into areas of supercooled water droplets in a thunderstorm. The thunderstorm updraft will continue to suspend a growing hailstone until it reaches a size where its shear weight overcomes the updraft allowing it to fall to the ground. The stronger the updraft, the longer the growing hailstone is suspended in the supercooled area of the cloud allowing it to grow, in some cases, to a very large size.
Local Accounts of Precipitation
(And its precursors and effects.)
Summer 1982: As above, so below and the first time I hear of Butoh and the 'Body Weather Laboratory.' I begin to believe that somewhere in the body it is always snowing...
February 22, 1999: We report an incident of very high water outside Alamut Headquarters.
May 6, 1999: A connection is made between safety and average rainfall during the bombing of Belgrade. According to our survey the safest place on earth (in the event of enemy bombers) is Cherrapunji, India.
(Aesthetically speaking) Dutch clouds are what 'Make Dutch Light So Different, So Appealing.' To prove it here's a remarkable Cloud Atlas from a member of the Holland Atmospheric Light Phenomena Observers Network.
Future, n. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured. AMBROSE BIERCE, The Devils Dictionary (1881-1911).
If a man carefully examine his thoughts he will be surprised to find how much he lives in the future. His well-being is always ahead. Such a creature is probably immortal. EMERSON (1827).
Cf. John Wren-Lewis and his theory of the hyperactive survival-mechanism (25.06.00).
Salvia Divinorum Update
About 4-5 years ago, when I was last paying attention to ethnobotanical entheogens, news about Diviner's Mint (Salvia divinorum) was just beginning to appear on a special interest mailing list that I was on. Today, while hunting down information on meditation and time distortion (time lengthening and slowing down), I stumbled across Salvia divinorum again and found, not suprisingly, that there's now tons of information about this interesting plant all over the net.
The Future is Monstrous Update
"The future can only be anticipated in the form of an absolute danger. It is that which breaks absolutely with constituted normality and can only be proclaimed, presented, as a sort of monstrosity." JACQUES DERRIDA, Of Grammatology.
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." NIETZSCHE, Beyond Good and Evil.
Recently two different friends (Hans van Houwelingen and Johan Faber) have advised me to read Peter Sloterdijk's essay, Regeln für den Menschenpark (1999). As far as I can tell, this essay hasn't been translated into english, at least not on the net, excepting the title, variously transcribed as Rules for the Human Park, Rules for the Human Zoo or Rules for the Human Theme Park.
Anger as Philosopher Revives Vocabulary of Third Reich, is a news story from the Independent Online (courtesy of the Philosophy News Service) explaining why Sloterdijk's essay is so controversial.
The Operable Man: On the Ethical State of Gene Technology, is the text for a lecture that Sloterdijk gave two months ago in Boston at the Goethe Institute.
The Goethe Institute program (and links to other lecture texts) for Sloterdijk's visit, including video clips of the UCLA symposium, Enhancing the Human: Genomics, Science Fiction, and Ethics Collide (Sloterdijk, Gregory Stock, Gregory Benford and others).
Other recent 'the future is monstrous' essays include Bill Joy's Why the Future Doesn't Need Us (mentioned and elaborated with a 'goo bestiary' on Alamut 14.03.00) and David Gerlernter's The Second Coming: A Manifesto (at Edge.org).
Aernout Mik & Paul Perry, Liebesmahle, January 1985, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Arnhem.
Watched Peter Weir's 'Fearless' last night. Called Aernout today and spoke with him for the first time in years. Later I dug out the pictures of our performances together in 1984 and 1985 and looked at them.
Today 1 year ago: Same As It Every Was?
Today 2 years ago: Self-Surgery (or Rubbing Your Culture Back Into Yourself).
After a while the weblog becomes a minefield...
I think that webloggers should conspire together to publish more poetry. Bring poetry more into the public eye. The genre's (weblogs) 'scrapbook format' certainly affords this, poetry can be used as illustration, annotation, commentary or even the subject or context for a whole day's affections. Personally, I get a lot from the poems I read on other people's sites (I always like what Nina publishes for example).
Ray's publishing house, The Hotsy Totsy Club, had me absolutely in stitches (ROTFLOL) the other day when it published a poem by Archy the cockroach called 'The Suicide Club.' (Okay, okay, it's funny, but it wasn't exactly Archy's words that had me laughing so hard -- it was describing Archy as 'the thinking man's Charles Bukowski' that had the tears streaming down my face. Thanks a million Ray!)
In case you missed it, here it is repeated (it bears repeating):
i was a
From 'The Life and Times of Archy and Mehitabel' by Don Marquis.
Listening (cautiously) to Tortoise's TNT.
Reading Susan Blackmore's Dying to Live: The Near Death Experience. Most writers on NDE's interpret the phenomena as 'proof of an afterlife' (and this good news has created a jolly fine reading and writing market -- Amazon, for example, lists '185 books' in their category 'Near-death experiences'...). Blackmore is one of the few NDE researchers who critiques this very prevalent interpretation.
Plunderbund, 'Group or alliance of financial or political interests that exploits the public.' (from Howard Rheingold's wonderful dictionary of untranslatable words They Have A Word For It. Rheingold -- or his source, David Grambs -- ascribes the word to the Dutch, and although that seems plausible enough given the trade history of the clever Dutch, it is nowhere to be found in De Grote Van Dale, the definitive lexicon of the Dutch language. Could the term be German? Google lists 27 instances of plunderbund, but none are Dutch or German pages.)
Plunderbunding is a naturally occurring process. We all plunderbund (when and where we can) and each of us is the product of past plunderbunding. What's wrong in organizing and grouping ourselves together in order to control and/or alter others or the environment for our own benefit? Genes do it (genes to gene complexes), cells do it (single to multicellularity), organisms do it (all manner of symbiotic relationships). Even words (rhythm to be memorable, rhetoric to seize the imagination) and ideas (memes to meme complexes) do it. Life would not be life without the plunderbund.
So stop feeling guilty and go gently into the night. Though the party would have us think differently, plunderbund IS NOT shameful and knows no left or right:
Dirty Little Secrets
The bigger they are the harder they fall.
As a big fan of the Smalltalk programming language* I find the epithet, 'Smalltalk -- Java's Dirty Little Secret' not only true, but exceedingly well put (a well put put-down?). Having professional secrets is one thing. Coming on as earth-shakingly original and innovative (when you're not) seems to be just asking for trouble...
Navigating the world as an artist I feel almost obliged to keep my share of professional secrets, hidden sources and private muses, while simultaneously avoiding (potential) 'dirty little secrets' like the plague. Especially in a field where issues of 'originality' are involved.
So here, to protect myself, I give you a professional secret which is in danger of becoming dirty. Here, hidden behind the mild mannered facade of this site in Belgium: the Union of International Associations.
A sample to get you started amongst the UIA's 11,000 pages:
* (Disclaimer: While I've spent many happy hours mucking about with programming systems, I am not a programmer. (Who says you have to be a football player to be a fan of a football team?) The languages I like: Lisp/Scheme and Smalltalk/Squeak.)
Looks like I caught a cold.
There Is No Future
Keith Auguststine: The Case Against Immortality.
But Still Tons of Striving
How ideas (words) might use people to grow and further develop themselves:
"We start with a textbook sentence which is devoid of any trace of fabrication, construction or ownership; we then put it in quotation marks, surround it with a bubble, place it in the mouth of someone who speaks; then we add to this speaking character another character to whom it is speaking; then we place all of them in a specific situation, somewhere in time and space, surrounded by equipment, machines, colleagues; then when the controversy heats up a bit we look at where the disputing people go and what sort of new elements they fetch, recruit or seduce in order to convince their colleagues; then we see how the people being convinced stop discussing with one another; situations, localisations, even people start being slowly erased; on the last picture we see a new sentence, without any quotation marks, written in a text book similar to the one we started with in the first picture."
Bruno Latour, Science in Action: How to follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society (1987).
I'm really enjoying reading Joanna Macy's Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory. (Then again, this is probably not that odd, since Macy has written a book about two of my greatest interests...)
and General Systems Theory
"Much can be discovered about mutual causality and its implications when we use perspectives of both general systems theory and early Buddhist teachings. In no other bodies of thought is such a view of causal process set forth so coherently and precisely. We can employ these two perspectives to illuminate the notion of mutual causality, each from a different angle, using different data. It is not my aim to compare systems theory and the Buddha Dharma. While their views of the nature of reality may often appear to converge and complement one another, they remain two different kinds of human enterprise.
"Arising from the sciences as a cross-disciplinary tool, general systems theory represents a set of conceptualizations employed to increase understanding of natural events for purposes of explanation, prediction and control. While these conceptualizations are increasingly appropriate to considerations of value and the human quest for meaning, the aim is hardly soteriological. The aim of the Buddha Dharma is... The world view it offers and the ethic it teaches provide a structure of transformation, whereby it is held that suffering can be transcended and consciousness opened to that which is of irreducible reality and value."
On the Road
Yesterday I was in Groningen for an 'expert meeting' at the museum. Today I'll be in Antwerp to see the 'Ways of World Making' exhibition.
"There is more in the world than you have dreamt of in all of your philosophies, Horatio."
"Actually, Hamlet had it reversed. The philosophical problem is that there appears to be much less in the world than we have dreamt of in our philosophies."
Nelson Goodman, Ways of World Making.
Listening to A Silver Mt. Zion: He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms.
IMO the highlights of the 'Ways of World Making' exhibition (yesterday's excursion to Antwerp) were the fabulous collection of early atlases, and...
Where the second column gives the model diameter, the third column the minumum distance from sun and the fourth column the maximum distance from sun.
Near Life Experience
Went 'wadlopen' this weekend with Annelys de Vet and Rudy Luijters. Early Saturday evening we left from a point near Pieterburen in a group of 4 guides and about 20 other wadlopers and walked to Simonszand, a sandbar due east of Schiermonnikoog, where we spent the night. Early Sunday morning we continued on our way, in part retracing our route and then cutting west to walk down the length of Schiermonnikoog, ending our walk at the ferry terminal.
To 'wadloop' means to walk across stretches of sea bottom which have been laid bare during a low tide. Sometimes this means actually being able to walk on firm wet sand, but very often it means wading (or swimming) through water and slowly sinking and slogging through varying consistencies of mud, silt and slime. To 'wadloop' means to get dirty and wet, but therein lies its beauty: the primordial sensuality of the mud and the slime, the wandering through an alien biotope, the disconcerting tableau of seeing a party of people moving forward through a gray sea under a gray sky where for 360 degrees around there is no land in sight...
From beginning to end the weekend was superlative, absolutely magical. Annelys and Rudy provided perfect company, the conversation was impeccable, the respect and graciousness shown to each other -- completely charming.
An email from a friend scuba diving in Egypt drew my attention this evening to Michel Houellebecq's The Elementary Particles (English translation due October 10, 2000), a book which, since its appearance two years ago, seems to have raised quite a furore in France.
The best discussion of this controversial novel (and its anti-American stance) which I have found is Seth Armus's essay, The American Menace in the Houellebecq Affair.
And completely tangental to the point of the essay, but of much interest to me (from the perspective of the interview as a form of knowledge engineering) is the following line:
"Marion Van Renterghem, writing in Le Monde, found that Houellebecq does not so much give interviews on a subject as use them to respond to his last interview."
Presence and absence, guests and ghosts, objective and subjective experience...
Crashing the Vehicle
Bas Jan Ader, Fall II, 1970.
Bas Jan Ader, In Search of the Miraculous, 1975. The artist makes ready his 13 ft. (4.5 meter) boat, the 'Ocean Wave,' before his final, ill-fated, journey.
Cindy Loehr in the New Art Examiner (March 2000):
"The implied loss of control that comes with falling, and the creative space it opens up, are the driving forces of Ader's work. He was a master of falling. He filmed himself falling out of a tree, falling off his house, riding his bike into a river, falling 'on the way to a new Neo-Plasticism,' and executing a 'broken geometric fall.' He took a picture of himself in front of a forest, standing and then lying down among fallen trees. He suspended cement bricks from the ceiling above various 'vulnerable objects': cakes, flowers, and eggs, and then cut the ropes so that the bricks fell. In his garage he filmed himself holding blocks above strings of lights. He held them until he could no longer bear their weight, and then they fell, smashing the lights, drowning the room and himself in darkness. In the film and series of photographs Untitled (Tea Party), a tea set lures an unsuspecting man under a human-size animal trap, which then falls and traps him inside. Perhaps even more telling, in another performance Ader repeatedly read from a Reader's Digest article called 'The boy who fell over Niagara Falls' as he slowly sipped from a glass of water. Then, while sailing across the Atlantic ocean in 'In Search of the Miraculous', he fell out of our field of vision."
Before and After the Crash
From the (admittedly meager) synopsis given at NYU's Literature, Arts and Medicine Database and the reviews on Amazon I gather that Elaine Scarry's book, 'The Body in Pain,' advances the view that pain is a "radically subjective, hence inexpressible experience" that "destroys or deconstructs the victims world." Well yes, this does seem to make sense. From the perspective of the 'experiencer' extreme pain is not sharable (can not be communicated) and as far as it deconstructs (collapses) the self and the world it can not be social.
Strange then, that this condition, that of the radically subjective body stripped of its landmarks, seems to be precisely the desired 'singularity without identity... the absoutely exposed singularity' discussed by Giorgio Agamben in 'The Coming Community' (see the passage, '... the petty bourgeoisie is probably the form in which humanity is moving towards its own destruction ...' which Jouke is currently trying to unravel.)
Or did I get it wrong?
Bearing in mind (i.e. as long as we stay human) that 'disease is the future state of health' (30.12.99) here are some titles concerning our culture of extreme dis-ease:
At a time when the petty bourgeoisie are said to be drifting towards destruction -- I'm telling myself it is good to be an artist.
Listening to Do Make Say Think. They're from Toronto and share the same label as 'Godspeed You Black Emperor!' and 'A Silver Mt. Zion.' All three make a good case for Canadian content IMO.
Reading the sports section yesterday of the NRC Handelsblad (found on the train) I see that Tiger Woods will probably be the first sportsperson in the world to earn a billion dollars. Good!
And yesterday evening I was surprised (at my meeting with Peter van Ingen) that the initiators of the 'Evening of Science and Society' couldn't come up with better science-society dilemmas. (Remember, art won't solve dilemmas but will try to turn them into good drama. One of my favorites: The Doctor's Dilemma -- Literary Exercises in Pessimism and Paranoia -- being proof of this...)
Took the metro, train and bus to Meijendel this afternoon for a walk with Rogério Lira (who, through careful planning, successfully managed to maintain his ongoing holiday
At the beach we talked about a million things. Work (upcoming projects). Dutch doctors and accountants. Sex (ual yoga). Gift giving. Impossible relationships.
The BIG thing for me though, was the memory of how I actually came to climb a rock (and fall down and get myself frightfully scared) during the summer of 1977. You see, while lately I've found myself telling this story to others (related to my interest in NDE's), I hadn't thought about why I went climbing alone that day, and what led up to it, at least until I started to describe to Rogério a feature I'd noticed in my reading of 'Mr. Rinyo-Clacton's Offer' (review) and a connection that I saw between this feature and the Drummer sequence in Neal Stephenson's 'The Diamond Age' (or more accurately between the sexual dissolution of Jonathon Fitch and the nano-engineer John Percival Hackworth).
Confused by this?
The pattern was we were all looking for instructions, got them at the right moment and followed them. Took them seriously. In Mr. Rinyo-Clacton's Offer the instructions were given via calling cards, in The Diamond Age via a fortune cookie and in my case via a message printed on a green t-shirt.
Such moments can change your life.
(I promise to tell the story and explain the connection to the two books I mentioned some other time.)
Applies to Humans Only
There is a guy at the gym who wears sweat shirts calling attention to Kendo. I talked with him this evening. Turns out he is the chairman of the local Kendo club. I asked him a lot of questions about his dojo and the training and we talked a little about Aikido.
So much to do. So little time.
From Aikido FAQ: Introduction:
Listening to Mogwai: C.O.D.Y.
There is so little that is close and warm
From 'Debris of Life and Mind' by Wallace Stevens.
"The mind which plunges into Surrealism relives with glowing excitement the best part of its childhood."
Listening to Sparklehorse: Good Morning Spider.
Morning cloudy, afternoon sunny. Was at the gym at 9 to play tennis with Peter, anxious to test the Prince Thunder Comp which I picked up the other day. While I noticed an improvement to my service, I found it considerably less powerful than the racket that I've been borrowing from Arno and so I decided to take it back.
In the city the 'Summer Carnival' (a tropical carnival parade) was underway with huge, huge crowds lining the parade path. And the sporting goods store where I exchanged the Thunder Comp for a Thunder Ultralite (lighter, larger head size, more power, more expensive) was on the same path. I got there okay but when I left the store to do my next errand I seriously misjudged the best route and, turning right rather than left, got jammed into a horrible pushing crowd completely stuck between the road and the bleachers that had been set up for the VIPS in front of city hall.
Hell is definitely a breath-squeezing crowd of partying people*. There were moments this afternoon when I imagined being crushed to death before the eyes of the mayor. (Images of 1985's Heysel Stadium Disaster.)
"The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd."
(André Breton, 1929. Reputedly from 'The Second Surrealist Manifesto.' I've looked everywhere online for the complete manifesto. Where the hell is it? It should be online.)
'In a Participatory Universe There's No Such Thing as a Neutral Observer' (observed on some girl's t-shirt).
Feeling exceedingly maudlin listening to two specific tracks on Yo La Tengo's new CD, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-out. The first track: Tears Are in Your Eyes. The second track: Night Falls on Hoboken.
This evening I had a serious encounter with S. divinorum. It was awesome.
My first attempt last night I completely flubbed. Surprised by the sudden harshness of the smoke I ended up choking and coughed it back into the small glass pipe, splashing water onto the floor. Net effect: slight embarrassment (me) and a very slight feeling of disorientation (the Salvia).
Tonight I was better prepared. Sitting on a cushion on the floor, I inhaled the smoke much more s-l-o-w-l-y, this time able to hold it in. When my lungs were filled I noticed that not all the pulverized leaves had been burnt, and thinking that I would probably need another toke, I held on to the glass bulb, laying the lighter gently across the top of the bowl, in order to trap the smoke. Then something wonderful happened. I remember looking at the bulb containing water and white smoke and my hand holding it. And then the awareness of MY HAND holding the bulb shifted to an awareness of SOMEONE'S HAND holding the bulb. I believe that this took about 3 seconds. And that's the last thing 'I remember.' I certainly don't recall ever breathing out.
What happened next? It's hard to say. I'm afraid all I've got are a few partial images and a couple of words ('peeling' is one, 'orbit' is another). If I had to give a report I suppose the following sentences would be all I could provide:
I didn't time the experience, but I figure that not more than five minutes passed before I came to myself again. I found myself sitting in the same place, but extremely confused. And then I noticed that the pipe and lighter had moved from the spot where I was sitting to my kitchen counter, a distance of about 8 meters. Though I must have moved them, I cannot believe that I actually got up and walked there and walked back again (although this must have been 'the orbit'...)
Needless to say I'm impressed. (And somewhat shaken by the whole experience. This is kick-ass stuff. Now I understand why the literature suggests using a friend as 'a spotter.')
Tying together loose ends.
Wadlopen (precarious navigation, walking on water, stepping out of and sinking back into organic muck) is a movement from all times and places (crowds of time, relic sets of space). Dutch monks did it in the middle ages. George Orwell did it in Marrakech ('bumpy underfoot' 02.04.99).
From the pen of the Emily Dickinson:
"I stepped from Plank to Plank
"I knew not but the next
Wadlopen in The Diamond Age
(Or down the Drummers hole and what Hackworth found there.)
From Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age:
"He dismounted from Kidnapper and followed her on foot. Kidnapper followed him silently. They walked across the park for a half mile or so, and Hackworth kept his distance because when he got to close to her, the images in her hair bewildered his eyes. She took him to a wild stretch of beach where immense Douglas fir logs lay scattered around. As Hackworth clambered over the logs trying to keep up with the woman, he occasionally caught a handhold that appeared to have been carved by someone long ago.
"The logs were palimpsests. Two of them rose from the water's edge, not quite vertical, stuck like darts into the impermanent sand. Hackworth walked between them, the surf crashing around his knees. He saw weathered intimations of faces and wild beasts living in the wood, ravens, eagles and wolves tangled into organic skeins. The water was bitterly cold on his legs, and he whooped in a couple of breaths, but the woman kept on walking; the water was up past her waist now, and her hair was floating around her so that the translucent images once again became readable. Then she vanished beneath a collapsing wave two meters high.
"The wave knocked Hackworth on his backside and washed him along for a short distance, flailing his arms and legs. When he got his balance back, he sat there for a few moments, letting smaller waves embrace his waist and chest, waiting for the woman to come up for a breath. But she didn't.
"There was something down there. He rolled up onto his feet and tramped straight into the ocean. Just as the waves were coming up into his face, his feet contacted something hard and smooth that gave way beneath him. He was sucked downward as the water plunged into a subterranean void. A hatch slammed shut above his head and suddenly he was breathing air again. The light was silver. He was sitting in water up to his chest, but it rapidly drained away, drawn off by some kind of pumping system, and then he found himself looking down a long silvery tunnel. The woman was descending it, a stone's throw ahead of him."
Stanley Park. Vancouver B.C. It is here that John Hackworth will find an entrance to the 'hidden world of the Drummers.'
Being a partial completion of my promise to tell the story of the events leading up to my fall from a rock in 1977 and explain the connection between Mr. Rinyo-Clacton's Offer and The Diamond Age.
"Drummers - The Drummers live in large constructions built underwater. Every member of the Drummers has large numbers of nanosites in their blood that act as little computers. The computers interact and share information with the brain of the host human, and share information with other nanosites. The Drummers' nanosites are spread around from Drummer to Drummer through sexual intercourse between the (extremely promiscuous) Drummers. In this way, the Drummer entity acts as an extremely large digital/neural computer that is capable of solving otherwise formidable problems of, say, nanoconstruction or cryptography.
"In the most colorful sex act that the Drummers use to circulate the nanosites amoung them, a single female is quickly penetrated and ejaculated into by a large number of males. Whenever a Drummer nanosite shares information with another, it creates a small bit of heat. All of these nanosites being dumped into the female at once creates a large amount of heat. The female bursts into flames and burns to ashes. The ashes are poured into a canister of water and drunk by the population of Drummers, which redistributes the nanosites amoung them..."
ALAMUT.COM is artist owned and operated.