THURSDAY, 1 MARCH 2001
Installation of Body Armor in Copenhagen 1996
(Photo J.C.J. van der Heyden)
"BODY LANGUAGE -- the term is now commonplace. It wasn't always that way. With Freud and psychoanalysis everything was the mind. Reich was the first to bring the body into psychoanalysis, and to physically touch the client."
Victor Daniels: Willem Reich Lecture Notes.
FRIDAY, 2 MARCH 2001
Body Armor (without Organs)
I've been thinking a lot about something I heard said during an evening in North Vancouver over 20 years ago. It was one of those very heavy evenings when a couple of people fell down. And when it was finished, the man who was responsible for what had happened expressed a wish: May you never recover...
I've been thinking a lot about one-way experiences.
Joke Robaard, who was present during the ketamine experience on the 9th of December, sent me the following excerpt from a lecture Deleuze gave in 1971 (The Nature of Flows 14.12.71). In it, Deleuze touches upon -- amongst other things -- the notion of 'returns.' Next to this I've placed an explanation of the body-without-organs by one Aden Evans (culled from the Deleuze-Guattari mailing list anno 1996).
May you never recover.
"The state of the body of someone who has undergone a fairly severe operation, the eyes of this patient are the eyes of someone who has not been very far from death, who has not been very far from madness, the eyes are elsewhere in a certain sense -- he has gone through the wall.
"It is interesting that what we call convalescence is a kind of return. He's had a brush with death, it is an experience of the body, very strange, psychoanalysis: why does Freud cling so strongly to the notion of a death instinct? He tells his secret in 'Inhibition, Symptom and Anxiety.' It seems that if there is a death instinct, it's because there is neither a model nor an experience of death. When pressed, he admits that there is a model of birth but not of death, thus, all the more reason to make of it a transcendent instinct. Bizarre. Perhaps the model of death could be something like the body-without-organs.
"Horror-story writers have understood, after Edgar Allen Poe, that death wasn't the model for schizophrenic catatonia, but that the contrary was true, and that the catatonic was the one who made of his body a body-without-organs, a decoded body, and that on such a body there is a kind of nullification of the organs. On this decoded body, flows can flow under conditions where they can no longer be decoded. This is why we fear decoded flows -- the deluge; because once flows have been decoded, you can no longer subtract anything or break into them, no more than you can detach segments from any codes in order to dominate, orient or direct the flows.
"And the experience of one who has been operated on, of her body-without-organs, is that, on this body, there are literally noncodable flows which constitute a thing, an unnameable thing. At the very moment that she breathes, there is great confusion of the flows that form one great indivisible flow, no longer susceptible to subtractions, one can no longer interrupt it. One long stream that cannot be tamed, where all of the flows that are usually distinguished by their codes are united in one and the same indivisible flow all flowing on one and the same non-differentiated body, the body without organs.
"And as for the mad patient who has undergone an operation, every breath of air he takes is at the same time a breath of spittle, a flow of air and spit that tend to get mixed up together, so that there are no longer any distinctions. Moreover, each time that he breathes and spits, he feels a vague desire to defecate, a vague erection: it's the body-without-organs that escapes on every side. It is sad, but then again, it has moments of great joy, mixing up all the codes, it has its great moments, and this is what makes Beckett a comic writer."
"The body-without-organs is a limit. In particular, it is the limit at which all the flows which constitute the world flow completely freely, each into the others, so that no distinctions exist among them any longer. Flows?, you ask. Deleuze & Guattari describe a world in which everything flows and everything is made of flows: not only water, air, magma, blood, paint, electricity, not only grass, earth, sun, but ideas, people, culture, books, conversations flow. What allows us to distinguish these flows from each other, to single out one or another, is a threshold or a point which separates each of them. Every flow is made by cutting off another flow, by restricting or drawing off a flow.
"But, in some sense, a flow does not want to be cut-off, to be restricted. This desire, the desire of a flow to flow unconstrained, is the body-without-organs. The body-without-organs is real, since the desire is real, in fact, the body-without-organs just is desire. But it is abstract, for it is a limit: flows are never free, but always interrupted. Without the interruption and the desire, the flow and its break, there would be no world at all.
"Why body-without-organs? The absence of organs means the lack of organization, or the fact that the body-without-organs is not broken down into parts distinct from each other. It remains a body, though, even if it only ever presents itself as an attractor or repeller, a surface to slip over or bounce off of. For no sooner does a flow return to the body-without-organs, then it is reconstituted as part of another flow, distinguishing itself from its surroundings. Nothing lives in the body-without-organs, only over its surface. Since it allows no distinctions, no identity, it is effectively sterile, a degree zero; the complete freedom of the body-without-organs is also the undifferentiated of death.
"The body-without-organs makes paradoxical (!) the problem of freedom. On the one hand, freedom is the freedom to flow without constraint, the freedom of autonomy. On the other hand, this same freedom is only death. What would be a limited freedom? This paradox of freedom is studied as the paradox of capitalism in Anti-Oedipus. If capitalism can make everything fall back on the body-without-organs (of capital), then how far can it go toward this limit?
"(1) This definition is one among many possible. It is drawn primarily from the concept of body-without-organs as described in Anti-Oedipus. Its description elsewhere is significantly different.
"(2) This definition is necessarily an oversimplication. Concepts in Deleuze & Guattari are never hammered down into a final form; rather, they are always being developed, always under modification, always provisional. One can never capture the totality of a concept in its definition.
"(3) To be a bit more specific about how this definition is inadequate or different from others:
"In Mille Plateaux, there are many body-without-organs, not just one, and the question of whether they are all brought together in a plane of consistency is raised explicitly.
"The ontological status of the body-without-organs is tricky, even in Anti-Oedipus. Does it exist at all (its first mention is in a purely hypothetical tone)? Is it just a limit? How does it attract and repel? How does it relate to the full bodies (socius, money, etc.)? Does it exist on another ontological level, so that it somehow coexists (insists or subsists) with the flows whose freedom and death it represents?
"The question of how to make a body-without-organs is crucial, yet I ignore it above."
Hope this helps,
SATURDAY, 3 MARCH 2001
"...every breath of air he takes is at the same time a breath of spittle, a flow of air and spit that tend to get mixed up together, so that there are no longer any distinctions. Moreover, each time that he breathes and spits, he feels a vague desire to defecate, a vague erection: it's the body-without-organs that escapes on every side. It is sad, but then again, it has moments of great joy, mixing up all the codes, it has its great moments..."
See: Retention vs. Expulsion (September 1 1999).
SUNDAY, 4 MARCH 2001
As I was leaving the gym someone said:
"So we go home, rest for a few hours and are back again tomorrow."
Me (grinning): "Yep."
MONDAY, 5 MARCH 2001
The Space of Flows
Deluge outside of Islamabad. 1992.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
TUESDAY, 6 MARCH 2001
(Sorry for all the non sequiturs, past links, and quotes (NSPLAQ) recently, but at the moment I feel I have neither the space in my head nor the time in my day for much more. Maybe it is better this way. Please consider everything you see here as a placeholder -- like a tarot card -- and feel free to co-opt and coerce it into your own meaning.)
I wonder whether a singularity can appear behind you...
The Catalency which is one of the kyndes of the fallynge sickenes.
"A disease characterised by a seizure or trance, lasting for hours or days, with suspension of sensation and consciousness."
"A type of schizophrenia characterized by marked psychomotor disturbance: catatonic stupor (marked decrease in reactivity to the environment and in spontaneous activity) or mutism, catatonic negativism (resistance to all instructions or attempts to be moved), catatonic rigidity (maintenance of a rigid posture), catatonic excitement (excited, uncontrollable, and apparently purposeless motor activity), or catatonic posturing (assumption of bizarre fixed postures); associated features are stereotyped behaviors, mannerisms, and waxy flexibility."
Flow space + catatonic catalepsy + a body-without-organs, all in an early short story of PKD, 'The Piper in the Woods' (1953):
"Westerburg, suppose everyone felt the way you do? Suppose everyone wanted to sit in the sun all day? What would happen? No one would check ships coming from outer space. Bacteria and toxic crystals would enter the system and cause mass death and suffering. Isn't that right?"
"If everyone felt the way I do they wouldn't be going into outer space."
"But they have to. They have to trade, they have to get minerals and products and new plants."
"To keep society going."
Well --" Harris gestured. "People couldn't live without society."
Westerburg said nothing to that. Harris watched him, but the youth didn't answer.
"Isn't that right?" Harris said.
"Perhaps. It's a peculiar business, Doctor. You know, I struggled for years to get through Training. I had to work and pay my own way. Washed dishes, worked in kitchens. Studied at night, learned, crammed, worked on and on. And you know what I think, now?"
I wish I'd become a plant earlier."
WEDNESDAY, 7 MARCH 2001
Q and A
The following is for I. S. who is writing a short text about Body Armor for the catalog of the upcoming exhibition in Milan.
Dear I., here are the answers to your questions. You wrote:
... I read the notes on Reich, realising that, as interesting as they are, they are someone else's words and not yours -- I wonder what's wrong in asking for your own words -- so I ask again, please tell me something about your work 'Body Armor.'
Yes okay. You are right. But let's not forget Reich. Incidently, something typical... For nearly twenty years I've kept a copy of 'The Function of the Orgasm' in my studio but it took a friend in Vancouver to point out the connection between the title of the piece, Body Armor, and Dr. Reich's theories. How's that for blind?
When was the piece made?
In 1994. During the summer. I remember it was very warm at the time.
What's it made of?
Bullet proof fabric trimmed with Belgian lace. I bought the material directly from the High Performance Fiber divison of DSM (a Dutch chemical company). It's called Dyneema. At the time it was considered the strongest fabric in the world. Very, very high tech. We had to buy special equipment just to cut it.
And what about the context? You said you made it after the TAZoo works (Temporary Autonomous Zoo) you made with Jouke. I have seen a TAZoo in Bureau Amsterdam and in Utrecht. (Do you remember I interviewed you and Jouke there?)
The context. Back then I would have probably admitted that a major source of my inspiration came from actual visits to the zoo. My ex girlfriend ( L.) and myself had quite literally turned our visits into an art. We made frequent trips to the zoo -- always fasting and taking drugs... I remember being there and getting high on the smell of the animals, spending hours watching the people watching the animals, and of course, observing first-hand what I had previously only known from text books -- i.e. examples of the various defence behaviors and mechanisms that I was interested in... The primary examples: anachoresis (animals living in holes and crevices), crypsis (camouflaged), aposematism (possessing unpleasant attributes and advertising them in a clear 'don't fuck with me fashion') and Batesian mimicry (not possessing unpleasant attributes but mimicing the advertising of those that do), as well as secondary ones: withdrawal (into hole, shell, or ball), flight, deimatic behavior (bluff, inflating the body), thanatosis (feigning death), deflecting attack (parent moving away from the nest or 'autonomy' -- casting off a regenerating tail) and finally, retaliation. It was always very exciting. At the time I felt that cultural autonomy could learn a lot from natural mechanisms.
Why did you make this?
- Umm... I'm not sure I can answer such a question directly... But a couple of interests come to mind. One would be an interest in Trojan horses and blinds. The first TAZoo sculpture, Movable Observation Post/High View Point, produced together with Jouke, started from this interest. I like the idea that art can be a crowd pleaser, easily swallowed, and that only later, after it has been completely accepted, that the subversion -- the payload -- creeps out. After a while it makes you suspicious of everything. What's inside that body-without-organs? Is it going to kill me? And then with art, it seems such a small step from the neurotic to the romantic. Rimbaud: "I swallowed a mouthful of poison." Breton: "Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all."
God I don't know... Here's something else: I like the idea that the piece is visually so white and bridal, that it's an elephant ready for a medieval jousting tournament, but at the same time it is phantasmagorical, that it gently floats above the ground -- above a bed of crisp, sweet smelling straw. In other words: bridal but unpenetratable (except for the lace and the eyes). Ghost-like.
And of course, in retrospect, 'the work' now seems to me to have a lot to do with the work of Wilhelm Reich, who considered both the character and the body as armor, as inherently structural and dynamically stratified... The 'self' as Absolute Armor. As Reich wrote:
"Between 1922, when the therapeutic role of genitality was comprehended, and in 1927, when Die Funktion des Orgasmus was published, I collected the countless minor and major experiences which, taken together, pointed in one direction: it is the patient's total 'personality' or 'character' that constitutes the difficulty of cure. 'Character armor' is expressed in treatment as 'character resistance.'
Fun. Fun. Fun.
THURSDAY, 8 MARCH 2001
That ol' Desire
... for a reprieve from the world's nastiness has again raised its
hopelessly incorrigible indefatigable head. This time in 'The Vats' a short story by Walter de la Mare:
It was spring, in the month of May, I think, and we were talking of Time.
We speculated on what it was, and where it went to, touched in furtive tones on the Fourth Dimension and exchanged 'the Magic Formula.' We wondered if pigs could see time as they see the wind, and wished we could recline awhile on those bewitching banks where it grows wild. We confessed to each other how of late we had been pining in our secret hearts for just a brief spell of an eternity of it. Time wherein we could be and think and dream all that each busy, hugger-mugger, feverish, precipitate twenty-four hours would not allow us to be or to think or to dream.
And a couple of paragraphs further along, a frightening description of the hope and the remorse...
And memories -- surely they would come arrowing home in the first of the evening to haunts serene and unmolested, if only the weather and mood and season and housing we could offer were decently propititous. We had frittered away, squandered so many days, weeks, years--and had saved so little. Spendthrifts of the unborrowable, we had been living on our capital -- a capital bringing in how meagre an 'interest' -- and we were continually growing poorer. Once, when we were children, and in our own world, an hour had been as capricious as the blue bowl of the sky, and as refreshing a milk. Now its successors haggardly snatched their way past our sluggard sense like thieves pursued.
Cf. Alamut: The space of an instant.
FRIDAY, 9 MARCH 2001
New Westminster. 1986.
The saddest joke I know.
SATURDAY, 10 MARCH 2001
(... three messages to the past and one to the future...)
To myself in Rotterdam on March 10, 1998:
Congratulations! Both your decision to keep a record of your attention and your belief that from today, 'one site should fit all' will prove momentous. And by this time next year this should be obvious. You should, however, be prepared for some some serious faltering along the way.
It is strange to think that you've been living in Rotterdam for only a couple of months. If I remember correctly, at this moment you feel that a major part of the tumultuousness wrought by your move is behind you -- though I dare say that the real consequences are yet to be felt (but don't worry they won't be for some time yet). Ach... The power of hindsight...
Concerning your plan to place a sub-critical nuclear reactor in the garden in Wageningen. I'm sorry but it won't succeed either now or 3 months from now when Mark Wilson of the Groninger Museum invites you to do it. But -- if it is any consolation to you -- I still believe it is an excellent idea.
To myself in Rotterdam on March 10, 1999:
In reference to your post today, I provide you with two thoughts from your future self.
One: Gabrielle complains that she is not able to finish a book. Well, you know, anno 2001 this condition seems to be a fact of life, it generally being accepted that we have entered 'an age of continuous partial attention.' As an antidote why don't you suggest to Gabrielle that she start her own weblog? In the last couple of years thousands of people have begun to do so. Explain it to her as a way to link together all the half experiences (half-lives) of our lives. Lives that consist of half-books, half-ideas, half-interests, half-moods, half-products, half-relationships etc. While a weblog might not help her 'get to the end' of anything, at least, like Zeno's story of Achilles, it will provide her the possibility of adding the half to the half.
Two: Before you accumulate even more to read -- R. L. told me recently that at the end of his life the great bibliophile Borges announced that he only ever needed a handful of books. And you should know that this is starting to make terrific sense to me -- yours truly -- Paul, your future self. So consider this whenever you buy a book from now on: in the future I'm probably going to be throwing it away.
To myself in Vancouver on March 10, 2000:
This is Paul speaking. The Paul who is a year ahead of you. How are you doing man? No. Sorry. That was a trifle too glib. You don't have to tell me. I know exactly how you are doing...
What can I say to you? I remember you wondering where you'd be today -- Alamut's birthday -- and what you'd be doing. And of course wondering whether or not the hell that you were living in -- would be 'over.'
Okay, look at me...
You want to hear the truth? It won't end. It will change.
Here's a clue about our future together: I have good reason to believe that a singularity can appear behind us. As proof of this I'll see you again (exactly where you are now) in a bit more than 9 months. And then I'll see you again in a year. In the meantime please don't forget I love you Paul. And take care of yourself...
To myself somewhere a year from now:
Remember that night 3 years ago, when I began this project? Well once again I've been up for most of the night. So forgive me if these words seem a tad slurred. The last hour I've spent gazing out the window, feeling tired but unable to sleep, with the rain gently beating against the glass. Why? Because I'm stuck. I don't know what to say to you. It seems I find it a lot easier to call backward than to call forward -- to send little warnings and messages to the man who exists in the past rather than say something to you, the man who will take my place in the future.
Is this strange?
In such a situation I'm tempted to send you a quote and be done with it -- even though a number of people have been complaining lately that I quote too much. They say they miss my voice. Perhaps this is true for them but it's not for me. Sometimes I don't want to hear my own voice... am much more interested in finding myself in the quotes. Who knows, maybe this mood of mine reflects the current trend to do the 'real publishing' in the source code. To symbolically hide your views by hiding them in the source, the causal space. A space that is half-private and half-public. (I could link to some pages to illustrate this but I'm not going to.)
To me everything is a quote. I hear the universe in my head.
So... I just finished a story by John Barth called Night-Sea Journey. It begins like this:
"One way or another, no matter which theory of our journey is correct, it's myself which I address; to whom I rehearse as to a stranger our history and condition, and will disclose my secret hope though I sink for it."
You are a stranger my friend. Stranger than strange. I confess I am a bit afraid of you. I expect, if you exist at all, that I will meet you eventually. Or perhaps more accurately, that you will come back here and meet me. But know that I am in no rush.
Rebecca Blood's Weblogs: A History and Perspective.
SUNDAY, 11 MARCH 2001
Standards is the name of the new Tortoise release. Hot stuff. Some of it even sounds like it could have been made by Autechre (especially Blackbird, a bonus track included on the Japanese release). You should also go check out Nils Petter Molvaer's Khmer and Solid Ether. Super hot.
Signifier - Signified
From one of those crazy half-public
sources mentioned yesterday:
It's a slog. A source log. And no, I did not
invent this. Hardly. Ha Ha. HA HA HA.
It's a media stunt. It's too cutesy. It's an
accident. Propagation. Redesign. Texas.
"It's just a moment - this time will pass"
Odd. I've been joking a lot lately with R.T.
over the inevitability of '***** and Texas.'
MONDAY, 12 MARCH 2001
Between long phone discussions on accountability and how it should be signified and constitutions and how they might be strengthened, Raimundas Malasauskas paid a visit from here and I received a delivery of cymbidiums for this. Well, there goes another day. Oh, wait -- by special request -- here's a photograph of one of the (many) receipts currently resting on my floor.
8.12.00. A blue bill.
TUESDAY, 13 MARCH 2001
Show me a contemporary art historian who has written intelligently on the influence of contemporary entheogens on contemporary art and I'll be totally-fucking-amazed.
A year's financial accounting is a 'diary.' A weblog is not a diary. With a weblog you can play hopscotch. With a weblog you can step into the same stream as many times as you want.
Smart, witty Mighty Girl (via Caterina).
WEDNESDAY, 14 MARCH 2001
Or 'alienation happens.' See: 1 Oct. 2000 and 2 Oct. 2000.
From Patrick Daly's liner notes to Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come:
"... There is no better tribute to a creative influence than being creative. For a band to satisfy themselves as a collective, the trajectory of growth and change has to be acceptable to all. However, it must be kept in mind that 'acceptable' is often inherently a compromise and thus, laced with internal tensions.
"The satisfaction of the above often causes a new level of friction, that between the band and the people who like and support the band. It can be quite disappointing for a fan to get a band's new album and then find out that it is different in a way not approved of. I am sure that everyone can relate this feeling to the first time they listened to 'Stream of Consciousness' by Cryptic Slaughter or 'Cold Lake' by Celtic Frost.
"Differences are often smoothed over because there is a degree of change which is usually acceptable. Once this difference has exceeded the acceptable limit then a fan can do one of two things: move with the band or let the band move past them..."
For the record I've never heard of Cryptic Slaughter or Celtic Frost. But I have been listening to Refused. And I find it refreshing to learn that the 'degree of change' problem exists as much in the world of punk/hardcore as elsewhere.
THURSDAY, 15 MARCH 2001
"God, you are no picture!"
Saying Goodbye * Paris 1968
Turning back, I saw my friend was still enthousiastically waving. 'Goodbye!' I waved once more to him and then thought to myself: 'You see, experience does not have to be exaggerated to make it either artistic or compelling...'
FRIDAY, 16 MARCH 2001
Oh conundrum! Oh paradox! This aint no 'right speech':
"May you be damned to hell! May you die standing upright. May you be damned standing upward! May this be damned, terrible and damned spot! May it wither into the grin of the dead, may this draw back, low riding mouth in an empty snarl of the groin! May this be your torment, may this be your damnation! God damned me before you, and after me you shall be damned, kneeling and standing away till we vanish! For what do you know of me, man's meat? I'm an angel on all fours, with a child's feet behind me, seeking my people that have never been made, going down face foremost, drinking the waters of the night at the water hole of the damned, and I go into the waters, up to my heart, the terrible waters! What do you know of me?..."
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood.
For studio consideration: (1) the precepts of the eight-fold path (such as 'right' speech') as requisites for mental hygene. (2) A contemplation of the cultural differences in cursing: the Dutch usage of Godverdomme 'God damn me' vs. 'God damn you' or the Chinese Majie 'God damn the street.'
While we can be sure that biologically we proceed through successes and fitness, sometimes I wonder if culturally we proceed (we can only proceed) through mis-matches and fuck-ups. That is: not only is art is created by errors and pathologies, but that pathologies and errors are *created* by art.
Like wrong speech.
For it seems that we the people are hardwired to appreciate curses. 'Heart-felt-honesty' does not (and will never) hold our attention as much as violent blasphemy. Perversity -- from this perspective -- is cultural envelope pushing. Terrible error and trial. Where art taste tests, culture is connoisseurship.
SATURDAY, 17 MARCH 2001
The shape of urbanology to come. And the art of this. (Yesterday I spent the whole day amongst a group of specialists who had gathered to discuss the public art plans for an enormous new suburban-center now being built on the outskirts of Utrecht. It was a good opportunity to see friends that I hadn't seen in ages and once more become aware of the extraordinary complexity -- and linguistic sophistication -- of my 21st century Dutch compatriots.)
Proposal for a billboard announcing/admitting that public space has turned into junk space. And that all the king's horses and all the king's men will never be able to put it together again.
SUNDAY, 18 MARCH 2001
Now playing (Final week!):
exclusion n. 1 lockout, shut-out, ban, bar, prohibition, interdiction, forbiddance, denial, refusal, disallowance, proscription: "He would not join a club that supported the exclusion of women members." 2 elimination, rejection, omission, repudiation, exception, preclusion: "We must ensure the exclusion of unqualified candidates." 3 ejection, eviction, expulsion, ouster, removal, riddance: "The exclusion of rowdies and hooligans is in the club's best interests."
The Oxford Thesaurus (Laurence Urdang, 1991 edition)
Blind drives. One of the wonderful things about making visual art is long after a particular work is finished you can still try to learn from it. Nine years ago I made Victory - Love - Conquest, A Monument to Rape because I wanted to learn something about 'man's will to power' and nine years later I'm still looking at the work and thinking about this same question. (Over the years V-L-C has come to inform the same -- or a very similar -- question rephrased, first as 'man's will to space,' and more recently, as 'man's will to identity.')
How Mr. Breton handled his desire for room: identity seeking through the excommunication of friends.
MONDAY, 19 MARCH 2001
Table with cymbidiums.
TUESDAY, 20 MARCH 2001
From the 22nd of March to the 4th of April The International Necronautical Society will be in residence at the Austrian Cultural Institute in London. Information about their residency is here. There is also a schedule of events and a list of consultants.
(As I'm scheduled to appear before the Society's General Secretary on 29th, I'll be in London for a couple of days. Send me a mail if you would like to meet.)
WEDNESDAY, 21 MARCH 2001
Outside. Snow flurries and circling gulls. Very low tide.
As I fix my breakfast this morning I find myself thinking of life's signs and warnings and wondering if we actually possess the 'will' to pay them any heed. How -- at least this morning -- life seems to proceed by sucking and spitting, blind forces and fate. How if there be wilfulness at all, it be invisible and atomic -- buried in little packets of coded desire we call the memes and the genes -- and how, even given these little packets of coded desire, the real forces controlling our lives, more often than not, seem *without* rather than *within.*
This morning, as I fix my breakfast, I find myself thinking of the warning contained in an old song. The sad, (painfully sad), Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
For I have known them all already, known them all:--
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
THURSDAY, 22 MARCH 2001
Time tunnel: 45. 44. 43. 42.
FRIDAY, 23 MARCH 2001
Yesterday's Toasts, Wishes, Mottos:
From J. K. -- "Here's to infinite returns!"
From L. P. -- "Here's to courage!"
From R. L. -- "I am happy you were born!"
From R. T. -- "I welcome whatever happens next!" (via John Cage)
And the day's never-to-be-forgotten moments: laughing over the countenance of the penguins in the Antwerp Zoo, puzzling over Ensor's painting 'De Verbazing van het Masker Wouse' in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, sitting next to each other reading passages from V. Woolf and D. Barnes, the restaurant which appeared the instant we had given up finding it...
SATURDAY, 24 MARCH 2001
Networks. A couple of days ago Mr. Lira (during a phone call) pointed out the coincidence of the instabilities in the stock market and amongst Europe's livestock (outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease) and now this weekend there is no milk to be gotten in the stores... (this apparently because the trucks are not being allowed to drive through the contaminated areas).
So there was no milk for my cappuccino this morning. But this evening I did get to eat fried tarbot at the house of Nathalie de Vries and Jacob van Rijs (MVRDV).
SUNDAY, 25 MARCH 2001
Thanks to a tip from Mr. D. Charles Williams of Rockhampton Australia I have been exposed to the music of The Necks. This is not music you will be able to find in your local shop. Neither will you find it in stock at Amazon.com (could it be because they come from Australia and they play jazz?). You should however, seek it out and order it, for this stuff is excellent.
When you listen to the minimalized piano, drum and bass groove of The Necks you will think of hypnotism. I was lucky enough to obtain two of The Necks CD's from Rotterdam's Discotheek. Sex (1995), their first outing, is an exquisitely slow, 56 minute long track strangely reminiscent (at least for me) of Steve Reich's 'Music for 18 Musicians.' Hanging Gardens (1998), the other CD, also consists of a single long track but is faster and more complex. Of the two, I prefer the former, but at the moment I have a taste for things simple. YMMV.
Linda Walker's Seeing and Hearing The Necks from All Directions.
MONDAY, 26 MARCH 2001
James Ensor. De Verbazing van het Masker Wouse (detail). 1889.
"The Marchesa remarked that everyone in the room had been going on from interminable sources since the world began and would continue to reappear, but that there was one person who had come to the end of her existence and would return no more."
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood.
TUESDAY, 27 MARCH 2001
Serious telephone day.
There was never a war in this world, nor wickedness so keen,
That Love, if pleased, could not bring to laughter,
And Peace through patience, put an end to all perils.
Serious medicine from Metascene. (Good for you.)
WEDNESDAY, 28 MARCH 2001
Arrived around noon at the temporary headquarters of the International Necronautical Society, 28 Rutland Gate, London SW1. I will be staying here for the next couple of days to be interviewed and observe the various proceedings.
Witnessed Alistair Gentry's deposition to Tom McCarthy, the INS General Secretary. (Gentry's 100 Black Boxes.)
THURSDAY, 29 MARCH 2001
I am delighted to see that the Society maintains a small special interest library. Last night, unable to make a choice, I took both Stewart Home's Slow Death and Blanchot's Death Sentence up to bed with me (the Society's office is on the ground floor, my bedroom on the 6 or 7th), but once I got under the sheets, Death Sentence (easily) won out.
Today the underground is on strike. (Reminding me that 'Cities are for change -- not for people.')
At 11:00 A.M. I was interviewed by the General Secretary. This took approximately two hours. A few witnesses were present, including Rob la Frenais of the Arts Catalyst.
At 3:00 P.M. Simon Critchley, Reader in Philosophy at the University of Essex and author of Very Little, Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature was interviewed by the General Secretary. A very interesting interview which gradually became more of a discussion. Especially appreciated were Critchley's remarks on death and humor and 'philosophy as temptation.' I'm so glad I came here. I need more of this.
Dinner was at Daquise, a Polish restaurant in South Kensington and afterwards on to a reception at the Goethe Institute.
Re: sureity, language as contradiction, and women with just and noble impulses. Blanchot too deliberately builds sentences that crash into each other, dying well before their meaning arrives to be processed:
"Then she was suddenly convinced that I was about to die or had just died. She went up to my room, although she didn't know me, and called to me through the door. Without thinking, I answered, "Don't be afraid," but in a strange voice, more frightening than reassuring. She was still so frightened that she thought I really was dead, and pushed the door, which gave way and opened, though it had been locked. I was not at all sick, though perhaps a little worse than sick. Fairly frightened myself, I woke up. I swore to her that I had not been in her room, that I had not left my own. She stretched out on my bed and fell asleep almost immediately. Of course one could laugh at it, but it is in no way laughable, and the impulse which carried her towards an unknown man in the middle of the night, which left her at his mercy, was a noble impulse, and she acted on it in the most true and just manner. I know of only two people capable of doing a thing like that, and even then I can only be sure of one."
Maurice Blanchot, Death Sentence (L'Arrêt de Mort)
FRIDAY, 30 MARCH 2001
Melissa McCarthy presents her report on surfer obituaries.
On the underground I saw a woman standing, next to the doors, her shopping in bags, with the face of an immigrant, white, middle-aged, lower class, wearing a puzzled expression. She was reading Pinker's 'How the Mind Works' and I desparately wanted to film her.
Catherine David told me about Jalal Toufic (about a month ago) and now I have found a book of his at Foyles. (Vampires: An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film)
After the INS evening program a group of us retired to the nearby Polish Hearth Club. There something extraordinary happened. As I was relating my family's history to my neighbor -- we'd been talking for what seemed hours -- I realised *for the first time in my life* that this story, with its various confusions and repressions, *perfectly explained* my own artistic interest in identity and will to identity. My God. Why have I never been able to put these two things together? And why has it happened now?
SATURDAY, 31 MARCH 2001
Dynamical ignorance. What is the relation between a community and its flows, its currencies? In part the relationship would seem to be one of knowledge, i.e. to learn the requisite canon is to learn the community's currency. Acquisition becomes comfortable circulation. This means the trader in currencies, the outsider who moves continually between communities, must learn to feel comfortable with what is necessarily uncomfortable: the knowledge that while there is much to know, they will never know it.
See: Harold Bloom, The Western Canon, The Books and School of the Ages.
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