MAY 2001



To revolt we reboot our (personal) calender. We reinvent. Who doesn't love a fresh start? (How many starts does one get?) A man travels back in his mind to remember a woman he never met in the first place. What's wrong with this picture?

Chris Marker, La Jetée, 1962.


He telephone's himself (as he would a stranger). He sends himself email. He makes notes to himself. He talks to himself.



Standard Dutch telephone protocol requires one to answer the phone by identifying oneself immediately to the caller -- providing the caller with one's own name before the caller has a chance to say anything. Thus:

(Trrring...) "You're speaking with John Doe."

Not: (Trrring...) "Hello."

Any departure from this protocol (such as answering the phone with a simple "Hello") is usually met with a pause. If the receiver doesn't take the hint and immediately provide the caller with their name the caller will challenge the receiver by asking for it:

(Trrring...) "Hello."

(Pause) "With whom am I speaking?"

In other words the caller will always give the receiver another chance to do the right thing, to follow the right form. But if the receiver be especially obstreperous or a foreigner (or an obstreperous foreigner) he or she will have no truck with this, leading to the obvious show down, and a challenge of their own:

(Trrring...) "Hello."

(Pause) "With whom am I speaking?"

(In a mimicky voice) "With whom am I speaking?"

Signalling the end of the game. The caller will either have to back down or hang up.


Inter-operability is shaky at the best of times.


Which brings us to a couple of paragraphs from a short interview with Slavoj Zizek on Teleopolis entitled: Hysteria and Cyberspace. No doubt about it, Zizek is an obstreperous foreigner and the topic under discussion: the psychic economy of email is one that everyone appreciates. Note Zizek's distinction between perversion and hysteria. I definitely feel we must learn more about this. (Reading Zizek and Lacan makes me want to become a psychoanalyst when I grow up.)

You interpret the situation one encounters in front of the computer screen -- for example when communicating via e-mail -- as a situation of hysteria. There is actually a great deal of uncertainty in these forms of communication: you can never be sure who is reading your input or in what way. You are aware of this situation all the time and try to anticipate the other's reactions. The important additional features of face-to-face communication like gestures or tone of voice are missing...

The Freudian unconscious is very much like what one does in front of the computer screen. The Freudian unconscious is not all this body language or tonality, no. The Freudian unconscious is precisely this helplessness, where you are talking to someone, but at the same time you do not even know at whom it is addressed exactly. You are radically not sure, because basically this is a symptom. When you have some hysterical symptom it has precisely such a structure. So my point here would be along the lines you drew, that cyberspace often functions in the hysterical way, which is exactly this radical uncertainty: I don't know whom my letter will reach. I don't know what the other wants from me and thus I try in advance to reflect this uncertainty. Cyberspace is open in the sense that we cannot decide from its technological properties whether it functions in a perverse or in a hysterical way.

When I speak of perversion I do not mean perversion as a certain practice, for example anal intercourse. For Lacan, perversion designates a very precise subjective attitude that is an attitude of self-objectivization or self-instrumentalization. Whereas the typical hysterical fear is to become a tool of the other. So the basic constituent of subjectivity is hysterical: I don't know what I am for the other. Hysteria, or neurosis in general is always a position of questioning.

FRIDAY, 4 MAY 2001

St. Sebastian

R. T. (rhetorically): How many times can we tell the story of penetration?

Me (after clicking on the link): A fuck of a lot.



Stranded in someone else's neighborhood
Listening to the undertone...

(Curtis Mayfield, When Seasons Change.)

The clock ticks. The characters walk with stiff legs and speak without looking at each other. The camera flows exceedingly smoothly back and forth across the interior of the Danish farmhouse. Stop. Wait. Move back. The protestant dreamscape: all is black and white. The voices melodious. Johannes: "Inger, you must rot because the times are rotten."

Carl Dreyer, Ordet, 1954.

MONDAY, 7 MAY 2001


Want some?


Some more?

No thanks. I've had enough.

Two manners of sustained inquiry: extremely slowly as in Douglas Gordon's '24 Hour Psycho' (1993) (thanks Minke Themans) and over and over as in Rémy Zaugg's 'Untitled, 6 Steel Boxes' (1969).


The Palace at 5 A.M.

In the garden looking west...


"I showed the arrest of a criminal by Scotland Yard detectives, and tried to make it as concrete and detailed as I could. You even saw the detectives take the man to the lavoratory to wash his hands -- nothing exciting, just the routine of duty. Then the young detective says he's going out that evening with his girl, and the sequence ends, pointing on from duty to love. Then you start showing the relationship between the detective and his girl: they are middle-class people. The love theme doesn't run smoothly; there is a quarrel and the girl goes off by herself, just because the young man has kept her waiting for a few minutes. So the story starts; the girl falls in with the villain -- he tries to seduce her and she kills him. Now you've got your problem prepared. Next morning, as soon as the detective is put on to the murder case, you have your conflict -- love versus duty. The audience know that he will be trying to track down his own girl, who has done the murder, so you sustain their interest: they wonder what will happen next."

Alfred Hitchcock, 'Direction,' in Charles Davy (ed.) 'Footnotes to the Film,' 1937.


Sleep restores equanimity like nothing else.


'Tis hot. My net connection has ground to a halt. Is there be a relation between these two events? Event1 feels like an unbinding. Event2 feels like an unbinding. Two unbindings. A double unbinding.

If the double bind (feeling obliged to obey contradictory messages) leads to schizophrenia (and sometimes creativity) where does this double unbinding lead?

(The last of the milk in the carton stamped 'Best before 13/05' has been heated for the coffee. Tomorrow we'll have to open the carton dated 'Best before 12/05'.)

(Went out into the hot night to 'Another Telepathic Thing' at the Schouwburg. Afterwards lay on the couch and watched Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) while simultaneously listening to Gavin Bryars 'The Last Days.')

(My favorite shot in The Passion of Joan of Arc is near the end of the film. Dreyer uses a swinging camera to capture the 'crowd control devices' being tossed out the window of the tower to the soldiers below.)

SUNDAY, 13 MAY 2001

(An altered state.) This heat does torpify.

Natural Rhythms

rut1, Track sunk by passage of wheels; established mode of procedure, beaten track, groove. Hence rutty.

rut2, Periodic sexual excitement of male deer (also goat, ram etc.), heat; be affected with rut. Hence ruttish.

MONDAY, 14 MAY 2001

Let's pretend the point of the future is to simply make more past.

Version Control

Which do you prefer? One version only -- one's history as a fact-of-one's-life (ie. one's facticity)? Or multiple co-existent versions of oneself?

JK on the 26-27 February 2000:

"... I would start to reverse-engineer/re:invent myself many times in the game. Design a handful of Jouke Kleerebezems who do some of my lives. Some have specific tasks, like updating NQPAOFU, or replying my mail, or raising R+r. Others hang around to irritate these prime doers. Then I need some JK's to do some art and write (maybe this could be in one Sim hand, hyper realistic...). One to write my will. One to be gay. One to be a cook. One to buy books. One to do all the meta reflection on why and when these characters collaborate or sabotage."

Jalal Toufic (slightly edited):

"Bifurcation. Hence, the expression 'I can talk/write about it because I've been there' is somewhat misleading since one is still there.

"One may sense that a certain (altered) state that one found oneself in in the past following a lapse and/or found that one has left after a lapse is still unfolding. The period which 'follows' the one of altered consciousness is both later than and simultaneous with the latter: a credit in the form of a kind of parallel montage. This period plays the role of the guardian in cases where one has no guardian (the one without guardian (in the form of a hidden observer, or of a writer connecting, unbeknownst to one or both of them, to what is occurring to the person in the altered state, or of this credit period) represents a danger to invariance).

"Hence there is something anticlimatic about the passage from the altered state to the normal state. How can I help him (my mother calls me in New York from Lebanon because she had a presentiment that something bad happened to me or might happen to me if I am not very cautious. But perhaps the premonition is about the version of me in another bifurcation branch, about the amnesiac Jalal. The amnesiac Jalal has no mother, but my mother may have a premonition about him since what happens to him affects me)? It is not oneself that can be the master/guide/guardian of oneself-as-amnesiac fighting the double (in the mind) in one of the bifurcation branches, but one's writing. One has to help with writing, with what is received (received also from the amnesiac version of one, who feels that he is receiving nothing, creating nothing, but only resisting ideas and sensations imposed upon him by the double): interference between one's version in a bifurcation branch and oneself as a writer, oneself-as-person the go-between.

"Some use their characters and/or their amnesiac version(s) as the experimental sample, while they themselves-as-writers become the control sample; other writers use themselves-as-amnesiac-versions(s) as the experimental sample, and their characters as the control sample (not in the sense that their characters are normal people, but that their characters become the amnesiac-version's guides/masters/hidden-observer)."

TUESDAY, 15 MAY 2001

I'm off to Milan and will be offline until after the weekend.

TUESDAY, 22 MAY 2001

Milan was great fun.

We were well taken care of, everyone was wonderfully kind, the meetings and conversations thought provoking, the food exquisite, the (window) shopping heavenly, our work well presented, AND we got a chance to see Leonardo's 'Last Supper.'

What more could we ask for?



8 A.M. Considering how David Allen considers work...

"I consider 'work,' in its most universal sense, as meaning anything that you want or need to be different than it currently is."

10 A.M. Heard this afternoon's business meeting has been cancelled.

2 P.M. Discovered the library has found the lost 'Last Year at Marienbad.' Rented it together with F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu (with German intertitles).

4 P.M. Played tennis for the first time this year.

6 P.M. Continued to play tennis.

10 P.M. Made a date for a week Sunday.

12 P.M. Listened to 'On the Corner.' Smoked kif and drank caf with Alpro soy milk (as was recommended by Mr. Lira's 'ultra-sexy and efficient Spanish coffee expert').


Message in a Context

Considering schizophrenia, a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to reread Gregory Bateson's 1969 paper 'Double Bind.' At the time I must have been especially struck by the anecdote which I've included below because the story kept returning to my mind during my stay in Milan -- especially the image of the porpoise (who's finally got the purpose) -- "the porpoise appeared to be much excited..."

Consider a very simple paradigm: a female porpoise (Steno bredanensis) is trained to accept the sound of a trainer's whistle as a 'secondary reinforcement.' The whistle is expectably followed by food, and if she later repeats what she was doing when the whistle blew, she will expectably again hear the whistle and receive food.

But this pattern is fitted only for a single episode in the exhibition tank. She must break that pattern to deal with a class of such episodes. There is a larger context of contexts which will put her in the wrong.

At the next performance, the trainer again wants to demonstrate 'operant conditioning,' but to do this she must pick on a different piece of conspicuous behaviour.

When the porpoise comes on stage, she again raises her head. But she gets no whistle. The trainer waits for the next piece of conspicuous behaviour -- likely a tail flap, which is a common expression of annoyance. This behaviour is then reinforced and repeated.

But the tail flap was, of course, not rewarded in the third performance.

Finally the porpoise learned to deal with the contexts of contexts -- by offering a different or new piece of conspicuous behaviour whenever she came on stage.

All this happened in the free natural history of the relationship between porpoise and trainer and audience. The sequence was then repeated experimentally with a new porpoise and carefully recorded.

Two points from this experimental repeat of the sequence must be added:

First, that it was necessary (in the trainer's judgement) to break the rules of the experiment many times. The experience of being in the wrong was so disturbing to the porpoise that in order to preserve the relationship between the porpoise and trainer (i.e., the context of context) it was necessary to give many reinforcements to which the porpoise was not entitled.

Second, that each of the first fourteen sessions was characterized by many futile repetitions of whatever behaviour had been reinforced in the immediately previous session. Seemingly only by 'accident' did the animal provide a different piece of behaviour. In the time-out between the fourteenth and fifteenth sessions, the porpoise appeared to be much excited, and when she came on stage for the fifteenth session she put on an elaborate performance including eight conspicuous pieces of behaviour of which four were entirely new -- never before observed in this species of animal.

The story illustrates, I believe, two aspects of the genesis of an trans-contextual syndrome:

First, that severe pain and maladjustment can be induced by putting a mammal in the wrong regarding its rules for making sense of an important relationship with another mammal.

And second, that if this pathology can be warded off or resisted, the total experience may promote creativity.

More fun with Flipper-like creatures (Sept. 6, 2000): "Have you ever given ketamine to a dolphin?"

(Who said dialectics is dead?)

FRIDAY, 25 MAY 2001

We Will Remember It For You

(We will even photograph our shadows to help you remember.)


I watched L'Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad) last night. What a spell. What a fabulously deranged film. And... what a shock.

I confess. Beneath this 45-year-existence of mine rests the assumption that things-in-general (culture, nature, me) do evolve, do develop, do progress. Yes, I've always taken this premise as a given, taken it for granted.

You too must assume some sort of general advancement in everything.

Admit it. You do.

But then suddenly, hullo... along comes a film like Marienbad and this old assumption of ours seems to be so much sand. (Literally: 'Under the pavement, the beach' (Paris 1968: "Sous le pavé, la plage")). Look now and look then and it looks like 2001 is trailing 40 years behind 1961. (That's awfully far behind. How could this happen? Simple. The year 1961 was a peak. We are now heading downhill.)

It does makes one wish to be 5 again.


Ontological Vertigo (Daddy-o)

R.L. tells me my remarks yesterday on Marienbad were the remarks of a (film) neophyte. This is quite true, I am a film neophyte. R.T. says that she considers (the act of) forgetting a necessary part of evolution. This seems quite true as well (at least as long as we are talking about cultural evolution).

So here's a question: did or did not Robbe-Grillet base his screenplay on 'The Invention of Morel,' a novella by Adolfo Bioy Casares? Thomas Beltzer thinks so and in his essay Last Year at Marienbad: An Intertextual Meditation suggests that "pristine high modernism" and "eurocentric" snobbery were the main reasons that Bioy Casares was left unacknowledged by Robbe-Grillet and Resnais.

"Without Morel, Marienbad is mostly an exercise in formalism; however, with the intertextual juxtaposition of the two, it becomes another, different work..."

"Without The Invention of Morel, Marienbad is merely surreal art for art's sake. However the film does provide clues that "A", "M" and "X" are simulacrum and not real people. The play at the beginning of the film slavishly foretells the fates of the protagonists, and "X"'s endless monologue is spoken by both the play actor and "X", their voices intentionally blended. All of the paintings in the hotel are mimetic of the resort itself. As they discuss the sculptures in the garden, we suspect that "X" and "A" are sculptures themselves. Then there are the many time dysfunctions - sudden changes in chronology signaled only by the placement of characters and their costume changes. The effect of all these changes is mostly irrelevant because nothing ever really changes at the resort. The essential nature and meaning of the film is utterly dependent on its hidden relationship with Morel, so its formalistic elitism is false..."

And after he's made this point, Beltzer adds:

"Marienbad dwells on the "separate existence" of its characters. Cinematically, it is a study of the separate reality of its own existence, eschewing the conventions of realism as being false illusion. By its own temporal discontinuity, its nameless characters and hermetically-sealed set, it demands that we accept it as reality itself rather than as a faithful and ultimately illusory representation of reality. Marienbad says by its construction that art is a reality added to reality and not a copy of reality. On the other hand, within the holographic reality, the characters in the theatrical performance that opens the film represent the characters of the film itself. Because the action of the film comes after the play, however, "A" and "X" seem to be imitating the play rather than the other way around. Even their body language is nearly as formal and architectural as the characters in the play..."

SUNDAY, 27 MAY 2001


Marienbad (a screenplay analysis): Marienbad Revisited by Walter W. Kirsch Jr. While Kirsch doesn't go as far Mr. Beltzer in suggesting that Marienbad only becomes sensible when one recognizes its (hidden, intertextual) 'sources,' he does manage to sneak in an alleged source of his own:

"There is some indication that a key influence for `Marienbad' may have come from the playwright Henrik Ibsen. This is particularly evident in the similarity of circumstances surrounding the mysterious relationship between X and A and that of Halvard Solness and Hilda in Ibsen's 'The Master Builder.' In the play, Hilda insists that she and Solness had met exactly ten years earlier and they had agreed to meet again on the present day. Solness, like A, refuses or is unable to recall the event despite Hilda's numerous attempts to convince him. Discussing the play in his definitive biography Ibsen, Michael Meyer states: "There is a close analogy with the film, 'Last Year at Marienbad,' in which a similar situation occurs; and in both instances, part of the fascination lies in the fact that neither the people involved, nor we, ever know the truth.""


Annemie invited me to see 'Nuit des Hommes' an opera by Per Noergaard this evening at the Schouwburg. Afterwards we had much to talk about including (briefly) the poster child for this year's Holland Festival:

(Detail... Holland Festival poster 2001.)

I read the label underneath,
That telleth me whereto I must;
I see the sentence eke that saith
'Remember, man, that thou art dust!'
But yet, alas, but seldom I
Do think indeed that I must die...

My ancestors are turned to clay,
And many of my mates are gone,
My youngers daily drop away,
And can I think to 'scape alone?
No, no, I know that I must die,
And yet my life amend not I.

(Detail... Robert Southwell (1561-1595), 'Upon the Image of Death.')

MONDAY, 28 MAY 2001

The Sweetest Solipsism

From Jalal Toufic's 'Distracted':

"At times a modicum of help is necessary! Without it, that which, in us, we were trying to let wither away would be all too happy, in order to save itself, to offer us its help; and we, as grateful as we are, would then offer it in return ourselves."

The (Non) Communicative

From the 'frontspiece' of Jalal Toufic's 'Distracted':

-- Are you saying this to me?

-- Also to myself. One should speak only when one is speaking to oneself. Only then is there a dialogue.

Script (recorded Tuesday, 17 April 2001):


"Ik snap er niks van." (I understand nothing of this.)


"That's funny. I feel I understand what you're saying."


"No. This is useless. We are simply not communicating."


"Really? I think we are communicating just fine."


"Then you are talking only to yourself."

And More (The Always Already)

Read this first! L'Année dernière à Alamut. ("Not intensities linked but intensity in the links. Not different discourses linked but discourse in the links.")

Oh sustained inquiry... I often wonder (as I have often wondered) how anyone could ever have been expected to get a piece of art after one exposure (to a particular opera, to a film like Marienbad). Is it because we can return (because our art lives in the age of reproduction, vinyl/CD/mini-disc, video/DVD), that we pay less attention than our ancestors once did? Because our aesthetic experience is repeatable (re-listenable, re-viewable)? Or because we assume it is?

Fresh starts? As much as you like.

Among Marienbad's shadows. "Stucco, mouldings, paintings... ...framed prints... ...amidst which I advanced... ...there among which I was already, waiting for you..."

TUESDAY, 29 MAY 2001

I complain: I feel terribly fatigued, yet I am doing nothing very tiring. It feels as if I've been caught in a spell. (And then suddenly I realise that I HAVE BEEN caught in a spell, have been for some time now, and that I actually sought this thing out, went looking for it; for I am in love with all sorts of spells and enchantments. So why am I complaining? (So why is Paul complaining? What does Paul have to complain about?) There is obviously a price to pay for all this fun... TANSTAAFL).


"I saw the best minds of my generation" must have read Future Shock when they were in high school.

All your singularity are belong to us. (Sorry. sorry. sorry.)

(Via Abuddha's Memes) A précis of Ray Kurzweil's new book: The Singularity is Near.


Following the same line of reasoning that a scholar is nothing more than a library's way of making another library, what if our taste for something special is nothing more than that something special's way of propagating itself?

Seen from this perspective, our refined appetite would be less a sign of our consumership and more a sign of our having already been 'marked,' 'consumed,' cannibalized -- that is, more an effect than a cause. (Being already marked is not the same thing as being always already marked.)

So go ahead. Show me your outré taste and I'll show you yet another (parasitic) pattern struggling to survive. (Our) Resistance is already futile.

L'Année dernière à Alamut: All Systems Go.

Last night I introduced my friend R.T. to my friend R.L. What a wonderful dinner we had.


Re: The Fatigue

JK writes: " seems my general condition as well..." and then provides an insight into the natural history of the phenomenon: "Why is progress so hard to find in the uneven dynamics of attention and production?"

Stress (being the (anticipated) result of the war between too many (past) options/bifurcations) prompts me to consider this particular episode of my own natural history...

The year was 1976, I was 19 years old and flying from Vancouver to Karachi via Seattle, New York, Paris, Frankfurt and Cairo. The night before I left Vancouver I went out carousing with friends and what with being young, drunk and excited about my trip I ended up not sleeping a wink. You can imagine the result. A few hours into my journey and I was already a total wreck. The additional 12 hour delay in New York (due to engine trouble) just made matters worse.

Then magic happened. During the flight over the Atlantic I sat next to a French girl so totally cute that I fell head over heels in love. Unfortunately she spoke no english and under such duress my -- never very good -- high school french completely failed me. All that is but a single sentence which I uttered, as seductively as I could given the circumstances, over and over to her: 'Je suis fatigué. Je suis fatigué.'

Luckily she didn't seem to mind. The temptation to abort my trip and get off the plane with her in Paris was very, very great.

Not sure whether this little story has a moral or a morale (and if it did what that would be).

April 2001

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