JUNE 2002


The Baphomet

Pierre Klossowski's The Baphomet.

Concerning 'The Baphomet', Steven Shaviro says this in Chapter 14 of Doom Patrols:

"... he is rather the Baphomet, the "prince of modifications." As Klossowski explains, the Baphomet presides over an unstable and polycentric universe, an anarchy of metamorphosis and metempsychosis. William Burroughs maintains the regulative principle that we must regard every event as being willed by some agency, as being the expression of an intention. Klossowski proposes a complementary principle: he suggests that every intention is an external event, a modification of my being, and hence a sort of demonic possession. Each thought or desire is an alteration of my previous state; it is an intrusion of the outside, a whispering in my ear, a breath that I inhale and exhale, an alien spirit prompting me from offstage or insinuating itself within me. Of course, not all intentions are carried through to their conclusions; but any intention is already in itself a kind of action, a tribute paid to the Baphomet, the manifestation of some force in facial expressions and in gestures and postures of the body. Klossowski loves to depict the play of conflicting impulsions as they traverse the flesh: Roberte invites the attention of some young stud by languidly proffering one upturned palm, even as her other hand irritatedly pushes him away."

And in a related note, has this to say concerning Raul Ruiz's film The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1982).

"An erudite art collector guides an unseen interviewer around six paintings by Frédéric Tonnerre, a fictitious 19th century painter, in an attempt to solve the mystery of a missing seventh painting, the disappearance of which has provoked a major scandal. Ruiz's intriguing meditation on the possibilities and limitations of the pictorial in the cinema is also a detective story with clues and a solution. Based on Baphomet by Pierre Klossowski (brother of the painter Balthus and an artist himself), the film presents the six paintings as tableaux vivants in which the actors hold poses as they are minutely examined. The film forces the viewer-voyeur to reappraise his approach to static paintings and to the narrative flow of film. The viewer is instantly absorbed into the sinuous, labyrinthine rhythm and the ambiance of grey-hued twilight created by Sacha Vierny's exquisite photography (Vierny was cinematographer of Last Year at Marienbad). Hypothesis made Ruiz, a Chilean exile in Paris, the darling of the avant-garde."


Read PKD's third published novel, 'The Man Who Japed' (1956) yesterday. Contains a section of ontological vertigo where the protagonist suddenly finds himself living the life of another man in another world. PKD is very good at this. (Compare the protagonist's S. divinorum-like trip wearing a toy cowboy suit in PKD's short story 'War Game' (1959).)


Fuck D. Hirst's 'The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living' (1991) -- the famous piece with the shark -- for he got it COMPLETELY wrong.


30 May 2002. The churchyard at Breede.

The Terror of Poe

Premature Burial In The Nineteenth Century
(a page from McCutcheon's 'Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800's'):

"Nineteenth-Century Americans and Europeans suffered a bizarre but exceedingly common fear of being interred alive. The fear arose out of the reputations of physicians who, lacking modern medical knowledge, (and often a medical degree, especially in the first half of the century) , occasionally pronounced comatose or unconscious patients dead prematurely. The deceased would mirculously revive during funeral services, much to the dismay of friends and family. These incidents were always widely publicized in the local papers."

E. A. Poe, The Premature Burial
(Here follows a very nice story within Poe's story. Try reading it within the space of one breath):

"(...) In the year 1810, a case of living inhumation happened in France, attended with circumstances which go far to warrant the assertion that truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. The heroine of the story was a Mademoiselle Victorine Lafourcade, a young girl of illustrious family, of wealth, and of great personal beauty. Among her numerous suitors was Julien Bossuet, a poor litterateur, or journalist of Paris. His talents and general amiability had recommended him to the notice of the heiress, by whom he seems to have been truly beloved; but her pride of birth decided her, finally, to reject him, and to wed a Monsieur Renelle, a banker and a diplomatist of some eminence. After marriage, however, this gentleman neglected, and, perhaps, even more positively ill-treated her. Having passed with him some wretched years, she died -- at least her condition so closely resembled death as to deceive every one who saw her. She was buried -- not in a vault, but in an ordinary grave in the village of her nativity. Filled with despair, and still inflamed by the memory of a profound attachment, the lover journeys from the capital to the remote province in which the village lies, with the romantic purpose of disinterring the corpse, and possessing himself of its luxuriant tresses. He reaches the grave. At midnight he unearths the coffin, opens it, and is in the act of detaching the hair, when he is arrested by the unclosing of the beloved eyes. In fact, the lady had been buried alive. Vitality had not altogether departed, and she was aroused by the caresses of her lover from the lethargy which had been mistaken for death. He bore her frantically to his lodgings in the village. He employed certain powerful restoratives suggested by no little medical learning. In fine, she revived. She recognized her preserver. She remained with him until, by slow degrees, she fully recovered her original health. Her woman's heart was not adamant, and this last lesson of love sufficed to soften it. She bestowed it upon Bossuet. She returned no more to her husband, but, concealing from him her resurrection, fled with her lover to America. Twenty years afterward, the two returned to France, in the persuasion that time had so greatly altered the lady's appearance that her friends would be unable to recognize her. They were mistaken, however, for, at the first meeting, Monsieur Renelle did actually recognize and make claim to his wife. This claim she resisted, and a judicial tribunal sustained her in her resistance, deciding that the peculiar circumstances, with the long lapse of years, had extinguished, not only equitably, but legally, the authority of the husband."


(In future I promise to take more risks.)

More than 1 year ago... confessing to the vagina.

More than 2 years ago... how zen masters are like mature herring.

More than 3 years ago... christmas in june.

More than 4 years ago... het komt wel goed.


The Impossibilty of Death

I linked to it in passing during the DasArts block but since I've rediscovered it I want to link to it again. Kevin Fitzgerald's close reading of Maurice Blanchot's 'Thomas the Obscure':

The Negative Eschatology of Maurice Blanchot

R. and I agreed yesterday to use a couple books by John Dickson Carr as a research base for our upcoming film project. On the train home last night I started Carr's classic The Hollow Man (1935).

Concerning the strange character Fley, Carr writes:

Mangan says he works without an assistant, and that all his props together can go into a box the size of a coffin. If you know anything about magicians, you'll know what a whale of an incredible thing that is. In fact, the man seems hipped on the subject of coffins. Plagliacci the Great once asked him why, and got a jump he didn't expect. Fley turned around with a broad grin and said: "Three of us were once buried alive. Only one escaped!" Pagliacci said: "And how did you escape?" To which Fley answered, calmly, "I didn't, you see. I was one of the two who didn't escape."

MONDAY, 10 JUNE 2002

(Buenos Aires)


The crossing took place at the night and was over before I knew it -- glancing outside I saw lights and realised with a shock that we were already flying over Brasil. The remaining hours passed slowly as we flew down the long coast, I alternately dozing off for a few minutes and then waking again, occasionally checking our position on the lcd screen above the fold-down tray.

Patricio picked me up at the airport. And as we drove into Buenos Aires he showed me a 2 peso note (a federal bond, virtually indistinguishable from a federal note) and explained that if I received one in change I shouldn't accept it.

Welcome to Argentina.


(Buenos Aires)

La Recoleta

The necropolis as labyrinth.

FRIDAY, 14 JUNE 2002


Córdoba has a zoo. We visited it today. N. (claiming that they were not getting enough to eat) fed the bears cookies...

I joined a gym today.

SUNDAY, 16 JUNE 2002

(Capilla del Monte)

La Casona.

As Monday's a holiday (and N. can't work) we decided, upon the suggestion of someone at the Goethe Institute, to take off for a couple of days to Capilla del Monte, a town in the Sierras de Córdoba, about a 100 kms. north of the city. Capilla del Monte is a wild place, reputedly the past site of many UFO sightings and close encounters, it now enjoys a reputation as a center for 'mystical tourism'. Walking around the town, one wonders whether the 'new age ambience' is indeed an effect of such visitations or its cause; the proprietor of La Casona (our hotel), when we asked about the UFO's, suggested that the aliens had actually brought to the town a number of the local inhabitants.

Besides yerba mate, 'boldo' is the name of another herb drunk as tea. 'Bay' leaf like shape. Tastes like medicine. We bought a bag.

MONDAY, 17 JUNE 2002

(Capilla del Monte)

View from the top (wide angle).

Seven hour hike to the peak of Cerro Uritorco (1,979 meters). The silence up here, especially after Córdoba, is unnerving; in such an environment every sound -- the knife sawing at a rope, the dull thud of a heavy bag falling to the ground, the sound of a relieved horse tearing at the shrubbery with its teeth -- takes on import, focuses the attention.

Near the peak we see an eagle sitting on a rock; reaching the top, a pair of larger birds, blacker with white wing tips, vulture-like. The roar of wind passing through trimmed feathers as they swoop down to land and sun themselves sounds remarkably like a jet aircraft. Are these condors?

Later, on the noisy minibus home, the radio announcer's speed-Spanish makes me want to buy a radio.

View from the top (close up).



Ituzaingó 511 C (our apartment is behind the two arched windows).



Consider the 'locked room':

Inside it either an event happens which shouldn't have happened (such as a murder or a robbery where we have to assume a perpetrator who has passed into the locked room, produced the action in question and then passed out again without disturbing the locks), or someone enters it and stays (leaving the locks intact), or someone who escapes (again leaving the locks intact). A variation would be the scene in David Lynch's 'Lost Highway' where one prisoner is switched for another in a locked prison cell.

Consider the locks:

To what degree is the room locked? Is it locked in the everyday sense, that is, locked to prohibit physical access (or departure), or is it more firmly locked so to prevent any form of physical intervention? Or even more securely: can an external observer 'see' into the room (either through a window or via closed-circuit video monitoring or some other sensing apparatus) or is the room entirely closed to all senses?

(Consider the genie locked in the bottle. The bottle is opaque, studded with jewels. We cannot see inside. We can only wonder what the genie is doing in there, whether or not, trapped inside, the creature even exists...)

Does the 'locked room' invite escape or refuge? Dr. Fell on the romance of the safe haven:

'When you were a kid', pursued Dr. Fell, with a relish, 'didn't you ever wish for a secret passage in your house? -- and pretend that some hole in the attic was a secret passage, and go crawling through it with a candle, and nearly burn the place down? Didn't you ever play the Great Detective, and wish for a secret lair in some secret street, where you could pursue your deadly studies under an assumed name?

(John Dickson Carr, The Hollow Man)

FRIDAY, 21 JUNE 2002


One's timeline becomes confused...

My second winter solstice in six months. Who'd have thought?

"What has happened has not happened: thus spoke patience, that the end might not be hurried." (Blanchot)



Natatorio Gabriel Taborin

Rehearsal of N.'s theater piece.

SUNDAY, 23 JUNE 2002


After two cloudy and damp days (the only two since my arrival in Argentina) today the sun's again shining. Yes it's cold, but the sun is shining.

"One feels like getting lost in The Thousand and One Nights, one knows that entering that book one can forget one's own poor human fate; one can enter a world, a world made up of archetypical figures but also of individuals.

"In the title The Thousand and One Nights there is something very important: the suggestion of an infinite book. It practically is. The Arabs say that no can read The Thousand and One Nights to the end. Not for reasons of boredom: one feels the book is infinite.

"At home I have the seventeen volumes of Burton's version. I know I'll never read all of them, but I know that there the nights are waiting for me; that my life may be wretched but the seventeen volumes will be there; there will be that species of eternity, The Thousand and One Nights of the Orient."


Hmm... two weeks ago with the help of Patricio Larrambebere and Javier Martínez I toured the librerías of Buenos Aires searching for a copy of Borges's recently published Collected Fictions (in english). Everywhere we found copies of his Selected Non-Fictions and Selected Poems but not the Collected Fictions. Now, ironically, here in Córdoba I suddenly find myself in need of his essay 'The Thousand and One Nights' and kick myself for not having bought the selected non-fiction when I had the chance -- for of course here, 710 km. from Buenos Aires, it is nowhere to be found. Luckily however, I have found Seven Nights, a slim 'New Directions' volume containing the lectures that Borges gave at the Teatro Coliseo during the winter of 1977 and containing the aforementioned essay.

Like Borges, I too have a Burton translation at home (in fact I have two, a 10 volume set in Rotterdam, obtained recently, and a 16 volume set in Vancouver, obtained more than 20 years ago) but unlike Borges I do have every intention of reading it.

"One feels like getting lost..." Truly, one often feels like getting lost, getting completely lost, in the labyrinth, in the infinitely locked room, in the maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

One could say: Yea, take me away from all this life and let me wander forever dead. Forever dead in the mirrored room, the funhouse, in dreams, in the bardos. A mind-body forever voyaging.

Perhaps getting lost is the ultimate refuge. When all else fails. (One dies when all else fails. And one seems forever dying.)

MONDAY, 24 JUNE 2002


Sunday 19:00 hrs. Cafe el Paseo de los Artes.



Sunday 17:30 hrs. (In a world inhabited by tree spirits this has got to be a hungry ghost tree.)

Cold weather lunch: blue cheese, radish and red chili sandwiches (chilies very hot and sweet, bought this morning from the Bolivian woman sitting on the corner of Ituzaingó and Crisol.)



Funny. The more I walk around this neighborhood the more I notice.

While I enjoyed the references to escapology, Dr. Fell's locked room lecture, and the device whereby stand-ins for the novel's readers are made to appear in the story (as Rampole and his wife Dorothy), in the long run I found John Dickson Carr's The Hollow Man somewhat tedious. Why? Too many suspects and not enough plot? Too much puzzle and not enough book? I don't know... for many readers the emphasis on the puzzle might be precisely the reason for the book's appeal, hmm?

Anyway, as previously agreed with R., (in preparation for our upcoming film project), I am now a third of the way through my second book by Carr, The Corpse in the Waxworks (1932), featuring the French detective Bencolin, a vaguely Twin Peaks like mystery, and, already in Chapter 1, a grand view of the wax museum:

(...) "The purpose, the illusion, the spirit of a waxworks. It is an atmosphere of death. It is soundless and motionless. It is walled off by stone grottos, like a dream, from the light of day; its noises are echoes, and it is filled with a dull green illumination, as though it were in the depths of the sea. Do you see? All things are turned dead, in attitudes of horror, or sublimity. In my caverns are real scenes from the past. Marat is stabbbed in his bath. Louis XVI lies with his head under a guillotine knife. Bonaparte dies, white faced, in the bed of his little brown room at St. Helena, with the storm outside and the servant drowsing in the chair..."

(...) "And -- do you see? -- this silence, this motionless host in the twilight, is my world. I think it is like death, exactly, because death may consist of people frozen forever in the positions they had when they died.

(...) "I never really believed that my figures lived. If one of them ever moved, if one of them ever moved under my eyes, I think I should go mad."

That was the thing he feared.

Interesting how an artist's practice may actually flirt with the very thing he or she fears most.



Coordinates. Why are specific references to specific locations so damned fascinating? What is it about a precise reference (apart from its potential function as an instruction, a directive) that makes it so compelling, so significant? Borges, in his lecture on nightmares, claims that all his nightmares are situated on street corners in Buenos Aires. He provides us with two coordinates, the corner of Laprida and Arenales, and the corner of Balcare and Chile, and then goes on to state that in his nightmares these locations do not need to appear to be actual street corners. They could be "completely different. They could be mountain paths or swamps or jungles, it doesn't matter: I know that I am on a certain corner in Buenos Aires. I try to find my way."

To get lost again. To locate oneself precisely, in either reality or fiction, seems a good way to achieve this.

The dream map. Kneeling on the pavement in front of the Centro Inmobiliario (Rondeau 74), Brian Mamani and his sister draw pictures on the back side of printed sheets of paper. It is very late for children to be on the street. Shouldn't they be home, in bed (especially given this cold)? Where are their parents? Where do they live?

Brian says his drawings are for sale. N and I search through a pile and choose one carefully. We hold it up to show him and ask, "How much?" Brian shrugs and says how ever much we wish to pay. We give him a peso.

Brian Mamani, 'Dancing Fixtures' (detail), 2002.

FRIDAY, 28 JUNE 2002


Animal Kingdom

Thursday, 16:00 hrs. At the zoológico.

As I walked past the cage the first thing I noticed were the large gnawed joints of meat and the black cat. The cat stood motionless next to the bones. It was a normal cat and not very large either, and I remember wondering at this, and thinking that the creature lurking around here was obviously a carnivore of some sort. Did not this little cat fear for its life?



Video set-up in the Ituzaingó apartment.

Follow-up. Another black cat. This time at the beginning of the hospital bed scene (Nick's reconciliation with his daughter) in Wim Wenders' film, 'Nick's Film - Lightning over Water' (1981).

Lightning Over Water is a film about Nicholas Ray's impending death, Wender's relation to Ray, and the making of a film (the reality of dying staged for film). In many ways Lightning Over Water is more a film script than a film. In one scene Ray reads to Wenders a treatment he's written (a film script within the film script):

"This is a film about a man who is an artist. He's 60 years old. He's made a lot of money in the art world on his early paintings. He's not been able to sell his current output -- and he's got another need besides money which is to regain his own identity as fully as he can before he dies. He's fatally ill with cancer and knows it.

"To regain his own paintings he steals them as well as forges his own work and tries whenever possible to replace what he steals hanging in museums with his forgeries. This is what he enjoys doing the most."

Many stages within the stage.

SUNDAY, 30 JUNE 2002

(En route)

Note to myself: Make some notes on the current financial crisis (and the various currencies and forgeries in circulation here at the moment). Need to find a good informant concerning this. Perhaps talk with Pedro?

May 2002

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