MARCH 2003


Historical Games

Two board games that I'm currently interested in for their ideas of time and history:

Blood Royale (1987) and Time Agent (1992)

Blood Royale is interesting for its trans-generational qualities (How does it feel to watch human generations come and go?) and Time Agent is interesting for its mechanisms and conception of time branching -- in Time Agent you send agents back in time to change history so that your "race" (in the present) is in the lead with the ultimate goal of undoing the invention of the time machine (so that your race has always been in the lead).

"The object of the game is to win. You win by always having been the winner when time travel is uninvented."

Mike Siggin's review of Time Agent.

Time Branching (think: temporal labyrinths):

Borges, 'The Garden of Forking Paths'

Roger Zelazny, 'The Game of Blood and Dust' (1975) page on branching


Played a bit of All Roads by Jon Ingold.

Read a bit of Nick Monfort's paper: Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction.

Watched a bit of Jacques Rivette's magnificent Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974).


7 bis Rue du Nadir aux Pommes

Finished watching Jacques Rivette's 'Céline and Julie Go Boating' last night and twenty-four hours later I'm still thinking about it. There are so many things about this film to like. Céline and Julie's dialogue, their progressively becoming the double of each other, the comedy they find in the recurrence, the story within the story.

Kabinet's page on Jacques Rivette.

Jorn Barger's page of Jacques Rivette notes and links.

"the actresses created their own characters" (Jorn mentions Rivette's popularisation of the term 'mise-en-scene' instead of direction. I loved the 'messy' way the two girls communicated.)

Bhikku writes concerning 'Going Boating':

"Forgot to say - did you know the title is a sort of pun, and that 'aller en bateau' means to daydream? Or that hypnotised floaty feeling you can feel when someone's telling you a story."


From a compelling analysis of 'Céline and Julie Go Boating' on the Wellington Film Society's page:

"Essentially a mirror image of 'Out 1: Spectre', 'Céline and Julie' takes one through the looking-glass of Rivette's continuing preoccupation with paranoiac obsession to discover what might happen if, instead of shrinking in inward alarm at the unknown, the victim were to open himself up and offer a joyous welcome to the mysterious happenings that assail him..."

(Tom Milne, Monthly Film Bulletin, August 1976.)

Jacques Rivette page at

Will from writes:


As an experiment, I once showed an undergraduate intro film class 'Céline and Julie Go Boating'.

Earlier in the semester, they had done a montage exercise in which they each shot 10 - 20 photos to tell a story. In class they handed the shuffled photos to a classmate who then had to sort the photos into, if not the story, then a story.

So they were somewhat prepared.

Because the film is over three hours, I had to use two classes. At the end of the first class, about an hour and half into the film, I asked the students for basic words that related to themes or motifs. 'Magic', 'Women', 'Double', 'Blood', 'Childhood', 'Performance' etc. all went on the board and then based on those words the class formed into groups.

The next week they watched the second half of the film - paying close attention to the particular word/motif of their chosen group. After the film, all clueless as to "what it was about", they began talking in their groups about 'Women' 'Blood' 'Magic' and then something extraordinary happened - they re-entered the film. When the groups began sharing their concrete observations, associations, memories, conjectures, a kind of meaning began to take shape. No need to go into details. They were liberated and so was I.

We have lost something with our cinema theories.



(BTW: took delivery on an Airport Extreme and a new laser printer yesterday. The airport took all of 5 minutes to set up. Woo! Now we're really floating in space.)

The Club Havana Secret History of Cinema:


Boy I love these lists and hope that Club Havana (Chris Fujiwara and A. S. Hamrah) carry on and fill in the missing years as promised.

I've got a personal soft spot for 1973.


Woke up and realised -- with that special morning mind that has obviously been sorting things out while sleeping -- that the beginning (and for that matter the ending) of 'Céline and Julie Go Boating' is remarkably similar to the beginning of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Watched Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive (1973).

Started to watch Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore (1973).


One thing leads to another but not every lead is promising. Research into the incredible films of Wojciech Has (Who has seen 1973's The Hourglass Sanatorium? Or better yet... who can help me find a copy?) leads to a user review (by -- I'm only now beginning to appreciate the incredible usefulness of the Internet Movie Database -- in the past I was so put off by the ads I didn't spend much time there) of The Saragossa Manuscript and links between (1) Has's film and Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate (believe it or not!) and (2) Potocki's novel and two works of Bulwer-Lyttons, namely Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale and Ernest Maltravers.



Rotterdam, 9 March 2003

I've Never Been to Berlin

I've started work on the script for 'A Thousand Deaths: Sortie 3'.

Given the starting point for this new piece -- which could be summarised as regret on my death bed over the places I've never visited and the things I've never accomplished -- N. has suggested a number of references: Wim Wender's film over the death of Nicholas Ray, Lightning Over Water (1980) (which we watched together last year in Argentina) and Chekov's Three Sisters, (which I've never read).

FYI: link to a rather clumsy talk I gave on the 'Democracy of Self and the Democracy of Death' at Casco in Utrecht on the 11th of February 2001. Most of the discussion -- included in the transcript -- was on 'A Thousand Deaths: Sortie 1'.

I Have Never Read Proust

Watched Chantal Akerman's 'The Captive' (2000) this evening. Not having read volume 5 of 'À la recherche du temps perdu' it's impossible to judge how Akerman's film stands up as an interpretation of the former work. Does it make a difference if one knows one's Proust? Is this (like Raoul Ruiz's recent Time Regained) a film for Proustians? Even the little I've gathered since watching the film makes me think that an initiate will get much more out of it. Whatever the case -- I enjoyed it and am interested enough to watch it again.

(The question remains "Did he kill her?")

It seems funny to admit (it seems so terribly tangental) but while watching the movie I especially liked Akerman's choice of music -- which the credits later revealed as Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead (Opus 29).

Now I wonder if the director was familiar with the painting by Böcklin (painted not once but 5 different times!) which was the inspiration for Rachmaninov's tone poem? Surely she must have been. Could this then be the key to the last scene... (when the film finished N. and I actually scanned the last few frames a couple of times to see whether Ariane's body was lying under the blanket at the bottom of the boat. We decided not but now after looking closely at the painting...)

Detail of Arnold Böcklin's 'Isle of the Dead' (1880)


In The Future

If it's worthwhile doing once it's worthwhile doing again.

I remember once writing that "the future will look a lot like the past" (apart from the occasional singularity). What I meant by this was that future culture, ever starved for the 'new' would at some point begin openly 'mining' the past for its cultural logics -- extinct cultures that had once flourished and then passed away, but like mammoth or quagga genes, are still resuscitatable. The thinking behind this: as complex systems take a great deal of time (many lifetimes?) to develop if our needs require new complexities the only hope is resurrection.

Not only do I still believe this... I would like (starting now) to adopt a similar approach in this weblog. In other words (singularities aside) Alamut's future is going to look a lot like it's past.

It was precisely five years ago today, on the 10th of March 1998, that I made my first entry:

After working well into the night developing a template for this site, I've decided that it's definitely going to be 'one site fits all' from now on.

I'll go to Wageningen today to see Mike and David and take a walk around the park (and have dinner (supposedly pizza) with a few of the board members at the Bowlespark house...)

The idea five years ago was twofold: to keep a record of my attention (where it went and what it did) and to store that record and everything else in one site that I would develop for the rest of my life (rather than producing different sites for different projects).

Five years have now passed (and four anniversaries where I've reflected on what this project means) and at this point I think I've recorded enough of my attention and identified enough of the themes that interest me to support a second round of inquiry. So here is my new plan: I propose, for the next five years, in addition to recording my current attention, to read and elaborate upon the entries of the last five years on a day by day basis.

If it's worthwhile doing once it's worthwhile doing again.

What's the point of keeping a record if one doesn't pay attention to it?


(Wednesday, 11 March 1998)

Re: Incubators and Entrepreneurs

I began a minor revision of this document this morning. Will upload the revised version soon.

Interesting to see that Jouke (no longer by the way at and even if he were I'd be removing it -- nowadays we are a little more prudent about advertising our email addresses on the web) reminds us in his 1998 mail that five years had passed since our visit to the first Bionomics conference in 1993, then asks: "When do we start practicing the preach?"

Re: Yukio Mishima

And once again I haven't thought about Mishima in years. Though come to think of it I do remember reading recently that he played a small role in a film I was interested in. What was it? Ah yes... Kinji Fukasaku's 1968 'Black Lizard' (Washington Post review -- it seems that Mishima was also responsible for Black Lizard's screen play...).

Tate Engstrand from answers my Wojciech Has question:

I have seen the Hour-glass Sanatorium. In case you weren't aware, the film is based on a novel by Bruno Schultz. In America, the title translated has been rendered Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. Schultz's other novel, Street of Crocodiles, was translated to film by the Brothers Quay.

Has is not my favorite; the filmic interpretation is, to my eye, glib. Schultz's work is full of wonderment, but quiet and contemplative, somewhat reminiscent of the severely sensitive affect of a Walser or Kafka character. Has makes the characters full of gusto. Still, it's absolutely worth seeing.

I saw it when I was still in school. The medium was 35mm, however, and I don't know if it's ever been released on video anywhere.

And posts the news that Stan Brakhage passed away last Sunday in a hospital in Victoria B.C.


(Thursday, 12 March 1998)

Re: Howard Bloom

I haven't read anything by Bloom since the Spring of 1998 (I can't even find my copy of The Lucifer Principle on my bookshelves). I do know he finally published a print version of the book he uploaded in installments in 1998 to Telepolis -- Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century.

Re: A Surplus of Attention

Still an issue around here. Too often we seem to be paying too much attention to the wrong things.

Dmitry writes concerning Club Havana's Secret History of Cinema

Just writing to let you know that Fujiwara and Hamrah (fellow Bostonians) are working on a book version of Club Havana (last I heard, they decided to concentrate on the 1970s but I could be wrong). Chris Fujiwara is also busy finishing a book on Otto Preminger, his second one (the first was on Jacques Tourneur -- Cinema of Nightfall, and is excellent). Trivia bit (which you probably know): Fujiwara used to be the bass player in Cul De Sac between 1992 and 1999.

I am interested.

An interview with Fujiwara (over Jacques Tourneur).

Fujiwara on Jacques Rivette's Va Savoir (which I've just ordered).

Fujiwara on the films of Joris Ivens (a Dutch documentarist whose work I should know but don't).


(Friday, 13 March 1998)

The Howard Bloom node at

Groundhog Day

Kenny Liu sends me a snippet of text from a 'write up' that an everything2 user has done over a friend in Chicago (the emphasis in red is mine):

Just reminded me of this everything2 node:

"We relive the memories that we've probably told each other before. But neither of us can remember. It feels good to talk about them, but it would feel so much better if he would get off of his lazy ass and absorb this miracle of the internet and write his thoughts. We could both read them over and over again. We could try to find the truth. We could edit out the figments and get to the core.

"This talk talk talk talk on the phone is just wasted time. We have no record of it. We will not remember it the next time we speak. Why not record the thoughts so that we can go back and fine tune them? Take out what's wrong? Replace it with the correct thing? The meaningful thing we need in order to make sense of it all?"

Dear Kenny,

Thanks for sending me this. I like the idea -- that sufficiently documented life could provide us with the right feedback to allow us to non-judgementally observe ourselves and witness our repetitive nature, like in meditation.

At the moment I'm enamoured by a similar idea, Nietzsche's great notion (thought experiment) of eternal recurrence -- the thought that we repeat ourselves an infinite number of times, that everything we've done in our lives we've already done an infinite number of times and will continue do do an infinite number of times. I suppose this thought applies to your email and this reply... they have already occurred countlessly... and will recur countlessly again.

Not much freewill in Nietzsche's model (though of course there's always the chance that we will have a Groundhog Day) we can change things only because we have changed them before. (We become enlightened only because we are already enlightened.)

Link: Self Conscious Journalism (August 27, 1999).


Watched Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror last night.

Plan to watch (start over) Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore tonight.


(Saturday, 14 March 1998)

Re: emotional highs. A year later (March 1999) I got around to posting that picture of Esther Dyson's office.

Remakes and Restorations

One can imagine many reasons why an artist would remake one of their own pieces. The new work may be considered an improvement -- or a necessary update -- to an older, flawed, or no longer topical work, or it may be that artist's entire oeuvre is composed of nothing more than instances of a 'single idea' repeatedly manifested.

In his review of Margheriti's Castle of Blood Chris Fujiwara suggests another reason to re-do:

"Castle of Blood is more striking, more frenzied, but Web of the Spider must be given the edge because its repetitive nature as a remake better fulfills the theoretical implications of the story. One wishes that Margheriti had gone on remaking Castle of Blood once every six years and that this year we could thus look forward to the sixth remake of the film. But maybe once was enough to prove the point. The unnecessary remake is another, perhaps the most logical and terrifying, of the models of entertainment Margheriti proposes."

But what about re-do's in the name of the artist (after the artist is dead -- restorations of the artist's estate)?

Fujiwara on the restoration of Vertigo:

"Scottie tries to conquer his fear of heights by climbing a stepladder next to the window. As he puts his foot on "step number two" (so named in the dialogue), in the original version we distinctly hear two beeps of a car horn. The new version doesn't bother recreating this detail. Yet, clearly, the people who worked on the film thought about it, someone put it there with Hitchcock's approval (maybe even at his instigation), and, minor though it doubtless is, it was no accident that after the word "two" is heard in the dialogue, two beeps are heard on the soundtrack. (If you think Hitchcock and his technicians didn't pay attention to such things, you're wrong...)"


Rotterdam, 14 March 2003


(Sunday, 15 March 1998)

Ever since I got my DVD player/burner searching for interesting books has been more or less replaced by searching for interesting movies.

Ray Davis of the Bellona Times sends thanks for yesterday's Vertigo restoration pointer and a few pointers of his own:

"I hadn't seen it before, and the 'restoration' is a bugbear of mine. See this and particularly this."

Finished Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore last night. Someone on the imdb called it the "talkiest film ever." I'd have to go along with that. It's the main quality of the film. That and its transitions. Oh and its use of music. I love the scenes where someone -- usually Alexandre -- puts a record on the record player and then listens to it. An entire song in real time! The music becomes the silence of the movie (the only time Alexandre or someone else is not talking).

N., who watched the first half of the film with me a couple of nights ago, had to laugh at the allusion to Sartre when Alexandre proclaimed to his friend that henceforth he'd spend his afternoons "not writing but reading" in the cafe (Les Deux Magots). Sure enough later in the film Sartre is spotted in the same cafe. (N. also wonders whether the contract between Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir has ever been published... I've looked for it but can't find it. If anyone knows of its online existence please let me know.)

Link: Writing in French Cafés.

Rogério is visiting New York:

"(...) Lots of fuss about the French. People pouring together lots of good wine into the gutter. Discussions on whether or not to rename French toast and French fries to Freedom Toast and Freedom Fries. Yesterday we saw for the first time military presence in a subway station, four or five of them, with rifles. You can see gas masks in the windows of several security and hardware stores..."


(Monday, 16 March 1998)

Re: bookkeeping. A new link:

The Romance of Double-Entry Bookkeeping

Watched Robert Bresson's 1956 film 'Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut last night' (A Man Escaped or the Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth). I tried watching it a year or so ago and failed. I suppose I wasn't ready for it. Last night I was able to concentrate. Magnificent!

Adrian Gargett, A Profound Gaze at the Surface: The Films of Robert Bresson. From the Bright Lights Film Journal.


(Tuesday, 17 March 1998)

I left Media-GN in September 1999. It's now called the Frank Mohr Institute.

Ja. Ja.

Everything recurs. Some things more obviously memorably than others.


(Wednesday, 18 March 1998)

That was an interesting question 5 years ago: "What's the connection between: Attention, Scalable Content, Flash Crowds and XML?"

Distributed, peer-to-peer filesharing is still to come with Napster still more than a year away.

The Free Haven Project.

Spent the day at the Rijksakademie. Made studio visits to Nora Martirosyan, Lala Rascic, Nesrine Khodr, Sandro Setola and Kristof Kintera.

Stencil by Kristof Kintera


(Thursday, 19 March 1998)

Spent the day at the Rijksakademie. Made studio visits to Noraset Vaisayakul, Iwan van 't Spijker, Danielle van Vree, Brenda Kamphuis and Erick Beltran.

Erick began our discussion with the notion of clandestine publishing (or the publishing of 'clandestine objects') bringing back memories of crypto-anarchy, stegonography (hiding a file in a photograph), super-distribution and jurisdictional swamps.

As an example of the clandestine object (and its desirability) Erick related the story of a book called Excaliber.


(Friday, 20 March 1998)

Woke up and watched a little bit of Leni Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will (borrowed yesterday from the Rijksacademie's library) before turning on the T.V. and realizing the war had started.


Two new and noteworthy CNN buzz-terms: "decapitation strike" and "embedded journalist".


(Saturday, 21 MARCH 1998)

Two Notes to My Second Ayahuasca Session

  1. Not exactly pleasant.

  2. Next time should be better prepared with a sleeping bag and a plastic container (to hold the plastic bag you're supposed to puke in).


The Agony and Ecstacy of Yagé

Ayahuasca and Cancer: One Man's Experience

Ayahuasca and Cancer: A Postscript


(Sunday, 22 March 1998)

I'm 47 today.


(Monday, 23 March 1998)

I confess that I don't feel very interested in these ideas anymore.

This Morning's Reflected Light

Rotterdam, 23 March 2003.


(Tuesday, 24 March 1998)

"There is not a thought in our heads that hasn't been worn shiny by other brains."

Ro-disc, the local DVD shop, has been getting in reasonably cheap Hong Kong editions of many of Kurosawa's films. Last Saturday I purchased a copy of Seven Samurai (1954) to check out the quality. It seemed okay (image-wise) based on a quick skip through its chapters so this afternoon I went back and picked up I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being (1955) and Throne of Blood (1957).

I watched Throne of Blood this evening. The verdict? An absolutely brilliant film marred by outrageously bad sub-titling. :-/ (So incredibly bad that I don't know if I should be charmed or disappointed -- and this without taking into account that the film is an adaptation of Shakespeare...)

A list of Shakespeare adaptations on video.

Another list (organized by play).


(Wednesday, 25 March 1998)

That Esther Dyson piece on 'Intellectual Property on the Net' is no longer available.

Ontological Vertigo

Ubik, Audition, Jacob's Ladder

The ultimate identity crisis: Under what conditions does one experience ontological vertigo? The dizziness of being one experiences in 'becoming' a series of states in rapid succession... (Under what conditions does one become aware of the recurrence of ontological vertigo?) What are its critical factors? (What precipitates the experience as an event?)


(Thursday, 26 March 1998)

Deeply exhausted...

Spent yesterday and today visiting the Rijksakademie.

Roman Wolgin, 25 March 2003.


(Friday, 27 March 1998)

Hakim Bey... 'Against the Reproduction of Death'

Jouke, who by the way on the 22nd also began his 6th year of maintaining a weblog, later shifted 'Cultural Intelligence Works' to NQPAOFU. Here's a link to his March/April 1998 edition.

Dustin Larson, 25 March 2003.


(Saturday, 28 March 1998)

Lost Highway of the 70's

'Beyond the Fragile Geometry of Space' being the title of the book the protagonists are reading in Nicolas Roeg's 1973 reverse-causal film Don't Look Now. A book that didn't exist then and doesn't exist now -- but should some day.

Close. (Fragile Geometry: The Films, Philosophy and Misadventures of Nicolas Roeg by Joseph Lanza.)


(Sunday, 29 March 1998)

"Don't do any task in order to get it over with."

I love watching films in an empty theater...

... so the Saturday matinee at Cinerama (to see Jonze and Kaufman's Adaptation.) where we almost had the entire theater to ourselves (two others arriving late and sitting somewhere behind us -- one leaving demonstratively about half way through...) was very pleasing.

Der Geist, der stets verneint.

The Metaphysicians Nightmare (a short story by Bertrand Russell).


(Monday, 30 March 1998)

Pillar of Thought

Had forgotten how profoundly the 'discovery' of the 'Heat Death' once changed our western world view.

(A century down the line and we discover pointing to 'Fade to Black', an online comedy magazine.)


(Tuesday, 31 March 1998)

The value added tax deadline arrives. Every year the same stressful story. Next year different?

February 2003

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