| ...............................H.U.T. Journal-April
"The mollusc is a being--almost a--quality. It has no need
of any frame-work but only of a bulwark, something like the color in a tube.
Nature in this instance renounces the presentation of plasma formally.
She shows only that she prizes it by carefully sheltering it, in
jewelbox whose inner face is most beautiful.
It istn't then a simple bit of spit, but a most precious reality.
The mollusc is endowed wtih a mighty energy for keeping itself
up. It is only to be truthful a muscle, a hinge, a blount and its
The blount having secreted its door. Two doors slightly concave
stitute its entire dwelling.
First and last dwelling. It lodges there until after its death.
No way to pull it out alive.
The least cell of the human body clings so, and with this force,
But at other times another being comes to desecrate this tomb,
once it is
all done, and settles there in place of the defunct constructor.
This is the case of the pagurian."
The Case of the Pagurian
March 31, 1999
There is a very interesting car commercial on television now. A couple is
in a car. They turn down a side street and a camera pans outside the car
to pedestrians and events taking place there. Some electronica is playing.
And everything on the street is in sync to their passing and the music which
accompanies their passage; a basketball bounces in perfect time; a woman
walks by in time with the music; workmen carry out their tasks in perfect
rhythmic harmony. For the couple passing by, the outside world has become
a symphony, orchestrated for them -- or at least as a result of their mechanical
contrivance. Some how --we are led to believe -- the perfection of their
technology, their automobile, has led to this synchrony of events. All has
become right in the world, if by right we mean the complete interlocking
of all activities with no unpleasant, discordant remainders. Increasingly,
we want our institutions to work in this way and as well, we want our bodies
to work in this fashion. Like a great techno/electronica tune, everything
should feel right. We feel that things should be interlocked, fitted together
like the perfect machine, a planar assemblage where everything is visible,
connected, and humming harmoniously. It would be the perfect fusion of art,
technology, and science with no messy individual lives to contend with.
Even death--where is thy sting! Just the occasional core dump, having no
effect on the functioning of the apparatus. The intent seems to be (if one
can ascribe intentionality to the process), to reverse Holderlin's dictum
that at the extreme limit of pain, nothing remains but the conditions of
space and time such that, by concentrating on the conditions of space and
time, locking them together, one eliminates pain. This has been the traditional
prerogative of the mystic. (though it must be said that this capital-driven
commercial is cynical in it's exploitation of human harmonic/rhythmic propensities.)
Perhaps negative theology has entered coding itself, effecting a sly transition
from the negative of `not-this, never-that' to `only-this, always-this'.
In return for a certain numeric circumscription (and then virtual elaboration)
of reality, we enter a fantastic universe of connected-ness, a fabulous
cabala of everything touching everything else, any thing implying the whole
-- as long as it can be codified -- A Pythagorean reality which might even
be daunting to Pythagorus himself. The self itself becomes an endlessly
recursing schematic coiling into and out of genetic structures in a miraculous
process ---apparently -- of self-creation through coding, the ultimate boot-strapping,
no external agency needed , that is, The whole existence of the structure
consists of its effects...the structure, which is merely a specific combination
of its peculiar elements, is nothing outside of its effects. (Spinoza by
way of Althusser). It often seems like a desperate effort to sew all the
edges together, an attempt to PREVENT this occult (Egyptian) leakage of
self-into-everything -- at a certain remove however it precisely CREATES
those conditions of leakage, the invisible boundaries of the sublime rounding
back into uncanny emergence again. Like at the county fair with those knockem-downs
that keep popping back up.
But maybe that universe (the same as the one depicted in the movie Pi) is
not one that can be lived in, at least as we think of living now, because,
as in the movie, observing the pure interrelations and numeric machinations
of space and time lead to the extreme limit of pain, a place that can only
be lived in under the sign of the reducing valve of the everyday and the
personal self. But...the commercial described above is an ominous sign that
NO ONE will be exempt from this gematric (and geometric--there's Spinoza
again) universe--but then from the view point of many religions (and even
structures that don't pose themselves as religious, such as the political),
isn't that the very intent of history, especially the Hegelian history of
judeo-christianity: it creates a substance called history and then messianically
fulfills and completes it (well, attempts to anyway). Ones individual wishes
are of no consequence except as they fulfill the prerogatives of history
and its Ultimate Knowledge (at least as someone like Hegel conceived it).
And of course everything takes on a cinematic quality in such a culture,
everything becoming a sound track to one's life--the only problem being
that we are reduced to observers (or in the worse case scenario, prisoners),
sacrificing efficacy in operating one's life (or rather in being
a life) for harmony and efficiency. In truth, it never works out black-and-white
like that -- only revolutionaries and philosophers are so privileged as
to live in such a dicotomous universe. (the case of the man searching under
the street light to find his lenses when in fact he lost them in the darkness
to the side.)
woke up again with another sepia-toned postcard from the past, as, um, someone
once said of something I had written. The past sits and incubates in us.
or it dies and starts smelling up the place. or it becomes a...childhood
hut in which to escape. or it becomes an inoperable tumor..I suppose the
metaphors could proliferate (metastasize?) out of control. I think I would
almost rather be like those who have memories of a string of past lives,
of always remembering being something else--how cloying and claustrophobic
to be continually who one is...and yet how frightening the contemplation
of anything else. And yet...I've known those who were only briefly who they
I suppose that's why all revolutions try to commandeer the radio station
of memory, to prevent slippage backward, to introduce a mutability of identity
(vectored in only one direction--which problematizes it as memory) in the
service of some greater good, some teleology of thought that can only be
re-membered forwardly (the great advantage of the prophetic which modern
culture has hijacked with futurist studies and five-year plans and projections
and Great Leaps Forward), thinking perhaps the opposite of Santayana's injunction,
that in fact those who REMEMBER are doomed to REPEAT, Nietzsche's vicious
circling around the funeral pyre of history, forever caught in the updraft...
Even the strongest of us would like to be occasionally removed from the
burden of our identity; there are times when it almost feels like an industrial
fabrication...but not in memory. In memory it wafts to me (meaning: I come
to me) cloaked in a strange familiarity, close yet distant, the familiar
light of the hut seen briefly at a different angle through the twilight,
shadow flickering past this window: I know what's inside and yet for an
instant there's the possibility of...of...a not-knowing, not a stranger
looking out but a strange-NESS, something completely other than what is
a me, something only barely scritched out on these endless `sheets' of meta/phosphors,
light resolving into dark, past never quite resolving into the present (nevertheless
SOMETHING sedimenting out onto this sheet), present never quite making it
over the border into the future (and yet some pulling, some kind of fall
forward always taunting with its catastrophic promises, a barely detectable
waving in the darkness beyond the campfire...)---I can never be sure whether
the horror of it all is that it ONLY exits in this confused scribbling,
the linguistic turn always only spiraling into itself--but that's no answer
either (even if there truly IS no occulted Absolute Substance) because what
kind of Thing would it be which could so Write Itself and so Know Itself
... and yet be only the writing of itself?)
And then I'm thrown onto that dirt road again,
biking past summersweet meadows, cawing crows, billows of dust from the
occasional car, heading out...
The smell just never goes away. He was never quite sure whether HE was generating
it somehow or whether the environment itself had taken this olfactory turn...maybe
his nose had shifted its register somehow! The smell had at times an almost
industrial astringency about it, other times it seemed more musty, a combination
of old tobacco leaves, well composted leaf mold and a certain ill-defined
earthiness. It would seem to hit him in puffs in the car going down the
expressway (was it in the ductwork of the car then or outside??) Someone
would walk by him in a store surrounded by a well-defined halo of perfume,
then he would walk out and there it would be again. He conceived it much
the same way that folks thought of the almost inaudible hum that people
described in various parts of the country: omnipresent and inescapable.
Even his shit had this quality.
Had his nose gotten more acute in its abilities, become more `dog-like'?
or the very opposite: had all the edges been worn down, leaving odors in
a narrow range? (He fantasized about the receptors in his nose being smoothed
out into the same shapes, effluvia from aging filling in the corners. more
He had also become intensely attuned to mentions of odor in movies, TV and
print. There, smell seemed to be most often associated with either danger,
a kind of perverse pleasure in decay, or the approach of something allied
with death and an uncanny putrid vastness.
For example: he was drawn to read Heart of Darkness recently for some reason;
(as it turns out, it DOES have an extraordinary number of mentions of hut
in the book) and here was: "[speaking of an ivory camp] A taint of
imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from a corpse. By Jove!
I've never seen anything so unreal in my life. And outside, the silent wilderness
surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great
and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away
of this fantastic invasion." Yes, but the `passing away' of this fantastic
invasion...or the `waiting for'?
It seems WAY past time for a road trip--even
given the catastrophe of the last one.
"He or she is mystic who cannot
stop walking and, with the certainty of what is lacking, knows of every
place and object that it is not that; one cannot stay there nor be content
with that. Desire creates an excess. Places are exceeded, passed, lost behind
it. It makes one go further, elsewhere. It lives nowhere. [....] Unmoored
from the origin [...], the traveler no longer has foundation or goal. Given
over to a nameless desire, he is the drunken boat. [....] Henceforth this
desire can no longer speak to someone. It seems to have become infans, voiceless, more solitary and lost than before,
or less protected and more radical, ever seeking a body or poetic locus.
It goes on walking, then, tracing itself out in silence, in writing."
Michel de Certeau / The Mystic Fable
there are those to whom this will speak and others for whom it is moot.
I've become one of those people (poet? just a crazy person?) for whom language
has become a sort of Substance, akin even, sometimes, I think, to ectoplasm
in its simultaneous existence/non-existence (and subsequent importance/non-importance---difficult
to figure out which goes with which though). Language is perhaps not an
Absolute Substance -- I hope not -- but at its genetic core it does seem
to share certain characteristics with such a (fabled, hence narrativized,
hence linguified) substance, as a sort of infinitely precessing code, not
tergiverous with consciousness but anxiously AWAITING consciousness. Which,
at least for humans, would make language SEEM infinite since it is always
lying in wait, simply waiting g for the right fricative circumstances of
differentiation---and isn't; that always everywhere the case from the very
beginning? In fact, that's what we determine AS a beginning, a state of
differentiation, the ultimate state of which being, I suppose, number, mathematics,
geometry; then finding its emotive counterpart in music, working then its
ethical counterpart through Spinoza and D and G....
And yet...and yet...sometimes there is this other thing (not a thing really)
which seems underneath -- how archaic, literally--(between?) everything,
some integument. Maybe my obsession with smell (always considered to be
the most archaic of the senses, reptilian even) is symptomatic of this other,
this non-linguifiable other (I'm not too sure of any vision thing, seemingly
TOO easily captured in a lingual realm -- the tongue and the nose...an odd
pairing) ---yet in a way, the nose is senseless (or when its paired with
the eye anyway)...and there is language continually nibbling away at it,
without exhausting it, and yet at the same time creating it. Although I
would suppose that for many people a language does not only not present
as substance but in a way is not visible at all--and that it is precisely
when it DOES become visible that people begin to be upset because it immediately
opens into a vast, dark and unconquerable realm, in-human and uncanny even
in its simultaneous immensity and intimacy, it becomes that thing which
threatens to suck dry every vestige of particulate individuality by leading
to the next word then the next word then the next, the next, the next, without
end, rounding back on itself iteratively yet differently, always the same
yet different, some ghostly, ghastly hold on oness consciousness, BECOMES
ones consciousness, increasingly difficult to back AWAY from because you
back right into it. At some point the invisible seems not quite possible
and yet all the more necessary.
"...perhaps all the wisdom , and the truth, and all sincerity are
just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step
over the threshold of the invisible."
I've become thunderstruck. In reading R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz on the temple
at Luxor, he mentioned the sixth chakra as being connected with the sense
of smell. I have belatedly started doing some research on kundalini, and
the sixth chakra specifically. The correlations with my life situation are
frightening (because with all my writing about smell as non-theoretical
it has still retained that...stench) and uncanny (because of its universality--doesn't
mean it makes any sense --smell or otherwise--to any one but me):
Mode: Sixth chakra: time of penance (Lila)
Description: At this chakra, the player raises consciousness through austerities.
Individuality disappears and he is the supreme consciousness in undivided
unity. Mastery leads to psychic powers and to destruction of karma accumulated
in previous lives.
Context: The sixth row of the board of Lila, the game of knowledge, this
is represented by the planes of austerity, neutrality and violence, the
solar, lunar and liquid planes, and groups squares representing the states
of conscience, earth and spiritual devotion. Located at the third eye, in
the region of the pineal gland, the player vibrating with this chakra is
beyond the elements. It is compared to the octave comprising the ages 35
to 42 of temporal life, that of observation. Spiritual devotion and conscience
are the arrows at this stage (the former leading directly to the plane of
cosmic consciousness and the end of the game), and the plane of violence
from another web site (some differences here--others have the 6th chakra
as the brow chakra) :
Location: At the tailbone
he center of physical energy and vitality, the energy to succeed in business
or material possessions. Center of manifestations. Throughout the ancient
world in historical and mythological stories , the root chakra has been
associated with dragons and snakes .Dragons is a symbol for the kundalini
fire energy .
Centered, grounded, healthy,fully alive, unlimited physical energy, can
manifest abundance. Excessive energy:
Egoistic,domineering, greedy,sadistic,sexual energy entirely genital.
Lack of confidence weak,can't achieve goals, suicidal, sexual energy, feel
unlovable, little interest in sex, masochistic.
Drug addictions,anemia,cancer,arthritis,heart disease,gynecological problems,Aids,herpes,candida.
Adrenals, kidneys, spinal column, colon, legs, bones, Gems/Minerals:
Ruby, garnet, bloodstone, red jasper, black tourmaline, obsidian, smoky
quartz. How can you balance this chakra?
Dancing is very good for grounding. In the summer ,go barefoot. House cleaning
and cocking [sic.this was as it was on the web site. and I presume it means
cooking...still..] is also grounding. Hug a tree , take care of your plants
sixth chakra is also associated with the third eye...
CHAKRAS: A Sanskrit (Hindu) term meaning, "wheels."
The term is usually pronounced "Shah-krah-z." The correct pronunciation
is actually "Kahk-rahs." These are power centers in the aura related
to organs or glands in the body. Chakras are not in the body per se; they
are actually whirls, circles, or lotuses which are seen in the aura. They
are in the physical body, because they reside in the astral body. In Western
magick, the most important are usually seven in number and are located along
the spine from the perineum to the crown of the head. Opening the chakras
results in the attainment of various magickal energies.
Well. It seems certain that such `etheric bodies' are no more available
to `positive' sciences (traditional scientific methods/Ockham's Razor, etc.)
than they are to `negative' discourse (ala Blanchot, various forms of critical
theories, deconstructionisms, etc). Unfortunately for both, the IDEA of
certain phenomena refuses to go away, seems to rise with every fresh rising
of flesh. Perhaps it would be better if we lived by `official explanations'
, if the general rule was able to eradicate the particular exception --always
the goal of a managed, capitalist, scientific society (like the interlocking
reality of the car ad mentioned before, everything fitting in place), maybe
even ALL industrial societies period, even (especially?) those tinted `socialist'
or `communist,' all intensively managed societies...and even the discourses
of the singular can only febrilely point to those intersections, denied
entry as much as the next piece of grassflesh (and as a consequence then
denying even the possibility of entry...some weird variation of Wittgenstein's
injunction: `that place to which we cannot go, therefore we must remain
still' from which we would move very rapidly again into a Nietzschean Eternal
Return of movement / non-movement...of course if you conceive of the universe
as nothing but bits of somethings bumping into other somethings ...and the
well defined entanglements that result-- ala S. Weinberg and others I suppose...then
there's no `point' to any of this. Which brings us firmly back around to
Master Nietzsche again via a slightly different, perhaps even more dangerous,
There have been times when I've woken up, my head on my arm, seeing my hand
stretched out in front of me, when the hand seemed more claw-like than anything
else, something not a part me but unmistakably animal-like. Reading all
of this material on ancient Egypt shifts my whole register into the direction
of the claw-hand. It's not `alienation' but rather a form of distancing
(what has been called the `man from Mars' aspect) ... being in the car,
seeing humans drive around, nothing but their heads sticking up from a moving
ton of machinery---all of a sudden I seem to be on the planet of the apes,
with nothing much more to recommend for life than it's speed and it's thrill-seeking
violence, some collective bungee jump in societal slow motion...and the
sudden intuition that there might be a fray in the cord.
Especially lately, this journal seem like a place of crags and crevices
(tiny hut down below) where great leaps are taken with nothing underneath.
Dangerous but exhilarating. It sometimes (not always) seems that my `true'
life is here among these craggy linguistic peaks and that all the rest is...muttering,
mumbling, and trying to pay the next bill. One place is wondering among
continents and the other is wandering incontinent. There are no doubt those
who would prefer the latter -- I know that for a fact. (speaking of such
propensities, I had occasion to sit and read part of a book by Liz Greene
on astrology recently and her comments about several of the houses of the
Zodiac were so incredibly on the money in specific situations that it left
me scrambling to come up with explanations; her readings seemed to have
an odd combination of pinpoint accuracy and yet under a general typology.
I'm aware of the `tricks' that stage magicians can perform but this is a
much deeper `trick', if one wanted to so characterize it, one occurring
at some odd juncture of language, psyche, and societal social constructions;
I suspect that to one who is especially sensitive to such `semiotic displays'
of character in their more mundane aspects, that fate becomes a trailing
and inevitable aspect of such. Of course, I was reading those entries in
relation to various women I know.)
More Smell Stuff.
I was commenting on my (becoming-metaphysical) smell fixation to some visitors
to the hut the other day--and they both agreed they smelled something! One
characterized it as `burnt feathers' or `gunpowder' and the other as ...'Mexico'.
Well, there is always the chance that I was `ventriloquilizing' them given
the discussion we had.
But then! A couple of days later in the New York Times, this article "If
Things Taste Bad, `Phantoms' May Be at Work" by Erica Goode.
Like phantom limb syndrome, there seems to be a phantom taste and smell
syndrome! The article is mostly about taste: food no longer has the expected
taste but becomes shifted to something that tastes rotten and eating becomes
an unpleasant experience. Apparently such alterations can be indicative
of injury to the chorda tympani, through illness, or brain tumors. (Heh,
the article mentions tinnitus as a kind of auditory phantom...and that people
who have lost much of their vision experence visual phantoms).
Evidently though, smell phantoms are a somewhat more elusive lot:
"But taste and smell phantoms can be distinguished by their quality.
Bitter, salty, sweet, or sour phantoms -- corresponding to four basic categories
the tongue can distinguish -- are always related to disorders of taste.
Smell phantoms, in contrast,f are usually more complex in nature: patients
may complain of tasting oor smelling rotting food, for example, fecal matter,
gasoline or smoke."
and then later on:
"While virtually every taste phantom can be traced to nerve damage
somewhere in the taste system, smell phantoms are much more difficult to
account for. Many are clearly related to a head injury or a viral illness.
But occasionally, olfactory phantoms appear spontaneously with no identifiable
And then interestingly enough, another article a couple of pages further
entitled "Medical Mysteries, Hidden Emotions" about the link between
bouts of sudden hypertension and extreme anxiety that apparently hit one
from nowhere and unannounced---and the presence far back in one's past of
some form of trauma (no big news to therapists, but the article was treating
it as if this was some new medical thing; no mention of psychoanalytic apparatuses.)
All of which says to me that the ego (the `subject' as they say) is an incredibly
fragile and mutable `entity' -- but that also the system of `hydraulics'
of which it is a part is incredibly clever in maintaining SOME sort of interface,
some G.U.I., even under the most horrific of circumstances; but that this
`border region between the inside and the outside' that we call a personality
is by its very nature fissured with outside forces, and haunted with residues
of everything that has gone into compounding it. Apparently, almost nothing
gets COMPLETELY catalyzed.
I'm reminded of some scene in a horror movie (perhaps ALIEN) when we have
a vague glimpse though pipes and debris of some half-seen shape (which we
immediately feel to be monstrous) that shifts slightly, raising hairs on
the back of our neck. The metaphysical itself is perhaps such a haunting
or fissure, occasionally squirming in the `background'; and like the perplexity
reported in the `Medical Mysteries..." article, what initially seems
like the meaningless scurrying of inarticulate matter in fact portends something
quite other. `Modern civilization' lives so much in the gloss on the apple
that it no longer knows of the seeds---much less the worm.
And in a culture increasingly divorced from materiality, the obdurateness
of physicality can come to seem like a haunting itself, rising stone-like
from the sea of abstractions and info flow--and it's a PARTICULARIZED occurrence,
assimilable only through the body of the individual---even if that individual
no longer has the power to interpret the stone upside the head except as
My researches into Egypt (and Spinoza!) is bearing some interesting fruit.
I picked up a book called "Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt
in Western Monotheism" and found some confirmation of my inchoate stumblings.
The author, Jan Assmann, writes about what he calls "mnemohistory"
which is not concerned with the past as such but only with the past as it
is remembered and says " "It makes much more sense to speak of
Europe's having been `haunted' by Egypt than of Egypt's having been `received'
by Europe." And earlier he introduces the idea of the battle between
"Israel" and "Egypt" and what he calls the `Mosaic distinction'
between the two: "Egypt" characterized by "Israel" in
terms of the occult(ed), darkness, error, image worship, etc. "Spinoza's
(in)famous formula deus sive natura amounted to an abolition not only of
the Mosiaic distinction but of the most fundamental of all distinctions,
the distinction between God and the world. [Keeping in mind Spinoza's idea
of Absolute Substance and there is only One Thing in the world with numerous,
even infinite, attributes, for which he was termed a pantheist. RC.] This
deconstruction was as revolutionary as Moses' construction. It immediately
led to a new appraisal of Egypt. The Egyptians were Spinozists and `cosmostheists.'"
Egypt thus forms a `counterhistory' to judeochristian civilization---so
it's not surprising that ALL cults are usually traced back to Egypt....in
a sense "Egypt" IS the rhizomal mass that seethes underneath THIS
civilization. The sense of fecundity and wonderment I had on opening this
book was considerable...all of a sudden `culture' became a friable an parseable
and NON monolithic....what one DOES with these observations -- even if I
could make them cogent to anyone and partly it's still a gut feeling, a
er, `whiff' of another reality -- I'm not quite sure. The sense of all this
being so completely overdetermined is...overwhelming; Everything seems to
feed into it now, like some black hole, devouring all matter and energy
and..doing SOMETHING with it--but where does it all go??!
Meanwhile the number of military jets booming from nearby Dobbins seems
to be increasing overhead...
Somewhere in the intro to the de Lubicz book I'm reading now is the thought
that living in any `state of grace,' or harmony, or peace (as he envisions
the Egyptians living for FIVE THOUSAND YEARS, fer christ sake, along the
slow moving Nile, amongst the vast expanse of desert, is not possible now.
We have become addicted to powerful centrifugal forces -- EVEN those who
oppose them. It's perhaps event he case that the stronger the opposition,
(and the idea of `opposition' is a mutable one, changing from `side to side')....regardless
of the `ontological' status of the dialectic (and poststructuralists' attempts
to think their way out of it), there seems little doubt that we are in the
grip of a spiraling, escalating series of events that feed off of each other
and that is powered by forces that we can put vague names to (technology,
capital, abstraction) but which we have no way to modify--because each attempt
to modify It --- only stokes the instrumentalist engine! Once again, it
reminds me of the traffic jams which are now continuous around every major
(and a few not so major) cities. It doesn't matter how smart you are, how
moral, how wealthy, once you enter into this system of flow you are prey
to all the particles/cars, circumstances around you. Every attempt to ease
the problem by increasing surface area eventually comes to exacerbate the
problem by encouraging an even HIGHER volume of metal and rubber later on.
The only way for `official vehicles' to navigate, and its not always possible
even then, is to declare a `state of emergency' -- as both walter benjamin
the marxist and carl schmidt the nazi were both to maintain. BUT...a state
of emergency is an interregnum which both suspends (temporarily) the dialectic
and intensifies and accelerates it permanently--and is consequently and
irrevocably caught up IN it. (The messianic/revolutionary impulse is the
desire for the state of emergency -- suspension, intensification, acceleration
-- to become the normal state of affairs. And in fact, it seems that technology
is aiding that desire, that contemporary culture is about a state that resembles
closely `life in wartime,' perhaps slowed down slightly, more akin to rust,
a `slow burning', than to an explosion; 40 000 killed on the expressway?
acceptable. x-number killed in industrial accidents? acceptable. x number
of addicts? acceptable. Increase in sub-teen and elderly suicides? acceptable.
Life in wartime has its price...
In doing this research in ancient history, I often have the uncanny feeling
that most of culture/civilization/learning, consists of some form of ventriloquization,
spukhafte verferkungen or `spooky action at a distance' as Einstein termed
Bohr's lucubrations on qunatum mechanics ...a sort of inevitable `playing
out' of consequences and groundrules laid down long ago.
The current age's reliance on `calculation' (Heidegger) and the `how' not
the `why', the manual of operation (Lyotard), is perhaps just as emblamatic
of that `being spoken' as any other aspect of having a hand up the dummy's
butt. (In fact, one seems to be at a remove and helping the MACHINE to speak...ventriloquized
by a Geometry [Spinoza] in service to an Algebra.)
I had gone back to re-read a passage from the Eric Santner book (My Own
Private Germany: Daniel Paul Schreber's Secret History of Modernity))
on Moses' horns/veils etc. in light of what I'm reading now on the Egyptian
Moses (more on that later) and came across this very interesting passage:
"Like so many modernist experimenters, Schreber deploys a parodically
mimetic mode of defense: he mimes the mechanical and the mechanistic in
order not to be reduced to the status of psychophysical machine: `In the
Sonnenestein asylum high above the Elbe, a solitary and unrecognized experimenter
practiced the apotropaic techniques that twelve years later would win fame
and a public for the Zurich Dadaists in the Cafe Voltaire.' [F. Kittler]
Schreber discovers what might be called the paradox of modernist masochism.
Engulfed by a meaningless chatter of voices and inarticulate noise, Schreber
survives, at least in part, by momentarily refusing to make sense of it
all and by himself becoming a player in the ruinationof meaning. Rather
than trying to restore his symbolic identity by repressing the drive dimensioan
underlying it, he finds a kind of relief by entering more deeply into itw
patterns of reptition and acting them out. Whether this strategy could be
called `modernist,' `avant-garde,' or already `postmodernist,' it was surely
linked, for Schreber, to his feminiization. "
Rabbits have started eating everything I've planted around the hut---flowers,
corn, some grasses. I've taken to scrounging material and enclosing sections.
It reminds me of excavations of Mayan cities where crude pallisades divided
off parts of the city, Archaeologists think it was because they were under
seige from other cities looking for sacrifices to the sun and that it fact
the extreme lengths to which sacrifices went caused the downfall of the
At any rate, this little rabbit episode (what if I was dependent on this
food to stay alive?) shows how extremely vulnerable we are in our complete
dependence on anonymous others to stay alive. Ideological totalitarianism/fascism
pales in comparison to the control that, Kroger say, has on almost every
single person---no matter how cheap the food is...and for that matter, even
if they were to GIVE it away! worse in a way...how much more dependent can
you get THEN?
Checked out a vampire video tonight, sequel to `Dawn to Dusk'. In fact i've
seen all the RECENT vampire movies lately: BLADE, John Carpenter's VAMPIRES...The
interesting thing about these movies is that they re-play (whether they
`endorse' is more complicated) the very maneuvers that Assmann describes
`Israel' as taking, vis a vis `Egypt'. Vampires are constituted as an extreme
Other in opposition to Christianity (it's even made overt with the crosses
as repellants, with sunlight as a destroyer (shades of Akhenaten!); by `normative
inversion', the super-natured vampire (who easily morphs between `nature'
and the human), of the tribe of pagans, pantheists, etc., is opposed to
the rectitude of light by favoring the dark, by drinking blood in a NON-sublimated
fashion (as opposed to the sacriment fo the church) Hence the identity of
the Church (or monotheism) can be more easily defined...The Church has CREATED
this whole image of the dark side: "The principle of normative inversion
or the construction of cultural otherness is obviously working retroactively
too. Starting from a given order, it imagines a culture based upon the inverted
mirror image of that order and, by this very procedure of retrospective
inversion, turns the past into a `foreign country.'" (MOSES THE EGYPTIAN...)
This is a very sticky trap and one that `monotheism' in all it's cultural
forms (including politics and philosophy) seems prey to....Assmann makes
some very interesting points and examples in that regard.
At any rate: an important question would be--do these movies thereby OPPOSE
such purported `darkness' (after all, usually the Church wins in the end)
or do they, structurally, inevitably and ineffably, ENDORSE this `other'
side? Tricky, but I think the point could be made that techne does in fact
just that...Perhaps even the NATURE of techne is that very duplicity
(doubling), is uncanniness itself...another very interesting book I'm reading,
CHILDREN OF EZEKIEL, makes that very point. ...and I even have the sense
that the idea of a `Church', in general, is ventriloquized by the that very
form of manifestation known as techne (the highest form of which,
Heidegger thought, was poesis).
Somebody recently told me that I was a 'decent guy'... that's almost the
last thing you want to hear these days. Success doesn't favor decent guys;
the psychologcal environment doesn't favor decent guys; gender relations,
I'm beginning to think, don't favor decent guys.
I remember a book written years ago on psychosis. The writer's thesis was
that the culture itself was generating more and more psyches which fit into
the psychotic mold and that perhaps we should have training facilities to
teach people how to be more effective psychotics since the form apparently
has some evolutionary advantage for those who have it.
I would say the form has mutated somewhat into `postmodern disease' forms
such as borderline personality syndrome but his point is well taken. `Normalcy'
as it has traditionally been cultivated is gone and the only way to navigate
these uncharted waters of 21st century life is to become `geometrical' (as
Spinoza called his Ethics).
The pollen count for the area has been at all time highs lately. One commentator
repeatedly stressed the `male reproductive' dust, an ever so-slight hint
that male-ness was clogging the very air, yet one more irritant to be attributed
to males. Well, maybe...
But like everything now apparently, fecundity, production and OVER production,
is as much a problem as it is a promise. It sometimes seems as if the world
is `seeded' with construction material, gadgets, technology, as numerous
as the grains of pollen, which is just as irritating and most of which turns
into debris at the instant of its creation almost---but it's as if our machines
have reached the same level of evolutionary imperative of life itself --
in order for `fruitful connections' to happen, an over-abundance must be
produced with the great mass falling on barren ground. (And actually words
themselves seem to have these same characteristics of pollen---and wasn't
that the title of one of Novalis' great collections of writings?)...especially
words carried by the great incubator of the matrix of the net or the media
in general....and to continue the thought of the first paragraph: release
of seed/pollen is a RESPONSE, in a sense making it much like an egg is tradtionally
conceived and the evocative powers of the egg as prior--so the affixing
of `blame' is a tricky one. ...All of which is to say that continuation
of that line of discourse leads one firmly and invariably to the Jerry Springer
show or its wider cultural avatars.)
One one leve at least, Spinoza's Absolute Substance seems to be composed
of either DNA/language (I know I've said that before ---but I'll keep saying
it until I understand it)--the bottom of which is a certain relationship
of matter to iterative pattern, pattern AS matter. The whole thrust of human
life, civilization, culture (whether scientific or `theological') is to
understand that relationship and to understand what (and if) it means.
The great question would be whether that relationship is understandable
as has been traditioally thought--whast if after a certain point the `clearing'
movemnt of science (it's high noon of clarity) becomes `veiled' as part
the very nature of how its structur operates? Quantum mechanics certainly
shows that aspect. The return of the Mysteries--as if they ever left. It
may turn out that the machine is itself the Veil.
But what is necessary for the grain of pollen to `understand' the egg or
the stamen to understand the pistil? Nothing, other than their presence.
A large number of high school kids slaughtered in Colorado...
now lessee, what was it I was saying about psychosis....
and a sacrificial economy...
I've been watching all the television reports and it's obvious no one
has any real clue about what's going on. This is the nineth incident in
just a few years. It's all so drearily predicable: communities start putting
the screws to the schools, tightening down, bringing in law enforcement,
metal detectors -- which of course just exacerbates the problem.. There
is no 'solution' to this problem since the 'problem' is the culture itself...if
that's the case the 'problem' can't even be seen much less addressed.
"Droll thing life is -- that mysterious arrangement
of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope for from
it is some knowledge of yourself -- that comes too late -- a crop of unextinguished
The greasy spots on the side window formed whorls and spirals, translucent
fibrous masses that deflected the light just enough to make them seem like
tiney alien forests of grease. It was no doubt the result of countless dognoses,
weary heads greasy from the summer heat or hands sweaty from trying to make
the stuck window go down or even that mysterious gas that everyone said
plastic car seats give off. I used my finger and made a few more sworls,
some crosses. I wrote my initials. I looked at Joan and past her studious
humped driving position to her window. There was noticeably less grease
on the driver's window.
"Is this where we turn?"
I nodded and went back to my meditations on the connection between grease
and glass. I had a sudden insight: there are these hidden transparent canvases
everywhere. Yes, that's what they were--hidden in full view in houses, offices,
cars...paintings done in translucent pigments. Mysterious symbols and cryptograms,
always there at the border between inner and outer. Most of the time unnoticed
just like these knots and threads that seem to float in our field of vision.
Those floaters --I can see them now-- always make me think about my eyes.
Thinking about the glass made me feel mysterious. and smart. Maybe I could
decipher these dog noses, mysterious gases, and greasy heads, find the Grand
Theory of Translucency.
What did it all mean?
"You've got to talk about it sometime, you know."
"Not necessarily. Why?"
"Because you can't keep walking around in this trance, that's why.
I don't like it and Gilly doesn't like it. That should be enough in itself."
"I'm not walking around. I'm in a car." He knew it was a juvenile
thing to say but she always seemed to force him into this sulky kid mood.
She turned to me with a look that could possibly melt my lunar grease forests.
But yeah, I knew what she meant.
One of the new articulated 26-wheel rigs whined by in the transport lane.
A few drops of water fell from the leaden sky. Overhead looked like rows
of dark, turned soil. I pretended that a whorl emitted rays that sliced
through signs, buildings, and cars in a swath as we passed. I imagined we
were leaving in our wake a world cut in half. Far ahead, past the whorls,
I could see the Chirion Complex, it's top disappearing in the clouds, the
bulk of its organomorph structure folded over into the horizon. Only the
faint glow from its laser beacons could be made out through the roiling
I wouldn't be able to cut it in half with my whorl gun. We were whorls apart.
I giggled to myself. A mistake.
"It's not funny. What's so funny about it?" You're driving me
crazy you know that? You haven't said ten words since we got in the car.
Look, you've got a trip to make, that's all there is to it. If..."
Her voice was drowned out by the passage of a clump of traffic.---
Long black windowless machines, almost as big as the rigs he thought, buzzed
by in the government lane; the cars were constructed of the new morphic
plastic, a solid shiny black moving lozenge The people inside could see
out --if they wanted -- but no one could see in. Illegal for the rest of
us of course; and who could afford the tax fees anyway? They were limousines
probably carrying dignitaries, city officials or religious functionaries
from the sovereign theocracy of Mississippi. Maybe even Winton Mather himself.
I leaned my head on the glass, creating another whorl.
Now that we were through the perimeter defense and stopped at the off ramp
light, Joan relaxed her hunched-over driving position. She took her right
hand off the wheel, put it on her hip and leaned against the door. She looked
over at me in the deepening gloom and pursed her lips then looked back to
the road. She turned back toward me.
"So what time is the performance over?"
"One, maybe one thirty. Depends on when we start."
"You want to go to Tier Two afterward, get something to eat? I think
they're having a Jukka Celebration tonight. At least that's what Ron told
There was a definite conciliatory note in her request. I wasn't sure I wanted
to be conciliated though. I had the vague guilty feeling that I should be
the one doing the overturing.
"Maybe. Depends on what I feel afterwards."
As she turned the corner into the alley, the car's headlights came on automatically.
The club was located in a non-descript industrial area, almost a prerequisite
for the outré arts since the late seventies, even since the late
eighteen hundreds in Paris. Space was cheap and the marginality of abandoned
warehouses seemed appropriate, even necessary. Most of the artists liked
to believe that dangerous art required dangerous circumstances. Some of
it WAS genuinely dangerous, like Peteren's Explosion Circus. But most of
it seemed totally UN-dangerous. No more meaningful than those scratches
and swirls on glass. Just something to do, some place to be. At least that's
how he saw himself; something that kept you alive and with a little income.
A whole bunch of folks didn't even have those sallow satisfactions (--unless
you lived in the new State of Grace as the recent promotional material had
it for the new theocracy of Mississippi. I didn't want to think about it.
Not yet, not until I had left the perimeter baffles on i-20 heading west.
He had heard too many tales about the state of affairs there not to have
a good deal of apprehension about his impending trip.)
And anything seemed preferable to those endless immersive 3-D dramas run
24/7 now. Maybe even the Cult of Mutables that Jocelyn had `joined'. But
then seemingly most of the people didn't seem to need an identity anymore
outside the role-playing immersives. With the development of the new Extreme
Wearables (TM), the line between work and play, the virtual and the actual
had finally been breached. If it was possible to visit from any previous
era, a stroll down a city block now would seem like a walk through Bedlam,
with individuals and groups reacting to invisible stimuli, a whole city
scape turned into a series of stage sets. The architecture itself was developing
a certain frayed, diaphanous quality, as if part of it had been left out
or had disappeared. As indeed it had. The designers were now incorporating
the indeterminate virtual elements of the new pocket super computers into
their structures. Parts of the new structures were virtual and re-programmable
by the architects, including force-feedback loops for the wearers of the
feelie suits. If you bumped into a virtual wall, you actually felt the bump.
At least if you were tuned into the central city frequency. And the imminent
passage of the new Common Frequency Law would insure that.
But this section certainly didn't have any of that. Most of the buildings
were at least thirty years old. The alley had an unused look to it even
though at least twenty people lived in various buildings along it's half
mile length. The plywood signs fastened tight to the buildings had faded
into new words and phrases. a palimpsest of previous occupants, places to
be, things to do. But now they weren't there, weren't being done.
A small gasoline junker from the mid eighties chugged slowly past us, going
the opposite way down the narrow street, it's brakes squealing as it stopped
to turn onto the avenue we just come from.
Even now, inside the car, he could feel the thrumming in the distance caressing
his solar plexus. The sky itself was taking on a more waxy appearance. He
could feel the Change coming again, riding down from a milky sky, the whole
world beginning to breathe in unison...
How could he possibly make the trip?
click on almost-but-not-QUITE--meaningless graphic excursus: