January 11 2004
Someone on artnews asked about recommending reading, hence this:
I can't say these are recommended reads (though there is one further down, LOOKING FOR ORTHON), they are just what I'm reading right now. Once upon a time I tried to have the policy of not beginning a book until I had finished the one I was on. Graduate school knocked that in the head (as did the difference between between 'reading for pleasure' and any other sort of reading; it's often times unclear to me which is which given my internal intellectual life. That is 'fiction' starts to inhabit a region held aloof between scare quotes, and 'non-fiction' takes on conspiratorial, fictive, just-so qualities....)
That said, I have two piles of books that I work on and a third, virtual pile that always threatens to displace the A pile, of books I'm looking for/waiting for/fantaisizing about. The B pile are those books that are still being read but more episodically and haven't yet been shelved or fallen off my internal radar and they are still liable to be picked up. Chief among these books is HEGEL: a biography by Terry Pinkard (Hegel seems to me to loom specter-like over our little intellectual cave, a black fruit bat the the entrance and a white vampire bat down in the inky depths. Halfway thorugh the Pinkard book I got dissatisfied with it and picked up Solomon's IN THE SPIRIT OF HEGEL, which is writtne n a convivial style. But what I really want is a copy of HEGEL AND THE HERMETIC TRADITION, but it's new and too damn expensive...there are other books in the Hegel section fo the B pile which I will mercifully not comment upon). A book which went immediately from the A pile to the B pile is THE POUND ERA by Hugh Kenner who just died recently. It's a fascinating book but I just can't move into it gracefully at the moment, other than an occasional dip.
The book that was at the top of the A pile until day before yesterday is ABY WARBURG, the biography by E. H. Gombrich. It's not clear how my interest in Warburg, the great art German-Jewish art historian, was started. There was an essay in book of essays by Agamben; I fancied that there was some connection between Warburg and Benjamin; I knew next to nothing about Warburg outside the Agamben article; I saw the book in a used book store, went home and researched it and found that it was out of print and was going for $130; so I bought it for 10. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of Gombrich's writing style. (Did some research at Emory library and found a monograph called REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST --no, not Proust--which is explicity on the connection between Benjamin and Warburg. Sadly enough the text is in English but all the quotes form Benjamin and Warburg are in German. Stupid.) Anyway, it looks like WARBURG is heading for the bookshelf instead of even the B pile.
I just finished up THE SPIRITUAL HISTORY OF ICE by wilson, subtitled Romanticism, Science, and the Imagination and, in fact is on the the mythic qualities of ice from the German romantics to Coleridge, to Poe, etc. I started it with great hopes because I've been thinking about an installation project involving the apocalyptic qualities of ice and it is still on the B pile for instant messaging. In conjunction with this (an installation), in the virtual pile is the massive 900 page bio of H. P. Lovecraft by Stoshi --it's not in print anymore, anybody know where I can get it? -- I contend that Lovecraft is an American version of Kafka in at least Deleuze's sense of a minor literature but in many other ways also. If I was still a grad stoont i'd prob have a good thesis project going with that.
A book for which I had great hopes has moved to the B pile without getting much even into the first chapter and that is DISGUST: THEORY AND HISTORY OF A STRONG SENSATION by Menninghaus. I picked it up after the recent powerful Costes show at Eyedrum, wanting to expand on/understand some of my own reactions of disgust. I think it will move back into the A pile soon actually since it speaks greatly to much socalled abject art these days. Some of the page of contents:
"Poetry of Putrefaction" 'Beautiful Disgust' and the Pathology of the 'Romantic'
"The Psychoanalysis of Stinking"
"The Angel of Disgust: Kafka's Poetics of 'innocent' enjoyment of 'sulphurous'
"Abject Mother(Kristevea), Abject Art, and the Convergence of Disgust, Truth, and
the Real" etc. etc....it's a thick book. I'm sure I'll be back on it soon.
Actually a book that I CAN recommend, having just consumed in in virtually one sitting it was so delicious, is LOOKING FOR ORTHON by Colin Bennett, subtitled 'the story of George Adamski, the first living saucer contactee and how he changed the world'. Bennett has another on on Charles Fort which I am anxious to read, on the politics of cultural realities. Much of ORTHON has a postmodern tongue in cheek feel but not a CYNICAL tongue in the cheek.
here is a small quote:
"Authority, of course, must never be underestimated. It knows that the deviant thought,
once reinforced by some powerful means of suggestion, may start to mutate. The end
of this process could well be the manufacture (or part manufacture) of a universe containing
such a possibility as an inhabited Venus. The introduction of this thin sliver of a suggestion
into the half-formed 'programmatic 'real' is the practice and object of classical occultism.
Reinforcement follow by whatever means. Boil a cauldron full of advertising, suggestion,
propaganda, and collective will to believe and Adamski's Orthon appears on cue, rather like
Faust's Satan, promising our heart's desire. We thought these old cultural umbilicals had gone
from us, but they are indsestructible. They still serve to make up the kind of half-forgotten
dialogue with Nature that conjures up the half-forms glimpsed in John Keel's THE
MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, or Patrick Huyghe's THE FIELD GUIDE TO
Another book in the A pile is MEN ANONG THE RUINS by Julius Evola, subtitled: postwar relections of a radical traditionalist.
Evola was one of those figures in the twenties, thirties and forties who, like Heidegger, tried to find a middle ground between (or outside of, in Evola's case) 'Americanism' and 'Bolshevism' and was a quixotic supporter of both Fascism (he was Italian) and German National Socialism (although he wasn't supported by either, in fact the italians believing him to be some sort of sorcerer). Like Heidegger, a controversial figure to say the least (much more than Heidegger in the regard of notoreity) but who had a trenchant critique of both modernism and the West in general (which goes along with another of my interests: counter-traditions...both Gerschom Scholem and Walter Benjamin fit in here. I guess you should stay away from Evola if you are of an extreme PC temperament and feel you can't read certain things without eploding into a rage.
In the limbo between A pile and B pile is Badiou's Manifest for Philosophy. Don't know why I can't finish it. I very short while back I read his SAINT PAUL:THE FOUNDATIONS OF UNIVERSALISM, a slim paperback which has just been translated and whichi I rwas really enjoykng reading. I had to get an inspection sticker and was reading it while waiting in some dingy hole in Smyna (although an appropriate place to be reading it I guess---'Smyrna' that is -- check yr Scholem and Bible) and inadvertently left it there w/o finishing the last two chapters. ... was gone when i got back....who the fuck in smyrna is reading Badiou on st. paul besides me!! I want it back!. And speaking of St. Paul, in the thinnest section of my virtual stack is Agamben's THE TIME THAT REMAINS, a reading of Paul's letter to the Romans (and for some reason held up in its release). ..and also Jacob Taubes' THE POLITICAL THEOLOGY OF PAUL which is due out in feb. (Taubes was the teacher of Avital Ronell, whose !
book STUPIDITY has returned to my B pile and will soon join my A pile -- again-- I read it once but so enjoyed it that I want to go thru it again. You should check out her THE TELEPHONE BOOK i f you haven't already.) At any rate the Agamben St. Paul will have to wait because he has a new book called THE OPEN, looking at the difference between the human and the animal--at least as certain philosophers see it it. His book LITERATURE AND DEATH has also rejoined my A pile. Like Ronell's I read it awhile back -- a very difficult book but worth re-visiting.
And last but not least is E. L. Doctorow's CITY OF GOD, alternative nights bedside reading, and Reynolds' CHASM CITY on other nights (there is apparently a resurgence of Space Opera in England esp. and since I used to read tons of science fiction, still hold it very dear, if nothing else as cultural research/alternatives/alt.thinking etc.
ok, you asked.
and don't anybody send me a message asking me to join yr cult...I got enough messages coming into my head as it is.
The weather has turned off farily warm and sunny after overcast, very cold days. Gardening thoughts begin creeping in but that's several months away effectively.
I hink of the back yard here in Smyrna when I was growing up and how my father had it neatly manicured. It is now an overgrown beast, even in the dead of winter, always threatening to take over. I guess that's what he didn't like about any plant too big, too invasive looking. It precisely looked like it was invading and he always seemed to be afraid of invasion toward the end. I guess he felt fragile and things were slowly becoming unknown, even the things that previously seemed clear as a bell. But you can only keep the forest or the jungle away temporarily even in the best of circumstances. Maybe it's best to court Pan on his own grounds, as fearful as that is, rather than trying to pave over every track. True mystery is in the forest, not in the television set.
I know when I start having dreams about MS that something is not quite right. Early this morning recurrent travels around the farm, trying to recall placements of dirt heaps, corn crib, Chinaberry tree, the vagueness of the north side of the old country house, the cistern, the pecan trees, the chicken hutch out back of the dirt-swept back area down from those high steps (how could they have been as high as I recall? The land seems level now memory was there a drop off toward the back of the house? But I know I'm not feeling well when I start to recall, start to wander though 'sepia-toned photographs' maye not a better time, but def. different. It's getting difficult to talk to some folks because they don't know what different means it means Gameboy before the X-Box.
Had a terrible few days seem to be on a roller coaster from hell sometimes maybe the weather or no money or other things or nothing
The scene outside the back door looking over the side of he hill into the fog-drenched forest seems pretty damn eldritch. The wildness merges on into the back yard and makes it hard to tell whether it's a scene from Lovercraft, Bosch, or simple a scary back yard that hasn't been kept up..rather than one that is deliberately deshabile would be great if I could tamper even more with the fallen treehouse..doesn't seem likely.
It suits my temperament perhaps.
Just picked up vols 2 and 3 of NAZI PSYCHOANALYSIS by Rickels on a good sale at Druid Hills Books. I must be crazy for continuing to buy ANYTHING much less useless books but sometimes its the only thing that keeps me going..
Agamben's THE OPEN is good but is obviously a serious of refined lecture notes. But every once in a while there is a truly extraordinary zinger and invariably at the end of one of the short sections. Quotes soon. He seems to be pointing at something which I can't qite se yet. But the occasional sites out the window are interesting enough for now. When will the damn st. paul book be published?! speaking of which, I'm reading the taurbes book now -- it really is extraordinary style of discourse as well as content. When will I get off this Paul kick! There is a large book by Dunn which I occasionally look at online at Amazon. Maybe. Although I have absolutely no reason for getting it for that matter when will I get off this theology kick there is something fascinating there Taubes confirms my Egyptian mania of a while back to some degree..have to see if I can find the quote.
energy like a gravitic lump
settled in, below, un-get-at-able
no way to make it rise to the top
roust me from torpor
like sedimentation, turning to rock,
striated layers: yes, there is where
she turned over and we commenced
yes there is where I lifted higher than ever
yes there is where everything was possible
. not like now
some stoma calcifying
clacked open permafrost
EyeDrum's Monthly Improv
feb. 5th thursdaday (sic - you bet) 9 pm
THE POLITICS OF THE [UN]USUAL
Somewhat of a oxymoron, granted. Mostly, politics seems to follow the dictum of Ludicris in the hit rap song STAND UP! "When I move, you move" ... but then even more real politico beat put in place in a later stanza: "Work wit me! let's become one with the beat / And don't worry bout me steppin all over ya feet". Yeah, the politico beat is workin' wit ya AND stepping on SOMEBODY'S feet.
Ah! But the singularities of improv!! dance that mess around around around -- or not! Plug that nickle -- and not! Step on your own feet! SIT DOWN! RUN AROUND LIKE A CHICKEN WITH IT'S HEAD CUT OFF!! BECOME ONE WITH THE CHICKEN! BECOME ONE WITH THE AX! Or, heck, do away with'm all....
Once again we put a lie to the shame of freedom!
Once again The Supreme Council of Improv will meet on the first thursday of the month, Feb. 5th, to deliberate the fate of humankind. Be there at 9 pm or you may be left out of the Rapture. or the vote. or the camp. or the booth. or the gridlock. or your mama's house. or your own skin. or someone else's.
After all: it takes a village to play a drum.
every session is recorded and released on ED recordings. For a not-up-to-the-date listing go to: