"The landscape of that age is one of anguish
and nostalgia. The little girl is running. You can't tell if she's running
away. Or if she's lost. If she's running after the tiger. Or if the tiger
is running after her."
"Through the Return we do not only desire
that which turns us away from every desired, but here there is desire without
desiring and by way of a detour from all desire, as from all that is desirable."
He paused for a few seconds in front of the door.
It was covered with flyers and posters of campus events and various and
sundry revolutionary incitements. He shifted the bottle of wine and book
to his left hand, straightened up from reading and knocked lightly on 'Free
She was smaller than he remembered. But even prettier
he thought. He felt waves of electric current wash through him. Neither
of them knew what to say, that awkward moment when...well, he had never
experienced such a moment before frankly. He felt empty and full at the
same time, a curious elation like he was walking on the edge of a cliff.
She was moving animately around the small room,
slightly re-arranging the three chairs around the small worn table. She
seemed just as nervous as he felt inside. Lots of laughter and incomplete
sentences on both sides, looking at and then away from each other as the
package was opened and then the confused search for the corkscrew for the
wine. She collected children's books so he had brought her one written by
a famous woman black poet.
He looked around the room while she was opening
the wine. He could see the bedroom in the only other room in the apartment.
The room felt incredibly exotic to him. The paint was peeling from the
walls and ceiling in places but..it seemed appropriate. An old Navajo
rug graced the space between the couch and the dining table. The coach
itself was a very old reclining style which would not have seemed out
of place in a Victorian sitting room--or Freud's office. To the left as
he had come in the door were double windows hung with white sheets and
a small table in front. To the right of the door was a large basket with
a pile of shoes, then the couch. There were a couple of pictures in old
frames; a couple of the enigmatic snapshots he had sent; some three day
old flowers in a plain vase on the table. A book. the wine.
The evening darkening as they sat, he on the couch,
she on a small stool in front. Her hair glowed in the gloom. He seemed either
on the verge of speechlessness and catatonia or a vertible cataract of words,
covering every surface.
A giant breathing, in, out, in, out, had begun,
cycling their bodies into each other, like with these words, trying to shake
the bones into the flesh, make them coalesce, make us one, practice and
performance, deed and thought, breath and air, a continual coming--for awhile,
for, as it turns out, just a breath.
doomed by its very intensity of breath, a negation
inherent in the cycle (how could he know?? but she knew. she said as much,
dead zones always at the top and bottom of the cycle, push the thing off
for a short ride down, too tired to push it back up, too tired to suck the
air from loins, too tired for caresses turned into the Same, into the same
negative oscillation as all the befores, scryed in the future Tarot decks,
the hangman turned to the front, turning me into some sort of discarded
beetle carcass, cracked open after a summer of wetness smashed then underfoot).
It was still cycling he was sure of it, some monstrous
(he thought now) Carnot Love engine, always running out of fuel, burning
whatever was handy...burnished for awhile yes, to a high gloss, rubbed,
rubbed, rubbed---to a spaceage pinacle of, ..of, body-ness, of hardness,
of cum-ness, of soft wet sweetness before the cycle starts down.
Takes the bloom off the molly he thinks to himself
as he hangs up the final phone. But ... something sucked dry, some expectation,
some innocence, all hard dry rattling bone now, hard up against it ... He
was now only capable of circling, vulture-like. But now he saw it everywhere,
not just HIS nose whacked out of joint (and what HAD happened to his sense
of smell?! he sobbed to himself...was he never to be able to smell perfume
again, a flower? Everything smelled like fresh drycleaning now, no sweetness
around any edges, a grainy matter-of-factness...) And like some film process
in the Hitchcock film Vertigo, he felt everything moving away from him into
the distance and yet, at the same time, the ESSENCE of closeness choking
in on him, smothering him with a presence that was basically empty, that
had become a literary conceit.
How small she was becoming! ...viewing the large
end of the telescope, the fate always of time and love, both irrecuperable,
and in this age, the age of the New Egyptians, pyramidal, death-bound, suspicious
and good only for a certain use value, market value, worthy only of being
entombed, a precious artifact, lost in that fertile triangle....
How like this lyric she was! he knew even then,
even as they slow-danced naked, he whispering the lyrics in her ear a fraction
before they appeared in the air, his favorite song which now brought a deep
shadow which obliterated all suns:
" I compare you
to a kiss from a rose
on the grave...
the more I get of you
the stranger it feels."
until there's no feeling at all.
"You will come to grief from your own body,"
she murmured in my ear as her nipple blossomed, ran to mulberry-like between
my lips, "I warn you now and you will only hear me later."
Sliding inside her, moving into an amniotic trance,
slowly twisting against small festers of flesh, she said "I will rub
your skin into parchment, translucent with time, brittle, combustable to
the point of madness; then, oiled into transparency, you will lie awake
at night half-delirious in dark dissolve never quite knowing. And I will
never care and I will never come. This will be shortly before blisters form
and you burst into flame."
This while she stradled me, moaning, medused hair
flying, riding me down to a thin sliver of embers and flickers, half-lit/extinguished
with body fluids, sweet and gone as St. Teresa in ecstasy.
I realized only later that the war between men
and women, waged over the tussocks of still-to-be-defined clay, is interminable
and is waged over many fronts, yet wears only one face.
(p.s. Experience means nothing now. Or maybe more
troubling, it means everything so much so (and some experiences more than
others?) that one can't get away from it, can't get any purchase on it.
It only seems real when one is having it--but then, you can't look at it
directly. SOMETHING is happening but it's not exactly clear what the import
is. At least the past glimmers, glares, and buckles inside one like something
seen on the horizon through heat waves on the Mohave at high noon.
So i write to you, unseen, unheard, yet not unfelt,
being battered and shattered on my internal vision plain, seeing you at
a distance (no, FEELING you at a distance) but with odd, intermittent disconnects,
electric crackling, through great heat rising from a vast expanse, a fata
morgana wavering, threatening to dissipate completely, some ship always
sailing, now, obliquely, loxodrome of the spirit and the heart, spiralling
to some pole other than mine. You now seem like dull scizzors shredding
the waves of, reams of, time and sheets inbetween. Like the battered wavelets
we slept on, fucked on, came on, its own peaks and caps now crevassed and
stained beyond recovery. (I can still hold your shell to my ear, the groans
and creakings, cracklings of thunder on the distant panhandle horizon...I
guess I never heard the warnings to evacuate.)
Hut Project - June
"[.....] all our so-called consciousness is
a more or less fantastic commentary on an unknown, perhaps unknowable, but
F. Nietzsche / Daybreak
"This lonely knoll was ever dear to me,
and the hedgerow that hides from view
so large a part of the remote horizon.
But as I sit and gaze my thought conceives
interminable spaces lying beyond that
and supernatural silences
and profoundest calm, until my heart
almost becomes dismayed. And I hear
the wind come rustling through these leaves,
I find myself comparing to this voice
that infinite silence: and I recall eternity
and all the ages that are dead
and the living presence and its sounds. And so
in this immensity my thought is drowned:
and in this sea is foundering sweet to me."
L'infinito / Giacomo Leopardi
May 25, 1999
The new Star Wars: The Phantom Menace continues to hover in my consciousness
for some reason.. And not that it was a `great' movie because I think the
critics were often right about its various failures. Nevertheless...for
a certain TYPE of person, it sends out tendrils which have effects/affects
over and beyond its virtues or failures as `just a movie.' Those effects
aren't just peculiar to Star Wars I think but include others where special
effects play a prominant role and are very well done--seamlessly, in fact,
with ordinary reality. (although this face it, filmic reality IS a special
effect generally, whether it's about character development or a Jedi Knight;
as regards `character development, it's just much more insidious and difficult
to see the `torsion' that is applied by the apparatus).
So anyway, while I was waiting to see Star Wars, I went to the bookstore
next door and as I was wandering around, I happened to see the cover of
a large book on Queen Amidala, who features prominently on the film. I had
seen photos of her before but had not known her name. The proximity to that
part of the brain called the "amygdala" was unavoidable so I immediately
went to the reference section to find material on the amygdala, an almond
shaped, bilateral structure which processes aversive behaviour, fear responses,
trauma, etc. (The
nose has a hot line into the amygdala.)
And the figure of the Queen does serve this affective function in the movie,
with even her visuality taking on almond-shaped overtones (her face framed
by the headdress, the lights on her gown, the extreme and bizarre bilateralness
of her costumes/headdresses which seem to evoke images of cross sections
of the brain...and also the strikingly yellow-merging-to-red costumes of
her ladies in waiting, almost as if axons leading charges away from or toward.
And of course one of which, Padme, turns out to be the REAL queen. Padme
means purity, which, given the plainness of her dress means a certain transcendance
of biological aversive reactions -- but reached through aversive secrecy
and misdirection! )
And of course there is a video arcade quality to parts of the film (as there
were to the other star wars) which serve to loop the film out of the movie
theater (as do all the figures/merchandising, one of the other criticisms
of the film) and into `real life'---albeit the life of the video game. At
any rate, breaching the darkness of the movie theater in a way that would
do Philip K. Dick proud--but in a totalizing way, a `virtualness' that doesn't
call attention to itself--or if it does, it does so in the same way as the
slight of hand of Queen Amygdala, the real nose behind the news, by misdirection.
One might say that the film instaurates (or at the very least recognizes
and gives a state of the art push) a new plastic pantheism, a `paganism'
of the apparatus which operates by slight-of-hand, instituting into childhood
in a gestural, proprioceptive, glyphic fashion a largely unconsious appreciation
of the collapse of the borders between thing and self, animal and human,
an enfolding of the `monstrous' as the cuddly, that is, what was once aversive,
run through the amygdala, becomes a Familiar, an Aspect.
Unlike previous paganisms which were cults of the dead, we now encounter
a cult of the un-living, another form of the Doll Universe, very old in
its uncanny doppleganger-ness but new in its dopplerization of our ability
to put our doubles in autonomous motion, always accompanied by a hideous
keening now, announcing their approach and departure (but always in orbit:
like comets coming in from the Oort Cloud, just beyond reach).
A big point being this: all the `cyberization' of reality that folks talk
about takes place here, in gaming, role playing scenarios (which is what
films like star wars as they escape the theater involve), and engagement
with a very mutable boundary of `reality' and its other.
How intentional is all that? And does it matter?
I was standing in the shower this morning and felt myself split and penetrated
by all these sites, electronic communications, like being in several places
at once. An unsettling feeling as if one is moving while standing still.
All of sudden I had intimations of the simultaneity of ...everything, like
the first orbit of the earth in 1961, the first photos showing the earth
from a removed vantage point. But...both exhilerating and exhausting. Was
the 2001 space baby entering or leaving?
Those who are happy and content (and I take it on faith that there are such)
are one up on the rest of us only in a certain fashion--but then maybe that
quality is the only one that counts. A certain `mindlessness' is necessary
for such contentment I think and THAT is different from what most often
passes as such... that is, distraction. But what if a whole culture were
happy and content? (Contemporary American culture is often portrayed that
way: wealthy, complacent, unperturbable. I don't think that's true. American
culture is terribly driven, even in its pursuit of leisure. There is a restlessness,
an agitation there that is tantamount to the affective quaities ascribed
to televison: it passifies you, while at the same time, activating other
structures of muscles, nerves etc. A very active dreamstate. or nightmare
if its pushed just a hair further. And it seems to always get pushed further.)
I suppose this is a `millennial journal.' Although it didn't start out that
way. Let's say structurally it is, since it began on january of 1999 and
perhaps it will end on January of 1999. To be a real millennial journal
however, it should probably take more note of all these `pushings,' school
shooting, war outbreaks, tech breakthroughs, and on and on. But it's all
I can do to keep up with my own affective states in regard to those events
(which, let's face it, don't impact me in any direct sense...to say otherwise
would be to engage in more `push', to try to leverage myself into some more
direct engagement with those events. Perhaps I could gain some moral advantage
in such engagement. But perhaps trying to gain some sort of moral advantage
wouldn't be that moral afterall. It's like a gift: if it's not freely given
it's not really a gift...but then also a gift always involves some notion
of reciprocity it is said--so one ends up asking: is there really any such
thing as a gift.)
I have seen the future and it is ir-real. Or at the very least the borders
of reality (now `reality') are zones of struggle and contention. That has
always been the case for humans perhaps but the media industry ups the ante.
I just saw "The Thirteenth Floor" and it fits into he same category
of recently released films like "The Matrix" and "eXistenZ".
In truth, the reality questions that they pose are very old ones and the
generative thrust behind all the questions, newly stated or otherwise: is
there another reality behind or around the corner from this one? and as
corollaries: is this reality a projection from another reality? To what
extent does our technology create/abrade/defie/defile/deform the human reality?
But all heavier, `gnostic' questions aside, I often walk out of the theater
from these films in a half-dissociated daze, not that they have presented
anything new that a second century gnostic hadn't considered but...that
the film makes the meditation momentarily real. From far away, one hears
dimly and through the soles of one's feet as it were, the grinding of distant
cultural mills, the sliding of massive gates accompanied by a whiff such
as one catches late at night, traveling fast in a car with the windows open,
sudden puff of...something sharp, tangy, and unidentifiable
It's better this way, that there be no one hanging on every word, but that
it be like this, like a cigarette flicked from the open window of a fast
moving car late at night, watching it arc behind me into the damp warm darkness
before pirouetting briefly on the pavement, bombed clusters of sparks zig
zagging into extinction. The brief moment of the flick and the following
tiny illumination is about all you can expect of anything now anyway.
How easy it is to extrapolate endlessly on the stars, the things around
me. the philosophy of misery, (I seem to have misplaced the theory of happiness),
the misfortune...but to go to one's own brief spark--ah, the stars look
beautiful tonight don't they?
I found out today that my ex-wife's mother had died. I had known her for
thirty years and was too ashamed, or guilty, or frightened to go see her
when she was ill. One of the chief advantages of youth (and thereby largely
invisible to the young, blessedly perhaps) is that one doesn't have to deal
with such questions. Everything seems of life and light, even one's sorrows
then have a vibrant quality to them, an ernestness and intensity that seem
to light up the misfortunes. And perhaps it really IS fortunate that a form
of dry rot sets into memory for the old, that it eases the exit; much like
the blissful empty slate of a baby seems such a joy, both for it and for
those who behold it. Two forms of radiant emptiness; for some I guess both
There is not even going to be a funeral held--which I understand is more
popular now. But since funerals are for the communities of the living...what
a sad comment on those of us left behind.
The fireflies are beginning to come out around the hut. They start out from
the ground and blink their way into the tops of the surrounding trees. They
bob up and down and their light comes on at the up-stroke. I just read about
an area in the mountains where they blink in unison. And I remember being
in Virginia with L. when the banks along the lanes and into the trees were
smothered in small blinking lights, like some Disney propaganda film.
Nothing but a mating ritual of course, lasts a few weeks then gone and a
new cycle, like some oscillating catalytic chemical process writ `into the
tribe' as it were, the individuals just being the mindless elements in that
genetic soup of expansion, contraction. Their light display seems like a
stochastics of survival as spectacle. But then all survival can come to
seem like that, some terrible specacle given before half blind gods, perverse
in the pleasure they take in the struggle. Like that flung cigarette, extinction
can often seem entertaining.
These meditations don't amount to much. But godamit! they're me! (and not
me!) they're all I have (and don't have)...sometimes there doesn't seem
to be much of an inbetween, just evisceration and then words. An incredible
empty yet infinitely miniscule gulf between them...take almost any `them'
My `powers of observation' --my `hutness'--seem not to be up to the task
lately. The previous entry is perhaps indication of that. (I almost deleted
it; but I wrote it, it stays; never was much of an editor, especially of
myself. If one were to think of writing as an 'architectural process' then
this THING, this journal, resembles nothing so much Capt'n Tinkerpaw's ramshackle,
glued-together, bricoleured dwelling. Certainly nothing as seamless as the
mollusc of Ponge...more like perhaps the Hermit Crab, an opportunist who
will stick together whatever doesn't fall apart. And there IS a sort of
spindly, ungainly, curious ELEGANCE in that jiggery-pokery of flotsam and
jetsam. But from a supremely futurally oriented civilization and culture
-- one where PLANNING is practically the only thing that counts -- , it's
not very satisfying--and certainly not very stable. (The very ESSENCE of
human culture and civiization in that sense is...the Great Pyramid. In almost
every sense I can conceive. Like a grappling hook in time, it continually
sutures time, drawing past and future together--curiously eliding the present--while
at the same time, leaving a raised surface, a cicatrix which throbs through
history--but continually displacing its effects: the fruiting body of a
VAST rhizomatic mass, capable of breaking through the surface at any time
and place, the `butterfly effect' of chaos theory applied to time and its
And at all times, while this `ventriloquization' is going on, the hut mentality
continues on also, in its own peculiar way, ALSO an eternal (and in some
ways opposed) impulse, always picking up its pieces at the edge of empires,
sticking them to its worn carapace. `Language' itself sometimes seems a
grand example of that oscillation between hut and empire, the poem/art/prophesy
versus the manual-of-instruction/the king lists, probably a human dialectic
that's been around since the beginning--and even the idea of a `beginning'
(and hence an end) is caught in that binding spiral, so like DNA in seeming
to have a life simultaneously outside and inside---the closest approximations
being those border patrols of philosophy, religion, and then poesis/language
as the grease slipping them all together---or maybe even in some odd sense,
as the Dinge an Sich, a certain coagulation of `linguistic' and the
`genetic' with the codings of the eschatological, which constantly tries
to frame as set pieces all codings, even those purported to be `infinite'
. Scientists aren't even exempt from that, producing reams of speculations
on `beginnings' and `ends.' All very scientific of course.
Meanwhile, those hut dwellers go about their business of piecemeal placing
the world in place. (a `nomadic science' as opposed to a `royal science'
as Deleuze and Guattari had it, or methodless, anarchic science as Feyerabend
had it). At least THAT observation has become very clear to me. (and of
course being FORCED into a hut is not the same as finding oneself where
one was all along; there are many would-be emperors forced the `indignity'
of living in a hut, just as there are no doubt emperors busily sticking
things together, ala hutness.)
Even though those mentalities seem to form a continuum, there doesn't seem
to be a lot appreciations/sympathies from the margin toward the center,
nor vice versa (even so: it's hard to see how there could be one and not
the other, as structural necessities). It's almost as if they form extreme
ontological states into which humans slot--almost like a troupe of apes.
Civilizational tropes merely blow-dry, powder, diaper that `ontology'. But
even that is SOMETHING. Nothing worse than a wet, raw butt on a hot day.
coming back late at night on the expressway, windows open, hardcore techno
turned up LOUD, it fades into the pumping pistons, sshrusshing 18 wheelers
blipping past, only the tops of the rhythms making it through, then breaking
out, all drama-like as the truck moves over/I pass it, like the scene from
that movie The Hidden, something about to burst out as everything
gets closer and tighter, hand on steering wheel, just another linkage, a
little assemblage of pops clicks bumps grinds whizzes all coalescing into
a primal monoblock of nothing but rhythms at 85 mph and 130 bpm, no content
just movement, blank, evaculated, inches from being eviscerated, close to
becoming a body w/o a body much less organs w/o a body--but as long it all
locks together, doesn't really matter...BAM! could be straight into the
...as long as it's on the beat.
There are distinct differences between a `witch's hut' and a `philosopher's
hut.' I was thinking that as I was contemplating adding more color to the
hut and after just having finished the incredible last three chapters of
Agamben's "Language and Death: The Place of Negativity." Gray
(as in the color of the concrete surfaces before I began applying paint)
is certainly the philosopher's color, the mid-range between black and white,
the point of reconciliation, (rather than redemption) the rationalization
of the bright painful red of desire and despair (nope, not black as is usually
thought...). It's the color of a departure and return, yet to the same place.
(In truth, that may be the only place we can get to.)
This (hrmeneutic)circularity is endemic to the philospher's dwelling, a
continual bumping of the head of the clouds and scraping of the butt on
the ground, destined to a continual flapping of wings, searching for that
updraft which provides the lift, up and away. But it's always a false hope
(which leads to a `bad infinity' in Hegel's terms: the old hubris represented
by the medieval drawing of the man sticking his head though the shell of
the stars to see the `true' depths), and yet one which fuels the very essence
of the philosopher's hut. And language is that very combustion which the
philosoph uses to try to reach escape velocity. A futile enterprise according
to Agamben since `words' ALSO are the source of the negativity which always
`grounds,' lacerates and divides the project. 'Once upon a time', The Great
Search (The Philosopher's Stone?) of the philosopher was for that which
decoupled language from that 'thing-which-generates-language' ... the philosopher
is continually trying to find ways to stop being a philosopher in other
words. Like this quote from Leopardi which Agamben offers:
"Another thing that makes me unhappy is thought. . . Thought has
given me much suffering for so long now, it has always held me entirely
at its mercy. . . . It has evidently condemned me, and it will kill me if
I can not do something to change my situation."
Perhaps the Witch's hut is a phantasm of the philosopher, yet another attempt
to interrogate the `other side' of that inherent division/negativity that
seems to be part of the definition of `human.'
Agamben gives a quote from Heraclitus and then buffs it:
""The Greek term for `habitual dwelling place,' or `habit,' is
ethos. The ethos of humanity is thus, for philosophy, always already
divided and threatened by a negative. One of the oldest testimonies of a
philosophical reflection of ethos characterizes the habitual dwelling with
ethos anthropo daimon (Heraclitus, fr. 119 Diels).
Daimon does not simply denote here a divine figure. Its etymology leads
back to the verb daiomai, to lacerate, to divide, so daimon signifies
the lacerator, he who cuts and divides.
This fragment from Heraclitus should thus be translated: `Ethos, the habitual
dwelling place of man, is that which lacerates and divides.' Habit, the
dwelling in which one already exists, is the place of scission; it is that
place one can never grasp without receiving a laceration and a division;
the place where one can never really be from the beginning, but can only
return to at the end. It is this demonic scission,this daimon that threatens
humans in the very core of their ethos, of their habitual dwelling place,
that philosophy has always to think, and to `absolve.' For this reason philosophy
must necessarily have its beginning in `marvel,' it must, that is, always
already leave behind its habit, always already alienate itself and divide
itself from its habit, in order to be able to return there, walking through
negativity and absolving it from its demonic scission."
It's for sure that neither the philospher nor the witch live in `habits'--or
at least they each dwell in them in a different fashion from those who self-identify
with those 'habitual' states of being (what Marx would call the bourgeoisie).
One could say in fact that the `hut' is the minimal unit of `habit-ation'
to which the philosoph or the witch can acceed, leaving the most minimal
`trace' of habit-uation. For many humans the grind of habit is a comfort,
a source of security, hence pleasurable; it is life and domesticity well
within the perimeter of the camp fire. And now with modern tech, the campfires
burn continuously and brightly everywhere. (nevertheless it is also perhaps
the case that the `division' and `laceration' of Heraclitus is just a bit
more covered over---not vanished. Varnished maybe.) And it may also be the
case that the more that `domesticity' courts its own fulfilment and completion,
that it meets up with its daimonic laceration, the pragmatist subtlely rounding
the corner and becoming a sorcerer AND as a necessary and logical result
of her original position as pragmatist. (Agamben favorably quotes a passage
from Leonardo--"That which is called nothing is found only in time
and in words"-- and then says that Leonardo's notes "contain various
reflections on the concepts of point, line, and surface, and they demonstrate
the strict, operative connection--which we should never forget--between
nothingness and the fundamental geometrical-mathematical concepts."
This would lead us naturally into Spinoza and D & G but I'll refrain
for now. The only point being a certain structurally necessary chiasmatic
relationship, one thing turning, inside out perhaps, like a starfish eviscerating
itself to open and eat an oyster, into another thing which at first appeared
to be in opposition.)
But the witch's hut...a harder place to find, secluded and trackless in
the depths of the forest as it is. The clearing it forms there is certainly
more problematic than Heidegger's clearing. Made of gingerbread and brightly
colored twigs, perched on chicken legs, it projects a preposterous image,
equal parts desire, revenge, resentiment; a continually infolding, boiling
cloud, bruise-colored, collapsing in on itself, attraction and repulsion
in rapid oscillation with each other (like Baba Yaga shifting from young
girl to crone, back and forth, erasing her trail as she
The witch's hut is a place deep within those lacerations and cuts, transcending
them only by becoming them. Unlike the philosopher coming back to his hut
after his constitutional ( godam fat burgher kant),
the witch never seems to make it back to the same hut--or rather, the hut
is always with her, carried like a carapace (hence the pertinence of Baba
Yaga's hut on legs), nomadic, a thing of the periphery entirely; The philosopher
is mesmerized by the billows of brightly shifting colors in the distance
but he can only attribute them to a fata morgana, a mirage seen on the horizon.
(Morgan le Fey was King Arthur's half sister and student of Merlin--the
fate of the witch's hut is always to be seen out of the corner of one's
eye, a glimmer/glamour/clamour on the horizon; the philosopher draws certain
conclusions from that concerning existence or non-existence but that is
only an indication of the side of the divide he is on. The witch has no
need of such pronouncements, preferring incantations, a speaking - into
- existence, rather than a judgement-on-existence. Many philosophers now,
having seen the mysterious `writing on the wall' -- though not being able
to read it -- have decided that `performativity' can take over the function
of manifestation, that a certain gap can be narrowed [part of the `educational
mandate' of the philosopher]. The witch, for whatever reason, is under no
such illusion and has no such mandate -- she eats children instead of teaching
them. And apparently the etymology of morgan le fay is `the fate of death'.)
Often however the fate of the witch when connection with a habitus / habitation
if formed is the same as that of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard
of Oz---she is crushed by it, a `natural' response by the philosopher and
the socius he represents to such extreme mobility and fluidity with repect
to border regions (we remember the ecstatic flights through the air -- unacceptable
to land-locked partisans ... like the philosopher Kant who never traveled
further than 70 miles from where he was born.) The intent of the philospher
is be at home everywhere in his canny wile-fullness, while the witch can
only set up simulations of comfort, being basically homeless, finding little
comfort in the predations of her own un-willed, hence uncanny machinations.
The philosopher looking over at the witch's hut sees nothing but bruised
time, a confused trauma (Greek for wound) of conception, death, birth, first
one then the other taking precedence (and it's true there is a resemblance
physically to a livid wound...even in my little hut)--the time between an
`Eden that never was and a Heaven that never will be'. (This is the time
of trauma as Laub and Felman describe it: an event that "has no beginning,
no ending, no before, no during and no after. This absence of categories
that define it lends it a quality of `otherness,' a salience, a timelessness
and a ubiquity that puts it outside the range of associatively linked experiences,
outside the range of comprehension, of recounting, and of mastery.")
The time of the witch's hut is the time of the Mystic Wound, the appearance
of the shallow cut (stigmata even) which has closed over the deeper disturbance
(into the very granular level of existence, into the particulate gloom of
DNA, the only absolute substance that consiousness knows.) Scribing a reflection
of eternity and infinity into the very flesh, the witch's hut is itself
a reflection of the collapse of realms: the Now into the Neverwhen /Alwayswhen,
a Limbo where scrying takes over any navigational skills since all appearance
melts aways into the fog, inches from one's eyes and the only recourse is second sight,
casting lots, reading the leaves, entrails, the cards.
It is a place/time of tangled ontologies. As too the consciousness of the
late twentieth century has come to seem to be the tangled time of trauma
(no better exemplified than by the patron saint of witches, Freidrich Nietzsche).
This is the place of the Eternal Return of the Same, the arrival of an implacable
and almost unimaginable antiquity in the middle of modernity. The witch's
hut is the springing open of this portal--as well as the realization of
the necessity (or at any rate its unavoidability) of this Return, that this
IS the pagan Absolute Substance re-asserting itself not AGAINST all odds,
but WITH all odds; it is the primal re-assertion of the Primal, beyond the
calculabiity of the machinic (and hence formative of the technical).
Just started reading "The Infinite Conversation"/Blanchot
on the Eternal Return and found this (on smell):
--"I would remind you that theologians have sometimes spoken of `the
smell of the end of time,' a sort of sui generis experience that,
amid real historical phenomena,would allow one to discern the breakthrough:
being heading for its end.
---No doubt the smell of atomic explosion. Nietzsche, another theologican,
already asked us: ` Do we smell nothing yet of divine decomposition?' And
Heraclitus said before anyone else: `If all things turned to smoke then
we would discern things with our nostrils.' But he did not make the nose
into a theological organ."
But in a sense the nose IS the organ of parousia par excellance,
being the receptor of substance TO substance.
I had to take the car in to be worked on this morning. Taking the three
mile hike back from the strip, through the `burbs, everything seemed like
nothing so much as an encampment, provisonal, temporary, occupied by nothing
by cyborgs: heads in metal containers zooming by like giant metal rats in
the rising summer haze. My thoughts jostling, bumping each other off, tailing
into frayed bits of 60 cycle hums caught in loops, not really going anywhere.
Everything seems like random collisions of banality, no more significant
than the aerial displays of jousting gnats frothing in fuzzy head-high diaphanous
balls. forming and re-forming as I pass through them.
As I was walking I suddenly remembered a Henry Miller book I picked up in
a used book store yesterday (`Quiet days in Clichy', one of the few
I hadn't read)..., how distant that Milleresque exuberance seems now! I
mean generally, in cultural terms. Things seem much more constricted now,
work-man like, channeled, and at a very rapid clip at that. The kind of
boho existence he wrote about---did it ever really exist??! Even bohemian
life--or what passes for it--seems to have a frantic urgency about it now.
Well, it's just an impression---but I don't see much fucking/bicycling/wine
swilling. except for college students. I guess all that goes on but perhaps
the times have changed so drastically that the boho lifestyle can be found
as the main course at any apartment complex.
All I know is, it was a long hot walk with no bike, much less the other
Synchronicity is an awesome and frightening thing, frightening because it
portends an irrational system which is just out of reach and intrudes into
this reality just enough to forge connections and alliances. A joining-together
whose sense-making has to take account of the synchronicity which put the
elements together; a way of playing-out the sense making to the frayed edges
of its `sense making-ness' -- and then pushing it implicitiy one more step.
This seems in fact to be very very close close to the poetic/generative
capacities of language both as a truth `uncovering' device as well as a
fiction `generating' device; both in scare quotes because it's not that
simple a dicotomy but rather a porous boundary between the two--the completion
of their forms takes place outside grammar. (or rather is it the opposite?)
At any rate, to write rigorously within that synchronistic linkage, more
toward the frayed edge---how difficult and mysterious that is. One has the
feeling of existing/being created at the edge of the known universe, where
all perches are also the perched-on, one (and there IS a shift from `I'
to `one,' a shift to an im-personal which nevertheless includes the personal)
becomes the written as well as the writer. And at the same time, one feels
like a spider, sensitive to the slightest vibration of the strands reaching
out into the void, never knowing if responding to the `rustle of language'
will put one in the presence of a tasty fly or a spider eater. Rarely another
spider I bet.
Language in mythology forms a large uncanny lump into which one ventures
at one's own risk. Upon stepping into it's water's edge, rumblings are no
doubt heard deep in abysses in the earth's core and far from the rapidly
dissolving footprint at land's end. No wonder the fear and repulsion it
brings forth in some (scientifistical) people, for it's a snaky tendril
coming from out of the dark, and we can never be sure if it's composed only
of our forbodings (and hence secret wishes) or if it is `real'--or for that
matter what the difference is.
Meaning plays hopscotch along the tips of words, skipping along the surface
of a vast ocean for a bit then sinking out of sight.
I was in a bookstore thumbing through a book on Merlin and came across a
section on Morgan le Fay and the various permutations from Atropos the death
goddess, to the triple goddesses of Greece, to Medea, to Medusa, to the
original spelling of `murgen', `mor-gue,' (L. used to sign her letters to
me as `murgen'--means sea-born...also carries darker connotations).
And then in doing research on Nietzsche's Eternal Return, I came across
an interesting article called "Nietzsche Medused" (Bernard Pautrat)
which speaks of the freezing of time in place which the gaze of Medusa effects
(not un-connected to the woman/man thing but at the uncanny mythological
level) and which the Eternal Return basically is -- a traumatic freezing
of past present future, all somehow connected with primal scission of man/woman
and the lacerations and traumas which that division beings.
The footnotes to the article has two pieces which I will now quote, the
second by Bataille because it is so beautiful and mysterious and I wish
to have the pleasure of stroking the words myself, and the first by Raymond
Queneau I write without comment:
"I have seen, oh source of my life!
the solar wheel which blazes
and I have seen the Gorgonian
the noble head of Medusa,
that face, ah! I recognize it,
I recognize the awful smell of a hatred which terrifies,
I recognize the awful feminine
sun which is putrefying,
there I recognize my childhood,
still and always my childhood,
infected source, dirty wheel,
severed head, evil woman,
Medusa who pulls your tounge,
could it be you who castrated me?"
"If on this cool globe which bears us, combs shape hair according
to fashion, what their teeth untangle is perhaps the silent trace of some
quite other nature, that of the constellations, the galaxies, the comets,
a streak of fire there where coldness has set out the order of our houses.
On heads hair rustles, as foreign to the fixity of concerns as the most
transparent Medusas bathed in light through the waves."
That `other nature' lies off the edge of the world. Perhaps the only traces
of it we can catch are those synchronicities and mythologies (which Nietzsche
must have thought the Eternal Return would bring back full force), an ancient
world stepping into the noontide of modernity--but the world pulsing into
existence for Nietzsche was not the world of the Greeks but the same world
that was pulsing into existence in the same way for the Greeks, i. e. the
Egyptians about which little was formally known then. The Medused stoppage
which the Eternal Return formulates must ultimately be Egyptian ,pyrmidal
even, as Bataille recognized--always keeping in mind the root entomology
of 'pyramid' as fire in the distance)--but in a way
which we have still to recognize.
These pulsations, returns, and traces don't take place in some never never
land however--they pulse forth within the very flesh itself, through those
ancient DNA structures where it formalizes itself as consciousness meeting
the material of historical concerns, always everyplace, springing erect
into existence at touch, seeking the marshy lands of its `birth,' tips of
dark continents meeting, creating a stoma, psuhing though the dark night,
leaving a glistening sheen of consciousness track slug-like where ever it
moves reflecting stars through it...
While the technical gently brushes our eyes shut, some mortician's gentle
touch in the mor-gue, trying to send us on our way. But unlike the Egyptians
(Opening The Mouth ceremony), wiring our jaw shut--O, fiery psychoplasmic
blast we are creating! Belly-munching machines sealing up the crevasses...but
what happens when THEY come alive??!
I heard a piece of piano music on the radio station this morning. It was
a very ingenious piece, if I can put it that way. It SOUNDED almost like
a beginning piano student in its hesitations, missed notes, almost-simultaneously
sounded notes, bits of recognizable childish melodies (like `Chopsticks')
coming through the careening, stumbling fingers. And yet I have no doubt
that the piece of music was a formal, written piece of music. A recording
of a beginning music student would not have been nearly as interesting.
This was, trully, a piece for a virtuoso piano player and I've been haunted
by the conceptual implications since I heard it.
In this case, the mere writing of wrongness opens a gap and creates a piece
whose subject IS that gap. It is possible, I suppose, for improvisational
music to operate in that gap---but in that case, the musician would have
to be KNOWN to be a virtuoso player (that is, he would have to be priorly
`written' in some fashion) or would have to create that gap for the listener
during the performance.
Much of formal art operates in that reference gap, a distance which can
be seen in any number of ways--as ironic, alienating, incomprehensible,
unbridgeable. From the side of the virtuoso player however the only `virtue'
or `right-ness,' is fidelity to `write-ness,' whatever phenomenological
or affective problems are the responsibility of the author or composer.
Once that gap is perceived, it's very hard to step back over it and pretend
it doesn't exist. (That gap can be formulated in any number of ways, the
widest maybe being the presence/absence distinction or: intentionality /
accident, re/presentation; more than anything else it is the current omnipresent
stroke, `/,' which divides and lacerates events, inevitably creating partisans
on either side of the stroke -- and in the case of de/construction, even
partisans of the stroke!)
Perhaps it is the case also that the only thing that can suture the sides
together is trauma--or perhaps it is the case that trauma RESULTS from the
suturing, leaving a permanent inflamed raised welt, more of an X in that
case than ` /'. Perhaps that's also where some of the conceptual power of
the Christian crucifiction comes from -- and yet another illustration that
at bottom, Western culture occurs in the cicatrix, is PREDICATED on trauma
as an originary mechanism for suturing nature/human together and that language
itself (`writing') is the place where the inflamation/scar occurs on the
body politic. (In that case, the idea of a pure `coding' which is rampant
in the culture now, is interesting. The technocratic impulse is to bypass
the `body' in all its forms and simply emphasize the code; if there are
no `sides' to suture together, there is no trauma, no sacrifice -- in either
the Girardian or Bataillean sense -- and no problem, there is only a mass
of particulars, individual codings which possess their own individual integrity
and not affected by the coding next door.) The hope for technology is the
closing of both that primal gap -- which is really a delirious temporal
one -- and the more pragmatic, banal gaps which exist as `surface' phenomena.
Tech would act as a surfactant, breaking up the surface tension, causing
collapses and mergings all up and down the line (the `writing of the disaster'?).
And isn't this the original apocalyptic eschatological wish? Perhaps even
the result of a structure put into motion long long ago. In that case, the
emergence of tech IS the Eternal Return....And what happens to `meaning'
I wonder? Perhaps like plants, it effloresces then dies, effloresces then
dies, over and over again...Mobiated (mobius) meaning...
"Eternal recurrence of the Same is designed to be un/canny, its
peculiar character overdetermined as a wound (Greek trauma) not only in
temporality and history but in the body politic."
G. Waite / Nietzsche's Corps/e
"The Nietzschean experience of eternity is not an eternity in extension,
the endurance of a stagnant moment without past and without future, stretched
out linearly without end, but an infinity in the present moment, an eternity
"Hence there results a new state of affairs without war or peace,
an unsettled strangeness, an errant and in some sense secret, vast space
that has little by little overgrown our countries and where men act mysteriously,
in ignorance of the change they themselves are in the midst of accomplishing."
M. Blanchot / Infinite Conversation
Everything and everyone seems to be in Brownian motion these days (those
random motions of small particles seen under a microscope as they get jostled
by surrounding phenomena). People moving, getting divorced, just restless.
The speed of particle fluctuation increases as heat is applied to the environment/solution
they are in until at some point the whole substance does a phase shift transition
to another form of substance--to vapor where there is an even more radical
dispersion and movement of the particles.
In the new Starwars film, the kid comments about his machine: "Everything's
overheating!". Yes, probably true. The culture seems to be trying to
reach some sort of escape velocity., first shaking off all molecular bonding,
turning into irreducible particulate matter.
There are times when this just seems completely pointless. It's neither
a `personal' journal nor a sustained philosophical reflection, it's not
purely private -- which has a certain allure, long lost revelations discovered
years after one's death by others and all that post mortem carpe diem--
and yet it's too privately coded to hold `wider social demographics' at
attention, as some marketing guy would say...besides dealing with literary
esotericisms which, while of import to me, are nothing but fog, smoke to
others. And neither does it chronicle human events--or what amounts mostly
it seems, to gory details of man's inhumanity to other fellow humans.
But i guess it's the case that NOTHING holds our collective attention for
very long. The most slimey horror turns into just a momentary fulgarating
passion glimpsed through a glass eye dully....which should perhaps give
one warrant for the more benevolent passions. like writing.
And the advantage of this, net-based--um, what, performance? writing? being?--THING
is that it gives one a slight murmuring in the ear...even if wholly imagined...of
multitudes caught up in appreciation of what it is one is doing....and given
that artists often confuse what they do with who they are, one feels some
ghostly appreciation for who one IS. All bogus -- maybe even pitiful --
modus ponens, no doubt. But the heartening thing is that I wouldn't be the
only one to so indulge myself with imagined simulacrums of glory. The great
and disorienting virtue of the web is that it is hip deep in such self-produced
ruminations, unfiltered with the demographic eye of any editor. So, since
I've now convinced myself to continue, I say more power to all us hapless
minnows; it's a vasty deep we swim over....EVEN if we just appear to be
swimming over ourselves.
One of the main effects of an `economy,' (that is, of any system of circulation)
is a temporal constriction. And all cultural artifacts which it touches
(and it touches ALL cultural items) are also restricted. The oxygen around
the commodity / artifact / fetish / technical product that allows it to
burn so brightly becomes thinnner as you move away from its baleful influence.
An economy puts everything in movement and in so doing shrinkwraps it, temporally
`Money' flattens, squeezes, every available timeline, pressing the available
horizon to within inches of the nose. (in a way, this is a counterpart of
Benjamin's Destruction of Aura if we would convert W.B.'s spatial analogy
-- intimation of the greatest distance in the nearest, closest space --
into a temporal one.) The term I `re-purposed' to describe this `pruning'
effect, or constriciton, in economy is a term from botany, `surculation.'
None of ths is new of course. (I would even say that Marx's `phantasmagoria
of the commodity,' it's `theological capers' is part and parcel of this
phenomena and that the more advanced the technology -- and by that I mean
a tech which comes to more and more closely resemble what it is to be human
-- the more a bifurcation happens because of the constrictive, channeled
nature of economic surculations. On the one hand, a complete banalization
of life, life and consciousness as nothing but mindless stuff doin' the
bump, to paraphrase Whitehead.
At the same time, a döpplegänger, a shadow X-world is created
/discovered / re-discovered / remembered and a certain immensity of time
opens up. I think of Nietzsche's Eternal Return as having this duality (and
the resulting esoteric and exoteric relations it opens up); it seems to
be the return of a Lost World... perhaps one always here yet almost impossible
to see and that tech works continually (in one of its modes) to efface.
I was thinking of such time bombs -- abysses really -- after perusing a
book on archaeological finds which have been excluded from pre-historical
evolutionary accountability because they were TOO anomalous, completely
disrupting any notion of evolutionary schematics -- or rather, throwing
it into loops because of the vastnesses it implies and yet also a certain
constancy of human form. `Modern' human remains / tools found in strata
millions of years old, worked stone and metal objects found hundreds of
feet down embedded in plio-pleistocene boundary layers. Impossible objects
in impossible times.
And yet -- when I finished looking through the book I felt a most distinct
loosening, much like the dissociative effect coming out of certain movies.
The suffocating banality recedes for jus t a moment, a slight blemish appears
in all these shiny surfaces, all these `happy, shiny people.' A slight crack, which, for a split-second,
has a visceral impact. It's almost as if I can feel time itself as an autonomous
force, a winnowing agent.
I go to a coffee shop afterward -- continuous pull back into centripetal
banality and distraction, from the continuous traffic to the musak playing,
almost a completely seamless surface is moving us (IN us) from the street
to the shop to the car to the home, accompanied by continuous noise and
disturbance-which-disturbs-nothing. Reinforces in fact.
No wonder people have such HOPE and FEAR of the blessed Y2K event -- the
only thing that can alter, slow down even, this monstrous all inclusive,
monstrously over-coded system is some OVERLOOKED part of the system itself,
a disruption of its auto-immune system you might say.
The Second Coming as a coding flaw.