"The human spirit tries to push itself forward without coming to a perfect portrayal of its own freedom and animated shape, because it must still remain confused and associated with what is other than itself."
Hegel, quoted in Stanzas by g. agamben

October 1, 2000
There is this about critique (of almost any kind) in conditions of general prosperity and wealth: it seems like a continual whining and carping to no good end, a yapping of some mongrel dog which knows no master and what is more can not even master itself, just doomed to whimper and scurry from shadow to shadow, in fearful dread of everything and hence needing to bark at everything that moves.

So for some people plentitude is even more horrid than scarcity. leaving nothing solid to push against. Which doesnt change anyones mind about anything. Ones enemies simply go into hiding or into even deeper darker more widespread conspiratorial shadows. Strangely enough, plenitude opens up all spaces, even the negative, anti-spaces which prosperity thought it was leaving behind in its own version of a golden age. (damn, how may times has the human species gone through this process??)
And of course there are those of us ever vigilant for the (and this should be apparent by now) ever-present miscreancy of the human race and always more than willing to point out the problems. And more power to them (met one at the gallery last night). But to me it is uncomfortably close to being a cop in some way, its just that they feel god is on THEIR side (well, dont we all??) rather than the side of power/prosperity. A loop (or maybe circuitry), which always takes two parties to complete. (in fact, I can feel someones finger beginning to point at me accusingly right now…it feels good doesnt it? Its always good to have some solidity in ones life…)

But actually Im a contrarian myself, to the extent of saying a pox on all houses. Or at least there is a part of me that is, something obdurate and obsidian, gleaming like an Aztec knife, something which I only occasionally get a glimpse of, and even then only out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes I think Ive made it up (but then I wonder: does that make it any less hard and sharp? or even more unblinking and merciless than if it were something found laying around itself like some long forgotten emotion…)
Perhaps my interest in the void, the uncanny, the forgotten but efficacious past, the subterranean come from that spot…or maybe its an infatuation with some of those who have come before who, for whatever reason, have written and pushed that point, a point which is outside limitations while strangely residing firmly inside the limits, a fuzzy rising wavering heat wave between the human and its non-….which mostly resemble each other very closely.

At any reate, this Left / Right political thing seems to have very old origins indeed, being seen, iin western culture anyway, with the whole greek/roman/gnostic/christian thing. i would assume something similar plays itself out in all cultures though. It seems to be a fundamental human social property… perhaps the equivalent of slime mold societies of centralization/dispersion—-which is the genuine slime mold society? both, neither. wheels within wheels.

One of the truisms of the age is that we are far beyond the point when any one person could encompass all extant knowledge, as was presumably the case in earlier centuries. It seems doubtful sometimes whether one person can even keep up with one specialty now.

The question is: is it even necessary now? That is, to have a life of any consequence: what does that mean now? We would like to pull some sort of disconnect between wisdom, that thing/style/thought which seems closer to grace and faith, and knowledge, that event which seems closer to the machine, or at any rate, to a mode of explication which can be easily routinized and formalized. Wisdom often seems to have the appearance of a visitation (or emergence anyway) while knowledge seems marked by a plodding accumulation. Knowledge seems marked and contained by something which we could call a manual while wisdom seems to have a much more elusive quality, one which can be pointed at, embodied, etc.

More positive forms of thought would deny such a demarcation, holding that patient accumulation DOES lead to wisdom (hmm—sort of a Calvinist / protestant work ethic there) that wisdom is just a comprehensive form of knowledge which has reached the end of its gathering procedures and then draws a conclusion.

well, perhaps it must be so. But that process of gathering in can be a peculiarly elusive one, and only PARTLY amenable to protractor and compass (perhaps we would part company with Spinoza here). There still seems to be a microfine divide between act and deed, between thing encountered and myself.

The somewhat good thing about being an artist is that part of the definition (I take it) is that an artist can be an unconscious devourer of milleau, if the stations can be tuned right (through analogy, metaphor, allegory, or through some kind of slippage…commonly called fiction, fantasy, even lying.)

A good thing about being an artist is that Truth is not necessarily part of the equation…or rather, it is truth of a peculiar kind.

If there were ever an overused word, truth must be it, meaning something different to almost everyone. When i hear someone use it, my mind begins to fuzz over and I can hardly make sense of it—and no more so than when I use. And yet, strangely enough, we seem to suffer from a paucity of something that we all know colloquially as truth…I take it to mean then that truth is some sort of bonding agent, something we would all recognize if we were to see it…oer actually, and here is the rub, something that we would be FORCED to recognize, something along the lines of a gravity, some quality imminent to—hence somewhat invisible—and inexorable, something that is not a matter of belief but of necessity. There is nothing more cloying to certain human sensibilities than such a (purported) quality, nothing that is more an affront to human freedom (another flag waver) than Truth . (Notice that i dont say HUMAN Truth—-such a contingency couldnt possibly sit well with seekers after Truth.)

"interactivity is the equivalent of radioactivity. For interactivity effects a kind of disintegration, a kind of rupture."
Paul Virilio interview


‘history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems’

I really like that first quote…it reminds me of the time I received an email from someone who had wandered into my journal and who complained that I was inaccessable, that my email wasnt prominently displayed, and that hey dude, interactivity is what the net is all about! I replied to the person but of course I never got a reply back—-so much for interactivity as the truth of the web….

But yes, I would agree with Virillio that this massive global exeriment we are involved in as a species is corrosive.

And the fact that something is pleasurable is no guarantee at all that something is not corrosive—look at the relation between sugar, growth of bacterial and tooth decay. The only people copasetic about that are the manufacturers of prosthetics and dentists. (One could even make the point that much of pleasure IS about dissolution, a gradual or abrupt cessation of personal consiousness whereas pain signals the arrival of the all-too-personal and singular…or at least that appears to be the phenomenology of the two.)

i pass occasionally, the new Fed Reserve building going up downtown. Its brutalist form keeps expanding and getting filled in and in a very predicatable way. No modernist cacophanies here (much less the dissolved and melted forms of whatever seems to be on the way); nothing but the guarded reserve of power, money, and its architectural instantiation ever since the greco-roman, marble. Endurance and longevity, archaic slices of ante-fluvial earth to designate the staying power of whoever builds the damn thing.
Its a form of megalomania that seems built into the species, and is probably one of the reasons we got to the top of the food chain, pushing outward into the regions of the all-too-flimsy and stacking it up, pressing on it as long and as hard as possible—-what better substance to represent that compression of time and space (and power) than marble. And how interesting that sand (silicon) seems to represent the antithesis of that, as one of the most pleniful and broken substances …but also that each grain is much like the other, thereby creating with multiplicity the same effect that marble creates with unicity.

The facile thing to say at this point would be that the totalitarian can arrive in many guises. But there seems something wrong in calling either sand or marble totalitarian, even allegorically. The older religous view of that was of grapes being turned into wine. The difference between the singular and the general is not nearly as clear cut as some ideologues (including myself when and inasmuch as i am) would posit. There is an intoxication to the wine which the grape will never know.

Precisely the perennial fascination of fascism (from fascia, to bind together) though. It seems almost insurmountable in our present form.

robert cheatham