me hut journal august 2003  

sept 5
another esoteric (as opposed to eschatological) car ad on tv. A man is walking down the street and accidentally drops something from his pocket. It rolls into the gutter and he bends down on one knee to retrieve it, resting one hand on the fender of a car as he does so. He is thrown into an hallucination of the car careening around mountain roads, many quick cuts. He abruptly jerks his hand away and looks at the car in wonderment and or horror. The car transmits its own experiences, the machinery becoming either a transducer or conductor of experiences. Even though the experience is the banality of a fast car, it is the very notion that the object speaks telepathically as it were, communicates but almost as an alarm system: touch it and you get an hallucination

.Sept 9
I've just begin reading Harman's TOOL-BEING and it resonates with the above in some minor poetic (i.e. forced) way. Harman is apparently trying to come at Heideggerean strategies vis a vis the tool in different fashion, one that allies with the weirder side of Bataille and Levinas, one where the recession of matter into an obdurate enfolded region, inaccessible except for certain protrusions from there that we call 'tools', where the distance between us and it is infinite and total, The book itself purports to be an investigation into the 'secret contours of objects.' Here is a quote from the introduction:
"It is the nature of tool-being to recede from every view. In the strict sense, we can never know just WHAT equipment is. Like the giant squids of the Marianas Trench, tool-beings are encountered only once they have washed up dead on the shore, no longer immersed in their withdrawn reality. It is impossible to define tool-being as a linguistic network or culturally coded system of 'social practices.' As many commentators do. Tool-being is that which WITHDRAWS from all such networks… Hence, what Heidegger opposes to theory is not human praxis but a mysterious capital 'X,' a brutal subterranean realm which we can glimpse only at second hand."At any rate, having just started it I'm not entirely sure where he's going but it looks to be simultaneously Heideggerrean and anti- … a philosophy of distance maybe and within the distance, closeness. In some respects ( I said SOME) it reminds me of the work of Alain Badiou, at least in its intention to be some other place philosophically than what we have inherited. In both cases, the human takes a distinctly second places to (or as) objects and processes. I detect something in the air (probably the same thing that's been ther for thousands of years; more easily sniffed at certain times….everyone is so afraid of being un-modern, unscientific, non-materialistic -- the current climate seems to be exasperating all gaps.)But back to the car: it is almost as if we are trying to ventriloquize our objects now, as if we know there is an inaccessibility and that they must be forced to 'talk' -- even if it is done all so allegorically. And isn't that part of 'allegory' anyway, a witness to/of the mute world as a personification of that world.I think I would mix Blanchot in there also.
I heard yesterday that an aunt of mine died in Mississippi, Mozelle, one of my father's siblings. It didn't effect me too much when my mother first told me. I sat down to write two separate notes of condolences to her son and daughter whom I played with as kids back in Mississippi. Halfway through the second note I was overcome with grief and started crying. Perhaps as much for the loss of my childhood, of possibilities, and of certainties, than as for Mozelle.

Sep. 10
One day before the second anniversity of 9/11.
I haven't been feeling too great lately, my typical mental miasma. I cam across a section in 'Little, Big' concerning flaws that maybe I'll transcribe here. It made me thin of what I told LG several times, that I had some sort of central flaw, that something was wrong. But an artist is supposed to appreciate that and to be able to make something positive out of it. It seems to me , that if one wanted to think in those categories, that all of us are flawed in some fashion. After all, it is a flaw in relation to what? (I consider those who climb up on towers and start shooting to be something other than flawed.)

Sept 15
I watched the movie GINGER SNAPS on video last night. Quite a hoot and pretty enjoyable. Can easily see what it would become a 'Dark Woman' cult favorite. I don't think it ever made it into wide distro in movie theaters…don't remember it.
Also saw SOLARIS and enjoyed it much better than I anticipated. All the media backlash against it when it came out (seeing Clooney's ass etc.) sorta ruined it for me. A different creature than tarkovsky's for sure but for those with A.D.D. perhaps more watchable. Some of the material reonated most painfully for me, in re: to memory of loved ones and how perhaps memory gets things wrong but nevertheless sets up its own world, wrong or not….still had some whiffs of Tarkovsky's mythic/mystic treatment. I don't know whether the ending was happy or sad. It's what we do, wrapping ourselves in our illusions and living in them. Perhaps happiness has nothing to do with it. Just a momentary surge above the baseline.
L.'s new house is situated on a nice quite side street, not far from the rail line. Quite though, kids paying in the woods or on the street in the afternoon after school; folks walking down the street to the rail station; an occasional jogger, couples walking hand in hand, mostly African-American but others also. G. next door is very sweet and solicitous, 69, and retired, his wife has mental problems, is never seen outside the house. G himself spends a lot of time on the car porch (that's what we called them in MS); yells occasionally to someone he knows passing by. Lower middle class neighborhood, developers still trying to get a toehold in to set up large expensive houses, tearing down all the small houses. L.'s was built in 1926, G.'s was constructed in 1964. Evidently the whole area was a Pecan orchard much earlier on, the only evidence of what might havbe been such is a very large, mansion looking structure at the end of the street. No evidence of any pecan trees at all now though.
G's son G.jr has been coming by lately on his large, loud Harley. G. Jr. himself is pretty large and loud. He comes bluppering up on the harley with black gospel music blaring and stopping to talk to folks on that end of the street. Haven't met G. Jr butI did meet J. the other son and he seems very nice. Apparently G. threw him out of the house though because he's been screwing up a lot lately, lot of relationship problems, money problems I guess.

In many ways, the area reminds me of MS when I was growing up. Not as dusty of course but there's something small town about it and very southern. G. seems very religious. My mother would problaby get along better on that street than here in Smyrna.

L.'s house will become a real gem I think. Not a massive yuppie mansion but something much more tolerable.

Sept 16
The following is from the liner notes of a cd I produced recently. It is written under the name of Fehta Murghana. I might as well put it here in this dead elephant dumping ground. I had occasion to go back and look at the very first entry in this ongoing miscarriage. There is some difference I guess; I'm not about to go back and do some sort of textual analysis. It was painful enough writing them in the first place. And now that everybody and her uncle keeps a blog, it seems to change the dynamics of the whole thing. For sure, this is not a blog. Blog is as blog does. Don't hog the blog. Blip blap blog.

If only I had the ability to not think about anything…guess I better be careful what I wish for….ok, I don't wish for that I wish I had some money.
When we come back kiddies I'll tell you some cute stories about my quaint relatives in MS, most of whom seem to have died or have their foot on a banana peel.

What we think of now as 'conduction' seems to have been inaugurated by Butch Morris in 1985. I can remember much earlier descriptions of some performances by Cecil Taylor where similar gestural, graphic, or vocal methods were used. One could probably surmise that such conducting strategies have always been present in one form or another with improvising musicians. At one time such an approach could have compensated for lack of music reading skills. More recently it seems to be an attempt to allow a breathing of the free-blowing impulse into the control structures of large aggregates of musicians, while simultaneously voiding it of 'European' content. (One is reminded of those analyses of the nineteenth century orchestra in terms of class stratification and the centralized control mechanisms, Panopticon as Jeremy Bentham had it, of an emergent hierarchical industrial complex. Simplistically speaking, the conductor would be the artistic embodiment of those technical and social structures.) But this is not a history of conduction in either its tyrannical version or its anarchical incarnation, since at some point the slope between 'composition,' 'conduction,' and questions of control of the creative process or the creative process in control, becomes very slippery.

Suffice it to say that at some point conduction comes to seem more like facilitation or even channeling of group energies, a way to open up the flow of freely produced sound into forms of shifting coherence and incoherence. (Certainly the latter is a necessity in contemporary art production, of sliding alliances and textures, and of meaning and it's dissolution; 'noise,' the nonsensical, and the chaotic are now firmly present in culture and have been so explicitly since at least Attali's book NOISE and then Kit's DISCOURSE NETWORKS ) Conduction trails, but is a catalyst for, meaning and non-meaning. Conduction becomes a peculiar reversed alchemical process, not only the general principal governing the particulars, but the particulars then forming alliances, pulling the conduction along differently, lead becoming gold and gold becoming lead: both shielding of energies and connecting energies being necessary. And total attention all the time for one is never sure when the Great Work will pull one's self into the maelstrom.
From the notebooks of Fehta Murghana entitled The Great Improvisation: origins and actions.

sept 16
I just read an article by some guy who is writing a book on 'ether,' that earlier scientific notion of a substance which acted as a carrier for waves. (the article was on Baudrillard and the Matrix; I only skimmed it). After I read the ether bit I thought to myself "I coulda had a V8!!" it's such a good platform to jump from. I've been think how mostly speculative thought moves inexorably between the poles of Here and a Not-here. Maybe another way of putting is as Harman contends does in Tool-Being: as tool and broken tool. (In fact, he contends that Heidegger's whole philosophy can be found between those two poles, which also translates to visibility and invisibility and accessible and non-accessible. And thought in polarities as such we wind up inexorably back at Hegel again dammit. Marx thought that a truly radical thought would be to get away from Hegel, to get to matter, materiality and work from bottom up. Post-structuralism was/is an attempt, in one sense, to have one's subjective cake and eat it also, to be a material subjectivist. If for not other reason, that nothing can stand up to the assault of science (and technology) on the human condition, an attempt to reatain some phenomenologial appearances while still being properly modern and enlightened. I suppose illusions can be maintained as long as the hunchback dwarf, as Benjamin put it, can be kept hidden underneath the chess set. The next deformed charcter, after theology, to be hidden away as an embarrassment will have to be 'art' I suppose.
from an online conversation about crime and art (or originally: why are artists so invested and infatuated with the bad guy:
Once you think on it a minute it seems so obvious: art is about boundaries and their dissolutions and of course so is crime (or perhaps even more generally speaking 'badness'). In that sense 'art' is the socially accepted version of 'crime'. At its best art is exciting and, let's face it, at IT'S best crime is exciting -- must be, that's all there is on tv practically. And of course since at least Baudelaire art is about poking a stick at the stuffy manners of the middle class and the bourgesie...and crime does a little more than fact given the natural affinity of the two, it's surprising that there is not more cross-over. And of course both of those are tied in intimately to the conditions of production, consumption, and distribution of western material technical civilization, art having given up (mostly it seems) its shamanistic heritage (or alliance and bridgework to other worlds) in favor of a certain 'bad infinity' or finitude -- same as crime and bling bling and politics and contemporary thought generally. (hense also my interest in 'shadow worlds,' counter-worlds and -cultures, on the net and otherwise, ie, those entities which seem to multiply, heedless of Ockam's Dictum not to do so -- sort of the reverse of Bartleby who would always prefer not to.

(in the that sense McWhorter and ilk, including the guy whose blog posted, seem mealy mouth, middle class and uninteresting --but then the criminal/art opposition to that -- which for various reasons i don't consider a counter-world -- is simply that: in opposition and tied into the whole structure of that which it opposes. Whether it can be 'otherwise' IS the question that counter-worlds address; whether they are possible or not is another question)

.Sep 19
I was thinking on the way to an afternoon movie today how the older one gets the more constricted and short one's life seems. It is perhaps that quality that makes time seem to pass so quickly for some folks, like the flipping of cards for the elderly maybe. I;ve mentioned it before but it's a scary thought and it leads into the movie I saw: UNDERWORLD. In some ways a horrible farrago of a movie but also because of thoe things wonderful in the ways that only a b-movie sci-fi or horor movie fan could recognize perhaps. Certainly critics pan them for something they were never intended to be and they do it over and over again, wanting them to be about humans when in fact they never are and to the degree that they are 'human interest' stories fail in the 'trauerspiel' which allegorize them so effectively. (I saw THE BIRDS on tv recently and human interst leads intinitally but turns slowly but inexorably into a depiction of processes, first internal to humans so that the action initially APPEARS as human, gradually works its way out into the landscape and objects, going from suggestions to portents to collapse right before the apocalyptic scene at the very end with the car driving away from a fantasmatic scene into a hyper-romantic …Freud yes, but also some uncertainties there which elude the human realm.)

At any rate this move is about a thousand year old war between vampires and werewolves (or lycans in the film). Loopholes in the 'plot' by the bushel…but several intersting things:
1). collapse of time that I was talking about personally, referring back to both old movies, to ancient egypt, to the holocausa via teutonic blue-eyed racial skullduggery (the vampires) wearing nifty black leather trench coats from the MATIX (which got them from the nazis); 2) as eastern european mock german jewish scientist; 3) the morlock-like lycans (which are all men so you got your gender stuff in there); 4) an epoch-jumping triad of supervampire immortal rulers who leapfrog through history by being put into deep sleep; 5) a messiah figure who blends together all the figures, bringing about the apocalpyse simultaneously, and implicitly as least, forming an adam-and-eve breeding pair by hooking up with a vamp in a great tight leather suit …ah! B movies! You gotta love'm!

sept 21
the start of a new season. Also today the Galileo spacehip plunged into jupiter. In july of 1994 the comet Shoemaker-Levy plunged into Jupiter. I note that because I remember making a big deal of it to Lesley. As it turns out the repercussions of both were quite..interesting. Hopefully I don't feel the sting of another jupiter assault this time. Interestingly enough there was also the recent story about the plaques about the dead showing up on jupiter (??!!) in many cities around the US and the world. Sometimes there is just the barest hint that we know very little about most everything. And having a big campfire works only as long as the wood keeps getting piled on.


The immediate experience of technology is all that counts for people..but, as benjamin well noted, it is in that immediacy that the farthest regions of life and thought begin to manifest themselves---


I had occasion to send out a post and mentioned Henry Miller, the writer. so depressing in a way. I read Miller when I was much younger and I can remember with tears in my eyes the intensity of expectations then and the sense of movement. Miller of course fed that sense of larger than life. But I'm sure that then much of life was humdrum, everyday, just the way it is now. Perhaps there is something in that temporal gap that lends a fecundity to life then. well, we know this is so, from there springs melancholia and all sorts of wispy sprigs of meditations on loss and bereavement, turning almost immediately into some sort of sappy, sepia toned recollection. It is perhaps one of the prices paid for getting older, an inevitability in almost all no doubt.

(but it is also true that Miller is sort of a literary st. paul in the sense of taking one position and moving it to another. The immediacy of Miller's prose (it's 'christianness' if you prefer) yet relies on a mystique of language, on the fallen separation and yearning of logos which has to be repudiated for it to be effective. That is the nature of the left hand path genrally.)

When I go back to MS. occasionally, the lanscape itself seems to impose melacholia, a dreadful sticky sweet possession of one's faculties that can only end (well ,it never does) in some sort of bitter draught the volume of which stretches from then to now and then perilously but unmistakenly into the to come. And any of kind of Proustian object can set it off, an old song, a drift of scent, seeing someone from a distance who poses familiarity. A great wound seems to open up at those points, unfortunately steaming with those sprays of sentiment, just waiting for their condensation.

I remember vididly Miller's critique of living in America: the Air-Conditioned Nightmare as it were, robots and pod people faking it. The wonder is whether one becomes a pod person as you go along..or maybe iat's that you have to keep such observations to your self. or maybe that we have all become liberated now!

It all seems like more of a drift now, thep ointlessness of things becoming sharper all the more because it can barely if at all be expressed now. perhaps all this is more of those sepia wisps.
I had a phone chat with my friend JJ the other day and we just rounded the same bushes as always. Academics have contracted a peculiar kind of intellectual scurvy due to their dietary restrictions I think.



names just saw the Harvey Pekar film, American Splendor last night and midway theough the film there is a funny segment (almost existing separately from the rest of the film) on the name 'Harvey Pekar' and the number of men in Cleveland who have that name. It resonates eerily for me (see the earlier piece last month in the H.U.T. journal on names. Pekar seems to be exercised over someone else having his name because it detracts from his uniqueness--he goes to some lengthss to describe how pecular his name is --and now there are these three other guys who have it. And there is also the bit later on about whether when he dies the character 'Harvey Pekar' will keep going. There is something about the congruence of the banality (although funny) of his life with the repetition of his life that gets elevated into something else seemingly ... perhaps much like the repetition of his name in others. The 'is-ness' of one's self gets leavened into a braoder fabric, the banal deictic moving into a technical oneiric, the grapes of individuality churned into the wine of some larger ocean, eventually lost beneath the waves of history and time anyway; an ocean composed of nothing but names and the swells and tides of their forces, implacable while they are pronounced or when they come into consciousness but just as so, mysterious in their recession, their decline. (But can they ever so decline/disappear? aren't they -- Homer, Shakespeare, Job, Hamet, etc. -- like the alphabet itself in a cultural ocean, i.e., just because they are not in use does not mean that they are not present further along in the string of associations, matrices of meaning, somehow grandfathered in --yes, I'm aware of the gender bias here.



robert cheatham