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
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have washed up dead on the shore, no longer immersed in their withdrawn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
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
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.
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.)
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 poke...in 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)
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
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!
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
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.