Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cats or Dogs?

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
- Aldous Huxley

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Enlightened Anarchism

First, in the unstable construction of the Christian relation to Judaism and to society, Paul risks collapsing the interpretaive circle that he constructs between Jesus Christ and the Judaic tradition and inscribing Christian practice excessively within the latter - not least, he tends toward what are arguably conservative positions on a range of issues such as the place of women within the community and apparently of the Christian within the world. (This collapse might equally occur in the other direction - something, which in fact, took place within the evolution of early Christianity, with 'heretical' interpretations of the novelty of Christ frequently asserting themselves over the Jewish and subsequently-established orthodox framework of Christian interpretation. In either case, the inherent instability of the hermeneutic circle is at issue.) Second, and more problematically in appealing to an extended form of apostolic authority, to resolve the tensions in his hermeneutic strategy, Paul acts as Antigone does (according to Zizek's reading in "On Belief"). (Zizek 2001b: 158 n.24) That is, he acts apparently without recourse to the support of a Symbolic order, while in fact appealing to a truer, hidden/as-yet-unrealized order. He assumes the existence of a Divine Order, or ordering, against which instantiations of would-be messianic negations can be judged. If he allows that Christian community might take different forms, he nonetheless supposes that there is at least a dynamic ordering to which such forms conform. And if his authority is circumscribed and his knowledge limited, he suggest that his position as apostle offers the best guide to that order. As such, where messianism inaugurates a time in which order is ruptured, Paul's appeal tends to circumscribe and recuperate that negation of order for the sake of the emergence of another order, rather than opening upon the undetermined spaces of determinate negation. Hence, where recent political readers have tended to take his messianism to be in opposition to any 'order' of politics, Paul, in fact, tends to resolve the tensions within his messianic conception of act by inscribing the former within the latter. Hence if Paul situates his act as the first moment of a three-fold reflexivity of act, he tends to do so in a manner at some distance from Kristof. Problematically, for a contemporary politics of the kind pursued by Zizek, he appeals to an order-restoring theological authority to stabilize his interpretative strategy.
- John McSweeney, "The Cold Cruelty of Ethics: Zizek, Kristof and Reflexive Subjectivation"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I am a Camera

I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. ... Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.
Are you satisfied in being merely a camera?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Horse Spring on Helicon?


Francis Picabia, "The Dance at the Spring" (1912)
The male desire to view women as powerful and inspiring and yet still controllable was often expressed through the conflation of feminine themes with images of machines. In contrast, female self imagery was associated with animals and fantasy creatures. These two themes, machine and animal, can be effectively utilized to expose differing assumptions and goals of men and women within the Surrealist movement. Through the examination of these contrasting images, the male/female dynamic as it functioned within the context of Surrealism is clarified.

In order to make the relationship between the story of Gradiva and woman-machine imagery readily apparent, one needs to consider the underlying messages being conveyed rather than the surface form. Seen from the point of view of composition, the machine imagery of Francis Picabia bears little resemblance to the work of Classical Greece. However, when viewed within the context of male desire for control over female activity, the connection becomes evident.
-Alan Foljambe, "Surrealism and the Story of Gradiva: Male Idealization of Women"

Monday, December 16, 2013

Come with Me?


I am the first night here three strikes,
when it is loučíš.
I am a second wind once three two five
I'm just weird, I'm just curious.

I'm your third lung, the last of the Wailing Wall,
if you bother to me.
I know a fourth species, the meeting of Hur,
I feel, yeah I feel it.

When you become with me, you become me,
You'll grow with me, you become me,
I said I dance on the walls.

I am your fifth part of the seven sins
that we know.
I have my sixth sense on the idea of evil things,
it happens, yes it happens.

When you become with me, you become me,
You'll grow with me, you become me,
I said I dance on the walls.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

European Degeneration

In a house which becomes a home,
one hands down and another takes up
the heritage of mind and heart,
laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
and when we are blessed with a child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
the place of some official to hand to them
their heritage.
If others impart to our children our knowledge
and ideals, they will lose all of us that is
wordless and full of wonder.
Let us build memories in our children,
lest they drag out joyless lives,
lest they allow treasures to be lost because
they have not been given the keys.
We live, not by things, but by the meanings
of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords
from generation to generation.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, December 9, 2013

DeNile is Only a River in Egypt

“...today, the only class which, in its 'subjective' self perception, explicitly conceives of and presents itself as a class is the notorious 'middle class' which is precisely the 'non-class': the allegedly hard-working middle strata of society which define themselves not only by their allegiance to firm moral and religious standards, but by a double opposition to both 'extremes' of the social space - non-patriotic 'deracinated' rich corporations on the one side; poor excluded immigrants and ghetto-members on the other. The 'middle class' grounds its identity in the exclusion of both extremes which, when they are directly counterpoised, give us 'class antagonism' at its purest. The constitutive lie of the very notion of the 'middle class' is thus the same as that of the true Party line between the two extremes of 'right-wing deviation' and left-wing deviation' in Stalinism: the 'middle class' is, in its very 'real' existence, the embodied lie, the denial of antagonism - in psychoanalytic terms, the 'middle class' is a fetish, the impossible intersection of left and right which, by expelling both poles of the antagonism into the position of antisocial 'extremes' which corrode the healthy social body (multinational corporations and intruding immigrants), presents itself as the neutral common ground of Society. In other words, the 'middle class' is the very form of the disavowal of the fact that 'Society doesn't exist' (Laclau) - in it, Society does exist.”
― Slavoj Žižek

Friday, December 6, 2013

Struggles of the Class Chondrichthyes (subclass Elasmobranchii)

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight
Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there's never, never a trace of red

Now on the sidewalk, huh, huh, whoo sunny morning, un huh
Lies a body just oozin' life, eek
And someone's sneakin' 'round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

There's a tugboat, huh, huh, down by the river don'tcha know
Where a cement bag's just a'drooppin' on down
Oh, that cement is just, it's there for the weight, dear
Five'll get ya ten old Macky's back in town
Now d'ja hear 'bout Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin' out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy's done somethin' rash?

Now Jenny Diver, ho, ho, yeah, Sukey Tawdry
Ooh, Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky's back in town

I said Jenny Diver, whoa, Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky's back in town
Look out, old Macky's back!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

1971

from Wikipedia
"Andy Warhol" is a song written by David Bowie in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. This is an acoustic song about one of Bowie's greatest inspirations, the American pop artist Andy Warhol. The song starts with some studio chat where Bowie explains to producer Ken Scott, who has just been heard to mispronounce Warhol's name when introducing the take, the right way to say it. Scott solemnly reintroduces the take with the correct pronunciation. There follows several seconds of silence before Bowie asks if the tape is rolling. Upon realising they are indeed recording, Bowie bursts into laughter and begins playing. The song is memorable for its distinctive, flamenco-sounding opening riff on the acoustic guitar that continues through the song.

Bowie later played the song to Andy Warhol, who reportedly disliked it as he thought the lyrics made fun of his physical appearance. When the song had finished playing, Warhol and Bowie reportedly just stared at each other for a while until Warhol said "I like your shoes" and the pair then had a conversation about shoes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Death of "Sacred" in Art (by Suicide)? Enter the Post-Modern

from a review of the Everyman Theatre's current production of "Red"
The start of the final scene, with Rothko sitting on the floor, hands covered in red paint, is placed too far downstage for those not sitting in the first few rows to see. The scene's impact comes from the whole audience sharing Ken's fear that the artist has done himself injury.
an excerpt from an account from the artist's actual life...
"On February 25, 1970, my mother received a call from Oliver Steindecker, Mark Rothko’s studio assistant, informing her that Rothko had committed suicide and was lying on the floor of his studio in a pool of blood."
from Wikipedia:
The artist Mark Rothko was engaged to paint a series of works for the restaurant in 1958. Accepting the commission, he secretly resolved to create "something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room." Observing the restaurant's pretentious atmosphere upon his return from a trip to Europe, Rothko abandoned the project altogether, returned his advance and kept the paintings for himself. The final series was dispersed and now hangs in three locations: London’s Tate Gallery, Japan’s Kawamura Memorial Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. During the period in which Rothko worked on his murals, the Four Seasons rented Jackson Pollock's masterpiece Blue Poles from its then-owner, art collector Ben Heller. John Logan's Tony Award-winning 2010 play Red dramatizes Rothko's time working on the Seagram Murals.
The "Pop" Art of Andy Warhol, et al, had just displaced Abstract Expressionism as the premier art form du jour, just as Abstract Expressionism had in earlier days displaced the figurative art forms of cubism and Surrealism. But retracting the sale of the paintings and undoing the commission from which they were born was an attempt by Rothko to remain true to himself and protest the "crass" commercialism inherent in his work. On the other hand, Andy Warhol, went on to ironically "exploit" just these crass commercial aspects.

from Art Critic Sue Hubbard commenting upon a Rothko retrospective at the Tate Modern:
The next generation of American artists would abandon spiritual concerns and deconstruct the uniqueness of the art object: if a work of art could be reproduced endlessly, it no longer had a value as a "sacred" object (think of Andy Warhol's silk screens). Rothko was one of the last, great philosophical painters to put aesthetics before money and to believe in the redemptive power of art.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Audacity of Hypocrisy

"If you like your doctors, you can keep them." - Barrack Obama
In January, when the United States remembered the tragic death of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., an urban history professor at the University of Buffalo named Henry Louis Taylor Jr., bitterly remarked: “All we know is that this guy had a dream. We don’t know what that dream was.”

Taylor was referring to an erasure of historical memory after King’s 1963 march on Washington, after he was cheered as “the moral leader of our nation.”

In the years before his death, King changed his focus to poverty and militarism because he thought that addressing these issues – not solely racial brotherhood – was crucial to making equality real. And he paid the price for this change, becoming more and more of a pariah.

The danger for Sen. Barack Obama is that he is already doing to himself what later historical censorship did to King: He’s cleansing his program of contentious topics in order to assure his electability.

In a famous dialogue in Monty Python’s religious spoof The Life of Brian, which takes place in Palestine at the time of Christ, the leader of a Jewish revolutionary resistance organization passionately argues that Romans brought only misery to the Jews. When his followers remark that they nonetheless introduced education, built roads, constructed irrigation, etc., the leader triumphantly concludes: “All right, but apart from sanitation, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Don’t Obama’s latest proclamations follow the same line? “I stand for a radical break with the Bush administration!” Or: “OK, sure, I pledge to support Israel unconditionally, to maintain the boycott of Cuba, to grant lawbreaking telecommunications corporations immunity, but I still stand for a radical break with the Bush administration!”

When Obama talks about the “audacity to hope,” about “a change we can believe in,” he is using a rhetoric of change that lacks specific content: To hope for what? To change what?

One should not blame Obama for his hypocrisy. Given the complex situation of the United States in today’s world, how far can a new president go in imposing actual change without triggering economic meltdown or political backlash?

But such a pessimistic view nonetheless falls short. Our global situation is not only a hard reality, it is also defined by ideological contours. In other words, it’s defined by what is sayable and unsayable, or what is visible and invisible.

More than a decade ago, when Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper asked then-Labor Party leader Ehud Barak what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian, Barak responded: “I would have joined a terrorist organization.”

This statement had nothing whatsoever to do with endorsing terrorism and everything to do with opening a space for a real dialogue with Palestinians.

The same thing occurred when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev launched the slogans of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reform). It didn’t matter whether Gorbachev “really meant” them. The very words unleashed an avalanche that changed the world.

Or, today, even those who oppose torture legitimize it by accepting it as a topic worthy of public debate – an immense regression from the Nuremberg Trials following World War II and the subsequent Geneva Convention.

Words are never “only words.” They matter because they define the outlines of what we can do.

In this regard, Obama has already demonstrated an extraordinary ability to change the limits of what one can publicly say. His greatest achievement to date is that he has, in his refined and non-provocative way, introduced into the public speech topics that were once unsayable: the continuing importance of race in politics, the positive role of atheists in public life, the necessity to talk with “enemies” like Iran.

And that is a great achievement, which changes the coordinates of the entire field. Even the Bush administration, having first criticized Obama for this proposal, is now itself talking directly with Iran.

If U.S. politics is to break its current gridlock, it needs new words that will change the way we think and act.

Even measured by the low standards of conventional wisdom, the old saying, “Don’t just talk, do something!” is one of the most stupid things one can say.

Lately we have been doing quite a bit – intervening in foreign countries and destroying the environment.

Perhaps, it’s time to step back, think and say the right thing.
-Slavoj Zizek, "The Audacity of Rhetoric"

“Alexander never did what he said. Cesare never said what he did.” – Italian Proverb

Monday, November 25, 2013

Critical Distances

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
- W.B. Yeats, "To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Clap Happy

"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."
Benjamin Franklin

Monday, November 18, 2013

Subjectively Speaking

Returning thus to desire as a constitutive feature of human existence, we find a ready expression of how the desire for the other’s desire functions in the mirror stage. As I have shown above, the infant enters the imaginary through a process of identification with a specular image, an “other” with which it longs to be identified. The essential component to such identification, however (and the aspect that renders it impossible), is the necessity for the other similarly to desire identification with the infant. This desire for the other’s desire is not a simple matter of mutual desire such as that experienced in erotic love, but a more all-encompassing demand for total recognition; the infant wants not some part (however large) of the other’s desire, but all of it – he or she wants to be the be-all and end-all of the other’s desire. The impossibility of such a total identification is what keeps subjectivity moving from object to object in its quest for an object that will represent and capture the other’s desire and by possession of which the individual can absorb and utterly subjugate the other’s desire. Most simply put, desire is always a desire for the other’s desire; only the other’s desire for a given object transforms it from an object of demand or need into one of desire.
Source

The Birth of Aphrodite, from the front panel of the Ludovisi Throne, c. 460 BC: Newly born Aphrodite, rising from the foam of the sea, is greeted by the Horae ("Hours"), goddesses of the Seasons. Despite its name, the Ludovisi Throne is probably part of an altar.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Farmer Black Swan

SOCRATES: Is there not another kind of word or speech far better than this, and having far greater power—a son of the same family, but lawfully begotten?

PHAEDRUS: Whom do you mean, and what is his origin?

SOCRATES: I mean an intelligent word graven in the soul of the learner, which can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be silent.

PHAEDRUS: You mean the living word of knowledge which has a soul, and of which the written word is properly no more than an image?

SOCRATES: Yes, of course that is what I mean. And now may I be allowed to ask you a question: Would a husbandman, who is a man of sense, take the seeds, which he values and which he wishes to bear fruit, and in sober seriousness plant them during the heat of summer, in some garden of Adonis, that he may rejoice when he sees them in eight days appearing in beauty? at least he would do so, if at all, only for the sake of amusement and pastime. But when he is in earnest he sows in fitting soil, and practises husbandry, and is satisfied if in eight months the seeds which he has sown arrive at perfection?

PHAEDRUS: Yes, Socrates, that will be his way when he is in earnest; he will do the other, as you say, only in play.

SOCRATES: And can we suppose that he who knows the just and good and honourable has less understanding, than the husbandman, about his own seeds?

PHAEDRUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: Then he will not seriously incline to 'write' his thoughts 'in water' with pen and ink, sowing words which can neither speak for themselves nor teach the truth adequately to others?

PHAEDRUS: No, that is not likely.

SOCRATES: No, that is not likely—in the garden of letters he will sow and plant, but only for the sake of recreation and amusement; he will write them down as memorials to be treasured against the forgetfulness of old age, by himself, or by any other old man who is treading the same path. He will rejoice in beholding their tender growth; and while others are refreshing their souls with banqueting and the like, this will be the pastime in which his days are spent.

PHAEDRUS: A pastime, Socrates, as noble as the other is ignoble, the pastime of a man who can be amused by serious talk, and can discourse merrily about justice and the like.
- Plato, "Phaedrus"

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Anamorphoses - Being-lessness OUTSIDE the World

The true focus of the film is there in the background...

The true infertility is the very lack of meaningful historical experience and THAT is why I like this elegant point in the film of importing all the works of art. All those classical statues are there, but they are deprived of a world, they are totally "meaningless". Because what does it mean to have a statue of Michelangelo or whatever? It only works if it signals a certain world, and when this world is lacking, it's NOTHING.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Free Choice in a Democracy

One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
five potato, six potato, seven potato, score.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reading Unfamiliar Runes

A people who do not remember...
rain which falls upon rock.
--Maurice Kenny

Is that a *rock (banana) in your pocket?
Or are you just "happy" to see me?
--Mae West

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Onegin Off Again

You wrote to me
Don't deny it. I have read
The avowal of a trusting heart,
The outpouring of an innocent love;
Your candour touched me deeply
it has stirred
Feelings long since dormant.
I won't commend you for this,
But I will repay you
With an equally guileless avowal.
Hear my confession,
Then judge me as you will
If I had wished to pass my life
Within the confines of the family circle,
And a kindly fate had decreed for me
The role of husband and father,
Then, most like, I would not choose
Any other bride than you.
But I was not made for wedded bliss,
It is foreign to my soul,
Your perfections are vain,
I am quite unworthy of them.
Believe me, I give you my word,
Marriage would be a torment for us.
No matter how much I loved you,
Habit would kill that love.
Judge what a thorny bed of roses
Hymen would prepare for us,
And, perhaps, to be endured at length!
One cannot renew my soul!
I love you with a brother's love,
A brother's love
Or, perhaps, more than that!
Perhaps, perhaps more than that!
Listen to me without getting angry,
More than once will a girl exchange
One passing fancy for another.
- Tchaikovsky, "Eugene Onegin" (Vi Mne Pisali)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vote 4 Me, I'll Set you Free!

Pat Paulsen for President (1968)

...or "how critical cynicism can actually serve to help sustain an ideology"

The organisers of a political electoral prank or "stunt" sometimes "pretend" [engage in mere pomo irony, a knowingly hollow miming of the electoral process] in order to draw attention to the sheer poverty of the policies of competing election candidates, they nevertheless still believed in the underlying integrity of the electoral process itself, in democracy as Master Signifier, ie "If only we had better candidates, all would be well with democracy" etc. Their criticism amounts to a simple, modern variation of "The Emperor Has No Clothes" viz, "Political Candidates Have No Personal Integrity" : but the undressing of the King or the unmasking of politicians does not work - though not because their personality or charisma is indestructible, but because the unmasking only destroys their personality, their personal charisma, not the power of the symbolic place of the King or of Democracy —when we undress him, we realize that "he is not truly a king" or "he is not a worthy political candidate". . . and then endeavour to proceed in the search for a true one. [So in political fetishism, as with commodity fethishism, it is never enough simply to disavow the politician (or the commodity)].

Monday, October 7, 2013

Emergent Shadows

Long ago I wished to leave
" The house where I was born; "
Long ago I used to grieve,
My home seemed so forlorn.
In other years, its silent rooms
Were filled with haunting fears;
Now, their very memory comes
O'ercharged with tender tears.

Life and marriage I have known,
Things once deemed so bright;
Now, how utterly is flown
Every ray of light !
'Mid the unknown sea of life
I no blest isle have found;
At last, through all its wild wave's strife,
My bark is homeward bound.

Farewell, dark and rolling deep !
Farewell, foreign shore !
Open, in unclouded sweep,
Thou glorious realm before !
Yet, though I had safely pass'd
That weary, vexed main,
One loved voice, through surge and blast,
Could call me back again.

Though the soul's bright morning rose
O'er Paradise for me,
William ! even from Heaven's repose
I'd turn, invoked by thee !
Storm nor surge should e'er arrest
My soul, exulting then:
All my heaven was once thy breast,
Would it were mine again !
- Charlotte Brontë, "Regret"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Nobody Cares, Officer Krupke!

TIGER (spoken)
(as Krupke)
Yeah, you! Gimme one good reason
For not draggin’ ya down to the
Stationhouse, ya punk.

RIFF (sings)
Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,
Ya gotta understand--
It’s just our bringin’ upke
That gets us outta hand.
Our mothers all are junkies,
Our fathers all are drunks.
Golly Moses -- natcherly we’re punks.

ALL
Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset;
We never had the love that every
Child oughta get.
We ain’t no delinquents,
We’re misunderstood.
Deep down inside us there is good!

RIFF
There is good!

ALL
There is good, there is good,
There is untapped good.
Like inside, the worse of us is good.

TIGER (imitating Krupke)
That’s a touchin’ good story.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bienvenidos a Laputa

At my alighting, I was surrounded with a crowd of people, but those who stood nearest seemed to be of better quality. They beheld me with all the marks and circumstances of wonder; neither indeed was I much in their debt, having never till then seen a race of mortals so singular in their shapes, habits, and countenances. Their heads were all reclined, either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes turned inward, and the other directly up to the zenith. Their outward garments were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars; interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsichords, and many other instruments of music, unknown to us in Europe.
- Jonathan Switft, "Gulliver's Travels"

Noble Lies

why does the law need an anti-hero to establish justice???

why does Plato's "magnesia" require a nocturnal council?

Friday, September 20, 2013

On the Death of the Author...

While I have been writing this essay another European war has broken out. It will either last several years and tear Western civilization to pieces, or it will end inconclusively and prepare the way for yet another war which will do the job once and for all. But war is only ‘peace intensified’. What is quite obviously happening, war or no war, is the break-up of laissez-faire capitalism and of the liberal-Christian culture. Until recently the full implications of this were not foreseen, because it was generally imagined that socialism could preserve and even enlarge the atmosphere of liberalism. It is now beginning to be realized how false this idea was. Almost certainly we are moving into an age of totalitarian dictatorships — an age in which freedom of thought will be at first a deadly sin and later on a meaningless abstraction. The autonomous individual is going to be stamped out of existence. But this means that literature, in the form in which we know it, must suffer at least a temporary death. The literature of liberalism is coming to an end and the literature of totalitarianism has not yet appeared and is barely imaginable. As for the writer, he is sitting on a melting iceberg; he is merely an anachronism, a hangover from the bourgeois age, as surely doomed as the hippopotamus. Miller seems to me a man out of the common because he saw and proclaimed this fact a long while before most of his contemporaries — at a time, indeed, when many of them were actually burbling about a renaissance of literature. Wyndham Lewis had said years earlier that the major history of the English language was finished, but he was basing this on different and rather trivial reasons. But from now onwards the all-important fact for the creative writers going to be that this is not a writer's world. That does not mean that he cannot help to bring the new society into being, but he can take no part in the process as a writer. For as a writer he is a liberal, and what is happening is the destruction of liberalism. It seems likely, therefore, that in the remaining years of free speech any novel worth reading will follow more or less along the lines that Miller has followed — I do not mean in technique or subject matter, but in implied outlook. The passive attitude will come back, and it will be more consciously passive than before. Progress and reaction have both turned out to be swindles. Seemingly there is nothing left but quietism — robbing reality of its terrors by simply submitting to it. Get inside the whale — or rather, admit you are inside the whale (for you are, of course). Give yourself over to the worid-process, stop fighting against it or pretending that you control it; simply accept it, endure it, record it. That seems to be the formula, that any sensitive novelist is now likely to adopt. A novel on more positive, ‘constructive’ lines, and not emotionally spurious, is at present very difficult to imagine.
- George Orwell, "Inside the Whale" (1940)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

To Agalma!

Yesterday at midnight and a bit I went down
In the small square where I met you
Some statue which saw me it remembered me
And it didn’t deny to hear my pain

And I spoke to it for you and for me
And its eyes filled with tears and all the time they were crying
I told to it for your behaviour and for your other
For your unforgivable big mistakes

And then, my God, I burst into tears
That the dawn found me like a rag
With the statue in the road we walked together
It wiped my eyes and we changed road
Agalma is an ancient Greek term for a pleasing gift presented to the gods as a votive offering. The agalma was intended to woo the gods, to dazzle them with its wondrous features and so gain favour for its bearer. The agalma, therefore, was endowed with magical powers beyond its apparent superficial value. Over time, the term ‘agalma’ has come to mean an iconic image, something beautiful – an object to be treasured. This is the context in which Jacques Lacan used the term ‘agalma’.

Lacan introduced the term in his Seminar VIII (1960-1961), writing on Socrates' Symposium. The agalma is defined by love; it is the inestimable object of desire which ignites our desire. Relating this to the analytic setting, Lacan proposed that the ‘agalma’ is the treasure which we seek in analysis, the unconscious truth we wish to know.

In psychoanalysis, the analyst seeks to establish a transference with the subject. Within this transference, a discourse develops, a discourse between the client as speaking subject and the analyst as the Other. The transference relationship is what defines the agalma. It is the agalma, the inestimable object of desire, that becomes the agent of the transference relationship. The promise of this beloved object supports the client through the analysis. Seeking to discover this treasure, the client avows his or her desire, as manifested in the discourse.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Brechtian!

But there is something rather curious in being Whitman in the nineteen-thirties. It is not certain that if Whitman himself were alive at the moment he would write anything in the least degree resembling Leaves of Grass. For what he is saying, after all, is ‘I accept’, and there is a radical difference between acceptance now and acceptance then. Whitman was writing in a time of unexampled prosperity, but more than that, he was writing in a country where freedom was something more than a word. The democracy, equality, and comradeship that he is always talking about arc not remote ideals, but something that existed in front of his eyes. In mid-nineteenth-century America men felt themselves free and equal, were free and equal, so far as that is possible outside-a society of pure communism. There was poverty and there were even class distinctions, but except for the Negroes there was no permanently submerged class. Everyone had inside him, like a kind of core, the, knowledge that he could earn a decent living, and earn it without bootlicking. When you read about Mark Twain's Mississippi raftsmen and pilots, or Bret Harte's Western gold-miners, they seem more remote than the cannibals of the Stone Age. The reason is simply that they are free human beings. But it is the same even with the peaceful domesticated America of the Eastern states, the America of the Little Women, Helen's Babies, and Riding Down from Bangor. Life has a buoyant, carefree quality that you can feel as you read, like a physical sensation in your belly. It is this that Whitman is celebrating, though actually he does it very badly, because he is one of those writers who tell you what you ought to feel instead of making you feel it. Luckilly for his beliefs, perhaps, he died too early to see the deterioration in American life that came with the rise of large-scale industry and the exploiting of cheap immigrant labour.

Millers outlook is deeply akin to that of Whitman, and nearly everyone who has read him has remarked on this. Tropic of Cancer ends with an especially Whitmanesque passage, in which, after the lecheries, the swindles, the fights, the drinking bouts, and the imbecilities, he simply sits down and watches the Seine flowing past, in a sort of mystical acceptance of thing-as-it-is. Only, what is he accepting? In the first place, not America, but the ancient bone-heap of Europe, where every grain of soil has passed through innumerable human bodies. Secondly, not an epoch of expansion and liberty, but an epoch of fear, tyranny, and regimentation. To say ‘I accept’ in an age like our own is to say that you accept concentration camps, rubber truncheons. Hitler, Stalin, bombs, aeroplanes, tinned food, machine guns, putsches, purges, slogans, Bedaux belts, gas masks, submarines, spies, provocateurs, press censorship, secret prisons, aspirins, Hollywood films, and political murders. Not only those things, of course, but, those things among-others. And on the whole this is Henry Miller's attitude. Not quite always, because at moments he shows signs of a fairly ordinary kind of literary nostalgia. There is a long passage in the earlier part of Black Spring, in praise of the Middle Ages, which as prose must be one of the most remarkable pieces of writing in recent years, but which displays an attitude not very different from that of Chesterton. In Max and the White Phagocytes there is an attack on modern American civilization (breakfast cereals, cellophane, etc.) from the usual angle of the literary man who hates industrialism. But in general the attitude is ‘Let's swallow it whole’. And hence the seeming preocupation with indecency and with the dirty-handkerchief side of life. It is only seeming, for the truth is that ordinary everyday life consists far more largely of horrors than writers of fiction usually care to admit. Whitman himself ‘accepted’ a great deal that his contemporaries found unmentionable. For he is not only writing of the prairie, he also wanders through the city and notes the shattered skull of the suicide, the ‘grey sick faces of onanists’, etc.,etc. But unquestionably our own age, at any rate in Western Europe, is less healthy and less hopeful than the age in which Whitman was writing. Unlike Whitman, we live in a shrinking world. The ‘democratic vistas’ have ended in barbed wire. There is less feeling of creation and growth, less and less emphasis on the cradle, endlessly rocking, more and more emphasis on the teapot, endlessly stewing. To accept civilization as it is practically means accepting decay. It has ceased to be a strenuous attitude and become a passive attitude — even ‘decadent’, if that word means anything.
- George Orwell, "Inside the Whale"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What it Means to Be the Best

Muses of Pieria who give glory through song, come hither, tell of Zeus your father and chant his praise. Through him mortal men are famed or un-famed, sung or unsung alike, as great Zeus wills. For easily he makes strong, and easily he brings the strong man low; easily he humbles the proud and raises the obscure, and easily he straightens the crooked and blasts the proud, -- Zeus who thunders aloft and has his dwelling most high.

Attend thou with eye and ear, and make judgements straight with righteousness. And I, Perses, would tell of true things.

So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two. As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her; but the other is blameworthy: and they are wholly different in nature. For one fosters evil war and battle, being cruel: her no man loves; but perforce, through the will of the deathless gods, men pay harsh Strife her honour due. But the other is the elder daughter of dark Night, and the son of Cronos who sits above and dwells in the aether, set her in the roots of the earth: and she is far kinder to men. She stirs up even the shiftless to toil; for a man grows eager to work when he considers his neighbour, a rich man who hastens to plough and plant and put his house in good order; and neighbour vies with is neighbour as he hurries after wealth. This Strife is wholesome for men. And potter is angry with potter, and craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar, and minstrel of minstrel.
- Hesiod, "Works and Days"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

La possibilite d'une île

“The dream of all men is to meet little sluts who are innocent but ready for all forms of depravity—which is what, more or less, all teenage girls are.”
― Michel Houellebecq, "The Possibility of an Island"

Miley, we barely knew ye!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Deleuzian Heroes - Escaping Undeath

With Romanticism, music changes its role: it is no longer a mere accompaniment of the message delivered in speech, it contains/renders a message of its own, "deeper" than the one delivered in words. It was Rousseau who first clearly articulated this expressive potential of music as such, when he claimed that, instead of merely imitating the affective features of verbal speech, music should be given the right to "speak for itself" - in contrast to the deceiving verbal speech, in music, it is, to paraphrase Lacan, the truth itself which speaks. As Schopenhauer put it, music directly enacts/renders the noumenal Will, while speech remains limited to the level of phenomenal representation. Music is the substance which renders the true heart of the subject, which is what Hegel called the "Night of the World," the abyss of radical negativity: music becomes the bearer of the true message beyond words with the shift from the Enlightenment subject of rational logos to the Romantic subject of the "night of the world," i.e., with the shift of the metaphor for the kernel of the subject from Day to Night. Here we encounter the Uncanny: no longer the external transcendence, but, following Kant's transcendental turn, the excess of the Night in the very heart of the subject (the dimension of the Undead), what Tomlison called the "internal otherworldliness that marks the Kantian subject." What music renders is no longer the "semantics of the soul," but the underlying "noumenal" flux of jouissance beyond the linguistic meaningfulness. This noumenal is radically different from the pre-Kantian transcendent divine Truth: it is the inaccessible excess which forms the very core of the subject.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Why is Wagner Worth Saving?"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Cypress Godess

As one goes up to Corinth are tombs, and by the gate is buried Diogenes of Sinope, whom the Greeks surname the Dog. Before the city is a grove of cypresses called Craneum. Here are a precinct of Bellerophontes, a temple of Aphrodite Melaenis and the grave of Lais, upon which is set a lioness holding a ram in her fore-paws.
- Pausanias

Quis tumulus? cuia urna? Ephyraeae est Laidos, & non
Erubuit tantum perdere Parca decus?
Nulla fuit tum forma, illam iam carpserat aetas,
Iam speculum Veneri cauta dicarat anus.
Quid scalptus sibi vult Aries, quem parte leaena
Unguibus apprensum posteriore tenet?
Non aliter captos, quòd & ipsa teneret amantes,
Vir gregis est aries, clune tenetur amans.


What tomb, whose urn is this? - It belongs to Lais of Ephyre. - Ah, was not the goddess of Fate ashamed to destroy such loveliness? - She had no beauty then. Age had already worn it away. She had become an old woman and had already wisely dedicated her mirror to Venus. - What’s the meaning of the ram carved there, which a lioness holds tight, gripping its hind-quarters with her claws? - It is there because she too would hold her captive lovers in just this way. The male of the flock is the ram. The lover is held by the buttocks.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Foolish Consistency....

“Traversing the fantasy” does not mean going outside reality, but “vacillating” it, accepting its inconsistent non-All.

---

“Because he ignores this excess of drive, Stavrakakis also operates with a simplified notion of "traversing the fantasy" - as if fantasy is a kind of illusory screen blurring our relation to partial objects. This notion may seem to fit perfectly the commonsense idea of what psychoanalysis should do: of course it should liberate us from the hold of idiosyncratic fantasies and enable us to confront reality the way it effectively is... this, precisely, is what Lacan does NOT have in mind - what he aims at is almost the exact opposite. In our daily existence, we are immersed into "reality" (structured-supported by the fantasy), and this immersion is disturbed by symptoms which bear witness to the fact that another repressed level of our psyche resists this immersion. To "traverse the fantasy" therefore paradoxically means fully identifying oneself with the fantasy - namely with the fantasy which structures the excess resisting our immersion into daily reality, or, to quote a succinct formulation by Richard Boothby:
Traversing the fantasy' thus does not mean that the subject somehow abandons its involvement with fanciful caprices and accommodates itself to a pragmatic 'reality,' but precisely the opposite: the subject is submitted to that effect of the symbolic lack that reveals the limit of everyday reality. To traverse the fantasy in the Lacanian sense is to be more profoundly claimed by the fantasy than ever, in the sense of being brought into an ever more intimate relation with that real core of the fantasy that transcends imaging..

---

The ideologico-political dimension of this notion of “traversing the fantasy” was made clear by the unique role the rock group Top Lista Nadrealista (The Top List of the Surrealists) played during the Bosnian war in the besieged Sarajevo: their ironic performances which, in the midst of the war and hunger, satirized the predicament of the Sarajevan population, acquired a cult status not only in the counterculture, but also among the citizens of Sarajevo in general (the group’s weekly TV show was broadcast throughout the war and became extremely popular). Instead of bemoaning their tragic fate, they daringly mobilized all the clichés about “stupid Bosnians” common in Yugoslavia, fully identifying with them―the point thus made was that the path to true solidarity goes via a direct confrontation with obscene racist fantasies circulating in symbolic space, through a playful identification with them, not through the denial of them on behalf of “what people are really like.”
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Two Sides of Fantasy"

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Learning to Love Toxicity

The recent expulsion oF illegal Roma (“Gypsies”) from France back to Romania sparked protests across Europe from both the liberal media and top politicians–and not only those on the Left. The expulsions, however, proceeded–and they are the tip of a much larger iceberg of European politics.

Incidents like these have to be seen against the background of a long-term re-arrangement of the political space in Western and Eastern Europe. Until recently, the political space of European countries was dominated by two main parties that addressed the entire electoral body–a right-of-center party and a left-of-center party. The latest electoral results in the West, as well as in the East, signal the gradual emergence of a different polarity. We have one predominant centrist party which stands for global capitalism as such, usually with a liberal cultural agenda (tolerance toward abortion, gay rights, religious and ethnic minorities, etc.). Opposing this party is an ever stronger anti-immigrant populist party that, on its fringes, is accompanied by directly racist neo-Fascist groups. How did we get here?

When the Communist regimes disintegrated in 1990, we entered an era in which the predominant form of the exercise of state power became a depoliticized expert administration and coordination of interests. In this new context, the only way to introduce passion into such a nonpolitical realm, to actively mobilize people, is through fear: fear of immigrants, fear of crime, fear of godless sexual depravity, fear of ecological catastrophe and also fear of harassment (Political Correctness is the exemplary liberal form of the politics of fear).

Consequently, the notion of “toxic subjects” gained ground. While toxic subjects originate from popular psychology warning us against emotional vampires, the frontier of toxic subjects is expanding. The predicate “toxic” covers a series of properties that belong to totally different levels (natural, cultural, psychological, political).

Socially, what is most toxic is the foreign Neighbor–the strange abyss of his pleasures, beliefs and customs. Consequently, the ultimate aim of all rules of interpersonal relations is to quarantine (or at least neutralize and contain) this toxic dimension, and thereby reduce the foreign Neighbor–by removing his otherness–to an unthreatening fellow man. The end result: today’s tolerant liberal multiculturalism is an experience of the Other deprived of its Otherness–the decaffeinated Other who dances fascinating dances and has an ecologically sound holistic approach to reality while features like wife beating remain out of sight.

The mechanism of such neutralization was best formulated in 1938 by Robert Brasillach, the French Fascist intellectual, condemned and shot in 1945, who saw himself as a “moderate” anti-Semite. Brasillach put it this way: “We grant ourselves permission to applaud Charlie Chaplin, a half Jew, at the movies; to admire Proust, a half Jew; to applaud Yehudi Menuhin, a Jew; and the voice of Hitler is carried over radio waves named after the Jew Hertz. … We don’t want to kill anyone, we don’t want to organize any pogrom. But we also think that the best way to hinder the always unpredictable actions of instinctual anti-Semitism is to organize a reasonable anti-Semitism.”

Is this same attitude not at work in the way our governments are dealing with the “immigrant threat”? After righteously rejecting direct populist racism as “unreasonable” and unacceptable for our democratic standards, they endorse “reasonably” racist protective measures. Or, as today’s Brasillachs tell us: “We grant ourselves permission to applaud African and Eastern- European sportsmen, Asian doctors, Indian software programmers. We don’t want to kill anyone, we don’t want to organize any pogrom. But we also think that the best way to hinder the always unpredictable violent anti-immigrant defensive measures is to organize a reasonable anti-immigrant protection.”

This vision of detoxification of the Neighbor presents a clear passage from direct barbarism to barbarism with a human face. It practices the regression from the Christian gospel (love thy neighbor) back to the Greco-Roman privileging of tribe over the barbarian Other. Cloaked as a defense of Christian values, it is itself the greatest threat to our Christian legacy.
-Salvoj Zizek, "Barbarism with a Human Face"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Being vs. Becoming

"Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between the striated, arboreal, linear organization of space favored by Cartesian geometry and the smooth, rhizomatic, nonlinear spaces associated with the nomad. The former is a space of being, a place that one occupies, while the latter is a space of becoming, something one crosses without owning or possessing."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sourcing Naiads

from Wikipedia
In Greek mythology, the Naiads (/ˈneɪæd/ or /ˈneɪəd/ or /ˈnaɪæd/ or /ˈnaɪəd/; Ancient Greek: Ναϊάδες, Naiades, from νάειν, "to flow", or νᾶμα, "running water") were a type of nymph (female spirit) who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of freshwater.

They are distinct from river gods, who embodied rivers, and the very ancient spirits that inhabited the still waters of marshes, ponds and lagoon-lakes, such as pre-Mycenaean Lerna in the Argolid.

Naiads were associated with fresh water, as the Oceanids were with saltwater and the Nereids specifically with the Mediterranean, but because the Greeks thought of the world's waters as all one system, which percolated in from the sea in deep cavernous spaces within the earth, there was some overlap. Arethusa, the nymph of a spring, could make her way through subterranean flows from the Peloponnesus, to surface on the island of Sicily.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pipe?

Since piping is one of our thoughtless habits, one might think that people would pipe up in Josephine's audience too; her art makes us feel happy and when we are happy, we pipe; but her audience never pipes, it sits in mouselike stillness; as if we had become partakers in the peace we long for, from which our own piping at the very least holds us back, we make no sound. It is her singing that enchants us or is it not rather the solemn stillness enclosing her frail little voice?

---

So is it singing at all? Is it not perhaps just a piping? And piping is something we all know about, it is the real artistic accomplishment of our people, or rather no mere accomplishment but a characteristic expression of our life. We all pipe, but of course, no one dreams of making out that our piping is an art, we pipe without thinking of it, indeed without noticing it, and there are many among us who are quite unaware that piping is one of our characteristics. So if it were true that Josephine does not sing but only pipes and perhaps, as it seems to me at least, hardly rises above the level of our usual piping - yet, perhaps her strength is not even quite equal to our usual piping, whereas an ordinary farmhand can keep it up effortlessly all day long, besides doing his work- if that were all true, then indeed Josphine's alleged vocal skill might be disproved, but that would clear the ground for the real riddle which needs solving, the enormous influence she has.
-Franz Kafka, "Josephine, the Singer, or the Mouse Folk"

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Monkey See...

Aside from that reservation, a fictive tale even has the advantage of manifesting symbolic necessity more purely to the extent that we may believe its conception arbitrary.
- Jacques Lacan

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eine Kleine Nacht Musik - Transitioning through Transcendence

What occurs between Monteverdi and Gluck is thus the "failure of sublimation": the subject is no longer ready to accept the metaphoric substitution, to exchange "being for meaning," i.e., the flesh-and-blood presence of the beloved for the fact that he will be able to see her everywhere, in stars and the moon, etc. - rather than do this, he prefers to take his life, to lose it all, and it is at this point, to fill in the refusal of sublimation, of its metaphoric exchange, that mercy has to intervene to prevent a total catastrophy. This "failure of sublimation" is discernible also at another level. At the beginning of Monteverdi's Orfeo, the Goddess of Music introduces herself with the words "Io sono la musica..." - is this not something which soon afterwards, when "psychological" subjects invaded the stage, became unthinkable, or, rather, irrepresentable? One had to wait until the 1930s for such strange creatures to reappear on the stage. In Bertolt Brecht's "learning plays," an actor enters the stage and addresses the public: "I am a capitalist. I'll now approach a worker and try to deceive him with my talk of the equity of capitalism..." The charm of this procedure resides in the psychologically "impossible" combination, in one and the same actor, of two distinct roles, as if a person from the play's diegetic reality can also, from time to time, step outside himself and utter "objective" comments about his acts and attitudes. This second role is the descendant of Prologue, a unique figure which often appears in Shakespeare, but which later disappears with the advent of psychological-realist theatre: an actor who, at the beginning, between the scenes or at the end, addresses the public directly with explanatory comments, didactic or ironic points about the play, etc. Prologue thus effectively functions as the Freudian Vorstellungs-Repraesentanz: an element which, on stage, within its diegetic reality of representations, holds the place of the mechanism of representing as such, thereby introducing the moment of distance, interpretation, ironic comment - and, for that reason, it had to disappear with the victory of psychological realism. Things are here even more complex than in a naive version of Brecht: the uncanny effect of Prologue does not hinge on the fact that he "disturbs the stage illusion" but, on the contrary, on the fact that he does NOT disturb it. Notwithstanding his comments and their effect of "extraneation," we, the spectators, are still able to participate in the stage illusion. And, this is how one should also locate Jacques Lacan's c'est moi, la vérité, qui parle from his La Chose freudienne: as the same shocking emergence of a word where one would not expect it - it is the Thing itself which starts to speak.

And it is not only that, with Gluck, the object can no longer sing - this shift does not concern only content, but, even more radically, the musical texture itself. With Romanticism, music changes its role: it is no longer a mere accompaniment of the message delivered in speech, it contains/renders a message of its own, deeper than the one delivered in words. It was Rousseau who first clearly articulated this expressive potential of music as such, when he claimed that, instead of merely imitating the affective features of verbal speech, music should be given the right to speak for itself - in contrast to the deceiving verbal speech, in music, it is, to paraphrase Lacan, the truth itself which speaks. As Schopenhauer put it, music directly enacts/renders the noumenal Will, while speech remains limited to the level of phenomenal representations. Music is the substance which renders the true heart of the subject, which is what Hegel called the "Night of the World," the abyss of radical negativity: with the shift from the Enlightenment subject of rational logos to the Romantic subject of the "night of the world," i.e., with the shift of the metaphor for the kernel of the subject from Day to Night, music becomes the bearer of the true message beyond words. Here we encounter das Unheimliche: no longer the external transcendence, but, following Kant's transcendental turn, the excess of the Night in the very heart of the subject (the dimension of the Undead), what Tomlison called the "internal otherworldliness that marks the Kantian subject." What music renders is no longer the semantics of the soul, but the underlying noumenal flux of jouissance beyond the linguistic meaningfulness. This noumenal dimension is radically different from the pre-Kantian transcendent divine Truth: it is the inaccessible excess which forms the very core of the subject.
-Slavoj Zizek, "On Opera, The Sex of Orpheus"

Friday, July 5, 2013

El Dibujador

Dali se desdibuja
Tirita su burbuja
Al descontar latidos

Dali se decolora
Porque esta lavadora
No distingue tejidos

El se da cuenta y asustado se lamenta
Los genios no deben morir
Son mas de ochenta los que curvan tu osamenta
"Eugenio" Salvador Dali

Bigote rocococo
De donde acaba el genio
A donde empieza el loco

Mirada deslumbrada
De donde acaba el loco
A donde empieza el hada

En tu cabeza se comprime la belleza
Como si fuese una olla express
Y es el vapor que va saliendo por la pesa
Magica luz en Cadaques

Si te reencarnas en cosa
Hazlo en lapiz o en pincel
Y Gala de piel sedosa
Que lo haga en lienzo o en papel

Y si reencarnas en carce
Vuelve a reencarnarte en ti
Que andamos justos de genios
"Eugenio" Salvador Dali

Realista y surrealista
Con luz de impresionista
Y trazo impresionante

Delirio colorista
Colirio y oculista
De ojos delirantes

En tu paleta mezclas misticos ascetas
Con bayonetas y con telas
Y en tu cerebro Gala Dios y las pesetas
Buen catalan anacoreta

Si te reencarnas en cosa
Hazlo en lapiz o en pincel
Y Gala de piel sedosa
Que lo haga en lienzo o en papel

Y si reencarnas en carce
Vuelve a reencarnarte en ti
Queremos genios en vida
Queremos que estes aqui,
"Eugenio" Salvador Dali.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Crashing...

“I can hide behind dignity no longer. What more do you want? I have already given you my shame.”
David Henry Hwang, "M. Butterfly" (1988)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

THAT is Disgusting!

from Mental Health
When your toddler gets angry at being pulled away from the television to have his diaper changed--and when your teenaged daughter is disgusted by having to change that toddler's diaper--you read those emotions instantaneously in their faces. How does the human brain do that?

An article published February 14 in the on-line edition of the Annals of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Neurological Association, provides clues about how the brain recognizes disgust in the faces of other people. The results or this and similar studies may ultimately have important implications for understanding devastating brain diseases like schizophrenia or dementia.

Neuropsychologists--specialists in the no-man's-land between the study of the brain (neurobiology) and the mind (psychology)--have recently begun to find evidence supporting the theory that the brain is "hard-wired" for the perception of emotion. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of subjects looking at pictures of faces showing fear, happiness, disgust and other emotions indicate that different cell groupings in the brain become active in response to different expressions.

The MRI research supports older evidence from patients with damage to isolated areas of the brain, whether from stroke or trauma. In the most well-studied example, people with damage to an area called the amygdala have trouble understanding the facial expression of fear in other people, though they are able to identify happiness, sadness, and other emotions. Interestingly, the amygdala is also implicated in the sensation of fear, suggesting that it coordinates both the experience of fear and the recognition of fear in others.

Recently, researchers have identified an area deep in the brain called the insula as being important for the recognition of disgust in other people's faces. This is partly a result of studying patients with Huntington's disease, which damages nerve cells in the insula and related areas. Huntington's patients have particular trouble recognizing facial expressions of disgust.

Researchers at the INSERM Institute in Lyon, France and at the University of Lyon recently had an unprecedented opportunity to apply more precise mapping tools than MRI to the question of how the brain processes disgust. They studied epilepsy patients who had been implanted with electrodes in preparation for possible surgery to remove sections of the brain that generate recurrent and debilitating seizures.

When the subjects viewed pictures of faces showing disgust, nerve cells in very specific subregions of the insula became active. Nerve cells in other parts of the insula or surrounding brain areas did not respond in this way. On the other hand, the areas that responded to disgust did not respond to happiness, fear, or neutral expressions.

The researchers also noted that the insula did not respond as quickly to the pictures as do other areas that respond to facial expressions. This supports the idea that the insula plays a more complicated role in integrating disgust recognition.

"This is the first time that data specify where and when the insula participates in the recognition of disgust. And we know that this part of the insula is connected to areas of the brain involved in taste, smell, and control of the visceral organs," said lead author Pierre Krolak-Salmon, M.D. of the INSERM Institute.

The authors stress, however, that the insula is probably not the single center for disgust processing, but is likely an integral part of a large network that processes disgust and perhaps other emotions, and may be involved in both the experience of disgust and the recognition of disgust in others.

"Facial expression recognition is impaired in schizophrenia, some types of dementia, Huntington's disease and others. This deficit may interfere with social contact and communication in these patients, which is why it's very important to define which neural networks are implicated in the processing of facial expressions," said Krolak-Salmon.
---American Neurological Association

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Life as "Hommelette"

Apropos of Lacan, this ‘space between’ is the space of the lost object, objet petit a, here figured as the libido and its contingency as void.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Capital's Biga - The Division of Labour

In myth, the biga often functions structurally to create a complementary pair or to link opposites. The chariot of Achilles in the Iliad (16.152) was drawn by two immortal horses and a third who was mortal; at 23.295, a mare is yoked with a stallion. The team of Adrastos included the immortal "superhorse" Areion and the mortal Kairos.[10] A yoke of two horses is associated with the Indo-European concept of the Heavenly Twins, one of whom is mortal, represented among the Greeks by Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri, who were known for horsemanship.
Divide et Impera

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sub Silencio

Some, Plato said, go to the Olympics to compete. Some go to watch, and some to buy and sell. In his view, the noblest of the three are the onlookers, for they have chosen the purity of contemplation.
“You, most blessed and happiest among humans, may well consider those blessed and happiest who have departed this life before you, and thus you may consider it unlawful, indeed blasphemous, to speak anything ill or false of them, since they now have been transformed into a better and more refined nature."
This thought is indeed so old that the one who first uttered it is no longer known; it has been passed down to us from eternity, and hence doubtless it is true. Moreover, you know what is so often said and passes for a trite expression. What is that, he asked? He answered: It is best not to be born at all; and next to that, it is better to die than to live; and this is confirmed even by divine testimony. Pertinently to this they say that Midas, after hunting, asked his captive Silenus somewhat urgently, what was the most desirable thing among humankind. At first he could offer no response, and was obstinately silent. At length, when Midas would not stop plaguing him, he erupted with these words, though very unwillingly:
‘you, seed of an evil genius and precarious offspring of hard fortune, whose life is but for a day, why do you compel me to tell you those things of which it is better you should remain ignorant? For he lives with the least worry who knows not his misfortune; but for humans, the best for them is not to be born at all, not to partake of nature’s excellence; not to be is best, for both sexes. This should our choice, if choice we have; and the next to this is, when we are born, to die as soon as we can.’
It is plain therefore, that he declared the condition of the dead to be better than that of the living.
–Aristotle, Eudemus (354 BCE),

Sublimating the "i'

The Freudian superego, for Zizek, names the psychical agency of the Law, as it is misrepresented and sustained by subjects’ fantasmatic imaginings of a persecutory Other supposed to enjoy (like the archetypal villain in noir films). This darker underside of the Law, Zizek agrees with Lacan, is at its base a constant imperative to subjects to jouis!, by engaging in the “inherent transgressions” of their sociopolitical community.
from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Hysteric, DIscoursing....

To live means to finesse the processes to which one is subjugated.
- Bertolt Brecht, "On Politics and Society"

University Master Baiting

The university discourse is enunciated from the position of "neutral" Knowledge; it addresses the remainder of the real (say, in the case of pedagogical knowledge, the "raw, uncultivated child"), turning it into the subject ($). The "truth" of the university discourse, hidden beneath the bar, of course, is power, i.e. the Master-Signifier: the constitutive lie of the university discourse is that it disavows its performative dimension, presenting what effectively amounts to a political decision based on power as a simple insight into the factual state of things. What one should avoid here is the Foucauldian misreading: the produced subject is not simply the subjectivity which arises as the result of the disciplinary application of knowledge-power, but its remainder, that which eludes the grasp of knowledge-power. "Production" (the fourth term in the matrix of discourses) does not stand simply for the result of the discursive operation, but rather for its "indivisible remainder," for the excess which resists being included in the discursive network, i.e. for what the discourse itself produces as the foreign body in its very heart. Perhaps the exemplary case of the Master's position which underlies the university discourse is the way in which medical discourse functions in our everyday lives: at the surface level, we are dealing with pure objective knowledge which desubjectivizes the subject-patient, reducing him to an object of research, of diagnosis and treatment; however, beneath it, one can easily discern a worried hystericized subject, obsessed with anxiety, addressing the doctor as his Master and asking for reassurance from him. At a more common level, suffice it to recall the market expert who advocates strong budgetary measures (cutting welfare expenses, etc.) as a necessity imposed by his neutral expertise devoid of any ideological biases: what he conceals is the series of power-relations (from the active role of state apparatuses to ideological beliefs) which sustain the "neutral" functioning of the market mechanism.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Homo Sacer as the Object of the Discourse of the University"

Friday, June 14, 2013

On the Origin of the Laws

‘At the beginning’ of the law, there is a certain ‘outlaw,’ a certain Real of violence which coincides with the act itself of the establishment of the reign of law: the ultimate truth about the reign of law is that of a usurpation, and all classical politico-philosophical thought rests on the disavowal of this violent act of foundation . . . this illegitimate violence by which law sustains itself must be concealed at any price because this concealment is the positive condition of the functioning of law: it functions insofar as its subjects are deceived, insofar as they experience the authority of law as authentic and eternal.
-Slavoj Zizek, "For They Know Not What They Do"

Law begins in trauma. From the standpoint of the old law, the violent establishing of something new is crime. The old law is disobeyed, overthrown, transgressed, usurped. From the standpoint of the new law, this crime is self-negating. It vanishes (or is concealed) as a crime once the new order is constituted. Put somewhat differently, the establishment of law overthrows law, for example, the law of custom, the law of nature, or even law as an ideal that only existed at the very moment of its loss. And, because establishing is overthrowing, there is a risk--the negation of law such. Establishing manifests a disregard for law as it perversely (or criminally) turns crime into law. This paradox, this traumatic identity of law and crime, is the repressed origin of law.

---

For law to function as law, the Real of violence must be concealed. As Zizek explains (with reference to Kant), law's validity requires that we remain within law, that we don't go outside law and emphasize its contingent, historical founding. If we do go outside the law, we can't even see the order as law; its claim to authority becomes just another contingency or act of violence. Zizek is not making a facile point regarding stupid subjects duped by a malevolent legal order. Rather, he is emphasizing the fact that law involves more than the violent, arbitrary, control of people. People need a kind of faith in law; they have to believe it (to believe that others believe it) for it to function at all. The fantasy of an original contract, for example, provides something in which people can believe; this fantasy attaches them to law as it conceals the Real of violence. Belief in law is that something extra that distinguishes law from violence, that separates the founding moment of violence from what comes after it.
- Jodi Dean, "Zizek on Law"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Still More Desire from the Edge of Empire

I had been seen in the shade, recumbent on cushioned Helicon,
The water dripping from Bellerophon's horse,
Alba, your kings, and the realm your folk
have constructed with such industry
Shall be yawned out on my lyre with such industry.
My little mouth shall gobble in such great fountains,
'Wherefrom father Ennius, sitting before I came, hath drunk.'
I had rehearsed the Curian brothers, and made remarks
on the Horatian javelin
(Near Q. H. Flaccus' book-stall).
'Of’ royal Aemilia, drawn on the memorial raft,
'Of’ the victorious delay of Fabius, and the left-handed
battle at Cannae,
Of lares fleeing the 'Roman seat' . . .
I had sung of all these
And of Hannibal,
and of Jove protected by geese.
And Phoebus looking upon me from the Castalian tree,
Said then 'You idiot! What are you doing with that water:
‘Who has ordered a book about heroes?
'You need, Propertius, not think
'About acquiring that sort of a reputation.
'Soft fields must be worn by small wheels,
'Your pamphlets will be thrown, thrown often into a chair
'Where a girl waits alone for her lover;
'Why wrench your page out of its course?
'No keel will sink with your genius
'Let another oar churn the water,
'Another wheel, the arena; mid-crowd is as bad as mid-sea.'
He had spoken, and pointed me a place with his plectrum:

Orgies of vintages, an earthern image of Silenus
Strengthened with rushes, Tegaean Pan,
The small birds of the Cytharean mother,
their Punic faces dyed in the Gorgon's lake;
Nine girls, from as many countrysides

bearing her offerings in their unhardened hands,
Such my cohort and setting. And she bound ivy to his thyrsos;
Fitted song to the strings;
Roses twined in her hands.
And one among them looked at me with face offended,
Calliope:
'Content ever to move with white swans!
'Nor will the noise of high horses lead you ever to battle;
Nor will the public criers ever have your name;
in their classic horns,
'Nor Mars shout you in the wood at Aeonium,
Nor where Rome ruins German riches,
'Nor where the Rhine flows with barbarous blood,
and flood carries wounded Suevi.
'Obviously crowned lovers at unknown doors,
'Night dogs, the marks of a drunken scurry,
'These are your images, and from you the sorcerizing of
shut-in young ladies,
'The wounding of austere men by chicane.'
Thus Mistress Calliope,
Dabbling her hands in the fount, thus she
Stiffened our face with the backwash of Philetas the Coan.
-Ezra Pound, "Homage To Sextus Propertius - II"

The World of Politics


...and the band played on...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chartered Misery

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
William Blake

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Post-Modern Fantasy....

Can you spell, "D-E-T-A-C-H-M-E-N-T"?
AGES and ages, returning at intervals,
Undestroy'd, wandering immortal,
Lusty, phallic, with the potent original loins, perfectly sweet,
I, chanter of Adamic songs,
Through the new garden, the West, the great cities calling,
Deliriate, thus prelude what is generated, offering these, offering
myself,
Bathing myself, bathing my songs in Sex,
Offspring of my loins.
- Walt Whitman

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sometimes When You Stare Into the Abyss, the Abyss Stares Back at You

This brings us to the true enigma: why does the encounter with a face covered by burka trigger such anxiety? Is it then, that a face covered by burka is no longer the Levinasian face, the Otherness from which the unconditional ethical call emanates? But what if the case is the opposite one? From a Freudian perspective, face is the ultimate mask that conceals the horror of the Neighbor-Thing: face is what makes the Neighbor le semblable, a fellow-man with whom we can identify and empathize. (Not to mention the fact that today, many faces are surgically changed and thus deprived of the last vestiges of natural authenticity.) This then, is why a covered face causes such anxiety: because it confronts us directly with the abyss of the Other-Thing, with the Neighbor in its uncanny dimension. The very covering-up of the face obliterates a protective shield, so that the Other-Thing stares at us directly (recall that burka has a narrow slip for the eyes: we don’t see the eyes, but we know there is a gaze there). Alphonse Allais presented his own version of Salome’s dance of seven veils: when Salome is completely naked, Herod shouts “Go on! On!”, expecting her to take off also the veil of her skin. We should imagine something similar with burka: the opposite of a woman taking off her burka and revealing her natural face. What if we go a step further and imagine a woman “taking off” the skin of her face itself, so that what we see beneath her face is precisely an anonymous dark smooth burka-like surface with a narrow slit for the gaze? “Love thy neighbor!” means, at its most radical, precisely the impossible=real love for this de-subjectivized subject, for this monstrous dark blot cut with a slit/gaze… This is why, in the psychoanalytic treatment, the patient is not sitting face to face to the analyst: they both stare at a third point, since it is only this suspension of the face which opens up the space for the proper dimension of the Neighbor. And therein also resides the limit of the well-known critico-ideological topic of the society of total control where we are all the time tracked and recorded – what eludes the eye of the camera is not some intimate secret but the gaze itself, the object-gaze as the crack/stain in the Other.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Neighbor in Burka"