The Audience Appears

Momento Mori, southern Germany, 17th century.

"But, ah, thought kills me that I am not thought." Shakespeare, Sonnet 44 "The continuity of the ego is a myth." Brecht "I have done it, says my memory. I cannot have done it, says my pride and remains inexorable. Finally, the memory gives way." Nietszche "...the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull fading fading fading and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull..." Lucky, from Waiting for … [Read more...]

The Machine Dreams

Willem de Kooning (1948)

"The making of coffee, for example, performed unthinkingly every morning for years, can suddenly become profoundly evocative when the gesture conjures the presence of a person no longer there. Likewise, a child’s toy brings to mind a moment forgotten. The winter light illuminating a sofa reminds the dweller of a conversation three years earlier. The presence of these physical objects, of the bodily routines, of the light and the smells of a home, enables the conjuring of memories inscribed in those places, sensory impressions, connection to the past, and even identity in the present. " Leora Auslander "You are what you drive." Clint Eastwood "If psychoanalysts could discuss … [Read more...]

Cold Cases

Jean Charles Blais

"A long time ago when I was writing for the pulps I put into a story a line like “He got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water.” They took it out when they published the story. Their readers didn’t appreciate this sort of thing — just held up the action. I set out to prove them wrong. My theory was that the readers just thought they cared about nothing but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, the thing they cared about, and that I cared about, was the creation of emotion through dialogue and description." Raymond Chandler "Great works wait. While their … [Read more...]

I Can’t Remember

Mikhail V. Matyushhin

"Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate as a reward for their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha." Psalm 40, 14-15 King James translation. "The growing centrality of organized science to the modern industrial state, largely unrecognized until the First World War, made the scientist ‘as much a salaried official as the average civil servant and business executive’. As such, the scientist, like any worker, must choose between job security, personal fulfillment and more lucrative, but riskier, opportunities: ‘no longer, if ever he was, a free agent’, the … [Read more...]

The Morbid Voice

Bernini (Medusa, 1630 apprx.)

"America is about to choose a president from the two most unpopular politicians in modern history. The Democrats have chided the Left and the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd for still not being ‘with her’ in the existential struggle against fascism. But it is worth considering how liberalism’s anti-fascism covers a libidinal lack. That is, an inability to define or, in Lacanian terms, ‘enjoy’ their political identity but through this fascist threat. Liberals are clearly not principled anti-fascists, the geopolitical compromises are too numerous to count, and there is an obvious cynical PR/fundraising logic to the fascist threat: ‘Can you spare $5 to defeat fascism?’ However, liberals are emotionally … [Read more...]

Flight from Desire

Correggio (1532)

"There is always at least one more thing claiming to bring a consumer happiness, and since, of course, this is a psychological obsession, the chain of alienations and frustrations increases continually, which makes the consumer more submissive to the addictive system of consumption. Commercials have one major message for their obsessed subjects: this new item in particular is the key to your lost happiness; this item is unlike anything we have offered you before. Commercialism and commodity fetishism turn the mass individual into an apolitical individual who serves the system of advanced capitalism even in his or her “free time”." Saladdin Said Ahmed "Extremism and scapegoating … [Read more...]

But I Remember Where the Spots Formerly Were

Diego Rivera (panal for MoMA).

"Terrorism is the marketing of the fear commodity." Geoffrey R. Skoll "Even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins." Walter Benjamin "I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against any uncivilized tribes..."" Winston Churchill 1920, speech in Parliament Max Forte, in an essay on the New Victorianism, noted the intellectual developments that began in this era (1837 - 1901)... "Racial theories, “scientific racism”; Photographic realism (Hewitt, 2006, p. 412); A “Victorian New World Order” (Young, 2009), compressing representations of the imperial-dominated globe in events such as the Great … [Read more...]

Back to the Future

Pushwagner

"The literature of terror is born precisely out of the terror of a split society and out of the desire to heal it. It is for just this reason that Dracula and Frankenstein, with rare exceptions, do not appear together. The threat would be too great, and this literature, having produced terror, must also erase it and restore peace. It must restore the broken equilibrium -- giving the illusion of being able to stop history -- because the monster expresses the anxiety that the future will be monstrous. His antagonist -- the enemy of the monster -- will always be, by contrast, a representative of the present, a distillation of complacent nineteenth-century mediocrity: nationalistic, stupid, … [Read more...]