Society of the Meaningless

Manuel Alvarez Bravo, photography. 1931.

"...self-parody has become the life-support system of international art infrastructures. Make people feel smart, and they will put up with anything. The mindset cannot be outflanked or overturned, because it routinely performs those operations on itself.” Peter Schjeldahl "In the Basle orphanage where I lived from the age of nine to fourteen I had to work hard for long hours as a joiner’s apprentice when I was out of school. On Sunday I used to copy Hans Holbein’s designs for goldsmiths and in this way trained my sense of form. I am sure that Holbein’s Renaissance found a boyish and ingenuous echo in the way in which I fitted the Biedermeier chests of drawers in vogue at the time with … [Read more...]

The Normal Non-Self

Gerhard Richter

"If there is no activity of interpretation, I cannot understand how any living organism belonging to the human species could survive." Andre Green Squiggle Lecture #3 "The question of experience can be approached nowadays only with an acknowledgement that it is no longer accessible to us." Giorgio Agamben "The human face is a void force, a field of death." Antonin Artaud "...the key question is: Who do elected representatives represent? The answer is not the electorate, but the class that has the resources to invest in the political system—resources politicians need to get elected. This is none other than the class of capitalists. Still, despite the glaring disparity between … [Read more...]

Dementia Morbidity

Thomas Ruff, photography.

"Earlier research found that dementia morbidity was occurring earlier and had disproportionately increased in some Western countries in people aged 45–74 years, with relatively larger increases in women as women's TND rates had risen relatively more than male rates in every country. As Western women's lifestyles have changed more than men's this suggests possible interactive environmental contributions. This view is supported by studies of neurological mortality that found population density was a surrogate marker for environmental exposure and a similar link has been found in relation to incidence of cancer, with substantial increases in two specific neurological conditions, MND, and … [Read more...]

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Yasuzo Nojima, photography. (1931)

"Faustus: 'Stay, Mephistopheles, and tell me, what good will my soul do thy lord?'' Mephistopheles: 'Enlarge his kingdom.'" Christopher Marlowe Dr.Faustus "In his book on poor cities of the South, Jeremy Seabrook chronicles the relentless calendar of disaster in Klong Toey, Bangkok's port slum sandwiched between docks, chemical factories and expressways. In 1989 a chemical explosion poisoned hundreds of residents; two years later a chemical warehouse exploded and left 5,500 residents homeless - many of whom would later die from mysterious illnesses. Fire destroyed 63 homes in 1992, 460 homes in 1993 (also the year of another chemical explosion), and several hundred more in 1994. … [Read more...]

Telling the Stories We Have Forgotten

Stele of Nanai, 1400 B.C. (detail)

"Home is a place where the nondescript is sanctified as its necessary place in a system, where sublimity and predictability coincide, and moral grandeur results from the combination of alertness with incapacity for boredom in boring surroundings." Robert Harbison "Thus neurosis exhibits the quest for novelty, but underlying it, at the level of the instincts, is the compulsion to repeat. In man, the neurotic animal, the instinctual compulsion to repeat turns into into its opposite, the quest for novelty, and the unconscious aim of the quest for novelty is repetition." Norman O. Brown "I had a sort of mania for the cinema at that time—I went once or twice a day instead of doing … [Read more...]

Unstaging, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love World Government

Ferrante Ferranti, photography.

"Today, Americans would be outraged if UN troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow, they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all people of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil….individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by their world government.” Henry Kissinger, 1992 "Long live Christ the King." Reverend H.E.B. Nye Church of England, 1933 "Communists are the vultures who scent the corpse of humanity from afar." Reverend H.E.B. … [Read more...]

He Who is Never Sought; or The Birth of Suspicion

Rona Pondick

"The unconscious too easily appears to be a thing we speak about, while actually it speaks in its specific way and with its specific syntax." Octave Mannoni "And how can one be sure, in such darkness." Beckett "The Unnamable" "The problem for critical thought, now, is how to make reality break in on the mind that masters it. For what we are involved in, that’s the one praxis. And the puzzle of this praxis is shaped in realizing that while reality must be made to break in on the mind, that can’t occur in the model of tossing a stone through a window; the window must shatter under its own fissuring tinsel pressures, from within, as a violence against the violence." Robert … [Read more...]

Life in the Rat Box

Correggio. "Danae"  1531

"When an individual becomes over-involved in a topic of conversation, others are drawn from the talk to the talker. One man's eagerness is another man's alienation. Readiness to become over-involved is a form of tyranny practiced by children, prima donnas and lords, placing feelings above moral rules that should have made society safe for interaction.” Erving Goffman "If Freud was 'conservative' in his immediate disregard of society, his concepts are radical in their pursuit of society where it allegedly does not exist: in the privacy of the individual. Freud undid the primal bourgeois distinction between private and public, the individual and society; he unearthed the objective roots of … [Read more...]