Forgetting to Forget

Ian Fisher

"Crimes of which a people is ashamed constitute its real history. The same is true of man." Jean Genet "I am haunted by no phantoms. It is rather that the ashes I stir up contain the crystallization that hold the image (reduced or synthetic) of the living and impure beings that they constituted before the intervention of the fire. If life has a meaning, this image (from the beyond?) has perhaps some significance. That is what I should like to know. And it is why I write." Blaise Cendrars So, Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Now, first off, this prize is a bit like being named poet laureate of a country. Except it is even more irrelevant. At least in terms of art. But … [Read more...]

Privatized Sirens

Roni Horn, photography.

"Because what a child wishes seldom comes in time." Ernst Bloch "…their knees were smashed on small rocks as their poor pinnace likewise poorly lay..." Charles Olson Maximus Poems “But that which is the dawn is—a face, a look. It is a man on a ship. It is the successful termination of an experiment. It is discovery. At this a light does penetrate without announcement everywhere. It is indeed like the epidemic, in its humanity, the fullness of its rise. It is indeed a love that willynilly mounts. So is writing that is not infused with a light which is already at the edge of our understanding—dark.” William Carlos Williams One of the clear effects of mass digital culture is … [Read more...]

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...]