Emptying the Human

"There is no such thing as criticism, there is only history. What usually is passed off as criticism, the things you find in architecture magazines, is produced by architects, who frankly are bad historians. As for your concern for what should be the subject of criticism, let me propose that history is not about objects, but instead is about men, about human civilization. What should interest the historian are the cycles of architectural activity and the problem of how a work of architecture fits in its own time. To do otherwise is to impose one’s own way of seeing on architectural history." Manfredo Tafuri (Interview with Richard Ingersoll, 1986) "One of the greatest problems of our own … [Read more...]

The Magic Kingdom

"Following from the way that Adorno reads the disenchantment thesis, the distortion that leads to the harmful consequences of disenchantment occurs when the calculative thinking associated with the purposive-practical attitude begins exclusively to usurp the authority to determine when experience can count as cognitively significant." Roger Foster (Adorno and The Recovery of Experience) "Metaphysics must question whether, and to what extent, thought can transcend the sphere of concepts to grasp objects. Although philosophy’s con dence in its ability to transcend concepts is as “doubtful as ever”, it is both one of philosophy’s “inalienable features and part of the naïveté that ails … [Read more...]

Funeral Rites (or Rise of the Screen)

“Modern civilization suffers from a lack of principles, and it suffers from it in every domain. By a monstrous anomaly, it is, alone, among the others, a civilization without principles, or with only negative ones, which amounts to the same thing. It is as if an organism with its head cut off went on living a life that was at the same time intense and disordered.” Rene Guenon (East and West) “The twentieth century saw the crystallization of a process of enormous significance, which has affected all that goes under the name “religious.” Secular society, without any need for proclamations, has become the ultimate repository for all meaning, almost as if its form corresponded to the … [Read more...]

Digital Infantilism

"Because there has not yet been any progress in the world, there is progress in art; ‘il faut continuer’ [it must continue].” Theodor Adorno (Aesthetic Theory) “Deadly monotony and indeed a total absence of content thus characterise the reign of the commodity. Gradually, an abstract, empty and unchanging form, a pure quantity without quality—money—is imposed on the world’s infinite and concrete diversity. The commodity and money are indifferent to the world, which for them is nothing more than raw material to be used. The very existence of a concrete world, with its laws and its opposition, is ultimately an obstacle to the accumulation of capital, which has no other goal than itself. In … [Read more...]

Prolegomena to a Podcast

"Maybe there really wasn't an America. Maybe it was only Frank Capra." John Cassevetes (Prologue to Frank Capra's American Dream) "I knew a wise guy who used to make fun of my painting, but he didn’t like the Abstract-Expressionists either. He said they would be good painters if they could only keep the paint as good as it is in the can. And that’s what I tried to do. I tried to keep the paint as good as it was in the can." Frank Stella (Interview with Lucy Lippard, 1966) “And yet the digital river is tediously familiar.” Dominic Pettman (Infinite Distraction). Kirk Douglas died this week. I was in Los Angeles for the previous two weeks. When I heard Douglas had died, at the age … [Read more...]

The Apparatus

"First, at an ideological level, any movement away from social explanations, particularly wider economic and political ones, moved the debate away from looking for causes and solutions, particularly revolutionary political ones, in that area. Economic and political solutions, it could be argued, were not relevant where the problem is biological and individual weakness.{ } Second, the biological approach elevated the status of doctors and chemists as authorities and experts and undermined the standing of sociologists, psychologists, journalists and others with a more social and less individual approach. At the same time, doctors and chemists were just what the rising industrial power of Big … [Read more...]

Gelded Gunfighter

"The patterns of displacement through prison, thus, sever social ties at the same time that they connect distinct places. Society’s margin set in stone, prisons render invisible the mix of poverty, crime, and racial inequality that mark actual punishment and put in its place a compelling mythology of law and order." Volker Janssen ( Sunbelt Lock-Up: Where theSuburbs Met the Super-Max ) "That which had a political face and imagined itself political will unmask itself one day and reveal itself to be a religious movement." Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling) "Who is the Dalai Lama? And why does so much of the Italian left tend to accept his “sanctification” and not see his reactionary … [Read more...]

That’s Entertainment

"Moore:I don’t think that superheroes or superhero comics of today are aimed at children anymore. Q. Who are they aimed at? Teenagers? Moore: I would say it’s considerably older. I think that the average comics reader these days is probably in their 30s, their 40s, their 50s." Alan Moore (Interview with David Marchese, Vulture, 2016) "It is difficult now to put yourself in the shoes of people who were making decisions at that time [in 1938]. Obviously the government of that time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler’s Germany rather than opposing it. As part of this alliance, there were impositions, including combating and … [Read more...]