The Past is not Safe

"This overlooks the fact that both commodity exchange and gift exchange are encoded. There is no transparency about gift exchange, whether it is viewed as a sequential chain or as a strategic set of acts by particular agents; in either case gift exchange needs to be decoded as a system of obligations. The effects of the two forms of encoding are quite different, however, with respect to their con- sequences for remembering and forgetting. The mode of encoding operative in gift exchange precipitates a form of cultural remembering; the mode of encoding operative in commodity exchange generates a form of cultural forgetting." Paul Connerton "If only we had a name for the new form, which is … [Read more...]

The Frail Athletes

"Mental health concerns not only health but also the socialization of the modern individual. It challenges the essential elements of individualist societies, like self-value, the opposition between responsibility and illness, the ability to succeed in life, the ability to educate one’s children, and so on. " Alain Ehrenberg "I shall light up the eyes of your enraptured wife, And give back to your son his strength and his color; I shall be for that frail athlete of life The oil that hardens a wrestler's muscles." Baudelaire (William Aggeler tr., The Spirit of Wine) "Some have had to do with the art of theatre, but finding it too arduous, chose to join the theatre. These are … [Read more...]

The Only Possible One

"‘The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness’, wrote Orwell in ‘Politics and the English Language’, and his words are as true today as they were in 1946. The Bank stresses the importance of what it’s saying—key, global, innovative, enlightened—but its words are hopelessly opaque. What is it really trying to say—or to hide?" Franco Moretti & Dominique Pestre "Bankspeak: The Language of World Bank Reports "Two souls dwell in the breast of every complete bourgeois: the soul of the entrepreneur and the soul of the respectable middle-class man . . . the spirit of enterprise is a synthesis of the greed of gold, the desire for adventure, the love of exploration . . . the … [Read more...]

Democratic Domination

"The spectacle's social function is the concrete manufacture of alienation...” Guy Debord "When in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, he boldly proclaimed that distribution according to need, rather than strict equality, would herald the crossing of “the narrow horizon of bourgeois right,” Marx meant what he implied: that equality was an extrapolation from the presuppositions of capitalism. He had said as much in The Holy Family, declaring that the idea of “‘equal possession’ is a political-economic one and therefore still an alienated expression.” Patricia Springborg ""The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former … [Read more...]


"It was the renegade French writer Georges Bataille who noted that the major difference between nature and human society (especially late-capitalist society) was that the former didn’t include the element of accumulation. Nature is based on growth and entropy, proliferation, but also on dissolution and decay. If death didn’t exist, the nightmare of permanent (and increasingly unequal) material accumulation would never end." Ken Worpole "Crematoria may be considered cultural places of death and remembrance where cultural meanings are (re)produced and communicated through architecture, interior design and landscaping. These influence emotions, either intensifying feelings of awe … [Read more...]

Falling Into Space

"You neglect and belittle the desert. The desert is not remote in southern tropics The desert is not only around the corner, The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you, The desert is in the heart of your brother." T. S Eliot (Choruses from The Rock) "This Skin Ego is a colander: thoughts and memories are only with difficulty retained; they leak away." Didier Anzieu "War is to man what maternity is to the woman. I do not believe in perpetual peace; not only do I not believe in it but I find it depressing and a negation of all the fundamental virtues of man." Benito Mussollini There is something in contemporary life, in the West, and primarily I am thinking of … [Read more...]

Interruption on California

“The future always looks good in the golden land, because no one remembers the past.” Joan Didion "Thus, the task of defining liberty becomes still harder. It is not so easy after all to establish even a contemporary definition of liberty. Not only has the intellectual already had to decide to change bourgeois social relations, but he must now find out the laws of motion of society, and fit social relations into a causal scheme. It is not enough to want to be free; it is also necessary to know." Christopher Caudwell (1938) “...we have an impression of a state in which an individual’s separate emotion and personal intellectual act are too weak to come to anything by themselves and … [Read more...]

Behind The Nightmare

"Even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins." Walter Benjamin "Within the universe of Bay Area startup culture, the Elon Musks are the heroes. They seem to have a broad, sweeping vision of the future. But their true pedigree is measured how they manage to amass massivewealth behind their ideas — their ability to do. They believe they have the necessary tools to game reality. Their thinking is built on top of a hyper-commodified religious devotion to the transformative powers of scientific rationalism and a faith in the sanctity of numbers." Liz Ryerson "Those that Buy and Sell Land, and are landlords, have got it either by Oppression, or Murther, or Theft." Gerrard … [Read more...]