Forgetting to Remember to Forget

"Of kin to the so incalculable influences of Concealment, and connected with still greater things, is the wondrous agency of Symbols. In a symbol there is concealment yet revelation: here, therefore, by Silence and by Speech acting together, comes a doubled significance." Thomas Carlyle "No matter what the media make of it, we get the message. As they chanted over television, the whole world was watching—and neither backlash, tear gas, decrepit electoral process, nor the return of Richard Nixon on a platform of law and order could reverse the inevitable “return of the repressed.” Both presidential candidates of the major parties were already undermined by a rhetoric they couldn’t … [Read more...]

Death Masks

"To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream.” Shakespeare, Hamlet. "The white expressionless mask is closest of all to the figure of death; but amazingly this is the most expressive mask of all. To the same degree the death mask has the most vitality of all." Emilia Perroni "The causal relation between the determining psychical trauma and the hysterical phenomenon is not of a kind implying that the trauma merely acts like an agent provocateur in releasing the symptom, which thereafter leads an independent existence. We must presume rather that the psychical trauma – or more precisely the memory of the trauma – acts like a foreign body which long after its entry … [Read more...]

Architecture Degree Zero

"Every failure, a mysterious victory." Jorge Luis Borges "To live in the world today is to live in a state of constant anxiety." Manfredo Tarfuri "Plato likened philosophers to architects, because philosophers also provide bases for all knowledge, although as was typical of the citizen of Athens, he looked down on architects since in reality they are craftsmen." Kojin Karatani There was a fascinating and oddly intriguing, if not compelling, short article in the N.Y.Times Style magazine a couple years back, on architects defending famously derided buildings. And for some reason this was connected in my brain with a brief piece somewhere, I forget, on the U.S. Navy's new … [Read more...]


" have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails” Machiavelli "The endgame can never be played with the same conviction with which it was played when the game was being invented." Donald Kuspit "In other words, it is not so much a question as to whether we are able to cure a patient, whether we can or not, but whether we should or not." Ernest Becker The *fake news* speech Obama delivered recently, and the accompanying articles in those … [Read more...]

The Reptile Eye

"...Adorno knew it was a question not of protecting 'culture' from these horrors but, on the contrary, of recognizing in them the mocking origin of culture itself, finally unveiled in reverse at its end." Roberto Calasso "Charity is meant to be a free gift, a voluntary, unrequited surrender of resources. Though we laud charity as a Christian virtue we know that it wounds." Mary Douglas "Sexual activity, whether perverted or not; the behavior of one sex before the other; defecation; urination; death and the cult of cadavers (above all, insofar as it involves the stinking decomposition of bodies): the different taboos; ritual cannibalism; the sacrifice of animal-gods; omophagia; the … [Read more...]

To Hear the Tunes

"Any discussion of avant-gardes today is immediately marked as belated, gesturing back to a period when the term named a viable desire to move beyond the limits of liberal capitalism." Evan Mauro “When we are no longer children, we are already dead." Constantine Brancusi "The semantic flux of notions like writer or artist is both the product and the condition of struggles aiming to impose the definition. In this way, it belongs to the very reality which it is concerned to interpret. To decide on paper and in more or less arbitrary fashion debates which are not decided in reality, such as the question of whether this or that pretender to the title of writer (etc.) belongs to the … [Read more...]

Mirror Mirror

"...the threatened man looks at himself with the eyes of his master." Ernst Bloch "Abjection is therefore a kind of narcissistic crisis: it is witness to the ephemeral aspect of the state called "narcissism" with reproachful jealousy, heaven knows why; what is more, abjection gives narcissism (the thing and the concept) its classification as "seeming."" Julia Kristeva "The conscious field is so narrow, and on all sides it shades off into darker edges and dissolves. Even before a mental event is forgotten, in fact even without it being forgotten, much in it is not conscious." Ernst Bloch Bloch says mental life is framed by morning and evening. The nightdream moves in the … [Read more...]

Forgetting to Forget

"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...]