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...]

Privatized Sirens

"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

"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

"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

"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...]