Man on the Moon, or The Foreclosure of Awe

"Something happens to you out there..." Edgar Mitchell. Apollo 14 astronaut "Therefore the demiurge made the world in the shape of a sphere, giving it that figure which of all is the most perfect and the most equal to itself.” Plato (Timaeus, Cornford tr.) "But if you have ever cut behind any American event or any presentation of them, to the primary documents, you will know the diminishment I am here asserting: that only Melville escapes...{ } So you better figure on man's interiors. If its images are called for, they come from there. And he's got em. The Americans have. No need to worry. Or look for heroes. The point missed is, that when men aren't sure just what insides are, or … [Read more...]

The Stuttering Ventriloquist

"In all ages there have been some excellent workmen, and some excellent work done. The question he (the critic) asks is always:—In whom did the stir, the genius, the sentiment of the period find itself? where was the receptacle of its refinement, its elevation, its taste?" Walter Pater (Renaissance; Studies in Art and Poetry) "The tendency for dark personalities to exhibit relatively higher levels of nonverbal IQ is intriguing but the implications are unclear. The finding defies the stereotype of the smooth talking manipulator but supports the notion of a complex intellectual deficit. One possibility is that the frustration arising from an inability to communicate ones ideas eventuates … [Read more...]

Escape From Themselves

"The chain breaks, The wheel stops, and the noise of machinery, And the desert is cleared, under the judicial sun Of the final eye, and the awful evacuation Cleanses." T.S. Eliot (The Family Reunion) "Yes, one should forgive one's enemies, but only after one has seen them hanged." Heinrich Heine "To discover who people think they are, what they think they are doing, and to what end they think they are doing it, it is necessary ro gain a working familiarity with the frames of meaning within which they enact their lives. This does not involve feeling anyone else's feelings, or thinking anyone else's thoughts, simple impossibilities. Nor does it involve going native, an impractical … [Read more...]

Algorithm Kids

“The very systems we are working to dismantle live inside of us.” Morgan Bassichis “Bourgeois statesmen are very touchy and vindictive. You have to control your emotions; if you are guided by your emotions, you lose”. Joseph Stalin (To Yugoslav delegation, Jan. 1945) "The general loss of memory is not to be explained solely psychologically; it is not simply childhood amnesia. Rather it is social amnesia - memory driven out of mind by the social and economic dynamic of this society." Russell Jacoby (Social Amnesia) I am struck almost daily, I think, with the fact that the worst and often most psychologically unstable and damaged people are in the positions of the most power. And … [Read more...]

Who is Dreaming

"As awareness starts to move beyond the boundaries of the conditioned personality structure, this expansion inevitably challenges that structure, flushing out old, subconscious, reactive patterns that often emerge with a vengeance. Traditional religions used to describe these obstacles and attacks along the path in terms of demons or devils.” John Welwood. (Toward a Psychology of Awakening) "But disease is not simply disequilibrium or discordance; it is, and perhaps most important, an effort on the part of nature to effect a new equilibrium in man. Disease is a generalized reaction designed to bring about a cure; the organism develops a disease in order to get well." Georges Canguilhem … [Read more...]

The Perennial Shadow

“Experience teaches us that even when one hears the doorbell ring it is because there is never anyone there.” Eugene Ionesco (The Bald Soprano) "Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientific man to pass through a door." Walter Benjamin (Letter to Gerhard Scholem, 1938) "That which is not manifest is much more vast than that which is manifest. The invisible is greater than the visible. So it is also for language…. Only because language casts a shadow both much vaster than itself, and inaccessible, does the spoken word hold and renew such magic." Roberto Calasso (Baudelaire) There is a new film version of King Lear due out. I saw the … [Read more...]

Your Call is Important to Us

"...this situation is highly volatile, because those in the periphery are increasingly aware that the prosperity of the core is purchased at their expense. ” Morris Berman (Twilight of American Culture) “What is the use of free expression to people so frightened of the future that they prefer the comforts of the authoritative lie? ” Lewis H. Lapham. (Age of Folly). "Hence the disappearance of the maxim and the proverb, which were the guise in which experience stood as authority. The slogan, which has replaced them, is the proverb of humankind to whom experience is lost." Giorgio Agamben (Infancy and History) "It is the loss of control of the self over the self-object that leads … [Read more...]

A Thousand Distastes (part one)

"...taste is made of a thousand distastes." Paul Valery " actors make a demand of themselves that is just as counterfactual as it is binding, namely, to be the conscious shapers of societal structures and not merely entities that de facto produce them: that is, to have a steering influence on the construction, preservation or transformation of specific structures. This modern aspiration to control was first formulated by the Enlightenment. Its range and radicality are entirely alien to premodern societies. It is especially, though not exclusively, manifest in measures of political steering." Uwe Schimank "The immediate future of the United States seems to me to have two … [Read more...]