Notes on Turning Seventy

"As long as the truth of art remains a mystery to us, the untruth of kitsch will continue filling us with unrest.” Ludwig Giesz (Phänomenologie des Kitsches) ”...activity is not to be regarded as an appendix,as merely what comes after thought, but enters into theory at every point and is inseparable from it.” Max Horkheimer (On the Problem of Truth, 1935) "It must not be forgotten that every media professional is bound by wages and other rewards and recompenses to a master, and sometimes to several; and that every one of them knows he is dispensable." Guy Debord (Comments on the Society of the Spectacle) “Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in finding out the truth, … [Read more...]

Checkpoints on the Frontier of Desire

"In spite of First-World nationalism that imagines its subjects as immune to the threat of infectious disease, our post-postmodern, post-human, post-natural society nevertheless retains the structural paradigms of contagion and infection in discourses beyond biomedicine. We are strikingly not beyond contagion." Kari Nixon & Lorenzo Servitje (Endemic) "This, I suspect, will be no radical transformation, no shift into a world 'after nature' or a 'posthuman future.'Perhaps it will not even constitute an “event.” But I think, in all manner of small ways,most of which will soon be routinized and taken for granted, things will not be quite the same again." Nikolas Rose (The Politics of Life … [Read more...]

The Dream is the Mother

"Part of the difficulty in recognizing outbreaks of mass sociogenic illness has to do with its diverse nature. A historical review of these events suggests that the features of mass sociogenic illnesses tend to mirror popular social and cultural preoccupations that define distinct eras and reflect unique social beliefs about the nature of the world." Erica Weir (Mass Sociogenic Illness, Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2005) “America is no place for an artist: to be an artist is to be a moral leper, an economic misfit, a social liability. A corn-fed hog enjoys a better life than a creative writer, painter or musician. To be a rabbit is better still.” Henry Miller (The Air … [Read more...]

The Occult Technique

"Art is a mode of prediction not found in charts and statistics, and it insinuates possibilities of human relations not to be found in rule and precept, admonition and administration." John Dewey "In their { Horkheimer & Adorno's } account of western modernity, enlightenment and progressive rationalization become myth and ideology legitimating social irrationality and injustice, as natural and human relations are increasingly reduced to means through instrumental rationality, fetishized in consumerist culture industries through the often unconscious hegemony of symbolically reproduced values, styles, and practices, and reified and compulsively fixated in a media-driven society." Eric S. … [Read more...]

Fear of Fairy Tales

"Fear lurks in everyone. The one who always asserts to not know fear is mentally damaged or a fool." Max Horkheimer (Psalm 91, Collected Writings vol 7) “Fear, accompanying such an extraordinary state, also plays a role in enchantment. The thirteenth-century writer Albertus Magnus described wonder as “ ‘shocked surprise’ … before the sensible appearance of a great prodigy, so that the heart experinces systole. Thus wonder is somewhat similar to fear….” Jane Bennett (The Enchantment of Modern Life) “Adults live in fear of one kind or another—fear of failure, poverty, isolation, fear of loss of soul in the destruction of the earth. Those fears create a mood of “being lost in the … [Read more...]

The Immunity Bath

"We're all going to die, all of us; what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities. We are eaten up by nothing." Charles Bukowski (Post Office) "Life and death. Already no physiology is thought scientific if it does not consider death as an essential element of life, life’s negation as being essentially contained in life itself, so that life is always thought of in relation to its necessary result, death, which is always contained in it in germ. The dialectical conception of life is nothing more than this…Living means dying." Freidrich Engels (Dialectic of Nature) "Fear of crime does not correlate with actual … [Read more...]

Wish You Were Here

“There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.” Ecclesiastes 1:11 "At the 1889 ParisExhibition, and in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower,the centenary of the French Revolution, and consequently of the French Empire, was commemorated. This was the first exhibition to include a true colonial section for the history of France and the one that would mark the beginning of a model for colonial representations that would last during the final quarter of the 19th century and for the whole of the 20th century. In fact, the area in Paris reserved for showing the colonies was located in the Champs de Mars and … [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...]