Sunday, 29 April 2018
There are innumerable abominations adorning the walls of hotel rooms in this miserable world so I liked what David Shrigley said when he was asked: What is not art? :
The difficult thing about answering any question about what is or isn’t art is that even before you’ve finished making the statement as to what art is or what art isn’t, you think of an exception, a contradiction to what you’ve just said. You realise you’re wrong even before you’ve finished saying it. But, just for the sake of argument: stuff that’s in hotel rooms. Authorless, inkjet prints on canvas, you have to say that isn’t really art. It just looks like art but it isn’t art.
Tip for any interior designers working for hotels : Empty walls are awesome. Perfect for the rest that people are obviously in need of after a long journey or whatever it is they’re there doing.
A good Shrigley on the wall wouldn’t be bad either though. Imagine opening the door of your hotel room and seeing this :
And this one by the lifts:
Saturday, 28 April 2018
There are generally two, radically different ways to relate to the world: objective and subjective. Objectivity is an orientation towards reality based on abstracting away, in various degrees, from subjective experience, and from individual points of view. A subjective orientation, on the other hand, is based on an atunement to the inner experience of feeling, sensing, thinking and valuing that unfolds in our day-to-day living.
Much of Kierkegaard’s philosophy is a warning against the tendency — greatly accelerated in modern times — to take an increasingly objective, abstract perspective on the world. While the paradigm example of this is science, it is most problematic when applied to one’s own life and existence. To identify life with its abstractions is, in Kierkegaard’s view, a dangerous but all too common error.
I haven’t seen Son of Saul (yet) but this article by Katalin Balog about the film in The Stone offers a seriously clear and concise introduction to the thread that runs through Kierkegaard’s thinking about the subjective and the objective.
Thursday, 26 April 2018
5:48am : There was one long block of sleep, perhaps not quite long enough, where a magic pencil slowly and methodically writes and re-writes series of ones and zeros on top of all the magnetic tracks and into all the fields of my consciousness. And the brain loops which had plagued me the previous night and all of yesterday were slowly erased one by one. Ah oblivion… my gratitude is immense. I feel like I may have recovered at least some of my sanity.
The fact is that there is currently a critical emergency in my personal life and it has come at the same time as I am thinking through what it means to offer solace or consolation to an other, perhaps some direction if they are looking for direction, and/or a connection, should that be required, to something outside ourselves, something bigger than ourselves - and trying to articulate what it might mean to think of one’s approach to this work as post-theist and post-secular, as well as of course, posthumanist.
In the process I chanced upon this weird little article in the NYT Style Magazine from 2017 (which I’d bookmarked before I started studying theology) about what it can mean to make music. 1
I am not really a fan of expensive fashionable clothes (oh you hadn’t noticed?) nor of Leonard Cohen and especially not of his apotheosis, but Cohen’s answer to a question about what inspired the lyric of a song where he sing-speaks, “Hineni, hineni, I’m ready my Lord.” contains a useful idea of being ready when a critical emergency becomes articulate.
Hineni — הנני : “Here I am” is a Hebrew word that appears in the Old Testament. It is said by Moses and Abraham and Isaiah when God appears to ask something of each of them. It’s a declaration not of location but of disposition, of willingness.
“I don’t really know the genesis, the origin. That ‘hineni,’ that declaration of readiness no matter what the outcome, that’s a part of everyone’s soul. We all are motivated by deep impulses and deep appetites to serve, even though we may not be able to locate that which we are willing to serve. So, this is just a part of my nature, and I think everybody else’s nature, to offer oneself at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate. It’s only when the emergency becomes articulate that we can locate that willingness to serve.”
This is of critical importance but there are two serious problems with some of the language and the concepts being used. Firstly, I love soul but I don’t believe in a ‘soul’ or in (a) ‘nature’. I don’t believe I or anyone else ‘has a nature’ or a ‘soul’. Second, ‘serve’ is such a loaded word. It cannot be used in a post-theist/post-secular approach because the concept has been corrupted by power, exploitation, servitude. But it becomes more interesting when you think of it in terms of a willingness to do what must be done, as part of an ethics, as part of listening, not to a god or gods but to what the world is asking from you. Perhaps we could speak in terms of ‘care’.
And it does not come from ‘inside us’ or ‘from our depths’ nor does it ‘rise from below’ - I think part of a post-theist/post-secular approach is to resist essentialism and the idea of an authentic core or some mysterious deeper level of our being. It is not quite the opposite (I think we should be wary too of binaries) but quite different - it is about making connections, it is about relations, relationality, inter and intra-dependencies and entanglements. Being ready for the critical emergency which is to come, is coming, is now.
Here I am.
Here. I. Am.
But that was a different song.
Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Sunday, 22 April 2018
On the subject of being with someone who is dying, this is a useful thought (in Dutch) from Marli Huijer :
Het bij-het-sterven-aanwezig-zijn beschouw ik als een gift. De stervende schenkt jou een van de meest indringende belevenissen die het leven te bieden heeft: je mag delen in de ervaring dat de stervende eerst nog bij je is en dan niet meer.
De gedachte dat aanwezig-zijn-bij-het-sterven een gift is komt van Maurice Blanchot. Het staat in De onuitsprekelijke gemeenschap. Ik las het boekje kort nadat ik aan een langdurig, niet altijd plezierig sterfbed had gezeten. Blanchots soms onbegrijpelijke woorden boden troost; ze leerden me dat ik iets had meegemaakt wat het eigen bestaan te boven ging. De ander hoefde niet dankbaar te zijn dat ik aan haar sterfbed had gezeten; zij had mij een onuitsprekelijke ervaring gegeven.
Monday, 16 April 2018
Shall we utter some words about the impossible? What is there to say? How to begin?
How can anything be said about the impossible without violating its very nature, perhaps even its conditions of im/possibility? Isn’t any utterance about the impossible always already a performative breach of that which one means to address? Have we not already said too much simply in pronouncing its name?
Perhaps we should let the impossible speak for itself.
This is part plagiarism part homage part playfulness. It’s from the opening paragraph of Karen Barad’s ‘What is the measure of nothingness’ which she wrote for Documenta 13 - but I replaced every instance of ‘nothing/ness’ with ‘the impossible’, and where she wrote ‘possibility’, I added ‘im/’.
The whole text is here.
The impossible is also a meatless burger that bleeds. Now at White Castle.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
The Titanic sank on my grandmother’s 5th birthday but her mother had died two years earlier after giving birth to her sister .
Friday, 13 April 2018
uh oh friday the thirteenth. hope we don’t strike an iceberg!
“…If you ask me why, you will always get an answer…”
Escher in his garden in Baarn by Eddy de Jongh (1968).
Maybe we are experiencing the last days of the old reality - or the first days of a new one. One of impossibilities becoming real. That humans could permanently change the world seemed impossible, but it happened during the anthropocene, just like the idea that one big world culture seems impossible but we admit admit that we are gradually moving towards it. Maybe we have to become like people from the middle ages again and believe in miracles. (…) Maybe we are at the beginning of the end, the time of cognitive dissonance where the reality of the human and that of the world no longer correspond. (my translation)
Thursday, 12 April 2018
i was never much of a fan of that social media platform that made mark zuckerberg one of the richest people in the world, not because i have anything against rich people per sé, it’s just that they have too much money and too many other people have so little.
i’ve always thought that if i could have the undivided attention of a very rich person for two hours i would be able to convince them to give me all their money. it would be very liberating for them.
anyway the point is that now i feel less than ever like putting anything on that social media platform that made mark zuckerberg one of the richest people in the world - or looking at it. but i suppose most people will just continue doing what they always did?
i won’t #deletefacebook, i just won’t give it any room to breathe… :) i’ll run it only on one machine that i rarely use and look at it once in a while to check messages. but if you want to contact me i recommend twitter or email - details here.
Barbara Ehrenreich: Why i’m giving up on preventative care.
Monday, April 9, 2018
free utilities for mac
copycontents is a free utility that enables you to copy the content of a file to the clipboard without opening it by right-clicking (or control clicking) on it and selecting ‘copy contents’.
the same people also make a free utility called toggledock. it enables you toggle the visibility of specific applications in the dock or the app switcher.
apple please note.
Borges by Arbus
Diane Arbus - Jorge Luis Borges in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1969
Saturday, April 7, 2018
The richest 1% humans are on target to own two-thirds of all the ‘wealth’ in the world by 2030. link
The Tom Waits part is fun. The captions under all the pictures of him read ‘Waits in his own clothes.’ I imagine them saying ‘Here Tom, put on this $4,750 Bottega Veneta jacket,’ and he is like, ’yeah nah. If you want to catch songs you gotta start thinking like one, and making yourself an interesting place for them to land like birds or insects↩