A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality.

April 18, 2014

Mirjam Bayerdörfer Quote


In my spare time I've been trying to read, a lot on theater recently. Theater seems to be unavoidable after all. I found a quote by Jean-Loup Riviére talking about Roland Barthes relationship to theater, which I really like. It's in German, and I don't know if I get the point when translating it, but it would be something like this: Does not theater inherently contain something that eventually makes you abandon it/turn your back? Barthes himself also formulates interesting thoughts on theater, on how the stage resembles a private, homely situation within four walls, where someone tore open the door and leaves/exposes the actor or the human figure to total embarrassment. How the stage is a confined space with a strict logic and with no margins or fringes...

 - Mirjam Bayerdörfer


March 30, 2014

Polyamorous Love Song launches and events


I will be presenting my new book Polyamorous Love Song at these fine events:

April 4 & 5, Vancouver:

There are reasons for looking and feeling and thinking about things that are invisible: A two day event on New Narratives in Art Writing
Western Front Grand Luxe Hall
April 4, 7 - 9pm | Eileen Myles and Jacob Wren

April 5, 2 - 5pm | Lynne Tillman and Maria Fusco
Facebook event

April 11, Montreal

Double launch with Jacob Wren and Guadalupe Muro
Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore, 7 pm
Facebook event

April 15, Toronto

BookThug Spring 2014 Toronto Book Launch
Supermarket, 7:30-10:30pm

May 3, Montreal
BookThug Launch at Blue Metropolis Festival

Hotel 10, 4:00 - 5:00pm

May 4, Montreal
Montreal Book Launch for Angela Carr with Guest Jacob Wren 
Librairie Le port de tête, 6:00 - 8:00pm



Hans Ruin Quote


Collegial rule has always belonged to a culture where people within an institution function as each other’s evaluators. In the academy, researchers are constantly engaged in assessing each other’s work. It is a culture of both training and evaluating, first of students, but also of one’s peers. The culture of peer-review, in this respect, is at the centre of the academic ethos. However, in their search for clear standards of measurement, the administrators of the new management culture, with their stress on accountability and rational and transparent allocation of resources, have adopted standardized matrixes for the evaluation of research performance. This is the effect of what is nowadays also often referred to by social scientists as the new so-called “audit society”. Since the quality of research cannot be evaluated outside the space of the qualified judgement of one’s peers, the model of peer-reviewing and publication in peer-reviewed journals has now been adopted as a world standard for research performance.

In adopting this standard, the administrators of higher education have in a certain sense followed the ideal of collegial rule, yet at the same time they have also produced a grotesque perversion of this standard. Since resources have to be allocated according to some objective and transparent standard, one has adopted the only standard that the system can generate, namely peer-review. But precisely in picking up this standard, not ultimately with the purpose of securing quality and truth, but for resource allocation, one is also undermining the very ethos that lies at its heart. When researchers learn that their funding is dependent on peer recognition, they will behave rationally not in a long-term sense, but for short-term gains, which means that the system will also generate more of the same, like-mindedness, and cynical cartels of knowledge production, where researchers are quoting one another for short-term gains. This is a both sad and – depending on from what perspective one looks at it – ironic development.

In his commentary on the future of the humanities, [Simon] Critchley is led to the conclusion that in the end the universities, and in particular the humanities, must reconsider their role in this new situation, and reflect again on their core purpose: namely to and develop good intellectual skills, which means teaching people how to think, how to search for the true, how to experience the joy of realizing how it is. In its obsessive desire to produce and deliver good management, the new management culture is currently risking the corruption of precisely that very public institution that it claims to foster.

- Hans Ruin, On the Role of the University in the Age of Management Politics


March 18, 2014

Chris Kraus Quote


People who I respect say that you can only really deal with politics and situations after a passage of time, but I don’t agree. I think that if we don’t try and process, both for ourselves and publically, what’s happening in the present, it’s a very great loss. Because that is the archival material of the future. I think there’s a way of understanding things in the present that is impossible to ever understand in retrospect. So much gets lost. Usually it’s the ordinariness, and the pettiness, and the banality that gets lost.

- Chris Kraus

[You can read the rest of the interview here.]


March 16, 2014

Jill Magid Quote


The danger for an empire or a communist state – or even a democracy gone awry – is that the people with power and those without are pushed farther apart. And the people on the inside become more cruel to those on the outside for fear of becoming them.

- Jill Magid, Becoming Tarden


March 4, 2014

Heriberto Yépez Quote


Imperial ideas transform time into space. Nomadic ideas, on the other hand, tend to understand time as a multiplicity of times. These times—tribes of monads—are autonomous from each other, each one obeying its own laws. (The notion of a single spatialized time is linked to the historical appearance of the State.) The Rarámuri, for example, developed a model based on the existence of more than one internal time, sustaining the existence of various “souls” that simultaneously co-existed within the human body. While the Huichol believe that when a pair of nomad groups meet two different times collide. This understanding of time not only functions to plumb the profound nature of the human animal but also to impede the formation of a unitary political order, a system of centralized control.

- Heriberto Yépez, Empire of Neomemory


March 3, 2014

David Graeber Quote


There would appear to be no society which does not see human life as fundamentally a problem. However much they might differ on what they deem the problem to be, at the very least, the existence of work, sex, and reproduction are seen as fraught with all sorts of quandaries; human desires are always fickle; and then, there’s the fact that we’re all going to die. So there’s a lot to be troubled by. None of these dilemmas are going to vanish if we eliminate structural equalities (much though I think this would radically improve things in just about every other way.) Indeed, the fantasy that it might, that the human condition, desire, morality, can all be somehow resolved seems to be an especially dangerous one, an image of utopia which always seems to lurk somewhere behind the pretensions of Power and the state.

- David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology


February 16, 2014

Let's go, anxiety doesn't change a thing!


In response to my post below Text for The Politics of Friendship, in which she is mentioned, Antje Majewski writes:

Dear Jacob, I am very glad you are a feminist. If you want, you can become interested in our feminist group ƒƒ (fffffff.org). We already have one male member who is a feminist. Or, you can also become a "friend of the apple"… Let's go, anxiety doesn't change a thing! White males of the world, join us in having fun while doing things differently! with my very best wishes, Antje


February 11, 2014

Text for The Politics of Friendship


[This text was written for The Politics of Friendship, a publication partly in response to the article Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child by Mal Ahern and Moira Weige.]

I want to embody a radical politics (in the form of art) but mainly fail, come up against my own limitations, my inability to change (or change enough), my ambition, or simply the fear that I won’t survive. I don’t know if a straight white male (I rarely think of myself in these terms, but understand when others do) can be a feminist in any meaningful sense. But I am certain he should not go around proclaiming himself to be. Raised in this society, in this culture, we have so much sexism, racism, capitalism within us. One can and must be anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-racist, etc., provided one is fighting against these things within oneself as well. One can also be a jerk.

My alienation is part of capitalism and I am more alienated than ever. (I’m noticeably bad at solidarity.) My loneliness is a part of capitalism and I’m lonelier than ever. (A feeling of connection constantly eludes me.) But should the Man-Child seek therapy? Why does therapy seem beside the point? So much therapy seems to work towards functioning more productively within the existing rules. Are there therapists teaching men to renounce a degree of their power, hand it over to the women around them? Does anyone with power or privilege honestly want to have less?

It is two years ago. I am in a museum in Graz, watching a video in which the artist Antje Majewski interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky, who is saying that he wonders if there can be such a thing as ‘secular grace’ (since historically grace was always connected to religion.) He is speaking about how every Wednesday he goes to a café and reads the Tarot cards of anyone who wishes to join him. In doing so, he ‘imitates’ sanctity (“…being at other people’s service. Without judging them.”) In real life he is full of anxiety, can be cranky, behave badly, but for one day per week, reading the cards of complete strangers, he tries to be a good person. “I imitate. But it’s a good imitation, because there are people who imitate being an assassin. In reality, I think everyone imitates something. Authenticity is difficult to find.”

I would never write anything as hateful or sexist as Theory of the Young-Girl. But this is no time to let oneself off the hook. As soon as you start speaking or writing about politics, you open yourself up to every kind of accusation and error. Expectations of purity or perfection lead endlessly in circles. So we must make (honest) mistakes, at times apologize, accept apologies or choose not to, change our minds, listen to what others say and (sometimes, genuinely) realize they are right. Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern are clearly right. In this time when even the best ideas lack praxis, the most painful questions are scattered in the future, and every honest man knows the future has not quite begun.

I re-read my last sentence, see I should change it. I have posited yet another future endlessly deferred, opened the door to further indecision. Weigel and Ahern propose something more concrete and want it now: more imagination, more courage, clarity, organization, a praise song and a program. I must listen.


February 10, 2014

Text for the Rhubarb! 35 Performances for 35 Years Cabaret


[This text was written for the Rhubarb! 35 Performances for 35 Years Cabaret.]

The year is 1989. I am eighteen years old and for some reason insist that everyone call me Death Waits, insist that this is my name. I have written a short play entitled A Brood of Doves and it has been accepted into Rhubarb! It is the first play I have ever written. I am assigned a director. She comes from Israel. I was raised Jewish but don’t self-identify as a Jew. It is only much later that I learn that Jewish artists have a history of taking on new names to conceal their Jewish origins and wonder if this has anything to do with the reason I changed my name to Death Waits. In my Jewish upbringing there was no mention of Palestine, therefore at age eighteen I have never heard of Palestine and am not yet politicized around the topic of Israel. The director I’m assigned comes from Israel. A Brood of Doves is heavily influenced by my juvenile reading of Foucault. It features two men, two women and a gun. They take turns pointing the gun at each other while discussing power. I have not looked at this text in a very long time and am sure I would be mortified if, for some reason, I were forced to read it today. The way the director directs my text makes it seem misogynist, as if the men were continuously abusing the women. This was definitely not my intention. It is a minor scandal. Some people feel my text and intentions were misogynist. I am traumatized by the experience and, in some sense, remain traumatized by it to this day. It was my first experience making theatre. The lesson I took from it is that the director has the power. A Brood of Doves was meant to be a meditation on the discursive nature of power. The lesson I took from it was: if you were to take a single text, and five different directors, they could make the same text say five different things. That was the moment I decided I would be the only one to ever direct my own work. I have only strayed from this policy a few times in my life, but every time I have done so I have found the experience incredibly painful. The decision to be the only one who is allowed to direct my own texts eventually led me to abandon playwriting altogether, to search for a new kind of theatre based on collaboration instead of on writing. If I didn’t want someone else to direct my words, I also didn’t want to put words in anyone else’s mouth. It seemed more ethical to me if performers said and did things they could take full responsibility for. In this sense the negative experience of A Brood of Doves set me on the artistic path I am still on to this day. This path had a painful origin, which is perhaps the reason it has mainly been painful. Or perhaps the reason lies elsewhere.