August 30, 2011

It begins to feel normal.

.



It begins to feel normal. That one has no idea what to do with oneself. That everything feels tepid or worse. That life’s small pleasures feel misguided. That one fulfills one’s obligations to the best of one’s ability and with a great deal of uncertainty. That one feels ideas opposite to one’s own might well have merit but such merit doesn’t make them less inimical. I don’t want entertainment. I want to think about the world, about this situation of living in times with no feeling of future. I hope desperately it is still possible to think of it in new ways. I want to think about it slowly and without pretending that everything is all right. Think about moments of possibility in Iceland and Chile and wonder what might happen here, wherever I am at a given day or time. I am on a train. This morning I was in Groningen. Tonight I will be in Berlin. We showed a new performance in Groningen. I believe it divided the audience but I’m not sure. I used to love the idea of a divided audience, of inciting debate, of friends going out afterwards and arguing for or against, trying to define their positions, continue the never-ending process of figuring out what they think and why. I used to think the worst thing was for everyone to agree. And yet I don’t believe we incited debate. We divided the audience in milder ways, like all the mild divides that clutter our small conversations and sense of self. These small divides also resonate. I’m drifting into the world of small steps and minor epiphanies. It never ceases to amaze me how two people sitting beside one another can have such a different experience watching the exact same thing. How much of ourselves we throw into everything that is in front of us. When many like the work I almost dismiss them, their enthusiasm runs past me. When people are indifferent I use their indifference as a knife to stab myself. It’s sick how those who hate the show feel closest to my heart. Sometimes I think it is only a question of being too sensitive. It’s not that I don’t want to please, pleasure is as good in art as anything else. But why are so many artists trying to please so much? Why do I feel the market bearing down on me as I watch? Why does the person sitting beside me see and feel something completely different? And, if this is the case, where does the conversation start?



.

August 26, 2011

Henry Green quote

.



I think Joyce and Kafka have said the last word on each of the two forms they developed. There's no one to follow them. They're like cats which have licked the plate clean. You've got to dream up another dish if you're to be a writer.

- Henry Green




[The rest of the interview can be found here.]



.

August 24, 2011

Henri Michaux quote

.



It is when you gallop that your parasites are most alive.
- Henri Michaux



.

August 20, 2011

Some Favourite Books

.



Fiction

Aliens & Anorexia – Chris Kraus
Dark Pool Party – Hannah Black
The Transformation – Juliana Spahr
Event Factory – Renee Gladman
The Ravickians – Renee Gladman
Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge – Renee Gladman
The Activist – Renee Gladman 
Islands of Decolonial Love – Leanne Simpson
The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll – Alvaro Mutis
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa – Jan Potocki
Third Factory – Viktor Shklovsky
Haunted Houses – Lynne Tillman
Motion Sickness – Lynne Tillman
The Hills of Hebron – Sylvia Wynter
The Story of My Accident Is Ours - Rachel Levitsky
The Man Who Cried I Am – John A. Williams
Progress of Stories – Laura Riding Jackson
The Seven Madmen – Roberto Arlt
Salt Fish Girl – Larissa Lai
Sitt Marie Rose – Etel Adnan
The Guérillères – Monique Wittig
Indivisible – Fanny Howe
The Fourth World – Diamela Eltit
Artificial Respiration – Ricardo Piglia
Malina – Ingeborg Bachmann
Chapel Road – Louis Paul Boon
Hopeful Monsters – Nicholas Mosley
Impossible Object – Nicholas Mosley
The King of a Rainy Country – Brigid Brophy
Head in Flames - Lance Olsen
The Girl in the Road - Monica Byrne
Gentlemen & Arseholes – Lene Berg
Death in Rome – Wolfgang Koeppen
Meeting at the Milestone – Sigurd Hoel
The Waste Books – Georg Christophe Lichtenberg
The Skull of Charlotte Corday and other stories – Leslie Dick
Canadian Healing Oil - Juan Butler
Monsieur Teste – Paul Valéry



Non-Fiction

May ’68 and Its Afterlives - Kristen Ross
The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination - Sarah Schulman
Ethics Of Luxury: Materialism And Imagination - Jeanne Randolph
Lee Lozano: Dropout Piece – Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer
The Mushroom at the End of the World – Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Debt: The First 5000 Year - David Graeber
Ghostly Matters – Avery F. Gordon
Bodies of Work: Essays – Kathy Acker
Laconia: 1,200 Tweets on Film – Masha Tupitsyn
Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960–1975 – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder – Lawrence Weschler
Collected Writing: 1993-2003 – Frances Stark
Drugs Are Nice – Lisa Crystal Carver
Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art & Politics - David Levi Strauss
Critique of Cynical Reason – Peter Sloterjik
One Place after Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity – Miwon Kwon
Caliban and the Witch – Silvia Federici
Tastes of Paradise – Wolfgang Schivelbusch
The Culture of the Copy – Hillel Schwartz
Chromophobia – David Batchelor
Secret Publicity – Sven Lütticken
Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory – Gene Ray



Poetry

Zong! – M. NourbeSe Philip
Forgery – Amira Hanafi
Bodymap – Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
The Descent of Alette – Alice Notley
Style – Dolores Dorantes
Belleza y Felicidad: Selected Writings of Fernanda Laguna and Cecilia Pavon
Many Glove Compartments - Oskar Pastior
It – Inger Christensen
Thou - Aisha Sasha John
Eruditio ex Memoria - Bernadette Mayer
Selected Works - José Antonio Ramos Sucre
In the Moremarrow - Oliverio Girondo
A Night With Hamlet – Vladimir Holan
The Drug of Art: Selected Poems of Ivan Blatny
Mercury – Ariana Reines
Debbie: An Epic – Lisa Robertson
Worlda Mirth - Su Croll
The Sorrowful Canadians & Other Poems - Wilfred Watson


.

August 16, 2011

Trying to shift reality closer to hopes that are still in the process of being defined

.



Trying to shift reality closer to hopes that are still in the process of being defined. Always struggling with the emotional triage of defeat. When faced with insurmountable odds, the only real choice is to find some way to keep going, to cling tight to the truth that the way things are will not always be the case, the world is constantly changing, and our actions have consequences.



.

August 11, 2011

Contrary to former times...

.



Contrary to former times, this is an age in which money begets money. Today it is the man of common ability with capital, rather than the man of rare ability with no capital, who gains profit.

– Ihara Saikaku, 1693



.

August 10, 2011

A sign of autumn

.



For Arrighi, the history of global capitalism can be understood as a spiral, at once recursive and expansive. At the scale of the world and across long waves of global development, its cycles integrate the ebb and swell of states and markets and take on familiar and even predictable patterns; in the passage from cycle to cycle, however, uncertainty is the only emperor.

In his telling, there have been four “cycles of accumulation,” each with its own imperial leader. In each period of something more than 100 years, a leading nation is able to organize the larger sphere toward its own interests — sometimes via force, but in main because it serves the interests of other states and enterprises to align themselves with the leader, a kind of influence known variously as hegemony, soft power, or neo-imperialism.

The four “long centuries” have been led by Genoa, the Dutch, the British, and the United States. Some things about this grouping are surprising, including the earliest: We are more used to recalling the glory of Venice and Florence than we are the Ligurian republic of shipbuilders. Other commonalities are plain enough, such as the reminder that the British East and West Indian Companies were cover versions of the Dutch innovation.

Most striking and most dramatic is the discovery that each of these long centuries has itself been divided into three phases, choreographically consistent: a merchant phase based on trade, followed by a phase of industrial expansion, and finally a period of financialization, in which economic vitality moves to the banking sector. It is a febrile vitality indeed, burning hot and fading away; the shift to finance is always, in Braudel’s lovely phrase, “a sign of autumn.” And when the finance era runs its course, so does the empire.

This, finally, is the crux of the book: the discovery “that the financial expansion that came to characterize the global economy in the closing decades of the twentieth century was not a new phenomenon but a recurrent tendency of historical capitalism from its earliest beginnings.” It is this that grants us some purchase on the mercurial catastrophe of the last couple of years. We should not think of the rule and ruin of Wall Street as a novel historical fact; Genoa, after all, invented modern banking, and Amsterdam saw the first stock market. In the British Empire’s dotage, the City of London became financier to the world (in The Dial in 1922 the ever-grumpy T.S. Eliot described the cosmopole as “a little bookkeeper grown old”).

The schematic quality of Arrighi’s history, seductive as it is, has also summoned skepticism. Does it not promise a sort of eternal return, the same shape repeating irrevocably — in a manner that seems discordant, to say the least, with the shifting course and deeply variegated texture of history, its subjective influences and contingent character, and its essential unknowability?

Arrighi’s postscript to the new edition, written shortly before his death, addresses these doubts directly by pointing out that he had never in fact offered such a parade of the endless same. Yes, there is a three-staged cycle that keeps coming around. But each time, it recurs at a larger and more complex scale, internalizing new costs of protection or transaction, making a more efficient order of things. Each arises from a successively larger base, with more resources and more population: from the Italian city-state to the nation-state and eventually to the continental state of the US. And in turn the reach of each empire is broader, spiraling outward toward the only real spatial limit, the arc of the globe itself. This is what globalization means, after all; it has been in motion for quite some time, but has now perhaps reached some sort of limit. We recall the preceding cycles not to mutter about how there is nothing new under the sun. We reach back into the tradition so as to better reflect on our present predicament.

- Joshua Clover on Giovanni Arrighi. The rest of the article can be found here.




.

August 7, 2011

Idea for a novel

.



Idea for a novel: kidnapping the richest men in the world, stripping them of their possessions, and abandoning them anonymously in the worlds poorest slums.



.

August 6, 2011

Inspiring and heartbreaking appeals

.



I've been thinking of some of the inspiring and heartbreaking appeals I've read on line recently: Tom Lutz's letter when he stepped down as chair of MFA Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside, Tim DeChristopher's impassioned speech to the jury before he was unjustly sentenced to two years in prison for a beautiful act of civil resistance and Jerry White's accurate, tough-minded socialist reading of the debt crises. I am wondering what to do with this information. The writing on the wall is so large and vicious it is almost blinding. I am wondering if anything is left to say. And for one brief second it flashed through my mind, Churchhill's 'when you're going through hell, keep going.' Always the same question: how to offer an inspiring vision of what might come next?



.

August 3, 2011

Subcultures

.



Subcultures are niche markets
but subcultures aren’t only niche markets
because of friendship
and because of being young
when friendships are more intense
and new meanings more easily generated
new niche markets must continually be generated
because where capital reigns
nothing remains still
blasting through this wind-tunnel
buying subcultural t-shirts
produced by someone, somewhere
for pennies a day



.