May 30, 2014

May 22, 2014

Jacob's first letter for Adventures Can Be Found Anywhere


Dear _________,

Today I received a publication in the mail. It is a publication that I am a part of, that I have a text in. They finished producing it last year, but didn't send out the contributors copies because they were slightly embarrassed. They had rushed production to have it ready for the concurrent exhibition, and therefore explained there were many typos within the magazine's pages. (They corrected the typos on the PDF.) I opened it and read the following: "How many friends can we have at a time? What happens to the friends you no longer see or hear? Where do you put them? When do you stop knowing them?" (These lines were written by Anicka Yi.)

Over the years I have thought a great deal about friendship. In some ways I worry that I am not a good friend, while in other ways it is clear to me that I am able to offer something unusual and honest, though certainly not consistent. It is certainly clear that much more of my time and energy is put towards artistic questions than it is towards questions of friendship, or even (or especially) towards questions of life. And now, quite suddenly, I see the problem of me also writing these letters. I see that I have in fact chosen Pessoa because (more or less) I basically am him. My writing consists of the same energetic melancholy that I so enjoy in his work.

I have never been against the idea of art as therapy, though I am aware of the fact that is has a bad reputation. But what is suddenly obvious, almost too obvious to state clearly, too obvious to write here, is that this comical idea of 're-writing Pessoa to make him more happy' must also have something to do with re-wiring myself to be happier.

What is my relation to the idea of happiness? When I hear the word 'happiness' my first response is the word 'America.' (This might be the most Canadian thought I have ever had in my life.) There is the old comparison - in Russia, when you meet someone in the street and they ask you how you're doing, you're supposed to say: life is hard, things could be better, it's always a struggle, etc., while in America, if you're asked the same question, you're suppose to simply say that you're doing great. So I guess when I hear the word 'happiness,' my first thought is something like 'fake happiness.'

Perhaps all of this has to do with the fact that my father grew up in America, that he only moved to Canada as an adult. I actually don't know anything about Pessoa's parents. Yesterday Adam made the joke that instead of re-writing Pessoa to make it more happy, we should in fact re-write Pessoa to make it more erotic. And I believe there is a kind of truth to be found in that joke (as there is in all good jokes), since much of Pessoa's melancholy had to do with unfulfilled romantic longing, with a lack of erotics in his actual life.

I've often wondered if there is any deep connection between sex and happiness, or if the connection was merely fleeting and the truth of happiness lies elsewhere. I have run out of time, so perhaps now is a good moment to end this strange letter.

May 21st, 2014


May 18, 2014

Three quotes from Panegyric Volume 1 by Guy Debord


Never to have given more than very slight attention to questions of money, and absolutely none to the ambition of holding some brilliant post in society, is a trait so rare among my contemporaries that some will no doubt consider it incredible, even in my case. It is, however, true, and it has been so constantly and abidingly verifiable that the public will just have to get used to it.

Our only public activities, which remained rare and brief in the early years, were meant to be completely unacceptable: at first, primarily due to their form; later, as they acquired depth, primarily due to their content. They were not accepted.

This time, what was an absolutely new phenomenon, which naturally left few traces, was that the sole principle accepted by all was precisely that there could be no more poetry or art – and that something better had to be found.


May 12, 2014

Fragment 3


Do not make threats you cannot keep or defend. Do not make threats, make something else instead. Someday someone will remember something you do not remember. Ask you what you meant by it. What will you tell them? In a café near Buenos Aires, No Future plays on the radio. That was thirty years ago and are we any closer to imagining a livable future that we might actually want to live in?


May 11, 2014

I suspect that it might be more accurate to say that fundamentally we are social creatures who just happen to feel as individuals.


The trouble is, as soon as therapeutic schools start to formalize and professionalize their procedures they nearly always—advertently or not—enmesh themselves in interiorizing philosophies of one kind or another. There are in fact very few approaches to psychological therapy that don’t in some measure subscribe to individualist, idealist and/or what I call magical voluntarist positions. All such approaches have their foundation in a general cultural assumption that is in fact very hard to shake off—i.e., that fundamentally we are all individuals who just happen to find ourselves in societies. I suspect that it might be more accurate to say that fundamentally we are social creatures who just happen to feel as individuals.

- David Smail


May 7, 2014

Example of a Mithraic catechism...


… He will say: ‘Where … ?

… he is/(you are?) there (then/thereupon?) at a loss?’ Say: … Say: ‘Night’. He will say: ‘Where … ?’ … Say: ‘All things …’ (He will say): ‘… you are called … ?’ Say: ‘Because of the summery …’ … having become … he/it has the fiery … (He will say): ‘… did you receive/inherit?’ Say: ‘In a pit’. He will say: ‘Where is your …?… (Say): ‘…(in the…) Leonteion.’ He will say: ‘Will you gird?’ The (heavenly?) …(Say): ‘… death’. He will say: ‘Why, having girded yourself, …?’ ‘… this (has?) four tassels. Very sharp and … ‘… much’. He will say: …? (Say: ‘… because of/through?) hot and cold’. He will say: …? (Say): ‘… red … linen’. He will say: ‘Why?’ Say: ‘… red border; the linen, however, …’ (He will say): ‘… has been wrapped?’ Say: ‘The savior’s …’ He will say: ‘Who is the father?’ Say: ‘The one who (begets?) everything …’ (He will say): ‘(‘How ?)… did you become a Leo?’ Say: ‘By the … of the father’. … Say: ‘Drink and food’. He will say ‘…?’

'… in the seven-…

- Example of a Mithraic catechism, apparently pertaining to the Leo grade, discovered in a fragmentary Egyptian papyrus