Friday, March 31, 2006


Kennesaw State University fucked me over. They moved the time-slot for my paper, and now I can't even go to the conference. Anyways, I posted my introduction below - and here is another cut-out:

Write with blood: and you will experience that blood is spirit … I hate reading idlers … Another century of readers and the spirit itself will stink.
- the advise of a writer who had already begun to read behind and in-between the lines etched into the history of philosophy, who had the courage and wisdom to radically assert that
The extraordinary courage and wisdom of Kant … has won the most difficult victory, that over the optimistic foundation of logic, which form the underpinnings of our culture.
Kant, we ask? The optimistic champion of logic overturned the foundations of logic? In all seriousness, Nietzsche suggests that the project of reason a priori, pursued to its limit as in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Critiques, reinforces the limit of intelligibility. As reason attempts to cross the boundary of this limitation, attempting a discursive theory-of-everything – reason crosses itself.

But science, spurred by its powerful illusion, speeds incessantly toward its limits where its optimism concealed in the essence of logic runs aground. Socratic man comes to gaze into the illuminable ... When he sees here to his horror how logic coils up at these limits and finally bites its own tail.

The cosmic symbolism of music resists any adequate treatment by language, for the simple reason that music, in referring to primordial contradiction and pain, symbolizes a sphere which is both earlier than appearance and beyond it.

We all talk about poetry so abstractly because we are all bad poets. At bottom the aesthetic phenomenon is quite simple: all one needs in order to be a poet is the ability to have a lively action going on begore one continually, to live surrounded by hosts of spirits. To be a dramatist one all one needs is the urge to transform one-self and speak out of strange bodies and souls.

cut my losses

Both the Apollinian and the Dionysian are marked as crossings that move beyond the everyday: to the world of beautiful images over which Apollo presides; or to the self-oblivion of the ecstatic state, as in the descent to Hades, as in crossing, in that direction, the river of Lethe.
-John Sallis, in reference to The Birth of Tragedy

Lethe, the river of forgetting, delineated the ancient boundary between the world of the dead and the world of the living. In fact – fictively speaking – Hades was surrounded by a number of rivers, one of which, the River Styx, famously encircled it nine times over. Lethe was the point of non-crossing, a limit, yet it was also the point of crossing – in short, it was the site a double-going – on both sides of which stand shades, specters, and phantoms.

Aletheia, incidentally, was the Greek word for “truth” – a-lethe-ia: “an un-forgetting.” Heidegger describes aletheia as an “unconcealment.” Truth is the process by which objects appear to us, for in revealing themselves from the concealment of undifferentiated phenomena, appearance-as-such appears in the objects’ revelation.

“Revelation,” a word spoken with its mystical connotation in-tact, is appropriate. By anology we can appropriate Godamer’s aesthetic concept of in-sight: “In order to understand our experience of art, we are tempted to search the depths of mystical language for daring new words like the German Anbild [ in-sight ] – an expression that captures both the image and the viewing of it." One is surprised at the extent to which perception – or an idea of visual re-presentation carried to its mythological extreme – invades every system of communication.

Phantom: from Greek, “to make visible”
Specter: from Latin, “to appear”
Shade: from Old English, “a disembodied spirit; a ghost”
– and in Modern English –
Shade: verb, “to produce gradations of light or color, as in painting”
Shadow: noun, “one who follows, especially in secret” – the assassin has arrived. Already we can hear the echoing footfalls of the double-goer.
Dionysos vs. the Crucified ... (the ellipses mark the struggle about to begin)

Monday, March 27, 2006

the MoMA

I saw a lot of art in NYC. It was wonderful. After so many museums, though, I feel more and more sensitive to the dishonesty of museums.

Two radical thoughts:
1) The museum space is sterile and elitist; it is artificially separated from the real, living world.
2) The movements following art of the 1950's point increasingly towards the death of elitism -- Enter urban graffiti, comic books, collage, and pop art.

Anyways, some new favorites:

Klimt's landscapes - very underrated. must be seen in person.

Kandinsky's early work - a richness totally inspired by Russian fairytales. part of the Symbolist movement.

More Magritte - just call me "Gramaphone Assassin"

Early Cubism - the quality of works by Picasso and Braque is unparalleled. they worked side-by-side, playing off of each other. sometimes they purposely mixed up their paintings to throw people off.

Graffiti artist turned abstract painter - Basquiat.

David Wojnarowicz - absolutely badass. painter / film director. died of AIDS in 1992.

Left: a dream image. novelist Yukio Mishima's face appears at bottom.

... more Wojnarowicz

... and yes, that is a tail-devourer.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


When a man buries a pole in the sand,
he automatically creates a sundial and begins to mark time.
To begin marking time is to begin creating a culture.

In the beginning there was Void. The world was cloaked in boundless oceanic darkness penetrated only by the glowing din of scattered, innumerable and unnamed nebulae. Islands of gleaming, radiant antiquity. A wordless, untested rorschach of hoary archaic night.

The first map was not at all of-this-world. The blasphemy of astrological cartography was the invisible connect-the-dot graffiti etched into the otherwise capricious nebulae. Before there were no codices and tomes of charts and tables - no statistical graph-iti - inquiring into the 'reason' of the heavens. The first map was a contract written in blood. What 'real' terrain could astrology claim? To draw the heavens was to inaugrate the extraterrestrial despotism of the stars over the earth.

The philosopher-priest sat watching the shadow of the gnomon, the man-made phallus emerging from the adobe floor. Astronomy existed for centuries, before sundials, through the artifices of this simple device. It was only a stick. But the astrologer, his robes caked with the months of dust, watched the stick with the patience of an ascetic before his god. The span and ebb of the equinox was indicated, prophetically, in the signs and language of shadows. Pythagoras the Magician wanted more.

Gnomon - the "indicator." The signifier.

Babel, Eiffel, the Collosus - all were predestined in the chronomancer's first, archetypal erection. It was a phallus to measure against nature. Men could only ride the bull when they made-believe its testicals were smaller than theirs'.

Already the dramatis personae had appeared. Chronos, Mars, the Pleides - Time, War, and the Seven Sisters. The zodiacal signs weaved the first and eternal narratives in their luminous procreation. Constellations of meaning. Movements of negotiation, struggle - erotic and violent: necessity and purpose spelled with finality in the frost of stellar opalescence. The constellations decided the destiny and doom of every man, woman, and child. The golden threads of necessity were already bound before the first babe cried its dissent.
Why, why, oh why have I been born into a life that has already begun to end?

The heavens return no reply, for their law has already spoken. In dreams we can still the whispering of the daimon, the muse, the alien will of extraterrestrial Idea. The cosmos was a despotism; it was never a democracy.

Then there emerged those heroic ones, the archetypes of anarchy, taking up arms in the gigantomachal war against heaven. Gilgamesh the master of slaves. Pythagoras the magician. Gilgamesh conquered others. Pythagoras conquered himself. And then... there came Socrates, the fateful slayer of magic.

Pythagoras the Ionian trekked to seek the wisdom of all the wizards of antiquity. The hermits-arcane who chose not the wars of men, taking up instead the greater gigantomachy of the stars. He culled their secrets and added them to his own giodesic thaumaturgy of number, sphere, and line: Egyptian necromancy. Persian polito-theurgy. The ecstatic theophanies of the Cretan priestess. He even visited the barbarian shamans of the cold North, learning the indescipherable babble of their runic incantations. It was the age when all of the arts and sciences were considered magic.

Who knows what would have transpired if he had consulted the occult alchemy of the Taoist geomancers. History never recorded the handshake between Pythagoras and the old sage, Lao Tze. Pythagoras extended his hand in partnership. But who would have understood the meaning of this Occidental salute? Lao Tze could only smile and bow in silence. The signs were confused; the distance between the two men grew with the bowing. The East, the true Orient, receded infitely away from Pythagoras' salutory grasp.

The war between Europe and Asia had already begun with the kidnapping of Io, the woman who gave Ionia its name. The children of Gilgamesh had already taken up arms against the children of Herakles. Gemini smiled over the battle between twins. Pythagoras, a true son of Io, would have nothing of it.

Rumors circulated the ancient world: they said that the coffin lids of the pharoahs, the sarcophogae of the skeleton-kings locked away in their cyclopean palace-crypts, were inscripted with maps sufficient for navigating the ways and by-ways of intergalactic currents. Celestial code maps - the secret of magical interstellar travel beyond - transcribed from the last whisperings of cold dying lips. Schematics for dragonboats seaworthy enough for the primordial ocean of night, the "River of Heaven." Just as one could sail the Mediterranean in life, Pythagoras heard, one could sail the Milky Way in death and in mystical un-death.

Pythagoras wondered to himself, pondering the secrets lurking behind the black mirror of the sky ocean...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sky and Castle

Ben, three paintings by René Magritte:

Castle in the Pyrenees

("Magical Realism")

The False Mirror

(Puts a new spin on "in the eye of the beholder." More like: "In the eye of the beholder beholding this painting beholding you." Or: "In the eye, and only in the eye, beholding-as-such is manifest.

Or yet again: "In the eye of the beholder as it reads 'in the eye of the beholder' typed across the computer screen.)

The Red Model

One of the most impressive Magritte images ever, period. (followed by a period . )

We can re-name it "Shoeless" if we want. Magritte wouldn't care -- Dead men tell no lies. Living ones do.

Magritte was part of the Surrealist movement, but his style has been recently called "magical realism" in order to distinguish his quiet style from the psychedelic movement of Dali. And it's a good call too. Magical realism is a genre that crosses between painting and literature, and given Freudian ideas about the Uncanny, I'd definitely group Magritte into magical realism.

Here's an essay by Fredric Jameson that mentions Magritte, Pynchon, and even Burroughs. I heard him speak at UGA last month. He's a chubby, sweaty scholarly-type that mumbles a lot, but he's definitely brilliant. The talk was basically a narratology and a Post-colonial critique of Aristotle, the Illiad and Odyssey, Livy, Marx, and others.

August 6, 1945. The Feast of the Transfiguration. Hiroshima

Then a bright cloud appeared overhead, and a voice from the cloud proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him."

Not many Japanese writers are willing to address the bomb directly. David's right - the bomb is a 20th century archetype. It has become a powerfully emotional image in the collective unconscious that, for the Japanese, is excessive to linguistic representation.

Ango Sakaguchi on the Tokyo air raids:
(more people died in repeated firebomb attacks in Tokyo than in the one bomb in Hiroshima.)

I truly detest the sight of blood. When I saw a traffic accident occur right before my eyes I immediately turned the other way and fled. But I loved the fantastic destruction that took place in Tokyo. Though I shuddered in fear as the bombs and incendiaries rained down, terrified and panic stricken as the destruction raged, at the same time I felt as though I had never loved or felt such longing for humanity as I did during the firebombing.

I held my ground there in Tokyo, refusing the kindness of a number of people who not only warned me to evacuate, but even tried to offer me places to stay in the countryside. I intended to make my final stand at the burned out air raid shelter of my friend Oi Hirosuke, but after we were separated when he was evacuated to Kyushu and I had lost my best friend in all of Tokyo, all I could do was try to conceal the sound of my breathing in that air raid shelter as I conjured up images of the Americans about to invade at any moment amid the heavy artillery shells exploding all around me. At the time I was calmly resigned to whatever fate awaited me. I thought that I might die, but I believed much more strongly that I would live. Yet to say that I had some kind of vision of how I would manage to come out of the ruins alive would be wrong. There were no thoughts in my mind beyond merely surviving. A miraculous return to life in a world so new and fresh it lay beyond all conception. That was the curious feeling I had; that my entire life would begin anew.

It was for that reason alone that I lived with my cowardly fear as the bombs fell all around me for two hours on the night of April 4, 1945. As tracers lit up the night sky overhead to the brightness of noon, my brother, who had just come to Tokyo, asked me from the air raid shelter if the light was coming from the incendiary bombs. I was so scared that it was all I could do just to tell him that the light was coming from the falling tracers.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

custom framing

Some random thoughts I had at work today:

For, even when considered as art, framing is a craft that is both art and a commodity. While framing demands a steady hand and a sensitive eye for design, the final demands belong to the customer. The frame shop is a space delineated expressly for the efficiency and accuracy of a careful art. The frame desk, on the other hand, is a rampart set against the invasion of bad taste and common ignorance.

(Negotiating with the public bites ass)

Genuine, local art tends to receive an equally artistic and idiosyncratic framing. The wider bulk of business, however, comes in the form of poster-print reproductions or watercolors painted by the young children of rich, idle housewives.

The Wizard is a computerized mat-cutter; a machine that alleviates the framer from expending time and thought. The machine is so effective that only a handful especially detailed projects still require hand cutting. Frame shops without the Wizard are necessarily less competitive. It spells for framing a significant change in the means-of-production.

There is such a thing as a “Master Framer.” Years of experience in the craft do engender real results. A master can acquire a reputation for careful work, versatility, and bold design-work. Given time and a good environment, masters can develop a circle of dedicated patrons with special projects. The situation breaches the normal impersonality of the commodity system.

Frames are ordered to specific measurements and are then shipped to the frame shop, chopped or joined, from a plant. The framer mediates the process, translating the arbitrary dimensions of natural objects into machine units and rational proportions. Artistic choices are made, and then human hands finish and fine-tune the assembly of mass-produced materials. Framers translate the industrial process back into human terms.

The industrial process in framing is often two-fold. The conventions of standard frame sizes can intersect with a variety of logistics – centimeters vs. inches, preferences in photo-development, resolutions on different industrial inkjets, etc. When confronted with an art-reproduction Rembrandt, the framer must translate the language of one machine, the printer, into the language of another, the frame plant. The Rembrandt has already experienced the commodity transformation.

The framer becomes the connecting midwife between as-of-yet incompatible industrial processes. We are among the last biological components necessary to an art-commodity machine.

ouroboros (1)

(Fuseli's Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent)

The tail-devourer signifies the beginning as well as the end. It is a wheel of creation and destruction, circumscribed around the world in infinite repetition. Within that titanic embrace, the world serpent’s shape delineates a sphere of intelligibility and defines the most profound limits of that sphere. Because he predates the very possibility of continuity, time is meaningless to Jörmungandr, since he is essentially the primordial enemy *of* history. The only “time” that matters to the serpent is the moment when time itself will be destroyed. The paradox implied by a world serpent is fascinating. It exists within an epic, antagonistic contention with the world tree: Jörmungandr is the logical predicate of Yggdrasil.

(There's a lot of reading ahead - namely, Eliade and Pynchon. But the reptilian hordes have already assembled; Ragnarak has already begun. Bring it on bitches.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

the marriage of cadmus and harmony: Die, Muses, die!

She realized that that crown was the same crown and always had been. Her story really was over now; Ariadne would be forever alone, prisoner of that radiant crown in the sky: Corona Boralis.

Poeto-logos does not equal nihilism. It is the yes-saying that resounds “Yes!” eternally across the heavens. (There is more than one heaven).

And there the darkness was rend by a dazzling crown. Fiery gold and Indian jewels. Dionysus offered Ariadne the crown as a gift on the occation of this their first embrace. Sign of perfection, “herald of propitious silence,” the crown was a circle of seduction. But to seduce also means “to destroy” in Greek: phtheírein. The crown is the perfection of deceit, it is the deceit that circles in on itself, it is that perfection which includes deceit within it.

Sing the true singing. No more cacophonic dissonance. No more of that racket-and-rattling from Californian neo-Gnostic-theo-sophistry. The divine melody is a freedom from bad Heideggerians. I imitate in order to destroy.

Just a beach lashed by thundering waves, an abstract place where only the seaweed moves. It is the island where no one lives, the place where obsession turns round and round on itself, with no way out. A constant flaunting of death.

Mythical figures live many lives, die many deaths, and in this they differ from the characters we find in novels, who can never go beyond the single gesture. But in each of these lives and deaths all the others are present, and we can hear their echo. Only when we become aware of a sudden consistency between incompatibles can we say we have crossed the threshold of myth.

Vladamir Propp suggests that märchen, or fairytales (as in the Grimm, as in Urashima and the Scottish “Rhymer”) contain the most clear expositions of the universal grammar of human narrative. If one became familiar with 100 tales, then one would begin to speak the language of mythology itself. It would be a bilinguality that extends towards both ends of the Tree - roots and branches, growing and swirling, snarling, and breathing – ascending with Icarus to the utmost heights of air, while burrowing down with Orpheus down into the deep cloak of cold, living earth. Why wait for destruction by water? Wouldn't morphology become a method of self-transformation?

Lévi-Strauss suggests that leitmotifs are like partie. Partie = French: component; match and game set; Frenchmen lined around a cedar-carved table in an improvised smoke-filled back-of-tavern casino, cards played, shuffled and reshuffled. What’s up yer’ sleeve there, cowboy? Zeus, Appollo, Shamash, Izanagi, Napoleon, Stalin, Agamemnon, Baal and Mammon.

Pythagoras believed in reincarnation. Pythagoras was a vegetarian. Pythagoras “prohibited his disciples from beans.” Some scholars suggest that perhaps he believed there were human souls there within the seeds of a plant. Other scholars suggest that Pythagoras simply hated politics. Beans were used in the demos to cast one’s vote. Black bean = no. White bean = yes. Yes!

Mystery in Crete, was made plain to all, no one tried to hide it. The “unnameable things” that abounded in Attica were laid open to everybody. But there was no sense of challenge about this, Crete, with its hundred cities and not a single defense around them, looked like a huge plaything. Only a tidal wave or dark raiders striking from the sea, could have been its doom

There is no grand artisan. There is no demiurgical-watchmaker-intellect. The maps drew themselves; there is no hand-nor-eye that dare frame thy symmetry. The blind-one was only a spectre. The cards deal themselves; they play and inter-play of their own accord. Kick the charlatans out of the casino.

The goddess was always ready to dray her bow. Dionysus asks her to transfix Ariadne with an arrow. And he wants to watch too. Then time turns all to euphemism. All that will remain on the walls of Pompeii is an image of celestial love.

Abiogenesis is a cosmological impossibility. Abiogenesis is a no-saying. Time obeys only the heirogamy of celestial intercourse.

…on a votive table, an image of Hera’s mouth closing amorously around Zeus’s erect phallus … Her name was Io. In looks and dress it was Io’s duty to re-create the image of the goddess she served. She was a copy endeavoring to imitate a statue. But Zeus chose the copy … and he wanted it because it was a difference, and her because she was a copy … Zeus’s other adventures, all Hera’s other vendettas, would be nothing more than further heaves on that same wheel of necessity.”

Eros is the thaumaturgical power of blood. It is the music that animates the spheres from their crystalline slumber.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

antediluvian struggle

I tell thee that the self-willed pride of Zeus
Shall surely be abased; that even now
He plots a marriage that shall hurl him forth
Far out of sight of his imperial throne
And kingly dignity. Then, in that hour,
Shall be fulfilled, nor in one tittle fail,
The curse wherewith his father Chronos cursed him,
What time he fell from his majestic place
Established from of old. And such a stroke
None of the Gods save me could turn aside.
-Prometheus Bound

Chained to the primordial rock, Prometheus reveals to us the prophecy given to him by his mother: Zeus will die. Zeus’ own crime of patricide has guaranteed his murder at the hands of a future illegitimate child. Prometheus’ tragedy parallels the tragedy of Zeus. The myth of Prometheus is really a tragedy-within-a-tragedy.

Prometheus’ transgression is not the cause of Zeus’ retribution. They are actually simultaneous events symptomatic of one identical cause. There is no such thing as crime unless there is an authority to outlaw and judge the criminal act. Political authority created crime.

These parallel events, the murder of Chronos and the capture of Prometheus, constitute a pre-historical, antediluvian struggle between the gods and the titans. The idea is paradoxical, since, in Greece, the titans were essentially the gods who came before the Gods. Humanity receives the gift of fire, the creation of light from within darkness. The father-killer Zeus rises to power over and against all of the other gods.

The myth discloses the historical birth of human consciousness in poetic terms. Zeus and Prometheus, united in binary opposition, are in fact alter-egos of each other. This collision between oppositional forces marks the very beginning of culture, in both historical and mythological time.

Prometheus is a narrative that is both cosmogonic and apocalyptic. The events of the pre-historical gigantomachy signal the beginning as well as the beginning of the end. Consciousness, the world of the subject, is a terrain that exists between two cataclysmic floods - between the Deluge and the future Deluge-again.

dreamreading (2)

A tentative footnote to dreamreading (1):
After all, dream-discourse is the signifier, and the signified is necessarily something that is uncannily meaningless.
I apologize, since I have collapsed a great deal of Jungian theory as well as some later writers that I only am just beginning to read. Dreams are basically images that float up from the unconscious. Dream content is based on several factors including personal experience, collective imagery, and biology.

Experience is personal. It is limited to what that individual person has experienced.

Collective imagery, archetypes from books, movies, and religion, belong to a different, super-personal sphere. A lot of my own dream content comes from film, and I imagine that a lot of people today dream the same way. Contemporary mass culture does tend to worship actors and actresses as if they were gods and goddesses. Religious and esoteric symbolism, of course, has always comprised a great deal of dream content.

After that, dreams are just biology. Dreams are the expression of nature; they are the art-product of the chemicals and neurological circuitry of the human body. In my earlier post, I was trying to emphasize the aesthetic, amoral aspect of dream content. Nature does not have a concept of morality. No single dream every really has the desire to say, “Hey, you should change your life.”

In their raw, original form, dream images have multiple associations. They are the summation of our every thought and experience, both personal and collective. The dream obeys an art-impulse that simply desires to show images that may or may not make sense. When I begin to ascribe meaning, saying “This image represents my dark alter-ego.”, I begin to destroy the natural, quixotic beauty of the dream. Therefore, there is a type of re-presentation happening when we try to analyze and put a dream into permanent record.

It’s a lot like taking a photograph of a waterfall. If you’ve never seen the movement of a living, three-dimensional waterfall in real life, the photograph can never do justice to the waterfall’s reality. Describing the dream puts it into linguistic terms. Dreams are actually the direct result of pre-linguistic phenomena.

Monday, March 06, 2006

peelander atlanta!

Peelander Z = Japanese punk rock. Peelander-Yellow = rocks your ass. Medium rare.

world tree (1)

Schleicher is commonly recognized as the first linguist to portray language development using the figure of a tree. He invented a system of language classification that resembled a botanical taxonomy, tracing groups of related languages and arranging them in a genealogical tree. By the time of the publication of his Deutsche Sprache (1860) he had begun to use trees to illustrate language descent.

(left: Odin in Yggdrasil, the World Tree)

karl goes to india

Some quotations from Marx's "On Imperialism in India," 1853, an essay I'm inclined to like and dislike at the same time:

If you will, go still more back to antiquity, take the mythological chronology of the Brahmin himself, who places the commencement of Indian misery in an epoch even more remote than the Christian creation of the world.

We must not forget that these idyllic village communites, inoffensive they they may appear, had always been the solid foundation of Oriental despotism . . . contaminated by distinctions of caste and by slavery, that they subjugated man to external cicumstances instead of elevating man to be the sovereign of circumstances . . . and thus brought about a brutalizing worship of nature, exhibiting its degradation in the fact that man, the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Hanuman, the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow.

It was the British intruder who broke up the Indian hand-loom and destroyed the spinning wheel. England began with driving the Indian cottons from the European market; it then introduced twist in Hindostan and in the end inundated the very mother country of cotton with cottons. From 1818 to 1836 the export of twist from Great Britain to India rose in the proportion of 1 to 5,200. But at the same time the population of Dacca decreased from 150,000 inhabitants to 20,000. This decline of Indian towns celebrated for their fabrics was by no means the worst consequence. British steam and science uprooted over the whole surface of Hindostan, the union between agricultural and manufacturing industry.

From the Indian natives, reluctantly and sparingly educated at Calcutta, under English superintendence, a fresh class is springing up, endowed with eh requirements for government and imbued with European science . . . The day is not far distant when . . . that once fabulous country will thus be actually annexed to the Western world.

Old Karl, that ghost of history, is a personal spectre of mine. While certain ideas about social antagonisms and commodity fetishism do stand the test of time, Marx makes a couple of ill-begotten suggestions:

1) the de-mystification of reality
2) a metanarrative of world-wide homogeneity - another will to mastery in disguise - that is a functional continuity of the Western imperialism that he claims to overthrow.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

dreamreading (1)

A couple of years ago, when I was first getting into Jungian theory, a buddy volunteered a dream on me - a dream involving himself, violently and unremorsefully shredding people to pieces with a chainsaw. I was a bit unprepared. All I could say was, "Well, no one really believes in wish-fulfillment anymore. It's not that you truly, deep inside, want to chop people up... Maybe the dream just wants to tell you that you're not being creative enough..."

The truth is that dreams have at their most basic level no specific meaning. Think of a puddle of rain on the bare, naked earth. When the puddle is disturbed, the water coagulates with a swirl of gray, meaningless clay and particles of soil. The dream desire nothing more than to create, to show images, which distorted and incomplete, are only simply images.

Gilles Deleuze presents us with the amoral and matter-of-fact reality of the unconscious:
It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the id.


The unfortunate by-product of a busy schedule is irregular sleep. Dreamreading is impossible for me at this point. I am so exhausted that I rarely dream, or when I do, there is no hope of making the dream into a lasting memory. I can’t wait for the summertime… please oh please.

Dreams naturally fade back into the nothingness from which they came. Unless we externalize the dream, by way of a written journal or by means of communicating them out loud to someone else, their memory will inevitably fail. Speaking a dream, that which is unspoken, fundamentally changes its nature. The dream gains a type of discourse. Words collide with images, associations are made, and meanings are ascribed.

I still agree with Jung - dream-discourse is important. Several weeks of collected dreams form a model of individuation, a path toward gnosis and personal development. No single dream considered by itself, however, can ever provide the solution for anything. After all, dream-discourse is the signifier, and the signified is necessarily something that is uncannily meaningless.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


This is the work of local street artist "Mr. Fangs." His trademark is a stylized Pac-man ghost which, evidently, can be seen all over Atlanta. He is the same artist that did the graffiti for the set of The Dutchman, a play that was performed here at OU. They had to lock up Conant in order to keep his identity secret while he worked.

Compare with Shepard Fairey - whose "Obey Giant" can be seen in most every city in the US, including Atlanta. These days, unfortunately, Shep' seems to be more concerned with merchandising than with art. Shep and Fangs both sell t-shirts on their websites. Fangs even has hand-painted Converse! (insert vomit noise...)

Fangs' work isn't terribly ambitious - he's no Banksy - but he is local, and he is still doing a lot of work. If anyone wants to go hunting for street art in Atlanta this summer, let me know.

(Right: Banksy's images planted directly onto the wall marking the Israel-Palestine border)

Banksy's website
Fangs' website

primitive / modernity

The juxtaposition of modernity with “the primitive,” as seen in modern painting, may initially strike us as paradoxical. This psychological collusion between the future and the past, however, constitutes the very heart of 20th century consciousness. History as we know it is the story of mastery, a narrative describing the rise of Western civilization to technological and cultural hegemony. Mastery, however, is as much an outward will to dominate as it is also a will inflicted upon the self. For as human beings must obey the will of history pushing forward to greater economic and technological heights, human beings simultaneously submit themselves to the civilizing reigns of culture and ethical labor in the name of “progress.” Modernity and the countervailing movements of the “postmodern” are in fact fundamentally united. The trends that gave rise to modernity simultaneously engendered the seeds of its own destruction. Recent history has shown in bloody, material fact that cultural plurality, fundamentalism, and irrationalism are part-and-parcel with the rationalism and material prowess of our age.

Kant and Counter-Enlightenment

Here is the script for an oral presentation on Kant, a notorious Enlightment thinker, that I delivered to the Philosophy of Art class this spring. It was a bit ambitious. In each section beginning with bold type, the perspective shifts from one writer to another. I begin with an etching by Francisco de Goya, and then hammer into blockquotations from Kant's 3rd Critique, William Blake's Jerusalem, Max Weber's Sociology of Religion, and then slowly segue into the writings of Georges Bataille. (The sections marked "The Aztecs" are all direct quotations from The Accursed Share) --I read at an extremely fast pace:

El Sueno de la Razon.

Fallen asleep at his writing table, quill in hand, working deep into the night. Too deep. Imagination produces a monstrous cacophony of nightmarish brood: owl-bears, bat-dragons, scape-goats, kobolds, and chimeras. It is a monstrous void, entirely hidden from the daytime world, obscured very the very light of reason.
The Sleep of Reason?

A poet ventures to give sensible expression to rational ideas of invisible beings, the realm of the blessed, the realm of hell, eternity, creation, and so on. p. 183

Beauty is exuberance.
The Sublime is monstrous. In it we find a will of nature that runs counter to our interests. Its suggestive power commands the imagination, presenting the mind with a thing that is absolutely large: the mountain, the ocean, the cosmos. But what thing could be Sublime? What thing?

For this reason, the primary target of Zoroaster’s indignant ethical rationalism was orgiastic ecstasy, particularly the intoxicating cult of the soma sacrifice, which he deemed unworthy of man and cruel to beasts. For the same reason, Moses directed his rationalized ethical attack against the orgy of the dance, just as many founders or prophets of ethical religion attacked 'whoredom'
('whoredom' - that is, the female priesthood.)
Ethical eschatology. The Sleep of Reason?


For going to the extreme of explaining everything only mechanically must make reason fantasize and wander among chimeras of nature of natural powers that are quite inconceivable, just as much as a merely teleological kind of explanation that takes no account whatever of the mechanism of nature made reason rave. p. 297.
The Sleep of Reason?

Kant. is obsessed with purpose. In purposiveness, he can isolate the causes and the intentions of nature, a universal telos. Kant’s quest for telos, that a thing carries its end within itself– seeks an ultimate purpose for all things. The success of his project, this teleological will to power, depends on one final act of murder. Reason must conquer nature. Kant must propose the contra-purposiveness of nature. Otherwise, his entire system falls into crisis.
Kant must slay the dragon. Heroic Matricide.


I see the four-fold Man, the Humanity in deadly sleep…
In heavy wreaths folds over every nation: cruel works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other, not as those in Eden, which,
Wheel within wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace
Static eschatology.


Nature on the other hand, is very far from having adopted [humanity] as its special darling … but has in fact spared him no more than any other animal from its destructive workings: plague, famine, flood, frost, or attacks from other animals large or small, and so on. p. 318.
Kant has expelled the beauty from nature, and from his Critique, replacing it instead with the violence of conquest and despotism.
Parthenogenesis. Asexual Reproduction.

Man is indeed the only being on earth that has understanding and hence an ability to set himself purposes of his own choice, and in this respect he holds the title of lord of nature. p. 318.
The ultimate purpose of nature, its telos, is the lordship en - titled exclusively to human beings for setting our own purpose, and for using nature as a means to our ends. Human beings are superior to other animals, because they are useful to us.

The Aztecs.

Around Easter time, they undertook the sacrificial slaying of a young man of irreproachable beauty. He was chosen from among the captives the previous year, and from that moment he lived like a great lord ... He went through the whole town very well dressed, with flowers in his hand … they all knew he was the image of Texcatlipoca, one of the greatest gods, and prostrated themselves before him, worshipping him wherever they met him.

Hence only culture can be the ultimate purpose that we have cause to attribute to nature with respect to the human species. p.319
Kant submits that culture has two necessary aspects: the culture of skill and the culture of discipline.

The Aztecs.

Twenty Days previous to the festival they gave this youth four maidens, well prepared and educated for this purpose. During thos twenty days he had carnal intercourse with the maidens. The four girls they gave him as wives and who had been reared with special care for that purpose were given names of four goddesses.
Kant. The culture of skill is purely economic. Human beings require skill to transform raw nature into raw materials, that is, into commodities with a purpose for economic use. The culture of discipline is the culture of science, education, and the arts. Art serves the purpose of making man more cultured.
Commodity fetishism.

The Aztecs.

The women stepped aside and left him. As he got to the place where he was to be killed, he mounted the steps by himself and on each one of these he broke on of the flutes which he had played during the year.
Kant. Purposiveness is an idea that is elementally connected to utitlity, to economy, and to the commodification of the every thing, that is, the reduction of the world, both sacred and profane, into thingly-ness.

The Aztecs.

These now grabbed him and threw him onto the stone block, and holding him by fett, hands and head, thrown on his back, the priest who had the stone knife buried it with a mighty thrust in the victim’s breast and, after drawing it out, thrust one hand into the opening and tore out the heart, which he at once offered to the sun.
Respect was shown for the young man’s body
Sacred Regicide.

Bataille. In his Theory of Religion, Bataille begins with nature. We ask - when one wolf kills another wolf, does the victor pause to celebrate? Bataille wonders:

If the animal that has brought down its rival does not apprehend the other’s death as does a man behaving triumphantly, this is because its rival had not broken a continuity … The continuity was not called into question, but rather the identity of desires of two beings set one against the other in mortal combat.
For Bataille, the animal world is a world of immanence, an embryonic experience of intimacy. “Transcendence,” Bataille says, “is nothing if it is not embryonic.” Unlike Kant, Bataille is not suggesting the superiority of human beings. It is a world that is closed to us, since the animal is in the world like “water in water.” For Bataille, the world of culture has no specific claim to mastery over the animal world – they are only different.

Bataille, therefore, posits that the creation of tools signified the first major event of culture. The tool is subordinated to the one who uses it, the one who invested time into its creation, who determined its purpose from the very beginning:

Utility. This is one of the most remarkable and fateful aberrations of language. … The stick digs the ground in order to ensure the growth of a plant; the plant is cultivated in order to be eater; it is eatern in order to maintain the life of the one who cultivates it … The absurdity of an endless deferral. p. 28
History is irrevocably drawn towards manufacture and the simultaneous objectification of life into banality. Bataille reserves art alone, unlike other manufactured objects, from the fate of commodification. Bataille understands art as a true end, an end that exists separate from the chain of teleological tyranny. The purpose of art, and the religious sacrifices of the Aztecs, is to remove humanity from purposiveness, to annihilate the cyclical wheel within wheel of utility, establishing once again the sacred intimacy of water within water.


The world of intimacy is as antithetical to the real world as immoderation is to moderation, madness to reason, drunkenness to lucidity. There is moderation only in the object … The world of the subject is the night: that changeable, infinitely suspect night which, in the sleep of reason produces monsters. (from The Accursed Share)
El Sueno de la Razon