June 18, 2008, 1:24 pm
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: , , , , , ,

Vodstroy I

Veria II

Sophien St. Jacques

St. Jacques

The Roma Journies, images of Roma from France, Greece and Russia by photographer Joakim Eskildsen

The four nails
The legend says:
Four nails were forged
to make the Redeemer die.

They were seen by a daughter of the wind
who passed across the hill
in her travels through the streets of the world.

Just one she took away,
so the soldier didn’t notice.

And thus He was crucified
with three nails only.

The fourth nail joined the suffering of the Sinti to the Redeemer.

The legend says.

Spatzo, Roma poet


bilingual suspicion
June 17, 2008, 11:55 pm
Filed under: departure lounge

We always hear the advantages of heteroculture.  Here is another view:  that to know another place significantly is to not be fully vested in this one.

Many years later when I was studying at the University of Kong – linguistics to be precise, after I’d studied Chinese, after I’d studied Russian and French, trying on languages like so many dresses – I came across a theory claiming that bilingualism can hurt you.  This was not one of those theories about the educational process or the capacities of the brain.  It was a slender little monograph, not particularly well written, which claimed that in operating as two distinct personalities with two distinct tongues, a bicultural person will be highly suspect to those who have only one culture.  The bicultural person seems so thoroughly one way in one language, so thoroughly different in another.  Only an imposter would hide that other half so well.  A liar.

–Marie Arana, “American Chica” Unrooted Childhoods, Intercultural Press

very, very important and very, very glamorous
June 10, 2008, 3:33 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

Lewis Lapham writes about the nomad and the settled.  The nomad thinks about himself and not much else; the settled develops systems of thought and begins to see beyond himself.  When they travel, the idle rich are like nomads:  they have a vague stupid apprehension of the world around them.

“If he can afford the price of the ticket, the nomad comes and goes with the seasons of his desire.  He has neither the time nor the inclination to think very much about the people standing by the wayside.  The settled townsman makes art, science and law; of necessity he must understand something other than himself.  The nomad merely gathers together his tent, his music and his animals, and wanders over the mountain in search of next year’s greening of America.

Transported from place to place at high speeds, suspended in a state of dynamic passivity, the American equestrian classes devote themselves to questions of technique and the relief of boredom.  They can concentrate their attention on the logistics of going to Pasedena for the Super Bowl or to Japan for the cherry blossoms, or the ceaseless repetition of gossip and description of scene.  But when, after prodigious labor, they find themselves on the fifty-yard line or standing under the trees in Kyoto, they can think of nothing to say.  They have no idea of what any of it means, only that it is there and somehow very, very important, or very, very glamorous or very, very sad.”

Lewis Lapham, Money and Class in America

high speed capsules
June 8, 2008, 11:53 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

A carapace is a protective outer covering like on a turtle or an airstream.  Here is a description of how the traditional tangible relationship between people and their landscapes is radically changed.  In cars, at higher speeds, for longer spells we gamble away the tangible for a remote gaze.

The landscape is a dynamic place shaped by natural forces that is culturally processed and refined by human action. It is both a container for humans and an object contained in human life that can be used and modified. Traditionally human cultural factors shape landscape and vice-versa: peoples inhabiting and gazing at this same landscape shape their own culture accordingly.

Nowadays however there is a radical change in this ‘traditional’, tangible relationship. In a society that is becoming increasingly mobile, more and more people belong to a new category: they are temporary inhabitants. They travel further, more often, sealed-off and at higher speed than ever before; they are those who do not inhabit land but commute through it and perceive it on the move when transported in high-speed ‘capsules’; those who do not fully engage their senses in the landscape experience but reduce the ‘physical’ interaction to a remote gaze; those at last, who have no roots in the landscapes they traverse.

In his book “The practice of everyday life” (1984) Michel de Certeau refers to this state as ‘traveling incarceration; immobile inside the train, seeing immobile things slip by’. It is only the machine (the train) that is in fact moving. But this movement causes a complete new vision of the world outside.

laziness practiced and perfected

(Balthus, Vee Speers, James Lavadour, Roger Ballen)

Stilinovic is an artist from Croatia.  For him, thought, amnesia, indifference, non-activity, pain, stupidity and futility are virtues.  We must practice these things and perfect them.  Or we will end up as mere producers, promoters and competitors.

As an artist, I learned from both East (socialism) and West (capitalism). Of course, now when the borders and political systems have changed, such an experience will be no longer possible. But what I have learned from that dialogue, stays with me. My observation and knowledge of Western art has lately led me to a conclusion that art cannot exist … any more in the West. This is not to say that there isn’t any. Why cannot art exist any more in the West? The answer is simple. Artists in the West are not lazy. Artists from the East are lazy; whether they will stay lazy now when they are no longer Eastern artists, remains to be seen.

Laziness is the absence of movement and thought, dumb time – total amnesia. It is also indifference, staring at nothing, non-activity, impotence. It is sheer stupidity, a time of pain, futile concentration. Those virtues of laziness are important factors in art. Knowing about laziness is not enough, it must be practiced and perfected. Artists in the West are not lazy and therefore not artists but rather producers of something… Their involvement with matters of no importance, such as production, promotion, gallery system, museum system, competition system (who is first), their preoccupation with objects, all that drives them away from laziness, from art. Just as money is paper, so a gallery is a room.

Artists from the East were lazy and poor because the entire system of insignificant factors did not exist. Therefore they had time enough to concentrate on art and laziness. Even when they did produce art, they knew it was in vain, it was nothing.

Artists from the West could learn about laziness, but they didn’t. Two major 20th century artists treated the question of laziness, in both practical and theoretical terms: Duchamp and Malevich.  Duchamp never really discussed laziness, but rather indifference and non-work. When asked by Pierre Cabanne what had brought him most pleasure in life, Duchamp said: “First, having been lucky. Because basically I’ve never worked for a living. I consider working for a living slightly imbecilic from an economic point of view. I hope that some day we’ll be able to live without being obliged to work. Thanks to my luck, I was able to manage without getting wet”.

Malevich wrote a text entitled “Laziness – the real truth of mankind” (1921). In it he criticized capitalism because it enabled only a small number of capitalists to be lazy, but also socialism because the entire movement was based on work instead of laziness. To quote: “People are scared of laziness and persecute those who accept it, and it always happens because no one realizes laziness is the truth; it has been branded as the mother of all vices, but it is in fact the mother of life. Socialism brings liberation in the unconscious, it scorns laziness without realizing it was laziness that gave birth to it; in his folly, the son scorns his mother as a mother of all vices and would not remove the brand; in this brief note I want to remove the brand of shame from laziness and to pronounce it not the mother of all vices, but the mother of perfection”. Finally, to be lazy and conclude: there is no art without laziness.

Work is a desease – Karl Marx.

Work is a shame – Vlado Martek.

–The Praise of Laziness, Mladen Stilinovic

return to life more violently
June 4, 2008, 2:56 pm
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: , , , , ,

Francis Bacon made difficult paintings, and beautiful.  They shake to the core because he is talking about the unearthed. This is about his method.  The painting is the medium by which the artist returns the onlooker to life, violently.  So we are dead until the image resuscitates us.

In the way I work I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things which are very much better than I could make it do. Is that an accident? Perhaps one could say it’s not an accident, because it becomes a selective process which part of this accident one chooses to preserve. One is attempting, of course, to keep the vitality of the accident and yet preserve a continuity … What has never yet been analyzed is why this particular way of painting is more poignant than illustration. I suppose because it has a life completely of its own. It lives on its own, like the image one’s trying to trap; it lives on its own, and therefore transfers the essence of the image more poignantly. So that the artist may be able to open up or rather, should I say, unlock the valves of feeling and therefore return the onlooker to life more violently … There is a possibility that you get through this accidental thing something much more profound than what you really wanted.”

~The Brutality of Fact, Bacon interview with David Sylvester

we know less than ever
June 2, 2008, 12:41 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , ,

This map shows the bias broadcast by the American media in February of 2007. America and Iraq are the only things worth covering apparently. America had 79% of coverage; India, China and Russia, with over 2 billion people, had 1%.  Bestest media in the world!

~Alisia Miller, head of Public Radio International

taxonomy of strangers

(-, bacon, ernst)

Here is Plato’s description of stranger types that come to our cities, some like birds, some on narrowly defined missions. The first kind of stranger is one that stays all summer.  The second comes for a shorter period to become enlightened by way of Muses.  The third comes with public business.  And the fourth comes on a special, rather vague assignment to look at richness and rarity in the visited city.

Plato was a rule guy and there are a bunch of mildly ridiculous ones in here if you have the patience to mine for them.  For him the minimum standard is justice; his version of hospitality is guarded and prescribed.  He sounds like a fear-monger.  Surely this is the standard for our own immigration rulebooks.

Now there are four kinds of strangers, of whom we must make some mention – the first is he who comes and stays throughout the summer; this class are like birds of passage, taking wing in pursuit of commerce, and flying over the sea to other cities, while the season lasts; he shall be received in market-places and harbours and public buildings, near the city but outside, by those magistrates who are appointed to superintend these matters; and they shall take care that a stranger, whoever he be, duly receives justice; but he shall not be allowed to make any innovation. They shall hold the intercourse with him which is necessary, and this shall be as little as possible. The second kind is just a spectator who comes to see with his eyes and hear with his ears the festivals of the Muses; such ought to have entertainment provided them at the temples by hospitable persons, and the priests and ministers of the temples should see and attend to them. But they should not remain more than a reasonable time; let them see and hear that for the sake of which they came, and then go away, neither having suffered nor done any harm. The priests shall be their judges, if any of them receive or do any wrong up to the sum of fifty drachmae, but if any greater charge be brought, in such cases the suit shall come before the wardens of the agora. The third kind of stranger is he who comes on some public business from another land, and is to be received with public honours. He is to be received only by the generals and commanders of horse and foot, and the host by whom he is entertained, in conjunction with the Prytanes, shall have the sole charge of what concerns him. There is a fourth class of persons answering to our spectators, who come from another land to look at ours. In the first place, such visits will be rare, and the visitor should be at least fifty years of age; he may possibly be wanting to see something that is rich and rare in other states, or himself to show something in like manner to another city. Let such an one, then, go unbidden to the doors of the wise and rich, being one of them himself: let him go, for example, to the house of the superintendent of education, confident that he is a fitting guest of such a host, or let him go to the house of some of those who have gained the prize of virtue and hold discourse with them, both learning from them, and also teaching them; and when he has seen and heard all, he shall depart, as a friend taking leave of friends, and be honoured by them with gifts and suitable tributes of respect. These are the customs, according to which our city should receive all strangers of either sex who come from other countries, and should send forth her own citizens, showing respect to Zeus, the God of hospitality, not forbidding strangers at meals and sacrifices, as is the manner which prevails among the children of the Nile, nor driving them away by savage proclamations.”

– Plato. Jowett, Benjamin, translator. Laws. 348BC. The Project Gutenberg EBook. Release date March 1999, Online. 16 April 2007