the new cold war
November 9, 2016, 8:45 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: ,

the world we live in Megan Cope
October 8, 2011, 10:37 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: ,

mappa mundi
April 7, 2009, 3:10 pm
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: , , , ,

mappa mundi9.2outlines

I find the description of this project by artist Lize Mogel much more compelling than the map, or at least what she has determined important to map.  According to her description, maps could be more real than they are, hyperreal, by layering on new dimensions.  So it’s no longer just some deterministic, positivistic, rational laying down of lines and coloring in those lines and raising and lowering to surveyed altitudes and counting actual people.  That’s the start of a much richer matrix which will include the indeterminate.  Mogel calls them associative geographies.

From the website –


Mappa Mundi is an ongoing project that explores two kinds of popular representations of the World—the iconic world map and the international spectacle of World’s Fairs. As technology and commerce blur more and more geographic boundaries, the ubiquitous world map becomes inadequate to describe the intricacies of globalization. Mappa Mundi is an attempt to remake the world map, relying on associative geographies rather than physical ones.

These experiments within the confines of the specific form of the world map reconfigure it to create new geographies which represent contemporary global situations. Familiar borders are denied, and new connections between places are brought to the surface. These map mash-up are more conducive to narratives of globalization, but more difficult, disorienting.

mappa mundi refers to medieval world maps that sometimes conflated real and imaginary geography, made at a time when the complete picture of the physical world was still being formed.

the world flattened out
April 23, 2008, 1:58 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

(Kureishi | Tolstoy | Chekhov)

Hanif Kureishi is the writer of The Buddha of Suburbia.  In this quotation, he says that we use art to raise the events of our lives out of the realm of insignificance.

He asserts that writing is an opening up, an unraveling, a continual search.  The conclusive and finite, and systems we have blindly come to accept like political thought, are limiting – like flattening out a round earth.  So, life is made sweet and human and dimensional by perpetual asking and questioning and yearning.

The master Chekhov taught that it is in the ordinary, the everyday, the unremarkable – and in the usually unremarked – that the deepest, most extraordinary and affecting events occur. These observations of the ordinary are bound up with everyone else’s experience the universal – and with what it is to be a child, parent, husband, lover. Most of the significant moments of one’s life are ‘insignificant’ to other people. It is showing how and why they are significant and also why they may seem absurd, that is art.

The aged Tolstoy thought he had to solve all the problems of life, Chekhov saw that these problems could only be put, not answered, at least by the part of yourself that was an artist. Perhaps as a man you could be effective in the world; and Chekhov was. As a writer, though, skepticism was preferable to a didacticism or advocacy that seemed to settle everything but which, in reality, closed everything off.  Political or spiritual solutions rendered the world less interesting. Rather than reminding you of its baffling strangeness, they flattened it out.

In the end there is only one subject for an artist, What is the nature of human experience? What is it to be alive, suffer and feel? What is it to love or need another person? To what extent can we know anyone else? Or ourselves? In other words, what it is to be a human being. These are questions that can never be answered satisfactorily but they have to be put again and again by each generation and by each person. The writer trades in dissatisfaction.

~excerpted from Something Given: Reflections on Writing, by Hanif Kureishi

simultaneously and substantially dual


This is from an article by Arjun Appadurai.  In it, he describes how the world we accept as empirical, the spaces we see and touch and know can only be properly negotiated when we add in an intangible dimension, what we remember and imagine from other places – ones we’ve inhabited, dreamed about, seen at the movies.  By adding the new dimension, which by the way is very real, we see that we live in a much different place than commonly described.

“Because of the degree of media penetration and saturation – which frequently also means media of many kinds and media from many places, particularly television, where it’s available – people live, as it were, in layered places, which in themselves have a variety of levels of attachment, engagement and, if you like, reality … In a world of migration and mass mediation, everybody is living in a world of image flows, such that it’s not simply and straightforwardly possible to separate their everyday life from this other set of spaces that they engage with through the media, either as receivers, or as workers in call centers, or on interactive websites.  The work of the imagination allows people to inhabit either multiple localities or a kind of single and complex sense of locality, in which many different empirical spaces coexist.  So one of these call center people is simultaneously living a little bit in the United States and also living substantially in Bombay.  But Bombay itself, because of films and so on, is not merely empirical Bombay.

In this sense you have a kind of creative, spatial form which isn’t reducible to its empirical facts.  Now those empirical facts – for example, that the trains in Bombay are incredibly crowded  – must be faced at the end of the day.  Even if you’re inhabiting many localities, this one will always be present to you.  But because I do believe in the work of the imagination, I believe your engagement with this empirical world can be somewhat different depending on what translocalities you inhabit mentally, in and through the imagination.  So the train isn’t the same for everyone, not only because there’s a better part and a less good part of the train, but simply because the train is only one element of people’s localized existence.  Again I would say, remembering the urban poor, that the relationship of their experienced spaces to their imagined spaces is always at a disadvantage.  And this must be changed.  But the poor, too, negotiate a relationship between experienced spaces and imagined spaces.  They’re not only living in sheer experience while the rest of us live in the imagination.  That’s my sense of the political economy of these spaces.”

~Arjun Appadurai, The Right to Participate in the Work of the Imagination, Trans Urbanism, V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers

vivid roilings
March 26, 2008, 4:37 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

(plankton/the great metaphysician, by de Chirico/powder ritual)

Here is a definition of the difference between optimism and utopianism.  Which are you?  I feel surrounded by utopianists, the gentle fall of the powder from their wigs, the smell of old, their polite insistence that what existed 200 years ago is desirable!, the dark press of lack of knowledge that (we are assured) is held in confidence and for the good of all by old men.  Hell, the young men only look that way; they’re old too!

Optimism recognizes an inherent propensity or directedness in any disposition of historical things (even the post-historical “fragments” or the passive drift of cultural “plankton” to which Koolhaas alludes), a direction or propensity that may be drawn out and followed, while utopianism remains imprisoned within the moral universe of what “ought” to be, and so can call on no materiality whatever on which to impress its chimerical shape.  Optimism and danger, very simply, are affirmations of the wildness of life – of the life that resides even in places and things – while utopianism remains an affirmation of the stillborn universe of the metaphysician’s Idea: transcendent, fixed and quixotically indifferent to the vivid roilings of a historical world.

~Sanford Kwinter, Flying the Bullet, or When Did the Future Begin? from Rem Koolhaas: Conversations with Students


(photograph by Todd Hido)

… the suburbs are the tundra, and at night the effect is doubled. The suburbs at night are what you see from the window of the plane: chains of light, some of them in patterns like a diagram, some of them too bright, some of them as diffuse as if underwater, all surrounded by nothingness.”

~Luc Sante

“The suburbs dream of violence. Asleep in their drowsy villas, sheltered by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently for the nightmares that will wake them into a more passionate world.”

~J.G Ballard