Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Chewed Moons

(After Tor Ulven)

Heaven is an indifferent moan

Joy's torturous instruments make every day bearable
Fishes walk on water 'cause they're tired of swimming
Pine trees root in your nails' dirt
as language roots in your mouth's swamp

The foot is simply a neutral joint
between the kick and the mutilated face
the ungoverned foot limping along
to restlessness' encounter

Feverish musicians play instruments of reality
on seductive violins of innumerable noses

But music causes ears to deform
And evil has wings


Tor Ulven:
Avgnagde måner

Himmelen er et gjesp av likegyldighet
Gledens torturinstrumenter gjør hverdagen utholdelig
Fiskene går på vannet fordi de er trette av å svømme
Grantrærne slår rot i skitten under neglene
slik språket slår rot i munnens sump
Foten er bare et nøytralt forbindelsesledd
mellom sparket og det kvestede ansiktet
den herreløse foten som halter avsted
til møtet med rastløsheten
Feberfantasiens musikere spiller på virkelighetens instrument
på dine utallige nesers smektende fioliner
Men musikk fører til misdannelser i ørene
og onde mennesker har vinger

(from Skyggen av urfuglen (The shadow of the original bird), 1977, repr. Samlede dikt, 2001, p. 22)

paper scissors rock
paper scissors rock
rock scissors paper
paper scissors rock

rock paper paper rock
scissors scissors scissors scissors
paper rock paper scissors scissors
scissors rock paper scissors scissors
scissors scissors scissors scissors scissors

roll rock roll rock
scissor paper
roll rock
roll roll

paper scissors rock
paper scissors


We have reached a conjunction and
we have reached a conjunction or
we have reached a conjunction but
we have reached a conjunction if
we have reached a conjunction then
we have reached a conjunction so
we have reached a conjunction because
we have reached a conjunction.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004




Emerge into the abyss, the heart of this eternal
City as it rises on the slopes of its inhabitants'
Mediaeval imagination, horned and rusty and
Drunk with stupor, unwittingly causing its own
Demise, returning

Step out of this cleavage, take the steam
Train across the ocean, land somewhere in the
Carribean, on a cricket pitch or at some stage of
The never-ending revolutions of Jamaica.

The sun descends slowly on this blue-green ball as
It revolves around itself and around the big ball of fire
Fuelling the machine connecting fingertips to

Leave your locality -- only to return, an endless
Coming-back to the site of your

from lit-id (http://www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html)

On 1 Aug 2004 at 18:57, Mike Geary wrote:

> WOE!
> by Czeslaw Milosz
> It is true, our tribe is similar to the bees.
> It gathers honey of wisdom, carries it, stores it in honeycombs.
> I am able to roam for hours
> Through the labyrinth of the main library, floor to floor.
> But yesterday, looking for the words of masters and prophets
> I wandered into high regions
> That are visited by practically no one.
> I would open a book and could decipher nothing
> For letters faded and disappeared from the pages.
> Woe! I exclaimed -- so it comes to this?
> Where are you, venerable ones, with your beards and wigs,
> Your nights spent by a candle, griefs of your wives?
> So a message saving the world is silenced forever?
> At your home it was the day of making preserves.
> And your dog, sleeping by the fire, would wake up,
> Yawn and look at you -- as if knowing.
> * * * * * *
> by Mike Geary
> I don't know how wasps find their nests.
> and I can't even imagine the nose maps of dogs,
> or how willow roots know in dark dirt where water is.
> There's an explanation for these things I know,
> for nothing happens but Law allows it.
> A missile rises out of the sea and sails
> a thousand miles to it's target,
> a sudden end to everything therein.
> No mystery here. We've a calculus for this.
> All the world should be as advanced as us.
> I don't know what 'knowing 'means.
> Quite unexpectedly my heart races,
> my breath deepens, I feel confused --
> all at the sight of you. I don't know why,
> but my body must. Mind is body shouting: "Gaude!"

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Book review by Diderik Humble jr.

Author and poet Diderik Humble jr. submitted the following as per boook review of Milan Kundera's Igorance. It takes an ignorant...

It is up for consideration by the Utopos Book Review Council, 15 Parlsey Street, Sussex. And I will say this only once: Any notes of queries should be addressed to them.




A Last Sermon for Milan Kundera

Communism didn't collapse, Milan. Regimes self-identifying as state socialist crumbled and dissappeared. In most of the so-called communist bloc. But even that statement can't be generalized, Milan. Belo-Russia still self-identifies as such. What about Cuba? What abut the so-called welfare states, or mixed economies (admittedly crumbling to the pressures of capital interest), those places where reformism managed to crush the revolutionaries? What about North Korea, China? What about the millions of underprivileged that live in my flower pots under the weight of five hundred suns?

What about the dreams of your youth, Milan? Do you remember what team you supported before you resigned to the advice of bookmakers? Do you remember how the blood flowed in your veins, Milan, when you realized that this here world is conjunctive? Do you think, Milan, that you were the only one to make your observations?

Do you feel lonely and abandoned now, Milan, or do you hope for the redemption in a mortal community of cowards? Do you really believe that they will save your memory? Will they remember their own betrayal as they will remember yours?

For there is something to glean from your writing, Milan Kundera.



Sometimes when you stroll the streets of Catmen Town or attend a conference of confederates, you notice a link. It retrieves in you the memory of dismemberment, when your arm was just an arm, and your eyes may have been drifting around it, detached. It may have been your older brother before he was flushed down and left to retention.

Anyway, sometimes you are reminded you are not, in fact, a tourist in this place. You may be wearing your fancy shirt, or you might be waiting for someone. Perhaps you are on your way home from work, the path you've been walking so many times, you've forgotten its pathness. And then all of a sudden you remember that once this path was foreign to you, before it became a part of you, taken for granted like your old cup of Joe.

Some people say it's your personal god, your chi, that is attending to you. Others call it a kind of telepathic energy, insisting, perhaps, on the divisibility of bodies.

They don't know about your older brother, buried in some sewer, returned, purified, to the waters that serve as a source for your morning shower.

"I Sleep With Large Eyes"

Poem by Torgeir Schjerven in translation. Enjoy.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Subject: [lit-ideas] the perverted soup eater joke

could i have another hair in my soup please?



imagine the role to perform
perform the role to imagine

t-shirt (green)

front print: same same
back print: but different


planes for landing, sirens
traces of violated Phusis

audible frictions of acts designed to relive pressure
extend the system of body parts, re-bundle nerves

CROSS the corpus collosum
transverse the stadium, battlefield

track the symptoms of presence
follow either trace of the whiffletree

notes for tractions

1. The friction between a body and the surface on which it moves (as between an automobile tire and the road)
2. (orthopedics) the act of pulling on a bone or limb (as in a fracture) to relieve pressure or align parts in a special way during healing
syn: adhesive friction; grips
type: frictions, pullings, pulls, rubbings

1. an extended area of land
2. a system of body parts that together serve some particular purpose
3. a brief treatise on a subject of interest; published in the form of a booklet
4. a bundle of nerve fibres following a path through the brain
(types: athletic field, battlefield, corpus callosum [A broad transverse nerve tract connecting the two cerebral hemispheres])

1. Extending or lying across; in a crosswise direction; at right angles to the long axis
(syn: cross, crossing, thwartwise, transversal)

trace, noun:
1. a just detectable amount
2. a clue that something has been present
3. a suggestion of some quality
4. drawing created by tracing
5. either of two lines that connect a horse's harness to a wagon or other vehicle or to a whiffletree

trace, verb:
1. follow, discover or ascertain the course of development of something
2. make a mark or lines on a surface
3. to go back over again, as of a route or steps
4. pursue or chase relentlessly
5. discover traces of
6. make one's course or travel along a path; travel of pass over, around, or along
7. copy by following the lines of the original drawing on a transparent sheet placed upon it; make a tracing of
8. read with difficulty

1. A crossbar that is attached to the traces of a draft horse and to the vehicle or implement that the horse is pulling

Sunday, April 25, 2004

URIs for Lies (1999, dir. Sun-Woo Jang):


Good review, discussing intersection sex/religion:

Even better review, discussing link to de Sade and the politics of orgasm, ie. George Bataille etc):

The movie is based on a novel by Jung-Il Chang. There's an overview of his work here:

Can't find any work in translation at the moment, though...

Monday, April 19, 2004

Hurry up please it's time

Poor Albert won't leave you alone
You took some pills to take the edge off
Albert with his round stomach and broken penis
You, kneeling, in Albert's shower

Hurry up please it's time

April is the cruellest month
I don't belong here
His hands around my waist
Your feet crawling away

Hurry up please it's time

For Cocaine Nights and Junkies
For uppers and downers and downtown trainspotting
For CDs and DVDs and Wireless and Bluetooth
For MDs and PhDs and tubes and lubes

Hurry up please it's time

One more time, once again
Cocaine Nights and Junkies
April is the cruellest month
Poor Albert won't leave you alone

Hurry up please it's time

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Sometimes it seems like I don't have it, while everybody else do, and it's kinda embarrassing that I have this kind of incapacity, I don't want anyone to know that it is like that, and I have to engage in all sorts of dubious manouvers to keep it out of sight to everybody else. But sometimes it's different. Sometimes it seems as if I am the one who has it, while others don't. Some kind of secret knowledge, you don't say. Some kind of ability for empathy. Some kind of universal empathy.

My hands grow out of themselves.

it is dusk. it is after dusk. night had fallen over the city even the underground world where I sat and write what I like with this Japanese brand named computer. it comes from nowhere it comes from everywhere there is no longer a link between space and adjective. breath. just keep breathing. in out. breath. listen to the beat. it is your heart beating. breath. in and out.

more contrived. like an explosion it must soar. it must run over the pages like a fugitive chasing for a future tne\
i have to go to court. i'm a witness. to my own trial. whose trial. who is to judge what happened that afternoon? who was the agent? what was the cause and what the effect, i function better with the sun in my eyes i go by.

take a second of me. reduce me seduce me dress me up and seduce me. no sense that yiyu can trust me trick or tream it must be written mi itself.

fjkdlsalskdejjowksossiejd |ke adsadf w3wd wsiwd dhf wskqa sjdhf ska s s vne iska iejr weia djeoix eiw ajks fiej sja eid ewiee.,dsikekd.s diiejnn cd

Monday, April 12, 2004

Carnival Love

It comes in the form of a few milligrams
It can have any number of colors and shapes
It is assertive and submissive, but never misses
a carnivorous carnival

carnage me implanate me

Sometimes you can see the bubbles imploding
Sometimes the heat of the flame spurting out of the carnival's belly drains you in sweat
Sometimes you can drown yourself in the puls the beat the stomping feet
And yet to rest inside this spectacle

forget me leave my flesh

Run! Follow that gargantuan rabbit through the hole
What does memory deserve? Paper slips and Polariods?
Monuments and deities? Holy holy thy memory of me
At the carnival embracing strobing rolling over
Laughing remembering

It's been 33 years
I have been waiting a long time for this carnival
In the City of God there's too much mindless killing
I want to kiss you mindfully

Imigood what kindof carnival is this? That man has taken his shirt off,
Oh, and that girl is sitting on her knees and, oh no...
Adreanline kick me, hit me with your hammer and strike me out of this state of the

A thousand eyes watching me from the walls of this carnival-theatre
How are you doing? Are you all right?
Man in gray sweater, discreete medic
Iris rolling around in his head outside somewhere in the mist, the fog, blown, beaten,
Where are you now, my soul? Where did you fly that night of they beat you, bruised you?
Will you return upon my return?
Will you again reveal your wings to my reason?

What are we waiting for? When will the moment arrive when we will, finally, collapse this structure of reason and turn, make a turn, somehow, globally, I mean, totally, structurally. No neautral position. The passivity of the bottom depends on the activity of the top. You don't say.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Tautological shapes

Oval rolls awkwardly
Line squeaks and sneaks
An equation can never be the same

You turn a corner in the Tate Modern and face Dalí's "Narcissus"
Carved in stoned you hardly sense the flower that springs from your head
You recede behind the mountain catching
A last look at yourself in the river, stoned

So many of us and yet so few
So many duplications and

the joy and the laughter and the paraknowledge
that's on offer, up there, at the third floor at the Tate Modern when you
suspend your self, Kant-like, or
distract extract contract and explode your self
in front of Matisse's headless therapist,
opening his coat to reveal his interior: a bird cage
opened, and yet two birds remain there, perching,
resting waiting

I leave my mind at the counter of another restless nightwatch
It is cold, next stop the Fridge
Rolling over and over, speaking, squeaking, sneaking
Equating same with same

Clapham Junction, London
9 April 2004

Returning to repairmen POMPEL&PILT (dir. Ebbe Ording), we made some investigations into whether this fine piece of TV entertainment, in the form of puppeteering 1960s style is available to young and eager minds of today. And lo and behold. NRK, the Norwegian State Broadcaster is now publishing the series as a DVD for the meager price of NKR 199 (USD 28.7123 according to http://www.xe.com/ucc/). From the web jacket:

Puppet show in black and white, with figures that were always contained in a large hall, without walls or ceiling, but equipped with doors leading nowhere. They argued incessantly, and lived in perennial fear of Gorgon the Custodian and his ravenous son. http://butikken.nrk.no/butikk/product246.html

POMPEL&PILT was first aired on NRK in 1969, and then re-broadcast several times. In around 1985 the pressure from pedagogical quarters on NRK that the series had anti-pedagogical content made the broadcaster submit that it was not "fit for children." In 1994 they caved in to contrary pressure, however, and transmitted it one more time. The current head of programming for youth and children in NRK, Kalle Fürst, calls it a "classic of cultural history." It was "pioneering and surrealist. I can't fathom how NRK in 1969 dared to put resourses into a series as peculiar as this, completely absurd in form and content." However, it is not of "sufficient quality" for children of today, even if Fürst promises to consider broadcasting it to an "adult audience, at night." He doesn't shy away from recommending the DVD on sale from his employer's sidekick on-line store, though. And hence and in all ways demonstrates his loyalty to Employer and Provider. Well done, Kalle. (http://www.vg.no/pub/vgart.hbs?artid=38456.)

Anyway, this post was supposed to introduce the series. Bjørg and Arne Mykle wrote the script and made the dolls. There's photographs with them and the dolls at http://www.vg.no/pub/vgart.hbs?artid=38462. If you look closely you'll see that Pompel (the older chap with the tired eyes) and Pilt (younger and with more hair) don't have mouths.

There's another photo, in black and white, at http://home.powertech.no/shoiem/turidg/pp/reparatorene.html with Pompel to the left, Pilt to the right, and Gorgon the Custodian in the center. It's kinda difficult to explain the story line, if there is one. Child psychologist Thore Langfeldt describes the mood of POMPEL&PILT as "chilling, funny and surprising" at the same time. Professor of Media Sociology Eva Bakøy explains that it made a radical break with the norm of children's television of the 1960s and 70s.

"It has no happy ending, doesn't offer a sense of that 'everything will be OK', and it communcates a chaotic and incomprehensible world," she says, adding that, first and foremost, "it was FUNNY" (http://www.vg.no/pub/vgart.hbs?artid=38460). There's more on Bakøy's research at http://www.forskning.no/Artikler/2002/juni/1022772677 (in Norwegian).

We have managed to ascertain that there is at least five episodes of POMPEL&PILT available, and that there might be a sixth episode made. The titles of the first five parts are:
1. The repairmen are coming
2. The repairmen are returning
3. The repairmen are coming and coming
4. The repairmen are coming again
5. The repairmen are returning again

The disputed sixth episode is probably entitled "The revenge of the repairmen."

The music was performed by Arild Boman on organ, Helge Hurum, flute, and Espen Rud, drum sponge and percussion. The drum sponge was made on the basis of an old matress, onto which a number of bells and other objects were attached. When the repairmen walked around in their vast, open spaces, the sound from the drum sponge would evoke a sense of uncertainty and polyphony.

As repairmen Pompel and Pilt move around in this building, or whatever it is, trying to negotiate their way past door that lead nowhere, or back into the same room as they had just left, they meet several characters, some friendly, some not. Gorgon the Custodian appears to be the one who has comissioned Pompel and Pilt to repair something. This observation is based on that every time they encounter him, they ask if he has anything that needs repair. Upon hearing the question, Gorgon goes off on a long harangue consisting of words that resemble or sound like "repair," like a grown-up lost in her or his own long, incomprehensible sentences. When Gorgon enters into this kind of trance, Pompel and Pilt seize on the opportunity to run away, but always ends up in more difficult and mysterious situations.

They also meet Gorgon's wife and his rapacious son, Gorgon the Custodian's Assistant. Then there's also the Moffedill, who gets by on eating keys, and the numerous Migrants, who look somewhat like bicycle pumps with funny rasta hair and necks that keep extending and contracting, while they whistle. They are always busy and confusing.

Pompel and Pilt never really get to repair anything. Their world is not only confusing and absurd. It is also beyond repair.

You can download some soundbites to get a further sense of the atmosphere in the series. Each episode contains a scene where Pompel reminds Pilt that now he should surely understand that it is better with two repairmen than with no repairmen: http://home.powertech.no/shoiem/turidg/lyd/bedre.wav.

Gorgon the Custodian goes into his strange trance-like state here: http://home.powertech.no/shoiem/turidg/lyd/gorgon.wav.

A makeshift translation of the first part of the first episode is available from Utopos: http://home.no.net/torgfje/utopos/pandp.html.

It is now slightly updated, with some stage directions added, and some wording changed here and there.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

On 6 Apr 2004 at 17:15, Michael Geary wrote on lit-ideas:

Do you like my subject line (gigawatt chivalrous inflammatory handyman drainage)? All life['s] a random event. So it's randomness we must order into meaning. Here is a perfect phrase to practice on, say I. I suggest a contest to determine what that subject line is all about.

Dear Mr Geary and Judge(s)

We here at the Utopos Office of Spam Encryption (UOSE) would like to submit the following entry in your contest. It was devised by taking advantage of author Diderik Humble Jr.s self-devised Encryption Routine, programmed in Pascal, to produce the following:

gigawatt, proper name, possibly a symbolic representation of a distant relative of President Megawati, who is up for elections. here it serves as interpellative, as in

* gigawatt, i want you to do something for me, and here comes what it is...

which renders the proper transcription thus:

1. "Gigawatt, [perform the] 'chivalrous, inflammatory handyman drainage' [now, please]"

which makes it obvious that the implied narrator instructs Gigawatt to operate a particular KIND OF handyman drainage. These considerations leads us to the question of what the "chivalrous [and] inflammatory" type of handyman drainage would be. On this the Routine remains silent.

On behalf of UOSE,

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Five indications that you might have spent too much time on-line

1. You double click the remote
2. You tilt your head when smiling
3. You turn on your computer on your way from bed to take your morning shower
4. You get up at 3am to use the toilet, and just have to check your mail
5. Your on-line affair has lasted longer than any other affair you've had

Darwin P. Johnson


i only get four out of five. (i watch streaming video.)

Adapted from Jørgen at http://www.humor911.com/femting/

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Researchers at two leading universities have issued a study countering
the music industry's central theme in its war on digital piracy, saying
file sharing has little impact on CD sales.

I received a letter from Diderik Humble jr. the other day. He's arrived in Uqbar now, and the mysterious story of the life and adventures of hisself, his erstwhile "companion" Sinsemilla, Managing Director Stimos of the TRU Corporation, and Inta, delegate to the Intra-Paracelcist biannual convention at Hotel Rio Grande do Sul downtown Uqbar, will continue. Perhaps we will be offered answers to significant questions like who is Mundt? Is he, indeed, the Master of the Mansion? etc. As I have been swarmed with enthusiastic, and occasionally lewd, mails from devoted readers, urging me to continue the tale of our friends in Uqbar, I have had little time to actually write down the story as its writ. Hence and therefore and without further ado, let me cede the floor to Diderik Humble jr., by way of aforementioned letter.


Umfuweto, phatic,

I hope all is well back in The Specter of Kabool, and that you're managing in your bungalow on the Bagdad Banks. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations, and Sinsemilla sends her regards as well.

Uqbar isn't much like it's rumoured to be. The old buildings are still here, sure, but there's a certain barrenness about them. It's like returning to a future that somehow got lost in the past.

Anyway, the other day I attended a lecture on "The Mirror of Sport, or Couching the Performer" at the Uqbar Institute of Titting and Tatting. I just missed one Prof McEnroy's paper on "Once you Pop you can't Stop: How Nike Changed my Life and Other(ed) Observations." The conference was obviously a success, and, amid the pools of plastic glasses filled with champagne and mini-sandwiches, I managed to lodge myself in Auditorium Terminus, just as one Prof Kingfisher took the podium in elegant strides, his coat whirling about him like the flaps of a bat-costume, briefly disguising his limp. As he turned to face the audience, I realized that he was a rather oldish professor, possibly emeritus, I figured, but with a distinct and forceful voice. Professor Kingfisher wore dark, slim sunglasses, matching his silver-gray mane and black suit. I'll copy some of my lecture notes here. I hope you find some use of them, or not.

Diderik Humble jr's lecture notes

Lacan's Mirror Stage: Alienating armour of identity. To locate identity ("thou art that!") only first step, before journey even begins. What is the world like before mirror stage? No way of knowing, since our knowing is always mediated. No social, shared knowledge without communication, mediation. Could there be knowledge outside the social, shared? We couldn't know: If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there to hear it, would it still make a sound? We can't know. We can guess. But no way of determining or knowing it. It is a kind of speculative knowledge we're reduced to when trying to speak about the world before communication. It is when we start communicating that we enter into the world of communicating beings, into society. But entering into society also means entering into a structure, a rule-governed practice, and these rules we learn only slowly and through much pain and misunderstanding.

In a sense we could say that the very premise of us communicating is that I can distinguish between myself and others. So the sense of I/other is cruical for it to be communication what so ever. But what is this I? What am I? Today we usually understand this question as a question of identity. What am I becomes "what is my identity". But let's consider some possible identities: Woman, man, racial, classed (poor/rich or worker/capitalist), sportsman, student, Britney Spears fan, YAP, etc. The point is that these classifications and their attendant identities (practices, appearances, technologies, methodologies) are all given. If I want to be a Britney Spears fan there are certain rules I must adher to in order to be recognized as one. And these rules are made before us. So identifying with these identities don't makes us individual, as they may have promised. We thought, somewhere along the line, that we needed some identity that would distinguish us from out parents, friends,
school mates, rivals, etc., and it turns out that we are simply moving from one kind of social constraint to another.

In fact, going "overboard" in a quest for singularity could be one possible characteristic of the obsessional. Perhaps we could say that the obsessional has figured out precisely the logic of individualization: She desires the supreme, total and absolute individuality, but by the same token acquires nothing but confirming the logic of individualism. Confronted with the total scope of individualist isolation, the obsessive could be said to engage in an attempt to subvert it by over-identifying with it.

Let's consider the joke from Monty Python's Life of Brian for a second. "You are all individuals." The crowd repeats in one voice, "We are all individuals." Except one fella who declares: "I'm not." The gist is of course that us being called upon to be different individuals can only lead to that everybody become more of the same, and the only means through which to subvert it is by denying that one is different. It is a paradoxical conclusion, but apparently necessary to the game of "individual identity".

This sense we get, then, of this identity which is not me, is the point of Jacques Lacan's The Mirror Stage. Our call to "identify ourselves" is perhaps precisely one of those requirements we meet when we are engaged in the world of social communication, the game of distinguishing self (friend) from other (foe). The attendant alienation from our selves is a characteristic effect of our passing through the Mirror Stage of childhood development. I will now go through some of the central points in Lacan's argument, and will return in the end with some notes of how we may use these notions to interrogate the meaning and purpose of sport.

- inchoate, disparate, pre-symbolic, fragmented body, imaginary

- indications: dreams, paintings of Bosch, jokes

- stages: hysteria, obsession, paranoiac alienation

- fiction of I (fortress), phantasies, entrance into symbolic order

- primordial jealousy: someone else has something I want (projection, repression, mediated desire of the other, Oedipus)

- imaginary servitude

Sport: symbolizing activity par excellance, symbolizing violence, incoherence, ordering it

- imaginary servitude: Hand of god shows possibility of breaking symbolization, but still not unmediated?

I'm sorry if some of these notes may turn out incoherent. After the lecture I tried to approach Prof Kingfisher for a discussion on the Oedipus complex, but as he was immediately swarmed by young teenage girls aching for an autograph on some explicit limb, I ended up breaching my ideas to one of the conferees, a young lecturer from Ireland.

I asked him if he had ever taught Oedipus Rex in class, and he assured me he did, at least once a year, and we exchanged notes on student responses to various approaches to the play. I inquired about if he'd ever made use of audio-visual material, such as a videogram, and he suggested Guthrie's famous 1954 version.

I didn't want to tell him that I hadn't seen it, or never even heard about it.

"What about Fellini's version?" I proposed.

He asked me how it had worked, and I had to admit that it was less than satisfactory. Students tended to focus on the graphic violence, amplified by Fellini in that he lets Oedipus kill the sphinx. I mean, isn't there a difference between shaving and decapitating, now? Also, while instructive, the framing narrative wasn't really that helpful for our purpose, ie. in that particular class.

"Try Guthrie," the Irishman said, breaking out in a big smile, and slapping me on the back like there was no tomorrow.

Conferences, huh.

Stay well, brother.

Diderik Humble jr.


Friday, March 19, 2004

OK, so I gotta update this blog. Went to listen to Manuel Castells' lecture on "Politics and Power in the Network Society" at London School of Economics yesterday. A lot could be said. The most profound flabbergastation was derived from audience watching. LSE students aren't nearly as outer-worldly as us of the provinces sometimes fancy. Or, uhh, well, they are, kinda. Anyway, this paragraph isn't leading anywhere.


  • There is a CRISIS OF POLITICAL LEGITIMACY!!! Big news from Castells here. He's referring to party politics in the parliamentary form, but "forgot" to mention that caveat. Oh, and he knows his Poulanzas. During the Q&A Castells was courting the Angry Young Marxists to Step Forward so he could Baffle them with his knowledge of Marxist History and why it Failed. Great.

  • The Arnold-vote was NOT a vote to the right but "a vote to terminate the political class." Snappy line, but, again, Castells scores on conflating "politics" with "professional party politicians operating under liberal democratic institutions." So it's a protest vote to him. Besides patronizing the electorate (interpellated as "citizens" in Castells' discourse), it also situates the speaker in the comfortable center. The angry ones, those who don't understand grown-ups' politics, they are extremists! Boo!

  • Interesting quantitative tid-bit: In Inglehart's World Values Survey we may extrapolate that regional identification figured more prominently in Southern Europe, while national identification was more pronounced in Northern Europe. FWIW.

  • Castells conflates the theatrical aspect of contemporary mediated politics with the unreliable. He claims the electorate doesn't trust politicians anymore. But what's new about this? Did the serf ever trust that the landlord had the serf's best interest in mind? Should politicians and the political system be regarded as some kind of god we should respond dutifully to when asked to sacrifice our children? Hey, Castells, go kill me a son.

  • The rest of the talk was actually about Power in Social Networks. Far more Foucauldian and hence interesting. Problem is he wants it both ways. He wants to maintain a notion of agency ("social actors") and at the same time claim that if you're outside the network you're powerless. It's a tricky one. Would it be possible to be in/outside except in a sense of individual connectivity? (Besides, does it really hold? There are linkages to the WWW even for those not actually online?)

There's more to be said. Perhaps I'll return to Castells' theory of domination and resistance in networks. He ended his lecture by mentioning how the demonstrations in Spain last Saturday had been organized by way of SMS, WiFi and other networked technologies. The participation of young voters increased dramatically from last election. (So there is hope? So Castells is a spokesperson for liberal parliamentarism, no?)

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Person A, chapter 8: The Return of the Repair Men

Director Stimos woke with a rush. He'd had another of those horrible nightmares, those returns of childhood indignities, that cursed evening. Stimos rolled slowly over in his bed an lifted the phone off the hook. It was this kind of business he'd hired Dr. Snout to rid him of.

Director Stimos had heeded all the advice he had been given. At first he had cried his bitter tears, but quietly, outside the possibility of being caught-out weeping. He had figured that he would have to "get over it", as they said.

The Stimos family was one of the founders of the TRU Corporation, and Director Stimos was expected to attend one of the Corporation's top business or law colleges. And he was expected to do well. The latter proved no difficulty to the young Stimos. It was deciding which college to attend that kept him occupied. At the advice of his childhood friend Tom, he'd decided to go to Woolbridge Academy, a combined law and business school specializing in game theory and the singularity of mind. A cornerstone of the TRU Corporation's School of Cogito, Woolbridge received corporate funded for range anthropological and financial research programs in the newly acquired businesses.

Stimos put all his energy into his schoolwork, and, at the age of 20, became a full member of the financial research team designated to provide a program to "Restructure and Capitalize Nam Viet Finances". Stimos' zeal and affective performance stunned his elder colleagues in the program, and he was elected manager of the program's "outreach and friendship" company in the midst of Nam Viet. There he met Michael K., and the rest is history.

Stimos had to take his part of the blame for the Nam Viet fiasco, and had to accept a number of back-office appointments in the decades following the outbid of the TRU Corporation. Employees of Nam Viet had secretly sold their private shares to Dong Tse Inc., enabling TRU's eternal enemy to secure a majority at the yearly convention. Stimos got out of the morass early enough to find employment with a fringe operation in TRU. Several of his colleagues from the Woolbridge program had ended up financially destitute and publicly ridiculed. The head of the program had committed suicide. TRU Corporation had changed management after the fiasco.

So Stimos considered himself lucky, after all. His lovely young thing of a wife was not to know anything of how close he had, in fact, been to the so-called "unsavoury methods" that had been used in TRU's attempt to gain control over Nam Viet. She would never know. And even if she knew... Well, it didn't matter.

His peer group from Woolbridge had emerged scarred but intact when they met at a college reunion party a decade later. The result of their friendship was the now much-discussed action plan for "The Third Empire: Project for a TRU Millenium". They had chosen Randolph Beaverton as their front figure and candidate for the ceremonial position as Corporate President, while Stimos were to coordinate New Acquisitions Policies.

In the mean time, Randolph's brother Julian, had designed a plan to intervene in the program that counted votes on the yearly convention, and, taken by surprise, Stimos found himself head of TRU's New Acquisition's Implementation Program. When TRU acquired EyeRak, Stimos was appointed Managing Director of the new merger.

Stimos set out to make the new TRU EyeRak not just another jewel in Randolph's crown, but a shining one at that. The new merger wouldn't just supply TRU with gold and diamonds, but also unlimited access to muses. The Spring of Muses, as you will remember from chapter one, having previously been under EyeRaki control. In short, Stimos sougth to make TRU EyeRak a model for new acquisitions and mergers. The corporate management were securely located inside the TRU Wall of Freedom, guarded by 2nd Division of the TRU Republican guard. Stimos spent most of his time at the Corporate HQ downtown Bagdad, in a building his father had erected during his time as corporate governor, as it was called then, of this area.

Stimos weren't as worried about hidden away shares on EyeRaki hands, foreshadowing a repetition of the Nam Viet fiasco. His was more concerned about the Deconstructionists, a fringe corporation where many of the previous managements' staff had found work. Their membership was elusive, and they would rarely declare themselves as such. But Stimos had a way of finding them out. He'd ask them about Maradona scoring with his hand in 1986, and if they refused to agree that Maradona was bad, they would loose all their corporate privileges.

TRU's top executives didn't believe the Deconstructionists would have any chance at regaining control of the corporation, not as long as Julian Beaverton was in charge of Democratic Procedures. At board meetings nobody would bring up precisely why the Deconstructionists posed such a threat, but when Stimos had suggested moving towards legislating them as 'formally terrorists', the board members had all nodded in relief. They all had their private reasons that shouldn't be Found Out.

Stimos' private reason had to do with the nightmares. When he relocated to Bagdad, he had secretly sought out the advice of one Dr Snout, who was the Head Psychiatrist of the Revelation and Re-Socialization of New TRU Subjects Program in TRU EyeRak. At was only triggered by finding himself on the brink of desperation one early September morning, when he hadn't managed to close his eyes all night, visions of doors hammering and rushed steps in the room above him. He couldn't keep his mind concentrated at meetings, and, yet, he couldn't sleep at night. Stimos would get into fits of rage, sometimes clearly uncalled for, yelling at junior members of the Management that they didn't try hard enough.

"Do you know how hard I have to try? Do you think this is easy?!" Stimos would shout, and send them off with some elaborate clerical work.

Dr Snout had recommended Stimos to get in touch with his anger, to let it's power reign him, so as to get it out of his body.

"For a man of your position," Dr Snout had said, "I would recommend attending, and, perhaps, even participating, in some of the Revelation and Re-Socialization Programs we have going now here in TRU EyeRak. What we got going here is far beyond the old hearts and minds-approach, I can assure you. We hold that it is also necessary to win their bodies. Yes, I can see your astonishment, but this is our firm resolution. We are using the most refined Re-Socialization Procedures in our Room of Revelations, and a man in such a prominent position as yourself, would not have a problem being admitted, I can assure you. It is completely legal, all within the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism act, I can assure you. It wouldn't be popular, one could assume, in the eyes of TRU Shareholders, I mean, if all details were to come out, so we practice strict discretion, of course."

Stimos had spent a good few nights in the Room of Revelations after this encounter, and found that he enjoyed it thoroughly. And the subjects did reveal what they were supposed to, finally, and they we're granted amnesia after a rather exhausting procedure. In fact, Stimos spent more nights in the Room of Revelations than at Home, having taken a dislike in the walls and the guards. It made the area seem somewhat, uh, dated and unappealing. And then he couldn't believe how churlish he'd been as to the policy of spatial control. It's all about Mind Space, control the Mind Space, and you won't need walls and guards.

It was a slower, but far more resistant method, Stimos had to admit, and he would implement it on a far larger scale. Stimos was, after all, a true child of modernity. Reflecting on his own artwork as Chief Inquisitor in the Drama of Revelations, he would go so far as to call his performance as modernist. They questioned the very existence of the individual. Since there is no solid ground for control in the individual it must come down on the body, Dr. Snout claimed, so as to alter mind-body relations. Oh, yeah, he'd let it come down on the body.

And still the nightmares didn't go away. He had been shifting around in his parents' bedroom. He couldn't have been more than 12, because he was still in Primary School. His parents had left for work, and in his mother's drawers he found a pair of lace panties that he wanted to try on. They felt soft and warm, and got quite turned on by the scene, and went over to look at himself wearing the panties in their head-to-floor bedroom mirror.

One day his mother must have had forgotten something or other at home, because she came back to the house, and, without any forwarning of any sort, had walked straight into the bedroom, while he was standing there with his erection and her lace panties. Oh, it was demeaning, all right.

Dr. Snout had encouraged him, then, to get in touch with this side of himself. Stimos went on to wear lace panties during the night sessions in the Room of Revelations. But it musn't come out.


Stimos had finally let his wife pull him to the opera one late night of Fall. It was a Brechtian rendition of The Repair Men are Coming, the 70s puppet show, but this time with actors with bodies as sumo-wrestlers. Pompel, the older repair man, had his small, comic hat on, and Pilt, the younger of the two, was adorned with curls. Stimos was both of them. He knew that, but would never tell wifey, of course, or anyone else for that matter, with the exception of clandestine occations at Dr. Snout's office and with the Brotherhood, as he liked to call it. They all knew, but, then, he knew things about them, too. Things that they wouldn't want to come out.

Anyway, Pompel was trying to repair a set of Domino pieces in one of the key scenes of the performance. He had just arrived at the moment when he's about to tip the first piece over so that the rest of them collapses with a long, satsifying drum roll, when the lights in the theatre went out. The audience started mumbling, looking for their belongings, rummaging through their pockets for their mobile phones, when all the strobe lights at the podium were turned on, pointing at the audience. A choir came on, dressed in tight-fitting blue uniforms and reciting:

The Repair Men are cumming and cumming (a literary pestish with notes and appendices, a Le Speranza)

Pestish being a portmanteau word consisting of pesto, and pastiche, the literary genre.

It was clearly about Lacan's signifying economy, and about how to exchange symbolic values. The choir continued:

The desire to alienate the mother is in fact a negotiated response to Mother's desire to reclaim and devour what was of the mother in a pre-symbolic stage. Hence, we are facing a tranference whereby the symbolic value of supremacy is exchanged from the Body-of-Mother (The Matrix) to the subject, in return for an iterable recurrence of this Other-as-Object in the originary locus of the dialectic!

Stimos' wife was crying as they drove home. He went to "settle some business" at the Head Office.

There had been reports that the Deconstructionists were making headway into the the relatively remote companies in the Uqbar division. Agitators had claimed that gifts may suffer multiple faiths, and that the gift of submission may not be the appropriate counter gift to the take over. Then, as if out of the blue, the TRU Times had reported that a group of Paracelcists were holding a convention in Uqbar. It would be impossible to charge the entire group with terrorism, so, after conferring with his councelors, Stimos decided that they would target their future leader, so as to make an example, as was the fate of Cardinal Mistos.

Dr. Snout had insisted that it was the most efficient way to make headway, and Stimos had no reservations. He charged Piece of Cholif Mundt with apprehending the leader, but quietly. A solid case must be brought against her before we let it come out, he declared.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

There's a translation of the first episode of Pompel and Pilt online.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

What Ibsen never wrote about Kierkegaard (but Nietzsche thought)

1. Kierkegaard admired Abraham's leap of faith, while acknowledging he hadn't made it (for) himself.

2. Ibsen subscribed reincarnation. Was he aware?

3. Peer Gynt reworks Kierkegaard's required leap: Here's someone, like Kierkegaard, who hasn't made it. Is Peer Gynt the butt of a joke? Is he a weakling, a coward, someone who is not being there?

4. Is he like Borges' I:

I am he who knows himself no less vain
than the vain looker-on who in the mirror
of glass and silence follows the reflection
or body (it's the same thing) of his brother.
I am, my silent friends, the one who knows
there is no other pardon or revenge
than sheer oblivion. A god has granted
this odd solution to all human hates.
Despite my many wondrous wanderings,
I am the one who never has unravelled
the labyrinth of time, singular, plural,
gruelling, strange, one's own and everyone's.
I am no one. I did not wield a sword
in battle. I am echo, emptiness, nothing.

5. Objectify your 'I'!

What is 'I'? Lacan: Object a is the fantasmatic 'stuff of the I',
as that which confers on the /S/, on the fissure in the symbolic
order, on the ontological void that we call 'subject', the
ontological consistency of a 'person', the semblance of a fullness of

"What is I but a metaphor?"

6. Let's vacate I

7. Appear in style

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Nationalism as the discourse of a post-imperial community is not given in the academic literature. Several commentators have remarked on the dominance of eurocentrism in scholarship on nationalism, and in any case, as Ania Loomba have pointed out, it may be that nationalism is only one possible outcome of a "kernel" of resistance, to borrow from Zizek.

Monday, January 26, 2004

From last night's concert on lit-ideas:


Let's leave this place tonight Lazarillo said
We can't stay if we gotta keep a head
We packed up the car with drinks and smoke
And left the city as the thunder stroke
We were on our way...
to Bloomfontein

Lazarillo had a pipe it was made of bone
And he didn't wanna smoke it all alone
I was driving the car through the thundering rain
Swirling softly into another domain
We were on our way...
to Bloomfontein

Lazarillo had the munchies so we stopped by the road
Our hunger was about to switch to overload
But the guys at the station didn't like our guts
We left in a rush to save our butts
We were on our way...
to Bloomfontein

An hour later our car broke down
We decided to walk to the next town
But just outside freedom we were stopped
By two guys who wanted our journey chopped
We were on our way...
to Bloomfontein

The took us to a cell in the local station
Lazarillo said, 'hey, we're just on vacation'
But the cops said, 'You guys, your asses mean trouble'
Decided to add to the woe make it double
We were on our way...
to Bloomfontein

A bird was chirping in my ear when I opened my eyes
The first thing that I saw wuz Lazarillo's prize
He'd won a beating for his pretty face
So we lit up a pipe an left for outer space
We were on our way...
to Bloomfontein

Lazarillo and I hitched a ride to Bloomfontein
We thought it was the endpoint of our campaign
On observation in the streets, out of cash
Trying to make some dough in a flash
We were heading out...
of Bloomfontein

I also performed Suzanne Vega's Calypso and a recent composition, Departures.

It went well. Great audience. Keep singing.
From Thomas F's Last Notes to the Public:

The riot
by Kjell Askildsen

When I read or when I'm occupied by solving chess problems, I often sit and look out the window. One never knows if something will happen that's worth attending, even if it's unlikely. Last time it happened was three or four years ago. But then again it could offer some diversion to everyday life as well, and outside the window there is, at least, movement. In here it's only me and the hand of the clock.

But three or four years ago I saw something remarkable, and that's the last remarkable thing I've seen, even though, as I've pointed out, I'm not indifferent to more ordinary acts, such as people fighting, who are beating and kicking each other, or people falling over on the sidewalk and remain there because they're too drunk or ill to get home, if they have a home, many of them probably don't, there's not enough homes in the world.

But what I saw this time was different. It must have been during Easter or Pentecost, since it wasn't winter, and I remember that I thought that these kinds of acts were reasonably connected to one of the churchly high seasons.

From my window I look down upon a short, intersecting street, it is short enough for me to see the end of it without any difficulty, my eyes are good.

I had been keeping an eye on two flies mating in the windowsill, so it probably must have happened during Pentecost, it was a kind of diversion to me, even if they practically didn't move. I wasn't aroused by watching them, although I remember I often did when I was young, oh, yes, I remember it well.

So I was sitting there watching the two flies, and had just carefully touched one of the female's wings and then one of the male's wings without them taking any notice of it -- which I found a curiously strong commitment, it was after the male had sat on top of the female for at least ten minutes, I am not exaggerating, I should have spent more of my life studying insects, but, then again, why? -- when I caught eye of a man at the far end of the street behaving quite remarkably. He kind of waved his armes and then he cried out something, at first I didn't perceive exactly what it was. In certain ways he was systematical with a peculiar sence of geographic order, because he walked or dashed from the first window on the right hand side of the street to the first window on the left hand side, and from there to the second window on the right hand side and on to the second window on the left hand side, and so on, and he knocked on all the windows and cried something. It was unusual and strange, and I opened my window, it was before the hinges broke, and I heard him cry: "Jesus has come." But he cried something else, too, and I perceived it as: "I have come," and when he came closer I realized that it was correct, that was what he was crying. "Jesus has come, I have come." And all the while he dashed from one side of the street to the other and knocked on all the windows he could reach, it was upsetting to behold, religious lunacy is upsetting.

The first reaction was as surprising as it was adequate: a stool was hurled towards him from the third floor somewhere in the middle of the street. It didn't hit him, that was not the intention I would hope, but it broke into pieces, of course. It certainly was a waste of effort, the man only raised his voice, perhaps he needed a confirmation of his business being important.

The next reaction was related to the first, but less tangible, and not without a whim of comedy. A window burst open and a furious voice screamed: "I think you are stark, raving mad, my good man!" Only then did I realize that the man on the street actually was dangerous, that he triggered dispositions latent in some of his fellow people, and I thought: isn't there a sensible person with fresh legs that can go down there and end it all. Many heads were now sticking out of the windows along the street, but down there the insane man was in solitary charge of the ground.

I was facinated, I must admit it, but to an increasing extent more by the whole street scenario then by the main character. People had started making noises, they laughed and yelled to each other over the poor man's head, I have never seen such a sudden social encounter, there even was a man in the house closest to mine that called to me. I could only hear the last word, "blasphemy," and I didn't answer, of course. If he had, at least, said something reasonable, like "Emergency ward," then we could perhaps, who knows, have established some kind of exchange of greetings from window to window. But a grown- up man, he was old enough to have been my long departed wife's eldest son, with nothing more reasonable to say than "blasphemy," I have no need to exchange greetings with, I'm not that lonely yet.

Anyway. As I said, I sat there fascinated by the buzzing window-life, it reminded me of my childhood, it was probably better to be of old age at that time, I think, less lonely, and, first and foremost, one usually died within a reasonable time, -- when a man emerged from a gate. He was in a hurry and he was heading for the lunatic. He grabbed him from behind, spun him around, and hit him so hard in the face that he flailed sideways and fell. For a moment the entire street was quiet, as if everybody held their breath. Then the cacophony broke loose one more time, and now it was apparent that the disagreement had turned on the attacker. Subsequently, it didn't take long before people started emerging from the gates, and while the immediate cause of the entire commotion sat speechless and apparently immovable some meters away, a heated discussion was embarked upon, the singularities of which it was impossible to perceive, where it was obvious that the attacker also had his supporters, because all of a sudden two youths flew at each other. Oh, it was a black day for reason.

In the mean time the lunatic had gotten up, and while the youths were fighting, probably because of him, but possibly for entirely different reasons, and while some tried to go in between, he pulled further and further away, backwards, until he reached the street- corner closest to me, then he turned around and started running, it was a relief, and I can tell you that he could run.

When the flock down on the street became aware of the man's disappearance, it slowly calmed down, and one window after the other was closed. I closed mine as well, it wasn't a warm day. The world is full of unreason and confusion, unfreedom is deeply rooted, the hope for equality and a common worth fades, the powers that be are too great, it seems. We must be glad that we are as well off as we are, people say, since most people are in a worse situation. And then they take a pill for insomnia. Or for depression. Or for life. When will a new generation come that understands the meaning of equality, a generation of gardeners and foresters that can cut the large trees that put the lesser in the shade, and that can remove the suckers from the tree of knowledge.

[Translation by Torgeir Fjeld of Kjell Askildsen's "Oppløpet", first published in Thomas F's siste nedtegnelser til almenheten. Translated from the collection En plutselig frigjørende tanke, Oslo: Oktober, 1991, 199-202. A Sudden Liberating Thought available from www.amazon.com in Sverre Lyngstad's translation.]

Thursday, January 15, 2004

For Person A.

A call from the Head Office

Why was she here? Inta didn't know. When the head office had sent her to the biannual convention, they had offered no explanation, and had given no brief as to her endeavours. She turned to look out the window, and observed, with some surprise, that the moon was still up. Inta slid her feet into the slippers provided by Hotel Rio Grande do Sul, sauntered over to the desk next to the window, and contemplated the imprint she had found the night before, "hlor u fang axaxaxas mlo", and the scribble beneath, "upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned."

She picked up the paper and twisted it around between her fingers, when she came across a scribble on the flip side of the sheet as well. It looked like a poem:


Yellow moon, yellow moon peeping through my window
Movie director, wheelchaired, observing murder

Keep it cool, keep it real (for real)
Stay where you are, moon
Be a moon, moon
Moon, moon

She jolted to the sound of the phone ringing.

"Hello, madam. Felix at the reception speaking. There's a call for you from the Head Office."

"Put it through," she said.

There was a crackling sound in her ear, a pause, and a deep, muscular voice, as if from far away, sighing as it uttered each word emphatically.

"Inta," it said. "You must make an appointment with the Master of the Mansion."


"You will receive further instructions." Dial tone. Felix: "I guess whoever it was hung up."

Inta put the receiver down, a felt as if she was falling. She was nineteen years old and she was falling from a skyscraper, passing windows where single mothers changed their babies' diapers, where whole families had their breakfasts, where old couples stared at her, pointing at her, because she was naked, her arms tied together behind her back, still falling, falling, young men inviting her to stay awhile, falling and falling, now gagged, her speech incomprehensible even to her own ears.

"Funny," she thought. "I'm falling from the skyscraper and I'm perfectly calm, as if for every floor I pass I get older."

Inta observed her image in a fractured window. Her face look wrinkled, her hair short, and her arms bruised. She had to get out, but first she had to get to the bottom.

A knock on the door.

"Are you all right in there? Madam? Are you all right?"

Inta opened the door.

"Oh, it's you Felix. Just had a nightmare."

Felix slipped her a note.

"You received this message this morning. Can I get you anything? Would you like some breakfast brought up to your room?"

"Thank you, Felix, that would be lovely."

She unfolded the note. It read: "Who told you it was all right to love me? Certainly not me. Midnight. By the town hall." Signed Mundt.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Letter from superego

Dear phatic,

At the Bourdieu-list, on 4 Jan 2004 at 16:54, Emrah Goker noted the journalistic/scholastic argument used by right-wing French (or Turkish) Republicans to support discrimination against young Muslim women ("We are trying to liberate them from their male fundamentalist oppressors by removing their foluard/turban") is only an excuse for the state elites' nationalist/irredentist angst.

I responded with a notion I seemed to remember from Ania Loomba's Colonialism/Postcolonialism (Routledge, 1998) that Indian nationalism came out of a struggle to control access to women. I just reread Loomba, and she's paraphrasing Partha Chatterjee on the matter:

Well before nationalism launches itself against the colonial state, anti-colonial nationalism attempts to create 'its own domain of culture (which includes religion, customs and the family). The supremacy of the West is conceded in the material world, whereas the spiritual world is claimed as the essence of national culture, one which must be protected and defended. The more colonised people imitate Western skills in the former sphere, the greater the need to protect the latter. (Loomba, p. 190)

I guess I must have confused these comments with Fanon's notes on the use of women as anti-colonial signifiers in Algeria. Not so strange, perhaps, since Chatterjee's and Fanon's sensibilities may sound similar (analogous). Fanon claims that French colonialist doctrines identified Algerian women and family relations as the crucial site for their onslaught against native culture:

If we want to destroy the structure of Algerian society, its capacity for resistance, we must first of all conquer the women; we must go and find them behind the veil where they hide themselves and in the houses where the men keep them out of sight. It is the situation of woman that was accordingly taken as the theme of action. The dominant administration solemnly undertook to defend this woman, pictured as humiliated, sequestered, cloistered ... transformed by the Algerian man into an inert, demonetized, indeed dehumanized object. ... After it had been posited that the woman constituted the pivot of Algerian society, all efforts were made to obtain control over her. ... Thus the rape of the Algerian woman in the dream of the European is always preceded by a rending of the veil. (Fanon 1965, 37pp)

Fanon the explains how "the resistance movement demanded that the nationalist Algerian woman both veil and unveil herself in its cause. She was asked at first to Europeanise herself to penetrate the European quarters of the city, since the colonial regime assumed that Westernised woman would not be part of the resistance. The unveiled Algerian woman had to fashion her body to being 'naked' and scritinised, she had to move 'like a fish in the Western waters' while 'carrying revolvers, grenades, hundreds of false identity cards and bombs'. But such a woman is not unveiled at Europe's bidding, hence she does not signify loss of cultural identity but the forging of a new nationalist self. ... Some years later, when the colonial state understood that not all unveiled women were alienated from the nationalists, the Algerian woman was ordered to veil herself again." (Loomba 193-194)

Your humble servant,
T Fjeld
How to change reality *
(manual in 7 movements)

1st Movement.
Make a concession: Allow realistic intrusion into your text.

2nd Movement.
How is the world around you different from how you want it to be?

3rd Movement.
Articulate the realistic element as a fictional moment.

4th Movement.
How would it be possible for this fictional moment to reintroduce
itself into the real?

5th Movement.
Imagine a possible world in which the change you want may take place.

6th Movement.
In composition, allow for realistic coherence (avoid formal collision
with realism).

7th Movement.
Disseminate and Return.

* Footnote: 'Realism' is considered dominant (and) in its
contemporary manifestation.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Who made who?
Who made you?
Who made who?
Ain’t nobody told you?

What is science fiction?
A primary notion of science fiction may be that it is fiction set in the future. The word itself, though, simply indicates that it is a fictional text (not a documentary or in another genre that purports to mime a pre-discursive reality) having science as its subject matter. A popular notion of what science indicates that this type of narrative text should have its emphasis on the so-called hard sciences. This conforms to the narrative content of a number of artifacts common referred to as hallmarks of the science fiction genre: Blade Runner, Alien, Solaris, 1984, Brave New World, The Time-Machine, Metropolis, Frankenstein, and so forth. All these narratives are either set in a relatively distant future in relation to the time of narration, or, in the case of Frankenstein, in a contemporary setting with an isolated incident of a futuristic element. Other examples of the same type of fabula is found in the numerous horror- movies dealing with science “gone amuck”, where, e.g., a biological weapon is haphazardly unleashed on the general public.

While it is a mistake to cling to the idea that science fiction are restricted to themes common to (astro-)physics, biology, chemistry, etc., it has become a popular notion that the genre should deal with an imagined possible future, and that they should feature technologies that are not yet invented or not yet implemented in the way recounted by the story. Some of these futures may in turn be employed in so-called realistic or factional narratives, so that newspapers may portray an politic as “big brother policy”. They may also be productive of popular practices, such as the current obsession with “gadgets”, apparently empowered to convey as sense of avant-gardist technological edge to their owners or knowers. It is as if the entire fascination with the form of modern telecommunication is anticipated in scientific imaginigs. Because isn’t it precisely in the form that science fiction makes itself know to the popular imagination?

Besides suggesting that it is a complicated matter to distinguish clearly between fictional and factional (“realistic”) narratives and that facts may imitate fiction as much as fiction may mime facts, these insights stop at critiquing the latter part of the term, the fictional status of these narratives, but leave us short of a critique of hard science as the central organizing element of the genre. However, most of the narratives mentioned above, and also narratives that are common referred to as science fiction but that don’t conform to the generic outline above, such as Borges’ “Book of Sand” and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, also feature a certain formal creativity. We will limit our deliberations on how to articulate this generic moment to two narratives: Jorge Luis Borges’ “Book of Sand” and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, considered as sampling a more common formal moment to which we wish to call attention.

In “The Book of Sand” the narrator acquires a monstrously expanding book, an artifact without beginning or end that threatens to usurp the entire world into itself. The narrator stores it away on top of a shelf in the basement of the Buenos Aires public library, author Borges’ workplace at the time, in the hope that it will forever remain there, as a stowed-away Pandora’s Box. The book represents a singular artifact in the story, such as was the case with the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, intruding into the normality of a narrative contemporary. But whereas Frankenstein’s monster is produced by an aberrant science, the abnormal book in Borges’ tale comes from nowhere and ends in a possible contemporary world. It doesn’t have a story of origin, and its existence doesn’t end with the completion of the narrative. It stands as an object miming the narrative act itself, unappropriable, confusing, potentially monstrous, and never-ending.

In Blade Runner, it is the replicant who provides the photographs that are the organizing core of their memory. Darren Tofts recount them as “proof artifacts” (“The World Will Be Tlön”), reminding the audience of the fictional, derived nature of the replicant’s sense of reality, but also, by diegetic implication, interrogating the audiences notion of realism. The blade runner constitutes as evidence of the replicants’ inauthentic past, an interpretation echoed by Tofts in his classification of them as “memories ... belonging to someone else”. Tofts, similarly, finds that Borges’ narratives “intrude into the world-outside text”, as a kind of paradoxical dream. However, if both Blade Runner and “The Book of Sand” threaten to swallow the world, in a kind of psychotic immersion, in the mother-as-body, they also provide a destabilizing moment to the fictional universe, proposing themselves as realistic narratives considering objects available for practices of validation. [The notion of validity understood here as the practice of realistic affirmation par excellence.] As Donna Haraway points out in her Cyborg Manifesto, we already “find ourselves to be cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras ... both in formal discourse (for example, biology) and in daily practice (for example, the homework economy in the integrated circuit).” Separating the content of a subjective imaginary from its form, or its body, may never have been a tenable construction, and it would only be within such a construction, exemplified by the blade runner’s interpretative framework, that these moments could constitute a sort of psychotic demon.

From the replicant Rachel’s perspective, these insights exhibit no more than those epiphanic moments when we realize that we were never fully ourselves, and the untenability of an isolationist notion of subjectivity. In Rachel’s radical confusion as who made who, we cognize the fear, love and confusion of cyborg culture: a never- ending recursion as to the question of originary authenticity. As a formal manifestation, such as in Blade Runner’s narrative non-closure, it is symptomatic moment of science fiction as a generic phenomenon.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

From Recitals:
Rules change

I, the poem hereby declare that
From now on
From this moment

Meaning is not to be found behind, before or beyond
Me, but between

You and I, the poem

Friday, January 02, 2004

What is pornography?

Nikolaj Frobenius, scriptwriter of Insomnia (starring Al Pacino, Hillary Swank and Robin Williams, and directed by Christopher Nolan of Memento-fame), let hisself be interviewed by Bøygen (The Bend, also a character in the last act of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, a devil-like appearance), in conjunction with the publication of The Shy Pornographer in 1999 (Le Pornographe timide, Actes Sud, 2000). More or less wittingly, the conversation drifts into a comparison with his 1996 novel Latours katalog (De Sade's Valet, trans. Tom Geddes, Marion Boyars, 2001). Frobenius, a master of scriptwriting from LPC college in London, studied the letter the Marquis wrote from the Vincennes and the Bastille to his manservant Latour Quiros, and immersed himself in what he calls a Sadean universe.


It is basically violent, inhuman and paradoxical -- and confusing. Confusion is a cornerstone i de Sade's way of being in the world and communicating in language. As soon as we engage in a careful reading of him, we find out that his language works on several levels. You find reason, which in a way incorporates you into his universe, and it says: 'This happens, my good friend, if you don't follow the path of virtue.' It is a very confusing claim, since it directly follows descriptions of what we may call the Sadistic problem: a world of fiece passions and fascinations, but where apathy is also just around the corner. There is an affinity with the executioner and the victim, and contradictory elements are played out in turns. [Georges] Bataille finds de Sade's literature paradoxical, since it essentially is the victim's language. I believe de Sade tries to destroy language, in an attempt to overcome a lack of communcation.


de Sade lives in complete isolation for large periods of his adult life because of his extravagant transgressions of the law and common sense in France. He's imprisoned, and eats, writes and fantasizes, that's all he's doing. I think his most important problem, from he was a boy, has been his distance to others. And what constitutes the bridge between myself and everybody else? That's language. That is what he wants to destroy, I believe that's what he wants. With his monotony, with confusion, with constant repetitions and detours.

In order to completely burn down the bridge between himself and the world around him?

Perhaps, but also to provoke a reaction, to get attention in some form or the other. He's up there on the bridge that language is, demolishing it. You will find the same effect with a great many other pornographic authors: Charles de Mas, Bataille, Cooper. It is a constant struggle at the borders of language. Pornography is conserned with 'non-language', that which exists on the other side of language. With those authors I mentioned, you will always find reflections on the boundary between language and non-language.