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"There are so many words, and they all mean something." -Leonora Carrington

Updated: 2015-09-16T13:47:43.795-07:00


The CRAMPS_(full) live @ Napa State Mental Hospital_ 2/2


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blurring the line....luv ya Lux....

Marvin Gaye


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I can't help but remember


a certain poet from NYC who came to Detroit a while back and during a conversation over dinner claimed that Bush & Co would institute Martial law before they'd give up power. I was disgusted by the cynicism, especially after the election. Now I think it's funny. Not that I don't think they were (and always will be) corrupt power grabbers. It just evoked a kind of jaded disbelief in the power of  *the people*. I really think that kind of left cynicism is out the window with Obama's election. Bush/Cheney weren't more powerful than the institutions and country they attempted to destroy. Those who believed otherwise lost sight of this. Those who worked for the election of Obama did not. Talk about hope over fear!



I'm not going to speak to (or apologize for) the dormancy. Who cares? But since it's the New Year, I thought I'd attempt a revival. Actually, "New Years" mean very little to me; I don't like ritualized celebrations, not sure why, just don't get into them--weddings, birthdays, holidays, etc., leave me feeling extremely ambivalent. Why am I supposed to feel something about these particular days? I never pull it off, am often bored or uncomfortable. Too much of a misanthrope, I guess. Anyway, here's my attempt to mark the New Year--some unfinished drafts I never posted, either because I thought they were shitty or because I never got around to finishing them, or both. Most are just quotes I wanted to comment on but never got around to. Maybe I'll develop something with them or I'll come back to this post and be surprised at what I thought I cared about. One of the most interesting things about keeping some kind of track of one's life interests, moods,  acts, is noticing what returns again and again as well as what drops away or lies dormant for years--the sediment of (seemingly discarded) memories, half-formed interests, and desires that makes up a self. I'm always a little disturbed by those recurrences and the things I've forgotten or left behind--the uncanny self: 1. Praxis as liminal site.Oscillating, struggling between phenomenological and cultural studies approach to textual interpretation. Something too lyrical, abstract, dreamy wrt Phenom, while CS is too concrete, empirical, reductive. Is this as basic as the theory/action divide (tho, granted, both are in fact theory)? Is praxis, in Marxist terms, the solution if we were to conceive of it as not only constitutive politically  (as agential) but as *necessary*? As the ultimate in dialectics, praxis intends to hold together (resolve?) the structural contradictions or qualities of desire and material facts (as quantity). But praxis as solution to all binaries?2. Time & the CityChronopolis"The city is a time mosaic. It is a living archeological aggregate of forgoten civilizations, of periods within decades, eras within centuries. Te city is a simultaneous matrix of cultural empires, of invisible districts and regions. It is an infinitely graduated series of fashions and habits in which the individual is simply another arbitrary designation, a border that dissolves into the nested identities of the metropolitan psyche. Layers of prior styles, architectures, and entertainments fade incrementally, one into the next, superimposed finally in the simultaneous levels of a protean urban vortex."The city is spotted with islands, cul-de-sacs of time where a previous decade, a prior century, stands untouched. A 1914 newspaper lying yellow on the floor of an attic cracked open for renovations. The heraldic limestone gates of the waterfront expressway. The tired hands of a middle-aged waitress, her movements a choreographed testament to an identity unchanged over thirty years, her makeup identical in the bathroom mirror each morning, a gestural fossil of forgotten fashion. The impassive stone faces at the summit of old bank towers, stoic trade deities of the early thirties staring into a future that has come and gone. Abandoned transfers from a night-bus lying in the early morning light.Brazlian children run through the market crowds on a summer evening. Dusty sunlight through an old streetcar window on the first warm sunset in February, the streetlights flickering on, purple against the incandescent gold of the bank towers. The first breath of wind from an approaching subway train not yet audible or visible." --Christopher Dewdney3. [This might have been a response, in my mind, to the Dewdney quote; I can't recall now. It's a postcard from Oaxaca sent by my friend Chris Bierman to a group of us that were living together in Detroit in the mid-90's. Chris  and his then girlfriend Ofelia were journeying in Mexico and South America, tho she wasn't with him at the time he wrote this. The postca[...]

Dennis Kucinich at the Democratic National Convention


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Wake Up America! Elf Power!

"More universalist than American"


Fascinating article in India Times on Obama. 



This is awesome!




Weisser & Vetter

things as they        optimistic coalescing

"a satisfactory heuristic"

such marked
thought to
def. worth

the geographical
more confidence than form

mit controlled atmosphere”
the essence of a park

fl/oral history

Es ist mein zweiter Aufenthalt in Detroit”

in the evenings closed freight cars travel in the opposite direction

a park from memory      cull from

2-3 bedrooms
56% property tax relief

“Of course!”
“Everything I’ve got belongs to you”

Democracy in America


"In the heat of the struggle each partisan is driven beyond the natural limits of his own views by the views and excesses of his adversaries, loses sight of the very aim he was pursuing, and uses language that ill corresponds to his real feelings and to his secret instincts. Hence arises that strange confusion which we are forced to witness."
--Alexis de Tocqueville

Abu Ghraib


From this disgusting and incredible New Yorker article: (I found these pics online, not from article.)

“The encampment they were in when we saw it at first looked like one of those Hitler things, like a concentration camp, almost,” Davis said. “They’re in there, in their little jumpsuits, outside in the mud. Their rest rooms was running over. It was just disgusting. You didn’t want to touch anything. Whatever the worst thing that comes to your mind, that was it—the place you would never, ever, ever, ever send your worst enemy.”



Interview with the always charming Samuel Delaney. Reminds me of the issues facing our next Prez!



Reading Lauren Berlant's The Queen of America Goes to Washington City_ and watching mainstream media's lead up coverage of tonight's primaries. It's like reading a diagnostic manual. (I mean that in a good way!) Example:

"[F]ollowing the Reaganite tendency to fetishize both the offensive example and the patriotic norm, the increasingly monopolistic mass media act as a national culture industry whose mission is to micro-manage how any controversial event or person changes the meaning of being "American." The constant polling used by this media apparatus, which includes the solicitation of testimony on talk radio and television, along with telephone interviews, has paradoxically enabled the standards and rhetorics of citizenship to become so privatized and subjective that even privileged people can seem legitimately to claim "outsider," if not "minority," status. With political ideas about the nation sacrificed to the development of feelings about it, nationality has become a zone of trauma that demands political therapy."

While I think that nationality has in many ways always been a "zone of trauma"-- perhaps indeed created or determined by the various "political therapies" applied to traumatic encounters of nationalism-- I take Berlant's points here to be spot on in terms of the diagnosis of the present situation and its extreme creation and reinforcement through public images and narratives of private citizenship, which ultimately reduces public claims of legitimate trauma to private experiences available to anyone. This is what perversely allows power brokers like Hilary Clinton to claim victim status. Question is: what kind of "political therapy" might we exercise to correct this development? Voting? Hah! More like a national lobotomy.



A fascinating and informative piece in the new Republic detailing Obama's economic and foreign policy advisors.

How cool


Lauren Berlant has a blog!



Lately, I have become impatient with the thought, the seeming necessity, of the inexpressible, the unknowable. My romance with excess is at an end. I do not deny it exists--that which is (will be) forever unknown at the same time that it is always irreducibly present. But the attempt to comprehend a certain kind of being, to complete the circuit (a copula) that connects my will to grasp formlessness to that which is seized as its own impossible complexity--with that I have grown bored. My romance with the everyday, however, has just begun.

The Next President



I wish

The Good Ole Days/ Academic Dystopia


Came across this a while back (I forget where now):

"But authoritarian control over colleges and universities is more often exerted by conservative presidents. In 1991, four former Hillsdale College professors, all members of the conservative National Association of Scholars, criticized the small college and its president, George Roche. They wrote: "For years the Hillsdale administration has neglected its academic program to pay for 'outreach' activities designed to promote Dr. Roche, maintained a curriculum that requires no appreciable knowledge of Western culture, and used every possible means including dismissals and threats of lawsuits, to silence dissent of any kind among faculty and students." (Academic Questions, Fall 1991) They noted that in 1986, "the administration began to attack the student newspaper, the Collegian, for its disagreements with college policies, threatening lawsuits and other reprisals against the student staff and any faculty who defended it." The editor of the Collegian was forced by the administration to resign, and the rest of the student staff resigned in protest."

I was writing for the Collegian at the time of the controversy (1986, my sophomore year). In fact, I wrote a piece expressing solidarity with 2 of my poli sci profs, which was critical of the administration, especially after one of the profs (Dr. Hancock, my advisor and a simply wonderful man) decided to leave Hillsdale because of the shenanigans explained above. Behold, the next year some of my merit scholarships were mysteriously cancelled without explanation. One of the lower level hacks in the personnel dept. went so far as to suggest I transfer since the financial hardship would be too difficult; I chose to take out bigger loans. Why I wanted to stay at Hillsdale is now unclear to me. I think it was that I was commited--the political whirlwind was intense (and as a poli sci student, it took on larger dimensions), I had close friendships, I felt comfortably trapped in a degree I couldn't imagine finishing elsewhere. But most of all respect for my professors knew no bounds. Looking back I see it was a moment in American history in microcosm where the shift from conservatives who believed in freedom were killed off by neo-conservative cynicism. One could say it was always "bad" conservativism underneath it all--pro-tradition (judeo christian, greco-roman), anti-left, pro-capitalism. Yes, that's true, but there were some who taught me to think critically, to value learning for its own sake, to question historical limits, to love philosophical ideas and to see that love as a political act. They might have been conservatives, but they taught me to be a radical. Finally, I believe that's why they were targeted, shunned, ex-communicated. It taught me a lesson: politics takes place on many levels the repercussions of which are often difficult to delineate, and institutions of learning, like any other place, are important sites of struggle. Perhaps it prepared me for being a grad student, or professional academic. We shall see.

The Hearing Trumpet


Reading Carrington feels like for the first time it's been so long. So wonderful. This passage is a remarkable interlude (and reminds me of Carla's work);"Force of habit rather than my own capacity carried mehome and sat me down in the back yard. Strangelyenough I was in England and it was Sunday afternoon. Iwas sitting with a book on a stone seat under a lilacbush. Close by a clump of rosemary saturated the airwith perfume. They were playing tennis nearby, theclump clump of the rackets and balls was quiteaudible. This was the sunken Dutch garden, why Dutch Iwonder? The roses? the geometrical flower beds? orperhaps because it is sunken? The church bellsringing, that is the Protestant church, have we hadtea yet? (cucumber sandwiches, seed cake and rockbuns) Yes, tea must be over.My long dark hair is soft like cat's fur, I ambeautiful. This is quite a shock becuase I have justrealized that I am beautiful and there is somethingthat I must do about it, but what? Beauty is aresponsibility like anything else, beautiful womenhave special lives like prime ministers but that isnot what I really want, there must be somethingelse... The book. Now I can see it, the tales of HansChristian Anderson, the Snow Queen.The Snow Queen, Lapland. Little Kay doingmultiplication problems in the icy castle.Now I can see that I was also given a mathematicalproblem which I cannot solve although I seem to havebeen trying for many years. I am not really here inEngland in this scented garden although it does notdisappear as it nearly always does, I am inventing allthis and it is about to disappear, but it does not.Feeling strong and happy is very dangerous, something horrible is about to happen and I must find the solution quickly.All the things I love are going to disintegrate and there is nothing I can do about it unless I can solve the Snow Queen's problem. She is the Sphinx of the North with crackling white fur and her tears rattle like hail on the strange diagrams drawn at her feet. Somewhere, sometime, I must have betrayed the Snow Queen, for surely by now I should know?The young man wearing white flannels has come to ask me something, am I going to play tennis? well I am not really very good you know, that is why I prefer to read a book. No , not an intellectual book, just fairy tales. Fairy tales at your age?Why not? What is age anyway? Something you don't understand, My Love.The woods are full of wild anemones now, shall we go? no Darling. I didn't say wild enemas. I said wild anemones, flowers, hundreds and thousands of wild flowers all over the ground under the trees all the way up to the gazebo. They have no smell but they have a presence just like perfume and quite as obsessive, I shall remember them all my life.Are you going somewhere Darling?Yes, going to the woods.Then why do you say you will remember them all your life?Because you are a part of their memory and you are going to disappear, the anemones are going to bloom eternally, we are not.Darling stop being philosophical it doesn't suit you, it makes our nose red.Since I have discovered that I am really beautiful I don't care about having a red nose it is such a beautiful shape.You are hatefully vain.No Darling, not really because I have a frightful foreboding that it will disappear before I know what to do with it. I am so horribly afraid I don't have time to enjoy being vain.You are a depressive maniac and I would be bored stiff if you were not so pretty.Nobody could ever be bored with me I have too much soul. Far too much, but lots of body too, thank Heavens. The green and the gold light in the woods look at the green fe[...]

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien


Occurred to me after seeing "I'm Not There" and even more so after a fellow student recommended listening to Todd Haynes's interview on Fresh Air that the following, written by me age 16, was my youthful attempt to think about regret, opportunity, identity, etc. (In its original format, it's handwritten. It was an asignment from a psychology class, which asked that we complete the trite saying: "If I had my life to life over again" within a triangle for some quasi-poetic reason, I suppose.) It always makes me a little sad when I read it both because it's so very trite, and because I know I really meant it -- and maybe still do. (I've tried to reproduce the way the triangle made the lines break):

I had
my life to
live over again
I'd be more under-
standing when it
comes to other people.
I would try to give more
of myself instead of always
holding back. I would enjoy
the present and stop worrying
about the future. I'd laugh more
and cry less. I'd have more confidence
in myself. I'd play more and work less, I'd
try things that I probably won't succeed at.
I'd be myself and not care what other people think of me.
I'd wear weird clothes and say weird things. I would read more
poetry. I'd gather leaves in the fall and make snowmen in the winter.
I'd live a thousand lives instead of just one.

The Politics of Performance/ I"I'm Not There"


Saw Todd Haynes's "I'm Not There" last night. Just stunning. Too rich to even adequately address its many dimensions and evocations, so any discussion of it will necessarily leave something out/feel inadequate. But I think I can fairly say this: it is, above all, " about" performance--on a number of levels, which means the meaning of performance itself is at issue. In what way performance and Dylan, performing Dylan, Dylan as performer, are unpacked and fragmented and stitched together through the various narratives and the characters is a complicated question, and I don't really have the capacity to deal with it adequately (I need to see it again to do that any real justice). Yet I think I can at least say that the various dynamics and themes that circle around and through the film: identity/authenticity/politics/cultural, temporal, musical, and visual frames as they overlap or are mutually structured can be seen through the prism of performativity. (I'll have to define the term at some point, I know.) For example, as you're experiencing "Dylan" being performed and are constantly aware of the shifts in names, locations, genders, time periods, etc., the differing acting styles become ever more apparent and you start to perhaps unconsciously think: is this particular performance any "good" or "right" or close to the "original; What is this performative moment going to teach us or give us in terms of our desire to know (more than the performer) Dylan? What does it even mean to expect that a performance is "adequate"? So Christian Bale pulls off his strikingly tongue in cheek, ironic, funny yet somehow, at the same time, totally moving and endearing performances as both early folkie and as sad Christian preacher Dylan (the latter complete with bad polyester suit and queer molded jewfro) precisely because he makes you aware of it *as* his performance of Dylan's performances and of what perhaps Dylan himself might have thought a musician should sound or look or feel or be or believe (and he gives you this layering even tho he doesn't have a direct line in the entire movie, I don't think. It's all musical performances.) It's like the movie "performs" a Bulterian "citation-chain" of musical performance and characterological references, which is totally dizzying and amazing and I actually would have like to have seen more Bale and a tad less Blanchett because his work was equally as fascinating and evocative and has gotten far less attention by the media than it deserves. Yes, Blanchett was fantastic, but it did seem to be a concession to popular audiences that her section dominates most of the latter half of the film. (As a side note, one thing the film's definitely fascinated with in the Blanchett section is Dylan's hair--it's practically a character in its own right as Haynes does a spot on directorial appropriation or "performance" or citation of Pennebaker's Don't Look Back, when Dylan was, indeed, really a hottie. The main reason I've seen that film like 20 times. Tho I was a little pissed that Haynes didn't take the opportunity to do something w/ the Dylan/Baez dynamic in that part).So, yeah, If you start to compare the acting performances you get a range--naturalistic, you might call it, from Heath Ledger (and Charlotte Gainsbourg); campy and ironic yet completely driven in Bale; method channeling to the nth degree in Blanchett; sincere and goofily sweet in Gere. And then there's the guy who played the Rimbaud character and the young black kid who plays Woody Guthrie/Dylan, or even Julianne Moore's performance[...]

This Weekend at Mocad



"Friday & Saturday, December 7 and 8

Friday, December 7
8 pm doors, all ages
$16 admission
Tony Conrad will perform live in collaboration with M.V. Carbon (formerly of Chicago's Metalux) along with internationally acclaimed, Dearborn-based, ambient "space rock" minimalists, Windy & Carl, and Detroit/Ann Arbor-based, international compositional-noise-rock icons Wolf Eyes.

Saturday, December 8 at 7 pm
2.5 hour program
$9 admission

Tony Conrad will screen and discuss a 2.5-hour retrospective program of his films.

$23 advance tickets for both weekend events available until November 30th through the MOCAD website, at the MOCAD bookstore, and at Stormy Records (Dearborn). After November 30th tickets will only be for sale at the MOCAD bookstore or at the door on the night of the event. Online sales are will call only.

TONY CONRAD (b. 1941) is the quintessential cult figure; resident outsider; rebel angel; Tony Conrad's got the kind of immaculate credibility that can't be bought and can't be sold -- and how else, otherwise, could he have persevered? Rumbling under the cultural radar since the Kennedy Era, Conrad is at once first cause and last laugh, a covert operative who can stand as a primary influence over succeeding generations." --(from the Mocad website)

I can't wait!!!

The Thin Man



Oh boy, it's always a good night when this movie's on. I adore Myrna Loy.

quote for the day


"Acquaintance with the details of fact is always reckoned, along with their reduction to system, as an indispensable mark of mental greatness." --William James



Saw great show last night at Marygrove College. Holly Hughes read kind of funny and sweet improv-y piece that started out riffing on "her" "come", "coming," and frustrated relationships. "Her" or "she", in a nice funny perverse twist away from assumptions abut lesbians and sex and queer relationships, turned out to be her dog, which then turned into thoughts on playing with queer identity, and living in Michigan after being a "professional homosexual" in NYC. It was good; she's funny and natural, not like what I expected. In other words, she was way more Michigan than NYC.But let me back up...I came in a bit after the first performer, Blair, had begun. he was singing a snippet from a Journey song, which immediately made me grin (the "born and raised in South Detroit" song, of course). Then he read a few pieces which were basically about being a queer black man, Detroit's down and dirty landmarks, poverty, desire, knowing someone/yourself. It sort of reminded me of Samuel Delaney. Then he played acoustic guitar and sang a beautiful song and then ended it with this piece called "Dig," which was sort of about telling the truth about oneself. The way I'm describing it makes it sound not that good, but it was actually really amazing. I was very moved not only because he is quite talented--beautiful voice good performance skills--but because it was so heartfelt. It wasn't all that sophisticated (some obvious metaphors, too concerned with his presence) but something about his sincerity and the beauty of some of the lines and delivery and his gestures were just very refreshing emotionally--direct and lovely. I had tears in my eyes when he finished. When Holly Hughes took the stage after him she was just blown away, kept saying "that was AMAZING." You could tell she was a bit startled by being in Detroit and coming across something actually good. She does, after all, teach at U of M (snob central). At one point she said" "why haven't I heard of this guy?" and," I have to follow that?" So that was cool, to see that reaction. Then there was a stupid interlude where some chick had piled a bunch of rocks and a cluster of rolled gauze bandages in the middle of the gallery space off to the side of the performance stage. She and a few people sat on the floor and started rolling the gauze around the rocks. The audience stood there and watched for a while and then rocks and gauze got passed around and people rolled the rocks together. A rock and roll gathering. Get it? And I'm guessing it had something to do with war. Now I love rocks and gauze is pretty cool too, but I hate shit like that. I want to *throw* rocks when I'm supposed to do something meaningful with them. It was a sophomore art project, but then it also did become kind of fun to stand in the corner with my friend Lindsay and make fun of it and chat and think about gauze and rocks and just hang. So, in an unintentional way, it *was* about community and gathering things together. But the larger commentary was lame. I hate participatory art. "Fuck you! I don't wanna play your art reindeer games." Yeah, that's right..I'm a bad ass.Finally that ended and it was Carla Harryman, Anna Vitale and Lindsay (aka Viki)'s turn to perform a piece by Carla called "Sue." Carla and Anna read the piece in a double voiced, echoing splitting loud/soft play off each other while Lindsay/Viki had her electronic set up behind them coming in at certain points with noises, atmospheri[...]

art & evolution


I guess there was (is?), according to a NYT Op-Ed, a "free-wheeling conference" at U of M on art and evolution. A month long conference, it seems. I felt intrigued until I read this:

"In the main presentation at the conference, Ellen Dissanayake, an independent scholar affiliated with the University of Washington, Seattle, offered her sweeping thesis of the evolution of art, nimbly blending familiar themes with the radically new. By her reckoning, the artistic impulse is a human birthright, a trait so ancient, universal and persistent that it is almost surely innate. But while some researchers have suggested that our artiness arose accidentally, as a byproduct of large brains that evolved to solve problems and were easily bored, Ms. Dissanayake argues that the creative drive has all the earmarks of being an adaptation on its own. The making of art consumes enormous amounts of time and resources, she observed, an extravagance you wouldn’t expect of an evolutionary afterthought. Art also gives us pleasure, she said, and activities that feel good tend to be those that evolution deems too important to leave to chance."

So art is "too important to leave to chance? Huh? Evolution, then, is deliberate? I mean, what's the opposite of chance here? I'm sure the article is doing a bad job but I *hate* it when folks try to make art seem more meaningful or interesting by explaining it in evolutionary terms, especially when they don't know jack shit about theories of evolution. And what exactly might that explanation really tell us? I don't care if Martians landed on earth a billion trillion years ago and implanted a DNA code for artistic production or that plants and ticks and monkeys and birds make art too and thus the whole world is one big art project. Ok, the latter example is a jab at Elizabeth Grosz who I greatly admire but who gave a stunningly silly lecture on art and evolution last year at Wayne' English dept. According to Grosz, after a long explanation of environment and something about ticks, it all adds up to--are you ready for this?--art equals "vibrations." Please. Come on...I mean, duh, whatever. *Everything* equals vibrations. The whole fucking universe. It's like a more boring version of string theory. I get it, it's just... so what? What, as a critic, are you supposed to do with that? The meaning of Jackson Pollack's drip paintings? Vibrations. Motorhead's super fast bad ass punk rock metal? Vibrations. Bach's Mass in B Minor? Vibrations. Foghat's crappy rock songs? Vibrations,. Tyree Guyton's urban detritus installations and legendary dots? Vibrations. Please. Kill. Me. Evolutionary explanations for art like Grosz's say nothing *interesting* or specific about art practices--their history, their form, their politics, their pleasure. Evolution, on the other hand, is fascinating.

Well, you know, maybe the article just sucks but it really annoyed me. End of today's rant.