Ancestral Musings [chronicles of Dis/Infection, Feb 2015]


 

The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. – Marcus Aurelius

 

Yesterday, for unknown reasons, I contemplated old-age; which with me amounts to a more cruel, more masochistic form of memento mori. I imagine myself old, white- or no-haired, suffering from diverse, diffuse pains about which I either groan and mumble, staring death in the face and possibly not resenting its slow approach. This already tells a big part of the tale: I, me, almost alone there, at the end. Someone else to hear my incoherent mumblings? Maybe, hopefully, there will be a partner to tend to my sufferings and be compassionate, make me feel less alone in my decrepitude. Eysh, what lovely imaginings, that long slow final stretch before blissful inexistence. Who could be there? A young nurse swooshing through on her heavy morning schedule of tending to a dozen octo-&nontogenarians?

But missing, thus far, are spectral images of unproduced offspring. I am presently very happy about my [our, of course] childlessness; it agrees with my paltry finances, my utter lack of accomplishments, as well as my inability to comport myself adult-like: serious, stern, purpose-driven. Not some modish, hipsterish, desperate clinging to youthfulness, I hope but rather basic incompetence. [Though, which is worse, is anyone‘s case to make.]  And anyway, it might be the other way round, that having offspring is what renders you hopelessly adult.

However, as my mind zooms ahead across the decade, prematurely [for death surely wishes to pounce on any given day] the flipside of the childless medal hoves into view: old age solitude, a grey-beige room where only one‘s hawkings-up, phlegm-choked tissues and the occasional nurse-visit keep one company. Exaggeratedly grim but often real enough. Yesterday, in particular, I imagined my parents in a parallel present of zero procreation: home alone and downbeat, hoping for no phone calls, expecting nobody to ring now and then to ask about their well-being, not making preparations for the diverse holiday dinners. And then my mother‘s sisters, my aunts and their husbands, also alone, also dejected. What a wretched image! Immersed deep enough in such imaginings the prospect of children [while otherwise distasteful] suddenly takes on a redemptive glow: I will not be alone, someone will be present to weep/curse/pick at a hangnail at my grave. 

I was of such a melancholy mood as to communicate to Nomhle these musings, intended as calm observations of fact rather than futureful thinking. To which, quite rightly and more mature than I can ever hope to become, she eventually replied that I would have to stay patient another 8 years, at least, for the two of us to fall in with the common human folly. 

And anyway, the forlorn gaze of a mother pushing a pram through today‘s slush was quite enough of an antidote: oh life of mine, where are thou? pledged her eyes. 

Yes, cautionary examples abound. For example the sudden dying off of visits by one‘s friends as soon as a given couple has plunked down a nuclear family of their own. Nuclear indeed! The very fission which detonates any social network with its weapon-grade babies, its plutonium playgroups, its super-critical kindergartens. No, not now, better to remain the childless fusion reactor for a while, pretending to save the world‘s social energy problems. [Which is an outrageous exaggeration for the super sedentary likes of Nomhle and this-here-typist.] Anyway, the radioactive look of new-spawned parents is usually enough to get me off any such notions. Also, recently, reading XZY‘s „Kindergarchy“, a sobering exploration of parenthood in the present day US of A, seamlessly transferable to contemporary Helvetia.

But then anyway today morning my thoughts, given more to the labyrinthine layout of  sulci and gyri than logical progression, came whirring back along these lines: lineage, descent, progeny, what-to-think? And a HAT popped into my head, a habitual automatic thought: on this morning, 100 years ago [or 500 or 7 million, for that matter] what had my grandfather been doing? Grandfather? Grandmother? Roving across the plains of the Eastern Cape in hot pursuit of a sacrificial animal? Singular? GrandmotherS & GrandfatherS? 

Even if we assume naively a generational cycle to be 30 years [very much biased towards our present needs for post-adolescent tomfoolery], we have to move back but a century and a score years to end up with a proper little pack of grandparents: 16 standing there in our shady personal genetic history. And how personal can it be, how individual when it are those same sweet sixteen, jumbled together a bit differently that passed their talents&defects down to my siblings, your siblings? And which one of them shall I take most to be my, hmmmm, retrospective role model when I don‘t even know their names, much less how they spent their days on the face of this planet? Nor should they in turn, given this long genealogical duree, be happy about how their blood was randomly mixed with the most faraway strangers. As little as 33 generations back, about one millenium, you get the entirety of the planet‘s population standing along history‘s edge in the soft glow of parenthood… of you! [yes, yes, population dynamics play out quite differently but there‘s a general, numerical lesson here] 

The illusion of following a patrilineal or matrilineal line up and down the progression of generations is purely a matter of mental sanity, something to maintain the illusion of coherence, the phantsamagoria of a family tree where, as is plain to see, there is only an incredible, incomprehensible rhizome of genetic re-mixes. As little as 300 years back you end up with a thousand-head strong troop of ancestors, each of them having given you some minuscule fraction of their genetic make-up. And so it is that, each one of us, given a slightly more historical perspective, must be considered a Bastard Absolute, a blend of so much different genetic material that we resort to family names or to populations to atone for it. I am a Mabona, I am a Giger, I am a Swiss, all the lovely titles that anchor us in time, place and genealogy.  

But then also looking from the nuclear nest outward, forward perhaps, the dream of inheritance become a vague sugar puff within a span of three generations; it is longevity only, surviving those other great-grandparents, that will give one old geezer the late glory of claiming exclusive great-grandparenthood of children whose names, in their profligate newly born numbers, escape us: 

This is my daughter, you can tell by her head-strong ways, the long pointy nose, how she rubs her temple when thinking hard, a thousand tiny details, you know. And that there is my third grandson; I suppose he likes me, I mean, leaving through my old magazines, looks a bit like my late wife. That one way back over there, I think, hmmm, I think that‘s my, hold on, ah yes, my great-grand daughter, name of…. shooosh, I be darned, looks a lot like her aunt on her father‘s side, bloody Nigerian genes….

The nuclear family, what a convenient illusion to prop up space and time. Except that it‘s not: as a matter of fact, this is where 50-plus-percent of becoming yourself and growing up is usually done. This is our everyday reality: parents, kids, partners. The kids should have a better future [pretending for a moment that climate change as produced per jethopping weekend city trips won‘t wreak havoc on it] and our parents deserve a decent retirement plan. Castles of illusion all around, my dear friend. And anyway, it holds true yet, the dream of a legacy, a parcel of our individuality passed down the generations [e.g. phantasms of a phallomanic patriarchy], is a fantasy contradicted by the wild genetic and interpersonal blending across the human gene…pool? Nah, rhizome!

 

™∞¶•

 

 

 

 

Bildschirmfoto 2015-02-01 um 23.14.52

It sounds a bit negative, as if leaving reality behind is such a bad thing. The same way maybe that escapism is stigmatized because it is seen, primarily, as running from something rather than towards somewhere. But I conceive of the best of literature as actually providing an escape to the splendid isolation of imagination, where a white castle holds up the sky and a poor, tortured girl in a locked basement affords Omelas its untold splendor. 

Concepts are not the only means to leave reality‘s rich grey behind us, vividly evoked imagery serves the same end. As does hyper-detailed lyricism, lush and winding. Reality is sensory and signifying surplus, true, but on the page, in concepts and imagery distilled into words, it finds its equal. 

They dance, oh do they dance. And reality does not leave the room untill, exhausted at last, its realistic feet bleeding, pulled down by the gravity of physical laws, it leaves for imagination to run the show.  

 

™∞¶•

 

Poe’s great tales turn on guilt concealed or denied, then abruptly and shockingly exposed. He has always been reviled or celebrated for the absence of moral content in his work, despite the fact that these tales are all straightforward moral parables. – M. Robinson

I can‘t vouch for or counter-vouch this quote but I do remember someone taking cruel revenge by walling in some other person, in Venice?, alive. I think it was revenge…but for what? An unrepaid debt? The dim, moving images haunt me yet. Surely, no minor misdeed deserved such brutal, cruel vengeance. Yes, a transgression had happened in the past but in the present, so it seemed, it had accumulated a gruesome interest in brutality. And in the Fall of the House of Usher I too seem to recall some inordinate toll being taken on one of the characters due to une chose murky from the past being unearthed… I believe. 

Surely by this narrative strategy Poe was able to rope in [and cudgel?] many a reader who, in her/his dark moments remembers some vile deed they themselves perpetrated in their salad-au-snail days and yet regret. Yet fearing it will come to bite our present glutei. Indeed, sans chain-yanking, the other day, yesterday it was, I saw ill-fated Oliver of my childhood. Our childhood. A good head taller than me, dressed in serious but dour business attire, ensconced in the cheerless masses of commuter traffic just like myself. It is him, this well-turned-out twenty-year old, we, our local childhood collective, used to treat with nothing but the utmost cruelty: forcing him into painful falls, feeding him noxious materials and belly-laughing at his physical defects. Utterly wicked we were. I still regret having been such a heartless child, if only just towards O. And seeing him in the bus, I could do nothing but lower my sights, ashamed of my former self. But, I think, he did not so much as recognize me. And so then Mr. Poe, dear, grizzly wordsmith of dread, is here in writing even now to remind us, remind me, that one dreary February evening I might regain my senses on the cold floor of a crypt just as O. F. is about to trowel that last blasted brick into place. Ahhhhh, what exquisite horror, what superlative revenge. So perhaps upon our next serendipitous encounter, it should be I who shuts the past‘s open ledger by bloody legerdemain.

 

™∞¶•

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Nigh-negotiable [chronicles of dis-/infection, dec 2014]


UniLU_staircaseFace

Happiness is the longing for repetition. •–•–•Milan Kundera

Pattern recognition is the friend of life and the imagination. Cognitive cousin, if you will. As important as it might be to mathematics and psychology, all those folks obstinately investigating the ties of our neural gelatin to the stuff beyond our eyeballs, PatRec also at every turn, playful cousin, delivers little bursts of joy in everyday life as we recognize: the man in the moon, the old lady & the young woman, the Caribbean atoll on Gorbatchev‘s forhead or the gallopping knight along the cloud‘s edge. If we look and listen long enough, we will mentally trace the unmistakable outline of a figure familiar to us in the unseeming nooks and crannies of the ordinary. And then, before we know it, we conjure a little story about the smiling, happy-go-lucky VW or the weary WWII soldier forever finally about to troop out of the wallpaper‘s random pattern…. a wallpaper, like the star-spangled welkin, jostling with figures from the subconscious.

The one I can remember on the spot, here&now, is the man stuck in the mountain, his face turned West, sunsetwards, gazing at the Berner alps. He looks… relaxed, languid, death-like – little wonder as his face is flash-frozen into a mountainside for all eternity. I can only speculate about his body, continuing somewhere under the Swiss mountains, his intestines part of the bowels of the earth.

Yes, faces we are most attuned to spotting, wishing to see a fellow human form amidst the disorder and the white noise. And if we do and when we do, we feel that, aaaayhh how nice, reality is peeping back at us rather than showing us its habitually frosty shoulder. Just the other day I once again spotted such a face, imaginary and real-as-can-be, much surprised by my unexpected appearance in the building‘s spectral stairway…. 0o0 the genial groundfloor ghost!

•–™–•–∞–•

One knows that is only the egomaniac phallacy that makes one imagine so but often enough it seems that life, the whole big shebang itself, is trying to teach one a lesson. One-on-one lessons tend to be an expensive proposal but that‘s not the sticking point. The thing about life as a teacher is that it is breath-stoppingly pedantic, cliche-ridden to a fault and just generally not really up-to-speed on acceptable modern didactics. And yet it teaches indiscriminately, each and all – even the most ancient, honorable sage might be ordered for a remedial class or two.

One of its many platitudinous lessons is on a type of wholesome symmetry that pervades the universe, the principle of ying&yang where, yaaaaaaawn–sigh–grunt, the good and the bad have agreed to a balanced cosmic detente. The peacable shape at the end of the joseki. As trite as this axiom might be, people don‘t tire of making recourse to it, especially on occasions of (ever so minuscule) vengeance [e.g. Now that‘s Karma for you, thou fatherless fuck!], falsely secure in the illusion that life has done some soul-searching so as to be at their back, now, in recompense for earlier slights to one‘s noble, incomparable, saintly EGO.

And so anyway: balance, symmetry, equilibrium… in every remotest quadrant of existence. To the point where it becomes difficult not to note it, the lesson‘s manifestation in „real life“ and, simultaneously take note of its hairbrainedness. Which is to say: 7 days ago two of my good friends were blessed with a babe [effortless and in silken fettle], while a fortnight prior someone dearly close to us [our family] was given notice of their own cells, ever so bastardly malignant, turned against themselves.

Ahhhh, but this is no type of symmetry at all! There is no balancing act. No equillibrium, no fairness, nothing of the like! It is this‘here petty little mind noting a star of joy and a planet of pain leaping into existence simultaneously, a few clicks apart, connected only and tenuously by the outraged mind. Suddenly the trite lesson is painfully present and what seemed a cliche inflames the nerves, befires the brain with endless, looping thoughts. Every question in the book springs up and remains as unanswered as it ever has been: why this good person? why so early? why despite due diligence? why, after all, such spiteless disregard for life by its very own elementary children, the cells? why all these whys again for the billionth time in the history of our species? – And the joys of parenthood at the other end of town? So lovely, well-deserved, adorable and yet so cruel in their juxtaposition. Which why can do this justice? Goddamn an equilibrium! There be suffering and joy, dear reader and us mortal little pirates inbetween, none the wiser.

 

•–™–•–∞–•

The year, of course, having accrued a few billion rehearsals, is ending again, effortlessly, reminding one above all, how nothing really ends. My german classes‘s students, with near-scientific certainty, will be back to interrogate me about unknown lexemes [which perhaps they should‘ve already studied for homework] and tricky questions on grammar that I will not be able to answer without going entirely off topic [also: tossing to the winds the communicative approach‘s prime tenet that students of language are primarily interested in communicating, blabbing away agrammatically at the very first opportunity], yes, the DAF and DAZ students will be there and so will I, ideally, happy to teach them or rather, coach their multi-dimensional learning processes [haha].

PH Luzern [M.A. degree] classes, no, modules [every lesson like a big, expensive piece of unwieldy furniture] will be back too, unexpectedly&unfortunately, as a few requisite degree-courses slipped the attention of my erring ECP or ECT grip. Modules clustered one about the other so numerous a few were bound to be lost from my sight. Badminton might be back, if I manage to clear one weekday-evening from obligational brambles.

00_HOW_TO_th92835575_year_end_659px

What obligations anyway? Always these things we have to do to remain amongst the connected, respected and living: shopping groceries, prepping a PPp, going for a coffee w/ a friend one hasn‘t seen in ages, teaching the 18:00 A1 class, dashing off to the gym [to maintain the required stamina/muscle], pay the bills [which fly onto one‘s desk like the most pesky of locusts, bloody perennial], shopping groceries yet again, hoovering the appt, the whole appt, getting up in the ungodly AM to, ah yes, go back to work. Etcetera. It‘s not all bad at all, just unending, the year doesn‘t end, it flips back to January 1st [in well-recycled disbelief: Can you believe it‘s January again!?], updates that last digit on the year-count like the way you (feel compelled to) update WhatsApp… a soft, nigh-negotiable yet total, i.e. social obligation.

The year will start over again, unstoppable, with a calendrical ferocity that betokens the continuation of life, cyclical, unstoppable, manifested in the way women (of my age) are giving birth left, right and center. They start again at zero, breath, cry, drink one milliliter of milk per hour, shit their pampers with reckless abandon. Get out of the way, Life is back again! It is the end of December and the beginning of January. Continue what you‘re doing as you move forward to the new start line.

•–™–•–∞–•

 

To the west is the amorphous brown muck of terra matter, a minuscule area of her that has been exposed to the other elements. The grass has been removed, one assumes, by caterpillars or other massive machinery of matter transfer. The proper lexeme is heavy machinery. And often I wonder why indeed, it is not swallowed up by the brown molasses one usually sees it parked in.

Was it really a caterpillar that removed all that grass? It might‘ve been a bulldozer used for scraping off a meadow instead of plowing remains of a building into the ground. Caterpillar, bulldozer,… evocative names borrowed from the animal kingdom as if the clunking, bulky machines needed at least a smidgen of organic grace bestowed upon them. But then bulldogs and caterpillars aren‘t at all graceful, nor can they tear up green turf.

What actually probably sheared off the top-layer was a Scraper, possibly a 613c or a TS-14b. They pragmatically fullfill their job: „The rear part has a vertically moveable hopper (also known as the bowl) with a sharp horizontal front edge. […] When the hopper is lowered, the front edge cuts into the soil or clay like a plane and fills the hopper.

The hopper descends, slicing into old Ma‘ earth. A slab of feral grass and subcutaneous soil is dissociated from its habitat and maybe an old, pained wail rises, the one heard when some of our number forcefully reduce nature‘s space to something rectilinear, hard, compatible with piping and power that serves our civilizational needs more predictably. Perhaps not though; no romantically bawling Gaia because the soil has long been deathly poisoned by millions of rounds of ammunition from the previous military range and to see that grass of blades have even persisted here is miraculous.

Garbage-and-landfilll-in--006

But then what toxicity is it anyway that doesn‘t kill off the wild meadows and its dancing schools of butterflies? The persistence of life in the face of our garbage, our non-organic droppings, our detritus of urban growth is really something, isn‘t it?

•–™–•–∞–•

 

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Failed Exhibition [may 2014]


A failed exhibition

            Yesterday we wanted to attend a little art show on the outskirts of Lucerne. Just up the hill from Sääli. My partner was going to write a little piece on it for the local magazine on culture. The theme of the exhibition is urban-farming something-something. We didn‘t, beforehand, invest the maximum amount of effort in finding out about this exhibtion. The idea being to go there with a minimum of preconceptions so as to ask maximally naive [or unconstrained] question that would give the questions&answers a refreshing aspect. Cognitively refreshing. We hadn‘t bothered, either, to consult the omniscient internet on the whereabouts of this exhibtion. So instead we asked the smartphone‘s gps, which helped us a little. Abstract space, space reduced to its relational [and two-dimensional] components has been demystified so we always know [or can know] within a few taps and strokes where we are on the planet‘s grid. But living space is always an irreducible surprise or fullness [you might know the place from memory].

            After a little while, we did find the exhibition‘s venue. It couldv‘e hardly been more disappointing. There was an almost empty bungalow. On the other side was a grassy backyard/glade where a few middle-aged women were firing up a grill and setting up chairs and banks. It was eventually communicated that we were two hours early. There was not banter so much as a goodwilled yet slightly annoyed exchange of information. One of the women eventually cheerily said that we could look at the works anyway, compensation for having lugged our bodies all the way up the hill. I looked around in search of art, more precisely, ecological or land art. The light forest adjoining the backyard showed no signs of human interference. The rooms of the bungalow had seemed abandoned. What the…? Where the…? My partner was underwhelmed and a bit pissed by her misreading of the website‘s info. There is information, endless info and so sometimes, little wonder, our filters go on the fritz. I kept looking left and right: Where…? One of the women read my comical gestures and said: „Right over there. The fertilizer cart!“ The cart?!, I thought. I had feared that this lumbering 2–wheeler was going to be part of the exhibition and my mood immediately sank another notch.

            We walked over there. Across the grass, splashed in Saturday sunshine. It was a beautiful day you know, lots of things to potentially do. The cart‘s back hatch was open to allow a view of the cylindrical interior. The lower 1/4th of the tank was covered in hardwood flooring the intention of which seemed to be to mimic the floor of a regular white-cube exhibtion. The decadent [?] art world in…get on the bus to the station, take the train from there to Zurich, get off and take the streetcar XY, get off at a stop near an expensive gallery, walk on into it… that! All the way near the front of the tank [where it attaches to the tractor] where there is a circular opening on top, a hole filled by a pot was let into the floor. From the pot rose a plant to meet the sunlit opening above. Along the length of tank-internal hardwood floor were placed, incongruously, a walking stick and a neatly folded military-issue blanket. One thought came to me: conceptually confused. One example [though even that is too much brain capacity expended]: a huge fertilizer cart used for industrial farming has preciously little to do with urban farming. One more: where does the military blanket fit within this symbolic matrix?

            We walked back out of the sunshine into the… not bungalow then… barracks. In search of compensation, something to off-set the weight of disappointment. Instead, we were greeted by more minimalism. The first room contained a network of skinny iron tubing resembling, vaguely, a skeleton of giant bird‘s wing, suspended in the middle of the room. It looked like something it took a maximum of three hours to solder together. Work hours seeming the only reasonable means of accounting for this tosh. I should really use the word sh%t.

            The second room contained a huge, cut up shell hewn from marble [or certainly stone]. Could‘ve been based on a Lobatus gigas but I‘ll admit my conchological expertise is whatever a few clicks of wiki will yield. In that same room were three wooden, sterile, bee-less hives standing atop their wooden cargo crates. The hives looked like they were perhaps stylized versions of actual hives, no way of telling. It signified absolutely nothing. A random juxtaposition of apiary and conch sculpture? Urban gardening? Landscape art?

            Even in mediocre exhibition there is usually a minimal up-tick in one‘s inner state of being due to the sublime or the experience of solid craftsmanship. Here I felt nothing of the like. Maybe if we could‘ve talked to [confronted] the responsible artist who was scheduled to show up 90 minutes hence. My partner, as if making an unsubtle comment, left for the lavatory. I tried to figure out how to spend the remainder of the day‘s hours without being yet again horrendously inefficient. She came back, fatigued as hell and we lit out. We lit the hell out.

 

Don Q & origins

            About the origins of the novel Woods writes: „If all of modern fiction comes out of the knight‘s cape, then one reason might be that Cervante‘s novel contains all major comic tropes, from the farcical to the delicately ironic, the trivial to the splendid“. Yes, agreed. But it also contains exquisite, often equally comical, intertextual references to works of its time, betraying an acute awareness of not only what fictional shoulders it stands on but also, more importantly I would say, an ironic distance from the idealization of that very chivalric age. It seemed to me in reading that, again and again, Cervantes was saying „Come on lads, let‘s not fool ourselves about this alleged Golden Age of Knighthood. It was a comedy of chauvinisms. To take it serious you‘d have to go well-nigh mad…as certain Hidalgos most certainly do.

            And, also, he entertainingly showed the thousand faces of human hypocrisy. The impression is that this was a daring feat for his time and, the even more overwhelming impression is/was that the narrative on Don Q. & SanPan contained virtually every element of the modern, as well as postmodern novel. Indeed, San Pan himself, according to Woods, can be read as a stand in for the reader: „Yet Sancho Panza remains, lives on. And who is Sancho? Earlier in the book, DQ says of Sancho, admiringly, that ,he doubts everything and he believes everything.‘ Isn‘t this a fine descriptiion of the reader of this novel?

            But this fails to capture the playful back and forth that unfolds across four centuries in time between Cervantes and ourselves, the readers: „Unfortunately, at this very point, the author of this history leaves the battle pending, excusing himself by saying that he could find nothing more written concerning the exploits of Don Quixote, that than that which has already been recounted“. Of course, in a work of fiction there can be nothing more important than the imaginary historical record!

 

Piece of cake economics           

            The thing about buying a piece of cake [carrot or whatever type you delect] is that you have to take them with because otherwise, at a later point along the temporal axis, the eating of it becomes extremely difficult if not outright impossible. You and the piece of cake are, though still existing at the same moment and once bound to become the same entity [molecules of the cake could become molecules of that day‘s highest yield cognitive process], at disparate points in time. Your attention somehow was misdirected at a crucial moment when you should have been focused on maintaining the appropriate proximity between your own body [especially the mouth] and the cake but having paid the thing‘s exchange value you walked away from the transaction without consuming it. A consumer who doesn‘t consume – what a bad consumer you are! [Do you even care about the multiplier effect?!] Though, technically, you have already paid for its production– and material cost and so the seller could just sell the piece of cake again [to a more attentive customer] and double the profit or…if that is too time-consuming [unwrapping the piece again and placing it back among the other pieces] he or she could throw it out without loss. Or give it away as a free piece of cake [advertising!]. Even with you as a bad consumer the economy would chug on as though nothing happened. Unless of course the foul mood which the flubbed exchange has caused you would affect your morning‘s productivity negatively. So negatively that the loss would be in excess of the cost of the cake. The incomplete micro-economics of a forgotten piece of cake.

            What I will do is to go back there, tonight or next week, tell them about my earlier lapse of consumerly attention and kindly ask them for a piece of cake free of charge. Just so as to gauge, subjectively and randomized, the amount of goodwill present in the world. It will be a totally uneconomic request so I expect nothing good to come of it.

 

 

¿¬¶

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Chronicles of Dis-Infection [2011_Aug • • • New Day’s Nomological ATP Orgy]


It is the next day and, fortunately, here I am again, writing again. Extending my self yet further. The truth is that these are my last halcyon days [provisionally I do hope] in a while. For ten months I now have dabbled in the art of being and becoming myself, passing my days in sport, washing dishes, reading, writing applications, running [which is sport separate from the other sports] and reading. These days have been most delightful though, as could be expected, I could have been much more productive. DaVinci’s allegedly final words apply. At any rate, 10 months are a long time, long enough to become estrange from regular working society, long enough to become slightly perplexed as well as amused by TV’s portrayal of mean everyday life and long enough to cultivate a thick liking for the privilege of freely allocating one’s time spent between necessity, literary endeavors and bodily ventures.

Ayh, ayh. This now is coming to a close, this golden era. On the morrow, I have rendezvous with the teacher of my teacher’s internship [Neuenkirch] and a fortnight hence, my M.A. studies in Secondary Education kick off in our city’s very own spanking new university [well-done high modernity but panoramically encumbered on all sides]. I am looking forward to it, the structure, the goal-centeredness, the prospect of work with youth and of safe employment, the re-activation of valuable skills and knowledge [especially French], the delving into didactics. Yet at the same time I do feel like I will definitely be re-absorbed into society’s body of surplus production: one year of full study and after that I begin serving as a secondary teacher in the canton’s employ. A neat arrangement, purposeful, fulfilling, ethically impeccable, exactly what I wish to do at this point in life. And yet the anticipation of absorption gives me a slight feel of dis-ease: Will I manage to be a good citizen-cell again? Will the educational endocrine system consider my enzymic excretions to be appropriate? Will there be any auto-immune reactions to the viral powers of youth? Not fear here, just a slight sense that I must be engarde, that I must retain some of my artistic cytoskeleton.

But after all, yes, six years have come and gone since my career-wise irrelevant M.A. at U of CHI’s MAPSS in which I mundivagantly flitted from one position to another, from this city to that. And while I have become geographically established, so to write, it is now also time to finally fixate a professional ambition, a socio-pecuniary niche. I have done so in the past but only vaguely and they, the ambitions, ended up shipwrecked on the atolls of a punishing job market or unexpected interpersonal tempests. Now, for the first time in half a decade, there has come up the opportunity of something that could be called, at the risk of jinxing it, a long-term safe bet. Which also matches the profile of my personal interests, promises the possibility of a good pay and the even longer-term prospect of little-sweat cosmopolitan peregrination.  As the saying goes: what is there not to like? As facebook goes: like. Tomorrow is a new day indeed.

However, for the next few days I am still allowed the pleasure of staying up late and checking [irrelevant] ATP tennis tour results in the run-up to the 2011 US Open in Flushing Meadows. I always watch the little pixilated clips and wistfully wish that Mr D. Wallace were still around to produce choice insights on certain up-and-coming young’uns as well as the development of the sport as a whole. Though I do believe that Badminton has a certain psychotic kinetic vigor [Lee Chong-Wei vs Lin Dan] that will never ever be matched by Tennis; which counters this deficit by certain moments of supra-human elegance, mostly presented courtesy of Nadal, Fed and the Djoker. Which this moniker has a certain unpalatable derogatory feel to it, despite the certainly harmless intentions at its genesis.

 

Anyway, I’ve just now been browsing ASFTINDA and a sentence has leaped out at me: “By the way, if you’re interested, the ATP Tour updates and publishes its world ranking weekly, and the rankings constitute a nomological orgy that makes for truly first-rate bathroom reading.” [Though who reads in the bathroom and why has always been a mystery to me. Even number two doesn’t occupy more than three or four minutes, which doesn’t warrant the effort of picking up a mag, much less delving into lit.] Item, adapted for the present purpose we wind up with the following:

Soderling R. – the blonde hulk from Sweden, if there were a “n” more in the name it would do his physical appearance some justice, from a german-speaking perspective

Stanislas Wawrinka – as a Swiss person one has heard the name a gazillion times and seen his vexed face maybe equally as often but closing one’s eyes and slowly enunciating the polysyllabic mess one can recapture some of the conflicted wonderment upon first hearing this name

Troicki V. – this speaks for itself largely, other than pointing out that my father, once upon an unimaginable time in London, was accused of possibly being a Trotskyist, an accusation I never recall having heard leveled nowadays; also, this guy seems to have a hard time living up to his talent or potential or promise

Chela J. I. – …come on, the guy is named after the pincer of a crab, a nice analogy the common under-arm hypertrophy

Bogomolov Jr. – maybe I’m not familiar enough with Slavic culture but this one just seems made up, a mash-up of US Southern State vain claims to royal blood and an amusingly onomatopoeic [“bogom”, the word for the sound a bouncing ball makes] ancient name from beyond the Volga

Malisse Xavier – really? He doesn’t look particularly malevolent actually. That Austrian kid would be more of a candidate, and So[n]derling for that matter.

Kubot, L. – again, in German this means as much as “robotic cow”, ‘nuff said

I think I’ll reign in my derisory horses at this point, beginning to look like I have l’esprit de pretty-fucking cocher myself, put differently, a Themba Mabona in Switzerland hasn’t all that much dealing the trade of pointing out other people’s “funny” names other than as a belated, be-bittered rejection of all the stern multi-cultural injunctions he inhaled during his M.A studies in anthro. Looking back now across my futile years of putting this degree on the third page of my applications, I’m pretty damn certain the M.A stands for something crude like “my ass”.

 

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Quote Galimaufray 02



 

 

Surface Detail (Iain M. Banks)

– Highlight Loc. 8591  | Added on Monday, February 21, 2011, 11:36 AM

 

What’re these shit-kickers up to?

 

I just now watched the new video by JayZ and Kanye West, directed by S. Jones. I’m afraid it is as close as is possible to absolutely, bear-bones meaninglessness. Synopsis: Jay and Kanye approach 300k Maybach with power-saw and blowtorch. Jay walking glowers back into the camera mischievously, however, the two don’t do jackshit in the way of demolition. Cut to next sequence. Car is dismantled in dim hangar by, most likely, customs’ mechanics, however the figures are not identifiable. Cut to next sequence. Jay and Kanyeezi ride the freshly gutted, roofless, fire-spitting, weirdly duct-taped car around the parking lot of what looks like an aviation hangar. Four models strapped into the back-seats scream for their life while managing to look amused. Interspliced are shots of equally bare-bone pyro-effects outside that same hangar at night-fall, as well as the two of them rapping in front of a gigantic US flag [though the stars might be the logo of either one’s label]. In the car scenes JayZ now and then touches a sort of zippo-lighter glove to the concrete which sends sparks flying. The strong sense one gets is that Jones’ considers displaying the very barest artifacts of a “hiphop clip” [luxury car, destruction of luxury, women, visible pyro apparatus] to create an aesthetic of its own: the stage that is blatantly shown to be a stage, the naked self-deconstruction. What he forgets is that this solipsistic attention to the self only yields results when there is something interesting to be said about the self, e.g. as in the well-known sequence: [Trauma] Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance.

 

[…parts missing from this preview…]

[FULL BLOG ENTRY AS PDF]

 

Here is what got me to thinking along these lines:

Zero History (William Gibson)

– Highlight Loc. 5898-5900  | Added on Thursday, December 23, 2010, 08:30 PM

That Japanese idea of secret brands. The deliberate construction of parallel microeconomies, where knowledge is more congruent than wealth. I’d have a brand, I decided, but it would be a secret. The branding would be that it was a secret. No advertising. None. No press. No shows. I’d do what I was doing, be as secretive as I could about it, and avoid the bullshit.

 

I liked/like the idea though I have no business with branding. However, being secretive to me has not been enough, I’ve decided to make this blog of mine a sort of “secret” tout court. I’m not sure that inaccessibility and secrecy are identical but factually they seem to be. Nobody can read these lines right now other than myself and perhaps some semi-criminal wordpress administrator. The blog itself, rather than being a medium of communication has been, in a way of writing, reabsorbed into my consciousness. Like secret stacks of writing it has become a material/digital extension of myself that functions much better ordered than the jumble of my daily thinking. Or at least a bit better. No press [there never has been]. No shows [you can’t click on it]. No readers [access denied]. The avoidance of bullshit is total. I reside inside the blog with only my own mental dung-heap to cultivate, there are indeed not even microeconomies just the perplexing paleotropical egotope of this here evolving self.

[etc.]

 

 

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QuoteMélange_01 • • • Zero Surface History OR Things We Lost in the Solar-Temporal Cataclysm


Zero History (William Gibson)

– Highlight Loc. 3196-98  | Added on Sunday, November 28, 2010, 04:25 PM

“But not all secrets are information people are trying to conceal. Some secrets are information that’s there, but people can’t have it.” “There where?” “It just is, in the world.

Sounds true, doesn’t it? Even taken out of context, stripped of any history, there seems to be some granule of verité that resounds having considered just these two lines. It in fact reminds me of one of the assertions that D. Wallace seems to be making in his last “unfinished” [think totally, heart-breakingly incomplete], namely that all the information is already here now, in the world and that all that we can do is “wrangle” it, be the cowboys and cowgirls of the information herd, shepherd it, bring it to rich grazing grounds, consume its milk [digital nectar], eventually slaughter and eat it [in case you’re of carnivorous inclination]. The point being that no essentially new information really still enters the world, which I consider a post-modern fallacy, another premature “The End of History/Originiality” spiel. It’s interesting that Wallace used the cowboy analogy because Gibson used it too in Neuromancer, some of that incorrigible Frontier spirit, an appeal to the American archetypes: Information can be mastered, it can be [more apposite in Gibson’s conceptual universe] branded.

Yet the quote remains arcane, inaccessible to some degree, felt to be right only at an intuitive, pre-conceptual level. Who are these “people”? And why can’t they have the information if it is right there “in the world”? My guess is that the answer has something do to with an issue that Gibson keeps coming back to: pattern recognition. All the data is there already but “the people” are unable to recognize the existing pattern and put it together in a meaningful way, in a way that creates meaning out of informational chaos.

Zero History (William Gibson)

– Highlight Loc. 4062-65  | Added on Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 08:40 AM

She got what I was trying to get away from. The seasons, the bullshit, the stuff that wore out, fell apart, wasn’t real. I’d been that girl, walking across Paris, to the next shoot, no money for a Métro card, and I’d imagined those shoes. And when you imagine something like that, you imagine a world. You imagine the world those shoes come from, and you wonder if they could happen here, in this world, the one with all the bullshit. And sometimes they can.

And this is what we tend to forget or romanticize away, given how often we click through the digital info-sphere, the irreducible materiality of being human. That in the end we are always stuff which/who needs more stuff and that even information, these lines right here on a screen is actually stuff too [polarized particles on a screen] and that nearly nothing other than perhaps light/energy escapes this sphere of stuffiness. Even the ideals and images in our heads, when one really gets down to it, are blood&bone neurons firing away and what might seem like an abstraction is a pretty darn specific chemical process. That’s not saying that everything is material but a whole damn lot is, especially at this stage of our species’ development and to think otherwise because we have an internet [run on giga-tonnes of copper, glass fiber and insulation cables, server-farm outfits, not to mention all that other stuff]. We make of our ineluctable materiality, yes, a sort of secret.

And maybe the sigil for that is many, many people’s obsession with clothes. How we must possess ever more of them to desperately, confusedly signal something about who we think we are. But what the fuck is the message of a pair of jeans? Of a pair of Nike Air Max? Little to none, perhaps a couple of bits [poor/rich, man/woman, hipster/nerd, what-have-you/what-have-you-not]. There is a way out of this though, imagined in the quote, namely that you create your own stuff, for [a most unlikely] example: sneakers. Those god-damn foot-canoes that almost everybody is feigning after, a smooth-blend of everyday use-value and all-around visibility and status. The shoes are very strange bed fellows though: they usually just last long enough to get some sort of sentimental value going when the sole starts peeling off or the upper starts presenting with sizable, ungainly fabric lacerations. However, we survive them, we survive our shoes, as we survive most of our everyday use objects. And a certain positive feeling is associated with that: us the survivors and those deceased inanimate, partially en-charactered objects. There is a perhaps involuntarily existential dimension to the phenomenon of built-in obsolescence. To think that my Samsung cellphone would still be around [with those numbers of my family and friends, perhaps even the screen picture of my gf] while I lie beneath the grass is, frankly, depressing.

 

Surface Detail (Iain M. Banks)

– Highlight Loc. 2062-66  | Added on Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 01:36 AM

The harder the haul up the developmental ladder a species had suffered – rising from the usual primordial slime of just-dawned sentience with only (for example) the wheel to their name, to the dizzy heights and endless cheery sunshine of easy space flight, limitless energy, amusingly co-operative AIs, anti-ageing, anti-gravity, the end of disease and other cool tech – the more likely it was that that species would have entertained the idea of an immortal soul at some important point in its history and still be carrying the legacy of it now they had escaped the muck and had hit civilisational cruise phase.

And if “the idea of an immortal soul” is not a secret that is out in the open then at least it is certainly the anti-thesis to being mired in materiality. Because having wrangled structure/life from entropy via orderly, finite energy-conversion we are always obsessed, at bottom, with the inevitable reversal of the process: decay, collapse and ultimately, oblivion. One day our era’s finest achievements will be a smattering of dust and a few lonesome waves of energy on their way to the edge of our cosmic bubble [or disk or torus or whatever-the-fuck].

The way in which I do not know even a single person’s name from fifty-thousand years ago, so nobody hence will remember one Themba Benedict Giger-Mabona. And even knowing that I live and have a consciousness only in the present moment and a passel to come [but not a single millennium from now] does not change a deep sense of loss or prospective nostalgia at the things we lost in the solar-temporal cataclysm.

Perhaps ironically, the most relentless, conceptually project in literature against the ever-looming prospect of oblivion is the unjustly derided genre of SciFi. Here the future always remains a space of total possibility, where in the extreme case individual consciences may survive as long as they choose to [e.g. “Altered carbon”] even if they almost always decide not to. And more importantly, it seems for the nonexistence-scarred mind, record-keeping most certainly continues ad infinitum. Our footprints will forever be preserved on some far-away, unthinkable, informational beach for posterity [be it just a single specimen] to pore over and scratch its brain-containing body part and laugh in ridicule.

And I surmise that religions’ idea of the soul was just an early solution to the same fundamental problem and it too was premised on what is conventionally conceived of as non-material, instead of information there is the spirit. The secret which is everywhere present in the world.

 

 

 

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Chronicles of Dis-Infection [July2011_02]


FULL PDF-Themzini2011july02

The same place we come from appears to be, at least for the majority of men, the same place we struggle all our lives to get back in. The opening in the flesh where everyone makes a start and which runs red occasionally as if to signal memories of a wound. We try very hard indeed. But the moment we are in we pull back out, yes, that is the thrill of it. And then, before anybody could know it, back in. So coarse, so sublime, so absurd, so stimulating.

Or of course it can be regarded inversely: that the female flesh taketh and it, what, releaseth. Either perspective, the sense is that this is abulia enacted, indecision in the flesh. Ancient genetic programming, alright but something entirely else too. And in the act, I feel, we are trying to somehow lose ourselves so that we are never finally faced with the decision: return or journey outwards. Which is anyway not a real possibility existing at the level of the flesh but only a vague vision in relation to those old base pairs: guanine-mother-cytosine adenine-father-thymine.

 

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