Black Helicopters

Play it faster.
September 11, 2008, 5:25 pm
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(Thanks to Katie Wadkins)


Except really not together at all, but parallel.
September 3, 2008, 10:24 pm
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Milestone passed with little fanfare and even less of a sense of change, of accomplishment, of tasks completed.  This is, I think, as it should be.  I’ve been thriving on a sense of things being just barely within my control.  (I think I had had something of a streak going for avoiding possessive pronouns, and am arbitrarily bringing it to an end here.  This will be regretted anon.)  Relying heavily on words, despite a waning belief in their referential capacity, their ability to communicate anything remotely resembling my experience.  My interactions these days are gilded with a certain sadness, the inevitable process of extracting myself from a place that has finally become comfortable and engaging, and in which my actions have accrued a certain resonance.

Some old and not quite bad habits have been rising from a shallow grave.  I am decidedly unready to be doing some of the things I have been.  And I find myself sometimes wishing, obscenely, that I knew no one here, could spend my last days here on my own, freed of the obligation to say proper goodbyes.  This is, perhaps, the luxury of a newfound sense of meaningful interaction, which I rightly or wrongly think is to be picked up and jettisoned at will.

And all the while, afraid I am losing my grip on what I’ll laughably call my strong opinions.  Watching the sundry disgraces of the US presidential race, it is so easy for us all to forget that, as Coetzee reminds us in Diary of a Bad Year, “the state is always there before we are.”  That we, or those we foolishly invest with the power to do so, can act in a way that is unbeholden to the state and its power.  That democracy is so often just a bad joke.  The spectacle of a national election, in particular, never fails to reveal this.  We are, following Althusser, free to subject ourselves to an invalid, dualism.  A third way, rather than being the expression of a collective desire for the new in politics, is laughed away.  Again, Coetzee (or his, or his Anya’s, ‘Señor C’):

Always the subject is presented with the accomplished fact: in the first case with the fact of his subjecthood, in the second with the fact of the choice.  The form of the choice is not open to discussion.  The ballot paper does not say: Do you want A or B or neither?  It certainly never says: Do you want A or B or no one at all?  The citizen who expresses his unhappiness with the form of choice on offer by the only means open to him–not voting, or else spoiling his ballot paper–is simply not counted, that is to say, discounted, ignored.

Faced with a choice between A and B, given the kind of A and the kind of B who usually make it onto the ballot paper, most people, ordinary people, are in their hearts inclined to choose neither.  But that is only an inclination, and the state does not deal in inclinations.  Inclinations are not part of the currency of politics.  What the state deals in are choices.  The ordinary person would like to say: Some days I incline to A, some days to B, most days I just feel they should both go away; or else, Some of A and some of B, sometimes, and at other times neither A nor B but something quite different.  The state shakes its head. You have to choose, says the state: A or B.  (Diary of a Bad Year, 8 )

(One word: ZOMES.  Asa Osborne is a genius.)

Swinging a two-ton second guess
August 20, 2008, 9:51 pm
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The Barbican is Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue presenting a diverse range of art, music, theatre, dance and education events. It is also home to the London Symphony Orchestra.

It was empty late on a Saturday afternoon, no late-summer events to draw in even a modest crowd, yet its doors were still open and beckoning.  No reason to stay all the more reason.  Across the lakeside terrace, the City of London School for Girls, shut for weeks still, so in its shadow we begin our own lessons, startlingly new, unsure of what might be learned.

‘Maybe something, maybe nothing.’

What are supposed to be the final few weeks here are awakening dormant but not unfamiliar impulses, leading to all manner of new and unexpected questions, thoughts, decisions I am fundamentally not ready to make.  Don’t know what will slake this thirst.

Swirling winds and autumn clothes drying on council block balconies, giving the illusion of a later date.  For a second I think I’ve missed my, no, I’ve made a, no, we’re here and we’re, no, not yet.  And perhaps not soon.  But why not?  Exercise newfound capacities, never underestimate the element of surprise.  Surprise yourself.  You haven’t got the slightest excuse not to.  Standing to be lost?

‘Maybe something, maybe nothing.’

“That’s how it works here, the system.”
August 9, 2008, 3:24 am
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Searching in vain for the big events of the past few days.  I want this to be an excuse not to write, when in fact it is precisely when I should.  No major irruptions, little of what you might call comfort, and yet there is excitement in this.  Is it possible that this is my life, that this is a life?  These questions are a recurring concern of this contemptibly public attempt to find my own way.  A finite pool of words I, or a delegate in my stead, have used in the past.  No more talk of a new vocabulary but rather trying to use this one correctly and carefully–and sparingly–for the first time.  Begin with the basic questions and do not try to answer them just for the sake of it, lazily approximating ‘knowledge’ due to some stupid fear that tells me silence and uncertainty are evidence of self-ablation.

Certain catastrophes are slowly fading from view, pixellated scenes of intensity, bad behavior, self-produced blockage, sturm und drang.  What I guess is retrospection makes my vision vibrate.  But I say this with the relief that comes from holding oneself in abeyance, resisting the urge to replace one broken self with another in one go; something like trying to write the moment of one’s own death, this is an unrepresentable contradiction. There may be comfort, finally, in inarticulacy.  What I will call (with gritted teeth and eyes rolling, I’ll never learn) leaps of faith are still far from desirable, but they may soon be necessary.

This is a life and yet is not quite one, and it is mine and it is not quite mine, for better and for worse, and I am here in this moment, and there will likely be others.  This may not be a mantra–it is uneconomical and unpretty–but it is something close to one, these are the basics and I have to cling to them.  Call this research into forgetting myself.  There is humility, somewhere, in this.  Night after night, when a sense of it overtakes me, I fall instantly asleep.

My all-the-time ghost bride
August 3, 2008, 2:52 am
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Deleuze’s “language II” is the language of voices, sometimes clamoring, sometimes silent because dead or dead tired, but always harkening toward other possible worlds.  Voices tell stories, stories constitute worlds, parallels or alternatives to ours, with our tired words, tired and tried relationships, modes of being in public, in private, in politics, in moments of absence or lateral movement away from ourselves, if those are not in fact all there are, starved as we are for distractions, for ways to avoid intimacy.  We kid ourselves that we know how to be with ourselves, in all our insufficiency and lack of satisfaction; that we’re not in fact building stories on a void.


Terrified because not hearing voices, in this treatment guarantors of potential.  All the tawdry clichés and Hollywood schizophreniacs dispensed with, though feet do tend to shuffle.  Fingertips, bitten bloody, tap a mangled rhythm.  Simple lessons slowly learned, accretive behavior, nothing made better, just perhaps slightly less bad.

‘Can it be we are not free? It might be worth looking into.’
August 2, 2008, 12:49 pm
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Youssef Chahine died on Sunday. I have only ever seen his Alexandra…why? (Iskandereiya…lih? Egypt, 1980), but one recognizes the unmistakable mark of a master of world cinema. Or so one likes to think.


The words have gone limp because they’re no longer so many stolen goods. Can writing without the intent to affect be called creative? I hope not. All this is only so much shitting. Involuntary, requiring no great investment, done and just as quickly forgotten. An assignment reversed: forget your pensum, excise it. Cut this amount of words down to zero, but be judicious. Indolent fuck. What remains we expect to be more than what was started with.

This thing and its motivation–though it’s criminal to speak thus–is a hellish arrangement that was best described nigh on fifty years ago:

The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express

Adhered to with increasing rigor, brought to its extremes and devastatingly completed, quietus delivered; now the question of how best to bore holes through an impregnable wall. At least to strip the drill-bits, pile them up from the feet.

No longer any considerations, then, of “less” or of “more”, nor of getting at this or that “feeling”, but of protesting vainly against those who would keep me convinced that I have anything at all to say.

A successful failing.

another country
August 2, 2008, 12:47 pm
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Fellow-travelers are–cautiously–encouraged to visit vive la liberté, erstwhile documentation of something like experience.

And this? So many uncertainties, to be approached, entered, stretched-out in, a body even too weary to stretch but still the urge to climb the walls, and the confidence that yes I can but what if, no, not even what if but just WHAT. An experiment in selective annihilation. A testament, sure, why not cling to exhausted form, a testament to the things that happen when potential is sabotaged, when a life, you’ll excuse the term, we are still calling it that, perhaps this is too great a freedom in unfree times, is slowly but inexorably constricted, and one begins to be buried not-quite-alive.

We’re talking deep fucking knowledge and the inaction which is all too often its corollary. Sundry scenes of ‘the world,’ and you yourself, ‘wearing you out as it wears itself out.’

No matter, keep it serious, always serious, you’re even shit at that, never learn your lesson.

I will not cite, I dare not. Originality is a necessary fiction, an organizing principle.

On offer is a program of pure potentiality, optimism there I said it optimism despite incompleteness, the tale of a chance taken in endtime.

Expect more?

*** *** *** ***

Fill the days with significant waste
Fill the days with meaningful refuse
Fill the days with interesting things to say
Fill the days with a gradual decay

Fill the days with habitual ways of being
Fill the days with ingrained ways of seeing
Fill the days inhaling and exhaling
Fill the days counting to one million

Fill the days with a day’s worth of events
Fill the days with a time earned and spent
Fill the days, these are our next to last
Move through the days on autopilot

Blessed, blessed oblivion

(Baltimore, 1996)