A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality

April 9, 2020

Last night I couldn't sleep...

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Last night I couldn't sleep. And I started thinking about how, in the early months of 2020, before the lockdown, I went to a series of cultural events that, each in their own way, completely blew me away. It felt like I was on a roll. There were four amazing Drawn & Quarterly book launches: Lisa RobertsonKai Cheng ThomDesmond Cole and Kaie Kellough. Each of these events was completely packed, almost too packed, and each of these writers said so many things, almost too many things, I found so thought-provoking and moving. And then there was Le Short & Sweet recyclé XXL, which also was an almost never-ending stream of artists and moments where it continuously felt like something was really happening. Then the last event I went to, the bilingual reading Épiques Voices, that also just had so much striking and performative work in both languages. And since then I have not been in a single over-crowded room. Already it all seems so long ago.



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March 23, 2020

Boycott

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Boycott Amazon.
They are pandemic profiteers.



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March 21, 2020

Ideas for Pandemic Short Stories

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A large number of healthy young people volunteer to contract the virus and live together in a luxury quarantine hotel in order to, over time, boost herd immunity.


In the early days of the pandemic, before many people know what it is, a young man contracts the virus and immediately decides to pay a visit to the now elderly priest who abused him as a child.


In a misguided suicide attempt, an elderly man tries, and fails, to contract the virus.


Waiting in line to get tested for the virus, two strangers meet and fall in love. When they receive their test results one of them has tested positive and the other negative.


People sit alone in their apartments wondering how long this will last.


A young, would-be dictator considers the possibility that “voluntary social distancing” might be the key to his future success.


For the first time in history a socialist is about to be elected president. And then the pandemic hits.


An activist group devises a means of protest in which every protester stands exactly six feet away from ever other protester.


A meeting at which everyone arrives, washes their hands, sits six feet away from each other, and talks.


A politician, having been told the pandemic is completely under control, takes a wrong turn and ends up in one of the poorest neighbourhoods, where he learns things aren’t under control at all.


A new couple meet and fall in love just as the pandemic strikes and spend three months locked in their apartment having sex in every possible way.


The virus rapidly spreads through the police force.


At the factory where they assemble the virus tests, the poorly paid workers contract the virus and spread it through the tests.


As he lies in bed dying of the virus, an elderly right-wing billionaire – who spent his entire life fighting against public services (especially against public healthcare) – reflects on the fact that if there had been more effective healthcare the virus might not have spread so rapidly and therefore he might not be dying now.


A mutual aid group acquire a ventilator and teach themselves how to use it by watching YouTube tutorials.


During a rent strike, the landlord comes over to meet the tenants as a group and, for the first time, they end up having a real discussion about all of their lives.


A vaccine is developed and the world rejoices. But soon scientists discover it is only effective in fifty percent of the population and no one can figure out why.


A woman recounts the life story of her parents, who tragically both passed away at the exact same time.


Two science aficionados are arguing on Twitter over whether the actual fatality rate is 1% or 0.8%, when one of them receives a text message that his childhood best friend has died.


Reading two different online articles about the virus that each present a set of facts that are basically opposite to each other.


An anti-vaxxer has a deep crisis of faith.


A Hollywood screenwriter pitches a superhero film in which all the superheroes catch the virus. The pitch does not go well.





[There might be a few more if I can think of any.]



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March 20, 2020

Rob Horning Quote

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When Gene Simmons insists that he wants to “rock and roll all night and party everyday,” we should understand that as an admission that not only does he fail to do those things, but he is in dire need of convincing himself that he actually wants to.

- Rob Horning



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March 18, 2020

Bernadette Mayer Quote

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Something shifts and as Wittgenstein would say, and anybody else not normal, to take some pleasure in being obsessively careful, to quietly comb out the baby’s hair and take one’s time, to decorate the children with ribbons and whisper to them, to prepare special foods, secret inducements, to linger conversing about the dreams in bed, to encourage the counting of peanuts, these are the methods of the usual, inducements to the ordinary, to pass the time, to adduce pleasure, to encounter danger, to see silver spots before the eyes without fear, the safest form with which to take risks, the advertisement of the days of misery if I can still look up and see the man with the glove and a chance image of the accumulation of objects, the storehouse of pictures which will not work out in memory, there’s only one time when you can’t be doing this or that kind of work and have something like a drink make it easier than it is, and that’s when you’re giving birth to a baby but there’s nothing new about that.

– Bernadette Mayer, from The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters



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March 17, 2020

One of my first thoughts in the early days of the pandemic...

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One of my first thoughts in the early days of the pandemic was: social distancing and closing borders, those are things dictators like.

I knew I had to be careful how I said such things. These were also scientifically proven strategies to reduce exponentiality, contain the situation and reduce harm. Any hint of denying the science couldn’t help but remind me of climate change deniers, people only making the situation worse. Nonetheless, how science is interpreted is always political and metaphors of contagion have most often been used in politically heinous ways.

I have to admit, from a political standpoint, and from most other standpoints as well, nothing about it felt good. (But, of course, a pandemic isn’t supposed to “feel good.”) Already, for my entire lifetime, people were so isolated and alienated. Working together and solidarity were already so difficult to achieve and I couldn’t see many ways in which social distancing might make any of it easier. And obviously so many on the far right want nothing else but to close as many borders as they can find. Pandemic or not, closing borders seemed like little more than a band-aid solution and it felt extremely dangerous to think of it positively.

And yet, or so I told myself, as I always try to tell myself, in any situation there must be certain possibilities for emancipatory change. Beyond distancing and closing, there was some way for all of this to shine a brighter light on what is missing. To clarify the many ways we must continue to care for each other. To lead to greater openness in the long run. But I am extremely worried this will not be the case.



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March 16, 2020

Momus: Oblivion

Sometimes the speed at which Momus produces songs makes them really effective:

February 22, 2020

The Air Contains Honey residency at Ursa

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In 2018 Adam Kinner and Jacob Wren wanted to start an orchestra. They wrote a number of songs, each consisting of a one-sentence quote, and called it The Air Contains Honey. Now they are inviting an ever-shifting and significant number of their friends to join them on stage. For the first three Tuesdays in March, at URSA, the orchestra of professional and amateur musicians will gather in search of a warmth and community spirit that they may or may not find. For the audience, and for the musicians, too, it will be a chance to hear an orchestra that discovers its sound as it goes. 


Three Tuesdays in a row: March 3rd, 10th & 17th


This is only the beginning...






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February 19, 2020

the final footnote

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The final footnote in Georges Bataille's final unfinished book reads:


"I don't intend to deal in this work with the question of the means of acting effectively. However, I will set out the principles of such action elsewhere."


We're still waiting.



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February 12, 2020

star systems

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Thinking about all the ways art (in every discipline) is and isn't a star system, how at a certain point in some artists careers opportunities apparently continue to accrue because of their name and almost in spite of the work, and also how the search for new artists is connected to a fantasy that they too might some day find themselves in this confusing yet enviable position. And also all the artists who have had some but not that much success, where the appreciation seems to me to be more directly connected to the work they're making right now, but this also might be a kind of illusion. And how the many different ways I understand integrity in relation to making work has changed so much over the years to the point where I'm not exactly sure what I mean by it anymore but know it's something I still believe in even as my understanding of it continues to change.



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