April 28, 2011

Some short quotes


My work is basically an outgrowth of the anger I feel about the human condition. The aspects of it that make me angry are our capacity for cruelty and the ability people have to ignore situations they don’t like.
~ Bruce Nauman

I have never been one of those who cares about happiness. Happiness is a strange notion. I am just not made for it. It has never been a goal of mine; I do not think in those terms.
~ Werner Herzog

What I’m interested in is happiness with a full awareness of the tragedy of life, the potential tragedy that lurks around every corner and the tragedy that actually is life.
~ Wolfgang Tillmans

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
~ Charles Darwin

Emancipatory politics always consists in making seem possible precisely that which, from within the situation, is declared to be impossible.
~ Alain Badiou

I sometimes think that there is nothing but time, that what you see and what you feel is what time looks like at that moment.
~ Paul Thek

Happiness is a byproduct of function, purpose, and conflict; those who seek happiness for itself seek victory without war.
~ W.S.Burroughs

Sometimes I am such an unbeliever, I can’t even bring myself to believe that there are people who don’t believe.
~ Sarah Vanhee

Because experience shows that there is nothing easier to instrumentalize than yesterday’s subversion.
~ Brian Holmes

Intuition is neither a feeling, an inspiration nor a disorderly sympathy but a fully developed method.
~ Gilles Deleuze

Art has no immediate future, because all art is collective and there is no more collective life.
~ Simone Weil

Life is very short, and it ought not to be spent crawling at the feet of miserable scoundrels.
~ Stendhal

Anyone who’s never experienced the pleasure of betrayal doesn’t know what pleasure is.
~ Jean Genet

It is the bliss of childhood that we are being warped most when we know it the least.
~ William Gaddis

I would like to dance with the people and with the things I’m working towards.
~ Avery F. Gordon

The art of the future is not connoisseurship, but labor itself transfigured.
~ Nikolai Tarabukin

The record, as usual, is not good. But on the other hand it is wonderful.
~ Caetano Veloso

The conflict between art and politics… cannot and must not be solved.
~ Hannah Arendt

God made everything out of nothing, but the nothing shows through.
~ Paul Valéry

There is no force like guilt to create intense reality effects.
~ Jan Verwoert

I recommend paranoia, it generates a lot of creativity
~ Jeanne Randolph

I’m what happens after death, which is writing.
~ Kathy Acker

Wishes are premonitions of abilities.
~ Goethe

I am at war with the obvious.
~ William Eggleston

Awkwardness is collaborative.
~ James Guida

I accept the world.
~ Margaret Fuller


April 27, 2011

The problem of immigration, through his body


Then I was reading about Jean-Luc Nancy, apparently he had a heart transplant 10 years ago, and when his body was rejecting the foreign body inside it, he found he finally could write the essay about immigration in France that Derrida had asked him to write years before - he understood the problem of immigration, through his body.

- Rosie, which I found here


April 18, 2011

I have the feeling that affects don’t exist, that affects are just emotions viewed through the distorting lens of critical distance.


I have the feeling that affects don’t exist, that affects are just emotions viewed through the distorting lens of critical distance.

Every ten years I have a devastating life crisis which lasts for approximately ten years.

We are all tortured in our own way. My way is a lot.

The perfect revenge will be if someone is still reading our books long after all of the mediocre, but currently much more popular, writers are forgotten.

I don’t think it’s going to happen but, at the same time, I very much hope I’m wrong.

Glue awkwardness.

One potential fantasy among many.

An extreme and sometimes uncomfortable tenderness.

Against Virno's 'Post-Fordism is the communism of capital' we reply 'Neoliberalism is the totalitarianism of capital.' Searching for the rhetoric that will truly activate change.

Neoliberalism is the totalitarianism of capital.

Every country gets their thug.

Like wanting to have wild sex right after someone dies. – Lynne Tillman

There is no force like guilt to create intense reality effects. – Jan Verwoert

I recommend paranoia, it generates a lot of creativity – Jeanne Randolph

Okrent's Law: The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true."

Wren's law: Whatever you post on Facebook will come back to haunt you later.


April 17, 2011

Politics is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them.


I am really not trying to be cynical. Actually I think the dilemma to some degree flows from the very nature of politics. One thing the explosion of the avant-garde did accomplish was to destroy the boundaries between art and politics, to make clear in fact that art was always, really, a form of politics (or at least that this was always one thing that it was.) As a result the art world has been faced with the same fundamental dilemma as any form of politics: the impossibility of establishing its own legitimacy.

Let me explain what I mean by this.

It is the peculiar feature of political life that within it, behavior that could only otherwise be considered insane is perfectly effective. If you managed to convince everyone on earth that you can breathe under water, it won't make any difference: if you try it, you will still drown. On the other hand, if you could convince everyone in the entire world that you were King of France, then you would actually be the King of France. (In fact, it would probably work just to convince a substantial portion of the French civil service and military.)

This is the essence of politics. Politics is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them. The problem is that in order to play the game effectively, one can never acknowledge its essence. No king would openly admit he is king just because people think he is. Political power has to be constantly recreated by persuading others to recognize one's power; to do so, one pretty much invariably has to convince them that one's power has some basis other than their recognition. That basis may be almost anything— divine grace, character, genealogy, national destiny. But "make me your leader because if you do, I will be your leader" is not in itself a particularly compelling argument.

In this sense politics is very similar to magic, which in most times and places—as I discovered in Madagascar—is simultaneously recognized as something that works because people believe that it works; but also, that only works because people do not believe it works only because people believe it works. For this is why magic, whether in ancient Thessaly or the contemporary Trobriand Islands, always seems to dwell in an uncertain territory somewhere between poetic expression and outright fraud. And of course the same can usually be said of politics.

- David Graeber, The Art World as a Form of Politics

[You can read the entire David Graeber essay here.]


April 16, 2011

Two short passages from Haunted Houses by Lynne Tillman


The time came for Bill and Grace to enact a kind of divestiture service in which Bill's virgin state would be renounced, shattered. His virginity existed differently from hers. His was a lack of experience, the sense that he was not really a man, that he was not aggressive enough, not daring, perhaps a coward, or a fag. He had not made a conquest. While hers, she reminded herself, had been a moral burden, something to worry about giving, indicating loss when given. And she was considered to have been a conquest for someone else. A passive gift, whether she moved or not. A given. Surrender and surrender again. But how could something physically surrendered mean that she, Grace, had really given in. She prided herself on her ability to separate neatly body from mind, self that was hers from self that she gave away. She was not given when she gave, she always held back and drew satisfaction from distance.

What did Christine want from her or want in general. Who is Christine, she wrote, and felt disgusted. The unexpected is stronger than the expressed, it must be, she thought. She looked up ineffable and wrote, My relationship with Christine skirts the ineffable. Except Emily didn't wear skirts and why should she write about women who did? Could she use that figure of speech when it represented another kind of woman? Or, which woman was she writing about? Anyway, the thing didn't have a plot, no drama, didn't build or go anywhere. Emily comforted herself with the idea that plots were like skirts, you either did or you didn't use things like that. Why do people want stories to go somewhere, she asked herself, and retired to bed.


April 15, 2011

YouTube is not just video.


YouTube is not just video. YouTube exists somewhere between home movies, commercials, video art, diary, b-movies and cinema. Or something like that.


April 10, 2011

Some thoughts while researching Orwell


What do we think of the sentiment ‘all art is propaganda’ when placed beside it’s apparent opposite, the idea of ‘art for arts sake.’ But, to paraphrase Boris Groys, art that claims to be apolitical is in fact propaganda for the market. In another sense, art for arts sake does not claim to be apolitical, it claims to be fighting for the cause, for the purity, of art itself. (Then there is the more pernicious dilemma that, political or not, everything can be recuperated.)

Many of the things that are most effective about Orwell are also the most politically specious. (And propaganda is nothing if it’s not about efficacy.) His lone-man-against-the-world stance is romantic and (I believe) compelling. It is also the exact opposite of what an effective socialism would actually look like. So he’s fighting for socialism with tools that undermine the cause. I am thinking of this as a kind of metaphor for political art. Because Orwell’s propaganda is also filled with all-too-human confusions and contradictions. (While at the same time claiming to be utterly consequent.) And yet the contradictions are always housed in a clear, forward-moving narrative.

In an interview the American artist Paul Chan once said that he attempts to keep his activism and his art separate, because in activism you need a common, somewhat simplified, goal that everyone can push towards together, moving in the same direction, while in art you need complexity, paradox, metaphor, poetry, etc. The ‘lone man’ that is Orwell’s central romantic myth is a metaphor that undermines a more general socialist solidarity, but as art it can be potent and resonant. Is it only potent because it re-affirms the Western, over-individualized mythology of the status quo? This must, in part, be the case. But, I think, it’s also potent because, as stupid as this sounds, he ‘really means it.’

I am trying to turn these questions around in my mind, with (irony of ironies) no one else to talk about them with. There is no solidarity without leadership. A leader is not an isolated romantic hero, in fact, almost the opposite: a leader has the wisdom to bring people together. What I admire most is someone who can effectively admit when they’ve made a mistake (and change accordingly), and what I am most afraid of is someone who purposely makes mistakes only to disingenuously admit to them later and get away with it.

The Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan once said: ‘when you’re an artist you have to admit you want to be famous’, and this reality will always be at the heart of the problem with political art. At the same time, a contentious political cause also, in some sense, has to become ‘famous’ in order to be heard.

Solidarity is so difficult because we each want to see ourselves as the lone warrior against the world. But this is only one possible fantasy among many.


April 9, 2011

A play list of 96 videos (with commentary.)

About six monts ago I posted a YouTube play list of 83 videos. In the accompanying commentary I wrote that "what I realize in a way only now, is that my blog, my YouTube Favourites, my 8Tracks mixes and my Facebook page feel more to me like my real art practice then my actual art practice. They are more a part of my daily life, I am more deeply engaged with them, they are more intimate and more public, they are not labored over and overworked in the same way my professional artistic life is, they are not marred by grant-writing and publicity. It is the old dream of art as completely interwoven with life. It is simple, lonely, semi-public and locked to a larger corporate and social network. I hope in the future that I will understand it more."

In the past six months I fear this idea has become something of a self fulfilling prophesy. Many people, including my publisher, read this text and have begun to, at least partially, see my practice in these terms. I have begun to post videos on Facebook even more frequently and, some days, it seems to me it is the only thing I manage to accomplish. Well... an internet addiction is nothing particularly original and to call it an art practice doesn't add that much surplus value to the condition. But I was hoping to think over the question a bit more.

My last book, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, sold approximately four hundred copies last year, while my blog gets about one thousand hits every month. Such comparisons are a bit specious. To read a book is a much greater investment of time and attention than to glance at a blog for a few minutes. But I can't stop thinking about all of these questions and contradictions. What does it mean to be an artist in the age of the internet? The art galleries are still full of art, the theatres full of performances, clubs still full of bands - yet I can't help but feel the reality of art has moved, or is in the process of moving, elsewhere. Art as something you do, or share with, a few friends on line. And then every once in a while something goes viral.

Recently I wrote a text entitled Insincere YouTube Auteur. I've been wondering if there is a way to move my entire art practice onto YouTube. (YouTube is not just video. YouTube exists somewhere between home movies, commercials, video art, diary, b-movies and cinema. Or something like that.) I remember a student once telling me that she had a realization: more people would see a YouTube video of a baby eating a lemon in one hour than would see all of the work I make in my entire life. (I don't know if this is true but is it a startling idea nonetheless.) Yesterday I had the idea that I could take already successful YouTube videos, for example turtle humping a shoe, and put my own voice-over on top of them. Has someone already done this?

I mainly use YouTube for watching and listening to music. In this I believe I am not alone. The fact that music has plummeted from the extremely high audio quality of CD's to the almost pathetic audio quality of YouTube is also a fascinating turn of events, further proof that rock n' roll has never been about audiophiles. At a certain year in one's life, the perfect song sounds even more perfect when it sounds like shit. I think this phenomena is somehow a metaphor for art on the internet: the momentary excitement of ephemera. This has been the case for most pop culture over the course of the last hundred years. But on the internet we can all be making it. For now at least. For better or worse.


April 8, 2011

Lust is reactionary.


Lust is reactionary.

It is not only that he smiles when he kills. It’s that only when he kills is his smile truly genuine.

I hate teaching. I hate the students. I just want to punch them in their smug little faces over and over again. But I am led to believe that this is not within the boundaries of acceptable pedagogy.

Of course, there are always a few good ones. The artist must be discouraged.

Time will tell.


April 7, 2011

Against Virno's Post-Fordism is the communism of capital...


Against Virno's 'Post-Fordism is the communism of capital.' we reply 'Neoliberalism is the totalitarianism of capital.' Searching for the rhetoric that will truly activate change.


April 6, 2011



Neoliberalism is the totalitarianism of capital.


April 5, 2011

Marathon of Thinking Short Text


To me, capitalism feels like a pure evil corroding the surface of the planet. However, I realize that from this emotional-ideological position we will get nowhere. How to open things up, ask new kinds of questions, listen to power in an open yet still critical manner, view the situation from some slightly different angle? Benjamin writes about a Kabalistic myth: that the difference between earth and heaven is only the smallest millimeter, but within that millimeter everything changes. Where is the miniscule shift that allows us to picture the world differently, the fissure from which we can begin to pry? Zizek’s quip that it is ‘easier for us to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine an end to capitalism’ seems unbearable to me. Is our imagination really so depleted, so tepid? And then there is this quote from Kant: “Humanity is a crooked timber from which nothing straight can ever be built.” But are we looking for something straight? Where is the crooked, rickety, modicum of hope that allows us to begin thinking again, thinking honest and compelling thoughts, thinking that not everything is cruel or impossible, thinking that things might one again begin to move?