A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality.

August 22, 2014

A short text on certain aspects of collaboration

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All of my work has been in (some sort of) collaboration and yet I’ve always found these experiences of working together difficult, often unpleasant, and continue mainly because I have some ideological belief in it: that in working together with other people it is possible to make something more compelling, more tender, more unexpected, more vulnerable than it is possible to make alone. I don’t know if I genuinely believe this (anymore), in reality, but I continue to believe it in some other sense: as an ideal or fantasy. Then the question becomes: how does this ideal or fantasy interact with the difficulty of the reality? What do I do with my frustrations and disappointments? How do I lower my expectations while at the same time working towards something worthwhile?

Or a different kind of question: how does one live and take energy from one’s own loneliness? I know, as a teenager, I thought it perfectly reasonable to assume that working with others would make me feel less alienated, less isolated. For the most part it has not. I now fear I pinned my teenage hopes on the wrong misguided solution. I now wonder if there was some other question: how to be alienated together (from both each other and the world)? I associate being in a group with talking. What would it mean for me to associate it with silence? Or music? In a conversation about working in collectives, someone once told me there was a Columbian (I think it was Columbian) expression: “He with the most spit wins.” This made me laugh out loud in recognition. But am I even thinking about collectives anymore? What about leadership? What kind of leadership allows all members to flourish? Or a model where, for different things, at different times, we each take turns being in charge?

In a completely different text, I recently wrote: “I keep circling round and round this idea that what politics needs today is a different way of thinking about time, that the problem with Marxism is it was working towards victory in the future, while what we need is more like a victory of living together in mutual loneliness, a victory-in-the-present-as-future-that-will-never-come, which sounds frustrating, and probably is. But how to imagine this impossible present-future hybrid as not frustrating, as something good, something desirable, a struggle and strength worth having, as possible. Trying to imagine the things I am not yet able to imagine.”

A short text should end with a fantasy and the fantasy is as follows: I have an idea for how we should do it and you have an idea for how we should do it. I don’t much care for your idea and you don’t much care for mine. But we respect each other enough. So we try to think together what aspects of your idea are most important to you and what aspects of my idea are most important to me, to come up with a third idea that is so much more remarkable than anything either of us could ever come up with on our own. And we realize we have made a breakthrough, cherish this fact, want to keep going so it might someday happen again. And perhaps such things happen every day. Or perhaps togetherness really becomes magical when we leave, once and for all, the realm of ideas behind.



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August 11, 2014

The BookThug Interview with Jacob Wren author of Polyamorous Love Song



"And yet in that feeling that my position is marginal, there's also the hope that anything can happen..."



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August 8, 2014

A convention-busting novel about breaking social and aesthetic norms.

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Polyamorous Love Song is a dream-like novel about the meaning and value of dreams, a convention-busting novel about breaking social and aesthetic norms. Wren has successfully married content and form, but it is important to remember to what end. Form is prescriptive. The value of a polyamorous love song would be the new kinds of love stories it would allow us to tell. This Polyamorous Love Song is dark, murky, anarchistic, but also deeply aspirational – a form to better reflect the conflicting desires of our lives and our dreams.

- Jade Colbert for The Globe and Mail.


[Read the rest of the review here.]



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August 6, 2014

Seven quotations on failure

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Failure exists in Relation to goals. Nature has no goals and so can’t fail. Humans have goals, and so they have to fail. Often the wonderful configurations produced by failure reveal the pettiness of the goals. Of course we have to go on striving for success, otherwise we could not genuinely fail. If Buster Keaton wasn’t genuinely trying to put up his house it wouldn’t be funny when it falls down on him.
– Cornelius Cardew



I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
– Michael Jordan



Lacan is not this kind of poet of failure. The truly traumatic thing is that miracles – not in the religious sense but in the sense of free acts – do happen, but it’s very difficult to come to terms with them. So we should reject this idea of a poetry of failure. For Lacan, Real is not this kind of Thing-in-itself that we cannot approach; Real is, rather, freedom as a radical cut in the texture of reality.
– Slavoj Žižek



Steven Soderbergh: A lot of people who write about art don’t understand the importance of failure, the importance of process. Woody Allen can’t leap from Annie Hall to Manhattan. He has to make Interiors in between to get to Manhattan. You’ve got to let him do that.

Interviewer: But if someone’s making a good number of films regularly, the margin for error is greater than if you’re only making three in your life.

Steven Soderbergh: Yeah, but you’re going to make some mistakes. Every time you make something that somebody likes, your impulse is to remind them that if you hadn’t made some of these other things that they hated, you wouldn’t have been able to make the thing that they liked. The attitude toward the stuff they don’t like is so extreme because they don’t understand the role that it has in your development.



I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn't matter – that would be my life.
– Jasper Johns



Success and failure are greatly overrated. But failure gives you a whole lot more to talk about.
– Hildegard Knef



If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style.
– Quentin Crisp



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August 4, 2014

The thing standing in for its opposite.

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Anything can be corrupted, anything can be used as a cover for its opposite. The Vatican (and the inquisition) as Christianity that is basically the opposite of the teachings of Christ. Stalin as Communism that endlessly contradicts the more egalitarian desires of Marx. (The workers, not the state, should control the means of production.) America covertly toppling democratically elected leaders (Iran, Chile, the Congo) in the name of Democracy. You propose the dream of X, get others to believe in it, and I produce a nightmare while at the same time claiming my allegiance to X is true and real. And when someone says: that’s not X, that’s its opposite, I have them punished as a heretic or a terrorist. Is there any dream or plan or thinking that cannot be corrupted in precisely this manner?



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August 2, 2014

50 year fragment

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I had an idea. I would write a book and publish it on my 50th birthday. If I lived that long the mid-life crisis birthday would serve as a kind of deadline. The deadline came and went. It was going to be this book, but then I was unsure about this book and wondered if it could be some other book...



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July 21, 2014

"I write when I’m not dancing."

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I write because I’ve always enjoyed reading more than I enjoy life, and always enjoy life more because of certain things I’ve read. I write because I can still read books that were written hundreds of years ago (my favourite: The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potocki, written between 1805 and 1815) and hope that some day, by some miracle, people will have the same opportunity with mine. However, so many books are currently being produced that it is extremely unlikely very many of them will survive, and even more unlikely that my books will be among these few. I write because it is a way of turning my despair into something other than despair. I write in the uncanny suspicion that there are others out there in the world who love reading unknown books as much as I do. I write because I don’t know what else to do with myself. I write when I’m not dancing. I write because no one has ever suggested I have a talent or aptitude for anything else. I write because literature must find new ways to be political and new ways to be literature. I write because, at some point, when I was much younger, someone must have given me implicit permission to do so. I continue to write because, some time around 2002, I got an email from someone I didn’t know saying she had found my book Unrehearsed Beauty in a used bookstore in Brazil, and I had absolutely no idea, or way of knowing, how it got there. I write because books travel in strange, unexpected ways. I write because I still have the pure fantasy that some day I will compose a sentence that is completely and utterly joyous.

- Jacob Wren, from Writer’s Block at LPG



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July 19, 2014

"If that’s what you’re interested in, well, what are you doing here?"

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Henry Flynt’s newfound enthusiasm for recordings of blues, jazz and rock and roll soon found an interlocutor in the person of John Cage. In February 1961, Flynt performed his own music in two concerts at Yoko Ono’s loft. Following one of the performances, he had an exchange with Cage that loomed large in his choosing to exit the scene. Flynt had attempted a piano piece – by his own account, unsuccessfully – that was inspired by Ornette Coleman’s free jazz. In their conversation after the concert, he and Cage found themselves speaking two entirely different languages. When pressed to explain the piece, Flynt told Cage of his interest not only in Jazz but also in the rock and roll and rhythm and blues of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. None of these names rang a bell for Cage, and someone had to explain just exactly who these people were that Flynt was talking about. Flynt recounts: “Cage said, ‘If that’s what you’re interested in, well, what are you doing here? And he was right, actually.”

- David Grubbs, Records Ruin the Landscape



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July 17, 2014

From the Twitter feed of Fuck Theory

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Corporate efficiency is not invested in negotiation or in imagination. Since the dawn of the industrial age, variation has been its enemy.

The legacy of Fordism is the dream of repetition without difference, of actions infinitely repeatable without variation.

Two separate issues here: One is an obscenely exploitative academic profession. The other is a general decline in personal time.

"Philosophy" happens when conceptually-inclined individuals have the time and space to indulge in complex speculation. That's all.

All of us have less and less free time, less and less open space, less and less energy not instrumentalized and regimented by capitalism.

Our tragedy is not the death of philosophy, it's that we won't be around to witness philosophy's absolutely inevitable renewed flourishing.

Philosophy survived the conquest of classical Athens, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, the reconquest of Iberia.

Also the end of Scholasticism, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of scientific positivism, & its own death at the end of the 19th century.

Framing the stakes as loss of humanity's intellectual legacy reproduces the ideological myth of the university as its heir and sole trustee.



[Fuck Theory on Twitter. Fuck Theory Tumblr.]


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