on Returns

I'm back, baby.

  • I’m back, baby.
  • I’m sorry, sir. It’s been over two years. The best I can offer is store credit.

 

***

dissertation: finished

Ph.D.: finished

grading: finished.

writing: always already unfinished.

***

To return

as to the scene of a crime.

To haunt.

“To announce oneself, moreover, is that not already to be there in some way? One does not know if the expectation prepares the coming of the future-to-come or if it recalls the repetition of the same, of the same thing as ghost.” – Derrida.

To be plagued.

“… like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” – Morpheus.

To be plagued by recurring dreams.

“I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” – Hamlet (antic mode).

To remember, or, in remembering to create, recreate, distort, disturb.

“I waken out of this forgetfulness very quickly. In great haste, I reconstitute a memory, a confusion.” – Barthes.

***

It’s a slow process, getting back into the habit of writing for an absent public rather than the specific critical eye of a dissertation chair. And, given the times, a difficult one. How does one begin? How can one beginning without accepting incompletion, inaccuracy, false premises, a foundation of shifting sand? And, having begun on such a precarious foundation, how does one build a career, a life of the mind, on such inconsistency?

“To fail in everything, it is true, will always remain possible. Nothing will ever give us any insurance against this risk, still less against this feeling.” – Derrida.

But rather than wallow in imposter syndrome, I return: like a criminal, like a ghost, like the past. Returning to the scene, to this scene, this scene & screen of writing. This mystic writing pad that bears the traces of old ideas, abandoned and misguided thoughts, and one-sided conversations will once again send echoes into the æther.

I aim to think of it as something of a sounding board, a test kitchen, where I work out in the open air ideas that I am putting together: book proposals, journal articles, short stories, noise works, &c. And, so much as I am able and qualified, perhaps I will endeavor to comment upon our current state of perpetual crisis.

Perhaps the abyss will answer back.

 

 

 

 

On Gun Nuts & God Botherers

Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there telling me I’ve got to beware. 

– B.S.

What’s the point? 

The lines have already been drawn. 

The line, the drawing of the line, the demarcation of inside and outside, of self and other is the origin of noise, the origin of exclusion, exception, & the failure to understand. 

And no one is backing down (compromise is for the weak and we must never show weakness — think of the children — unique not special). 

We revert to tribal behaviors. I don’t believe that I am a fascist or a terrorist, thus my desires must be universalized. 

Kant wept. 

I learned it from you (people). 

And nothing is being done.

I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t believe the way I do (if only they saw the facts [as I see them]). 

While the capitalists count their money. 

Semantic arguments based on the failure to understand synecdoche. Incomplete and inconsisten comparisons. (I’ve got a definition of ‘tool’ for you.)

Because we only preach to our choirs, only ask after Echoes.

Neither Good Host nor Effective Parasite, ever failing our Guest Right. 

And the capitalists count their money. 

But it’s not my fault. I was born this way. 

Blame it on the brain. (Gotta blame it on something). 

God is dead, God remains dead, and we love a good zombie. (Here we are now, entertain us. Send money.)

I don’t seek or claim certainty. But there is no convincing those who believe they have it that there is no such thing. 

The more I sneer, the more you fear.

And the capitalists count their money. 

sonic / filmic / liminal

these are not good work.

or, I am not in a position to judge them as such.

but they serve a purpose. They exist to make a point, or attempt one. I like them well enough.

I am not particularly inclined towards image work. This has long been a disappointment for me. I haven’t taken to cameras, though I have owned a few. I am terrible with figures (both photographic and pictographic). My pacing seems wrong. But I like what I do with sound.

Sound by itself, especially that which I am calling my post-noise work (post-noise in the sense of post-rock. it comes after and is informed by foundational noise artists but is not of the same tradition, cannot approach noise in the same manner), likely creates interesting visual imagery in the mind’s eye. It is likely not what is herein paired.

And it is that pairing, that forced juxtaposition that is meant to be focused upon here. Images out of focus, repeated, permuted, stalled that are forced into conversation with sonic elements that drift, that also permute but differently, that do not align. What is the reason? Why these images? Why these sounds? What does it all mean?

I make noise to be liminal. To test boundaries, to recognize and trace boundaries. To raise questions that cannot yet be answered. The abyss is calling. We lack perspective. One must enter the vortex, knowledge (even knowledge through madness) is necessary for life. These videos seek one such liminal zone, one such barrier island, one such no man’s land. Do they find it? Do any of us?

 

music courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

film courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

 

Cash in the Cage’s Debut Drowns in Pretention

Cash in the Cage, Famous Johnnys ★★✩✩✩

Famous Johnnys, the debut effort from music theory dropouts Jacob Bernstein and Michael O’Brien (Cash in the Cage being their collective moniker) is so full of promise that it is despicable in how much it fails to deliver anything meaningful. The debut single “Folsom Prison 4’33”” is as pretentious as it sounds. Is it really an iPhone playing “Folsom Prison Blues” into a Green Bullet Mic with seemingly random insertions of Johnny Rotten screaming “ANARCHY” for just over four and a half minutes? Yes. Yes, it is that obvious and that simplistic. These are the titular “Famous Johnnys” and the artists are so pleased with the cleverness of their ‘subversive’ idea that they don’t even bother to consider the utterly pedestrian nature of such a recording in 2013. While the juxtaposition of John Denver, John Mayer, John Bonham’s “Moby Dick” drum solo, and clips of Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement was novel and well orchestrated on the track “Hang Your Wonderland,” it is the unfortunate exception (likely due to the presence producer Madeline Montgomery – absent on the rest of the record). Sorry, kids, but these aren’t even worth the time to pirate.

Speculative Thievery

Do not take me for some conjuror of cheap tricks! I am not trying to rob you.

 – Gandalf the Grey

arrestedderrida1

A conjuration, then, is first of all an alliance, to be sure sometimes a political alliance, more or less secret, if not tacit, a plot or conspiracy.

[…]

For to conjure means also to exorcise: to attempt both to destroy and to disavow a malignant, demonized, diabolized force, most often an evil-doing spirit, a specter, a kind of ghost who comes back or who still risks coming back post mortem.

– Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx

In conjuring specters, in delving into the haunted realities of culture and its general milieu (do ghosts feel the anxiety of influence?) one finds oneself in the ever on a threshold, always in a liminal zone, the zone of the interface, the demesne of the ghost, the topos of juxtaposition.

arrestedfreud

This, though, is the opening of invention, of heuretics, of the possibility of (re)creation. Being with and creating with the ghosts, the rotting corpses of the past, the desiccated flesh of the present. This is remix. This is building new bodies, new selves, from the background noise. This is carving a home from the bare mountainside and meditating till your arms and legs waste away from disuse. Useless: never used.

And so, towards the furtherance of a conspiracy, let us spiral further down, add a new layer of irony, a new distance of doubt.

What does it mean to play on the question of the meme (the Arrested Development macro specifically) with the question of philosophy. The trick. The question and space of play. Did you know Siggy had an affair with the White Lady? Is the meme itself a play, is all juxtaposition play? Interplay and intertext, the flux of values and power structures, hierarchies and hegemonies. To what end? To what politics? To what disruption, what space of rupture, what possibility of invention?

Of course there are no answers in the demesne of the ghost. Tiresias and a warm cup of blood are but tales to protect a fragile mind from an indifferent universe. The injunction to speak will offer no guarantees, for we must make our own way, and benefit or fail under the Sisyphean task. A man walks into a hanging … But lacking rules and guarantees only offers the paranoiac a greater openness in the act of creating the (cultural? ideological? phenomenological?) universe anew.

 

Speculation is always fascinated, bewitched by the specter.

– Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx

Misrecognizing the Hypnotic Text

This came up on my Google Reader and it got me thinking.

While I think the style is inherent to the theory and that the play of méconnaissance is a vital aspect of (mis)understanding and working with a text, I do understand the point of this. Especially the enthralling aspects. Only my ego mania (my object petit a is to be not to interpret a great thinker) keeps me from the trap.

I am one to think that theory is necessary for a politics, for a stance against entrenched power. When theory alienates the masses, I tend to want to blame the masses for failing to understand a theory, for falling into an anti-intellectual stance or falling back on a failed education system that did not or could not teach critical theory skills. Clearly this is elitist. Where, then, is the appropriate ground. Or is the answer something else?

Perhaps the answer is a polyvocal style. Perhaps the answer is conveying a message in multiple ways: academic papers, monographs, theory fiction, op-eds, blogs, manifestoes, treatises, tweets, & rants. Perhaps. The medium is the message and to each according to their desires.

This Machine Stares into the Abyss

“This Machine Stares into the Abyss”

It’s the phrase I intend to brand my basses with. Channelling Woody, Pete, and Friedrich. Evocative. But considering Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (2010) it takes on new implications.

And o’erthrew them with prophesying

– Arthur O’Shaughnessy, Ode

The pieces are unusable, and display too much tendency toward uncertainty.

– René Daumal, Pataphysical Essays

It is the very delusion of the misanthropic beautiful soul, casting out onto the world the disorder that constitutes his being.

– Jacques Lacan, “Agressiveness in Psychoanalysis”

Someone, you or me, comes forward and says: I would like to learn to live finally.

– Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx

Florida Man Declares Life Malignantly Useless.

I get a lot of milage out of Florida Man. And while people down here have gained a reputation since hanging chads, there is a rather significant difference between Ligotti’s philosophy and the fact that he seems to live in Florida and “Florida Man Claims It’s His Constitutional Right To Rape A Donkey.” Have I already dodged the question with humor and coincidence?

from the text:

Whether you think consciousness to be a benefit or a horror, this is only what you think – and nothing else. But even though you cannot demonstrate the truth of what you think, you can at least put it on show and see what the audience thinks.

This is the tragedy: Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unself-conscious of what we are – hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.

Best to immunize your consciousness from any thoughts that are startling and dreadful so that we can all go on conspiring to survive and reproduce as paradoxical beings – puppets that can walk and talk all by themselves.

It also reminds us that no one can make a case that every individual’s birth, or any individual’s birth, is a good in itself.

Even highly educated readers do no want to be told that their lives are an evolutionary contingency – and nothing else – and that meaning is not what people think it means.

He is content just to exist, and equally content not to exist.

Considering, then, is the machine the bass guitar or the man behind the strings? One wonders, one doubts. Which is of course part of the point. Because just as the optimists cannot convince or lay claim to the inherent value of life, the pessimists cannot guarantee meaninglessness. The abyss always smiles at me.

ex nihilo dubito.

Can machines doubt? Was Cripple Shu malignantly useless? How does one take a trip through a Zaphodian Infinite Perspective Vortex?

ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

Sometimes, though, you just have to fly off in your invisible, noiseless, wing-shaped bomber singing “Oh well. What the hell.” with the other dead fictions.