Thursday, March 31, 2005

Boil 1.25

Also see Terry Castle's exorcism/ summoning of Susan Sontag's ghost in her LRB article. The title 'Desperately seeking Susan' is a little gratuitous, considering that Madonna is still alive. And kabbalistic. But these mix-ups happen even to us English professors -when at a snooty dinner party (replete with Laurie 'Angel' Anderson's and Lou 'Arrrgh' Reed's attendance) Sontag introduces Castle "with the soul-destroying words, ‘Terry is an English professor’". No harm done.


Spoil 1.24

Boredom: the final frontier of the snob

The boredom was partly a generational thing. Evelyn Waugh, b. 1903; Graham Greene, b. 1904; Cyril Connolly, b. 1903; Ian Fleming, b. 1908. These Englishmen came from a similar class background, and had writing careers which, from the outside at least, seemed characterised by brilliant success. They also had parallel lives as spies, soldiers, shaggers and men of action (or in Connolly's case, of inaction so spectacular that it, too, seems like a form of action). But all of them suffered from a desperate, crippling, lifelong fear of boredom. Greene's boredom was perhaps the best publicised, what with the Russian roulette and all that. In a sense, it was boredom that led him to Catholicism, since religion offered him the opportunity to regard every moment as a soul-imperilling drama, and therefore added a pleasant tang of chilli-heat to the things he was doing to keep the boredom at bay - brothel-visiting, opium, spying, having adulterous sex on church altars etc. Waugh feared boredom so much he used to have nightmares about it; Connolly based his whole adult personality on the idea of his battle with ennui. In many respects a childish man, he did at least face the truth that the main thing he was bored with was himself. Fleming, too, was chronically, cripplingly bored.
John Lanchester in London Review of Books

Beat this:
"...the opening line of [Fleming's] first book, Casino Royale: 'The scent and smoke of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.'"
It's tough out there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

From behind 1.16

Monday, March 28, 2005

Boil 1.24

The time-music of the quasars. A huge volume of radio signals reaches this planet from space, crossing gigantic distances from the far side of the universe. It's hard to accept that these messages are meaningless, as they presumably are [...] Yet the hope remains that one day we will decode them, and find, not some intergalactic fax service, but a spontaneously generated choral music, a naive electro-magnetic architecture [...]
J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition, 36

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Spoil 1.23

that Jewish writer who slept in a room lined with cork and wrote that famous book I could never read. You know, Marcel something... Nebbishly looking. He smelt of mothballs, wore a fur coat down to the ground, asked heaps about make-up. Would a duchess use rouge? Did demi-mondaines put Kohl on their eyes? How should I know? But then, how could I have known that he was going to be so famous? If so, I might have told him a thing or two.
Cosmetics Empress H. Rubinstein. Quoted in London Review of Books, Feb 5, 2004, 32.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

systemische Theorizität (Fragment)

It is the scale that makes the phenomenon.

Henri Poincare, zitiert von Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, New York 1958, p. xi

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

File 1.07

Hahahaha. Take that fetishists of reason.

Nach heutigem Wissensstand wird man vermutlich sagen muessen, dass das, was als Vernunft, Wille, Gefuehl usw. erfahren und bezeichnet wird, eine nachtraegliche Interpretation bereits vorliegender Resultate neurophysiologischer Operationen ist, also wohl deren Aufbereitung fuer bewusste Weiterbehandlung dient, aber keineswegs die ausschlaggebende Ursache menschlichen Verhaltens ist. Siehe z.B. Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect, Cultural Critique 31 (1995), S. 83-109

According to contemporary research one presumably would have to concede that that which is experienced and designated as reason, will, affect, etc. is a retrospective interpretation of already existing results of neurophysiological processes, that is to say that it serves in the process of a conscious utilisation, but in no way constitutes the major cause for human behaviour. See e.g. Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect, Cultural Critique 31 (1995), pp. 83-109

Niklas Luhmann, Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft, 25, fn.15

File 1.0x

Mummies made into paper: an allegory for the cultural process ?
The search for a reliable, less expensive alternative to rag, scrap as the raw material for paper had been unsuccessful - though not for want of effort [...] A particularly imaginative source for rag, itself, was found in the mid-nineteenth century in Egyptian mummies. Shiploads of mummies were sent from Egypt to paper companies in the United States, where the linen wrappings were taken off and recycled, so to speak, into paper. [...] The only competition the papermakers had for the mummies was from the new Egyptian railroad, which, reportedly, used them as fuel.
Mark Stefik, Internet Dreams, p.75

(thanks to Chris for the reference)

Friday, March 18, 2005


...und obgleich die Strandfischer, wie ich glaube, dabei bewegt werden von denselben unbegreiflichen Gefuehlen, ist ein jeder von ihnen doch fuer sich ganz allein und hat Verlass nur auf sich selber und auf seine paar wenigen Ausruestungsgegenstaende, auf das Federmesserchen beispielsweise, den Thermosbehaelter oder das kleine Transistorradio, aus dem kaum hoerbar ein scharrendes Geraesch dringt, so als redeten untereinander die mit den Wellen zurueckrollenden Steine.
Die Ringe des Saturn, 68.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

From behind 1.19

Kafka or Keaton ?

Boil 1.23

Here are some first customer feedback statements from the popular Rent-a-German service:
Samantha F., 27 (London):
“I had such a lovely evening with the German and my mates: After the pub, we went dancing. My friends were thoroughly impressed by the German moves. I was gobsmacked when the German even cleaned my house the next day, before I was awake! Will definitely rent again.”
Carl Hagen, 58 (New York):
“After dinner, we watched TV together with the entire family. Suddenly the German started to cry. It was such real and pure emotion. I’d never seen this before. The support package cheered him up again and we read German poems together ‘til 3 am. Even Grandma stayed up and enjoyed the exotic sound of words like "Rasenmäher, Motorsäge or Solidargemeinschaft". Rented again, before our new friend left.”
via monochrom

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Spoil 1.13

Keine Patronen mehr. Den Feuerwechsel hatte Klaus unversehrt ueberstanden, war durch die Lichtung hindurch in die Tannen gefluechtet. Die Nacht legte sich, der Schnee knirschte. Er wusste weder wo er war, noch wohin er nun gehen konnte. Fahles Mondlicht streifte sein Antlitz. Wie lange bis der Feind seine Spur auffinden wuerde? Wie lange bis Sergej die Daumenschrauben nicht laenger wuerde ertragen koennen und seine Identitaet preisgeben musste ? Und nun als die Wolken sich vom Mond wegschoben erklang des markgerinnende Geheul der Taigawoelfe. Sie konnten nicht weit sein.
F.K. Konsalik, Die Verdammten der Taiga, 254.

Boil 1.22

This reader opinion came at an age of serious political upheaval in the non-Republic of Oz, try and tell the different dramatis personae behind their masks!
Attack of the Clowns
The story so far: the Anakin Skywalker of the 1970s student politics joins the Dork Side of the Farce in 1981 and becomes the Darth Vader of the New Right, only to be disappointed when the ageing Emperor refuses to abdicate in his favour. Meanwhile, the valiant but unintelligible little droid R2D2 struggles to avoid disassembly at the hands of Jabba the Hutt. Australia was overwhelmed by this Attack of the Clowns when we allowed the Emperor to panic us with the Phantom Menace of asylum seekers.
Will there be A New Hope under the guidance of the wise Green Yoda, with the aid of the Ewoks who fight to protect the forests?
Paul Norton, Highgate Hill, Qld

Boil 1.21

I've kept editorial contributions from The Age for years knowing their time would come.
The first is by one Dr Keith Suter, a "senior fellow with Global Business Network Aus":
And second, the US could have offered a massive reward (say $500 million - the equivalent of the cost of half a B-1 bomber) for bin Laden dead or alive. That sum of money would attract groups such as the Russian mafia to work with the Afghans to do the operation.
The Age, (late 2001, I guess)
Been hoping that this would sound as deluded NOW as it really was THEN, when this stooge was granted a mandate by editors who should know better. But don't.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Spoil 1.12

Dawn of a new world, or dusk of the old?

From behind 1.18

Dear Diary,
today, for the first time -and although I have lived here for many years- Jacques Derrida waved a greeting to me as I went past. Leaning on his low driveway gate, his shirtsleeves folded up to the elbows he rested there, strangely tanned, and catching his breath I imagine, as the heat echoed up from the pavement.
Due to an excessive shyness that governs my every social movement I have never dared to approach him, and I must admit that it strikes me as extraordinary that never yet have I observed the endless stream of obsequious graduate students, fellow prosletyzers, and indeed the curious public at large drawn by rumour of the unbounded influence wielded by De la Grammatologie and Glass upon the humanities, one would expect from the great philosopher's residence (surely he would not believe to have gone unnoticed!?) in our but humble street.
That is to say that many a time I have found myself in silent cogitation and discussion with the reverred sir, albeit at the most extreme dissent: -Sir! I wish to speak to him, surely you will recognise that your notion of differance (the eradication of difference (a-e) in speech over the visibility of difference in writing) merely follows the hegemonic claim of the vowel over the consonant ?
- Sir, I imagine him reply, pray elaborate.
- The origin of language as contained in the vowel (as opposed to the consonant), I state, is but expression of the vowel-o-centric imagination that indeed represses the import of the consonant. The division of labour in language between vowel and consonant is as ungrateful an affair as that between speech and writing itself, indeed! as that between work and leisure. Yet, difference is eradicated upon the work of the vowel, too! Take but the name Stephan or Stefan. Clearly you will observe the impossibility of speech to convey the distinction, yet the vowels do their work, indeed! work but against the consonantal heterogeneity by aiding the semblance of sameness against the blatant fact of alterity!
- How, Sir!, do you propose the hegemonic domination of vowel over consonant came to pass?, I imagine myself now close to shrieking pitch.
But the philosopher has lost interest - ah! rotten forcefulness of my diatribe-, and, as I imagine him, shifts from right elbow to his left elbow resting on the gate, follows with some interest the mobilisation of an ant colony as it makes way into his flower beds, and I understand that our exchange is all but terminated before it every truly began.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Spoil 1.11

Okay, so it's not exactly what you planned on, not tenure at a research university - no booklined office overlooking the leafy squad, no slim, influential volumes from major university presses, no fetching graduate students hanging on your every word.
James Hynes, Kings of Infinite Space, 270

Thursday, March 10, 2005

From behind 1.17

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

biosphere 0.1b pre-alpha

schwelgen im nacherzaehlen der lehre. lobrede und verstaendnislose zusammenfassung der verstaendnislosen zusammenfassung von seiten der diskussionleitung. [papierrascheln, klingeln eines mobiltelefons, gedaempfte beantwortung des anrufs hinter einem vorhang, ruetteln an der balkontuer, die sich nicht oeffnen will, um den mobiltelefonanrufbeantworter ins freie lautsprechgehege zu entlassen, wiederholtes geruettel, gefolgt von raschen schritten zum ausgang.] unkritisches rumreiten auf drei, vier gefaelligen punkten, aus denen heute reizlose kontroversen von gestern abgeleitet werden. [schrille stimme, gehackt monotone sprechweise.] konfuse ineinssetzungen von begriffen. [synchrone koerpersprache der vier podiumsreferenten: kinn in die hand gestuetzt, augen geschlossen.]

aus: Institutionelle Poetik. Sammlungsversuche. Dropout Verlag 2002

biosphere 0.1 pre-alpha (extremely soft targets)

when ikea opened its biggest british store in north london last week, more than 6000 people descended, attracted by the promise of sofas, dining tables and bed frames at huge discounts.
as the glass doors opened at midnight, the crowd surged forward, overwhelming the meagre security presence and resulting in a frightening crush in which at least four people were injured.
there was further pandemonium inside, as shoppers raced and pushed each other to be the first to claim bargains. witnesses said they saw shoppers threatened with wooden mallets and fights breaking out over sofas.
nine ambulances were called. twelve people were treated for minor injuries and 20 suffered heat exhaustion. the event also caused traffic chaos, as shoppers abandoned their cars in gridlock.

guardian weekly, feb 16-24, 2005, p. 11

Boil 1.20

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Boil 1.19

I shall send Briggs in presently, with a bowl of beef tea.
- Vanity Fair

From behind 1.15

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Standing in the east corner of her room, he would plan to call out to her words with the u sound: Urals, uremia, Uranus, usual, union, Uruguay, usury, Utopia, etc. etc. This would be followed by words with o: Oklahoma, odious, ore, oil, open, etc. Then words with k: Castle, card, Khartoum, care-free, catastrophe, catalque, Cabbala, Kabul, catharsis, cataracts, etc. The words with es: Esther, Estragon, escudos, Espana, Eskimo, etc. Then words with al: Albania, Alba, Alarcon, Alhambra, algebra, alkaloid, Almira, alms, etc. Then words with is: Istria, Ismail, Istanbul, Islam, etc.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Biosphere 0.5 beta

More from Der Ohlsen

Trümmer sind an sich Zukunft. Weil alles, was ist, vergeht. Es gibt dieses wunderbare Kapitel bei Jesaja, in dem es heißt: Über euren Städten wird Gras wachsen. Dieser Spruch hat mich immer fasziniert, schon als Kind. Diese Poesie, die Tatsache, dass man beides zugleich sieht. Jesaja sieht die Stadt und die anderen Schichten darüber, das Gras und wieder eine Stadt, das Gras und wieder eine Stadt.
Anselm Kiefer

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Thinking of Tarkovsky yet again...

thanks again Der Ohlsen

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Wenn er ihr aus dem Ofterdingen vorlese, verstehe sie oft ganze Abschnitte nicht, soll er zu Fro gesagt haben, er frage sie, ob sie aufmerksam zugehoert habe und sie antworte, sie habe aufmerksam zugehoert, sie haette aber nicht alles verstanden, dazu muss man wissen, dass der Ofterdingen, obwohl von ihr zum Unterschied von ihm, der den Ofterdingen nicht leiden koenne, geliebt war, doch ein sogenannes schwieriges Buch ist, ganz abgesehen davon, dass sie, liest er ihr sozusagen als Strafe aus dem Kropotkin, den er liebte, vor, absichtlich mindestens die Haelfte nicht verstanden haben wolle.

When he read to her from the Ofterdingen often she would not comprehend entire sections, he is supposed to have told Fro, he asked her had she listened attentively and she replied she had listened attentively, but she had not comprehended everything, and one ought to know that the Ofterdingen was what is called a difficult text, although he, in contrast to her who loved it, did not like the Ofterdingen, not to mention that if he read as punishment, as it were, from the Kropotkin which he loved, she would intentionally pretend not to have comprehended even half of it.


(many thanks) Der Ohlsen


by Der Ohlsen (many thanks) more here

Spoil 1.10

Kant on television or Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei

Nachdem sie ihr Hausvieh zuerst dumm gemacht haben und sorgfaeltig verhueteten, dass diese ruhigen Geschoepfe ja keinen Schritt ausser dem Gaengelwagen, darin sie sie einsperrten, wagen durften, so zeigen sie ihnen nachher die Gefahr, die ihnen droht, wenn sie es versuchen allein zu gehen. Nun ist diese Gefahr zwar eben so gross nicht, denn sie wuerden durch einigemal Fallen wohl endlich gehen lernen; allein ein Beispiel von der Art macht doch schuechtern und schreckt gemeiniglich von allen ferneren Versuchen ab.
Was ist Aufklaerung?
After the guardians have first made their domestic cattle dumb and have made sure that these placid creatures will not dare take a single step without the harness of the cart to which they are tethered, the guardians then show them the danger which threatens if they try to go alone. Actually, however, this danger is not so great, for by falling a few times they would finally learn to walk alone. But an example of this failure makes them timid and ordinarily frightens them away from all further trials.
What is Englightenment?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Boil 1.18

They read our minds. They control our desire. They are inside. They are without. Good to see a suspicion I've kept secret since puberty reproduced out there.

Hattan wakes up one morning convinced that everything he owns has been stolen and replaced with a perfect replica. Even the buildings which surround his home appear strange to him. He feels as though he has been decontextualized in some bizarre way and begins looking for signs that all is not as it should be.
Entire Story here (via Cartoonist)

:keep watching the skies. wear tin-foil hats. message's been from mars. they made me do it.
: in memoriam Gerichtsrat D.P. Schreber