Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From behind 2.28

The fountains of the gods

Akasha film-project with Andrej Tarkovsky

Andrej Tarkovsky sat in a room next to a kitchen in Berlin. One of the few greats among directors of film, cast out by the Soviet Film Union, unknown in Hollywood.
Emissaries lead me to this hide-out. Via third parties we had signalled our shared intention to produce a film, based on the book Akasha-Chronicles, by Rudolf Steiner; Tarkovsky had heard of the Kollektiv-films Deutschland im Herbst, Germany in Autumn, Der Kandidat, Krieg und Frieden, War and Peace). He was willing to collaborate.
One difference of opinion had to be overcome. I assumed that this film was to be produced without official subsidies. Therefore the conditions for the shoot had to be simple, i.e. inexpensive. The content, including references to the secret doctrine of Helene Blawatsky which I wanted to include as the background to Steiner's argumentation, consisted only very minimally of "images possible to film". Andrej Tarkovsky on the other hand considered that the shoot had to take place at a special locale, e.g. a crossroads between the Himalayas and Karakoram , which is to say on Tibetan territory. There were Chreodes [Chreoden] there, he began our conversation, as soon as my tea had been served. These were "necessary ways". Only in such places -a place was only ever the sum of all movement that had taken place at it- was it auspicious that a film recording, even that the mere plan of such a recording could succeed. Without the right place we would not even be able to begin to imagine anything.
There existed, Tarkovsky said, after I had been served a second tea and two blinis, in Southern Italy, not far from Naples, one of the "fountains", already known in antiquity (and mentioned in Ovid), and he had been there. Access was complicated, because the fountain had been built-over by a Christian chapel. The chapel on the other hand could only be found if one located a passage in the cellars of a patrician house, a mansion, which lead to deeper cellar vaults. From there one had to hack open the ground. There light would erupt, because it was all situated on a slope, and access can be found. Upon entering I had immediately had the sensation, Tarkowski said, that the passage only a little deeper, just beneath the ground's surface, led to one of those fountains that establish the connection to the underworld. The entire film revolved around this sensation.
[continued in comment]

Alexander Kluge, Chronik der Gefuehle, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/Main, 2000, p. 472-77. Transl. mine.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pirates - Dead Man's Chest

Several ships, arriving from India to load fresh water on Saint Helena, upon departure marooned as punishment a sailor who was deemed to have forfeited his life. When this sailor watched the flotilla depart under full sail and then found himself all alone on this island, he began to lament his misfortune and appealed pitifully to God in Heaven. In his terror he remembers that two days earlier an officer had died and been buried in a coffin on this island. Not wasting any time, with hands and feet he scrapes and scratches open the grave, takes out the corpse, takes the coffin and rushes toward the sea. A sail is made out of a shirt; a part of the coffin lid is used as a rudder. He embarks and in the name of God pursues the ships which were ahead a considerable distance. Meanwhile, the winds had abated all around the ships by heaven-sent command, and they had made such bad progress that the sailor in the coffin reached the flotilla after some hours, driven by the propitious offshore wind.
When the ships' crews spotted him they very seriously considered him a ghost or sea-monster. As he approaches more closely he commences to plea abjectly that they should take pity on him and for heaven's sake take him back to his fatherland. Whereupon the entire crew was moved to pity and and entreated that he should be taken back aboard.

Caspar Schmalkalden, Die wundersamen Reisen des Caspar Schmalkalden nach West- und Ostindien 1642–1652., ed. W. Joost. (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1983). Transl. with slight alterations mine.
in memoriam zinedinho

Saturday, May 26, 2007

File 1.82

An English review of Kluge's Chronik der Gefühle

In the book:
Hitler's and Heidegger's meeting
Faust as a National Socialist
Heidegger on the Crimea
description of a battle (Stalingrad)
signs of the decline of power (Verfallserscheinungen der Macht)
Tarkovsky and Kluge discuss a film project
Heiner Müller's final words on the function of the theatre

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

File 1.81

Das eigentliche China ist überbevölkert. An den beiden Strömen Hoangho und Yangtsekiang halten sich mehrere Millionen Menschen auf, die auf Flößen ganz nach ihrer Bequemlichkeit eingerichtet leben. Die Bevölkerung, die durchaus organisierte und bis in die kleinsten Details hineingearbeitete Staatsverwaltung hat die Europäer in Erstaunen gesetzt, und hauptsächlich verwunderte die Genauigkeit, mit der die Geschichswerke ausgeführt waren. In China gehören nämlich die Geschichtsschreiber zu den höchsten Beamten. [Die Geschichte] geht in die ganz alten Zeiten hinauf, wo als Kulturspender Fohi genannt wird, der zuerst eine Zivilisation über China verbreitete. Er soll him 29. Jahrhundert vor Christus gelebt haben, also vor der Zeit, in welcher der Schu-king anfängt; aber das Mythische und Vorgeschichtliche wird von den chinesischen Geschichtsschreibern ganz wie etwas Geschichtliches behandelt.

China itself is overpopulated. On the two rivers Hoangho and Yangtsekiang several million people comfortably have taken abode on rafts. The populace and indeed the organised and minutely refined administration have astonished the Europeans; in the main the exactitude of the body of historical works has surprised. In China historiographers are among the highest state officials. [History] reaches back to the most ancient of times where Fohi is named as the bringer of culture, who first spread civilisation across China. Supposedly he lived in the 29th century before Christ, therefore before the time that the Schu-king commences; but the mythical and prehistorical is treated as history proper by Chinese historians.
GFW Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte. Werke 12. (Ffm: Suhrkamp, 1986), p. 149-150. Original date 1822/23 to 1830/31. Transl. mine.


Friday, May 18, 2007

biosphere 0.94

"...wer mit dem Kopf durch die Wand will, muß die Wand im Kopf haben, der Volkswirtschaftsplan ein homerisches Epos, Menschen die Götter im Wettlauf mit ihren Terminen unter dem Fuß der Zeit. [...] Praxis, Esserin der Utopien."

Müller, Heiner. Der Bau (1965), in Geschichten aus der Produktion I, Rotbuch 1994, S. 94.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

From behind 2.27

On May 18, 1922, Sydney and Violet Schiff gave a dinner party at the Hotel Majestic in Paris. They and some forty guests were celebrating the first night of Igor Stravinsky's ballet Le Renard, performed by the Ballets Russes. Richard Davenport-Hines spends several entertaining pages trying to work out who else was there, pages which give us a compelling portrait of the peculiar Parisian demi-monde in which aristocrats and Modernists rubbed shoulders. Apart from Stravinsky and Serge Diaghilev, the main guests were Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Marcel Proust. Indeed, a purpose of the dinner was to bring the two novelists together. [...]
Joyce arrived late, at about eleven, visibly drunk. Schiff placed him next to himself, but Joyce remained speechless, his head on his hands, for the next three or four hours. Embarassed by owning no evening dress, he had overfortified himself. Proust, immaculately turned out, appeared at two or three in the morning. Davenport-Hines writes tellingly about Proust's love of making an entrance. A woman who believed he had satirized her left in a huff, and he contrived to quarrel with Stravinsky, but he was set next to Joyce. According to [Clive] Bell, it was then that Joyce started snoring and Bell left. This, the only meeting between Joyce and Proust, has long been a celebrated fiasco. [...] Joyce was probably rude, both because of drink and because he felt that Proust was rising where he was fallin. [...] The Schiffs got into a taxi with Proust, and Joyce joined them. Joyce began smoking and opened a window. "As Proust feared fresh air, and his asthma could not stand smoke, Schiff shut the window immediately after the cigarette was jettisoned or extinguished." The journey was brief; Proust talked continuously while Joyce looked on.

L. Mackinnon, TLS, March 17 2006, p. 32


Monday, May 14, 2007

File 1.80

Pliny says

that elephants are
intelligent & righteous
revere the stars
& worship the sun
& the moon
WG Sebald, Unrecounted, 2004, p. 13.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

From behind 2.26

File 1.79

Tatsächlich weist der britische Forscher Rupert Sheldrake darauf hin, daß Menschen stets von morphischen Feldern umgeben sind. Alles was sie tun bzw. leichten Sinnes tun können, folgt diesen Bahnungen, an denen Generationen und Massen subjektiver Geschichtskräfte (also Wünsche, Vorstellungen, Einübungen, Gewohnheiten) gewirkt haben. Am besten stellt man sich dies als eine Gravitation vor, auf die menschlichte Seelenkräfte reagieren.

Indeed, the British researcher Rupert Sheldrake points out that humans are surrounded by morphic fields. Any action a human might easily execute is set in such orbits which have been shaped by generations and masses of subjective historical forces (i.e. desires, imaginings, rehearsals, habits). This is best imagined as a kind of gravity which human psychic forces react to.
A. Kluge, Chronik der Gefühle, Band I, 2000, p.30 n7. Transl. mine.

Morphic Fields

Friday, May 04, 2007

File 1.78 Mitfordiana

But all the Mitfordiana - Decca and Debo and Unity Valkyrie, the runnings away, the schoolroom passions for Hitler or Stalin - tend to come into the reader's mind, and to crowd the only thing that matters: the books. [...] Mitford called a collection of miscellaneous writings The Water Beetle, a title borrowed from Hilaire Belloc; the waterbeetle glides gracefully over the surface of the water, but if she ever stopped to think how she did it, she would sink. I don't believe this self-portrait for a second.

P. Hensher, "Introduction", in: Nancy Mitford, Love in a Cold Climate, Penguin, 2000, p. xii

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spoil 1.91 The fox in charge of the henhouse

Vast tracts of the world's second-largest rainforest have been obtained by a small group of European and US logging companies in return for minimal taxes and gifts of salt, sugar and tools, a two-year investigation has found.
It was the kind of "social responsibility" agreement encouraged by the World Bank...The [Greenpeace] report claims that industrial logging backed by the World Bank is out of control.
"Most of the ocmpanies have benefited from the World Bank's failure to ensure that the moratorium [on logging contracts] it negotiated with the transitional...government has been enforced," said Greenpeace's Africa forests campaigner, Stephan van Praet.
Greenpeace and other international groups say the forests' fate depends on the World Bank and on other donors rejecting industrial logging...
The World Bank accepts that logging could destroy the forests in a short time...

Guardian Weekly, April 20-26 2007, p. 3

A key figure in the World Bank, said to have links to the Roman Catholic sect Opus Dei, was accused last weekend of undermining its commitment ot the health of women by ordering the deletion of goals, targets and policies relating to family planning.

Guardian Weekly, April 20-26 2007, p. 4

Kind of a cruel joke that the WB president should be named Wolfowitz
The World Bank's homepage is good for a laugh, too - if you don't get a
warm fuzzy feeling from all that spin, there's something wrong with you.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

File 1.77

On May Day the entire community turned out, men, women and children, home-made banners proclaiming slogans of the "United Front against Fascism" waving alongside the official ones. The long march to Hyde Park started early in the morning, contingents of the Labour Party, the Co-ops, the Communist Party, the Independent Labour Party marching through the long day to join other thousands from all parts of London in the traditional May Day labour festival.
Everyone took a lunch in a paper bag, and there was much good-natured jostling and shouting of orders, and last-minute rounding up of cildren who had darted away in the crowd. Philip and Roger taught us some new songs to sing on the way -parodies on Communist songs: "Class conscious we are, and class conscious we'll be, And we'll TREAD ON THE NECK of the bourgeoisie!", "Oh, 'tis my delight of a dirty night to bomb the bourgeoisie!", and a sarcastic version of "The People's Flag": "The People's flag is palest pink, It's not as red as you might think."

J. Mitford, Hons and Rebels, p.145