Elizabeth Weinberg's photography makes me want to be away and in the country, in clean lake water, free to go topless, free enough to make eye contact with people.


Tonight is Deleuze, Neil Young, Antonioni's L'avventura, the last few chapters of Gravity's Rainbow and white pomegranate tea in abundance. I'm feeling delicate and withdrawn. I'm oscillating between feeling okay with this and feeling anxious that the old agoraphobia is coming back. Sometimes I don't go out because I don't want to. Sometimes I don't go out because I feel like it would fucking hurt a lot. Its not so much fear as it is anticipatory exhaustion and anxiety. Ironically, staying at home and reading dense philosophy and gut-wrenchingly gorgeous but intense films or painting or writing a new short story (started a few days ago, it will probably turn into nothing) is equally painful. I can't explain it. Things impact me way too much. I wish I could turn the sensitivity-meter way down and be buoyant and light.
I've been watching films by Joe Swanberg recently. His latest, Alexander the Last, is really...quite lovely. His older films are less interesting but use the same aesthetic; something people call "mumblecore" (...?). From what I've read, mumblecore seems like a bullshit-genre with derogatory implications. Genres are easy to pin on works of art but they're quickly weighed down by it. I'm pulled in quickly to films without a plot. I like when films reflect life - "realist" cinema can't do this anymore. But I find glimpses of this, I guess, emotional/visual realism in certain films. In one article I read, the critic compared Swanberg's aesthetic to Rohmer's - quite a stretch, but I think there are similarities. Both film-makers appeal to me, even if the former falls dangerously close to cliche. But life is a cliche, so any attempt at "realism" usually negotiates with and uses cliches. Hatred toward "cliches" is a postmodern trend. Why are people (myself included) so consumed with authentic expression, even after accepting the fact that nothing is new, and everything is either recapitulation or bricolage? We theorize about the lack a subject, or a plural subject, but a lot of what we do (the "real" beyond theory) still points to an obsession with unities and a unified self.

Underneath all this trivial intellectualizing is a lot of self-doubt, mainly stemming from concerns about next year. I don't know what to write my masters thesis on. Any advice on how to figure this out and/or ease into grad school? Some people are telling me not to worry about my MA thesis, but I still feel as though its a big decision.


I am thinking:

That moment - when you reach the focal point of the parabola. The steady upstream is upset and the subject hits a wall and everything splinters and fractures. The parabola is never the same, the downward tilt is obliterated and you're suspended for a split second, waiting for gravity to kick in so you can get a grip of your body again. Maybe a new trajectory is formed and the old is never seen again in the same light. The new is birthed from one of the splinters; it slowly congeals and progresses by its own momentum. Each intersection is a bit painful. Looking back you can only ever observe progress through the screen of debris.

I am reading:

"The most solid materials perish, as do the mightiest thoughts. And the greatest book ever writen can convey only a tiny fragment of the artist's real emotion. No, we are only building tombs for posterity to admire with our words. We are trying to record the changing ego, but the Self will not be revealed thus. We are only throwing off sparks."

- Henry Miller, from his letters to Anais Nin.

Here's a great essay on Miller and Whitman and the relationship between the two. I suggest reading it.

Art is by Linda Spjut, Anders Berggren, and Nhu Duong, from here.



Reading Martin Amis' Times Arrow and Dead Babies to complement (or, take a breath away from) Gravity's Rainbow. To give some brief background before I dive into this post - Time's Arrow is written backwards. So we start with a man at his death and slowly move backwards through his life. All dialogue is reversed. Amis is really easy to read compared to Pynchon. In case anyone hasn't read GR - its a clusterfuck of a narrative, switching back-and-forth between characters, POV, and time periods.
Yes. So, I've been doing some research into the concepts of entropy/physics because both the Pynchon and the Amis tap into and use these concepts. I've always been vaguely aware of these ideas but I've never done legitimate research about it. According to thermodynamics, energy is always exchanged between regions of a "closed space." Heat flows from warm regions to colder regions, but not vice versa (yes, yes, grade school science makes a comeback). As a result, there is always a consistent increase of unusable energy building up within a particular system (you can think of this in terms of a room, an individual - but also, obviously, the world-at-large). This unusable energy is entropy - and entropy and disorder in any particular space increases simultaneously. Leading to fears of an energy-world-death and all out anarchy. *Here I'm reminded of that scene from Godard's "Two or Three Things I Know About Her," when we're watching the coffee spinning in the cup...I need to watch that again*
Tied in with this is the concept of time's arrow, which is a philosophical concept superimposed onto thermodynamics to describe how humans view ourselves in relation to this energy exchange/increase process. Typical anthropomorphizing - we have an innate understanding of time as linear, moving forward as entropy increases, like a wire sliced through a wave of steadily-increasing energy. Essentially, "
the inescapable increase of total entropy in a closed system marks the direction of time." So, in a fucked-up way, "progression" is the expulsion of energy that propels humanity forward, towards an unknown "target." And all of history is a rush into anarchy fuelled by the skittish paranoia produced by entropy. I think these concepts are so interesting in relation to the po-mo attitude - which is characterized by a kind of blasé inertia coupled with a manic desire to fragment, to destroy creatively. The symbol of the rocket in Gravity's Rainbow perfectly illustrates these concepts - the ambiguity, Slothrop's desire to move but his lack of a direction or destination, the paranoia, the frustration caused by the lack of any real "self" transferred into sex as violence or violence as sex, or "just" violence, plain and simple. And the immanence of the rocket except as a symbol, except when embodied with the energy of a bunch of sexually-frustrated men rushing into a new period because they have nothing better to do and not enough self-awareness to understand what's making them so impatient. Insert comments about phallic symbols here.
So of course it makes sense that po-mo lit disrupts the linearity of time's arrow, as though post-modernism itself is the "destination" that we've been leading up to since the modernist period. Anarchy has arrived when time is no longer a legitimate or trusted marker.
I love reading about bodies bodies bodies decaying, moving, fucking, shitting, hurting, standing still momentarily to take a breath, incapable of doing anything but creating - mostly by accident. I don't know why I love being reminded of my corporeality so much. But I think the whole process is brilliant, horrific and a little bit dissapointing, all at the same time. Just being human is the most mundane and incredible feat possible.

I got my science info from Richard Menke - "Narrative Reversals and the Thermodynamics of History in Martin Amis's Time's Arrow"
Illustration: Tilman Faelker


Yet another incredible post from transversalinflections. This is Deleuze (and Badiou, Pasolini and Foucault) used well.


Pasolini retrospective entitled "The Poet of Contamination" at the Cinematheque July-August!
Orgasms ensue. Too bad I'll be semi-migrant those months. Spending a week or two in New York City, most likely. Today, though, it is lovely outside my living room window. Hopefully some more thunderstorms will happen today, because I just got a giant job to do for work and will spend the next day holed up, writing. Candles and Ceremony's new album Rocket Fire, infrequent Gravity's Rainbow breaks and cats sleeping in lazy piles on an unfinished canvas. I'm also going to watch Catherine Breillat's Anatomy of Hell. Any film with the following character list:
The Woman
The Man
Blow-job lover 1
Blow-job lover 2
Man in bar
Boy with bird
Little girl playing doctor
Little boy playing doctor (2)
Pharmacist 1
Pharmacist 2...is quite possibly my cup of tea, if only for the fucked-up Bataille-ish drama I'm expecting.
Art is from Zak Smith's page-by-page illustrations of Gravity's Rainbow.


Just saying.

The most sad song ever is quite possibly Dream Scream by Daniel Johnston. It is so incredibly gorgeous.

Rant 1: I've noticed the increasing popularity of applying Deleuze (and often the D & Guattari combo) to pretty much anything. Case in point, the following comment from a BlogTO post about a local clothing designer's over-priced, paint-splattered t-shirts:

"Leave it to the philistine BlogTO commenters to completely fail to understand one of the few exciting, innovative designers that hasn't yet been driven from the city. These pieces are a puissant exploration of the themes of difference and BwO (bodies-without-organs) developed in the work of Deleuze & Guattari -- but don't expect the illiterate, uncultured boors commenting here to pick up on any of those nuances. Obviously that level of engagement with art would be just too much to ask of the typical stewing-in-ressentiment, middle-brow Torontonians. Vive la mediocrite! Maybe we should all just read Harry Potter and blog about how great Crocs and Ugg boots are. Would that make you people happy?" - Helen Winthrop-Brougham, disgruntled snob.

Photos of these "puissant explorations of the themes of difference" can be found at Rowe's website. The shirts sell for 95 bucks a piece. Need I even comment on the digusting tone of this comment? Am I missing something? This epitomizes to me the problem with conceptual art and the indiscrimate throwing-around-of-concepts to justify bad art. Sure, its a t-shirt. If you like how it looks, fine. I wouldn't mind throwing around some paint on shit, too. But "innovative?" No. "Exciting?" God help us if this counts as exciting. And don't jazz it up and criticize others for having (perfectly legit, if you are intelligent and socially-conscious) concerns about it. Conceptual art is not all bad and some if it is great. But in my opinion, there is still a line - even in the realm of conceptual art - between good and bad art. And the commoditization and elitism of intellectualism isn't new, but lets at least minimize it. It's a far stretch to apply concepts of difference and bodies-without-organs to paint-splattered t-shirts, especially when there is no such connections mentioned by the "artist."

Rant 2: This article about cunnilingus from Cuntlove is really great - the writer's "take" on an article from here about the "25 Things Not to Do When Eating Out." It irks me because a lot of people take "guides" such as these completely seriously. (Do they?) I hope not, because I enjoy 14 out of the 25 things on the list, and thank god I'm not a close-mouthed sexual partner. I guess my main rule is: talk to your partner and let them know what you like/what you would like to do to them. More or less simple advice depending on the person, I suppose.