gregory david roberts — shantaram

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”

“The past reflects eternally between two mirrors—the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say.”

“The ancient Sanskrit legends speak of a destined love, a karmic connection between souls that are fated to meet and collide and enrapture one another. The legends say that the loved one is instantly recognised because she’s loved in every gesture, every expression of thought, every movement, every sound, and every mood that prays in her eyes. The legends say that we know her by her wings—the wings that only we can see—and because wanting her kills every other desire of love.

The same legends also carry warnings that such fated love may, sometimes, be the possession and obsession of one, and only one, of the two souls twinned by destiny. But wisdom, in one sense, is the opposite of love. Love survives in us precisely because it isn’t wise.”

” … the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.”

“It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.”

“They claim a hidden corner of our hearts, all those moments that stay with us unscreamed. That’s where loves, like elephants, drag themselves to die. It’s the place where pride allows itself to cry.”

“You can’t kill love. You can’t even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can’t kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is a part of the universal good: it’s a part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.”

“The cloak of the past is cut from patches of feelings, and sewn with rebus threads. Most of the time, the best we can do is wrap it around ourselves for comfort or drag it behind us as we struggle to go on. But everything has its cause and its meaning. Every life, every love, every action and feeling and thought has its reason and significance: its beginning, and the part it plays in the end. Sometimes, we do see. Sometimes, we see the past so clearly, and read the legend of its parts with such acuity, that every stitch of time reveals its purpose, and a kind of message is enfolded in it. Nothing in any life, no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure or clearer than sorrow. And in the tiny, precious wisdom that they give to us, even those dread and hated enemies, suffering and failure, have their reason and their right to be.”

breathe sparingly

“Silently, Siddhartha exposed himself to burning rays of the sun directly
above, glowing with pain, glowing with thirst, and stood there, until he
neither felt any pain nor thirst any more.  Silently, he stood there in
the rainy season, from his hair the water was dripping over freezing
shoulders, over freezing hips and legs, and the penitent stood there,
until he could not feel the cold in his shoulders and legs any more,
until they were silent, until they were quiet.  Silently, he cowered in
the thorny bushes, blood dripped from the burning skin, from festering
wounds dripped pus, and Siddhartha stayed rigidly, stayed motionless,
until no blood flowed any more, until nothing stung any more, until
nothing burned any more.

Siddhartha sat upright and learned to breathe sparingly, learned to
get along with only few breaths, learned to stop breathing.  He
learned, beginning with the breath, to calm the beat of his heart,
leaned to reduce the beats of his heart, until they were only a few and
almost none.”

 – from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

emily brontë – wuthering heights

Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire…

… I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger; I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff — he’s always, always in my mind — not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself — but as my own being — so, don’t talk of our separation again — it is impracticable.
~ Catherine Earnshaw (Ch. IX).

Wuthering Heights is the only published novel by Emily Brontë, written between October 1845 and June 1846 and published in July of the following year. It was not printed until December 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, after the success of her sister Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre. A posthumous second edition was edited by Charlotte in 1850.

kate bush – wuthering heights

Official music video (version 1) for the single “Wuthering Heights” – Kate’s debut single. Released in January 1978, it became a No.1 hit in the UK singles chart and remains Kate’s biggest-selling single. The song appears on Kate’s 1978 debut album, The Kick Inside, and was also re-recorded in 1986 for the greatest-hits album The Whole Story.

infinite body collapse

Screening of new video delay works by Alex Carpenter with dancer Alexis Maxwell

Perhaps ghosts don’t exist “between” normal points of focus, but reside at the core of these points. The essence of things lies within the things, not somewhere else. We don’t need to make the things softer and more delicate, just because we imagine an essence that is itself soft and delicate. If anything, we need to make the things LOUDER, MORE forceful, MORE singular. Maybe then, once our perception tires of the surface layers, becomes exhausted, we will at last see the fragile core that has always eluded us.

“Infinite Body Collapse” is a collection of new works by Alex Carpenter, drawn from recent video delay sessions with dancer Alexis Maxwell, as well as audio delay recordings made this summer in an allegedly haunted house in Alexandria, Virginia.

Through Alex’s video delay system, performed actions (danced, drawn, light-operated) are captured and layered continuously upon playback with previous cyclical generations, providing material for the performer to build on in a largely “unthinking” way. The system engages the performer in a focused, ecstatic process of observing and responding, as normal points of focus are saturated, obliterated, and a space is cleared for the unfolding of activity on a different scale.

This excerpt demonstrates perfectly how the best video delay material is built – with an emphasis on potential within the material, rather than a creator’s plan realized “through” material. This is not “composition”, it is excavation – a digging through to something normally invisible…

Microscope Gallery
4 Charles Place, Brooklyn
Saturday October 6th, 7pm ($6)

michaël borremans: identity is a retrograde myth

Belgian Artist Michaël Borremans insists that his figurative works and portraits do not depict individuals. He aspires to the archetypal, the generic and the anonymous. Identity is a retrograde myth, social function and structural determination are the defining human conditions. So it goes. But Borremans’ figures invite a kind of sympathetic response which undermines his arguments against the dignity of the individual.

David Coggins interviews Michael Borremans:David Coggins  Your new exhibition features a number of recent films. What can people who only know your paintings expect to see?
Michaël Borremans  I’m showing a couple of older films. Add and Remove [2002] is based on a painting from my first show at David’s gallery. What I try to do with films comes out of the paintings. While painting, I had the feeling that I needed a different element of light or movement. My interest in film has always been there since I was young, so I started experimenting. The Storm [2006] is a 35mm projection of a live image. But the work is still more painting than film—the medium is film, but the way I approach it is like painting. That’s why the films are so unusual. When people ask me if they can screen the films publicly, I can’t agree to it because they’re really not meant for that.
DC  Because the films are very slow.
Mb  Yes. The rhythm is very important—they have to be as slow as breathing. I’m experimenting in the way I show them—mostly on an LCD flat screen which is framed, and this frame is wooden, so the film is like a framed work.
DC  Your paintings have such a physical quality. Was it hard to give up that painterly surface?
MB  Not really. A filmed image has another quality—you use lenses, you use lights. I use actual film[not video], so the images are grainy. You can get some painterly qualities even though it’s another language; it has its own poetry. I’m interested in cinematic esthetics, like going in and out of focus.
DC  So you can manipulate the cinematic qualities the same way you can manipulate the surface of a canvas or of paper?
MB  Yes.
DC  In your paintings, you make references to the history of the medium—to Manet and Goya, for example. Do your films likewise refer to a cinematic history with its own traditions and allusions?
MB  I don’t refer to these things intentionally—the references are there in all my work. There are references to the history of art that are not specific. They appeal to your consciousness in a very open way. It’s something I think about. All the imagery of the 20th century and earlier is baggage we have to deal with. My work is an answer to that, a dialogue with that.
DC  With anyone in particular?
MB  Not really. But of course there are figures you pick out, like Manet, who you’re so conscious about. My last show at David Zwirner [“Horse Hunting,” 2006] was really an intentional dialogue with Manet paintings like The Dead Toreador and The Execution of Maximilian.
DC  And he appeals to you as the beginning of modernist painting?
MB  He’s an interesting figure because he’s seen that way. But at the same time he’s also the last classic painter, and that aspect is just as important.
DC  Can you discuss the difference between narrative in painting and in film? In film we generally expect something to happen, but you seem to resist that expectation.
MB  You can look at the films for two seconds or watch them straight through; they’re like a presence. With the paintings, at first you expect a narrative, because the figures are familiar. But then you see that some parts of the paintings don’t match, or don’t make sense. The works don’t come to a conclusion in the way we expect them to. The images are unfinished: they remain open. That makes them durable.
DC  There’s a mystery in your paintings that a viewer wants to solve, but it can’t be solved. You invite people in but make an image that’s ultimately unreadable. Is there a tension that you’re looking for?
MB  There’s a dichotomy—there are two poles and you’re in between them. There is a tension, but it’s not a game—it’s like research.

DC  Your drawings deal with figures that are extremely small, your paintings can be very large and your films are often projected life-size. Could you address scale, and shifts in scale, in your work?

MB  Scale is for reference, for recognition. By playing with that and making it unclear, you provoke a kind of anarchy in the image. In the drawings I use that a lot and make references to models. In our society we use models to try things, to test things; scientists use models. The model as a metaphor for our actions is very appealing to me. That’s why you have these tiny figures.
DC  Like an architectural model where a figure shows the scale?
MB  Yes, like in architecture, but also in warfare.

DC  You often portray people carrying out activities that are fruitless. People have compared your work to Beckett’s. Do you think that your work deals with the absurd so overtly?
MB  The actions are often senseless. But the work switches between an aspect of the absurd and a romantic connotation, like a vanitas. That the human being is a victim of his situation and is not free is a conviction of mine.
DC  There’s a feeling in your work of invisible power, of things the figures are waiting for and can’t see, or something that’s beyond their control. Continue reading