malcolm de chazal



A bicycle rolls on the road.
The road is the third wheel
Rolling the other two.

The water says to the wave,
“You are swallowing me.”
“How could I?”
Replied the wave,
“I am your mouth.”

The dew
Said to the sun,
“Do you see me?”
“No,” said the sun.
“I am your eyes.”

With their peaks
Two mountains
Were touching a cloud.
For an instant
The cloud felt
Unable to find
Its head.

When the fine
Seized the branch
The branch gave way
And the flower
Stuck its head out
To see what was going on.

Fanning yourself?
Not so.
The fan’s in the wind’s hand
That’s why
You feel cool.

“I’ve gone all the way around
The Earth,”
One man said.
“Poor fellow
And all that time
You haven’t progressed
Half an inch
In your body.”

The pupil
Turned the eyes
The iris followed
The white of the eye
Just long enough
for you
To slip into the face
Of the one you love.

“I love you,”
The woman said.
“Be careful,”
Said her lover,
“Don’t love me
Too much
Or you’ll come back
To yourself
Love is round.”

“One and one
Make two”
Said the mathematician.
What’s that
To God and the zero?

Cut water
As much as you like
Will you find
The skeleton.
The skeleton of wind
In life itself.

The eye
Is a oneactor

Of the body
Comes only in death.

“I’ll never
Said the man
“I have hope.”

Has no

If light unfurled
Its peacock tail
There would be
No room
For life.

Doesn’t know
What it tastes like.
Tasting it
Gives sugar
A taste of sugar.

A stone
Hears its heart beat
In the rain.

The circle
Is an alibi
For the center
And the center
Is a pretext
For the circle.

The quickest route
From ourselves
To ourselves
Is the Universe.

Always has
An idea
Up its sleeve.

Is a rimless

The road
In both directions
That’s why
It stands still.

“Take me
The flower said
To the sun,
My thighs”

The noise,
bit off bits of itself
And left
Its teeth
The keys
Of the piano.

She wore
Her smile
To her teeth.

For the afternoon
To play golf
With the holes.

The lake
This morning
A bad
Got into
Its tub
To relax.

The wave
Out of its depth
On the shore
Went down.

He was
In such a hurry
To get to life
That it
Let him go.

She anchored
Her hips
In his eyes
And brought him
To port.

The car
Will never
The speed
Of the road.

haidt on morality

“Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say.”

– Jonathan Haidt,    The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

the righteous mind by jonathan haidt

Andres Serrano´s Piss Christ is a photograph is of a small plastic crucifix submerged in what appears to be a yellow liquid. The artist has described the substance as being his own urine in a glass. The photograph was one of a series of photographs that Serrano had made that involved classical statuettes submerged in various fluids—milk, blood, and urine.The full title of the work is “Immersion (Piss Christ)”.The photograph is a 60×40 inch Cibachrome print. It is glossy and its colors are deeply saturated. The presentation is that of a golden, rosy medium including a constellation of tiny bubbles. Without Serrano specifying the substance to be urine and without the title referring to urine by another name, the viewer would not necessarily be able to differentiate between the stated medium of urine and a medium of similar appearance, such as amber or polyurethane.

Serrano has not ascribed overtly political content to Piss Christ and related artworks, on the contrary stressing their ambiguity. He has also said that while this work is not intended to denounce religion, it alludes to a perceived commercializing or cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture.

” Here’s a thought experiment. Are you deeply offended by works of art such as Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, which depicts Jesus as seen through a jar of urine, or Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary, which shows Mary smeared with elephant dung? So offended that you think they ought to be banned and the galleries that display them prosecuted? No? OK, then try replacing the religious figures in these pictures with the sacred icons of progressive politics, people such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. How would you feel if you walked into an art gallery and saw an image of King submerged in urine or Mandela smeared with excrement?

Many people are likely to feel torn. Liberals know the reasoned arguments for freedom of expression and the importance of being consistent on matters of principle. On the other hand, it would be surprising if they did not also feel disgusted and affronted. How dare anyone pass off such gratuitously offensive images as works of art?  Shouldn’t they be stopped? Jonathan Haidt, who gives a version of this thought experiment in his provocative new book, wants us to know that reason and instinctive outrage are always going to co-exist in cases like this. What’s more, in most instances, it’s the outrage that will be setting the agenda.

The arresting image Haidt gives for our sense of morality is that it’s like a rational rider on top of an intuitive elephant. The rider can sometimes nudge the elephant one way or the other, but no one should be in any doubt that the elephant is making the important moves. In fact, the main job of the rider is to come up with post-hoc justifications for where the elephant winds up. We rationalise what our gut tells us. This is true no matter how intelligent we are. Haidt shows that people with high IQs are no better than anyone else at understanding the other side in a moral dispute. What they are better at is coming up with what he calls “side-arguments” for their own instinctive position. Intelligent people make good lawyers. They do not make more sensitive moralists.

Where do these moral instincts come from? Haidt is an evolutionary psychologist, so the account he gives is essentially Darwinian. Morality is not something we learn from our parents or at school, and it’s certainly not something we work out for ourselves. We inherit it. It comes to us from our ancestors, ie from the people whose instinctive behaviour gave them a better chance to survive and reproduce. These were the people who belonged to groups in which individuals looked out for each other, rewarded co-operation and punished shirkers and outsiders. That’s why our moral instincts are what Haidt calls “groupish”. We approve of what is good for the group – our group.”

Read the rest of Runciman´s text here

hegel on moral in art

Now as regards art in relation to moral betterment, the same must be said, in
the first place, about the aim of art as instruction. It is readily granted that
art may not take immorality and the intention of promoting it as its principle.
But it is one thing to make immorality the express aim of the presentation, and
another not to take morality as that aim. From every genuine work of art a good
moral may be drawn, yet of course all depends on interpretation and on who
draws the moral. We can hear the most immoral presentations defended on the
ground that one must be acquainted with evil and sins in order to act morally;
conversely, it has been said that the portrayal of Mary Magdalene, the beautiful ~
sinner who afterwards repented, has seduced many into sin, because art makes
repentance look so beautiful, and sinning must come before repentance. But the
doctrine of moral betterment, carried through logically, is not content with
holding that a moral may be pointed from a work of art; on the contrary, it would
want the moral instruction to shine forth clearly as the substantial aim of the
work of art, and indeed would expressly permit the presentation of none but moral
subjects, moral characters, actions, and events. For art can choose its subjects,
and is thus distinct from history or the sciences, which have their material given to
-From Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics (The aims of art)

‘self portraits of you and me´ by douglas gordon

With ‘Self Portraits of You and Me´ by Douglas Gordon, the viewer is denied engagement with the subject (celebrities) because all discriminating facial features have been removed by burning. Frames backed with mirrors were constructed so that the viewer’s gaze is quite literally reflected back out of the photographs through the holes in the images.

the moon by jaime sabines

You can take the moon by the spoonful
or in capsules every two hours.
It’s useful as a hypnotic and sedative
and besides it relieves
those who have had too much philosophy.
A piece of moon in your purse
works better than a rabbit’s foot.
Helps you find a lover
or get rich without anyone knowing,
and it staves off doctors and clinics.
You can give it to children like candy
when they’ve not gone to sleep,
and a few drops of moon in the eyes of the old
helps them to die in peace.

Put a new leaf of moon
under your pillow
and you’ll see what you want to.
Always carry a little bottle of air of the moon
to keep you from drowning.
Give the key to the moon
to prisoners and the disappointed.
For those who are sentenced to death
and for those who are sentenced to life
there is no better tonic than the moon
in precise and regular doses.

Jaime Sabines

— Poemas sueltos, 1981
translated by W. S. Merwin

(thanks Cherry Bomb for putting this on FB a while ago.)

helena almeida

I was recently introduced to the work of Portuguese artist Helena Almeida. It´s difficult to find text that complements it. The simplicity and consistency of her photos, I think, is what makes it so powerful.

cinderella by anne sexton

You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son’s heart.
from diapers to Dior.
That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman
who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother’s grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That’s the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince’s ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn’t
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she’d better
get home. The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler’s wax
and Cinderella’s gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
They just don’t heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.

the transformations of anne sexton, poststructuralist witch

Jeremy DeVito, 2011

“The world of the fairy tale has been traditionally read as one in which anything may happen, in which all things work toward and will eventually culminate in, the ‘perfect’ fairy tale ending of ‘happily ever after.’ However, the last half-century (with the rise of literary theory in general and feminist theory in particular) has produced a degree of cynicism towards this traditional reading. Fairy tale ideology has been challenged on the grounds that it is classist, racist, and, most blatantly, sexist. Hence, such tales have found new storytellers and have been adapted in such a way as to subvert the problematic ideals of tradition and, in most cases, replace them with what is seen as a fresher, more inclusive set of values. In 1972 Anne Sexton published Transformations, a collection of poetic retellings of seventeen widely recognizable fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, which, in the eyes of such critics as Carol Leventen, “belongs to [this] significant body of revisionist / feminist work” (137). Although these retellings doreflect a new (and distinctly female) voice, however, Sexton’s critique contains complexities that go beyond a feminist objection to patriarchal concepts of perfection and happiness. Rather, Sexton’s tales suggest that the real problem with the fairy tale is to be found in its very striving towards the non-problematic; in short, Sexton’s poems are not so much feminist re-writings as they are poststructuralist re-readings. Their aim is not to adapt the traditional in providing or implying a new (feminist) central philosophy, but rather, to strip the tales of any centre whatsoever… ”

Read the rest of DeVito´s text here

dennis hopper

Here I was, planning a nice, lengthy post about Marjorie Cameron and her art. What an amazing woman/artist/actress/occultist/ collaborator. While searching all kinds of wonderful material I came across Curtis Harrington’s 1961 psychological thriller “Night tide” where Cameron plays the Water Witch alongside Dennis Hopper (great stuff, great jazz.) Thing is, I got totally distracted by images of Dennis Hopper. <3

on worshipping little pieces of blazing hell

“Still, American television is full of smiles and more and more perfect-looking teeth. Do these people want us to trust them? No. Do they want us to think they’re good people? No again. The truth is they don’t want anything from us. They just want to show us their teeth, their smiles, and admiration is all they want in return. Admiration. They want us to look at them, that’s all. Their perfect teeth, their perfect bodies, their perfect manners, as if they were constantly breaking away from the sun and they were little pieces of fire, little pieces of blazing hell, here on this planet simply to be worshipped.”
― Roberto Bolaño, 2666

louise bourgeois & tracey emin: do not abandon me

“Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin both blur the boundary between art and life is by pouring the turbulent history of an individual’s psyche into the work. The difference between them is that, for Bourgeois, life seeps into art, whereas for Emin, life collides with art. Do Not Abandon Me brings together these two approaches to also blur the boundary between two individuals’ life histories in a moving, sometimes upsetting and admirable collection of work.

Bourgeois began the project by painting male and female torsos on paper; the gouache pigments are combined with water to give fluidity to the mixtures of red, blue and black. All the bodies are depicted in profile, in various positions, presenting delicate silhouettes that form the basis of the final works. These were then passed to Emin for embellishment, who reportedly cradled them like porcelain babies for months on end, until she finally saw beneath the surfaces of the mute bodies. Emin’s contribution consists of smaller figures drawn in pencil and the addition of occasionally coherent, hurriedly scratched out words. The idea is that Emin’s additions tease out the emotions, anxieties, ideas and histories that already lay dormant in Bourgeois’ paintings.

The works are elegant in form and colour; they are simple but playful, and tinged with a wry seriousness. The elegance derives from the delicate hues and the way they are loosely contained within soft lines, which accentuates the simplicity of bodies represented only in outline. The playfulness is in Emin’s characteristically childish scrawl, which sometimes seems unsure of how to respond to nudity so opts to make a joke of it. Come unto Me depicts a man lying on his back, with two miniature women kneeling at the base of his penis on which a third woman hangs on a cross. The serious message that women are subjugated to male sexuality is obscured by the humorous conception of the erect penis as a purely structural accessory to an ancient form of execution.

The forgoing theme is clearly a feminist agenda, and the result of both artists’ preoccupations. The relation between man and woman is characterised as one where the woman is locked in service to the man who rejects her pleas for love, thus having to accept the potency of his sexuality as a form of affection. And So I Kissed You offers a heartbreaking image of male sexual obsession while Just Hanging predicts emotional and physical death as a result of this servitude.

In other works, the female relation to child-bearing is explored as an experience of pain, personal loss and lingering failure. I Wanted to Love You More shows a female figure embedded within the pregnant bulge of a woman, expressing perhaps the desire of an embittered mother to get closer to her unwanted child. Reaching for You shows a woman who has burrowed into her own womb in order to retrieve a lost, perhaps aborted, child.

These are serious, and sometimes harrowing, themes. You get the feeling, however, that Bourgeois meant them to retain the autobiographical subtlety and integrity of artistic form that her meditations on her mother – the huge spider sculptures, titled Maman – possessed. As a child of surrealism, Bourgeois excelled in burying her neurosis under layers of symbolism and maintaining a visceral glee in the materiality of her art. But with Emin, there is no such thing: like in her neon pleas for love that shout desperation through the night sky or her bed that celebrates her frantic degeneracy, her contributions to these works drags the emotions to the surface and screams a blood-curdling cry. At this point of contrast between the two artists’ approaches, Emin begins to look tired, as if repeating her story in the same language of vulgarity is the only way she knows how, having never learned Bourgeois’ subtlety. It looks, then, as if Bourgeois’ invitation to collaboration is also an attempt at tutelage.

Nonetheless, the work derives its brilliance from the contrast between the collaborators, where Emin has mapped her own ideas on to Bourgeois’. If you couldn’t tell where Bourgeois ends and Emin begins, you would lose the sense that two individuals are trying to tell their own stories together precisely because their stories are so remarkably similar. In the end, Bourgeois is responsible for the aesthetic brilliance of these works, while Emin brings the emotions in. Combined, these two elements make a provocative show in which Bourgeois, at the end of her illustrious career, hands her mantel to Emin, securing both of their places in art history as experts in autobiographical art.”

Text By Daniel Barnes blogged from here

i love therefore i exist


They are two people by mistake. The night corrects that.-Eduardo Galeano

The purpose of the reflection that follows is simple. Starting with what has been considered, it is a matter of noting the unsettled relationship with one’s own body and with other bodies (particularly with those that are objects of desire) imposed by the passing of time, a perspective that for reasons indicated in the chapter, our protagonists didn’t even have the possibility of considering.

In an initial very general overview of the subject, one thing that would immediately be noticed by someone who was questioning the place and the importance of the body in our lives is the fact that over the years the body loses its role of opportunity for pleasure, an attribute that it possesses almost spontaneously during one’s youth, and, in its place, it increasingly and unstoppably acquires the role of obstacle to the peaceable development of one’s very existence. With the passing of time, the body in effect turns precisely into that which resists us, which agitates us and reminds us of its existence through symptoms such as pain, discomfort or, of course, illness. In his book The Arc of Words, Andrés Trapiello has expressed this thought with a brilliant aphorism: “The body is like style: the less noticed it is, the healthier it is”.

In other terms, if we agree to call age that specific time that speaks through the body, one could affirm that the greatest characteristic of youth with regards to the relationship that it maintains with corporal physicality is precisely its fluidity, its immediacy, its transience. In this sense, a young person is someone who can call on his or her body with the knowledge that the body will rapidly return the call. On the other hand in a mature age everything is slow as Coetzee has pointed out, sometimes even extremely slow. So much so that even words end up acquiring this calm and slow rhythm and they take time to reach our lips. As I understand it, it was what an old friend of his commented to the great Fernando Fernán-Gómez, remembering the old times nostalgically: “Do you remember when we spoke rapidly?”.

Nevertheless, if it were only that, one could reassuringly maintain that in the last resort living is finding an accommodation —even if paradoxically it is an uncomfortable accommodation— in one’s own body. The problem, at least with respect to one of the subjects that our society thinks about with greatest difficulty (in this regard I could give as an example any of the novels of Michel Houellebecq), lies in the fact that in addition to that intra-subjective dimension to which I have just referred and which each one of us has to take on, there also exists a specific and particular material inter-subjectivity one of whose most prominent expressions is shown through desire.

I note that the most forceful commentaries these days tend to judge with an attitude that to my taste is frankly hypocritical —somewhere between indifference and paternalism— specifically the older the bodies involved are. It looks as if the maximum threshold which those of us who have definitely left behind the condition of glorious bodies find correct to accept, is that of tenderness barely covered by a gentle pastel color of residual passion. But maybe the body responds to a logic that is totally missed by those commentaries. Maybe just like the word remembers the soul, desire preserves the memory of the body.

Or maybe it is that the body has its own memory and is capable of seeing in the body that lies next to it what it was, even though now it may no longer be; it rescues from obscurity the shine of the past and it brings it with loving delicacy to the present, redeeming it from the ravages of time, the unmerciful punishment of evolution. Those who believe that bodies accept, are resigned, agree with what is handed to them are wrong. No. The body remembers the fulfillment that the other, with whom it is now melding with, had. The body preserves the memory —its own memory— of what it knew, of what once was its own. I am not referring to a dreamlike state or a fantasy. All those who do not know this experience: the feel of the violent stab of lust on recognizing in this body that has changed so radically, that almost in no way resembles that of the past, its contours lost, the fresh scent that identified it gone, the now faded smoothness of the skin, all of them should avoid smiling disdainfully, plentiful in their ignorance. Only from that memory of body which I have been referring to can such a revealing experience be understood. Those who do know it will not only know with perfect exactitude —with total precision— what I have been talking about. They will also enjoy an additional privilege: they will understand the deep significance of what is happening to them and, to a similar extent, maybe they will be able to reconcile with it, discarding in one fell swoop the sense of shame and blame that this society insists on placing on their consciences for committing the crime of desiring freely.

To summarize, I have never been able to understand why people limit themselves to swear eternal love to each other (though they do so less and less; that I do know). They ought to have the courage in certain circumstances to swear eternal desire. With luck and sensibility they might even be able to keep their promise. Certainly the mystics believed that. And, much closer to us, André Gorz expressed it at the beginning of a long letter that he wrote to his wife soon after finding out that she was ill, with some moving words embedded with sensitivity and tenderness:

You have just had your 82nd birthday. You have shrunk 6 cm, you don’t weigh more than 45 kg and you continue to be beautiful, elegant and desirable. We have lived together for 58 years and I love you more than ever. Once again I feel in my breast a consuming emptiness that is only eased by the warmth of your body next to mine.”

From I love, therefore I exist.
Love and the philosophers.

by Manuel Cruz
Translated by Gabriel Baum


The man sits at one of the
cafes in the hypothetical ghetto. He writes
postcards because breathing prevents him
from writing the poems he’d like to write. I
mean: free poems, no extra tax. His eyes
retain a vision of naked bodies coming slowly
out of the sea. Then all that’s left is
emptiness. “Waiters walking along the beach”
… “The evening light dismantles our sense of
the wind” …

from Antwerp, chapter 2, “The fullness of the wind”, by Roberto Bolaño