édouard glissant on identity (1995)

glissant

 

“We will change nothing in the situation of the peoples of the world, if we do not change the belief that identity must be rooted, fixed, exclusive, and unaccommodating.”

– Édouard Glissant, in Introduction à une poétique du divers (Paris: Gallimard, 1996, p. 66)

fyodor dostoevsky on lying

fyodor-dostoevsky_6

“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognise truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying–to others and to yourself.”

— Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), from The Brothers Karamazov

the window – 29 january 2017

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Theatre Arts Admin Collective
Methodist Church Hall, Cnr Milton Road & Wesley Street, Observatory, Cape Town
Doors open 19:30
R50

20:00 – Main Hall – Lliezel Ellick / Roxanne De Freitas / Rosemary Lombard (vocal performance piece)
20:25 – Main Hall – Louise Westerhout /Keenan Chas Ahrends / Nicola van Straaten (word/sound/dance)
20:40 – Minor Hall – Inka Kendzia / Jessica Smith (video and live performance)
BREAK
21:00 – Main Hall – Rhea Dally / Justin Allart (sound/noise performance)
21:20 – Main Hall – Lucy Hazard / Puleng Lange-Stewart / Hannah Walton (video with spoken word performance)
21:35 – Minor Hall – FAITH XVII (video installation)
BREAK
22:00 – Main Hall – Chantelle Gray (performance piece)
22:20 – Main Hall – Debra Pryor / Mark O’ Donovan (performance piece)
Continuous – Meeting Room 1 – Sydelle Willow Smith (photography)
Continuous – Meeting Room 2 – Miranda Moss (installation)
___
THE WINDOW

A window I. A partition. A voyeuristic interface between spaces. A civilizing constraint. Gazing. At the window, through the window, beyond the window. The voyeuristic gaze: preconditioned values, assumptions, desire. The civilizing gaze: conditioning values, assumptions, desire. Gazing. An act of memorializing (it suggests spectatorship, a fetishistic surveying; it suggests participation: in memory, in meaning-making).

A window II. A framing device. Commonly used in art and cinema. To exaggerate part or parts of a figure (forms, tones, shapes, shadows). To recompose an image. To slice up the world into smaller, more wieldy frames. To elicit metaphorical interpretation. (The audience is prompted to step into a world of windows.)

A window III. The window. A composing stratagem. (A perspectival arrangement.) A voyeuristic interface between artist and audience. An invitation to interact with the unknown, the unknowable, the known known. It is not a linear perspective of space, but a cutting up of, slicing into, carving through. (It suggests the existence of another, entirely otherworldly, place.)
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“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”
– Gilles Deleuze

moment of tangency: a glimpse of what might have been (2017/1913)

The 18 January 2017 word from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

This resonated for me with a sentiment Rainer Maria Rilke captured in a poem more than a century earlier, in 1913:

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

against purity politics

‘“If we want a world with less suffering and more flourishing, it would be useful to perceive complexity and complicity as the constitutive situation of our lives, rather than as things we should avoid,” she writes. We can’t help that we’ve inherited these problems—a warming Earth, institutional racism, increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacteria—nor can we help sometimes perpetuating them. Better to stop pretending at purity, own up to our imperfections, and try to create a morality that works with them.’

READ THIS ARTICLE.

the hauntology of liz mitchell (a long way from home)

This video is one of the things I treasure most on Youtube – it gives me chills every time. It’s a recording of Liz Mitchell of Boney M performing “Motherless Child” live with the Les Humphries singers in the early 1970s. It’s incredible how Mitchell seems to be singing about her removal from herself via recording, its simulacral persistence beyond her existence in that moment… And the wavering picture also speaks of analog decay, arrested and mummified by its digitisation from analog video and (again lossy) upload to Youtube. And then, of course, the song’s origins in slavery and dispossession. So many degrees of loss, so many layers of noise.

naomi shihab nye – kindness (1995)

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

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Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and Nye spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. Read more here.

pain is… (stephen dwoskin, 1997)

Pain Is…’ (1997) unflinchingly examines the role of pain within society. Attempting “to make an image of pain”, Dwoskin’s film is practical and philosophical.

“Pain Is… combines interviews, archival footage and Dwoskin’s thoughtful voice-over to arrive at a scrupulous anatomy of pain (encompassing disease, dental work and sadomasochism). The interviews range from those who suffer from chronic pain to those who find pleasure in wilfully inflicting pain.” (Dennis Lim, director of Film at Lincoln Centre NYC)

cosey fanni tutti on georges bataille (1984)

coseyA TEST IN TRUST

“For a brief moment my belief in myself is yours to take and assimilate as you will. My innermost thoughts and private ideals are laid before you in trust.”

I still believe we are sensitive. To hide behind defensive faces for so long has buried our souls. The need to communicate feelings and express experience is, for some, becoming more difficult. Suppressing the natural instincts leads to eventual emotional breakdown. Our only true way to communicate is through our emotions. I only give you what I believe, what I know and what I live. We can all offer something to one another.

I have always thought of Georges Bataille’s work as being very private, yet he shared it with us all, somehow retaining that private feeling that only you had read this piece. Not sensationalist when it could so easily have been. He has always left me with a feeling of warmth and reassurance that life is as complicated as I began to believe but still worth living to the full, experiencing more and more as you grow older, not less and less. A fine writer to me, he communicates guiltless fantasy.

— Cosey Fanni Tutti for Georges Bataille Festival, Violent Silence,1984.

charles mingus – all the things you could be by now if sigmund freud’s wife was your mother (1961)

From the record Charles Mingus Presents C.M., recorded 20 October, 1960at ‎Nola Penthouse Sound Studios, New York, with the wild Eric Dolphy on alto/bass clarinet, Danny Richmond on drums, and Ted Curson on trumpet.

brian kane – sound unseen – acousmatic sound in theory and practice (2016)

sound unseenSound coming from outside the field of vision, from somewhere beyond, holds a privileged place in the Western imagination. When separated from their source, sounds seem to manifest transcendent realms, divine powers, or supernatural forces. According to legend, the philosopher Pythagoras lectured to his disciples from behind a veil, and two thousand years later, in the age of absolute music, listeners were similarly fascinated with disembodied sounds, employing various techniques to isolate sounds from their sources. With recording and radio came spatial and temporal separation of sounds from sources, and new ways of composing music.

Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice explores the phenomenon of acousmatic sound. An unusual and neglected word, “acousmatic” was first introduced into modern parlance in the mid-1960s by avant garde composer of musique concrète Pierre Schaeffer to describe the experience of hearing a sound without seeing its cause. Working through, and often against, Schaeffer’s ideas, Brian Kane presents a powerful argument for the central yet overlooked role of acousmatic sound in music aesthetics, sound studies, literature, philosophy and the history of the senses. Kane investigates acousmatic sound from a number of methodological perspectives — historical, cultural, philosophical and musical — and provides a framework that makes sense of the many surprising and paradoxical ways that unseen sound has been understood. Finely detailed and thoroughly researched, Sound Unseen pursues unseen sounds through a stunning array of cases — from Bayreuth to Kafka’s “Burrow,” Apollinaire to Zizek, music and metaphysics to architecture and automata, and from Pythagoras to the present-to offer the definitive account of acousmatic sound in theory and practice.

The first major study in English of Pierre Schaeffer’s theory of “acousmatics,” Sound Unseen is an essential text for scholars of philosophy of music, electronic music, sound studies, and the history of the senses.

You can get it here if you have $27.95.

rest in peace, pauline oliveros

2016, haven’t you taken enough from us for one year now?

Here is a clip of this brilliant composer and experimental sound artist speaking about the difference between hearing and listening last year:

“In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place. We cannot turn off our ears–the ears are always taking in sound information–but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening, is how you develop a culture, and how a community of people listens, is what creates their culture.”

tibetan book of the dead (1994)

Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this two-part documentary series explores ancient teachings on death and dying and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to Tibetan philosophy. Tibetan Buddhists believe that after a person dies, they enter a state of “bardo” for 49 days until a rebirth.

Program 1, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life documents the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, tracing the book’s acceptance and use in Europe and North America. Included is remarkable footage of the rites and liturgies surrounding and following the death of a Ladakhi elder as well as the views of the Dalai Lama on life and death. 

Program 2, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation observes an old Buddhist lama and a 13-year-old novice monk as they guide a deceased person into the afterlife. The passage of the soul is visualized with animation blended into actual location shooting. 

This information comes from the website of the National Film Board of Canada. NFB produced the documentary in co-operation with NHK Japan and Mistral Film of France.

john berger – ways of seeing (1972)

I cannot overstate how immensely John Berger contributed to awakening a critical understanding of Western cultural aesthetics and ethics in me. I feel deeply indebted. Here’s a wonderful recent interview with the man.

On this, his 90th birthday, I thought it fitting to look back on this BAFTA award-winning TV series from 1972, which rapidly became regarded as one of the most influential art programmes ever made. Ways of Seeing is a four-part BBC series of 30-minute films, created chiefly by writer John Berger and producer Mike Dibb. Berger’s scripts were adapted into a book of the same name.

The series and book critique traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images. The series is partially a response to Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series, which represents a more traditionalist view of the Western artistic and cultural canon.

In the first programme, Berger examines the impact of photography on our appreciation of art from the past.

The second programme deals with the portrayal of the female nude, an important part of the tradition of European art. Berger examines these paintings and asks whether they celebrate women as they really are or only as men would like them to be.

With the invention of oil paint around 1400, painters were able to portray people and objects with an unprecedented degree of realism, and painting became the ideal way to celebrate private possessions. In this programme, John Berger questions the value we place on that tradition.

In this programme, Berger analyses the images of advertising and publicity and shows how they relate to the tradition of oil painting – in moods, relationships and poses.

More John Berger on Fleurmach:

John Berger on being born a woman

John Berger – “Les Petites Chaises”

What I rail against, impotently, and wish I could embrace

on the politics and approaches to shutdown

“What might begin as a space whose protest action aims to form humanising culture where Black disabled, trans, queer, and womxn’s bodies are safe and heard, is very quickly appropriated by the anti-blackness of up high – a force that polarises the complexity of oppression and attempts to direct and contain action into the physically violent (inherently colonialist) form that it understands best. In this sense, the state functions to direct the protest politik into the Afropessimistic voice, one that we know disinherits those who do not immediately come to mind when we say the word “black” (ie: black disabled, trans, queer, and womxn’s bodies) and one that abandons the pursuit of humanity, in favour of unhealthy martyrdom and recklessness.

“So apart from the predictability of state-sanctioned physical violence in the form of stun grenades, teargas, rubber bullets, arrest and jail time, it is important to understand this state provocation as incredibly strategic in the way it seeks to awaken retaliation in the same form. It begs us for physical retaliation – the kind that re-confirms black people as bodies, the kind that forces the “you can’t kill us all” mantra – basically the kind of protest that black able-bodied cis-heterosexual men happen to be good at leading and controlling, the kind that does not challenge structural power, but fulfils the fantasy of Fanon’s black man in replacing his white master.”

Read this discussion.

for whom the bell curve tolls

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

– John “I’m done” Donne. Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, 1624