nor dead nor drunk nor stuck with know-all Fate

March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

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The text itself has been designed not to communicate, to have the look of text but no meaning – but meaning bubbles up through it nonetheless. The 16th-century printer who came up with it got there by mangling Cicero’s ‘De finibus bonorum et malorum’, an exposition of Stoicism, Epicureanism and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon. Though most of the metaphysical subtlety has been wrung out, sense hasn’t completely: the text is haunted, as Derrida might have put it, by the piece of writing it once was.

It begins:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam hendrerit nisi sed sollicitudin pellentesque. Nunc posuere purus rhoncus pulvinar aliquam. Ut aliquet tristique nisl vitae volutpat. Nulla aliquet porttitor venenatis. Donec a dui et dui fringilla consectetur id nec massa. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed ut dui ut lacus dictum fermentum vel tincidunt neque. Sed sed lacinia lectus. Duis sit amet sodales felis. Duis nunc eros, mattis at dui ac, convallis semper risus. In adipiscing ultrices tellus, in suscipit massa vehicula eu.

Try translating it and you get some striking effects. Of course a straightforward translation isn’t possible – for one thing, ‘lorem’ isn’t a word, it’s a chopped off bit of ‘dolorem’ – but Jaspreet Singh Boparai, a postgraduate at Cambridge, has come up with the following:

Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. Because he will ab hold, unless but through concer, and also of those who resist. Now a pure snore disturbeded sum dust. He ejjnoyes, in order that somewon, also with a severe one, unless of life. May a cusstums offficer somewon nothing of a poison-filled. Until, from a twho, twho chaffinch may also pursue it, not even a lump. But as twho, as a tank; a proverb, yeast; or else they tinscribe nor. Yet yet dewlap bed. Twho may be, let him love fellows of a polecat. Now amour, the, twhose being, drunk, yet twhitch and, an enclosed valley’s always a laugh. In acquisitiendum the Furies are Earth; in (he takes up) a lump vehicles bien.  read more

ART: [unattributed]

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Based on an incredible untrue story

January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Bodie, California is a ghost town. Or rather, it was a ghost town—now it is a historic park and tourist destination. It endures in a state of “arrested decay,” meaning that nothing can be newly constructed onsite, but neither are its standing buildings permitted to deteriorate any further. The state of California has suspended the town in its process of ruination, stabilizing its entropy and halting its decline.  If its decay is forestalled, its grounds rigorously maintained and its aesthetic carefully cultivated, can it be called a ghost town any longer?

Bodie is a former gold rush encampment located on the remote eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, a dozen miles from the Nevada state border. It was hastily populated in the late 19th century and just as hastily deserted in the early 20th century, leaving a husk of a settlement in its wake. The town boasted ten thousand residents in 1880 and none by the early 1940s, after the mines had dried up and a devastating fire had driven the last few residents away. What remained after its abandonment was a captivating ruin—miners’ coats still hanging on hooks in wooden cabins, books still piled up on pupils’ desks in the schoolhouse, beakers and test tubes intact in the pharmacy, dusty coffins in the undertaker’s studio, and an unfinished billiards game in the saloon.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Mac Adams

Lagarde said that, for lack of studies, the IMF had estimated the fiscal multiplier at 1 or below when in reality it proved to be about 1.7

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Hauntology is, (in)famously, a term that appears in Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx (1993) as a cultural extension of his work on the trace. As has been extensively glossed elsewhere the word is a play on ‘ontology’ that exploits its homophonic overlap in French with hanter (haunt). Derrida uses it to critique ‘metaphysical’ notions that associate ‘being’ to self-presence. ‘Being’, insofar as it can be defined – when not erased or cancelled as an unthinkable aporia – is a state of spectrality: there is no ‘archive’ or starting point but a proliferation of echoes and shades. As Brian Baker has described over at (SF) 365, in around 2006 writers like Simon Reynolds used the idea to describe the sensibility of Ghost Box and similar artists who collectively appeared to express a “nostalgia for the future”: a nostalgia for the future as conceived by post-war community projects and the optimism of public information films. Such a future is seen as subject to nostalgia because it represents a forward trajectory posited in the post-1945 period that was ultimately “foreclosed by late capitalism”.

Although this use of the term is not without problems, I’m inclined to adjectivally apply it to A Field in England and offer the film as an example of hauntological cinema rather than neo-psychedelic cinema. This is because the latter term threatens to obfuscate the specificity of the film’s events. Despite the obvious resonance of the mushrooms and the temptation to compare the film with Roger Corman’s The Trip – an acknowledged influence on Wheatley – to term it neo-psychedelic veers towards pastiche. That’s to say, it’s easy but unproductive to shorthand the film as a recapitulation of classic drug movies that adds nothing to the form. Similarly, a persistent strain of English psychedelia (early Pink Floyd, Tolkien revivalism, John Michell) valorised the rural as a space of alterity away from the kind of brutalist projects so lamented by John Barr in Derelict Britain (1969).

It’s precisely the decline and virtual disappearance of these projects: new towns, garden cities, comprehensives and polytechnics that’s investigated and valorised in the hauntology of Ghost Box et al. Coupled with a fascination with the mediating productivity of redundant recording technology the idea is that such spaces, equipment and architecture exude a powerful psychogeographic resonance.

I think it’s very much this kind of territory that Wheatley’s film fits into. Despite its atavism, it offers a perspective on the occultural landscape that’s different to that which we might expect to find in broadly comparable 1960s texts. In the film the filed itself is narratologically foregrounded. It is not, as in Witchfinder General, a backdrop across which acts of violence take place or a screen which, as in the cityscapes of The Trip is seen differently under synthetic stimulation. Instead the field is presented as a deeply affective space.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Mika Kuusela

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