words written in the week of
November 26th to December 2nd
in previous years.
This was 10 years, 14 days ago

1) Suddenly I am reminded of that time I went to the Whitney with R., and realized that, with the slowly sprouting presence of skyscrapers over the past century, the conditions and qualities of light previously seen in Edward Hopper's is perhaps no longer possible; that the specific location, and light, and the sharp polygons of light, and dark colored shadows no longer exist for this scene. Now these polygons are diffused, feathered, by the diffuse refractive facades of taller buildings bouncing light off their being. A painting as a record of luminance, illuminance, no longer possible or available.

This was 12 years, 22 days ago
that is perhaps why (have I talked about this again?) the phrase 'justice' is perhaps the most sinister of all; also unhelpful and sinister phrases are: 'love', 'justice', 'right', and so on. justice presupposes a pre-existing criterion; the question of justice is the application of a morality that defines quality/justness/rightness. when you have a situation in which the systems of moralities themselves are clashing against each other, perhaps you are in the space of pre-justice, which is itself a political space. ranciere: politics is not agreeing whether something is white or not; politics is an initial agreement onto what the word white means in the first place.

I said this a few months ago, when everything was absolutely different, and now here I am, and the world has changed, and it generates something like a chuckle: my world has changed. oh, don't you know? I've lost people, found people, found people, lost people, I've ran in the streets, I've stayed up all night, I've cried all night, I've laughed, and now here I am, and I am this being, this solid core of a being, and that's never changed, wavered sometimes but never vanished, and somehow now I feel that so solidly, and it is strange to feel it sometimes, like I'm pressing outside onto the world from the inside of a clear plastic beach ball, this invisible membrane that I'm always trying to make bigger. push, push, and push. there's nothing but desire, want, everything constituted in the want.

more than a year ago I said:

the more I think and the more I perceive the more I know that everything happens in the moment of desire, everything happens when you desire, it's not just that nothing happens when you don't desire but that there is nothing without desire...

and yes. that is true. yes, I would like to tell myself, with the strange calm that has descended upon me from god-knows-where, I would like to sit crosslegged and tell myself: yes, it's all just desire, want, the entire terrain is just wants, and so you are young, and you are full of energy, and to quote zizek: don't be afraid to really want what you desire.

and so that quote about justice? I disagree with my former self. justice is about desire, from a desire so strong it almost turns into a truth, and it is sinister yes but it's borne out of a bright light pushing hard (and yes this may be dangerous, a voice whispers, pushing hard for whom, on what grounds?), but it's borne out of a desire, a want, a statement that exists out of laws, rules, that is a simply a desire-to-have-this;

that the desire for 'justice' is the elemental component of the creation of groups, societies, communities, social contracts, that there was and never will be anything without the posit-ing force of "hey, listen, this is what I think we should have, and so this is what I want, and we should try our best to have it."

this realization is visceral. almost bodily. bodily, bodily, bodily. and the body says: there is nothing, nothing, nothing but aligned direction, motivated movement.

This was 13 years, 14 days ago

.just too good.

This was 13 years, 17 days ago

what's a ten-year theatre? where does plausibility without buildability lie on my map? what's a structure that functions as a thesis, or a diagram, or a book? what's a solid space that's generated out of thin flexible impermanence, all fred sandback-like?

at one point tonight it really struck me for the first real time that I was here, really struck me that I was in this program, that I was in graduate school, that already nearly a sixth of it had passed by. parts of it trapped like amber in the wee hours of the night, the endless subway commutes, the sleepovers, hazy mornings, cups of coffee. and I think: these are the moments when action happens, when change is enacted; there is no grandiose movement except for the moment of epsilon where you twitch your finger, or the lift of your voice when you get just a little bit more excited about a concept, or a space, or a diagram, or a representation, or a technology, or a vision, or an aesthetic, or an image. and the rest is just to amplify that lift outwards and spread it throughout the space, let it propagate. make that poster, start that group, initiate that conversation.


sense of deepening night. tomorrow's thanksgiving, and I'll eat something with friends and roll around. bonfire bonfire bonfire. maybe I'll teach myself how to forge. I'll melt blue foam with acetone and watch the napalmy drippings slide fattily away, and look at the darkening sky (look, how quickly it slips into night) and be thankful for much, for friends, family, for people, for this city, for the windows of rooms lit with incandescent bulbs viewed from the ground, perspective skewing them into parallelograms.

This was 13 years, 20 days ago

a state of grace, needed. I keep on thinking of hesse's glass bead game, and reading it on the train going across mongolia, lying across the bottom bunk with the window open, thinking about meditation, greenness rushing in. I would like that now. I would like to learn how to meditate in the present, negotiate these forces, play on top of the strings of tug-and-war that are: ideals that create desires, desires that create movement, movement that generates force, force that forms a space. I would like to have this all be present, but in just the right way: not as a deluge or a conflagration or a tempest, but like a friendly rap-a-tap on the door, the urgent mrkgnaos of a cat asking to be fed, a series of smiles, the rapid steady set-of-the-sun at sunset, the cadence of one bike pedal falling over the other.

This was 13 years, 21 days ago

high school: cookies buried in the snow, messages in mailboxes, pinata abductions, balloon trails across boston.


what I keep thinking about, like constantly keep thinking about, is this thing called aesthetics (hello, aesthetics) in architecture, and how it is there, and how it can be there. what is its role? how do I justify its usage? why do I need to justify its usage? an aesthetics for whom? for me, or for you, or for them, for us? is it enough to be awed by aesthetics?

how much does architecture try to be a separate discourse than art (or does it?) how much is it (ostensibly) beholden to the constraints of performance, space, plausibility? performance? what is my resistance to a beautiful drawing? maybe it's because I think that 'beauty', at least within diagrammatic representations of reality, often times correlates with an incomprehensibility, a signified depth-full-ness, a sense of partial blockage. that the conditions within a perspective/plan/section/diagram that generate an aesthetic appreciation of the thing go hand-in-hand with a unreadability. the diagram doubles back on itself and cuts itself short, and at this gesture we are wowed and surprised, maybe. ("what is this? I know it means something, yet I do not know what it means.")

and why am I not okay with that? why does this bother me? is it some kind of 'honesty' within the discourse that I'm looking for -- that diagrams reveal themselves as diagrams, and representations emote as representations? any of these beautiful diagrams, these beautiful plans and sections would be okay within the discourse of art, I think, at least for me, I would be utterly okay with them. my eyes would change, I'd shift in my seat, something would click.

and maybe I should just go and push, be hazy, be opaque, be absolutely cryptic. I could do that right now, line up a series of words and take delight in the impenetrability of sentences, of meanings that carry valence for me only and carry a valence of valence for others, a signified signification, a sense that this means something. but I'd rather not, because it's uninteresting to me, because there's only delight in the performance of communication (or not).

or what about this:
really, the vertigo or the sense of spatial rearrangement that happens when you enter into a radically different space, a space of physical alterity, is this kind of vertigo, a reading-of-the-space that then tumbles into an acceptance of the space. if a body-oriented, phenomenological perception of a space can be constituted as a kind of 'reading', then you walk in and see this as something to be read, and then you read, read read read read read, and then you start to understand, maybe. at some point there is a communication that happens here, between the form of your own fleshy body and the solid (or not) walls of the space you happen to be in, a rich foamy luscious discussion emerges out of this discussion. now you're in this space, and now you're reading.


layers of plastic sheeting tumbling down from underneath a metal roller door

This was 16 years, 14 days ago

I've been thinking about Infinite Jest and Southland Tales often, but less about the movie and more of the general mood it evokes. At the intersections of their venn diagrams lies a certain je ne sais quoi, atmosphere, attitude, feeling, touch, like a casual twist of the head seen far away on a street. No, it's less of an atmosphere and more of an remnant of invocation, like the smell of stale coffee lingering in a room where someone just smoked, or the faint smell of burnt-ness in a pot of overcooked rice. Delillo and Pynchon share this sense as well.. sprawling metropolis, deliberately fragmented narrative..

The other day someone asked me if I wanted to be an artist. I replied, "yeah, I guess? at the time. In actuality, however, I would like have replied and said "yeah?" with the end of the word -ah? rising upwards and upwards into the sky without end, like tail recursion unkempt and infinite. Some sort of answer=question=I don't the fuck know. What does that word mean? I feel like I haven't heard it said out loud in a long time.

I feel strange lately, like I'm unable to distinguish between exterior and interior, inside and outside. My eyes are turning transparent. I am becoming porous.

This was 16 years, 15 days ago

Incredible! There's so much stuff going on this weekend....

Asdf Semicolon - Terry Riley's In C, Darmstadt
Thursday, Nov 29, 8pm ($5)
Galapagos Art Space, 70 N. 6th St, Brooklyn
"Darmstadt, the Classics of the Avant-Garde performance series at Galapagos, celebrates its third anniversary with a 2nd annual performance of Terry Riley's seminal classic "In C". Join hosts Zach Layton and Nick Hallett for DARMSTADT "Classics of the Avant Garde" as we observe our now-annual tradition of performing In C along with an "all-star" ensemble of instrumentalists, singers, electronic sound artists, and visualists. This is by no means a "traditional" interpretation of Terry Riley's 1964 work."

CMC Fün Night
Thursday, Nov 29, 8pm
3rd floor, Prentis Hall, 632 West 125th St
"The Computer Music Center at Columbia University presents Fün Night, our almost monthly concert series of live electronic music. This month we present the multichannel improvisations of Richard Garet, Brooklyn's electro-acoustic improv trio We are Building, and back from his recent northeast tour, New Jersey's Seth Cluett."

Prime Produce and Performance Lab Series Joint Launch Party
9pm - 6am, Thurs Nov 29 - Fri Nov 30, $10 cover
LAUNCH PARTY for Performance Lab Series with Prime Produce
Featuring Anton Glamb & DJ Krunk Pony
"Performance Lab Series launches this fall, aiming to take performance beyond medium specificity and towards an open multimedia strategy for at making. Prime Produce is a new york based npo that produces innovative solutions for the nonprofit sector."

Blip Festival
Thursday - Sunday, Nov 29 - Dec 2, noon - 7pmish, $10
Eyebeam, 540 w21th st
"Manhattan art space The Tank and New York artist collective 8bitpeoples announce the Blip Festival 2007, a four-day music and multimedia event. Focusing on the modern artistic exploration of primitive video game and home computer technology and featuring 40 musicians and visualists from around the world, the Blip Festival showcases artists adopting and repurposing familiar but forgotten hardware - such as the Commodore 64, the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Atari game console and home computer line, and the Nintendo Game Boy - exploring their untapped potential and unique aesthetic character."

Friday, Nov 30, 8 - 11pm, $5
LEMURplex, 461 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn
"Richard Lainhart will be performing with incredible rig of vintage analog electronic gear, Moldover with customized software and computer controllers, and Rui Pereira using his interface Looop-r."Never been - always meant to.

Los Campesinos!
Friday, Nov 30, 8pm
The band that reminds me of DFW's Infinite Jest. Mmmm.

New Museum!
Saturday, Dec 1
235 Bower
The New Museum opens! They're offering 30 hours of continuous free admission! Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries is having a solo exhibition!!

B I T M A P: as good as new
Fri/Sat/Sundays 1 - 6pm, until Feb 3, 2008
VertexList gallery, 138 Bayard St., Brooklyn
"B I T M A P is a group exhibition celebrating the history of the digital image, the aesthetics of early computing and early video-game consoles. Expect pixels, old monitors and 8 bit sounds!"

This was 16 years, 17 days ago

On watching Southland Tales:

The more I think about it, the more I like it. I know that this director knows what he's doing, and what he's making.

It views like a movie version of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, in that it shares the same qualities: sprawling, sci-fi, immersive, detail-oriented, thematic, deliberately fragmented, and especially American. Are David Foster Wallace and Richard Kelly friends? If not, they should be, but they probably are already. There are these issues that they both talk about: popular Entertainment, media, drugs, politics and revolutionaries: The Infinite Jest/samizdat -- the videotape that makes its viewer a mindless drooling addict to itself, versus Liquid Karma -- ocean distilled power, that also is a drug. The Quebec wheelchair revolutionaries and the Neo-Marxists, and Krysta Now versus James Incandenza. These are not parallels, but counterpoints, alternate interpretations of the same topics.

Scattered around the movie are a lot of direct visual references to Barbara Kruger and Shepard Fairey, both artists in between graphic design and 'high' art, aesthetics and art. I can't help but see this as stating Kelly's direct intention in creating the movie as a piece of entertainment that ultimately functions as art. He attempts (and succeeds) to do this in three main ways: first, through a myriad of references that are less part of an interesting plot and more a device to pry the film 'upwards' towards high art, just by creating a reference. The blimp is called Jenny von Westphalen (the name of Marx's wife); a policeman utters "Flow, my tears" as a Philip K. Dick reference, et cetera. Secondly, he teeters on the line between satire and non-satire throughout the entire film. Like Infinite Jest, however, you get the sense that Kelly's satirical portrayal is with soul and care; it's an America he loves, not detests, and therefore the America that he wants to send a message to.

Thirdly, and really, Kelly really likes this pairing of 'high' and 'low', aesthetics and concept, and entertainment and art. Again, like James Incandenza, who creates the ultimate art film (the Entertainment), and like David Foster Wallace, he seems to genuinely believe in a possible intersection between the two. Case in point: the cast is comprised of a television sci-fi show star, former pro wrestler, semiporn-teen-movie star, and pop singer. They play the respective characters of an entrepreneurial porn star, a movie star, a cop, and a drug-dealing soldier, and the soldier even breaks out into song, more in character as Justin Timberlake than Timberlake's character. No doubt Kelly thought about this when casting; the Rock is billed as Dwayne Johnson, but his character's name is Boxer Santaros -- certainly more than a coincidental reference. These actors are real-life entertainers who work in the context of popular entertainment, yet they play characters in a film that works as an art film. (I even thought that the dance-and-song sequence almost felt like a Matthew Barney piece, for a split second.)

As a LA Times reviewer points out, Kelly seems to have the Marx quote in mind: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." Indeed, we have the movie's plotline eclipsing a screenplay written by Boxer Santaros in the movie; there are two histories, nested within each other (one a smaller version than the other), both rapidly running their course, converging at an intersecting point, like some sort of Zeno's paradox. Does Santaros's script also contain a character that writes a screenplay that seems to predict the end of the world, and does recursion happen inwards? Or is it that it's the other way around -- the recursion extends outwards, and Richard Kelly is telling us that his script for Southland Tales is predicting the world's end?

Either way, like Kruger, Kelly uses his cast of popular entertainers, and his storyline set in Los Angeles, to create something more than an entertaining visual image. The ending scene features a denouement in front of a giant American flag, with the incarnations of politics, sexuality/romance, and entertainment reconciling their differences, accepting what is to come. The major plot point in the storyline serves as a symbolic statement: Richard Kelly tells us, clearly and literally, to confront ourselves. There are symbols and hidden meanings in this movie (indeed, Kelly called Southland Tales a "puzzle" in an interview), and they are sometimes stupendously direct, but this all is countered by the free-wheeling, satiric/sensitively genuine, half-comedy mood of the movie. While the entire movie wavers between satire and sincerity, its greatest delight is that Kelly's message and statement (whatever it may actually be) is lost in the over-the-top CGI eye-candy and comedic performances by comedic actors. It's fitting and almost even necessary that a movie with such statements would bury them under entertainment; this is certainly Kelly's point. After all, Southland Tales is a piece of entertainment; I walked through a sea of neon advertisements in Times Square to see this movie; I paid $11, so that my friends and I could be entertained.

Southland Tales is entertainment and depicts entertainment, but it also tries to be like "real life" (and knows this). The start of the movie features a mock-up of a computer-istic program (called the Doomsday Scenario Interface), informing us about the history of this fictional world in a mock-documentary fashion. (The movie is even divided into sections, and titled ambiguously like DVD chapters.) Nana Mae Frost, the director of the US-IDENT surveillance agency, does her job by watching a handful of news screens and video feeds at the same time. As viewers, we gain important plot information in parts of the movie by doing the same, as the camera shows us four or six television screens at a time. And of course, this is how we gain our information in real life, by drawing from several simultaneous sources: conversations with different people, television news shows, trashy talk shows, a multitude of websites on the internet. Boxer Santaros's screenplay emphasizes the credibility of Richard Kelly's screenplay in predicting our future; similarly, Nana Mae Frost's surveillance screens takes our method of imbibing information, and gently fictionalizes it, imposes a gentle order onto it, just enough to facilitate our enjoyment as viewers. Frost watches and understands her world the same way that we watch and understand the movie, and the movie is watched and understood the same way that we watch and understand our world. This is Kelly winking at us again, whispering: this movie is our world.