words written in the week of
December 8th to December 14th
in previous years.
This was 1 year, 5 months, 1 day ago

잠깐 와서 잠깐 가다.


묘한 기분이 가습에서 올라와서 넘친다. pouring too much wine into a laughing friend's cup. laughter, the joy of sadness, of the way things went, of the drama that we play out, you know, you know, you know?


in the corner of a 포장마차 Y and I sit together; we have agreed that we were married in a past life, so here we are, a strange companionship knitting us together. we are together and we are not.

we compare notes. how have you been? how have you been? what happened to you, in all of this time? how did the world pass for you, too?

I try to grasp this feeling with cupped hands, gently.

a quiet in the winter that reveals everything that is present. in the NYC it feels like this kind of soulfulness finally emerges when things become quiet. in Seoul, it feels like it's always present, a city born around and through this acknowledgment of life's deep fears. you know? the things we fear are going to happen, you know? I'm going to be full of regret, you know? and sadness?

it's in this winter night that I can realize. it took thirty five years for this feeling to fully emerge for one of the first times of my life. I am going to miss my parents when they are gone, I am certain, I know, desperately, achingly, sobbingly, I will miss friends, former friends, lovers, loved ones, I will, and I also know that life will then continue on, strangely enough. you know?

in this 포장마차 the world moves on with all of its splendor and squalor. 아주머니 chopping in a corner, minding the cooking, half-listening. steam billowing from a pot, the dirty gas heater doing its thing 열심히, a gaggle of other guests also finding shelter from the winter in this thin plastic bubble, this archetypical space, sitting on plastic chairs leaning on plastic tables drinking out of paper cups with a bottle of soju, having the most important conversations of our lives. somehow fitting, or even helpful, squalor necessary for the splendor, the sacred found precisely in the profane.


정말 특별하더라고요-

그래, 정말 특별한 분위기지.


a few months ago P asked me why I had to travel all the way to that thing in the desert to have a sacred moment, why I couldn't just do it here, why, why.

I didn't know how to answer because I didn't know how to explain what it means to not know how to explain, because I didn't know that which I was touching, that thing in the horizon, the taste in my mouth when I saw the sky,

(perhaps probably because I understood, intuitively, that no explanation would have fulfilled, that their question held a determinism and an end within it already, not within the bounds of the question but in the asking of it. a kind of meta-rhetorical question, a question asked where the answer is asked, not to make a persuasive effect, but a response to indicate the depth of a closure, a withdrawal, ears turned away)

and naively was ashamed of finding the sacred in the profane, or even calling anything profane or sacred in the first place, and didn't know how to say that it's a flawed place, and that's the point. the word 'pilgrimage' elided my mouth because it felt, well, silly, to find it in the profane and problematic, the easily misunderstood and judged.

but of course now I see that that's the point, the sacred becomes possible there because it's so impure, so immanent, so present, so imbricated, it's a heap, a mishmash, a whole conglomeration, a confederancy of dunces, all sorts of people, and yes that is it and yes that is what we are, this roilicking tumbling world, there's me and you and us all in it, and we play out the psychodrama of our lives, casting ourselves in familiar roles, playing them out. in the desert I find the profane, in the desert I find a polluted earth that's getting worse, in the desert I find a strange society I usually don't belong to, but people whom I find beautiful, and thus I find a human condition and the sacred

(they could speak, but could they listen, I should have asked myself; could they listen to that sound)


Y listens to my story, oh, the story, what a story. and when she speaks she asks piercing questions, 꿰뚫어서 보이는, statements that grasp the heart of the matter and leave me gasping with sudden perspective. I can't stop grinning, can't stop laughing out loud at the absurd accuracy of what she perceives. the story is about: how people felt love, how people felt fear because they wanted love, and what happens when we move with fear because we fear losing love. an age-old story, a sad one. but somehow, and maybe it's because we speak in korean, maybe because english cannot hold this energy, or maybe it's because the half of me that is korean starts unfolding and blossoming out, I am able to feel this laughter, this joy at sorrow, underneath it all a deep humor in the workings of how we relate to each other, Y's acceptance of sorrow and death and grief grounding me in the light of life, and so there I am, awed and moved by her sense of presentness and spirit and the space of exchange that we happen to be in, spending hours and hours and hours on that winter night, telling our stories to each other.


I am growing, mom, dad, I am growing, I am changing, I am morphing, I can feel it, I am getting older, I am finding perspective, I am listening to my body, I am getting sadder and happier, I can start to see these arcs of sorrow and love.

I try on a jacket my dad wore in the 90s ("입어봐", mom eggs on, holding it open with outstretched arms, as Q observes, relaxed), and imagine large rimmed glasses, imagine an older Seoul in the winter that I can only vaguely remember, a 김포공항 era, angular cars, shrill horns, street carts, wisps of white smoke, hard branches, a tofuseller's melancholic yodel,and people grasping onto their own cold bodies and hurrying from destination to destination, from place to place. What does it mean to gather together, to do it together, to be together? 같이, 같이, 같이.

ah, I realize. I am starting to miss my parents before they are gone. (perhaps, who they have been)


you who will read this, you, you, know: know that all there is is people, because we were born of people and relations, literally, born into families that worked and didn't, that loved and hurt us (love and fear), and that then we get shaped as beings who fear fear and love love, but also become familiarly close to fear and far from love, and that these formations fling us into orbits that shape us, that make us into explorers, or seekers, take us towards places in the hopes that we might find what we have been looking for all our lives, not knowing that it was always at home, within us already, the bildungsroman or the hero's journey needs no conquest, just us returning to ourselves, me returning to me. is this not the case? when is the season of being loved, when is the season for being hurt, when is the season of being assuredly angry, when is the season for simmering resentment, when is the season of anguished leaving, when is the season of exuberant freedom, when is the season of complicated struggle, when is the season of surprising perspective, when is the season of reluctant realization, when is the season of tender reflection, when is the when is the season of bittersweet regret, when is the season of wistful acknowledgment, when is the season of acceptance, when is the season of joyous beauty, when is the season of sincere gratitude, when is the season of love? will we not enter into these cycles? will this not be how it works, again and again and again?

and yes yes yes, there will always be the fumbling and desperate attempts to pin a name onto this, to hold it down, to force a guarantee, to kill a living thing in the name of certainty, to anesthetize the relationships between us in the name of safety, when life is this living crackling moving thing, life is alive with a mind of its own, and we make deep mistakes and hurt each other, and then what? and we talk about it, hopefully, '대놓고 얘기하자' 라고, just entering forward. but you can only do this if you have a shared language, or if the other person is already present, or if we are ready to talk about about the ties that hold us to this net, this thing we're born out of, if we are stepping into the same space, see how we're looking out onto perspectives similar and different, if we are able to sit in quietude and savor the view from here, and how it affects both of us, both of us who have a body, and ears that hear each other, and a mouth and a belly that gets hungry, and a skin that wants to feel each other, and a nose that finds longing, and eyes that fall in love, both of us who have a body, and were born from people, born inside of a person who tried to care for us, the operative word: tried, and failed, and still tried. the eternal story, the psychodrama of family and of self that we carry with us throughout our lives.

and so! yes, I can be scared and fearful, scared of love, afraid of fear, but that can be the 솥뚜껑 to a 자라, because it's not that 'all I have is my heart, but that with my heart I have it all, and that is so much, to move with 진심, 진심, a true heart and true integrity and honesty with myself and trying the best I can, that is so, so, so, much, so much, abundance, thriving, enough, bountiful, you know?

you know?


so. what matters? this does, this work, these relations, and whatever supports them, whatever allows them to exist. I know with yearning that I want to make a life, a way of being, a practice of living. I am here, already, thinking about this, wondering what it means to live, to be alive, 나의 진심을 찾아가는 길 위에서, 아니, 진심을 따라가서 길을 만드는 과정 중에서, finding it. I want to study this, or follow it, find others on their path, to be in a community of practice.


이번 겨울, winter in seoul, oh winter in seoul, thank you, thank you for being what you were, steam from our mouths, our shivering bodies, soft technological chimes on the subway, a dark dark night sky, the glow of a neighborhood street, the warmth of a life, the soulfuless of being suffusing through everything. it took me this long to really realize, to really see what I somehow felt, to really see you, a city that is, underneath it all, always deeply present to the question of what it means to be alive, hurt, sorrowful, pained, yearning, surviving, changing, trying, growing, loving, living.

This was 11 years, 4 months, 26 days ago

it has been a while, it feels.

I wonder if anybody comes here.

sometimes I miss boston in this fervent way, this pulling-at-heart strings way, this the-world-is-changing way, this what-will-things-hold kind of way. I am fifteen and there's snow on the ground, here's harvard square, there's la burdicks, a sandwich shop, the tiny congregation of people that used to be the epicenter of not-quite-my-being but my being pressing forward, leaning against the outer edges of my defined self. there is that tiny curiosity shop. there is the smell of progress and work and unattainable mysteries and relentless curiosity and running, running, running, moving, going to a somewhere that I do not know where it is, negatives found in books, snow nights, all of these mystical beings, things stickier, deeper. etc. etc. everything2. websites that change your world. the possibility of going to guyana. meetings in coffeeshops where your heart is in your mouth and you dream of things impossible, not-done-yet, far away. still relentlessly internalized and solipsistic. ideally, staying that way.

I realize that what is at the heart of things right now, for me, is a kind of worry, a kind of de-centering, a kind of movement-away-from-my-being. very uncharacteristic of me to be not me (or very uncharacteristic for anyone to be not-anyone.)

in the end, the answers are always the same. breathe in. go forth and move. read. do things. do things that are not the things that are things that you should do but that interest you immensely nontheless. slowly realize that the things that are immensely interesting are, in fact, the thing you should be doing. do that instead. over long periods of time, the trajectories of your being draw out great circles, slow arcs curving over glaciers, tundra, prairies, jungles, mountain ranges, driven really by the integration of small movements built up. seek the things that you have always sought, namely, the unconscious modification of the things you seek.

and now the other things that you must do: be relentless a little, be ruthless a little, be bossy a little, but mostly towards yourself, because you trust yourself, because you know what you are capable of, because you can rely on yourself, and so go forth and exert your being onto the world. you know what's right for you, yet you also don't, and the things that appear to be the right thing may not be, and vice versa, so perhaps the only point at which one knows that one is doing the right thing is when one is wondering whether one is doing the right thing, the cliche of 'thought itself as a kind of positive action' really having come true.

in the end you are just you, you, so delight in it.

This was 12 years, 5 months, 2 days ago

If you made a diagram of this accident, it would be something like a great mass of resources and desires aggregating around the world and congregating, millions of tendrils condensing into a single point, and then suddenly being scattered out into nothing. desire and history and form and legacy and materials and factories and workers and investors and drivers and media and everything whirling together into a vortex of complex interconnected relationships, then suddenly rendered meaningless.

can you imagine? all of this human effort wasted away because the object of desire wasn't the physical material mass of metal, wasn't information, or politics, or a series of networked relationships, or an emotional response, or a narrative -- but because the object of desire was an image generated by the physical form?

and so those red crushed ferraris are still physically there, the physical objects still present, no real chemical change having happened, really, it's not like sugar melting but more like sugar being spilled. spilled ferraris that are no longer ferraris, non-ferrari, non-ferraris.

but it doesn't matter; this is primal, the optical image, originating from the physical form: not the physical object itself but the specific arrangement, state, composition, formation, and temporality of that specific physical object itself;

Q: so lessons? lessons? what lessons? A: sometimes things are dashed away, sometimes they just disappear into the ether, sometimes a single gesture just changes everything and renders them massively non-itself, fundamental ontological shifts, sometimes it's a little bit more subtle then that, sometimes these changes ripple out from underneath gradually, like in a cycle, coming over and over again in waves that gradually decrease but still persist, eventually, until 'coping' isn't a destination to be desired because you imagine it to be this ideal state of 'no-longer-thinking-about', but because eventually the low slow waves that keep on coming become quiet enough, almost like background noise, blending constantly, so that one day you will stop and listen and realize that the thoughts you are thinking are there, just very faint; and one day in the future, years past, you will think back and remember and smile with utter sincerity and delight at that sincerely sincere person you were then, how the world ebbed and flowed because you were designing, positing positives, drawing lines to carve out the world.

This was 13 years, 4 months, 28 days ago

done with studio.

postmortem to come, but my crit went wonderfully surprisingly well. everything seemed to cohere together in the last twelve hours, and I could visualize the converging lines of my project coming towards a singular point of further coherence, solidity, and resolution that would be days, weeks, months away.


earlier today I fell asleep on the subway, again, and missed the express train, went all the way local downtown. later, at 11:55pm, the 2/3 stopped running to brooklyn, and so I got off at south ferry, walked to the 4/5 bowling green stop. and for a moment there, I walked up from the underground into the cold air, statue of liberty's somewhere in the distance, around me are tall buildings with lush lobbies with marble floors used to the click of $300 shoes, there's a strangely opulent mcdonalds and a few yellow taxis here and there idling for someone working late. just over there is sixteen beaver, I think, and smile. strangely abandoned streets, as always, and suddenly it feels as if the characters of the buildings themselves become more human, that the dialogue here is between building and building, not person and person, that I'm witnessing some sort of secret whispering discussion between the buildings simply because these streets are so eerily empty. when are streets this empty? or rather, what other streets in the city feel so empty as the streets in the financial district, at night?

and then I dip back into the subway and wait for the train, out, up, over, down, and in, like a little stitch I've made in the fabric of the city, poke the needle out one side, over, and down back other other side, a little taste of lower manhattan.

and then later I get out and I bike home and it's freezing and it's really freezing and I shiver and hum to myself and I jump off the bike when I'm there and open the gate and lean the bike against a door and take off my gloves and jacket and undo my hair. casper mrkgnaos from upstairs, and suddenly I'm home.



buildings, buildings, buildings. I keep on thinking about my project. to what extent did it go over so well because of the presence of the core metaphor? there is the building that best lives in flat representation, the building that best lives in imagery, the building that best lives in experience, the building that best lives in a hope for decay, and the building that best lives in hearsay, anecdote, exchange. "hey, I heard about this building that..." and there are some buildings that live as a haunting image, like the purplish glow-trails you get in your vision when you stare at a bright light for too long, and I am acutely aware with which the extent that metaphors, and diagrams, and images can generate these glow-trails, these central images. this is the building that you will hear described, and then you will go home, unable to shake the idea from your head, and you will dream about it until you fall asleep from exhaustion. and then it will appear in your head, years later. this building should never be built, but should only haunt you, and it's one kind of architecture that is valuable, but only one kind.

This was 13 years, 5 months ago

one last all-nighter. mbv on repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

This was 14 years, 4 months, 24 days ago

holy shit holy shit forgot that I had written this, more than five years ago, when I went to india. oh oh oh oh oh.

July 18, 2004, 6:41pm.


cricket and puppies and oreo the dog.

sharp car horns and child beggars and stares on the street.

1500 languages and cows in the street and the rawness of a motorcycle ride and a ceiling fan that squeaks and having the power blink in and out at night and dreaming of hamsters drinking gatorade. Drinking a five-rupee ten-cent rupee and a sixty-cent latte or eating a samosa after playing soccer and eating a masala dosa at an Indian fast food restaurant. Playing guitar in a Christian church and feeling a dog one month old gnaw (softly) on my wrist and later hearing it whimper outside; painfully avoiding child beggars who will helplessly bite at your dying conscience. Giving money away as heavy coins and later realizing that you gave four cents away when you could have just as well given four dollars. Avoiding the rain at night and meeting strangers in a foreign place, or foreigners in a strange place; exchanging email addresses then running in the rain in the middle of an Indian city with American people trying to find a cafe to meet some Ugandan and Indian friends.

Getting used to the fact that it takes two autos passed by to find one auto driver that won't cheat you. Smiling at myself watching two Americans haggling loudly with a street salesman selling fake watches and the semi-existent crowd watching them. Talking to people and noticing the way in which I explain myself as 'Living in Korea but studying in the US only'. Passing a young heifer on the street and hoping that it doesn't get hit. Finding TURBO buttons on computers slow enough to need them; taking an hour before fully understanding what an over is in cricket. Going to an STD/ISD booth to call across the world; Finding that Bangalore is like its power sockets. Seeing large LG signs and finding Hyundai and Daewoo cars in the streets; marveling at the dare that a Porsche driver would posess in order to drive his car in this traffic. Finally being able to recognize the word 'India' in Hindi, eating with the right hand and not caring about the introductory traveler's diarrhea that would probably come later. Eating a fresh mango for the first time and walking amidst stretched pigs and butchered cows and flower garlands and fourty-cent goldfish in the market. Discovering that meals are labeled 'Veg and Non-veg'; looking at KFC ads that advertise Veg Thalis; Trying to read a Korean email on a computer and wishing desperately that all that Unicode gibberish could mean something again. Eating my second lunch in a restauraunt with four curious waiters waiting on me at the same time; discovering that fish curry was not only made of fish but also notoriously spicy and would sink to the bottom of your stomach and still sizzle within. Feeling the bounce of an auto going 'home'; watching the construction workers across the gate and watching them watch me walk inside. Eating dinner and feeling night wash over. Going to an internet cafe and disabling keyloggers before signing in. Walking along the street and watching a dispute between an auto driver and a truck driver grow into a crowd of bodies watching this exchange. Passing by briefly the scene of a motorbike accident and seeing someone kneeling on the ground while someone helps him up. Eating a red banana for the first time. Mentioning chapati and seeing these two girls break into a wide smile. Discovering that alone you float for the first few days in freefall; watching silently these American guests during breakfast and treading softly on the ground later lest I become unaware of my own ignorance. Thinking in rupees and not taking pictures until today; being dropped in front of the gate at midnight and walking in hearing the watchman's hourly whistle to another watchman. Falling asleep and waking up because I dreamt that I woke up late. Crying in my sleep trying to smash a vending machine in; waking up and realizing that I had woken up. Digging around in the old directories of my computer and finding unsent half-written emails and chat logs and old bad english essays.

This was 14 years, 4 months, 27 days ago


I brought all of my moleskines from storage today. realized that I started in late 2002(!). continuing today.

was going to post from a random page but it's all too precious, too intense, too condensed, too pungent, too lived.

This was 14 years, 5 months ago

"For dialectical criticism, the contradictions in the criticized theory are not indications of insufficient intellectual rigor on the part of the author, but an indication of an unsolved problem or one that has remained hidden. Dialectical criticism thus stands in a relation of dependency to the criticized theory. That also means, however, that it reaches its limit where such a theory cannot validate its claim to be a theory. All that remains to it is "rejection," as Hegel called it, whereby it also renounces its own claim to being a theory, for it can oppose the nontheory only as opinion."
Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-garde

a quote again again again again. so much to do. D-9, really.

finished diagram, sousdemographics.


This was 14 years, 5 months, 1 day ago



This was 15 years, 4 months, 26 days ago

The questions, in order. What is it about __?


What's the motivation behind looking at art? Creating art is a wholly different story, and the motivations and aspirations behind creating art are, in my opinion, so varied as to constitute a different set of questions entirely. Of course, any agent can have both creative and receptive impulses, but I want to talk about those agents or those impulses that constitute part of an agent that deal at looking, reception, visual or material acquisition. What's there? "I want to see this or more of this because it is beautiful, aesthetic". Is it a Kantian sense of universally applicable beauty? Personal whim? Social protocol?


And this is really one of two things, declared by each viewer -- universal or not. Or no, that's not the issue. The issue is with the standard of taste, the criterion of qualification that occurs on a double level, first on the terms of a discourse (does this thing qualify to be considered art?) and second within the discourse (is this thing considered art?) Both operate at the same time; I say the first is more sinister, more naturalizing, more depoliticizing that which is inherently political, without appearing to be. How can I explain to you that when we talk about art we're not talking about art, nor not-art, but that which I or you cannot even consider to include in our speaking about art and non-art? It's this 'that which is outside consideration' that is an ultimately political gesture that always happens invisibly but with so much effect.

What do you wish for when we look at art? "This is beautiful." Corresponding is the second, more internal judgment (that takes place within an already-judged space) that declares a non-beautiful on the other side.

What matters then is whether or not the viewer says "well, these tastes are mine and mine only". That's okay. What's important is that aesthetic taste runs along sociological and discursive lines like grammar, fashion, food, tradition, and anything else. What's more important is the recognition of such within every single discourse that deals with these such issues. That is to say: every non-scientific academic discipline, or every non hard-science academic discipline.


But I don't know. It seems that any discipline is never a discipline and always something else -- the alleged neutrality of the term hides all the hidden lines and fields that have inscribed political and social forces onto the space of the discipline. You don't talk about that in here. My concern is -- is there enough meta-disciplinal examination? Is there a history of history, or a history of history of history, a history of art history, a theory of art theory, a psychological examination of psychology's motives, so on and so forth?

If I wish to study art history, then will there be enough history of art history, the aesthetic motives behind a study of aesthetics? Or will there be this absence, the myth of a discipline outside of sociopolitical influence, the Greenbergian modernist narrative of art's autonomy and purity supposedly banished, but existing still at the level of the discipline? The logic of medium-specificity operating at the level of a discourse -- a discourse about the discourse and itself only?


Or maybe it's the other way around. Instead of discoveries that say 'A has within it B', perhaps the situation was all along that 'B was the precondition of A'. In this case, B is the 'art-historical narrative of autonomy', or the absence of C, social/political influence, which then consists of D, E, F, G, and so on. An "endless linked chain of signifiers".

And then is that so? Maybe it's not that art segregates and ends up, it's that art is segregation. Maybe it's not that I should wish for an absence of the 'Modernist Painting', bourgeois-autonomy dream both within and onto the discourse of art, but that I should realize that this discourse of looking and wanting art is constituted initially out of this dream, this myth of autonomy.

I could say "but I do have to realize that this is art as it is, right now, and a very limited definition of art that I utilize -- that is to say academic, institutionalized, New York, high, commercial, luxury-commodity, and so on and so forth" which would not necessarily be incorrect, perhaps. But then again it could be the case that saying "it's only this specific definition" is not a justification -- there's another flipping over of cases -- in fact, it turns out that it's not that "it's only that some people think this way and so the majority of art is oh-kay" it's that there is a fundamental difference on the level of definition, and so to argue that "that's only a certain definition of art" is to still believe in a unified definition of art.

The 'right' answer, then, would be to temporarily give into the myth of linguistics as truly signifying and say, hey, let's divide it up then, let's call this capital-A and call this lowercase-a art. Art and art, or art and Art. But then here's my point, again, another segregation, another division. This just says, "yes -- Art segregates, divides, splits".

What's wrong with splitting? Again, nothing is wrong, I say, it's just wrong if the sociological influences aren't unclear or unacknowledged.


But why? What's wrong with segregation without an understanding of these sociological influences? Who gives a shit? What often seems to end up happening is "you don't like what I like? that's unclassy".

(It's incredible how exposed the agenda of the speaker is so exposed when the word 'unclassy' is used. You're "unclassy", that is to say, "not-classy", or "not within class-y". 'Class' within here is not a series of social stratifications or groups, it's a space in which one should desire to qualify within. Here's the implication -- you're not within the class, you are outside class, unclassy. I have a space and I will inscribe upon it a closed curve of desire. You are outside this.)

Or, okay, what ends up happening is that the expression may just be "you're outside my boundary of tastefulness? that's strange" or "that's different". These are all relatively neutral expressions of different tastes. But what happens when someone is barred from participation because of the segregative quality of a taste? "I choose to fund someone else." Who is to say that your art is bad, your grammar is ungrammatical, the food that you eat is not food, and so on and so forth? Politically speaking, who is to exclude you from having the chance to participate in being ranked a good or bad citizen? "Deport him, take him outside the consideration of citizenship?"


So finally we got this far, probably strewing unspoken questions and issues along the way.

What is my meta-question? What is my doxa, my founding axiomatic notions that have me take an issue against this delineation that happens? To pinpoint it, I think, it's some desire to say "it's okay to participate" or "no-one can be eliminated from the possibility of participation". Someone recently pointed out that this was the dream of a Habermasian public sphere in which everybody speaks with an equal voice. That's true, I think, at least partially. I won't go even that far -- What I wish for is not even a high goal of "everyone talks equally", it's an issue of "everyone talks", that is to say, nobody is outside the consideration of talking, you may be discounted but you will be heard. There is no consensus necessary, or even possible.

I suppose I really do agree with the notion of "agonistic pluralism" that Chantal Mouffe talks about -- rereading her now, I realize that I agree immensely with what they're saying. I wonder how much I've been influenced by her, or whether this agreement just happens to be a conclusion drawn similarly but independently.

I quote them, not to legitimate my own argument, but because I agree, and she said it first and she says it well:

"...It is for that reason that the ideal of a pluralist democracy cannot be to reach a rational consensus in the public sphere. Such a consensus cannot exist. We have to accept that every consensus exists as a temporary result of a provisional hegemony, as a stabilization of power, and that it always entails some form of exclusion. The idea that power could be dissolved through a rational debate and that legitimacy could be based on pure rationality are illusions, which can endanger democratic institutions.

What the deliberative democracy model is denying is the dimension of undecidability and the ineradicability of antagonism, which are constitutive of the political. By postulating the availability of a non-exclusive public sphere of deliberation where a rational consensus could be obtained, they negate the inherently conflictual nature of modern pluralism. They are unable to recognize that bringing a deliberation to a close always results from a decision which excludes other possibilities and for which one should never refuse to bear responsibility by invoking the commands of general rules or principles. This is why a perspective like "agonistic pluralism" which reveals the impossibility of establishing a consensus without exclusion is of fundamental importance for democratic politics. By warning us again of the illusion that a fully achieved democracy could ever be instantiated, it forces us to keep the democratic contestation alive. To make room for dissent and to foster the institutions in which it can be manifested is vital for a pluralist democracy and one should abandon the very idea that there could ever be a time in which it would cease to be necessary because the society is now "well ordered". An "agonistic" approach acknowledges the real nature of its frontiers and the forms of exclusion that they entail, instead of trying to disguise them under the veil of rationality or morality.

"Deliberative Democracy or Agonistic Pluralism", Chantal Mouffe

Mouffe is talking about agonistic pluralism from the attempted end-result of a fulfillment of democracy. This is not from a pragmatic view, but from a theoretical view. "A well functioning democracy calls for a vibrant clash of democratic political positions." Presumably, the situation of a "benevolent dictator" would wish to be avoided.

So her desire (and mine as well) for pursuing or suggesting this space of agonistic pluralism or agonistic democracy is because consensus is always due to power, a "provisional hegemony". The motive underlying this argument is out in the open there -- the dissolution of power, in the first paragraph that I quoted. There's a meta-argument here, really; Mouffe dismisses a Habermasian deliberative democracy that wishes for a public sphere without antagonism; at the same time, her desires (and mine as well) for promoting this agonistic view of democracy is so that power can be dissolved. It occurs to me that this is the ideal of a meta-public sphere in which agonistic democracy exists. And it's entirely possible that this is what Mouffe wishes for, this necessary contradiction for agonistic participation to occur on the level of politics in the political (she makes a distinction between the two).

On the other hand, her desires are, as mentioned above, partially theoretical, I think. Who is to say that an agonistic meta-struggle concerning the right to participate in this agonistic struggle shouldn't exist? I dont -- I think it's harmful, and I think Mouffe would argue as well. But it's possible to concieve of this theoretical motive taken fully, a desire for agonistic struggle for agonistic struggle, a situation in which different groups struggle so that certain groups can be excluded from the sphere of participation.


So. Here is the kernel of my meta-question, then, a re-working of my argument just above. If this newly defined form of democracy is condensed into the phrase 'uncertainty' for the sake of my rhetorical expression, and a sort of Habermasian public sphere is then certain -- and this certainty is on the level of boundaries, that is to say, agonistic boundaries challenge hegemonic consensus and therefore uncertain, and so on and so forth -- then the question is, is the desired situation one in which uncertainty is valued and therefore a situation in which uncertainty is certain the right proposal? Or is the concept of uncertainty itself the desired theoretical framework and so should we also be uncertain about being uncertain -- that is, not close off the possibility of being certain?

This was 15 years, 4 months, 29 days ago

Nullsleep - Her Lazer Light Eyes

please press play. this song is so nice. by nullsleep.

yes yes yes yes. right now I am thinking. what am I doing here? what am I doing here? is it there or here? where do I feel most comfortable?

'Art is a segregated inscription within the field of media.'

When say I media I am really trying to say 'nothing', that is, the presence of nothingness -- not absence, beyond emptiness. If science used to think that space was filled with ether -- well, then, perhaps it was an inability to think of space as a nothing, or an unwillingness to consider space itself as a medium -- as illustrated in the current sci-fi-ish expression "the fabric of space". Ether functions as a mental fill-in for the conception of a medium of absence. "There can't be nothing in space! Space has to contain _something_! Let's call this something Ether." Space, too, is a word that operates as a pervasive medium; neither an absence or a presence but the arena in which such absence/presence dichotomies are possible.

Or sure, space is indeed not completely empty. That's not the issue -- actualities do not detract from what a description of a perceived actuality reveals about the process of describing.

(What are the implications behind assigning an agency-like voice to science? "...science used to think...")

If I put quotation marks around things, it is because I want them to appear as if they have been spoken, quoted, pulled from someone else's words.


garbage monster ate too much garbage.

I missed this year's blip festival. I always do. This video makes me regret even further.


everything2, ign forums way back way back, zophar's domain and emulation (mame and snes and zsnes way before that special chip emulation kicked in), hackersschool drill (I got up to buffer overflowing and gave up), voigtclub, read 2600 here and there, things like that. textfiles, warez, reading obscure parts of the anarchists's cookbook, sometimes browsing usenet forums, reading hakim bey, things like that. MUDs?

At an N+1 meeting a few months ago some dude talks about lionel trilling and discourses and flinches inside at his own words, his own -- what? I felt sorry for him. Otherizing internet here and there. Do we feel shame? he asks. I asked about the consideration of a phenomenology of the internet; this other guy just nodded gently.

(windows, I thought, panes, windows onto the world, art-historical narrative of modernist flatness abandoned in a domain where information lies within information, nested and networked where the sensation of browsing is of traveling through, into, going through. Surely the screen you're looking at has to have a perspectival quality, either visually, formally, or structurally. The 'back' button on your browser is an element of a structure of perspective. Behind, or forward? Already, your experience within the internet is described in terms of a physical space. Or if not physical, then temporal.) I got the sense that this was the wrong crowd, the wrong sort of enthusiasm.

"Once in a car with the friend of a friend's friend I felt like I was in a mausoleum about to die or already dead because the driver felt so dead, so lifeless, so absently not-there. Decadence and perversity had nothing to do with it -- it was a series of mannerisms or actions that happened to render both him and her absent to me, non-existent to me, not even dead but not even there. Going crosstown sometime late temporally equidistant between midnight and daylight I hoped to god I wouldn't die when in a moment of shock and realization I'd find out that the two people in the front seats weren't there, they were just shells of cotton and stitched seams flopping around in the night air and the car (SUV? dark interior with green dashboard lights) would end up veering slightly off-straight in a deviant angle that would amplify gradually (arc equals radian times radius, shit), slowly veering off until we ran off the street and into the corner of a building, or into another car, which would mean that I wouldn't be able to leave the crushed and mangled remains of this car and would be trapped inside with the two shells. Jeez. Some strange sort of primordial fear. When you're inebriated or affected time passes in a strange manner. In my haze of fright I thought of Don Delillo and Cosmopolis and what it would be like to die in a fusillade of bullets, or have all of your characters die such. I thought of that guy's journey crosstown until he gets to a quiet barbershop on the west side, all dark now, all of the rooms and the pages he flips by are now punctuated not with windows with sunlight streaming in but closed doors and overhead lamps hanging down making a small conical spread of light over desks revealing sheets of paper and hastily scrawled plans, ideas, connections. Shit, I thought I was about to die."

Some kid stands up, and says, the internet changed my life, says, I talked to people online, had a social life online, learned stuff online. I want to say, I know what you mean, let's go and talk about these things (did you remember when that website died?) and what going online means and not with these people who think it's such a foreign thing. But in the domain of speech and not writing it doesn't seem right, it doesn't seem right to have words hang out in the air and for us to speak about these things at a literary magazine that should have been a good literary magazine but instead had that guy speaking who flinched when he said discourses and structures and another girl who was wasn't drunk enough to realize that she was drunk. I want to say, say what you say and mean what you say -- intent is intent regardless of effect.

Now watch. I am going to quote Derrida, as if this quoting means anything. That is -- the quote means something, yes. But does quoting mean anything? It is not the quoted quote but the quoting that is an issue, a deferential deferral of words. "You, respected sir, I pass my speaking voice onto you." And thus I make myself more legitimate, link an acceptance of my own thoughts to the accepted and respected nature of Derrida. If this is what quoting really does (according to what famed philosopher McQuote argues) then it is a rappelling, a bridging-across, a pulling up (and this up is problematic too) from the domain of the nonacademic to the academic, the illegible to the illegible. Entrance into the academic allows one to be ranked as poorly academic. My name is now on the ballot so that (possibly) nobody can vote for me.

Do you understand? By pulling myself 'up' with a quote I enter myself in the domain of academic language, legibility, understandability. I parse grammatically. The next question is of ranking -- how good is your essay? How interesting and original are your words? But ranking never exceeds its domain. "You're the worst academic in the world". If quoting does do what I say it does, then it pulls one up across the differance of illegible vs. legible, sensible vs. insensible.

Or again. I am legitimizing myself by quoting that who is legitimate. Legitimacy either operates on one of two things -- truth or acceptance. A desire for truth is a desire for actuality, a fact, a declaration of "this is how things really are". Within the bounds of a scientific study, I could say, as 'Einstein's seminal paper on relativity argues', dot dot dot. The fact that the paper exists here implies that it is true within the bounds of the discourse of science. I am quoting it because I think it is true. By quoting something that is considered to be true I am legitimating, solidifying my argument.

But if this foundation of truth doesn't exist -- say, in a field in which truth is relatively non-existent, then what? What happens in such a field without a foundational good but that still relies on the structure of quotation as an arbiter of legitimacy is that the criterion for this arbitration becomes 'social acceptance'. "Is he a decent writer? He just quoted that guy -- is 'that guy' okay?" And if a respected proponent say, "yes, he's okay" then what? My argument is okay? And see -- the reason why 'okay' is deceptive here is because 'okayness' happens on two levels. One is a ranking within a space. Another one is the question of qualifying into that space. Here's a good political example. "Is he a good citizen?" versus "Is he a citizen?" Okay, too, is -- is that guy okay? Is he a good academic? Is he an academic at all? There's a double-check going on in a case of this post-truth or post-presence citation. The question is: "did you cite a crackpot or a bad thinker?" "no, he cited a thinker, and a good thinker."

And if people think Derrida is a bad philosopher, then that's okay -- it's even okay if the common sentiment becomes "not only is Derrida a bad philosopher, he is not even a philosopher." When this deferential-deferred quote loses its effects is when the common sentiment becomes "not only is Derrida not even a philosopher, he is not considered by most people to be a philosopher". 'Consideration' and 'most people' are key words here. There is a political dimension behind the question of thought -- not the question of good/bad thought, but the pre-discursive question of qualifying within this system of thought. It's sinister not when people say "you're a bad person" but when they say "you're not even a person at all!" Or more accurately, "most of us don't think you're a person at all!"

So here we go:
"Essentially and lawfully, every concept is inscribed in a chain or in a system within which it refers to the other, to other concepts, by means of the systematic play of differences. Such a play, différance, is thus no longer simply a concept, but rather the possibility of conceptuality, of a conceptual process and system in general."

Jacques Derrida, "Differance", Alan Bass, Margins of Philosophy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1982, 3-27

And what am I going to do to back my arguments up? Quote somebody?

So again. my words: "A declared arbitrary at the heart of art (and anything else) belies only an approach to art that takes a personal, transcendental, sublime encounter and proclaims it as a universally applicable experience that will and should be shared by others. a personal approach, a phenomenological approach, one that seeks not the solidity of an objectivity but instead actively searches for the slippery, arbitrary, foundationlessness of art is perhaps the discursive and institutional approach to art needed to accompany a poststructuralist and postmodernist analysis of art that no longer believes in metanarratives, singular arguments, homogeneous groups, and instead chooses to pick up its analytical tools from the domain of micronarratives, heteroglossia, a democratic political organization of art that does not generate but is generated from the agonistic struggles between diverse groups."

This was 16 years, 4 months, 24 days ago

jpeg ny02, 2004
Thomas Ruff

Thomas Ruff at David Zwirner Gallery
Until Dec 22, 2007

Here is: a high quality jpg of an image of a c-print of a low-quality jpg of an image of the twin towers. I first saw his work at the Armory show last year, and got annoyed then: Would it be hubris to say that I thought of this before - lossy algorithmic compression as a postmodern impressionism? A substandard attempt at fidelity transformed into a presentation of impersonal interpretation? Harrumph.

Oh well. This is what the Met says:

"...the pictures seem to fragment and explode before our eyes, trailing off into a seemingly infinite progression of tonal shifts from pixel to pixel and in every direction. The disquieting result is that the iconic image of the attack on the World Trade Center seared in collective memory becomes ungraspable, fugitive, slippery, almost aqueous."

In other words: the images sound like badly compressed music; slippery, unstable, with a slight burbling underneath the surface. Which makes sense; compression, after all, is the technique of removing invisible accuracies: reducing the range of contrast in a picture, removing a detail in pixels that the eye can't detect, culling off silent peaks in a sound file. It's a method of averaging, approximating, gently simplifying -- of omission. Fitting, for media images of political and war events in which knowledge is on a reported-to-us basis. Here is information by omission, even in his titles: jpeg bb03, jpeg wl01: bombing Baghdad, war in Lebanon.

This was 16 years, 4 months, 25 days ago

Incredible: Ed Choi just sent me a link to this review by Steven Shaviro. (Thanks, Ed.) He writes about Southland Tales the way that it really needed to be written about: eloquently, intellectually, and with a sense of wonder and respect.

"Southland Tales is both infinitely diverse and expansive, and yet at the same time oddly claustrophobic, because of the way that all of its crazy tangents, detours, irrational cuts, and meta-fictional leaps are all enclosed within the self-validating feedback loop of its multimedia bubble (the network, the Net, the communications infrastructure, what have you). This claustrophobia is what gives the film its compulsive power. The narrative is filled with conspiracies and rumors of conspiracy, with plots and schemes that go nowhere, or that implode upon the schemers and plotters themselves, and with paranoid and apocalyptic premonitions that have their effect precisely as premonitions, rather than on account of what they actually foresee or prophesy."

I 'reviewed' Southland Tales here.

This was 17 years, 4 months, 27 days ago

some morning a week ago.

There's a crackling sound behind me, to the left. I turn and watch a fluorescent light flicker, uncertainties in light translated into sound, not-so-sure, still-not-so-sure.

The slow crawl of activity growing on streets.

It's something to watch a trainful of people on time (7:50) leaking south from the 116th stop, dispersing gradually. I imagine this happening over the city. A typical description would be a set of veins, of subway blood, dispersion, interconnectedness, some kind of fanciful unity I see over the set of commuters making its collective way to work.

In the morning D's parents leave their house to take the subway. The New York Subway is like a set of veins, and millions of people take it every day. see picture.

It occurs to me this morning that at the core there's a relentless individuality, a particle nature to the operation of things. Under the opaque shroud of hierarchies within emergent systems it all comes down to the singular unit, formerly indivisible. a-tom. Now, subject to political jumblings, red-tape, an indifference at the multitude of interactions achieved daily. Saliva glands arguing with the tongue about a bell. Or -- it might as well be that emergence depends on this lack of individual affection, expectation for constant a-interaction, a-connection, a-pathos, to consolidate initial individual insignificances into a final unrecognizable whole. A foot, because muscle cells do not feel hurt, the vice-leader, because some of us are not heard. The dismal idea of an elementary disconnect, undesirably necessary, regrettably imperative. Maybe.


Warm shivers running up and down my arms. People I do miss. I read what I had written three years ago, in Korea, and I laughed inside and smiled. It seems that every year I lose some of what I had when I was sixteen. Even now I should be doing something else. Is it ever really possible to _? -- blanks left out, my search for a nameless understanding, acceptance, movement, apology. I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I just - we just - well I - you see - Momentary unexplainables, mutes.

This growing morning what I see more are the turning backs of people, ventral views sliding around, doors shutting, cars moving away. It's an bias in symmetry, action-reaction pairs that I'm unconsciously picking out from: there, a fading doppler effect from the car horn, here, the swinging flap of a deli's trash can. I hope fervently that I haven't lost you yet.