A rabble of rouse and snow

New maths:

Conservative leader of the local authority, Keith Mitchell, said via a tweet: "County Hall invaded by an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble. God help us if this is our future."

              [Rabble a pack, string, or swarm of animals or insects; a crowd or array of disorderly people, 1513; the low or        
                    disorderly part of the populace; a disorderly collection; a confused medley.
Examples: rabble of appetites, passions and opinions, 1768; of bees; of books, 1803; of butterflies; of ceremonies, 1562; of licentious deities, 1741; of discourse, 1656; of dishes; of flies, 1847; of friars, 1560; of gnats; of insects; of monks, 1560; of murderers, 1792; of opinions, 1768; of passions, 1861; of people, 1635; of mean and light persons, 1568; of pictures, 1581; of scholastic precepts, 1589; of priests, 1529; of readers, 1691; of reasons, 1641; of remedies, 1633; of schoolmen, 1671; of strangers, 1840; of uncommanded traditions, 1545; of womenhood, 1847; of words, 1388.]


[one of several holdovers of the "rabble of womenhood" from 1847]


 "Snow fell like ash."


God damn us if this is not our future

Revolutionary Body Mass Index

Watched the full 330 min version of Carlos yesterday.  Its refreshing insistence on "not talking politics" (which here includes not giving revolutionary ideological backstory to why you might be willing to take an entire OPEC conference hostage) makes it an all the more accurate rendering of the geopolitical sequence it traces.

More than that, it's a bloated, hollow, sensual film, mirrored precisely in the body of Carlos itself, which passes back and forth from taut and muscular to hanging thickly and drowsy off his frame.  In short, the rise and fall of anti-imperialist armed struggle in the rise and fall of his gut, blood pressure, and blood alcohol level.  And it is not a one-way story: the narrative economy of the film hangs on the back and forth of this, in and out of shape, more or less fat, more or less drunk, reclined, sagging, over its 5 and a half hours, timed impeccable so your ending torpor becomes his.  

Pasolini argued that an anthropological revolution - or rather devolution, in the decried loss of the acne-speckled, dirty necked, lithe ragazzi - had remade the body and, with it, prior categories of political differentiation.  For Assayas in this film, it's in reverse.  The hungry body gets stuffed, the shape of flesh with blood in veins and on clothes, of pacing excitement and whiskey-slicked dejection, tanned from outside or leathered from inside out by a infinite set of cigarettes.  It becomes a sympathetic mass, taking on the droop and pallor of the times, its jawline dropping while it slackly runs out of things to say beyond pettier fits of worry.

And no country will have you anymore now than you would have been willing to have a country then, when fact felt like choice and your stomach didn't crest over your belt, like a hard halved-moon.

The increasing incoherence of a body politic, scrambled across allegiances and the coming-apart of an anti-imperialism in the name of an additive chain of anti-those guys, finds its coherence in the apolitical body of one washed-up killer.  Mass action, absent from the start in this strategy of tension, initially displaced with a body count, swapped out once and for all for a steadily climbing body mass index.

Contra Mundum release

For those down in LA...  I sadly can't make it, given that the next day I'm off to NYC.  But the volume is excellent, as are the people likely to be there for its launch.

British Horror Film Presents: Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

[Come out to our final film in the supplementary Brit Horror sequence - starting in January, Erik and I are on to the cinema of the long '70s, including - gasp - things that are not horror in any sense of the generic word.]

You realise what you're implying? That we owe our human condition here to the intervention of insects?

The third Hammer adaptation of a Nigel Kneale-written, BBC-produced Quatermass television series (but the first film version with a British Quatermass), Quatermass and the Pit is in some reckonings the single best Quatermass entry in Hammer’s trilogy. While doing work on the London Underground, workers uncover a strange vessel that looks like it could be an unexploded German rocket, but a closer look reveals that it likely fell onto Great Britain from a place a good deal farther away than the continent and at a time much longer ago than World War II. The Quatermass series is revered in no small part because it consistently advances the claim that mankind itself is already the alien threat that it most fears, but none of these films gets that thesis across with quite the eerie force that this one does. Not to be missed.

Thursday, December 2nd
Stevenson 150, 9 PM

RIP, Leslie Nielsen

Goodbye to one of the greatest actors, comic or otherwise, of the second half of the 20th century.

I'm sorry I can't be more optimistic, Doctor, but we've got a long road ahead of us. It's like having sex. It's a painstaking and arduous task that seems to go on and on forever, and just when you think things are going your way, nothing happens.

We tried flooding the cellars with water but the firemen got drunk instead

The revolutionary buttress runs up against anti-discipline and the "towering" 1847 vintage of Chateau d'Yquem.

A very suspicious weaving in the cellar.  Meanwhile, the hydraulics of desire break down spilt to get licked in the gutter.

Asi el vivir me mata

Where the rubber does not hit the road

The overturned car of the barricade disrupts above all because it insists: yes, there are roads that go that way, pavement bent upright, on which this rubber hangs, there are cities that rise and fall, there is traffic which crests before us and breaks brittle like waves below freezing.

Crisis cinema

Le plan américain, bail-out and austerity style: equally cut off at the knees

It is thought other 'revolutionary' propoganda was transmitted, including a cryptic message from a M. Danton, ''The world is chaos. It will give birth to a god called “Nothingness”', that has left police 'baffled'.

Tachyon-burst wave carriers and messages from beyond the half-dug revolutionary grave, as Ben explains what really happened yesterday.

Despite the widespread agreement of historians that there were no English Jacobins police were taking seriously the threat of 'unactuated revolutionary possibilities' as a new tactic by radicals, and were especially interested in interviewing 'Walter Benjamin', a German radical who may have had a role in transmitting the carrier wave from his desk in the Bibliotheque Nationale in the 1930s.

A metaphor proves its relative aptness

When you heat material up inside a closed vessel or try to enclose self-heating material inside an enclosure, its potential energy will turn kinetic and, upon the opening of that vessel, escape with velocity and force, and it need not stop to think about why.

Once more into the frayed

Massive education protests across the UK: university occupations flaring up, a crowd in London kettled once more (last time, the occasion for the murder of a man passing through and the humiliation of those stuck inside an illegitimate system of checkpoints, at last I heard they're setting up port-a-potties and handing water to the crowd to keep them comfortable in their pen and keep them from getting loose on the city), crowds in the streets everywhere, "violent scuffles," and no matter what the paper and commentators and a sizable portion of the population will say, this is no stunt, no "hijacking," no bratty posh activists, no fringe element.  This is what we call getting done.

(Oh, yes, and a  slight object lesson: leave something like this unattended and surrounded by a crowd, and you just may get a sense of what they think about it, about you, and about the class violence you support.)

To all my friends and comrades there: watch your back, run those streets, stay safe, and make it unsafe for all the stewards, advocates, wardens, and defenders of this most recent instance of what has gone on, what does go on, and what needs to be brought to a screeching, collapsing, hissing halt.

A riot never forgets

For Giovanni, a snapshot of the new past:

The Storming of Millbank, Take 2.

"Like putting sunlight on the assembly line"

"Payphones have money in them... so they get attacked.  And they're frequently in out of the way places, public spots, where a lot of people go by, a lot of people with crowbars and hammers... and payphones are exquisitely evolved as a cactus, really.  Generation after generation of payphone users who have just beaten the shit out of payphones, so they're little fortresses..."

The Objects Strike/Co-Evolve Back.

(Plus the insisted monotony of particle accelerators, for Science must be gray and noon.)

L'age d'horreur

He smashes, he sets to,  he terrifies, he ransacks.  The doors of love and hatred are open, letting violence in.  Inhuman, it sets man on his feet, snatches from him the possibility of putting an end to his stay on earth.

- Program for 1930 release of L'age d'or

Inhuman violence - the "gift of violence," the kind that belongs to no one, the kind a crowd gives to itself and opens, at dawn, with a cry like the vault of a bank -  as that which snatches group existence from the jaws of individual suicide.  

And so the paving stones unplug the toaster perched on the edge of the bath.

Sex Jams

And nobody raises an eyebrow

Worse yet, it leaves no room for serial scenes, that is, action scenes which follow in sequence without ever knitting into the same flow.  For instance, two men are fighting in the street.  Not far away, a child eats an ice-cream and is poisoned.  Throughout it all, a man in a window sprays passers-by with bullets and nobody raises an eyebrow.  In one corner, a painter paints the scene, while a pickpocket steals his wallet and a dog in the shade of a burning building devours the brain of a comatose drunk.  In the distance, multiple explosions crown a blood-red sunset.  This scene is not interesting unless we call it Holiday in Sarajevo and divide the characters into two opposing camps.

- Raoul Ruiz, Poetics of Cinema
on the failures of "central conflict theory" as a structuring principle for making films  (Of course,

Gremlins from the Kremlin, in the land of inflated rent and bong resin

If curiosity strikes any in the SC region, I'll be speaking tomorrow, with a number of friends and collaborators.  I'll give a version of the talk I gave in London last week, on hostile objects, sabotage, comedy, hoarding, gremlins, evil steam presses, spoiled soup, and frozen exchange.  A number of very sharp people will be talking - Erik's thinking on behaviorism alone is worth the trip.

Aesthetic Revolutions: Workshop and Symposium

Saturday, November 20 9AM-6:30PM
Cowell Conference Room

This workshop is associated with a collaborative book in progress comparing different historical moments and national / linguistic / cultural contexts of aesthetic revolutions.  As we define it, an “aesthetic revolution” designates a particular sort of historical formation in which radical artistic and political agendas converge, with both being conflated in a holistic utopian vision or project.  As key examples of heteronomous art movements reaching beyond the confines of the institution of art we are considering Italian Futurism, Surrealism, Russian post-October avant-garde, Situationist International, American culture of the sixties, the Neue Slowenische Kunst movement in Slovenia, and recent Chinese art.  The co-authored book will seek to analyze these avant-garde phenomena historically and critically, revealing common characteristics and the situations and processes underlying them. This is the third of  three workgroup meetings, following meetings in Koper, Slovenia in June 2010 and Beijing in August 2010.  The draft papers for the workgroup sessions are available in advance; please request via email from tyrus@ucsc.edu.  The oral presentations cover additional topics related to the theme of aesthetic revolutions.

9:00 Introductory remarks

Morning workshop sessions (short presentations and discussion of papers circulated in advance):

9:15-10:15: Aleš Erjavec (Ljubljana) "Introduction: Aesthetic Revolutions"
10:15-11:15:Sascha Bru (Leuven), “From Book to Party: The Futurist Re-Definition of Art” (via videoconference)

11:15-11:45:  coffee break

11:45-12: 45: Raymond Spiteri (Wellington), “The Automatic Message: Surrealism and the Limits of Aesthetic Revolution”

12:45-1:45: Lunch

Afternoon workshop session (short presentations and discussion of papers circulated in advance):

1:45-2:45:  Tyrus Miller (Santa Cruz), “All Along the Watchtower: Aesthetic Revolution in the United States during the 1960s”

2:45-3:15: Coffee break

Oral presentations: 3:15-5:45

Session 1: 3:15-4:30
Evan Calder Williams (Santa Cruz), "Hostile Objects"
Kelly Anne Brown (Santa Cruz), "Balanced Tension: The sculpture and performance of Alexander Calder's Circus"

Session 2: 4:30-5:45
Erik Bachman (Santa Cruz), "How to Misbehave as a Behaviorist (If You're Wyndham Lewis)"
Hunter Bivens (Santa Cruz), "From the Crisis of the Novel to Socialist Realism--an Aesthetic Counterrevolution?"

When no one comes to dig us free from the glacier of ash, they would have found two books

"Is that so important to you?" "My Satanic baptism?"

With suitors and families like this, who wouldn't wish a turn to a darker side?  A shame, then, it does little more than stare from a mirror and think that the magnetism is attractive, that it lies in its power, not the basic repulsion of the reproductive social order as such, a shame that the supposed Satanic turn of the 70s was nothing new, not even a seedy underbelly or the going-mass of Kenneth Anger.  Just a searching mislocation of a mutual incapacity to hear anything anyone is saying, a sneaking suspicion that All This Liberation is for naught, that it may be in the name of Lucifer but that you, young lady, will still be the one getting knifed, that shifting a pinky ring from gold collegiate to occult design is, in fact, not an epochal transformation.  Her drowning it all out, her dulling, a stuffing up of the ears with black wax in the hopes that there exist first sirens, then rocks, then someone, anyone, able to navigate this ship to its end. 

In lieu of that, a leap from the foreground to the untouchable rear projection, then a hijacking, anything to opt out and steer between the mediocre shoals of tea time on the left, laughable evil on the right.

All that remains is the neurasthenist's unwept stare. 


[That, of course, and the pissiness of an angel of death summoned with no death to be had, the petulant disbelief: wait, it's 1968 and evil can't even conquer these jack-asses and their little chalk circle?  I thought this was the Age of Aquarius.  You dragged me from hell for this?]

British Horror Film presents: City of the Dead (1960)

The basis of fairy tales is in reality.
The basis of reality is fairy tales.

The first horror film produced by the tag-team of Milton Subotsky and
Max Rosenberg (the two men responsible for Amicus Productions, Hammer’s
only serious rival in the field of British horror in the 1960s and
early ‘70s), City of the Dead is an understated and unsettling movie
about witches and the academic study of witchcraft in contemporary New
England. Making striking use of black-and-white photography (see image
above) and of quasi-Lovecraftian iconography, the film has an
insinuating force all its own. A wonderful sister-text to Witchfinder
General (1968), City of the Dead is not to be missed.

Thursday, November 18th
Stevenson 150, 9 PM

Savage or die

A brilliant single square composition containing a high number of my favorite things.  And the oddness of a Trill Entertainment/Emile Gravelle collaboration.

(Further proof of ghetto surrealism and the fact that the photo-montage wind blows hardest down South.)

The end of the would

In an alternate trajectory, this would indeed be the score to the kind of films about the undying that we should have and will have projected on trains that roll on through the night and stop in every factory ghost town for our gathering round.

"An adult conversation"

"If we don't do something about this, this is to me like going out and buying a brand new Cadillac, driving it all over the world and beating it up until it's not worth very much and I've charged it to my grandkids."

(As though Arnie was paying for deferred death on the installment plan.)

You can hear in these reports a minute, hushed guttural catch every time they utter the word sustainable...

Hence, time to put this Caddy on blades, just let it shine its last years as it huffs its own fumes and dreams of turning around.

"But do I really care about this baby's future?"

A blade-thin difference between the joke and the disavowed slip.

Tick tock

The collaboration of the alarm, trigger, bullet, blade, rope, and stone, all unified against wood that wanted to be boy.

The rat, too, will be crushed

Contra Mundum out now

The Contra Mundum volume is out now, including incomparably sharp design, a version of my work on zombies (here titled "The Dead Rustle, The Earth Shudders" and involving a transcription of my intial rambling comments at the Mandrake Gallery), and a number of talks I'm seriously excited to read, particularly Aaron Kunin's thinking on misanthropy.  Aaron is a professor of negative anthropology, a seriously original writer, and was my undergraduate thesis adviser back in Connecticut (overseeing my batshit project on Leibniz, medieval nominalist language theory, what roses are and are not like, "sensicality," speaking in tongues, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Khlebnikov, spiders, and a collection of poems I wrote called What I Said to Mean).

Check the volume out here.
The man in the blue outfit asking me with a straight face if I am carrying more than $10,000 worth of foreign currency is, as each time, the final sign that I've crossed back onto home territory.  (This, in close proximity to the question regarding my potential proximity with edible animal products and farm mud, just further proves the deep and persistent linkage between currency and meat.  Cf. Sohn-Rethel on coins that smell like the hands of the master that pass the dog the meat for which it will bite any and all while it paces the butcher shop and resolutely doesn't get the dull shiny circles from which that sweat won''t be scrubbed clean.)

Thanks, all in UK for everything.  Can't wait to come on back.
Off to the UK today.  I'll be there until mid-month.

First to a place with my new favorite town name - Blaenau Ffestiniog - to wander the slate heaps, fog, mines, and to sink my hands into my ancestral soil.

Then I'll be in London for the Historical Materialism conference, which looks better than ever.  I'll be talking about hostile objects, sabotage, gremlins, ruined silk, and money made of meat.

If any of you are around the city then, let me know.

Blog will return in full when I get back, with writing, and before that, as always when I leave where I live, with more photos of walls, stains, incongruous advertisements, trash, and very few people.


When you thought you couldn't go lower, it turns out the elevator shaft falls straight through the earth

Homophobic incitement aside, we are, after all, talking about a 74 year old head of state who called the Milanese police to release an 18 year old belly dancer - by lying to them about who her father was - who had sex with his bronzer-stained robot corpse body when she was 17.  Remember, this is technically a functional nation that hypothetically chooses its leaders in free elections.

And the splinterest gap between

ain't that the truth


ain't that the fucking truth