Non si sevizia Scrooge McDuck

And so .6356 hours expire
In the sudden peeling back

Of plastic such that
There is for one instant

A coverless shrug of air
In the shape of a laugh's hoarding

A thing that floats in a pool
Is a Thing
That approximates a thing that

Swims in a pool of cash
And shares only

As dry veins do
Laid out in a square

It goes up like a light
Puffed up and gumming around

It goes out
It is not to be a foundry

1970s Film Series Presents The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971)

“Man works in order to eat.” 
“What a discovery!”
“The food goes down, here is the machine that crunches it, and it’s ready for exit. 
The same as in a factory.
“Yeah, so what?”
“Shit factory!”

This is arguably one of the greatest political films ever made.  And amongst those, Petri’s is inarguably one of the funniest, most savage, and nearly unhinged: a film that condemns the entire order of value, labor, and politics under capital, yet isn’t quite sure what can be done against it other than a increasing slide toward insanity and attacks on inflatable animals.  Disowned by the Left of all stripes (for alternately managing to make the “anti-union” left look like halitosis-ridden bearded shouters and the unionists look like those who can’t think beyond the given social forms of the factory), it perfectly nails the messiness of the situation without ever suggesting that there is no alternative.  Add to this Gian Maria Volonté’s straight-up bestial rage, one of the more awkward sex scenes I’ve ever laid eyes on, the fear that your child may be a “moody Martian,” burning the car of the boss, machines to be cared for and machines that mutilate your hands, and a startling anti-work elaboration, via absurdist humor, of the most pressing theoretical and practical questions of that decade.

Tuesday, February 1st 
Stevenson 150, 8 PM

For the remainder of the quarter, we will be showing 1970s films from different countries each week.  Same time, same place.  All are welcome.  Tell your family, tell your friends.

Bowles at 100

This weekend, in Santa Cruz, the Paul Bowles centennial.  Loads going on, Edmund White, multiple concerts, walking, Sara Driver's film, You Are Not I, more.

The people want the regime to fall.

(From a new blog of a friend of a friend, with reports from the Egyptian uprising.  Keep an eye on it.)

Double vision

Two cameras, a few hundred meters apart, recording footage at the same moment.  The left, Al Jazeera shows a police van that had been dragged from an alley, torn apart, wracked, smashed, and burned.  The air is thick with smoke and when the camera zoomed out, people were running.  The right, state tv declares that the curfew has been successfully declared, the day is done, and the city is a tranquil set of lights made from electricity and filaments, rather than gasoline.

Now the military has moved in to Cairo to enforce the curfew, with outcome unknown.  A state is, first, the unshaken declaration that the image on the right is the right one, despite the existence of an infinite set of other cameras fixed on the wreckage, and second, it is the savage labor of closing between the distance between the two images, until it can admit and even trumpet those other images in order to say, yes, there may be fire, but it no longer means anything more than the sputtering index of what has been crushed.

Hope from here that all in Egypt make that thin white line splitting the screen into left and right break down into a pointless, spent, porous thing.

"And if Egypt goes, the entire region goes..."

Chichester, Nosferatu saints, accidental tombstone incest erotica, and a lycan etching on the tube


This is an ocean of dimpled ice
These are rocks that do not sink
They come back to our hands

To come back to your heads

There are more of those rocks 
Where we stand

We are trying to correct this imbalance

That is a fire between us
Which is a small fire

But this time it is not 
Consuming one of us
Who chose to go up
As bundles of leaves and bones

You black things with sticks 
Will be spilled out
Onto this wet

That is a mirror for the wet sky
That is not a map

It is not a set of shadows cast out from a set of words (On novelization of cinema)


film adaptations of novels are extraordinarily common, running the gamut from the chick-lit mundane to dark, broody films based on dark, broody novels.  Historically, the root of the gesture was in prestige pics, where the use of a known Important Book as support structure/basis for your film was a sure-fire way to get it treated as a respectable piece of art, and one with which audiences were familiar enough to get a bit of extra comfort (they know what's coming), imaginative fleshing out (they get to see what Heathcliff really looks like), or stake-claiming (see esp. the contemporary version, the sweaty-palmed and gleeful diatribes of fanboys and fangirls because if you look at Issue #324, Iron Man obviously never modified his suit that way).  As such, they can retain the double sense: just cashing in (off mass reading phenomena or on smaller, niche audiences who will surely see their prized thing come to screen, done correctly or not) or making something of quality, an insistence that there are Important Books and they deserve to heralded as such by using them as source material for what hopes so badly to be an Important Film.

"novelizations" of films are far less common, although for certain franchises (read: Star Wars and Star Trek), they flourish out into whole other territories, fleshing out details and galaxies that had no place in the films.  But in general, the films that get novelized, without necessarily using the novel as a springboard to new terrains of fandom, are genre films of the bigger budget variety (esp. action and sci-fi, with a bit of horror),

and they are shitty films of the bigger budget variety (see image immediately above), designed for an audience dumb enough to really dig it in moving picture form and perversely committed enough to dig into it in turgid, cliched prose form.

I call bullshit.

For the basic implication of this dynamic is that while films can be quite wonderful, deep, original, moving, inventive, provocative, and et cetera on and on, those films we label as such are seen as having nothing to offer beyond themselves.  No moves of thought to be worked differently, no tropes to be transposed, nothing to be gained from ekphrasis.  This is, ultimately, a consequence of the fact that Isou was wrong about the tyranny and dominance of the image in cinema.  It is the script, the dialogue, the plotting, all that could be written down without being ekphrastic, that is the real mark of quality.  Sure, some films are heralded as being relatively plotless celebrations of the visual.  Poets may latch on, but more in the sense of riffing off of the film, smuggling away a shot, or stripping away its connective tissue to draw forth a set of discontinuous instances.  (See here Elizabeth Willis' Turnereseque.)  Not of adapting it, not with the understanding that adaptation never means a dislocation without loss and gain.  Because a film is not a novel and not a poem, any attempt to do so - with a real fidelity, with trying to actually nail it - will necessarily brings about a strangeness.  The deep strangeness of genre film, where the injunction make that same film that made all that money without making that same film impels modes of fuck-up, of deviation, of a stirring, slippery, obscure political theory, and of getting finally something very right that do not happen if the injunction was make any film you want.

At best, the good films - not the "good films" of Oscars, but things that actually mean a damn to us -  are treated with the flat mystique of elevation that equally degrades the novel: well, this movie already does a good job both with the text side of things, it is a well-written set of moving images and sound, and it already gives us the exact curve of her back near when it swoops out to her ass, it already described the falling near-straight arc of a bullet, it already told us just what sound the glass underfoot made beneath the stomping soles, so why bother trying to write it out, why bother using words to make a reader imagine what is already available to be known without the task of imagination?  As though the point of films was to make unavoidably clear to you exactly how something is and the point of novels is to provide the evocations that will allow you to do the bit of imaginative work to envision exactly how something is.

It's telling that even the novelizations that do happen, "hack" as they may be, blatantly money-grubbing in such a way to make unavoidable what is the case anywhere anyway, are not novelizations of films.  They are novelizations of screenplays, "based on the screenplay by...", such that the collective apparatus (including director, cinematographer, editor, actors, everyone and everything marked the film) is shoved aside.  As in, Let's get back to the text, to the skeleton, to what really matters, to what really gives form to matter, shape to the patterns of light reflected off matter out there in a world that is not a set of words.

But cinema is not an animated screenplay, it is not a set of shadows cast out from a set of words, it is not a unthought leech on what already exists to be snatched, it is not a small furry thing that is adequate to itself and cannot be more than it is.  It is a bristling contradiction, it is overdetermined and sad and cannibal.  It is pastel and morose, and it is wretch, retching, and grinning.

It is not enough on its own, but not because it needs legitimacy from elsewhere, be it a theorist to explain its mechanisms or a novel to give it lungs and chords.  It is not enough on its on own because it is too much for that, to sit and wait.  

And so:

Start novelizing films.  Not franchises and screenplays.  Start adapting films that are thought to be "too good" to be derivative on the back of.  Stop leaving them alone.  Pick at them, mime them, and make them over, not as re-makes, not as the same plus bullet time, not "inspired by".  Make them again in words, knowing that it will not work out and that will be better.

Write novelizations of:

Solaris, not based on the Lem, but on the Tarkovsky.  Write that melancholy slab.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.  Do not create a plot or psychological interiority.

The Sword of Doom.  It will break off mid-sentence.

Il Mercenario.  Let Curly be written as if written by Jim Thompson.

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.  Refuse to read the screenplay, add infection, chainsaws, or kung fu.

Dog Star Man.  This should be printed on a small run, with pages that are stained and torn.

L'Atalante.  This cannot be written, but it is this that I will write.
I do not imagine the failure of a light bulb that expires after a reasonable period.  No, I am talking about a light whose shattering cuts in spray the eyes of those who see it.  I am talking about a lamp that swallows the white.

to defile, to debase, to corrupt, to sophisticate, to falsify, to counterfeit, &c.

"I can already feel the power this armor has coursing through me..."

In related - that is, through the ravenous circuits of culture and politics chewing each other up and spitting each other back out into malformed piles of things to buy or things to vote for - news, this exists.

And I won't say I told you so about the implicit dodgy-as-hell ideological substrate and conservatism of steampunk (in short: you can have late capitalism without all the "messy work" it took to get here), but...

(thanks to D. Scott for the reference to this very dark corner)
 "On numbers of refugees, it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million. That would mean the end of Israel."

Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under George Bush, suggested in 2008 Palestinian refugees could be resettled in South America. "Maybe we will be able to find countries that can contribute in kind," she said. "Chile, Argentina, etc."

I am actually without words, beyond that exhausted phrase "without words."  We live in an unspeakably ugly time.

Films of the Seventies: The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

For our screening series this quarter, Erik and I are moving on from the run-down sadism that is British horror film to - god forbid - films that are not necessarily horror films.  (Many, however, will be.) Instead, we're doing the global 70s, ranging from Italy to Senegal, Mexico to Yugoslavia, West Germany to Japan. We're starting at the end of the British 60s, with a film that those who read this blog likely know by now, one of my all-time favorites, that really does not get old. 

“Oh, we’ll just have to keep going?”
“What for?”

“Because we’re British.”

“British! What a lot of use that is.”

As an apocryphal critic pithily put it at the time of its release, Richard Lester’s post-apocalyptic film, The Bed Sitting Room, really is “like Samuel Beckett, but with better jokes.”  Carrying on and muddling through after the unfortunate “nuclear misunderstanding that led to the Third World War,” the twenty or so survivors in Great Britain live a salvage-filled existence as they heed well the (constantly repeated) imperative to keep moving and obliviously confront the possibility that they will suddenly mutate into animals, bed sitting rooms, and God knows what else.  Nominally based on the Spike Milligan and John Antrobus play from 1963, Lester's cinematic version is a staggering vision of waste and remnant, of frozen, necrotic social relations, and of what we keep doing to keep ourselves busy after the end of the world.  It is very dark, it is very uncomfortable, it is very funny, and it is very, very British.  As the characters all croakingly sing apropos the closest living blood relative to the now long deceased queen, "God Save Mrs. Etheyl Shroake, Long Live Mrs. Etheyl Shroake"  Not to be missed.

Tuesday, January 25th
Stevenson 150, 8 PM

For the remainder of the quarter, we will be showing 1970s films from different countries each week.  Same time, same place.  All are welcome.  Tell your family, tell your friends.

London, 1 (If we follow your proposed formula, Powerade Zero, the body becomes a vacuum husk)

On passing, aerial, between a set of points, several of which are friends and several of which are four-inch tall celebrities

Mid-flight from London to San Francisco:

Roughly 6 and 1/2 miles above Lac Saint Jean, I am sick of geography as fact and measure. Sick of shuttling back and forth on a moronic loom of money and distance, of the pull between friends and comrades who do not live on the same continent.  Each time becomes a lose-win situation: the thought of leaving - particularly, the place where I "do not live", where I am recurring visitor but where I've lost the slight throb of the somewhat strange  - saddens, the thought of arriving - where that arriving is supposedly home but is not a city as such, rather an area, a countryside linked by trains and bikes, with couches and houses, one of which is my own according to rent - feels good in spite of it all.  Sick of seeing those who matter to me only as a privilege sponsored occasionally by an institution, whether that be educational, financial, or the sneering blur of the two.

Given our mutual reliance on a) variegated landscapes, b) the capacity to leave where we live, at least in name, as necessary respite, and c) the things that employ us, the "let's all move to one city" seems less than likely.  Consequently, I therefore propose:

1. the immediate rearrangement  of the continents into a new-Pangea glob formation of linked land-masses
2. the subsequent carving out of canals, criss-crossing the land in grids inside curves inside grids, such that water travel regains its deserved primacy
3. the retrofitting of airplanes to become large ice-runners for the winter, to ferry us back and forth across neighborhoods on 747-sized skates
4. meetings to be held out on the enormous resultant ocean that rests uneasy over the rest of the globe

Until then...

Until then it's the to and fro.  And, therefore, one of the accidental consequence of airplanes - or at least those that pretend to provide customized entertainment options to each and all individual snowflake/passenger, in an intravessel wrecking of the Kino Train lineage.  Namely,  that you cannot stop corner of the eye pseudo-watching genuinely terrible films, even as you battle to feign focus on whatever thing of quality you have in front of you.  This is made worse by said films being four inches tall (i.e. centipede sized stars engaging in silent witticisms and the smallest explosions possible) and made actually unsettling by being reproduced across a field of vision on multiple monitors without being synchronized, such that without ever actually choosing to watch it, you recurrently see instances from across the duration of a film, out of order, the same scene occurring at different points in time (of your not-watching) and different points in space (first the monitor next to you, then three seats up to the left, then one to the right).  You are triangulated by an awful movie.  Or, in the this case of tonight, of 8 people in my immediate vicinity simultaneously watching the abhorrent slab of frozen labor that is Life As We Know It, you are frozen in an arcane pattern, somewhere near the edge of an eight-sided figure with no shape, with just the sickening familiarity of having caught that moment - where she seems to say something funny and he seems to realize that he actually loves her despite their irreconcilable difference, we know the scene- in stuttered, hiccuping multiple.

And the way this particular one ends.  Our Unfuckable Hotties (note: a distinct anthropological category, increasingly common in late capitalism, namely, the toned, tanned, ripped, sprayed, dishevelled, almost coiffed, slightly next-doorish or barely exotic, one or the other, and banalized beyond the threshold of difference, such that the thought of actual erotic practice is unimaginable, other than the most Sadean excesses: why would anyone put anything into, or take into one's own body any part of, such a null, as it's a purely theoretical hotness) bound together by the child that "was not theirs", learn to kiss late in the game and become the couple they could only be by dint of shared screen time.  Through struggling together, through a triangulated third coordinate and the bundle of libido placed on it (which we imagine will ultimately overwhelm it until it is warped into the child of It's Alive), carrying in the tray of cupcakes to the welcoming neighborhood, now successfully a Two to join the rest of the yummy mummies and the tamed sexy dads.  And the camera tracks backwards out the front door and swerves up, retreating on a vertical axis from the house, to reveal the trees and green surrounding it, before tilting back and pivoting left, slightly askew, to reveal the City at a distance, rising up from the tree canopy of the suburbs, that other place where they don't belong, for which they won't yearn, close enough to be spurned, near enough for the frisson, far enough from the filth, ready to do sit ups, giggle at the tribulations of child rearing, and spit into each others gaping mouths for the idiot decades to follow.

The very small screen reverts back to the air map. For a moment it loses its signal and shows a line of red traced, and a dotted white line of the path ahead, against a flat black. A coordinateless swamp that does not understand geography. Then it snaps back into configuration, and I see I am halfway from London, halfway to California, 2942 miles to San Francisco, 2401 from London, moving 588 miles per hour while 34,997 feet above the ground.

A hurtling point on a pyramid, casting a diffusing cone of vision from one small rectangle of light to another, tracing a set of lines to those from whom I go, to whom I come. While a meaty child cries and shits itself somewhere nearby, dull people who are not my friends smack their lips, and all space must be collapsed, everywhere and nowhere, none at once.

Banquet of the Black Jackal

If you're in LA, check this show out.  Haven't seen yet, but some of my writing is in the catalogue, the group of artists is terrific, and the title is pretty sharp.  (Will be contributing to another thing Adam is doing soon as well.)

What happens when mankind ends? How will history, cultural objects, and relationships between the elements be remembered or reinterpreted? The artists in this exhibition tackle the notion of history—be it personal, cultural or philosophic—in their multimedia installations. The questions at play in this exhibition are informed by the writings of Hegelian philosopher Alexandre Kojève and contemporary science fiction.
Participating artists: Eduardo Consuegra, Adam D. Miller, Ruby Neri, Devon Oder, Amanda Ross-Ho, Liz Craft, Shio Kusaka, and Matthew Greene
The opening reception for Banquet of the Black Jackal will be from 6-8pm on Saturday, January 22.
exhibition curated by Adam D. Miller
exhibition runs from January 22 – March 19. Gallery hours monday-thursday & saturday noon to 5pm. Gallery closed on friday and sunday.
A catalog has been published to accompany the exhibition with essays by Adam D Miller, Mark Von Shlegell, Lia Cheyenne Trinker Browner and Evan Calder Williams. Hand silk-screened covers, and full-color artist pages. Please bring a couple bucks to the opening to get a copy.
The Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA, 90032
California State University, Los Angeles

Buddha's Goat Herd

As unhinged good as it seems.  (Part of the ongoing conviction that all should stop arguing about whether or not Avatar or anything of its ilk is subversive - hint: if it costs that much and makes that much and has been calculated to be too big to fail as it was, then it ain't - and watch things like this, which are messy and inventive. 

Yet another object lesson in why partisans should not give up the fight/arms/process of undoing social order because the old powers-that-be have been kicked out.  (Especially when those old powers include Orson Welles, in grease paint, at his most hooch-swollen, his lidded eyes nearly swallowed by the rest of his face, itself threatened by his looming sleepy collapse.)

And yes, there is that sheer perversity of a anti-colonial struggle that employs livestock as IEDs.  Unlike My Name is Nobody, where the baddies load their saddlebags with their own shootable doom (the master's tools of repurposed gold mining used to get gold without digging are then then turned against them with a few well placed bullets), Tepepa and crew here produce an explosive swarm to be urged up a road with sticks toward the caravan to be destroyed, goaded into explosive retribution, bells a-clangin'.
I have not been writing words because I have been talking them until my tongue is thick with the leftover of things said.  This to be rectified soon.

I am leaving soon, four days, after the quieter time after a more wild winter, before things look to ramp up in weeks to come.  So the time I've been here has seemed a coalescence, a gathering itself up for those weeks ahead.  That said, still struck from earlier tonight: in the EMA march, a single line of sight back from ten yards ahead caught, at once, a set of mouths, the same neon green worn by march stewards and the line of police four steps ahead,  the worn chant WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS, and the fact of a cop rolling tranquilly ahead on the motorcycle that was leading the way for the march on those very streets.  The jelly-thick medium in which no particle movement is possible.

Worse, the fact that this is only worse because it reveals what is generally the case.  I understand in full that no one wants to be "responsible" for the kettling/beating of high school kids nor should such an outcome be invited or produced.  Understand more in full that such a category of responsibility has to be entirely run off the road, right with its slow-rolling pace-bike, and fast, if things are to fall apart better.

The Cussedness of Objects: Saturday the 22

UPDATE: Space is all filled up.  We have a waiting list in case anyone cancels, so feel free to write regarding this, but we're overpacked as is...


The Cussedness of Objects is part of an ongoing dialogue between Evan Calder Williams of Socialism and/or Barbarism and Marina Vishmidt, writer and researcher at Queen Mary University, that started with hostile objects and has since opened more broadly onto commodity fetishism from the perspective of the commodity, recodings and "misuses" of the city (from occupations to barricades), reification theory, socialist animism, and, above all, the strange fates and promises of a built world alternately murderous, feeble, and indifferent.
The discussion will be followed by a screening of The Man in the White Suit.

Places are very limited so, R.S.V.P. to participate and for links to relevant reading.

London dates

Initial schedule for my next ten days in London.  Come join at any and all.  (Not included, but up soon, is an event on commodities murderous, feeble, and indifferent, fetishism from the object's side of things, socialist animism, etc, with M. Vishmidt and others.  Will post once we pin down a place and time.)

Talking about pseudo-science, coming undone, and the warm, slightly mushy, fetid breath of extinction

(talking about usury, meat and coinage, real abstractions, the way in which credit is like or not like a sleepless work-cow)

(with winner of the most sublimely ugly poster, up there on an Asger Jorn 
meets Cheech and Chong hybrid level)
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Art Against Cuts, two day workshop.  I'll chat history of sabotage

MONDAY: Alberto, Daniele, and I screening and  discussing one of the greatest political films of the 70s (and the 20th century more broadly), Petri's The Working Class Goes to Heaven

THURSDAY (the 20th): Theory Research Group, down at Chichester
Hostile Object Theory, in fully expanded form

A schematic affair, a shadow-creature, that could not live of itself

It was impossible to say whether she was listening or not.  She would take her slate pencil in her hand but no amount of coaxing would persuade her to exercise up-strokes or down-strokes and the formation of whole letters was altogether out of the question.  If she used her slate at all it was to draw some monstrous beast with ten legs or a face with three eyes and two noses.

One of the best entire novel in a single day instances I've had in a very long while.  The downside is the painful wrenching back into accordance with our gray times, given that the rest of the world does not accord with the linguistic tendencies of decadent pre-WWI horror fiction concerned with the unholy androgynous daughter born of the semen of a hanged man and a whore with no "instinctive remnant of the feeling of kinship to society," a daughter whose murderous influence extends only to the ruling classes.  And that is a damn shame, 100 years on from the printed appearance of the book.

Hence, to mark its centennial, time for an immediate flooding of the written world order with utterly shameless prose about the "sweet toxin of sin borne aloft by the sirocco."  (Not to mention a committed insistence on talking endlessly about body parts and how sexy they are, but doing so - i.e. describing breasts as white kittens "just born, lifting their little pink snouts into the air" - that leaves us quite unclear as to what the hell sex is supposed to be.)