A Very Neapolitan Halloween

"Young Jesus."

(Halloween, otherwise, is rather unremarkable in Naples.  Sure, there are bands of kids in weird outfits walking into businesses or up to pedestrians and asking for free goods - "treat" - with the threat - "trick" - of violence or mayhem.  But that is, after all, what they call a "daily problem" or "the informal economy" here.  It's as year-round as the fire-crackers, which are, for the record, as daily as bread.  Were one to record every small explosion across the city in real-time and stream them together, the sound of days would be that of a rusty gatling gun, rumbling on from dawn to dusk and back again.)


From the other day in Rome.  Fuchsia skirt, rifle training, frolicking half-dressed half-defined figures in the distance, and a dead-eye stare smashing of the fourth wall.

[Musical accompaniment thanks to Cartographies.]

No future

Here's hoping...


This.  (See also this and this.)  General strike called for November 2.

 In addition, for any who might fret about those perfectly good barricades - those fences put up to keep people out of a public space and torn down by those same people in retaking that space - going to waste, don't worry.  They were put to much better use:

Arguably the least expensive (excluding the whole massive militarized mobilization and war being made on a populace in a time of the drastic cutting of social services part of things) installation of "public art" in America.  Not to mention, it is both minimalist and repurposed.  No wonder the city of Oakland is so hot to claim that they support the goals of the Occupy movement, all possible evidence (including both the attack and the fact that it is fundamentally impossible) to the contrary.

To all back home: whatever part of the body - thoughts are too diffuse, heart is too easy, too central, too stupidly trodden - is adequate to say is with you in full, across these oceans and continents.

[Note: I am far too far away to give any adequate account, but in case you haven't been following, get info at Occupy Oakland (here and twitter here).  Some initial footage rounded up here.]

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. (Letter of Solidarity From Cairo)

[via comrades in Egypt - please share widely]

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it's our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years­long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.

An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.

The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity­state now even attack the private realm and people's right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed­upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .

What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti­camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government's own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party's offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.

If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.

By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo. 24th of October, 2011. 

A thousand times

Should ever one require a measure as to if a situation has truly opened the floodgates, if the social fabric isn't strained but rent, if the clarity of who is supposed to comport themselves how is obscure, if we have left behind a simple face-off of easily divisible forces, if, in short, the shit and the fan can no longer be told apart from one another, then this should do nicely.  If it looks like this, the answer is: yes, oh yes, indeed.

A thousand times more heartening than a thousand pictures of property aflame.

L'angolo sterminatore

I wanted to say only that I cannot be defined as a communist. Not an intellectual, not a communist. (Petri interview translation)

Below, my translation of an interview with Elio Petri from 1979  He is asked three questions: are you an intellectual?  are you a communist?  why write a book on Elio Petri today?  I've translated the answer to the second one.  With two long notes below, on the problem of pieces and on what it would mean to "flank" the working class.

 [The interview, in Italian, comes from: Alfredo Rossi's Elio Petri.  La Nuova Italia.  67/68. Luglio Agosto 1979.]

Are you a communist?

Can I say that I am a communist?  Sincerely, and at this point I don’t see how I can get by otherwise, I cannot say so, and not only because none of the communist chapelles [note: “chapels”, in French in the original] would take me as a communist, neither the old nor the new, but because, based on my old experience as a militant, to be a communist means to accept a discipline of the party, to sacrifice in some way one’s own subjectivity to the discipline of the party and to live minute by minute for the party, and I do not accept that. 

I should add: my life is that of a bourgeois more or less anxious, more or less split, who as a youth was a militant [note: ha militato, “had militated” literally] in a revolutionary party, who saw the fall of revolutionary hope, who saw the degradation, with this fall, of the entire society in which he lived, and who no long succeeds in identifying himself with anyone of those forces that call themselves communist [note: his comments bear the sense also of those who try to hearken to an older notion of communism, to tag themselves onto that lineage], of which there are plenty, that are of a fratricidial nature and that continue to scuffle amongst themselves over the old theoretical problems as if they wanted to close their eyes to the new ones, unable, in any case, to generate new theory and even to recognize the dead part of the old.  

If I refuse to sacrifice or to mortify my subjectivity, if I refuse any discipline, if I live like a bourgeois, what communist am I?  One may say to me that there are many communists who live like me, if not worse, and who do not doubt that a communist must live differently.  But what can I do if people don’t want to look it in the face and see it exactly how it is?  I believe that a Marxist, or simply a progressive, who lives in a capitalist country, or even in a socialist country, is destined to live in pieces [note: see note 1 below]  that “hold together” with difficulty.    The conservatives are whole, because in their iron determination to conserve the world as whole as if it had no contradictions, they don’t suffer scissions, they don’t fear incoherence, and, above all, they are justified in their double, triple, or quadruple morals, which are proper to the things they want to conserve.  In a conservative you won’t find even a glimmer, however faint, of a progressive instance.  Meanwhile, it’s said, in a progressive there are quarreling and unwieldy pieces of reactionary ideology, not always clearly individualizable as such, that render the progressive’s inner consciousness similar to a miserable District Court or a verbose and inconclusive meeting where there are clumped together all those from the Red Brigades to the saragattiani [note: the saragattiani were the democratic-reformist group of the PSI opposed to a unified PSI-PCI front], and further, to the catholics, and futher, let it be said, sometimes to the fascists.

I am not saying that this state of schizophrenia is not preferable - for those who want to stay in their own time and live it and suffer it - to the monocultural and monospiritual whole of the conservatives.

To be progressive and to do nothing means, however, to brood over the unconscious desire to change nothing.  To live as a bourgeois and to declare oneself revolutionary means to express with one’s own comportment not just a state of simple bad faith, but something more, the adhesion to the values of bourgeois society and the latent desire to render vain any research into new comportments.

The list of contradictions and “pieces” could stretch to infinity.

I wanted to say only that I cannot be defined as a communist.  Not an intellectual, not a communist.

Those are two things that I wanted and could have been, indeed, even if I maintain that the two words clash with each other, that an intellectual cannot be other than a supporter of workers.  [note: see note 2 below]    On the other hand, and this I say not only as my own excuse, I do not even belong to that vast group of intellectuals and petty-bourgeois who since ‘44, in Italy, if not in Europe, flattered themselves with the right to represent the interests of the working class, knowing nothing of popular or working class reality, invading all the left parties and also the extraparliamentary groups, recommencing one more time the phenomenon of petty-bourgeois mimicry.

But what am I, then?  I come from a family of workers, poor, if not impoverished.  I chose instinctively to side with the workers.  Circumstances brought me to make cinema.  Which circumstances?  The hundreds and thousands of films I watched and loved.  The fact that the poor partake in boxing, pop music, or cinema.  The fact that to make cinema didn’t require us to have a degree.  The fact that the cinema was, in those times, popular art.  I took a certain path, helped by a certain luck.  I always strove to not deny myself, but I don’t know if I succeeded.  In fact, I believe I didn’t.  Now I live in a social strata higher than that from which I came.  In this regard, I did succeed.  Is this all?  Perhaps yes.  Perhaps there is little else to do.  But perhaps no.

note 1:

The notion of pieces - pezzi - is crucial for Petri.  Consider the pezzi in The Working Class Goes to Heaven.  The contradictions of labor, and resistance to them, are organized around “piecework” and the shift from a durational salary tied to time worked and the general output of the factory toward individual rates, with the promise and threat of, respectively, bonuses and fines for going beyond or sinking below that rate.  (Ultimately, the arc of the film - in the partial victory of the strike - is a return to the assembly line and that durational salary, with a new hell of a generally set rhythm and an accompanying cacophony that drones out the capacity to talk, argue, and distract one another.)  Lulu, the protagonist-antagonist, cuts large rods of metal into smaller pieces.  He distracts himself by thinking of, in increasingly rapid sequence, the piece he cuts and the ass of a coworker: un pezzo, un culo, un pezzo, un culo, pezzo, culo, pezzo, culo, pezzo… He loses a piece of his finger when trying to work too fast.  The list goes on.  If the problem of the “fragmentation” of the working class is generally an obsession of communist thought, in that film, Petri - the disavowing thinker and disavowing communist - makes it a veritable structuring principle.  

Up to a point: because despite the fragmentary montage of the film’s opening, which is itself tied to diagetic content (waking up, falling asleep, waking up), the film “holds together.”  It has a stable storyline, and it progresses unidirectionally across that line and its own duration.  The same actors continually play the same parts and stay in character, even if those characters, especially Lulu, are a savagely inconsistent bundle.  The question, in short, is the degree to which the film’s form is adequate not only to a general problem of fragmentation but, more specifically, to the shift that constitutes its main narrative arc.  That is, given that we see, at the end, that little has changed other than a missing finger and a “successful” strike, the most substantive change is that of the rhythm and organization of the factory, the form in which labor-power is employed.  It’s no surprise that the film uses the same remarkable Morricone score throughout, including at the end when we have shifted to a different model of labor, because it remains ultimately as unable as the dueling political factions to address the real question at hand, the form taken by the production of commodities, the structuring of time, the reproduction of social relations, and, perhaps most importantly, what falls entirely outside that optic: that which cannot be easily figured under the sign of labor hours, especially the “women’s work” of raising kids, soothing one’s near-psychotic partner after a day in which both parties have worked, and the maintenance of commodities already bought and owned.  What will be of ultimate interest is not a pointing out of the fact that the film does not address these things, in part because it actually does.  

Rather, the question is: why does the address not interfere with the general structure and local forms of the film, and what happens “in place” of that interference?  For the moment, let us note only that the answer may be the same to both: repetition happens, that’s why.

note 2:

the word translated as “supporter” is fiancheggiatore, which implies a “flanking,” as if intellectuals can only - or should at best be - a flank of the main forces composed of the working class.  This particular military dimension is crucial, as it differentiates this position from other common “military” conceptions of the intelligentsia: as an avant-garde paving the way, as generals dictating tactics in accordance with a long-term strategy, or as “secret agents,” either in the sense of those who infiltrate the bourgeoisie and spread dissent or those who “pass” for workers and spread their ideas from the camouflaged position of being “just another rank and file laborer.”  What Petri advocates is something closer to covering fire and, perhaps fittingly for his description of those who are fractured by the contradictions of leftist thought, those who absorb some of the blows and may come apart in the process.  In this case, they would be the troops who bear the brunt of that special ammunition known as ideology, who try to turn it back on the enemy.

The Black Wake

The Black Wake

The product of my combined love of DJ Screw and Jackson Mac Low, or rule-based generative procedures more generally.  The first New Pessimism club banger.

(Also, the continuation of black metal - because, frankly, you can only talk so many times about an abyss before it becomes more of a yawn than a void and before it is filled right up - by other means.  To go from Blacker Than Darkness to All Black Everything.)

Dress dress

Suits suits

Shades shades

Boots boots

Truck truck

Coupe coupe

Blow blow

Flutes flutes

Card card

Jewels jewels

Party party 


Fry fry

Throw it throw it

In a 

Bag bag

Black black

Black black

Black black

Black black

Black black

Black guns

Guns guns

Black black

Black black

Black black

Black black

Party bag

Black black

Day day

Throw it in a body bag

Escape From Venice (Snake's Postcard to Utopia About Fine Dining)


Even now it is rather hard to speak of. 

I have no idea what they were talking about.  Before I left, I mean, they said, here Snake, here are some biscuits, here are your glucosamine injections.  Don’t eat the meat Snake: it probably is man, or at best dog, and in any case it probably won’t be very fresh and if it is, well then you’re damn sure it’s man!  Here are your protein suppositories.  These other things are vitamin patches.  You can wear them on your thighs.  That way you don’t taste them.  Your cigarettes contain an experimental combustible compound of omega-3, horny goat weed, and electrolytes.  They’re gonna burn a bit slow but they taste like acai or that’s the story anyway and you’re lucky we still give you anything that even looks like a cigarette after what happened.  Those other boxes that are really cigarettes are for barter only.  Maybe you can buy the island from those savages?  Ha oh man, we’re kidding Snake and that’s in poor taste anyhow.  But seriously don’t touch the real smokes.  Because we’ll know.  We just will.

Well, you know what they didn’t know jack shit.  Because if they did well then I wouldn’t have sat down to an authentic Venetian meal would I?  I think they don’t know much as is.  There are loads of people here, whole boatloads.  They are still talking about the architecture and who did what to what buttress and when was a saint and they still put their tongues in each others’ mouths from time to time, and when they do that, they still look to the side to hope to see me looking so they can say, oh yeah what if this was the hole in the middle of your skull that I was lapping at, lapping at like a sloth, shhlp shhhllp, trying to steal little pieces of to bring back to mine?  And they still go out to eat.

And I found the place.  You know it’s the real deal because the waiters weren’t too nice, which would mean that it was just for tourists only, and they weren’t too asshole, which would mean the same thing, a big puffy bravado so everyone can feel like they’ve had an “Italian experience” and make a scorecard of restaurant service across the continents when they return to their hotel rooms and take their walking shoes off to let those stinky dogs rest and even put them up on the crinkling bedspread, without even washing them first.  No, they just were, and more than that, there were honest white tablecloths, clean and starched.  I hated the thought of getting wine on them so I stuck to beer.  I know, I know.

There might have been a menu but I did not take it because I saw what the others were eating and I knew what I would be too, it’s what I dreamt of, risotto al nero di seppia, risotto with little tendrils and slices of cuttlefish and the whole thing black, filled up with the ink of the thing that is cut up.  I’ve been having this recurrent nightmare, but not at night, just awake while eating in which I am utterly convinced that I am going to bite down on the fork, that I am to shatter my teeth even though the whole time I am saying be careful!  that’s not food, that’s a fork and this time it smelled so delicious that I actually stopped worrying about what was going to happen when I put the laden fork in my mouth. When they brought it out to me - I had already finished a beer and made that face while pointing at the empty bottle to say that  I will drink another beer, please - I swear even the steam was black, clinging to the corners, whole snarling wraiths of it.

And my god was it good, and hot, and the inky grit was rough on my teeth, so when I caught my reflection in the almost fogged window I grinned and it looked like I had no teeth just a hole in my head.  And I haven’t been drinking here - you know - and it kinda went to my head, because I felt like those old Japanese women, or not that they are old, but they are young in an old time, Ohaguro it was called, and this was a different standard of beauty and I was the prettiest here with these black choppers.  And after that anxiety about the fork and my teeth, that constant grinding fear, it was a relief to get to pretend that I didn’t have anything that could touch metal.  So I showed em big to everyone, bared my teeth and I think I was kind of dancing a bit in my chair, they were grinning back those missing grins at me, all of us toothless as babies or old women, and even the waiter laughed a bit even though he sees this every night of his cursed life.

This one face I kept looking toward because it wasn’t quite right, he was smiling too but it was as if someone had painted a perfect copy of his face on top of its face, so that it had feedback, a slight tremor, and he was sweating through his gray polo shirt a bit.  And then I noticed that he really was shaking, and that it started at his shoulder and went down his arm to his hand, which was under the table in his lap, and he kept that mirror smile fixed on me as his hand was working away down there.

He was grunting a little bit.

And I just couldn’t believe it, I knew just what he was doing, there with that sick smile on his face, that sheen of pleasure, just going to town on himself here, and I said loudly, really sir this is a family restaurant!  We are all trying to eat, every last one of us!

He didn’t seem to hear me but he shuddered, a rattle, and there was a clatter on the ground, and I looked and saw that it was his dinner knife and it was all red, and just then he brought his hand up to the table and in his hand was a large chunk of his thigh that he had sawed off loose and ragged, the fat bright as days, and he dropped it right onto his risotto and, tears in his eyes, panting, he said

Man can’t be expected to live on ink alone!

I thought I was going to be sick and raised my hand to cover my mouth and my hand too was red.  And I could not look down because I could feel the raw ache in my thigh and I did not see my knife on the table where it should have been, and none of us could, all of us dawning on what we had been doing, our black teeth clenched and we did not feel much like eating anymore and there is a movement to the door.

And I am not even a thing that has been thrown to the garbage heap and I am not even giving this thigh meat to someone whose children are hungry even thought they are already blackened with death.  I am not throwing myself in the pot.  We are just making a godawful mess, all of us, we don’t know how to cook, just to make slices and how.

And how is it that to write this means that we end in red again, that one more thing else has been cut, as if this city was a film but it is not, I cannot let it be.  Or how that I cannot see the white tablecloth which was the first stark thing I’ve seen in so long other than the black ink, which was also very dark.  Or that I can’t see either because, frankly, there is a blood everywhere.

The rain just started up again, delicate.  The canals shimmying in their little percussions.  I’m eating a cigarette under what I think should be called an awning.

And really I do miss you like I would miss a piece of me that had been taken away and I’m not saying that because I think there is actually a substantial piece of me that has now gone missing, although just like missing you I don’t want to look down and see because only then will it finally be gone.

Still, sorry about all the mess.  I hope you can read what I wrote through it.


Black Dogs

Bear prole shopping, or History is the incapacity of our thought to grasp that one day we too may find ourselves eating a police horse, raw

Wariness of "videos of animals doing things considered roughly human and therefore considered 'adorable'" temporally on hold, because the great thing about this?

For a bear, there is no substantive difference - that sacred, fêted difference - between a corporate supermarket and a locally owned grocery store.  There are places with doors unsubstantially secured and there are places with things to eat, and from time to time, those places are one and the same.

And if one wants to talk about a motion concerned with la vita nuda,

[Note on that vita: this may be taken in one of two ways.  Either as the debased asymptote of the last century (not a reduction to a preexisting something but a trending toward a dominant form), or as a horizon, a horizon in the sense of that point where the ongoing ground (politicized "natural life") takes on a discrete and countervailing form, a visible edge.  That is, the horizon where material necessity + declining access to those materials + collective rage + a weakened and increasingly hysterical security force means that the concern with bare essentials  (food, housing, medicine, care, tools, water) becomes not the limit case but rather the only concern - a discernible line worth moving toward and worth taking - capable of breaking the locks between those who hypothetically stand opposed to one another and of breaking the locks on supermarkets and banks.  It precisely does not imply that a reduction to struggling for those essentials means that anything will automatically come of it other than continued misery.  Only the fact that as those things are a lot harder to secure on your own once labor-power isn't paying its expected dividends, it opens up the space and need for other forms to develop, and there's no doubt that if they do not involve a whole mass of people, then they will be nothing.]

then, and this is no joke, one would be well advised to not entirely laugh this off.

Not to ward off a certain warmth in the heart that this can't help but bring about, for it is, after all, a bear cub rampaging quietly in a produce section.  But to let there be something here worth dwelling with, that is: yes, but that reaction of OMG cute! means also that there is something too proximate, too aligned to a shadow falling over these years, a shadow that is a counterfactual and asks merely, 

and if this were a human?

And if this were a human doing so, hungry, unable - or unwilling - to go through the proper circuits, while pictures are snapped by shoppers on iPhones, hauled out by the scruff of her neck by some grinning cops, that warmth that starts in our chest would be not be there, no, it would be as though the trapdoor beneath our guts on the gallows swung open... and whatever one could have called cute will, after all, be left hanging.

What else is left, though, what remains in our genuine smile at the cub, is the nervous realization that there have been other moments in the history of capital in which one passed quickly from smirking afar at the goings-on to becoming that desperate subject struggling to go on or get by.  (Therein the utter importance of a certain trajectory of horror literature in relation to thinking the history of human misery: not because it depicts things bestial or debased, retrograde or inhuman, infernal or machinic, but because - and think here of Cornell Woolrich's Nightmare Alley and its mouth full of hot chicken blood or Ballard's tales of those who are dimly aware, like the psychiatrist who has been reduced to a doddering imbecilic pseudo-father by the woman he tried to "cure" - of having once been the one who laughed at those in such a condition.  Because those tied to and broken on fortune's wheel remember damn well what it was like to look at the poor bastards mangled below.)

 That is, one rarely expects or anticipates that, indeed, one will be tearing apart - handful by handful - a police horse for food during a riot.  (See 1919, Austria.)

And it is the crossing and rending of that distance -  from one who recoils at the thought to one who is discovering just how tough it actually is to tear apart a horse, from a given us before our laptops giggling at a little bear tumbling over some cabbage to a forming us hurriedly stuffing all available produce that involves necessary minerals into backpacks, from the destruction that simply happens to the negation that must be articulated, laboriously, savagely, carefully - which has sometimes been called the real movement of history.

And no, it isn't much fun at all.

Proposal to handle the Eurozone underemployment crisis

 “This seems to be the secret of the Austrian national economy.  How often do we hear someone say when there is a fire: ‘Thank God, now there will be work for people to do again.’  In that case I know a splendid solution. Set fire to a town, set fire to the empire, and everyone will be swimming in money and prosperity.”

Adolf Loos

Stains of gray

 this afternoon:

The real reason I moved to Napoli is not the fact of its "historic quality," that it is a working port, that I live on a street more than two millenia old, that I do not speak English here, or that everything that technically may be deep-fried is, in fact, deep-fried.  

It is because I have never been anywhere else that has this many different textures - painted, chipped, hewed, repainted, tape reside left, shat upon, igneously formed, pissed upon, peeling, fading, dust covered, polished, etched, stuccoed, pasted over - in such a constrained zone.

If form is - and I believe it is - nothing more than the gradual accretion of ornament (that non-necessary "surface modulation" that is overly indexed to its precise historical moment, given that is an "addition" to the external appearance of material, and, if you are Adolf Loos, is therefore a stain on the timeless, a threat to form's eternality, and therefore cries out for its destruction or erasure), then this city is the permanent, obstinate revenge of ornament.

As such, it feels like home. 

Escape From Venice (Snake's Postcard to Utopia On Moving Fast Over the Water)


I’m sorry this is going to be so brief, as in just a bit, I’m going before the Tourism Bureau to present my proposal to revamp Venice.  I’m all nerves, hot stones in the gut, but I got a clean shave, I know my material, I’m feeling sharp. 

And they have to take my idea.  They just have to.  Because sure, I know what some of the others are talking about: better access to potable water, proper burning of corpses in a single quarter of the city, knife-free zones, killing those birds, hydroponic permaculture.  And I’ll admit, they really should do something about the corpses, which, I suppose, would also have a positive effect on the whole water that can be swallowed without coming back up problem.  And I shouldn’t even think that because when I think my lips tend to move and they will see and join forces to propose to Take All Corpses Out Of The Water Supply - TACOOTWS, they even have an acronym!  But christ, I heard one of them going over his notes, his lips fluttering silent too, to try and reopen some of the old guild workshops and to make new masks - with “organic materials” - to sell as handicrafts.  He swears that we could get a Fair Trade certification, like we were chocolate or bees, and I am neither, and that we are still a World Heritage site so double-whammy.  And this woman is promising that restarting Carnevale would be “just the ticket - a dazzle of mystery and romance to show that Venice has still got it.”  Yeah, got it like the plague, we got it.

But I got it.  I know what’s going to change the whole game.  Because what do you think when you see all this water, these tight twisting back alley canals, the wide-open spaces of the Grand one, all this rippling sheen, this shimmer surface?  When you see those dim tools putter around on those gondolas, sweating, their hands blistered into claws?  When you see how long it takes to get from place to place and how you’re supposed to respect tradition but what does tradition mean when it has necrosis and when what we all really want is the future, the future throwing up a hell’s spray, the future the way that particles of water in the air make - yes, I dare to say it - a rainbow, the future's wet, the future joyous, a bit American even, unwept, the future that roars into view, throwing out a big wake with a big grin on its face?

Because that’s what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about Jet Skis in Venice.

I mean, what else is there to do here?  Maggiore or minor, it’s not gonna matter, because these things don’t need more than a half-inch of water to run, hell, you can gun up over the stones if you got enough speed, they’re great for fishing, and on that note, if we did still want to do something about the soggy bodies, I mean someone should, they are full of holes but not holes that make something sink, and there is the problem of the eyes that remain, but if we wanted to get rid of them, just hook em, hook em up to a hot Polaris and it is on.  But mostly, just tearing all over, hauling big loads, doing some jousting, running the waves dog-tired past the breakers.  Just letting ourselves live, and live with something fiberglass and howling between our legs.  For once.

And this place will never be the same.  Down with the funereal pomp, that dirge of lapping waves.  I want them drowned out in the sound of what runs them.  Once they take my plan, there will be no sound anymore, just flash and burp, throttles floored, and the canals full, teeming as if we were birds and birds were painted hot green.

But what really matters is what I’ve been dreaming since I came up with this plan and I think I came up with it, a whole scheme not to better the city, because I do not need this place, I do not need this wrecked bilge pump, but I want it just to lay the groundwork for my big dream.  Which is you and me, queen and king of this swamp, the ones who brought the end of sound to it, who brought the new days, and everyone knows it, and we’re riding only the best, a custom painted, gondola black to mock the past but it is not all black because there along the side, there’s a growing neon, and the black is burned out with color, airbrushed flawless, a hunter orange off-set with purple accents, and written across it in double cursive, black and gold, is LA SERENISSIMA.  Yes.  And we sit above these words on this four-stroke Sea-Doo RXP-X, 260 horsepower, and at first, we’re barely using them, we’re chugging along real slow, a little time to ourselves through San Polo, and then we’re there in front of all of them, shining, bottle of champagne in your hands, we’re puffing bud, a little hazy now so that it looks as though the water was half-sand half-water and no glare, it’s all polarized.  And they are high-fiving us as they roll by, no one’s got a machine like ours but fuck it they’re happy I brought them this gift, ridded their world of the floating coffins and the day is good the weed is good, and you’re looking beautiful and sometimes I make us jerk forward just a bit so you scream and hit me playing a bit and then you put your arms around me tighter.

But we’re leaving all this behind, and I’m opening up the engine which is happy to finally let itself go, and we’re whipping under the bridges, like a tranche, the arching plume of spat water behind us doesn’t even have time to fall, it hangs there, a barricade in the river, made of river and the sun caught it just mirror right and there they stood, facing their own faces, their ache bodies hung in the light.  But we, we’re not there, and we can hardly be seen, we’re too fast, they can’t even read the back of my shirt where it says IF YOU CAN READ THIS, UTOPIA FELL OFF and they couldn’t anyway because you’re clutching hard to me, not a sound now, and we rip past the Academy, the Leoni, Maria de la Salute, Dogana di Mare into the channel, where the water past Giudecca joins it, colder, and we barely touch any of it, we are a stone that we have skipped ourselves.  And are curving just around Lido out to the open sea so that we follow the line of every ferry that runs through here but how there are none now, they are there just as shuddering brief images of themselves, white hulks, and it does not matter anyway, because there are those who wave when they see you pass and there are those who do not know what it is to wave, do not know what it is to see, do not know how it is to be held, and who do not understand the fact of this hurtling speed that touches so little.  And behind me you too shudder and I do not know what kind of shuddering sound it is and when I turn back to be sure that yes it is laughter I cannot help but see that even you are not there and there is no one at all to read my shirt or to laugh that the sea lasts a long time, whether or not you run across it like a stone.


As a chicken in a glass house

The ending:




But my dear friend



Lettre Ouverte À Ceux Qui Condamnent Le Pillage

Pour ceux qui lisent le français... les gens excellents de Le Réveil ont fait une très bonne traduction française de "An open letter to those who condemn looting".   Une grand merci à eux.

["Il y a eu beaucoup de destruction à Londres ce dernier temps. Des bâtiments et des voitures ont été démolis et brûlés. Rien n’est en train de se construire. Il n’y a ni plan directeur, ni projet, ni programme. On ne parle que de négativité sociale, et cela est démontré dans la destruction d’une portion de ce qui existe. Cela démontre une haine : une haine de la police, d’une ville qui les expédie et les ignore, des vitrines qui protègent des objets trop chers à obtenir, des ordres qui vous disent de vous débrouiller et de l’arrestation que vous subissez quand vous tentez de le faire, de tous ceux qui les regardent avec suspicion quand ils les croisent car ils portent des capuches et ont des visages foncés.

Mais ce n’est pas une négation à proprement dit, même si c’est une partie du processus. La négation, plutôt, est la suppression des relations qui soutiennent un ordre donné comme il est présenté. Les relations telles que la propriété, la loi et la valeur. Ce n’est pas une oblitération, pas une destruction totale, mais le positionnement de tous sous le doute et la cri- tique, très souvent d’un ordre très matériel. (La propriété se montre très résistante aux arguments, même s’ils sont très bien formulés). C’est un bain d’acide : il ne privilégie rien, il supprime la cohLrence qui excuse l’existence des choses pour les voir comme elles sont, et voir ce qui reste, ce qui tombe, ce qui a empoisonné tant de personnes depuis si longtemps.

C’est cette différence, cette mince différence, entre la destruction et la négation qui constitue tout ce que nous avons dit jusqu’à maintenant. La destruction arrive. Elle n’arrive pas sans se faire prier, pas automatiquement (il y a des individus qui prennent des décisions réelles pour la réaliser), mais c’est un fait constant. Ce qui est rare, c’est de saisir – oui, « de manière opportuniste » - ses émergences visibles comme une occasion nécessaire d’étendre cette colère et ce chambardement au-delà de ses éruptions à une pensée de négation réelle, vécue, soutenue. Une négation est, en effet, construite, à partir des liens qui prennent forme subitement lorsque les relations précédentes qui gardaient les choses à flot – le commerce, la police, le transport, le travail – se voient vaciller."]


1.  Pessimists

2. Light

3. What happens when the walls of a crowded corridor are made partially of glass

4. Ghetto birds and ruin birds