ANYTHING CAN BE LOOKED AT MORE THAN ONCE // ONLY WE EXIST
i went to an art event thing whatever yesterday where i participated in a performance which involved having my hands hog-tied behind my back, having a black hood placed over my head, being left alone in a cell, then walked down some stairs into another cell, then being presented with an option, then being instructed to have my hands raised above my head against a wall while i heard what sounded like a man next to me have his clothes forcibly removed by someone else, then i was lead back to a room and ‘released’ as they say. it wasn’t like totally fucking transcendent and as an art piece or whatever it wasn’t perfect but i certainly enjoyed the tension, it was almost calming, i felt so good after it. today i went to aquatic park and swam in the bay because it’s the solstice and by ‘swam’ i mean i waded in up to my belly-button because it was too cold and i guess i’m a pussy. the point is, i guess, both of these things made me feel significantly more than i’ve felt reading anything in a lit journal ever.
i don’t know what alt lit is any more and i don’t think i care. i am friends with and enjoy the company of a lot of people who are i guess identified as “alt lit writers” but i don’t know to be honest i probably haven’t read that much of their work. i love steve roggenbuck and think he’s brilliant but i think his performances/vlogs totally overshadow all the image macros and printed poetry stuff. i like going to art openings more than readings but i write more than i make visual art and i also find it significantly easier to talk to other people at readings than at art openings.
i almost only watch movies in theaters now because having unfettered access to THE CINEMA makes watching anything on my laptop near impossible–besides, i’m still seeing more movies per week lately than any other time in the last three years. i’m not particularly angry at anything and i hope this post doesn’t come off that way but i’m finding myself actually happy a lot lately and within this happiness i sometimes start to get frustrated with the concept of why the fuck so many people care about something that seems so disposable and self-referential and vacuous. more than becoming a part of a “lit scene” i like having friends that i can get drunk with at a bar and maybe sometimes we’ll talk about literature, maybe sometimes we’ll talk about movies, maybe sometimes we’ll just bitch about whatever, but really the point is to enjoy one another’s company and drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes and feel happy about life. insofar as any community is imagined i still find the transition from the virtual to the real far more satisfying. one thing i always remind myself is “one day you [i] will be older.” i hate nostalgia because i insist on living in the present. worrying about the future seems so unnecessary.
when you’ve taught yourself hyperstition to the degree that you can ostensibly manifest exorcist II onto a television at the oldest remaining dyke bar in the city writing fiction exclusively for the sake of writing fiction just seems so boring. i’m not a writer i’m a poet i’m not a poet i’m a shaman. when i told this to a woman inside of the house that kenneth anger used to live at in san francisco she asked me what kind of shaman, and i told her i engage in the combinatory effects of old and new methods, a melange of everything that’s available. when c. got hpv he shouted into the voided machine of futuretubes SAGE MY BHOLE. when i say i talk to the dead i mean it.
On Friday night my friend Jarett read as part of San Francisco’s Quiet Lightning reading series. This event in itself is not unprecedented, but what had me excited, and what had him calling me two months ahead of time to make sure I had the night off work was that the reading was held in the Westerfeld Mansion. The mansion itself has quite a history, but my primary interest (and Jarett’s as well) was that Kenneth Anger (along with Bobby Beausoleil) lived in the house when Anger was in San Francisco (four years where, apparently, Anger shot very little footage). The result of Anger’s time in San Francisco was 1969′s eleven minute Invocation of My Demon Brother.
Jarett’s prime goal (other than, you know, reading) was to hunt down a framed portrait of Bobby Beausoleil that was purported to be in the house so he could discover the photographer and finally get a decent copy of the image–the current circulating copy is apparently a shitty jpg that Jarett color-corrected in the 90s with only a moderate knowledge of photoshop. We couldn’t find it. After everything was wrapping up we attempted to ask the owner if he had any idea what had happened to it, but… let’s just say after a few minutes listening to him, it’s, uh, unlikely.
My primary goal, on the other hand, was more puerile, a desire to recreate the sort of ridiculous stop-motion scene from Invocation of My Demon Brother in which a demon statue ‘walks’ down a stairwall to deliver a crudely sprawled ZAP, YOU’RE PREGNANT, THAT’S WITCHCRAFT sign near the film’s end. I made my sign ahead of time (which, I didn’t notice until I got to the mansion and Elly pointed it out, I left out the second “T” in “that’s,” but OH WELL it still works) and made sure I had my camera. Went to the reading, drank some beer and, honestly, only half-listened to the reading (I was in the fucking Westerfeld mansion, it was hard to have any desire to pay attention to anything outside of the structure itself). Afterwards people started clearing out, and with Jarett & Dean’s assistance, we went to the stairwell (which we had located before the reading started) and took the photos.
Ultimately in my insistence I neglected to realize that since I am a human and not a small demon statue, that the angle would need to be corrected and very low to get precisely the same effect. Since we were somewhat in a hurry this didn’t happen (and I didn’t even realize it until I was compiling the above animated gif while looking at screenshots from the actual film), but I don’t think it matters that much. Also in comparison you can tell that there’s some slightly terrible wallpaper that replaced the house as it was when Anger shot the film (there were, of course, also light swirls & shit being projected over the wall in Anger’s film).
While waiting for the BART train at 1:20 AM last night I rewatched the film on my phone (wow great screening conditions M) for the first time in a while (I didn’t want to rewatch it before going to the mansion out of a desire to mete space and memory in a more organic methodology). The film is actually a lot more interesting than I remembered it being, and the soundtrack works really well (formerly I always remembered it as being a little annoying).
Right now I want the desert inside of me to be what I’m standing in the middle of, like the feeling I had when I woke up this morning after dreaming about getting off a bus one, two stops before it exploded in flames. I love living in an urban environment but I’m hard-wired to wide open spaces. At work I fugued out to the forest I spent endless hours biking through in the hot summer sun last year in DeKalb. I think my last midwestern summer was a good one.
I dream more awake now because I sleep only rarely. My insomnia fluctuates and my body no longer knows rest, really. It’s like I’m less exhausted when I sleep no to a few hours. Things are happening somewhere.
Summer is happening I think here in the bay. I find myself more enthused when I’m feeling the sun. I’ve been wearing shorts even though I immediately have to change back into pants once I clock in at work. It’s ok. The bay never gets that cold, but cold enough and overcast enough that the remnants of S.A.D. still peak around corners.
I’m trying to figure out who I am I think. I have a desperate urge for a bicycle, though I don’t think I could find the same satisfaction living in a city with a bicycle as I once did biking empty highways to small towns miles away from my own. Summer sun beating bleating barking down on my neck, covered in sweat, headphones that never left my ears, both cameras in my bag that I spent so much time figuring out how to attach to the bike that wasn’t even my own. I always found a renewed sense of energy when I would wake up hung over and would fight the ennui by hopping on the bike and heading to my forest, the forest that was not a forest but a forested park that I called my own even after the girl was murdered inside of it, the forest where I sat in the wind on a grassy edge of the stream and shouted all of Bataille’s THE SOLAR ANUS in the girl’s memory. I wanted to mete the insistence of death with how much pleasure that forest, my forest, had brought me.
I would bike through dirt and grass until I had to get off the bike and walk it, going under train tracks and sitting alone and feeling really terrific. It’s tough, because it makes me wonder if in those moments of stillness when I felt holes filled, it makes me wonder if I’m not for the city. If I just need to find the perfect empty space. I have constant fantasies of living in, as I always say, “an abandoned coastal hotel flooded with sand up to the eighth floor.” It’s like art because futile when the world around you is exciting.
On May 1st I move into a bedroom that might actually be mine, not a sublet but not a lease, a flexible position to be in, and I am lucky and understand that I’m doing at least something right to be able to find myself inside of homes repeatedly, over and over, even when it seems like everything is falling apart. I will feel out the room and if it feels right I will fill it with plants and rocks and marble obelisks, maybe bits of Greek statuary. I haven’t seen the room, all I can hope for is that there is a window, maybe even a big window, because I need the solar light.
I found out yesterday that Mark Aguhar killed herself. I met Mark briefly while I was fucked up out of my mind at High Fantasy in San Francisco, but beyond that encounter we never talked, though I loved Mark’s blog.
I had a dream last night in which Mark was doing a performance. From the back of a room they walked to the front, wearing a gown with the longest train–infinitely long, continuing forever it seemed. And so large–somehow the train, which was vertical instead of just dead being pulled on the ground, as if it were being pulled off a very long roll positioned vertically. The fabric, which was white, engulfed the room. But near the end of the train, which finally reached the front of the room where Mark and another were standing, there was a door; not an actual door, but the illusion of a door.
Mark walked through the door and the train collapsed to the floor. There was such an air of gravitas. Following this Mark began talking and soon three men were collected to sing Al Green.
I think this dream has brought me a total reconsideration of something; my consideration of performativity, which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, has a new level here. This addition of clothes, of fashion, I now understand, can become an element of affect themselves. I think this important.
Thank you Mark for coming to my dream to tell me this, even though we were not in contact in the world of the possible.
“Towards the end of the fifties, Nitsch experienced the death of language, its reduction to mere forms deprived of direct reality. His first actions in the sixties were formulated from a desire to make the spectator live directly, to make him experience immediate visual and acoustic perceptions, as well as tactility, taste and odour.”
-from HERMANN NITSCH: A MODERN RITUAL by Katia Tsiakma [Studio International, 192 (July-August 1976, pp.13-15)]
Notes On DANIELLE COLLOBERT’S AUX ENVIRONS D’UN FILM: POETIC WRITING ON THE BRINK OF CINEMA by Christophe Wall-Romana
(from Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 September 2005, pp. 265-273)
“…the psychosexual entanglement of experience with alterity”
“personal and esthetic choices: her mathematically exact point final is, after all, ultimate proof of the poet’s attention to punctuation, one of the most original aspects of her oeuvre.”
“focus on the sensorial experience of language and writing,”
“Precise visual, auditory, tactile, topographical and gestural notations generate her thinking-writing”
“All this suggests that Collobert had begun a concerted effort of recomposing her poetry around the late 1960s and early 1970s as it were on multiple tracks: text-track, image-track, and soundtrack.”
“Each of Collobert’s works seems to have its own regime of close-ups. Dire I contains extreme graphi close-ups: “Open mouth your palate, deep hollow of red earth with regular folds star-like near the edge” (150). Dire II amalgamates close-ups within a more theoretical space: “going forward among the ruins–recognizing nothing–with such horror–…–without form–without light–…which would mean that there was something not far–…–in short a possibility yet to overcome fuzziness” (223). This resembles a tracking shot in a horror or sci-fi movie pushing against the “flou [fuzziness]” of the unknown: this last term also means “out-of-focus” and recurs throughout Dire (170, 174, 223, 241, 252). Dire as a whole explores the tactile reciprocity between the eye and the intercorporeal visible world, what Merleau-Ponty calls “the flesh,” often taking the form of a tracking-shot (“to push back the limits of the visible,” Dire I 176), or a combination tracking and pan: “with this light being able to track things down–moments–sweeping through space [balayer l'espace]–going to the bottome–to the end” (Dire II 239).”
“mid-ground vs. background”
“Editing techniques include slow motion: ‘Diminishing the intensity of movement… restricted displacement of angles…’ (176); flash-backs “–in the unfolding of time–. . .–recalls–in a flash [en flash]–zones suddenly lit” (Dire II 2360; and elliptical montage, as used by Godard who clipped the beginnings and ends of shots in A Bout de souffle, to create a sense of breathlessness: “–and suddenly mobility–an unforeseen acceleration–from one word to another–without coherence–surely without an aim” (238).”
Stout, John C. “Writing (at) the Limits of Genre: Danielle Collobert’s Poetics of Transgression.” Symposium 53:4 (Winter 2000): 299-209.
“This involves a presupposition that art is not a set of objects but an attitude toward objects, or a cognitive stance (as Oscar Wilde suggested, not a thing, but a way.) If one were to adopt such a stance to all of life, foregrounding the value of attention rather than issues of personal gain and loss, one would presumably have rendered life a seamlessly appreciative experience.”
“The idea that the artist is the work became a basic theme of the period in question. [...] As early as 1959 James Lee Byars had exhibited himself, seated alone in the center of an otherwise empty room. Such gestures are fraught with strange interplays of artistic and religious forms, as the pedestal has always been a variant of the altar.”
“It should be emphasized that category by forced designation is the basis of many magical procedures. In the Roman Catholic mass, for example, certain well-known objects–bread and wine–are ritually designated as certain other objects–flesh and blood-which, in the manifest sense of everyday experience, they clearly are not; and the initiate who accepts the semantic rotation shifts his or her affection and sensibility accordingly.”
“Rejection of the Dionysian does not serve the purpose of clear and total seeing.”
“The OM Theatre performances open into dizzyingly distant antiquities of human experience. In form they are essentially revivals of the Dionysian ritual called the sparagmos, or dismemberment, in which the initiates, in an altered state produced by alcohol, drugs, and wild dancing, tore apart and ate raw a goat that represented the god Dionysus, the god of all thrusting and wet and hot things in nature. It was, in other words, a communion rite in which the partaker abandoned his or her individual identity to enter the ego-darkened paths of the unconscious and emerged, having eaten and incorporated the god, redesignated as divine. In such rites ordinary humanity ritually appropriates the aura of godhood, through the ecstatic ability to feel the Law of Identity and its contrary at the same time.”
“Euripides, an ancient forerunner of the Viennese artists, featured this subject in several works. Like Nitsch, he did so partly because this was the subject matter hardest for his culture, as for ours, to assimilate in the light of day. In the Bacchae especially he presents the dismemberment as a terrifying instrument of simultaneous self-abandonment and self-discovery. The Apollonian tragic hero, Pentheus, like our whole rationalist culture, thought his boundaries were secure, his terrain clearly mapped, his identity established. rejecting the Dionysian rite, which represents the violent tearing apart of all categories, he became its victim. Disguising himself as a maenad, or female worshiper or Dionysus, he attempted to observe the ritual, but was himself mistaken for the sacrificial victim, torn apart, and eaten raw. In short, his ego-boundaries were violently breached, the sense of his identity exploded into fragments that were then ground down into the primal substrate of Dionysian darkness which both underlies and overrides civilization’s attempts to elevate the conscious subject above nature.”
“Not only the individual elements of these works, but their patterns of combination–specifically the combination of female imitation, self-injury, and the seeking of dishonor through the performance of taboo acts–find striking homologies in shamanic activities.”
“Simeon Stylites, an early Christian ascetic in the Syrian desert, lived for the last 37 years of his life on a small platform on top of a pole.”