A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality

September 2, 2015

Waiting Poem (First Draft)


I’m trying to figure things out but I’m not figuring things out, unable to separate my thoughts from my feelings from the things I have utterly and totally wrong. It all folds together in one long unfigured mush. After I die they can dissect this mush and find the tumor. Someone will decide if this tumor is a thought, idea or feeling and someone else can decide that they’re wrong. They might decide to argue about it or decide it’s simply not worth the bother. But for now I am still alive, trying to figure things out, searching for where to start, or what might be the beginning and what might be the end. Having a beginning or an end might be a start. A crime scene needs a clue, a culprit, a verdict, but more than any of these things it needs a judge. When I get sad I want to blame someone and I want that someone to blame myself. I don’t know what the point is of publishing books after you die but I know there is often an increase in demand. When posthumous demand decreases we might think of it as a different kind of success. And then there is this chronic hacking cough, the most literal thing I am currently trying to figure out. Everyone thinks they are my friend but I am forced to admit I don’t think of them in quite the same way. Let’s let differences remain different! Or let’s not and say we did! Last summer I was sad and this summer is similar but different. How are we to understand a pain that won’t let us ever quite escape? How many pages have I written or will I write before I die? Too many and, what’s more, too few. A sinking feeling that is almost criminal? I am trying to figure things out but in the grip of a terrible unfiguring. Before I had no readership but now I have only the readership that will hate these words. There are so many of us who all agree, who want to replace literature with telepathy. And if we can agree on that I am certain we can agree on so many wonderful things. Do you want to read the first three pages of a possible new book and let me know what you think? Past page fifteen I have the terrible, awful, horrible feeling that there is no turning back. I am trying to turn back, figure things out, learn where I went wrong. Each fork in the road is a devastating lie regarding the nature of choice. Things come too easy to me and it is all unbearably hard. But keep going, we keep going, as each step demands and falls in love with yet another step. This is the true nature of time. Different shades of waiting and different calamities of time. When you turn against things they turn towards you, and again, turn into step after delicate step. One of the words I have been using far too often in my writing is the word tears. This word is like so many words, an appointment I probably should have cancelled. This word is like a secret that is also the exact opposite of a secret, a secret place. A secret that needs editing and will always remain unedited. Crying as you write the word tears.


September 1, 2015

Ten books I plan to read in the nearish future


Pamela: A Novel - Pamela Lu
The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman - Davi Kopenawa
In The Break: The Aesthetics Of The Black Radical Tradition - Fred Moten
Toward a Global Idea of Race - Denise Ferreira da Silva
Black, Brown, & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora - Franklin Rosemont & Robin D.G. Kelley (Editors)
Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States - Audra Simpson
Hello, the Roses - Mei-mei Berssenbrugge
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment - Patricia Hill Collins
Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination - Robin D.G. Kelley
They Were Counted - Miklós Bánffy

(I think I'm posting this mainly so I can look back in a year or two and see how many of these I've actually manged to read.)


August 31, 2015

Health Problems


This isn't fiction.  I am writing about this here and now because it is something not everyone knows about me and I often wonder if this is a mistake. I always feel that I'm an open book, but I also think I constantly find ways of being an open book that are actually quite secretive. As an artist, this might even be said to be on of my virtues. But that's not what I'll be writing about today.

I have had more or less the same health problems for the past thirty years, and at times it seems to me they have been getting incrementally worse for that entire time. These days I am in so much pain I am barely able to function, but for the most part I manage to function anyways.

At the same time, even though I have been in this pain for so long, I still don't really know what it is, what causes it, or what the best treatments might be. I would say starting at some point, maybe about ten years ago, I have simply tried to ignore my health problems to the best of my ability. Unsurprisingly, over this period the pain has steadily worsened.

I've never been able to get a diagnoses to prove it, but I feel my health problems are somewhere in the realm of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. But, then again, maybe not. Maybe my understanding of what ails me is way off base and therefore hindering my ability to seek improvement. But the more general description chronic pain would be difficult to undermine.

The right side of my body hurts much more than the left side. The pain in the right side of my body seems to emanate out from my right hip. But I also wonder if the pain in my hip comes from some sort of slight twist in my lower small intestine. Or if there is a relationship between the hip and the intestine that prevents either one from fully releasing. It is also possible that the problem originates with my gait, that my right foot doesn't land correctly and therefore keeps the right side of my body twisted. At any rate, these are all either symptoms or origins of the pain I've been in for the past thirty years. I also have regular headaches. And lately there has been a fair bit of nausea.

A more recent problem, that's maybe started around five years ago, is a chronic cough along with difficulty breathing. This cough has gotten much worse in the past six weeks and perhaps has inspired me to write this post. My understanding is that my rib cage pushes forward and presses into my lungs. I'm also not sure if this is a correct diagnoses.

About ten years ago, when I was more often seeking treatment, I found I couldn't actually get myself to do anything the doctors or health practitioners suggested. I would go for the appointments, listen carefully to everything they said I should do, and then do none of it. After awhile of this it was only a short step to no longer seeking help. At the forefront of my mind throughout this pathetic comedy was that if I did their suggestions I might live longer, and mainly what I wanted was to die as soon as possible. Obviously, there is a very intense and intimate relationship between my health problems and my considerable depression. Maybe my more severe depression started around the same time as my health problems, but I have always has a melancholy temperament.

However, I do still do a few things to take the edge off the pain: acupuncture, osteopathy and I also wear orthotics to partially correctly my walk. All of these things help a little, but as the years roll on they seem to be helping less and less.

I often write about my depression but I rarely write about my health problems. I think the reason for this is I do suspect there are things I could do to at least slightly improve my health but for the most part I don't do them. I am ashamed of my continued inaction. Sometimes I feel it reflects a deeper truth about me, that I don't really want to live, that I am living my life as if it were an extremely slow and aggravating suicide. (For example, I eat poorly and get no exercise.) At other times I feel there is no real truth in it. That I simply didn't manage to figure out the root of the problem and after awhile gave up trying. This is the opposite of what one should do in activism, and I am obviously an extremely poor activist for my own health.

But, when I write about how awful the world is, I often feel that perhaps I wouldn't find it as awful if I wasn't in constant, almost unbearable pain, and hadn't been for the last thirty years. And I worry that this skews my outlook as an artist, and of course also my more general outlook on life. There is so much defeatism in my work and thinking, and it seems a bit too obvious that this outlook is related to my defeat in the face ongoing physical pain. I so often wonder what life is like for other people.


August 28, 2015

Yes and No


For the past six weeks I've been saying no to all work offers, saying that I can't take on anything new until I've finished my next book. Every time I say no to anything I almost feel like I've committed a crime. Makes me realize the degree to which I've programmed myself over the past twenty-five years to say yes to everything.


August 23, 2015

Two Kristin Ross Quotes


"The logic of emancipation concerned concrete relations between individuals. The logic of the institution, on the other hand, is always nothing more than the indefinite reproduction of itself. Emancipation is not the result but the condition for instruction."

"Time or temporality is a human, social construction, and as such is tainted by the contemporary biases and dominant prejudices of the moment - such as the idea that dominates our own time that one should accumulate the most capital one can, hoard it to oneself, and then die."

- Both quotes from Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune by Kristin Ross


August 18, 2015

Introduction to Taking Care

[This text was originally published as an introduction to the Taking Care section of Truth is Concrete: A Handbook for Artistic Strategies in Real Politics.]

In my book Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, I wrote about a group of activists who attend something referred to only as “the meetings.” What exactly the meetings are is never made entirely clear. However, a few things are explained. The meetings take place in a dystopian near future in which the activists in attendance have good reason to fear that, if they were to engage in effective acts of protest or civil disobedience, they would be arrested, tortured and perhaps killed. Their weekly gatherings are therefore a kind of refuge from this harsh reality. A place to talk, reflect, attempt to re-invent the left and prepare for a time when activism will be effective once again. When that time comes, because of the ongoing discussions that make up the meetings, they will have considered all options and be ready. Many readers saw these meetings as a satire on the ineffectiveness of the current left, but this was definitely not my intention. (In fact, at the end of the book, I break the fourth wall to explicitly state that I do not want the book to be read in only this manner.) The idea for the meetings had far more to do with my own personal frustration, with looking at the desperate state of the world and not knowing what to do, where to start, how real long-term change might begin and continue.

I remember first reading The Critique of Cynical Reason by Peter Sloterdijk, how I was fascinated by the concept of ‘enlightened false consciousness’, that we can clearly see all the structural inequalities we take part in perpetrating but still do little or nothing to change them. Or, on a slightly different register, I often think of an anecdote I once heard about Charles Mingus, who regularly began his concerts by playing the Duke Ellington standard Can’t Get Started. When asked why, he would apparently reply: ‘because that’s my problem in life, I can’t get started.’ All of this is a way of speaking around the fact that I have enormous sympathy for, and curiosity about, anyone who can get started. Who finds ways to break the inertia of relative privilege and set off on the endless and impossible task of improving the world. I don’t feel qualified to judge what might be more, or less, effective strategies in such matters. I fear that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ but, at the same time, also embody a much greater fear of my own ineffective paralysis.

We might say that all of the texts and projects in the following chapter take place on the other side of the line from where I stand. I am on this side of the line, along with much of the world’s population, where I’m definitely not doing enough (if I’m doing anything at all), and they are on the other side, where they are doing at least something, if not quite a bit more than that. On the other side of the line many strategies are invented and become possible. From WochenKlauser’s “concrete improvements of existing social circumstances” to Minerva Cuevas’s offering of “unexpected products”; from Michal Murin’s rehabilitation of his old friend Milan Adamčiak, assisting him from homelessness towards a renewed artistic practice, to Christoph Schlingensief’s equal treatment of superstar and differently abled performers; from the vacuum cleaner’s act of starting his own mental health institution and detaining himself within it to the necessary design-based paradigm shift that is Permaculture.

Again and again, I feel I am reading about events a little bit further along the path than I am. (Or, since I don’t particularly believe in progress, a little bit further around the circle that will endless continue unless our complete extinction cuts its short.) This feeling reminds me of the well-known last lines from Rilke about gazing at the Archaic Torso of Apollo: “for here there is no place
/ that does not see you. You must change your life.” It might be a simplified reading, but I have always seen these lines to mean that experiencing great art leads towards the realization that the way one is living is not nearly enough. ‘You must change your life’ doesn’t suggest that there is only one right answer, only one possible change, a right way and a wrong way and you must choose correctly. It is more about opening possibilities, opening up a window and letting in some air, wondering anew what can and cannot become part of our more general reality.

Notions such as care, kindness and compassion might help us find a basis for where such personal shifts can take place. Here we are in a territory of fragile humanism, about as far away from the ‘no future’ punk rock nihilism that was one of my personal entry points into art and creativity. If I can get past my anxiety that all punks become boring hippies in the end, I can see that conceptual strategies that allow for more generous social relations, to put it rather bluntly, often feel good when you take part in them. In their book On Kindness, Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor suggest that Freudian or Hobbesian conceptions of people as inherently selfish or cruel turn our gaze away from something we already know: that behaving with kindness towards others occurs continuously, on all levels of society, and is in fact highly pleasurable. We are capable of selfishness but equally capable of generosity. The suggestion that we are not, or that one quality is more prominent in human nature than the other, is little more than propaganda for selfishness.

The strategies suggested in this chapter are varied, at times in conflict with each other, very much open to every kind of criticism. When you mix art and politics you open yourself up to a barrage of difficult questions from all sides: that the work is not political enough, that it takes the wrong political position, is naïve, is only a band aid on the problem it seeks to address. Because so many projects along these lines step outside of the safety of an autonomous artistic position, the grounds upon which they can be criticized become increasingly unstable. If I criticize a painting or a novel, the forms my criticism might take are fairly well established and, most of the time, reasonable limits are adhered to. But if I criticize an art project in which addicted, homeless sex workers and politicians are placed together on a boat in order to engage in dialogue, other levels of questioning rapidly, often confusingly, arise. How do I feel about the rights of sex workers? How do I understand sex work in relation to other kinds of work? How do I feel about activists (or artists) engaging with the state? How do I understand the social role of the state? Is it possible, in a short time, to set the parameters for a long-term solution to such a complex, ongoing problem? Where does charity end and empowerment begin? For me, such works have multiple agency: they assist the people more directly involved in the situation while at the same time opening a space in the imagination, suggesting that every social problem has multiple imaginative solutions if only we change our habits of thought.

Of course, changing our habits of thought is not nearly enough. Capitalism is a way of thinking, but is also a system that enriches the lives of few at the expense of the lives of many. To state the obvious: where there is suffering, most likely there is also economic profit. I suggested earlier that ‘kindness towards others occurs continuously, on all levels of society.’ I believe this to be true on an interpersonal level, but it does little to ameliorate the fact that structural inequality will put profit before kindness each and every time. If we start with the metaphor that I am on one side of a line, and on the other side are those who have taken at least the first step towards making small or large improvements; we might also suggest that along with me, on this side of the line, are many who take a considerably more vicious self-interest in maintaining the current status quo, who are working towards building up this metaphorical line into a totalitarian-capitalist prison from which they hope we will never escape. (And who likely wouldn’t put the matter in these specific terms.) Still, obsessing over these cruelties will get us nowhere. We are clearly not going to solve all the problems of the world in one fell swoop. Perhaps the only way is to start is as close to ourselves as possible, one small step after another, working towards situations in which possibilities might increase over time, looking around and feeling where our natural desire to care might be put to best use.

Criticality has become such an unquestioned staple of theory and art. However, it seems to me, a caring attitude does not require us to call upon our most critical selves. A critical outlook is often a defensive position, a desire to rip off the veil of surface appearance and get to the real stuff underneath. Yet not all truths are hidden. At times, surface appearances might be speaking to us so clearly and directly that, obsessed with what else might be there, we do not hear them. An art project that helps a friend in need, a friend who has fallen on hard times might, in offering another alterative, reveal some of the hardness present in this constant need for greater critical insight. To see someone in need, to try to help them, does not require the sophisticated critical apparatus that is so often celebrated as the only basis for complex thought. It only requires a belief that change is possible, the very belief that certain strains of critical thinking so often undermine.

Coming full circle, returning to Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, I can see now that part of the problem, part of the shortcomings within my own thinking, can be found in the title, since the characters in Revenge Fantasies are not truly dispossessed. They are dispossessed in the same way I feel myself to be, as a reasonably privileged, straight white male living in a wealthy country (Canada) currently being run by a government I completely disagree with. I have a certain amount of power that I could direct towards social change but cannot feel exactly what this power is or how I might use it, what other people I might form coalitions with and what specific issues we could organize around. I feel myself to be dispossessed but I don’t see how to bring myself into solidarity with those even more dispossessed than me. If I were to do so, it seems I would be setting off on an unknown path: most likely some (or many) of the people around me would change, as might my worldview. What are the things closest to me to which I can most usefully contribute? How does my misguided sense of dispossession, of alienation, prevent me from doing so? How does it short-circuit my compassion?

By each dealing with one small, yet specific, situation (and in the process bringing themselves closer to it), the projects and desires in this chapter remind us that focusing on immediate concerns, caring about someone or something within reach, can be a way of grounding ourselves. Reality is never just one thing. Luc Boltanski writes: “Reality suffers from a species of inherent fragility, such that the reality of reality must incessantly be reinforced in order to endure.” So many of the images and words that surround us continuously enforce and suggest the idea that, as Thatcher famously pronounced, ‘there is no alternative.’ There is certainly no heaven on earth we will all someday achieve. But there are as many alternatives as we are able to imagine, little pinpricks of hope, shifting moments for potential change. All we need to do is step over the line, take the first step. I wonder if some day I might.


August 8, 2015

Ten Years


Lacan is not this kind of poet of failure. The truly traumatic thing is that miracles – not in the religious sense but in the sense of free acts – do happen, but it’s very difficult to come to terms with them. So we should reject this idea of a poetry of failure. For Lacan, Real is not this kind of Thing-in-itself that we cannot approach; Real is, rather, freedom as a radical cut in the texture of reality.
– Slavoj Žižek, from Conversations with Zizek 

I have now been doing A Radical Cut in the Texture of Reality for ten years. The first post was on August 8, 2005. As I recently wrote:

When I started my blog almost ten years ago, the main reason was that I was struggling with writers block. I was tired of sending my writing out to publishers and having it rejected, or accepted but with alterations that frequently made it feel less like my own. I would think about the various publishing opportunities open to me and it would kill at least some of my desire to write anything new. And then, suddenly, with this blog I could write just a few sentences and put them out into the world immediately. It didn’t have to be the greatest thing I had ever written. It could simply be a chance for a few interested readers to see my working process, and if they liked it to encourage me with their comments. To try things out and learn through doing.

In this sense A Radical Cut has been about as effective a thing in my work life as I am able to imagine. When I started ten years ago I had almost completely stopped writing, and somehow all this got me going again, put a few of my words out into the world where they could be both criticized and encouraged. I'm not sure I would have written any of the books I've written over the past ten years if I didn't also have this forum to share things as they went, to pursue dead ends in public and to see what my thoughts looked and felt like when I shared them online.

Ten years is a long time to do something and I wanted to somehow mark the occasion. So far this is all I've come up with. I wonder if I'll manage another ten...


July 30, 2015

“Better late than later.”


I've been thinking about this paragraph:

In 1915, as the American economy boomed, the huge supply chain that supported horse-drawn transport—harnesses and horseshoes, wagons and buggies makers (13,000 of them), farriers and blacksmiths, hay balers and feedmills—looked like a robust and vital segment for deploying capital. 1920 was the year of “Peak Horse” in the U.S.. By 1940 it was gone. This was not “low-cost”, incremental progress. It was an economic disruption so fierce that the phrase “buggy-whip maker” became a business simile for loser.

(It's part of the conclusion of Carl Pope's article: Get Ready for Ugly as "Free Markets" Begin to Deal With Climate Crisis.)

1915 was one hundred years ago. Is it possible that by 2040 oil will seem like a thing of the past?

There is this feeling that things are moving too slowly, or not at all. But, at the same time, I also have the feeling that when things do change sometimes they can switch really fast, like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

I don't think this change will in any way save us. Wars over oil will be replaced by wars over water. And the environmental degradation that is already underway will bring along with it more flooding, hurricanes, typhoons, migration, famine, disease, mass species extinctions and, as previously mentioned, war. But if oil were to become out of bounds, or even greatly reduced, in my lifetime it would be really be something to see.

The phrase “Better late than later.” comes from a Christiana Figueres speech. And whenever I hear people say 'It's already too late' I think the exact opposite is true in any given situation. The true motto of all activism is that there is always something to be done, it is never too late. And you don't yet know what is or isn't possible until it happens.

Arthur Ashe: "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

Albert Camus: "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

+ + + +

As an addendum I thought I'd return to a section from an earlier post entitled Stories I started but couldn't finish:

I have been thinking so much about solar energy, about how much of what I read, especially from a mainstream perspective, seems misplaced. When I read that we will not be able to generate enough energy using solar and wind, I feel they are completely missing the point. The points are:

1) That these new, sustainable technologies will force us to use less, will demonstrate – on a real, lived, experiential basis – that resources are renewable but not infinite.

2) That there is more autonomy, and less greedy profit, in a decentralized power grid.

3) That the many exorbitant expenses of polluting the air and water are simply not being factored into the standard calculations. Environmental devastation is expensive on every level.

But it is mainly the first point I obsess over. Let’s say you have solar panels on the roof of your house. Each day, you will use only as much energy as these panels generate. When it runs out you go to sleep and wait for the sun to come up tomorrow. The energy is not infinite, not available twenty-four hours a day. There are limits and you learn, out of necessity, how to live within them.

This, for me, is the main lesson of sustainable technologies. They would force us to live differently, to be aware of daily limits, to find solutions that acknowledge real limitations. They do not make life easier in every way. They make life harder in some ways, ways that force a fundamental shift in how we see the world and our place within it. I also suspect that working within a series of concrete, reasonable limitations would bring along with it a kind of reality and even joy.


July 29, 2015

Renee Gladman Quote


I wrote a book whose title I withheld from the book for a long time as I wrote it and slept on it and not because I didn’t want the book to know itself (I had no influence on that), rather, because I feared that once I put the two together they would go on without me.

- Renee Gladman, Ana Patova Crosses A Bridge


July 21, 2015

Notes on Re-thinking Time


[This text was originally published in Four Minutes to Midnight 13.]

Leaving one place not yet arriving at the next. Also not really traveling. Hovering on the cusp of movement. Some anxiety around the decision: will I go for it, make the necessary choice, arrive somewhere? Fondness for this space of non-arriving but fearful it’s a trap. There are in fact three traps:
• the place left,
• this in between of both traveling and not,
• some final destination.

It would be easier to arrive if one was certain, less uncertain, that one could leave again. But I’m already beyond tired, comically dying of exhaustion, and if given a chance to rest I suspect I might rest forever, until the end, an end—one of many.

+ + + +

David Graeber, from The Art World as a Form of Politics:

It is the peculiar feature of political life that within it, behavior that could only otherwise be considered insane is perfectly effective. If you managed to convince everyone on earth that you can breathe under water, it won’t make any difference: if you try it, you will still drown. On the other hand, if you could convince everyone in the entire world that you were King of France, then you would actually be the King of France. (In fact, it would probably work just to convince a substantial portion of the French civil service and military.)

This is the essence of politics. Politics is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them. The problem is that in order to play the game effectively, one can never acknowledge its essence. No king would openly admit he is king just because people think he is. Political power has to be constantly recreated by persuading others to recognize one’s power; to do so, one pretty much invariably has to convince them that one’s power has some basis other than their recognition. That basis may be almost anything— divine grace, character, genealogy, national destiny. But “make me your leader because if you do, I will be your leader” is not in itself a particularly compelling argument.

+ + + +

I had ideas but lacked motivation. Who doesn’t have ideas? Who doesn’t lack motivation? The situation is desperate, yet everyone still scraping by wonders if somehow they’ll scrape by forever. Something I read a long time ago, a review of a Bob Dylan song, Dylan dream-driving through the empty streets of the post-apocalypse city. The review said the problem was in his dream he survives, everything is gone, annihilated, not a living soul for miles, centuries, forever. In his dream he survives. In each of our dreams, as everything burns to shit around us, bad decision after bad decision, we, each of us, survives. Breathing underwater because we hope we still might.

No one falls asleep and gently dreams their own annihilation. Being murdered, sure, attacked, beaten to death as each good individual is beaten to death through the long haul of life. Various pleasures along the way. But being annihilated like a speck of nothing along with everyone else, all at once, in one fell swoop, gone. Where is the value in feeling as unimportant as we truly are? Daily life under global famine. Life during the plague. I arrived too late for Dylan. Missed the moment when he rode his wave, a wave I suspect he never deeply cared for. A wave he rode by hanging on to each mask. But he survived.

+ + + +

Luc Boltanski, from On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation:

Everyone recognizes reality (or recognizes what, in their experience, clearly pertains to reality) only because others designate it to them as such. Reality suffers from a species of inherent fragility, such that the reality of reality must incessantly be reinforced in order to endure.

+ + + +

What we can and cannot change in the world comes back to questions of what is and is not reality. Convincing people, winning them over, is mainly a matter of slightly altering the socially defined parameters as to what reality might become. The reason propaganda is so effective. If something is everywhere, presenting itself as reality, it becomes a reality. The everywhere is the reality. If the king says he can breathe underwater he is still, for all intents and purposes, the king. Until overthrown. Kindness is not complex.

We all have a sense of what is and isn’t possible. If we were to each feel as unimportant as we actually are, might we think more of the future? Of the future without us—a future in continuity. But to think this future requires a new idea of time, a conception of time within which ‘the future’ might no longer exist. Past, present, future are lines in the sand. Where and when will we find this new sense? What daily experiences is it analogous with? If I do something now for the future, already I have set myself apart from it. How do I do something with the future as if it were part of me and I am still alive within it? As if destroying the future was destroying myself.

+ + + +

Nina Power, from The Pessimism of Time:

But should the Left be coming up with ‘new’ ideas all the time? Politics is not fashion—and, in any case, even fashion is more cyclical rather than endlessly transhistorical. […] Certain fundamental things that the Left seeks to abolish—exploitation, inequality, material poverty, exclusion—are more present than ever and while they may take on ‘novel’ forms, the real newness may simply be quantitative, as more and more people ‘pay’ for a crisis they didn’t create.

Perhaps the real problem here is the way in which time itself always serves as the measure for all politics, and all critique of politics, whether it be the bleak future, the heroic past, the desolate present, the utopian tomorrow, the shadowy past or the dawning of a new day. […] If time is a weapon used against people fighting against the speed and brutality of what is happening, we may be forced to use a different image of time—or perhaps an image of a world without time altogether—against those whose only measure seems to be the maximisation of profit in the shortest possible period. The question of whose finitude counts and whose doesn’t—a brutal marker not only of the division between life and death but between the more important distinction between those whose life/death ‘counts’ and those about whom nothing is counted at all—is played out in the only post-religious ‘infinite’ permitted to matter: permanent accumulation. The dedication to amassing at the expense of life itself reveals a terror of time so disturbing that any politics of temporal pessimism/optimism looks insignificant by comparison.

+ + + +

From the other side, nature is reality.

There is nature as social construct and then there is nature: lungs, blood, air, water, nightfall, hunger, running, sunlight, food. Nature no amount of propaganda can erase.

Time before clocks, after every last clock has stopped. For the people in your own tribe you fight to the death. All kindnesses pertain. Other tribes are another story. By this I want to say something about time. Breakthroughs in history don’t pertain to geography. In geography they must have the same breakthrough again, using their own language, their own terminology, their own moment. But I slipped when I wrote the word breakthrough. Breakthrough denotes progress. Instead: history and geography as the same thing. Time against progress. Time that keeps itself alive.

+ + + +

Biologist Jonas Salk:

If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.

+ + + +

Sometimes I think we must gather and fight. Other times I think: a fight is something you can win or lose, our situation too tragic for further loss and further loss is exactly what’s coming.

A new way of thinking about time might be something else. Not fighting, not winning, not losing; stepping aside and into continuity.

Out of history then we don’t quite know what. Then no more then’s. No more or less alive than the world. There are lines between days, between years, between eras, positions and disciplines. Lines, once drawn, fight for their self-fulfilling survival. What is and is not reality and how what is not reality is useful for maintaining territory.

Everything that destroys the world gives at least someone’s ego a quick, powerful boost. Neoliberalism is the totalitarianism of capital. Monsanto is the Lysenko of neoliberalism. “The resistance of being to purity.” (Inger Christensen)

The term planned obsolescence is generally attributed to the industrial designer Brooks Stevens who used it as the title of a 1954 talk. Wikipedia says: Stevens defined it as “instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary”. His view was to always make the consumer want something new, rather than create poor products that would need replacing. Planned obsolescence is our current economic model of time.

And so little reality would be required to prove, allow us to feel, be smashed by, the reality that this is in no way the case. A matter of slightly altering the socially defined parameters as to what reality might become. You cannot throw time away and then get another chance.

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Gianni Vattimo, from The Transparent Society:

Amongst the many definitions, there is one that may be generally agreed upon: modernity is the epoch in which simply being modern became a decisive value in itself.

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Kindness is not so complex. Solutions are not so complex. But the course we are on is enough to make me believe in the fucking devil.

The devil is insecure. To do these things you must be driven by something awful. There must be some great pleasure in it. That we are the pinnacle of history and it’s all downhill from here. Reality TV and shit pop songs are the pinnacle of glorious history and it’s all downhill from here. No one wants the middle, so much more tragic and musical to be the first and last. Business is business.

I am searching for a new sense of reality and a new sense of time. As must be obvious, I don’t have answers. I have thoughts. I spend many hours blankly staring at the internet each day. (All citations above found on line.) My work, my writing, my art for so long has hinged on wanting to be new, unlike the rest, breaking something open, cracking the paradigm, the hot new thing that leaves all past art in the dust. It’s part of the problem as is so much else. I don’t know if art and this new sense of time will exist in the same world.