Fan Fiction

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I am reading The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch. I have had this book for like 20 years, but only now have started reading it… very very slowly.

It is delicious. Broch was born in Austria, a Jew, and left during Hitler’s rise to power. The language reminds me Musil, and there is a quality of the book that is very opulent – twilight of the austro-hungarian empire.

I generally am not attracted to rich language, I prefer simple language, but maybe my taste is changing.

The book is an imaginative reconstruction of the last hours of Virgil’s life. Virgil was the poet of the early roman empire, and he wrote the Aeneid, we can call this the founding myth of the Roman empire – and it was commissioned by the first Roman Emperor Augustus. I actually read the Aeneid when I studied Latin, and it is beautiful and rich. This is Aeneid fan fiction.

The Aeneid, when I first read it, seemed to be Homeric fan fiction. Homer’s Illiad, Is the story of war between the greeks and the trojans. The Aeneid, follows the trojans (who lost the war), and their escape and eventual re-emergence of the founders of Rome.

As I started reading the Death of Virgil, I felt that there was something inauthentic or unimaginative. Was I reading fan fiction? But fan fiction is big these days, apart from fan fiction of like LOTR and sailor moon, we have alternate tellings of the love between Achilles and patroclus (The Song of Achilles), we have Hamnet, and so forth. That a book like the Song of Achilles is so popular means that a book like The death of virgil could also find appeal.

I am also reading Joseph and his brothers – a massive tomb by Thomas Mann – that could be called biblical fan fiction.

Is everything fan fiction? Are any stories new? What stories appeal to who? What stories generate the most fan fiction?

The Death of Virgil is about empire and propaganda

The Song of Apollo is about Queerness

We are retelling the old stories from new perspectives and orientations

Even the series ‘what if’ is sort of like this – with the Marvel universe. It is alternate story lines.

Really we are grasping for new stories – we are grasping for a story that can be many stories – The story of today is the story of the individual – not the monolithic story

One thing I am interested in is mapping characters from different stories. telling stories no only from new perspectives but new framing.

For Interpretation

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I am working on a machine learning astrology project that will help understand what predictive power of astrology, or where does this power lie. I also read the fascinating book Moment of Astrology by Cornelius, Geoffrey. Cornelius’ main point is that we cannot prove or disprove astrology it is a matter of interpretation. Even more than that, it is the interpretative power of the astrology.

WHA?

This is not such as strange thing to say, I have blogged here before about the hermeneutics of suspicion and the rise of interpretative based disciplines like psychology, in the 20th century. These are fields filled with symptoms and interpretations not empirical facts. So the idea that interpretation is a mode of understanding as valid as empirical understanding – exists – although it may be unpopular.

How else can we understand things?

Well, I have been doing a lot of work with system and family constellations and somatics (Tai Chi, Yoga), and we also know things with our body. We know things through our senses, through the ways our bodies feel. Susan Sontag wrote her essay, Against Interpretation, with a call towards an erotics of art, to experience art, rather than interpret art. I would probably call this a somatics of art – feeling art as an embodied experience.

Feeling art as an erotic experience would be, for me, something like feeling the inspiration of art. The generative power of art. Something like cryptokitties would be a true erotic experience since cryptokitties can actually generate themselves. It is alive in some way. Eros for me is about life force, not only sensing. Perhaps it is sensing with generative potential.

Anyway – interpretation for me is about creating your own language that you can use to interpret something into your own personal cognitive frame. This then becomes your story. I sort of think of this like creating your own list of correspondences, which for me is a mapping between different worlds. Like what color is the plant rosemary, what note is it. Are some correspondences more correct than others, are some interpretations more correct than others?

For me interpretation is really a world building exercise and an individuation exercise. What is the purpose of interpretation. In psychology it is in order to help – so the right interpretation(s) is the one that helps.

Parmenides left this mode of truth out from his list of predicative, veridical, existential. To Illustrate:

When I say Socrates is a man. Is it socrates is defined as a man, socrates is truly a man, or socrates as a man exists in the world.

Lets add some other modes:

Socrates is a man (feels good) somatic

Socrates is a man (works, lets me get something done, help someone) – we can call this the care or technical (see below)

Socrates is a man (is good to my sense perceptions) aesthetic

Socrates is a man (inspires me) erotic

My delta in writing this blog post is that care is technical. Technology is about taking care of things/solutioning. (It does not always do that and sometimes causes more harm than care). Is taking care, healing, the same as solutioning? No. But they are related – how.

Too Many Notes

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This is perhaps my favorite quote from a movie – Amadeus – when Mozart is accused of writing too many notes.

What is a note? What is music? How is a piece of music made? What does it mean when musicians play together? I saw Craig Harris and his ensemble, with some frinds tonight a few blocks down from where I live.

It was the first time I sat in the audience to watch live music since COVID began. I was enraptured.

Every solo seemed to come from the soul of the musician expressing his (they were all men) individuality. Individuation through musical performance if you will. What was everyone else doing during the solo, what was the band leader doing, what was the song that couched the solo that the solo rested in. As everyone played there is a convergence on a group vibration, a single organism, the band. The band moves in a certain way like a water that flows down the mountain in a certain fashion, creating grooves and eventually becomes a river. The solos are waterfalls or eddies or rocks or islands or fish or birds. Each river has its own character, speed, opacity, temperature.

The rhythm becomes the melody and then the melody becomes the rhythm. The rhythm is the discrete part of existence. When the electron makes its quantum jump and platinum becomes gold becomes quicksilver. The melody is the continuous part of existence.

I love it when the sounds meld together in a long slow sonorous blast. And someone peals away and plays what is in his own soul – maybe many notes, maybe short blasts of the same notes, maybe just air.

Medium Hack

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(noting – remembering 9/11 20 years ago)

Painting by Hiroshi Sugimoto

My friend Nitzan said the other day I need a medium hack.

Only in the age of a computer where mediums have become flexible – art in their own right – that we can even talk about medium hacks. Medium hack is changing the medium that we are using in order to change what we are creating.

What is a Medium?

Mediums, for me are like different environments. People behave differently in different environments. I as a writer write differently in different editors. I as a reader read differently in different reading devises.

In water I move differently than when I am on land.

When I am having dinner with my family I behave differently than when I have dinner with my friends.

Now what is context and what is medium. Perhaps the dinner party is an example of context not medium, and I should say I behave differently when I have dinner with my family versus when I go to the park with my family.

This is a good question – what is context versus medium?

Mediums and Art and Music and Such

And I think one of the features of the computational age is to conflate medium with context.

In my painting group this week, the facilitator was talking about how painting is different from writing. I blogged about this the other day. Her opinion is that writing can have many drafts where as painting can have one draft. And this changes the experience of writing versus painting.

This is true. I am currently trying to finish up a poetry manuscript and I am drowning under my drafts.

Writing in this way is like music. It unfolds over time.

The notation for music makes me treat it like writing. A piece of music can sound differently depending on who plays it, how fast it is played, how loud / soft (dynamic range) … In this way playing a music composition is sort of like representational painting. Jazz or improvisation would be more akin to abstraction.

The thing is sometimes in improve it does not work… until the end … when everything comes together

I like markdown

(I wrote this blog post in Ulysses- it renders without paragraphs which is driving me insane)

Apparently it did render in paragraphs! the preview was wrong

Can there be laws of human nature?

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Replicants and the Primal Father in Blade Runner - Very ...
From this article that I did not read but got the image via search on duck duck go

I have been listening to the audio book, Gods and Robots. It is a wandering journey through robots in greek mythology. Robots and myth are both topics close to my heart. What is technology? What is magic? What is supernatural? Is there a difference? Does it matter?

This book at one level is about what it means to be living vs non-living and how this is related to something that is artificial rather than natural. There is even a question of whether these categories even make sense entirely, but they are short hands that we use today. You microwave is artificial your dog is natural. Descartes would have thought that your Dog was a machine so a natural machine (and did not feel pain) even something natural can be mechanistic in some metaphysics.

Back to Gods and Robots. I was listening to this book and author wondered about a world where everyone could be a robot, as in the movie Blade Runner. Robots in that world are called replicant.. There is a test that humans can use to determine whether or not a replicant is a human – it is called the voight kampf test. But how can a replicant (robot) tell if he or she is a robot??? This is sort of the problem at the heart of Blade Runner. Does a human need to administer the test? What is the purpose of tests anyway?

Tests are supposed to sort things. In this case into human or not human.

This is an interesting issue… it is sort of like a problem of set theory. What can I prove about the set while I am in the set? It also sort of reminds me of Flatland by Edwin Abbott, how can I perceive other attributes of an individual that is in a superset of the category (or set that I am in) … It also makes me think about rules…

There are rules or laws to what numbers belong in what sets, there are laws of nature and laws of physics… And since humans are part of nature, there is this notion that humans also have laws.

I am a student of the enneagram and human design and other sightly woo/mystery tradition systems. Many of these teachings propose that humans act mechanically … that we are asleep. Being fully human or actualized, is about acting spontaneously – removing those programs.

This is also what Socrates thought – sort of. He talked about waking the Athenian citizens from their dogmatic slumber. This dogmatic slumber was in accepting certain mores, values and activities/rituals.

So this goes back to our original question… what kind of things can have laws…. can we who are alive – we think – understand the rules for what it means a live? This is a category, or set, that we are participating in, perhaps only something that is not alive can devise a test for what is alive. Or perhaps someone who is super- alive – alive plus plus can derive a test for what it means to be alive.

Perhaps there is no rule to determine what is natural vs artificial, because a natural thing does not operate according to laws (heuristics perhaps) nor does it fall into natural categories. What does it mean if something does not operate according to laws? For me this is what it means to operate spontaneously.

Should your life be a work of art or is that a category mistake?

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I think this is very provocative

If I had people over for a dinner party or maybe artisanal cocktails with artisanal bitters we could discuss this.

These days I feel like I hear a lot about art… what can or cannot be art

I also hear about living…

what does it mean to live a good life

a fulfilling life

a joyful life

Doing anything well has an artistry to it … but that does not make it art.

Proust vs Wagner

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I am reading a book about the Paintings in Remembrance of Things Past (Proust’s Opus). There is a comment that Proust has removed cause from effect. Today I believe we are moving towards a different understanding of causality away from the conditional of aristotle and the contingent and necessity of kant. Instead we are moving towards a ecological notion of how to keep a system in balance. It is all cause and all effect.

Wagner is about the total art work, bringing all art forms together to create an uber artwork

Proust is about mapping – mapping the methodology of one art movement on to another in another medium (really onto writing)

What is it like to write like so many layers of semi-transparent paint, what is it to write like so many different paintings of the same subject under different light?

These are very exciting thoughts for me. It is not ekphrasis, which is a description of a work of art like Keat’s Ode on a Grecian Urn. It is a novel written like a painting is painted, like a piece is composed or played.

Proust has three great artists in his opus – A Writer, A Composer, and A Painter (Bergotte, Vinteuil, Elstir)… But these are artists of 10 years ago before modernism, before Pollock, Cage, or even DJs, VJs, TikTok – or even filmmakers .. Godard. Maybe today we would be talking about Ryan Trecartin.

So what would a novel look like written like a Jackson pollack painting? Would it be like Gertrude Stein’s Making of Americans? What about the chance operations of Cage or the Flusserian notion of production and film, video, video games, or installations values?

I think we see some of these experiments in literature, for sure … but in Proust there is a notion of translating the sensory richness of visual apprehension of a painting or aural apprehension of a composition into literature. It is not merely a formal operational procedure – like Oulipo – where now we will use some rule based operation used in music in literature.

Would this be an impossible project today? Are our works of art less sensual, less embodied, more formal? (I would say yes to both questions) In my work, the advice I have most heeded was to go big! I paint on large canvases now. This is a formal critique. It is like writing a large book, like Infinite Jest, or make your company a rocketship to get listed on the NASDAQ.

What inspires me to paint? It is really nature, my dreams, audio recordings of poetry … it is the immediacy of everything – that I can listen to a recording of TS Eliot and then play snood, or scroll through instagram and see a call to action, a reproduction of an old master, and then some sort of tiktok make up tutorial. It is the flattening of all these experiences, the experience of all these experiences within the rectangle monolith of my mobile, it is the everything happening all at once.

Instead of “here comes everybody”… “everything comes to me all at once”.

I dont look at an art form and wonder, can I do that… I mean I do do that sometimes. But I lack Proust’s ability to give this depth. For me this exercise becomes an impoverishment of art rather than an enriching. I wonder if this is because of the algorithmic nature of our culture. I have been reading about the enlightenment and the desire to create rules for everything… Proust is in the romantic shadow of this era. We can imagine a computer creating a piece of writing like a Monet’s water lily’s under so many lighting conditions. We do have AI filters that turn photos into works of art by different painters, or creating writings like certain authors.

Perhaps Proust’s project today would be less relevant. Instead, and here I will plug my own personal interest, the artistry lies in the ways that these art forms do not over lap – in the poetry between systems rather than the mappings, the holes instead of the points of the number line.

Meditations

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Oath of the Horatii (second version; 1786)

I am back at a job where I use calculus

Venus is conjunct Vesta on my north node today (actually last night at 11:30 as I finished my move into my new place and then drove to my parents house to spend the night with my kids)

Not sure what this means from an archetypal perspective

I read Benjamin Moser’s bio of Susan Sontag. It depressed me. I felt I should be in one of the many dire or war torn places of the world. My wanderlust increased. Then I remembered my youthful wanderings. Then my wanderlust subsided.

Reading about Susan Sontag depresses me while reading about Diane Arbus inspires me.

I am now reading a book about Jacques Louis David – He painted that painting above – the Oath of the Horatii.

I read in a newsletter that this painting is evocative of the 3 of swords tarot – which is ominous

Three of Swords Thoth Tarot Card Tutorial - Esoteric Meanings
Rider Waite Smith Tarot

I sort of feel that the painting is more evocative of the 5 of swords:

Five of Swords - Rider Waite Smith Tarot (Pamela C. Smith ...

Rider Waite Smith Tarot

I remembered how important it is to feel of use and the many meanings of usefulness

Right now being of use means watching a movie with one of my sons – 33rO – he wrote that.

I will do this without multitasking

I now do one thing at a time