Walter Benjamin and the Ideology of Realism

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I keep seeing Walter Benjamin references, so I figured I ought to pay attention.

This morning I was reading Doraslity. I have been attempting to read it for years. I noticed one synchronicity, chapter 2 is about Broch’s Death of Vergil ,which I talk about a few posts back. This is a pretty synchronicity. The book then went all to talk about exodus and some other things that I was not captivated by, but I regained interest with a discussion of cinema and Benjamin’s concept of the Aura.

So Benjamin says mass reproduction politicizes art, before art was ritualistic. What is the difference between ritual and politics? I mean there is a difference, but both are about the exercise of power. Ritual comes from the latin ritualis, and perhaps from the sanskrit ṛtá: A proven way of doing something, an order. Politics is greek from polis – city, and is about the governance of the city – We could say politics is about the rituals of the city or how to order a city… it is a specific case of ritual.

To move art from ritual to politics is to reduce the scope of art.

we can also imagine that what mass reproduction does is reproduce ritual, reproduce art as ritual. So it is not really art. If there is a bowl of fruit, or a human being – that itself is not necessarily art, when I paint it – perhaps it becomes art – at least I am attempting to make art. If I take a photo of that same still life or human is that photograph- which is mechanically reproduced – art?

There is some sort of gap. I am finding a more literary word – but that is what it is a gap.

A painting of a still life is a ritual – a photograph of a still life is not a ritual.

My grandfather was a photographer. I remember long boring afternoons posing for photos with lights and who knows what – it was super boring – it took me years to actually like photography at all. That was a ritual – the posing for the image. The setting the stage. The staging of the piece.

The snap of the camera breaks the ritual in some way.

Ritual is about a melding of worlds, of the symbolic and the literal. A camera or any sort of mechanical reproduction – athough enjoyable, entertaining, a source information and education, does not meld worlds – it reduces and collapses all words to the literal. It is Map Reduce (Hi computer nerds- my people).

Keys/Fieldguides/Poetry

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I have a book of poetry that I am really late on delivering…. I totally lost my way… but I think I am finding it again.

It is called Via: and in it there are three books in the book: book of locks, book of gates, and book of keys.

I keep knowing what the poetry is about and then feel – oh no I have to rewrite it.. Is it about the phases of the moon, Inanna, the maya stone writing look like keys?? I have started thinking that perhaps this book is a sequence there will be a Via I, II, III, and different keys gates and locks. This is actually exciting to me and makes me think of B.P. Nichol, my favorite poet, and Martyrology, even though there is really not a simple correspondance.

For me this poem is a somatic poem. I call them splenic, because they work on your organs (like the spleen), they come from my organs (I hope). This morning I had a reading and this incredible actor and poet and artist read the poem and certain parts gave me shivers, or sweats, or my heart pounded. I had a physiological response. My spleen was reacting. My emotions not so much, no tears in the writer or reader sadly. But thats not really what I am after, or at least that is not what I am writing or feeling moved to write.

How does change happen? We move our legs, our mouths, our fingers and things change. I am writing this with my hands, my hands are moving and i am writing this, and I am changing, and maybe you reading this, are changing. I can have an emotion or a thought, but eventually to change something, I must do act.

I totally had a point when I started writing this… Ah yes…keys

So this week I had another idea for this collection… keys in guidebooks. I have recently started studying to become an herbologist – I really know how to do a midlife crisis – I am aces at that. During my training I had a revelation, you have to learn how to use a fieldguide, they have a key that you need in order to use the book. I just thought you take the book and go out and just try and match leaves or stuff… NOPE! I sort of became obsessed with different keys of different fieldguides and how to use them — here is scat! What if the book of keys is the key to the other part of the book – like a fieldguide… well I will leave that to VIA5. My diviner told me VIA I is done 🙂

Writing Group

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Met with the most special poetry group last night

Read this and this  https://www.ubu.com/media/text/vp/018_hajnoczky_tight_lacing_2011.pdf and

and wrote this

Another Key Piece

What does concealer mean?
What does chairperson mean?
What does nonconformist mean?

I am trying to talk about POETRY!
Stop bothering me about homework – kid!

On Wikipedia
“A concealer or color corrector is a type of cosmetic that is used to mask dark circles, age spots, large pores, and other small blemishes visible on the skin.”

All words are the same on the computer
Really all letters are the same
Really none of that is true.

You can use different fonts
You can also combine letters in different ways and that’s different

It is so easy for me to create a letter
I just press a key
What do I feel when I write an a?
It really feels the same as writing a j
Writing a solon feels different because
Two fingers

Its good I am good with my hands because
My eyesight is failing
I am so very happy I did not have to read the text on corsets because I could not read the text
Even though there was really nothing there I did not know
Because all letters are the same

Words I use a lot include: you and because and the
Maybe I should use some other more poetic words
Flowers dream fragrances
That’s all I got

This piece ran away from me
I intended to write about correspondences
not letters

A correspondence can actually help you
It can help you select what tool to handle

So like Mondays correspond to pink, the sycamore tree, the letter U, the font Bodoni, and the Manual definition:”to be wielded by another, to be wielded on a whim.”

Manuals are hard to read so sometimes you need a key

Hand of God

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Rodin – Hand of God (Met)

This is Rodin’s Hand of God. I saw it at the Met yesterday. I was wandering the hall where a number of Rodin’s small marble sculptures rested, like Orpheus and Eurydice.

Orpheus and Eurydice, Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon), Marble, French, Paris
Orpheus and Eurydice

It is so tender so delicate.

It reminds me of cave painting or carving something in situ (like the Bamiyan Buddhas).. like this is a study for that site specific piece – that art has location – it has a domus like the stars have a house. This can be the aura of the original art work – that the art work loses in mass reproduction (Bejamin)

I knew immediately that this second sculpture was Orpheus and Eurydice from the hand over the eye – and the hand of god reminded me of Michelangelo’s sistine chapel.

These are stories, narrative- things that my paintings currently lack. I see objects -these delicately carved shapes, the play of light and shadow, and it is beautiful. But then I recall the story and I am delighted… is that my ego. Is narrative an ego addiction?

Poetry Deep Dive

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First – read this

Now – read this:

Last night I read a poem before bed.

It was sadly not an erotic poem – but alas – it was still enjoyable.

It was Rain by FRANCIS PONGE. This was not the translation I read, but it is the first translation duck duck go gave me.

I am meditating with rosemary this month, and the natural world is on my mind. I am working on a crypto currency climate project, I am in a climate eco reading group and I love the world.

Today it rained. I will not say that I caused the rain by reading the poem rain – but I will not say I did not not cause the rain.

When I read this poem, in english, my mind goes wild with cognitive bias, with things like Da Vinci’s writings on water and the movement of water, with the fourth phase of water, with Dr Emoto and blessing water, the role of water via Schwenk and Sensitive Chaos, and I spiral out…

Lets stick to the poem!

"The rain, in the backyard where I watch it fall, comes down at different rates. In the center a fine discontinuous curtain — or network — falls implacably and yet gently in drops that are probably quite light; a strengthless sempiternal precipitation, an intense fraction of the atmosphere at its purest"

This is the poetry of the physicist, of the natural scientist. It is materialist informed metaphysics.

A curtain is discontinuous.. I imagine a beaded curtain from a 60s room with a lava lamp, not a decadent sumptuous velvet curtain from Oscar Wilde’s boudoir.

This rain is a network, a loaded word in our internet age. It is a new metaphor. What would poets of the past have said. Did they know about networks?

I hear the gentle drops, the plunks, the patter, the glug glug of the gutters. This piece Ponge called a proem – somewhere between prose and poem – the rhythm we normally associate with a poem finds itself in these onomatopoeia. There is an embodiment that rhythm always signifies for me. Our main rhythm is our heart beat. Here the rain has its own body, its own heart beat its own rhythm.

“Each of its forms has its particular allure and corresponds to a particular patter.”

There is movement, as the rain moves through the scene. It is such a scene of dynamism and movement, a concert. But then this complexity evaporates with the sum.

I love the deep dive into this ephemerial natural happening rendering a familiar scene unfamiliar and enchanting.

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