unencumbered & doppler-shifted thoughts on audience, non-linear writing, H20 buffalo, Gass, goats, the Italian art of desecration, hyperobjects, OOO & the god is dead particle
And now, untethered as i am, rid of audience, i am free to speak my mind, unbridled, speaking only for myself, with no ulterior motive, a quorum of one. «The applause of silence is the only kind that counts», as Alfred Jarry said. Though googling for that quote now it appears he also said, «applause that comes thundering with such force you might think the audience merely suffers the music as an excuse for its ovations.» Clapping especially has always struck me as a strange ritual.
A few weeks i came across this video of Pink Floyd playing live in the above coliseum, to an audience of only a handful of shirtless sound engineers & a stray umbrella. And then by coincidence we were standing on the same ground a few days later, the stone bleacher-seats indeed grown over with grass as i've now seen with mine own eyes ... you can still imagine a crowd of 10,000 ghosts occupying the coliseum, all clapping with one hand.
In the last post & the post before it, i can never seem to get to what i set out to blog about, which perhaps i need to just accept as the way things are. After all, writing shouldn't be about proving anything but discovering what you didn't think you knew. I seem to have this issue/non-issue lately, in general .... each sentence of the book i'm writing bifurcates into two sentences & each of those splits yet again & again, churning into lists of fracturing (or fractaling) ideas, or even just words that i obsess over for whatever reason that feel must be included in the mix, without ever reaching or even seeming to get closer to «conclusion». But as the now late Robert Hughes said, «In art there is no progress, only fluctuations of intensity.»
And the next time i read & edit a draft i change everything around so nothing ever gets set in stone. What i like about writing here, blogging, is that it can be non-linear & open-ended. There need be no structure & i never feel a need to complete anything. Or compete for anything. But i also fear this sort of thinking is corrupting my ability to write a fluid narrative, even if i try to write by hand, away from the computer. Or even reading linear narratives is becoming more difficult for me & i find my brain scattering, wanting to read a few books at the same time, unable to hold & keep & thought (which, again, is perhaps not necessarily a bad thing, if embraced).
I can't imagine how writers used to write things linearly, in «the good ol' days», on typewriters or by hand. Like how Sherwood Anderson supposedly sat down & wrote Winesburg, Ohio in one take. Our brains are becoming rewired, for better or worse. And as i talked about in the last post, the distraction of social networking & hyper-marked language surely doesn't help. But now i am free of that, and completely free of «audience», as anyone reading this likely just stumbled upon this.
In an attempt to at least ground this post in reality, it is August 2012 in Rome. I like this month in Rome because most anybody that is anybody flees for the mountains or the beaches, leaving Rome to be a veritable ghost town. Except for the never-ending tourists. And granted it is hot & most businesses like movie theatres and non-touristy restaurants are closed for ferragosto. Thankfully there's the olympics, and thankfully i'm tunneling through a UK IP for the month, so we can watch the olympics on BBC. Although the coverage on BBC is very «Team GB» focused, as i guess you'd expect. We watched one night on Italian TV & all they talked about were minor Italian athletes in minor sports. And the last olympics we were in Kenya & from what we were able to watch (power supply willing) they obviously fixated on long distance running (which suits me fine).
In July we took a few long weekend trips (thanks to Cherfas for the use of his Škoda). One weekend we went to some place up in the Chianti region of Tuscany (Castellini in Chianti to be exact). Mostly we chilled at an agriturismo that was less agro & more touristic (i.e. great food & a pool & good trail running). We tried to tour places like Sam Gimignano (dubbed the «NYC of Italy» for its medieval skyscrapers), but mostly we just got disgusted by the number of tourists.
Another weekend we went down south of Naples, where the rest of these photos were 'taken'. We went to Pompeii one day & another day went to Capri & another day we went further south near Paestum where we saw the greek ruins there (forgot my camera so no pictures ... though the greek ruins in Agrigento in Sicily were similar) & these water buffalo (at the agriturismo we were staying at that was more on the agro side of things).
Laying by the pool in Castellini in Chianti (at the less agro agriturismo), i read Point Omega by Don Delillo, which was OK. Surely not his best work. In reminded me some of his Americana (which i blogged about here) & also reminded me some of Tortoise by James Lewelling (although never explicitly stated, also rooted in the isolation of the Sonoran desert). The most interesting thing about Point Omega was that he talks a lot about this art project 24-hour Psycho, which made me want to see it.
These rather photogenic water buffalo live down in the Campana region near Paestum, where the good mozzarella comes from. Very gentle & smart creatures that make good cheese. Unfortunately these ones weren't treated so well. This one gave me an earful about their conditions:
Per Roger Miller: «You can't rollerskate in buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you've a mind to.»:
I also read The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories by Ivan Vladislaviċ around this time. Although i liked the cover & some of the art (by Sunandini Banerjee), and i like the idea of the book (basically a collection of unfinished ideas for stories), I don't think i liked it as much as David Winters, who wrote a nice review for it here.
I never ever had ambitions to go to Capri (where the above photo was taken), but we spontaneously caved in & took a day trip there from near Sorrento, crammed on a boat with 40 other annoying tourists all clambering to take photos over the heads of other tourists taking photos of the blue grotto. I mean, it would be beautiful were it not for all the rich people & tourists inhabiting the island.
After walking around in the heat for a few hours, we wanted to take a swim, but all the «beaches» (which aren't even beaches) are private in Capri (& most everywhere in Italy), with umbrellas they rent out to you for ridiculous amounts of money just so you can be seen with the bronzata jet set. We snuck down to the waterfront of one of these pretentious places & while some asshole dressed in a stupid sailor suit was yelling at us we dove in (knowing at least they don't have the right to kick you out of the water, or the 2 meter strip of shore). And then laughed and spit water as they waited for us to get out. It's criminal that in Italy (or anywhere—we encountered the same thing recently in Montenegro) they allow beaches to be private & can charge you money just to lay on them—defeats the purpose of what a beach is in my mind.
When we got up to Villa Jovis (the place where Tiberius threw people from the cliffs) we were greeted by a bunch of pygmy goats—probably what i will remember most about Capri. That & the smell of decaying umbrella pine needles. These goats were particularly strong smelling too.
On our trip south i was reading Omensetter's Luck by William Gass. I remember at least starting it about a decade ago, but never getting through it for whatever reason. The language is great & it starts out strong but the whole middle section of the book can be cut in my opinion—would've been a great novella. Or at least if it was structured differently. But it does somewhat redeem itself in the end. And then there is an expository afterword where he explains how the original manuscript was stolen (carbon copies existed then, in the mid-60s, but Gass didn't use them), and how he had to rewrite it from memory (coming off sounding like an excuse as to why it wasn't better). Again, oh how our brains must be rewiring themselves in this modern era, rejiggering not just in our capacity to write, but our capacity to read.
Somewhere along the way we stopped to see Caserta—a palace that supposedly rivals Versailles, at least in size. Until recently, in typical Italian fashion, Caserta served as barracks for the Italian air force. And it seems they haven't done much to renovate or upkeep the place since it went public, which is perhaps its charm. As this NY Times article puts it: «There is something subversively appealing about the Italian art of desecration—the use, or some would say, misuse of historic places and cultural treasures. So much of Italy is ancient, magnificent, priceless and also serviceable.»
Only in Italy, you can say that much. To call it «baroque» would be putting it gently—tacky or hideously gaudy are probably better word choices, or spent, like the inside of a thrift shop. And hey, here's an idea, while we're at it, why not use some of the rooms to display the artwork of Keith Haring? Normally i'm not a fan of Haring, but seeing it in this kitschy context gave me a newfound appreciation ...
And out in the sweltering heat of the sprawling, unkempt gardens, Neopolitan locals lurked in the bushes, making out or playing football or doing drugs. Occasionally you'd see statues being engulfed by the overgrown bushes. The Italian art of desecration & neglect.
And while i'm talking about the books i've read in the past month that i've neglected to mention, i also read (as much as i could stomach) Dream I Tell You by Hélène Cixous—essentially unedited dream journal entries, which could be cool ... problem is i don't find her dreams to be all that interesting. At least not like Derrida who practically worships her (see also I dream of GENiEmorphEMEology I: DERRIDA the colonel linguist: gene- SSES ' ANALogies ' RES & IUS SECRETing from CIXOUS' ARChive). I liked her Hyperdream better.
Speaking of hyperdreams, i've been thinking of things in terms of hyperobjects lately, an OOO term coined by Tim Morton:
He uses plutonium as an example of a hyperobject (a nod back to Graham Harman's Schrödingeresque thought experiment with a chunk of plutonium in a desert, used in the original paper that spawned Object Oriented Ontology, or OOP—Object Oriented Philosophy as Harman first referred to it as before Levi Bryant renamed it) ... which is interesting in light of the plutonium-fueled Curiosity rover that landed on Mars yesterday. The irony being, if there were any life on Mars, the radioactive decay from the plutonium of Curiosity would likely kill it, as it automatically snaps photos of the living in the act of dying to phone home for us to «see». Curiosity killed the cat, as the saying goes.
This, also in light of all the recent hype about the «discovery» of the Higgs-Boson, the so-called «God particle»—a gimmicky marketing moniker that only serves to alienate the world from all that is interesting about this Higgs-Boson. Not only do i object to the sub-word god, but i object to the word particle. To think of it as a particle is a huge disservice to its potential (in its ability to endow mass on other «particles»). Sure, the discovery in its particle state is an encouraging verification of Higgs' original prediction, at least enough to perhaps justify the cost of the monster accelerators used to «discover» such a minute «particle». A corpse is a more apt way to think of a particle ... just like taking photos of things kills objects, or tourists kill places, detection only serves to kill the original essence (something that any OOO philosopher would likely disagree with, but really its all a matter of semantics). Or how putting ideas into words kills the idea. The Higgs-Boson is a hyperobject for sure, in theory. It is a field of potential that will not let you put your finger on it ... for the second you do you kill the essence of what it was & turns into what we think it is, or will it to be. It's like when you are deep sea fishing & drop a hook deep down & pull up a fish up whose eyes are bulging out & whose brain has exploded because of the pressure difference & then saying you «discovered» this fish & make assumptions about how the fish «lived» based on an autopsy of this grotesque dead fish corpse that is behaving nothing like it was in its natural state. Per Graham Harman: «Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized.»
Or yes, it's like speculating about how the people in Pompeii lived in their natural state 1933 years ago based on the plaster-casted postures they assume today. It's the same story that crops up in all disciplines over & over, including story-telling (with language itself being the final frontier, at least that we will ever be conscious of). And this seems to be the story of my life—now matter what i set out to write about, i end up circling back to this point, the very point that encouraged me to switch from quantum physics to art.
All this & i haven't even gotten around to Bergson & Creative Evolution, the other book i've finished recently that really blew my mind.