Wednesday, February 15, 2006
For the past seven years, Abby Walton (along with collaborators Beth Houfek, Sarah Saltzman and others) has been throwing a Valentine's party (qua gallery-sized "installation"/qua all night dance-off) she calls a "bouquat." Says Walton, the bouquat originates in parties her parents and their friends used to throw around Valentine's day in Columbus, Ohio. In the past the bouquat has had the (often twin) themes of: swans (Swanny Boquat), bears/berries (Beary Bear Boquat), weather/fast food (Windy's Taco Tornado), mandables and chocolate (Cocoa Clap). This year's bouquat is called Taj Mahal Twilight, and features (who can guess?) the motifs Taj Mahal and stars.
In addition to making elaborate wall and ceiling hangings, wallpaper, baked goods, kissing booths, and playing dance music (generally Hip-Hop and more recently Reggaeton) each year Walton and her collaborators also provide party favors after their theme. This year's favor is a collaboration between myself and Walton, a horoscope which I post below.
Combining folk-"craftiness" with art school "knowing" the bouquat (like much of Walton's work) is an original negotiation of recent gallery-sized installations/environments (of Whitney Biennial or Chelsea galleries) and the more traditional design sensibilities of the party thrower. What makes a difference in this later category is the sheer amount of work and attention to detail the artist gives to the bouquat, an event for which she prepares the entire year round, and for which she is helped by many hands (gathering materials, printing, baking, hanging).
Among other projects Walton is currently at work on, you may also check her ongoing self-portaiture (she has taken a Polaroid of herself nearly every day for the past 5 years), and her "Ponathons," a sewing circle where instead of sewing the participants make miniature pom-poms from a variety of yarrns and other materials. Walton is also the maker of any number of limited edition books, including our collaboration Tears Are These Veils (Wild Horses of Fire, 2004).
ARIES - March 21 to April 20.
There is no more need to war. Your spirit itself is a sign of moving, fatalistically current. Blinking, believing you are. You are the planet closest to the sun and said to be reddened. Tonight you will discover things as they are.
TAURUS - between April 21 to May 21.
You have so many means to be bright. And wistful on this current day of stars. On this current day when you are going to belong to someone. Beauty holds its own rejoinders.
GEMINI - May 22 to June 21 Mercury.
Don’t divide men. Men and women Mercury. Your mirror’s too tidy to be the twin. To be the twin of discourse, of conversation. Your place or mine? You give birth to yourself but there is another who awaits you nearby.
CANCER - between June 22 to July 22.
Perpetual betrothals. Moons suggest the words of your ascensions, the degrees of your downs. Your magnetic directness is a telepathy of noon-tide. Kisses are now or never.
LEO - July 23 to August 23. Their keywords are I will, Sun.
Your keywords are I will. You will be my courage. My gravity. We must split. And sever tongues. To become the set. Is always was. To play at grace. To love becoming one only.
VIRGO - between August 24 to September 22.
I have analyzed once and for all. The moon and the stars. The stars inside. Your love is not just for the future. It is the true love of experiment. A present surpassed by your patience.
LIBRA - September 23 to October 23.
If only you were the world. The world would be a balance. Of the pachyderm on the tortoise and the tortoise on a pearl. That is, you are the green world. The green world of latest things. Everyone reveling in your love.
SCORPIO - October 24 to November 22.
Be thankful. You who desire Pluto. Sometimes you would like to use whips and sometimes a feather boa. Mainly you see the thing you want, however far away. And don’t tend to hold on too long, equivocity being your advantage.
SAGITTARIUS - November 23 to December 21
You see all. That much is clear. Not only your waking dreams, but a vision of the one you seek tonight. And beyond the night, the all. Opening yourself to someone new.
Riding events to their end.
CAPRICORN - December 22 to January 20
Instruments are not of the essence. They only seem of the essence when you want to predict the stars. Let go of someone old (dying stars) and embrace someone new.
AQUARIUS - January 21 to February 19.
Make your feelings known. But do not know only your feelings. When there is another near you to love. Knowing what they feel too.
PISCES - February 20 to March 20.
Believe in pieces and peaceably believe. You will go home together. You will go home across time with your beloved.
Rotate come track the camera around
Come walk the camera around him with child
Come track the camera walk around him an innocent one
An innocent one will pray come track that prayer
Come track that prayer prayer until time ends
Come track until she extends time her life in prayer
Her life in prayer come track her prayer extend the life of mother
Extend her hand vision mother camera pace around these loving two
Light as air he picks up the child her kiss and his embrace as light as air
Effortless to pray for the dead to pray for the dead the dead will come again clocks clocks must pick up where they left off
Where they left off come pace the camera around that lightest prayer for mother
For mother wish this night this night away until day until daylight shines through these windows come track those weeds the wind down
Come walk with the camera camera around around one room one room for the two her kiss as light
Effortless extend her hand as vision this will be a day the body stays stays on earth this will be a day the eyes await
Awaken as in the days of old camera pace in one room in one in one room with the two in one room with the two two candles by the window will show no way through darkness tonight keep pacing keep pace until today the light through the two windows
Two go down go down together together in prayer pacing around the light a kiss the lightest kiss the light on the wall in the room pacing the room of two their light
Spring or fall light one can not tell summer light wind down by the reeds the two one can not tell weather moves over the dunes to find them pacing effortlessly
Effortless as the sea the wind in the reeds the two the two is she dead or are we mother born by prayer by the two two windows filling the room with light the mourners
Rising effortless as the wind from the sea lifting rising to make their tears commence prayer is a habit and a movement make it happen make mother rise again
Make mother the camera here and pacing walk pacing walk around this room room of two in prayer eyes with tears two eyes with tears two windows
Come track until she extends her death in life clocks stop clocks stop until she renders her death in life a kiss
the kiss of one born the kiss the kiss of one dead rising effortlessly as the wind from the sea with tears in her eyes cheeks cheeks and teeth
A new mother not an imitation a new mother a new mother who renders this death in life her tears to be renewed as in the days of old
Her tears our tears for time for time to be renewed the fleeting of of this death in life how light shines on the walls from the windows the reeds how they gather perceptible wind
How tears gather how the mourners gather tears lifting so effortlessly so light to render this kiss this kiss is life rendering death
Pray how the body comes and pray how the wind comes by these tears obey the body the wind in the reeds this camera pace the two pace the two in a circle in a circle the center of the world that has no circumference multiple centers for the eyes this death in life how the body comes how her life alights wind
Light thoughts light think light the child the child thinks light prays her kiss so light this shot around so effortless a central event this camera track circle pace a light the child’s kiss
Labor on the waves a play of light dies it renders life dead and living play on the waves the way reeds tend
We tend toward wind camera pace renewal of the eyes light in the eyes this death in life she breaths again she gasps she kisses no imitation
No mother in resemblance go down the two to reed beds go down the two to win this innocence child pray kiss child pray
*composed Winter-Spring, '05.
to Alasdair Schlesinger
Pick a time and pluck
The printer thinks in ink
The eyes see mimicry
And pursue it
To their blankest song
These pulses are of the eyes
To blink endlessly
Among anything your
Body can know
By loving the world
Which you seek
This feeling which is first
In this time
Of letters cleaving thoughts
A body of your
Simple whips of talk
Of this prairie green
A myth of this greenness
Initially this spectrum
The mouth is its
The body becomes
The world in words
Going a million miles
Green preceding waves
Attend seriously to
Errant in its emergence
Flick eyes sing
The mind that is
The body flashing
In a time it leaves
These letters playing their love
Graphically this integer
This year, this
That is your birth
Against any drudgery
Overtures that overturn all
Attend to attention
A time of marks, of
Your grace is not an
Nor a crick of clocks
These pulses are of the ears
*composed February, 2005 for the occasion of Alasdair Schlesinger's birth.
Monday, February 13, 2006
The Saturday before last, February 4th, I had the pleasure of seeing one of NYC's most over-looked and under-published bands in action at Tommy's Tavern in Greenpoint. Mazing Vids are two members, Ryan Byzantine (of Tallboys and Soft on Cuba fame) and Ryan Sovereign (AKA "Redux," of the esteemed Lasereye Stingray and also of the defunkt Soft on Cuba). Their typical configuration has the duo trading off instruments (Yamaha synth. and Fender Jazzmaster) while an 808 drums on. Both players lyricize and (dare I say it!) sing however it is Byzantine who really holds forth, talking psychotically and/or hysterically chanting in a style redolent of any number of post-punk ranters, and particularly channeling (thru years of practiced transmutation) Mark E. Smith (that original of literary histrionics).
Despite their generic company among emergent and established "noise" afficianados, Vids have a particular pop knack, the knack of bands as disparate as Cabaret Voltaire (the early drum-machine based stuff especially), The Clean (and Flying Nun Recs. in general), Desperate Bicycles, Theoretical Girls and others of stripped-down/total-intensity post-punk/electro expertise. What accounts for this knack (among other things) is the entrancing insistence of Sovereign's guitar "lines" whereby the guitarist repeats one riff (or note) thruout an entire song against the grain of the 808 and Chowdhury's lyric weavings. Of the later, the genius of Byzantine's lyrics lie in the artist's singular ability to elaborate within songs as short as two (or so) minutes a veritable set of formal and expressive clarity. As if to break the spell of his (self-induced) siren's song, Byzantine will often take random swipes at the Yamaha or Fender before concluding a song. And it would seem it takes such a gesture for him to return from the mental distances, the distances of psychotic attention, his lyrical performances clearly demand.
Given the duration, intensity and pedigree of the Vids who have played-out with some of the most formidable "art-rock" musicians of their generation (Black Dice, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Gang Gang Dance to name but three) I can't help but wonder why they haven't had an EP yet, let alone a full-length. But this is something for the labels (if not historians of NYC "rock") to sort out.
Propositions and discursus towards an Amateur Angelology
“To come into this world, as we said a moment ago, can have no significance other than to convert its metaphoric reality … into its true Reality …. Our author makes it clear that there can be beings who, although they have in appearance come into this world, since they are there, have in fact never come into it. Inversely – and here the analysis becomes most striking – there are men whom we can visibly discern to have left this world. They are dead, they are no longer there. We say: “They have departed.” No, actually they have never left this world and they will never leave it. For to leave this world it does not suffice to die. One can die and remain in it forever. One must be living to leave it. Or rather, to be living is just this. Can we distinguish in the winter, as Nasir-e Khosraw says, between a living tree and a dead tree? Both, it is true, are materially there. But in one the sap flows secretly. In the other the sap does not flow, because its roots are dead. When the spring comes – that is, the Imam of Resurrection—only the first will be covered with flowers and savorous fruits at his call. It is no indulgence in a mere literary reminiscence if the image of the Iranian philosopher suggests the thought of Balzac: “Resurrection is accomplished by the wind of heaven that sweeps the worlds. The Angel carried by the wind does not say: Arise ye dead! He says: Let the living arise!”(58)”
—from Henry Corbin’s *Ismaili Gnosis and Cyclical Time* (1964)
I. Five Propositions Towards an Angelological View of Materialism Written During a Period of Decisive Withdrawal
Prop. 1. That the world appears materially, but is ungrounded in its apprehended “materialism”.
Prop 2. That there is likely no “material” or “immaterial,” only the hidden (which is to say, occulted) and apparent (or revealed).
Prop 3. That the individual itself (both turned towards and beyond “the each” and “the all,” and being “alone with the alone”) makes the hidden appear as truth.
Prop 4. That in this making the hidden appear the individual achieves exteriority through a radical form of inwardness, what we may call a radical interiority.
Prop 5. That this process is ever fleeting, however utterly dis-continuous and e-ruptive.
II. Discontinuous Creation or A Platonism Without Guarantee
What would a site of discontinuous creation be?
How does such a site complicate “site-specificity” as a term indicating a literalized and anti-metaphorical materialism?
Is the recent turn away from “site-specificity” (if such a turn has in fact taken place) the turn away from an Incarnationalist discourse towards a Docetic view – where the Incarnationist-dogamatist cynically believes that God could be destroyed as matter in the form of the incarnated Christ, and the Docetic-heretic that the incarnation was only the appearance of one, that is, a phantasmic materialization, becoming ghost, or virtual corpse -- the “insight” specificity of each whose eyes beheld the prophet. This “insight” specificity, the assertion of a radical individuation of revelatory and ecstatic vision the gifts of which are bestowed by a Theosophical-Pentecostal Holy Spirit and an Oriental-Islamic Angel Gabriel, hinges primarily upon the verse from the Koran (4 : 156): “They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them, and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture. They slew him not for certain”; yet also on the verse from the apocryphal Acts of Peter: “I saw him in such a form as I was able to take him in.”
Following the opposition Incarnationist / Docetic, is the turn from a “site-specificity” to an “insight” specificity a cultural shift towards understanding “site” as virtual, labyrinthine, non-continuous, apparent, and constitutive of multiple universes, worlds, aeons or degrees (the archaic gnostic divisions of the universe)?
How can the museum / gallery or, for that matter, post-Smithsonian dialectic of “site” / “non-site” become a site of non-relation after this cultural shift? How a site of radical inwardness? Of the responsibilities, if not the imperatives, the necessities, of the super-sensible, the subtle-invisible, and the eternal battle for an imaginal realm? What French Orientalist and scholar of Islamic Theosophy, Henry Corbin, calls, “the battle for the angel”. That is, the battle for the form of one’s possible soul, the soul *in potentia*: an angelic form the event of which is metamorphosis and resurrection of the self, and the world as it extends into invisiblity.
Where, in other words, does “site” become “insight”? And how can works of art and the spaces which ostensibly circumscribe them, turn us from sense to non-sense in productive encounter? Where and when does “site” turn inward to become outward again? The inside inside… The outside inside inside… Being "alone with the alone" to encounter the world.
III. Anti-Historical Materialism and Post-Cinematic Insight
Proposition 6. Historicity is not creative alone, if it is creative at all…
Yet site specificity assumes the case of a series of facts related in sequential duration by cultural or natural forces. History, like evolution, is then continuously created.
But can the non-sense of an imaginal shift throw sense back upon the mind radically, the mind in turn back upon itself. Beyond psychosis per se, halluciogenetics, dream or trance states, hypnosis. Beyond empirical or psychological shifts. . . .
The view of creation I would like to oppose to the continuous one is one eruptive and re-creative, atomistic, occasional. It is one most recently intuited and demonstrated by post-cinematic media. Lebanese artist and writer Jalal Toufic, shows this view of creation as it is demonstrated by cinema in his article, “Middle Eastern Films *Before Thy Gaze Returns to Thee*—in Less than 1/24 of a Second”. His primary examples are taken from the cinema of Armenian-Georgian filmmaker, Sergei Paradjanov.
Thru the jump cuts of Paradjanov’s cinema, the cinematic gaze returns to the viewer before the viewer has had the perception that in an instance between percepts the entire world has been made anew, renewed in a void of non-being. Yet, as Toufic shows, it is entirely in these moments of non-perceptibility that one’s prayers for the world become necessary, a commemoration of the divine as it erupts in the discrete intervals of the world’s creation:
“Out of the clash of any two images, but even more clearly of any one image, do not arise, as in Eisenstein, many concepts (even if, as in Einsenstein, beneath them all be the concept of the dialectic itself or of class struggle), but a *dhikr* (invocation, remembrance) of the one necessary Being, who is beyond concepts; or the notion of the absolute dependence of the myriad entities. The jump cut, 'the sound of one hand [or image] clapping,' is a silent *dhikr*. Forgetfulness of God is a molar illusion, since creatures, not having their substance in themselves, are always returning to that which alone has subsistence, God. If one is enjoined not to forget God for an instant, it is that that is the maximum that one can possibly forget Him, since at the end of the instant one reverts to Him, thus remembering Him. From the standpoint of perpetual creation, we are not forgetful of God, but of our return to, of our non-forgetfulness of, God. As in Buddhism, where though we are in *Samsara*, occluded, we have Buddha nature and Buddha face; in Islam, we are, through this renewed resumption into/return to Being/*al-Haqq*, involved in a perpetual *dhikr*. The explicit *dhikr* in the form of the repetitive invocation and remembrance of the name of the one necessary Reality has an echo in an implicit *dhikr* in the form of the recurrent resolution back of the non-subsisting entity to Reality. The disciple must have meditated enough this atomism and the *dhikr* it implies that however much he reiterates the name of God during a *dhikr* ceremony, he does not go into trance, since trance would be a sign of an obliviousness to the former *dhikr*.”(*Forthcoming*, 2001)
Against Gertrude Stein’s admonition from her 1934 lecture in America, “Portraits and Repetition”: “the only thing God can not do is to make a two year old mule in a minute” – Stein, that writer of “continuous present” and “stanzas in meditation” – everything is possible in Paradjanov’s cinematic universe so long as it can be established by a cut (or, more recently, by CGI). So it is perhaps in inverse relation that Paradjanov/Toufic and Stein compose the world serially, Stein becoming ‘I not any longer when [she] sees’ (that is, non-identical in the act of writing as envisioning), Paradjanov/Toufic expressing God (or remembering not to forget Him as it were) where there is no longer an identical subject “I,” the subject becoming disidentified by the recurrent occasions of divine commemoration.
Following Toufic’s highly original body of work, insofar as post-cinematic media is non-linearally generated, serialist, and emanationist (created and creative of light) it may do us best to locate a phenomenology of insight specificity in a poetics of cinematic and post-cinematic metaphorization.
IV. The Preservation of the Imaginal or Non-Sensical Imaginary as an Approach to Being Opposed to a "Literal"-"Allegorical" Imagination (or How to Make a Radical Interiority)
The special view of “materialism” I have only begun to point to and articulate in this presentation is one derived from Gnostical trends since the 1st century (Common Era), and both subtlized and intensified by the confluent discourses of Sufism, Neo-Platonist Theophany, and Persian Gnosis between the 10th and 12th centuries, yet it is a view that may be useful, if not salvational, for our present. What now is at stake in angelological insight and how does it bear on aesthethic production and reception?
Perhaps a better question may be why does a mystical or Gnostical understanding of the material world still matter?
If gnosticisms (literally: special ways of seeking knowledge) and mysticisms have continually been persecuted since their beginnings in Hellenic-Alexandrian culture (5th century B.C.) it is probably because they present a radical relationship between the individual and the divine. This relationship, for lack of better terms, may be called immediate and Pneumatic insofar as the individual, beyond the authorities of a Church or dogmatic hermeneutics or law, discovers the divine for herself through visions, revelations and ecstatic intuitions, that is, through a special imaginative ability. The angel of Islamic, Ismailian gnosis, for one particular example, is not the angel of a multiplicity or a community of beings, but a singularity equivalent only to the soul of the individual who seeks to know that soul as a name, event or symbol within a cyclical and recurrent eternity: an eternity of not one resurrection but countless, of not one degree of being but many: an eternity that the contemporary French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, after Nietzsche’s Persian influenced notion of Eternal Return may recognize as a “disjunctive [ontological] synthesis,” and his colleague, Alain Badiou, “the truth of the event”. The struggle for this singular angel within eternity becomes a collective struggle, a struggle of all beings for the resurrection of the world, through a going within – into the imagination, into the mind, into a dialogue with divinity – that turns each individual towards God and in so turning turns God toward itself, face-to-face with the reality of its creation. In being so turned, “alone with the alone” as the 11th century Theophanist Ibn Arabi calls it, one turns outward towards the entirety of beings which should not be said to be of an actual world, but an imagined one which determines the “apparent” or “material” one so-called. Surpassing any contemporary view of the individual as an ego cruelly isolated by her interiorization, capitivated by the reifications of late-Capitalist Postmodernity, such a notion of interiority may be said to be radical in the way its puts the singular and multiple into ethical relation. The movement of this ethics, an ethics that may be termed that of a radical interiority or an interiority surpassing interiority towards exterior, is one that begins in the imagination coeval with the nervous system (the heart) however irreducible to the senses per se, compelled, as it were, by a non-sense of subtler organs…
If I could finally put forward an equation for a gnostical materialism of the radically interior it may look something like this: from the heart the imaginal, from the imaginal the interior, from the interior to the interior’s limit, from this limit to dialogue of the divine, from the dialogue of the divine to one’s angel (soul-event or true name), from the angel to a community of beings, from the community of beings a return to the heart… Universal Love being preserved by this need to imagine, to turn towards, to be face-to-face, to defer a conclusive understanding of the mysteries one most needs to know.
V. For the Cycles
“It is their own Iblis [darkness, demon] that they must hurl into the abyss, and in doing so they wage battle for the Angel who is in them in potentia. To reflect in oneself the Temple of the eternal Imamate is to anticipate the consummation of the aeon; it is here "to become aeon," to produce in oneself the mutation of cyclical or measured Time, and for each adept this consists in assuming in his person an increasing exemplification of the Angel's being. This implies that what occurs in and by the person of each adept also affects the being of the Angel who is their archetype and who finds exemplification in them.”
Where space begins suddenly
In time and presupposes our love
For the worlds (the world) what image will you
Will one make
So neutral to think
A delay shapes
Delayed shapes suddenly here
And not here
Not yet to shore
The body up
Not the erotic
Mind you occult
By drinking up ink
A scholastic problem
Of love delaying future shapes
Of a certain bow
Of an angel struggling
In potentia with
A certain bow
Circular to sing
The inside before his breath is done
Before light light falsely
An allegory of their fall
And not a fall
From light evening light
Night / Light
Not a fall
As light so literal
An angel in actuality
Kept by its words.
*"A Fantasy of Description" was delivered as a paper at Smack Mellon gallery (Brooklyn) Feb. 11th, 2006 as part of the second of two panels (Fantasy of Description I & II) organized by Eliza Newman-Saul for her project "From the Notebook of an Amateur Materialist" currently on exhibit at the gallery. Newman-Saul's talk, "From the Notebook of an Amateur Materialist" will take place March 4th at the close of the larger exhibition, Site 92. Other panelists have included Matvei Yankelevitch (Ugly Duckling Press), Professor Raphael Ortiz (Rutgers University Art Dept.), Jane Lea (Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture) and Andrew Skomra (The Center for Psychoanlaysis and Culture, SUNY-Buffalo).