Wednesday, 7 November 2012

6.11.2012 (a note taken at work while I should be working)

A tired start to the day. Perhaps I already know that writing will not take place today. After all, what is it that has permitted thought - and therefore, writing - to come forth from me of late? That I have been feeling refreshed? That I have slept well? No, that cannot be it. If anything, the opposite has usually been true. I have been using states of tiredness to my advantage, hangovers, sleep deprivation - states undesired by our society, unproductive states, detrimental to 'good health'. Why do I find these states so conducive to writing? It feels as though, in such states, all of the thoughts that usually roam around my head erratically, without the calm and focus necessary to make them intelligible - petty worries, anxieties about day to day life, administration, work, what I'm doing with my life - slow down and grind to a halt. If allowed an attempt at conversation during such a state, as I had with H. the other night, I find that my thought is left with no alternative but to pour forth slowly and calculatedly; it simply isn't allowed the speed to lose itself in the act of speech. Thought is always lagging behind speech in these states, rather than speech lagging behind thought, as is so often the case. It becomes a speech that lags behind itself.

 Could the best writing be slow, painful writing? Unexcited, unagitated writing. Calm, slow, a drudging crawl through thick mud, but a stoic crawl, one that's not annoyed, not angry or cursing its lot. Nor is it hopeful - it doesn't expend itself in anticipation of the future. It cannot imagine an end result, let alone be concerned with it. In this state alone do I truly allow myself to write, allowing myself to pick up on the tiniest urges to write, even when it feels as though I haven't much to say, and I am rewarded with unexpected insights that only reveal themselves to me as they unfold in the process of writing. It cares not for utility, all that matters is movement - as slow as possible.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

“Self-criticism [is] clearly only the refusal of criticism by the other, a way to be self-sufficient while reserving for oneself the right to insufficiency, a self-abasement that is a self-heightening."

Blanchot - The Unavowable Community

Blanchot - The Unavowable Community (extract)

I repeat, for Bataille, the question: Why "community"? The answer he gives us is rather clear: "There exists a principle of insufficiency at the root of each being..." (the principle of incompleteness). Let us take note that what commands and organizes the possibility of a being is a principle. It follows that this lack on principle does not go hand in hand with a necessity for completion. A being, insufficient as it is, does not attempt to associate itself with another being to make up a substance of integrity. The awareness of the insufficiency arises from the fact that it puts itself in question, which question needs the other or another to be enacted. Left on its own, a being closes itself, falls asleep and calms down.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Again I’m struck by the notion that mankind is completely insignificant. Reading Kafka’s diaries must have something to do with it. There is something glorious, a feeling of the world’s meticulously epic nature, unembellished, completely lacking in grandeur, when reading Kafka. Kafka always feels to me as one whose writing is to be read as that of a dead writer, but that this sensation was there even when he was still alive, even when he was writing it. In my life, at this moment in time, Kafka is to be read while listening to John Maus, to Ariel Pink, to Popol Vuh. Death, death, death is in them all. These musics, though so much more than just this, nevertheless always point to death. They point to lost times, lost worlds, and the cosmic. Yes, that’s what Kafka reads like to me. He makes man kind so strange, so fairy tale-like, that one feels as though this is a different species being documented here, with defunct behaviours and customs. But no, this is mankind and it is still the same. The attention Kafka gives to customs, to social etiquette and to systems is never incidental. He is fascinated by them – legal documents, enumerated tables, lists, manners, the lot. But he seems to always struggle with these systems. Struggling, it seems, not against them, as it may at first seem. The longer I read Kafka I come to realise that what I’m witnessing is not a man raging against confinement but, rather, truly fascinated and perplexed by this confinement – these endless confinements – and trying to understand them and their workings, not simply free himself from them. One gets the impression that Kafka engages with these systems not as his restrictors but as the very prism through which he may reflect upon his own consciousness at all.

Looking at things in such a way, the insignificance, the insectness of mankind, doesn’t seem to sweep everyone along with it. If anything, the meagreness of the multitudes seems to give the individual even more significance. I don’t know why I’m saying this, it just seems to make sense right now. Perhaps this is because in its complete form the above sentence would read: ‘the meagreness, the insignificance of mankind seems to me to give the individual even more significance, because this individual is me. And it is always “me”’.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The piety of difference

The vastness of a memory’s sky, comforting in its infinite distance from the present, bathed in the beige foam that washes all my dreams. And what is it that evades me in each and every one? Myself, myself, I have never found myself. But then, I was never there. That which is dreamt is a slice of 80s Americana, a neon Hollywood Americana, a childhood memory that passes through golden fields of wheat lit by a sepia sun, where the colours of the air are made up of brown, yellow and a sandy blue, just as much as it passes through the rocky, dry baking roads of Israel and the lone flowers blooming in the desert’s oven air. For even my memories of Israel are not real and seem more informed by the image of Israel as sold to me through television and films than by my own experiences. Could life in the north have been like those movies? Eilat must’ve been a very different place to the rest of the country. And is there not a part of me that for this reason feels that I have not had a true experience of Israel? Rather than feel as though I have had a unique experience, growing up in a unique place among the various places of the world (not more special, just different, just as every place has some difference about it, small though it may be), I feel as though lacking before a genuine experience of Israel. Let it be said that difference is not a given. Everywhere is the desire for sameness – a reactive desire, yes, Deleuze and Nietzsche did not overlook this. This desire dictates my memory, the construction of my own narrative. For if, in spite of his brilliance, Deleuze took comfort in the fact that difference is in everything and saw in it a testament of the world’s eternal salvation and source of hope, then he was but a false prophet and a priest. He may not have been any better than the modernists. Deleuze may not have believed in the idea of dialectic resolution, but he did away with it only at the expense of his own integrity: he did not need to believe in a final resolution because he substituted for it the belief that salvation is already here, happening at every moment, in every human being and in every thought. Yet the truth of difference does not preclude the danger that the Same is forever winning, forever has the upper hand, and that we have not yet even begun to see the horrible potential of The Same and the great degradation to which it can lead.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Todd Solondz may use large doses of absurdity, but I cannot help but be deeply affected by this film. Maybe it’s mostly that the experience of school as a place of unthinkable cruelty resonates strongly with me. School can be a place of almost surreal degrees of distress, and no amount of passing time can truly help one forget this. The fact that childhood is normally set apart as a formative stage, a phase of non-sense because it is still forming the order, sense, rationality and alleged civility of adult life, allows it to be dismissed as unworthy of serious dwelling-on. And yet, imagine the horror conjured up if one were confronted with a world in which grown-ups are as openly cruel to each other as kids are on a regular basis, a world of name-calling, of constant picking-on and bullying, a place of untamable violence, where it is normal to break into physical altercations and display your discontents publicly.
Yet this film’s handling of the topic of childhood is not summed up by the above. Throughout the film we are reminded of the penal and corrective nature of our lives, particularly the role that schools play in this. Perhaps ‘corrective’ is the wrong term to use here, for it suggests a reform, whereas in fact these institutions are there not in order to reform a subject gone wrong, but to form the subject in the first place. This system attempts to rein in the child’s chaos and ill-discipline, and turn it into a good, model citizen. When Dawn is taken to the principal’s office along with her parents, she is reassured that no-one is there to get her; this is swiftly followed by a reminder that this is the sort of incident that could go down in her permanent record and affect her chances in college and in other ways for the rest of her life. Her brother, meanwhile, is preoccupied with his adult future as though everything he does in the present holds value only insofar as it affects his future as an adult, that point where he will actually get to live life, as it were, where life will finally carry intrinsic value in relation to its present state, unlike childhood, which is merely a means to an end and not an experience in its own right. How stifling for this poor girl, grappling for survival and gasping for air on a daily basis, to have to be confronted with the thought that this struggle must be affecting her future irreversibly and without her knowing how to do anything about it. Worse still, she is incapable of articulating what kind of future she would like to form for herself in its stead.

“I always felt as though God would come into my life at some point, but he never did”, said Tommy Lee Jones’s character in No Country for Old Men, and this reflects for me the way I have so often lived my life and still do: forever waiting for that point in the future when I will finally come into myself.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Two very interesting articles on Tarkovsky's Mirror.

On Deleuze and Bergsonian time in Tarkovsky.

And an interesting analysis of Mirror