Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Bones of Georges Perec Ejaculate 78,744 Times in Chapter 44 of Moby Dick

Moby Dick Chapter 44 or 6,618 times
Justin Quinn

From Moon River:

Chapter 44 or 78,774 times E is Justin Quinn's remarkable continuation of his transcription of Herman Melville's epic novel Moby Dick into the letter E. The body of work, a combination of graphite drawings on hemp and dry point intaglio prints repeatedly explore chapter 44 of the novel, called "the chart". In this chapter, Captain Ahab's monomaniac quest for the white whale is demonstrated nightly by his compulsive drawing and redrawing of nautical charts. By repeating a spiraling, swirling labyrinthian structure, Quinn places himself in the role of Ahab who continually redraws his charts which travel nowhere and only to go into themselves.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Boris Kobe's Tarot Cards from Allach Concentration Camp

Boris Kobe, Tarot, 1945

From The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota:

Boris Kobe (1905 - 1981) – Slovenian architect and painter was a political prisoner at the concentration camp of Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau. Reproductions of the cards were provided courtesy of the Slovenian delegation to the Stockholm International Conference in the year 2000 to all educators.

Slovenia’s major contribution at the International Conference was an installation of concentration camp tarot cards of Kobe – which in a unique way, created a special monument to historical memory.

The contextual framework and point of departure of the art project is a deck of tarot cards made in the Allach concentration camp in Germany by Kobe, a Slovene architect and painter. As a whole, this work of art represents a visual summary of life in a concentration camp, the main vehicle of which consists of Kobe's tragic and humiliating sequences spiced with acrid humor. At the same time, this tiny exhibit is a miniature chronicle of the twilight of humanity brought about by Nazism, which regarded a human being, and therefore the artist himself, as a mere number.

The installation has the character of an integral work of art or an ambience that, apart from the visual and spatial elements, is enriched by music. The artistic metamorphosis of the traditional danse macabre theme is the focus of the projection, which emphasizes the phenomenon of violence as the greatest evil of 20th century European history.

Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau, was ten miles from the main camp and was liberated on April 22, 1945 by American forces, 42nd Rainbow Division

After the war, Kobe did no more work as far as is known about his camp experiences. He was, however, a major Slovenian architect. One of his major projects was the restoration of the Ljubljana Castle. Plečnik was the major architect but Boris Kobe was also involved in creating elaborate plans for the castle. His contribution to its renovation is not insignificant, though it is not as well known as Plečnik's.

via Metafilter

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dust is the signature of lost time.

Still from Citizen Kane - Orson Welles, 1941

The City
Lori Nix - Musem of Art, 2005

Via the enigmatic Museum of Dust:

Dust is what connects the dreams of yesteryear with the touch of nowadays. It is the aftermath of the collapse of illusions, a powdery cloud that rises abruptly and then begins falling on things, gently covering their bright, polished surfaces. Dust is like a soft carpet of snow that gradually coats the city, quieting its noise until we feel like we are inside a snow globe, the urban exterior transmuted into a magical interior where all time is suspended and space contained. Dust makes the outside inside by calling attention to the surface of things, a surface formerly deemed untouchable or simply ignored as a conduit to what was considered real: that essence which supposedly lies inside people and things, waiting to be discovered. Dust turns things inside out by exposing their bodies as more than mere shells or carriers, for only after dust settles on an object do we begin to long for its lost splendor, realizing how much of this forgotten object's beauty lay in the more external, concrete aspect of its existence, rather than in its hidden, attributed meaning.

Architecture of Dust
Incognita Nom de Plume

Dust brings a little of the world into the enclosed quarters of objects. Belonging to the outside, the exterior, the street, dust constantly creeps into the sacred arena of private spaces as a reminder that there are no impermeable boundaries between life and death. It is a transparent veil that seduces with the promise of what lies behind it, which is never as good as the titillating offer. Dust makes palpable the elusive passing of time, the infinite pulverized particles that constitute its volatile matter catching their prey in a surprise embrace whose clingy hands, like an invisible net, leave no other mark than a delicate sheen of faint glitter. As it sticks to our fingertips, dust propels a vague state of retrospection, carrying us on its supple wings. A messenger of death, dust is the signature of lost time.

Walter Martin & Paloma Muñoz
Traveler 173 at Night, Snowglobe - 9x6x6

Kraken - AMNH
©2007 - Denis Finnin -

From Celeste's World:

The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury Of The Kitsch Experience - Rather than engaging the tired stances that see kitsch as either bad taste or a bad copy of «true art», this book presents it as a cultural sensibility of loss, tracing its origins as a massive phenomenon to the nineteenth century. Presenting kitsch as the ambivalent «cristallization» of the lost experience of pre-industrial life, TAK explores this sensibility through the objects and narratives that it produced, in particular those related to the popular underwater imagery of the time: aquariums, paperweights, the myth of Atlantis and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Feejee mermaid - AMNH
The original "Feejee mermaid," made famous by P. T. Barnum, is believed to have been destroyed in a fire-but some people think this one may be it. More than 100 years old, it was rediscovered in 1973. Some scholars connect it to Barnum but its exact origins are unknown.© 2007 Harvard University, Peabody Museum

From Wikipedia: Kitsch:

The more romantic a work of art, or a landscape, the quicker its repetitions are perceived as kitsch or ‘slush.’

- Arthur Koestler

Kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.

Kitsch is the expression of passion at all levels, and not the servant of truth. It keeps relative to religion and truth...Truth, kitsch leaves for (modern) art. In kitsch skill is the important criteria...Kitsch serves life and seeks the individual.

- Odd Nerdrum, Kitsch - The Difficult Choice

Memory Theatre
Pablo Helguera, 2004

From Vorträge:

What differentiates Camillo from today's cybernauts and sheds light on the possibly untapped potential of the digital theater of memory is the fact that his data construction always appears as theater. The sites and images of his model are not meant to fascinate in an unmediated way, but should rather be reflected on as staged objects. They are imagines agentes, active, actuating images, not because their specific function is the "painting of an entire scene," but rather because the imagination is stimulated through their agency. Camillo expressly emphasizes the matter that concerns him: "to find, in these seven comprehensive and diverse units, an order that keeps the mind keen and shakes up the memory." In contrast, the technical activation of images by means of computer animation does not lead to reflection but is instead perceived passively, in a reflex-like manner; instead of shaking up the memory, it conditions it. Camillo's theater presents itself as an enclosed space, and, precisely for that reason, incites one to transcend it. On the other hand, the forms of 3D visualization, which give the illusion of endless space, prevent the data-traveler from realizing that the trajectory of his transit is fixed and thus undermine the desire for transcendence.

A Sanctuary for Memories of Play
James Skvarch - 1999

This fundamental difference in reception despite a superficial similarity of presentation was brought about as a consequence of an earlier technological transformation, which makes itself manifest on hand of the change in panorama technology at the beginning of the 19th century. As Jonathan Crary emphasizes, a decisive turnabout in the techniques of observation takes place at this time: In the older panoramas (such as the famous London one of 1791), the visitor walked about inside; in the diorama of 1823, the observer stood at a fixed point, and the panoramic image revolved around him. Thus, the activity of the recipient was literally brought to a standstill – that is to say, transferred over to the apparatus. An analogous phenomenon can, in my assessment, be traced in the difference between the memory theaters of the Renaissance and the animated virtual reality scenarios of today's computer interfaces. In Camillo's theater, the visitor similarly went inside and actively moved within the collection of memories, while the computer navigator, armed with his mouse, is condemned to immobility before the screen. In contrast to Crary, however, I see this difference as being purely metaphorical. It is not necessary to set the body in motion in order to mobilize the mind (that the Peripatetics philosophized ambulando is commonly known to be a rumor). It is not necessary to do away with sitting still in front of the screen in order to achieve mental mobility in Camillo's sense – and besides, the bodily movements of the user come into play again in the newer "cave" installations. What is decisive is the orientation of inner movement. With computer animation, it is directed unambiguously at the consumption of an object; in Camillo however, the self-reflexive contemplation of the object by a subject also involves a rebound movement back to the subject. This reflexivity is made evident in Camillo's inversion of the theater structure, which places the objects of memory in the tiers, where they simultaneously return the gaze of the observer while he stands on the stage and constitutes the center of intellectual activity. This inversion of the classical Vitruvian theater means that Camillo had already effected a reversal of the very transformation that Crary pinpoints as only having first taken place with the diorama. Thus, Camillo stands at a critical distance not only to the traditional memory architectures of the ancients, but also to the systems of memory theater developed immediately after his – from Zwinger's Theatrum vitae humanae (1565) and Quicchebergs Inscriptiones vel tituli theatri amplissimi (1565) through Pierre Boaistuau's Theatrum Mundi (1581), Lomazzo's L'Idea del Tempio della Pittura (1590),Bodin's Universae Naturae Theatrum (1597) and Alsted's Theatrum Scholasticum (1610), to the Theatrum orbi in Robert Fludd's Ars memoriae (1697).

This fetish approach to his collecting and arranging is very clear in the development of Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall. Hauptman writes that Cornell disliked the ‘sexual hoopla’ around Bacall but was taken by the photograph of Bacall in publicity for To Have and Have Not. He decided to do a box, collecting and continuing to rearrange that box via associations until his death. ‘Cornell called these “paths ever opening up,” “extensions,” chains of associations made visual in the work’s box structure.’

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A clear reaction to a consciousness of 'time'

Anonymous, Ivory Carving, 1640

Via the always delightful Giornale Nuovo:

We see especially that transience is a part of life in the 17th-century Vanitas and Nature Morte paintings, which aim to remind us of life's inevitable passage with beautiful flowers, fruits and animals. The collection of fantasy objects from natural history museums belongs in this category, as do Jan Fabre's sculptures made of beetles. Images of death or working with dead people or animals (or their skeletons) are not only a clear reaction to a consciousness of 'time'; they also allow us to escape 'time'.

- From Artempo: Vanitas / Nature Morte

The virtual tour is highly suggested.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

- T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, Four Quartets

Thought with regard to what presences, presencing shows itself as letting-presence. But now we must try to think this letting-presence explicitly insofar as presencing is admitted. Letting shows its character in bringing into unconcealment. To let presence means: to unconceal, to bring to openness. In unconcealing prevails a giving, the giving that gives presencing, that is, Being, in letting-presence.

- Heidegger, Being and Time

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What then shall I liken the Sperm Whale to for fragrance, considering his magnitude?

So the usual running of the links to the SciTech Daily Review and a link to the article below. I should add that I am aware of the distinction between the sort of whale excrement referred to as the "brown stain" and ambergris. But one thing led to the other. And hovering just out of range is some Melvillian allegory that I am not quite willing to parse.

A large, disconcertingly pretty bubble
trailing behind the whale like an enormous jellyfish.

From The Worst Jobs in Science 2007:

“Brown stain ahoy!” is not the cry most mariners long to hear, but for Rosalind Rolland, a senior researcher at the New England Aquarium in Boston, it’s a siren song. Rolland, along with a few lucky research assistants, combs Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy looking for endangered North Atlantic right whales. Actually, she’s not really looking for the whales—just their poo. “It surprised even me how much you can learn about a whale through its feces,” says Rolland, who recently published the most complete study of right whales ever conducted. “You can test for pregnancy, measure hormones and biotoxins, examine its genetics. You can even tell individuals apart.

Rolland pioneered whale-feces research in 1999. By 2003, she was frustrated by the small number of samples her poo patrol was collecting by blindly chasing whales on the open ocean. So she began taking along sniffer dogs that can detect whale droppings from as far as a mile away. When they bark, she points her research vessel in the direction of the brown gold, and as the boat approaches the feces—the excrement usually stays afloat for an hour after the deed is done and can be bright orange and oily depending on the type of plankton the whale feeds on—Rolland and her crew begin scooping up as much matter as they can using custom-designed nets. Samples are then placed in plastic jars and packed in ice (the largest chunks are just over a pound) to be shared with other researchers across North America. “We’ve literally been in fields of right-whale poop,” she marvels.

In the past few years, other whale researchers have adopted Rolland’s methods. Nick Gales of the Australia Antarctic Division now plies the Southern Ocean looking for endangered blue-whale dung, a pursuit that in 2003 led him to a scientific first. While tailing a minke whale, Gale’s team photographed what is believed to be the first bout of whale flatulence caught on film—a large, disconcertingly pretty bubble trailing behind the whale like an enormous jellyfish. “We stayed away from the bow after taking the picture,” Gales recalls. “It does stink.”

Dog to be world's first whale poop expert:

A dropout from drug-sniffing training (his gait was not acceptable), so far is able to identify heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine, as well as the droppings of such animals as grizzly bears, black bears, jaguars, wolverines, bobcats and cougars.

Floating Gold: The Romance of Ambergris by Robert Cushman Murphy:

Strolling along a beach near Nome on a Sunday afternoon, he had startled a wolf in the act of eating a large chunk of carrion at the water’s edge. The animal beat a retreat, with its belly sagging, and inspection of the material that it had left aroused enough suspicion in the mind of my caller to make him gather it up, say nothing, and lug it all the way to New York. He was so well prepared for what I told him that the verdict brought only a slight increment of satisfaction. I remarked that although some philologists held that the word ambergris came from the same root as ambrosia, the food of the gods on Mt. Olympus, there was no precedent that would justify its use as a diet for predatory carnivores! I advised the man what to do with his supply, neglecting to ask his name, and I have neither seen nor heard of him since.

“To think,” was his parting comment, “if I’d been ten minutes sooner that damned wolf wouldn’t have cost me a five-thousand-dollar meal!”

Wikipedia: Ambergris:

During the Black Death in Europe, the people believed that carrying a ball of ambergris could help prevent them from getting the plague. This was because the fragrance covered the smell of the air which was believed to be the cause of plague.

[ image source ]

You're not putting that thing in my car.

Fragrant whale excrement lands fortune:

An Australian couple could reap a fragrant fortune after what they thought was an odd-looking tree stump turned out to be a rare lump of ambergris, a whale excretion used in perfumes and known as "floating gold."

Loralee and Leon Wright were walking along a remote beach near Streaky Bay in western South Australia state on a fishing trip three weeks ago when they saw the strange object.

Intrigued, they took a closer look, and Leon Wright, thinking it could have been some kind of cyst from a large marine animal, suggested they take the 32-pound lump home.

"She said 'You're not putting that thing in my car'," the Australian Broadcasting Corp. quoted marine ecologist Ken Jury as saying on its Web site on Wednesday.

Curiosity eventually got the better of the Wrights. Unable to find an answer on the Internet, they went back and got it two weeks later and described it to Jury.

"It immediately struck me as being ambergris--it couldn't be anything else," Jury said.

"It's actually belched out by the animal, would you believe, and those few across the world that have witnessed that or heard it say it's quite remarkable...apparently the sound of it travels for miles across the water," he said.

Jury, who is acting for the family, said ambergris can fetch between $20 and $65 a gram, The Age newspaper reported on Wednesday. That would make the Wrights' find worth at least $295,000.

Used in perfumes by ancient Egyptians and mythologized in literary classics like Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," ambergris is spewed out of the intestines of sperm whales.

Scientists theorize that it is produced to aid in the removal of hard, sharp objects like squid beaks that whales may eat.

The waxy, foul-smelling substance is lighter than water and can float for years, during which time it is cleansed by the sun and salt water and becomes hard, dark and waxy and develops a rich musky smell prized by perfumers around the world.

"The Egyptians used it," Jury said. "Certainly the Chinese did and they not only used it in perfumes, but they used to eat it and they used to give it as gifts."

[ image source ]

Fogo Von Slack, in his great work on Smells.

From Moby-Dick or the Whale by Herman Melville: Chapter 92: Ambergris:

Now this ambergris is a very curious substance, and so important as an article of commerce, that in 1791 a certain Nantucket-born Captain Coffin was examined at the bar of the English House of Commons on that subject. For at that time, and indeed until a comparatively late day, the precise origin of ambergris remained, like amber itself, a problem to the learned. Though the word ambergris is but the French compound for grey amber, yet the two substances are quite distinct. For amber, though at times found on the sea-coast, is also dug up in some far inland soils, whereas ambergris is never found except upon the sea. Besides, amber is a hard, transparent, brittle, odorless substance, used for mouth-pieces to pipes, for beads and ornaments; but ambergris is soft, waxy, and so highly fragrant and spicy, that it is largely used in perfumery, in pastiles, precious candles, hair-powders, and pomatum. The Turks use it in cooking, and also carry it to Mecca, for the same purpose that frankincense is carried to St. Peter's in Rome. Some wine merchants drop a few grains into claret, to flavor it.

Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale! Yet so it is. By some, ambergris is supposed to be the cause, and by others the effect, of the dyspepsia in the whale. How to cure such a dyspepsia it were hard to say, unless by administering three or four boat loads of Brandreth's pills, and then running out of harm's way, as laborers do in blasting rocks.

I have forgotten to say that there were found in this ambergris, certain hard, round, bony plates, which at first Stubb thought might be sailors' trowsers buttons; but it afterwards turned out that they were nothing more than pieces of small squid bones embalmed in that manner.

Now that the incorruption of this most fragrant ambergris should be found in the heart of such decay; is this nothing? Bethink thee of that saying of St. Paul in Corinthians, about corruption and incorruption; how that we are sown in dishonour, but raised in glory. And likewise call to mind that saying of Paracelsus about what it is that maketh the best musk. Also forget not the strange fact that of all things of ill-savor, Cologne-water, in its rudimental manufacturing stages, is the worst.

I should like to conclude the chapter with the above appeal, but cannot, owing to my anxiety to repel a charge often made against whalemen, and which, in the estimation of some already biased minds, might be considered as indirectly substantiated by what has been said of the Frenchman's two whales. Elsewhere in this volume the slanderous aspersion has been disproved, that the vocation of whaling is throughout a slatternly, untidy business. But there is another thing to rebut. They hint that all whales always smell bad. Now how did this odious stigma originate?

I opine, that it is plainly traceable to the first arrival of the Greenland whaling ships in London, more than two centuries ago. Because those whalemen did not then, and do not now, try out their oil at sea as the Southern ships have always done; but cutting up the fresh blubber in small bits, thrust it through the bung holes of large casks, and carry it home in that manner; the shortness of the season in those Icy Seas, and the sudden and violent storms to which they are exposed, forbidding any other course. The consequence is, that upon breaking into the hold, and unloading one of these whale cemeteries, in the Greenland dock, a savor is given forth somewhat similar to that arising from excavating an old city grave-yard, for the foundations of a Lying-in-Hospital.

I partly surmise also, that this wicked charge against whalers may be likewise imputed to the existence on the coast of Greenland, in former times, of a Dutch village called Schmerenburgh or Smeerenberg, which latter name is the one used by the learned Fogo Von Slack, in his great work on Smells, a text-book on that subject. As its name imports (smeer, fat; berg, to put up), this village was founded in order to afford a place for the blubber of the Dutch whale fleet to be tried out, without being taken home to Holland for that purpose. It was a collection of furnaces, fat-kettles, and oil sheds; and when the works were in full operation certainly gave forth no very pleasant savor. But all this is quite different with a South Sea Sperm Whaler; which in a voyage of four years perhaps, after completely filling her hold with oil, does not, perhaps, consume fifty days in the business of boiling out; and in the state that it is casked, the oil is nearly scentless. The truth is, that living or dead, if but decently treated, whales as a species are by no means creatures of ill odor; nor can whalemen be recognised, as the people of the middle ages affected to detect a Jew in the company, by the nose. Nor indeed can the whale possibly be otherwise than fragrant, when, as a general thing, he enjoys such high health; taking abundance of exercise; always out of doors; though, it is true, seldom in the open air. I say, that the motion of a Sperm Whale's flukes above water dispenses a perfume, as when a musk-scented lady rustles her dress in a warm parlor. What then shall I liken the Sperm Whale to for fragrance, considering his magnitude? Must it not be to that famous elephant, with jewelled tusks, and redolent with myrrh, which was led out of an Indian town to do honour to Alexander the Great?

For perhaps the most complete online reference see: Ambergris: A Pathfinder and Annotated Bibliography by Randy D. Ralph, Ph.D.. Of particular fascination is the section on Objects of Art with the enigmatic Negress and the stunning Sargent piece:

The Negress.
A 16th century figurine carved from a single lump of ambergris by an anonymous Italian (possibly German) goldsmith and ornamented with jewels of gold, pearls,rubies and brilliants with flower forms of white enamel.

Fumée d'Ambre Gris
John Singer Sargent, 1880.

Update: In one of those uncanny Jungian synchronicities, I am currently watching the Futurama episode, Three Hundred Big Boys, concerning a whale and ambergris:

Whale Biologist: I don't want your watch. You're covered in precious ambergris.

Kif: Precious ambergris?

[The whale biologist sighs and presses a button on his belt. A holographic image of Roseanne appears.]

Holo-Roseanne: Ambergris. Noun. A grease-like product of the sperm whale's digestive tract that is used as a base in the finest perfumes. This has been Roseanne, your guide to the world of facts.

[The holo-encyclopedia shuts off.]

Whale Biologist: You heard Roseanne. Scrape off the priceless ambergris and I'll let you go!

Kif: Or better yet I'll simply shed my skin!

[He struggles as he takes it off.]

And later:

On the other side of the room Leela is now talking to Whitey and Kif is reunited with Amy.]

Kif: So you see the putrid waxy substance I was coated with was -

Amy: Not precious ambergris?

Kif: Yes! And I managed to sneak some out in a usual place! Ta-da! [He hands it to Amy.] Using that, I'll make you a perfume of lilac and jasmine and frankenberry!

Amy: Oh Kif, it's so romantic I can't even wait! I'm gonna wear it right now!

[She puts some on. Her tattoo splutters. Everyone else chokes at he stench.]

Mom: Who smells like freaking porpus hork?

Amy: I do! Kiss me Kif!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What is dead put its arm round you also

Awakened in the middle of the night with a series of questions whispered into my ear:

And you? Do you still burn for this thing?
Are you still working on it all?
Can you still carve the meat from the bone?

It has been a while since...

I've heard that voice so close.

And there is no reason to sleep anymore tonight.

I turn to Celan:

Count the almonds,
count what was bitter and kept you awake,
count me in:

I looked for your eye when you opened it, no one was looking at you,
I spun that secret thread
on which the dew you were thinking
slid down to the jugs
guarded by words that to no one's heart found their way.

Only there did you wholly enter the name that is yours,
sure-footed stepped into yourself,
freely the hammers swung in the bell-frame of your silence,
the listened-for reached you,
what is dead put its arm round you also
and the three of you walked through the evening.

Make me bitter.
Count me among the almonds.

This is the Michael Hamburger rendering, Poems of Paul Celan - can also be found in the interesting essay by James Graham here.

I am deep in debt to John Felstiner, but find his rendering below - mused v. thinking, tended v. guarded, too v. also (seemingly such a triviality) - to have slightly, just slightly, too much weight - a loss of tone for solemnity. (I come up against Felstiner in just in this one instance - his Todesfuge is sublime.) I must add that Felstiner's render v. make and number v. count are right on the beam. These are minor issues however, undoubtedly rooted in the bone-deficient soil of my sorrowful idiolect.

From Felstiner's Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew:

Celan's triple imperative on zählen ("count") also rings of the Zählappell, a head count in Nazi camps. And it's possible, though only just, to think here of the smell of almonds given off by Zyklon B, the gas the SS used. Against such an atrocity, we hear now of attempts - the poet's, his mother's - at connecting, at naming, and "you" sounds twelve times in as many lines: "There you first fully entered that name that is yours." The word Namen ("name") resounds throughout Celan's writing, restoring identity to those despoiled of it. Finally, when this poem ends on two more imperatives, Mache and Zähle, I want more ceremonial verbs than "make" and "count" -

Render me bitter.
Number me among the almonds.

- to seal his kinship.

Count up the almonds,
count what was bitter and kept you waking,
count me in too:

I sought your eye when you looked out and no one saw you,
I spun that secret thread
where the dew you mused on
slid down to pitchers
tended by a word that reached no one's heart.

There you first fully entered the name that is yours,
you stepped toward yourself on steady feet,
the hammers swung free in the belfry of your silence,
things overheard thrust through to you,
what's dead put its arm around you too,
and the three of you walked through the evening.

Render me bitter.
Number me among the almonds.

Zähle die Mandeln,
zähle, was bitter war und dich wachhielt,
zähl mich dazu:

Ich suchte dein Aug, als du’s aufschlugst und niemand dich ansah,
ich spann jenen heimlichen Faden,
an dem der Tau, den du dachtest,
hinunterglitt zu den Krügen,
die ein Spruch, der zu niemandes Herz fand, behütet.

Dort erst tratest du ganz in den Namen, der dein ist,
schrittest du sicheren Fußes zu dir,
schwangen die Hämmer frei im Glockenstuhl deines Schweigens,
stieß das Erlauschte zu dir,
legte das Tote den Arm auch um dich,
und ihr ginget selbdritt durch den Abend.

Mache mich bitter.
Zähle mich zu den Mandeln.

Anselm Kiefer, Shulamith, 1990.
Book made from soldered lead, with female hair and ashes, 64 pages

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mind Parasites: The Creature Appears Troubled and Confused

Screen Cap From the BBC's Planet Earth Series

On occasion, while thus foraging, one of these ants will become infected by inhaling the microscopic spore of a fungus from the genus Tomentella, millions of which rain down upon the forest floor from somewhere in the canopy above. Upon being inhaled, the spore lodges itself inside the ant’s tiny brain and immediately begins to grow, quickly fomenting bizarre behavioral changes in its ant host. The creature appears troubled and confused, and presently, for the first time in its life, it leaves the forest floor and begins an arduous climb up the stalks of vines and ferns.

Driven on and on by the still-growing fungus, the ant finally achieves a seemingly prescribed height whereupon, utterly spent, it impales the plant with its mandibles and, thus affixed, waits to die. Ants that have met their doom in this fashion are quite a common sight in certain sections of the rain forest.

The fungus, for its part, lives on. It continues to consume the brain, moving on through the rest of the nervous system and, eventually, through all the soft tissue that remains of the ant. After approximately two weeks, a spikelike protrusion erupts from out of what had once been the ant’s head. Growing to a length of about an inch and a half, the spike features a bright orange tip, heavy-laden with spores, which now begin to rain down onto the forest floor for other unsuspecting ants to inhale.

"Showing some worrying symptoms..."

"Those afflicted, if discovered by the workers,
are quickly taken away and dumped far away from the colony."

"Like something out of science fiction,
the fruiting body of the Cordyceps erupts from the ant's head."

"And it's not just ants that fall victim to this killer....
There are literally thousands of Cordyceps fungi...."

It was at this point in history, just as the human mind had taken this tremendous evolutionary leap forward - evolution always proceeds by leaps, like an electron jumping from one orbit to another - the the mind parasites struck in force. Their campaign was cunning and far sighted. They proceeded to manipulate the key minds of our planet. Tolstoy glimpsed this truth in War and Peace, when he declared that individuals play little part in history, that it moves mechanically. For all of the protagonists of that Napoleonic war were moving mechanically - mere chess men in the hands of the mind parasites. Scientists were encouraged to be dogmatic and materialistic. How? By giving them a deep feeling of psychological insecurity that made them grasp eagerly at the idea of science as 'purely objective' knowledge - just as the parasites had trid to divert Weismann's mind into mathematical problems and chess. The artists and writers were also cunningly undermined. The parasites probably looked with horror upon giants like Beethoven, Goethe, Shelley, realizing that a few dozen of these would set man firmly on the next stage of evolution. So Schumann and Holderlin were driven mad; Hoffmann was driven to drink, Coleridge and De Quincy to drugs. Men of genius were ruthlessly destroyed like flies. No wonder the great artists of the nineteenth century felt that the world was against them. No wonder Nietzsche's brave effort to sound a trumpet call of optimism was dealt with so swiftly - by a lightning-stroke of madness. I shall not go into this matter at length now - Lord Leicester's books on the subject documents it exhaustively.

Now, as I have said, the moment we recognized the existence of the mind parasites, we escaped their cunningly laid trap. For it was nothing less than a history trap. History itself was their chief weapon. They 'fixed' history. And in two centuries, human history became a parable of the weakness of human beings, the indifference of nature, the helplessness of man confronting Necessity. Well, the moment we knew that history had been 'fixed', it ceased to take us in. We looked back on Mozart and Beethoven and Goethe and Shelley, and thought: Yes, great men would have been two a penny if it hadn't been for the parasites. We saw that it is nonsense to talk about human weakness. Human beings have enormous strength when it is not being sucked away every night by these vampire bats of the soul.

- From The Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

Thanks to Jeff G. for re-minding me about THEM.

Mind Control by Parasites By Bill Christensen

Remote Control Device 'Controls' Humans by Yuri Kageyama


BoingBoing on Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler

New Scientist: Parasites brainwash grasshoppers into death dive

And, I really, really wanted to just post the linked image below under the title HUMAN SKULL WORMS but even I have my limits.... You know, brain worm parasites in a moose skull are acceptable but a cancerous human brain covered in maggots crosses the line. (But O how I loved writing that sentence.)

Caveat videor:

Friday, August 03, 2007