Where the butchers still wash their hands

They think only that which sounds beautiful can be true.
1923, Yokohama / It takes little courage to lament in general the wickedness of the world and the triumph of brutality, and to threaten that the spirit will triumph in the one part of the world where this is still allowed. Many take this as their text and make their entrance as if cannons were trained on them, whereas in fact only opera glasses are trained on them. They yell their universal demands into a world of friends of the harmless. They demand universal justice, for which they have never lifted a finger, and the universal freedom to share in the loot which has long been shared with them anyway. They think only that which sounds beautiful can be true. If the truth is numerical, dry, factual, something which requires effort and study, then it is not truth for them, not… Read More...

Then and Now and Never (Part 2)

From the search to survivors to the search for images.
Part 1 here     KERRY SANDERS: This looks like it might have been some kind of birthday party. ANDREA MITCHELL: Let’s make sure we don’t… KERRY SANDERS: OK, Here’s the first picture… ANDREA MITCHELL: Let’s make sure we don’t… KERRY SANDERS: … we’re seeing of a child… ANDREA MITCHELL: Let’s not… let’s not show the child, Kerry. KERRY SANDERS: [continuing to flip through stacks of photos of children as the camera records] …and I’m sorry, Andrea, this is sort of unfolding live as we’re doing it. So I’m not sure what the next picture is going to be until I pull them open. - Transcript of MSNBC’s “FIRST LIVE LOOK INSIDE ATTACKER’S APARTMENT”, Dec 4, 2015, San Bernadino   ---   To grapple with the histories fractured and heaped by the earthquake, even from afar and even in thought alone, takes… Read More...

Then and Now and Never (Part 1)

On the earthquake in Amatrice, the search for survivors, and the inland beach that drowns the soil.
    The lantern that blew out left us in the dark when the mine exploded and the gods took advantage of us and demanded some glass beads from us And since we had no glass beads we are dead dead dead. And me I sounded the alarm. I survived I raised my hands without weeping or crying for help and because they were my friends they let me survive. - Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, "Survivor Among Millions"   The future is finished. It's finished. The future is finished. - Marissa Di Tommaso, after the quake   --- As I’m writing this, the search for survivors of the earthquake in Amatrice is still underway, still prying open that slim and obstinate moment of optimism that says the search for survivors, rather than the search for the dead. Sometimes it's rightly named, like with the 10 year-old… Read More...

Counterproductive

America ceased to understand black Americans as "productive," and it has never stopped blaming them for this.
Of course they are. If “thug” is the term one face of contemporary anti-blackness prefers to speak, its other mouth has settled on “counterproductive” as the word to say exactly what it means while maintaining plausible deniability. One doesn't have to specify what would be more productive, just a negative definition: anything but this. Anything but CVS.  So any time in the past week that commentators and elected officials, from Obama to Loretta Lynch to Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young,wanted to trod a certain rhetorical line with a but you can hear coming a page away, "counterproductive" got mobilized. In some cases, the term came first to mitigate the note of paternalistic pseudo-support to follow. (As in, you totally have a right to your negative affects, provided you express them in the manner we have decided appropriately positive.) Charles M. Blow's NYT op-ed,… Read More...

In love and memory

In love and memory of you, Chris, who were a friend and a comrade, you who literally taught me the meaning of that word. How…
In love and memory of you, Chris, who were a friend and a comrade, you who literally taught me the meaning of that word. How it came from the Spanish camarada, the French camarade. From roommate, yes, but also how this was literal, from the real sharing of a space together, bound to the bonds formed by men who didn’t have security or wealth or private homes and so bedded down in the same small and rented rooms, who were friends and strangers, who fucked or didn’t. And this was at the heart of your brilliant queer history, starting not with a clearly defined erotics or identity but with that messy terrain of friendship and intimacy and class, inseparable from the spaces of capital and the attempts to make them our own. We organized and danced and argued together, and… Read More...

Any person who sings the praises of war is, in our opinion, a blithering idiot (Christmas Day, 1915)

O’ROURKE (London.) – Thanks, comrade. We are more proud of the comradeship of toilers like yourself than you can well imagine. It is such loyalty…
O’ROURKE (London.) – Thanks, comrade. We are more proud of the comradeship of toilers like yourself than you can well imagine. It is such loyalty as yours that keeps us hopeful of our class and country. CÚ CHULAINN (Dundalk.) – No! We do not believe that war is glorious, inspiring, or regenerating. We believe it to be hateful, damnable, and damning. And the present war upon Germany we believe to be a hell-inspired outrage. Any person, whether English, German, or Irish, who sings the praises of war is, in our opinion, a blithering idiot. But when a nation has been robbed it should strike back to recover her lost property. Ireland has been robbed of her freedom, and to recover it should strike swiftly and relentlessly, and in such a fashion as will put the fear of God in the… Read More...

A brief review of Ngozi Onwurah’s Welcome II the Terrordome

In a just world, a virus of tremendous scope and tenacity would ravage all the archives.
In a just world, a virus of tremendous scope and tenacity would ravage all the archives and vaults and shelves, all its servers and drives, its dens and libraries. It would draw no distinction between digital or analogue, bootleg or licensed. The CDC would be baffled: it appears to be crystalline in structure, yet its rate of replication is unprecedented...  Pundits would lose their shit on air, terrified that the virus might mistake them for the already-recorded and snake their throat mid-speech. Amazon would go on full lockdown: nothing in, nothing out, its long-rumored drones circling on updrafts, training red dots on anything that moved. Other rumors abounding, like how a conspirator's union of ex-Blockbuster execs and the remnants of local videostores were behind it all. Still, it would creep through plastic and code alike, invading mancaves and Netflix queues, no… Read More...

Glass Hands (Violent Motion, 2)

Like most people I know, I touch glass at least once an hour, almost every hour that I am awake, almost every day of the year.
Who shall say that man does see or hear? He is such a hive and swarm of parasites that it is doubtful whether his body is not more theirs than his, and whether he is anything but another kind of ant-heap after all. May not man himself become a sort of parasite upon the machines? An affectionate machine-tickling aphid? - Samuel Butler, Erewhon, 1872 --- Until five years ago, I only had a couple of intimate and tactile relationships with glassy surfaces. The first began early, a symptom of growing up where winter is long but inconstant, with temperatures that climb and drop hard.  Ice always appeared less a thing than a pause, a literal freeze-frame, because in Maine you don't get to step outside of the process. You don't go through winter piecemeal, always in a full circuit. First, there's… Read More...

Violent Motion, 1

Cinema’s first execution is not seen by the executed. That’s what we are there for.
[Note: I've been away from writing online for while doing research for a couple projects. One is an experimental documentary film, out this fall – more on that to come. Another is connected to a book coming out this winter from Repeater Books called Shard Cinema, an archaeology of contemporary moving images. While writing that, I've been struck by something that critics, film theorists, and people talking in the hallways of the Regal Crossgates Stadium 18 after Jupiter Ascending tend to claim (and bemoan). Namely, that the increasing prevalence of digitally composited, animated, and/or hybrid images means a flight away from the "real world" into the immaterial. Even when they like the results – shirtless Channing Tatum gravity boot-rollerblading across the polished surface of whatever exists, who wouldn't? – and even when they get that "immaterial labor" still means real living people sitting for days on… Read More...

Free speech, and other things that cost $91,000,000.00

Things that cost this much do not need to be protected. They are what we need to protect ourselves against.
In the midst of the nearly universal denunciation of the Charlie Hebdo killing, an ethics and worldview so generic as to approach being simply "The West"* sought to bolster its already secure position.   The basic mechanism was plain as can be: appeal to long and cherry-picked historical precedent (Voltaire, the Rights of Man, constitutions French, American, and otherwise, etc), complete with the usual talk of pens and swords, albeit weirder than usual, with the former made comically huge and carried aloft as though literally the latter. (Note: this, and what follows, isn't to speculate on the reasons that 4 million people came out onto the streets, in ways that obviously can't be reduced to them being "duped" or "manipulated." That's a question I won't even begin to approach, being neither there on those days nor living in France generally.… Read More...

The sadness of the rich

One actually cannot die from a broken heart. The rich have experimented on this front.
Oscar, an AKC-certified fawn French bulldog and a savage critique of consumer society, has a weeping eye, and so it rains in the halls of the hearts of the rich. One actually cannot die from a broken heart, the rich have experimented on this front, as they did with trenches and Lorca in the past,  or the generalized orphaning of fauna, or the placing of the sole of a clad foot on a heart held between two clad hands, or et cetera. A heart so held will stretch beyond repair, a melted clock of heart, a sunned wheel of Appenzeller of heart, one scrambles to pick it from the earth it litters, as with flags that are not to know dirt or fire but which find it faster than bleached moths, one bends down and fills hurried hands with ruined… Read More...

cartography’s nausea

It is well known that the atlas made in Japan and the atlases made abroad, let’s say in London, have different compositions. That is, Japan…
It is well known that the atlas made in Japan and the atlases made abroad, let’s say in London, have different compositions. That is, Japan is placed at the center in the former, and England in the latter. As a result, the Pacific Ocean spreads vastly, with North and South America placed on the right side and Africa on the left in the former atlas, while South America and Africa face one another closely across the Atlantic Ocean in the latter atlas. Of course the Pacific Ocean gets divided in half, and if you look for Japan, it barely retains its trace, like a stretched scar at the top corner on the right. As I write this, it may appear commonsensical and hence not move you at all, but, by way of experiment, I suggest actually buying two maps and… Read More...

In the future

    In the future, when the remains of this age are sifted through by chatbot archaeologists, they will shake their little algorithmic heads and…
    In the future, when the remains of this age are sifted through by chatbot archaeologists, they will shake their little algorithmic heads and sigh and sigh and sigh Read More...