Canceled Message (Part Two)

Changing color in a dark, oceanic cave, like a private amphibian
Part One precedes this post.   ?     ?     ? Social Media as Corporate Cannibal "You won’t hear me laughing, as I terminate your day You can’t trace my footsteps, as I walk the other way" "I'll consume my consumers" —Grace Jones, "Corporate Cannibal" ?     ?     ? How to Almost Completely Disappear (on Twitter) Last March I spent some time in Iran, where my access to the internet was severely hampered. This limitation made me snappy and tense, possibly in the throes of some sort of vacant withdrawal that I didn't get over until eventually landing somewhere with airport wifi. In a connection-deprived space a lack of self-control can't be faulted as the culprit of this aimless malaise. One could blame the false promise of ubiquity. Going from a country with near-limitless access to one without is like… Read More...

Canceled Message (Part One)

Self-erasure, deletion, and effacement.
                    Self-erasure, deletion, and effacement. The least addressed ways of being on the internet are the subjects of my obsession. Not total withdrawal but a hiddenness in plain sight. It is not merely that such attributes are the opposites of self-promotion, aggrandizement, and re-insertion in the macro and micro economy of attention, but that they run antithetical to the active material of the internet itself—appearance and surfacing. And I admonish myself from reducing "the internet" to social media, but if I do it's owed to social media's interactive premise, not merely its assumed dominance or prevalence. "Sender" and "receiver"—again, dubious if such constraints can still be deployed in the age of the scroll—are assumed to be connected, even if asynchronously, but their connection is inadequately explained in terms of relations to text,… Read More...

The Inner Qualities of Darkness

To struggle with one’s blurred vision as you leave the comfort of a lit place for a sea-like unknown is both the great fear and the great imperative.
A letter by Joseph Conrad to English literary editor Edward Garnett. Their correspondence lasted 30 years. Any resemblance to real people is purely intentional.                                                                             February 24, 1898 My dear Garnett, Thanks for your letter, especially in absence of mine. We—Jessie, the Male Baby, and me—are spending our fifth day with the Cranes. Steve is in a buoyant mood, and Jessie and his missus go on and on about the babies in a frightful display. Only I remain dispossessed of myself. Thoughts turn to the Rescue at dinner, at tea, in every hopeless private moment too. I am horrible at vacations. O! better a full… Read More...

The Thick Blue Line

No charges against police officer. No charges against police officer. No charges against police officer.
Below is a February (including late January) edition of 'no charges against police officer' cases leading to injurious harm or fatality: the thick blue line of police impunity. (First post here. Second post here.) In the Blue Earth, Minnesota case, not even the accusation against police is revealed. The press record is cryptic on the matter: an incident occurred, there was an internal investigation, no charges were filed. Charges against police were filed in the case of the Fayetteville, Arkansas officer accused of rape and sexual assault. The King City, California corruption scheme has resulted in a class action lawsuit whose outcome is still pending. One of the two Fullerton, California police officers who got away with the beating death of Kelly Thomas were chased out of a Denny's. ?     ?     ? Toledo, OH | 'An internal police investigation report prompted by… Read More...

they built for eternity

Yesteryear's avowed goodness of firms with "special" relationships to Anglo-America parallels with today's avowed goodness of institutions with "special" relationships to art
The Gulf Labor Working Group is a coalition of international artists, writers, and activists who since 2011 have brought focus to the "coercive recruitment and deplorable living and working conditions of migrant laborers in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island (Island of Happiness)," particularly on the workers building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum/British Museum. Their campaign, called "52 Weeks," is a one-year effort whereby contributors deliver a work, text, or action each week, taking as their starting point the exploitation of workers building Abu Dhabi's premier cultural institutions. I was asked to produce a work (in PDF) for Week 21 of "52 Weeks," and contributed this painting. Previously I wrote a book chapter, "'Everything You Can Imagine is Real': Labor, Hype, and the Specter of Progress in Dubai,"†  on real estate development, labor recruitment practices, and my… Read More...

A Saudi Arabia Reader

American imperialism occupied the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, exploited our soil, set up the Dhahran Air Base where atomic bombs are stored
"American imperialism occupied the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, exploited our soil, set up the Dhahran Air Base where atomic bombs are stored... American imperialism has turned King Saud into an American phonograph record publicizing anything that comes from the United States. It advertises the luxurious American Cadillac automobile. King Saud even gave a prize to a poet for his ode to a Cadillac... Oh Amir of music sing us a song, and drive us in the Cadillac slowly along." —Voice of the Arabs, 13 November 1961† In 2013 I designed and taught a course on the history, literature, and visual culture of contemporary Saudi Arabia. We focused on the period following the discovery of oil until the current moment. The course—particularly enriched by the cultural and linguistic access of a highly motivated Saudi student, who first approached me about organizing… Read More...

The Thick Blue Line

No charges against police officer. No charges against police officer. No charges against police officer.
So this is the new year. And I don't feel any different ? Below is a January edition of 'no charges against police officer' in cases leading to injurious harm or fatality: the thick blue line of police impunity. (See previous post here.) The only officer charged (who does not appear below) was Brian Fanelli, the police chief of Mount Pleasant, NY, on child pornography charges. Fanelli taught children classes in his parish, covering topics such as 'inappropriate touching.' He has been suspended with pay. (His salary is $135,518.) The only officer indicted (on second try) for voluntary manslaughter was Police Officer Randall Kerrick, who shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte, NC. Ferrell had wrecked his car and sought help at a nearby home. A 911 call about an 'unknown black man' was placed by the woman inside. When Kerrick… Read More...

And Other Weary Geographies

Is this how you "do" a book announcement?
There has been nothing quiet about Lebanon since I arrived in December for a one-month artist residency: two deadly car bombs spaced less than a week apart, and more personally, enough car horns to fill up my sound anxiety quota for years. So instead of slipping away quietly to the airport I am delivering a reading/musical performance at Mansion from two new books. I invited Istanbul-based musician Nicolas Royer-Artuso to join me, and he's structuring his half-composed, half-improvised delivery on one of the translated poems. An evening of reading and music based on travel, anti-travel, epistles, history, and other weary geographies. Maryam Monalisa Gharavi will read from two forthcoming books: epistolary fiction from American Letters (Zer0, 2014) and poetry in translation from Syrian-Brazilian poet Waly Salomão’s book Algaravias. Nicolas Royer-Artuso will deliver a musical performance based on Salomão’s "Jet-Lagged Poem." Reading will be in… Read More...

Everything is a Target—Full Text of Interview with Peter Galison

There are no shelters. There is no fortress.
My interview with Peter Galison was published in The New Inquiry’s Shelter issue. Below, at almost double the length of the published version, is the full, uncut text. ___ NEW INQUIRY editor-at-large Maryam Monalisa Gharavi held a long-ranging conversation with historian of science, physicist, and filmmaker Peter Galison. Galison is author of the books How Experiments End, Image and Logic, Objectivity (with Lorraine Daston), and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps, about revolutionary sciences of the 19th century that portended scientific and political encounters of the 20th century. The interview delves into the last century and its long shadow over the security regimes of the 21st: how military landscapes and nuclear sites, secrecy and paranoia, technology and terror wars, conflict zones and no-zone zones, and materiality and mortality shape contemporary life. If there is one thing that distinguishes the world of yesterday from today, it is… Read More...

The Year of Risk

“Inspiration needs the ground / of dissatisfaction,” you write / On the back of an airline magazine.
“Inspiration needs the ground of dissatisfaction,” you write On the back of an airline magazine. I was never very good At tempering danger with reality And you say no one who knows how Is very much worth knowing. We write back and forth this way, Careful not to awaken the fellow Passengers, yes, but these quiet 3 a.m. Dispatches about errands, surgeries, Frigid weather, inhospitable Relatives are still the essential kind. To see the glimmers of a bright Attitude in you, the promise of care, My inner Mussolini is vanquished, The grit that clenches the teeth in a Witch’s grasp loosens and as the aviator Of this airship of optimism announces The coast of some Atlantis beneath we ignore it And keep moving on the icy streets of our Little town. “Be careful,” you say, “That puddle has completely frozen.… Read More...

Five Questions with Harryette Mullen

I belong to myself.
Five Questions with __________ is an experiment with flash interviews. The series on poets continues with poet, literary scholar, and short story writer Harryette Mullen. While Mullen may be associated with a Modernist pull, I prefer to think of her style as rich and captivating in contradictory sways. Profuse minimalism. Lean baroque. Sleeping With the Dictionary first drew me to her work—due to a growing (and unabated) obsession with abecedarian books—to be followed by Tree Tall Woman, Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, Muse & Drudge, and the critical volume The Cracks Between What We Are And What We Are Supposed To Be. In the latter she penned the essay “Evaluation of an Unwritten Poem” (after a Wis?awa Szymborska poem) considering the “mutual incomprehension” wrought by the post-Renaissance divorce of science, art, and humanities. She segues from a criticism of the “rift between poetic and… Read More...

Chronophilia / Chronophobia

Script and audio for a live performance. Blindfolds not included.
[audio:http://thenewinquiry.com/app/uploads/2013/12/chronochrono.mp3|titles=chronochrono] Text This piece—the first live performance I've formally directed—began with a poem-cum-script that I wrote blindfolded. It emerged from loose experimentation with surrealist automatic writing, the use and subversion of meditative practice, histories of labor, and critical theories of the attention economy. As a work with many moving parts, it was a challenge that enmeshed in my own desire to circumvent a gallery setting and engage with a public body not initially gathered for the purpose of experiencing art. Around 80 people wearing handmade blindfolds took part in the first performance in November 2013. The instructions asked of them simultaneously nothing and everything. Do whatever you want with your body, do whatever you want with your thoughts, but be here.  The blindfolds served a dual purpose in the initial conception: to both negate the fear that participants' faces were being watched for… Read More...

The Thick Blue Line

No charges brought against officer. No charges brought against officer. No charges brought against officer.
The month is not yet over but in keeping with anti/tradition let's offer this Thanksgiving prayer. Below is a November 2013 edition of 'no charges against police officer' in cases leading to injurious harm or fatality: the thick blue line of police impunity. Minutes before I prepared to post this compilation, an extraordinary thing happened: the police detective responsible for Rekia Boyd's death in March 2012 was charged with manslaughter. It is such a rare occurrence—even considering that a full eight months have passed since the shooting, and Boyd's family launched a fearless, dedicated public campaign—that the Chicago Tribune was compelled to note, 'Detective Dante Servin becomes only the second officer since 1997 to be charged in connection with a shooting.'  ?     ?     ? Morehead City, NC | 'The district attorney says there will be no charges brought against a former Morehead… Read More...

Untitled (From a Journal Kept in Tehran)

In Esfehan, a little girl who lost her mother stood next to a soldiers’ barrack. With one wet eye toward the uniformed guards behind her, she yelled, “I am scared of the police. I am scared of the police!”
28 March 2013 Death and mortality in cars. Yesterday Zahra Khanoum called to say her cousin was killed in a bus accident. Just this young woman and the driver. Someone in the bus took the opportunity to steal her purse after the crash, so that she spent three days in the morgue until she was identified. The Persian word she used for “morgue” is sard khaneh, lit. “the house of coldness.” It is also a name of a village in eastern Iran. 'Morgue [môrg], from early 19th century French, “originally the name of a building in Paris where bodies were kept until identified.”' Holding the telephone receiver in my hand I shivered thinking on her dead, unnamed body all alone in that dark drawer. At the hair salon today (a small, self-made business in a neighbor’s apartment) the stylist told… Read More...

Emerging Markets of Mistaken Virtual Identity

The most honest detritus assumes no particular identity at all, just the mere reassurance that the e-recipient is ‘alive.’
F?o?u?r? S?e?v?e?n? Ten separate United Nations agencies have mistaken my Twitter account for a UNEP Global South-South Development Expo in Nairobi. That showcase actually possesses its own account (goal: to 'harness this ever growing number of development solutions that address both existing and emerging development challenges head-on'). The UN agencies include the UN Division for Sustainable Development, the UN Development Policy and Analysis Division (twice), the UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, the Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement, UN Women, the United Nations Environment Programme, UNDP in Chad, UN Brussels, UN Women in Africa, and UN Women National Committee for Canada. This is a marked departure from last month's torrent of Syria war market spam, which, let every bot-god be my witness, halted completely the day this was posted. __ Post scriptum: the most honest detritus to waft my way today assumes no particular identity… Read More...