Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Detox

So I was up till 7am the other night/day doing an illegal substance and the night before that I was dancing till 3am and walked myself home in uncomfortable shoes thus giving me blisters. And basically for the last few weeks I've been on in a bit of a spazzing whirl of drinking, talking, hanging out and aimless partying. It's fun but I'm not 20-something anymore so I'm drained and need to detox in major and minor ways.

It's the summer, albeit in London it's maybe 70, and most usually grey (why London why?!). But yeah, things are slower in the summer and it's a good time to chill and zen oneself out.

Me and a friend have made a detox pact for the next week. I know a week seems like nothing but trust me, it's a lifetime to us. Below are things I will detox and avoid for the next week and possibly even longer. Sometimes to rest the body one has to have a stringent regime. Join in. Cleanse and get healthy.

Meat – I used to be a strict vegetarian for over 15 years and then my stomach went bad and I basically couldn't eat most things including beans and legumes. Now I eat meat on occasion and I like the way it tastes but yeah, animals. Love the animals and eating them is killing them so yeah, going to maybe re-think being a strict vegetarian again. Maybe.

Smoking – I just had hypno-therepy to stop smoking. I have smoked all weekend since then but truly, weirdly, I actually think about smoking differently. Mint green is apparently going to stop me from being a dumb ass who smokes. Need to surround myself with mint green asap.

Men – Like, Ugggggggggggg. But seriously British guys. Uggg. Yes, yes, yes all guys are like 5-10 years emotionally younger then women everywhere in the world but wow... British guys have this petrified vagueness of emotional capacity that makes it all just so tedious. Or maybe I've just forgotten what it's like to date guys in New York which as I recall was just about the worst thing ever and I vowed never to do again. Meh, me and my boy angst has been consistent since I was 13.

Performance Art – I just can't anymore.

Poetic(ish) Press Releases – Everyone please stop. It was interesting for about 2 months in late 2013. Please write things that make the show more graspable because most of the time it could really use it.

Alcohol – Fun when you are fun. Depressing when you are depressed.

Ferns/plants/chairs in a bare room – The plant, minimal design, white, Japan meets Sweden vibe is like the florescent light of interior aesthetic. Over it.

Social Media – Our fingers are breaking our brains and making us emotionally handicapped.

Sugar – It's like crack cocaine for your body and your brain.

Caffeine – I've been caffeine free for 6 months since I'm allergic to it but I can't recommend it enough. It makes us crazzzzy, especially women. Seriously it will change your wiring.

Birth Control – It's a wonder of science and female empowerment but it is also pretty terrible in other ways and it totally changes the relationship one has with their body. It's like an automatic versus a manual car. It's that different.

Spending Money – Sometimes I just don't think one needs anything anymore.

Brooding – Apparently if you walk in nature for a while versus just walking in the city your chances of having lingering brooding thoughts reduces. I do this without even knowing of this study and I know many that could benefit from this. Walk in the woods my friends.

Shitty People – I'm pretty good at not putting up with shitty people but sometimes you get stuck with them and yeah, I just don't have even a sliver of patience for that right now. Also, I think being 'not a shitty person' yourself/myself is something to always work on.

Shitty Vibes – Same as above but with general atmosphere/location focus. Leave it if you must, transform it if you can.

Drugs – Obvi

Events – I feel like my life is a series of attending events and they are fun and worth it sometimes but other times they are just a weird calender/structure for a possibly vapid life. How else to interact and meet new people though? I want to engage with people differently but not sure what feels right/works.

Repetitions – I basically have an addict brain/personality. Hence this need for a detox. I get addicted to people, ideas, thoughts, substances, and feelings. This is generative and makes me sorta crazy in good ways but it is also obviously very detrimental in others. Breaking repetitions is hard. It is vulnerable and against a nature that is partly biology and partly habit. Breaking it is essential though. Stopping to pause will produce more energy then the frenetic uselessness of looping diminished returns.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Transience and the Production of Self

I was in Warsaw last week for a few days to mend my heart and to get out on London. It was a good trip, necessary, re-aligning. I was taken care of by a friend who I didn’t know so well going there but knew we would get closer and we did. Being somewhere else is a remedy but it is also a salve. A salve that heals but doesn’t fix anything right away. What is this all about? I’m not sure but things like travel, healing, time and the perspectives of circumstances is on my mind and somehow I think it relates to art or at least a way of living that can be artful.

The question of, “are you an artist,” is inevitably asked if you happen to be involved with the arts or hang out with artists. I usually glibly and sometimes proudly say “no” and feel some sort of cultural relief at the truth of it. Let’s face it there are too many artists and most actually aren’t but they cling to this title, this category, for one reason or another. I think to mostly define and accentuate their being alternative, non-normal, and special in some way. So there’s that but there are actually, actual artists and you know who they are. They are just a certain type of crazy, brilliant, and weird, that can’t be faked with MFAs or seals of institutional approval.

Now, these artists are all over the place. They are mostly in major cities because that’s where the scenes happen and that’s where money and opportunity reside. Before, like in the 70s etc., being in a city was vital to an artist’s chances of making it, in whatever scale that meant to them. Today, this is not so. Today, being flexible, dislocated from a specific location and being uber global is de rigueur. I know I’ve bitched, remarked and bemoaned the negatives of this trend but taking my little jaunt to Warsaw made me realize that it can be generative and possibly necessary too.

The generative part comes in the form of newness and destabilization. When I say, ‘being somewhere else’ I don’t mean going to another city, town, country and hanging out with the same people over and over again ( à la what happens at art fairs). I mean being in a new someplace and being alone, being in rooms full of strangers and saying ‘hi’ to as many of them as possible. The newness of these situations enhances a form of excitement in your brain and body and it makes it shift into animal mode. It’s social Darwinism and it can be thrilling and/or terrifying. The destabilization comes from how you shift in awareness of your self. You are not You in this place. You are you but not The You that you usually are and that is liberating if embraced. The re-invention of the self is possibly the most generous thing one can do in having fun with identity and messing with all the baggage of how that is constructed.

Artists are exceptionally good at movement of their bodies and the building of networks through the interactions produced by this. Part of me thinks (the negative part) that this is being forced on artists and arts professionals as a necessity of relevance in the art world. If you don’t schmooze than you lose. The other part of me thinks that maybe artists and the like are the progeny of the explorers in the tribe. If everyone stayed put in the village then how boring would that be? 

The desire to travel and to be in another place and to meet, re-invent and to discover oneself and others is a gift that we have now have seamless access to with all the planes in the sky. But with this ease should come responsibility or at least curiosity. It’s a tragedy when people travel without  openness to the new place and people and it’s a shame that only the monetarily able have the flexibility to do so. Also, the ozone people! The Ozone!

That being said, it’s a privilege to be able to be transient, to hop on a plane or other moving machine and to see the world and meet the people in it. Many people argue that with globalization and all that, culture and societies are getting more and more homogenized. Yes, this is true in many ways, but from what I’ve seen and the places and people I have met, I am enlivened by all the difference, all the specifics and all the pride people have of their home and their history.

Art is about this, this connecting and conversing and all those boring words like dialogue and community and blah, blah, blah. It’s true though and I hope those that are weird, fabulous and vulnerable, are open to where they are, where they go and that they bring that energy into their art and way of living.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Adorno – Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life

I’m in Warsaw and I woke up at 4am to get here and I’ve never been and I want to explore it so I’m dashing this off which are excerpts from Adorno’s Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life from 1951. This slim book reads like a slap dash of aphorisms on war, being, intellectualism, violence, art, and just about all the things Adorno is known for but with a bit more quickness.

I was re-reading this the other day to get my brain out of certain cycles and walking around Warsaw in the sunny rain and past buildings that look shot at but still used I thought of him.

If you want to read it in full you can download it here.


Whoever isn’t “out” for something [wer nichts “will”: literally, whoever doesn’t want, wish, intend to do something] is almost suspect: no-one trusts anyone else to help them get by, without legitimating themselves through counter-claims.

They betray not from instinctual drives, but from principle: they value even themselves as a profit, which they do not wish to share with anyone else.

By adapting to the weaknesses of the oppressed, one confirms in such weaknesses the prerequisite of domination, and develops in oneself the measure of barbarity, thickheadedness and capacity to inflict violence required to exercise domination.

Since the old bourgeois class has abdicated, both lead their afterlife in the Spirit [Geist] of intellectuals, who are at the same time the last enemies of the bourgeois, and the last bourgeois. By allowing themselves to still think at all vis-a-vis the naked reproduction of existence, they behave as the privileged; by leaving things in thought, they declare the nullity of their privilege.

One should beware above all of seeking out influential types from whom “one can expect something.” The eye for potential advantages is the mortal enemy of the construction of relationships worthy of human dignity; though solidarity and consideration for others may ensue from these latter, though solidarity and consideration for others may ensue from these latter, they can never originate in thoughts of practical deals.

The greedy of today regard nothing as too expensive for themselves, but everything as too expensive for others. They think in equivalencies, and their entire private life stands under the law of giving less than they get back, but always just enough to get back something.

For tenderness between human beings is nothing other than the consciousness of the possibility of non-purposive relations, which strikes those who are caught up in purposes as consolation; the legacy of ancient privileges, which promises a condition without privilege.

Every veil which steps between human beings conducting business is felt to be a disturbance of the functioning of the apparatus, in which they are not only objectively incorporated, but to which they belong with pride.

Baby with the bathwater. – One of the central motifs of cultural critique since time immemorial is that of the lie: that culture produces the illusion of a society worthy of human beings, which does not exist; that it conceals the material conditions on which everything human is constructed; and that by seeking to console and assuage, it ends up preserving the bad economic determinacy of everyday existence. This is the notion of culture as ideology, which at first glance both the bourgeois doctrine of violence and its opponent, Nietzsche and Marx, seem to have in common. But precisely this notion, like all hand-wringing against lies, has a suspicious tendency to itself become an ideology.

The fear of the powerlessness of theory yields the pretext of declaring fealty to the almighty production-process and thereby fully concedes the powerlessness of theory.

If society is truly one of rackets, as a contemporary theory teaches, then its truest model is precisely the opposite of the collective, namely the individual [Individuum] as monad.

The health unto death. – If something like a psychoanalysis of today’s prototypical culture were possible; if the absolute hegemony of the economy did not mock every attempt at explicating conditions by the psychic life of their victims; and if the psychoanalysts themselves had not long ago sworn fealty to those conditions – then such an investigation would have to show that contemporary sickness exists precisely in what is normal.

The decomposition of human beings into capabilities is a projection of the division of labor on its presumed subjects, inseparable from the interest in deploying them with ulterior motives, above all in order to be able to manipulate them.

In the end the wisdom of the psychoanalysis truly becomes what the Fascist unconscious of the tabloid magazines considers it to be, to the technics of a special racket among others, which irrevocably binds helpless and suffering human beings to itself, in order to command them and exploit them.

Prefab enlightenment transforms not only spontaneous reflection, but also the analytic insights, whose power is equivalent to the energy and passion which it took to achieve them, into mass-produced products, and the painful secrets of individual history, which orthodoxy is already wont to reduce to formulas, into humdrum conventions.

Narcissism, which loses its libidinal object due to the disassembly of the ego, is replaced by masochistic pleasure of no longer being an ego, and the younger generation guards its egolessness with rare enthusiasm, as a lasting and common possession.

In an intellectual [geistigen] hierarchy, which continually holds everyone responsible, then irresponsibility alone is capable of immediately calling the hierarchy itself by name.

Freedom of thought. – The suppression of philosophy by science has led, as is commonly known, to a separation of the two elements whose unity, according to Hegel, comprises the life of philosophy: reflection and speculation.

Every work of art aims at such a downfall, by seeking the death of all the others. That all art reckons on its own end, is another way of stating the same state of affairs. It is out of such a compulsion towards self-annihilation in works of art, from their innermost concern, that drives towards the appearanceless [scheinlos] picture of what is beautiful, which stirs up seemingly useless aesthetic disputes over and over again. While they stubbornly and obstinately wish to find what is aesthetically correct [Recht] and precisely thereby fall victim to an unquenchable dialectic, they are more correct than they can know; by delimiting each art-work, whose energy they take into themselves and raise to a concept, they work towards the destruction of art, which is its salvation. The aesthetic tolerance, which validates works of art in their immediate narrowness, without breaking this last, yields only the wrong downfall, that of the juxtaposition, which denies the claim of the unitary truth.

The generality of the beautiful is communicated to the subject in no other way than the obsession with the particular.

Gaps. – The demand that one should be intellectually honest amounts mostly to the sabotage of thought. It means to hold authors accountable, to explicitly portray all the steps which led them to their conclusion, and thus enable every reader to follow the process along and, where possible – for example, in academia – to duplicate it.

Of this the Cartesian rule, that one should only turn to objects, “to whose clear and undoubted knowledge our mind [Geist] seems to suffice,” including all order and disposition which relates to such, gives as false an account as the opposing doctrine of the apperception [Wesenschau], which is nevertheless inextricably entwined with the former.

Thought waits for the day that it is awakened by the memory of what was omitted, and is transformed into teaching.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Perspectives on Care

The theme of ‘care’ has been popping up around me for a few months now and it is a word that I find myself saying and talking about in various ways. It can be seen as a philosophical model that is a tool in understanding the self and others. It can be used to talk about the relations one has and the systems and methods, in which it manifests from. It can also be about politics and about the culture in which it is provided, denied or arranged. I have been thinking about ‘care’ in all these ways and it is something that I think can and is effecting art and artistic practices.

Why care?

There seems to be a desire for connection. A desire for understanding another and to coping with this thing called existing. It feels as though we are living in a moment where there is an overwhelming sense of trauma and to ‘care’ for oneself and others is a means to cope. Or possibly it is a solution to the background of this condition we inhabit singly and collectively.

An incident happened recently where a friend needed to go to the hospital. Luckily, very luckily, this occurred in London and they were able to be taken care of by the NHS healthcare system. For free. For absolutely free. This involved ambulances, doctors, beds to sleep in, tests, MRIs, specialists etcetera. This amazing providing of care is something that does not have an equivalent in the USA. To injure or need medical care for short or long periods of time for an accident or for an ongoing condition is something that only people with certain jobs, healthcare, or wealth are given. Many times with a job or with some form of healthcare it still is not enough. You still have to pay and pay and be in debt for many situations. This reality is something that puts a rock in my gut and makes me reflect on the American way of life and it’s subsistence and demand on a capitalist system of healthcare with such disgust and a feeling of disgrace.

To not have the basic necessity of care of the body as a citizen, as a human, makes no sense at all. There is no logic to it. It also forces one to behave, function, and participate in systems that are essentially self-regulating forms of oppression and control.

Seeing how the NHS works (although it obviously has its flaws) but seeing how it actually works makes the rhetoric of not having free, universal healthcare seem so immoral and bizarre.

Moving on…Care of self. That’s a tough one. It’s such an easy idea but it is the hardest thing to actually do. Care of self is not indulgence, thrill or selfishness. It is kindness to oneself, acceptance, love, all those things that require honesty and patience. It is truly difficult and it has no right way and it is just between you and yourself so it’s private and challenging. To harm oneself with drugs, people, habits, behaviors, thoughts is the easiest and possibly most addictive thing to do as it extends and formulates your understanding of yourself, even if it is hurtful. Care of self is something that you wish for yourself and others and one can talk about and promote to others but at the end of the day it’s a solo thing and rightly so.

Care of others is probably the most rewarding form of care. Through this you can also work on the care of self. To open yourself to others is a means to others and oneself. To feel empathy, feelings, and love towards another is basically what makes this human species of ours have any glimmer of a chance or reason for existing. For some this is easier then for others because it is reciprocal. It’s like a tube between you and someone else. It affects both equally and requires openness in equal measure.

What’s the deal with me and all this care?

Perspective. The last week has brought to the fore many things personally, globally (Greece for example), culturally that has propelled ‘care’ into my brain space. Thinking about this all in relationship to art I have been noticing that there is a shifting of sorts. I am noticing this mostly in music but it is thumping up in all the art spheres. 

Irony is not dead but it’s just boring and ineffectual. There is a desire for privacy and intimacy. There is a want and need for process and a form of slowness and smallness that is neither about process, scale or speed. We are all worn out and tired of all the pushing, branding, hype machine bullshit that is being spammed at us all the time. We want what is real and it seems right now that we are trying to find it in emotions, feelings, the simpleness of living and caring for oneself and others.

I hope this trend manifests further and I hope that it somehow shifts how the art world is functioning and how people interact with each other within it. Will this get co-opted? Probably, but this isn’t about being a new redux of emo. Well at least I hope it’s not and if it is, let’s burn it and start again.