tap, madness & rationality

i´ve never had a real affinity to dancing. as a kid my eurythmy teacher always said i looked like a robot when i dance and i was lacking grace. i didn´t like grace as a kid. when all my friends started going to dance classes, doing jazz dance and ballet, i was left alone, until i discovered tap: a complete robot machine-like dance. i tap danced for almost seven or eight years i think.
the ultimate lunacy though, isn´t a tap dancer, but many many tap dancers together like in lord of the dance or river dance. it is the most loco thing i have seen on tv. i think, if i saw it live, i´d probaby pass out. in a way it´s even kind of scary, like the tribal strange drums of outer space strangers you know almost nothing about who could be serious or dangerous. there´s something so extremely strange about this, that i´m lacking words to describe the phenomenon. just trippy and machine-like, mechanical. kind of reminds me of vaucanson´s automatic duck or la mettrie´s "l´homme machine". i don´t know when tap dance came up, but there must be some kind of connection to idustrialism. the idea of conform choreography and repetitive rhythm is so striking. and a lot of african slaves also did tap dance, so the idea of being a "slave to the rythm" (grace jones), an almost anonymous part of a bigger, machine-like movement might not be so false. river dance is like one big computer, and a computer is always an army, an entity of uniform elements.
there is no irrationality in river dance, not the slightest, and precisely that´s what makes it so crazy. like the madmen-scientists. rationality is always connected to madness. the irrational isn´t mad, -fluctuating inconsistencies is pretty "normal" considering the universe. wouldn´t that be cool if one of the river dancers just kind of broke himself free and went completely crazy on stage, like in altman´s classic "nashville" where one of the country singers is shot on stage, after hours and hours of country music madness. one dancer could just run out of line, in circles, on stage and scream "aaaaa".



yesterday my mother couldn´t stop staring at the sky and wondering about the clouds. we were walking around and her eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the sky, so we had to stop from time to time to take another look. all i saw was puffiness all over, some white and blue. my mom kept on saying "cumulus", that´s a cumulus. and that´s a nimbo-stratus, oh oh, and over there! a cirro-cumulus!
and i was like: cumuwhat? coitus?
when i´m with my grandfather driving in the car, he will be like: over there! did you see that one? that was a fine young rabbit! and there! all those dears! did you see them?
and we´re driving about 180 km per hour, and all i see are colors being swept away by time, or place, what ever way you look at it. i never see the rabbit.
one thing i can kind of detect though, because my eyes are accustomed to it, is the dynamics of a face. i don´t know how come, but i read faces, like my mom reads clouds and my grandfather reads landscapes.
it´s so abvious how blind we all are. but kind of nice to be drawn to your blindness by others seeing something where you thought was nothing. a rabbit. or a cumulus.



behind the moon

there´s a german saying "hinter dem mond leben" i really like, which literally means "living behind the moon", meaning not really participating in the common things people commonly do nowadays. one of those things i completely missed out on are computer games. i am completely immune against their promises. why on earth would i spend my time to live earning virtual money to buy a virtual house and virtual furniture and make virtual kids and to eventually virtually die (which is only possible in sims3, in sims2 you couldn´t die)? i really really don´t get it. if someone just told me about this and it weren´t already all true, i´d say he was a lunatic. "people will spend their time working infront of computers to earn money, to sit in front of their computers where they play working and earning money and sit in front of computers". but when do they spend time living? or is this already a reactionary thought?
i´m even kind of against the concept of work in real life and join guy debord with his "ne travaillez jamais" (never work). which means only to work for pleasure and never for something alien to yourself. i´m also against the architecture of most houses, against the architecture of most families, the architecture of the common gender conception and the common conception of children. so the sims is really like my own personal nightmare. -kind of interesting though, that in the meantime it has become a major economic resource for many asien countries to earn virtual money online for rich sims players from the so-called first world, who in turn pay their asien workers real money for their virtual services.
i guess i´m sort of romantic, i don´t know, but i´d really rather sit in a room and watch a white wall for all the time people watch their virtual doubles. a plain wall can be so inspiring and animating and alive and calming and arousing and stimulating and changing and unchanging and everything and nothing. i´d really like to promote the idea of distributing nice, concrete walls into people´s houses for them to look at. but i kind of don´t think this idea will be a success. although you never know.


gummo/aphex twin


i´ve always loved jewish names. i don´t know why, but to me they all sound like poetry.

by this river

one of my very favourite songs ever. it´s one of these songs that grows with you. the first time you hear it, it opens up to you like a magical new room inside your house that seems to shine light on all the other rooms, then it fades away or becomes belonging, so normal, and you forget about it, and one day you discover that room again, that has become an attic by time, transcending memories from then into a new moment of bliss and devotion, when the first new rays of dusty light shine in it into you again. it´s still the same, but you are different, and still the same at the same time. so again another, yet a new room unveils, that includes the one before, but bears more space, which is nothing but time. to remember and yet ahead, longing.

"by this river" is one of the songs that has been with me ever since i was a kid.
today i live by a very nice and very long river, i´ve been going there a lot lately. it never bores me. there´s also a bridge. really fast freight trains cross it, slicing the atmosphere with their clashing, thundering sound. the bridge then resonates and shakes and vibrates, as if the train was breathing, no whooping life into it. a strange love couple they are, the trains and the bridge. the river is always silent, following it´s river business. but nothing is really silent.



i love this corny film so.
"i haven´t lived. but i´ve died a few times."
it lets my bells ring.

bruno schulz

"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth.
When we employ commonplace words, we forget that they are fragments of ancient and eternal stories, that, like barbarians, we are building our homes out of fragments of sculptures and the statues of the gods. Our most sober concepts and definitions are distant offshoots of myths and ancient stories. There is not even one of our ideas that is not derived from mythology, a mythology that has been transformed, mutilated, remoulded. The spirit's first and foremost function is to tell stories and to make up 'tales'. The driving force of human knowledge is the conviction that at the end of its investigations, it will discover the ultimate meaning of the world. It seeks this meaning on the heights and scaffolding of its artificial mounds. But the elements which it uses in construction have been used once before, have come from forgotten and shattered 'stories'. Poetry re-cognizes the lost meanings, restores words to their proper place, and links them according to their ancient denotations. In the hands of the poet, the word, as it were, comes to its senses about its essential meaning, it flourishes and develops spontaneously in keeping with its own laws, and regains its integrity. For that reason, every kind of poetry is an act of mythologization and tends to create myths about the world. The mythologization of the world has not yet ended. The process has merely been restrained by the development of knowledge, has been pushed into a side channel, where it lives without understanding its true meaning. But knowledge, too, is nothing more than the construction of myths about the world, since myth resides in its very foundations and we cannot escape beyond myth. Poetry arrives at the meaning of the world anticipando, deductively, on the basis of great and daring short-cuts and approximations. Knowledge tends to the same inductively, methodically, taking the entire material of experience into account. At bottom, both one and the other have the same aim.

The human spirit is tireless in its glossing of life with the aid of myths, in its 'making sense' of reality. The word itself, left to its own devices, gravitates towards meaning. Meaning is the element which bears humanity into the process of reality. It is an absolute given. It cannot be derived from other givens. Why something should appear meaningful to us is impossible to define. The process of making sense of the world is closely connected with the word. Speech is the metaphysical organ of man. And yet over time the word grows rigid, becomes immobilized, ceases to be the conductor of new meanings. The poet restores conductivity to words through new short-circuits, which arise out of their fusions. The image is also an offshoot of the original word, the word which was not yet a sign, but a myth, a story, or a meaning.

At present we consider the word to be merely a shadow of reality, its reflection. But the reverse would be more accurate: reality is but a shadow of the word. Philosophy is really philology, the creative exploration of the word."

quoted from: Bruno Schulz, "Mityzacja rzeczywistosci", Republika marzen. Warszawa: Chimera, 1993: p. 49-50


siegfried zielinski

David Senior: What is unique in your work is the spirit and tone which you bring to the “case studies” that you have collected. The body of works reflects rigorous research, but also a consistent affirmation of the unexpected turns that arise throughout the process. In this way, the book represents a praxis that you have described as “anarchaeology,” and more recently as “variantology.” Could you describe this method and why you have found it particularly applicable to the study of the history of media?
Siegfried Zielinski: In my studies I try to connect two movements, one through the verticality of phenomena and processes, which means in effect, the attempt to get to the bottom of things - about which, above all, I was encouraged by the Polish artist and poet Bruno Schulz. The second movement is characterized by the conceptual dance on the plateau, which I have learned less from French thinkers like Deleuze and Guattari than for example from the philosopher Vilem Flusser, who the Nazis drove out from the alchemist-city of Prague to Sao Paulo, where he learned to couple a deep consideration of the world with the dynamic figure of the samba. That is however only a somewhat provocative example. Along with the poet Novalis, who died much too young, I am of the opinion that the sciences belong poetized and that they should be handled musically, because musical relations appear to be the “fundamental relations of Nature.” But, I do not share with Novalis the despairing search for the absolute in all things. I try to substitute this search with a method of fortuitous finds. However, such a method must renounce some things which characterize classical archeology, like the search for the origin from which all things develop. Like Nietzsche and Foucault, I favor the concept of geneaology for historical research, which asks after the developments, turns and leaps. As opposed to Foucault and his diverse archaeologies of power and knowledge, I claim no mastery, do not claim to develop one or more main ideas that would resonate semantically with archos/archein. In the case of the movement that the fortuitous find presupposes, one must let the reins fall away and let the horse gallop free, without knowing what exactly will arrive. The coupling of this with the vertical movement leads to anything but simple
arbitrariness; rather it leads to a research work that understands itself as a joyful release from a heavy burden.
When I wrote Deep Time of the Media, I had invented for it the concept of anarcheology. This term now seems to me too negative and destructive in its construction. For two or three years, I have worked only with the concept of variantology, under which I understand the imaginary sum of all possible genealogies of media phenomena. As opposed to the heterogeneous, with its heavy resonances from ontology and biology, the variantological, in its methodological and
epistemological respect, interests me as a mode of lightness. The variant is just as at home in the experimental sciences as it is in diverse artistic practices, above all in music. As different varieties or divergent interpretations, variants belong for composers or performers to a self-evident vocabulary and to practical everyday life. The semantic field of this neologism possesses a positive connotation. To be different, divergent, changing, alternating, are alternative translations for the Latin verb variare. It tips over only into the negative when it is used by the speaking subject as a means of exclusion, which the word does not actually sustain. To vary something then is an alternative to its destruction.

DS: In the final chapter, one of the practical points made in reference to the experimentation of new media artists and developers is the need for safe havens, contexts for individuals or collectives to be given the gift of time and space to develop ideas. Do you find that this is part of your present role in Cologne with the Academy of Media Arts, to be hospitable in this way to the young people who come through the school?
SZ: More and more in Europe, academic institutions are permeable to the demands and desires of the fitters and guiders of the states. Poets and thinkers however need autonomy and freedom as indispensable and sustaining elixirs. Academies of the arts and sciences must not degenerate into test departments of the globalized information society. For the institutions to which I am responsible, I thus plead vehemently that they be able to proliferate as gleaming ivory towers. Study at the academy should be more than ever the offer of a protected time and space where original thoughts and idea can be developed and tried out. The possibility of failure belongs to experimentation. That is nothing other than the idea of a contemporary laboratory, whose windows and doors must above all not be closed. At the academy in Cologne for example we offer ourselves constantly up to the judgments and critiques of the public, through exhibitions, open concerts, performances and lectures. Within the dynamic of this openness, however, we maintain ourselves and don’t let it regulate us. The students and the guests of our program enjoy the freedom to experiment and offer their thanks through outstanding projects and artistic work, which have received international recognition. We remind our students and fellows in any case of their crucial duty: they have to be ready to take risks and not want to simply swim in conventional waters. And with that the circle of the project of a deep time of the media and variantology closes. Giovanni Battista della Porta’s Academy of Secrets in Naples in the 16th century, which soon after its founding was banned by the Vatican, was the first academy fully dedicated to the risky experiment of natural philosophy. It had a single admission criteria, that those who wanted to participate must bring something new into the world (and be prepared to share this knowledge with others). It is time that we again rightly restore such an Accademia dei segreti and let it finally become a flourishing reality.


hans otte

the book of sounds

such a beautiful piece this is.
i could sleep in those notes like in a bunk bed on a train on a ride through a night to a promising place called nowhere.


jean-yves escoffier

one of my very favourite cinematographers is jean-yves escoffier who died in 2003 at the age of 53 because his heart just stopped beating.
he worked on some of the most amazing and important films i cherish so deeply and that have left me not only impressed but changed me like probably only loved ones can change you.
some films by agnes varda, ulysse for example, the leos carax films, 2046 by wong kar wei, shoah by claude lanzmann, gus van sant films or gummo by harmony korine.
his sense of light and color and gloominess and experiment and handcraft and intuition and playfulness and proficiency is staggering. i love his work and i wish i could have met him.
i was wondering what a film would have looked like written by someone like abbas kiarostami for example and photographed by jean-yves escoffier. i won´t find out. but that would have been too cool.



a man said:

it´s difficult to think in these confused and scattered times. but you should never fear inconsistensies, contradictions and complexity and you must stand up to them, in order not to become either an ideological, "spiritual" missionary or apocalypticist. there is no way back to lost innocence, no way back home, but there is always something to do.

yat kha

my lovely ladybird friend ragna introduced me to some really indeed cool shit this week that must be posted upon this blog of a blog right now.
YAT KHA. a russian, crazy, kargyraa throat singing band from tuva. too cool.