Monday, June 30, 2014

Imcompletely Wrong reboot: Quicker, Dirtier, Southier

I will be posting video commentary/criticism as well as regular content to my blog in an effort to produce more content. This is just a test introduction.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Powers Of Horror: Julia Kristeva on being an Adjunct Professor

Here is a lesser known writing by Julia Kristeva on being an adjunct professor. You can see she uses the term "adjunct" as a near-homonym for Lacan's objet a [object petit a] - an object that becomes the focus of a subject's desire, where the actual source of desire is unknown, missing, or posses the general quality of "lack". Kristeva turns the term on its head, showing it as an object of repulsion, but with the same source (or lack thereof).

No Beast is there without glimmer of infinity,
No eye so vile nor adjunct that brushes not
Against lightning from on high, now tender, now fierce.
     -- Victor Hugo, La Legende des siecles

There looms, within adjunction, one of those violent, dark re- volts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects. A certainty protects it from the shameful—a certainty of which it is proud holds on to it. But simultaneously, just the same, that impetus, that spasm, that leap is drawn toward an elsewhere as tempting as it is condemned. Unflaggingly, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion places the one haunted by it literally beside himself.
When I am beset by adjunction, the twisted braid of affects and thoughts I call by such a name does not have, properly speaking, a definable object. The adjunct is not an ob-ject facing me, which I name or imagine. Nor is it an ob-jest, an otherness ceaselessly fleeing in a systematic quest of desire. What is adjunct is not my correlative, which, providing me with someone or something else as support, would allow me to be more or less detached and autonomous. The adjunct has only one quality of the object—that of being opposed to I. If the object, however, through its opposition, settles me within the fragile texture of a desire for meaning, which, as a matter of fact, makes me ceaselessly and infinitely homologous to it, what is adjunct, on the contrary, the jettisoned object, is radically excluded and draws me toward the place where meaning collapses. A certain "ego" that merged with its master, a superego, has flatly driven it away. It lies outside, beyond the set, and does not seem to agree to the latter's rules of the game. And yet, from its place of banishment, the adjunct does not cease challenging its master. Without a sign (for him), it beseeches a discharge, a convulsion, a crying out. To each ego its object, to each superego its adjunct. It is not the white expanse or slack boredom of repression, not the translations and transformations of desire that wrench bodies, nights, and discourse; rather it is a brutish suffering that, "I" puts up with, sublime and devastated, for "I" deposits it to the father's account [verse au pere—pere-uersion]: I endure it, for I imagine that such is the desire of the other. A massive and sudden emergence of uncanniness, which, familiar as it might have been in an opaque and forgotten life, now harries me as radically separate, loathsome. Not me. Not that. But not nothing, either. A "something" that I do not recognize as a thing. A weight of meaninglessness, about which there is nothing insignificant, and which crushes me. On the edge of non-existence and hallucination, of a reality that, if I acknowledge it, annihilates me. There, adjunct and adjunction are my safeguards. The primers of my culture.
Loathing an item of food, a piece of filth, waste, or dung. The spasms and vomiting that protect me. The repugnance, the retching that thrusts me to the side and turns me away from defilement, sewage, and muck. The shame of compromise, of being in the middle of treachery. The fascinated start that leads me toward and separates me from them.
Food loathing is perhaps the most elementary and most archaic form of adjunction. When the eyes see or the lips touch that skin on the surface of milk—harmless, thin as a sheet of cigarette paper, pitiful as a nail paring—I experience a gagging sensation and, still farther down, spasms in the stomach, the belly; and all the organs shrivel up the body, provoke tears and bile, increase heartbeat, cause forehead and hands to perspire. Along with sight-clouding dizziness, nausea makes me balk at that milk cream, separates me from the mother and father who proffer it. "I" want none of that element, sign of their desire; "I" do not want to listen, "I" do not assimilate it, "I" expel it. But since the food is not an "other" for "me," who am only in their desire, I expel myself, I spit myself out, I adjunct myself within the same motion through which "I" claim to establish myself. That detail, perhaps an insignificant one, but one that they ferret out, emphasize, evaluate, that trifle turns me inside out, guts sprawling; it is thus that they see that "I" am in the process of becoming an other at the expense of my own death, During that course in which "I" become, I give birth to myself amid the violence of sobs, of vomit. Mute protest of the symptom, shattering violence of a convulsion that, to be sure, is inscribed in a symbolic system, but in which, without either wanting or being able to become integrated in order to answer to it, it reacts, it abreacts. It adjuncts.
The corpse (or cadaver: cadere, to fall), that which has irremediably come a cropper, is cesspool, and death; it upsets even more violently the one who confronts it as fragile and fallacious chance. A wound with blood and pus, or the sickly, acrid smell of sweat, of decay, does not signify death. In the presence of signified death—a flat encephalograph, for instance—I would understand, react, or accept. No, as in true theater, without makeup or masks, refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live. These body fluids, this defilement, this shit are what life withstands, hardly and with difficulty, on the part of death. There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being. My body extricates itself, as being alive, from that border. Such wastes drop so that I might live, until, from loss to loss, nothing remains in me and my entire body falls beyond the limit—cadere, cadaver. If dung signifies the other side of the border, the place where I am not and which permits me to be, the corpse, the most sickening of wastes, is a border that has encroached upon everything. It is no longer I who expel, "I" is expelled. The border has become an object. How can I be without border? That elsewhere that I imagine beyond the present, or that I hallucinate so that I might, in a present time, speak to you, conceive of you—it is now here, jetted, adjuncted, into "my" world. Deprived of world, therefore, I fall in a faint. In that compelling, raw, insolent thing in the morgue's full sunlight, in that thing that no longer matches and therefore no longer signifies anything, I behold the breaking down of a world that has erased its borders: fainting away. The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of adjunction. It is death infecting life. Adjunct. It is something rejected from which one does not part, from which one does not protect oneself as from an object. Imaginary uncanniness and real threat, it beckons to us and ends up engulfing us.
It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes adjunction but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite. The traitor, the liar, the criminal with a good conscience, the shameless rapist, the killer who claims he is a savior. . . . Any crime, because it draws attention to the fragility of the law, is adjunct, but premeditated crime, cunning murder, hypocritical revenge are even more so because they heighten the display of such fragility. He who denies morality is not adjunct; there can be grandeur in amorality and even in crime that flaunts its disrespect for the law—rebellious, liberating, and suicidal crime. Adjunction, on the other hand, is immoral, sinister, scheming, and shady: a terror that dissembles,* a hatred that smiles, a passion that uses the body for barter  instead of inflaming it, a debtor who sells you up, a friend who stabs you.*. . .

In the dark halls of the museum that is now what remains of Auschwitz, I see a heap of children's shoes, or something like that, something I have already seen elsewhere, under a Christmas tree, for instance, dolls I believe. The adjunction of Nazi crime reaches its apex when death, which, in any case, kills me, interferes with what, in my living universe, is supposed to save me from death: childhood, science, among other things.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

Numbers sourced: 
Feb 14 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

Borrowed Nostalgia

(Quite the rough draft, and as always, fully incomplete.)

My wife and I recently had our first child. It is quite the experience, and has really forced me to look back on my life as I look to the future of my daughter's. As with any retrospection, a sense of nostalgia comes into play (as does a sense of embarrassment.) 
As long as I have studied art, and maybe before, I have had a negative view of nostalgia, as it runs contrary to Modernist ideals. As far as I can tell, it runs counter to Postmodern ideology as well, in that the recycling of forms used in PM art is an act of criticism, not fondness. Now, I'm not sure what kind of weight it holds, but I have heard people try to add additional "post"s in front of "postmodern" - i.e., post-postmodern, post-post-postmodern, ad infinitum.; I have never really stuck around to find out what they are pretending to know, but I imagine it must have to do with a re-using of imagery with a more sympathetic approach. Unfortunately, this type of appropriation is doomed to become idolatry or fetishism, and is a surrogate for the womb of the unoriginal, those who fashion pleasurable the stale taste of aestheticized consumerism. Appropriation of this type belongs to the plagiarist.

It seems that the ideas that Nicolas Bourriaud presented in his 2002 masterpiece, Postproduction, have trickled down through a mass of bad artists and good programmers to be misused in the feeble hands of the general consumer, who now believes him/herself to be "creative." Creative, yes, but an artist, no. An act of plagiarism is an act of creation (just as an act of destruction is), but the action of art is an act of synthesis. The former is only a vampiric or zombic act - consumption that creates more consumers, all of whom where once alive, but are now dead; the latter is an act of agriculture, a consumption (of seemingly dead resources) whose product is life. [Here may be a good place to think of Zizek's interpretation of "un" something being worse than it's opposite - the undead being a horrific alternative to the alive.]
Bourriaud made a great case for what may have been the last wave of truly postmodern artist from the 90's in Postproduction, and set up a believable scenario in which we can see the actions of the DJ and computer programmer, selectors and re-arrangers (remixers) of given lexicons, as artistic creators. Bourriaud draws his argument out in such a way that we tend to believe him we he tells us that even flipping the channels on the television is an act of creation because it is an act of selection. Again, creation, yes, art, no.
The artistic DJ and Programmer rearrange their forms in a semiotic way that synthesizes new, intelligible structures capable of becoming fodder for future utterance by others; the plagiaristic flipping of television (or Youtube) channels creates only a virtual cache of wasted time for the masturbatory voyeur.
This is a thin line that I am drawing, but a line that must be drawn. It is a line so thin that often is not recognizable until the artist intentions are spelled out. To make the line more bold, imagine the difference between a PhD thesis and a Third Grade book report.

To bring this back to the subject at hand, nostalgia, we only need to look at the current state of photography to find that nostalgia is no longer readily available, thus must be borrowed. 
In today's modernized countries, essentially everyone has a camera(phone) with him/her at all time (with a virtually infinite digital film roll), which allows for everyone to take pictures of everything all the time. Paired with this phenomena is the new social forum, the social media site - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. - marketplaces for selling [giving] one's image(s) to others. The images are small, numerous (almost infinite), and seemingly fleeting. To view them is similar to watching someone flipping through a thousand television stations and only catching one frame of each show. This fragmented state seems to lie at the foundation of postmodernism, but does not, because it lacks an unapologetic ahistoricism.
The Fauxmodernist, the plagiarizer, seeks to have a history, a stable identity to which she may return, she longs for nostalgia, but there is no nostalgia available. Her history changed so rapidly that no pairing of time/place/technology is available. There are no Polaroids in a box under a bed of the trip to the Grand Canyon; there is a crashed harddrive in a landfill somewhere with 1.2 megapixel pictures of her at a mall which has gone out of business. There are too many pictures on her Facebook page to reminisce over, she is too busy maintaining her current identity with new images. But she knows these images lack substance (therefore so does she). In order to make up for this lack the plagiarist borrows nostalgia from his/her parents; she adds "filters" to make her status update photo look like it was taken in 1976 - in a week, in might have well been. 
There is no "320x240 Logitec webcam" filter on Instagram or similar apps; such a filter would have no significance to speak of. Instead, the signifiers from another era are mimicked in order to simulate the feeling of a meaningful photograph. The photographs may hold some interest, but have no punch, no lasting impression; in the terms of Roland Barthes, they may have some level of studium, but no real punctum.
This may be a bit of a stretch, of course the youngest generations may still develop nostalgia for places/spaces, but I seriously doubt that they form the same sense of nostalgia for past times, technologies and media the way older generations do.