Monday, August 31, 2009

Only So Long As It Never Becomes An End In Itself

Fig. 1. Jacques-Louis David - The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, 1789

'To choose a hardship for ourselves is our only defense against that hardship. This is what is meant by accepting suffering. Those who, by their very nature, can suffer completely, utterly, have an advantage. That is how we can disarm the power of suffering, make it our own creation, our own choice; submit to it.'

Cesare Pavese

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reality Is Not Always Probable - Or, Indeed, Likely*

Fig. 1. Isaac Layman - Sink, 2008

'Few people have the imagination for reality.'

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

* 'Reality is not always probable, or likely.' (Jorge Luis Borges)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Something Incredible Is Awaiting Your Full Attention*

Fig. 1. Vernon Fisher - Man Cutting Globe, 1992

'Our vanity, our passions, our spirit of imitation, our abstract intelligence, our habits have long been at work, and it is the task of art to undo this work of theirs, making us travel back in the direction from which we have come to the depths where what has really existed lies unknown within us.'

Marcel Proust

* 'Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.' (Carl Sagan)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Case Against Certitude Of A Certain Persuasion

Fig. 1. Erwin Olaf - Marie-Antoinette (1793), 2000

'It is with our judgments as with our watches: no two go just alike, yet each believes his own.'

Alexander Pope

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Irony Is The First Resort Of The Sincerity Challenged

Fig. 1. Robert Longo - Untitled (Et In Arcadia Ego), 2009

'Irony is an insult conveyed in the form of a compliment.'

Edwin P. Whipple

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Highest Ecstasy Is The Attention At Its Fullest*

Fig. 1. Andrea Pozzo - Fresco representing Hercules’ deeds and apotheosis in the Hercules Hall of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace, 1704-1708

'I disregard the proportions, the measures, the tempo of the ordinary world. I refuse to live in the ordinary world as ordinary women. To enter ordinary relationships. I want ecstasy. I am a neurotic - in the sense that I live in my world. I will not adjust myself to the world. I am adjusted to myself.'

Anaïs Nin

* 'The highest ecstasy is the attention at its fullest.' (Simone Weil)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The World Is Mud-Luscious And Puddle-Wonderful*

Fig. 1. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster - Untitled (Atlantic), 2009

'Unbeing dead isn't being alive.'

e. e. cummings

* 'The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.' (e. e. cummings)

Monday, August 24, 2009

For Happiness Is An Allegory, Unhappiness A Story*

Fig. 1. Katsumi Watanabe - Untitled, ca. 1970 (printed 1985)

'What we seek is some kind of compensation for what we put up with.'

Haruki Murakami

*'Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.' (Leo Tolstoy)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Original Is Always Unfaithful To The Translation*

Fig. 1. Rose Farrell & George Parkin - Ladder (Pulleys, Dislocations and Counterweights, 1997 - 1998)

'In the critic's vocabulary, the word "precursor" is indispensable, but it should be cleansed of all connotations of polemic or rivalry. The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.'

Jorge Luis Borges

* 'The original is unfaithful to the translation.' (Jorge Luis Borges)


'At this point [the end of the 1980s], we enter perhaps into that third and final moment in the history of appropriation, which we might call banality.

How is this banality to be characterised? As opposed to [the] first two moments of appropriation, it might mark the end of the idea of a history of Australian appropriation, either of writing a stylistic history of appropriation or of understanding the changes in the attitudes towards appropriation as a response to historical forces. Rather, this third stage of appropriation - the simultaneity of the same and the different, the original and the copy, the iconic and the iconoclastic - must be seen as the secret logic underlying the entire history of appropriation, what was at stake in both of those previous two periods. We pass from chronology or style to a logic of appropriation. But at the same time there is no longer anything at stake in appropriation. Even if it was only ever a fabricated or artificial distinction between those first two approaches, there were at least stylistic and emotional attachments to each of them: the first was activist, social, aggressive; the second aloof, personal, withdrawn. Now, neither of these attitudes would be possible any more. There is no longer an aesthetics or politics of appropriation, but only a rhetoric or logic: a logic that is unavoidable, irrefutable, final. We might say that the inescapabilty of appropriation has at least been grasped, the fact that it is the medium in which the practicing artist works; but there is no longer any stylistic or emotional way of making sense of this, no way of troping or transforming it artistically. Appropriation is no longer that which the artist attempts to master, but that which masters the artist; no longer a subject or theme within art, but that to which art itself is subject.'

Rex Butler

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hung Upon The Cheek Of Night Like Satan's Pearl*

Fig. 1. Monsieur Hire (Michel Blanc) in Patrice Leconte's Monsieur Hire, 1989

'Only when you are lost can love find itself in you without losing its way.'

Hélène Cixous

* 'Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear,
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.'

Romeo (Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare)

Obituary: Pina Bausch - The World Moves On A Woman's Hips*

Fig. 2. Pina Bausch

* The Great Curve by Talking Heads

Friday, August 21, 2009

If On A Winter's Night A Traveller Such As Myself ... *

Fig. 1. Peter Booth - Untitled, 2006

'You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or a path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.'

Joseph Campbell

* If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Italo Calvino)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Love That Dare Not Bleat - Or Bark - Its Name ...

Fig. 1. Gene Wilder and "friend" in Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask, 1972

'In late nineteenth-century Paris, certain maisons de tolérance specialised in exhibitions of women having sexual intercourse with dogs. For these cathouses, the Great Dane - a fashionable society dog - and the Newfoundland - which abounded in the suburbs - were the preferred canine performers.'

Marjorie Garber

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Only Empire Without Borders ... Or Civilisation

Fig. 1. Winslow Homer - Northeaster, 1895

'Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveller that does the howling.'

Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Here In Our Place ... A Little Lower Than The Angels

Fig. 1. Shusaku Arakawa - Untitled (from the portfolio No! Says the Signified), 1973

'The second degree is a way of life. All we need to do is change the focus of a remark, of a performance, of a body, in order to reverse altogether the enjoyment we might have given it. There is an erotic, an aesthetic of the second degree. ... We can even become maniacs of the second degree: reject denotation, spontaneity, platitude, innocent repetition, tolerate only languages which testify, however frivolously, to a power of dislocation: parody, amphibology, surreptitious quotation. As soon as it thinks itself, language becomes corrosive.'

Roland Barthes

Monday, August 17, 2009

NB: The Doomsday Machine Is Now Fully Operational

Fig. 1. Doug Aitken - Migration (still), 2009

'The gods send disasters to mortals so that they can tell of them, but men speak of them so that misfortunes will never be fully realised, so that their fulfillment will be averted in the negation of their nature.'

Michel Foucault

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It Is In The Unveiling Of Mystery That Desire Wanes

Figs. 1. & 2. François Lespingola - Hercules Rescuing Prometheus, late 17thC

'Our gaze can fall, not without perversity, upon certain old and lovely things whose signified is out of date. It is a moment at once decadent and prophetic, a moment of gentle apocalypse.'

Roland Barthes

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Loss Of Everything Is Only A Material Disaster

Fig. 1. William Blake - Fire, c. 1805

'To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence'

Arthur Schopenhauer

Friday, August 14, 2009

When The Bang Is Not Much More Than A Whimper

Fig. 1. Cai Guo-Qiang - Money Net (No. 3), 2002

'Love without passion is dreary; passion without love is horrific.'

Lord Byron

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Only Tourists Will See What They Have Come To See*

Fig. 1. Elio Ciol - Stazione di Milano, 1961

'Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.'

Anatole France

* 'The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.' (G. K. Chesterton)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All The Better Angels Of Our Nature Are Anonymous*

Fig. 1. James Lee Byars - The Angel, 1989

'Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.'

Simone Weil

* (a) 'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.' (Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, 1861) and, (b) 'A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is anonymous about it.' (Simone Weil)

Addendum #1: Art News - Paris, Australia (click)

Fig. 2. Vincent van Gogh - Bedroom at Arles, 1889

Addendum #2: Art News - Stadel Collection, Melbourne (click)

Fig. 3. Edvard Munch - Jealousy, 1913

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To Each Is Assigned His - Or Her - Own Prometheus

Fig. 1. The Innocents (1961) - d. Jack Clayton

'Law and repressed desire are one and the same thing.'

Jacques Lacan

Monday, August 10, 2009

In A World Where Beastliness Is Perilously Beautiful

Fig. 1. Bluebeard (2009) - d. Catherine Breillat

'The perception of beauty is a moral test.'

Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah ...

Fig. 1. Mel Bochner - Blah, Blah, Blah (maroon), 2008

'Go home. Take a paper bag and cut some eye-holes out of it. Put it over your head, get undressed, and look at yourself in the mirror. Really evaluate where your strengths and weaknesses are. And be honest.'

Joan Halloway (Christina Hendricks), Mad Men

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. The White Ribbon (2009) - d. Michael Haneke

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Ragtag Confederacy Of Beings Who Can't Decide

Fig. 1. Do-Ho Suh - Who Am We?, 1996–2000

'When they are alone they want to be with others, and when they are with others they want to be alone. After all, human beings are like that.'

Gertrude Stein

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. Karamozovi (2008) - d. Petr Zelenka

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Trip That Can't Be Undone By Driving Backwards

Fig. 1. Doug Aitken - Star, 2008

Ferris: Look, it's real simple. Whatever mileage we put on, we'll take off.
Cameron: How?
Ferris: We'll drive home backwards.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Interrogating Venus: Or, The Trouble With Sally

Fig. 1. Sally Mann - Venus After School, 1992

'Pornography is a theatre of types, never of individuals.'

Susan Sontag

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. Love Exposure (2008) - d. Sion Sono

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Sheer Impossibility Of Being Absolutely Nobody

Fig. 1. Cindy Sherman - Untitled, 2007-2008

'Narrative identity takes part in the story's movement, in the dialectic between order and disorder.'

Paul Ricoeur

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. Antichrist (2009) - d. Lars von Trier

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ode To The Most Mature Child Of My Acquaintance

Fig. 1. Kees Van Dongen - The Spotted Chimera, 1895-1907

'It takes a long time to become young.'

Pablo Picasso

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. Che: Part One (2008) - d. Steven Soderbergh

Monday, August 3, 2009

All Hail The Subtle Thief Of Youth (And Other Foes)*

Fig. 1. George Nelson - Ball Clock, 1948

'[We] get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.'

Paul Bowles

* 'Time, the subtle thief of youth.' (John Milton)

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. 35 Shots of Rum (2008) - d. Claire Denis

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Private Regrets And Hopes Of The Man Love Forgot

Fig. 1. Damien Hirst - Requiem, White Roses and Butterflies, 2008

'Sorrow is one of the vibrations that prove the fact of living.'

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Only When Scarce Are Words Seldom Spent In Vain*

Fig. 1. Alejandra Laviada Díez Barroso - Photo Sculptures, 2008

'Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap.'

George Bernard Shaw

* 'When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.' (William Shakespeare)

Melbourne International Film Festival: Film Du Jour

Fig. 1. Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) - d. Toshio Matsumoto