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Showing posts from April 12, 2009

this beatitude comes in terror

It would be impossible to film this. It would be impossible that is to score the film to a proper time. There is the rhythm of time given by the historian, with its units – “the age”, for instance – of varying duration in which the content somehow determines the boundaries of the unit, and there is the real time, which opens up, upon being represented, to an audience who must trade their own real time for it, and there is slow mo and fastforward, which operate on the object of representation, the film, to create a difference in the content that picks up things unseen in real time. This is a site and an occurrence. The site is London in the eighteenth century – a time cue. Three things happen. One, William Hogarth publishes The Four Stages of Cruelty in 1751. It is another of Hogarth’s series of etchings, this one depicting Tom Nero’s inevitable ascent into murder. The first of the etchings depicts acts of cruelty to animals. The Tate has a succinct description of the etching: “The wor

the donkey's enlightenment

There’s a very good post about literature and sociology at the American Stranger , followed by a comments section about the same. At the tail end of the comments section, Chabert and I engage in a little methodenstreit. And there’s a very flattering post about Limited Inc up here . What Duncan says about the oscillation between a rhetoric of violence and a rhetoric of loss hits home. I’d like to write a little more about that in a post on News From the Zona. … Now, on with the thread… Between Bruno and Nietzsche, the ass goes underground. Bruno’s donkey, who is brother to Cornelius Agrippa’s ass – in a noble lineage going back through Apuleius all the way to Balaam’s steed – refuses to speak. Although there are indications, an underground asinine code, that the ass’s point of view hasn’t entirely lost its power. For one way of reading Kant’s project of reconstructing the interior human limit would be to highlight the cold cold shoulder he gives to the ass. Or to the animal kingdom,

Guides to cine-world

I’m lucky. I have two guides to the movies. One of my guides, Masha Salazkina, just published her book on Eisenstein, which I helped edit. All should buy it, or actually, make a library buy it. Masha has an incredible movie archive in her head – her book is, among other things, a protest against the idea that Soviet cinema developed under the sign of some exceptionalism. The baroque that Eisenstein found in Mexico is, by a thousand micro-ethnographic threads, connected to what he was doing in Russia. In her work, Masha displays this great synoptic vision of world cinema. She knows the secret history that connects Brazil to Cuba and Cuba to Rome and Rome to Moscow. My other guide is Amie, who is one of the constant commentors on LI. I owe Amie for my deepest movie experience – Bela Tarr – and to owe someone for Bela Tarr is to have an infinite debt in one's intellectual/spiritual account. I’d go on and say some things about Amie’s ideas, except I hope someday she will be expoundin

Killing 2

“Remember, Cridle, those oxen, blonde giants, dumb, looking upwards to heaven whilst receiving the lash: it seemed to me like I was feeling it too – Oh, Cridle, our business is bloody.” Such are the words of meat goods king, Pierpont Mauler, in Brecht’s 1930 play, St. Johanna of the Stockyards. Meanwhile, in Lyons, the mayor was welcoming a new invention in the municipality abattoir: a “pistolet de l’assomage”. The inventors of this instrument, Jean Duchenet and Karl Schermer, wrote a summary of the benefits of it for the patent office: “The present invention has for its object a system of using a downing pistol (pistolet d’abatage) of which the automatic function and enhanced security renders the usage very practical and completely inoffensive. The manipulation of this tool is completely harmless. Its maneuvering capability is easy, rapid, and its automatic functioning is protected from all accidental deterioriation. With this machine, the slaughter of animals becomes instantaneous.