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Showing posts from April 1, 2012

a long ramble: the sage and the buffoon

The Buffoon and the Sage – edited version (From a series of Bush era posts} This  all goes back, for me, to the eighties, when I used to talk to my friend and prof, Kathleen Higgins, who was writing her first book, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. K.H. had become fascinated by ass fests, one of which is featured in the big Z, and was seeing large echoes in the text from Apuleius’ Golden Ass. At the time, I didn’t grasp the import of this. Only lately have I begun to connect what she was telling me with my sense of the-muse like power of the ludicrous – which has always operated like the Air Loom gang on the broken winged crow who speaks to you here. However, I have forgotten (and can’t find the book this morning) whether K.H. mentions Bruno. Nuccio Ordine’s book, Giordano Bruno and the Philosophy of the Ass, was published after K.H.’s book – I do know that. At the time that I was talking to her about Nietzsche, I was especially drawn – like Krazy Kat to Ignatz’s brick – to one part


Doing research on early twentieth century newspapers, I came across a feuilleton in the Figaro from one of the most famous fin de siecle reporters, Jules Huret. Huret is known today by a few specialists for the fact that he practically invented the scenography of the interview with the artist (Royer, 1986); his subjects included Mark Twain, Tolstoy, Emile Zola, Sarah Bernhardt, Giusseppi Verdi, and Kipling, among others – a veritable who’s who of the fin de siecle’s bright lights. In 1909, he made one of his innumerable reporting trips, this time to Germany, and wrote a series about the place for his newspaper. What attracted my attention was his visit to the pencil factory. Huret was obviously keen to share with his French audience his impression of the transformation of the German economy from one of small ateliers to large industrial complexes. Getting to Nuremburg, he discovered that the town contained 23 pencil factories. He decided to visit the most famous of them: Jo

Barthesian adagio: reading and looking

  --- Georges Dambier   Among academics, it has now become common to use the term “read” when speaking of pictures. How did "to read" become the go-to term wheneven the scholar approaches the picture (drawing, painting, photo, film, etc.) ? I imagine part of the answer was the great busting of the White Mythology that happened in the sixties and seventies. The White Mythology put, on one side, cultures with writing, ag ainst cultures without writing. This opposition, however, seemed oddly oblivious to the wholly different writing systems we know about and the evidence – from pictographs to tattoos – that the line was always blurry everywhere; and that it was politically charged with all the acids of colonialism, sexism, racism, and other of the devil's helpers. At the same time, the busters of the White Mythology were busting ‘presence’. In the domain of visual culture, this meant junking the idea that one sees a picture in one glance. Just as