Saturday, September 29, 2012

Juvenilia '73

A Pious Individual

   Rambam quotes a pious individual who was questioned about the happiest day of his life:
  "I was traveling on a ship. Because of my poverty, I was assigned the worst quarters imaginable- in the lowest hold, together with the cargo. A group of rich, arrogant, and uncouth merchants were also on board. Once, as I lay in the hold, one of the merchants actually urinated on me. I must have appeared so despicable in his eyes that he felt I was unworthy of elementary respect as a human being, but I was not offended in the least, nor did I react in any way. When I realized how indifferent I was to my own prestige, I was overcome with joy, because I had achieved a level of genuine humility and self-effacement and was able to ignore the disparagement of that person."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Digital Landlord


[Neo-liberal forms of government] characteristically develop indirect techniques for leading and controlling individuals without at the same time being responsible for them. The strategy of rendering individual subjects responsible entails shifting the responsibility for social risks such as illness, unemployment, poverty, etc. into the domain for which the individual is responsible and transforming them into problems of self-care...

In this way, the angle of possible political and social intervention changes. It is not socio-structural factors which decide whether unemployment, alcoholism, criminality, child abuse, etc. can be solved, but instead individual-subjective categories. Self-esteem thus has much more to do with self-assessment than with self-respect, as the self continuously has to be measured, judged, and disciplined in order to gear personal "empowerment" to collective yardsticks...

What were previously extra-economic domains are now rendered economic and are colonized by criteria of economic efficiency; this enables a close link to be forged between economic prosperity and personal well-being. As regards labor relations, for example, this means that work and leisure time are no longer inimical opposites, but tend to supplement each other...

Neo-liberalism is a political rationality that tries to render the social domain economic and to link a reduction in state services and security services to the increasing call for "personal responsibility" and "self-care". In this way, we can decipher the neo-liberal harmony in which not only the individual body, but also collective bodies and institutions (government, universities, corporations) have to be "lean", "fit", "flexible", and "autonomous": it is a technique of power.
-Thomas Lemke

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sibling Topics

Sibling Topics (section a) from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

Russell Edson: "The Taxi"

     One night in the dark I phone for a taxi. Immediately a taxi crashes through the wall; never mind that my room is on the third floor, or that the yellow driver is really a cluster of canaries arranged in the shape of a driver, who flutters apart, streaming from the windows of the taxi in yellow fountains...
     Realizing that I am in the midst of something splendid I reach for the phone and cancel the taxi: All the canaries flow back into the taxi and assemble themselves into a cluster shaped like a man. The taxi backs through the wall, and the wall repairs...
     But I cannot stop what is happening, I am already reaching for the phone to call a taxi, which is already beginning to crash through the wall with its yellow driver already beginning to flutter apart...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Go About Your Business Like the Lowly Maggot

  A powerful king once gave one of his servants a piece of paper and said to him: "If you ever see me enraged give this to me." Written on it was the following: "You are not God, merely a flesh-and-blood body who will soon return to earth and be consumed by worms."
  HaChassid Yaavetz interprets this description of man's end as a reason why man should be exceedingly humble spirited and suffer insult gracefully. Just as one does not feel insulted by a dog who barks at him, he should never feel too hurt by the disparaging remarks of his fellow man, a temporary creature who eventually will be food for the maggots.
                                                       *           *          *
  A person should measure his own standing against the performance of the lowly maggot. Worms play an important role in the ecology, softening the soil so that roots can spread out, allowing the rain water to reach them, and turning fallen leaves into rich earth which fertilizes the growing plants. Nonetheless, the worm remains silent, never bragging of its importance. Man should measure himself against the worm in trying to assess whether he too goes about his business without fanfare and arrogance.

- Pirkei Avot

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do Justice, Love Mercy & Walk Humbly With Thy Dog

                                                   Harlequin Nascar

                                                 Aquatic Ape Theory

                                              The Birth of the Uncool

                                          The Invention of Jaywalking

                                      Libertarianism = Satanism - Magic

                                The Intrinsic Fascism of Manufactured Pop

                             A Rebuttal to the Declaration of Independence

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cohen Owes Me Ninety-Seven Dollars 
(Irving Berlin)

Old Man Rosenthal lay sick in bed.

Soon the doctor came around and said
"There's no use crying,
the man is dying.
He can't live very long"

"Send my son here to my side," they heard the old man say.
"I've got something to tell him before I pass away."
Soon his son was sitting by his bed
What's the matter , Papa dear?" he said.
The old man said, "My son, 
before my days are done
I want you to know"

"Cohen owes my ninety-seven dollars

And it's up to you to see that Cohen pays.
I sold a lot of goods to Rosenstein and Sons
On an I.O.U. for ninety days.
Levi brothers don't get any credit,
They owe me for one hundred yards of lace.
If you promise me, my son, you'll collect from everyone,
I can die with a smile upon my face."

Old man Rosenthal is better now.

He just simply wouldn't die somehow.
He is healthy
and very wealthy
since he got out of bed.
Such a change you never saw, he's got such rosy cheeks.
He picked up in just one week what should take weeks and weeks.
Ev'ryone who knew he was sick
Couldn't tell how he got well so quick.
They went and asked him to explain how he pulled through.
And Rosenthal said:

"Cohen owed me ninety-seven dollars
And my son went out and made poor Cohen pay.
A bill was owed to me by Rosenstein and Sons
And they settled on that very day.
What could my son do with all that money
If I should leave it all and say goodbye?
It's all right to pass away,
but when people start to pay
That's no time for a businessman to die."