‘Nine Rings Around a Pit’ is a collection of writings that use as their entry point the musings of writers and thinkers, collectively addressing culture as a thing in disagreement with itself. Presented as damaged fragments, some have been distressed to the point of unreadability. This piece was done in collaboration with the excellent Singaporean writer and poet, Jeremy Fernando. In May, 2019 Jeremey published a development of this piece through Befrois press. link
A book derived from this collaboration is here.
'One is photographable, ‘photogenic’, and this is perhaps the catastrophe, that one can be photographable, that one can be captured and caught in time…’
— Hubertus von Amelunxen
... this is perhaps the tragedy of the photographic object, the object that is photographed: that in order to preserve its writing — the writing of light — the object has to be consigned into the shadows of time.
Perhaps then, the only hope for the one being captured is to be photographed without being photographable: not so much that one is not in the photograph (that would be too simple), nor that one is the photographer (too banal), nor even that one attempts to resist being objectified (for, this would be impossible); but that one remains within the photograph ... as light.
Wealth and speed are what the world admires, what each pursues. Railways, express mails, steamships and every possible facility for communications are the achievement in which the civilized world view and revels, only to languish in mediocrity by that very fact. Indeed, the effect of this diffusion is to spread the culture of the mediocre.
— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
In pointing out « diffusion », Goethe is right.
Where he missed the point, though, is in his focus on mediocrity: as, not only does that hardly matter, it may even be beneficial. For, it is often easier to diffuse goods, ideas, notions, that are similar to the prevalent thought, current logic, that appeal to the masses. One may even go as far to say that the rapid diffusion is hinged on mediocrity.
Thus, it is not so much that it is diffusion that spreads mediocrity but the other way round: things diffuse precisely because they are mediocre.
I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything is the same as it was
I can't understand, no, I can't understand
How life goes on the way it does
— Skeeter Davis
It is in front of you.
Tall, broad, strong: wider than any other. The gallery beyond all galleries.
Only you cannot see it.
Not because it’s not there. But due to the fact that, at any one point, someone is blind to it. Today it is you. Perhaps it even chose you.
So, let me see it for you.
You walk in.
Quite immediately, turn. Not because you choose to — it is just how the path blows you. Maybe even with a certain lightness.
But, this is not a flow for the sake of drifting, even less so an appreciation of flowing, of flows. Instead, it is the embodiment of the very moment of art — not of aesthetics, let alone beauty, but the transfer, transmission, transaction, of the works.
The gallery doesn’t need you to see it.
It has long since disappeared. For, it is no longer needed: the world itself is it.
As long as art was making use of its own disappearance and the disappearance of its object, it still was a major enterprise. But art trying to recycle itself indefinitely by storming reality? The majority of contemporary art has attempted to do precisely that by confiscating banality, waste and mediocrity as values and ideologies. These countless installations and performances are merely compromising with the state of things, and with all the past forms of art history. Raising originality, banality and nullity to the level of values or even to perverse aesthetic pleasure. Of course, all of this mediocrity claims to transcend itself by moving art to a second, ironic level. But it is just as empty and insignificant on the second as on the first level. The passage to the aesthetic level salvages nothing; on the contrary, it is mediocrity squared. It claims to be null — « I am null! I am null! » — and it truly is null.
— Jean Baudrillard
For, it is precisely though its nullness, that it seduces us; by whispering ... I can be whatever you want me to be
(If the serpents had written History they would have proudly related how their ancestor had belonged to woman. And it was during a love dispute between woman and her companion, a dispute god had every interest in no one ever knowing he had been the adulterous cause, as for any oriental god, that the jealous companion violently seized her serpent. But serpents are a people with no writing and it is god who has the word.)
— Hélène Cixous
Keeping in mind Mariela Yeregui’s reminder that « the affirmation of the body contains the seeds of its own destruction: the movement of the body is a one-way path towards the non-body. In this movement to its negative dimension, the body articulates language. Without body, without corpus, all that remains is the gravitation of the absence/presence dichotomy. By the way, there are corpses ».
And, as Antonin Artaud would say, « no one can say why the plague strikes the coward who flees it and spares the degenerate who gratifies himself on the corpses ». Except perhaps — one might posit — that fleeing is precisely the moment of the abject: for, in the attempt to throw (jacere) one away (ab) from the very scene, one is actively attempting to forget; which is not only an impossibility, but does nothing other than inscribe the scene onto, into, oneself.
Writing itself onto one — where the one who attempts to respond, perhaps myself in this case — is the very site of the disaster.
... writing — écriture — writhing — screaming — crying — cri ...
Is being in life just being born?
To me, risking your life is not dying yet: it’s integrating that you could be dying in your own life. Being completely alive is a task, it’s not at all a given thing. It’s not just about being present to the world, it’s being present to yourself, reaching an intensity that is in itself a way of being reborn.
— Anne Dufourmantelle
Some people, quite a number probably, may have tried to save the world, the Earth, Gaia even; whatever it is we call her.
But she, she perhaps preferred Death.
Reading can no longer be constituted in the classical tradition of hermeneutics, as an act of deciphering meaning according to a determined set of rules, laws: this would be reading as an act where the reader comes into a convergence at best with the text. In fact, reading can no longer be understood as an act, since an act by necessity be governed by the rules of reading. Reading must be thought as the event of an encounter with an other — an other who is not the other as identified by the reader, but rather an other that remains beyond the cognition of the self. Hence, reading is a pre-relational relationality: an encounter with the other without any claims to knowing who or what this other is in the first place; an unconditional relation, and a relation to no fixed object of relation. As such, it is the ethical moment par excellence.
— Werner Hamacher