18 décembre 2011

In loving memory

طارق الطيب محمد البوعزيزي‎
Mohamed Bouazizi
March 29, 1984 – January 4, 2011

15 décembre 2011


"The unjust and oppressive, all those, in fact, who wrong others, are guilty, not only of the evil they do, but also of the perversion of mind they cause in those whom they offend." - I Promessi Sposi, Alessandro Manzoni

14 décembre 2011

07 décembre 2011


“When righteousness
withers away
and evil
rules the land,
we come into being,
age after age,
and take physical shape,
and move,
a man among men,
for the protection of good,
thrusting back evil,
and setting virtue on her seat again.”
- Philip Glass #OWS

01 décembre 2011

explosion, dissolution, dissociation, disintegration

“The dérive (with its flow of acts, its gestures, its strolls, its encounters) was to the totality exactly what psychoanalysis (in the best sense) is to language. Let yourself go with the flow of words, says the psychoanalyst. He listens, until the moment when he rejects or modifies (one could say detourns) a word, an expression or a definition. The dérive is certainly a technique, almost a therapeutic one. But just as analysis unaccompanied with anything else is almost always contraindicated, so continual dériving is dangerous to the extent that the individual, having gone too far (not without bases, but...) without defenses, is threatened with explosion, dissolution, dissociation, disintegration. And thence the relapse into what is termed ‘ordinary life,’ that is to say, in reality, into ‘petrified life.’ In this regard I now repudiate my Formulary’s propaganda for a continuous dérive. It could be continuous like the poker game in Las Vegas, but only for a certain period, limited to a weekend for some people, to a week as a good average; a month is really pushing it. In 1953-1954 we dérived for three or four months straight. That’s the extreme limit. It’s a miracle it didn’t kill us.”
- Ivan Chtcheglov, excerpt from a 1963 letter to Michèle Bernstein and Guy Debord


19 novembre 2011

professional relations

"People who have an official, professional relation to other men’s sufferings, for instance, judges, police officers, doctors—in course of time, through habit, grow so callous that they cannot, even if they wish it, take any but a formal attitude to their clients; in this respect they are not different from the peasant who slaughters sheep and calves in the back-yard, and does not notice the blood. With this formal, soulless attitude to human personality the judge needs but one thing—time—in order to deprive an innocent man of all rights of property, and to condemn him to penal servitude. Only the time spent on performing certain formalities for which the judge is paid his salary, and then—it is all over. Then you may look in vain for justice and protection in this dirty, wretched little town a hundred and fifty miles from a railway station! And, indeed, is it not absurd even to think of justice when every kind of violence is accepted by society as a rational and consistent necessity, and every act of mercy—for instance, a verdict of acquittal—calls forth a perfect outburst of dissatisfied and revengeful feeling?"

- Anton Chekhov, from “Ward No 6," as cited in Was King Hammurabi a Commie? by Charles Simic

06 octobre 2011

a ding in the universe

"It's more fun to be a pirate than join the Navy."



"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new."


"Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?"

13 août 2011

the lid taken off

"Consumption is not, as one might generally imagine (which is why economic "science" is fundamentally averse to discussing it), an indeterminate marginal sector where an individual, elsewhere constrained by social rules, would finally recover, in the "private" sphere, a margin of freedom and personal play when left on his own. Consumption is a collective and active behavior, a constraint, a morality, and an institution. It is a complete system of values, with all that the term implies concerning group integration and social control.

We don't realize how much the current indoctrination into systematic and organized consumption is the equivalent and the extension, in the twentieth century, of the great indoctrination of rural populations into industrial labor, which occurred throughout the nineteenth century. The same process of rationalization of productive forces, which took place in the nineteenth century in the sector of production is accomplished, in the twentieth century, in the sector of consumption. Having socialized the masses into a labor force, the industrial system had to go further in order to fulfill itself and to socialize the masses (that is, to control them) into a force of consumption."
- Jean Baudrillard, Consumer Society
(via Zeynep)


"The “bloody week,” as it was called, also involved an enormous destruction of property. The Communards, to be sure, were not enamored of the privileges of private property and were not averse to destroying hated symbols. The Vendôme Column—which Napoleon III had doted upon—was toppled in a grand ceremony on the May 16 to symbolize the end of authoritarian rule. The painter Courbet was later held responsible for this act, and condemned to pay for the reconstruction of the monument out of his own pocket. The Communards also decreed, but never carried out, the destruction of the Chapel of Expiation, by which Louis XVIII had sought to impress upon Parisians their guilt in executing his brother. And when Thiers had shown his true colors, the Communards took a certain delight in dismantling his Parisian residence, stone by stone, in a symbolic gesture that Goncourt felt had an “excellent bad effect." But the wholesale burning of Paris was another matter entirely."
- David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity


"We compile a new index that summarizes these variables, and then ask -- for every percentage cut in government spending, how much more instability should we expect? The data shows a clear link between the magnitude of expenditure cutbacks and increases in social unrest. With every additional percentage point of GDP in spending cuts, the risk of unrest increases."
- Jacopo Ponticelli and Hans-Joachim Voth, Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2009 (pdf)


"Lewis Namier famously described 18th-century British politics as ‘aristocracy tempered by rioting’. In fact riots often combine the form of radical protest with reactionary content.
As well established as the riot tradition is reactive alarmism that the country is going to hell in a looted shopping trolley. Namier’s bon mot could be rewritten for our times as ‘plutocracy tempered by riot’. Consumerism holds up varnished designer tat as the sine qua non of civic respect. Its supporting ideology holds that monetary access to consumer goods flows from desert, the sort of thing stockpiled by politicians’ beloved ‘hard-working people and their families’. But everyone – not least Keele University cleaning staff, employed for over thirty years, who get up before six every morning to earn the minimum wage – knows that that is all balls. Acquisitiveness and arson are, as far as this goes, two sides of the same coin. Consumerism may be a mug’s game; but acting as though it efficiently metes out rewards according to desert is a mug’s game run by the mugs. Small wonder when the lid is taken off that those who know the system is a put-up job fill their boots."
- Glen Newey, "To Hell in a Looted Shopping Trolley"

01 août 2011

Lenin on auteurism

"We must learn to combine the 'public meeting' democracy of the working people — turbulent, surging, overflowing its banks like a spring flood — with iron discipline while at work, with unquestioning obedience to the will of a single person, the Soviet leader, while at work."
- The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government


18 juin 2011

written in pencil in the sealed railway car

written in pencil in the sealed railway car (Dan Pagis)

here in this carload
I am eve
with abel my son
if you see my older son
cain son of adam
tell him that I

17 mai 2011

Plaque commemorating three Levellers shot by Oliver Cromwell in Burford
(Kaihsu Tai, 17 May 2008)


Profit motive and the whispering wind
(John Gianvito, 2007)


Toute révolution est un coup de dés
(Danièle Huillet et Jean-Marie Straub, 1977)

16 mai 2011

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.


10 mai 2011

Mother's Day Proclamation (Julia Ward Howe, 1870)

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

15 avril 2011

A true militant cinema

"Today I think that militant films have the same defect as militant groups - they have the "mania of the All": each film is total, all-inclusive. A true militant cinema would be a cinema which militated as cinema, where one film would make you want to see a hundred others on the same subject.


So the unification always happens on the basis of a kind of amnesia and the desire to nourish this amnesia with beautiful images (the red flags of 1900.) This amnesia is a paradoxical but important phenomenon in the lives of Franco-Italian intellectuals: these cultures imbued with Marxism are cultures where the history of the workers' movement is not well known, because it is the parties who write history.

On the other hand, for people haunted by writing like the CAHIERS, it's clear that writing divides, while images unify (through common fear or recognition.) Today, in France, in cinema, you have to divide. And it can only be done by making contemporary films (and not moving evocations.) For example, it's quite possible to make a Communist trade-unionist a fictional character; it's what Godard does in COMMENT CA VA. It's quite possible to film the suicide of a young person; it's what Bresson does in THE DEVIL, PROBABLY. But these are contemporary films, which do not surrender to the simulacrum of memory."

- Serge Daney

14 février 2011


"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

Prostitute in Naples, Italy 1920


12 janvier 2011

Grievances / Social Systems (Part 2)

Matthew Flanagan's contribution to The Daily Notebook's year-end feature, featuring a picture from London's Day X3 protests (December 9, 2010) against the rises in tuition fees:

NEW: Film socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland)
OLD: History Lessons (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, 1972)


The Democratic organisations, on which he could still have leaned in the Autumn, were in ruins. The City had betrayed the little man according to all the rules of the art, except the one that prescribes that the victim shall not notice anything.
— the banker Mummlius Spicer, from Brecht’s The Business Affairs of Mr. Julius Caesar.

To show, above all. To show the possible. That's all.

Not so much a fantasy double bill as two films, and three filmmakers, that meant a lot to me this year. Looking back, it seems the year’s great films about the political and spatial decay of the present — Patrick Keiller’s Robinson in Ruins, Thom Andersen’s Get Out of the Car — could only be paired with films by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. I’ve clung to these two for their clarity, their abstractions, and their hope.

09 janvier 2011

Grievances / Social Systems (Part 1)

Just published: The Daily Notebook's 3rd Writers' Poll: Fantasy Double Features of 2010

My contribution:

NEW: The Social Network (David Fincher, USA)
OLD: The Night Cleaners (Part 1) (Marc Karlin & James Scott, 1975)

WHY: Two films that use the act of giving depositions as a means to explore the interactions of individual emotions and history: David Fincher's The Social Network (2010) uses deposition-based set pieces to showcase the personal grievances that help drive the creation of a new form of social interaction, a sort of computer-powered social efficiency engine. In The Nightcleaners (Part 1) (1975), the Berwick Street Film Collective uses interviews to show the human cost of daily underpaid drudgery and unfairness—the personal grievances that result from participation in an engine of grand economic efficiency.