Saturday, January 9, 2010

off to the muddy confluence

I'm leaving in about 10 minutes to take a train to Seoul and then a plane in the morning to Kuala Lumpur. In Malay, the word means muddy confluence. The city is named after the converging of rivers, so I'm pretty down with that on a purely conceptual basis.

I might not blog till I return in February, so I'm leaving you with a taste of Milton Nascimento, from his album Milagre dos Peixes, which means "The Miracle of the Fishes." There's one mind blowing thing about this album for me: At the time it was recorded Brazil was being governed by the military and censorship was rampant. Being connected with the Tropicalia movement, Milton Nascimento was informed by the government that the lyrics of his album were too controversial and he should change them or not record it or it would be banned. The record company told him to record a new album, and he was like "FUCK that", and just recorded the album without lyrics and used his voice as an instrument instead. The result is pretty awesome. Until I return from the jungle.

milton nascimento - Carlos, Lucia, Chico e Tiago
milton nascimento - Cade
milton nascimento - A Ultima Sessao de Musica
milton nascimento - Pablo

Friday, January 8, 2010

With only a shit-knife in hand

I was watching a video of Wade Davis speaking about the tragedy of disintegrating tribal cultures around the world, and he recounted a handful of stories he picked up while living with various tribes over the years. I have to retell this one story he told, even if badly, just because I've never heard anything like it, and it's something you could never make up if you tried.

In a remote area of Canada a while back there was a family of Inuits that were told by the Canadian government that their land was being repossessed for some bullshit reason or another. Everyone was packing, but the old grandfather said he was holding his ground, and not moving off his land. The rest of his family was really worried about him because he might be killed or jailed by the Canadian government. But since they couldn't force him to go with them against his will either, they just decided to take all of his weapons and belongings away, so that he could have them back as long as he followed the rest of his family. Undeterred, the old man walked outside into the arctic cold, pulled down his pants and began shitting into his hand. While the shit immediately started to freeze, he molded it into a makeshift knife. He then sprayed his saliva all along one edge of the knife to make a sharp edge of ice. Then he took his shit knife and slaughtered a nearby dog. He took the dog's rib cage and various other parts and fashioned a makeshift sled. Then he strapped the sled up to another nearby dog that was still alive and disappeared into the distance where no one saw him again.

This is a link his full lecture, if you're interested.

some-formed uttering triangles, really

In the process of speaking, the average human utters 6 metaphors a minute.

Metaphors are synaesthetic re-combines of ideas if you think about it. Like triangles -- giving a thing a name that belongs to another thing to produce a more vivid understanding of both things, and itself.

I think metaphors are also rooted in misrecognition, as when you see shapes and things in shadows or on rockfaces, or mis-hear words, or recall things from things that aren't there: invented nostalgia from nonexistent memories.

Quite an exquisite location

I was watching this thing on Roni Horn and she was talking about an 8x8 grid (like a chess board) of black and white photographs she made about the architecture of a locker room area of a swimming pool. She described the architecture: "It was like a mathematical equation punctuated by a sexual act."

I also started listening really intently when she started talking about the mysterious nature of the Arctic Circle and like "places." You can find the Arctic Circle on the map all around the world. So it is visible on maps and people talk about it and talk about going there. So it has all the characteristics of a real place, yet it is entirely invisible. Except in concept and geographical diagrams, it doesn't exist.

Photographing the invisible...invisible landscapes.

As for music, you should now notice a gray and white play button on the lower left of the a new playlist player going so I can select the top 5 tracks from each mix I put up, especially for your fat faces and hungry ears, if need be. The cool thing is that the playlist will compile and compile as long as I add to this page, so selections from various mixes will organically reorder and recombine into a new mix altogether.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To shake together

Cogito = I think.

The etymology of cogito is Latin co-agitare, to shake together. I love these beautiful accidents of etymology.

Or were these verbs intended to be linked? The act of thinking is to shake together.

As for Descartes: I shake together, therefore I am.

Forgot one

Forgot one Porchia quote that really haunts me. It really has a lot to do with art and science:

"We tear life out of life and use it for looking at itself." -Antonio Porchia

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Antonio Porchia

I can't seem to ever get this quote out of my head:

"Everything is like the rivers -- the work of the slopes." -Antonio Porchia

Actually if I think about it there's always a handful:

"Nothing that is complete breathes."

"We are chained to the world to pay for the freedom of our eyes."

"The cold is a good counselor
but it is cold."

"I too once had a summer
and I burned myself in its name."

Giraffes are giraffing and people are peopling

New mix: Giraffes are giraffing and people are peopling

part 1
part 2

Loving that song by The Go-Betweens Too Much Of One Thing:

"nothing in these days is constant, come home to chance"

I was listening to a podcast by Alan Watts and he was going off on the restraints of language. He said that many Eastern languages don't have such a strong distinction between parts of speech, such as nouns and verbs. Even in Korean, there's so many nouns and verbs that are the same word, and you can turn most nouns into a verb by just altering the ending slightly (by adding the "to do" verb stem).

In fact, he said that in the overall recorded history of languages, Western languages probably maintain a thin minority in the way that its speakers create and forge brutal divisions between grammatical structures. This unnecessary categorization of language into isolated parts (such as nouns and verbs, where some words are strictly "agents" and others are strictly "operators"), introduces a multitude of limitations on the way we can use language.

What he suggests, and what I have to strongly agree with, is the notion of how free-flowing and limitless language could be once these restraints are taken off it. He imagines a world where "Giraffes are giraffing, trees are treeing, stars are starring, clouds are clouding, rain is raining, and people are peopling."

And yet as much as I support this idea, so many times I feel like if I don't place a set of arbitrary constraints on myself for a particular art project, I feel so listless and unable to produce anything at all. Weird.

I have some unavoidable reasons.

I received a birthday text from my friend Mark in town. After the happy birthday part he said "how bout make a chance to see after 10th. i have some unavoidable reasons." I'm still unclear if he means he has some unavoidable reasons to see me after the 10th, or if he has unavoidable reasons of why he can't see me until that time. But the text sounds cryptic and severe for some reason whatever the case may be.

But in any case, my twenties are now officially buried and no more. I am now in my thirties.

Walking cemeteries

I found out that a great majority of nurses in rural areas in South Korea know how to say the word "push" in a variety of Southeast Asian languages. Since most females of marrying age move to the cities so they can attend universities and find careers the men who stay sometimes don't have any option but to search abroad for companionship. I once saw this large banner on the outside of an apartment building that translated something like "virgin maiden Vietnamese bride" above a phone number. I don't think I translated it exactly right, but the idea was there. The problem is that Korea is far from being a country of immigrants, and with even less foreigners living in rural areas, there's not much available in the way of Korean language classes for the immigrants that do end up here. So the Southeast Asian brides looming about might not learn some essential vocab before babies start popping out of their bodies.

Something else entirely unrelated: I just finished reading this book called "The Chronicles of the Guayaki Indians" by Pierre Clastres. It's by far one of the saddest and simultaneously beautiful stories I've yet had a chance to read. The author is an anthropologist who lived with the tribe for a year. But he writes with a poetry and compassion that is so intense, especially when he tackles their ritual practices of infanticide and cannibalism. The tribe's entire population dropped by about 25% in the time that he was there, and within a short time after the entire tribe ceased to exist. Their language, culture, myths, and rituals pretty much died with them.

All the people in the tribe were "passionate cannibals", but they never killed people for the purpose of food or sacrifice. They ate their dead. Every member of their tribe who died, they ate every part of. This was as much for the practical nutritional purpose of not wasting food products, as it was for their religious purposes. In their tribe, the myths behind rituals ran parallel and fed into all of the practical reasons for them. The two were inseparable in a way. In this case, the tribe ate their dead to make certain that their souls would not come back to kill them. They needed to devour their bodies to keep the deceased people's souls in the world of the dead and out of the world of the living. In this way, the entire tribe became walking cemeteries and supreme masters of recycling, since the consumption of each dead person was the burial and the feast at the same time.