META-NOMAD

TSPDT7

This is a disappointing entry into my series, it really is, there’s no questioning the feeble nature of my analytic skills this time around. We begin with Murnau’s Tabu (1931) and hell, I got nothing to say, the film bored me, I struggled to watch, I found it utterly tiresome with very little to drag from its odd domain. Le Million (1931) was a non-find. Which brings me to this entry’s biggest flop City Lights (1931) often heralded as Chaplin’s magnum opus this film did very little for me. Chaplin’s ‘Tramp’ is a try-hard and I cannot be bothered with him, I find something so utterly despicable about his presence, his fumbling, tripping and accidental luck frustrate me, his conclusions make me role my eyes and his faux-sentimentality makes his suspicious, I said before and I shall say again, Chaplin simply doesn’t fit this era…Chaplin and school shootings cannot coexist. A Nous Le Liberte (1931) forgettable, I left it a little while before writing this entry and I cannot remember a single thing of this film.

Finally, some light in the darkness, Fritz Lang’s M (1931) is a masterpiece, there’s no question. I wont bother with comparison, ranking against Metropolis, they’re too different. From its very beginning M brings from the outside sounds and paranoia, a danger lurks just out of sight for us viewers, there’s a constant unease – even with killer in shot – that control has been lost and something entirely unnannounced may enter diagonally into the social-linear at any moment. This world of M rife with purchase of crime fiction, with crime and danger as capital and commodity, a societal lust for both overrides the real danger of a psychotic break. And thus from this mass connection via the overarching spell and enticement of crime begins the media’s hysteria, fuelled by fear, paranoia and murder; a mass contagion brough into existence by the failure of authority to act, to secure and to make those accountable safe. And so the murder is needed by many as a structural pivot. The media needs its existence to fuel their profits, the police their job and so society, the public are the ones left nearest the outside. A lot gets lost amongst the smoke of a hundred smoking gents here. The truth of danger flutters into a nothingness amongst the lusts and profits of the apathetic. The whistle warning offscreen marks the neglect of family, of children, of the family-unit. That which should be protected is currently at danger from the malicious whistle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Function of the Academy

There is much that can constrain or suffocate a work of thought, of theory, of philosophy. There are editors, critics and shills, classical religious and political bodies, demonstrations, burnings and bannings, yet none more harmful to a work of thought that that which promises it its sceptical freedom, indeed it is the Academy itself which is sole eroder of a theoretical work’s decency. It is the Academy in all forms which pollutes the very root it so promises to help grow. I say in all forms for the Academy has and always will enter into various areas of critique under different names. Whether it’s a Chomskyan Manufacturing, a Moldbuggian ‘Cathedral’, a doomsayer’s ‘devil-machine’, a Serresian ‘Parasite’, Debord’s ‘Spectacle’ or plain old media-systems-propaganda-worship, that which attempts to broadcast art, theory, music or vision to the masses always does so via a lense of constriction, and thus that which you are seeing, hearing or reading has already been tampered with.

Mirroring Buren’s essay[1] wherein I found inspiration for this piece, one must define the function of the Academy:

 

It is the place where the work originates.

It is generally a place of WEIRDness: Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic. It is indebted and economically-umbilically linked to a WEIRD government or state.

It is a stationary place where portable and lucid works are produced.

 

And thus the contemporary importance of the Academy is established, and if one is hopefully not too blind, they can see as to why a work created in such a place may have a few progressive stains dribbled upon it, or as to why certain work might not make it out alive so to speak. Buren calls the studio the ‘first limit’, upon which all subsequent limits will depends. Yet the Academy is not just some vague room in which anything can be produced, it is quintessentially WEIRD and that is thus our first limit. The Academy of course is also where numerous critics, lecturers, tutors, reviewers, scholars and specialists come to review papers, dissertations and thesis’ to see if they make the cut, to see if they’re moulded or mouldable enough to jump through the Academic hoops, if not of course there’s a pre-constructed system to deal with work unfit for Academy consumption: a bad grade. As such it is the Academy and its practioners alone whom decide that which is a continuation, that which is to become canon, that which is to be the ‘correct’ reading; it is the Academy and the Academy alone which decides whether or not a work shall become part of its and thus the recognized ‘future’.

And so as Buren’s ‘studio’ is the reality for the work of art, so too is the Academy the reality for the work of philosophy. Much like Buren’s claims of art, the work of philosophy too becomes more mature the further it distances itself from the death-grip of the Academy, the further it strays away from the world of checkboxes, grading and marking the further it enters into the actual world of thought and freedom. And so Buren proclaims:

“If the work of art remains in the studio, however, it is the artist that risks death…from starvation…”

So too does the philosopher, writer or theorist risk death if their work remains within the Academy. One will find once they free their work from the academic cult of WEIRDness that is is finally able to breath, to live and to…feel uncomfortable. Indeed the supports you so relied upon within your industrialized-education-complex wither and die at the sight of an original mind, one not poisoned by the water of WEIRD canals. Unlike Buren’s art-from-the-studio however, one may, can and should produce work outside the Academy, not with the Academy and not of the Academy. Imagine that dear fellows, writing what it is that actually comes to your mind when reading Kant, Nietzsche, Hobbes or Rousseau without feeling an authoritarian obligation to sculp your supposedly contrarian musings into another dreary Academic repetition.

And so I say to you ‘amateur’ or ‘professional’ or ‘practicing’ philosopher there is no such thing. You have been moulded, your work sculped and the higher your form of personal academic achievement the further your work has been lost to the chasms of WEIRDness. So where does one wander once they’re banished or have managed escape from the Academy, sitting atop its marble steps you ponder what to write about, who and when to write about. After the Academy there no longer has to be a why, when, who or what as to you’re writing. You’re writing because you are writing. Your work becomes entirely its own existing for its own sake, within a decaying blog, or viral pamphlet. Your thesis read by 4 people disintegrated into the WEIRD-abyss, rife with merit-signalling and brown-nosing. Your 4000 word pulsating screed on the hell-time of a cybernetic patchwork transition stage on the other hand was read and enjoyed by many.

If the work of philosophy remains in the Academy, the philosopher and philosophy both risk death.

 

[1] The Function of the Studio – Daniel Buren

 

 

Blog: TSPDT6 & Note on Xenobuddhism

On Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Antonin Artaud stated that the film was meant to “reveal Joan as the victim of one of the most terrible of all perversions: the perversion of a divine principle in its passage through the minds of men, whether they be Church, Government or what you will.”

And in my opinion it does just that, and it goes about it in no overly complex way, there’s little in the way of sophistication or creative temperament, just a sublime (and I do not use that word lightly) performance by Renée Falconetti, a minimal set and a focused camera technique. The film is an exercise in compressed spirituality, wherein each time the camera is focused upon Joan of Arc’s face one gets the feeling of a real, visceral belief in God, in saviour. The feeling is akin to reading the works of Lovecraft, where that which is nowadays often accused of being a fiction is brought to life by those who have firsthand experience of the/an Outside, whether it’s Arc’s God or Lovecraft’s Occult, both are read as if that which is usually questioned is taken as reality, fictions become fact. The use of light and dark could be said to be kitsch, potentially obvious, yet it stands entirely true for its purpose as that which reveals the good from the bad. There’s very clear inspiration here for countless films to come, the use of harsh close-ups, little-to-no-makeup, angles utilized as status signifiers, yet it is unarguable that what stands out is Falconetti’s ability to make even the most staunch non-believer question their heart, even for just a second. In Dostoyevsky’s 1869 novel The Idiot, the character Prince Myshkin, having viewed the The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (below) in the home of Rogozhin, declares that it has the power to make the viewer lose his faith. Well I claim the reverse is true for Renée Falconetti’s performance as Joan of Arc.

 

 

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb – Hans Holbein the Younger, 1520-22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renée Falconetti as Joan of Arc.

Now, onto the rest. The Wedding March and Pandora’s Box (1928) are both difficult to find, in fact, now I’ve left the era of really early stuff I imagine I’m going to be confronted with both rare and protected films. People on Sunday (1929) was about as enjoyable as it sounds, don’t bother. The Man with the Movie Camera (1929) I generally thought of as pretty convoluted and hammed up, this is usually the case with a lot of French stuff to be honest, they try just that little bit too hard and what could have been an interesting experiment/experience trails into a nonsensical reference only a few people will get. The Blood of the Poet (1930) was another non-find. L’Age D’or (1930) supposed to be one of Bunuel’s greats, hell I couldn’t draw much from it. Earth (1930) by Dovzhenko was a film I was looking forward to, Tarkovsky lists it as one of his favourites, stating that Dovzhenko understood how to create simple cinema, truly minimal film, there’s a fine line and I guess once again my temperament fell onto the wrong side of it, alas…I was unimpressed. Hell, I never said I was going to glorify the whole list, hopefully by the end of this I can give you the films from this 1000 that’ll actually interest your 21st-century addled brains.

Edward Van Sloan: [Introduction to the film] How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you.

James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) I’m guessing is as clear cut as Frankenstein films are going to come, oh, and also it’s our first ‘talkie’, there’s dialogue again so these might just get a little longer. This is a very clear cut horror which arguably spent a little bit too much time in the editing room (unless there’s a story there I’m missing out on), it’s often jarring how quickly we’re moved along to the next clear piece of narrative, almost…mechanical. I jest, with a remaster this could quite easily sit alongside contemporary horror films as an example of how well a written work can be turned into film.

Extras:

Note on Xenobuddhism:

XENOBUDDHISM BEGINS WITH XENO by XENOBUDDHISM

‘Land goes on, gets blunt, boils this shit down:

“Xenobuddhism- the illusion of the substantial self isn’t dispelled by argument, and for most people it won’t be meditation or some of kind of psychological discipline that does it – getting copied, downloading thoughts, splitting/merging consciousness – that stuff will really have an impact and yes, it will be difficult to ignore”

Xenobuddhism is neither Buddhism nor accelerationism nor transhumanism. It is born from their convergence. It’s Buddhism once exposed to the mutagen, the black liquid. It’s the technocommercialist takeover of dharma in the realisation that techniques for realisation have outpaced humanity. Capital begins rerouting human agencies, demonstrating emptiness as the immanent engine of history. Buddhist modernism sought to update the former based on the latter; Xenobuddhism is dharma expounded by modernity itself. Xenobuddhism is unconditional accelerationism apprehended in the guise of a religion. The self illusion – the heart of the human security system – will be vaporized, and the species with it. Enlightenment and Enlightenment colliding. Whoever says it’s a dystopian picture really hasn’t been paying attention to history thus far.’

An intriguing read by Xenobuddism to be sure, I quarrel with the idea of the human-security-system here in relation to Buddhism. Yet it reads as if there were a mirror (=human-security-system), read the story of The Sixth Patriach Hui Neng. So here I would say that Xenobuddism makes the mistake of the first poem:

The body is the wisdom-tree,

The Mind is a bright mirror in a stand;

Take care to wipe it all the time,

And allow no dust to cling.

The human-security-system here acting as the mirror, yet the proposition that there is a mirror (within Buddhism) is wrong:

Fundamentally no wisdom-tree exists,

Nor the stand of a mirror bright.

Since all is empty from the beginning,

Where can the dust alight.

Whether or not this implies that the Buddhist mind falls quite sharply into unconditional ways of ‘thinking’ would require further investigation. There’s no mirror for dust to collect upon, there’s no human-security-system for the black liquid to collect upon, so it’s washed directly through you, potentially into you, there’s little time for transition here it seems. The substantial self (as Land puts it) in Buddhist terms never was, it was created after and so it’s more a case of realization of negation, as opposed to dispelling an attached psychological reality.