anti-suicide jumpsuit
one size fits all.
— available from ferguson safety products

I am not normally one for a series about a hitman but Barry is a reluctant one who just wants to live a normal life and it’s cute and funny and great.

do you know the one about the monks in the monastery who are only ever allowed to talk to each other for one hour once a month? well they like to tell each other jokes but they’ve heard all the jokes so often that to save time they’ve given them numbers. so one of them will say number seven’ and they all laugh heartily. and then another monk will say, number twelve’ and they all crack up and when they have finished laughing they say, that’s a good one!’ and so on.

i was thinking you could employ a similar system for seinfeld episodes but since there are 180 episodes it might be better to say the title.

ok so here goes.

the keys!

ha ha ha.
oh you don’t know it?
it’s the one where kramer says to george : do you ever yearn?

if you can’t see the characters in your mind’s eye it’s probably not funny at all but here is the script.

but how about you. do you ever yearn?

oh the punchline of the joke about the monks is when one of them says, number nine’ and they all go, oh no that’s not funny anymore!

There is something wrong with my eye, that is to say, my vision. My eye is seeing something that isn’t there which is not a metaphor but it could be. It’s another nail in my coffin. This made me laugh a bit. If you see the irony of death it’s quite funny, until it’s not. The dead have cheated death, an old Romanian philosopher[1] once wrote, which is very droll. But you can only see the funny side of it if you’re not dead.

[1] E.M.Cioran

I read a moving passage in a mediocre book partially set in Australia, in Perth of all places, by one of those annoying white male Dutch writers of a certain age who keeps putting out book after book after book. It never stops. And then when he’s dead there will be years and years of more books with all of his letters to his publisher and to other annoying white male Dutch writers of a certain age and his shopping lists and facsimile editions of the various handwritten drafts of his first mediocre novel. And then there will be a biography, or several. First there will be an unauthorised biography because authorised biographies take a lot of time because all of his ex-wives and various off-spring and kissing cousins have to be consulted and they will want certain passages removed like when he tortured his pet rat who was called Simon, named after another much loved white male Dutch writer of a certain age, who it was revealed after his death, was secretly having an affair with a beautiful and brilliant Dutch writer who was hated and feared by everyone because she was a woman who didn’t suffer fools, and she was Jewish.

The passage was about being held by an angel. And no, my dear reader, rest assured, the irony of a white male Dutch writer of a certain age who was once held by an angel, being moved to tears by a passage about being held by an angel in a really mediocre book by another white male Dutch writer of a certain age and writing about it is not lost on me. But what can I do. Oh yeah I can die already, or shut the fuck up. That would be a really good idea but I can’t. So kill me. Where is my Valerie Solanas?

It was not the shortest night of the year, but close, not much more than five hours. I slept well enough. It was very warm. At the end of the day I thought I detected the merest hint of a cool breeze, a zephyr as it were.

Is zephyr the most beautiful word in the English language? Whoever said it was elbow was sadly mistaken, it is completely lacking any punctum. Any number of words are more beautiful than elbow, say crevice, or ellipsis or, if it has to be a body part, clavicle — although a crevice too can be a body part.

Went for a ride on my bicycle in the evening to chase the zephyr and caught it momentarily in the shade of the trees by the water, only for it to disappear as soon as there was no water and no trees.

The Vikings had three castes. The lowest were the thralls. Being enthralled had a different meaning then. A thrall can be set free by her master but that does not make her a freeman. She enters a kind of inbetween state, still owing allegiance to her former master. The first of her descendants that can be a freeman is her granddaughter.

Some people’s superegos are so well integrated with their so-called self that it is indistinguishable from who and what they are or appear to be. They are slaves to themselves.

You can be enthralled by the self, by how clever you are — which always means cleverer than someone else — or by how beautiful or how well you can purse your lips for selfies.

Becoming unenthralled by the self requires half a century of painstaking work, carefully disentangling each thread from a weft. And not losing your nerve.

Remember how I used to tell you not to lose your nerve?

Sharon van Etten
Flirted With You All My Life
(Vic Chestnutt cover)

Wie of wat je bent, is een veroordeling. Al was het maar omdat het je de mogelijkheid ontneemt iemand anders te zijn. (…) Als de omstandigheden ons niet dwingen iemand anders te worden, moeten wij dat misschien zelf doen.

— Arnon Grunberg

inadequate translation : who or what you are is a sentencing. even if it is only because it takes away the possibility of being someone else. (…) if circumstances don’t compel us to become someone else, perhaps we have to do it ourselves.

Yes. Or perhaps there is a way of acknowledging the multiplicity of what and who one is. The poet and psychoanalyst Nuar Alsadir came up with the idea of the fourth person singular’. She calls it

a form of lyric address which occurs not only between an I and a you, but between separate parts of mind and different states of self’. These separate states exist in the fourth dimension — in time, rather than space — because the self is not single and entire, but a hodgepodge of successive states of mind.


on a different topic, isn’t it strange that nothingness is a thing but everythingness isn’t?

There is a fascinating story doing the rounds about a Google engineer who believes that the AI programme he has been working on and with, called LaMDA, has developed sentience or consciousness.

I find the story fascinating not because I have any interest in AI as such but because I am interested in why and how humans come to believe certain things. And perhaps it is the capacity to believe which makes humans (and perhaps other kinds of animals) so very different from machines.

But what makes a story (or an explanation, which is a type of story) believable? And what makes the human to whom the story is told, more or less likely to believe it?

onmogelijke liefdes duren het langst.

— connie palmen
het weerzinwekkende lot van de oude filosoof socrates

of elf bars and a shaman called derek

i seem to have woken up in alternative universe where a so-called shaman who changed his name from derek to durek and charges people like gwyneth paltrow €1500 an hour to talk to him, is marrying a norwegian princess. the princess is quoted as saying that he is the one who sees me and acknowledges me from my highest potential’ which literally doesn’t make any sense because the subject and object of the sentence don’t correspond but then maybe in this universe they don’t have to.

they offer a rich and sugary flavour that sent a beckoning of flavour across the tongue but also delivered a smooth hit of nicotine salt. On the inhale, the bold taste of crunchy and seedless grapes are very prominent, followed by subtle cotton candy flavours on the exhale.

this also seems to be a universe where people get gum disease because they are addicted to cheap disposable devices called elf bars (enjoy your self!) which electronically deliver nicotine to the bloodstream via the mouth and lungs (“mouthful cloud experience”) in a wide variety of colours and flavours named after puddings, cocktails and ice creams.

you see the thing is doctor, it’s not even that my suffering is unbearable (although it is) or that my life is completed (voltooid), it’s just that i want nothing more to do with this world.

Simone Weil (1909-1943)

Strip away the Self
Discover the Eternal
Truth, Beauty, the Good

Philosophical Haiku by Terence Green

patricia de martelaere in wat blijft (i am more paraphrasing than translating) :

the i’ that knows itself is not the i’ that is known.

this is clear from the very way language is structured : there is a split between subject and object, something that observes and something that is observed.

the i’ that knows, is different to the i’ that is known, even though there is nothing between them. this nothing is consciousness, a divergence from oneself, a lack in the fullness of being.

Every day is a long day and at the end of it you have to go to the place where the other is not and face the empty darkness of the night, the Great Big Nothing, which so many humans have become accustomed to filling up with Things.

And every day asks a question, as did the night that preceded it and the night that will come after it. What is the question? Let me tell you.

The night always asks if you are ready to die.
And the day?
Every new day asks a different question. What is it today?

A new person in a convent is always at a disadvantage. Not only does she have little or no idea how things are done, she doesn’t know why they are done this way.

The reason why things are done this way is that they have always been done like this. When she is new, the novice, sitting with her Sisters of an evening, might exclaim, but just because something has always been done this way, doesn’t mean we have to keep on doing it like this! after which there will be a shortish silence and the novice will look around the room askance, perhaps adding, does it?

The Sisters will look at each other and perhaps make some noises which could be interpreted as implying agreement, and someone might even say, well no, of course not! we could always decide to do something differently… if there is a better way… and smile at the novice indulgently.

kingston by-pass picnic c.1970

In her essay En nu ben ik dood (And now I am dead), Patricia de Martelaere (1957-2009), the enigmatic Belgian philosopher, writer and poet who spent most of her life thinking and writing about death and love before dying of a brain tumour aged 52, wrote :

Het is veeleer zo dat er, letterlijk, niets is dat blijft — het is het niets zelf dat blijft, en tot dit grote niets behoren wij zelf ook. Onze grote fout — die zorgt voor onze grote ontreddering — is dus dat we onszelf beschouwen als iets’ te midden van het onherbergzame en bedreigende niets. In werkelijkheid is het net andersom: het niets is onze thuishaven en onze ziel terwijl het juist het iets’ is dat ons daarvan weglokt en ons in zijn sluiers gevangen houdt.

— quoted by Xandra de Lange in De Groene 2009/11

My free (read : inadequate) translation (the usual caveats and apologies apply) : It is rather nothing that survives — it is the nothing’ that remains, and it is this big nothing to which we ourselves also belong. Our great mistake — which results in our great despair — is that we regard ourselves as something’ in the middle of a threatening and hostile nothing. In reality it is exactly the other way around : it is the nothing which is our safe harbour and our soul, whilst it is the something’ that tempts us away and keeps us imprisoned in its veils.

Elsewhere de Martelaere wrote :

Wie ik” zegt, of sterker nog, ik ben mijzelf”, bevestigt hiermee ook onvermijdelijk dat hij niet zichzelf is maar iemand die als het ware van buiten naar zichzelf kijkt. (…) Wie ik” zegt, zegt dus eigenlijk voluit: Ik spreek over mij”, of zelfs: Ik ben niet ik”.’

Patricia de Martelaere (1957—2009) Een verlangen naar ontroostbaarheid - Over leven, kunst en dood (1993)

Link to de Martelaere’s work in the DBL

And whilst we are (not) here, let’s also remind ourselves and each other of Karen Barad’s awe inspiring contribution to 100 Notes, 100 Thoughts at Documenta 13, What Is the Measure of Nothingness: Infinity, Virtuality, Justice.

Jacques Derrida considered various forms of mourning disorder — the difficulty we have in letting go of a beloved object or libidinal position. Freud says that we go into mourning over lost ideals or figures. Loss that cannot be assimilated or dealt with creates pockets of resistance in the psyche. One may incorporate a phantom other, keeping the other both alive and dead, or one may fall into states of melancholy, unable to move on, trapped in the energies of an ever-shrinking world.

The inability to mourn or let go is sometimes called melancholy. Many of us have slipped into states of melancholic depression for one reason or another — one cannot always nail the object that has been lost or causes pain.

For Derrida, melancholy implies an ethical stance, a relation to loss in the mode of vigilance and constant re-attunement. You do not have to know or understand the meaning of a loss and the full range of its disruptive consequences, but you somehow stand by it, leaning into a depleting emptiness. It takes courage to resist the temptation to bail or distract oneself. Entire industries stand ready to distract the inconsolable mourner.

Avital Ronell — Stormy Weather : Blues in Winter

i am a black orca stuck
in the seine not being
lured to the sea by a drone
making random orca sounds.

i bought mountain climbing shoes, not because i intend to climb mountains but because i am descending from one. what goes up must come down — but no one would buy mountain descending shoes.

perhaps also because i am climbing out of the abyss which is, in effect, the inverse of a mountain.

For Deleuze, illness is not an enemy, not something that gives the feeling of death, but rather, something that gives a feeling of life (…) for Deleuze the question is clear: illness sharpens a kind of vision of life or a sense of life. He emphasizes that when he says vision, vision of life, life, it’s in the sense of him saying to see life,” these difficulties that sharpen, that give life a vision of life, illness, life in all its force, in all its beauty. Deleuze feels quite certain of this, he says.

from : M as in Maladie’ in L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze

this song made me happy today. it’s by animal collective and it’s called banshee beat. it rewards patience.

Ja! De Tijd heerst; hij heeft zijn brute dictatuur hervat. En hij drijft mij voort, alsof ik een rund ben, met zijn dubbele prikstok.
Vort dan! ezel! Zweet dan, slaaf! Leef dan, verdoemde!’


(vertaald door Hafid Bouazza in : Hafid Bouazza en Marlene Dumas, Parijse walging, uitgeverij Querido.)

everyone is a stranger, but with some strangers you become intimate for a time, and during that time you are able to convince yourself that you know them.

you are always wrong.

the most intimate stranger is yourself, your own body, your own mind. you may be able to convince yourself that you know yourself.

you are always wrong about that too.

Overcome with grief when Eurydice is killed, Orpheus ventures to the land of the dead to try and bring her back to life.

After charming Charon the ferryman and the dog Cerberus, guardians of the River Styx, with his music, his grief so moves the king of the underworld, Hades, that he allows Eurydice to go back with him to the world of life and light, on one condition : upon leaving the land of death, neither of them are to look back.

As they climb out of the abyss towards the opening into the land of the living, Orpheus, seeing the Sun again, turns back to share his joy with Eurydice and she is gone.

mr.death — one of the hand puppets made by paul klee for his son, felix, between 1916 and 1925.

what can you say about australian politics? well, not much because there’s not much to it — and as the old anarchist slogan goes, no matter who you vote for a politician will always get in — but the fact that one of the most complete idiots and utter bastards of recent times (at least since his predecessor) was finally replaced as prime minister of australia by one whose musical favourites include the pixies, the pogues and p.j.harvey, is worthy of note.

Yesterday cycled all the way to the Library to borrow a book which the Catalogue said was on the shelf. Was in a bad mood already but it got worse when the book was not in fact on the shelf. Library assistant unhelpful. Couldn’t find the book in the Catalogue. Realised it was because she didn’t know how to spell W-I-T-T-G-E-N-S-T-E-I-N. Wrote it on a piece of paper. Suggested that the Library changes the status of books in the Catalogue which are not currently on loan to not currently on loan’ rather than on the shelf’. Seemed to neither welcome nor appreciate my idea. Library assistant expressed the view that the very presence of the book in the Library Catalogue was an Error. How could such an Error occur? A malevolent daemon cataloguer decided to put a book in the Catalogue that the Library doesn’t have? Hate this Library and the people that work there. Nostalgic for all the wonderful Libraries I have used and the helpful people that worked there. I still remember them. Sydney College of the Arts Library, Newcastle University Library, Wagga Wagga, Sydney City Library (when it was in the old derelict Queen Vic building), Melbourne, CSU, Utrecht library (when it was in the old V+D building on the Stadhuisbrug). I miss you.

the drift

one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there…

– guy debord



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