Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Rerun: Maurice Blanchot vs. Death (orig. 04/16/09)

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"I" die before being born. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 101)


To think the way one dies: without purpose, without power, without unity, and precisely without "the way." Whence the effacement of this formulation as soon as it is thought--as soon as it is thought, that is, both on the side of thinking and of dying, in dis-equilibrium, in an excess of meaning and in excess of meaning. No sooner is it thought than it has departed; it is gone, outside.
----Thinking as dying excludes the "as" of thought, in a manner such that even if we suppress this "as" by paratactic simplification and write: "to think: to die," it forms an enigma in its absence, a practically unbridgeable space. The un-relation of thinking and dying is also the form of their relation: not that thinking proceeds toward dying, proceeding thus toward its other, but not that it proceeds toward its likeness either. It is thus that "as" acquires the impetuousness of its meaning: neither like nor different, neither other nor same. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 39)


Presence is only presence at a distance, and this distance is absolute--that is, irreducible; that is, infinite. (Blanchot, Friendship, 218)


My speech is a warning that at this very moment death is loose in the world, that it has suddenly appeared between me, as I speak, and the being I address: it is there between us as the distance that separates us, but this distance is also what prevents us from being separated, because it contains the condition for all understanding. Death alone allows me to grasp what I want to attain; it exists in words as the only way they can have meaning. Without death, everything would sink into absurdity and nothingness. (Blanchot, The Work of Fire, 323-24)


What calls me most radically into question? Not my relation to myself as finite or as the consciousness of being before death or for death, but my presence in the proximity of another who by dying removes himself definitively, to take upon myself another's death as the only death that concerns me, this is what puts me beside myself, this is the only separation that can open me, in its very impossibility, to the Openness of a community. (Blanchot, The Unavowable Community, 9)


"If it gets finished (the tale), I shall be cured." This hope is touching in its simplicity. But the tale was not finished. Impotence--that abandon in which the work holds us and where it requires that we descend in the concern for its approach--knows no cure. That death is incurable. The absence that Mallarmé hoped to render pure is not pure. The night is not perfect, it does not welcome, it does not open. It is not the opposite of day--silence, repose, the cessation of tasks. In the night, silence is speech, and there is no repose, for there is no position. There the incessant and the uninterrupted reign--not the certainty of death achieved, but "the eternal torments of Dying." (Blanchot, The Space of Literature, 118-119)


At first glance, the preoccupation of the writer who writes in order to be able to die is an affront to common sense. It would seem we can be sure of at least one event: it will come without any approach on our part, without our bestirring ourselves at all; yes, it will come. That is true, but at the same time it is not true, and indeed quite possibly it lacks truth altogether. At least it does not have the kind of truth which we feel in the world, which is the measure of our action and of our presence in the world. What makes me disappear from the world cannot find its guarantee there; and thus, in a way, having no guarantee, it is not certain. This explains why no one is linked to death by real certitude. No one is sure of dying. No one doubts death, but no one can think of certain death except doubtfully, the brittleness of the unsure. It is as in order to think authentically upon the certainty of death, we had to let thought sink into doubt and inauthenticity, or yet again as if when we strive to think on death, more than our brain--the very substance and truth of thought itself--were bound to crumble. This in itself indicates that if men in general do not thing about death, if they avoid confronting it, it is doubtless in order to flee death and hide from it, but this escape is possible only because death itself is perpetual flight before death, and because it is the deep of dissimulation. Thus to hide from it is in a certain way to hide in it. (Blanchot, The Space of Literature, 95)


Impossible necessary death; why do these words--and the experience to which they refer (the inexperience)--escape comprehension? Why this collision of mutually exclusive terms? Why efface them by considering them as a fiction peculiar to some particular author? It is only natural. Thought cannot welcome that which it bears within itself and which sustains it, except by forgetting. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 67)


Yes, let us remember the earliest Hegel. He too, even prior to his "early" philosophy, considered that the two deaths were indissociable, and that only the act of confronting death--not merely of facing it or of exposing oneself to its danger (which is the distinguishing feature of heroic courage), but of entering into its space, of undergoing it as infinite death and also as mere death, "natural death"--could found the sovereignty of masterhood: the mind and its prerogatives. The result was perhaps, absurdly, that the experience which initiates the movement of the dialectic--the experience which none experiences, the experience of death--stopped it right away, and that the entire subsequent process retained a sort of memory of this halt, as if of an aporia which always had still to be accounted for. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 68)


The "I" that is responsible for others, the I bereft of selfhood, is sheer fragility, through and through on trial. This I without any identity is responsible for him to whom he can give no response; this I must answer in an interrogation where no question is put; he is a question directed to others from whom no answer can be expected either. The Other does not answer. (Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 119)



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p.s. Hey. I'm still in Halle, Germany, and you're still here, Anywheres-ville, Earth, I guess, if you're here enough to read these words. Listen to Maurice Blanchot today. Thank you!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rerun: Jose and DC present ... The who and what of Suehiro Maruo (orig. 06/04/09)

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Bio

Suehiro Maruo (1956 - ) is a self-taught high school dropout and former shoplifter who began drawing comics at the age of eighteen. His first work, submitted to the weekly manga Shonen Jump, was promptly rejected. His dark style fantasy dreams didn't fit in the commercialized, mass-market magazines. It took five more years before he started drawing comics again, this time for Ero-manga.



Besides trying to make a living out of his talents, it was also part of a quest for artistic freedom. Maruo draws nightmares. In the tradition of muzan-e (atrocity print) woodblock masters of the 19th century, he drew short stories of axe murders, abortion, rape and incest in as much graphic detail as the obscenity codes allowed.



Maruo's nightmarish manga fall into the Japanese category of "erotic grotesque" (エログロ; "ero-guro"). The stories often take place in the early years of Showa Era Japan. Maruo also has a fascination with human oddities, deformities, birth defects, and "circus freaks." Many such characters figure prominently in his stories and are sometimes the primary subjects of his illustrations. His most recent work is an adaption of the story "The Strange Tale of Panorama Island" by Edogawa Rampo.



Though relatively few of Maruo's manga have been published outside of Japan, his work enjoys a cult following abroad. His book Shōjo Tsubaki (aka Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show) has been adapted into an animated film (Midori) by Hiroshi Harada with a soundtrack by J.A. Seazer, but it has received very little release. In Europe it was marketed under the name Midori, after the main character. It was recently released on DVD in France by Cinemalta (the DVD includes English subtitles). -- text collaged from various sources


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Media



Midori, La Ragazza delle Camelie - Suehiro Maruo


Suehiro Maruo - Le Lézard Noir


Suehiro Maruo Tarot Deck & Magic Equation


lumaca (suehiro maruo - kim jun-sun)




La chenille V.1 & 2.0 - Suehiro Maruo - Edogawa Ranpo


The Strange Tale of Panorama Island


Rencontre internationale : Suehiro Maruo / Atsushi Kaneko


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Links





Suehiro Maruo's Official Website (Japanese)
Suehiro Maruo Fan Shrine
Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show
Ero-Garu: The Erotic Grotesque of Suehiro Maruo
the strange fruit of suehiro maruo
The books of Suehiro Maruo
Suehiro Maruo @ Delicious Ghost
Suehiro Maruo @ I Was Ben



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Two sample stories






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p.s. Hey. I'm away. Six years ago, Jose and I wanted to prop the work of Suehiro Maruo, and I can't speak for Jose, but apparently I still do.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

IN MY OWN SICK WAY … THE DEVOTION OF (AND TO) MORRISSEY’S SPEEDWAY by Thomas Moore





I’m never keen on metanarratives, so it’s quite hard for me to pick favourites. It’s not something I enjoy. But when it comes to Morrissey, I’m fairly sure that my favourite song is Speedway. And to paraphrase Mark Simpson, in his brilliant book Saint Morrissey, when he talks about The Smiths’ debut album being their greatest album and therefore The Greatest Album Of All Time, to me Speedway is the greatest Morrissey song and therefore one of the greatest songs of all time. See? I’m really not comfortable about absolutes and definitive answers. I think about it is very appropriate given my discussion of this particular song. I have told all of my friends but this is the song that I want played at my funeral and I don’t suppose it gets any more definitive than that.



MORRISSEY – SPEEDWAY





Speedway appears on Vauxhall and I, Morrissey’s fourth solo album, which was released in March 1994. Vauxhall and I is seen by many fans and critics as Morrissey’s strongest work. At the time there were rumours that Morrissey was planning on making Vauxhall and I his final album. In the years since the albums release Morrissey has said that during the sessions for Vauxhall he felt it would be his last Record and that he also felt it was an album that he would not be able to top. Obviously in the end this wasn’t the case, and Morrissey has continued to record and to tour – with his most recent album (the brilliant World Peace Is None Of Your Business) being released last year. However as it was created, it seems that Morrissey intended Speedway to be his final statement and swansong.

Viewing Speedway as a farewell adds a real power to the song. The air of finality, of ending, is palpable. And as sad is it feels it also feels glorious and impressive. In the space of a few minutes Morrissey manages to some up so much at his career and his persona and his body of work; everything is distilled perfectly, and captured precisely. The song seems to be closing and indeed compelling statement for Morrissey’s argument that pop music and rock’n’roll is the most powerful and strongest art form there ever was. In Speedway, Morrissey is triumphant, defeated, humorous, defiant, fading and immortal. If he had planned to go out this way, then he was going out in style, and in a style that only Morrissey could.



MORRISSEY – SPEEDWAY, LIVE 1995, LONDON





The words, as is common with Morrissey’s work when he is at his best, can be taken on several levels and could have any number of reasons and motives behind them. The opening lyrics, which repeat at various points throughout the song, talk about rumours, judgement, secrets, truths and untruths. The song also feels for whatever reason to me, like one of Morrissey’s most heartfelt and passionate.

Now, to pick apart a piece of art and try and force real life meanings to it and anchor it down with real-life people and real life events is not always the most helpful of activities. I know that when I write and create work, the work I make is often fuelled by compulsion to create rather than as a way of mapping out cognitive rational ideas – the work is there to articulate moods and emotions and is not literally about this thing or that thing; often I don’t know what the work is about only that I feel the need and the urge to do it and that the world just doesn’t feel right to me inside my head unless I do it. And every artist is different, I know, but to me it’s never the case that I sit down and think “today I will write about this thing in my life in this way”. I think the power of art: writing, music, whatever form it takes, is the mystery and the vagueness and that sacred thing at its core that makes an emotional sense but cannot be described with words: art is made when language and rational thought can’t get to where you need to get to (which I know is probably oxymoronic, considering that words are the thing that I create my chosen art form with – but trust me – the language I use is just a tool that I use to get to something else).

However, Having said that, Morrissey is an artist and writer who is too knowing, too skilled, two self aware and who possesses such a massive and acute understanding of pop music and the sense of drama and occasion, to not know what real life elements will be interpreted from this particular piece of music.

The lines about slamming down the hammer could refer too much publicised (and much talked about by Morrissey himself) court case where he and Johnny Marr were sued by their former Smiths band mates. They could relate to Morrissey’s long-time literary hero Oscar Wilde whose own court case, imprisonment and fate seem to bear strong emotional parallels with the tone and themes of the song. The talk of rumours could allude to the many that that have followed Morrisey from his time in The Smiths and through his solo career – rumours in the press about his sexuality (which for the record I feel he is always been completely clear about, rejecting the idea of binary sexuality and traditional understanding of gender very early in his career), about rumours of racism and other unfounded accusations that have been pointed towards, him especially from the British music media. In Speedway, as Morrissey bids farewell he has fun casting a knowing glance towards everything that he is saying goodbye to and that will remain as part of his myth and legacy.

My personal guess is that Morrissey would enjoy the confusion and the purposely-unanswered questions that the track leaves behind. Is it just coincidence but as David Bret points out in his book, Landscapes Of The Mind that Speedway is also a name given to an area when Morrissey’s beloved and iconic hero James Dean, and also Rock Hudson, used to cruise for gay sex? In Speedway, despite appearing to finally address the rumours, the listener is perversely left asking even more questions and they had to begin with. Morrissey enjoys the chase, continually dropping hints and clues to unanswerable queries. For example, on the vinyl edition of the 20th anniversary version of Vauxhall and I, carved into the plastic is the name Mrs Shufflewick – a reference to an obscure drag act from a gay bar in 1970s London – with no reason or need to explain why the reference has been made. The mystery and enigma is reason enough.



MORRISSEY – SPEEDWAY, LIVE 2013, LOS ANGELES





Now, to be specific – the thing that really makes me love Speedway and the thing that cements it as the song I want played at my funeral is the final section of the song. As the beautiful music, sculpted and defined magnificently by Morris’s long-time musical collaborator Boz Boorer, reaches it truly epic and lush crescendo and finale, Morrissey delivers verses of such straight forward and yet emotionally tangling words that match anything he has made any other point in his career. He addresses someone – and by this point forget it, fuck it, my heart is breaking, it could be anyone who you want it to be: the press, his fans, Johnny Marr, a secret lover – whatever – and he addresses this person in a plain, stark, utterly romantic and devoted way that I can’t recall being reached in any other pop or rock song …

All of the rumors keeping me grounded
I never said, I never said
That they were completely unfounded
And all those lies
Written lies, twisted lies
Well, they weren't lies
They weren't lies
They weren't lies
I never said, I never said
I could have mentioned your name
I could have dragged you in
Guilt by implication, by association
I've always been true to you
In my own strange way
I've always been true to you
In my own sick way
I'll always stay true to you



With the line “Well they weren’t lies,” Morrissey at once admits and obscures – you’ll never know what he is admitting and you don’t need to: it is a pristine moment of a piece of art making emotional sense. Even with the details and events hidden and undisclosed, I know exactly what lies at the heart and soul of the song. And the final lines completely slay me – “I could have mentioned you name/I could have dragged you in/Guilt by implication, by association/I’ve always been true to you/In my own strange way/I’ve always been true to you/In my own sick way/I’ll always stay true to you.” Morrissey realises that the truth isn’t a tangible thing – the only truth in life is confusion, the only truth of life is experiences – feelings, emotions, often things that hurt, don’t make sense – it’s all interesting, worthy, valuable, beautiful – it’s life, and that confusion is the truth, however twisted and sick it needs to be. It steers away from where other pop music always leads the listener – emotionally manipulating, telling them how to feel. With Speedway – as the final, climactic drums sound like the nails being banged into a coffin, the end of something, a farewell – the beginning of a legacy – the fact that the notion of truth is left dangling, unsaid – beautifully non-existent – is a massively important statement in a world of pop music that so often does exactly the opposite.

The words I try and attach to what this piece of music and poetry means to me will never reach where I want them to – which is kind of perfect, because they don’t need to. Morrisey has already done it for me.



MORRISSEY – SPEEDWAY, LIVE 2015, BIRIMINGHAM (AN AUDIENCE MEMBER’S RECORDING FROM THE MOST RECENT MORRISSEY GIG I ATTENDED, AS AN EARLY BIRTHDAY PRESENT FROM MY BOYFRIEND






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THE SPEEDWAY LYRICS IN THEIR ENTIRETY


And when you slam down the hammer
Can you see it in your heart?
All of the rumors keeping me grounded
I never said, I never said
That they were completely unfounded
So when you slam down the hammer
Can you see it in your heart?
Can you delve so low?
And when you're standing on my fingers
Can you see it in your heart?
And when you try to break my spirit
It won't work because there's nothing left to break
...Anymore
All of the rumors keeping me grounded
I never said, I never said
That they were completely unfounded
You won't sleep until the earth that wants me
Finally has me
Oh, you've done it now
You won't rest until the hearse that becomes me
Finally takes me
Oh, you've done it now
And you won't smile until my loving mouth
Is shut good and proper
FOREVER!
All of the rumors keeping me grounded
I never said, I never said
That they were completely unfounded
And all those lies
Written lies, twisted lies
Well, they weren't lies
They weren't lies
They weren't lies
I never said, I never said
I could have mentioned your name
I could have dragged you in
Guilt by implication, by association
I've always been true to you
In my own strange way
I've always been true to you
In my own sick way
I'll always stay true to you


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If you ever want to ramble about Morrissey with me, feel free:

twitter.com/thomasmoronic




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p.s. Hey. The generous and oh so astute Thomas 'Moronic' Moore has cast his full self upon a song by Morrissey, and I thought I would give you a weekend to unfurl it and let your brain react accordingly, hopefully to at least some degree in Thomas's presence, meaning in commentary form, obviously. Enjoy, and thank you ever so much, Thomas! Also, the blog will be having another interruption starting on Monday because I go to Halle, Germany tomorrow to work on the new Gisele Vienne-plus-me theater piece. I'll be there through next Thursday, the 7th. You'll get four rerun posts plus extremely minimal, pre-set p.s.es starting on Monday, and then new posts and full p.s.es will return on Friday. After that, I think things should run normally around here for a while. ** Keaton, Easy said, easy done, no? Wow, good luck with your move. High sympathy five. I like the Atari graveyard. I think I do a post on it here or something. Intensely private sounds promising. 'Purple Rain'? Huh, what the hell? Everyone, Keaton has gifted you guys and me too with a new prose thing over on his notorious blog, and it's called 'Purple Rain' of all things, you will enjoy reading it, I am virtually absolutely sure, so please do.** Chilly Jay Chill, Thanks, Jeff. Yeah, great about 'Out 1', etc. Finally. Jane Unrue ... maybe I don't know her stuff. No, I don't think I do. You like her work or have heard good things? I'll investigate her ND book. Thanks a bunch! ** David Ehrenstein, Naturally looking very forward to your thoughts on 'Out 1'. ** Steevee, Thank you for the report on the Techine film. ** James, Hi. I only moved two pieces of furniture. I only have two: a bookshelf and a CD/DVD shelf. This place is furnished (with thrift store-level crap furniture, but, hey, I'm casual.) So sorry about the car, but I'm glad you're already hooked up with 'new' wheels. I tsill buy cassettes when necessary, even though I don't have a cassette player anymore. You didn't ask me, but I can't remember the first CD I bought, weirdly. I remember the first vinyl LP I ever bought. Actually, it was two at the same time: 'More of the Monkees' and 'Freak Out' by the Mothers of Invention. ** Sypha, I still love cassettes. I think mix-tapes have never quite been the same again. I guess I mean making them. The cassette was somehow the idea form for the mix-tape maybe. For ,aking them. Maybe not for listening to them. ** Thomas Moore, Hi, T. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Such a beautiful piece! I'm still unboxing and so on here. Probably until tomorrow. It's kind of fun, though. Have a really great weekend! ** Misanthrope, I used to make mix-tapes all the time for people both special and not so special. They were kind of like my blog posts before I had a blog or something. You should mix that field recording of your parents with some harsh electronic noise and put it out. That kind of thing is very du jour. Bon weekend, etc., buddy! ** Cal Graves, I do, Cal, I do! Thanks. Yeah, I do like finding new places for my stuff. It's not bad. That part of it. Of course I don't think it's weird that it turns you on at all, ha ha. I'm so weird. I know it. A balcony, nice! There a kind of balcony here at my new place, but the window/door leading out to it is locked, and the landlord is being really, really vague and weird about giving me the key. Strange. You smoke too? High five! Thanks about the gif thing. Coffee at midnight? You can do that? I'd be a goner. I think, like, 8 pm is the latest I can do coffee. Blah blah. Have a really fine weekend and early week, sir. Sir-ly, Dennis. ** Okay. Back you go into the mind and taste of Mr. Moore. As previously stated, you'll get a rerun post on Monday and said habit will continue through Thursday, but leave comments for the duration because I'll catch up with them on Friday, and, uh, take care and be good, etc.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tape deck












































































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p.s. Hey. Greetings from the blog's new headquarters. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. It will come as no surprise that I envied that particular escort's way with words and sentence construction abilities. Cool, looking very forward to your Sacks shebang! ** Thomas Moronic, Ah! Beauties to a one! How do you do those so fast? It would take me until the next month's batch arrived to even try and fail to spin them into such quality things. Kudos! ** Steevee, Was it better than the buzz? Off I am to read your Mayles review. Cool, I didn't know he had a new film. Everyone, go read Steevee writing on the new film ('Iris') by the legendary documentary maestro Albert Mayles right over here. ** G.r. maierhofer, Grant, hey. Well, well, well, that is very fine news indeed, at its basics and its overlays! Congrats to PS even more than to you! Coolness! ** Keaton, Even if it had been me having that exact same dream, I would have dreamed of me looking at you in that persona in a weird way. Bon jour. ** Kyler, Hi. Glad you dug them. There are slaves in Washington Square Park? Then again, why not? Happy to have been a part of getting you a smiley. ** Misanthrope, I thought so too, natch. Well, interesting more than hot. Amusing with hotness as one of the humor's generators. You being conservative? No! Sympathies about your aunt. Yes, of course I remember. Fuck death. Weird coincidence there indeed. Or meaningful non-coincidence that only reads as a coincidence. Or something. As a writer for whom the difference between difference and non-difference is a subtle thing, I believe you! ** Cal Graves, Hi! Oh, actually, I really love that derivation. There's some kind of sublimity in its goofball-ness, I swear. The new place might rock once it's not a graveyard of cardboard boxes, which hopefully will be soon. Doesn't seem like it would be bad. I mean the 'like someone' thing. I just found yesterday straight from the mind and status update of Mr. Delany himself that 'Hogg' is in print as an eBook. I don't remember the publisher though. Are you going to have to couch surf for six weeks, or ... ? How's your upcoming new place? Ha ha, Enema-ly, Dennis. ** Wow, that's it? Cool. Today, gosh, I don't know. Tape deck. Idea, thoughtfulness, a 'why not' decision, make it, post it. See you tomorrow.