With only a few exceptions, the literary theme of madness has long been a domain of Western cultural studies. Much of Western writing represents madness as an inquiry into the deepest recesses of the mind, while the comparatively scarce Chinese tradition is generally defined by madness as a voice of social truth. This paper looks at five works of twentieth-century Chinese fiction that draw on socio-somatic aspects of madness to reflect upon social truths, suggesting that the inner voice of subjectivity (...) is perhaps not the only true voice of the self. (shrink)
This piece, included in the drift special issue of continent., was created as one step in a thread of inquiry. While each of the contributions to drift stand on their own, the project was an attempt to follow a line of theoretical inquiry as it passed through time and the postal service from October 2012 until May 2013. This issue hosts two threads: between space & place and between intention & attention. The editors recommend that to experience the drifiting thought (...) that attention be paid to the contributions as they entered into conversation one after another. This particular piece is from the BETWEEN SPACE & PLACE thread: April Vannini, Those Between the Common * Laura Dean & Jesse McClelland, Ballard: A Portrait of Placemaking * Amara Hark Weber, Crossroad * Isaac Linder & Berit Soli-Holt, The Call of the Wild: Terror Modulations * Ashley D. Hairston, Momma taught us to keep a clean house * Sean Smith, The Garage * * * * Instead of beginning with radical doubt, we start from naiveté. —Graham Harman, The Quadruple Object Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest. —Jack London, The Call of the Wild The figure of the feral remains a perpetual enigma, but the parameters remain relatively consistent. A person, usually a child, enters civilization after having been raised by wolves or kept in some kind of cruel captivity. The outsider perspective on domestication ensuing in an edge of a culture's self-recognition of its clumsier attributes, what has been taken for granted becomes apparent, is brought to the foreground with the stranger and made questionable. Amusement follows naïve questions or observations such as Kaspar Hauser in the Herzog film, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, when Kaspar notes that while in his room he is engulfed by it, but when he looks at the tower he can turn away and it disappears. Ergo, the room is larger than the tower. How entertaining. The aberrant one destabilizes the comforting cultural normative. Places become seen as mere impressions out of space, a patterning, a rut that not everyone lives in like us. This is one figure of the feral. The naiveté that begs all the questions. As a figure for a certain philosophical disposition, the rapidity of one’s saccade scans the environment, intuits it’s space, not from an initial thaumazein or a Critchlean sense of disappointment, but from a child-like naiveté bent on survival. To serve the naïve is merely one form of critique, and it is not nearly used enough in lieu of the critique that provides answers. How dull. It is not necessary to be an outsider to entrench a critique with naiveté. After having forced to suffer in the most parched and rocky terror, itself for so long rooted upwards of fifty feet into the ground upon which it grows, even a grapevine can spontaneously produce a white grape on a red vine. The curious feral can arise from within, and like pinot grigio, it adds variety without admonishing its roots. There is also the feral dog. Not raised by wolves, but humans. Founded in place the figure of this feral denies this place. The trajectory of this feral roves from the cultivated to uncultivated, or in speaking of plants from controlled to volunteer, finding the necessary nutrients and survival patterns on its own. Finding other places, reaching out into space testing its fertility. And when introduced into a foreign environment, it withers or flourishes. We would like to attempt a thesis at this juncture and to accept neither feral figure in its entirety, but to argue for the intimate conjunction between a cultivated place and its resonance with the space it procures for its nest and kin. I'm not a biter, I'm a writer for myself and others. —Jay-Z, What More Can I Say? I am writing for myself and strangers. This is the only way that I can do it. Everybody is a real one to me, everybody is like some one else too to me. No one of them that I know can want to know it and so I write for myself and strangers. —Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans There is no subjective disposition outlining an unambiguous individual of the para-academy. There is no para-academic. We all have day jobs. 'Para-academic' seeped through the cracks as an adjective in the call to frame publishing dedicated to the critical rigor expected by academic publishing, but to deny the limitations of guarded legitimation through capital means. Open-access holds hands with this parasitic descriptor. Para-academic publishing's refusal to adhere to the valuation of locked access of a site, the site “of a desperate initiation to the empty form of value,” 1 seeks to recognize not merely an inclusive interpretation of significance, but the significance of thinking practice. The practice inside the paywalls of academic 'education' is held in a deathgrip by its infatuation with value and information, both empty without the apprehension of human experience, the barbaric yawp. “I can't breathe in here.” It is not that a para-academic practice leads one to the childish wonder of Kaspar Hauser who wonders about the spatiality of his room. It is the academic legitimation that distorts that one can hold the understanding of both in a constellation of place and space. Led to believe there is only a place for things, we are led to disillusionment. It is also not that a para-academic practice relinquishes itself to the invasive growth outside of careful cultivation, an abandonment of pleasantries for the toothy growl of a predator. It is the academy's fear that thought does not require capital to signify value. Some of the most nutritious meals can be foraged. Defining a para-academic practice is not outlining a place of accreditation of the practice, it is the recognition that any place is subject to modulation by the space it inhabits as well as creates. The para-academic practice keeps an eye of the creation of spaces, follows those paths that eat themselves in the name of academia. This is not unlike Red Peter's report to the academy, only successful if we report in idle idiosyncratic banalities that we have once again become victorious in our acculturation and nullification within the confines of accredited mush and our trajectory of wild rigor is defeated in our desire for recognition as recognizable in this place. Weeds are integral to the functioning of a large ecosystem. The manicured garden is entirely reliant on its keeper. The pansy can also go wild once neglected, the daisy definitely does.... a universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart. The skin of a living organism cuts off an outside from an inside. So does the circumference of a circle in a plane. By tracing the way we represent such a severance, we can begin to reconstruct, with an accuracy and coverage that appear almost uncanny, the basic forms underlying linguistic, mathematical, physical, and biological science, and can begin to see how the familiar laws of our own experience follow from the original act of severance. The act is itself already remembered, even if unconsciously, as our first attempt to distinguish different things in a world where, in the first place, the boundaries can be drawn anywhere we please. At this stage the universe cannot be distinguished from how we act upon it, and the world may seem like shifting sand beneath our feet. —George Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form Two edges are created: an obedient, conformist, plagiarizing edge, and another edge, mobile, blank, which is never anything but the site of its effect: the place where the death of language is glimpsed. These two edges, the compromise they bring about, are necessary. —Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text Between these two epigraphs, interminable questions of where and questions of happening, gesture, and interface. To stay buoyed between a site of visible happening and haptic perspicacity. Bounded by one or the other leads to a desiccation of potential knowledge. The tumbleweed tumbles until met with mud, a bare structure moving but not movement. A tumbleweed tumbleweeds, propagates only at a place. It becomes significant again, continues. Significance, the site where meaning is made known through kinesthetic apprehension. 2 The feral founds a gestural horizon; an outsider’s scrawl-becoming-law; Deleuze teaching Meno’s dog geometry. Place as marked, outlined, recognized, territorialized. The academies marked by their peculiar disciplines, outlined by their rigid boundaries, recognized as factories of value. This far from ensures complete purchase on the space of thought, but it has made an undeniably elaborate means of making work significant. The academy is a muddy spot, it is fertile, but its gates are high and its dogs are barking. The coordinates of concept and experience. Already claimed by a stabilizing suspension, the terms enter specificity of ‘this is this’. Another correlation: activity and the individual. The individual, a placeholder in the crosshairs of juridical identification. Activity, what expands and surrounds this location, but utterly indebted to the node of “one who”. What's happening in this oscillation of nature and nurture is practice. Practice, as Stengers tells us “is not the activity of an individual or the product of that activity. It is the ingredient without which neither that activity nor this product would exist as such.” 3 Moving outward from our own honing, we're curious about the ingredient creating the place for holding conceptual and experiential engagements in each hand. And we'd like to argue that this place is not a limiting specification, but a practice undulating daily, by the minute. And we call this practice the para-academic practice. I repeat: there was no attraction for me in imitating human beings; I imitated them because I needed a way out, and for no other reason. —Franz Kafka, A Report to an Academy In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limit it discovers in itself—a limit where minds meet and, in meeting, begin to exist. — Albert Camus, The Rebel Anyone is a para-academic or practicer of such means. The academic can, and we argue should, be active para-academically, to escape the bounds, recognizing no site specific place as a place to rest on or the place to grab the Kafka's top and wonder at its disobedience not to continue. Yet, the para-academic practice must maintain the desire for rigor in scholarship. Indeed desiring past itself to claim a more naïve rigor, one that does not take its form for granted. Without a para-academic practice, the scholar spends half the time merely working on behalf of a hierarchy, to maintain it, and the other measly amounts of time are in the name of thinking, but only in name. Not to mention the amount of debt it takes to attend the halls of higher education. Not to mention the snoring tenures. Not to mention the barely scraping by adjuncts. Not to mention the materials that shake the very force of producible theory. Not to mention when swimming in texts becomes slogging through data. Academia is a barbaric food chain and it is our claim that there is, as always, an imperative for thought to move, with Heidegger, beyond the logics of calculation and planning, to a time of its own. The path, into the panic of the dark wood of this space can be followed by any; any who let the silence and the rigor enter the play. Where the little theater is larger when inhabited ; where the data of the tutor asymptotically refutes; and where, as much as one wouldn’t expect it here, ballet may turn out to be the most feral of forms… NOTES Jean Baudrillard, “Value's Last Tango” Simulacra and Simulation trans. Sheila Faria Glaser,. “What is significance? It is meaning, insofar as it is sensually produced.” Roland Barthes in The Pleasure of the Text. Isabelle Stengers, “The Science Wars” Cosmopolitics I trans. Robert Bononno, 47. (shrink)
In this issue we include contributions from the individuals presiding at the panel All in a Jurnal's Work: A BABEL Wayzgoose, convened at the second Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group. Sadly, the contributions of Daniel Remein, chief rogue at the Organism for Poetic Research as well as editor at Whiskey & Fox , were not able to appear in this version of the proceedings. From the program : 2ND BIENNUAL MEETING OF THE BABEL WORKING GROUP CONFERENCE “CRUISING IN (...) THE RUINS: THE QUESTION OF DISCIPLINARITY IN THE POST/MEDIEVAL UNIVERSITY” SEPTEMBER 21ST, 2012: SESSION 13 MCLEOD C.322, CURRY STUDENT CENTER NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, BOSTON, MA. Traditionally, a wayzgoose was a celebration at the end of a printer’s year, a night off in the late fall before the work began of printing by candlelight. According to the OED, the Master Printer would make for the journeymen “a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but besides, gives them Money to spend at the Ale-house or Tavern at Night.” Following in this line, continent. proposes in its publication(s) a night out and a good Feast, away from the noxious fumes of the Academy and into a night of revelry which begins, but does not end, at the alehouse or Tavern. continent. proposes that the thinking of the Academy be freed to be thought elsewhere, in the alleys and doorways of the village and cities, encountered not in the strictly defined spaces of the classroom and blackboard (now white) but anticipated and found where thinking occurs. Historically, academic journals have served a different purpose than the Academy itself. Journals (from the Anglo-Fr. jurnal , "a day," from O.Fr. jornel , "day, time; day's work," hence the journalist as writer of the news of the day ) have served as privileged sites for the articulation and concretization of specific modes of knowledge and control (insemination of those ideas has been formalized in the classroom, in seminar). In contrast, the academic journal is post-partum and has been an old-boys club, an insider trading network in which truths are (re)circulated against themselves, forming a Maginot Line against whatever is new, or the distinctly challenging. All in a Jurnal’s Work will discuss (in part) the ramifications of cheap start-up publications that are challenging the traditional ensconced-in-ivory academic journals and their supporting infrastructures. The panel will be seeking a questioning (as a challenging) towards the discipline of knowledge production/fabrication (of truth[s]) and the event of the Academy (and its publications) as it has evolved and continues to (d)evolve. Issues to be discussed will revolve around the power of academic publishing and its origins, hierarchical versus horizontal academic modules (is there a place for the General Assembly in academia?) and the evolving idea of the Multiversity as a site(s) of a (BABELing) multivocality in the wake of the University of Disaster. STAGE NOTES AND/AS/OR TRACK CHANGES: INTRODUCTORY REMARKS AND MAGICAL THINKING ON PRINTING: AN ELECTION AND A PROVOCATION Isaac Linder “Of course most people don’t think of editing/publishing as theatre but as something boring or parasitical (vis-à-vis a ‘source’ text), a textual backwater populated by people with glasses. But I think publishing a book today is theatre, socially networked theatre…. Facebook and Flickr are our era’s administered and generic version of sixties happenings!” — Tan Lin 1 ELECTING A MASCOT: THE BARNACLE GOOSE After pitching the idea for this panel with the editorial help of my continental cohorts I became fascinated with the image of the goose—dead and roasted as it may be—and its relationship to the space of the printing press. For a long while after proposing this gathering I was seriously under the sway of delusions of grandeur, imagining that we might roast a goose (or goosefu) and, preparing a meal as one prepares a text for publication, feast in something approaching a warm and well-nourished revelry. I should note, by way of introduction, that a substantial part of my undergraduate experience involved learning to typeset and work as a devil, as typesetters mischievously call it, in a letterpress studio. This accounts in part for my fascination and helps to explain the fact that, when I began to leaf around in medieval beastiaries in lieu of being able to procure a goose, I was almost immediately struck by a fantastic monster that I hereby elect to be the mascot for our so-called para-academic practice(s) the relatively famed, but no less fabulous for it, barnacle goose. The barnacle goose is a creature that first makes its way into 12th century manuscripts with Giraldus Cambrensis in 1186. Phenomenologically speaking the monster is a tree, a tree which, when approached closer is seen to be birthing geese budding from the buds that hang like ripe fruit from its branches. As the story goes these trees were found over water; the fledgling geese, once wrested from their pods would take off in flight or fall to their watery death, where they would be transformed into driftwood. In retrospect we presume the barnacle goose was posited as a consequence of the fact that geese born in more northern regions, migrating to Ireland and western Europe at large, were never seen to give birth. And I should note that this is far from the only other animal posited to be born from trees at around this time, my other favorite being medieval accounts of Moroccan tree-climbing goats. 2 In particular I’ve thrown up the mascot of the barnacle goose and singled it out from the quires of its beatiaries because its thoroughly hybrid origins lead us to name two very real creatures we can find point to in abundance; discrete materialities of the world cobbled together in textual fancy: on the one hand, the modern day barnacle goose , a common species of goose and, on the other, goose barnacles , a particular type of crustacean with incredible feathery tendrils and—I can't help but mention—one of the largest body mass to penis size ratios of all of the animals in the kingdom. Why is this bit of genital trivia relevant? Because they’re all hermaphroditic and in rare cases have been found to reproduce just with themselves—to inseminate themselves and give birth to their kin. So I think it must be stressed, as a symbol for what we’re really here to talk about, it's not a boy’s club thing so much as a very queer thing and, I contend, para - in every perfect sense of the word... Alongside the natural world, a monstrous imaginary concatenation; Alongside the hulls of so many institutional structures, funding sources and resources, Serresian parasites in all manner of mutualist, symbiotic, or properly parasitic positions; migratory and adrift; The tree, center stage in the 21st century adaptation of Waiting for Godot that is unraveling in ateliers across the world, is a barnacle goose birthing a flurry of miscegenous texts beyond medium and genre. PROVOCATION 1: CHAOSMOSIS “Genre is obsolete.” — Ray Brassier 3 And so, here I was getting carried away in daydreams about this generative and genealogical symbol under which to think all of the diverse projects we are all involved in as architects of the dressed word, (well dressed, bespoke, mansy, butch, careless, or roguishly punk attired as those words may be), when it also dawned on me, mid-flight here from Denver, that we are, even in lieu of being able to roast geese together, very much so literalizing what was never just the metaphor of the wayzgoose—a tradition, as you know, celebrated to mark the crepuscular turn into fall—as we are poised here, tomorrow being the first official day of fall on our calendars in the US marking the seasonal change from at which point it will no longer be possible to print without the aid of candlelight. A beautiful thought, that tipped into magical thinking on account of a little quick math I was able to do to come to the conclusion that we can all be delighted to know that as we proceed into the autumn with our printing projects always ahead of us and still to be set, we will tonight be bathed not only by the artificial candlelight of our screens, but also in part by photons raining down on us at 186,282 miles per second—photons from an aspect of 9 cyg, a stereoscopic binary deep within Cygnus, the swan but not-so-distant-relative of the goose, with a distance of 572 Light years away; photons that are raining down on us, will rain down on us all winter, have been raining down on us all year, and which had their origin in the combustion cores at a center of 9 cyg 572 years ago, in 1440, the year which we point to today as the common year in which, as we all know, Gutenberg is said to have brought the movable type to the western world, inaugurating an era that stretches farther into the past and future than McLuhan could justify; the proliferation of so much ambient text; insurrectionary coups on (and re-crystallizations of) genre—perceived amidst so much ambient light—enveloping this campus, just now. So, with that thought, and perhaps a new mascot, Nico Jenkins... NOTES “ Writing as Metadata Container, An Interview with Tan Lin ,” Chris Alexander, Kristen Gallagher, Danny Snelson, Gordon Tapper, Tan Lin, Jacket 2. January 20, 2012. To explore Lin’s notion of ambient textuality, plagiarism, and parallel, crossplatform publication in the 21st century, also see Lin’s sampled novel, “ The Patio and the Index ,” Triple Canopy 14, October 24, 2011, as well as the Edit event, organized at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania, April, 2010 . For a fascinating and fecund exploration of medieval plantanimal hybrids in relation to media ecology, see Whitney Trettien, “ Becoming Plant: Magnifying a Microhistory of Media Circuits in Nehemiah Grew’s Anatomy of Plants (1682) .” postmedieval 3.1 (2012):97. See also the crowdreview version of the essay. “ Genre Is Obsolete .” Compléments de Multitudes . 28 (2007). (shrink)
Society’s relationship with modern animal farming is an ambivalent one: on the one hand there is rising criticism about modern animal farming; on the other hand people appreciate certain aspects of it, such as increased food safety and low food prices. This ambivalence reflects the two faces of modernity: the negative (exploitation of nature and loss of traditions) and the positive (progress, convenience, and efficiency). This article draws on a national survey carried out in the Netherlands that aimed at gaining (...) a deeper understanding about the acceptance of modern dairy farming in Dutch society. People take two dimensions into account when evaluating different aspects of modern dairy farming: (1) the way living beings are used for production and (2) the way a dairy farm functions as a business. In both these dimensions people appeared to adopt cautious opinions: most people preferred relatively traditional and natural farms and were concerned about the use of nature and treatment of animals in modern production—although this did not imply an outright rejection of modern animal farming. The study also looked for (and sought to explain) differences of opinion between social groups. Besides socio-demographic factors such as age and gender, farming experience and value-orientation (such as socially minded and professional) appeared to be important variables. The values and convictions within modern society can help to explain why some people are greatly concerned about animal welfare while some show less concern. This diversity also helps to explain why general information campaigns are quite ineffective in allaying concerns about modern animal farming. (shrink)
We demonstrate ways to incorporate nondeterminism in a system designed to formalize the reasoning of agents concerning their abilities and the results of the actions that they may perform. We distinguish between two kinds of nondeterministic choice operators: one that expresses an internal choice, in which the agent decides what action to take, and one that expresses an external choice, which cannot be influenced by the agent. The presence of abilities in our system is the reason why the usual approaches (...) towards nondeterminism cannot be used here. The semantics that we define for nondeterministic actions is based on the idea that composite actions are unravelled in the strings of atomic actions and tests that constitute them. The main notions used in defining this semantics are finite computation sequences and finite computation runs of actions. The results that we obtain meet our intuitions regarding events and abilities in the presence of nondeterminism. (shrink)
By the early 80s, kids were already trawling the message boards of the Internet for perverse kicks. Well before Star Ways Kid or "flash mobs," one of the first online fads was the "Purity Test," a series of questions to rate your moral purity, from the raunchy to the absurd.The tests would be printed out, brought to school, and pored over with friends in the back of the gym during recess. Then kids would modify the original with their own prurient (...) additions before sending it along. Eventually, the tests became bloated thousand-question Franken-tests that took hours to complete.Doing the test with friends was like playing an endless, filthy, wildly enlightening game of "Did You Ever?"--and because it was a standardized test, you could compare your scores. Assuming everyone was being honest--which they weren't. The Purity Test will offer both a humorous history and analysis of the Purity Test as well as several versions of the test to take at home. (shrink)
Foucault's discussion of the panopticon is the best-known engagement with visual epistemology, the relationship of sight and knowledge. Yet the panopticon is only one form of visual epistemology and all technologies of perspective position and situate their subjects. As a colloquial statement of visual epistemology we might say: you are how you see. This essay focuses on the cinematic episteme or how the technology of cinema configures a way of seeing and way of knowing. Specifically this essay takes up a (...) narrower question of visual alterity. Beginning from Hegel's discussion of consciousness, it asks how within and through film we recognise our self and how can we see the other? To carry out the analysis, the essay attends in particular to two films Baby I will Make You Sweat (1994) and La Moderna Poesia (2000) by experimental and underground artist Birgit Hein. These films combine incongruous and even conflicting representational strategies that particularly enable an exploration of visual alterity. Both films on the one hand narrate a highly subjective experience of self/other relations within the context of a travel narrative: a woman seeking to recapture some sense of life, travels to an unfamiliar destination, enters into new environments and takes up relationships, sometimes intimate, with strangers. On the other hand they both rely on a form of aesthetic abstraction that leaves the film without renaissance perspective, panoptic organizing, shot-reverse shot, continuity editing, i.e. an of the typical representational strategies of alterity found in narrative films. (shrink)
Two directions are analysed within Birgit Jürgenssen’s series of photographs entitled Totentanz mit Mädchen through the use of masks and the intertwining of colliding genres, this burlesque work of 1979-1980 provides a Bakhtinian laughter and mockery of dominant culture.
Birgit Jürgenssen has introduced feminism within the artistic field since the 1970s. She methodically deconstructs the positions assigned to women, in particular that of housewife. Inspired by surrealism and ethnography, she sheds light upon the intersection between class, race and gender. The female body becomes unknown territory in her drawings and photographs.