RE: [-empyre-] Re:Is Modernity our Antiquity

Hi Eric & all,

Well, that's about the literary jam i was in up to 2004, i guess: a deadlock
between a hermetic discourse of the sublime and the incommensurable, trying
to build on the past in a hyper-version of the logic it contained, a modern
virus contaminated by the post-modern virus of consumerism and
commodification, threatened by invasions into the intimate by Bruno's
taylerisation of speech and some more immediate demands of either write this
or that or we won't buy you bread. For all i knew the next thing would be
the terror of anti-terror terrorising the terrorless coming down on us poor
souls wanting to create. In fact this very deadlock had brought me close to
giving up on poetry altogether, never dreamt of wasting any tree on trying
to publish any of it. Starting the Cathedral changed that for me, somehow.

Basicly i just threw a stupidly simple programming paradigma at it:
second-level recursion in defining it. Now first level recursion runs out
pretty quickly, it's used that way as an optimalisation of iterative
structures, like in a folder is something on your harddrive containing a
folder and/or some files. My 'second-level recursion' needs an absence on
the first level of the defining root (rhizome) and recursions of whatever
you're defining somewhere along the line outward, but _not_ on the first

So 'a Cathedral is an absence with a Cathedral in it' is not a valid
statement, but "a Cathedral is an absence with some stuff in it, one or more
of the thingies being something else with a Cathedral in it" is a valid

The only other ingredient you need is inserting a command somewhere to
search or find the Cathedral (the Misery) and an urge to compile the code
(the erotic) & oopedefloop out comes your running NKdeE. It works for me
ever since. All kinds of miraculous multiciplicities ensue. You can search
for and engage with  genetic congrueties from the past ad libitum. The basic
technique is called 'garbaging' because you don't mix or remix living things
but you try to get at the rhythm they were created in. The Cathedral engages
with its genetic predeccesor very well, but ofcourse if you don't know or
approve of Schwitters' work you wouldn't know where to look for it.

Yes i think it would be hard for anyone to know Schwitters work very well
and still disapprove of it.

People have been calling it a object, or art tout court, i don't
want any more Misery than i went for in the first place, so i prefer to call
anything that comes out of the process nAârt, 'na' meaning 'after' in Dutch,
but also short for Not Applicable, so it kinda hesitates between the two,
along with the general nerdyness of its invention.

That's all there is to it, really. But it doesn't budge an inch if you throw
antiquity at it.

Bonne fin de soirée a tous, heute.

Dirk Vekemans, poet - freelance webprogrammer,
Central Authoring Process of the
Neue Kathedrale des erotischen Elends


> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: 
> [] Namens Eric Kluitenberg
> Verzonden: maandag 6 maart 2006 1:08
> Aan:
> Onderwerp: [-empyre-] Re:Is Modernity our Antiquity
> dear empyres,
> I saw that Christina introduced me already quite extensively, 
> so let me just say by way of introduction that I work as a 
> theorist (writing, lecturing) and as an organiser on culture, 
> media, and technology. My time divides right now 50/50 
> between independent theory work and a position as 
> co-ordinator of the media wing of De Balie, Centre for 
> Culture and Politics in Amsterdam.
> You can find some further bio-information, links, texts and 
> other materials on the Balie website here:
> And a nice project of 2004 was the archaeology of imaginary 
> media, which is partly documented in a web dossier on media 
> archaeology, and hopefully will finally be complemented in 
> the Fall with a book and dvd:
> -----
> I'm sorry that I'm late with my take on the discussion, and 
> even more so that I'll probably only be able to really 
> participate by the end of the week, but for now I want to 
> send you an excerpt from a preparatory exchange with 
> Christina on the theme of the lingering legacy of modernism / 
> modernity. My take has become that it is improper to speak of 
> a post-modern condition, if only because if culture and 
> society were really past modernity it would simply be called 
> differently. Beyond that, there's just to much modernity 
> around us to say that it's over. Instead a term like 
> hyper-modernity would better capture the spirit of the times, 
> I think. Habermas called it 'late modernity', but my feeling 
> is that we're really past that stage. Mostly this would be 
> demonstrated by the lack of believe of any sensible person 
> nowadays in universalist discourses, but also in more mundane 
> terms, as for instance in the grandiose failure of the 
> 'multi-cultural' society and its emancipatory claims (the 
> "multi- cultural drama" as Dutch political theorist Paul 
> Schaeffer calls it).  
> Instead what becomes clear in various confrontations in 
> deeply multi- ethnic cities like Amsterdam (even if we leave 
> the extreme out, like the murder of flimmaker v. Gogh and so 
> on) is a fundamental heterogeneity in society. Not so much a 
> clash of cultures (reactionary poisonous talk), but an 
> inability to translate judgements from one system to another, 
> moral judgements foremost.  
> Also, it seems rather impossible to reduce cultural 
> differences and conflicts entirely to their material base, 
> yet the same conflicts can also not be explained without 
> their material underpinnings as part of the explanation.
> So, roughly speaking then, the modern / modernity / modernism 
> persists in many forms and modes, yet there is a growing 
> consciousness of its limitations, short-comings fallacies, 
> and fundamental incongruencies, which ultimately cannot be 
> resolved without diossolving the core of what modernity 
> is/was about. One of the ideas I'm toying around with 
> regularly and recurringly is the question what it might mean 
> to be hyper-modern? and secondly if it is possible to 
> speculate what could lie beyond the modern, if it woud be 
> possible to recognise this 'beyond' at all? On the latter I'm 
> deeply sceptical. I don't think that's ever possible, but 
> maybe it would be possible to highlight or intensify a 
> sensibility for the things that are changing. This is also 
> very much an experiental thing. For me these questions are 
> therefore not just about theory or science, but also about 
> experience and embodied action - 'art' could be a possible 
> form in which to explore these other non- or not strictly 
> discursive modes of exeperience that are connected to the 
> sensation of being hyper-modern...
> Anyway, here is the quote mentioned above, and I'll have to 
> leave it at that here - will pick up on the discussion asap.
> "I would prefer to focus in such a discussion on a notion 
> that i would  call hyper-modernity and that picks up from the 
> modernity /
> post- modernity debate between habermas and Lyotard in the 
> later 80s and  that was carried through the 90s as well. I 
> would agree that there is  a certain lingering legacy of 
> modernity, which is a.o., exemplified  in the many ways in 
> which modernist motives inform the thought of the  later 
> Lyotard, especially his aesthetics (of the
> sublime) and the  connection he makes to the 
> incommensurability of language games,  especially vis-à-vis 
> scientific and political discourse (that is  western discourses).
> One of the questions that I have been asking myself for a long time   
> and in different ways is how to get beyond this final stage of   
> modernity, the hyper-modern as it were (but that's also just 
> a term).  The problem being that the post-Lyotardian 
> discourse locks itself in  a dead-end street, in many ways it 
> is already up against the wall at  the end of that street.
> Lyotard's rejection of technological mediation has been especially   
> unproductive here, even if I share many of his reservations about   
> universalist discourses in the modernist frame. So the question   
> remains for me, how to stay away from and be critically aware 
> of the   
> fallacy of universalist modernist discourses, without falling 
> into  a  
> reactionary regression ((culturally and politically, think for   
> instance of people like Roger Scruton behind the church organ 
> in the   
> English country side - no joke! he does it really!!), or conversely  
> to become locked up in a hermetic discourse of the sublime and the   
> incommensurable?
> best wishes,
> Eric
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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