[-empyre-] Present Tense

PierMartonGmail piermarton at gmail.com
Mon Dec 1 15:58:09 EST 2014

I have tried here to articulate some of my responses to this month’s “heavy topic.”
And I am not done, so I am including the so-called Permalink for what I will continue to tweak: http://piermarton.info/present-tense/ ‎
The link should be functional in a couple of days...
Below is a MOST incomplete first draft - I hope to complete it in the next month. Thank you for reading through some of this.
[Got to start with quotes - they impose themselves to me!]
"I would prefer not to." Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." Oscar Wilde
"The essence of normalcy is the refusal of reality." Ernst Becker
"You hope, yes, 
              your books will excuse you,
save you from hell…" W. H. Auden
« Le tort que j’ai eu c’est de vouloir penser » Beckett "How wrong I was to want to think"  -  Textes pour rien
«Le monde mental ment monumentalement.» Jacques Prévert "The mental world lies monumentally.”  (original French includes alliterations linking mental & lying)
A while back I wrote "Beyond Belief,” (http://piermarton.info/beyond-belief/) a short tabula rasa text that may also be appropriate here... but I will start again.

By definition violence is inconceivable, beyond thinking - Kafka goes further by describing reality as unrealistic.
What we call inhuman is often particular to humans but we have such a desire to believe. Wishful thinking maybe part of our DNA. It may be what keeps us stuck in our ways, and for all intents and purposes, stupid.

After surmounting each ordeal that awaits us, we are often tempted to claim bits of wisdom.
With much relief and a renewed sense of optimism we start anew... only to be hit in the face soon after, and to have to realize that, once more, we still know nothing.
A “Fist in the Face/Poing dans la Gueule” graphic by Topor: http://piermarton.info/Images/Topor.jpg

Similarly news are often bad and when they seem they can't get any worse, they do.
Genocide, ecocide, wars, bombing, rapes... how to survive these, even from afar?
The speed changes, once wired, now tweeted, but when a piece of news appears, as Arne Naess made clear about ecology, it is already a cold fact, a done deal.
Politics has never been the field where individuals have had much traction.
Organizing carries its weight and the following graphics resonate through time like monuments of outrage, but done **after** the massacres.

Goya about Spain 1810-1820
Grande hazaña, con muertos - Great heroic action, with some dead. Prado Museum by Goya: http://piermarton.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/GoyaHazana.jpg

For the sake of time, I will just list here the other graphics on my site:
Friedrich about Germany in 1924
Picasso about Spain in 1937
Artists Poster Committee about Vietnam in 1968

Our "playpen" - which includes the cultural activities above and beyond - seems to be restricted to grief, outrage, commentaries and concern, and for those on the ground - a fundamental difference - to interact physically with those in trouble.

I don't have much affection for blasé people; I consider it a defensive posture but I honestly wonder about the so-called power of these works.
Either at the time or with time, we can still emote in front of these works, but is that enough?
WWII did take place after Ernst Friedrich's most graphic exposé was published in four European languages (and admired by Kurt Tucholksy, Ernst Toller and others).
As Samuel Johnson has said about patriotism, there are many refuges for scoundrels, and so negativity and sarcasm has its scoundrels too.

News are constructed to be addictive and with much regularity they destroy us. We have divided our universe into what sticks out: drama, climaxes, cathartic experiences, and the rest, what we consider to be boring. I used to remind my students that mountains exist because there are valleys. John Cage did try to turn the tide by focusing on boredom but where is he?
For eons now, the same waves keep clashing against us:
"To become full, become hollow." Lao Tzu — "We are and we are not." Heraclitus — "The only knowledge which is really alive is the one that expresses itself at its kindling point, bringing about its own destruction." Dostoevsky —  "Each something is a celebration of the nothing that supports it." John Cage
Whether we keep the obscene (ob scena?) off stage as per the theatrical convention to keep murders away, whether we look or we don’t look, killing will continue to take place. And we will try to feel alive, in all of the ways we can.

When I was in intensive care for three weeks, the first step in leaving my "vegetable state" was to scream to the top of my weak lung (only one was functioning) “NO!” - a surprise to myself and to the nurse who was pushing one more tube inside my body. 

Our screens conceal at least as much as they reveal; a great multitude of words cover up the complexity:  meat - roadkill- trash- refuse - statistics - these words too...
I want to write on my site much more about the hegemony of words and words, the dictatorship of words (Barthes brought it up), of centrality, normalcy. 
We live in another pre-Galilean universe, one where the ego is still at the center - we are so full of ourselves - 
I also wanted to bring up the fact that like a nightmare where everyone is at fault, while Israel's government makes all of the wrong moves, the MEMRI website reminds us of the complexity of a situation where slogans and solutions may remain forms of wishful thinking.

As Edgar Morin writes, complexity takes time, can we take the time?

I need to send this out now… under the wire.
 Feel free to write to me directly if you are so interested.
Best wishes to all - with our very diverse experiences and interests.
Pier Marton
In addition to my regular e-mail signature below, this month of November (during my direct involvement with -empyre) I have added a growing list of works that I found to be powerful - even if I question what “power” means.
”The Theater and its Double” by Artaud
"Chechen Lullaby" - Directed by Nino Kirtadze —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEmqHZAn8lQ (also on my website)
"The Man by the Shore/L’Homme sur les Quais" & "Haïti, le Silence des Chiens” —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbu2HPvFn_E - Directed by Raoul Peck
Los Olvidados Directed by Luis Buñuel
“Is Anyone Taking Any Notice?” by Don McCullin —> http://piermarton.info/don-mccullin/
"Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution" by Peter Kropotkin
"War Against War/Krieg dem Kriege/Guerre à la Guerre! War against War! Oorlog aan den Oorlog" by Ernst Friedrich (recent intro by Doug Kellner) - Various editions. Last one published in Sept. 2014 (available online).
"At the Mind’s Limit" by Jean Améry
“Shoah” -  Directed by Claude Lanzmann
"In the King of Prussia" - Directed by Emile de Antonio
And these quotes: 
“Human stupidity is the only thing that gives an idea of the infinite/La bêtise humaine est la seule chose qui donne une idée de l'infini." Ernest Renan, Dialogues et fragments philosophiques (1876) (others & the Hungarian proverb: “Human stupidity is endless/Az emberi butaság végtelen")
“Shitr… Watch, watch the machine's turnin'. Watch, watch them brains blow up… vanish from my presence/Merdre... Voyez, voyez la machin’ tourner, Voyez, voyez la cervell’ sauter,...disparais de ma présence." Alfred Jarry, Ubu roi (1888)
“. . . only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation be safely built.” - Bertrand Russell, 1923
“If there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.” Artaud, The Theater and its Double, 1938
PM_uoʇɹɐɯ_ɹǝıd —> http://piermarton.info
School Of No  Media —> http://schoolofnomedia.com/
About —> http://about.me/piermarton 
BrainBleed—> http://brainbleed.wordpress.com/
One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them. Virginia Woolf
The essence of normalcy is the refusal of reality. Ernst Becker
When something seems "the most obvious thing in the world," it means that any attempt to understand the world has been given up. Bertolt Brecht
An idea becomes false the moment one becomes satisfied by it. Alain
There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous. Hannah Arendt
When around you, you hear the word "Jew" pronounced, be on guard, they are speaking about you. Frantz Fanon
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet renounce controversy are people who want crops without ploughing the ground. Frederick Douglass
Silence is the authentic mode of speaking. Claude Lanzmann

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