Aphorisms II

There is a beautiful pathos of history in the fact that the totalising force and the absolutist will always be dogged by those with a blog. The might of the word, of knowledge, is similar to the might of the ocean. You may divert its force for a time, but it will flatten all land eventually. You may think you can divert it. But once something is realised, it stays realised.

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When I hear someone exasperate about the internet, I always think – which comment annoyed you today? Which site fractured your sense of comfort in knowledge? Because of course, there is no such thing as the internet. There are only individual users, and groups… But then, that’s not quite right. The word – internet – like the word – society – has an image or sectional meaning whenever used in this way. It comes accompanied with – a comment section filled with drivel – the endless mass of opinions – lists of reviews, one to five stars, each with their set of entries… And I can’t help but think of this, whenever someone says ‘what’s wrong is the internet’ or jokes that… If it weren’t for the internet, we’d all be happy. The internet, they say, like a compulsion, their fingers itching to pick up a dustpan and brush, or an EMP device. I wonder if they know how they seem to us? We who have lived in the internet. They merely adopted the internet. We were born in it, moulded by it…

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One was not born, but rather became, man. Or, the same, we can say that a newborn has a biological history, but not as yet, a cultural history. But why the past tense? ‘Man’ is dead – now, there is man. Because Man in our cultures was rarely defined against something, it was so throughout, so hegemonic, that it became such that it was never thrown into question. What an incredible amount of violence and ignorance must have been undertaken to reach that point, where everything other was buried beyond sight. But now those who work to define themselves as men, do it against the woman, the other, the beyond. That they do this is a symptom that they have already become different.

Or is this too simple – for who wrote the books, the newspapers, owned the presses? Rich Men knew their rich world, keeping the right company, having all the weapons. And so there must be a history of people outside, in the countryside, in the underground, out of ear-shot, who did not pay heed to the shouting and babbling of homoerotic joy at ‘Man’ (though of course that has its place.) These are the people who have so quickly in our time wrested their voice and as a byproduct of that process, ‘Man’ was destroyed. Their existence was only expected in a crude, partial way, in small encounters soon pushed from the mind. Or their behaviour was put into categories beyond thought. Or, they were simply ignored, kept from the true accounts, as the image was forging. It is an image with a great inner weakness that is destroyed simply by the existence of difference.

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Since the old world is dead on its feet, we need only to keep living how we want, in order to push it softly into its grave. Culture is dead, long live culture.

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Postmodernity is partly the realisation that we are animal, and much culture is therefore arbitrary. The kinds of firework show deviations from the past through so-called primitive art, and geometric shapes, becomes ubiquitous, and beautiful. This is the universalism, channeled and shaped consciously or unconsciously by architects through international capitalism, delusions of true rememberance and projection of power into giant capital structures like Shanghai.

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Information of a thing can infuse its phenomena, knowing this or that makes it seem ‘yes, that should be like that’. A brutalist building could seem cold or totalitarian, but when you know it was built in response to dead aristocratic imitation of imperial forms, and built for the use of normal people, then it seems warm, and loving, and clears the air.

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My brain has a buffer zone for target words – I see the word Manchester, and then type it into my phone – I’m going to… Manchester. But the word I saw has overridden what I originally meant to say – the shop. The target is replaced by a functionally similar word, but never by an ungrammatical word. One of my colleagues will talk along with me, almost to the point of mimicking everything I say. Watching or hearing speech is so bound up with speaking that they sometime bleed into each other.

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Perfect translation is an oxymoron. That there is no such thing as a perfect translation is a tautology. We may say that the only perfect translation is the same sentence written out twice, and read twice by the same person, and even then we have problems.

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People make more sense when we consider the regimes of meaning they move within, what commanding concepts structure or hold important nodes within their connectome – be it atoms, material, science, or with friends, of days and nights out, of love or sex, or of politics – of ideals or utopias, or realism coloured by nationalism, or by history, or by strategy, or of faith or religious cultus, or of meditativeness of the moment, or of the smallness or greatness of the moment, or the worst of all, just doing stuff no matter what it is. And all of this might be more or less hidden, or subtextual.

I move from regime to regime, depending on which regime has disappointed me most recently. If I think the answers rest in friendship (which I mostly do) then I consciously try live in this regime of meaning, where we do what we say we will do, and honour and love each other. I succeed to varying degrees. This is all just a fancy way of talking about what really matters to us.

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Can Descartes’ answer to the problem of life be boiled down to this; we are in the care of a great and powerful illusionist, one who cares for us greatly, who feeds us our worlds out of love for us, coddling us. Within this illusion, other, smaller, illusions are spun to make us doubt them and in deepen our trust in the greater illusion.

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One might say that if we knew everything about someone, we could say exactly what they would do in a situation. But what kind of arrogance is this? We don’t know everything about anybody. And nevertheless, such a someone can still have good reasons for their actions. They may still deliberate, and act, they can still be free.

Narcissii

The cold mind of a philosopher
Might freeze love with a snowflake gaze
In the same dull ice that crystallises
Faultline truths on a heap of life.

Til hot dogma deigns them to preach
On politics, bearing confidence of the freeze
But narcissism is neither hot nor frozen
It’s just the mark of a certain childhood.

And poets who take their inspiration
From ‘religious sentiment’s’ gloaming cocktail
That quaintly drinks the soul with ecstasy
Til verses drop off the tongue like gold bricks

Think maybe religion is a knot
Their young life and guardians tied them of
And now its blank mythological verse
Finds acceptance among drunk critical cousins

These tender artists tend to sit
On good old knolls by the zenoic pool
(Far from the muddy estuaries) and swill
Till their daisy heads fall off and rot.

Nietzsche

Man stands against the boiling ocean of the possible
Silhouetted by a setting sun – striding
Out into the deep to be destroyed.
He could not keep the truth without dissolving:
A lone skeleton falls apart in the tides
And – drawn to the depths of darkness – this
Pile of white bones dances down – into the abyss.

But not this man, no, this man keeps
To bed clutching scribe’s accoutrements
Projecting a personality of dense defiance
He poeticises wildly in the throes of music
Waxing prophetic on the coming task of men
Struggling in pain to focus, but he knows.
He just can’t seem to formulate the premises in his prose.

Squinting in his nest, his moustache moist, and murmering
About the grand transcendence of the dark,
His mother brings him tea – his rough blanket
Covered in yesterdays crumbs and ink accidents,
Warms on his knees – the will to digestion crowing.
He takes his meagre meal, curses her and even
As she makes matrimonial suggestions, ressentiment quickens his breathing.

‘Woman is weak’ – he spits his damp crumbs wildly
Glaring at the matronly sign and signal
Of his own pathetic nature – he turns aside
Back to constant scribbling – by which he’ll teach
The world its wholly meagre worth in silence:
By embalming modern insights in his head
With half-learned scraps of Darwin from the papers, he will tread
Alone into the deep – and this destiny has said.
He has no one to go with him, not a single friend.

And rather than put this down to his unpleasant selfish manner
(A reason that never occurred to him) he sees his path and hammer
As the wind’s lonely self-justifying answer to the void.