Figure 1.1: Front view of a bone flute made from the radius of a griffon vulture, unearthed in 2008 at Hohle Fels Cave in the Ach Valley in Swabia and estimated to date from 40 to 42,000 years ago. I first encountered these glaciers in stories told by elderly First Nations women who spent their time inland from the Saint Elias Mountains. Imagine that one night, whilst you are sleeping, an elfin trickster slips into your kitchen. Heading for the shelf where you keep your recipes, it removes your copy of Katie Stewarts’s Cookbook. Next it proceeds to your book-lined study, where it catches sight of Outline of a Theory of Practice, by Pierre Bourdieu. With a mischievous glint in its eye, the elf silently removes the Outline, and inserts the Cookbook in its place. Then, returning to the kitchen, it slips the Outline into the place where the Cookbook had been. The following day you plan to cook a traditional Scottish dish – herrings in oatmeal – for dinner. You recall that Katie Stewart has the recipe, on page 78 of her book, and needing some tips to refresh your memory, you casually retrieve the book from its usual place on the shelf. Opening it up at the appropriate page, this is what you read: ‘The habitus, the durably installed generative principle of regulated improvisations, produces practices which tend to reproduce the regularities immanent in the objective conditions of the production of their generative principle, while adjusting to the demands inscribed as objective potentialities in the situation, as defined by the cognitive and motivating structures making up the habitus.’ Er, ... what? You go to your study to continue work on that paper for Anthropologica Theoretica, which you have been trying to finish for weeks. There’s a quote from Bourdieu you need: it is too long-winded to remember by heart. Better look it up! It’s on page 78. Opening what you thought was the book, you find the following: ‘Clean the herrings and cut off the heads. Place on a work surface and spread out flat, skin side up. Press along the back to loosen the bone, then turn each herring over and gently pull away the bone. Put the oatmeal on to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Coat the herrings by firmly pressing each side into the oatmeal.’ Since there are four pianists, there’ll be fifteen, twenty, twenty-five repetitions of each event. They’re beautiful moments. They aren’t climaxes; they’re confluences. Have you noticed how many modern contemporary buildings are made of glass? Taft, depicted here circa 1950, began as a sugarcane plantation and slowly grew to include a post office, store, and the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. The pride of Taft was the Locke Breaux live oak, the largest in the state. Planted in 1657, the tree had a thirty-six foot girth, and in 1934 became the founding “president” of the Live Oak Society, an organization of the Louisiana Garden Club. Post-nihilist praxis is thus an experimental mode of embodied engagement oriented towards operationalizing novel and actionable solutions, communications and adaptations to the myriad of creeping potencies of nonhuman flows and assemblages both within and without. Today, the exchange appears to have been deleted from the internet, but if it weren’t, I’d be tempted to go back with a quotation from Citizen — I’d quote what functions as the book’s refrain, when after a racist statement, the speaker asks: “What did you say?” If these are meant to be shields, they are in fact permeated with graphite, which the artist characteristically uses inside the crevices of the protrusions that riddle the walls of her cedar sculptures. Here, it becomes a gray patina over the glued-and-screwed beams that make up the whole. The shields are not only permeated, but also perforated, with dozens of pits and gouges dotting the surface. They feel like ancient artifacts burned and scarred in battle. “Five Plates,” however, can also refer to domesticity — a recurrent theme in von Rydingsvard’s work — as might “Braided Ladle”, another of the show’s larger works, in which carved cedar planks form a pouch sprouting a vertical limb or handle. The latter piece, along with the similarly shaped “Rebirth”, bears a resemblance to a tree trunk with an outsized knot that beckons you inside. And yet these refuges are inhospitable, offering enough space for a baby, if that. Sometimes the stand there in the face of bending while the actual season simpers offering stab wound or panic but the wheel seizes an ivory leaf, the green of escape or town where rivers or just a package from when the time was right. Later eves, or eaves, and the special sane brushes the talk show off simple margin, too much, something gets lost. And so it was Pared Down Ontology … nothing but Being and the respiratory infusions of an anti-philosophic Marvellous to run the global modernist boat on. Only in a ghosted, inherited manner, did Heidegger know what was coming, and for him to further every western philosophical precept since Plato he knew he could do only one of two things. The first; to fulfill all the highest hopes of philosophy by becoming Hölderlin; ascend into poetry and (if Nietzsche’s presumptions were anything to go by) onward … into music; a new ‘bodily rationalism’ of ‘daylight-glossolalia’ … Michael McClure’s “MATTER IS ALIVE, BY GOD! / MATTER IS ALIVE! / The grains of crystal slide. / It is the molecular consciousness! / ((I must be a Pagan / to survive it / — TO SURVIVE this vision.” Yeats’s Spiritus Mundi was also in the air. The answers came, slowly. My state of consciousness at this time could not be called idiosyncratic; indeed, by clinical standards I was having a serious bout of megalomania. While lying in bed and coughing spasmodically, I felt nothing but the most unearthly hope; I envisioned Rene Char opening his ‘Leaves of Hypnos’ deep in the Paris Catacombs as bits of multicolored grains began reabsorbing themselves in blue frost on the reptilian, jeweled tongue of Artaud, stuck forever to the lamp-post where Nerval had taken his own life, slowly reconstituting into green cotillions of mechanized insects with esoteric marching orders, sizzling anagrams, falling deeply from the sky’s black canopy. I walked determinedly with a collapsible cane, experiencing in different shocks, seizures and spasms, the violently flickering up to full neon glare, in some corner of the apocalyptic circus tent. I mean, fuck me, I was a trip and a half. And then, and then, of course it does appear, it unstoppably appears, and this is my point: that it is impossible to discuss the internecine aftermath of one holocaust, or ‘local’ historic woundology, without delicately cindering out into the palpable shadow of a holocaust to come, now, political strife is fractally imbricated, and passive complicity or even sadism (letting-the-other-hurt) completely viral. That Butler is already talking about this without mentioning it is not just a matter of good faith, but a more general and perhaps revolutionary reading principle of monothematism. Everything, whether it likes it or not, is about this. In a different way, and in a different style, this same reflex of occlusive emphasis can be found in Sutherland’s Stupefaction, when he writes of ‘the effort never to go beyond that perfected contradiction, or disguise it, or forget it, but to learn again and again, by more and more unendurably emphatic repetition, how to insist on it for ever’. However allegorically wage labour might be taken, can we really believe, now, that even the whole scope of its potential implications as concept would be enough to enfold the various geomorphic and invisible forces and temporal archival loopings that cake on the anthropocene pancake, as it were? A thousand years later, Buddhism and nat worship exist side by side, one represented by gleaming, golden-spired pagodas and sprawling monasteries, the other by small shrines in homes and villages and along the sides of dirt roads. This highly local communion with the spirits erupts into huge, raucous festivals (or pwes) on particular days of the lunar calendar.
[Note: Burkholder, etc thru Misrach and Orff = birthday gifts from Kathy. Thank you, my love. Sources: J Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout, Claude V Palisca, A History of Western Music, 9th Edition; Julie Cruikshank, Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, & Social Imagination; Tim Ingold, Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture; Alvin Lucier, Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music; Kate Orff, in Richard Misrach, and Kate Orff, Petrochemical America; Michael “Post-nihil and the End of Resentment?”, at Archive Fire, 20 Oct 014; Jeremy Allan Hawkins, “Direct Address — On Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric”, at The Hairsplitter, 20 Nov 014; Thomas Micchelli, “Ursula von Rydingsvard and the Drill Bit’s Caress”, at Hyperallergic, 22 Nov 014; Allen Bramhall, “Sword Dance for the Latter Person”, at Simple Theories, 21 Nov 014; Andrew O’Donnell, and John Thomas Allen, quoted in O’Donnell’s “Surrealist Resurgence; Nouveau’s Midnight Sun (ed. John Thomas Allen)”, at The Fiend, 23 Nov 014; JBR; Jonty Tiplady, “Aide-Mémoire (1)”, at Trillionaires, 10 Nov 014; Carrie Lorig, “cake on my pancake”, at there were wrecks and wrecks, the keeper said, 22 Nov 014; JBR; Will Boast, “After the Green Death”, at Guernica, 17 Nov 014]