“Everything is true,” he said. “Everything anybody has ever thought.” You fall asleep on the couch with the TV on. You wake. You have a sense of intense lateness, even if you aren’t even close to a clue what time it is. You feel a bit like Proust’s traveler, everything’s asleep but you. And the television. You see the images dance and try to make some sense of them. But then inside your head there’s a whisper of Glissant: we clamor for the right to opacity for everyone. One of the things I like best are scars and / or grit and / or splinters of glass in the sand. Poles create angles. In a trance dance, / raise your geranium / revolver. My shaved angles. “MY HEAD FOR A SNOWBOARD” – yelled Alice. Top of Form. “My chesstboard, my checkXboard?” – Dark Vador. “My Empire, your EMPIRE, hearts” – You’remyQueen (lyrics). Lyrics. [ID-card] [ID-card] [ID-card] in fine. O thank you John! When I ask Bing to translate this, I get “For those upon whom power is exercised, is always a dewy naiveté”. Dewy naiveté? Is Bing genius or nuts? It’s not in the original. Where does the perfect word dewy come from? It always feels like an exceptionally stimulating atmosphere at Goldsmiths. I’ll be back on Friday for a pair of seminars (with Michael Newman) on Heidegger’s “Origin of the Work of Art.” “I gets up, I start beating on the wall. I start saying stuff. … And I just let it rip. Ain’t never gonna stop.” But I’m really not sure how to write about Hilst. This book is basically about a widowed woman who lives under the stairs in her house, has masks hanging in her window, and tries to scare all the kids by yelling crazy shit at them: look Hillé the face of God / where where? / look at the abyss and see / I don’t see anything / lean over a bit more / only fog and depth / that’s it. adore HIM. Condense mist and fathom and fashion a face. Res facta, calm down. And let’s see now which of her sentences are appropriate to speak when I open the window to the society of the neighborhood: your rotten asses / your unimaginable pestilence / mouths stinking of phlegm and stupidity / enormous behinds waiting their turn. for what? to shit into saucepans / armpits of excrement / wormhole in hollow teeth / the pig’s woody. OK. “In between surviving multiple point-blank-range assassination attempts and a failed kidnapping in which he emerged alive from the burning wreckage of a battleship his own air force had just bombed, Pibulsongkram decided that Thailand needed noodles that would advance the country’s industry and economy. After all, he had already changed the name of country from Siam to Thailand as part of a series of mandates meant to shroud its people under a modernized Thai identity. Forks and spoons would be used instead of hands. More European-style clothing must be worn. Thai products should be preferred above all others. Pibulsongkram wanted to create a new Thai diet while making more rice products available for export. According to his son’s suppositions in the 2009 Gastronomica article ‘Finding Pad Thai’ the codified modern version may have originated in Pibulsongkram’s household, perhaps the devising of the family’s cook. Its recipe was disseminated throughout the country, and push carts were sent into the streets to make this newfangled on-the-go meal available to the masses. To eat Pad Thai would be a patriotic act. Thus was born the Volksnoodle for an emerging nation-state. The name Pad Thai, however, negates the considerable non-Thainess of the dish. Noodles were the domain of Chinese immigrants in Thailand, and pan-fried rice noodles like Pad Thai likely arrived with them hundreds of years ago when Ayutthaya had been the kingdom’s capital. The thin rice noodles used in making Pad Thai is also similar to Vietnamese noodles, like the ones used in making pho. It’s no coincidence that the Saen Chan noodle used in many Pad Thai recipes took its name from Chanthaburi, an eastern province close to Vietnam and Cambodia. Had Pibulsongkram been more purist about his nation-unifying dish, Pad Thai should have been a clump of rice smothered and fried with fiery Nam Prik chile paste, arguably the most Thai of all Thai food. His nationalist ideals of Thailand weren’t deeply rooted in reverence for the past; they were synthesized new from whatever was most expedient. His choice of a noodle dish is all the more curious in light of his policies against the Chinese ethnic population — immigration quotas, bans on Chinese associations, and the seizing of Chinese businesses. Pibulsongkram had not only decided to curtail the growing Chinese influence in Thailand (China, at the time, sheltered his political rival) but also to subsume its culture under the Thai umbrella. He would later choose to ally with the U.S. in its nascent war against communism, and just a few decades later, GIs on R&R leave would be part of the first wave of Americans to taste Pad Thai.” I’m not an expert on southeast Asian history, but I do have some knowledge and this passes the smell test. It’s really almost a prefect 20th century nationalist project, combining stealing ideas from minority populations while demonizing those very people. Also, as the article states, most of the Pad Thai served in the United States is an abomination.
[Note: I owe the Glissant and the “dewy naiveté” to Horacio Castillo and Bing; Sources: Philip K Dick, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Lina Vitkauskis, Neon Tryst, and James Pate, as quoted in Pate’s “Believe the hype: Vitkauskis’ Neon Tryst”, at Montevidayo, 24 Feb 013 (Proust’s traveler: “I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, shewed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station …”—Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (tr. C. K. Scott Moncrieff )); Édouard Glissant, as quoted in T J Demos, “The Right to Opacity: On the Otolith Group’s Nervus Rerum”, at T J Demos (this opacity thing is actually quite complicated and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Cf. Jillian Steinhauer, “What Do You Do with White Nationalist Art Once the Irony’s Gone?”, at Hyperallergic, 25 Feb 013); Rachel Eros Isarose Defay-Liautard, FB post and comments, 25 Feb 013; JBR FB comment, 25 Feb 013 (appended to “La ingenuidad es a menudo una excusa usada por aquellos que ejercitan el poder. Para aquellos en los que se ejerce el poder, la ingenuidad es siempre un error"/ Naiveté is often an excuse for those who exercise power. For those upon whom power is exercised, naiveté is always a mistake” Michel-Rolph Trouillot ‘Silencing the Past’”, Horacio Castillo, FB post, 25 Feb 013); Graham Harman, “Goldsmiths”, at Object-Oriented Philosophy, 25 Feb 013; Katey Red, as quoted in Jillian Steinhauer, “Meet the Godmother of Bounce”, at Hyperallergic, 25 Feb 013; Chad W Post, “BTBA 2013: ‘The obscene Madame D’ [The Books that DIDN’T Make It]”, at Three Percent, 25 Feb 013; JBR; Pitchaya Sudbanthad, and Erik Loomis, as quoted in Loomis’ “Cornucopia of Asian Food Links”, at Lawyers, Guns & Money, 25 Feb 013]