Still, the financial class governs as it always did, just with fancier technology, like Lords of the Rings meets Fruit Ninja, an app that the prime minister, David Cameron, according to one aide, spends a “crazy, scary” amount of time playing. Still, a video of a fox hunt played backwards would show the fox chasing the hounds arse-forwards, with posh people on horses running for their lives. What an extravagant, outrageous lady! This was a decade ago, but for some reason I remember that it was 4:20 in the morning. Some weeks later she gave a weirdly robotic talk for the students of the Städelschule, where I was then director, and dismissed every question from the audience as too dumb to even consider. I remember being introduced to critic Bruce Hainley. He was working on Under the Sign of [sic], the brilliant book that has finally appeared and which anyone interested in Sturtevant should read. Look, let us recall Milton Ellis. Who the hell is Milton Ellis? Mr Ellis, as reported by the Associated Press, asleep in his wheelchair on the porch of a vacant Hooters in Florida, woke up to find Josephine Rebecca Smith on top of him, biting off chunks of his arm and cheek. I mean, I’ve read There are more things many times — it’s a favourite in part for having the additional thrill of Borges going Lovecraftian — but only realised with this reading that I can now fully appreciate the following: “Years later, he was to lend me Hinton’s treatises which attempt to demonstrate the reality of four-dimensional space by means of complicated exercises with multicoloured cubes. I shall never forget the prisms and pyramids that we erected on the floor of his study.” But now buzz-worthy restaurants are moving back, museums and performance halls are nearing critical mass: the story kept right on going from manhunt to mourning, the word ‘Trust’ hovering over his head, and his sun-glasses, one lens red, the other blue, pushed down past the ridge of his nose so that you can see his eyes, which are slightly off center. p.s. Hey. Sorry, as always in these cases, for the slow loading time. Not that I've read ‘Wonder Boys’, but I did see the movie, not that I remember it. What’s-his-butt, the first ‘Spiderman’, was in it maybe. Thanks for making the goodreads page! I’ve had the image of you standing on the back of a moving tractor since I first saw this comment last night. Literally, it was like when I fell asleep last night the tractor carrying you went into a tunnel, and, when I woke up, you and the tractor exited the other end of the tunnel. ‘Resident Evil 4’ is amazing! We’re already beat from the goodness, but we don’t get a day of rest til a week from Wednesday, so yikes. It’s cool you have ... oh shit, I wish I could. I don’t know. I think that even though ‘Alt Lit’ encourages one to generalize about those writers, and even though the shared interest in co-opting social media forms creates a strong resemblance, I read each of them as though existing in a noisy vacuum, and I think any pretending is part of the tone/substructure exploration in the writing, and that the internet as context makes an exploration of that line betwixt real and pretense and betwixt resulting self-deprecation and self as theoretical subject of hype even important to do or something? I don’t know. My brain is sleepy. But others are affected in a more subtle way. They are not destroyed. They are not removed from view. And yet these colors, lines, shapes, and forms are all of a sudden and for unknown reasons treated by some artists, writers, thinkers, and others as though they had been affected physically. Though they have not been physically destroyed, some sensitive people treat them as if they had been destroyed. Let me give me you an example: a painter paints for years using only a particular shade of red. She paints monochromes with this red. Monochrome after monochrome. We are familiar with such painters. But one day she stops using this shade of red in her paintings. Were you to visit her studio, you would find it filled with the red paint tubes she has always used, as she did not stop using this shade of red because the color is no longer being manufactured. Considering that artists tend to go through phases, she might simply be in her blue phase, or her yellow phase, or perhaps she just does not want to deal with colors anymore. But then dozens of years later, and tens of artworks later, this shade of red still does not appear in any of her artworks. Now her family begins to worry. They think maybe she is getting old; that her eyes are weakening. So they send her to consult an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist tells her that her eyes are fine, and that maybe she should consult a therapist. She consults a psychoanalyst, and after a few months her analyst tells her she is as healthy as anyone else. However, I am convinced that this woman, this artist, must have sensed all along that the blockage was never in her eyes. It was never in her psyche. The block was in the color. The color has been affected and is no longer available. That’s all. And the artist may know this, or, rather, she may feel it. But then there are instances — as you can see with the accompanying plates — when some colors, lines, shapes, and forms can sense the forthcoming danger. And when they sense it, they deploy defensive measures: they hide; they take refuge; they hibernate, camouflage, and dissimulate. Of course, I had expected that when they hide, they do so in the artworks of past artists. I had thought past Master paintings, sculptures, drawings, and buildings would be their most hospitable hosts. But I was wrong. Instead, it seems that when some colors, lines, shapes, and forms sense the forthcoming danger, they somehow just leap, or jump, or drift, or somehow “abandon” their present location to take refuge in certain documents that circulate around artworks. They are no longer within those artworks, but in documents that circulate around them. For example, they might go into a dissertation. In fact, they seem to be quite fond of academic dissertations, especially the ones written by foreigners on a native culture and in a foreign language. They love to go there. For example, take one of the first dissertations written in English on Lebanese modernism by an American anthropologist at an American university. Many colors came here. From time to time, lines camouflage themselves in budgets, especially those that itemize the costs of cultural exchanges between two Arab cities: Cairo and Beirut for instance. Shapes hibernate in letterheads, such as this gallery’s letterhead for instance, which is on a letter written by a Lebanese gallery to the Lebanese minister of culture requesting the first Lebanese National Pavilion in Venice in 2005. Shapes hibernated here. Forms are drawn to the graphic logos of companies that support the arts, providing condition reports, floor plans, business cards, price lists, catalogue covers, indices, appendices. Now, if we observe the budget, do we find numbers? Absolutely not. These are lines disguised as numbers. The condition report? No. This is a shape taking refuge within a condition report. And this is not a book, but a form dissimulating as a book. And of course, this is not blue. This is not yellow. This is not black. So I propose, instead of trauma, to talk about catastrophe. The difference between the two is that one cannot really recover after a catastrophe, as one normally recovers after a trauma. Catastrophe is meta-traumatic. It happens absolutely: at the beginning there is — there was — always already the end. Catastrophe defines the borders of a collective and the true sense of what we call history. By catastrophe I mean, of course, what people do to other people or to nature, and what nature or gods do to people: wars, genocide, bomb explosions, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, but also certain legendary events, like the expulsion of humans from Paradise, the Flood, and of course, the Apocalypse. Above all, I am thinking about the catastrophe of one’s own existence, this apocalypse of the now — the irredeemable nature of a single present moment. You cannot change anything; the worst is what just happened: your beloved just died, your child just died, a giraffe in the zoo just died, god died, too, you yourself just died or woke up in your bed in the body of an uncanny insect. The walls of the vast room which were streaming with calid moisture, were built with grey slabs of stone and were the personal concern of a company of eighteen men known as the “Grey Scrubbers”. It had been their privilege on reaching adolescence to discover that, being the sons of their fathers, their careers had been arranged for them and that stretching ahead of them lay their identical lives consisting of an unimaginative if praiseworthy duty. This was to restore, each morning, to the great grey floor and the lofty walls of the kitchen a stainless complexion. On every day of the year from three hours before daybreak until about eleven o'clock, when the scaffolding and ladders became a hindrance to the cooks, the Grey Scrubbers fulfilled their hereditary calling. Through the character of their trade, their arms had become unusually powerful, and when they let their huge hands hang loosely at their sides, there was more than an echo of the simian. Coarse as these men appeared, they were an integral part of the Great Kitchen. Without the Grey Scrubbers something very earthy, very heavy, very real would be missing to any sociologist searching in that steaming room, for the completion of a circle of temperaments, a gamut of the lower human values. Through daily proximity to the great slabs of stone, the faces of the Grey Scrubbers had become like slabs themselves. There was no expression whatever upon the eighteen faces, unless the lack of expression is in itself an expression. They were simply slabs that the Grey Scrubbers spoke from occasionally, stared from incessantly, heard with, hardly ever. They were traditionally deaf. The eyes were there, small and flat as coins, and the colour of the walls themselves, as though during the long hours of professional staring the grey stone had at last reflected itself indelibly once and for all. Yes, the eyes were there, thirty-six of them and the eighteen noses were there, and the lines of the mouths that resembled the harsh cracks that divided the stone slabs, they were there too. Although nothing physical was missing from any one of their eighteen faces yet it would be impossible to perceive the faintest sign of animation and, even if a basinful of their features had been shaken together and if each feature had been picked out at random and stuck upon some dummy-head of wax at any capricious spot or angle, it would have made no difference, for even the most fantastic, the most ingenious of arrangements could not have tempted into life a design whose component parts were dead. In all, counting the ears, which on occasion may be monstrously expressive, the one hundred and eight features were unable, at the best of times, to muster between them, individually or taken _en masse_, the faintest shadow of anything that might hint at the workings of what lay beneath.
[Note: Sources: JBR; Nina Power, “Rainy Fascism Island”, e-flux 56; Daniel Birnbaum, “Obituary for Sturtevant”, at e-flux 56; Bruce Hainley, Under the Sign of [sic]; JBR; John Coulthart, “Hinton’s Hypercubes”, at feuilleton, 17 Jun 014; Crag Hill, “8 of Hearts”, at Crg Hill’s Poetry Scorecard, 17 Jun 014; Dennis Cooper, “Experimental horror novella adaptation with gifs and magical ingredient #2 (for Zac)”, at DC’s, 17 Jun 014; Walid Raad, “Appendix XVIII: Plates 22-257”, at e-flux 56; JBR; Oxana Timofeeva, “The End of the World: From Apocalypse to the End of History and Back”, at e-flux 56; Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, as seen at AkiraRabelais]