Or re-emerge. In 1734, Anton Wilhelm Amo, a West African student and former chamber slave of Duke Anton Ulrich of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, defended a philosophy dissertation at the University of Halle in Saxony, entitled “On the Impassivity of the Human Mind.” In his lifetime, Amo was principally known as a legal theorist. His first publication, in 1729, which has since been lost (or, one might suspect, intentionally purged), was a jurisprudential treatise, “On the Right of Moors in Europe.” Here he argues, on the basis of a reading of Roman history and law, that in antiquity “the kings of the Moors were enfeoffed by the Roman Emperor” Justinian, and that “every one of them had to obtain a royal patent from him.” This meant, in Amo’s view, that African kingdoms were all recognized under Roman law, and therefore all Africans in Europe have the status of visiting royal subjects with a legal protection that precludes their enslavement. Historically, this is highly implausible, since much of the continent of Africa was unknown to Europeans at the time of Justinian. Still, Amo’s understanding is remarkably different from, say, Kant’s account of global history, on which black Africans stood, from the very beginning and as if by definition, beyond the pale of history, and therefore led lives of no intrinsic value, lives that could only be given value through absorption into a global system dominated by Europe. Scholars have been aware for a long time of the curious paradox of Enlightenment thought, that the supposedly universal aspiration to liberty, equality and fraternity in fact only operated within a very circumscribed universe. It would take explicitly counter-Enlightenment thinkers in the 18th century, such as Herder, to formulate anti-racist views of human diversity. In response to Kant and other contemporaries who were positively obsessed with finding a scientific explanation for the causes of black skin, Herder pointed out that there is nothing inherently more in need of explanation here than in the case of white skin: it is an analytic mistake to presume that whiteness amounts to the default setting, so to speak, of the human species. Which reminds me that when we talk about Euro-North America, we are often talking about a kind of just plain MeshuggahhLaandttttt. But not always. On “a lot of Mo Asch’s records people are talking first, and then they’re laughing, and then they sing something. There’s an old record of two girls, who are Eskimo girls, and they’re singing into this big cauldron where you make soup. They giggle with each other and then they go: ‘uh uh he, uh boo’ and it resonates in the soup bowl ... anyway, the bells were outside so when people came and left that’s when they heard the bells. They never saw me because I was way up in the tower. I did this for seven or eight years. You could think of it as an extended soap opera. I’d start to play and then I’d play a certain series of intervals and then the next day I’d continue so it became a soap opera. A soap opera that thousands of people heard even if they weren’t aware of it. The Museum of Modern Art had a sculpture garden, and you could actually hear the bells quite well from there. So people who went to have late tea around 5 o’clock in the afternoon would have tea to my sounds.” And I haven’t even mentioned the stuffed animals. I don’t mean animals that used to be alive and now are stuffed. I mean toy animals, tho they aren’t really toys, they come alive when they are sewn and stuffed. It’s like the burning of Rome, or the explosion of stars, or a new calendar, a New Jerusalem, repression, expansion, exaltation of pearls, a three-hour workday, exaltation of horses, good dentistry ... “Fish that still rise to the surface,” he writes. Call this “the privatization of stress.” So what season is it? What day is it? Is it night or day? There are lots of stories about intestines. Birds drag them out of the dead. Enough already! It’s time to bring out the Keats. In thirty years, your whole family’s data cloud will have been repossessed. Speaking of which,
my home has disintegrated
if there was ever one
sometimes I’m not sure i remember right
but i recall the devil following me across the rooms
this big red shadow who is constantly behind me
there must have been rooms
and i remember my father
dozed off on the couch after a fix
there must have been a couch ...
speaking of which,
If it happens through some mishap that the king be defeated at battle and that the Turcs take him and hold him as prisoner, and then it happens that the king has such parley with the Turcs that put to ransom at a set price and he asks the queen and his [homes liege|liege men] that they pay the ransom and they cannot because they cannot find anyone to lend them so much, and the king agrees with the Turcs to grant them as hostage for him as many of his liege men and they will consider themselves paid. Remember how the nun said the last person to sleep with the Blessed Virgin was Cervantes? Madame, we regret to notify you of the following actions that have been taken against you: Account attached, account closed, sent in error, signature incorrect, Boils, Hyperbolic Knickknacks, Frothing at the mouth, Spinal Meningitis, Hydrophobia, Dehydrated Jism, Mouth Disease, Fervent Laxness ... First the workers are cleared off the land, then the sheep arrive. A medium blue, it was not a sea always sculpting itself out of blue or receding from the shoreline in ever-darkening bands. Insistent, that thin line of saliva. Inside Geryon something burst into flame. On the Mount of Olives, Barabbas tied antlers to the girl’s head. He made her eat glass and mate with a man costumed as Quetzal-Quetal, the Jaguar-Serpent god, while lying on a nest of scorpions. A real Zapotec! he cried into the loudspeaker. He sold elk-skin moccasins by the thousands. It’s all about orgasm, isn’t it. I don’t always herdy dur mur erpty oopin, but when I do, I yer der shmer dor her der foompty, der shoopin erpty dur. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, surveillance. Isn’t our body a wreck? Tiny frogs fell from the sky when it rained, and I gathered them, from puddles, in my cupped hands. Dr. Hopper leaned forward. “Soon, you too will be able to connect the dots, all 900 million of them.” Your heart is now in the refrigerator next to the olives. WHAT WOULD SUN RA DO? Do you believe my condition is a small ball of wax? So no, I do not criticise Badiou’s concept of a truth procedure, but his meta-theoretic reification of his mode of usage of that concept. I distinguish the work within the system from the work within the reflexive image of the system. At the concrete level I am merely remarking what everyone knows: it is almost laughable to think that love is necessarily limited to the Two, or that the truth procedures are the Noble Four. In talking about the existence of “magic numbers” in Badiou’s thought I do not of course think that Badiou believes in numerology, but rather that 100 + 6 + 6 + 1 + 300 + 1 = 414 = 200 + 214 = 300 + 114, which is possibly the first line of Jerry’s birthday poem to George Quasha. But, to clarify a little, it wasn’t until my first mescaline experience in 1970 that I actually grasped the singular truth of the torsion principle, with the first inkling of the evolving axial. And there the curtain went up: in a totally dark room I saw a wall-sized living event: Blake’s great painting Dante Beholding Beatrice in the Star Car. Which reminds me of the time a few years later, on some good strong acid, that the flame in Rick Griffin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company torch and heart poster shone for me, casting a solid beam I could read by for at least six hours. Which reminds me of the little man who sat on my shoe once, quietly, for quite some time, and the bees that erupted out of the beach, and the day I couldn’t find my body, which wasn’t a problem, since I didn’t appear to need it for anything.
Let me in as underwater transposition of Let me out.
We are talking about the dirt-verb here.
Everything changing everything.
Thus the number is variable.
And you also are what I hear is so.
“Did you hear they started the bombing again,” Bill asked. At that moment I was balancing a stone upon a stone. The process follows strict rules: one stone must be balanced on another, at a narrow point of contact, and no adhesive is permissible. Nor may either stone be modified in any way. And I was half-watching and certainly listening to Nam June Paik’s Good Morning Mr Orwell (1984). As any good communist film theorist knows, the true kernel of film is the cut — the place where the decision to edit turns the jump from one thing to another into a conjunction, a relationship, an argument, and a story — and so the “cut” between what’s happening in the country and almost any bit of text we might come across is what makes Budweiser’s “No Fascist US” into anti-Trump graffiti, and what makes this almost offensively inoffensive story about white immigration into an anti-Trump message. If a film director cuts from a daisy to a mushroom cloud, that cut tells a story about the relationship between those two things. In the reality show that America now is, to cut from Trump’s Muslim ban to a beer commercial is to place the two in relation, and this is what this commercial has done. Anyway, the commercial: over the course of a tightly-compressed one-minute montage, we see a grim-faced white man immigrate to America. We see his ocean-going vessel buffeted by waves and, on shore, we see him pushed and shoved and told he isn’t wanted; we see him exchange glances with a black man as they ride a steam-boat into the future — a moment of camaraderie, recognition, the natural solidarity of the oppressed outsider, a sly Huckleberry Finn reference — which is a book of fiction, never forget — and though the steamboat catches fire and burns, he continues on, undaunted, to the promised land, St. Louis. There he shows the little book he’s been sketching in to a man who buys him a beer in a bar — and, hilariously, the genius beer he’s crafted seems mainly to consist of a bottle design, which is actually very apt, since Budweiser is the solution to a chemistry problem (how to get the minimum acceptable beer flavor out of the cheapest and minimum ingredients) plus good marketing — and out of it, a historic partnership is born: Anheuser-Fucking-Busch.
[Note: Sources: JBR; Justin EH Smith, “The Enlightenment’s ‘Race’ Problem, and Ours”, at The New York Times, 10 Feb 013; JBR; Charlemagne Palestine, and Luca Lo Pinto, “Charlemagne Palestine in conversation with Luca Lo Pinto”, in Charlemagne Palestine GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandttttt; JBR; JBR, and Lynn Behrendt, A Picture of Everyone I Love Passes Through Me; JBR; Eva Collé, 1997.5; JBR; “from The Laws of Crusader Outremer”, quoted in Karl Steel, “Collaborative Translation: The Laws of Crusader Outremer Project”, at In the Middle, 4 Feb 017; JBR, and Lynn Behrendt, A Picture of Everyone I Love Passes Through Me; JBR; Terence Blake, “SUBTRACTING SELF-IMAGES: Badiou and Latour”, at Agent Swarm, 5 Feb 017; Jerome Rothenberg, “A Gematria poem, as it comes to me, for George Quasha at 70 & myself at 80”, at Jacket2, 11 Jul 012; JBR; George Quasha, “axial language or the axial principle in language”, at George Quasha; JBR; George Quasha, “amanita’s hymnal ”, at George Quasha; JBR; Carter Ratcliff, foreword to George Quasha, Axial Stones: an art of precarious balance, at George Quasha; JBR; Aaron Bady, “My Soul Has Known Rivers ... of Beer!”, at The New Inquiry, 5 Feb 017]