“The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance. Thus we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions: our talent or our beauty. The more a man lays stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity he has for what is essential, the less satisfying is his life. He feels limited because he has limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy. If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.”

– ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ Carl Jung (via DG)

 

 

 

I shall plant my hands in the garden
And I will grow I know, I know, I know
And swallows shall lay eggs in the hollows of my ink stained hands.

– Forough Farrokhzad, ‘Another Birth.’
دستهایم را در باغچه میکارم
سبز خواهم شد
میدانم ، میدانم ، میدانم
و پرستوها در گودی انگشتان جوهریم تخم خواهند گذاشت

 

 

 

Vision is limited,
The road dark and slick.
Your hand, extended in kindness refused,
to a friend reluctant to take theirs from the warmth.
The cold is a brutal fire.

– Mehdi Akhavaane Saales. An excerpt from a poem called ‘Winter’. As I contemplate European reaction to the protests in Iran, for bread, for work, for freedom. I am dumb founded.

 

 

 

I have always had a quarrel with this country…about the standards by which it appears to live. People are drowning in things. They don’t even know what they want them for…You can’t sleep with a yacht, you can’t make love to a Cadillac, though everyone appears to be trying to…

– James Baldwin.

 

 

 

The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.

– Mark Weiser.

 

 

 

 

– Triadisches Ballett (The Triadic Ballet), Oskar Schlemmer, 1922.

 

 

 

 

Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting, and the seasons by air conditioning. Night and summer are losing their charm and dawn is disappearing. The urban population think they have escaped from cosmic reality, but there is no corresponding expansion of their dream life. The reason is clear: dreams spring from reality and are realised in it.

– SIRE, I AM FROM THE OTHER COUNTRY. Formulary for a New Urbanism, Ivan Chtcheglov, 1953.

 

 

 

 

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing”

– Arundhati Roy, Porto Alegre, Brazil, ‘Confronting Empire,’ 2003.

 

 

 

 

…persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care…

– Victor Papanek, ‘Design for the Real World – Human Ecology and Social Change’

 

 

 

 

“The poem – literature – seems to be linked to a spoken word which cannot be interrupted because it does not speak; it is. The poem is not this word itself, for the poem is a beginning, whereas this word never begins, but always speaks anew and is always starting over. However, the poet is the one who has heard this word, who has made himself into an ear attuned to it, its mediator, and who has silenced it by pronouncing it. This word is close to the poem’s origin, for everything original is put to the test by the sheer powerlessness inherent in starting over — this sterile prolixity, the surplus of that which can do nothing, which never is the work, but ruins it and in it restores the unending lack of work. Perhaps this word is the source of the poem, but it is a source that must somehow be dried up in order to become a spring. For the poet — the one who writes, the “creator” — could never derive the work from the essential lack of work. Never could he, by himself, cause the pure opening words to spring forth from what is at the origin. That is why the work is a work only when it becomes the intimacy shared by someone who writes it and someone who reads it, a space violently opened up by the contest between the power to speak and the power to hear. And the one who writes is, as well, one who has “heard” the interminable and incessant, who has heard it as speech, has entered into this understanding with it, has lived with its demand, has become lost in it and yet, in order to have sustained it, has necessarily made it stop — has, in this intermittence, rendered it perceptible, has proffered it by firmly reconciling it with this limit. He has mastered it by imposing measure.”

– Maurice Blanchot, ‘The Space of Literature’

 

 

 

 

I had therefore to remove knowledge, in order to make room for belief.

– Immanuel Kant

 

 

 

 

C’est peut-être ça que je sens, qu’il y a un dehors et un dedans et moi au milieu, c’est peut-être ça que je suis, la chose qui divise le monde en deux, d’une part le dehors, d’autre part le dedans, ça peut être mince comme une lame, je ne suis ni d’un côté, ni de l’autre, je suis au milieu, je suis une cloison, j’ai deux faces et pas d’épaisseur, c’est peut-être ça que je sens, je me sens qui vibre, je suis le tympan, d’un côté c’est le crâne, de l’autre le monde, je ne suis ni de l’un ni de l’autre…

– Samuel Beckett, ‘L’innommable’

 

 

 

 

“You think I’m insane?” said Finnerty. Apparently he wanted more of a reaction than Paul had given him.



“You’re still in touch. I guess that’s the test.”



“Barely — barely.”



“A psychiatrist could help. There’s a good man in Albany.”



Finnerty shook his head. “He’d pull me back into the center, and I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” He nodded, “Big, undreamed-of things — the people on the edge see them first.”



– Text extracted from ‘Player Piano’, 1952, by Kurt Vonnegut.

 

 

 

 

 

– Manuel Bandeira, Vou-me Embora pra Pasárgada, from a documentary by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1959.

 

 

 

 

I have forgotten the word I intended to say, and my thought, unembodied, returns to the realm of shadows.

– O. Mandelstam, ‘The Swallow.’

 

 

 

 

( )

Parenthesis, meaning ‘along side of’. It is the measured distance between two objects, the insertion of the after thought along side the thought itself.

 

 

 

 

I say: a flower! and outside the oblivion to which my voice relegates any shape, insofar as it is something other than the calyx, there arises musically, as the very idea and delicate, the one absent from every bouquet.

– Stéphane Mallarmé, ‘The Crisis in Poetry.’

 

 

 

 

“And the river, always the river, perpetually renewing itself. The river, always.”

– João Guimaraes Rosa, ‘The Third Bank of the River.’

 

 

 

 

a message to the future

 

– Bertrand Russell, for BBC Face to Face, 1959.

 

 

 

 



– Carl Sagan, ‘Pale Blue Dot.’ Voyager 1 spacecraft, destination unknown, image of the earth as it exited the solar system in 1990.

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilisation, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

 

 

 

 

saudade

noun. The emotional state of nostalgic, or melancholic, longing for an absent object.

 

 

 

 

At present,
in this grey,
all the blue, skies, that I have lived-
and all the green leaves that I have seen-
lay peacefully ablaze upon your fingers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“I had no words of my own for it. To this day I have none. It’s not true that there are words for everything. Nor is it true that we always think in words (…) The inner regions don’t correspond to language, they drag one to places where words are inadequate. It’s often the decisive point about which nothing more can be said, and the impulse to talk about it is well taken because it runs right past.”

― Herta Müller, ‘In Every Language there are Other Eyes.’

 

 

 

 

 

[At the far limit of being, a being is nothing more than what it seems to be in conditions of peaceful effacement, connected to the regularity of sentences.

But if one day the sentences invoked the tempest and the unsensed derangement of masses of water? If sentences invoked the violence of waves?]

― Georges Bataille, The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge, 1973-88.

 

 

 

 

 

                    Use all the words

That desperately, desperately, will to break through the barriers of thoughts

Thoughts that are not there

                    Emptied, to fill them again with the                       purpose of a word

To attempt to say something

To will them to say something, not anything

Thoughts that do not know where they are going

To attempt to go somewhere

To will to go somewhere, not anywhere


                    Willing


                    Without knowing
                    this desire,
                    blind and
                    mute

 

– in search of a goal and imperative, so as to not descend into a speech of empty meaning.

“In the process of putting so much pressure on language, thought ceases to be satisfied with the support of words; it bursts away from them in order to seek its resolution elsewhere. This ‘elsewhere’ should not be understood as a transcendent realm, a mysterious metaphysical domain. This ‘elsewhere’ is ‘here’, in the immediacy of real life. It is from right here that our thoughts rise up, and it is here that they must come back. But after what travels! Live first; then turn to philosophy; but, in the third place, live again. The man in Plato’s cave has to go out and contemplate the light of the sun; then, strengthened by this light which he keeps in his memory, he has to return to the cave. Verbal philosophy is only a necessary stage in this voyage.”

 

 

 

 

 

“Words are made for a certain exactness of thought, as tears are for a certain degree of pain. What is least distinct cannot be named; what is clearest is unutterable.”

– René Daumal, the great inside – out man, “words are a tunnel punched through silence,” from ‘A Night of Serious Drinking.’

 

 

 

 

Between two moments of speech
I live in language, and I die in it.

 

 

 

 

poíēma

noun. An Ancient Greek term, of which the term ‘poem’ is a derivative, meaning a creation or ‘a thing made’.

 

 

 

 

This this is an abstraction. This is an abstraction. T h i s is an abstraction.        is not.

where do you live?
in language –
and i cannot keep quiet

 

 

 

 

“…‘What is an object?..

Perhaps it is a link enabling us to pass from one subject to another, therefore to live together. But since social relations are always ambiguous. Since thought divides as much as it unites. Since words unite or isolate by what they express or omit. Since an immense gulf separates my subjective awareness from the objective truth I represent for others. Since I constantly blame myself, though I feel innocent. Since every event transforms my daily life. Since I constantly fail to communicate. Since each failure makes me aware of solitude … since … Since I cannot escape crushing objectivity or isolating subjectivity. Since I cannot rise to the state of being, or fall into nothingness, I must listen, I must look around more than ever. The world … my kin … my twin.

The world alone today when revolutions are impossible and wars threaten me. When capitalism is unsure of its rights and the working class retreats when the lightning progress of science brings the future terribly near. When the future is closer than the present. When the distant galaxies are at my door … my kin, my twin …

Where is the beginning?

But what beginning?

‘God created heaven and earth’. But one should be able to put it better. To say the limits of language, of my language are those of the world, of my world, and that in speaking I limit the world, I end it. And when mysterious, logical death abolishes these limits there will be no question, no answer, just vagueness. But if things come into focus again this can only be through the rebirth of conscience. Everything follows from this’…”

– ‘2 or 3 Things I Know About Her’, 1967, by Jean-Luc Godard.

 

 

 

 

At present,
in this grey,
all the blue skies that I have lived-
and all the green leaves that I have seen-
lay peacefully ablaze upon your fingers.

 

 

 

 


ای درختان عقیم ریشه تان در خاکهای هرزگی مستور
یک جوانه ی ارجمند از هیچ جاتان رست نتواند
ای گروهی برگ چرکین تار چرکین پود
هیچ بارانی شما را شست نتواند

– Mehdi Akhvane Saales, ‘The End of the Shahnameh.’

 

 

 

 

 

– ‘Toute la Memoire du Monde’, 1956, by Alain Resnais.

 

 

 

 

In the end, all we really have is memory.

― that which succumbs to forgetting, to being repressed, that which determinedly seeks an object to transfer its drifting non-being onto. To finally see an image, to see a memory. To remember. Not to forget.

 

 

 

 

Searching for Nazak

– Searching for Nazak is a collaborative project between myself and Jemma Desai of I am Dora, about the construction of the female, and the lesser-known works and life of the photographer, and Iranian exile, Nazak Pahlavi.

 

 

 

 

Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff
and people of every day,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
in old and fearful stone?

I want verses of felt or feather
which scarcely weigh, mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness.

Verses of pastry which melt
into milk and sugar in the mouth,
air and water to drink,
the bites and kisses of love.
I long for eatable sonnets,
poems of honey and flour.

Vanity keeps prodding us
to lift ourselves skyward
or to make deep and useless
tunnels underground.
So we forget the joyous
love-needs of our bodies.
We forget about pastries.
We are not feeding the world.

– Pablo Neruda, “Sweetness, always,” from The Paris Review, Issue 57, Spring 1974.

 

 

 

 

‫هنوز هم جاهایی هست که صبح هاش طعم صبح دارد، و بارانش با چتر بغریب است.

 

 

 

 

“Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting, and the seasons by air conditioning. Night and summer are losing their charm and dawn is disappearing. The urban population think they have escaped from cosmic reality, but there is no corresponding expansion of their dream life. The reason is clear: dreams spring from reality and are realised in it.”

– Chtcheglov, 1958, Formulary for a New Urbanism.

 

 

 

 

London, Potemkin city….

Potëmkin, a portly man, of some considerable social and physical stature in Russia, was rumoured to have courted Catherine the Great… He wanted to fool her or, perhaps more innocently, to greatly impress the Empress by erecting rows of fake façades along a river front to the effect of having her believe that he was responsible for the prosperity of the town. A turn of phrase sprung from this seemingly innocent act of deception that unashamedly uses his name and refers to the intersection of the appearance of an object and its actuality beyond the appearance of the façade. The Potëmkin Village. It speaks of façades that are assumed to have some substance, or rather a measurable spatial depth, beyond their ‘face’, beyond their façade, just because they usually do, confusing appearance with reality.

Edging west into Fitzrovia from Goodge Street station, down past the Victorian and Georgian era façades of Dickensian buildings with heaving bodies attached to those dirty but somewhat pretty, and almost symmetrical, faces that line the streets. You would be forgiven by the local Mr Toppers, whose well dressed, top-hatted, toad boasts hair cuts at £7, for thinking that they were the faces of the little-bit-forgotten and little-bit-unloved. If you make it down passed Charlotte Street, passed the array of random shop fronts, you will come across a large gaping hole in the constantly and accumulatively dense city landscape that is central London. The unusual opening of intense bright light prompts you to look up, such a rare sight in that part of town. So you crane your neck, New York City tourist style, to see what is missing, and as you do your eyes expecting to meet a skyscraper meet a forgotten little white sign. Only it’s no longer white anymore, you just imagine it was, layered with the once vapourous contents of the exhausts of the moving parts of city. This sign reads ‘The Middlesex Hospital Patients Library’, over a backdrop of cranes one suspects it won’t be for much longer. Not even a trace. Like the sign itself, it is only an allusion to what was once there. The Middlesex Hospital.

It is no longer there, of course. Demolition began during the Spring of 2008 to make way for a complex of apartments that the average Londoner will never be able to afford, and that includes the “affordable” ones. But aside from the sign, there is one remnant left of this monumental place that nursed the sick since the late 1700’s, a place where all of life played out – births, deaths, and everything in-between. The entire façade of the entrance on Nassau Street has been preserved, to be sewn into the new building. ‘Place’ is not fixed, nor is it permanent, it is rather more like a temporary stage. It is a “backdrop” like my friend rather eloquently said, when we first began our conversations about this ‘place’ that was once a hospital. The backdrop for where the performance of medical life was acted out.

 

 

 

 

koyaanisqatsi (from the Hopi language)

n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.

 

 

 

 

“Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent. The foxglove blossom, a third part bud, a third part past, a third part in full bloom is a type of the life of this world. And in all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty.”

– John Ruskin, ‘The Nature of Gothic’ in Stones of Venice, 1851-53.

 

 

 

 

“Keep the company of those who seek the truth – run from those who have found it.”

– In memory of playwright, essayist, poet, dissident, and politician, Vaclav Havel (5th of October 1936 – 18th of December 2011).

 

 

 

 

a computer is a copying machine, and the internet a sharing device.

 

 

 

 

The entwined polarity of a simultaneous dark fear of, and sublime desire for, nature and technological progress. Woman: a symbol of these entwined polarities.


Ruth Hogben for Gareth Pugh SS12, by way of SHOWstudio.

 

 

 

 

Re-reading. Re-mixing. Re-wording. An investigation into the re-appropriation and manipulation of texts.

Reified and emptied, texts were treated like the lowliest of things. Texts were misunderstood, burned, erased, cut to pieces and destroyed. They were spat, pissed and shat on, tossed into toilets, sewers, fountains, canals, rivers, rubble heaps, garbage dumps, pigsties and charnel houses, and lewdly handled in brothels and inns. Texts were used as door stops, shelf brackets and support, or their contents were modified to represent something new. Books were burnt to destroy their ideas against the Gods, were found in heaps when they had ceased to be relevant to the thinking world, or waited in recycling dumps to be turned into new objects altogether with no memory of their previous lives. In 2010, pieces of texts by Borges, Sontag, Nietzsche, Foucault, Descartes, Vitruvius, and others, were turned into an essay on re-reading by extracting relevant paragraphs and re-piecing them together. And then, there was this.

 
“Degradation followed display. Reified and emptied, the image was treated like the lowliest of things. Images were broken, burned, toppled, beheaded and hanged. They were spat, pissed and shat on, tossed into toilets, sewers, fountains, canals, rivers, rubble heaps, garbage dumps, pigsties and charnel houses, and lewdly handled in brothels and inns. Stone statues were used as cobblestones, keystones and infill, or were modified to represent something new. In 1608, a statue of the Virgin on the clock of the Basel town hall was turned into a personification of Justice simply by removing the Christ child and replacing him with scales. Wooden statues became table ornaments and toys, or were sold on the markets as firewood or distributed free to the poor. In Bern in 1528, images were taken from the church, broken and buried in a hole before the cathedral where they would lie until Judgement Day.

It takes two to make a thing go right. With famous books, the first time is already the second since we approach them already knowing them. The cautious common saying of rereading the classics turns out to be an innocent veracity [Jorge Luis Borges, Some Versions of Homer]. We are always somehow rereading a classic because we have encountered some previous incarnation of it, a refraction, in other stories, texts or versions. What are the many versions if not diverse perspectives of a movable event, if not a long experimental assortment of omissions and emphasis? [Sergio Gabriel Waisman, Borges and Translation, the Irreverence of the Periphery, p.52]

Just about everything has been photoshoped [remix of Susan Sontag, On Photography]. Precisely, it is about what five people think this reality consists of. How an incident happens may reflect nothing about the incident itself, but it must reflect something about the person involved in the happening and supplying the how. Five people interpret an action and each interpretation is different because in the telling and the retelling, the people will reveal not the action but themselves [Donald Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa, p.75].

For the first time several months ago, I spent hours looking at the façade of the cathedral, but only when I bought a book on the cathedral a week later did I really see it. The photographs enabled me to see in a way that my naked eye could not possibly see the cathedral [Susan Sontag, An Interview with Susan Sontag in Boston Review].

Same, same but different. If no one drawing should singly answer the personal taste, there will yet be found a variety of hints sufficient to construct a new one. I am confident I can convince all that will honor me with their commands that every design can be improved, both as to beauty and enrichment in the execution of it [remix of Master Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director]. Every writer creates his precursors [Jorge Luis Borges, Kafka and his Precursors]. I express unlimited thanks to all the authors that have in the past by compiling from remarkable instances of skill provided us with abundant materials of different kinds. Drawing from them as it were water from springs and converting them to our own purposes we find our own powers of writing rendered more fluent and easy and relying upon such authorities, we venture to produce new systems of instruction [Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture, preface 7.10].

The function proper to knowledge is interpreting. Scriptural commentary, commentaries on ancient authors, commentaries on the accounts of travelers, commentaries on legends and fables: none of these forms of discourse is required to justify its claim to be expressing a truth before it is interpreted; all that is required of it is the possibility of talking about it. (…) There is more work in interpreting interpretations than in interpreting things; and more books about books than any other subject [Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences, p.45].

Multiplication of an icon, far from diluting its cultic power, rather increases its fame and each image – however imperfect – conventionally partakes of some portion of the properties of the precursor [Anthony Hughes, Sculpture and its Reproductions, p.38]. Much roman sculpture is greek in style and subject and most of theses greek-seeming works have been assumed for at least a century to be reproductions of lost works by greek artists. Some now appear to be roman creations and even those that are reproductions are not considered mechanical ones. The theory that they were made with a pointing machine similar to the one invented in the 18th century for making mechanically exact copies has been discredited [Anthony Hughes, Sculpture and its Reproductions, p.8]. This shift entails moving to the more recent revisionist theory that draws attention to the Roman’s programmatic use of repeated, recognizable, often famous but not necessarily greek images. These images announce the use of a particular type of building and were valued for their subject matter rather than their formal or iconographic origins, creators or style [Elaine K. Gazda, The Ancient Art of Emulation: Studies in Artistic Originality and Tradition from the Present to Classical Antiquity, p.10].

A corpse, a dog, a stork, a gold coin, the color red and two dervishes from the mountain village resemble one another completely without it being possible for anyone to say which of them brought its similitude to the other [remix of Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red]. Flesh is a glebe, bones are rocks, veins great rivers, the bladder is the sea and the seven principle organs are the metals hidden in the shafts of minds [Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences, p.25]. The more images, mediations, intermediaries, icons are multiplied and overtly fabricated explicitly and publicly constructed, the more respect I have for their capacities to welcome, to gather, to recollect meaning and sanctity [Bruno Latour, What is Many Worlds?].

Double the treat, double your pleasure, double your fun. Every lie recreates a parallel world, the world in which its true [remix of Mathew Evans, Solution 11-167 The Book of Scotlands].

It is a frequent habit, when I discover several resemblances between two things, to attribute to both equally, even on points in which they are in reality different, that which I have recognized to be true of only one of them [René Descartes quoted by Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences, p.56]. Combined with this is another perversity, an innate preference for the represented subject over the real one. The defect of the real one is so apt to be a lack of representation. I like things who appear. Then one is sure. Whether they are or not is a subordinate and almost always a profitless question [remix of Henry James, The Real Thing].

A sculpture cannot merely be copied but always only staged or performed. It begins to function like a piece of music whose score is not identical to the piece, the score being not audible but silent. For the music to resound, it has to be performed [Boris Groys, Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction]. Touched with a hammer as with a tuning fork [Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of Idols, p.4], I cook every chance in my pot [Friedrich Nietzsche, [Thus Spake] Zarathustra, p.118]. Its the real thing.”

– ‘by’ Zaynab Dena Ziari.
– Quoted text from Everything Has Been Photoshopped, Oliver Laric by way of Bourbakisme

 
 
 
 

“There is another world, but it is inside this one”

– Paul Eluard

 

 

 

 

The evolution of the appearance of the progresses of Capitalist thinking is visually translated as an entire city in a perpetual state of unfinished construction.

A detailed radicalisation of the grandiose that equals, not the awful but, the awfully sublime fantasy of our own demise.

 

– Megalomania, by Factory Fifteen.

 

 

 

 

a hand repeatedly attempting to catch a falling piece of lead is sometimes nothing more than a hand repeatedly attempting to catch a falling piece of lead

– Richard Serra, ‘Hand Catching Lead’, 1968.

 

 

 

 

zeitgeist

noun. The spirit of the moment, describing the intellectual, cultural, ethical, and political climate of an era. There is no such word in the English language for this.

 

 

 

 

l’esprit de l’escalier

– That feeling you get when you leave a conversation and think of all the things you could have, and should have, said. There is no such word in the English language for this.

 

 

 

 

– Ballet Mechanique, by Fernand Leger, 1924.

 

 

 

 

All of life in its complexity and beauty is forever minted in the gold of words.

– Yevgeny Zamyatin

 

 

 

 

“Historical does not mean retaining or repeating what is old, for this would destroy history. To act in a historical manner means to introduce something new that at the same time continues history.”

– Karl Friedrich Schinkel

 

 

 

They were the children of Marx and Coca-Cola. We are just the children of Coca-Cola.

 

 

 

 

“There is only one dream worth having: to live while you are alive and die only when you are dead … To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”

– Arundhati Roy, Come September.

 

 

 

 

In this city, which is loosely mine, loosely his, and loosely yours, life moves at 16 miles per hour.

– London, I sometimes think of you.

 

 

 

 

However long or short, however socially constrained or erotically desiring, a kiss is the coming together of two similar but not identical surfaces, the geometry of which softens and flexes when in contact perhaps to deform, a performance of temporary singularities, a union of bedazzling convergence and identification during which time separation is inconceivable yet inevitable. Kissing confounds the division between two bodies, pouring them together temporarily to create new definitions of boundary, loosening the fixity of form and structure, and updating the metric of time. Further, one cannot speak when kissing and hence, while often charged with significance, kissing interrupts how faces and facades communicate, substituting affect and force for representation and meaning. Kissing is the end of faciality.

– Sylvia Lavin

 

 

 

Your face, half tangible, illuminated.

Dully awakening my senses in a vision of skin like fatigued satin reflecting the sun, with eyes that allow the affected to almost perceive itself.

The light.
The light casts a shadow and there my senses become new born thoughts and unaware meaning.

So dark, I cannot see.

So light, I cannot see.

My dull senses, an untiring awakening.

 

 

 

 

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

– Oscar Wilde

 

 

 

 

Gravity won’t forget you.

 

 

 

 

“Like ivy, we grow where there is room for us”

 

 

 

“In the hour of adversity be not without hope, For crystal rain falls from black clouds”

 

 

 

 

“.ما بت شکنیم، شیشه شکن نیستسم”

 

 

 

 

“Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more, it is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of ‘meanings’.”

— Susan Sontag.

 

 

 

 

Man made structures and mythologies. They are always perfectly matched.

 

 

 

 

Slowly happiness shifts on that hairless, heirless sea.
While happiness was away, the rampant spiders played
and her hair radiated around them like darting flames.

Born at Cleopatra’s feet, a girl, a child.

Listless, never.
Helpless, never.

But most certainly dreaming,
Most certainly being.

The light flopped in violent circles –
Her anguish exposed.

She kneels, a young woman, a child,
Watching Cleopatra from the crystalline foot.
Crumbling over her face.

Happiness is on its way
(It’s on its way)

– From the Crystalline Foot (a collaboration between a computer and I), from a piece of text created by a random generator, the Turin test for poetry at bot or not).

 

 

 

 

In the first moment maybe nothing was said.

Or maybe it was everything.

It was love
It was a reconciliation with the old man
With his breath that you have not yet breathed.

You united your tongue with your voice and you found yourself in one that no longer exists.

Silent. Quiet. Disquiet.
Refusal of time.
Silent. Quiet. Serene.
Reconciliation with time.

In that moment there was only Yes. The source that gave way to another Yes.

Yes

Yes

It is everything

 

 

 

 

I am a girl
Made of dreams
Made of bones.

 

 

 

 

Observing Cyrus: Symbolism and the Significance of an Ancient Architectural Style

Cyrus the Great was the founding father of what is known in the West as the Achaemenian Empire. This empire had an immense capacity for governance, large-scale planning and practical abilities, with humane sympathies that have been marked in history, inspiring racial, religious and cultural tolerance, in which a highly developed sense of justice played a very important role. Tolerance, respect, and encouragement of other cultures and religions, that few great powers have ever matched since is the worlds first example of international religious, and cultural freedom. This offered great security to all delegate countries, and strengthened the support given to this noble Monarch. But it is not the life and monumental achievements of this Monarch, who wrote the First Declaration of Human Rights, that will be explored per-se, but in fact the unprecedented architectural style formed during his reign and its subsequent influence on styles that followed, the synthetic representation of different cultures, as well as the designs imbued poetic symbolism always in harmony with nature.

This story begins with the Palace of Pasargadae, the first capital city of the Achaemenian Empire under Cyrus the Great. Here a style formed which might be considered a complete manifestation of what is Iranian architectural style, acting as a model for the designs that have followed since from both East to West. Pasargadae consisted of three separate palace buildings, situated on immense stone platforms – a technique developed in the north of Iran some 4,500 years before. Materials for construction of the palace were chosen on the basis of a deep sense of the nature of materials and their consistence with nature itself is key. Here we would have seen limestone used for most of the masonry and columns of both limestone and wood, probably cedar with its sweet intoxicating scent. Amongst the decorative features, it documents the first known use of the indigenous emblem of Achaemenid architecture: a stone column capital in the form of a double headed bull, which later features in the royal court of Persepolis. The main building was a square shaped central hall with entrances on either side, enclosed by two smaller buildings. The main building acted as the space where various stately and religious functions were intermingled, being both an audience hall and a temple. The use of colour and precious silver and gold metal plating emphasized the fact that this city was the focus of royal and sacred power, establishing a communication between nature and humans. Columns lining the halls were painted in vibrant blue, green, red, yellow, and starkly contrasting black and white, softened and harmonized under the strong light of the sun. Some of these columns may have been found painted in rich polychromy, a style where many colours are used together – a technique used in art and architecture today.

With the rapid growth of the Empire, Pasargadae gradually became inadequate in it’s size as the capital city and in it’s expression of the Monarchs values. So somewhere bigger was needed, and aware of these factors Cyrus may have selected the site of Persepolis himself to become the new capital. Though it was constructed after his demise, it embodies key elements taken from the Palace of Pasargadae, clearly displaying, in all of its sobering grandeur, the influence of its predecessor. This city would proclaim the political and religious unity of the state, and appeal to the powers of nature for fertility and abundance, especially at the beginning of spring during the No Rooz festival (the Iranian New Year that falls on the Spring Equinox). ‘Beauty’ becomes recognised as a sovereign value, and the humane sentiments of Cyrus and his descendants found their expression in the beauty of buildings with a close relationship to nature.

In the palace we see symbols everywhere confirming the invocational nature of the palace. Represented through the 550 columns, we see a sacred grove, with bases of columns being inverted lotus flowers – a symbol of perfection and life giving power. The capitals of the columns are flowering palms, as if growing out from the stone platform. All other capitals are found to be in the form of the double bull head, as we see in Pasargadae. The bull was much worshipped as a symbol of primal forces. Here they impregnate the supporting trees of the sacred grove of columns touching the ground. Around the palace we will find thousands of traditional sun symbols, acknowledging the sun as a necessary life sustaining force. Open sunflowers have been found on the underside of doors, placed faced down in direct contact with the soil, transferring their power back to the earth.

Persepolis slowly became the embodiment of a national consciousness, which represented different races and nations in the States art. Contributions were made from many of the confederated states in labour, materials and structural form with input from countries such as Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Urartu, Elam, Egypt, and Ionia. Surviving cuneiform tablets inform us that women were even involved in the construction of the palace. Different races are represented on the facades, unifying them all under their well-defined sculptural form. All cultural contributions to construction were completely fused, but the execution was essentially Iranian, referring back once again to Pasargadae which is basically the same in plan, conception, and construction though differing greatly in scale. The immense scale of Persepolis diminishes the notion of the individual, and stands as a monument to unity. Large terraces on different levels created a wonderful stepped landscape created by human intervention, upon which the complete set of buildings making up the palace were sat. It is readable as its own entity from a great distance, relating it in its entirity back to the earth from which it came. All the parts of the palace were made to cohere with one another. The wonderfully decorated columns are widely spread apart giving a sensational ratio of voids to solids, creating a great feeling of spatial freedom and the denial of materiality – where the spirit is free, rational, and enlarged. Spatial form has immense power to invoke certain emotional responses. It stands as an embodiment of national consciousness, and as such Alexander of Macedonia understood that it must be destroyed.

But if Persepolis itself ceased to exist in its entirety after its destruction, the vitality of the architectural concepts and techniques used did not. To the East, India received the creative impulses that came from the Iranian plateau. Columns known in Hindu as ‘mandapas’ and ‘prakaras’ of the Temples in the South are the very image of Persepolis on a smaller scale. Through the Indians, Achaemenid Architecture transplanted itself onto new roots. To the West, echoes of the Apadanas have also been found in Syria. Iran, and its Architecture, were essentially a bridge between the East and the West. It formed the embryonic stages of what is known in Western Architecture as the Classical style, which supplanted itself onto the Greeks who were able to further develope what was started. This style is still very much alive, and evidence of it can be found over a large portion of Europe.

It is valuable to note an alarming point with regards to what is left of these ancient cultural sites within Iran. Most of these sites were constructed from limestone – a sensitive material prone to damage that is only speeded up by rainfall and changes in the climate. With the construction of the Sivand Dam, and its flooding, we will only find that this process of decomposition will become more rapid due to a greater degree of rainfall in a predominantly arid area. We must also take into consideration that rain is no longer pure water – it is greatly toxified by our modern day pollution. Essentially, it is acid rain. One would imagine that acid rain could only amount to an increased level of damage that will occur much faster if a stop is not put to the flooding of the dam. We should strive to salvage and maintain these homages to the past, and great influences in themselves on the progression of Architecture.

 

[Written for and presented at a celebration for Cyrus the Great, Saturday 27th October, 2007, London]

 

 

 

 

you, of rejection

you destroy me so that they can no longer remember
you break me down because you think they will forget
you resent this humble earth that covers my remains
and wish to submerge our untold secrets with your tainted intent

drowning of our secrets, drowning of our name

the life of me runs through them
a life always routing itself towards tomorrow

they will hold the sun within their mouths to shed light on everything unknown
on everything untold
will be told

will be told with each tomorrow

our sun will dry your drowning waters
to bring back the day
to bring back the land
the light within their mouths will kiss the flame onto tomorrow
so that they will always remember
so that they will never forget

so she goes to embrace her parents
and this is why she embraces her name
they tell the secret, the secret story of where she came

with each memory
each connection to our beginning
each bond of the light within our mouths
we become heirs to the light

we, of the light

Note: Pasargad, Iran, home to the ancient tomb of Cyrus the Great – the founding father of the first known Declaration of Human Rights – is under threat by the flooding of the Sivand Dam by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hundreds of unexcavated archealogical sites in the Bolaghi Gorg (Tang-e Bolaghi) will be completely emersed by water from the dam, set to flood that whole area. It is also thought that the change in moisture levels in the air will damage the ruins of Persepolis, the palace of the ancient Iranian Empire, by speeding up the decomposition of the limestone that it is made from. These are important living pieces of history for the whole world and both Pasargad and Persepolis are world heritage sites. Please show your support against the filling of Sivand Dam and the flooding of these places of antiquity by signing the online petition. See below for more information on the dam, the effects, and the committee organised to put a stop to this. Remember the beautiful Buddhas of Bamyan…

[this poem was completed on the 8th of december, 2005. it was written for a documentary to be shown on an LA based iranian tv channel (channel 1) about the construction of the sivand dam. click here to sign the petition]
farsi translation at save pasargad
english at save pasargad

 

 

 

 

  Creative Commons License