Paris 2 Dijon [technically, only to 第戎]

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris. – Friedrich Nietzsche (i really did search and this is the only halfway decent quote I was able to find…)

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So we went on a summer 旅游 to France, an undertaking that would seem, beforehand already, so steeped in cliches that it would be hard to escape the kind of cynicism one is precisely, stereotypically likely to associate with the French. The original impulse was straightforward enough to function as a promise. While 看到👀 Vila-Mato’s Never Any End to Paris, my desire to go to Paris grew with literally every single sentence read about this city (without conceivable borders). Of course as must have any good, cultured Central European considering themselves worth a damn, I have visited Paris and appreciated the complex layout of its streets, the incontrovertible loveliness of the Jardin de Luxembourg, its sprawling Avenues and….I cannot remember what, I assume its astounding density of bookshops.

If it were to rain heavily in Paris/巴黎 and you had to get home from Place de P to Quartier S by dashing from one librairie’s awning to the next you’d hardly get wet. This piling on top of each other of bookstores in retrospect still shines forth like a melancholy call to literary arms. Here you can read because here you can write and vice versa. Each conditioning the other to the very end of a strange loop, Paris. Oui, cher amour❤️ of the life of the mind, wander through the Avenues but then sit down and write, write, write!

 

I hereby circuitously mean to say that I’ve been to the métropole de littérature before, even four times I believe but by some mischance it never left that deep of an impression on me. It did not happen to light up the neuronal network like a X-Mas tree. Or maybe the mistake was simple: I failed to write a blog entry, the building blocks of my idiosyncratic mythomania. What, after all, can survive the longue dureé that has not been written down or chiseled from/into stone. In fact it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to claim that VM’s semifictional Paris has had a more magnetic effect on me than the actual one. Because what I indeed wanted to do is not to go to Paris in general with its 书stores and 咖啡店☕️ and avenues and boulevards but rather check-in to an Airbnb close to the one and only Café de Flores and then proceed to go there on a daily basis, passing my time by sipping coffee, keeping an eye out for elderly men looking like either Badiou or Latour, writing (a process which at the Cafe de Flores I imagine as facile and natural as breathing) and occasionally contemplating the sheer unending complexity of life.  And this limitless ville of course. I find myself maintenant struggling to recall which are the things about Paris that did strike me as singular: the crunchy stoicism of Crudités, how the Mona Lisa was so underwhelming when seen in the paint and canvas, the scent of the streets after a brief 太阳shower (i’m kidding, how could one remember such a thing? It is a bitter irony of memory that smells evoke them most vividly yet cannot be themselves remembered), what else?, how those Crudité-joints stubbornly pretend that mustard is a perfectly acceptable replacement for ketchup. So for example: Fries francaises and mustard. Scrunched up face but depraved micro-explosion of delight behind it.

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However, more than this, going on vacation with my girlfriend was the prime objective but was beginning to look further and further out of reach as we couldn’t agree on a destination attractive to both of us. The unlucky European Capital of terrorism wasn’t and isn’t exactly propitious to her anxious soul. Meaning I will travel there alone one of these upcoming days. To sit undisturbed in the Cafe de Flores. Not to mention that those online airbnb hypermod/vintage apartments just a grenade-toss from the Jardin de Lux for a piddling 80€ par nuit made me levitate above my plain black chair for more than a little while. My guess is they’ll still be there come 十月.

 

    What persisted though was the pull of France, la grande nation, the country where, clearly, literature is being produced en passant. Even if Vila-Matas struggled there with The Lettered Assassin, his first novel, or at least his fictional doppelgaenger did. We, as a consensus-oriented couple, settled on something modest, most likely non-terrorist-infested. The bucolic idyll of Dijon 第戎, Mustard Metropole of the Western Hemisphere, only three hours away as the TGV flits. Scarily fast.

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    As we left the apartment undercover of an incredibly early morning, our rolling suitcases made so hellish a racket on the  blacktop that, though none of our anti-social neighbors deserved it all too much, I felt obliged by compassion to lug the darn thing. Let the fools sleep. The 火车站 🚉 of Basel, having changed its layout, gave us a bit of trouble. The fairest estimation I can give is that it has been transformed into a big snack-take-away zone (Migros mostly), leading up to a bridge of cafes and kiosk, to which is appended below a happenstantial annex of train platforms. We curved around for a while before finding our way to the international platforms. This being Switzerland they were naturally secluded in a separate corner of the train station, presumably to insure that they won’t become a burden on the social security state. Which is what anything remotely foreign is liable to do at once here in Switzerland: ransack the tax coffers and impoverish the hardworking 瑞士人.

    The sheer velocity of the TGV once again amazed me, reminding me of just how apt its name truly is: Train a Grande Vitesse, 很快的火车. And it’s a bit deceptive too because it starts out in the westernmost corner of the Hexagon, the topography of which tends to bend the railway into curves where maximum velocity is, for the sake of catastrophic derailment at 200+km/h, strongly discouraged. But only for a very few kilometers then the carriage picks up the pace like a demon. Soon you’re zapping through the paysage in a way that makes you feel metaphysically disconnected. What is beyond the window pane is purely for you viewing pleasure but also not, why else would it rush by so fast?

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Pure speed doesn’t seem to be one of the things the human perceptual apparatus can ever tire of. I counted off the pylons and tried to calculate (by intestines rather than brain) what our true velocity might be, not in terms of kilometers per hour, which always has a certain degree of abstraction built into it, but rather the other way round, from time to distance, how many seconds per hundred meters. I came up with a lazy “1” as in in one second this crazy train covers 100 meters which some even lazier and stupider part of my brain then compared to poor old Usain Bolt. I say poor because this living legend ended his last career race on what appeared to be a pulled hamy, as perfect an anti-Kobeesque ending to an athlete’s career as one can envision. All those grazing cows on those triangular pieces of meadow near the forest hadn’t nearly the time to lift their heads from munching grass to get a good cow-eyeball at what exactly was rushing by at so hellish a tempo. The slow lifting of their bovine heads was also a good illustration of how completely their evolutionary survival instincts have been deadened and they maybe have made a sort of recalcitrant, unhappy peace with the fact that they can undistractedly, predator-freely gorge themselves on herbs before being turned into megaliters of milk and gigatonnes of 牛肉. Though you’d have to ask them yourself of course, if not verbally then at least see how they react when you try to take a bite out of their hind parts. Or don’t. You carnivorous 笨!

Out of nowhere though now I do remember one or two things about Paris.

At the McDonald’s they had the most breath-takingly sterile images ever imaginable on display. They are quite difficult to describe. Abstract shapes of circles and triangles, taken from PowerPoint or one of those other low-end programs not intended by any means for visual design acrobatics. These shapes randomly thrown together and then squeezed unholily through one of those photoshop filters that is meant to make stuff look like an oil-painting but instead makes them look awfully digital and, more to the point, thoroughly photoshopped and artificial and not part of the human striving for the sublime at all. These, printouts I have to assume, were then sealed under a frosted(!) plastic sheet, which in turn was framed by a thick, low, sanded-looking aluminum frame. By thick I mean about a third the width of the picture itself. And hung above the heartless, bolted PVC tables and polyurethane-upholstered booths of an anyway life-force-sapping because in the beating heart of culture located Micky D’s. Whoever manages to fully capture the horror of those artificial, soul-gutted oils hung in that Parisian McDo is sure to win a Nobel Prize of Description. Or a very similar international award.

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…it seems that in the meanwhile(2009/2017) they’ve made considerable progress….

But that was not the acme. By strange chance the most memorable outing was to a cemetery: row after row of magnificent tombstone. It was rainy, grey and as far as I could think, a most prototypical, forlorn-artist-in-Paris pursuit. The way it’s in my memory I happened on it. Soon enough I came across a big, Nikki-de-SaintPhalleesque bird of paradise worked from mirror-mosaic pieces and lengths of black-painted wrought iron. With a poem there, annihilating mortality. Embarrassingly enough my memory will not cough up the name of the grand French intellectual buried there but, in the fictive nature of the memoir and biography, i’ll venture out on a branch to say it was either Sartre or Beckett (not entirely French, ok). To think that that person’s bones rested there…. did that mean anything? Didn’t the bird and the rain and the unholy powers of the graveyard and being alive in Paris, endless Paris mean infinitely more?

 

I haven’t really typed anything about Dijon yet, so stupid.

 

¡™£¢

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…a meritless fictional thingie…

 

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The only routine with me is no routine at all.

– Jackie Kennedy

The other day an acquaintance of mine wrote a memorable, generic thus paradoxical status update: Don‘t call it a comeback. There is almost too much going on in that little phrase right there. A) The entertainingly presumptuous assumption that everyone is paying enough attention to one, to feel the need to tag one‘s action B) The presumption that one of one‘s rather trivial activities [a return to basketball after an understandable late 30s hiatus] might be labelled with so glorious a term as comeback C) The idea that one gets to tell others what they get to tell things D) The naked imitation of a popular saying, an almost winged word E) The embedding of a deep, humane irony [I‘m not famous at all but I can appropriate these very words; at the end of the day, if you play basketball past your mid-thirties, you are well worth of deserving of a pat on the shoulder for heroism in recognition of your courage in that war of attrition called growing-bloody-joint-achingly-older]. Also, in a single phrase, I think, wanting it or not, he packed all the joy and nostalgia of one group of people trying to throw an orange ball into a high net more often than their competitors. In summer, at any age.

And this has to be, as ever, only a little part of I) the truth and II) much more importantly, what I intended to say. Because the reason why you shouldn‘t call it a comeback is that a comeback does have, at the end of the semantic day, some sort of defintive meaning. It means there has been a significant hiatus, that one has lost part of one‘s skill set and that, by way of hard training has regained it and is now in a position to rejoin the fray.

In fact it mostly also implies that one had originally intended to hang it up, call it a career and no longer pursue this line of activity, no matter the glories one managed to achieve. This is a comeback along the lines of a Michael Jordan or the rapper Jay-Z. This comeback is supposed to happen only once or risk to have the entire sequence to be publicly condemned as a fake retirement combined with an equally faux comeback. At this semantic level the question is: have I been gone long enough to warrant the expression comeback? Did I genuinely ever intend not to return to XYZ? And most significantly: how many times can one come back before it is simply a return?

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Now I‘m almost at the point I would have wished to be at with my first sentence, namely that I come back to writing on such a regular basis that it makes little sense to call it a comeback. Nor is there any fame  that would warrant this terminology. I mean, just don‘t call it a comeback. It‘s not even a homecoming, it‘s a meager resumption of bizz as reg. Because the basic fact is that I cannot, when it is all said and done, not write about life and hope to retain even a smidgen of happiness.

Yes, writing has been a daily constant but on a long and bootless piece that, if I am gonna face stochastics head on, will never see the light of day. Whatever that means, something like: it will forever putrefy on my harddrive, it will never alight on more than half a dozen pair of retinas, it might not even rise to the lowly status of an obscure blog. And while such harsh realism may seem discouraging, it‘s actually good for keeping things in perspective and appears to have zero negative effect on writing motivation. The act of writing is some absurd human perpetuum mobile where a big enough initial investment keeps it/her/him going, against all scientific reason, forever and a day. Or at least the brief duration of a writerly life.

 

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It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. – M. Twain

 

It‘s not a comeback then it‘s a coming back, a saunter back to the keyboard where the keys have hardly become covered in any dust. And there‘s an interesting effect to be noticed too. The longer one spends hammering away at a meritless fictional thingie while depriving oneself of the stoic or ascetic exercise of packaging one‘s repetitive obsessions into the form of a blog or journal or diary or whatnot, the more these writerly attempts at creating some fragments of structure from the daily maelstrom begin to infiltrate the narrative scribblings, instead. Suddenly characters launch into long solilloquies on public transport or set pieces end up focusing exclusively on some vexing incident one had the day before. There is nothing intrinsically detrimental or writerly underhanded about such incursions of one‘s own dabblings but, at least in my case, that is not the kind of pursuit I look for in creating fiction. I prefer the notion of some vague border existing between the territory of prose lit and the republic of mundane, psycho-disinfectant non-fic. The latter, ideally, is where, Herzog-style, all the rambling and ranting gets done whereas the former aspires to the ideal of utmost fabrication.

 

There are other pitfalls in opting for a not-totally-brief hiatus. The memories and events accumulate uncontrollably and clamor, one over the other, for being commited to the empty page first. Me, me, no me. After four to five days it‘s evident that one‘s memorizing and filtering mechanism to make sense of the mess retrospectively are helplessly overtaxed and that, most likely, out of some perverse fluke of memory, one will in fact only remember the most uninteresting tid-bits and try to stylize them into substantial little pedagogical gems of everyday life, whereas, truth be typed, they‘re just  remembrance debris floating at the surface.

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So, first off, I‘ve finally, after a delioursly long time of shilly-shallying, taken the plunge and begun to study 普通话PuTongHua. As one tends to do with what‘s most important in life, I was biding my time for some sort of ideal moment, which of course never was genuinely in the offing. Somehow I realized this so I decided to cut short the diabolical cycle of excuses and just get on with it.

One of the aspects that was most captivating in the beginning is how every little detail of the language is entirely, totally, overwhelmingly different. The writing, the pronunciation, the way words are constructed, the weird structure of the conditional case, the ten million proverbs [this language certainly is the motherlode of proverbs and, I‘ve been told, these are entirely common in everyday parlance]. I‘ve been holding out for some similarities, which there must be, which I‘m sure are based on a neurological identity between various specimens of Homo Sapiens but I‘ve rarely come across so far. At any rate, this total difference in everything leads to oneself being set back, linguistically speaking, to absolute square one. The European language speaker beginning to learn PuTongHua stands before the language as a babe. Soft, ruby, salivating, so powerless there is an element of cuteness. E.g. for some reason I‘ve been confusing, now and again, „I“ and „you“, an error which to any native speaker must seem inconceivable and, more significantly, unempathizable with. The reserves of patience the Beginner‘s Chinese tutor must have can only be imagined as fathomless; my teacher for one, apart from being utterly excellent and patient, is a mastress of the benevolent smile though at times, I‘m certain, she must be wishing to shoot arrows of fire from her eyes, skype them over to this incomprehending 瑞士人/RuishiRen. Then again, she seems so composed and kind and professional, my Chen老师, that even such looseness as an inner, imaginary tantrum seems quite unlikely.

The next logic consequence of the bottomless gulf between the languages, the nocturnal incommensurability between two systems of communication blossoming from antipodal ends of a continental plate, is that for the first three or four months, this at least has been my hyper-subjective observation, no matter the effort, a sense of total impossibility always looms above, waiting to overwhelm one‘s efforts. There is a specious certainty that this language surely never can be learned other than from the tender beginnings of a human existence or not at all. This hopelessness only fades extremely gradually. In my case it still persists when it comes to listening comprehension…… then again, it would be insanity to expect anything else after 只 半 年.

There is more, much more but my memory and mind are shot for the morning; moreover, I‘m technically on holiday time.
再见blokes&gals!

 

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immortal thighs [chronicles of infection, 2017四月]

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. – Khalil Gibran

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A few weeks ago it happened. I had been sitting down for a long time at my desk, neck muscles beginning to cramp up, stomach growling for food. No, that‘s not correct. Memory be damned, especially after 35. I think I was sitting in our bean bag, an ugly multiple-colored specimen which my gf does not approve of at all [our is an euphemism, it‘s mine, my aesthetic irresponsibility]. Nor do I use it all that often, it might be headed for the attic, come to think of it.

Anyway, there I sat, reading I suppose, but hunger or munchies or the siren-call of my metabolism eventually won out and, cat-eager, I catapulted myself out of the gravity-well of those tens of thousands of beans and, just for fun, took off at a canter towards the kitchen [a right and then a left]. I almost got there. But before I did, darkness descended.

Cinematically a black curtain [filled with whirling, luminous floaters] came down from somewhere along the lower edge of my forebrain. All motility fled my legs as I buckled backwards towards the doorframe of the living room [somehow I had missed the kitchen by a continued step straight ahead instead of a smooth turn left]. The curtain descended further to below the equator of my eyeballs.

Death! The thought struck me lucidly, a counterpoint to the encroaching blackness. I am dying, so this is it. I thought utterly unpoetic drivel. The moment was too brief and final to allow for any social or romantic concerns [What about my loved ones? What beautiful last words for my beloved? What will be my shitty legacy?], much less a biopic synopsis to obtrude. In fact, it was so short that there wasn‘t even any violence of emotion. I didn‘t exactly fight the long night. Just a calm, even sedate realization that my life ends in the course of a childish, meaningless dash to the kitchen. A disturbingly drama-free The End.

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Then however, my back slammed into the doorframe. A solid wooden upright, a post, a pillar that held the door in place and, who knows, maybe even the wall above it. Let us contemplate for a moment the gods of structural engineering [is that the term for it?]. Ok, enough.

My thighs tightened up, refusing to give in to gravity‘s tug, a ceaseless annoyance I‘ve had to deal with these last 38 years. It seemed my legs didn‘t at all want to die. Maybe they wanted to go for a run later or something, though it was snowing outside. But what the devils do they know! They tightened, shoved the rest of my body against the frame. If I had slid down, that would‘ve been the end of me. I was heartened by the fact that my body was not as spineless as my mind.

Anyway, all this exertion, this brainless pumping of blood and activating of muscles, finally rallied some of my animal spirits, the better half of my nature I would say. The curtain slowly lifted and the living room hove into view, a good place for literature and youtube and distracted daydreaming.

I was not yet going to die.

Then I stood up and went to the kitchen for a snack, most likely an apricot quark. It didn‘t taste any different than usual.

 

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[not mine!]

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Ningues [Chron. of Dis/Inf., jan17]

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January 5th and it finally feels like winter proper: snow, minimal, but still definitely that white stuff that has no business down here in the cities; swirling flurries that cut your vision short and make you regret riding your bicycle without ski goggles, regret that there’s no bike version of snow mobiles; children wasting their precious homework hours outside building snow… snowpeople (could be a woman, could be a man) with the itty little bit of the stuff that’s available in these climate-changed times; an overpowering urge to stay inside and enjoy the benefits of indoor heating, light and having a cooker; a sense of blessedness for not enjoying any winter sport and instead reading up on good literature; a faint nostalgia for the beach which will turn into rigorous shunning of same by mid-july; all the hibernal sentiments basically.

How many times can one write about winter? An infinite number of times, sadly or happily, depending on mood swings [of which there seem to be plentiful] and weather patterns [getting more freakish by the annum]. This might start creating the impression that the wintry season puts me in a poetic mood, that like that french guy, in the depths of winter i discovered some eternal summer of the soul. But I haven’t. I keep rediscovering [like a gadfly busting it’s head for the n-th time against a window] that no matter how freakishly healthy one might be during the rest of the year, some bloody virus will lay your behind low come december, january, february. As well as your [my] feverish dreams of immortality.

And you wake up one morning feeling helpless as a babe and forty years older and at the hands of an ungrateful bastard of a body. With a jolt it seems like the chronological halfway point of winter is a very theoretical construct and that in fact you are stuck in the dead middle.

Personally speaking, i also always have the creeping sense that whatever illness I have come down with is not nearly as bad as I make myself believe it is. Meaning I could go to work, I could go to the gym, I could rise at a decent hour. To make this perception worse, there is the associated feeling that other people pick up on my sense of hypochondry or maladic fraudulence or whatnot….and that they subsequently don’t really feel i deserve any type of special patient-grade attention that could potentially save me from a further complication of my illness [pneumonia?] but that, instead, they now in a show of forced goodwill are obliged to play along and also make-believe that I am very sick [e.g. make a cup of tea] when, actually, I just have a slight cold. Around noon, when the vertigo, sickness and headache kick in properly, these self-conscious fantasies usually disappear into germ-infested air. Just to reappear in the evening, when all of the day’s torpor and head-clutching and doddering gait yet again seem exaggerated and ridiculous and, perhaps above all, needy in an infantile way that fits in badly with a hard-earned sense of adulthood [paying bills, going through tax forms, establishing a hierarchy of folders, buying milk and vegetables, etc.]. In my case.   

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What a powerful, sublime juxtaposition. Of course there have been other Hitler experts, Kershaw and Ullrich come to mind, but make one up and transport him backwards in time to such a pre-loaded year: what a coup! And what a jibe to the Humanities; you make up disciplines as you go along, don’t you? Then cut to a maximum blast of everydayness.

 

¡™¢∞

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A Geological approach VS the Post-Factual stance [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, Nov2016]

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In a certain limited, metaphorical sense, this seems to me the oppsite of the most recent age that is being declared. Maybe not declared by scientists who put in their vote for the Anthropocene, nor by frothing-at-the-mouth religious types who are convinced of the nighness of the End of Days but by the always-amusing apostles of the social sciences, the media and pop-culture. A mixed bunch.

This newest era the latter, eclectic peer-group is referring to has been christened The Post-Factual Age. It combines the information flood, the lack of or unwillingess for or incompetence in analysis/scrutiny with the over-powering imperative of the Postmodern Ego‘s Holy Opinion. Other factors are probably involved too, such as Fake News, etc.

The way the PFA is being described by commentators points out a general disinterest in or even ignorance of the facts [Facts in the debatable sense of what the Associated Press, the UNO and other hegemonic institutions publish].  In the Post-Factual Age, the prime examples of which are televised political debates and click-bait articles on free news-outlets, what one source states is taken to be as valid as what another states; regardless of their competence in the subject under consideration. Who evokes this impression? Politicians (the Brexit debate, the US presidential campaign 2016), publicists (20min, fox news, etc), people in positions of public standing that should be considerably more interested in factual truth production than they make the impression. [Given the fact that this topic is deserving of much more in-depth references, I, ironically perhaps, refer you to this]

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Experts are one more caste of Opinionators. Science is Fiction and Science Fiction is fact. The difference between the New York Times and the New York Post is literally a single word. And what was once a debate with more and less valid arguments, with sources, with authoritative experts, with facts and counter-factual scenarios, even hard-assed epistemological debates, has devolved into a serial stating of incommensurable opinions where only the preservation of the ego‘s perfect integrity in the face of facts it might find to its disliking is the uppermost objective. Nobody can possibly know anything more than anybody else, google it. [ ….tough, I must admit, that often times, at least in my experience, one titanium-grade Wiki-fact can also settle an argument.]

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Compare this, if you will, to the above quote. Here the examination of rock strata is the foundation of knowledge. Not that it is incontestable but that you have to grab your shovel and spade and hydraulic excavator and dust brush to make a hole in the very ground beneath your feet to find out what might be true or not. One needs to open the great book of earth itself and read its strata, its fossils, its aeons of calcified detritus. The facts will be presented by mother earth herself in the form of hard stone and visible strata.

And what emerges? An irreducibly complex historicity, a full archive of fossils, not something one can click through at one‘s leisure to find the hyperlink to one‘s preferred version of the truth. Here there is something rock solid, while everything that is ego melts into air. [You can hear me laugh diabolically as my rant hits a new pitch!]

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So when we hear the siren calls of the Post-factual Era, the time of Hyper Normalisation, we are perhaps well-advised to remember previous epochs of knowledge production, such as the time when Geology was dug from its depths. Perhaps great antiquity and the majesty of slow and profound processes might give us the time to pause and consider how we wish to go about gaining access to the truths of the Anthropocene.

Peace out.

 

∞•º≠¡™

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A Spot of Tennis [nov 2016]

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The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I’ll never be as good as a wall. – Mitch Hedberg

 

 

After two decades and change of having given up on practicing the sport, I finally gave tennis a new spin yesterday. Like almost everybody else, I gave up on the racket and feltball for the perfectly valid reason of being abysmal at it. Tennis, being online or on TV every given day, entices by being a highly attractive sport to watch with larger-than-everyday demigod athletes doing battle on the glorious, immaculate, UHD courts of the ATP pantheon.

 

You watch tennis and immediately become immersed, though only vicariously, in its aura of gobsmacking athletic excellence and precision ball movement. Those velvety felt spheres, those gleaming carbon instruments of top-spin destruction. Who wouldn’t want to have a go at this resplendent sport?

 

The come-down is then standing on an actual carpet hard-court, holding a racket and trying one’s very best to A) actually hit the ball instead of flail at empty air B) not hit it into the ground directly C) not kathwerk the felt fiend haplessly into the net D) not to torpedo said ball into yonder fields beginning a good dozen meters behind the service line E) not lobbing it across the net in the very high arc of an octogenarian tennis mummy.

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All of these four basic-seeming objectives are rather difficult to achieve and, numerically, already suggest that the average beginner will only be able to initiate the tender beginnings of a rally one times in five. And that even then it will be on the level of a soft, pathetic, milque-toast shot which looks as though one were playing tennis, ideologically speaking, under a communist regime where the main goal [as per the dictatorship of the proletariat] is to share the ball equably, rather than to gain any positional advantage within the on-going exchange. Let alone to grab as large a share as possible of the means of [point-]production for oneself.

So, yes, Tennis is a marvelously difficult sport.

 

However, I’ve been watching it so intensely for the last five or six years, forming multifarious opinions on the panoply of world-class players and their styles of play, reading sparkling pieces of prose by Wallace and that other English Gentleman [who ended up not writing a book on it, ah, yes, Dyer!], listening to my good friend’s foray into the sport that, at long last, exasperated me to the degree that I decided to buy a racket. At a discount. Which again, as should be obvious, is a long shot from actually making for a court with balls and game face. It took more than a year to magically arrive at that point.

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    From a personal perspective, Tennis is also always the sport that has been casting a long shadow over my own favorite among racket games: badminton. Though the former has garnered much more global acclaim, it is the latter which, to make the old metaphorical workhorse do an extra mile, is more democratic. The equipment costs less, the courts are more affordable and so is club membership. Nor does it frustrate one’s early efforts with a perversely high degree of difficulty. Within no time, rallies of a decent length  and with some appreciable degree of fun begin to occur. At the professional level, the sheer speed, athleticism and deceptiveness [trick shots!] of the world-class shuttler makes this sport, in my shambolic opinion, quite a bit more attractive than tennis. Except that the dearth of camera angles and absence of all-around spectacle diminish its attractiveness for the casual viewer, as well as the ardent fan [such as myself].

 

At any rate, the hitting session [if it can be called such], went reasonably well. Much fewer balls than expected opted for A, B, C or D, leading to mini rallies from the beginning. Rallies absent of pace, power or placement, I hasten to add. Still, contrary to my expectations, I did break a sweat. Not just from the bit of running that was done, but also from wielding around such a mighty racket. I must say, swinging a big old scythe of carbon&string hither and tither is a very pleasing sensation, even if the balls do not at all comply with one’s mental trajectory. Apart from the hitting, what seems the most difficult aspect to begin with is body placement. I found myself perpetually in the wrong spot: either the ball was almost smacking me in the noggin and I had to bring the racket up as a pure measure of self-defense. Or the low bounce on the carpet [there is always somebody else to blame, even a lowly carpet] left the ball with so little altitude and coming down so early for its disastrous second bounce, that often a time I found myself lounging sideways and/or forward to even just get the string-bed to connect with the felt; no matter what might happen thereafter.

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Fortunately, my good friend and otherwise badminton partner SPD had precious pieces of advice for me to try to eliminate the worst of my shortcomings so that our playing session wouldn’t be entirely reduced to ball retrieving.

Speaking of which. Given amateur level there is the curious matter of the court eventually becoming ever more perilous because dotted by balls all over the place. And players running out of balls to serve and play with. So that one finds oneself, at the latest after every third rally, scurrying around the rectangle, either neutralizing danger spots by expediting balls to the back of the court or pocketing them for up-coming serves [into the net]. At any rate, I do wish to pursue my new found racket misadventures for the foreseeable future. I cannot think of a better age than 38 to finally kick off one’s glorious tennis career. Especially after being gifted D. Wallace’s String Theory….

 

 

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Room temperature circumbendibus [Chron. of D/I, sep2016]

qme-puttingongloves

come back believer in shade believer in silence and elegance believer in ferns believer in patience believer in the rain – w. s. merwin

Last week a message reached me on my phone. Many messages reached me but this one was very different. The message had travelled from another brain to its fingers, which had touched the screen to form it into a string of symbols and spaces, thence it took to the air, antennas and satellites got involved, I assume, it bounced into  the lower bounds of outer space… when it breached the ionosphere, did it seem like it might yet reach me? Couldn‘t it be that a spectral copy of this message fled out into deep space where one day someone on a remote planet on a far day will receive it in wonder and incomprehension?

It turned back or it was turned back by an object travelling at 28 kilometers per second. Imagine that for a few seconds and already you‘re in a far-away city. Further antennas? Today‘s word of the day truly applies: circumbendibus: a roundabout way; circumlocution.

It eventually alighted in my dumbphone where it caused vibrations. Vibes these days are no longer good vibrations nor emitted by people at parties, they are in pants‘ pockets, a manifestation of the will to communicate. I read that my mother has been taken to the hospital sick. She‘s at the advanced age where such a message sounds, at the very least doleful if not outright foreboding. Shucks, the day hath come and I‘m not prepared at all: emotionally, administratively, financially! …quoth me. So the bad feelings blend with a creeping panic and I can hear Lenin in a breaking voice: what is to be done?

The details are not so relevant, what matters is that it ended up being nothing serious. Unpen the first fumbling lines of the eulogy why don‘t you. She ended up in the ER but as a precautionary measure not because of any hideous, irreversible trauma. Pheeeeeeew, with a stress on that eeeeee part.

When I finally got to the hospital I only just asked for Mabona: 12, 64. They probably do not but I‘m under the impression that my parents always wind up in that particular room. I‘ll have to start keeping a record, I mean, something more reliable than my gut-memory.

However, when I opened the door, instead, it was my father [not a paragon of brimming health himself] seated by the window, studying his aged hands. Or perhaps the sky for unidentifiable objects, I don‘t remember with any precision. We make these things up as we go along, backwards in memory I mean, don‘t we? Be that as it was. He turned around at me in surprise, mirroring mine. He had had a medical emergency too? Why was he not down in Nephrology? Hooked up to the impressive artificial liver? The explanation of course was simple: they couldn‘t leave the rusty dialysis patient home alone. Thus they had simply appointed him a room, something that can only be considered simple within the formidable parameters of swiss health care.

My mum was downstairs, in the ER. Some of the earlier alarm trickled back. Why was she still down there? A suspected infection. My anglophone-media-trained reading mind immediately jumped to the scenario of midnight bacteria, a blissful exception hereabouts. Still, I couldn‘t just go inside. I was given a fullbody antiviral gown, green rubber gloves a gauze face mask. And attired like-so, with moving images of Outbreak and Contagion racing through my head, I went to say Hello to the Mums.

The gauze muffled my voice and the rubber muted the touch of our hands. All distances in our universe tend towards the infinite.

Surely there must be words for that sense of outlandishness that overcame me at that moment there, right next to & sealed off from my sick mother, but I‘m afraid they won‘t come to me.

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summer_fern_pot_tokoname

It is different now, the person I love is not next to me but in the city next. Our cities cannot even scratch each other‘s backs. No big deal it should be, the distance, the very, very temporary separary*; just a once a week exception occasioned by her site of studies. Sit and study, Art herstory. Yet with a tad of bad… conscience and a bit of bathos, I feel the emptiness at my flank. It‘s not an emptiness, there is regular room-temperature air. That standard air however should be displaced by the warm, lovely body of my beloved. Maybe that‘s why it feels a little colder instead, the ambient air.
I want to reach out and touch her, simple, to converse with her in our alphabet of caresses. Or lean over to plant a kiss, be a plant watered by kisses. Kiss or be kissed. The elementary gestures of love that have come to be our everyday nutrients.
Funny thing it is: here I am, an alleged adult and after a single day of distance from my significant other, beLoved 1, I can already fell pangs. Thirst for her, Nomhle, who makes me whole. It is crazy, nutso, madness, water deprivation this sense of incompletion, the thirst&hunger pang of absence, the miss of kiss that overwhelms me in the space, the awayness of 24 hours only!
I mustn‘t be ridiculous, I mustn‘t belittle my sensations either. I can miss but I shouldn‘t dismiss. I must acknowledge both either and or. Must be patient like the fern at room temperature. Such is one of the states of being in love, of this folly of having found a better half and not having her around.

[Listening to Studio Ghibli Piano is not making matters iota one easier.]

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