Yasujiro Ozu

Was im Leben uns verdrießt, man im Bilde gern genießt.



Look what a formidable master Yasujiro Ozu was! They say Yasujiro Ozu (Dec. 12 1903 – Dec. 12 1963) was the „greatest filmmaker movie buffs probably have never heard of“, (if I may say so) an explorer of the human condition comparable to Shakespeare! I came across him some weeks ago when I saw one of those „Greatest Films of all Time“ lists (a seemingly somehow reliable one), where Tokyo Story (1953) by Yasujiro Ozu was ranked #3 (after Vertigo and Citizen Kane). I also remember to have seen Late Autumn (1960) last year at the Filmmuseum when they had a focus on Japanese cinema of the postwar era – I was impressed by it, but had no time to dive further into that director back then. Yasujiro Ozu´s films usually are quite simple and not overcharged with plot. Tokyo Story is about an elderly couple visiting their children (and grandchildren) in Tokyo. Their grown-up children meanwhile have families of their own and it turns out that they have neither the time nor the motivation to care a lot for their parents (with one good – however also somehow exaggeratedly good – soul being an exception). The careers of them are middle class, but more humble than expected, the grandchildren show a nasty (though also childish/immature/harmless) behaviour and may not seem very promising. On their way home the mother suddenly dies, which makes the family come after them, but leaving soon again. Late Autumn begins with the burial of a wife´s husband, with three friends attending (and one of them being a bit late), consoling the widow and her grown-up daughter (although both do not seem to be particularly shocked, with especially the widow showing a near-idiotic grin almost all the time). The story then revolves around the three friends trying to find a husband for the daughter, who somehow stubbornly refuses marriage, wanting to stay with her mother instead, with one of them (a widower himself) trying to remarry with the mother: The first endeavour is finally successful, the second one not, condemning both the widow and the widower to spend the rest of their lives in solitude, respectively, in case of the widow, leaving them obviously unable to reinvent themselves anew and start a fresh life. I reiterate, very simple stories, not overcharged with plot – but in the result, Yasujiro Ozu´s films are extremely heavy, and when I saw Tokyo Story, it was extremely uplifting for (well, for what? – for) my mind. With a somehow Beckett-like precision and sharpness, though not in an abstract/absurd setting, Yasujiro Ozu reveals what life is about at such a level of artistic quality that he may account for a true metaphysical artist! On the one hand, Yasujiro Ozu heavily relies on what Paul Schrader calls „transcendental style in cinema“ (read his illuminating essay or watch his lecture): By withholding stuff, confronting the viewer with the unexpected, paradoxical construction of empathy in the viewer, constrasting images (e.g. happy music to rather, or silently tragic scenes), by using ellipses, delay on the verge of provoking boredom he creates multiplicity of meaning and depth, even spirituality. On the other hand, and seemingly in contrast to such qualities of creating „depth“, his films and characteristics of his signature style are simple and somehow „flat“: the uneventfulness in his films and humbleness of storytelling, often the lack of soundtrack, the lack of melodrama, the static camera, the tatami shot (showing people from the perspective of a viewer seemingly sitting on a tatami mat with the film´s characters on the floor around a table) – what is more, the seemingly flat characters with their flat dialogues, where it is always unclear whether they are supposed to be characteristic Japanese people being somehow lost in their overly formal behaviour and politeness or being rather expressionless and shallow human beings per se. Dialogues usually are shown as frontal shots on the character speaking and the other characters responding, creating the impression of a competition or fight between egos (maybe even manifestations of a Nietzschean „Will to Power“) or at least of an isolation of the characters in their (pseudo-) individuality – or their solitude. The static camera creates the impression that all shots are also to be seen as artworks or paintings (with Ozu being reported to have been obsessively careful in the meticulous aesthetic arrangement of each shot) – and with no shot usually lasting longer than another, giving them equal importance. Likewise, Ozu´s films usually don´t revolve around a single character (neither they ever seem to have someone resemblant to a hero/ine), but around a number of characters, respectively their mutual interplay, and, as already stated, there is a most obvious absence of melodrama in the execution of storytelling – in sum, creating a counterweight to Hollywood movies and Hollywood storytelling. And it seems to be that characterstics of „flatness“ that (in tandem to the „transcendental“ elements of style) are responsible for the „frightening“ metaphysical depth of Ozu´s works and his (execution of) worldview: Metaphysical depth in art is created by the interplay between reality and ideal, the expected and the unexpected, archetype and individual idiosyncracy and the like, forming self-contained units of universal appeal. Ozu´s approach maybe can be said to consist in bringing humble but also bright reality (therein usually the beauty of nature of of the colourfulness of the world) so much into coverage with itself that an extreme metaphysical tension that adresses the intellect, the senses, the soul is created. Bringing stuff not into full coverage with itself, respectively metaphysical art, opens up and adresses one´s own imagination, though not in a sense of using your imagination further, but adressing imagination per se. The perfect art of the genius are manifestations and examples of endgames won by the power of imagination, imagination perfectly realised, as such they are frozen and static, but there are a lot of explosions that happen around them and they are transcendent in themselves. Ozu´s genius and its metaphysical appeal is not, for instance, a „fiery“ one, his quality rather lies in bringing stuff so much into coverage with itself that the metaphysical depth is endless (and of course, people in real life are not exactly like portrayed in Ozu´s films, neither is reality exactly like that…). With his extreme precision of intellect and imagination, Ozu strikes us by creating so very universal situations and universal characters – it is a paradox that Ozu´s films have gained little international recognition for being „too idiosyncratically Japanese“ while on the other hand – as (for instance) German independent filmmaker Wim Wenders notes – being the most universal films ever made, and probably ever possible to create (of course, their universality is limited as they do not seem stuff a mass audience can ever be programmed to fall into, due to the lack of melodrama, artistic sophisitication, „transcendental style“, nonconformism, and, most general, Ozu´s core approach not to make movies for the purpose of entertainment, but to get closer to the mystery of life). Human relationships and the life cycle are the most general topic in the films of Yasujiro Ozu and the most defining elements and conflicts, like between stability and transition, loss, tragedy, failure, missed opportunites, but also warmth between friends and family members (which Ozu also portrays), trust, altruism, mutuality, the „follies“ of youth and the wisdom of age, are more or less the same across times and across cultures. It has been noted that it takes a lot of courage and self-assuredness to „always make the same movie again“, and Ozu at least made movies that are very similar to each other (and, superficially, simple), but also exhaustively distinguished. Late Spring (1949, #15 in the above mentioned list of 50 greatest films of all time) is about a grown-up daughter that (again) refuses to marry because she likes to stay with her beloved father, and her father being finally successful trying to marry her, with a pleasant present being cracked up into an unpredictable (and maybe more dismal) future for both, yet also as a necessity of transition in a world where all things must pass. Floating Weeds (1959) and The Only Son (1936) are about life games that do not exactly work out and remain humble. By contrast, Good Morning (1959) is a wonderful film about children who want to have a TV set from their parents (including farting jokes), or What Did the Lady Forget? (1937) is about (humourous) ways of how to deal with different (and difficult) family members. Both Late Autumn or An Autumn Afternoon (1962) are also about friendship, altruism and taking care for each other. In his early days, Yasujiro Ozu made rather comic (but also tragic) films, like Days of Youth (1929) (however, many of them are lost).

It has been noted that Yasujiro Ozu´s films revolve around the principle of mono no aware – which refers to an awareness of transcendental beauty of things which are bound to, nevertheless, pass, leaving behind melancholy about a basic sadness of life. As it comes to mind, great art, and therein also the art of Yasujiro Ozu, retrieves the things lost, or out of reach, in their transcendental beauty, and makes them tangible. Despite their simplicity, Yasujiro Ozu´s films come in with an enormous gravity, dass es dich einfach nur so aushebt, where it remains – as in the good things usually the case – a mystery from which it actually derives. Sure, from the slowness and metaphysical uneventfulness, their expression of artistic mastery, their depiction of life, their universality… but finally you begin to realise that the simplistic films by Yasujro Ozu are – sublime! Their gravity derives from being „something greater/deeper than you“ and of themselves, transcending themselves, like all true works of art do, opening up depths that can be explored forever. How do they make you feel? Ist es eine Komödie? Ist es eine Tragödie? The maybe most memorable moment in the entire oeuvre of Ozu is when at the end of Tokyo Story the youngest daugher, Kyoko, frustrated by the behaviour of her relatives, moans Isn´t life disappointing? with the exaggeratedly friendly (and silently lonely and depressed) Noriko nodding at her with a (frozen) smile: Yes, it is. – Well, you have to understand that there is finally no conclusion possible to be objectively drawn from life and from existence, but that your outlook on life is entirely dependent on whether you are mentally healthy or (have become) mentally unhealthy. When you are healthy, you can stand the sadness of life, and you might find Yasujiro Ozu´s bleaker films amusing. When you are unhealthy, you may not. But even (or only) then, Yasujiro Ozu´s films will strike you as a kind of Satori. That films like Tokyo Story have been a Satori-like revelation to them has been noted by many filmmakers. Satori is a general experience (across time and cultures) that is, however, very idiosyncratically experienced by few and for which no general description may be vaild (hence the reluctance of the enlightened ones to speak despite speaking a lot and the un/ambiguity of the Koan); it has been described as „the same experience of reality as usual, but only two inches from above“. In a way however, films like Tokyo Story or Floating Weeds are like the (finally inexplicable) Satori perspective itself, and the bleakness of life becomes illuminated (in the ambiguous meaning of the word). As it says in Zen Sand 16.3.: If only a single awakened spirit becomes DAO and views upon the Dharma-World / Leaves and trees, nations and the great Earth all become Buddha. Hence, if all else fails, the films and the spirit of Yasujiro Ozu remain, and the world is saved.

Jeannette – L’Enfance de Jeanne d’Arc

„Ein Heavy-Metal- und Rap-Musical voller (selbst)bewusst schlaksig-tapsiger Tanz- und Gesangseinlagen, dargeboten von Laiendarstellern mit teils recht eigenwillig-eindrücklichen Gesichtern – über die Kindheit von Jeanne d’Arc, basierend auf einem modernen Mysterienspiel aus dem Jahre 1910?! Ganz genau. Und so findet in JEANNETTE zusammen, wovon man nie glaubte, dass es tatsächlich etwas miteinander zu tun haben könnte: die (scheinbar) religiös-vergeistigte und die (oberflächlich) humoristisch-groteske Seite von Bruno Dumont. Hier, bei diesem spirituell durchaus ernsthaften, minimalistisch-bizarren Camp-Gustostück, kann man endlich einmal sagen: Das habe ich so noch nie gesehen.“ (Stadtkino Wien)

WOW, wie dieser Film drei Elemente enthält, die für mich so wesentlich sind: Tanzende/singende/springende Kinder, deren Seelen gleichzeitig älter sind, als die Zeit selbst, Heavy-Metal-Musik, sowie das Streben nach Heiligkeit – der Gernot hat gemeint, wir sollen uns diesen Film rasch ansehen, da er unglaublich schlecht läuft, meistens seien nur drei, vier Leute im Publikum: und tatsächlich waren dann neben dem Gernot und mir nur noch irgendeine Alte im Saal, wobei der Michi dann auch noch dazugekommen ist – scheint zu unterstreichen, dass Leute wie Jeanne d`Arc, die ganze Nationen und Großgefüge spirituell zusammenhalten, dabei gleichzeitig meistens radikale Außenseiter und Einzelgänger bleiben. Die Geschichte der Jeanne d`Arc z.B. mit Heavy-Metal-Musik zu vermengen, mag gekünstelt wirken von der Intention her und paradox im Ergebnis, ist es aber nicht; die scheinbare Heterogenität sei vielmehr ein Tribut an die Vielschichtigkeit und Tiefengestaffeltheit der Welt, die tief ist, und tiefer als der Tag gedacht, und ergibt somit eine vollkommen homogene Perspektive, einen perfekten Kreis, eine vollkommen Sphäre. Der Über-Humor ist die Methode, der Welt (und ihrer Psychose) mit vollkommen tiefsinnigem Ernst und in spiritueller Feierlichkeit begegnen! Ein achtjähriges Kind, das versucht, ultratiefe Moral zu verwirklichen (also Moral, die über das gegebene menschliche Maß hinausgeht und so einen neuen Markstein in der Geschichte, eventuell sogar der Evolution der Moral errichtet)… da verschlucke ich mich fast vor Begeisterung, und fühle mich erinnert an meine Jessica Simpson aus St. Helena… (wobei ich am nächsten Tag dann in eine gewisse Depression verfallen bin, zusätzlich zu dem, mit was ich sonst zu kämpfen habe, als es sich irgendwie aufdrängt, dass die Geschichte des Verwirklichers ultratiefer Moral, der nicht nur ein Hyperset bildet, sondern sich gleichzeitig auch von der Menschheit abnabelt, im Leben mit einer gewissen Wahrscheinlichkeit nicht so gut ausgeht). Der Text, der verfilmt und vertont wurde, stammt von Charles Péguy, der bei uns kaum bekannt ist, und den ich also lesen muss.

Jessica Simpson, 9, entdeckt, dass alles auf der Welt ein Herz hat

Duncan Wylie: Construct and (Various) Disasters of Democracy in der Galerie Dukan (Leipzig), 13.4.2018 – 9.6.2018

Inmitten von Moden und ephemeren Trends widmet sich Duncan Wylie der eigentlichen Aufgabe der Kunst und der Malerei: die Tiefenstruktur und Vielschichtigkeit der Welt zum Ausdruck zu bringen, die Potentialität inmitten des Realen, das Geschrei des Seins (auch, wenn es möglicherweise nur die Lautstärke des kreativen Geistes ist, der sie wahrnimmt). Große, geniale Kunst lässt in der Welt, die sie abbildet, immer auch noch eine andere Welt sichtbar werden und hat ihr Leben im gegenseitigen Widerspiel und dem gegenseitigen Durchdringen dieser Welten bzw. Seinsbereiche. Das ist die ewige Aufgabe der Malerei und ihr eigentlicher Sinn! Duncan Wylie bildet die Tiefenstruktur der Welt ab in einer Zeit, in der, physikalischen Spekulationen zufolge, unser Universum in eine unendliche Vielzahl von Multiversen eingebettet ist, in denen wir selbst unendlich oft, mit alternierenden Geschichten, auftreten. Duncan Wylie hat neue Lösungen gefunden, den Reichtum und die Tiefe der Welt darzustellen.

Geboren 1975 in Zimbabwe, fällt ein gewisses Nomadentum in der Biographie von Duncan Wylie auf – der gegenwärtig in London lebt und arbeitet. Ausgehend von der Erfahrung der Vertreibung von (in Zimbabwe weißen als auch, und zahlenmäßig umso mehr, farbigen) Siedlern und der Zerstörung ihrer Häuser als auch dem Versuch der Zerstörung ihrer Identitäten und ihres Gemeinschaftsgefühls, bilden Akte der Zerstörung bzw. devastierte Architekturen ein frühes Grundmotiv in den Werken von Duncan Wylie – reflektierend verlängert in die Aufgabe, den „Augenblick“, dem Impakt – möglicherweise „das Ereignis“ – einzufangen, sowie den Zufall, das Schicksal; inmitten dessen die metaphysische Unbehaustheit des Menschen innerhalb des Seins, dessen Sinn offensichtlich abwesend ist, oder erst konstruiert werden muss. Zutiefst existenzielle Motive.

Wenngleich in seinen Bildern meistens keine Menschen vorkommen – von zeitweiligen rätselhaft unverblümt-unmittelbaren Porträts unter anderem von Robert Mugabe abgesehen – ist es in letzter Zeit die Figur des Seiltänzers, die öfter bei Duncan Wylie auftaucht. Ein Gradwanderer, der sein autonomes Selbst mühsam konstruiert, ein originärer Künstler, der zwischen Kosmos und Chaos als den Elementen wandelt – die Selbsterschaffung und graduelle Selbststabilisierung des Menschen in einer potenziell chaotischen Welt, die Erlangung autonomer, den Zumutungen der Welt gegenüber souveränen Subjektivität, ist die Botschaft, die Duncan Wylie dem Menschen mitzuteilen hat – weniger als eine harsche, autoritäre Aufforderung denn als Vermittlung von Hoffnung und als Zeichen des Respekts für die individuelle Gradwanderung, den individuellen Lebensweg, die individuellen Kämpfe jedes einzelnen.

In seinen jüngsten Arbeiten, die in der Galerie Dukan erstmals gezeigt werden, scheint Duncan Wylie bei einem Subjekt angelangt zu sein, das über eine etwas sicherere Bahn (Eisenbahngeleise) wandelt, und das beginnt, von seinem inneren Material, seinen Innenräumen produktiv chaotisch überlagert zu werden, das zunehmend komplexer und reichhaltiger wird. Er nennt sie „self constructing figures“. Die Doppelbedeutung von „construct“ scheint eine wesentliche Inspiration zu sein: insoweit ein Konstrukt eine definitive materielle Konsistenz und Objektivität haben kann, aber auch etwas Subjektives (z.B. „ein ideologisches Konstrukt“) sein kann – damit eben auch ein Akt der Schöpfung. Haben wir es mit einer Verhältnisbestimmung Subjektiv – Objektiv zu tun? Dem Ineinanderspielen von beiden? Man bemerke, wie sich die „explodierenden“ Subjekte und die Welt, der Hintergrund, in den sie eingelassen sind, offensichtlich überlagern. Gleichermaßen figurative wie auch abstrakte Kunst. Die Architektur in diesen Werken ist nunmehr intakt, die Welt scheinbar „heiler“.

Zusätzlich präsentiert sich Duncan Wylie in dieser Ausstellung auch noch auf eine neue Art und Weise mit seinen Gravuren „(Various) Disasters for Democracy“: Kaltnadelradierungen, die an das Dämonische im Dasein gemahnen und die an Alfred Kubin erinnern – entdeckt Duncan Wylie auch die Möglichkeiten des Surrealismus für sich?  Duncan Wylies Kunst bleibt, wie es heute selten der Fall ist, universal, und in ihren Aussagen von universaler Gültigkeit. Nichts entkommt letztlich ihrem Blickwinkel; in der Hoffnung, die sie vermittelt, liegt Mahnung, in der Mahnung Hoffnung.

Philip Hautmann (geb. 1977 in Linz) ist Schriftsteller und Philosoph und lebt in Wien


In the midst of fashions and trend dictates, Duncan Wylie dedicates himself to the true purpose of art and of painting: to express and portray the deep structure and the multilayeredness of the world, of potentiality within reality, the clamour of being (even if it is only the loudness of the creative mind that perceives such a reality). In great art, in art of the genius, you always seem to have another world emerging within, or beneath, the world that is ostensibly presented, and seems to live in the mutual osmosis of both worlds, respectively world visions. Isn´t that the eternal purpose of art and the true meaning of art? Duncan Wylie portrays the deep structure of the world in an age where, according to scientific speculations, our universe is embedded in an infinity of multiverses, in which we, most personally, appear with alternating biographies. Duncan Wyle has found new solutions to portray the richness and depth of the world.

Born in Zimbabwe in 1975, a certain nomadism is evident in Duncan Wylie´s biography –  who currently lives and works in London. The experience of the expulsion of (in Zimbabwe not only of white but also, and at distinctly higher magnitude, black) settlers and the destruction of their homes, not least also with the purpose of destroying their identity and sense of community, acts of destruction and devastated architectures become a basic motiv in the works of Duncan Wylie – transcended into the task of portraying „the moment“, „the impact“ – maybe even „the event“, as well as of chance and fate and the metaphysical Unbehaustheit of man within an existence in which meaning and salvation is obviously absent, or needs to be constructed in the first place. Deeply existential motives.

Although there usually are no people portrayed in his paintings – apart from intermittent enigmaticly blunt and direct portraits, for instance of Robert Mugabe – it is the character of the tightrope walker that emerges in Duncan Wylie´s more recent works. A wanderer between worlds, who laboriously constructs his own self, an original artist, navigating between chaos and cosmos as the elements of art – the self construction and gradual empowerment of man in a potentially chaotic world, the acquirement of autonomous subjectivity, sovereign against  the impositions of the world seem to be the message Duncan Wylie wants to transmit to man – to a lesser extend as a harsh, authoritarian appeal than as an indication of hope and as a sign of respect for the individual tightrope walking within one´s own challenges of each and everyone of us.

In his most recent works, which are presented by the Dukan Gallery for the first time, Duncan Wylie seems to have pushed forward to a subject that wanders on a somehow safer track (railroad tracks) and that seems to become overlaid by his own inner material, in a productively chaotic way, a subject that seems to become ever more rich and complex. He calls them „self constructing figures“. The double meaning of „construct“ seems to have been an inspiration: since a „construct“ can have a definitive, material, objective substance, yet can also be something rather subjective (i.e. an „ideological construct“) – a materialisation of creativity at any rate. Do we have an exploration of the interdependence subjective – objective it that? The osmosis of both? Also take a look at how the „exploding“ subjects and the background of the world they are situated in obviously interfere with each other. Both figurative and abstract art. The architecture in those works is meanwhile intact, and the world seemingly a safer place.

 In addition to that, Duncan Wylie presents himself in a new fashion with his engravings „(Various) Disasters for Democracy“: Drypoint etchings thar are reminiscent of Alfred Kubin and seem to refer to the „demonic“ in the world – does Duncan Wylie also explore the possibilities that lie within surrealism? Duncan Wylie´s art remains – what is rarely the case in our days – universal, with messages of universal significance and validity. Nothing escapes its focus, in the hope that is transmits there is admonition, in its admonition there is hope.

Philip Hautmann (b. 1977 in Linz, Austria), is a writer and philosopher and lives in Vienna

Duncan Wylie, Contemporary Metaphysical Painter

About Water and the Sea


Para Liliana y la familia

Like Tarkovsky and other creatives, I like water and I like the sea. I like to look at it and touch it. I don´t know the exact reason for it and it took me almost two years now to sit down and write a note about it (because there will be a short intermission concerning notes atm and so I can fill the hole with water). Obviously I like water because it is meditative, innocent, mindless, as well as „full of secrets“. Don´t look to the ocean, restless in its dreaming / Don´t look to the heavens, for they will tell you nothing (sing Cop Shoot Cop in Room 429, a splending song about, as I guess, intimacy). That Cop Shoot Cop song is both a bit elegic, as well as assertive, there is some tenderness in it, amidst the possible wildness and roughness the sea can relapse into. Water is both more innocent and fresh, recycling, as well as more powerful and ancient than we are. They think it will win over the rock, though finally it will evaporate as the sun gradually dies and inflates, and only rocks will be left. It is, obviously, the necessary element for any organic life to come into existence on a planet. In its mindlessness, it mirrors the innocent, ready-to-be-productive, recpetive mind – because of this, the mind rejoices when meeting its twin, the water. They say the ocean is sublime, as it is envisaged without boundaries. What is sublime strucks awe in us, says Kant, reverence for „the (unknown) law“. What is sublime annihilates the subject, but then empowers it, as the subject recognises itself in its „infinity“ and „endlessness“. In the sublime, the nuanced, sophisticated subject will view itself in its limitlessness and its limitations; realising one´s own limitations will inspire awe for an, at least abstract, instance that is less limited; realising one´s own limitlessness and limitedness will give a sense of compactness as well as openness and will give the sense of a warming ball inside oneself. Furthermore, the ocean gives me a sense for planet. Gazing at the ocean (or the sky) in the southern hemisphere gives me a sense for the existence and presence of that that is the other, of otherness, that is – thank God – tangible and can be internalised (internalising otherness, encircling the earth and becoming psychologically water-like is path to the overman, as we remember). I also like to think of megacities, looked at from above, in the night, Los Angeles for instance, at the great frontier, following the eternal call of the west. The network of millions of lights, seems to imitate and mirror the mind/brain, consciousness. I like to think having my mind amalgamated with the big abstract city at the frontier, mirrored in it. Think of standing at a skyscraper of megacity at night, somewhere in the future, in the mid- or later 21st century. Think of the megacity at night in the later 21st century, and internalise it. That gives a sense of mind, and consciousness. Think of another city, in the southern hemisphere, Buenos Aires. One megacity turns out not to be enough to make up the mind, it has to contain at least two, next round. With this, you will finally reach into the cosmos. When I sat at the Danube, in summer 2016, with Tanja, Xav and some others, who have invited me to Linz to talk about my creative approaches (and not many people followed the invitation), I was talking about the sentiments and concepts water gives to me, improvising. Unfortunately, I never came to exactly remember something of crucial importance that I elaborated then. That´s how it goes. But I remember, introspecting into water is a kind of permanent leaving from and returning to base. A hypercycle.

Liliana Medina No soy tan buena para escribir para escribir elogios ,pero se que el agua causo un efecto ,que no todos sienten ni ven , solo los que tienen un alma y corazón abierto y puede expresar con tanta sabiduría como tu lo hiciste ,me queda decir gracias y compartir algo sobre una palabra que aprendi ,y que ahora veo en otros lugares y que tambien conoci contigo en el Museo Mar “:La ataraxia es el estado perfecto del sabio, al que le da lo mismo morir que vivir, porque ha comprendido que él no es tan importante como se creía, que sólo es una piececita del todo que va mucho más allá de lo que le envuelve.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer
Philip Hautmann Miras, tu entiendes el valor des cosas… por eso eres mi diosa


Acts of the Unspeakable

In some of the more recent notes (about e.g. Malevich, Mondrian, Minimalism, in some respects also them about Tapies and Sheeler) you have meditation about art in which there isn´t much in it, or so it seems. Sedlmayr (a conservative/Nazi) is quite aware of progress in art, which to him is exemplification of metaphysical regress throughout modernity nevertheless, he does not deny the innovativeness of Malevich´s Black Square, but he says that it is „untersprachlich“ (sublinguistical), and not „übersprachlich“ (i.e. portraying the Gottmensch, which would be, according to Sedlmayr, the purpose of art). But I like it because of the eloquent silence that it carries. It is meditative, quietist, Zen-like, it confronts you with the mysterious materiality/spirituality of the world, with otherness about which you have to figure out about how it can be adeqately captured, with something that seems both beneath you as well as beyond you, younger than you as well as much more ancient, harmless and inanimate as well as seemingly carrying deadly potential, etc. It refers to the Nullpunkt of creativity as well as to the infinity of universe and things, the pseudo-tabula rasa of mind, the ontological potential of the Matrix. It does not come as a surprise that in your metaphysical quest you come across (and have to go through) the Black Square tunnel, in a quest for purity, originality, being able to construct new forms and the like. In the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking, which is about that quest, I wrote a lot of somehow abstract (and seemingly silly and/or funny) texts (which they are, but they are also dead serious and indisputable). As you may remember, I was also fascinated by the task of how to describe how animals think (intelligent crows for instance), or how children learn language – and how is language formed at all? According to a universal grammar (as proposed by Chomsky), or as a quasi-emergent phenomenon that is based on some more primitive primordial tools and man´s situatedness in a social context (i.e. the more Wittgensteinian proposal)? How does protolinguistical experience look like? Is it right to describe the mind of a crow or newborn as a corner of a white space, then there comes some dull and vague sound, maybe also an orange flash? Very interesting to temporarily inhabit the sublinguistic lodges! I guess a creative person will be fascinated by it. It is about the (lower) edges of thought, beyond/below that of what is graspable for us. It signifies a horizon, respectively something beyond the horizon, hence it has to be explored.

Getrude Stein (a genius) was a pioneer in a modernist experiment to subvert language. She took „stream of consciousness“-writing to an extreme insofar as she tried to evade (not only stringency and conclusivenss of plot but) meaning as much as possible, by just writing down what immediately came to her mind. The result were voluminous books full of sentences largely free of meaning – but, as Jonah Lehrer (in his super book Proust was a Neuroscientist) explains: she found out that she could not evade basic grammar! Also other experiments/observations – like, for instance, deaf people developing a sign language, or immigrants developing a pidgin/creolian language: whereas these languages will be primitive in the first generation, the subsequent generation will make it more sophisticated and introduce grammar – seem to indicate that there is actually a universal grammar as something innate to humans in the Chomskian sense. Chomsky´s concept of universal grammar however has always met criticism as well, and for instance more recent research seems to imply that language, and the way infants learn a laguage, is a kind of emergent phenomenon that comes into being via the use of several „tools“, like ability to make analogies, to categorise things, recognise things via schemes (a dog is not likely to have a concept of a steak, but it is likely that a dog will recognise his environment via proto-conceptual schemes) or the reading of communicative intentions. I also consider that likely to be that way, and whether there is a universal/deep grammar or need for universal/deep grammar appears doubtful to me, since the grammar of sentences just reflect the way things are, respectively how man can act in the world – it reflects the structure of our actions and intentions (which would be a somehow empiricist notion, respectively a contact theory of grammar and linguistics) (however, since I am not an expert on liguistics, but it must´ve been that someone has thought about that before). And the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking is full of texts that celebrate the chaosmotic architectural/iconoclastic processuality of creative enterprise. (And if there is a deep grammar, why do languages frequnetly happen to be so different and distinguished from each other?)

Concerning the Untersprachlichkeit and the „fascination“ of being inside the mind of animals et al., more recent research (respectively an activation of more ancient knowledge/understandings) seems to indicate that plants are „intelligent“, respectively that they aren´t as „vegetative“ as it may seem. Plants adapt to their environment, they „communicate“ with their environment and with other plants, different species of plants have different „character“ (i.e. plants „fairly“ rewarding insects that carry their seeds, while others, like orchids, tricking them in a nasty way), they have more senses than humans do, and the like. Is it adequate to think that they are conscious and intelligent? Animals are, in a reduced sense, intelligent and conscious, it amazes me to see them play (for what purpose?), to see how eels can „befriend“ humans, or how one of Liliana´s gatas, Lorenzo, has a quite distinguished (and somehow sociopathic, or – to do more justice to him – adventuruous and challgening) personality. Maybe – given the extreme inprobability that our universe can be as fine-tuned as ours – even the universe, and everything in it, is a conscious – there are arguments for and against pan/cosmopsychism.

Then there are people who think that animals are better or more innocent than humans, dolphins more intelligent, etc. However, pigs ( = very intelligent animals) have the cognitive abilities of an average three year old human. Think you are inside the mind of a trout! A trout has an IQ of 4! What would it be like being a creature with an IQ of 4? Think of being a cockroach! AI has invented a creature however that superbly is able to act like a cockroach – the algorithm is: 1) Take flight from bright light 2) If there is not light, take flight from sound 3) If there is neither light nor sound, wait a while, then move. With that program, the behaviour of a cockroach can (basically) be captured. However, hopes that animals can teach us something are likely to be disappointed. Michael Tomasello writes in his book A Natural History of Human Morality how apes are morally quite inferior to men, and basically egocentric, whereas in humans you have a genuine sense for cooperation. Also Laland – in an article about what distinguishes humans from animals – notes that if Apes could talk, they would make poor conversationalists: while they are able to understand (a limited range of) sings, they cannot produce grammar, and their conversation would be utterly egocentric – the longest „translated“ statement by a chimpanzee goes: “Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you” (which, however, carries some resemblances to conversations on social media or Youtube comments). When I gave my text about the trout and its 4 IQ to my friend Dagmar, she responded that it made her think about humans (having an IQ of 4, going with the crowd, being only interested in eating, fucking, sleeping, having no higher moral sense, being envious and egoistic, etc., with women often being the worst to each other)*. In a way, if you think about the subliguistic and its magic and mysteriousness, you frequently have it quite next to you; go, for instance, to the opera and try to empathise with how many of the folks in the opera house have their higher sentiments triggered, their catharsis and the like – when being exposed to the Gralserzählung or the Karfreitagszauber they may actually think about their business or so. Going to the netherworld, where no meaningful thoughts are formed isn´t actually that difficult, it happens all the time around you <3

In Sedlmayr´s opinion, the purpose of art is portraying man made in the image of God. He is aware that this is not a modern option, nevertheless his history of art is a history of a long decay (a quite intelligent and empathetic one however). His hope is that, after a long agony, art of the future will be about the portrayal of the Gottmensch, the divine human being, the finally fully accomplished man, furthermore his hopes adress those who have suffered most from the (modern) human condition (on a metaphysical level) i.e. individuals like Goya, Kleist, van Gogh, Hölderlin, Stifter, Nietzsche et al. to be able to erect or embody the image of the Gottmensch. The Gottmensch is baptised by fire. Kierkegaard, whom I happen the read at the moment (since I want to write about him), on the other hand shortly adresses at the end of his magisterial thesis about the concept of irony with permanent reference to Socrates, that the defining quality of the Gottmensch will be (metaphysical) humor (as something much more skeptical than irony but also containing a much higher positivity than irony) (unfortunately Kierkegaard´s ruminations enter quite abruptly at this point (with the excuse that humor is not a topic in a reflection about irony), yet, upon reflection, although Kierkegaard was among the species of overmen, he actually was overly ironic himself – but not actually funny or humorous, i.e. irony was the realm where Kierkegaard was king, but humor was a demarcation where Kierkegaard ended). I say, the Gottmensch will be so comprehensive as that he reaches into the lowlands and netherworlds as well as into the spheres, as mind and soul of God contains everything. Therefore the übersprachliche Gottmensch will also try to adress that which is untersprachlich, try to put himself inside the mind of a crow or a trout; the untersprachliche Black Square will be the eternal tunnel to wander through the white light from infinity, the silence you can hear from there is message from base. Listen to the voice of nature (which doesn´t really talk of course).

*„Die Forelle finde ich klasse wobei ich für mich den Gedanken weiter spinne… ist nicht die Allgemeinheit wie eine Forelle (4 IQ essen trinken in die selbe Richtung schwimmend wie die anderen Forellen ) … Moralisches streben in der heutigen zeit ist ein sehr löbliches Ziel und du bust wahrscheinlich einer der wenigen menschen auf.diesem durchgeknallten planeten der es wohl schaffen könnte. Der rest der menschheit ist neidisch verschlagen link nur auf seinen vorteil bedacht prakmarisch materiell und wirtschaftlich ausgerichtet … Und zum.teil oft so dumm in seinen ansichten und oberflächlich ich bin.oft so froh wenn ich mich nicht damit auseinandersetzen muss … Und frauen sind mit abstand oft am ärgsten zueinander und das meist wegen einem.mann wie grotesk ist den das könnte bücher füllen mit geschichten darüber glg sent from mobile“

Minimalism and Object Ontology

„Now the world is neither meaningful nor absurd. It simply is… In place of this universe of „meanings“ (psychological, social, functional), one should try to construct a more solid, more immediate world. So that first of all it will be through their presence that objects and gestures will impose themselves, and so that this presence continues thereafter to dominate, beyond any theory of explication that might attempt to enclose them in any sort of a sentimental, sociological, Freudian, metaphysical or any other system of reference.“

 (Robbe-Grillet, cited in Barbara Rose: „ABC Art“, an influential article about minimal art published in „Art in America“ in 1965)

Call it the Apollonian, but reduction to essence, bringing into form, carving the unnecessary out, introducing some silence, being elliptic is a major element within the art conquest; in becoming ever more minimalistic, stuff seems to become ever more invincible and undisputable – think of a child wrapping a box up respectively making something like the box via minimalistic wrapping, busily and affirmingly it says „So!“, „So!“, „So!“ when completing each step towards perfection, finally there is this silly, silent box and the child standing there, looking up to the grown up (or to deity), arms crossed behind the back: as if it says: „I have done everything right! There is nothing to be disputed anymore! You cannot catch and nail me anymore! You can groan and moan as much as you want, but…“, etc. Hail to the child! Likely, within all that the human child is a bit unsure, as it lacks orientation in the world, and eschatological knowledge, but in wrapping up the minimalistic box it has come up with something assertive and is aware of that; the adult-deity may rejoice or at least twist his mouth and move his head back a bit, as he is defeated, at least for a while. Hail to the child! It has achieved some manifestation in the world. Take a look at Robbe-Grillet´s statement there above! Aaahh… the world, and its metaphysics not being made by reference to the celestial world, but by the blunt encounter and relationships between subjects and objects within the world, maybe unforeseeable in their implications, yet often, and normally, to remain only a reference to an empty potential! Minimalists challenged the notion of sculpture and object in the 1960s as they placed some minimalistic forms in space, opening the possibility of interaction with the recipient (for instance also to be experienced as an obstacle that stands in the way)! The grid of the world as a relational structure! By reducing stuff into minimalistic forms that, due to their sharp and essential geometry, are both more real and less real than the objects you encounter in the world, you have, in minimalism, the disposability (and Zuhandenheit) as well as the unavailability of things, and of the things that make up this world. Remember that numbers or ideal geometric forms refer to the virtual, and therein also minimal art refers to the virtual via a paradoxial intervention, as, by taking out any specific content, those artworks actually refer to nothing, they´re neutral and inexpressive. But what they are is that they are present, and therein, you encounter presence in both its most manifest as well as elusive form. You have a metaphysics of pure presence, as well as a metaphysics of neutrality and a metaphysics of boredom. Somehow, those minimalist works seem to be so autonomous (and, as feminist critics claimed, masculine-sharp-assertive, whereas in the works of female artists somehow linked to minimal art, like Eva Hesse, you have some quasi-organic, soft, biomorphic forms and flows and the like). Due to not having much in them, minimal art refers to quietism, to Zen, to a transsubjective world-continuum – and Lucy Lippard calls Robert Morris a „master of formal silence“. For the creative mind, silence contains the virtuality of the clamour of being, therein, minimal art indicates the possibility of all creation. Those minimalistic forms are enigmatic, as they both refer to basal elements of construction, yet also to virtual ideals that are beyond any construction. Ahhh, what a dialectics! It brings opposites together, the small and the infinite (?)! Pseudo-immanence and pseudo-transcendence! Those squarelike forms of minimal art adress the square in me! The boxes of Donald Judd are some kind of rivets that hold the subjective and the objective universe together, they´re an encounter (like the installations of Sarah Sze)! Very mysterious, all this! In another context, there may be a trajectory from minimal art to degeneration of art via the growing preeminince not of the artwork but of the kunstähnliche Gegenstand (artlike object) from the 1970s onwards. Finally, indeed, there is actually not so much to say about them minimal objects, but that is good, since it binds the hallucinatory endless depths of imagination back to something solid and concrete, an anchor. In a world of ambiguity, objects attached with meaning etc. you encounter pure, literal forms that have nothing to tell and signify and you can endlessly explore what they speak to you. Glory! Glory! Glory! Glory!

Minimalist sculptures somehow challenge ancient notions as they are not, tradionally, sculptures, also not, traditionally, objects – they are rather forms and work as systems or systemic inventions in environment (or carry within themselves the possibility of their own extension or reduction like in the cases brought upon by Sol de Witt).  However, they create the impression of dumb objects, of materiality, or of ideal forms, to try to push and slide and emerge into this world, make themselves important, underline their presence; seem to say „Here I am, man… what will you now do against me?“ They´re there. They´re, maybe, middle-range objects that came to inhabit this world as well, out of unknown reason and for unkown purpose, and where dialogue and domestication is, to some degree, possible, to some other degrees not (check out also the note about Charles Sheeler and his eloquently silent industrial architectures). They seem to be vivid, stupid, and mysterious, follow their own (reduced, but also ungraspable) logic, like Kafka´s Odradek. In Realismus Jetzt, a Merve book edited by Armen Avenessian which is about speculative philosophy and metaphysics for the 21st century, there is a contribution by philosopher Graham Harman about his „Object Orientated Ontology“ (OOO) in which he wants to give dignity to things and tries to introduce an understanding of things being an essential element of metaphysics and to be philosophised upon (he even says that, corresponding to the „linguistic turn“ in 20th century philosophy, we´d need an „object turn“ in our century). He makes reference to Heidegger´s tool analysis (which he claims to be the hidden truth of all Heidegger´s metaphysics), and also to the „humming universe“ of the friendly metaphysicist Whitehead. Remember that Heidegger speaks of zuhandenem Zeug, objects/tools that are there in the world and, as tools, may change man´s possibilities of access to the world, respectively the world itself, implicating that objects/tools is stuff that is metaphysically relevant, that seem to be somehow autonomous, carry potential and may be game-changing (what is not mentioned in the short article is Heidegger´s philosophy about technology, as a force that, in a somehow conservative fashion, he saw as alienating and incorporating a life and logic of its own that is somehow stronger than that of man and therefore, finally, a heteronomy upon the man´s world). (Opposed to other philosophical traditions, Heidegger´s philosophy does away with a lot of categorial stuff and focuses on man as being rather „spontaneously“ in the world and navigating through the world, and changing it, i.e. Heidegger´s man is not a well-defined (and therein limited) man, but a rather fluid creature, i.e. Heidegger´s epistemology is rather a contact theory, like the one I have recently encountered in the book by Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Taylor.) Whitehead, as we remember, develops an ontology where everything (every single entity, as basal elements of reality) is connected in a network that makes the („humming“) universe. That is nice and friendly. However, says Graham, where Heidegger does not have a lot to say about things as that they both reveal (entbergen) and conceal (verbergen) themselves, Whitehead somehow implicates a notion of an instable or overly colourful universe that can be changed every instant, which is rather not the case: in doing away with the notion of substance – which seems to implicate a stickiness that isn´t exactly there –, network ontologies like that of Whitehead seem to do away with structure and seem to implicate a flexibility (or creativity) that is also not exactly there (although there is only an indication but not necessarily a reason for coming up with such a critique since substance-ontologies may contain network-notions and vice versa, and if I remember correct, Whitehead is not stupid or one-dimensional in his thinking). At other occasions (lectures to be found on Youtube) Graham Harman stresses the importance of an object orientated ontology by saying that if we reduce (meta)physics of objects, we could not explain phenomena of emergence, whereas if we put to much emphasis on substantial notions we could not explain change (hm…). OOO introduces some mysteriousness into the world, a notion of the cryptic potency of inanimate things that is potentially much more potent than pure human potency, and he also makes reference to aesthetics and the arts – that the notion of a world that is not completely „given“ at any moment, but a world that is partially withdrawn is actually what is captured/reflected in the arts, respectively illuminated in the multidimensional mind of the artist that „reveals“ the hidden truths of man and the universe (Graham, by contrast (on that occasion) says that in the arts objects become „mysterious“ and „withdrawn“ —– let us remember that in art the place of objects and the meanings of things become dislocated and put into other context, therefore you may have a certain disassociation: but for the reason of showing how the thing actually works and to reveal its existential ontology and its meta-noumenon!). (Graham also discusses minimalism shortly in here (47:30) <3 although the connection between minimalist art and object ontology sprang to my mind independly.) In diving into the hidden depths of the „withdrawing“ world, Graham Harman also mentions the „negative theology“ of Pseudo-Dionysius (i.e. that God indicates himself in this world via an absence that can be mystically approached and experienced, and that the light of God is a „dark“ light).

Very interesting and metaphyscial! I have got me some books by Graham Harman and want to get more closely in touch with OOO and then maybe write a note about it (which could make a Postscript to the Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal). I think with his notion of a „withdrawing“ world that is never fully given he may refer to complexity – and it may be that complexity is a true phenomenon there in the world i.e. that is ontologically given (complicatedness means: something is more or less complicated and difficult to see through, but can be solved and defined; complexity means: you have an ever changing system whose interactions cannot be entirely foreseen — in his lecture Graham Harman refers to the social sciences as a science that has to operate with a complex flux, but also economics may come to mind (or meterology, or hydrodynamics, etc.). In his paper The Trouble With Macroeconomics Paul Romer explains how describing and computing an economic system involves a matrix of mxm parameters, but their interdependence is described by only m equations; hence complex systems probably cannot ever be captured by mathematics, implying that mathematics is not the deep/universal language of the universe, etc.) I also ask myself the question what is the Ding an sich of a car? Or of petrol? Or of a toaster? Or of an institution? That is relatively easy to say, think however of how the ancient wheel relates to the car etc. Feynman says, what we can construct we understand (with reference e.g. to the brain or consciousness which we cannot construct so far and probably never can), does that mean we see the thing in itself of the respective issue? I also wonder how potent things/objects/tools ever are; some popular notions, like that of McLuhan describe medias/tools as extensions/protheses of man; however when I read ancient Chinese literature like the Classic novels of China, I am astonished how similar people actually are across time and across culture; also Stanislaw Lem mourns or satirises about far (technologically) advanced future civilisations which are, to considerable extent, primitive and childish nevertheless (i.e. maybe tools and machines aren´t actually that important).


Dear Phillip:

Thanks for the nice post! It is well-written and well-informed. And I share your instinctive liking for minimalism.
There are only two points where I disagree. Or rather, one where I disagree and one where I sort of disagree.
The first: „whereas if we put to much emphasis on substantial notions we could not explain change (hm…).“
Actually I defend substance. The philosophy that cannot explain change, in my opinion, is the philosophy of actions or events that does not allow for an underlying hidden substance.
Also, complexity theory isn’t quite what I’m doing. Objects can be quite simple, where complexity theory talks about the complexity of relations, and OOO is above all an anti-relational philosophy.
Anyway, thanks again for the interesting post.
all the best,

Frage des Stils

„Das höchste Gefühl von Macht und Sicherheit kommt in dem zum Ausdruck, was großen Stil hat. Die Macht, die keinen Beweis mehr nötig hat; die es verschmäht, zu gefallen; die schwer antwortet; die keinen Zeugen um sich fühlt; die ohne Bewusstsein davon lebt, dass es Widerspruch gegen sie gibt; die in sich ruht, fatalistisch, ein Gesetz unter Gesetzen: Das redet als großer Stil von sich.“

F. Nietzsche

Philip Hautmann Wer ein funktionierendes Hirn hat, hat sowieso immer Stil und muss das auch nicht über Schreibschulen u.dergl. erlernen bla bla (wie jeder weiß). Das letzte, wozu Stil kommen kann, der transzendente Stil, der Blick in den Chaosmos, er erfasst die Totalität und ist daher psychosenah, aber bei vollkommen klarem Verstand, es ist die Super Sanity, man hat das in hervorragendster Weise bei Büchner (Lenz), Lautréamont (Maldoror), Rimbaud (Leuchtende Bilder), an und für sich auch bei Shakespeare; und, ach, die absolute Beweglichkeit der Sprache auf diesem, letzten, Plateau!, ich habe es anderswo als die Decke bezeichnet der absoluten Empathie mit der Welt, lückenlos wahrgenommen; sagen wir, das Gefühle des Triumphs auf diesem unachtfechtbarsten aller Niveaus sich irgendwie verflüchtigen, wie alles andere irgendwie auch, die Persönlichkeit z.B., übrig bleibt eine Anordnung von virtuellen Schalen, die sich gegenseitig enthalten oder spiegeln, so ist das dann halt: die Übereinanderlagerung von allem und wenn man alles gleichzeitig sieht; der Mensch ist ausgeschaltet bzw. verliert sich in und transzendiert sich über die Übereinanderlagerungen seiner inneren Bezirke, so dass das Ich faktisch nicht mehr ganz existiert; der Stil setzt sich über die Explosionen in sich selbst und wird perfekt wie Sand (mikrogranular und gleichgültig gegenüber Interventionen von außen), das ethische Bewusstsein wird vollkommen; im Wesentlichen fühlt man sich so ein bisschen wie ein Geist – aber wie soll man sich anders fühlen, wenn man das Ziel erreicht und ganz Geist geworden ist? Was hat das mit dem Leben noch zu tun – nichts und alles, und die Bücher sind für alle und keinen. – Ich wiederhole mich, aber das verdient sich doch immer wieder gesagt zu werden und jedes Mal kommt ja auch irgendwas Neues dazu etc. und wie viele gibt es schon, die so was zu sagen vermögen? also ist das gut, dass es hier wieder gesagt wird; auf jeden Fall: Groß und Klein, Macht und Ohnmacht etc. verliert an Bedeutung, spiegeln sich ineinander wieder, im Auge Gottes, ein blauer Strahl schießt jetzt neben mir auf, ich liege auf der Straße, als Ohnmächtiger und bewege mich in allen möglichen Schemen etc. Die Gleichzeitigkeit von Virtualität und Aktualität. Irrationale Zahl. Das Hyperset.

Meditations on an Exhibition: „The Art of the Viennese Watercolor“ (Albertina)

Otto Weininger says intensity and comprehesiveness of memory is a defining feature of genius, and I think also Proust´s undertaking is about the possibility to enliven memory and, through that, make one´s own subjectivity more compact and immediate – maybe also more objective, since memories amalgamate the subject with an object experience and the world. I have to say that I also need to have everything on my monitor and that memory plays a vital role for me. Think of me being surrounded with an atmosphere that is memory and that I want to have present and compact. In contrast to the intelligent person the memory of the creative person will not necessarily be (quasi-) eidetic and textual, it will rather be associative and hypertextual. There! It happens I think of something, and then my memory often delivers me an instant from the past that somehow goes along with it – combining the thought/idea and the memory usually amplifies both and adds up to harmony. It becomes immersive. – Being immersive, or enabling immersion, is also an element of art. So I enjoyed the current exhibition at the Albertina: „The Art of the Viennese Watercolor“, showing watercolour paintings from Austrian artists, most of them from the 19th century, many of them from the glorious Biedermeier period. They usually portray everyday life scenes, and it moves me a lot to look at all these people and sceneries respectively to dive into my extented national memory and try to enliven them. They become present. Often these street scenes are from a time when also Beethoven used to walk those streets. There are also children in it and for instance in Karl Postl´s „View on Prague from an Archway“ (ca. 1800) you have a child accompaning her mother at the center. As you remember, I get immersed into children as they embody potential, becoming and the openness of future – and, therein somehow paradoxically, those children are long gone. I wonder what those people´s lives have been? Their individual experiences, their memories, their happinesses, their sorrows? I would like to get into every house of the world, not only in our time, but throughout all history, and investigate. That will feel good (?). Those watercolour painings are very enlivened, very immersive. Ahh, the innocence of perception of them painters and their high level of awareness and empathy for their surroundings! You become a part of something when you dive into those paintings. As for more specific purposes: Take a look, in great astonishment, in the amazing detailedness of Rudolf von Alt´s works! See how Peter Fendi, with his a bit dissoluting style, creates some sense of double identity of the world and of the social realm! Check out how August von Pettenkofen (a solitary eccentric) pushes that even further, into the twilight realm! The exhibition „The Art of the Viennese Watercolor“, does it bring me some happiness and relief? Yes, it does. And what an impression of nature there is in all that!

(Note that only Rudolf von Alt´s „Der Traunsee“ was part of the exhibition, and that both Fendi´s and Pettenkofen´s are oil on canvas, but I like them and good pics of the paintings aren´t so easy to find and you should go to the exhibition and get the book about the exhibition anyway.)

UPDATE 5. März 2018

About People That Run Amok and Science Cranks

America has a problem with gun fetishism, due to a cowboy-macho mentality, and since people mimic other people there is an ongoing tradition of the USA being plagued by mass shootings. I.e. there are people with some sinister character that more easily hear their „call“ (to become mass shooters) in an environment where there are also other people who do – in contrast to the notion that such people are „ticking time bombs“ that are set to „inevitably“ explode I guess most people with sinister character won´t (at a large scale): it depends on their environment on how much they get triggered to really act out like that. Mass shooters seem to be a mysterious case since they usually accept their own death or being thrown into jail for lifetime (and I guess a substantial amount of people who may want to become mass shooters are held back just because of this perspective). What is the damage that is inside them? I remember there was a dicussion about the condition of Norway´s mass murderer/terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, of whether he is actually insane or can be held accountable for his acts (i.e. suffers from paranoid schizophrenia or has a massive personality disorder which however does not render him truly insane). There were psychiatrists who considered him insane and others who did not (public pressure however has been on being able to hold Breivik accountable for his deeds, which he also strived for himself). I remember how an Austrian psychiatrist said in an interview that the „insane“ grin of Breivik would remind him of a patient he had in an insane asylum that had cut off his penis but simply smiled at him, like a naughty child, showing his parents the mess it had done. I was wondering what kind of insanity that could be? Are there more, and more individual forms of insanity than just schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? I also remember a Norwegian psychiatrist who had to deal with Breivik in his youth said he was thinking Breivik had Asperger Syndrome (which may lead to difficulties in capacity to empathise, though more in the intellectual sense than in the moral or emotional sense). More recent American mass shooter Adam Lanza was also believed to have been aspergeroid. Could it be that an Aspie with an evil character and who had to suffer severe frustrations due to being a social misfit can turn into a monster? In some cases, maybe. However, I also read a „confession“ of another young mass shooter once (respectively I have screened it since it consisted of ca. 150 pages): It was a quite bright teenager, maybe with IQ 150, who had written a lenghty, well elaborated statement, the message however was that he was jealous of other (supposedly) happy (and romantically engaged) teenagers and hated them – as he did not consider himself able to ever lead such a happy life. So some kind of teenage angst – it remained unclear why, at such a young age, he considered himself unlikely to ever be able to live a life like those he envied – however, given the darkness or emptiness of his soul his guess that he wasn´t loveable (which he did not express directly, although I have read only parts of the suicide note) was likely correct. What is astounding is the level of hatred against a world about which he felt that it had wronged him and that he would have deserved better. I also remember a case of a juvenile interviewed in prison who had murdered someone, because he had felt that all the others at school were „someone“ whereas he himself had been „nothing“ – and so, in order to be „someone“ he killed a popular girl from high school and went into prison. Strange individuals (also like Mark David Chapman who shot John Lennon in order to become a celebrity himself): Are they extremely narcisstically wounded (due to a personality disorder that makes them so vulnerable) or do they have an even more severe identity diffusion that makes them feel so empty inside so as that they commit the most extreme acts, with which they also hurt themselves, just to „be someone“ (in the case of MD Chapman a more severely disturbed case than just a narcissist, reaching into mental illness, seems evident)? There has been an article „Inside the Mind of the Mass Shooter“ in the aftermath of a more recent mass shooting in the USA, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds of people injured at a country music festival in Nevada, carried out by 64-year old Stephen Paddok. The article says mass shooters frequently show signs of paranoid schizophrenia and an illusion of narcissistic grandeur – that has been frustrated, and because of this, they act out, also taking into account their own death which does not matter to them anymore, or is desired by them. Apart from their narcissistic fantasies, which do not unfold in reality, they are obviously so empty inside that all that is left in them is to „settle the scores“ with a world seen as hostile or unworthy, and then obliterate themselves. – As far as I can see, a condition common in mass shooters seems to be a paranoid personality disorder. People with a paranoid personality disorder are extremely touchy against personal setbacks (for which they usually blame others), suspicious and anxious against possible setbacks, they hold long or everlasting grudges, they are argumentative, have a sense of entitlement and often are self-referential or have a superiority complex and fantasise about being omnipotent (in contrast to the narcissist they, therein, do not strive for admiration, neither (in contrast to the histrionic) for attention, but obviously just for power respectively for being regarded as superior for its own sake). There does not seem to be so much inside them concerning warmheartedness, their emotional apparatus rather mainly consists of feelings of anger and resentment. When, in their fantasies of superiority they see themselves questioned by others (regardless of whether that is the intention of the other person or not), they become extremly angry and, in a way of projecting their own hostility into others, paranoid (and maybe also their fantasies of large conspiracies against them is a projection of their own grandiose and grand-scale fantasies). Paranoids aren´t easy people and they are likely to become ever more lonely in the course of their life. A paranoid personality disorder can also develop into a paranoid schizophrenia. I think that paranoids aren´t just paranoid i.e. suspicious and deluded (maybe due to an attachment disorder in early childhood) but that they (at least in many cases) have severe problems of regulation of self-esteem and that their paranoia is to a considerable degree a projection of their own proneness to feel hostility towards others. They may lack inner resources and inner riches. They may even know that their paranoid fantasies are bs and irrational, but they hold on to them since they comfort them emotionally. So I guess paranoid personality disorder probably is the most frequent condition inside the mind of mass shooters. (However, among the possibly many causes a murderous instinct may also be caused by a brain tumor: Such was obviously the case of famous mass shooter Charles Whitman who went up a tower and shot several people and made it very difficult to catch him in the 1960s – he had been a normal guy who had become increasingly plagued by the desire to murder and, therein, felt that something „wasn´t right with his brain“ – after his death a tumor was found in his brain. Likewise, also another special breed – serial killers – aren´t necessarily lunatics or sociopaths. They might be neurotypical – apart from the fact that they have murderous impulses inside them. Also sadists aren´t necessarily sociopaths: that they get triggered by sadistic fantasies may be an isolated feature in the arena of their entire personality.)

A while ago also the crackpot/crank personality attracted my attention. A crank is someone who inflexibly holds on to beliefs that are widely considered as wrong (or not-even-wrong) or irrational, obviously as, although cranks may appear to be humble, they also have a massive desire to see themselves as superior towards others. According to Wikepedia characteristics of cranks include: 1) Cranks overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate that of acknowledged experts 2) Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important 3) Cranks rarely, if ever, acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial 4) Cranks love to talk about their own beliefs, often in inappropriate social situations, but they tend to be bad listeners, being uninterested in anyone else’s experience or opinions 5) Cranks seriously misunderstand the mainstream opinion to which they believe that they are objecting 6) Cranks stress that they have been working out their ideas for many decades, and claim that this fact alone entails that their belief cannot be dismissed as resting upon some simple error 7) compare themselves with luminaries in their chosen field (often Einstein, Newton, Edison, etc.) implying that the mere unpopularity of some belief is in itself evidence of plausibility 8) Cranks claim that their ideas are being suppressed, typically by secret intelligence organizations, mainstream science, powerful business interests, or other groups which, they allege, are terrified by the possibility of their revolutionary insights becoming widely known 9) Cranks appear to regard themselves as persons of unique historical importance. – So, although „perhaps surprisingly, many cranks may appear quite normal when they are not passionately expounding their cranky belief, and they may even be successful in careers unrelated to their cranky beliefs“, also the crank condition seems to be an expression of a personality disorder. But what common personality disorder would apply? Obviously you have narcissistic, histrionic and schizotypal features here, yet neither NPD, HPD or StPD seem to truly apply. Upon relfection, it may also be paranoid personality disorder, if we consider the problem of self-esteem regulation, desire for quasi-omnipotence and holding on to colossal belief systems which turn into the delusion of colossal conspiracies being plotted against oneself when ego becomes frustrated. In the German version of the crackpot article on Wikipedia there is a link to the querulant, a somehow similar condition to that of the crank, and as it turns out, querulant behaviour is regarded to stem out of a paranoid condition. Personality disorders are often hidden and people with personality disorders may „function“ relatively well in everyday life – only when you meet them more intimately you see there is something wrong with them. On the other hand, when you meet someone who acts inappropriately and inflexible there is a high probability that such a person has a personality disorder. There is a continuum between (harmless) eccentricities and massive personality disorders. It is good to have knowledge about psychopathology since you are about to meet many people equipped with such a disorder and they may bring severe upheaval in your life. Walter Riso, a therapist who has written a valuable book about dangerous romantic liaisons with problematic people estimates that 20 – 30 percent of people are equipped with PDs („and if we take into account lighter cases, that number would increase significantly once more“). Meditate about that.

Individuals who (obviously) combine a high IQ with a paranoid personality disorder may have been Bobby Fisher, Ted „Unabomber“ Kaczynski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Christopher Langan. Bobby Fisher was an entertaining and flamboyant chess genius before he turned into a person that made antiamerican and antisemitic comments at every occasion, as if he had been compulsed to do so. At September 11 2001 he welcomed the terrorist attacks (in a Japanese radio show) as „wonderful news“ and in his last radio interview in Iceland (where he lived in „exile“) he could not refrain expressing his sympathies for the North Korean Dear Leader. Yet already in former times it had been noted that Fisher was deeply troubled, arrogant and with a short temper, which however he had managed to somehow balance with being funny and exiting and a genius. Psychologists noted that for Fisher playing and winning at chess was about fantasies of power, and in a TV interview he once gave answer to the question what he would experience as „the greatest pleasure“ in chess: The moment when he „breaks the opponents ego“. – Ted Kaczynski was a normal child at first. At age 2 however he suffered from a shock of the immune system and had to be isolated in hospital. After that experience he had become a very reclusive child and person. I guess, apart from genetic disposition, personality disorders stem out from severe frustrations in early infancy where the infant does not have a fully developed concept of self and the own body and cannot recall memories (therefore, unlike neuroses, personality disorders do not appear as something „attached“ to a personality, but an element deeply ingrained in that personality itself). Apart from being a maths genius hardly understood by anyone Kaczynski became a reclusive and bizarre individual who gave up mathematics to become the Unabomber. Despite employing a primitivistic (and a bit Rousseauian) ideology he admitted to himself that the true motive for his criminal crusade had been his „hatred“ for people. When I once took a short look at his manifest, I noticed that it was full of paranoid hatred against the political left (I would have liked to analyse that further since it appeared to me as an expression of an inferiority complex, respectively a hatred against everything that is „soft“ and tolerant because of self-hatred for one´s own perceived inner weakness, but I am not interested to do that at the moment). – I have not read or studied Jean-Jacques Rousseau a lot, but it is commonplace that he sent his offspring to orphanages and that after a while he antagonised against everyone, became suspicious about Voltaire et al. betraying him or plotting against him. When he finally arrived in England, David Hume welcomed him, therein dismissing warnings that Rousseau is known as a problematic person, only to find those warnings justified after a while. Maybe his entire apparently humanistic but also anti-civilisational philosophy is an expression of his paranoid condition, an attack against a society about which he thought that it did him wrong (note that intellectually a paranoid person may well be a humanist). – Christopher Langan is noted as a person with one of the highest IQs currently on stage. He developed a metaphysics, the Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe (CTMU) as a „Theory of Everything“ (ToE) i.e. as a „theory of theories“ that finally explains (or provides a framework for understanding) the entire reality. I have read  some of his texts and also the counterarguments by others (which Langan however says they do not exist or are invalid) but still do not know what to think about it. As far as I can see it contains at least some plausible claims or suggestions as well as apparent exaggerations, as Langan claims he can prove the existence of God, of the afterlife, of the ethical character of reality and the like (note that in Langan´s theory those categories are somehow distingiushed from what is commonly understood by them). I cannot discuss the CTMU at the moment, but, as Christopher Langan appeared on Facebook (in a group for discussion of the CTMU) a while ago, I can discuss his behaviour: He joined the group as people in it have expressed curiosity why Langan had spoken out for Donald Trump. He went there to explain his motives and since then, apart from engaging in discussion and explaining about the CTMU, he compulsively rants against academia (which he flat out denounces as all corrupt and interested in anything but scientific truth), immigrants, left-wingers, „cultural marxists“, tech-billionaires, („stooge-like“ and sociopathic) politicians, atheists, (philosophical) materialists, liberals and people who don´t stick to guns – regardless of whether it is any issue in the respective thread or not. He bitterly blames „academia“ for not being „famous like Einstein“ and disrespecting the CTMU (what he fails to mention however is that the CTMU has also met opposition in the high IQ communities) and, as it becomes apparent after a while, he rants against the elites as well as the more stupid parts of the populace of a world that fails to acknowledge that the CTMU is the greatest intellectual achievement of all time and the overall solution to everything and that Christopher Langan is the greatest genius of all time and the greatest saviour since Jesus Christ (as, concerning the more stupid parts of the populace, he likes to engage in dreaming about eugenics). There is some rationality and things being worthy of consideration in what he says, but it becomes apparent that Langan says them for psychological reasons and that he is not at all a balanced individual. In arguments he goes ad hominem pretty quickly and he employs an uncannily contemptuous and scornful language in which he dehumanises others: he does not radiate much goodness and warmheartedness. He is excessively self-referential and, in contrast to humbleness and proneness to question and re-evalute one´s own ideas and beliefs as common characteristics of the genius he never ever comes up with any sort of „self-irony“. He is excessively sensitive to being „trolled“ (which, of course, he occassionally gets, however he seems to understand every disagreement as „trolling“, specifically if the other person has a point: in such a case, when he runs out of arguments, he simply derisively claims that he is much smarter and the other person an idiot). Like the paranoid person I have personally known, he permanently complains how hard his life is and how „infinitely entitled“ immigrants are (because of plutocratic-cultural marxist anti-christian conspiracy engineered by tech-billionaires and the government (if it is run by democrats or an „Obamamessiah“ and where only Trump can be a saviour)). Concerning his fantasies about conspiracies and plots he even goes that far to come up with conspiracy theories that the attacks of 9/11 were an inside job carried out by the government (and fantasises about the purpose having been to distract public attention from the game-changing and mass illuminating CTMU) – whereas no serious intellectual, regardless of nationality or ideological affiliation comes up with such a thing since to anyone who is capable of critical thinking it is evident that those conspiracy theories are much less plausible than the „official version“. In general, also as an intellectual he is pretty picky in taking into account stuff that confirms his vision and neglects stuff that does not. For someone who claims to be „closer to absolute truth than anyone else“ in history, Langan is quite casual in making claims he, at least somehow, knows himself that they aren´t exactly appropriate or pay tribute to „absolute truth“, but preeminently serve the purpose of comforting him emotionally. For someone who humble-brags „Do I think this (my achievements/IQ) makes me better than anyone? No, I still work in a bar“ he is quite immodest (note: the quotes are from a video portrait about Langan easily to be found on Youtube). And, at any rate, someone who claims to be the „smartest man in America“ and then speaks out for Trump! Ok, granted that Langan is a conservative, but also most of the more illuminated conservatives turned away from Trump. However, Langan finally makes it clear that he endorsed Trump because Trump runs against left-wingers and „cultural marxists“ which he deems accountable for lack of success of the CTMU – I mean, so much for Langan as an honest intellectual who claims being solely interested in the progress and enlightenment of humanity, but endorses an aggressively anti-intellectual/scientific individual who is a slap in the fucking face for any rational person and is irresponsible enough to elect someone like Trump into the most decisive office in the world! Ok, granted again, Trump is a personality disorder guy and a narcissist like Langan, but an intellectual should first and foremost ask whether someone is intellectually honest and accountable. – To sum up, while operating at a high intellectual level and at least containing elements that should not be dismissed the CTMU makes the impression of being something Christopher Langan wants to come up with to prove that he is the greatest genius in history (i.e. a toy, not a theory). Certain paranoid elements like its grand dimensionality, dismissal of „moral relativism“ in favor of an absolute truth/logos that Langan equates to a pantheistic/psychic deity (that equates to the universe itself) (and where Langan is his prophet) seem to be there, or could be interpreted along these lines. – I actually feel a bit uneasy mentioning all of that since Chris Langan hasn´t done anything bad on me personally, but I am, among other things, here to document my age, and that is how he exposes (and deconstructs) himself online (and, as I can see, he doesn´t do it only on Facebook, but also in various other threads on the internet – as for instance HERE). I have been aware of Chris Langan for some years now and have been reading and observing this and that in bits and pieces from time to time and did not know what to think about him, but given such exposure – which, by the way, does not invalidate (parts of) his theory, but sheds a strange light on it – I am skeptical.  On Facebook I can even a bit understand his „eccentricity“, as in the respective group there is a considerable number of people who applaud to Langan and kiss his ass to anything this idiot says, no matter how outrageous it ges (for one or many reasons). Even if they are sympathetic to his views or his theory, I do not quite get why many of those folks do not see, at least after a while, that Langan simply is not a balanced individual and that his behaviour is flat out abnormal. Of course, his frustrations can be understood – thinking that he has come up with one of the most significant intellectual/spiritual achievements of all time, with important implications for self-understanding of man and is not credited for it – yet contrary to good intentions, a basic abrasiveness of his personality is obvious (what is most frustrating that some individuals fall out with Langan after a personal unpleasant encounter, but not so often because of his genral behaviour). They think they are geniuses themselves and oh, so special and so damn clever when they endorse Langan and the CTMU, or so. Concerning true geniuses, it gives me an indication why folks like Einstein preferred to solely talk at length with Gödel, Nietzsche went to Sils Maria, Wittgenstein went to Norway to think or to Lower Austrian children to communicate or Emily Dickinson refused to leave her house after a while (as now does Perelman). I mean, those highly gifted physicists around Einstein, what did they do? Crying „Hurra!!“ when the First World War broke out, and then again crying uncritically „Hurra!“ when a tricky thing like quantum mechanics manifested! There seems to be a bit of a lack of inner clarity in those people! Even people who are not commonly retarded may follow dangerous leaders. The fog of the world. That is the quintessence of „Moby Dick“.

UPDATE April 1 2018 (sic!): In the CTMU group on Facebook they are meanwhile, spearheaded by Christopher Langan, up to attributing personality/mental disorders to „demons“, with Chris Langan claiming that the CTMU, as a theory of everything, would also allow for a „very advanced theory of demonology“ – without, unfortunately, seeing much use in writing an extensive paper on that subject, since the always ignorant and stupid academia would not be interested in it. („While the CTMU happens to support the development of a very advanced „theory of demonology“, this is not something in which most academic journals would presently be interested. (A shame, given the liabilities of abjectly clamming up and letting a howling pack of oligarchical demons do a collective hotdog dance on the face of humanity.)“)

White Light from the Mouth of Infinity

Recently I bought me some books, anthologies by female Christian mystics Mechthild of Magdeburg, Teresa of Avila and Marguerite Porete (as well as male Christian mystic Dionysius the Areopagite (although Dionysius probably also was a woman, since his true identity remains obscure – therefore s/he is also commonly referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius)). Mysticism strives for the unio mystica, the becoming one with deity through purification of personality (which is therefore often a nuisance to clerics, since it undermines the authority of the church as intermediary between man´s world and the divine: especially Mechthild had no easy life and Marguerite was sentenced to death by the Inquisition). Especially both Teresa and Marguerite were talking about stages of enlightenment, in the highest form the soul becomes a medium of divine perception. Teresa said, God can be understood as a diamond, greater than the entire world, where everything can be seen, and in which she happened to see herself and her actions at incredibly speed and heavily concentrated (leaving her a bit embarassed to see her noble deeds as well as her sins without any true distance from each other). Such a soul has been touched by the divine light. Yet, interestingly, both Teresa and Marguerite say that seeing the divine light is just a short flash, that may happen only once or a few times in life. Full unio mystica, i.e. becoming one with the divine light, is only possible after death, in this life the soul is to still remain in the body and to wander the earth, and also the fully developed mystic still remains, in parts, an earthly, human creature that is object of suffering and possible setbacks. – I am somehow relieved to hear that from such distinguished persons, since I was thinking that my own enlightenment was incomplete. Furthermore, I see there seems to be no use in expecting anything more than that, to achieve an entire clear (of complete balancedness): No hope = no fear. Bucke wrote in his book about Cosmic Consciousness about the white light, and also Colin Wilson wrote about it in The Outsider. Colin Wilson saw the white light too at a young age, and he said all his life has been a strive to bring back that moment. I also saw the white light when I was writing my second book, I thought, compared to the epiphanies described by those people mine was a weak epiphany, but I think indeed it was a higher one, since I am more rational than they are/were. Bucke said, of all the enlightened people in history Walt Whitman was the only true (highly modern) individual that did not fall prey or become an instrument of his divine perception, but rather turned it into an instrument for himself. I think I also remain in control (if I am not mistaken about my enlightenment at any rate). I called this form of enlightened perception the White Lodge, as readers of my convulsions may now know. (Dionysius the Areopagite spoke of God as a „dark light“ that illuminates the earth, but that can be truly seen only through his absence to the obvious gaze. A deep bass I connect synaeasthetically with the headlight of this dark light).

White Light from the Mouth of Infinity is a major album by Swans. It combines the most outstanding songwriting, majestic elegy, triumphantly arranged, with extremely depressing lyrics. The cover is one the coolest I´ve ever seen. On the front you have a human rabbit, reaching out his carrot antenna at the end of the world, likely in search for someone else, his soulmate, his counterpart. On back you have him eventually have found him. I wrote to Jarboe many years ago and mentioned the album and the artwork, she was asking in return whether I want to purchase the original artwork „at a reasonable price“. But I could not afford it anyway. In my apartment there is a poster of it, hanging on the wall nevertheless.

Wir wollen also sagen, die Gottheit sei wie ein überaus klarer Diamant, der weit größer ist als die ganze Welt, oder ein Spiegel nach der Art desjenigen, welcher in der früher gedachten Vision die Seele empfing, nur dass er auf eine weit erhabenere Weise sich zeigte; auf eine Weise, die ich nicht hoch genug vorzuführen vermag und dass alles, was wir tun, in diesem Diamanten gesehen wird, so gesehen wird, dass er alles in sich schließt, und weil es nichts gibt, was über diese Größe hinausgeht.

Staunenswert war es für mich, in so kurzer Zeit so vieles in diesem klaren Diamanten nebeneinander zu erblicken. Höchst bedauerlich ist es mir andererseits jedes Mal, wie so garstige Dinge, wie es meine Sünden sind, sich in jener klaren Lauterkeit ebenfalls darstellten. Gewiss, wenn ich daran denke, weiß ich nicht, wie ich es ertragen kann. Deshalb wurde ich auch mit Scham erfüllt, dass ich nicht wusste, wohin ich mich wenden sollte…

Teresa von Avila