louden lots bit by bit; On falling into filth with Percy Grainger and Daniil Kharms

Grainger was a vegetarian who was not particularly fond of vegetables, and lived variously on nuts, boiled rice, wheatcakes, cakes, bread and jam, ice cream and oranges. Grainger was a sado-masochist, with a particular enthusiasm for flagellation, who extensively documented and photographed everything he and his wife did. His walls and ceilings were covered in mirrors so that after sessions of self-flagellation he could take pictures of himself from all angles, documenting each image with details such as date, time, location, whip used, and camera settings. He gave most of his earnings from 1934–1935 to the University of Melbourne for the creation and maintenance of a museum dedicated to himself. Along with his manuscript scores and musical instruments, he donated the photos, 73 whips, and blood-soaked shirts. Although the museum opened in 1935, it was not available to researchers until later. He was a cheerful believer in the racial superiority of blond-haired and blue-eyed northern Europeans. This led to attempts, in his letters and musical manuscripts, to use only what he called "blue-eyed English" (akin to Anglish and the 'Pure English' of Dorset poet William Barnes) which expunged all foreign (i.e., non-Germanic) influences. In Grainger's writings, a composer was a "tone-smith" who "dished up" his compositions and a piano was a "keyed-hammer-string". He hated Italian terms in music scores; "poco a poco crescendo molto" became "louden lots bit by bit". This bias was not consistently applied though: he was friends with and an admirer of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, and also gave regular donations to African-American causes. Grainger eagerly collected folk music tunes, forms, and instruments from around the world, from Ireland to Bali, and incorporated them into his own works. Furthermore, alongside his love for Scandinavia was a deep distaste for German academic music theory; he almost always shunned such standard (and ubiquitous) musical structures as sonata form, calling them "German" impositions. He was ready to extend his admiration for the wild, free life of the ancient Vikings to other groups around the world, which in his view shared their way of life, such as the ancient Greece of the Homeric epics. Other departures from the common norms of the time included never ironing his shirts and wearing the same clothes for days. He once said "concert audiences can't tell the difference". While in America, he was twice arrested for vagrancy due to his dress. In his later years, when he scavenged in rubbish bins in the middle of the night for parts to make musical instruments, he dressed in his best clothes for the task. Grainger was a stout believer in natural forces and felt that the summer months were meant to be hot and the winter months were meant to be cold. Thus in winter he slept naked with his bedroom windows open, while spending the stifling summer evenings adorned in heavy wool.


"On falling into filth, there is only one thing for a man to do: just fall, without looking round. The important thing is just to do this with style and energy." - D.K.

Daniil Kharms is the best known pen name of Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachev, one of the finest of the Russian avant-garde absurdists. Born in St. Petersburg in 1904 and arrested in 1941 for 'defeatism', he died of starvation in a prison hospital along with so many others. His father, Ivan Iuvachev, was a member of The People’s Will, an organisation that advocated for universal suffrage, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and permanent political representation. He too was arrested.

Kharms once declared that only two things in life are of great worth: humour and saintliness, but against the prevailing Socialist Realist aesthetic, Kharms' saintliness was understandably considered 'antisocial'. Between his birth and death he wrote hundreds of poems and stories, using more than 30 pseudonyms.

The adult prose (Kharms also wrote children's fiction) takes the form of short aphoristic stories, frequently referred to as "incidents". The term comes from the consensus translation of "Sluchai", the name Kharms gave to a cycle of works written between 1933 and 1937 and is often used to refer to a broader class of his writings than the body of the cycle. The incidents range from short to extremely short. An example of the later:

An old man was scratching his head with both hands. In places where he couldn't reach with both hands, he scratched himself with one, but very, very fast. And while he was doing it he blinked rapidly.

Like the French playwright Alfred Jarry, Kharms cultivated a bohemian eccentricity, treating his life as one more artistic medium to be formed, elaborated, and put in the window. Against the backdrop of anti-aristocratic Soviet sentiment and although he was not noble by birth, Kharms cultivated old money charm and petty affectations with what might be called the energetic spirit of 'defeatism'. While those accused of being former noblemen were being deported, or worse, Kharms carried silver goblets in his briefcase and wasted few opportunities to display his 'family heirlooms'. With friends, in workers bars, and anywhere else cups were required, he would make a point of refusing to drink from anything else.

He would wear a false moustache to the opera and declare that to go to the theatre without one was indecent. In the moustache's style and a great many other mannerisms Kharms confessed that he was aping his brother, a Privatdozent at the University of Petersburg, who, Kharms forgot to add, he had also invented.

In his book The Man in the Black Coat : Russia's Literature of the Absurd, George Gibian writes - "One of Kharms' friends, Vladimir Lifshits, wrote in his recollections of the poet that his room was sparsely, ascetically furnished. In one corner a strange object stood out in the almost empty room. It was made of pieces of iron, wooden boards, empty cigarette boxes, springs, bicycle wheels, twine, and cans. When Lifshits asked what it was, Kharms replied, 'A machine.'
'What kind of machine?'
'No kind. Just a machine in general.'
'And where does it come from?'
'I put it together myself,' Kharms said proudly.
'What does it do?'
'It does nothing.'
'What do you mean nothing?'
'Simply nothing.'
'What is it for?'
'I just wanted to have a machine at home.' "

and the following from a wonderful short story called The Old Woman, A Tale

The offensive shouting of urchins can be heard from the street. I lie there, thinking up various means of execution for them. My favourite one is to infect them all with tetanus so that they suddenly stop moving. Their parents can drag them all home. They will lie in their beds unable even to eat, because their mouths won't open. They will be fed artificially. After a week the tetanus can pass off, but the children will be so feeble that they will have to lie in their beds for a whole month. Then they will gradually start to recover but I shall infect them with a second dose of tetanus and they will all croak.
I lie on the couch with my eyes open and I can't get to sleep. I remember the old woman with the clock whom I saw today in the yard and feel pleased that there were no hands on her clock. Only the other day in the second-hand shop I saw a revolting kitchen clock and its hands were made in the form of a knife and fork.
Now I feel sleepy but I am not going to sleep. I get hold of a piece of paper and a pen and I am going to write. I feel within me a terrible power. I thought it all over as long ago as yesterday. It will be the story about a miracle worker who is living in our time and who doesn't work any miracles. He knows that he is a miracle worker and that he can perform any miracle, but he doesn't do so. He is thrown out of his flat and he knows that he only has to wave a finger and the flat will remain his, but he doesn't do this; he submissively moves out of the flat and lives out of town in a shed. He is capable of turning this shed into a fine brick house, but he doesn't do this; he carries on living in the shed and eventually dies, without having done a single miracle in the whole of his life.

Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you.

Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism.

H.P.; + Métal Hurlant - french sci-fi mag; + Germaine Krull - Série Métal 1927; + Aelita - constructivist sci-fi flick 1924; + Chris Marker - Sans Soleil 1983 + La Jetée 1962.

An even better introduction to Aelita and all things sci-fi can be found here, at ssforward

-The moon, which already, by then, will have begun to rot. -The moon is old, Ofwfq agreed; Fourier & Calvino

Fourier is so prodigal in his invention and his crazy descriptions that Lerminier justifiably compares him to Swedenborg… Fourier, too, was at home in all skies and all planets. After all, he calculated mathematically the transmigration of the soul, and went on to prove that the human soul must assume 810 different forms until it completes the circuit of the planets and returns to earth, and that, in the course of these existences, 720 years must be happy, 45 years favourable, and 45 years unfavourable or unhappy. And has he not described what will happen to the soul after the demise of our planet, and prophesied, in fact, that certain privileged souls will retire to the sun? He reckons further that our souls will come to inhabit all other planets and worlds, after spending 80,000 years on planet Earth. He calculates, in addition, that this termination of the human race will occur only after it has enjoyed the benefits of the boreal light for 70,000 years. He proves that by the influence, not of the boreal light, to be sure, but of the gravitational force of labor,… the climate of Senegal will become as moderate as summers in France are now. He describes how, once the sea has turned to lemonade, men will transport fish from the great ocean to the inland seas, the Caspian, the Aral, and Black Seas, given that the boreal light reacts less potently with these salty seas; and so, in this way, saltwater fish will accustom themselves gradually to the lemonade, until finall they can be restored to the ocean. Fourier also says that, in its eighth ascending period, humanity will acquire the capacity to live like fish in the water and to fly like birds in the air, and that, by then, humans will have reached a height of seven feet and a life span of at least 144 years. Everyone, at that point, will be able to transform himself into an amphibian; for the individual will have the power of opening or closing at will the valve that connects the two chambers of the heart, so as to bring the blood directly to the heart without having it pass through the lungs… Nature will evolve in such fashion, he maintains, that a time will come when oranges blossom in Siberia and the most dangerous animals have been replaced by their opposites. Anti-lions, anti-whales will be at man's service then, and the calm will drive his ships. In this way, according to Fourier, the lion will serve as the best of horses and the shark will be as useful in fishing as the dog is in hunting. New stars will emerge to take place of the moon, which already, by then, will have begun to rot. -Sigmund Engländer on Fourier, 1864; in The Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin

The moon is old, Qfwfq agreed, pitted with holes, worn out. Rolling naked through the skies, it erodes and loses its flesh like a bone that’s been gnawed. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. I remember moons that were even older and more battered than this one; I’ve seen loads of these moons, seen them being born and running across the sky and dying out, one punctured by hail from shooting stars, another exploding from all its craters, and yet another oozing drops of topaz-colored sweat that evaporated immediately, then being covered by greenish clouds and reduced to a dried-up, spongy shell.

What happens on the earth when a moon dies is not easy to describe; I’ll try to do it by referring to the last instance I can remember. Following a lengthy period of evolution, the earth had more or less reached the point where we are now; in other words, it had entered the phase when cars wear out more quickly than the soles of shoes. Beings that were barely human manufactured and bought and sold things, and cities covered the continents with luminous colour. These cities grew in approximately the same places as our cities do now, however different the shape of the continents was. There was even a New York that in some way resembled the New York familiar to all of you, but was much newer, or, rather, more awash with new products, new toothbrushes, a New York with its own Manhattan that stretched out dense with skyscrapers gleaming like the nylon bristles of a brand-new toothbrush.

In this world where every object was thrown away at the slightest sign of breakage or ageing, at the first dent or stain, and replaced with a new and perfect substitute, there was just one false note, one shadow: the moon. It wandered through the sky naked, corroded, and grey, more and more alien to the world down here, a hangover from a way of being that was now outdated.

Ancient expressions like “full moon,” “half-moon,” “last-quarter-moon” continued to be used but were really only figures of speech: how could we call “full” a shape that was all cracks and holes and that always seemed on the point of crashing down on our heads in a shower of rubble? Not to mention when it was a waning moon! It was reduced to a kind of nibbled cheese rind, and it always disappeared before we expected it to. At each new moon, we wondered whether it would ever appear again (were we hoping that it would simply disappear?), and when it did reappear, looking more and more like a comb that had lost its teeth, we averted our eyes with a shudder.

dearest mother, send me immediately a hundred thousand bon bons; criminals, Kantsaywhere, eugenics, & indentification

carissima mamma, mandami subito centomila bon bons se no faccio la cattiva

dearest mother, send me immediately a hundred thousand bon bons if I do not the bad. 

From Writing of a criminal by hypnotic suggestion; Cesare Lombroso.

The above is a google translation and although I know it's not 'correct' I quite prefer it. The bad sums up perfectly the diffuse and unclear boundaries between right and wrong in childhood. The inevitable question to 'don't do that' is 'why?' and often you hear parents saying, 'because it's bad' or simply 'because I said so'. Eugenie is a great little imp. In her desire for bon bons - and with the sense that out of the myriad things that you might feel like doing, some of them are 'bad' and some 'good' and some just go unnoticed (the 'ugly' comes later in this spaghetti western) - she's equating everything that does not lead to bon bons with what she will not do. Bad - no bon bons - won't do it. 

But this is what Nietzsche means when he talks about the 'actual right to make promises' which children don't have because, you can be sure, once those bon bons are in Eugenie's belly and she is oh-so-satisfied and thankyou very much carissima mamma, all bets are off. But we are expected to extend to children the rights (if not the responsibilities) of the adult because they are in potentia - potential full humans. Laws relating to the rights of children are mostly a 19th and 20th century phenomenon and they sprang into being around the same time that laws was being developed to mediate the rights of those considered degenerate, insane, innately criminal, and delinquent. 

Cesare Lombroso was most famous for his book L'uomo delinquente (1878) and was the founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology. Lombroso's general theory suggested that criminals are distinguished from noncriminals by multiple physical anomalies. This is where the Ugly comes in. I suggest heading to Sander Gilman's 1995 book, Picturing Health and Illness: Images of Identity and Difference, where he details the correlation of the unhealthy and the ugly in this crucial 19th century. Back to Lombroso, who postulated that criminals represented a reversion to a primitive or subhuman type of man. This earlier type is characterised by physical features reminiscent of apes, lower primates that are to some extent preserved in modern "savages" (his term). The behaviour of these biological "throwbacks" will inevitably be contrary to the rules and expectations of modern civilised society. Lombroso suggested that the discretion of the doctor as to whether a criminal was born (reo nato) or simply a 'criminaloid' (occasional criminals by 'passion') should be used to decide on a legislated course of action in order to propagate the right plants and weed out the others. 

nota bene the pencil additions of defensive conscience, however commendable in itself.

Social darwinism is the name that was eventually given to these tendencies, but whilst Darwin was worried about 'breeding' - and more specifically about the effects of marriage between cousins because he was married to his - it was Francis Galton, another cousin who Darwin was not married to, who really pushed the agenda. He is famous for his composite photographs (more, hither), an article called Africa for the Chinese (intriguing given the heavy investment of Chinese companies in African resources in recent times - read it, hither) but he also wrote a terrible but very intriguing novel called Kantsaywhere, which is Brave New World written by a statistician, i.e. dry, clinical, lacklustre, and slightly gormless. The narrator is actually a fictional professor of vital statistics at Kantsaywhere, which might explain some of its charmlessness, though the more juicy bits were edited out by his niece, Milly who “destroyed all the story, all poor Miss Augusta, the Nonnyson anecdotes, and in fact everything not to the point”. You can read extracts from the rest of it @ UCL Library Services, hither.

Moholy-Nagy's Painting, Photography, Film shows the possibilities of wireless imaging; 1925

extremities buzzing slightly; book - drugs 2.0; music - fatima al qadiri

Illegal drugs, including LSD in the 1960s, heroin in the 1980s and Ecstasy in the 1980s and 1990s,
have long had a uniquely perturbing influence on the public realm, with the dangers and pleasures
inherent in their consumption splitting users and law makers into opposing camps. Mephedrone,
though, was completely legal. The new drug was, according to toxicologists, ‘two chemical tweaks
away from Ecstasy’. Those tweaks were deliberate, and were made to evade drug laws. Mephedrone
upended all prior hierarchies and caused huge confusion among many users who considered, wrongly,
that since it was legal, it was harmless.
Widely available and hugely popular, mephedrone was the first mass-market ‘downloadable’ drug,
in the sense that it was, uniquely for the mass market, originally only available online. It was like a
narcotic viral video, a digital diversion to be shared with the click of a mouse. In every sense, it was
a radically new game-changer. Mephedrone was the fulcrum, the tipping point that took a clandestine
internet drug scene and dropped it, gurning and wide-eyed, right into the high streets of the UK – and
then into the wider world. The swift and protocol-busting ban on the new drug in the UK did nothing
to eliminate it here or in the EU or the US; it simply handed the market to grateful gangsters who
added the drug to their repertoire, and prompted greater innovation in the chemical underground.

Fatima Al Qadiri; Desert Strike

Born in Senegal, Fatima Al Qadiri grew up in a futuristic yet already vintage Kuwait colonized by skyscrapers with lights ablaze round the clock, Japanese manga imagery and shoot ‘em up video games. This was the substrate, against the backdrop of the Gulf War, on which she has developed an advanced mixture of music borrowed and reinterpreted from different cultural contexts and her own unique imaginary. Babak Radboy, artist and creative director of Bidoun Magazine, as well as a long-time friend, met with her to talk about her influences and the way she manages to keep creative control over her original output.

Babak Radboy: Kuwait is so American.

Fatima Al Qadiri: Kuwait is definitely the most American country in the Arab world. Consider the obesity rate alone: after America we’re the number-two fattest country in the world, per capita. There are so many words in the language to describe fat children! Like, six, at least. It’s a real problem in Kuwait: a whole generation of obese children. Kuwait’s rate of consumption is similar to the U.S. but even more absurd.

BR: Kuwait is a crazy mix: a super-affluent country, yet basically a welfare state, though with a super neo-liberal consumer economy.

FQ: We consume vast amounts of everything. Instagram businesses are a big thing in Kuwait.

Read interview @ moussemag.it, hither/

2.0 x-box + research drugs e.g. (shamelessly edited from a much longer blow by metaphorical blow account found online)

10.45: MXE taken. 

10.56: Extremities buzzing slightly. Can’t feel my toes. 

11.01: Edges are beginning to seem more defined. I have a slight feeling of disassociation with my body. Slightly harder to write. 
11.05: Start playing a game. My friend (N) comes onto xbox Live and we discuss playing co-operatively on something else later. 
11.15: I switch to the suggested game and begin to play. I feel much more like I am IN the game.

11.29: I’m still here. N comes online and we attempt to set up a party. I find it difficult to speak, but tell him why. He is very unimpressed. 
11.44: N leaves in disgust. I continue to spin around in circles and fire at random things. 

11.48: Things ripple lazily around me, but apparently “I laugh at the thought of suppressing it with my iron will” (or so I said according to E). 

12.15: Still here, but difficult to write. 

13.51: The mouse is becoming very hard to move. 

16.00: I have a shave, and look in the mirror to see my face looking much more goat-like than I remembered. No, more as if I have a connection with goats and their natural characteristics. 
16.10: Leave for the station.

Read the rest of A Lazy Morning: An Experience with Methoxetamine (ID 95067) and other such human chronicles at Erowid Experience Vaults, hither.