Saturday, January 31, 2009

New url

I've moved Most Awesomest Sentences to a bigger and better url--- go to the new tumblr address below from now on:

The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre Pt. 3

First published in 1974, this is disgustingly prescient:

Investment in 'real estate', ie. in the production of space, continues to involve a higher proportion of variable as compared with constant capital. The organic composition of capital is weak in this sphere, despite the high level of investment called for and despite the rapidity of technological progress.... The mobilization of space becomes frenetic, and produces an impetus towards the self-destruction of spaces old andnew. Investment and speculation cannot be stopped, however, nor even slowed, and a vicious circle is thus set up. A strategy based on space, even if we leave military and political projects out of the picture, must be considered a very dangerous one indeed, for it sacrifices the future to immediate interests while simultaneously destroying the present in the name of a future at once programmed and utterly uncertain. (336)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre Pt. 2

So, this is my second time reading Production of Space and I'm really trying to 'get it' this time.

I'm on day 3.5 of reading it along with secondary material. While in the delirious dream-zone that one is liable to drift into while trudging through oftentimes incomprehensible French theory, where an avant-garde of purple bunny rabbits violently takes up arms against the top hatted fat cat bourgeoise for control of the relations of production and social relations of reproduction--- i was awoken by the little gem of a passage below.

All the sudden Lefebvre went from simultaneously lambasting french semiotics and its deconstruction to writing what can't be described as anything other than French Marxist Erotica:
The verticality and political arrogance of towers, their feudalism, already intimated the coming alliance between Ego and Phallus... The Phallus is seen. The female genital organ, representing the world remains hidden. The prestigious Phallus, symbol of power and fecundity, forces its way into view by becoming erect. (261-2)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre

“Abstract space, the space of the bourgeoise and of capitalism, bound up as it is with exchange (of goods and commodities, as of written and spoken words, etc.) depends on consensus more than any space before it. It hardly seems necessary to add that within this space violence does not always remain latent or hidden. One of its contradictions is that between the appearance of security and the constant threat, is indeed the occasional eruption of violence" (57).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Boredom" by Siegfried Kracauer

Today is a tie between two sentences from the first page of Kracauer's essay "Boredom" from The Mass Ornament. If you haven't read this essay and work the 9-5 (especially doing a job you dislike), check it out... it's only four pages.
People today who still have time for boredom and yet are not bored are certainly just as boring as those who never got around to being bored (331).
Yet the vulgar boredom of daily drudgery is not actually what is at issue here, since it neither kills people nor awakens them to new life, but merely expresses a dissatisfaction that would immediately disappear if an occupation more pleasant than the morally sanctioned one became available (331).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Performance as Political Act by Randy Martin (1990)

While the rest of Martin's book is nearly too theoretically dense to follow (and sometimes even obtuse), chapter 1, "When Consciousness is not Enough," is borderline brilliant.
To the extent that consciousness, even when it occurs as countermeanings, appears as the only road to revolt, we are left with the paradox that the very means to express opposition is the same as the means of control" (1990, 7).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Transformative Power of Performance by Erika Fischer-Lichte

I've included multiple sentences today, but pay special attention to the 'tautology' line.
I perceive something as something. The things signify what they are or as what they appear. To perceive something as something means to perceive it as meaningful. Materiality, signifier, and signified coincide in the case of self-referentiality. Materiality does not act as a signifier to which this or that signified can be attributed. Rather, materiality itself has to be seen as the signified already given in the materiality perceived by the subject. To use a tautology, the thing's materiality adopts the meaning of its materieality, that is, of its phenomenal being. What the object is perceived as is what it signifies.
If only the last sentence is a tautology, I wonder what Professor Dr. Dr. Fischer-Lichte would describe the six before it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"The Metropolis and Mental Life" by Georg Simmel

Yes this sentence written in 1903 is ONE (1) sentence.

Yes, a 152 word sentence.

You may have seen better, but you probably didn’t care enough to type it all out. And now, without further ado:

The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition; the nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man’s freedom, his individuality (which is connected with the division of labor) and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much the more dependent on the complementary activity of others; Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while Socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition-- but in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work, namely the resistance of the individual to being leveled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Postdramatic Theatre by Hans-Thies Lehmann (2)

Lehmann offering another paraphrase:
If some people no longer want to give the name theatre to such a practice situated between 'theatre', performance, visual art, dance, and music, we should not hesitate to turn to Brecht, who proposed ironically that when people no longer wished to call his new forms 'theatre', they could call them 'thaetre' instead.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Postdramatic Theatre by Hans-Thies Lehmann

Today I quote someone's paraphrase of someone else's (Heiner Müller) anecdote about someone else:
Heiner Müller once said he only knew one postmodern poet: August Stramm-- a modern poet who worked at the post office.

Seduction by Jean Baudrillard

Hmmm... if you understand this, let me know....
To produce is to materialize by force what belongs to another order, that of the secret; seduction removes from the order of the visible, while production constructs everything in full view, be it an object, a number, or a concept. (Baudrillard, Seduction: 34).

Monday, January 12, 2009

From Hitler to Heimat by Anton Kaes

Rules this blog have to be decided at some point.

Can I quote quotes that are quoted in the books I'm reading? If so, I would be including a quote from Rainer Werner Fassbinder today, which really isn't fair since pretty much anything Fassbinder said is usually quote-able (ie. . Instead, here's Tony Kaes reflecting on Fassbinder's film, The Marriage of Maria Braun:
In principle the story in Maria Braun also continues after the violence exit of the protagonist. At the very moment when the explosion ends the lives of the private individuals, the rise of Germany as "world champion" begins. "We're somebody again," the Germans said proudly during the reconstruction period. This famous slogan is indicative of precisely the attitude of complacenct and amnesia that Fassbinder wanted to destroy- a terrorist act that included self-destruction. (Kaes 1989, 103)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber (forthcoming 2009)

David Graeber was kind enough to pass along the rough manuscript of his upcoming behemoth of an ethnography on direct action activism and the alternative globalization 'movement'-- soon to be published by AK Press. In the midst of ripping into academic marxists and calling Hakim Bey "an insane Ismaili poet with an erotic obsession with young boys," the controversial anthropologist posits this gem:
So what do police actually do? If one goes just in terms of how police spend the bulk of their time, one can only conclude that we are dealing with a group of armed, lower-echelon government administrators, trained in the scientific application of physical force or the threat of physical force to aid in the resolution of administrative problems. Police are bureaucrats with guns. (Graeber 2009, 305)

Unmarked: The Politics of Performance by Peggy Phelan

My second post and I've already posted something that is more than just one sentence.

Corporeal bodies amid real objects: realistic theatre employs properties which reproduce the effects of the real. These props index the failure of representation to reproduce the real. The real inhabits the space that representation cannot reproduce— and in this failure theatre relies on repetition and mimesis to produce substitutes for the real. Behind the effects of the real is a desire to experience a first cause, an origin, an authentic beginning which can only fail because the desire is experienced and understood from and through repetition. (Phelan 1993, 125)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

from Psychic Life of Power

For the next three months I'll be cramming, ahem, studying for my phd qualifying exams. To document the excruciating process, (almost) each day I'll be posting the most awesomest sentence that I come across while reading that day.

The most awesomest sentence can be the longest, most confusing, most thought-provoking, worst, lamest, most interesting, or just awesomest sentence of that day.

To start off the process, it's only appropriate to begin with that Master-of-the-tortuous-yet-strangely-clear sentence, Judith Butler:

from The Psychic Life of Power:
Theories in Subjection
I could not be who I am if I were to love in the way that I apparently did, which I must, to persist as myself, continue to deny and yet unconsciously reenact in contemporary life with the most terrible suffering as its consequence. (Butler 1997, 9)