Robinson psycho killer q?

addendum to Robinsonades…

Let us recap: the book-keeper of bourgeois individualism, Robinson, spends 25 years alone on his island. He is of course psychotic, though perhaps was so from the beginning, a bad son of his father. He spends all his time perfecting his defences, strengthening his compound, building inner keeps and outer ramparts, booby-trap devices and ensnarements, always in preparation for the inevitable confrontation, which of course only comes after 25 years when Robinson attacks. He moves swiftly to kill, albeit in the interests of survival and after the apparently nameless person who escapes the cannibals on a Friday, runs directly towards his secure hidey-hole. Then, without mercy, there is slaughter. And indeed, with Friday, the next group of cannibals who visit the island looking for their friends are also swiftly and magnificently despatched.

Robinson could be the archetype for the vengeful wild-eyed and resourceful forest killer – think Rambo in First Blood. So if Robinson is remembered as a book-keeper, this is an ordered individual entrepreneur who comes to us with blooded hands and can fill his ledger only if we overlook the slave trading, plantation owning, murderous and vengeful killer that he also must be. Psychosis through long isolation on an island can make a Christian god-botherer of anyone I suppose.

both are worse – so both should be destroyed.

Follow the old mole.

Immediately after the collapse of the Documents project, after being expelled by Breton from surrealism, and in the wake of 1929 fiscal crisis, and after meeting Souveraine, Bataille has joined Contre Attack and writes his first major essays for Critique Sociale.

In a first application of a kind of Psychoanalysis to the State, Bataille discusses Homogeneity and Heterogeneity, order and formlessness

A discussion of the state – in terms of authority and adaptation – reduction of difference through compromise OR a strict authority.

Force for cohesion, compromises and adaptation/assimilation

Over against

counter forces that must be controlled, subject to violence (until the latter grouping is marshalled or congeals in an affiliation where anti-homogenous forces adopt the Lumpen – they cannot represent themselves until along comes Bonepart to represent them)

The heterogeneous is impossible to assimilate. The homogenous is useful – all that belongs – democracy, the heterogeneous is useless – sacred, waste, what cannot be assimilated

Regulated exchange versus psycho-social and political excess

[though his essay displays the influence of a somewhat exoticist abstract digestion of French anthropology and its seamles unseemly seizure upon a political project of an almost theoretically openended Marxism, or at least something reducible, later, to the anarchist project against the State/taking a distanced disregard of the block that is the state]

Mana – sacred power (Mauss)

Unproductive expenditure (Marx)

Trash, vermin, violence – affect, repulsion madmen, leaders, poets, mobs – the Lumpen – incommensurate

Fascist leaders are part of heterogeneous existence for various reasons – they will not compromise, they come from the place of the Lumpen (in the sense that they had been previously banished)

But with a force analogous to hypnosis, a charisma, they initiate an affective, seductive effervescence that – through a sort of transcendence of the befouled, senile, rank world, through a sadistic, militaristic, transcendent exclusion (of what could not be assimilated – what Bataille likes, the formless) restores formlessness into a unity of diverse elements that makes much of inversion, of the identity of opposites between glory and dejection, by always being the opposed and marginalised they claim the centre and the place of the sacer – their nature as ‘other’ permits them to represent all

Power here of mana, of the king, the sovereign – yes Agamben plagiarises from this, steals the crown – a divine supremacy (the fuehrer, a prophet – able to remain pure in the midst of an orgy of violence)

So some principles must be considered – Bonapartism is like fascism – paramilitary groups, surface similarities – the soldier then each equates his leader’s glory with his own – in uniformity, and in uniform, standing erect – the formless, lower orders are taught to march in neat lines and feel their power as his power

Infamy and slaughter are transmuted into honour and duty as the glory of a divine nature from the bottom up but religious and militarist, the chief leads the impoverished proletariat – what Mussolini calls a multitude (comment a propos Negri and Hardt??)

When these classes become aware of themselves as a revolutionary proletariat, when this proletariat becomes a point of identification for every banished element, then subversive forms are latched onto by those fallen and banished elements – who can only find these lumpen allies. Of course it’s the socialists that Bataille would like to have succeed here – too many fucking Trotskyites, he is reputed to have said – but he also recognises that it’s the fascists that can triumph too. Thankfully only the ‘very nearly indifferent attitude of the proletariat that has permitted some countries to avoid fascist formations’ – not the proposed strategic anti-fascist alliance of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – such would both improve fascisms chances of taking hold just as it weakens/dilutes the proletarian struggle

Bataille does not want to save bourgeois society from fascism, but rather to see both destroyed. As if quoting Lenin.

And here it is – New Fun*da*mental video

Remote control lyrics 
Verse one 

Dissemination of piss abomination 

This amount of patients reminisce about the ancients 

Be the cannon fodder godless and abandoned

Bodies torn apart martyrdom with the fandom 
( this refers to radicalised brainwashing re isis as

Well as that spread by the system )
Twitter big hitter sacrifice the pig litter 

Crazy fantayzee we spit the prose bitter 

Carcasses are targeted from Mali to the caucuses 

The killer focuses upon the thriller stalkers
( more about the same subject talking about how 

Social media is used to promote hate and 

Also how isis etc destroy sufi graves )
The war hawkers overwhelm the poor talkers 

The doors awkward as it slams behind the mind 

Stand behind the times droning on the land mines

Prone to dam times alone to land crimes 
( talks about how the media savvy brainwash the masses )
I don’t know what I’ve been told 

All I have is no control 

Everything that I’ve been sold 

Makes me jump out of the fold 
Verse two 
Brain overwhelmed train over hell

Genocide ride then given the Nobel 
( refers to Nobel prizes given to mass murderers)
Stripped of dignity in a Boston motel 
( reference to Boston bomber who was arrested naked then ended up killed ) 
Blacks that don’t crack and cops that don’t tell

Kill for a cigarillo side looks suspicious 
( about the killings of african Americans )
Wobblers keep pushing that makes the sidis vicious
( wahabis forcing Sufis to become violent )
Death seek delicious with intent that’s malicious 

Smorgasbord of war keep picking at the dishes 

Contortionists sinister decisions 

The first cut is deeper make the incision 
( about radical grooming again …on both sides )
Televised lies compromise the eye sight 

All that is left brother keep your eyes right 
Verse three 
Purge the anarchy they urge the apathy 
(The west is apathetic)
While those with egos run to the tragedy 
(People running to join isis )
Big majesty rig another ruler 
( royal family preparing next parasite) 
Spin like a hula dead bodies in the cooler 
( brain confusion)
Right track wrong path right smile wrong laugh 
( how extremist faith controls even your emotions)
Soul full of holes maybe take a strong bath 

But the stench of decay just won’t go away 

I’m going grey but today that’s okay 

Money pays for bjs that suck out your dreams 

I’m sitting on the fence cos I’m nobodies team 
(About how wealth sucks out your existence )

New FDM Video drops tomorrow

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 21.52.46

Remote control lyrics (with translation iteration):
Verse one 

Dissemination of piss abomination 

This amount of patients reminisce about the ancients 

Be the cannon fodder godless and abandoned

Bodies torn apart martyrdom with the fandom 
( this refers to radicalised brainwashing re isis as

Well as that spread by the system )
Twitter big hitter sacrifice the pig litter 

Crazy fantayzee we spit the prose bitter 

Carcasses are targeted from Mali to the caucuses 

The killer focuses upon the thriller stalkers
( more about the same subject talking about how 

Social media is used to promote hate and 

Also how isis etc destroy sufi graves )
The war hawkers overwhelm the poor talkers 

The doors awkward as it slams behind the mind 

Stand behind the times droning on the land mines

Prone to dam times alone to land crimes 
( talks about how the media savvy brainwash the masses )
I don’t know what I’ve been told 

All I have is no control 

Everything that I’ve been sold 

Makes me jump out of the fold 
Verse two 
Brain overwhelmed train over hell

Genocide ride then given the Nobel 
( refers to Nobel prizes given to mass murderers)
Stripped of dignity in a Boston motel 
( reference to Boston bomber who was arrested naked then ended up killed ) 
Blacks that don’t crack and cops that don’t tell

Kill for a cigarillo side looks suspicious 
( about the killings of african Americans )
Wobblers keep pushing that makes the sidis vicious
( wahabis forcing Sufis to become violent )
Death seek delicious with intent that’s malicious 

Smorgasbord of war keep picking at the dishes 

Contortionists sinister decisions 

The first cut is deeper make the incision 
( about radical grooming again …on both sides )
Televised lies compromise the eye sight 

All that is left brother keep your eyes right 
Verse three 
Purge the anarchy they urge the apathy 
(The west is apathetic)
While those with egos run to the tragedy 
(People running to join isis )
Big majesty rig another ruler 
( royal family preparing next parasite) 
Spin like a hula dead bodies in the cooler 
( brain confusion)
Right track wrong path right smile wrong laugh 
( how extremist faith controls even your emotions)
Soul full of holes maybe take a strong bath 

But the stench of decay just won’t go away 

I’m going grey but today that’s okay 

Money pays for bjs that suck out your dreams 

I’m sitting on the fence cos I’m nobodies team 
(About how wealth sucks out your existence )

Maharanis Exhibition 3-14 Oct 2015

Tasveer and the Harrington Street Arts Centre are delighted to inform you that the exhibition, Maharanis: Women of Royal India, is currently on view in Kolkata.

Although Indian royalty have in the past formed the subject of several exhibitions and publications, the emphasis of these have always been centred around the figure of the male ruler, or the Maharaja. As a counterpoint to these narratives, this exhibition, organised as part of Tasveer’s 10th anniversary season, focuses on the Maharanis and other royal women of erstwhile Princely India.

Chronicling the historical representation of royal women in India for over half a century, and through it, tracing the changing tropes of photographic portraiture, Maharanis: Royal Women of India includes images from the archives of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), esteemed royal collections from across the subcontinent and other institutional and private collections both in India and abroad such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Amar Mahal Museum & Library in Jammu.

Functioning as documented history, the photographs in this exhibition point us towards the ways in which these women circumvented and reinvented the traditional, or embraced and reinvented the modern. Serving as windows into a time of great political and social change, they allow us to map the transforming modalities and conditions of the princely class, and its complex relationship with colonialism and the British Empire. Understanding the socio-historical significance of these photographs, thus, this exhibition approaches these women — alluring figures who sported chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery, featured in Vogue lists and were touted as fashion icons — as voices from the past that history, and we, have seldom paid attention to.

Maharanis: Women of Royal India, will remain on display until the 14th of October 2015.

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You are receiving this email because you previously expressed an interest in Tasveer.

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*** Hands On Pro! 2015 *** October 21 – November 26

Inline image 1

Hands On Pro! 2015

Free professional development classes for sex workers

October 21 – November 26

Bethnal Green

Hands On Pro consists of a series of workshops aimed at sex workers wanting to learn or develop relevant skills.

Hands On Pro! 2015

Free professional development classes for sex workers

October 21 – November 26

Bethnal Green

Hands On Pro consists of a series of workshops aimed at sex workers wanting to learn or develop relevant skills.



Professional Submission Skillshare

Wednesdays October 21 @ 4pm-6pm & November 4 @ 6:30pm-8:30pm

Playing it Straight: Taxation, Housing and ‘Normal’ Jobs

Friday October 23 @ 2pm-6pm

Web Design

Thursdays October 29, November 5, Nov 12 & Nov 19 @ 10am-12 noon

BDSM Top Skills

Thursdays October 29, November 5 & November 12 @ 12 noon-2pm


Thursdays October 29, November 5 & November 12 @ 2:30pm-4:30pm

Phone and Internet Security

Wednesday November 4 @ 3:30pm-6pm

Image Editing

Wednesday November 11 @ 4pm-6:00pm

Client Screening and Safety Strategies

Wednesday November 11 @ 6:30pm-8:30pm

Massage Skills

Wednesday November 18 3:30pm-6:30pm

Make Up Skills

Thursday November 26 10am-12 noon

Kick Ass Self Defence

Thursdays November 19 & November 26 @ 12 noon-2pm

Tax Pro Tools

Thursdays November 19 & November 26 @ 2:30pm -4:30pm

Hands On Pro is open to anyone who does sex work, and to all genders, ethnicities and abilities. The classes aim to be a safe and confidential space where sex workers can learn new skills and meet peers.

More info on:

Email or text 07914703372 for registration and location.

Please note that the classes are a SEX WORKER ONLY SPACE.

Hands On Pro is organised in the interest of community information and security and is not intended to induce any individual to seek employment in the sex industry.

First Sentence

John Holloway has a thing in the latest HM Journal on the first sentence, but I had not seen it before writing these notes. See a link to his – or at least another verion of it, I dunno if exactly the same – via here. Meanwhile, these notes are the 2011 update of a text published in 2008 in Tom Bunyard’s “Devil’s Party“:

The first sentence

Starting with the difficult scene of commodity exchange, this is nonetheless a very clear and accessible read. Marx’s presentation differs from the mode of inquiry. The commentary on commodities was not his first object of analysis, it is an abstracted presentation, a writerly, rewritten, text.

Marx’s introduction anticipates a great many themes that will recur over and over in the text. Readers are forewarned, the wealth of nations is at stake, there be monsters, in this drama, where production rules, and its very elements, and their abstract form, will be examined.

Look at the first sentence of the text (in English, Penguin translation):

‘The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an “immense collection of commodities”, the individual commodity appears as its elementary form’ (Marx 1867/1976)

I think it is crucial that the commodity is the opening scene of a drama that has a wider purpose for demystifying. It is the opening to a work that will provide the ‘implied reader’ of Capital (I follow Gayatri Spivak’s ‘Scattered Speculations’ essay of 1985 in seeing this reader as first of all a member of the German socialist workers party here, and by extension today, you and I) with the x-ray vision to see through the trick of market exchange, control of production, distribution, valourisation, credit, the varieties of subsumption and the crises of capital, so as to sublate the productive power of capital away from the exploitative production for profit of commodity wealth into a more plentiful abundance of life and creativity for all…

Marx wrote his analysis of capital not only because he wanted to set down the answers, but so that the working class would have the wherewithal to make their own analyses, to read the world. We can have issues with this metaphor, which privileges text as unproblematic transcription, but Marx himself would not have difficulty here.

Who to write for as important as what to say.

So what to say? I would argue that the first sentence is of utmost important because the whole of Capital, in its presentation, is a staged drama. Throughout the literary theatrical code is prominent. Characters when they appear (as personifications, as ‘Moneybags’) perform in Marx’s theatre, even at the very beginning – the ‘immense collection of commodities’ is characterised as something like the World Fair, those mad exhibitions of the produce of the world, before which – in 1851 for example – Marx had marvelled as a visitor at the plunder of the world. The society to be examined is one where the capitalist mode of production prevails – prevails as a kind of monstrous law or power over all (prevails is translated as herrscht , which might be better rendered as rule, govern or controls). And though we are starting with the commodity, the analysis will look to the provenance of all these things, and how production determines exchange, and what follows (see my dispute with Clifford in Hutnyk 2004 chapter 1)

The very first four words of Marx’s Capital are ‘The Wealth of Societies’, surely echoing, as Spivak notes, Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. ‘In the rational plan for socialism’, however, ‘there is no room for nationalism’ (Spivak 2008:100). Against Smith, Marx writes a book that is aimed at overcoming the exploitation and appropriation of wealth that prevails in the capitalist mode of production as a social (class) formation. He writes in order to expose the trick of capital, its deceit and deception.

The wealth of societies is a phrase that should be the first to stop us. Recall that society is not community, think of Tonnies, soon to be writing on this distinction, recall Thatcher, recall Cameron’s big one – the proposal that the support work of social reproduction be further socialized, via all manner of voluntarism, non-remunerated labour, free for all disregard of the hard won concessions that a strong labour movement had wrested fro capital – we will spend considerable time on struggles over the length of the working say, but this is relevant also for family, ethnicity, self-education and a range of other modalities of reproduction, including affective labour in sexual service, family reproduction, marriage and – lets call it compensation dating.

Now, I am not saying we should address each word of Capital with a view to thinking how it is relevant to our circumstances today, to the current conjuncture, etc., though that is pretty much the essay question, but i do think its worth keeping in mind that we read with a contexted eye. This year, of all years, threatens to be interesting and I would like to think reading capital again can help us think differently than we presently do – the only reason to go on thinking at all.

What clinches this argument? The very wording of the opening sentence includes two visual references. In the Penguin edition the German word erscheint is translated as ‘appearance’. The German reads:

Der Reichtum der Gesellschaften, in welchen kapitalistische Produktionsweise herrscht, erscheint als eine “ungeheure Warensammlung”, die einzelne Ware als seine Elementarform.’

The term erscheint occurs just the once here, rendered as two instances of the word ‘appears’ in the English (as cited earlier). This is grammatically acceptable; translation is no pure calculus, but I think there is an important significance that is lost. In the Lawrence and Wishart edition the translation is better: ‘The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities”; its unit being a single commodity’ (Marx 1867/1967:35 my italic). Both editions then go on to say that our investigation therefore begins with the analysis of the commodity. Noting that accumulation is perhaps a better translation that collection, my point is that revealed in the gap between the two English translations of erscheint is the entire burden of Marx’s project – to expose the trick of the commodity as social form so as to teach the working class to see into the mechanics of industrial capital. Erscheinung, in German usage, has a double, or even triple sense. It connotes ‘appearance’ both in terms of how something looks, and in the theatrical sense of putting in an appearance, of staging something; in addition, it also has the sense of an apparition (which is what Derrida makes so much of in Spectres of Marx, although not actually from this sentence; it seems he prefers the Manifesto perhaps because it’s a shorter read [‘A spectre is haunting Europe’]). The ‘presents itself’ of the International edition gets closer to the theatrical sense, but does not capture the doubling nor the monstrous spectre, the trick that is perpetrated by the animated commodity – animated by the masses themselves, though they do not see it as such, yet.

Another point to be made here is that Marx, in that first sentence, quotes himself. Others have pointed to this curiosity (see Pepperell 2009), but Marx had already quipped in a preface that he was ‘coquetting’ with the presentation style of Hegel in setting out his rendering of Capital. This flirtation, that we do not need to take at its somewhat flippant word, is itself a machine for seduction, for storytelling, repetition, and a gamble that starts with a kind of doubled disguise (self quotation from the start) as a tactic. The wealth of societies is Smith, but not Smith, ‘ersheint’ is Hegel, but not Hegel, the commodity is the elementary form, but social, the monster accumulates.

I will also take up, in this first sentence that has detained us already for a long time, and further holds the rest of the text in abeyance, another translation slippage that I think is significant. Within the self quoted quote, the English renders the accumulation of commodities as ‘immense’. Ungeheure can certainly mean immense, or enourmous, but it also evokes a more Gothic meaning, that certainly fits the context – ungeheuerlich is ‘monstrous’, Ungeheuerlichkeit is ‘atrocity’. Perhaps it would be good, even in this first sentence, not to write out the evocations of Marx’s language – the theatrical and the gothic – a book populated by monsters is not merely comic, it is deadly serious, engaged in combat against demons and death.

Ungeheuer is immense but also monstrous. The demonic inflection is intended in Marx’s language. What today is the most monstrous appearance of capital? No longer a commodity economy but an economy economy, an immense collection of abstract shares, interest margins, affective attachement to interest rates and other markers of well-being, all of course based upon property and privilege still, but somewhat more clearly only the appearance of wealth is mediated through salary and bonus and all that can afford. Good schools, white entitlement, supremacy and privilege have never been less obvious as the marks of accumulated wealth of society types.

Appearance is theatrical, yet also a machine of domination. The point is to see though this trick, to see through the plastic appearances. We are not only talking of how things are, but also of how they are made to seem, and how we put up with them, even smiling as we do so. This needs a storyteller’s skill; so that rhetoric, metaphor, trope, coquetting; nothing escapes its role in the system. It might not even be impossible to imagine Marx as the system thinking itself in some contradictory, reflexive and critical manner (self quotation, doubling, haunting itself), but this is of course a fantastical deceit. Marx delivered a book that was itself a machine for narrative action (and still is, it gets inside your head and rewires thought, the tables dance). Now, the book could be read every time and for everyone as a potentially endlessly reorganized and renewed epic (it is hoped), still true to the project of teaching the implied reader to conjure with theory so as to unpack the real – to unpack the wealth of societies in which the capitalism mode of production prevails. Sure, it is a gamble to set out the analysis in a rhetorical style – inevitably part of the culture industry, the book itself still today engages with this gamble: Capital as a radical text sells more in times of crisis than not, and is sold as a commodity in bookshops for gain. It has its own commodity fetish format, precariously inserted into the DNA of the system of co-option and recuperation, even in the radical must-needs product. But the plastic will not remain forever – the reading of Capital is not merely system noise. We want people to read more than the first sentence, but also we want to read with care – and with a view to changing everything because, well – this is too quick, but we know the co-constitution of industry and exploitation cannot be merely described. The point is to change it. Books are also tools, plastic wealth is a trick, the screams of pain are real.

Note: Hans Ehrbar has prepared a resource that presents large sections of the English (Penguin, but often amended) and German (4th Edition) text of Capital in parallel, with significant explication. (Ehrbar 2009

Ehrbar notes that this ‘new’ translation and interpretation of Marx ‘is deeply indebted to Critical Realism, a philosophical current founded by Roy Bhaskar’. He also says, unfortunately, that ‘I did not try to reproduce all ambiguities of the German text. If the German can be understood in two different ways, and interpretation a is, in my view, clearly right while interpretation b is wrong, then my translation will only try to bring out interpretation a’ (Ehrbar 2009

My reading of the first sentence, prepared before I found Ehrbar, follows Spivak and attends to what might be called ambiguities, but which I think may be better rendered as dialectical style. The reading of the rest of the book will confirm or deny this assertion.

Marx himself rewriting the first sentence is here (which in turn links to this post, so a circuit metaphor is lurking there somehow… mis-en-about…)

weirdness of analytics – article downloads – collaborations

Procrastination from writing – that I’m otherwise getting on with – but which sometimes means indulging in looking at the various analytics on offer for websites like, since it fits the time of a coffee, better than being tempted by tv series and such (Indian Summers anyone?). So, am a little sorry for these few articles that have only had a couple of downloads each this month. Is co-authoring a help or not? More looks, same takers.

Contexts for Distraction (with Tom Henri) 69 4
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Gaius Baltar (with Laura King) 24 4
Jungle Studies 13 4
The Dialectic of Here and There: Anthropology ‘at Home’ and British Asian Communism 13 4



As contrast, this months top downloads (online looks, downloads):
Bataille’s Wars Surrealism, Marxism, Fascism 188 33
Culture from Theory Culture Society 2006; 46 31
Citizen Marx/Kane – 2014 from Marx at the Movies, 108 30
Clifford’s Ethnographica 78 26
Hybridity 77 23
Proletarianisation 2013 in New Formations 102 21

Sharmistha Gooptu’s ‘Bengali Cinema’ 2010

have just finished Sharmistha Gooptu’s wonderfully detailed book Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation, and while I understand her decision not to write about Ghatak and Sen et al, I do hope there is a follow up. For sure this will not be the first time such a lament has been aired, but I think there must be a sequel since leaving things pretty much at the end of Apur Sansar is a jolt. Even though there are a dozen pages that skim through the 70s and 80s, the text really stopped at the detailed description of Chatterjee as Apu and this suggests more to come – can only hope there is a sequel that engages with Apu’s subsequent political mobilisation…

Sharmistha Gooptu seems to be custodian of an archive of filmi memorabilia, you can see some of it here.

Foucault and the Politics of Rights

is there anything in the chatter about rights, and what right who has to ask what, say what, of whom, that helps move things forward rather than paralyse people with fear?

Reblogged from Foucault News: [via Stuart Elden]

Click to visit the original postBen Golder, Foucault and the Politics of Rights, Stanford University Press, 2015, Now available.
Publisher’s page

This book focuses on Michel Foucault’s late work on rights in order to address broader questions about the politics of rights in the contemporary era. As several commentators have observed, something quite remarkable happens in this late work. In his early career, Foucault had been a great critic of the liberal discourse of rights.

Read more… 154 more words

The Infrastructure Project – Sri Lanka port city

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.21.48Akhil Gupta addresses the development of the port at Columbo, Sri Lanka:

His short text begins:

On March 5, 2015, the new government of Sri Lanka headed by President Maithripala Sirisena announced that it had suspended a controversial $1.5 billion project headed by a Chinese firm. The Colombo Port City Development Project entailed creating a landfill of 575 acres in the city of Colombo’s harbor, with hotels, apartments, and office buildings that would attract as much as $13 billion in foreign investment. The project had resulted from a deal between the previous president, Mahinda Rajapakse, and China’s president Xi Jinping. Its suspension was reported to cost the Chinese firm in charge of the project $380,000 a day, idling as many as five thousand people. Given that China is Sri Lanka’s largest aid donor and has already invested $5 billion in the country, it is expected that construction on the project will soon resume. However, the harbor project’s suspension points to the temporality of infrastructure, to the everpresent gap between the start and completion of infrastructure projects.

Later he writes ‘I want to emphasize the temporality of infrastructure. It is assumed that projects, once started, will be completed.’. Indeed. I am reminded of how in 2007 the south side of the Thames suddenly had a large number of frozen concrete. Pools of water gathering in already poured foundations, reinforcing metal grid-work rusting in the rain, no movement on site except for some student film crew making cut-rate avant-guarde porn (media teaching programmes may have been one of the few recession-proof areas). Things started ticking again, but there was a moment of beauty in the frozen scene of crisis capital, and some will look forward to its next outing.

If you want to read the rest of Gupta’s piece, its here. And the Infrastructure Toolbox project from which this comes is here.

But back in Columbo, more recent newspaper reports suggest the ‘suspension’ is suspended and that work is about to get going again. See this report on 17 September 2015 announcing the resumption of the project: Columbo Telegraph here.

Local groups are still concerned with a number of issues. For example: ‘A multi story barrier to the clean ocean breeze that Colombo currently enjoys, will be shut off forever. In its place the Carbon monoxide, Ozone, dust and PM2.4 will increase. There is no reference at all in the port city project documents available to us that addresses, blocking the inflow of fresh air into Colombo. There is nothing in the documents that indicate the levels of Carbon monoxide, PM2.4, Oxides of Sulfur and Nitrogen that will be produced by the port city. There are no studies to indicate how these pollutants will flow and if they will affect the citizens of Colombo.’ Also ‘the degradation of the quality of surface waters that have rendered much of the shallow aquifer polluted. Does the EIA for the Port City suggest where the water to run this city will come from? … then there is the question of power; will Sri Lanka have to suffer the health ill effects of coal -fired power plants to supply the new city with its needs? And the garbage, already we are coking in our garbage, will Colombo be the repository of garbage for the new city? None of this is addressed in the EIA for a new city. Must we say goodbye to the old city destined to come a slum of the new city?’ (Ranil Senanayake Columbo Telegraph Sept 20, 2015)

Ustad Alaudin Khan – by Ritwik Ghatak

(24 mins of music doco from 1963)

someone asked why I posted this. . OK. Maybe because Alaudin Khan was the father of Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi, uncle of Raja Hossain Khan, and guru of Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Pannalal Ghosh and more…

And that isn’t even to get started on the great films Ritwik Ghatak.

Border theory

BorederGermany‘At a certain stage of development,

the material productive forces of society

come into conflict with the existing relations of production

or – this merely expresses the same thing

in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework

of which they have operated hitherto.

From forms of development of the productive forces

these relations turn into their fetters.

Then begins an era of social revolution.

The changes in the economic foundation lead

sooner or later

to the transformation of the




Adorno ‘Minima Moralia’ – a note on Rhinos

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 10.50.19‘The unreality of games announces that what is real, is not yet real. They are unconscious practice exercises of the right life. The relationship of children to animals rests entirely on the fact that in the latter, which Marx even begrudged the surplus value they deliver to workers, utopia is cloaked. Because animals exist without any mission recognizable to human beings, they represent their own names as expression, as it were – as what is utterly not exchangeable. This endears them to children and makes their contemplation a joy. I am a rhinoceros, signifies the form of the rhinoceros’ ‘Minima Moralia’ 1951

souvenirs of the wars

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 03.15.06dejavu. been here before, sort of… from and article in 2004

‘As the world prepared for yet another Oil crusade, I was reading my daily paper, as you do. On the same page that reports the speech of Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council in the lead-up to the attack on Iraq – in his talk the General cited a plagiarized British MI6 research paper on Iraqi weapons while standing before a hastily covered-up tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica – there appeared an ad for the aid and relief charity Unicef. In the style of a soap powder commercial, this ad extols the virtues of the organization and what it could do for a girl called Farida. Tragically subject to domestic oppression (see Figure 1), she would be saved if I would just donate a few coins to the charitable cause. The face of someone I have never met, and whom Powell will never meet (with more sinister consquences), is used to demand an intervention. I feel like we have been here before…’

Read there rest here: Souvenirs and Infancy, Jrnl Vis Cult 2004

Spivak and the General Strike (and W.E.B. du Bois)

Gayatri Spivak will be in B.A.M.N. mag soon. In the meantime here is why she is still way ahead of the curve:

On the General Strike, an absolutely necessary, ‘keyword’ from Gayatri Spivak:…/p…/10.1080/08935696.2014.857839

Gayatri’s next book is on De Bois and the General Strike.
A related post by here for the Occupy people is here:

A snippet from an interview here:…/

Three hours worth of an early version of Spivak’s DuBois strike stuff: here:…/gayatri-spivak-du-bois-and-…/

But that was when she was then still working out the book. This excerpt from a 2011 interview:


> You cited Rosa Luxemburg as one of your heroes. Will you say more about why? Who else comes to mind in your pantheon of heroes as you think about Rosa?


> Since I’ve never been asked to account for why she is one of my heroes, I don’t know. I really have no idea. I would have to rationalize that answer. But I am going to teach her, in either the fall or the spring, and it will be on a few texts of the General Strike.

> The course will be called: Some Texts From The General Strike: Reflections On The History Of An Idea. I will distinguish this from May 68, from Naxalbari, and Tahrir Square and all that stuff. I have written a little about the fact that the Tunisian example was a singular subaltern speaking – the guy who burned himself- and there was, paradoxically, a political will created by the predatory government.

> I will go first into the pre-texts of the anarchists, but even before that, Chartism. Since I don’t do 19th century novels, 18th century novels, I will find out if there is a novel of Chartism, because I’m a literature teacher. And then I will teach Sorel and Benjamin’s Critique of Violence which leans on Sorel. Then I will teach Rosa Luxemburg and Gramsci, 1905 and Turin,

> Luxemburg’s book on the mass strike, and this will be my center.

> And then I will teach Du Bois, because people said that he made a mistake in calling the exodus of the slaves when the Civil War began a general strike. I don’t think so. He was very learned, he wasn’t making a mistake. I want to see why.

> And then I will do Gandhi. Because I believe the Non-Cooperation movement is mistakenly thought of as only ahimsa, non-violence. Non-Cooperation was much more a recoding of general strike with the generalized Hindu text of ahimsa thing. So I’ll do Gandhi and maybe the Gandhi-Tagore letters as they relate to this issue.

> And then I’ll do Tillie Olsen, because her novel Tell Me A Riddle, is certainly a story of the 1905 revolution, which is what Rosa Luxemburg’s 1906 essay is on.

> So that’s my 7 weeks, and that’s how I’ll teach her.

> But as to why she’s my hero – does anyone ever know? No I don’t know. But I did put down two things. Lack of fear – yeah, I suppose, but many people are fearless. I also put in her body warmth, but I’m just – I’m really rationalizing. I don’t even want to think about why she’s my hero. One must protect one’s heroes from these kinds of questions (laughter).

The rest of the interview is here, the next answer was about sex, See more at:…/interview-with-gayatri-chakra…

De/siring India: Representations through British & French Eyes (1584–1857)

ICSSR-Sponsored International Conference organised by the Department of English, Chandernagore College, Hooghly in collaboration with Institut de Chandernagor


De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857)

18 January – 19 January 2016


18 January 2016

10 – 10.30: Registration (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

10.30 – 11.20: Inaugural Session

11.20 – 12.05: Keynote Address – Dr. Ian Magedera, Department of Modern Languages and Culture, University of Liverpool

‘Shall I compare thee to…’, Encountering and Countering Power in European Representations of India 1728 to 1857

12.05 – 12.15: Discussion and tea

Business Session 1 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

12.15 – 12.45: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad


Knowing India in Sixteenth Century Europe

12.45 – 1.15: Prof. Nilanjan Chakrabarti, Dept. of English & Other Modern European Languages

Visva-Bharati – European Expansion and French Travel Narratives of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on India

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

12.25 – 12.55: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Marx reading despatches from India

12.55 – 1.15: Ms. Janani Kalyani Venkataraman, Department of French, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

Sati resolved –representation of Indian widows in French plays in the 18th and early 19th century

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

1.30 – 2.30: LUNCH

Business Session 2 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)


Chair: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research


2.30 – 3.00: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

Desiring Bengal: Trade, culture, and the first English traveller to eastern India

3.00 – 3.30: Dr. Anna Becker, Department of History, University of Basel, Switzerland

The Mughal Regime and Female Bodies in 17th Century English Political Thought

3.30 – 3.45: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Dr. Arpita Chattoraj Mukhopadhyay, Department of English, Burdwan University

2.30 – 2.50:Mr. Ariktam Chatterjee, Department of English, Govt. General Degree College, Singur, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta


Hindu Pantheon in London and a deported Sacred Thread: Instances problematising representation of India in the memoirs of British Baptist Missionaries


2.50 – 3.10: Dr. Swati Dasgupta, French Section, Dept. of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of Delhi

Women in the Indian Revolt of 1857

3.10 – 3.30: Dr. Sudipta Chakraborty, Department of English, Sreegopal Banerjee College, Hooghly

Crime and Empire: Colonial Imaginings and the Thuggee in Early Nineteenth Century British India

3.30 – 3.40: Discussion

3.40 – 4.10: Visit to the Exhibition at Institut de Chandernagor and Coffee

19 January 2016

10.30 – 11.00: Registration and Tea

Business Session 3 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

11.00 – 11.30: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research


The Travels and Travails of Indigo in Bengal: Anglo-French Rivalry in the early Nineteenth

Century Context


11.30 – 12.00: Dr. Romita Ray, Department of Art and Music Histories, Syracuse University, USA


Canton to Calcutta? Tea and Eighteenth-Century Encounters in the Colonial Metropolis

12.00 – 12.20: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

Diamonds, Spices and Brahmins: Locating Culture in Tavernier’s Narrative of Desire

12.20 – 12.50: Dr. Jyoti Mohan, Department of History and Geography, Morgan State University, USA – L’Inde historique

12.50 – 1.05: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad

11.00 – 11.30: Dr. Abhijit Gupta, Department of English, Jadavpur University
A Case of Identity: Madame Grand of Chandernagore

11.30 – 11.50: Ms. Rita Chatterjee, Department of English, Maharani Kasiswari College, Kolkata, PhD Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences

Blurred boundaries and travelling identities: a reading of Eliza Fay’s original letters from   India: containing a narrative of a journey through Egypt   and the author’s imprisonment at Calicut by Hyder Ali (1779-1815).

11.50 – 12.10: Ms. Michelle Karunakaran, MPhil/PhD Scholar, English, JNU, Delhi

Voltaire on Indian philosophy: early chapter in the history of French Orientalism

12.10 – 12.40: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

Promenade and perception: on the status of flânerie in 18th- and 19th-century writing on India

12.40 – 1.05: Discussion

1.05 – 2.00: LUNCH

Business Session 4 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

2.00 – 2.20: Dr. Abin Chakraborty, Department of English, Chandernagore College

“Crack mee this nut, all ye Papall charitie vaunters”: Reading the Narratives and Letters of Thomas Coryat

2.20 – 2.40: Mr. Pinaki De, Department of English, Raja Peary Mohan College, Uttarpara

Tints and Tones: (Dis)orienting Oriental Scenery

2.40 – 3.00: Ms. Soumya Goswamy, Department of History, Chandernagore College

Colonial writings and the agenda of understanding Indian classical music


3.00 – 3.15: Coffee

3.15 – 4.00: Valedictory and Vote of Thanks (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)


Marx in Marseilles

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 10.18.27MARX TO ENGELS

Marseilles, 17 February 1882

Hôtel au petit Louvre,

Rue de Cannebière

… A fine day for the journey to Marseilles, and all right until just beyond the station at Lyons. First, l’/s hours d’arrêt at Cassis on account of the locomotive’s distemper; then again the same mishap with the engine at Valence, although this time the arrêt wasn’t so long. Meanwhile it had turned bitter cold with a nasty biting wind. Instead of arriving some time before midnight, we did not reach [Marseilles] until after 2 o’clock in the morning; to some extent I was more or less freezing, despite all my wrappings, the only antidote I found being ‘alcohol’ and I again and again resorted to it. During the last quarter of an hour (if not more) in the exposed, cold and windswept gare de Marseille, there was one last épreuve in the shape of prolonged formalities before obtaining possession of one’s luggage.

Today it’s sunny in Marseilles, but the wind itself not yet warm. Dr Dourlen advised me to stay at the above-named hotel, whence I shall leave for Algiers tomorrow (Saturday) at 5 in the afternoon. The office of the Paquebots à vapeur des Postes françaises’ is located here, in the very hotel at which I am staying, so that I was able to take a ticket (at 80 first class) for the paquebot Said straight away; one’s baggage is likewise enregistered here, so that everything is as convenient as can be.

Collected Works vol 46 page 119.

Marx in Algeria 1882

Engels writing to Bernstein 22 February 1882:

Marx arrived in Algiers on Monday morning, a place I and the doctors had always wanted him to go to, though he himself wasn’t very keen. He has met a judge in the tribunal civil there, a former deportee of Bonaparte’s, who has made a close study of communal ownership among the Arabs and has offered to enlighten him on the subject.

Kindest regards both to yourself and Kautsky.

F. E.

and then this fantastic letter from marx to Laura:

Marx-Engels Correspondence 1882

Marx To Laura Lafargue
In London

[Algiers,] Thursday, 13 April 1882

Source: MECW Volume 46, pp. 238-243;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, Second Russian Edition, Vol. 35, Moscow, 1964;
Transcribed: by Tony Brown.

Darling Cacadou,

I reproach myself for not having written to you again until now, not that there’s anything special to report from here. How often do I not think of you – at Eastbourne, beside my Jenny’s sick-bed, and during your faithful daily visits so cheering to that crosspatch, Old Nick. But you should know, dear child, that this week and last were Fermé’s Easter vacation; he lives in the rue Michelet (as part of the route Mustapha supérieur is called) at the foot of the hill from which the Hotel Victoria looks down. It’s only a stone’s throw away for him, although he has to ‘clamber’ since there’s no proper path leading up to it. And in fact he has latterly been visiting me assiduously, thus frustrating the best of resolutions in regard to afternoon letter-writing. – Otherwise not an unwelcome guest, Mr. Fermé, nor devoid of humour. After I had given him some Citoyens and Égalitésto read, he arrived chuckling not a little over Guesde’s ‘terrorism of the future’ [which is to go on] until – this anticipated in heavy type – the last bourgeois oppressor has been guillotined out of existence. Fermé is not fond of Algiers whose climate doesn’t suit either him or his family (often visited by fever, etc.) although its members are all of them ‘des indigenès’ à commencer par Madame l’épouse. Above all, however, his salary as a judge is hardly sufficient for even the most modest way of life. Living in a colonial capital is always expensive. But one thing he does admit – in no town elsewhere, which is at the same time the seat of the central government, is there such laisser faire, laisser passer; police reduced to a bare minimum; unprecedented public sans gêne; the Moorish element is responsible for this. For Mussulmans there is no such thing as subordination; they are neither ‘subjects’ nor ‘administrés’; no authority, save in politica, something which Europeans have totally failed to understand. Few police in Algiers, and such as there are for the most part indigenès. And yet, with such a medley of national elements and unscrupulous characters, frequent clashes are inevitable, and it is here that the Catalonians live up to their old reputation; the white or red belts they wear, like the Moors, etc., outside their coats and not, like the French, beneath their clothing, often conceal ‘bodkins’ – long stilettos which these sons of Catalonia are not slow to ‘employ’ with equal impartiality against Italians, Frenchmen, etc., and natives alike. Incidentally, a few days ago a gang of forgers was apprehended in the province of Oran, amongst them their chief, a former Spanish officer; their European agency, it now transpires, is in the capital of Catalonia – Barcelona! Some of the laddies were not arrested and escaped to Spain. This piece of news, and others of a similar kind, derives from Fermé. The latter has received 2 advantageous offers from the French government; firstly, a transfer to New Caledonia where he would, at the same time, be responsible for introducing a new legal system, salary 10,000 frs (he and family to travel there gratis and, on arrival, be given free official accommodation); or, secondly, to Tunis, where he would likewise occupy a higher magisterial rank than here, and under far more favourable conditions. He has been given a certain period in which to make up his mind; will accept one or the other.

From Mr Fermé to the weather is a natural transition, since he freely heaps imprecations on the same. – Since Easter Monday (incl.) I have not missed a single morning stroll, although only yesterday (12th) and today have been spared the caprices of April. Yesterday, bien que nous subissions le léger siroco et, par conséquent, quelques coups de vent, ce fut le maximum du beau temps: à 9 heures le matin (le 12) le temperature à l’ombre fut de 19.5°, et celle au soleil, de 35°. In spite of having gone for a walk in the morning (12 April), I visited Algiers in the afternoon in order to take a look at the Russian ironclad, Peter the Great, which had arrived in the harbour there a few days before.

The official meteorological office has forecast intense atmospheric disturbances for 15-16 April (when there’ll be orage), 19, 21, 25, 27, 29 and 30 April; nevertheless, the weather during the remainder of April will on the whole be fine at the same time it is feared that in May, to make up for the absence of a true Algerian spring (which did not begin till yesterday), summer will arrive all at once and with it unbearable heat. However that may be, I do not, as corpus vile feel inclined to serve as an experimental station for the weather. In view of the altogether abnormal character of the past 4½ months, God knows what Algeria may have in store. Large numbers of shrewd folk (amongst them l’illustre ‘Ranc’) departed from the African shore day before yesterday. I shall only stay until Dr Stephann has declared my left side to be in good order again, apart, of course, from the scar well known to the doctissimi Drs Donkin and Hume, left by an earlier attack of pleurisy. What has been tiresome here so far is the constant recurrence of my cough, even if within moderate limits; withal, much boredom.

Interruption of the most agreeable kind: knocks at the door; Entrez! Madame Rosalie (one of the serving spirits) brings me a letter from you, dear Cacadou, and, from the good Gasçon, a long letter of which the paper, like the envelope, already bears the official stamp: ‘L’Union Nationale’. This time he seems to have pulled it off! Ce n’est pas une de ces entreprises patronées par Mr Ch. Hirsch! On the other hand, to be sure, the prospect of my Cacadou’s departure looms closer! But not just yet, I trust. Also, I regard it as some compensation that Aunty Cacadou should represent so great a gain to Jennychen and her children; anyway, with Paris so close, there’s no need to spend the whole year in London. – Apropos. Has Lafargue sent the next instalment of the article to Petersburg? (I don’t know what became of the first consignment.) It’s most important not to lose the vantage point of Petersburg; it will gain in importance daily! Also for anyone who sends despatches there.

Second interruption: It is 1 o’clock p.m., and I have promised to visit the ‘Jardin du Hamma’ ou ‘Jardin d’Essai’ with Madame Casthelaz, son fils, and one of our other fellow pensionnaires, Madame Claude (of Neufchâtel). We have to be back before dinner (6 o’clock p.m.), later than which every effort at writing never as yet dared upon by me. So no more till tomorrow. Simply by way of a supplement * to the useful knowledge of Cacadou I allow myself to remark, that on that very Hamma took place the landing of 24,000 soldiers under the commandment of Charles V, emperor, (or Carlos I, according to the Spaniards) on 23 October 1541, 8 days later he had to ship the * beaux restes de son armée détruite sur les vaisseaux échappes à la tempete du 26, et ralliés a grand peine par Doria, à Matifou. Ce dernier lieu ou finit la baie d’Alger c. à. d.- le cap Matifouopposite, on the East, to Algiers, is to be espied, par des bonnes lunettes, by myself from Hôtel Victorias Gallery.

Vendredi, 14 April

*I commence this letter at the moment when I have a few lines to be added to the foregoing, that is to say at about 1 o’clock p.m. The day ended yesterday as fine as that of the 12th. Both the evenings 12 and 13 (about 8 hours p. m.) were warm – quite exceptional this – but cool (relatively) at the same time, hence really delightful. This morning the warmth a little more ‘heavy’, and just since two hours the wind blows violently, probably the ‘orage’ predicted yesterday from 14-15.

Yesterday at 1 o’clock p. m. we went down to Inferior Mustapha whence the tram brought us to Jardin Hamma or Jardin d’Essai, which is used for ‘Promenade Publique’ with occasional military music, as ‘pépinière’ for the production and diffusion of the indigenous vegetables, at last for the purpose of scientific botanical experiments and as agarden of ‘acclimatation’. – This all encloses a very large ground, part of which is mountainous, the other belonging to the plain. In order to see more minutely, you would want at least a whole day, and beside being somebody with you a connaisseur, f. i. like M. Fermé’s friend and old Fourieriste, M. Durando, professor of botanics, who is the leader of a section of the ‘Club Alpin Français’ on its regular Sunday excursions. (I very much regretted that my bodily circumstances and the Dr. Stephann’s strict prohibition till now did not yet allow me to share in these excursions, having 3 times [been] invited thereto.)

Well, before entering the Jardin d’Essai’ we took coffee, of course in the free air, a Mauresque ‘café’. The Maure prepared it excellently, we were on a bank. On a rough table, in inclined positions, their legs crossed, half a dozen Maure visitors were delighted in their small ‘cafetières,’ (everyone gets one of his own) and together playing at cards (a conquest this on them of civilisation). Most striking this spectacle: Some of these Maures were dressed pretentiously, even richly, others in, for once I dare call it blouses,sometime of white woollen appearance, now in rags and tatters – but in the eyes of a true Musulman such accidents, good or bad luck, do not distinguish Mahomet’s children.Absolute equality in their social intercourse, not affected; on the contrary, only when demoralized, they become aware of it; as to the hatred against Christians and the hope of an ultimate victory over these infidels, their politicians justly consider this same feeling and practice of absolute equality (not of wealth or position but of personality) a guarantee of keeping up the one, of not giving up the latter.* (Nevertheless, they will go to rack and ruin without a revolutionary movement.)

*In regard to the plain part of the Jardin d’Essai I remark only: It is cut by three great longitudinal ‘allées’ of a wonderful beauty; opposite to the principal entry is the ‘alléeof the platenes [platanes] ; then the ‘allée des palmiers’, ended by an oasis of immense 72 ‘palmiers’, limited by the railway and the sea; at last the ‘allée’ of the magnolia and a sort of figues (ficus roxburghi). These three great ‘allées’ are themselves cut by many others crossing them, such as the long ‘allée des bambous’ astonishing, the ‘alléeof ‘palmiers à chanvre’, the ‘dragon[n]iers’, the ‘eucalyptus’ (blue gum of Tasmania), etc., (the latter are of an extraordinarily quick vegetation).

Of course, these sorts of* allées cannot be reproduced in European ‘Jardins d’acclimatation’.

During the afternoon there was a concert of military music in a large open space encircled by plane trees; the conductor, a noncommissioned officer, wore ordinary French uniform, whereas the musicians (common soldiers) wore red, baggy trousers (of oriental cut), white felt boots buttoning up to the bottom of the baggy trousers; on their heads a red fez.

While on the subject of the garden, I did not mention (though some of these were very pleasing to the nose) orange trees, lemon – ditto, almond trees, olive trees, etc.; nor, for that matter, cactuses and aloes which also grow wild (as do wild olives and almonds) in the rough country where we have our abode.

Much though this garden delighted me, I must observe that what is abominable about this and similar excursions is the ubiquitous chalky dust; though I felt well in the afternoon and after coming home and during the night, my cough was nonetheless rather troublesome, thanks to the irritation caused by the dust.

I am expecting Dr Stephann today, but as I cannot put off the despatch of this missive, I will send a report to Fred, later on.

Finally, as Mayer of Swabia used to say, let us take a little look at things from a higher historical perspective. Our nomadic Arabs (who have, in many respects, gone very much to seed while retaining, as a result of their struggle for existence, a number of sterling qualities) have memories of having once produced great philosophers, scholars, etc., which, they think, is why Europeans now despise them for their present ignorance. Hence the following little fable, typical of Arab folklore.

A ferryman is ready and waiting, with his small boat, on the tempestuous waters of a river. A philosopher, wishing to get to the other side, climbs aboard. There ensues the following dialogue:

Philosopher: Do you know anything of history, ferryman?
Ferryman: No!
Philosopher: Then you’ve wasted half your life!
And again: The Philosopher: Have you studied mathematics?
Ferryman: No!
Philosopher: Then you’ve wasted more than half your life.

Hardly were these words out of the philosopher’s mouth when the wind capsized the boat, precipitating both ferryman and philosopher into the water. Whereupon,

Ferryman shouts: Can you swim?
Philosopher: No!
Ferryman: Then you’ve wasted your whole life.

That will tickle your appetite for things Arabic.

With much love and many kisses.

Old Nick
(best compliments to all)

Taussig on Kobane-Ocalan-feminism-anarchism-ISIS-Turkey-non-hierarchy-Mauss

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 12.09.10a incandescent reflective comment by Michael Taussig on his visit to Kobane, with images:

“Walking through the dust of the wind-blown ruins, I was greeted enthusiastically like the Pied Piper by well-dressed, well-fed, happy kids attached to a women in her forties in a long yellow gown who spoke effusively about resistance to the siege without once pausing for breath. It seemed like she really wanted to — had to – talk, and the kids hung on every word as well as teased us a little. One ten year old had a toy camera with which, held upside down and back to front, he would photograph us photographing Kobane.”

and on Ocalan

“The legend is all here: solitary confinement on a prison island for seventeen years since his 1998 capture in Kenya by the CIA and Turkey (with rumored Mossad support); an imprisonment that seems to have greatly boosted his charisma and power and, be it noted, given him the time to write and read widely; his quasi-religious conversion in prison from the Stalinist model of the hierarchical party to the anarchist idea of horizontal structures of democratic governance; the underlying, all-encompassing effulgence of feminism as not simply gender equality but as a cultural revolution in the meaning of maleness; plus a pronounced emphasis on care for the environment with all the heebie-jeebies of nationalism and ethnicity cast to the winds along with the hocus-pocus of the nation-state.”

You have to read the whole thing to get the context.

Also reports on the Suruc Cultural Centre bombing.

Thanks Ulker for the link

Seismographic Sounds: Visions of a New World

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 22.36.38

«Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World» introduces you to a contemporary world of distinct music, sounds and music videos. Edited by Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter and Hannes Liechti. – See more at:

Scholars, journalists, bloggers and musicians from Bolivia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Switzerland and forty-six other countries discuss artistic expressions that may not make big headlines yet, but anticipate major changes to come. Produced in oftentimes small studios from Jakarta to La Paz, Cape Town to Helsinki, these works experiment with the new possibilities of the Internet age and illuminate new spaces beyond the confines of commercialism, propaganda, and bigotry. They foresee a changing geography of multi-layered modernities, far beyond old ideas of North versus South, West versus East. Discover this through a collage of articles, quotations, photographs and lyrics.

«This is a remarkable book. It is brilliantly messy, complex and compelling, just like the diversity of global musical life it celebrates and interrogates in fact.» Tony Herrington, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, The Wire
Content and Introduction

Download PDF for Content and Introduction


Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World
Editors: Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter, Hannes Liechti
Publisher: Norient
Year: 2015
Pages: 504
Edition: 1
Price: 29 CHF / 29 Euro
Graphic Design: gut & schön, Annegreth Schärli

– See more at:

Karen Tam’s Curio Shop

here is a manifestation of Trinketization and exoticism, herewith endorsed – go visit!

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 11.00.39Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 11.00.39

Terra dos Chinês Curio Shop

by Karen Tam (click on image for Facebook link)

July 9-August 22, 2015
Artspace (Peterborough, ON)

For my exhibition at Artspace, I am producing a large-scale installation entitled Terra dos Chinês Curio Shop to see how these objects may relate to contemporary everyday life and the politics involved with their display. Viewers enter a space that appears to be real but is a façade of “DIY chinoiserie,” styled after Chinatown curio shops circa 1930s. This hopefully will highlight the encounters that occur between specific locales and East Asian-influenced material culture and refer not only to mass production of pirated consumer goods in China but also to the questions that are always present where artistic production is concerned. The Chinatown curio shop as well as other similar sites function as both self-representational through the use of material culture to display and play off expectations of ‘tourists’ and visitors to a place of ‘exoticness’ and ‘foreigness’ that has been domesticated by the shop-owners, and the exploitation and commercialization of such display and curiosity. The objects within such spaces form a sort of collection and archive, and act as traces of a timeline of changing attitudes. While considered as everyday items for the Chinese family who would have run the curio shop, they would have been seen as novelties by ‘tourists’. This project also reflects and comments on the historical trade routes between China (the ‘Far East’) and Europe and North America (the ‘West’), chinoiserie and the production of objects for the Western taste and market, and the current shanzhai or copycat culture in China, the world’s manufacturer and is itself the largest consumer and producer of fakes.