Friday, December 26, 2008

The Witness

In a stable lying almost in the shadow of the new stone church, a man with gray eyes and a gray beard, stretched on the ground amid the animal odors, meekly seeks death like someone seeking sleep. The day, faithful to vast secret laws, continuously displaces and confounds the shadows in the wretched stable. Outside stretch the tilled fields, a deep ditch filled up with dead leaves, and the tracks of a wolf in the black mud where the woods begin. The man sleeps and dreams, forgotten. The bells calling to prayer awake him. In the kingdom of England, the sound of the bells is already one of the customs of the afternoon, but the man, while still a boy, had seen the face of Woden, had seen holy dread and exultation, had seen the rude wooden idol weighed down with Roman coins and heavy vestments, seen the sacrifice of horses, dogs, and prisoners. Before dawn he would be dead and with him would die, never to return, the last firsthand images of the pagan rites. The world would be poorer when this Saxon was no more.

We may well be astonished by space-filling acts which come to an end when someone dies, and yet something, or an infinite number of things, die in each death—unless there is a universal memory, as the theosophists have conjectured. There was a day in time when the last eyes to see Christ were closed forever. The battle of Junín and the love of Helen died with the death of some one man. What will die with me when I die? What pathetic or frail form will the world lose? Perhaps the voice of Macedonio Fernández, the image of a horse in a vacant space at Serrano and Charcas, a bar of sulfur in the drawer of a mahogany desk?

-Jorge Luis Borges, 1957
(Translated by Anthony Kerrigan)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I ripped these off from Dave at Via Negativa, whose site you should check out today because his postcards from a conquistador are exquisite.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nochebuena (Christmas Eve)

It is impossible, in these singular dates of martyrology, to not be moved by the Roman Pontiffs, last representatives of the heroic age. And if we compare a Leo, a Pius or a Benedict to the crises of our lives, there’s not agnosticism enough to repress a wave of sympathy for them. Under the goofy stare of Pope XIII’s, we open our own eyes to the blaze of the sun. The wide and rural forehead of Pope X oversaw our understanding of acrid forbidden fruits. And Pope XV, the ornithologist, with the doddering senility of his spectacle frames, weighs us down with black eventuality: that of the Pope of death. But our breath is stilled under him, or under his successor. We feel that his blessing falls on these December celebrations with the ominous sorrow of the year 1000, between the astrologers’ conical caps, the ethereal marvels, the leprosy, the bellicose hunger and the saffron manes of the Barbarians.

The Boy, sprout of Psalms and of Bathsheba -“she who was of Uriah”- lies in the stable like petal in wheat. His hand, barely reaching out, all the way from Bethlehem sweeps away the myths, both the subterranean and the celestial. Juno, who skated across the rainbow, is lost irreparably. The heart of councils and proconsuls is emptied of its cult, overcome by an incredulity that was, through nobility, certainly less obtuse than that of the subscribers to the “Red Library.” And our household Christianity, on the other hand, pales in comparison to the transmigrant instinct of the Magi.

-Ramón López Velarde, 1923

Monday, December 22, 2008

huzzah for sabotage!

well folks, I think at this point it's safe to say that December is shaping up to be a pretty spectacular month for monkeywrenching. a week ago the clattering of sabots was heard the world over when Muntadahr al-Zaidi pitched both his shoes at our own valedictorian in chief in the middle of a press conference.

Shoe 1: “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, dog!"
Shoe 2: “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!”

I bet that by now everyone’s seen the footage, but just in case.

then, just this last Friday, Tim DeChristopher walked into a federal oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City and ordered the lobster. about $2 million worth. I won’t try to summarize the story beyond that. it’s just too beautiful so you’ll have to check out the Salt Lake Tribune, New York Times and KSL articles for more details (and video). also, see my brother’s blog for a nice catechism on the subject.

Al-Zaidi and De Christopher remind us of both the elegance and desperation that make for the finest acts of sabotage. now they’re going to need some pretty good lawyers. you can follow up with Tim and his progress in this direction over here at one Utah.

btw, here are some related sundries.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008


all twisted metal
and the money?
a thousand? more?

and then maintenance
arranges the most
absolute trade mark:

after that Monday
another tenant makes
a tattered memorial.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

kids, screens, ARCADIA, IMMERSION

children photographed while playing video games
by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, 2000
part of the installation ARCADIA
...let’s see, 2000; that's like post Rygar-Lemmings, circa Doom-Grand Theft Auto? pretty good, right?

then, just recently the New York Times published this slide show of photos by Robbie Cooper.
and the youtube video is definitely worth seeing.

last month's article in the Telegraph is pretty good too. Sam Leith even makes a nice comparison to early silent reading, maybe a reference to St. Augustine’s shock upon walking in on St. Ambrose reading silently to himself. he also gets into Cooper’s set up, which is sort of borrowed from Errol Morris’s Interrotron technique.

here’s Robbie Cooper’s blog.

related posts: about toys, fire in the fish tank