Archive for the ‘quotes’ Category

the idiot

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

There is nothing so annoying as to be fairly rich, of a fairly good family, pleasing presence, average education, to be “not stupid,” kind-hearted, and yet to have no talent at all, no originality, not a single idea of one’s own—to be, in fact, “just like everyone else”.

Of such people there are countless numbers in this world—far more even than appear. They can be divided into two classes as all men can—that is, those of limited intellect, and those who are much cleverer. The former of these classes is the happier.

from Dostoyevsky’s the Idiot





Thursday, August 27th, 2015




西川 – 醒在南京

reading the paper reading online news worrying about everything under heaven it doesn’t do shit read short stories instead

my grammar-school teachers my high school teachers they ruined me for life they trained me to be an observer

and observing peach or plum tree doesn’t even need to blossom

excerpt from “Awake in Nanjing” by Xi Chuan, trans. Lucas Klein


teenage kicks (ha-ha)

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

“Like a lot of people I thought that the music business was this incredibly money-grabbing, soulless kind of place and it took ten years working at other kinds of things to realise that all industries are like that. That’s just the world of work.”

Interview with Mat Osman, bassist of my darling Suede

Fact is, the first time I listened to Bloodsports I was not immediately impressed. I guess I was afraid of the sentimental high-school reunion style nostalgia, of course it’s great because it’s Suede, therefore I was perhaps listening to it with guarded ears. Then I listened to the thing a second time, then a third, then again, and again, weeks in between, and then a year later it has become so good!!!

Or it’s just the teenager kicking in!


more football news

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Borges hated football. Here’s why.

“Borges’ problem was with soccer fan culture, which he linked to the kind of blind popular support that propped up the leaders of the twentieth century’s most horrifying political movements. In his lifetime, he saw elements of fascism, Peronism, and even anti-Semitism emerge in the Argentinean political sphere, so his intense suspicion of popular political movements and mass culture—the apogee of which, in Argentina, is soccer—makes a lot of sense.”

from the New Republic.

Also from Borges (with Aldolfo Bioy Casares), a short story on Football as Spectacle à la Guy Debord: Esse est percipi

And finally, Simon Critchley’s essay on football as Working Class Ballet.

“Football is all about the experience of failure and righteous injustice. It is about hoping to win and learning to accept defeat. But most importantly, it is about some experience of the fragility of belonging: the enigma of place, memory and history.”

“[The World Cup] is a shiny display of teams, tribes and nations in symbolic, indeed rather atavistic, national combat adorned with multiple layers of commodification, sponsorship and the seemingly infinite commercialization — among the official FIFA sponsors are Coca Cola, Budweiser and McDonalds. The World Cup is an image of our age at its worst and most gaudy. But it is also something more, something bound up with difficult and recalcitrant questions of conflict, memory, history, place, social class, masculinity, violence, national identity, tribe and group.”


for the love of football

Monday, June 16th, 2014

World Cup mon amour.

“The discourse of “the beautiful game” romances the idea that in poverty one’s pleasures have a certain nobility. It is one of the most cynical features of the mega event: a neo-liberal fantasy about the joy of the poor functions as an alibi for an inhuman economy in which stadiums are built not as homes for a team and its fans, but as sets for a handful of televised events; in which clubs are mortgaged into abstraction; in which the obscenity of one player’s income is dwarfed by the cosmic scale of the team-owner’s wealth. The identification of the game with keywords like “universal,” “global” and “beautiful” papers over the exclusion of women from this world. It celebrates the provincialism which assumes that there is no place on earth indifferent to this sport. It turns the scholar of the sport’s globalism into expert testimony justifying development schemes. The larger and the more inclusive these events become, the more media space they take up, the more public resources they use up – and the worse things gets. Resources are not redistributed around the World Cup; they are concentrated and absorbed by a ministry of corruption.”

from the Sport Spectacle, 13.06.2014.


i am not afraid. i am not afraid. i am not afraid.

Monday, April 14th, 2014

After being miserable, being bored, now We are all very anxious according to this article from Plan C. Surveillance, control, security and safety measures, scapegoating, privatisation and bureaucratisation, precarity and self-sensorship. Welcome to the world.


Anxiety is personalised in a number of ways – from New Right discourses blaming the poor for poverty, to contemporary therapies which treat anxiety as a neurological imbalance or a dysfunctional thinking style. A hundred varieties of “management” discourse – time management, anger management, parental management, self-branding, gamification – offer anxious subjects an illusion of control in return for ever-greater conformity to the capitalist model of subjectivity. And many more discourses of scapegoating and criminalisation treat precarity as a matter of personal deviance, irresponsibility, or pathological self-exclusion…

People both conform to the demand to communicate rather than expressing themselves, and self-censor within mediated spaces. Similarly, affective labour does not alleviate anxiety; it compounds workers’ suffering while simply distracting consumers.




Monday, August 12th, 2013

You had left that world behind in the hope it might be thoroughly transformed in your absence, but nothing of the sort has occurred. It got along quite nicely without you and it adjusts quite smoothly to your return. People and things conspire to make it seem as if you had not been away. For my own part, I left without regrets and I come back to it again without any great emotion. People are a thousand times more preoccupied with their own little lives than with the strangeness of another world. You are best advised, then, to land discreetly, to come back politely into this world keeping anything you may have to say – along with the few sights still gleaming in your memory – strictly to yourself.


Jean Baudrillard, America, pp. 77




Friday, May 31st, 2013

“In the process of composing Visage I, repetition presented for me not so much a process as the observation of the social organisation of time. Thus observed, time organises itself in layers and according to different points of via – social, political and sentimental. That is the sense in which repetition fascinated me. Repetition is thus an area where there are resemblances as well as differences: if I repeat the same phrase twice, the moment has changed. One can hope even if one is very pessimistic, that thought accumulates an experience or a memory, and that if you superimpose a purely mechanical repetition, it is seen every tim as an event and not a redundancy.”

Luc Ferrari, I was running in so many different directions, 1994

“Since i want to make something, I need rules….My option is to follow the rules of the game that I invented, so I also have the option of infringing upon them. We cannot but be aware of the manipulation of opposites: law and freedom, seriousness and derision, abstraction and realism.”

from Jacqueline Caux, Presque rien avec Luc Ferrari


a propos “The Problem with Work”:

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

“Why do we work so long and so hard? The mystery here is not that we are required to work or that we are expected to devote so much time and energy to its pursuit, but rather that there is not more active resistance to this state of affairs…”

Opening lines from The Problem with Work, Kathi Weeks, 2011


“Voluntary,” i.e., unpaid or low paying jobs in the culture or academic industries, for example, are all too often accepted as an unchangeable fact, and nothing else is even demanded. The necessity of pursuing other, less creative, precarious jobs in order to finance one’s own cultural production is accepted. This forced and, simultaneously chosen, financing of one’s own creative output constantly supports and reproduces precisely those relations from which one suffers and of which one wants to be a part. Perhaps those who work creatively, these precarious cultural producers by design, are subjects that can be exploited so easily because they seem to bear their living and working conditions eternally due to the belief in their own freedom and autonomy, due to self-realization fantasies. In a neoliberal context they are exploitable to such an extreme that the State even presents them as role models.

This situation of self-precarization is connected to experiences of fear and loss of control, feelings of insecurity through the loss of certainties and safeguards, as well as fear and the experience of failure, social decline and poverty. Also for these reasons, “letting go” or forms of dropping out and dropping off of hegemonic paradigms are difficult. Everyone has to remain “on speed” otherwise you might fall out. There are no clear times for relaxation or recuperation. This kind of reproduction has no clear place, which, in turn, results in an unfulfilled yearning and a continuous suffering from this lack. The desire for relaxation to “find oneself” becomes insatiable. These kinds of reproductive practices usually have to be learned anew. They are lacking in any self-evidence and have to be fought for bitterly against oneself and others. In turn, this makes this yearning for reproduction, for regeneration, so extremely marketable.

Isabell Lorey, Governmentality & Self-Precarization: On the Normalization of Cultural Producers, 2006


Extract from the review of Yann Moulier Boutang’s Le capitalisme cognitif from Steven Shaviro’s blog at

“The book ends…with an excellent proposal. Boutang argues for an unconditional “social wage”: to be given to everyone, without exception, and without any of the current requirements that welfare and unemployment programs impose on their recipients (requirements like behaving properly, or having to look for work, or whatever). This social wage — he gives a provisional figure of 700 euros per month, or about $1000/month at today’s exchange rates) would be paid in recompense for the fact that “general intellect,” from which corporations extract profit, is in fact the work of everyone — even and especially outside of formal work situations. Boutang spends a lot of energy showing how this proposal is fiscally feasible in Europe today, how it would rejuvenate the economy (and thus lead, in the long run, to enhanced profits for the corporations whose tax payments would finance it). What he doesn’t say, however — and perhaps does not recognize — is that, even though this proposal is perfectly feasible in terms of the overall wealth of the world economy), if it were really adopted universally — that is to say, worldwide, to all human beings on the face of the planet — it would severly disrupt the regime of appropriation that he calls “cognitive capitalism.” This is yet another example of bat020’s and k-punk’s maxim that (reversing a slogan from May 1968) we must “be unrealistic, demand the possible.” The unconditional social wage is entirely possible in terms of what the world can economically afford, but it is “unrealistic” in terms of the way that “cognitive capitalism” is structured. Demanding it pushes the system to a point of paradox, a critical point — at least notionally.”



Thursday, April 11th, 2013

“Up to a century ago the people who thought about progress were the people who had the power to bring it about. Until recently new ideas originated with the powerful; with princes, industrialists, public benefactors. Today the men with power have ceased to be benefactors of mankind; at best they do things that benefit certain individuals. Today all the new ideas come from the poor and powerless. The men with power to change anything have stopped thinking. So no change is possible.”

Peter Handke, Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a/M, 1972 (1974, English Edition)



utopia non-space

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Die Wahrheit ist, dass ich nur im Auto sitzend zwischen dem einen Ort, den ich gerade verlassen habe und dem andern, auf den ich zufahre,  glücklich bin, nur im Auto und auf der Fahrt bin ich glücklich, ich bin der unglücklichste Ankommende, den man sich vorstellen kann, gleich, wo ich ankommen, komme ich an, bin ich unglücklich. Ich gehöre zu den Menschen, die im Grunde keinen Ort auf der Welt aushalten und die nur glücklich sind zwischen den Orten, von denen sie weg und auf die sie zufahren.

Thomas Bernhard, Wittgensteins Neffe, 1982



“I hold it not out”

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Die Leute begehen in den Museen ja immer den Fehler, dass sie sich zuviel vornehmen, dass sie alles sehen wollen, so gehen sie und gehen sie und schauen und schauen und brechen dann plötzlich, weil sie sich ganz einfach an Kunst überfressen haben, zusammen…

Ich gehe durch die Stadt und denke, dass ich diese Stadt nicht mehr aushalte und dass ich nicht nur die Stadt nicht mehr aushalte, dass ich die ganze Welt und in der Folge eben die ganze Menschheit nicht mehr aushalte, denn die Welt und die ganze Menschheit sind ja mittlerweile so entsetzlich geworden, dass sie bald nicht mehr auszuhalten sind, wenigstens nicht für einen Menschen wie ich. Für einen Verstandesmenschen wie für einen Gefühlsmenschen wie mich ist die Welt und ist die Menschheit bald nicht mehr auszuhalten…

Thomas Berhnard, “Alte Meister”, 1985



happy birthday john!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012


“Was ist der Mensch? Ein armes Wesen,
auf diese Welt gekommen, um die
andern Menschen zu ärgern.”


“The feeling we are

getting nowhere

that is pleasure

which will continue.”

but how?

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

“Universities used to be communities; they used to be places where intellectual life really happened. They were also places where avant-garde stuff was happening. And that’s – in England anyway – completely ground to a halt. Universities are largely sold as factories for production of increasingly uninteresting, depressed people wandering around complaining.”

“For me, the big problem in politics has always been the problem of motivation – how can you motivate a self to act on some conception of what it believes to be good. We live in a context of overwhelming, de-motivated cynicism, let’s say, which we could talk about separately. But what’s been amazing over the last year is watching how a certain movement caught fire, which to me is a kind of ethico-politico response to a wrong. To put it in a slogan: ‘60s struggles were about a kind of self-liberation, whereas more recent struggles have been about liberation of the Other, or issues of equality or fairness that might not be ones that I directly experience because I live in a state of relative privilege, but ones that I’m prepared to engage with because I think there’s a wrong here which needs to be addressed.”

Simon Critchley, interview on Figure/Ground with Andrew Hines, July 29th, 2012,


happiness begins

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The agent of the spectacle placed on stage as a star is the opposite of the individual, the enemy of the individual in himself as well as in others. Passing into the spectacle as a model for identification, the agent renounces all autonomous qualities in order to identify himself with the general law of obedience to the course of things. The consumption celebrity superficially represents different types of personality and shows each of these types having equal access to the totality of consumption and finding similar happiness there.

The Society of the Spectacle, 61, Guy Debord, 1967.


why care?

Saturday, May 26th, 2012


“What interest does the modern individual have in being represented – the individual of the networks and the virtual, the multi-focal individual of the operational sphere? He does his business, and that is that. What does he care for transcendence? He lives very well in immanence and interaction. What does a political will mean to him, a collective will, that glimmer of sovereignty he delegated to the social organization? There is no longer any delegation of the will, or of desire. The screen of communication has smashed the mirror of representation. Now only statistical shadows circulate – on the opinion-poll screens. There is no social contract any longer: on the media screens, only the image-playback functions. The citizen’s only symbolic capital is that of his disaffection and political poverty, that very poverty managed by our official representatives (that is the secret of their corruption).”

Jean Baudrillard, Impossible Exchange, pp. 139-140.


how i work:

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012


If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all but very interesting.

in John Cage, Silence pp.93.


back to the basics

Friday, April 27th, 2012


“Let’s say you have a tube of paint; you didn’t make it. You bought it and used it as a ready-made…Man can never expect to start from scratch; he must start from ready-made things like even his mother and father.”

Marcel Duchamp, quoted in David Joselit, “Molds and Swarms”, in Molesworth, Part Object Part Sculpture, 158.


how to change the world:

Friday, September 23rd, 2011


(One day in September 1971 I discovered that if I made the slightest mark on a sheet of paper with a pencil, I was irrevocably altering the order of the universe. Any subsequent inventory or documentation of the order of the universe would have to include my mark, and therefore my act called for a new definition of the universal order. That means that changing the universe is a fairly simple thing, it is something that anyone can do, without any university studies. It is more difficult to try to convince the art market that you really did introduce a change, not to mention getting paid for the effort.

Luis Camnitzer, “Chronology”. posted 04.11.2010.)

You haven’t heard about the butterfly-wing theory? When a butter flutters its wings somewhere in China, they affect everything else in the world. That little flutter, what it causes, is connected to absolutely everything else. There is nothing, nothing, no action no matter how small, how insignificant, how invisible, between the blood cells…that does not set the next thing in motion, and that sets the next, and that goes on and on and on…And changes the world.

Jonas Mekas, “Step Across the Border”, 1990.

Three or four hundred yards from the Pyramid, I bent down, I scooped up a handful of sand, I let it silently spill a little further away and said under my breath: I am modifying the Sahara.

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Desert”, 1984.



Sunday, September 4th, 2011


Common sense is very uncommon.

Owen Land, 2004.


self as object but not as specific personality:

Saturday, August 13th, 2011


I try to pick things that would make people say, “I was just thinking about that a couple of days ago; I didn’t say it exactly like that but I had that idea.”

Laurie Anderson

I turn to the question audience to see of their experiences might enlighten mine and break the isolation of my experience, to see if performance art puts them into the same dilemma.

Barbara Smith


doing work:

Thursday, August 11th, 2011


Anger and frustration are two very strong feelings of motivation for me. They get me into the studio, get me to do the work.

Bruce Nauman, 1987.

To be happy with a man and have nothing to say, or to be miserable and do something out of this misery.

Sophie Calle, 2003.


nothing extraordinary:

Thursday, April 28th, 2011


Just like having an idea is nothing extraordinary for humans,

“Simply wanting to do something is rarely a sufficient condition to enable one to do it.”

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks


reference for the politics of confession:

Friday, April 1st, 2011


Was this transformation of sex into discourse not governed by the endeavor to expel from reality the forms of sexuality that were not amenable to the strict economy of reproduction: to say no to unproductive activities, to banish casual pleasures, to reduce or exclude practices whose object was not procreation?

Modern society is perverse, not in spite of its puritanism or as if from a backlash provoked by its hypocrisy; it is in actual fact, and directly, perverse.

The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Michel Foucault, 1978.


how i work:

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011


“I don’t believe poets when they say I, and I wish people wouldn’t believe me. Poetic material starts by being personal but the deeper we go inside the more we become everybody.”

Interview with Donald Hall, The Paris Review No.120, 1991.


Alien Nation!

Monday, March 14th, 2011


“Capitalist relations increasingly shaped artistic production itself. Ideally, artists control their output, they create objects in accordance with the laws of beauty, humanising the natural world by transforming matter in a way that expresses their own human essence. The activity of the artist attempts a self expression that is denied in alienated labour. But once artists are at the mercy of the market alienation is reintroduced. The market separates producer from consumer. Ours is a social species that emerged precisely through co-operative labour. The fact that an artist must present a finished product to an audience who passively and privately consume it disrupts the free flow of ideas that are essential to real creativity.”

Chris Nineham, “Art and alienation: a reply to John Molyneux”, Issue 82, International Socialism Journal, March 1999


yes or no?

Monday, February 21st, 2011


My feeling about technique in art is that it has about the same value as technique in lovemaking; that is to say: heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill, but what you want is passionate virtuosity.

John Barth


Art is essentially communication.

Sunday, December 12th, 2010


“We have an odd relationship with words. We learn a few when we are small, throughout our lives we collect others through education, conversation, our contact with books, and yet, in comparison, there are only a tiny number about whose meaning, sense and denotation we would have absolutely no doubts if, one day, we were to ask ourselves seriously what they meant. Thus we affirm and deny, thus we convince and are convinced, thus we argue, deduce and conclude, wandering fearlessly over the surface of concepts about which we have only the vaguest of ideas and, despite the false air of confidence which we generally affect as we feel our way along the road in the verbal darkness, we manage, more or less, to understand each other and even sometimes, to find each other.

Why it is that while communication technologies continue to develop in a genuinely geometric progression, from improvement to improvement, the other form of communication, proper, real communication, from me to you, from us to them, should still be this confusion crisscrossed with cul-de-sacs, so deceiving with its illusory esplanades, and as devious in expression as in concealment.”

José Saramago, The Double



Wednesday, November 17th, 2010


What modern art means is that you have to keep finding new ways to express yourself, to express the problems, that there are no settled ways, no fixed approach. This is a painful situation, and modern art is about this painful situation of having no absolutely definite way of expressing yourself. This is why modern art will continue, because this condition remains; it is the modern human condition…it is about the hurt of not being able to express yourself properly, to express you intimate relations, your unconscious, to trust the world enough to express yourself directly in it. It is about trying to be sane in this situation, of being tentatively and temporarily sane by expressing yourself. All art comes from terrific failures and terrific needs that we have. It is about the difficult of being a self because one is neglected. Everywhere in the modern world there is neglect, the need to be recognized, which is not satisfied. Art is a way of recognizing oneself, which is why it will always be modern.

Interview, 1988.


“The demands of love are too great, and you withdraw.
We destroy the very thing we most desire.”

Postscript to “The Puritan”, 1947/1990.

Louise Bourgeois


empowerment. avoid narcissism and authoritarianism.

Thursday, November 4th, 2010


“What do you do?”
“I am omnipotent and do whatever the fuck I like.”

One day in September 1971 I discovered that if I made the slightest mark on a sheet of paper with a pencil, I was irrevocably altering the order of the universe. Any subsequent inventory or documentation of the order of the universe would have to include my mark, and therefore my act called for a new definition of the universal order. That means that changing the universe is a fairly simple thing, it is something that anyone can do, without any university studies. It is more difficult to try to convince the art market that you really did introduce a change, not to mention getting paid for the effort.

Luis Camnitzer “Chronology”