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Disney Problems

09.09.13
1 min
Post

America can’t deal with Miley Cyrus  and this picture shows us why.

1) M. will upset Disney, because they can’t forget about Hannah Montana (Miley’s old character as a child, that made them Billions and Billions) and naturally they would like her NOT to wear things like a comic body stocking. 2) M. will remind America that it can’t live without its Britneys and Lindsays in general and that it will create a new one, if the old one went to rehab.  3) M. will reach the poorest areas in South America and will tell girls and boys to come to the US under any circumstances (I’ve seen Miley on more cell phones in El Salvador then you can imagine 4) M. did and still does distract from Syria. 5) M. is upsetting, crazy making and attractive at the same time. 6) M. is a future main character in a Bret Easton Ellis novel. 7) You can’t love M. But you can’t blame her for this either. So America now has to deal with Miley.

Lerato Maduna
People

When we met her—Lerato—she looked fabulous. Blue dress, dark sunglasses, and a furious crown of hair. She took us dancing. She showed us the Johannesburg she knows. “If you want to understand Johannesburg,” that‘s what our friend the philosopher Sarah Nuttall had told us a day before, “you have to go out. You have to let yourself be swept away.” So that‘s what we did. We got into a cab, drove through the dark deserted town, ignored all warnings, and found ourselves in a party more glamorous than either of us had ever been to, Bobby and me. Glamorous not in that Karl Lagerfeld-stupid sense, but young and beautiful and sexy and energetic. The music by DJ Fix was stellar. The setting was epic because of its glory in decay, a surge of enthusiasm that kept us partying till the early morning. The next day Lerato showed us her work. And this was when we finally fell for her. Because it’s not only strong and full of a longing that has to do with how things and people look, as well as with the understanding that the need to resist, the will to survive, the commitment to be a better person, is all a daily undertaking. No, the world she showed us, with these pictures, took us away from the present and then took that present and made it much stronger than almost anything we had seen ot done in Johannesburg. Cold, wonderful Johannesburg. City of fear and angels. We then asked her to contribute to Book 8 of the 80*81 series, the Superburg Book – and these pictures again show what an eye she has for the layers of the present, the pose of the political, the reference of the historical, the knowledge that something is ahead, we are just not sure what it is.

Armen Avanessian
People

This is how it happens. One day you are fine, next day you are a speculative realist. One day you go out, next day you know Armen Avanessian. Ideas come and go, people come and go, but sometimes you know there had been a longing, a sense of loss and failure only after the fact, after you come across an idea, after you talk to a person. This was Armen, the most understated Austrian you can imagine, grey hair in a good way, metal glasses in a good way, serious in a good way, funny in a good way. Somebody you had been waiting for. You: The person from the 1980s, the 1990s, the pomo person, stuck in the irony, in the games, in the language that was everything and the reality that was nothing, even though you knew this was not true, and it was not everything that postmodernism was about, it was Derrida`s cruelty as well as Baudrillard`s circus, it was playful and beautiful and free, it was Lyotard and Lévinas and the Other, it was political, even if people do not want to see that anymore – but it was also over for a long time, over in a sense that it had not lost its meaning, but its relevance for today. The questions were different. So was postmodernism a failure? Armen would be sceptical about such a statement as he is sceptical about almost everything. But that is only on the surface, the calm, distinguished scholar who chooses to be on the outside of academia and publish one book after another with the still furious publishing people of Merve instead of boring students and himself to death with stuff that had been thought before. He is not actually a philosopher, he is a literature guy, but when he came across Quentin Meillassoux and all that had not been thought before in this and only this way – he was hooked. He is in a way the spokesman at least in Germany for this new philosophical movement, the first real movement since postmodernism and in a way about to do away with it: relativism, ontological mindlessness, a world that does not exist. The world does exist, very much so; it actually existed well before man and it will exist well after man. This is the starting point for the speculative realists. If philosophy after Kant claimed that we cannot say anything about the world that is not based on our very existence, on our very reason, then this is what Armen would call the correlationist folly. It is strange that philosophy has not been more shaken by all the discoveries that were made by Darwin, Einstein and the likes – but now is the time of reckoning. If we are not the center of the world, we cannot be the center of philosophy. This is a copernican moment. This is Armen`s game.

Chris Petit
People

Chris Petit wrote a piece on Kraftwerk before Computerworld came out. “Am Diskö with Kraftwerk.” His interview with Robert Mitchum was a total failure until the moment he asked Mitchum about the hardest drink he’d ever had. The response filled five pages in Time Out. During the outbreak of the volcano Eyjafjallajökul Chris came to Zurich to visit Georg and me, from Buenos Aires––where he showed a retrospective of his work–– which took him more then two days. Most of the flights were cancelled because of the ashes. Chris just said, “The big lesson learned was never queue, because the person everyone is waiting to see doesn’t know anything either. So it became like an initiative test.” We both like slow motion. His friend and collaborator Iain Sinclair called him “J.G. Ballard on foot”. In January three years ago we went to Auschwitz. We didn’t know that January 27, the day we arrived from Berlin by car, was the anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops in 1945. And we didn’t find the SS resort Solahütte on the Sola river, where Josef Mengele, Rudolf Höß, and Josef Kramer spent their weekends. We asked around in the area but everybody sent us somewhere else. The only thing we found was a pub called HATE. Chris Petit came to Johannesburg and we walked to Miniland. His latest ideas are the Museum of Loneliness and GooglemeGod. His first film was Radio On, his bestseller The Psalm Killer. His film Chinese Boxes from the mid-80s with Will Patton foresaw the fall of the Berlin wall. First the criminals reunite. I’m not sure but I think Chris does a lot of daytime TV: “I am always surprised at how sophisticated a lot of popular television is, not in terms of content, which no longer exists, but how much thought has gone into the format.”

Georg Diez
People

Georg recently sent me a text message with two links. One leading to a 1994 muscle BMW 740 in this strange and seldom purple, the other link showed a brownish (bordo metallic) Lancia Thesis from 2003. The BMW is sporty, pimped too bully, the Thesis got the best name a car ever had (where is the Volkswagen Kant or the Peugeot Latour?) and is too retro. But it is Italian. German attack vs. Italian melancholic elegance. Impossible to decide which car Georg should drive. Both. These are the two complementary poles Georg thinks and writes between. He already owns a Volkswagen Beetle from the 1980s, a Range Rover without an engine, the American Gigolo’s Mercedes SL convertible and a black Vespa. And he loves car sharing. It is all there and it is all good. There is no dissent.
Georg and I started off playing tennis. No serves, after each player hits the ball twice we start counting. In New-Tennis volleys count double. We went to North Dakota to ask the British psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas why we had come all the way, we met the philosopher Michel Serres on a sunny Berlin day, and we went to Slavoj Zizek’s apartment in Ljubljana and spoke about nightmares. We sat in Françoise BarréSinoussi’s tiny office in the Pasteur Institute in Paris and talked about the worst diseases of all time. We published eleven books together always trying to find out What Happened in 1980/1981. We went to India to get rid of the monsters we had called. In the near future we celebrated the centennial of 80*81 and found the contemporary, this turned into the opera What Happened 2081? Neo-Yogaism, No More Men, and Algorithm. We organized walks and congresses in Berlin, in Johannesburg and in New Delhi. We buy a tower in Lichtenberg. We will get goates on a hill. We try #60.

Christopher Roth
People

Christopher got a new hair-cut. It’s long on top and short on the sides and makes him look like the singer for a mildly successful pop band from the 80s—stop, sorry, I can’t continue to talk about Bobby if I call him Christopher. He’s Bobby, he always was, no matter what his parents or his passport say. He’s Bobby in his thinking, which means he’s curious and smart in a strictly unacademic fashion. He’s Bobby in his work, which means he’s bouncing all over the place, writing, making films, art, journalism, selling stuff and being—at times to his detriment—constantly ahead of his time. He’s Bobby in his ways, which means he can be charming one moment and a tyrannt the next. He’s Bobby in his private life, which I’m not going to tell you about. For one, because I don’t really know much about it, even if we are friends. Maybe that’s actually one of the things that attracted us to each other: A secrecy we could consider like politeness mixed with freedom and self-defense. We started off playing tennis, this is a well-known fact. We traveled the world and met people like the writer Don DeLillo and the artist Enki Bilal, the chess legend Victor Kortschnoi and the quantum physicist Thomas Hertog, the filmmaker Paul Schrader and  the philosopher Slavoj Zizek, and published ten books together, all under the banner of 80*81, researching the all too evident and all too overlooked historical shifts that happened in the years 1980 and 1981. We went to India and came back different. We traveled to the future to find our present just as we had traveled to the past to find our present. We produced an opera from that experience, which we showed in Munich at the Staatsoper—eight hours of Yoga, Human League and Algorithm. We organized a series of congresses in Berlin, Johannesburg, and Delhi. Really, what else? We still have plans. And we have #60.

Telluride, Colorado 7:51am, Mountain Time

02.09.13
3 min
Post

Actually I have to go. It is the last day of the film festival. 8:30, I have a breakfast meeting in the Sheradon on Colorado Ave. The internet here in the Ice House is very slow. Later there is a picnic in Town Park. Tomorrow at 6:00am a bus will get us to Montrose airport, where the charter will get us to New York. In the charter I will have time to write about the 40th Telluride Film Festival in the mountains of Colorado. Her are some images, if they upload:

This is the new Werner Herzog Cinema for 650 people. The rest of the year the Werner Herzog is an ice skating venue:

One more thing. This is a fruit I have never seen before. A cross between apricot and plum, the Dapple Dandy Pluot:

It’s sunny every morning and there is rain and thunderstorm every afternoon, so I bought this hat in the angler store: (not to put on outside the US)

Now it is 12:14 Mountain Time and I found out it is Labor Day. I just went to a Q&A for the Cannes winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color”, also known as the lesbian porn, or “La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2” –– directed by Abdellatif Kechiche,  with Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, and Jérémie Laheurte. The film is really good. And really long. Everybody complaines about the sex scenes. But the sex scenes are very good. Sex and art are hard to show in movies. Léa Seydoux plays an artist in the film and her art is really horrible. But the rest is very good. Why are there no mobile phones in the film?

Here they are with my friend Colin MacCabe translating the French (Léa Seydoux in a RUN DMC t-shirt):

and here is the poster:

It’s 5:10pm Mountain Time. I just had lunch with Salman Rushdie. Colin is a very old friend of his. Salman told this nice strory about Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. First of all it is “movable” not “moveable”, a mistake they took from Hemmingway’s notes because the book was published after his death. It’s full of Hemingway’s personal accounts, observations and stories of the 1920s in Paris.  “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

More tomorrow:

Mei-Lun Xue
People

Sitting at Luigi Zimmerman waiting for Mei to take her to Lichtenberg. She wanted to see a concentration camp, and I don’t feel like it and I don’t have the time. Actually, I have never been to one, not to Dachau, not to Sachsenhausen, not to Auschwitz. Maybe I should go – and Mei would be the perfect person to go with. Too bad she is leaving Berlin tomorrow. She is on a trip through Europe. She was in Italy before where she did research on the illegal chinese workers, and will go to Paris where she used to work for Louis Vuitton. She just got her Master`s from Princeton. “But I cannot build a building”, she says with some pride. I know her from a few years ago, before she left Berlin because it was too slow, had too little energy, made you lazy and content, as she said then. She was working with Bobby and me on the 80*81 project – and when we met her again last week for lunch at the Mozzarella Bar, corner of August and Joachim in Mitte, she said that Berlin had not changed. Which is not true: We used to have lunch at Culinario, corner of August and Tucholsky. Some things have changed. And Mei acknowledged that. The same people, she said, just more famous. We had a coffee and headed off to Don Xuan Market in Lichtenberg, a glimpse of the future, the largest Vietnamese market around. Mei freaked out when she saw a huge blue warehouse with the words Bubble Tea written on it. So this is home 2013, this is belonging. She could not believe I did not know what Bubble Tea was. (It has to do with Tapioca, I guess.) Then we wandered along the rows of useless, ugly merchandise trying to make sense of without using the tool of irony. It does not work. Without irony you end up with the sense that here capitalism is unwinding right infront of your eyes. We had noodle soup with chicken, and it felt like fall. What is next for Mei? She might go back to Walla Walla, she said, where she grew up, to be close to her parents and work in a factory that builds all the artworks for people like Matthew Barney. Walla Walla. I always loved that name.

A Farewell to Politics

02.09.13
2 min
Post

This is too good. The new week starts like a new week should start: You see the enemies and you know them. Go, move, vanquish. What happened yesterday in German politics was an excercise in boredom – which translates as contempt for democracy because it is the duty of politicians to at least pretend that they care what people think. They have to vote for them after all, for God`s sake. But what does Angela Merkel do, in this TV duell watched by, they say, 15 million viewers: She is her most authoritarian, she is cold, she chides the Greeks again and again for not being German, she points to the mistakes of the past to find a reason for the spanking of the future, she behaves like the kind of kindergarten teacher that you would hate your whole life long. And Peer Steinbrück, the real reason why I will not vote September 22: He pretends to be different after voting again and again with the chancellor on the desastrous Euro rescue or whatever plan which through exessive austerity strangles the southern countries, he does what social democrats usually do, he refuses any vision of how things might be differenz and hopes that people like him because he says at least things will be less bad with him. And what do the newspapers and radio stations and bloggers and the people at Facebook and Twitter discuss: If Stefan Raab, who was part of the polit bureau-like four person team of journalists blarring their questions at the two candidates, was the actual winner?! Enough! There has to be room for the new. This is a farewell to politics.

Hilton Als
People

When I met Hilton, we were both theater critics and we felt let down. By the theater. By much of what we saw. We sat in a Bar next to the Deutsches Theater, I don*t remember if we had left the performance early or were still to go to the performance or just kept on talking long enough to forget about either of these options and delve into what life has to offer to people who are not content judging what they are served – it was the Böse Buben Bar in Mitte, which is so ridiculous a name that it will always stick to my mind, just as the shock of hearing Hilton talk, his voice calm, his thoughts audacious, this man, this boy, so big, so elegant, the most unlikely of all mirrors, the hunger for knowing, for beauty: and art as the medium to find what he is looking for. He uses the theater, which he loves, to tell a story he could not tell otherwise. It is a story about himself that is split up into as many roles as the theater has to offer from antiquity to Off-Off-Broadway. And quite a story it is. His was a spectacular rise, from paperboy at the Village Voice to the theater critic of the New Yorker, and you could always feel this edge, in a positive way, a sense of self-confidence on the one hand, and rightly so, look at this master of insight and observation, and still, and still, what if?! Maybe that*s the difference, between him and me, what if?! He stayed, with the theater, with the New Yorker, I left, the theater. But when I think of him sitting at his desk (do you still have that very small apartement, Hilton? where do you actually write? do you have an office at the New Yorker? or do you sit in restaurants, what you do so much and so well, and write there?) or talking to the students whom I very much admire to able to learn from Hilton, then I know that what he did was right, not only for him, but also for the theater. I can see him, in his little ship-wrecked kind of way of moving strolling along 42th Street or more likely through the Village, always on his way. We can be glad to have him, in all his beautiful ambivalence about things, people, love, art. Is this a portrait of myself? But as which one? The self as a constant meditation, without any claim to authenticity: This is what Hilton will show us here, for the next 60 days. A questioning of the roles, the images, the games we are offered – and the freedom which is our’s to refuse, deny, choose whatever we want to be.
Photo by Sarah Shatz

Disney Problems

09.09.13
1 min

Telluride, Colorado 7:51am, Mountain Time

02.09.13
3 min

A Farewell to Politics

02.09.13
2 min