Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The National Museum

Purple thought to herself that, the nation could be defined not by its borders or territory or by some fictive shared history of traditions or culture, but instead through an arbitrarily selected series of objects, organized according to a hierarchical chain of classes which began with god the creator also known as the first collector (who in this case was Purple and her acolytes) whose collectiones were divided between artificial representations (in three dimensions) and natural representations which are connected to tools of artifice (or means of acting on nature) while the artificialia were connected to enacted knowledge (in two dimensions). Now, organized in this way, you could display the objects as a kind of theatre (organized along the lines of a Camillo's memory theatre) around which the government could simultaneously display its status as an imperial power while functionally interrogating and consolidating that power by creating workshops, laboratories, studios and exhibition spaces to study and codify them into some form of national culture.

Yet, at the same time Purple acknowledged the inherent problems of the museum, that various objects placed on pedestals, behind glass vitrines, displayed in rows along stone corridors that described a teleological history of progress from barbarism to civilization, from the raw to the cooked, would re-inscribe the very power structures they were attempting to demolish with their anti-imperial state project. And she thought, what if the museum was a theatre, a performance which you could pass your hand through, and the stones were voices and the glass barriers were red and blue stage lights that the subject (the audience) and the object (the displays) could pass through as columns of dust through light...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


about to sneeze, windfroth reached into his pocket to get a tissue, finding a serviette he had pocketed at the wedding party. how very odd the design is, he thought to himself, before covering it in green slime nuggets

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The island will be consumed

Thuggery Sven did not sleep for three days, potentially because he was on a meth bender, but potentially because he could not take his mind took off the Darien Chest which he was determined to break open. Respite finally came shortly before lunchtime on tuesday when one of his mysterious bosses called him for an offer of work. "Sven, get ready. We have one of those island jobs for you. You know the ones. " Sven knew all right. When it came to island jobs Sven was the best. His family had been doing island jobs far and wide for generations, from the british isles through to the sulu sea.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Darien Chest

Lord and Lady Wellesley pulled in to the driveway of Lord Palmerston-Napier, on their way to the airport to attend the wedding of Miss Dwynedowers in New York. "Palmy, old sport, we've left the keys to Windfroth Manor underneath the pygmy garden gnome. If that Mancunian dolt ever gets his act together then I'll be in touch, because someone will have to let him in to work on the renovations."  Palmerston nodded obligingly, but in truth was too indisposed with the ongoing death of Lady Edgeworth-Box to really be of any help to Wellesley. "And one more thing Palmy, I've found the bylaws at last. I've left them in a sealed envelope on the chest in the study. Please ensure they are filed with the Auxiliary Arcadians this week. Double Cuneiforms depends on it."

Hearing this, as he stood hidden in nearby bushes, Thuggery Sven decided that it was about time he ought leave the grounds of Lord Palmerston-Napier in favour of finding more comfortable lodgings. Not even Robin Hood would think it much fun to roam about the forest these days. Besides, following the untimely demise of Lady Edgeworth-Box, some officials had been known to visit, and it seemed best to stay out of their way. 

The next day, upon finishing the last of one of Doris' brethren, Sven picked himself up and headed down the road towards Windfroth Manor. At about exactly the same time that Lord and Lady Wellesley finally arrived at The Waldorf Astoria, Sven was sitting with his feet up by the fire, smoking one of the Baron's pipes. "Its like I've lived here all my life" he thought to himself, the way white people tend to do. Throwing papers in to stoke the fire, he noticed a fascinating chest. It looked old and he was determined to break in and find what was inside. Relenting only for now, he decided it would have to be an ongoing project.

At that moment Sven could hear someone coming. Quickly realising it was Palmerston coming to look for the by law papers, (which were now burnt to cinders), Sven set about making a replacement. He ran into the study and grabbed the first scribbles he could find, before rapidly putting out the fire and hiding in the cellar. Funnily enough. it turns out that Wellesley had all along been an inheritor of an investment in a middle-eastern hydroelectric scheme, and unwittingly among his copious financial correspondence, was receiving regular investment reports. The most recent one, as just handled by Sven, spoke of a new school that opened up in the mountain town nearby the hydroelectric dam. The report also attached an interesting new book that had captured the imagination of the townsfolk.

At roughly the same time that the 119th official bylaws of the Double Cuniform club were stamped, filed and fully ratified by the summer intern at the office of the Auxiliary Arcadians lodge, Wellesley was drinking a toast to the new Mrs St Regis of the Upper West Side. He turned aside, "Lady Wellesley, do you care to dance?" and the happy couple made their way to the dance floor, knocking back one of many celebratory gin and tonics.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kishi's Ghost

The difference between the cartographers and the others is that they could trace their lineage back hundreds of years and they were aware that they were not acting of their own accord, but could feel the skeleton of their forbears moving beneath their skin, like a puppet master controlling his puppet. Shinzo would often feel his grandfathers ghost twitching in his muscles and ligaments, and he could feel that blood pulsing through his veins which spoke of an inter-generational project, from the time the Choshu-Satsuma alliance, recognizing its weakness in the face of the european state technology, overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate and began the process of nation building and modernization. Yet in this context liberalism was not seen as an essential component of statehood because it developed concurrently with nationalism rather than through the parthenogenesis of one from the other. This was his grandfathers battle and it was his too, to see the state as a monstrous but useful instrument for sovereignty but whose Enlightenment underpinnings were fundamentally at odds with  Japanese culture. Shinzo was a great synthesizer like his grandfather, and it was his dream to dismantle the edifice of civil society which function as a valve for regulating the power of government but which he only saw as a hindrance and superfluous Western oddity stiffening the joints of the state machine. In the end, the Japanese associate beauty not only with flower arrangement, wabi sabi, shinto and zen buddhism, but with violence and death.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Monitor Stage

I have noticed, of late, a tendency amongst European aesthetes of a certain generation a fashion for looking at Asians looking at things through cameras. Their curiosity seems unbounded at what would seem a fairly mundane sight, peering through their half rimmed spectacles or ironic black frames, at teens and 20 somethings from Korea, Japan, China or even Myanmar taking photos at exhibitions or performances.  Commonly they will be heard to make a broad generalizing remark along the lines of, 'and this is how they look at everything here'. My attention to this phenomenon was first drawn after I had organized a performance in latter day Chosun for a one-eyed Scottish chansonier and while watching the performance, I noticed two strange figures crouched in the audience looking not at the stage, but at their fellow audience members. After the event, I discovered they were an artistic couple from Berlin who remarked bewilderedly, 'I haff nevah seen any-zing like eet bevore!'
Puzzled and perplexed by this oddly naive and yet sincere behavior I asked a German directly about his fascination.
'You see, we Europeans, with our history and culture, perceive the world through our human faculties and senses without augmentation, but the Asians, having come to Modernity and State building later, and following our example, have not developed a similar Romantic sensualist sensible distance from the world but rather perceive it through technological viewing devices as inter-penetrative, supra-mental, organisitic appendages. I have a theory that, as Lacan posed a mirror stage for the typical European infant for the point at which it sees itself in a mirror and begins the process of forming an objective ontology and Imaginary construction of the world outside of its immediate sense responses, the Asian in fact goes through a 'monitor stage', that they would first perceive their own image as an object outside, not as a reflection but as a double, doppleganged digitally on a screen. Therefore, from that moment onwards, the Asian begins the trajectory of perceiving the world through a Digital Imaginary and therefore, in fact, cannot actually see the object in front of its eyes other than through the screen which presents the amanuensis through which being is formed. That, and also I think their eyes are really small so they need to take pictures of everything so they can see them properly.'

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Contract

"Once people (colonialists) have power, they think universal truth is on their side. They will resort to any unscrupulous means to achieve their goal. If I have travelled on the sea, I will then understand that war, trade and piracy are fundamentally like the Trinity, which is inseperable and indivisible.'
("FAUST", Part 2, Act 5, Goethe)

Quoted in The Opium War, "Series of the 1st Imperialist War of Aggression Against China in English and Chinese Commemorating the Handover of Hong Kong to China and Seeing the Issue in the Right Perspective!"