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Alan Sondheim on Tue, 10 Jan 2012 04:56:00 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> sondheimogram [x8]

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Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>

     PAIN.TXT: On (severe) Pain 
     War Against War, Krieg dem Kriege 
     in silence here 
     the idiotic poverty of pain 
     For Occupy Wall Street, Jesus' Third Way *
     Eyebeam Window Gallery Installation 
     Pompeii (the proper name, pompeii) 
     Quick reviews - recommended books - 

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Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2011 04:36:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: PAIN.TXT: On (severe) Pain 


On (severe) Pain

(dialog between Sandy Baldwin and Alan Sondheim)

In relation to pain:

Inexpressibility occurs because of the difficulty of expressing interior
states that might not have a clearcut symptomology (as thirst does, for
example) - and also because severe pain derails speech and language and
thought, as the internalized horizon of the flesh is muted or screams in
abeyance. All of this touches on the _pain of the signifier_ and its
inexpressible relation to death - (Alan)


I really like your phrase "pain of the signifier" in that final
installment on unprintability. I'm not sure how we think about it,

On the one hand, pain is all that the signifier negates and forecloses.
So, there's a numbness to the signifier, an anaesthesia.

On the other hand, the signifier in the place of pain, as a kind of bad
suture, a bandaid.

On the third hand, is the real gamble, the crying or trembling of the
signifier, in its negation, trembling with the world that it is holding
off. How to show this? Or is it simply what shows up?



Hi Sandy, doesn't pain negate and foreclose the signifier? The pain of the
signifier for me is the pain of the _incision_ accompanying inscription;
the world simultaneously expands and narrows. In Buddhism, I'd imagine
(I'm fuzzy at the moment) all signifiers equal and empty; suffering and
attachment imbues distinction with intentionality, capture.

The signifier's sharp; the numbness is what's created in the act of
distinction. So the signifier's x^-x, that stuff I wrote about a while
back about the intersection of a set and its complement relativized in
relation to the 'content' of the set; if x = apple, then 0-sub-apple is
the intersection of x^-x. So classically this is very sharp, 'smeared' out
in the real via abjection.

The signifier's not in the place of pain except for the observer; for the
person undergoing (severe) pain, there is no place at all: that's the
numbness. The signifier's the report; the distance between the report and
the pain is also painful...

Could you elaborate on the third hand? Not sure I understand - (Alan)


I'd say I was thinking about the signifier as something read, as an object
that I read into. Whereas I see in your reply the signifier as something I

In the case of the reader, of myself as reader of the signifier of pain,
the incision is for you, the pain is yours. This fact makes pain *your
pain*, makes it witnessed, validated for me by that big other. The
signifier is communicated and read. You and I share in the signifier of

I would say it is beyond reading or non-reading to realize that the
emptiness of all signifiers. Every reading fictionalizes this, tells a
story of it, but it is only in non-reading that I really approach the
alterity of your pain.

So, I agree that for the person undergoing the pain there is no place; I
would go further: it is this inarticulate boundary that concerns me. The
signifier of pain as your pain - can I feel this? Only as reversibility,
as my pain (which in a Cartesian sense I would see as like your pain)?

As reader or receiver, I can push reading to impossible limits. I can
strip everything away from the report of the pain, every connotation,
every signification, to the point where I touch at the incised flesh of
the signifier and find the continuous flesh of the world, the great
surface where we all feel. And here it is no longer your pain / my pain.
Here signification is a kind of perturbation, wherein pain and pleasure
blur and float, pleasurepain.

Or - and this may not be an alternative but a supplementary dimension -
reading your pain must be already framed, consensually, as they say of
communicational domains. There must be pain before and beyond, which is to
say, beyond otherness, beyond the ultimate fact that the signifier is a
structural fact in the communication circuit. (The validation, the
implication of the big other I wrote of above. (In communication, the
price of signification is that it is always the others pain I read, never
yours, and the other's pain I write, never mine.)

I think, I think the beyond where "I feel your pain" no longer is
determined by the symbolics of intersubjective communication is Levinas'
"beyond being," or also, I think, these are the encounters that Lingis
writes of. This phrase "I feel your pain" implies such a beyond. I mean: I
must feel your pain even in the absence of the signifier (and it will be
absent, it is absent). Impossibly so, since pain is always pain for you,
for the one incised. I must feel impossible pain. (I would say this
relates to love as well.)

Not sure I'm going anywhere. (Sandy)


Hi Sandy, this is certainly useful for me. I'd say when you say 'the
signifier as something read,' it's a perception, an incision, that you're
making; with severe pain, there is no signifier for me at all, not even
incision; I'm emptied of it, even to the extent that "I feel your pain"
wouldn't be heard, wouldn't be a received communication - there might not
even be a "you" that is speaking those words to me. When my mother was
dying and in severe pain, she could utter, mumble that, it was her feet,
but there was only minimal recognition I was present, and I was literally
dumb-founded - i.e. found dumb, and transformed into one whose foundation
was dumb, mute - almost an erasure. I couldn't possibly feel her pain, I
wouldn't know where to begin with either that act or that sentence, that
inscription. Pain turns to groans, moaning, as if the sound might assuage,
and perhaps sound does play a role, which later mantra built on; I don't

Might one go so far as to say that the 'reader of the signifier of pain'
does not feel pain, he or she is in such a state that reading is still
possible? Or that the pain he or she feels is encapsulated, not
sufficiently severe to cancel out, thwart, communication?

Thinking of my mother (she died a few days later, under morphine, given to
her to assuage the pain, she never woke through that period, we were all
waiting... The parentheses remains open, as I await my death in a sense,
this is as close as I've been...

So I'd say we didn't share in the signifier, my mother and I - she was
emptied of that, what was left was pain and the dark horizon she must have
known, all along, was part and parcel of it...

The boundary, too, disappears...


SO I wonder, why isn't THIS the focus of philosophy, for example, why all
this talk before the curtain goes down? With the Bardo Thodol, the
Tibertans have recourse to the symbolic; in a sense Tibetan Buddhism is a
discourse about death, but again, by the living - the guiding continuing
after the death, by the living, and it's a form of imagining and casting
aside deity, a conscious form of eliminating the symbolic, so that
emptiness occurs, and maybe enlightenment and maybe the cycle of rebirths
comes to a halt.

I've never understood this, why one would want to halt the cycle, when
life, if not fabulous, is full of novelty in spite of or through the
suffering, but that's another story, or perhaps the same. - (Alan)


Hi Sandy,

Odd working on this and re: my mother; my father's in the hospital at the
moment and my brother and I have been talking about his death, although he
may well live for several more years... It's a harrowing time.

I like the exchange below; I'd like to continue it a bit, if it's
possible, and in any case prepare it for putting up online, possibly on
the Eyebeam blog which would be really good; apparently I'll have one off
the main blog, etc. Please let me know what you think.

I'm twisted re: my father, as you can well imagine, not in all that great
shape... (Alan)


On Wed, 17 Aug 2011, Charles Baldwin wrote:

Sorry about your father. I know it's a complicated relation.

Sure, on the Eyebeam blog would be great. I think it's substantial enough,
we might think of other venues of "publication" as well. Though I think
eventually we might move on to pleasure and not pain? (Sandy)


Hi Sandy, I want to respond to your email tomorrow when I'm awake and able
to think at all, about anything, we were out all day, I wrote you when I
returned and it's been fuzzy tonight. But I do want to say re: pleasure,
that I'm not personally all that interested in it, I don't see it in
relation to pain at all, and I see pain as fundamental to philosophy and
phenomenology in particular. I hope this makes sense? Pleasure seems more
surface, disparate, connected to fulfillment, maybe even homeostasis,
etc., not to mention the brain's pleasure centers. I don't know what I'm
talking about here of course. Pain/wounding/death relate to the project at
Eyebeam, and there's also sexuality - in other words, the avatar which is
broken or taken over - the sexuality connects to pleasure, but for me it
connects more to permissions and formal control - it's what's dark or
forbidden in virtual sexuality, teledildonics, etc. that relates I think -
in other words, what transgresses into the abject. All of this also
touches on Kristeva, Douglas, purity and danger, Franz Steiner on taboo,
etc. - these sorts of barriers that can lead to death, etc. - menses as
well and the whole world that engages around menstruation as sexual/wound/
death/rebirth, etc. On a practical level, I feel my time is limited, and
this area is fecund and mostly denied - the same way that the bodies of
dead or wounded American soldiers are never presented, are always beyond
the Pale. And it's here that the crux of virtual occurs, that is that the
common - doxa - interpretation of virtuality lends itself to skimming over
surfaces - to such pleasures that we can talk about the U.S. for example
re: Wired mag. etc. as a culture of pleasure which buries everyting else.
It's the debris I'm interested in here...

I'll try even to work this into an article, if I can, and more later from
your original post today of course - I'm literally worn out at the
moment... (Alan)


On Wed, 17 Aug 2011, Charles Baldwin wrote:

I suppose I wonder now on what conditions can I say "I feel your pain."
Is this phrase even possible? But also, we say it and mean it. (It would
be interesting to pursue "I feel your pleasure" as well, which would be
different, though present some related issues.)

"I feel your pain" is indexical"; a moan is ikonic; we're thinking through
the language of ikons here. (Alan? Sandy?)

I suppose it is at least in part a matter of when and where and who
utters this phrase.

There is also pain that is *managed* or lived through. Though I think
this is already a problem with this as I write it: wouldn't all pain be
shattering, in its time however brief, as a kind of obduracy within? And
yet we're constantly living with it. At least I mean that in this case
there are available conventions for signifying its presence. I feel your
pain because it is like other pains in I have felt in the past, pains I
have had, with the sense of *having* pain as an object possessed and
controlled, as an experience catalogued and available to telling. I have
had a toothache or a broken toe or a sore muscle. I lived through each
and can now speak of it, can share it with you, can point to the scars.
I am certain that here the pain is encapsulated - as you put it - or in
a kind of vesicle within me. (Sandy)

This is true to an extent, but only once for example have I had such bad
toothache that I could do nothing but scream (and did); I had to be rushed
to an emergency dentist. Now I 'remember' the pain, but I'm not sure if
this is the same kind of memory reconstruction that occurs, for example,
when I 'remember' my childhood home... (Alan)

Then, thinking about your mother: a setting with no communication, no
exchange of commonplaces about where it hurts. No signifier of pain, or
rather the signifier is framed and held by the setting. No "pain index,"
no seven words to describe it, from flickering and pounding through
nagging and torturing, or in between. In this way, pain is a problem for
indexicality as such (and differs from similar problems e.g. the
punctum). Gesture falls short: the witness - and there might need to be
another term? the "vigilant" works in a way, but isn't right for the
pain-sharer - consoles and soothes to no avail, the sufferer utters and
moves but conveys nothing of the internal anguish. (Sandy)

Yes, absolutely, this is it, which is why I think of pain as ikonic, an
internal ikon operative and witnessed only by the subject who bears it.
Which brings up a closely related concept, that we are ikonic to ourselves
and that this is a closed transmission (not even sutured in the sense of
the construction of the subject). (Alan)

What remains? A phenomenology that is blinded and muted in many ways.
The tableau of sufferer and vigilant conveys only distance and numbness.
It also conveys waiting (vigilance). Mute and blind waiting the sufferer
is not dead, nor are they undead (in a monstrous sense), but they are no
longer a subject, no longer speaking and asserting. You write "there
might not even be a 'you' that is speaking those words to me," which
makes it impossible for you to say "I feel your pain." This is a tableau
of nothingness, of an open gap in being. It is not yet mourning. It is
traumatic in advance, marking a trauma to come, in the sense that trauma
is dream, is something displaced in experience and time. The
phenomenology of the gap is tied to the time of waiting and not to any
other perception. Duration, waiting, vigilance: these may be bodily
relations beyond alterity ... (Sandy)

Yes, again, and the waiting for the observer is also tied to the
possibility of recover; for the person in pain, it is timeless, and I'd
think even the potential of temporality or a temporal horizon is absent.

Is it not here that I might say *I feel impossible pain*? At least, this
was where I ended my last reply, except now I would say that every word
in that phrase, "I feel impossible pain," is broken in the tableau of
nothingness I'm writing of: the subject that might utter the phrase (the
vigilant) is dumbfounded, as you say, troubling "I" and "feel" and so
on. Perhaps *I feel impossible pain* is absurd, impossible, not even
worth saying. It is philosophically absurd ... (Sandy)

It would seem almost an egoism, no? Since (feel)and(imossible pain) as
locutions are contradictory, but yet the observer insists on saying
_something_ since he or she is reduced to silence by the other's moaning.
A doctor on the other hand, would see all of this as symptom, and
hopefully act accordingly, doing whatever she or he can to assuate the
pain which she knows by proxy is _there._ (Alan)

I keep returning to Lingis: in one of his books, can't remember which,
he describes his own vigil by his dying mother's bed. She has cancer,
she's in a hospital near Chicago. He describes his own inarticulateness
and hers as well; but - as I recall - he also sees a bravery in the
scene, a dignity in both the mother and the son facing death. Without
being able to dig up the reference - I may be wrong in recalling it? - I
have to say I find it a bit forced, but also I see it fitting the
general refusal of real abjection in his work, his sense of the glory or
wonder of being in every situation. *Forced* as a way of philosophically
or pedagogically making a point about imperatives that bind us beyond
being. Yet I wonder if it's too much on his part: how can it be so sure
that I'm able to hear and answer the imperative? I'm not sure I believe
that in the presence of a dying loved one it is so easy, except
philosophically and perhaps only after. Again, I'm being unfair: it
could not have been easy for him, and yet it becomes easy to
philosophize, and to achieve a passivity and even enlightenment. Lingis
focuses on the extreme, the rending and transforming of suffering and
encounters, but there's a sense of certainty, of philosophical clarity
that he brings to these. (Sandy)

I like your description here and the notion of refusing real abjection,
but then I wonder how he approaches situations of real torture or pain
before its 'time.' But the philosophizing itself is a way of dealing with
it; when my mother died I played shakuhachi, and when I recently wrote
about my father's being in hospital (on Facebook), I talked about playing
zurna - it's a way of dealing, a kind of expressivity against everything,
including the potential cessation of expressivity of course. (Alan)

Perhaps this relates to your final points about Buddhism or
*philosophy*. I'm left wondering if dialogue in the presence of death,
if description of the tableau of vigilance - as above, as here - is, can
possibly be, *philosophical*? How can it be? Surely philosophy fails? We
are, as you say, dumbfounded. I'm pretty sure that I'm unsure about what
I'm writing of here, that I'm in no way certain about your pain or the
pain of others, that I'm in no way certain about the nothingness of the
vigil. How could I be? It is obscene to philosophize on pain. (Sandy)

Another turn here, however - perhaps that is the only philosophizing that
isn't obscene; one is speaking for a body that's no longer capable of
speaking, one is simultaneously within the intense privacy of that
inexressible pain, and the intense privacy of writing itself, Vygotsky's
inner speech, Blanchot's writing of the disaster, Scarry's introductory
material on pain (the best part of her book, at least for me), and so
forth... (Alan)


On Thu, 18 Aug 2011, Charles Baldwin wrote:

Although, it seems to me that already in the below pleasure is leading
somewhere interesting vis a vis the virtual. The US as a culture of
pleasure which buries everything else must be, it seems to me, a tight and
anxious relation to an excluded domain of pain and violence. I suppose
there'd be other kinds of pleasure, so simply tied to fulfillment or
closing off the leaks. But now I'm elaborating a response to this... let's
keep focused on the pain (said the masochist). (Sandy)

Agree with keeping the focus. The locus of the above is sexuality, the way
it plays out on say SVU or with Janet Jackson's breast, etc. It's a
puritanism consistently pushed to the breaking-point. But the discussion
leads elsewhere, to pop culture, communality, not the isolation, the
_body_ in the hospital bed or on the battlefield... (Alan)


Notes from Utah (Alan)

110812_004: Pain as separating inscription/history from the inertness of
the body; what's read as history from the outside (and thereby entering
the social), from the inside is unread/unreadable. The inside is pure

110812_005: Inscription carries, until burial, carries a specific
relationship to the body until burial. Burial is a form of reinscription.
A line on the body - how is this interpreted during life? during death?

110812_012: Inscription => embodiment and maintenance; maintenance =>
retardation: what makes for example virtual particles last as long as they
do? Retardation - slowing things down, copying, duplicating, a poetics of
dispersion, holding-back. See the phenomenology of numbers: data-base,
interpretation, intentionality, an immersive situation, memory. In doing
mathematics, always dealing with temporal processes. In pain: everything
drops away, definable and immersive situations cease to exist.

110812_014: Splintering, splintered nails, leveraging of particles,
striations, applicable to notions of binding, constriction, discomfort.

110816_002: Pain of the signifiera: signifier as incision, disturbance,
splits between the Pale and beyond the Pale. Pain beyond the Pale?
The pain of death: horizon foreclosing its origin and the subject as well.

110816_003: The work I do as obdurate, not grid or mapping, but flows that
are not channelized, flows that are mute - relation to pain. The
phenomenology of the embodiment of the signifier is also mute. What I do
is planless, expands into available technology on a practical level,
produces and reproduces that way.

110816_006: My Textbook of Thinking: components of inscription: linkage,
syntactical structure, inscription is an ordering of difference, impulse,
representation-structure, legitimation structure, maintenance, stabili-
zation mechanisms, positive/negative feedback, field of abjection. Excess-
ive related to corrosion. Difference between fissure and inscription.
Relationship of corrosion and scarcity to pain.

110816_007: Phenomenology of eccentric space, Sarduy, de-centering the
subject, tied to abjection.

110816_008: Difference between fissure and inscription; pain tends towards
fissure; if fissure is same and same, there's no geography, no topography,
no topology; the result is the crack / wound, everywhere and nowhere.

110818_001: Pain relates to the body as cosmology to the universe. (?)

110819_001: Pain in relation to virtual worlds: in circumlocution of the
subject who may remain impervious, the degree zero of phenomenology.

110821_001: What happens when users exchange their avatars? Our histories,
inventories, are no longer our own.


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Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2011 13:13:53 -0400 (EDT)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: War Against War, Krieg dem Kriege 

War Against War, Krieg dem Kriege


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Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2011 04:02:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: in silence here 

There's an Assyrian Standard Inscription extolling the deeds of kings; 
this is a standard denouement of death, dispersion, and the breaking-down 
of networks. My father, our father, had died a week ago Tuesday; I've been 
here in Kingston, Pennsylvania, only since Saturday. We had an interment, 
a cremation next to my mother's coffin, two days ago. We've been clearing 
out the house, which means dealing with five thousand books dad had 
collected over the past century; he was born 97 years ago. Most of the 
books were bought over fifty years ago, when limited editions were cheap; 
they went up in value, down slightly again. Argosy and Swann are handling 
them. I've been going through books, through our parents' wedding 
announcement, through wartime mementos, family histories and reminiscences 
going back two centuries, teacups, swords and guns, bird prints, receipts 
and broadsides, glasses and crystal and small carved wooden figures - and 
all of this, forming a network or skein of ill-suited and impossible 
redundancy, in other words a network of _things,_ helping tear it apart, 
trying to retrieve whatever items I could, working alongside Azure and my 
brother and his wife and others coming and going. Until the point of no 
return, when I can't sleep and walk the home late-night alone, 
neurotically photographing everything (like I play music, the labor of it, 
the labor of these _things,_ trying to capture-captive), ending numb and 
unable to conceive of playing the simplest note or writing the simplest 
script - those I've already done, run into the ground - my mind focused on 
_this_ teacup or _that_ fountain pen - my grandfather's 32nd degree mason 
badges, everywhere intimations of classicism that I can't identify with. I 
look for the cracks - Fox's Martyrs, Tortures and Torments of the 
Christian Martyrs, Anatomy of Melancholy, Quine's Quiddities, Celan, an 
Aldus press book from 1514 working on the organization still, of the 
_printed book,_ Thomas Browne, Godwin's Essay on Sepulchres. I think my 
father began with expansion, contracted quickly in the move from Brookline 
Mass to Kingston Penna with World War II along the way. I think I'm 
beginning to understand a Monsieur Teste or Proustian way with him. I 
share certain interests - Sam Johnson and Byron to mention two, but I've 
gone in a direction of philia, not phobia, where technology is concerned.

But I roam these walls/halls as now, unable to contain myself; oddly, it's 
not the finality of deaths, of organisms, that upsets me so, so much as 
the finality of the skein of things; this was a world I grew up in and now 
I'm in the process of dismantling (with others), just as I had to put 
down, with Azure, acknowledge the kill, of our first cat Boojum, which 
because of proximity was the hardest death of an other I've endured. I 
want to read Kripke and others on possible worlds and natural kinds, 
again: is organism and coherency one or an other? Is there a possible 
world where these skeins remain intact, along with organisms with names 
and naming, for millennia? Or does the entropic seize everywhere along 
lines of flight, corralling and expelling debris repeatedly, there's no 
end to it?

The numbness. I'm stuck to the world.

I'm stuck to the world and recognize the _unique event_ might not be death 
after all, but the dissolution following death, the unreconcilable 
dispersion that sends everything, every object, every organism, beyond the 
universal Pale. In the end we're all mongrels and in the beginning we're 
all mongrels.

Time moves slow throughout this process. I've been here 5.4 days, and 
already an empire of the dead has been established and holds sway. I call 
people, write, people, thank people, I feel guilty if I write, like this, 
in the form of a group, but my energy drains faster than thought, and the 
horizon of relevance Schutz describes is simply - _simply_ muted. It's not 
a process of decathecting, it's the opposite, a refusal to release the 
glue that holds the world together - never mind the bodies of organisms 
within it. (One might wonder where is the net, virtuality, within this, 
beyond the physicality of routers and their _tubes,_ but that is another 
story, another time, when I can _think_ again. Like Levinas in existence 
and existents, exhaustion now determines the quality of my thought, and 
the shudders, fears, night terrors, migraines, and nightmares undetermine 
thought's realm. Sometime in the future, I will be there, writing away 
about pain and its indescribability, the impossible of pain, the signifier 
as wound, and the impossibility of inscription. But not I try to hold onto 
what I think of only as text and textual process, thinking beyond thought, 
which is a basis for philosophy, once the shuddering slows and halts, 
temporarily, until it halts again.

On a practical level, I hope to return Sunday or Monday to New York, 
resume the Eyebeam residency full-time, prepare for playing on the 23/24/ 
25/28 of this month, sort through the books I'm bringing back (including 
Joseph Campbell's copy of Morte Darthur with Beardsley), find out where my 
embrochure has gone, and get back to Second Life/virtual worlds work. The 
flood never got to our father's home although surrounding towns have been 
inundated. There's mold everywhere. I'm online. Family relationships are 
realigning. I'm thinking about Quine on negation, about negation, and 
there's a start.

And thanks for putting up with all of this, and reading this far, if you 
have, and there's the differend for you.

- Alan

eyebeam: http://eyebeam.org/blogs/alansondheim/
email archive http://sondheim.rupamsunyata.org/
web http://www.alansondheim.org / cell 347-383-8552
music: http://www.espdisk.com/alansondheim/
current text http://www.alansondheim.org/re.txt

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Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011 03:08:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: the idiotic poverty of pain 

the idiotic poverty of pain

because there's so little to say about pain, you're always thumping up
against that, a sort off surface which gives way, but only within a
limited compliance, after a while one wants to slither, one wants to move,
to move, into projections of images or fantasies, or holographic universes
on the edges of the surface, you can consider the surface in the same way
as you can consider the bangu, the drum, as you can consider the surface
as the surface of pain, with the center where the harshness occurs, and
then reading the skin, reading the skin on the outside of the drum, and
then leaving the drum altogether and go elsewhere, the sound that goes
elsewhere, so, moving from there, after a while, pain then reveals itself,
as does death, as an ultimate poverty, idiotic, nothing left but null
signifiers always already collapsed, because everything becomes the same
token, everything becomes the same dissolution or decay of the proton, so
what is left is not even substance, one moves away then to embrace, or
catch or catapult oneself, or corral, the image or imaginary that appears
on the outside of the curvature of the drum, it's there that sound mean-
ders into form, embraces the subject, brings hir back alive


eyebeam: http://eyebeam.org/blogs/alansondheim/
email archive http://sondheim.rupamsunyata.org/
web http://www.alansondheim.org / cell 347-383-8552
music: http://www.espdisk.com/alansondheim/
current text http://www.alansondheim.org/re.txt

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Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 21:59:34 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: For Occupy Wall Street, Jesus' Third Way *

For Occupy Wall Street, Jesus' Third Way *

Seize the moral initiative.
Find a creative alternative to violence.
Assert your own humanity and dignity as a person.
Meet force with ridicule or humor.
Break the cycle of humiliation.
Refuse to submit or to accept the inferior position.
Expose the injustice of the system.
Take control of the power dynamic.
Shame the oppressor into repentance.
Stand your ground.
Make the Powers make decisions for which they are not prepared.
Recognize your own power.
Be willing to suffer rather than retaliate.
Force the oppressor to see you in a new light.
Deprive the oppressor of a situation where a show of force is
Be willing to undergo the penalty of breaking unjust laws.
Discard fear of the old order and its rules.
Seek the oppressor's transformations.

* This is in Walter Wink, Beyond Just War and Pacifism: Jesus'
Nonviolent Way, in Volume 4, Contemporary Views on Spirituality
and Violence, in The Destructive Power of Religion, Violence in
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, J. Harold Ellens, Editor.
The articles in the four volumes are based on close theological
readings of texts, actions, and hermeneutics, and well worth
reading. I think their relation to OWS is really useful.

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Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 21:46:49 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Eyebeam Window Gallery Installation 

Eyebeam Window Gallery Installation

"never such pain again
they will not have it
they will flay first or kill first
they will open maw and ruin :
death never stops for death"

PLEASE VISIT! Chelsea, West 21st Steet near 11th Avenue!

installation photographs:


sound from combined crystal radios and aerials:




Up through 12/11/2011: texts, 3d models of distorted avatars, mid-
19th-century painting, crysal radios (early 1920s with condenser,
late 1910s loose coupler, variometer, antenna condenser, 1941 RC
BP-10 radio (first real portable) used for loop antenna, B-field VLF
loop antenna), video of Second Life avatars with distorted motion-
capture behavior syndrom (DMCB).

"perfect julu

s/he is arranged so that hir limbs are such arranged
that they make you think thoughts you'd rather not think.

they're thoughts of what you might do to julu twine and
what julu twine might do to you shudder shudder.

you've read somewhere you're giving out heat with the
shiver and taking it in with the shiver.

you remember thinking the perfect julu twine s/he is so
just an arrangement as i will always remember thinking.

and that no one but hir thought hir up and then s/he
thought me up too and then you full of sex and death.

that you might die without pain and unwounded, or that
something better might be there for all that.

that that something better has a name and that that
name is perfect julu."

eyebeam: http://eyebeam.org/blogs/alansondheim/

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Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2011 12:50:45 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Pompeii (the proper name, pompeii) 

Pompeii (the proper name, pompeii)

(virtual world work, philosophy, memory, sign)

video / thesis / name of the face

the face/body reconstitutes itself, dragging hermeneutics with it.
nothing remains but the rewryte of memory, continuous.
face/body neither dead nor alive, axed or picked or nubbed.
one hundred meters minimum, holding avatar by choreography,
or the gravitational pull of dance and tensor calculus.
because it generates from nothing, proceeds from annihilation,
unerased from previous aeons, themselves under erasure.
what human can never know, extent of space and time.
all bridges are broken to this image-land land-image,
which seems to insist on the human in the midst of substance.

image / thesis

frozen, released less than desire or interpretation might procure.
something to do with inscription, who or what inscribed.
that is to say, the signifier of something in remembrance,
of the human, or in human memory, or memory of the other.

older space-time genres, they can't fit, they can't make it

painting / thesis

beauty of continuous development of abstraction,
carrying the weight of flesh or bouquet of human energy.

sculpture / thesis

immobilized development of organisms, what remains, beyond,
or only the static caging of desire, something within these,
untoward, held in abeyance, petrification or circumscription,
boundaries always already out of reach, out of touch.

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Date: Tue, 27 Dec 2011 00:02:27 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Quick reviews - recommended books - 

Quick reviews - recommended books -

Hello Avatar, Rise of the Networked Generation, B. Coleman, MIT, 2011

- Highly recommend this book which isn't the usual first-person
narrative, but carefully builds a theoretical structure for analyzing
the phenomenology of avatars, which we might be taking increasingly
for granted; the days of Sherry Turkle's Life on the Screen have been
replaced by life. I like the breadth and time-line of the book. I
picked up the copy at Eyebeam; it's one of the more useful recent
volumes of theory/sociology/philosophy of new media to emerge.

Noise Channels, Glitch and Error in Digital Culture, Peter Krapp,
Minnesota, 2011

- Again, highly recommended. The book is theoretically dense but quite
astute; I remember the author from a Derrida list years ago. I think of
his approach as 'deep glitch,' glitch as basic to online culture; the
volume goes well beyond glitch as style. I'm working my way through the
book now; I hate doing this, but the last sentence indicates the author's
approach: "And so the digital humanities assert that 'from the standpoint
of art forms instantiated in informatic media (aural sounds, visual
images, linguistic signs), the noise _is_ the art.'" - the quote is from
Bruce Clark. I'm trying, using books like this, and the above, to find a
home for my own standpoint; these come close and are far more useful than
other works which emphasize heavy description plus theory.

The Destructive Power of Religion, 4 volumes edited by J. Harold Ellens,
Praeger, 2004

- This is an amazing collection of essays on 'Violence in Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam,' with an introduction by Desmond Tutu. They're
not anti-religious, but they are upfront about the violence inherent in
various scriptures and practices, and potential solutions. Liberation
theology would love these, I think. I found the books at a library sale
for a dollar each; they're extremely expensive, but there's a one-volume
version that's relatively cheap. (I haven't seen it.) If you can check
these out a library, please do.

The Better Angels of Our Nature, Why Violence has Declined, Stephen
Pinker, Viking, 2011

- Eight-hundred pages of analysis makes me believe once again in
psychology as a useful science, and for that matter, as a science to some
extent. The thesis of declining violence - in spite of continuous
massacres, extinctions, scarcity economies, etc. - seems promising. I
purchased the in a state of depression after my father's death and the
split-up of part of my family, and it helped. There are troubling sections
(including time-lines and absolutist/inerrant religious tendencies), but
the book as a whole is reasonably, guardedly optimistic. Highly

The Poetical Works of John Gay, Including 'POLLY,' 'THE BEGGAR'S OPERA,'
and Selections from the other Dramatic Work, Edited by G.C. Faber, Oxford,

Everyone knows The Beggar's Opera, but Polly is rarer, and then there are
strange things like The What D'Ye Call It, and Trivia: or, The Art of
Walking the Streets of London. Do check these out; they're fascinating and
strange and oddly predecessors of Brecht as well.

Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Sir Thomas Browne, various contemporary editions

If you haven't checked out Browne, you should - he wrote any number of
works you might know including Religio Medici, but the Pseudodoxia is the
most interesting - like Aristotle's Problems, it deals with a variety of
unbelievably wide-ranging topics, but the speculation on them is
absolutely wild. There's 'Of the cutome of saluting or blessing upon
sneezing.' and 'That Iews stinke.' (he concludes that they do not). Then
there's 'Of the cheek burning or eare tingling.' and 'Of smoak following
the fairest.' and 'That Children would naturally speak Hebrew.' Amazing!

Green Eyes, Marguerite Duras, translated by Carol Barko, Columbia, 1990

Reflections on film, Judaism, phenomenology, Chaplin, Godard, 'Raymond
Queneau, Reading Manuscripts,' and so forth. I love this book which
meanders around the sites of ambiguity; if you like Duras, you'll love
this as well. I found it first in the French Cahiers du Cinema edition.
The English includes other interviews and a different presentation of the

-- These are some of the books I've been reading - and love. There's
little of the Buddhist here; I've been questioning my interest in Buddhist
texts for a variety of reasons, and this has gotten in the way. On the
other hand, I've been reading again into Japanese Noh, but that's another
although similar story.

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