an untenable contradiction of identities:
long before I knew Pali, I knew her work
I suspect the positive associations her work engenders is
part of a larger embodiment of the changes at hand:
Light filters through threaded blinds, the ceaseless hum of
the BQE, cars carom past at eye-level--Fitzgerald and
giant eye-glasses, and Dutch-sailors’ eyes, and chicken
No pity, not even on a Sunday
There was jesus, there was a lizard, there was dominican
domestic fighting, there was sofrito
“My god is the deep blue sky” dixit Khan
My god is a lizard
Time the great equalizer
I wanted to create community
thesis: "prehistoric woman, in the various stages of her
development, is known to us through the inanimate
monuments and implements which she has left behind,
through the information about her art, her religion, and her
attitude towards life which has come to us either directly or
by way of tradition handed down in legends, myths and
fairytales, and through the relics of her mode of thought
which survive in our own manner and customs. But apart
from this, and in a certain sense, she is still our contemporary."
--Freud "Totem and Taboo," 1913. Routeledge & Keegan
Paul, Ltd., 1950. (I substituted female for male pronouns.)
antithesis: eschatological "ultimate destiny" of humanity
capitulating inexorably towards transhumanism--
the accelerated rate of scientific viz. technological progress
resulting in Homo Sapiens no longer being the dominant
life-form on earthe.
palimpsest: reason borne linearly from belief crawls back
into the womb of superstition, albeit one fouled by dubious
social systems of oppression
consider an allegory:
Disoriented Daedalus lost in his labyrinth: He knows each
stone intimately, ordered in place by his hand. He runs
that same hand along the impossibly smooth masonry, true
walls, built without mortar. Truly a masterpiece. See him
lay out the tragedy he cast himself in as lead. In Knossos
(as in Hollywood), tidy irony is beloved to man, beast and slave
He is game to try at losing: to emancipate his future-self,
whom he knows will pass this way again, beleaguered and
weary, hopeless but arrogant, he insinuates an innuendo;
satisfied in the content of his work that finally split all
halves to reach zero, his finality, internecine self-destruction.
palimpsest: scrawl and erase, scrawl and erase, scrawl
thus erase precedence for "myth is already enlightenment,
and enlightenment reverts to mythology" --Horkheimer & Adorno
signs and symbols imbued with varying meaning that
express moments in time which accommodate the
simultaneous coexistence of birth and death
my deck of cards was missing me today. I pulled Il Carro
but it was numbered 6 not 7. My next card was clearer,
Death, La morte, 13. 6 + 7 = 13 the cards don't lie. The
next card was all muddled: La Temperanza, is that 7 like it
says or 14 as I've learned?
I mistook the images and when I learned their true
meaning it changed nothing. They were seared into my
mind, a vortexical window into a latent world that is everpresent,
Ways of being, ways of seeing fallen by the wayside,
forgotten and disremembered arcana.
That's how I came to understand Pali's work: concentric
ellipses--she stands at a point and casts her elliptical vision
from beginning to end and back again. Fragmented,
personal mythologies coming home to coalesce; the
disorienting exhilaration of a cyclical perception, the
manifold substrata of the work, consecutive periods of
civilization excavated, and always having another chance
to do it over this time again, even though it doesn't matter--
standing on the threshold you're standing at the end.
Totem is a curated exhibition space that exists physically
on the printed page and metaphysically within a singular
interiority, a kinetic homeland, a secret version of the
world. it is a fabric to unify people, to create a shared goal,
a project whose realization surpasses the sum of its parts.
its part are simple: people striving to transform the world
thoughtfully/beautifully/poignantly. Totem is nomadic
courageous singular itinerant curious and equivocal. We
spend a lot of time excavating, a lot of time sloughing off
the dead layers.
Each issue is a show: one artist or many, one writer, or
many. an idea image thought, or many.
We are indebted to Ann Carson --The Autobiography of
Red--and to Mike Kelley--Destroy All Monsters, R.I.P.
this is an episteme; it is the order of things:
Replace medium with memory. Medium is archaeological,
genealogical: modernism sustains the possibility of
medium, using history as a ready-made. Meaning is
formulated though medium inasmuch as medium is an
articulation of rules, constructed through time: how things are
carried out, defining modes for operation. Inventing a
new medium is akin to inventing a new set of rules, and
medium allows automatism, it also allows improvisation, as
rules permit artists to relive the idea of medium. The postmodern
is a collapse into immediacy; the post-modern is
Memory is archaeological, genealogical: modernism
sustains the possibility of memory, using history as a
ready-made. Meaning is formulated through memory
inasmuch as memory is an articulation of rules,
constructed through time: how things are carried out,
defining modes for operation. Inventing a new memory is
akin to inventing a new set of rules, and memory allows
automatism, it also allows improvisation, as rules permit
artists to relive the idea of memory. The post-modern is a
collapse into immediacy; the post-modern is the postmemory
Voyeurs have become Gawkers
documenting as status quo, sadistic and self-fulling in its cruelty
seeking nothing short of total failure
The opening credits of "The Shining," ominous foreboding
sets the tone of things to come: lacquering of semiotic
layers--the "Native" (American) motifs of the hotel...a pre-
figuration of cold-blooded massacre?, or a mystical nonplace
where half-dreamt past lives take precedence over
reality, dance a razor's edge of inevitable finalities? (seeing
those motifs echoed in the interior space of Farah Atassi's
first New York paintings confirmed/dispoved neither); the
blood pouring an engorged river down the hall, and the
snow outside, the labyrinth. Walking backwards in the
snow to erase tracks: palimpsest. All that cold, all that
blood. Thinking about the mighty Roky Erickson, true
unmoored genius, a mouthpiece for unfiltered stimuli
coming at him from ALL angles, left right, up down...
sometimes the most trivial cultural moments encapsulate
their time in succinct perfection: Roky's idea about a good
party: "I think two heads should roll down the staircase at
the same time. If you can get a lot of heads rolling down
the staircase real fast and everything, people like that a lot."
I think of demons, for you......
The persona as medium--a laconic way to reconcile the
omnipresence of the market?
models to consider: autonomous lives in our imagination
built up painstakingly, live out these Rococo fantasies. we
engage in the creation of personae, masks, that obliterate
their progenitor--they become copies without originals,
simulacra of obscured meaning and origin. often
calumnious, almost by definition narcissistic, sacred
monsters tolerated for their performance: dramatic
simulation of genuine emotional situations. reaction
through a process of over-simplification as opposed to a
fracturing bifurcation viz. an opening. poverty of
experience, self-inflicted blindness. shunning the
uncertainty of a complex model, and letting life be lived
vicariously in a one-directional shift towards passivity.
disdain for work: highest attainable goal is comfort.
carapace of kool obscures bone-primitive provinciality,
the napoleon of a leper colony, insular and naively
shrouded in a cloak of negligence.
humor requires a real sense of tragedy.
hardship toil work loss frustration boredom pain lies
the things we don't or can't tell ourselves
i lied. i lied about so many things. i don't write that.
because i want your sympathy.
i write it because it is true. i lie i lie i lie i lie i lie i lied i lied i
lied i lied like i breathe. no day goes by that i don't lie.
sometimes i don't know the truth from the lie. sometimes i
think lies are true. sometimes i want them to be true.
sometimes i don't.
: over identification, commodity fetishism; pushing an
ideology to its limit in order to unravel it from within. “To be
really subversive is not to develop critical potentials or iron
distance but precisely to take the system more seriously
than it takes itself.” Slavoj Zizek
Avatars engage in a projected escapism while remaining
static. the Lakota Indian Nation of South Dakota tell of
learning astronomy through watching the migrations of the
Four-Legged Nation, Buffalo. observation of basic natural
phenomena segues into a phenomenally larger-scaled
understanding of infinitely unknowable cosmic patterns.
flux as a fixed constant. all knowables as relative to
position. a daily experience of completeness, the essential
satisfaction of gestalt.
we now live as fragmented identities.
curate your experience in isolation while moving
through the world. kinetic homelands that fit into your
pocket and travel with you everywhere. what is left of
“real” or “true” experience in the “real world?”
these terms that defined our social crystallization away from
mysticism in an expanding universe towards rationalism and
linearity in a universe defined by its limits, no longer apply.
reduced to a mediation through technology at all levels of
existence, cultural life is experienced in “sound bytes”
literally. and it is never specific, never objective. never
spontaneous. always subjective, said personal, when in fact,
oversaturation of small variations of the same, speaks to a
reduction in choice.
creation by way of decomposition
locate the origins of the idea of medium/memory, of
authorship. A metal-urbane defense of the optical
the paintings have instantaneous coalescence of meaning
as followed by sequential / successive understanding--
creating time-spatial disconnect: the unbreachable void.
the distant banks of our antediluvian fire-forged spectral
image of “self” recedes unfathomably out of our ken while
we seem to be standing still. we learn to live with shadows
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are the words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
--W.B. Yeats “The Second Coming”
the rain comes down hard and it stays. over the dry the
hot the sweltering swollen winds sowing the whirlwind.
numbers that no longer have shrift tattooed on arms of the
descendants. the coat of arms of many colors. a memory
of not letting time past pass. time that is fluid and ugly.
that was worse is worse is better is empty. time alone and
man standing face full force incanting damnation to
nothing. the sky stands too, cold and vacant
clock time vs. lived time
surrogate activities accompany loss of power process.
plugged into “devices” of destruction--crippled by the eternal
fear of missing out. the loss of the present: experience
mediated through the past and projected onto a blessedly
with no real battles left to fight within the denigrated social fabric,
“I find your lack of faith disturbing” --Darth Vader
: exile, identity, processes of truth formation. Disciplinary
insurgency. Western cultural arrogance, the ethnocentrism
of superiority. Jack of all trades, master of none.
The gloryhunter of these urban wilds
: a location where subjectivities are constructed, lived,
It’s curious and surprising the forms that homesickness
can take. My last few months in Paris, I was obsessed
with McDonald’s, eating it 2/3 times a week. I would stop
at a newsstand and pick-up the trashiest gossip magazines
I could find, which even in France are US-centric--I knew
the names, and ages!, of all of Angelina Jolie’s children. I
knew all kinds of senseless shit I’ve since disremembered.
I would sit in the bay windows on the Grands-Boulevards,
at République, on the Champs-Elysées--it doesn’t matter,
they were all dependably identical--with my magazines and
my BigMac, feeling damn patriotic.
Beuys taught in Dusseldorf from ‘63 to ‘74. Among his
students were Kieffer-Polke-Blinky-Richter etc
Here are two anecdotes about Beuys:
1. He was futilely and doggedly courting Annette Messager
(who was-is-always-has-been with Christian Boltanski),
and as she refused his overtures, he leaned in close, as if to
whisper some sweet-nothing, but instead clipped a lock
of her hair. To say she was taken aback would be an
understatement. Comic misalignment of franco-germanic
2. Beuys disseminated word of a performance in which he
would ride a bicycle from Paris to Kassel for Documenta.
He arrived in a limousine.
Cologne, 1980’s: Kippenburger, Oehlen, Herold, Buttner et
al. --their cultural punk aesthetics challenging bourgeois
norms, dissecting post-consumer objectivities
Rosemarie Trockel, also in Cologne, was perceived as
addressing the endurance of misogyny in the arts, dating to
medieval Guilds, and the hierarchy of the arts (also
dating to the Guilds) videlicet P&S above craft.
Were they all reacting against the commodification of art in
capitalist society, against self-justifying desire that they
witnessed as becoming the status quo of post-capitalist
Here are two anecdotes about Cologne:
1. Cologne was an important trading post between western
and eastern Europe, and in the Middle Ages, as such, was
inadvertently responsible for spreading the bubonic
2. Cologne was the most heavily bombed German city in
WWII; the ancient city was destroyed, it’s population
reduced by 95%.
lineage of revolution:
dada surrealism situationism 60’s counterculture punk
visionary art outsider art
Growing-up is disappointing--disappointing also that the
pain gets numbed and mitigated by complacency
As John Lennon said, “but you’re still fucking peasants as
far as I can see”
“I believe the major possibilities of art are not in showing
the spectacle of violence but instead in hiding it.” --Doris Salcedo
Savoir mais ne pas dire
Savoir mais ne pas répéter
Savoir mais ne pas s’en accrocher
lack of moxie tonight, peeling off the soggy soiled armor.
move in with me. i don’t want to go it alone. i don’t want to
go. i don’t want to go it alone.
the city rents-out your heart and you don’t know what to do
except destroy yourself.
Vision as access to the “source,” getting to the place
where reality flows from perception. the energy feedback
loops of the work as it takes on a life of its own.
in the dominican neighborhood under the BQE where I first
saw Pali’s work--a masonic temple in blair-witch woods--I
thought it was a Mayan ruin. The Jesus Lizard is also part
of the indexical memory_GOAT. curling skien peeling and
paper-like. Pencil shavings on the floor, mixed with dust
and bits of cactus and chewed crayons.
Thursday was a fun night with tequila and cake, making
Friday miserable. Went to Cloisters and saw a beautiful
triptych of the life of Saint Anthony and small carved box-
wood sculptures--a round one with the life of Christ.
So intricate, so delicate
“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings
total obliteration.” --Frank Herbert, Dune
Fourth of July: we drove around reflecting on what it
means to be from a place, and what kind of trouble we
would get up to if we were from here. We drove to a field
and turned off the car and got out to watch the fire-flies
dance above the tall grass, their fiery bodies mirrored in
the astral skies overhead. The bullfrogs’ chorus was so
loud it drowned out the fireworks behind us.
Your bier was built of city stone; a pyre of one million
matchsticks that fell apart before it could burn. And I threw
flowers in the river to you. I brought them back from
Greece and threw them into the green-gold river to you.
And once that was done, I turned and walked out of that country.
have we made it across the vast plain of night
Dream of dolphine and shark; biting shark’s snout
and bringing it up for air to suffocate it--then out swimming
with it and playing cache-cache in underwater city blocks
in shallow water, beach / shore within sight
Dream of having a mini-full-grown polar bear as pet
Dream of being in cabin in desert mountains....bird (white)
spiraling down with black bird in talons - landed with
mesh all around it...pushed outside - black bird passed
skeleton of smaller white bird. Large white bird ate black.
Today is Friday the 13th. I like this neighborhood, it’s
downtrodden, sad, and ugly. Try not to aestheticize
people’s misfortune or romanticize struggle and
abjectness. This city can suck you dry. There is such a
huge need for empathy. Heeding the call can leave you a
skeletal repository of shame and frustration. It’s never enough.
Never even close.
Lethargy--and the contagion of passivity--the accumulated
damage it does. When we live “goal oriented” future
based--the aggregate of the quotidian gets subjugated to
the mutilating wave of the projected future perfect. the
small gesture has power if repeated--or incorporated into
routine, into inertia--does it become lethargy.
Is lethargy a predilection for sameness in which case it is
akin to ennui--plus ça change, plus ça reste le même. In a
dialectic of non-sense, who calls the shots?
I held a very small constellation in my hand and watched it
dissolve in bands of purple
yesterday up all night, the shadows linger on
dawn weight draws me along, sea sinking an anvil chest
breathe in, breathe out.
Dreamt maidens riding fair on foam of seaborne brine
the beach before me awash in waste and rubble.
shingles and broken glass but not smooth like the kind the
wood worn smooth like bone
rock porous as bone
bleached bone whale tooth
Shells that change color as soon as you take them away
and lingering pain of boredom and mind rot--
the future of these ragged claws
of these old cards
my was is a future writ in water
my double, my brother, my self
“Mangez ces belles pêches a ma santé et venez me voir.
Venez dîner le plus tôt que vous pourriez et amenez nos amis.”
--Colette, Le pur et l’impur
I started a new job
I went to Paris
I went to Miami
I went to LA / SB for thanksgiving
We were all in New York for xmas
I planned a surprise bday for HJKGTRXCF
HJKGTRXCF went on tour
They put out an album. LBVCX was on the cover
We spray painted the song titles on a big sheet of white
paper on the roof
We did a lot of Mali one night and walked around stoned
out of our brains, and sat on that same roof
We went to XDWRVCB as much we could. Did coke.
Took drugs. Ate mushrooms. Got wasted
Drove around drunk listening to Crazy Train. We fucked to
make it hurt less. We fucked because we were bored.
Went to the beach one night and all swam naked
We swam naked in XDWRVCB too
I got depressed. I ran. We ran. I got better.
got lost in Hollywood Babylon
“La tristesse, ça remplit les vides. Quelle est la femme qui
n’a pas regretté un temps de sa vie où elle était triste?”
--Colette, Le pur et l’impur
Tu es inscrite dans les lignes du plafond
Tu es inscrite dans les yeux que j’aime
Tu n’est pas tout a fait la misère
Car les lèvres les plus pauvres te dénoncent
Par un sourire
Amour des corps aimables
Puissance de l’amour
dont l’amabilité surgit
Comme un monstre sans corps
Tristesse, beau visage
New York, 2012-2013
This text is included with TOTEM #1 - Pali Kashi