When we isolate a prisoner in solitary confinement, we deprive him of this network of perceptual and existential orientation. He might still have an experience of the table that is bolted in place in his cell, and he might still have the memory of what tables mean for other people. But the lived experience of these objects as both for-me and for-another is, by and large, denied to him. The ‘there’ that would otherwise anchor his experience of the world from ‘here’ has been pulled up, casting him adrift without a clear view of the horizon.
 How do people cope with this loss? In her book Total Confinement (2004), Lorna Rhodes, professor of anthropology at the University of Washington, describes a scene she witnessed on her first visit to a Washington State supermax prison. A prisoner, Jamal Nelson, is in the solitary exercise yard, swinging his arms from side to side in widening circles until his knuckles start hitting the concrete walls. He continues to swing, splattering the concrete with blood, relentlessly marking the limits of the space allotted to him, as if oblivious to the pain and even to the walls themselves. What would drive someone to do this?
 Recall Shane Bauer’s description of solitary confinement as an ‘abyss’. An abyss is a chasm without edges. It’s an emptiness that has become palpable and insistent, like a black hole that sucks everything into itself. As a phenomenologist, I would say that the abyss is an experience of space unhinged from the world and from the sense of an ‘elsewhere’ or ‘otherwise’. It is an experience of space without horizon, without the basic coordinates of ‘here’ and ‘there’ by which we orient ourselves in everyday life.
 The prisoner who bashes his own body against the walls of a rec yard is both refusing and confirming the abyss of solitary confinement. The self-battering body makes a statement of sorts: these walls might confine me absolutely, but I absolutely refuse to be confined! There is a world out there – a ‘there’ to which my ‘here’ is correlated – and I will find it, even if I have to hurl myself against it, or destroy myself in the process. This kind of resistance might be self-defeating, but it remains an eloquent expression of the depth of emotional and ontological harm that prolonged solitary confinement can inflict on a person.


 もう、この頃では、あのトカトントンが、いよいよ頻繁に聞え、新聞をひろげて、新憲法を一条一条熟読しようとすると、トカトントン、局の人事に就いて伯父から相談を掛けられ、名案がふっと胸に浮んでも、トカトントン、あなたの小説を読もうとしても、トカトントン、こないだこの部落に火事があって起きて火事場に駈けつけようとして、トカトントン、伯父のお相手で、晩ごはんの時お酒を飲んで、も少し飲んでみようかと思って、トカトントン、もう気が狂ってしまっているのではなかろうかと思って、これもトカトントン、自殺を考え、トカトントン。
 「人生というのは、一口に言ったら、なんですか」
 と私は昨夜、伯父の晩酌の相手をしながら、ふざけた口調で尋ねてみました。
 「人生、それはわからん。しかし、世の中は、色と慾さ」
 案外の名答だと思いました。そうして、ふっと私は、闇屋になろうかしらと思いました。しかし、闇屋になって一万円もうけた時のことを考えたら、すぐトカトントンが聞えて来ました、
 教えて下さい。この音は、なんでしょう。そうして、この音からのがれるには、どうしたらいいのでしょう。私はいま、実際、この音のために身動きが出来なくなっています。どうか、ご返事を下さい。


 そんなに働いて、死んだように眠って、そうして翌る朝は枕元の目ざまし時計の鳴ると同時にはね起き、すぐ局へ出て大掃除をはじめます。掃除などは、女の局員がする事になっていたのですが、その円貨切り換えの大騒ぎがはじまって以来、私の働き振りに異様なハズミがついて、何でもかでも滅茶苦茶に働きたくなって、きのうよりは今日、きょうよりは明日と物凄い加速度を以て、ほとんど半狂乱みたいな獅子奮迅をつづけ、いよいよ切り換えの騒ぎも、きょうでおしまいという日に、私はやはり薄暗いうちから起きて局の掃除を大車輪でやって、全部きちんとすましてから私の受持の窓口のところに腰かけて、ちょうど朝日が私の顔にまっすぐにさして来て、私は寝不足の眼を細くして、それでも何だかひどく得意な満足の気持で、労働は神聖なり、という言葉などを思い出し、ほっと溜息をついた時に、トカトントンとあの音が遠くから幽かに聞えたような気がして、もうそれっきり、何もかも一瞬のうちに馬鹿らしくなり、私は立って自分の部屋に行き、蒲団をかぶって寝てしまいました。ごはんの知らせが来ても、私は、からだ工合が悪いから、きょうは起きない、とぶっきらぼうに言い、その日は局でも一ばんいそがしかったようで、最も優秀な働き手の私に寝込まれて実にみんな困った様子でしたが、私は終日うつらうつら眠っていました。伯父への御恩返しも、こんな私の我儘のために、かえってマイナスになったようでしたが、もはや、私には精魂こめて働く気などは少しもなく、その翌る日には、ひどく朝寝坊をして、そうしてぼんやり私の受持の窓口に坐り、あくびばかりして、たいていの仕事は、隣りの女の局員にまかせきりにしていました。そうしてその翌日も、翌々日も、私は甚だ気力の無いのろのろしていて不機嫌な、つまり普通の、あの窓口局員になりました。
 「まだお前は、どこか、からだ工合がわるいのか」
 と伯父の局長に聞かれても薄笑いして、
 「どこも悪くない。神経衰弱かも知れん」
 と答えます。
 「そうだ、そうだ」と伯父は得意そうに、「俺もそうにらんでいた。お前は頭が悪いくせに、むずかしい本を読むからそうなる。俺やお前のように、頭の悪い男は、むずかしい事を考えないようにするのがいいのだ」と言って笑い、私も苦笑しました。


amorcornelius:

As humans are taken to be units of energy in industrialized societies, they will resist, whether they are conscious of this or not. Thus, much of what is today labelled depression could be understood as old-fashioned hysteria, in the sense of a refusal of current forms of mastery and domination. The more that society insists on the values of efficiency and economic productivity, the more depression will proliferate as a necessary consequence. In a similar way, the more modern society urges us to attain autonomy and independence in our search for fulfillment, the more resistance will take the form of the exact opposite of these values. It puts misery in the midst of plenty. Depression is thus a way of saying NO to what we are told to be.
  Darian Leader

amorcornelius:

As humans are taken to be units of energy in industrialized societies, they will resist, whether they are conscious of this or not. Thus, much of what is today labelled depression could be understood as old-fashioned hysteria, in the sense of a refusal of current forms of mastery and domination. The more that society insists on the values of efficiency and economic productivity, the more depression will proliferate as a necessary consequence. In a similar way, the more modern society urges us to attain autonomy and independence in our search for fulfillment, the more resistance will take the form of the exact opposite of these values. It puts misery in the midst of plenty. Depression is thus a way of saying NO to what we are told to be.

  Darian Leader


The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents… some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age.

H.P. Lovecraft, The Call Of Cthulhu (via blackestdespondency)

Man asserts death wish in ‘Basuke’ threats - The Japan Times

A man accused of making hostile threats in connection with a popular manga series admitted full guilt in court Thursday, vowing to embrace any penalties without appealing and pushing for severe punishment, suggesting he wants to kill himself.

Hirofumi Watanabe was arrested last December for masterminding hateful campaigns against the popular comic book “Kuroko no Basuke” (“Kuroko’s Basketball”), authored by Tadatoshi Fujimaki. Threats were repeatedly sent to organizers nationwide that were planning events based on the manga.

The 36-year-old temp worker also placed a container filled with hydrogen sulfide on the premises of Sophia University in Tokyo in October 2012 along with a letter revealing his grudge against Fujimaki, who graduated from the Catholic university.

「黒子のバスケ」初公判被告人冒頭意見陳述:

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for the man, the meaning of a love letter is so important. He may strive to understand it, to read into it. … A man will try to put meaning into this empty space

But the letter might not mean any of this. All it might mean is that when the writer sat down to write, that was what was going on around her.

a woman’s love letter does not have to speak, in this sense, at all.

darian leader on man’s tendency to coquer everything and mark it with meaning (via alterities)

1109-83:

'pw' once told me a story that i could never forget about pina bausch. he studied with her best friend, paul sanasardo, before continuing on at juilliard and it was there that he was encouraged to spend the summer with the tanztheater: 
"she asked for us to assemble a circle, without any distinction as to how, and begin walking. it never crossed my mind as the hours went by that this was the audition itself, a measure of time and integrity; admittedly I was pissed but what was I to do? she sat there smoking, sipping espresso after espresso, pointing, whispering to dominique and watching us walk in that fucking circle! after three/four hours of this, a guy stopped suddenly and screamed at her, ‘are you going to just sit there and watch us until midnight or are we going to do something more constructive?’ then that was it. pina then excused the entire group of us and selected that guy for the contract with the company. un-fucking-believable!”

1109-83:

'pw' once told me a story that i could never forget about pina bausch. he studied with her best friend, paul sanasardo, before continuing on at juilliard and it was there that he was encouraged to spend the summer with the tanztheater: 

"she asked for us to assemble a circle, without any distinction as to how, and begin walking. it never crossed my mind as the hours went by that this was the audition itself, a measure of time and integrity; admittedly I was pissed but what was I to do? she sat there smoking, sipping espresso after espresso, pointing, whispering to dominique and watching us walk in that fucking circle! after three/four hours of this, a guy stopped suddenly and screamed at her, ‘are you going to just sit there and watch us until midnight or are we going to do something more constructive?’ then that was it. pina then excused the entire group of us and selected that guy for the contract with the company. un-fucking-believable!”


Hannah Arendt’s notions of a “banality of evil” and a “blurring” of responsibility between Nazi torturers and victims had become truisms. The phrase “triumph of the human spirit” had become a tagline. Theodor Adorno’s exhaustively quoted 1949 statement “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” had been thoroughly decontextualized and reduced to an edict that a parent might deliver to a child. The Holocaust had been officially commemorated many times over, but the promise to “never forget” was enunciated not in a dialogue but in a grand monologue that was listened to politely, respectfully, and even attentively, but was a monologue nonetheless. The majority of the civilized world had systematically absolved itself of responsibility for its own disaster, “a huge fact lying overturned,” in the words of the writer and historian Todd Gitlin, “square in the middle of the through route to progress.” In short, the Holocaust was something that had mysteriously happened to someone else.


Some moments passed, during which the thick vapor came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which blew back again into his face. “How now,” he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, “this smoking no longer soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring, - aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and fullest of trouble. What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more - “
 He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouched hat, Ahab lurchingly paced the planks.

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851), Chapter xxx - THE PIPE

1109-83:

By the early 70’s, craftsmanship had become passe and, as the critic Arthur Danto has observed, ”Art had turned into philosophy.” Yet not all philosophies are the same. Conceptualism and minimalism raised brainy questions about art and visual perception, while students today favor art about nonart issues. Blame Derrida and his fellow French theorists, whose invasion of academia fostered a fashion for deconstructing language in the 70’s, patriarchy in the 80’s and gender in the 90’s. A generation of art students read Baudrillard, thrilled to his notion that the world of real things has been replaced by ”simulacra” (or mere images) and made art recycled from earlier art to prove the point. If you can’t create, appropriate.


As for the residue of the Pequod’s company, be it said, that at the present day not one in two of the many thousand men before the mast employed in the American whale fishery, are Americans born, though pretty nearly all the officers are. Herein it is the same with the American whale fishery as with the American army and military and merchant navies, and the engineering forces employed in the construction of the American Canals and Railroads. The same, I say, because in all these cases the native American liberally provides the brains, the rest of the world as generously supplying the muscles.

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851), Chapter xxvii - KNIGHTS AND SQUIRES

A few weeks ago, a programmer friend and I were talking about unhappiness, in particular the kind of unhappiness that arises when you are 21 and lavishly educated with the world at your feet. In the valley, it’s generally brought on by one of two causes: coming to the realization either that your start-up is completely trivial or that there are people your own age so knowledgeable and skilled that you may never catch up.
 The latter source of frustration is the phenomenon of “the 10X engineer,” an engineer who is 10 times more productive than average. It’s a term that in its cockiness captures much of what’s good, bad and impossible about the valley. At the start-ups I visit, Friday afternoons devolve into bouts of boozing and Nerf-gun wars. Signing bonuses at Facebook are rumored to reach the six digits. In a landscape where a product may morph several times over the course of a funding round, talent — and the ability to attract it — has become one of the few stable metrics.
 Yet for all the glitz and the glory and the newfound glamour, there is a surprising amount of angst in Silicon Valley. Which is probably inevitable when you put thousands of ambitious, talented young people together and tell them they’re god’s gift to technology. It’s the angst of an early hire at a start-up that only he realizes is failing; the angst of a founder who raises $5 million for his company and then finds out an acquaintance from college raised $10 million; the angst of someone who makes $100,000 at 22 but is still afraid that he may not be able to afford a house like the one he grew up in.
 Tech is fun now, deliriously so, but this fun comes with a built-in anxiety that it must lead to more. As an engineer, coding should be your calling, not just a job, so you are expected to also do it in your time off.


Heidegger still has this trust,… ‘Open yourself to language’, ‘Language speaks through you’. But Lacan’s idea is that, at the most elementary, when language speaks to you, you are tortured; there is radical discordance. … Subject is for Lacan precisely that ‘x’ which is the outcome of this torture.

I … appreciate … Elfriede Jelinek. She had a wonderful, very Lacanian, phrase: we must torture language to make it tell the truth. That is the big topic of her work, language as torturing.

s. zizek (via alterities)