Thursday, January 24, 2008

zillis and zumthor

memories of müstair

american shocks

The sheer scale of Walgreen's
Not having to rehearse every sentence in my head before I say it
The speed with which service happens behind a counter
Everyone's tendency to monologue, or everyone's a talker and few are listeners
Accumulating plastic bags and disposable cups even when I don't want them
Dead space
How cheap everything truly is

death of the bogeyman

During my second ride in a taxi since my arrival in Boston, I stopped worrying over the meter, trying, as I usually do, to figure out preemptively the tip percentage so that I do not have to stay in the car a second longer than I have to, and instead threw myself against the seat, leaned back my head, and looked out the window for the short ride from the Harvard Square T stop to the Holden Green housing complex. This ride takes me past my most well-worn paths through campus, and as I sat blankly looking out at all that red brick bathed in a grey light that always portends snow but often does not deliver anything more than cold air, I thought to myself, "This? This is the place that caused me such agony for nearly four years? This?" It somehow seemed impossible that so much villainy and heartache could be contained in a place that now struck me as so benign and so downright small. A cocktail of relief and annoyance set in as I realized I no longer had an adversary I had come to count on, one that, as it turns out, I had pegged all wrong all along. Here was no malevolent wave to be met with fists and shouts and rage but a modest pile, provisional, utilitarian. The worst charge I could level against it now was that it is, if anything, strictly functional, without a sensual bone in its body.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

the winds of change bring nothing new

From afar, this election season already appears to be defined by a submission to blind faith in image more worrisome than in elections past. I do not mean to deny the capacity of images in constituting realities, but rather to note that the perception of candidates as "strong," "inspiring," "uniting," etc. not only dictates the coverage and outcomes of the elections but that this image, and this image alone, has become all that is at stake. While this is not essentially new, its vehemence is all the more disturbing as the faith-based absorption with image is, bizarrely, championed as precisely that agent of another vacuous concept - "change" - that is supposed to supplant the very system of Reagan-esque image-politics by which we are so nauseated and from which it secretly receives its legitimacy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

three actualities

Put an old cassette tape into an operative boom box. Press play at the start of a song and sit at your desk until the song plays to the end. It is permissible to drink a beer. But the film should end when the song is finished, even if the beer is not.

Place the camera in the door of the bathroom. Film your morning ritual: shower, brushing teeth, putting on your face. The film ends when you are finished and ready to go to another part of the house.

Film the retrieval of an Italian periodical located in Pusey 3 at Widener Library, Harvard University. Your cameraman should follow you very closely from behind as you: ascend the steps to the main entrance, pass through security and circulation, take the elevator to the level that gives you access to the underground passage to Pusey library, walk through the tunnel, enter Pusey and go past the stacks to the second elevator, take it down to the lowest level, walk to the corner furthest from the entrance, expand the collapsable stacks, and find the correct volume. Walk very quickly, almost run. You may wish to turn and look back at the camera to signal that it should keep up.


Everyone in the pool today looked like an old boyfriend. It was not especially relaxing sharing a pool with hallucinations of my past, so I only clocked in a half hour before I simply had to get out. There are days when the water is easier to move through than others, days when it feels thicker and gummier, when the place is crowded with the kinds of swimmers who paddle along, refusing to get their heads wet, or the agro dudes who like to torpedo their way through the throngs, kicking you in the ribs as they go. Jackasses, I think.

There is only one indoor pool in Basel as far as I can tell, the Rialto. Its rhythms still mystify me, and for some reason, I can never seem to figure out how to get there the same way twice. The pool itself is on the ground floor of a building that contains a restaurant, apartments, an office belonging to the city's social services, and the headquarters (from what I can gather) of a focus group for disability and sexuality. We knew someone who used to live there, but when we asked, she admitted sheepishly that she never went swimming.

Since I have recently discovered that we will be spending next summer here, I have decided to fulfill my new year's resolution of leaving the house at least once every day by going swimming. This way I will be prepared to go swimming in the Rhine when the weather permits. This past summer suffered from ongoing electrical storms, torrents of rain, and frigid temperatures, and so despite best intentions, we never indulged in this cherished Basel summer pastime. The hope is that bad luck, like lightning, never strikes the same place twice.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

weighing on my mind

These are the objects du jour, two sculptures by Kurt Schwitters from 1945/47, two painted stones, currently in the collection of the Tate Modern and here presented as photographs reproduced in the catalogue to accompany the exhibition curated by Tacita Dean, An Aside (London: Hayward Gallery, 2005).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


All that has been done is just to bring us to where we can say, again, "Now we can begin."