Thursday May 6, 2021

We gather with colleagues on several occasions to celebrate completion of classes, abandonment not yet a fait accompli. There is a shared exhaustion that many of us bring to these events. This has, after all, been a long and difficult schoolyear. We’re fatigued by Zoom – but we all show up, knowing summer’s arrival is but a week away. Summer is time away from Zoom. Time ours again to cast amid the sea of the possible. Time for reading groups, and vinyl nights, and visits to Hades for drinks with friends.

Saturday May 1, 2021

We row-row-row our boats gently downstream into what Ursula K. Le Guin calls the ever-deepening mystery of the real. Little red cabooses, chug-chug-chugging. So goes the tune of our getting together amid friends and comrades in celebration of Beltane and May Day. Picture us there, rallying, glowing in each other’s presence, friends leading us in song with handmade songbooks. We clap, we stomp our feet. We cheer, we feel elated.

Friday April 30, 2021

Walpurgis Night, when witches meet for bonfires and dancing. I watch newly digitized footage of old noise performances, a friend pointing me out to me. Guitarist in one performance, tape-scratcher in another. The space of the latter performance angular, erratic, static, galloping gabba-gabba beats and tape shrieks. Before the seated players, a friend sits hidden in a plastic cube. Onto this plane of intensities, the spectral re-animated echolalic vibrato of a ghostly Karen Carpenter crooning “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

Tuesday April 27, 2021

Friends and I plan an in-person gathering: three of us, outdoors at a brewery, discussing chapters from Mark Fisher’s final book Postcapitalist Desire. The book ends disappointingly given Mark’s untimely end, leaving it to all of us, the book’s readers, to complete the course ourselves, as did Mark’s students. Or we could accelerate the narrative onward, well beyond what was previously conceived, by reading “Experimental Time Order” from Rasheedah Phillips’s book Recurrence Plot (and other time travel tales). Through Phillips, we encounter ideas from Robert Anton Wilson’s book Prometheus Rising. Desired futures create their own pasts.

Monday April 19, 2021

On the floor of the hallway is a disco ball. At the end of the hall is a mirror. And the disco ball is not a disco ball; it’s a light projector. In the evening we dance. After the dance party, I retreat to the basement and listen to The Modern Folk’s Primitive Future / Lyran Group, a tape released last month from Eiderdown Records.

A track in and I remove the tape and replace it with Herbie Hancock’s Sound-System. When, a few tracks in, the latter album shifts frequencies and goes smooth jazz, I intervene again as DJ and swap in Healing Sounds by Dr. Christopher Hills & the University of the Trees Choir. As José David Saldívar argues in Border Matters, nation-states can be reimagined. Or as Raffi sings, “The more we get together / Together, together / The more we get together / The happier we’ll be.” It is with Raffi in mind that I attend an event: a series of “microtalks” hosted by a friend. Passcode to enter and we’re there. One participant asks “Can AI detect a new designer at Prada?” and shares his findings. Companies like Heuritec apply algorithms to “predict” new fashions. The Jacquard Loom is a kind of computer: a difference engine. Big data comes to fashion and biology. Properties and classes. “Zen koans for robo-cars.” Fluidity and nonbinarism allow for evasion of the predictors. The Ones Who Are Driven By Data. Expert Systems for the Design of Decisions. Blur the categories; Drive AI Crazy. Next up, a discussion of “Alchemical Chess.” The mysteries of the game’s origin in 6th century India. Chaturanga becomes Shatranj in 7th century Persia. The speaker wonders, though, what came before, like the ancient Greek game Petteia, mentioned by Plato, who claimed it came from Egypt, or the “Han Cosmic Board,” as described by Donald J. Harper. Think about the Lo Shu “magic square,” and the SATOR square, and the yantras. The latter means “machine” or “contraption.”

Sunday April 18, 2021

Utopias and dystopias promote and project contrary “affects” or (to use Raymond Williams’s term) “structures of feeling.” Reading Philip K. Dick’s drug dystopia A Scanner Darkly, one feels deflated. One would rather get stoned. Stand around in the yard, share a joint and chat about bats, skunks, porcupines, dogs, and gardens with one’s elders. “Bats are interesting,” says a friend’s mother.

Sunday April 11, 2021

Friends gather for a gala get-together on my front porch, all of us vaccinated and thus able now to be with one another after our year apart. Spring is lovely here this year, trees budding, the yard awash in constellations of blue, white, and purple: wildflowers and patches of clover. We celebrate the publication of a friend’s novel, an historical romance just out this past week from Berkley, everyone wanting to read it, cheered too by the arrival of her parents, new in from up north. When last we saw each other, F. was new in as well: a newborn, a wee lass just home from the hospital. Amazing how much she’s grown these past fifteen months. Our friend’s dad is an artist, as is another of the party’s attendees. Both draw beautiful illustrations in colored chalk on our cement walkway. I admire these on my evening wanderings about the yard come dark. ‘Tis a starry night, across which flies a ship, discernible here below only as Morse code flicker: modest dots of red and white light. I resolve to read Black Quantum Futurist Rasheedah Phillips’s book Recurrence Plot (and other time travel tales), at the heart of which is a character named after the scarab-faced Egyptian god Khepri. This character is, like me, a frequent thrift-shopper. Let us, like Khepri, donate something each time we thrift.

Thursday December 31, 2020

A friend with whom I recently reconnected shared with me his fears about what he calls “The Authoritarian Left.” Why has his thought territorialized around this concept? Where is this friend’s analysis, I wonder, of the actually-existing fascisms, the authoritarianisms of the right? Deleuze and Guattari are somehow authors this friend and I share in common. Let us attempt, then, to construct from their Anti-Oedipus a “tool for conviviality” (xxii). Let it be “a manual or guide” — or as Foucault said of Anti-Oedipus in the book’s preface, “an Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life” (xiii). Just to be clear: I am proposing here a practice of mutual self-care. By these means, we heal.

Monday December 7, 2020

A friend and I arrange a near-synchronous viewing of Terror Nullius, a new film from Soda Jerk. Afterwards we discuss. This friend and I have played in bands and noise projects together. We’re ex-I, Apparatuses. We’ve collaborated in many ways over the years: gallery shows, performances, movies, publications, releases. And we’ve maintained contact and correspondence despite living for many years at a distance. C. is a filmmaker, a video artist, a noise musician and a teacher. He and I have been thinking and talking about “multidimensional correspondence chess.” We riff on each other’s puns and neologisms. C. is a great inventor of future-shocked vocabularies and concepts. His imagination has always also been drawn to the monsters of Hollywood creature features — especially Frankenstein. His is a Frankensteinian aesthetic: a kind of “mad science” involving Blobsquatches and “Metaphortean Research.” Speculative frictions rub shoulders with war machines, producing new lines of flight.