Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"The meaning of a poem can only be another poem."

"Let us give up the failed enterprise of seeking to 'understand' any single poem as an entity in itself. Let us pursue instead the quest of learning to read any poem as its poet's deliberate misinterpretation, as a poet, of a precursor poem or a poetry in general."

Harold Bloom

Thursday, April 22, 2010

wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein

inspirational value

Richard Rorty writes (in the second appendix to Achieving our Country): "Inspirational value is typically not produced by the operations of a method, a science, a discipline, or a profession. It is produced by the individual brush strokes of unprofessional prophets and demiurges. [...] If it is to have inspirational value, a work must be allowed to recontextualize much of what you previously thought you knew; it cannot, at least at first, be itself recontextualized by what you already believe."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Believing in literature

"There is a place where we are always alone with our own mortality, where we must simply have something greater than ourselves to hold onto - God or history or politics or literature or a belief in the healing power of love, or even righteous anger. Sometimes I think they are all the same. A reason to believe, a way to take the world by the throat and insist that there is more to this life than we ever imagined."

Dorothy Allison

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

unearthing everyday urban life

To be able to pay close attention to and at the very same time to be critical of everyday urban life we need an adequate approach. Aesthetics is such an approach. Aesthetics should here not be understood as a prescriptive theory of what beauty is or should be, but, on the other hand, as descriptive. And this should be understood in two ways: describing the forms everyday urban life takes, and because these forms escape conventional research methods we need to develop forms to describe the forms of everyday urban life. Aesthetics is then a way to register what remains so far unregistered so that we come to acknowledge the extraordinary in the ordinary, the nontrivial in the trivial. It is therefore no surprise that the everyday urban life has so far best been described by novelists; Pamuk's Istanbul is a good example.

another day in the life of...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

place polygamist

Orhan Pamuk writes in Other Colors: "There are two views of looking at cities. The first is that of the tourist, the newly arrived foreigner who looks at the buildings, monuments, avenues, and skylines from the outside. There is also the inside view, the city of rooms in which we have slept, of corridors and cinemas and old classrooms, the city made up of the smells and lights and colors of our most cherished memories." But isn't there a third, a middle, position possible? A position taken up by someone who is not really on the outside and not really - or not yet - on the inside, thus: an in-betweenness. The German sociologist Ulrich Beck calls this person a place polygamist, even if this person is not a frequent traveler, even if this person does collect air miles. After all, not every person residing outside her country of origin - in the sense of birthplace - is a tourist. Indeed, a tourist remains on the outside, in awe with the spectacle. However, after some odd years in Bandung I like to claim such a in-between position. The city of Bandung has already provided me with a great many memories. I have traveled its streets. I have frequented its classrooms, its cinemas. I have come to love this town I call my home. This city has changed me. Its streets are part of my biography. For how much longer?


Logorama from Marc Altshuler - Human Music on Vimeo.