Some Such Name
  Faith and Knowledge - TV and Religion
Was watching the pope talk on TV while the Gaza strip was being emptied as orthodox Jews threw acid on police and a Islamic cleric preached holy war. Reminded me of an article I read somewhere ... full text was found here

"Faith and Knowledge"
by Jacques Derrida

Like others before, the new 'wars of religion' unleash themselves over the human earth (which is not the world) and struggle even today to control the sky with fingers and eyes: digital systems and virtually immediate panoptical visualization, air space, telecommunications satellites, information highways, concentration of capitalistic-mediatic power - in three words, digital culture, jet and TV without which there could be no religious manifestation today, for example no voyage or discourse of the Pope, no widespread fascination of Jewish, Christian or Moslem cults, be they 'fundamentalist' or not. Given this, the cyberspatialized or cyberspaced wars of religion have no stakes other than this determination of the 'world', of 'history', of the 'day' and of the 'present'.

The stakes certainly can remain implicit, insufficiently thematized, poorly articulated. By repressing them, on the other hand, many others can also be dissimulated or displaced. Which is to say, as is always the case with the topics of repression, inscribed in other places or other systems; this never occurs without symptoms and fantasies, without specters (phantasmata) to be investigated. In both cases and according to both logics, we ought to take into account every declared stake in its greatest radicality as well as asking ourselves what the depths of such radicality might virtually encrypt, down to its very roots. The declared stakes already appear to be without limit: what is the 'world', the 'day', the 'present' (hence, all of history, the earth, the humanity of man, the rights of man, the rights of man and of woman, the political and cultural organization of society, the difference between man, god and animal, the phenomenality of the day, the value or 'indemnity' of life, the right to life, the treatment of death, etc.)? What is the present, which is to say: What is history? time? being? being in its purity (that is, unscathed, safe, sacred, holy, heilig)? What of holiness or of sacredness? Are they the same thing? What of the divinity of God? How many meanings can one give to theion? Is this a good way to pose the question?

There is insufficient space to multiply in this regard the images or the indications, one could say the icons of our time: the organization, conception (generative forces, structures and capital) as well as the audiovisual representation of cultic or socio-religious phenomena. In a digitalized 'cyberspace', prosthesis upon prosthesis, a heavenly glance, monstrous, bestial or divine, something like an eye of CNN watches permanently: over Jerusalem and its three monotheisms, over the multiplicity, the unprecedented speed and scope of the moves of a Pope versed in televisual rhetoric (of which the last encyclical, Evangelium vitae, against abortion and euthanasia, for the sacredness or holiness of a life that is safe and sound - unscathed, heilig, holy - for its reproduction in conjugal love - sole immunity admitted, with priestly celibacy, against the virus of human immuno-deficiency (HIV) -, is immediately transmitted, massively 'marketed' and available on CD-ROM; everything down to the signs of presence in the mystery of the Eucharist is 'cederomised'; over airborn pilgrimages to Mecca; over so many miracles transmitted live (most frequently, healings, which is to say, returns to the unscathed, heilig, holy, indemnifications) followed by commercials, before thousands in an American television studio; over the international and televisual diplomacy of the Dalai Lama, etc. So remarkably adapted to the scale and the evolutions of global demography, so well adjusted to the technoscientific, economic and mediatic powers of our time, the power of all these phenomena to bear witness finds itself formidably intensified, at the same time as it is collected in a digitalized space by supersonic airplanes or by audiovisual antenna. The ether of religion will always have been hospitable to a certain spectral virtuality. Today, like the sublimity of the starry heavens at the bottom of our hearts, the 'cyberspaced' religion also entails the accelerated and hypercapitalized relaunching of founding specters. On CD-ROM, heavenly trajectories of satellites, Jet, TV, Email or Internet networks. Actually or virtually universalizable, ultra-internationalizable, incarnated by new 'corporations' that are increasingly independent of the powers of states (democratic or not, it makes little difference at bottom, all of that has to be reconsidered, like the 'globalatinity' of international law in its current state, which is to say, on the threshold of a process of accelerated and unpredictable transformation).
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  The Greatest Mistake
Jared Diamond, author of Guns Germs & Steel debunks the widely held notion that the shift from hunter-gatherer to farming societies improved the life of human beings 10,000 years go. However, I'm not quite sure if this is The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race (that remains the election of certain modern-day Bushmen) :

To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

At first, the evidence against this revisionist interpretation will strike twentieth century Americans as irrefutable. We’re better off in almost every respect than people of the Middle Ages, who in turn had it easier than cavemen, who in turn were better off than apes. Just count our advantages. We enjoy the most abundant and varied foods, the best tools and material goods, some of the longest and healthiest lives, in history. Most of us are safe from starvation and predators. We get our energy from oil and machines, not from our sweat. What neo-Luddite among us would trade his life for that of a medieval peasant, a caveman, or an ape?
[picture by Lauren Burke] "On Nov. 25, she walked into her studio for the 11 a.m. broadcast. "I was sure I would tell people the truth that day," she said. "I just felt this was the moment to do it."

Under her long silk sleeve, she had tied an orange ribbon to her wrist, the color of the opposition and a powerful symbol in what would become known as the Orange Revolution. She knew that when she raised her arm, the ribbon would show.

The newscaster was reading the officially scripted text about the results of the election, and Dmytruk was signing along. But then, "I was not listening anymore," she said.

In her own daring protest, she signed: "I am addressing everybody who is deaf in the Ukraine. Our president is Victor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies. . . . And I am very ashamed to translate such lies to you. Maybe you will see me again -- " she concluded, hinting at what fate might await her. She then continued signing the rest of officially scripted news."
the energy blast created this blurrrrr....
so fast you can't see me! yeee-haw!
  A Light So Dim
My current favorite song (apart from everything ever written and performed by Emmet) is by a band called The Black Heart Procession. I wish I could make a AlgoKreeda music video for them during AlgoMantra 2005.

Imagine a dark and windy beach on a desolate island with monks chanting the song as they move around on a grid in the sand, following a three step algorithm and carrying a dim light in their cupped hands. Strong winds blow out many of the lights, but they spread in the network of monks again...

You can download a couple of mp3s, including A Ligh So Dim at the link in the title, which goes like this:

“there are no trains that leave from the maze
my only chance was a ship to escape
if you are the light house in the storm
i’ll be the ship with a thousand dead souls
how long will they believe in a light so dim
down in the gallows the darkness glows
it was hard to see in the hearts of them
if you see a light call down below
i’ll be moving and sorting out our fears
how long will we believe in a light so dim"

  Ghanaian Departures
I've always thought that when the time comes to depart this world, my body will be blasted into space in a small rocket where my remains will spend eternity drifting through the wonders of deep space.

Now I'm not so sure.

Having seen these pictures, I may go Ghanaian at the end:

  Projections and Perceptions
Scientists at St. Andrew's University in Scotland have been slowly releasing a sequence of projections of how various deceased celebrities might look now, were they still with us.

They released this image of John Lennon in October of last year, and this image of Elvis Parsley over the weekend.

Perception Labs is an appropriate name for this project: I can't help observing that their image of Lennon is far more flattering than the image of Parsley --points to the sensitive side-lighting in the Lennon pic and highlights Parsley's much ruddier complexion with toothpick. But please compare the projections for yourselves and let me know what you think :)

Could it be that the scientists involved are inclined towards a cultural bias that affects their future projections?

Well, unless you're Rohit Gupta (and therefore well-known to millions), none of us will be affected by such bias --which gives you all the more reason to try a limited version of the software yourself at this URL:

  Not So Breitwieser Is Sentenced To 26-months In Prison
Art collector and thief, Stephane Breitwieser, was given a 26-month prison sentence for stealing several works of art --just a day after attempting to kill himself in a Strasbourg prison.

From the BBC coverage:

Former waiter Stephane Breitwieser, 33, admits taking hundreds of masterpieces from museums across Europe.

His mother and ex-girlfriend received shorter sentences for their role.

Described by his lawyer as "deeply depressed" - and by himself as a passionate art lover - Breitwieser tried to hang himself on Thursday.

He failed in his attempt when a cellmate raised the alarm.

The prosecutor in his trial had said Breitwieser acted in a "narcissistic" and "egotistical" manner, irrespective of whether he had sold the stolen works or not, and called for him to receive the maximum sentence of three years.

A court in the French city of Strasbourg gave Breitwieser the three-year sentence - but with a 10-month suspension, he will only serve 26 months of it.

'Hidden in coat'
Breitwieser's mother, Mireille Stengel, received a three-year sentence with an 18-month suspension for having destroyed some of the works stolen by her son, who had stored them at her home in Eschentzwiller, eastern France.

She admitted having cut up canvases "to punish her son," who she alleged had "terrorised" her.
Her lawyer said the sentence would be appealed.

Breitwieser's ex-girlfriend, Anne-Catherine Kleinklauss, was awarded a six-month prison term, with another 12 months suspended, on charges of receiving stolen items.

For years Breitwieser scoured European museums, pilfering works which he hid in his rucksack or inside his coat, then simply walked out, the AFP news agency reports.

He was arrested in November 2001 near the Richard Wagner Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Lost works
Breitwieser spent two years in a Swiss jail before extradition to France.

He told the Swiss court he had pilfered more than 200 masterpieces from European galleries, including works by Brueghel, Watteau and Durer.

The French charges mainly relate to thefts from French museums.

He is suspected of taking about 70 works of art, but he is charged with just 20 thefts between 1999 and 2001. Two alleged thefts in Denmark and Austria also appear on the charge-sheet.

After his arrest, about 100 antiques, including vases and incense-burners, were recovered from the Rhine-Rhone canal, where his mother had tried to dispose of them.

But up to 60 paintings have not been found.


The story of Mrs. Breitwieser's intervention:


The Art Loss register keeps track of stolen and lost art works and antiques.

Have You Seen This Painting?


  Some Such Name Scoops Arts Journal
Yesterday's Arts Journal picked up on the Pew Internet Report on how the Internet is changing artists' lives.

Some Such Name covered this report so long ago it no longer features on our front page. The post languishes somewhere in our archives with amnesia and hyperchondria for company during the long dark nights of its forgottenness.

Anyway, I'm not going to go digging around in the archives for a hyperlink that proves what Some Such Name readers know already --they're getting the best arts coverage right here. ;)

Last week has seen some serious drifting across space again.

It all started with news about the Tsunami. That morning I remember reading about a faraway whimper on the top corner of the BBC website. An earthquake in Indonesia ... further details pending. Yet as the day progressed, the news about the tragedy became like the bastard twin of the Event itself: every passing hour brought the wave of information closer until it too hit us with its enormous force. Thousands of kilometers imploded on us like the Wave itself, suffocating us like sea water with every instance of rising body count ...10.000. 20.000. 50.000, 150.000

And then the virtual geography of this planet started shaking again, yet another bastard twin hit by a Richter 9 earthquake. The biggest ever tragedy ever to hit Finland in Thailand was reported by an Indian newspaper using sources by Reuters now relocated in Bangalore about how the tragedy will affect Bollywood stars honeymooning in the Maldives. A warning by scientists in Oregon about an other tsunami sends tragedy-struck fishermen in Tamil Nadu rushing for high land in panic while the authenticity of the report is debated by bloggers using SMS between Bombay and Sri Lanka.

Paul Virilio, a French philosopher, warned about the new 'accident' that is brought about by the implosion of space and time caused by new telecommunication technologies. The here and now - the erasure of space and time by the speed of light of communication - can make a generalized accident where an event in the other part of the world has instant repercussion in every connected node of this new world. He says: "with acceleration, there is no more here and there, only the mental confusion of near and far, present and future, real and unreal - a mix of history, stories, and the hallucinatory utopia of communication technologies."

Yet watching for the past few days the spaces of the planet bubble like a molten lava field has made me somewhat more optimistic. If something stays afloat from this tragedy, it is the hope that maybe there are people emerging who are able to ride the wave (and bad metaphors) of the new world. During the immediate aftermath of the Wave, we saw something else than an accident. Blog newsservices were put up helping describe the tragedy and provide help. Websites helped people locate people missing. New experimental SMS newsservices are being set up as we speak to circumvent the traditional newsmedia still stuck kneedeep in the mud of classical space ...

So perhaps, if nothing else, an inconclusive afterthought is appopriate.

Perhaps an event such as this one - an event that sends ripples to the space-time continuum of this new world - gives us a glimpse and a foretaste of the future. And whether this future will be an accident or something else will depend whether we learn quickly to master the news space-time configurations and dimensions that are emerging. Maybe that is the task for us lost in space.

India, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland - 5/201 countries represented so far. And counting....

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October 24, 2004 / October 31, 2004 / November 07, 2004 / November 14, 2004 / November 21, 2004 / November 28, 2004 / December 05, 2004 / December 12, 2004 / December 19, 2004 / January 02, 2005 / January 09, 2005 / January 23, 2005 / January 30, 2005 / May 01, 2005 / August 07, 2005 / August 21, 2005 /

Interesting Reads

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage Contemporaries) by Mark Haddon

What If Our World Is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick by Philip K. Dick, Gwen Lee (Editor), Doris Elaine Sauter (Editor), Tim Powers

The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

A Clockwork Orange (Norton Paperback Fiction) by Anthony Burgess

Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 1) by Frank Herbert

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