Human Terrain System
Between the Madness and the Wisdom of Crowds
Inge Baxmann (ed.), Timon Beyes (ed.), Claus Pias (ed.)
Social Media—New Masses
The curators were probably worried that someone would stumble carelessly up the stairs while looking at the exhibits…
The curators were probably worried that someone would stumble carelessly up the stairs while looking at the exhibits—could I simply have gone past the first object at the bottom? Number 1, “Formless Veil, curtain …” Must have been attached to the wall just between the entrance and exitus … “My dear colleague …!” and staircase. “… curtain, height 310 cm, width 475 cm.” I must already have seen it in the previous section, wall-high thing. What I’m overlooking, it occurs to me, is what’s essential. Which is the simplest form of analysis. I should actually go back down the gently curving stone stairs. But it’s over. Before me the Anatomical Theatre opens up along a last flat landing. Lights …
Set into the rectangular space is the oval of a gleaming brown wooden balustrade. From here you look down. Someone is whispering. The funnel of the auditorium declines in three narrowing...
I’m standing in my perfectly fitting uniform with its freshly-pressed swastika armband in a long line at an American office. I’m waiting to submit my Application for Total War. Then, after standing in line for hours, the friendly clerk tells me that I need The Application for Foreign Aggressions in the next office over. Since I’m a depressed fascist, I don’t keep my chin up for long—despite my spiffy brown uniform—so I decide that’s enough for today and to try again tomorrow. The very next morning, I’m valiantly standing in the correct line, but then I’m missing some paperwork for the correct submission of my Application for Total War. Besides a birth certificate (the original, no copies allowed!), I’m still missing two recommendation letters from American citizens. Five are necessary. But—I thought just three… No, five in total! With a smile, the clerk raises her right hand, her fingers spread...
Now this spectral city will become the site for execrations and lamentations, now time itself will disintegrate and void itself…
Now the dead will no longer be buried, now this spectral city will become the site for execrations and lamentations, now time itself will disintegrate and void itself, now human bodies will expectorate fury and envision their own transformation or negation, now infinite and untold catastrophes are imminently on their way —ready to cross the bridge over the river Aire and engulf us all — in this winter of discontent, just beginning at this dead-of-night instant before midnight, North-Sea ice-particles already crackling in the air and the last summer long-over, the final moment of my seventeenth birthday, so we have to go, the devil is at our heels… And now we’re running at full-tilt through the centre of the city, across the square beneath the Purbeck-marble edifice of the Queen’s Hotel, down towards the dark arches under the railway tracks, the illuminated sky shaking, the air fissured with beating cacophony,...
I said “Would you like a rope? You know that haul you have is not secured properly.”
“No,” he said, “but I see you have string!”
“If this comes into motion—” I said, “you should use a rope.”
“Any poison ivy on that? ” he asked me, and I told him my rope had been in the barn peacefully for years.
He took a length of it to the bedside table. He had no concept for what wood could endure.
“Table must have broken when I lashed it onto the truck,” he said.
And, when he was moving the sewing machine, he let the cast iron wheels—bang, bang on the stair.
I had settled down to pack up the ﬂamingo cookie jar, the cutlery, and the cookware, but stopped brieﬂy, for how many times do you catch sudden sight of something heartfelt?
I saw our milk cows in their slow...
J.G. Ballard’s self-declared ‘Immodest Proposal’ for a global war-alliance to exact the destruction of America demonstrates the provocatory zeal of his last fiction plans, as well as their enduring prescience.
J.G. Ballard’s self-declared ‘Immodest Proposal’ for a global war-alliance to exact the destruction of America demonstrates the provocatory zeal of his last fiction plans, as well as their enduring prescience. As Ballard emphasises several times in the World Versus America notebooks, he is utterly serious in his concerns and visions.
Although the Ballard estate declined permission for any images of pages from the World Versus America archival notebooks to accompany this essay, any member of the general public interested to do so can readily visit the British Library and view the notebooks in their entirety in the freely-accessible manuscripts collection there.
“So many egoists call themselves artists,” Rimbaud wrote to Paul Demeny on May 15, 1871. Even though that is not always obvious, ‘I’, the first person, is the most unknown person, a mystery that is constantly moving towards the other two, the second and third persons, a series of unfoldings and smatterings that eventually gelled as ‘Je est un autre’. That is why ‘apocryphal’ is a literarily irrelevant concept and ‘pseudo’ a symptom, the very proof that life, writing, is made up of echoes, which means that intrusions and thefts (Borges also discusses them) will always be the daily bread of those who write.
Words from others, words taken out of place and mutilated: here are the alms of time, that squanderer’s sole kindness. And so many others, mostly others who wrote, and many other pages, all of them apocryphal, all of them echoes, reflections. All this flows together into—two centuries...
It was Gilles Deleuze who in various contexts underlined that what we most lacked was “belief in the world.” The odd remark appears, for example, in a conversation in 1990 with the Italian Marxist Antonio Negri about revolutionary emergence and the political force of minorities. In this dialogue Negri examines his interlocutor’s thought in the light of the “problem of the political,” which connects the various stages of the philosopher’s intellectual biography. Deleuze’s remark here is the reprise of a motif that would be familiar to readers of his second book on cinema, which appeared in 1985, in which Deleuze contends that the “power of modern cinema” is based on its ability to “give us back” our lost “belief in the world.”
At the end of the conversation Negri asks his dialogue partner about the possibility of present-day processes of subjectivization. After initially emphasizing the “rebellious spontaneity” of such processes, Deleuze...