A commonplace page

“To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all non-economic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.” David Foster Wallace

“So basically uncreative writing is a way of going against the tendency toward MFA creative writing programs, which don’t really teach you how to be creative at all. They’re truly uncreative. They’re teaching you how to yet write another short story of the rise of a hero and his even more dramatic downfall. Or a poem that is work shopped to death and that is written by committee. To me if that is creativity then I don’t want to be creative. Rather I want to be more warholian, I want to be mimetic, I want to be machine-like, I want to take text that have already been written and simply rewrite them and transcribe them without changing anything–claim them as my own simply by the act of retyping say a day’s copy of the New York Times. So that becomes my own and simply republishing it as that.” Kenneth Goldsmith

“There is no government without a map. You can put it on a wall, stick pins in it, point at it, make policy about it, if you have to go to war over it see what you’ve won and what you’ve lost. It is the abstract of decision, it is fact unvarnished. Absent it, there’s nothing there, the world has no shape and that which has no shape has no meaning.” Ron Hutchinson, Durand’s Line

“I reduced painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three canvases: red, blue and yellow. I affirmed: it’s over. Basic colours. Every plane is a plane and there is to be no representation.” Alexandr Rodchenko

“We typically crisscross cities from the end of railway terminals, we like to go to places not visited by other tourists. You get to know a city by going to places like this, not central squares. Buckingham Palace is also necessary, but you need to go elsewhere to get to know the city.” Klaus Matzka

“In Bombay, a gang war — gengwar as it’s pronounced with the Bambaiyya inflection — doesn’t just mean a fight between two gangs. Run together, the words are another term for the underworld in its entirety, in its complexity. People identify themselves buy it — ” We are the folk of the gangwar” — as opposed to petty criminals, robbers, rapists, pickpockets. It is a permanent state of being.” Suketu Mehta, Maximum City

“The first effect is that for there to be an art department there must be a unified and bounded thing called ‘art’. The second is that it can be researched, and much of what artists do can be described as research. The third, that the field requires description in a specialised language, the acquisition of which defines art professionals. All these effects tend to produce an art that talks most effectively to art insiders, and seals out the wider public.” Julian Stallabrass, Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction

“For me, what’s really important is that this is a system developed for the Congolese. I don’t really understand the Congolese community, and I don’t particularly care to either. But I support people within that community, and have done for a period of time. Those people know what that community is about, they know what’s needed. And so they say to us, “Well, you know, it would be great to develop a media system that can do this, because that’s what we think we need.” And then we’re able to think about that on a systems level. That’s the most important thing. We’re not trying to represent the Congolese in any way, shape or form. That’s why they’re not present in the gallery installation.” Graham Harwood

“The best way to defeat DRM, the way which has worked in the past, is to break it. Over, and over, and over again. As each scheme is broken, the DRM publishers come up with a new one. Each new one is nastier and more intrusive to the paying customers, causing compatibility problems and total failures. After enough of this, paying customers refuse to buy DRM encumbered products, not for ideological reasons but for practical ones. And then DRM largely goes away. It happened before.” russotto, Slashdot

“There is no dearth ere dawn. The first flake of snow in the winter falls on a black man. The first ray of sunlight in the summer falls on a black man. The first yellow leaf in the autumn falls on a black man. The first crocus in the spring is seen by a black man and he harks to the cuckoo long before all them other people what write to the newspapers to say they was the first.”  Sam Selvon, Moses Ascending

Robert Phillips: An American poet-critic, Peter Davison, has characterised yours as a “dimunitional talent” — meaning you make things clear by making them small — England reduced to “squares of wheat” and so forth. Is this a fair comment? is this a technique that you’re aware of? Larkin: It’s difficult to answer remarks like that. The line “its postal districts packed like squares of wheat” refers to London not England. It doesn’t seem “dimunitional” to me, rather the reverse, if anything. It’s meant to make the postal districts seem rich and fruitful. Paris Review Interview

“On some endlessly long sheet of ice somewhere… somewhere in the Arctic a group of young polar bears are searching for food… suddenly the ice breaks and they all plunge down three thousand metres into the depths and drown… you can hear their screams for days while they’re drowning, while the sun slowly eats away their brains.” Falk Richter, State of Emergency

“The question is whether everything is always the same, whether it is in fact possible that by the age of forty a person has seen all that has been and will ever be. Must I consult art to understand that identity is administered, power exploits, resistance is predetermined, all is shit?” Seth Price

“We say the guy in uniform is a pig, not a human being… We don’t talk to him, because it is wrong to talk to these people. And so there may be gunfire.” Ulrike Meinhof

“There is no such thing as self-esteem. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have frequent bouts of self-loathing … Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I think of bacteria mutating under an ultraviolet light and I’m happy again for a while. Within the Petri dish: unfettered, egoless desire, the proliferation of new possibilities, ideas made flesh, uncaring and finally airborne. Empathy is a tool for making the cruelty more precise. Beauty is independent of taste; the sublime only works for suckers. Whenever I laugh I feel guilty.” Steve Reinke

“When I first saw [avant-garde] film I had been so indoctrinated with Hollywood film syntax that I simply didn’t have the map with which to find my way through to it. I didn’t know the rules of the game. I didn’t know how to consider the screen as a formal rectangle with two-dimensional spatial tensions, rather than as a window to a daydream. I didn’t have an informed understanding of what we might call, for lack of a better term, the “aesthetic” experience, as opposed to the semi-hypnotic trance state induced by the lull of complex identification cues that literally entrances us when we experience narrative film – and how different this was than the contemplative experience of looking at any painting or listening to music. It took me some time to realize that the condition of watching most narrative films was actually antithetical to experiencing the contemplation of form, which in my mind is the essence of artistic apperception.” Phil Solomon

“The things that derail us in life, the things that screw us up at a low level, are not the machinations of an evil spirit, not the Taliban nor Al Qaeda; it’s your in-growing toe nail or your fungal infection, the drunk driving the car at the intersection. It’s randomnicity, it’s chance, it’s disease.” Will Self

“Everyone can, and should, be ignored. We were warned about this situation we find ourselves in by philosophers, and well before it happened. It’s just too bad we weren’t warned by celebrities, or we would have listened to them.” Choire Sicha

“the ICA, that zoo of onanistic, worthless pretension.” A.A. Gill

“Does everyone have a novel in them? They have all kinds of things in them – liver, spleen, perhaps recklessly inserted lightbulbs. Whether you want any of those things to be removed and then sold to strangers is the question.”
A.L. Kennedy

“Like if you make something on Photoshop, it might look good now, but in ten years you will look at it, and it will look like something you made on Photoshop in 2007. It’s embarrassing. So with the old graphics, I can avoid this, cause people already know I know its wack. Then at least we are all on the same page. And with media art, once everyone is on the same page, only then can the project be successful.”
Cory Arcangel

“A man can be an enemy of other men, of the moments of other men, but not of a country: not of fireflies, words, gardens, streams of water, sunsets”
Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths.

“New Zealand is where authors send characters they don’t know what to do with.”
C.K. Stead[?]

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2 responses to “A commonplace page

  1. Hi Mr Danny Birchall,

    It seems that your blog has been abandoned for two years. What happened?

    Given that you are such a good writer, it is a pity.

  2. Since you deal with musuem cultures, you might be interested in reading SoundEagle’s recent post at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/facing-the-noise-music-playgrounds-for-biophobic-citizens/.

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