Viewing posts tagged walter benjamin

Random Thing #3


And one more.  Please bear in mind, this is a fragment.


Marx saw creativity as essential to human nature.  He famously once said that “Milton produced Paradise Lost in the way that a silkworm produces silk, as the expression of his own nature”.  The difference is that Marx saw such creativity as a potential in all people, and believed that class society stunted such potentials in the majority by forcing them to do work that was alien to their natures. 

Yet there is some truth to the idea of progress in the history of class society.  Marx is quite comfortable – sometimes a little too comfortable – with the idea that the accumulation of capital can also be the accumulation of progress, that even the imperialistic development of class society can push people ‘forwards’.  It’s just that he also sees horror in the process, eventually calling the ‘progress’ that British imperialism and capitalism brought to India as resembling a “hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.”  This is far from an unproblematic way of putting it, but the point stands. 

It is a point ...

15

"What if there's no one out there?" asks the Doctor.  He's inside the Brannigans' floating car, stuck in gridlock.

What if the world ended when you weren't looking?

"Someone's got to ask, because you might not talk about it, but it's there in your eyes. What if the traffic jam never stops?"

"There's a whole city above us," says Brannigan, "The mighty city state of New New York. They wouldn't just leave us."

"In that case, where are they?" counters the Doctor.  "What if there's no help coming, not ever? What if there's nothing? Just the motorway, with the cars going round and round and round and round, never stopping. Forever."

What if the whole system is an utterly insane roundalay, going nowhere, getting noplace, just leaving everyone stranded, doing nothing but belching out endless clouds of toxic smoke?  What if the crisis is permanent.  What if normality is the crisis?  What if everyday life is the end of the world?

Walter Benjamin said that history was a train crash, and revolution was when the passengers pulled the communication cord.  The people of New New ...

22

The Doctor, Romana and Duggan have found a painting hidden behind a panel in the basement of Count Scarlioni's house in Paris.

"It's the Mona Lisa!" says the Doctor.

"Must be a fake," replies Duggan.

The Doctor says he doesn't know what's currently hanging in the Louvre, "but this is the genuine article".

Duggan's astonishment increases when the Doctor folds back yet more panelling to reveal yet another Mona Lisa.  And another.  And another.  Eventually, six identical copies are revealed.

"They must be fakes," says Duggan again.

"The brushwork's Leonardo's," the Doctor asserts, "It's as characteristic as a signature. The pigment, too."

"What," blithers Duggan, "on all of them?"

"What I don't understand is why a man who's got six Mona Lisas wants to go to all the trouble of stealing a seventh."  (The Count has been casing the Louvre, preparing to steal their Mona Lisa.)

This is Duggan's area.  "Come on, Doctor, I've just told you. There are seven people who would buy the Mona Lisa in secret, but nobody's going to buy the Mona Lisa when it's hanging in ...

30

"My goodness..." says the Doctor as yet more fine fare is brought to the Tharils already-laden table, "You live like kings."

"We are kings," says Biroc impassively.  He merely states it as a fact.  He is both part of this feast and an observer of it.  He was at it, and now he returns later in his personal timeline.  He can travel along his own trajectory.  He sits at a table he once sat at long ago, in the same seat.  He acknowledges this past life and does not disown it, yet he does not embrace it either.  His tone is neutral.  Truthful.


Meanwhile, at the same table many years later, after history has revolved, men - who make their living capturing, chaining and shipping creatures like Biroc for sale and industrial use - are sitting down for their lunch break.  They pass round sandwiches, pickles, thermos flasks.

Their boss, Rorvik, regards them with the wary contempt that only a truly stupid person can feel for those slightly more stupid than he is.  He has so little success trying to make them listen to his inanities that he has to wave his ...

A Found Object

"A close equivalent to Brutalism's avant-garde quotidian is in the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.  Banham makes a more than punning connection between the techniques of concrete brutalism and those of musique concrete, in that both are based on the use of manipulated found objects, both have a disdain for harmony but not for structure.  The Workshop applied musique concrete to TV jingles, soundtracks, mundane everyday sound.  What made both so valuable is that they were so totally immersed in everyday life.  Switch on the radio or walk out of the door to find yourself in a new world."

- Owen Hatherley, Militant Modernism



Abide With Me 2.0

This is an edited and partly-rewritten version of something I posted at the old site.



In a world in which 99% of all TV is 99% predictable 99% of the time, ‘Gridlock’ seems like an impertinent rejoinder to everything else on the screen, as though the Doctor Who production team are blowing contemptuous raspberries at the people who churn out all the beige wallpaper that constitutes most modern telly. ‘Gridlock' hammers every bit of mass-produced, by-the-numbers, formulaic drama that clogs up the channels. Then, just for good measure, it laughingly refuses to play by the rules of Doctor Who, old or new.

There is no invasion and no tyranny to topple; there are no corridors and no captures (well, there’s one… sort of) and no escapes; there are no fascist guards, no rebels, no evil masterminds; there is no ticking time-bomb, no race against time, no evil plot for the Doctor to foil. Other writers might have made the story about the Doctor trying to stop everyone dying because of the BLISS patches. In ‘Gridlock’, RTD has the Doctor arrive when this is all over and almost everyone is long dead. Imagine what ‘The Ark in Space’ would’ve ...

Rise Like Lions

Even as I type this, protestors are clambering over the stone lions at the base of Nelson's Column, waving anti-cuts placards while sat astride the petrified leonine relics of an imperial age that is still decaying... and trying to take us all with it.


'Warrior's Gate' came up for discussion at Gallifrey Base today.  It seems almost ridiculously appropriate.  Well, it does to me anyway.


Biroc makes me think of Walter Benjamin’s ‘Angel of History’:

The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is ...

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom