Archive for the ‘Portal’ Category

Red Shift

August 25, 2008

So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children perceiving it began to cry after him to return: but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on crying, “Life, life, eternal life.” So he looked not behind him, but fled towards the middle of the plain.

[John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progess via Quicksilver, 67]

Model of Abortive Romance

Model of Abortive Romance

The idea is that light crawling out of a gravity well has a longer wavelength, which vibrates at the red rhythm end of the visible spectrum.  Light travels invariably at the speed of light, but its vibration [its MOOD] is variable, hence the red shift of escape exertion.  Even when a mass moves toward the middle of a wormhole’d plane, and through some unforseeable portal, there is energy that passes back to the ordinary dimensions as a report on that inscrutable movement into singularity.

Ted Berrigan’s Take


The Signifying Monkey-Devil’s Opposable Green-Screen-Thumb: not sewing, but felting a rhizomatic seed for an electronic Lurning Man event

August 19, 2008
The Imperative is GO GREEN

Devil's Thumb will go GREEN


Derrida’s chorography [and Ulmer’s by extension] (using an actual place as the inventio of a discussion) recalls Plato’s use of the landscape in the Phaedrus. Socrates goes outside the walls of the city, in order to discuss the lessons in rhetoric that the latter has learned from the sophist Lysias.  They find their way, as if by accident, to a significant spot…

… [it is no accident that] the landscape occupies a much more significant place in the Phaedrus than anywhere else in Plato.  Nor is it accidental that the story of Boreas is told while Socrates and Phaedrus are taking a walk along the banks of the Ilissus, or the story about the metamorphosis of the crickets while both of them are lying under a plane tree luled by their chirruping voices in the midday heat of a southern sky.  All these things belong together.  Hour and place, along with the mythical tales, form the actual and symbolic landscape of the work.  (Friedlander, 190)


Socrates compares the written texts Phaedrus has brought along to a PHARMAKON: a ‘drug’ or ‘medicine,’ – a philter which acts as both remedy and poison….  This charm, this spellbinding virtue, this power of fascination can be – alternately or simultaneously – beneficent or maleficent…. Operating through seduction, the PHARMAKON makes one stray from one’s general, natural, habitual paths and laws [strange attractor].

Jacques Derrida, Plato’s Pharmacy

The primary poison is the Word – the Pharmakos – the one who stands-in-for.  All other poisons function through this one, the signifying poison.  Signifying monkey.  Jesus should have been stoned, not crucified.

Pharmakos also meant ‘poisoner,’ and ‘sorcerer,’ and ‘magician.’  Plato banned the pharmakeus, the shaman, from his Republic in 480 BC.  The Chinese kicked the shaman out of the government in the first century, along with her whole family.

Standing-in-for, the Logos.  Morphine wearing the mask of endorphin, tetra-hydrocannabinol dressed up like anandamide.  Molecules standing in for stimuli: sensation symbolized on the cortex, rhodopsin a metaphor of light.  Intellect is mediated and mediator, a mapping of pattern to patterns of ions, ratios, concentration of amines, layers of neurotransmitters themselves in flux, charged and shaped by emotion and memory.  Mind acts it out, moves mountains, changes its own environment, altering the very reactions that led to the alteration.

and that’s a good trick

Patterns, likeness of pattern, and some analogous likeness of likeness: the swelling of sound in adagio and its neuronal reflection.  The great bead game, poetry is poison – echoes of phonemes, ghosts standing in for ghosts.


My proposal for an electronic monument is to set up a series of VJ performances in green light on the surfaces of Devil’s Thumb [light is highly LNT].  People observing the performance from the suburbs of South Boulder would get a low resolution sense of the Collective Signifying Monkey-Devil’s Opposable Greenthumb, and people watching the performance at the thumb itself would glimpse the content of the projected video images, which could include remix mash-ups of global-environmental music-thrillers (Koyaanisquatsi, Baraka, Manufactured Landscapes) and a video collage concerning the disappearance of Lance Hering from El Dorado Canyon in 2006, among other things.

A relay for remix source material:

The electronic monument would convey its meaning via fractal resolution.  In other words, it would offer similar meaning structures across different scales.  Viewed from far away, the message would be general – Devil’s Greenthumb.  Viewed from closer, the message could be more specific – remixed image content developed by individual VJ’s.  If the performance were allowed to happen a few weeks in a row, it would be ideal if people who saw the program from the suburbs one week were lured out of the city toward the mountains the next week by the Devil’s Greenthumb, making it a veritable Strange Attractor.  The added benefit of this electronic monument’s location is that people who are lured toward the Strange Attractor are lured out of town, at night, into the psuedo-wilds of the hills, where they might very well encounter various forms of the Other.

Then, one day, walking the usual route across the Shadow Canyon ridge heading West toward the Continental Divide, a restless spirit took hold of him.  It was as if he were walking into yet another phase space he had no control over…  Within ten minutes he was at a thin oval-shaped cave.  A green and yellow and red tapestry of lichen surrounded the cave entrance.  From where he stood it looked like an enlarged vagina with technicolor pubic hair.  He thought he smelled the dank erotica of a woman just come.  Closing his eyes and breathing in deeply, he felt an uncontrollable urge to masturbate out in the open air [this is PANIC masturbation, the vice of the shepherds in the hills.  In this version, the wind whipping through the hills is pheromonal medicine woman scent].  A rush of blood funnelled straight to his cock and he pulled it out softly taking hold of it and slowly jerking the entire shaft imagining that all of Nature’s open space was his to jizz in….


The Medicine Woman explained that the psycho-pharmakinetic effect of acidophilus mixed with a special legume grown near the Aztec ruins in the Yucutan would provide him with the necessary proactive stimulant one needs… She said that the Mexican bean was responsible for activating the latent Sexual Blood (she used the term Sexual Blood as if it were a way of life).  This activation caused a mirrored aphrodisiac effect.  Instead of producing in the person who took the drug an incredible urge to screw anything that had a genital attached to it, the intaker of said drug would emit an aura of irresistible libidinal energy that would make certain select Others mad with the prospect of screwing IT... Once one took the drug and started encountering Others who were interested in becoming IT by physically loving IT, then one was allowed to share the secret of Sexual Blood with this Needy Other.

Sexual Blood is the product of a poison, a pharmakon [which can be words whispered on the winds, but can also be vegetal matter].  We can wonder about the percentage of people who’re turned onto Sexual Blood by abstraction/poetry/signification alone, by the pharmakon WORD, logos.  But let’s get materialistic about it.  Let’s get away from monkey signification production, even if we always have to come back to it.  Let’s focus on breeds across the boundaries of reproductive isolation, inter-special production of hybridized affect.  The growing growing grown concern for the earth and the problems that arise around the cultivation, commodification, and transportation [read Capitalistic Control] of plant life is reason to focus on the public policy issues in the green material dimension of the production of so called Sexual Blood.

Phaedr. What an incomprehensible being you are, Socrates: when you are in the country, as you say, you really are like some stranger who is led about by a guide. Do you ever cross the border? I rather think that you never venture even outside the gates.

Soc. Very true, my good friend; and I hope that you will excuse me when you hear the reason, which is, that I am a lover of knowledge, and the men who dwell in the city are my teachers, and not the trees or the country. Though I do indeed believe that you have found a spell with which to draw me out of the city into the country, like a hungry cow before whom a bough or a bunch of fruit is waved. For only hold up before me in like manner a book, and you may lead me all round Attica, and over the wide world.

Ethan Brand is an aspiring alchemist, which is to say a pseudo-materialist, interested in the transmutation of matter into spirit, the emphasis in the case of Sexual Blood being the green matter at hand [the Devil’s Greenthumb, another version of the hook shaped alien appendage].  What matters, in this register, are the organic conditions under which the strange attractor expresses itself.

And, despite the sprouting of fractal ferns and algorithmic roses, there are no plants in cyberspace – not that one could eat, anyway.  Nor in the noosphere.

Lawn Gone Manifesto

August 17, 2008

“The Manifesto of Surrealism,” and for that matter all of the manifestos of the avant-garde, belong to the tradition of the discourse on method.  A comparison of Breton’s manifesto with the various classics of method reveal that they tend to include a common set of elements, which are representable for mnemonic reference by the acronym CATTt (Ulmer, 1991b).  The CATTt includes the following operations:

C = Contrast (opposition, inversion, differentiation)

A = Analogy (figuration, displacement)

T = Theory (repetition, literalization)

T = Target (application, purpose)

t = Tale (secondary elaboration, representability)

[Heuretics, 8]


The front lawn symbolized the collective face of suburbia the back-yard its private aspect.  In the back, you could do pretty much whatever you wanted, but out front you had to take account of the community’s wishes and its self-image.  Fences and hedges were out of the question: they were considered antisocial, unmistakable symbols of alienation from the group.  One lawn should flow unimpeded into another, obscuring the boundaries between homes and contributing to the sense of community.  It was here in the front lawn that “like-mindedness” received its clearest expression.  The conventional design of a suburban street is meant to forge the multitude of equal individual parcels of land into a single vista – a democratic landscape.  To maintain your portion of this landscape was part of your civic duty.

[Michael Pollan, Second Nature, On Long Island in the late 1950’s]


A sub-urban front lawn should take account of the community’s wishes and its self-image, but it should do so according to what we, as a community, know about the darker aspects of wishes and wish-fulfillment [‘Careful what you wish for” cf. the myth of the Pied Piper].  Our lawns should express the theory, which also came to a prominant position in American popculture in the 1950’s via psychoanalysis, that our self-images contain paradoxes and blind spots.


The conventional design of a suburban street is meant to forge the multitude of equal individual parcels of land into a single vista – a democratic landscape.

‘Multitude’ is more complicated in the same way that wishes and self-image are.  Hardt and Negri’s attempts to articulate the conditions under which a joyful Global Democracy might emerge is theory about what it will take to ‘forge the multitude’ in a world organized by Global Capitalism.  I am under the impression that the theory of the ‘Multitude’ calls for an alternative to the implicit homogeneity of a ‘single vista’, namely a political dimension made up of heterogeneous political entities, each with their own agendas, all working against the homogenization that certain kinds of Capitalism bring about.


Without making large scale policy suggestions – no prescriptions for the whole world – it seems safe to say that the American Lawn is an artifact of a bygone era and should give way to some kind of diversified expression of our current communal values.  In Boulder there is already a movement underway that fits this programmatic, at least partially.  Community Roots is a distributed multi-plot suburban farm that gives local landowners a way to introduce local labor into the food economy and to strengthen communal identity in the forms of CSA’s, farmers markets, and other local food sharing institutions.  The organization’s conversions of lawn space into food producing gardens definitely expresses the community’s dissatisfaction with an economy that depends of fossil-fuel for food production and transportation.  What may benefit this movement, in addition to hard work and soil toil, which definitely will benefit the movement – What may help is an electrate tale [a blog] that works to place the movement in a historical context, and that will figure a way to express some of the more ambiguous, unspeakable dimensions of growing plants in a deeply wired transition town.


Ethan Brand finds himself guilty of the Unpardonable Sin.  First a 19th century iteration, now a 21st century iteration of the myth of the Original Sin for which AdamEve was expelled from the Garden.  The garden, as the replacement for the suburban lawn, is a site of avant-garde activity.

“If gardening is an exploration of a place close to home, being a teenager is an exploration of mobility, and these two approaches to place, or home, are bound sooner or later to come into conflict… Much of gardening is a[n attempt at] return, an effort at recovering remembered landscapes.”   Gardening is an activity for Theoria, an exploration of a place to find out for one’s self what is going on in the world, as opposed to being at the mercy of global market speculation.

The tale goes that Ethan Brand is convinced that his Sin of abortive romance deserves a recompense of immortal agony, and his tale ends with self-commitment to a fiery furnace or a portal.  If the sub-urban gardens of Boulder don’t figure this tale exactly, they should at least figure some of it’s ambiguity.  There is ample cultural and experiential evidence to believe [and theory is the production of belief via supra-scientific pain sensing] that there are portals to ‘Other’ dimensions that play a part in this tale, and this is a direction for further research.  In trying to imagine a public understanding of what it might mean to pass through a portal to the ‘Other’ dimension, I get the impression that the lawns wont be the only thing that get gone.

Gate Gate Para Gate Para-sam Gate Bodhi Svaha

Panic at the Pied Piper Portal

August 10, 2008
Panic starts with a Sound

A Strange Attractor

There was a rustling,
that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls.
and skipping,
ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.


“Panic” comes from Greek panikon, “pertaining to Pan.” Pan is the god of woods and fields who was the source of mysterious sounds that caused contagious, groundless fear in herds and crowds, or in people in lonely spots. [wikipedia]


BARTRAM the lime-burner, a rough, heavy-looking man, begrimed with charcoal, sat watching his kiln, at nightfall, while his little son played at building houses with the scattered fragments of marble, when, on the hill-side below them, they heard a roar of laughter, not mirthful, but slow, and even solemn, like a wind shaking the boughs of the forest.

“Father, what is that?” asked the little boy, leaving his play, and pressing betwixt his father’s knees.

“O, some drunken man, I suppose,” answered the lime-burner; “some merry fellow from the bar-room in the village, who dared not laugh loud enough within doors, lest he should blow the roof of the house off. So here he is, shaking his jolly sides at the foot of Gray-lock.”

“But, father,” said the child, more sensitive than the obtuse, middle-aged clown, “he does not laugh like a man that is glad. So the noise frightens me!”

“Don’t be a fool, child!” cried his father, gruffly. “You will never make a man, I do believe; there is too much of your mother in you. I have known the rustling of a leaf startle you. Hark! Here comes the merry fellow, now. You shall see that there is no harm in him.”


When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No; One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,–
“It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can’t forget that I’m bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me.


The endeavor of making the internet, of doing the work to connect diverse forms of abstract information, is riddled with ambiguity.  For now, a highly curtailed historic sketch via human embryogenic metaphor: We humans have built and organized an informational body on a global scale, and the internet is the brain and the consciousness.  It involved [involution] in the 1950’s under pressure of the United States’ involvement in the Cold War, and since then an increasingly diversified array of humans [Us, fellow Netizens] have devoted a large percentage of our energy to developing it.  Formal systems and computer languages built by specialists have given many of us platforms for participating in the activities of network formation and collectively distributed thought-processing, and with increasingly massified involvement, the developmental process continues to accelerate, apparently exponentially.  At this point it is all already moving so fast that it’s whistling through the hills.

On one hand, the process self-organizes – it is self-referential.  It screams feedback loops.  It’s a solipsistic bachelor machine.  And yet, on the other hand it seems that there is something outside the process that conditions it.  This ‘Other’ thing has hooked the process and is trying to pull the whole shebang onward and upward, out of its habitat, away from its home.

The Alien Appendage

The Alien Appendage

This ‘Other’ dimensional thing PULLS/COAXES/LURES/CONDUCTS the collective creation of cyberspace.

The folkloric figure for this strange attractor is the Pied Piper.  Before him, the ancient Greeks called the strange attractor Pan.

We feel panic when we sense the sound of the strange winds whipping through our ecosystem.  We have heard stories that suggest that the sounds we sense may presage our arrival at a portal to an ‘Other’ dimension from which we may never return.  Many before us felt the intuition of what it might mean to cross this threshold.  More of us now than ever are convinced that we are the ones who are actually finding out.  What we don’t get to feel, then the next few generations will.  And so it goes.  The children hear and follow the music.

Lime-Kiln Portal to an ‘Other’ Dimension

August 6, 2008

Ethan Brand, it was said, had conversed with Satan himself in the lurid blaze of this very kiln. The legend had been matter of mirth heretofore but looked grisly now. According to this tale, before Ethan Brand departed on his search, he had been accustomed to evoke a fiend from the hot furnace of the lime-kiln, night after night, in order to confer with him about the Unpardonable Sin.

doorway to the dead

doorway to the dead - Lenox, MA

Within the formal system of the Ethan Brand entertainment narrative, the meaning of the phrase ‘Unpardonable Sin’ remains somewhat untranslated. The ‘Unpardonable Sin’ is this story’s name for the unpronounceable dilemma in the broken/calcified heart of the eponymous character.  The image of Ethan Brand’s marble heart is a clue that the ‘Unpardonable Sin’ is what organizes the text [an abstract machine].  The hard heart is the material actualization of a virtual sin, not the sin itself.  Still, as Ethan Brand knows too well, the likely result of looking for the Unpardonable Sin is that the seeker will find it in their self.

“…the good folks still talk about Ethan Brand, in the village yonder, and what a strange errand took him away from his lime-kiln.  Well, and so you have found the Unpardonable Sin?”

“Even so!” said the stranger, calmly.

“If the question is a fair one,” proceeded Bartram, “where might it be?”

Ethan Brand laid his finger on his own heart.

“Here!” replied he.

This report puts the ultimate findings of Ethan Brand’s research in line with the findings of the EmerAgency, whose slogan goes, ‘Problems B Us‘.  Still, the lime-kiln is a portal to an ‘Other’ dimension where fiendish Satan dwells, in the furnaces, in the hillock.  Or so the legend goes.

What can we say about these rumors of an Other-dimensional entity who is summoned to confer with Ethan Brand about the Unpardonable Sin? We need some theory to account for this.