Monthly Archives: July 2008

It must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically

Furthering my research on Georges Bataille‘s general economy[1], helped by Valter‘s kind comment, it occured to me that the Marxian notion of surplus product is very similar to Bataille’s excess. The two notions and can only lead to wasteful spending such as luxury or war.

Thus, we read on page 21 of volume 1 of The Accursed Share:

“The living organism, in a situation determined by the play of energy on the surface of the globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintaining life; the excess energy (wealth) can be used for the growth of a system (e.g., an organism); if the system can no longer grow, or if the excess cannot be completely absorbed in its growth, it must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically” (v. 1 p. 21).

If the “excess energy” or “surplus product” is spent “gloriously”, we call it luxury, if spent “catastrophically”, it is war. Notions that connect are pure war by French philosopher Paul Virilio and the military-industrial complex.

While researching The Accursed Share, I also happened on the blog with the same name[3] by Nick Srnicek and Kieran Aarons, which features two astounding photos, a shot of Cairo with the Pyramids as backdrop [4] by unknown (credits anyone?) and a photo[5] by German-born photographer Michael Wolf belonging to his “densities” project.

Happy b’day, Steve Albini


Don’t Call Me a Producer (posted to YouTube by TheShippingYard.

Steve Albini (born July 22, 1962, Pasadena, California) turns 46 today. In my book he is best-known as the producer and member of Big Black. He is also the writer of a hilarious pamphlet on the music industry: The problem with music.

Above is an excellent documentary posted by The Shipping Yard. I’m not sure whether it is by the uploader of the clip, but I gather he is. Enjoy.

Update: The credits at the end of the clip confirm that The Shipping Yard=Travis Campbell=the documentary maker. Very good work.

Message on the general economy to Tony

The trial of Gilles de Rais

The Trial of Gilles de Rais

Radical Passivity

Radical Passivity

Message to Tony:

Hi Tony, sorry, I lost your email address. And while I am not interested in your offer, I was very much interested by your questions regarding the general economy of Georges Bataille and the link you provided to Complementarity: Anti-Epistemology after Bohr and Derrida.

While I am familiar with Bataille’s thought, I cannot claim to be an expert on him, my infatuation with him is purely instinctual. The current blogosphere expert is Valter from Surreal Documents. He’s helped me many times regarding Bataille, the last time when I had questions regarding Against Architecture[1].

I did decide to check up on Bataille’s general economy, and found that the theory is propounded most systematically in The Accursed Share.

While I was checking, I came across Radical Passivity, both a book by Thomas Carl Wall and a colloquium by Benda Hofmeyr, as well as some interesting looking work by Dutch academic Joost de Bloois, author of the doctoral thesis L’economie generale: Derrida sur les traces de Bataille (Utrecht, 2003).

Also, while researching, I found some appealing visuals.

  • Exhibit A: a rather nice and understated but at the same time menacing cover[2] of The Trial of Gilles de Rais, the blotches of blood stains are very Rorschach.
  • Exhibit B is the poster to the colloquium[3], which depicts a pixelated version of Death by a Thousand Cuts, the image Bataille is most readily associated with. The only image I can think of outside of the gruesome three of the blogosphere, of which I am also glad I see it censored [4] for obvious reasons.
  • Exhibit C: A nice cover of a work by Joost de Bloois[5].

Valter, if you are reading this, and if you find the time to comment, what is the most current interpretation of Bataille general economy?

Humid reveries in white smocks

Sadism in the Movies (1965) – George de Coulteray [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Belgian-born/New York-based canonical nobrow writer Luc Sante has a blog called Pinakothek[1]. There is a funny post called “Vile Smut”[2], in which he reviews Sadism in the Movies by George de Coulteray, and comments on a chart[3] reproduced in Lo Duca‘s L’Érotisme au cinéma[4] (J.-J. Pauvert, 1957)

Lo Duca's L'Érotisme au Cinéma

“Take this chart, for example, which is worthy of Edward Tufte‘s books:”
The movies are (1) The Blue Angel, (2) Ecstasy, (3) Tabu, (4) The Lady from Shanghai, (5) Notorious, (6) Bitter Rice, (7) Manon, (8) Los Olvidados, (9) Miss Julie, and (10) One Summer of Happiness. No, I’d never heard of that last one, either. Don’t you wish you could nonchalantly illustrate your humid reveries with charts so rigorously white-smocked? I certainly do.”

I’ve mentioned Luc Sante here [5], when I wrote about Guy Bourdin. Luc Sante has compiled a monograph on Bourdin: Exhibit A: Guy Bourdin (2001).

Encore: various book covers from L’Érotisme au cinéma series by Jean-Marie Lo Duca.

Elsewhere #11

  • Revolt of the Mannequins (original French: “La Révolte des Mannequins”) is a new production by Royal de Luxe, and follows their famous “Sultan’s Elephant” show that was performed in several cities worldwide from 2005 to 2007. In the Revolt of the Mannequins, 13 shop fronts in the city center are transformed into theater stages, where the mannequins perform a 10-day play. Every night, the Royal de Luxe team changes the positions of the mannequins, making the story jump to the next episode. 10 days, and 10 episodes per shop front, lead up to the final Revolt. The show took place in Nantes from October 1st to February 10 2008 and plays in Antwerp on the Meir as De opstand van de Paspoppen for Zva from July 11 to July 20.

Everything feels fucked up. The environment, the economy, war, terrorism, …

It is time for WMC #54


You Can’t Always Get What You Want“by Soulwax

I may have dismissed Philip Sherburne‘s piece on the current state of beats too quickly in my recent comment.[1]

The piece came my way via Simon Reynolds[2] a couple of days back:

Philip Sherburne addresses the malaise in electronic dance culture (i didn’t know the economic side of it had gotten that parlous) and convenes a kind of brain trust to come up with remedies.” —Simon Reynolds

And thus starts Sherburne’s piece:

Everything feels fucked up. The environment, the economy, war, terrorism, …” Philip Sherburne [3]

Regarding the economic side Sherburne says:

“Still, dance music is suffering from some very real maladies, many of them economic. Record sales are declining– labels that once could confidently move 1,000 copies of a 12″ single now struggle to sell 250– and legal downloads, while presumably growing, aren’t taking up the slack.”

As I said in my comment I find it hard to imagine that beats are going out of fashion.

Witness these beats set to The Stones‘s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want[4] remix[5] by Belgian dance-punkers Soulwax. Listen for the choral arrangements by Jack Nitzsche.

Regarding beats going out of fashion from a theoretical point of view.

The beat is a celebration of dance, dance is a celebration of hedonism. Hedonism flourishes in economic booms. Today is an era of poverty. Beats do not fit in poverty. Perhaps. But. Counter example one: the beats of Lindy Hop during Depression America. So evidence inconclusive, but if I had to investigate I would follow the economic boom/malaise route.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in its original Stones version is WMC #54

Simon Vinkenoog @80, and, looking for equivalents

Save the mushrooms (2007) Simon Vinkenoog

Dutch poet Simon Vinkenoog turns 80 today.

Simon can safely be regarded as the Dutch equivalent to Timothy Leary.

I wrote on equivalents here [1]. The concept is simple. Every country has its Woody Allen.

Does your country have an equivalent to Timothy Leary? Please let me known in my comment box.

The Prince copyright controversy and WMC #54

At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep” but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance. Thom Yorke of Radiohead, upon hearing about the removal of the video, asked Prince to unblock the song stating “Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our … song.” –The Prince (TAFKAP) and copyright controversy.

Look around on YouTube, how many TAFKAP clips do you find? That’s right, none. TAFKAP is convinced that if you want to be entertained by him, you have to pay him. He is right of course, even if it does not make him very likable.

Why is he right?

Companies such as YouTube (a Google owned company) are making millions of dollars on the backs of “minor” artists (the long tail) who do not have the funds to employ an army of lawyers to police YouTube in search of their content.

These minor artists should be paid for their work. Tafkap may set a precedent for this to happen.

Take an artist such as Loleatta Holloway[1] (who may be a bad example since she didn’t actually write many compositions herself, but it will do for the sake of the argument). About 124 clips with her voice are featured on YouTube, providing thousands of pageviews for YouTube. Pageviews generate ad revenue. Does Loleatta get paid? No. Does she gain in extra record sales? No, record sales are virtually non-existent since the advent of the internet, everyone downloads1.

The solution?

Micropayments, subscription based YouTubes (one for the the big four, the major record companies who control 70% of the world music market; one for all the independents who control the other 30%); and YouTube setting up a fund for the artists who are missing out on revenue right now.

P.S. It may sound contradictory (especially in regard to my post on The Cult of the Amateur [2], but I enjoy YouTube and its ability to bring unknown artists to my attention immensely, it’s just that I would not mind paying an annual fee to be able to discover them (and not pay to view the majors’ work). I wouldn’t even subscribe to TAFKAP, for that matter, he’s become to MSM to me.

As a bonus, and to extend the contradiction, it’s time for WMC #54.


“Cry to Me” (1975) by Loleatta Holloway.

1) For the record, I never download. I did it for a period of a month back in 2003/2004, lost the 200 songs I had gathered (I hadn’t burned them on cd, in fact I’ve yet to burn my first cd) and have not repeated the experience since I find YouTube satisfactory.

Channeling, hauntology and corporate cannibals


“Corporate Cannibal” (2008) by Grace Jones

Hurricane is the upcoming tenth studio album by singer Grace Jones and is to be released on 27 October 2008.

Producer Ivor Guest has confirmed that Jones has completed recording her new album, due out in 2008. Participants on the new album are include Island Records usual suspects Sly and Robbie, Brian Eno, Wally Badarou, Tricky, Uzziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson, Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, Tony Allen, but also new collaborators such as her son Paulo Goude and the Londoner Don-E.

World music classics #51, 52 and 53

[FR] [DE] [UK]

Ethiopiques is a series of compact discs featuring Ethiopian and Eritrean singers and musicians, best-known for its musical compositions “Erè Mèla Mèla”[1] by Mahmoud Ahmed; and “Yegelle Tezeta”[2] and “Yékèrmo Sèw”[3] by Mulatu Astatke. The music was internationally popularized by Jim Jarmusch when he used a number of songs by Astatke from Ethiopiques Volume 4 (see top) in his film Broken Flowers[4].

“Yegelle Tezeta” is the grooviest track of the three, one most likely to elicit a dance floor response.

Click the numbers to hear the songs/see the trailer.



Dipsetmuthafucka dances to Astatke

Also, Jahsonic fave Dipsetmuthafucka used a Astatke for a clip he did in Brussels (40 km away from where I live).

And speaking of Brussels, cinephiles, get thee post haste to the Écran Total festival playing all summer at the Cinéma Arenberg.