Category Archives: life

A cemetery in Hoboken, Belgium

Cemetery of Montjuic

Montjuic cemetery in Barcelona (photo by  Stefan Cermak)

My first conscious experience of liking cemetries comes from climbing Mont Juic in Barcelona and seeing what appeared from a distance as a high-rise city. In reality that high-rise city was a multi story cemetery.

Last week I visited the neighbouring cemetry from where I teach.

It looks something like this:


… and is rather smallish compared to the huge and worldwide known (to cemetry enthousiasts) Schoonselhof cemetry, the artist’s cemetry of Antwerp.

The pictures are of photos mounted on the graves, usually aureoled by oval frames. I like the washed-out spooky ones. One of the joys of photographing is photographing photographs. After Sherrie Levine: After After Edward Weston.

Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008

Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008

Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008

Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008Cemetery Hoboken Early 2008

A cemetery in Hoboken, Belgium

Charles Darwin @200

Charles Darwin @200

Contemporary satirical drawing of Darwin

It is my fashion to view people’s careers in terms of their controversies and their influences outside of their own fields.

Darwin’s claim to fame in this context is that he said we are of common descent with “apes.”

Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809April 19, 1882) was an eminent English naturalist who achieved lasting fame with his 1859 book On the Origin of Species which established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature.

Influence on Naturalism

Writers who belong to the 19th century literary school of Naturalism were influenced by the evolution theory of Charles Darwin. They believed that one’s heredity and social environment decide one’s character. Naturalism attempts to determine “scientifically” the underlying forces (i.e. the environment or heredity) influencing these subjects’ actions. In fact, Zola wrote a long essay in which he mentioned Darwin in relation to contemporary literature. The essay was called The Experimental Novel and described the process of writing a novel as an experiment, in which the writer introduces “characters”, and the outcome is determined by heredity and mileu.

He wrote:

Sans me risquer à formuler des lois, j’estime que la question d’hérédité a une grande influence dans les manifestations intellectuelles et passionnelles de l’homme. Je donne aussi une importance considérable au milieu. Il faudrait sur la méthode aborder les théories de Darwin; mais ceci n’est qu’une étude générale expérimentale appliquée au roman, et je me perdrais, si je voulais entrer dans les détails.

If I remember correctly, Naturalism in literature shares its etymological roots with the Natural Sciences, of which Darwin was a practitioner.

Also, one-time-Naturalist-turned-decadent Huysmans‘s in Against the Grain has his alter ego Des Esseintes praise the “evolution of language so rightly insisted on by Darwin“. But that book appalled Zola, who felt it had dealt a “terrible blow” to Naturalism.

Influence on Bergson

Henri Bergson was highly influenced by biology, particularly Charles Darwin‘s On the Origin of Species, which was released the year of Bergson’s birth. This leads Bergson to discuss the ‘Body’ and ‘Self’ in detail, arguably prompting the fundamental ontological and epistemological questions to be raised later in the twentieth-century French philosophy.

Related subjects

To say that Darwin has been influential is an understatement. His name has been linked to other controversial issues such as degeneration, social hygiene, color terminology for race, and social Darwinism, as well as the notion of the survival of the fittest.

See  reaction to Darwin’s theory

Germaine Greer @70, Leroy Sibbles @60

My fave Greer cover:

Female Eunuch (1970) – Germaine Greer [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Female Eunuch (cover artist unknown)

A newly discovered Sibbles track:


“Express Yourself”

More at:

Germaine Greer (born January 29, 1939) is an Australian-born writer, broadcaster and retired academic, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the 20th century. Her name has become synonymous with feministbra burningactivism of the late 1960s.

Leroy Sibbles (born January 29, 1949) is a reggae musician from Jamaica. He was the lead singer for The Heptones in the 1960-70s.

In addition to his work with The Heptones, Sibbles was a session bassist and arranger at Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd‘s Jamaica Recording and Publishing Studio and associated Studio One label during the prolific late 1960s era.

Louis Braille @200

Louis Braille @200


Louis Braille* @200

Louis invented Braille age 12.

Sensory depravation (I mean sensory impairments such as blindess or deafness, remember the film Peeping Tom, where the blind mother knows all along that the male protagonist cannot be trusted because she ‘feels’ this sort of thing?) is often a nice plot device.

Braille makes a clear statement that the reading experience is not visual per se.

*Louis Braille (January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852) was the inventor of braille , a world-wide system used by blind and visually impaired people for reading and writing. Braille is read by passing the fingers over characters made up of an arrangement of one to six embossed points. It has been adapted to almost every known language.

Happy birthdays J. D. Salinger (90) and Grandmaster Flash (51)

With all this dying, one would forget about the living. Fear not! Happy birthdays J. D. Salinger and Grandmaster Flash. The first birthdays of 2009.

Jerome David Salinger (born January 1, 1919) is an American author best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature; he has not published any new work since 1965 and has not granted a formal interview since 1980.

Catcher in the Rye first edition

The Catcher in the Rye original cover

Catcher in the Rye by Signet

Signet Books “sensationalist” cover

The famous “fuck you” excerpt:

“‘That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘Fuck you‘ right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say ‘Holden Caulfield’ on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died and then right under that it’ll say ‘Fuck you.’ I’m positive, in fact.'” – Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye page 183


The Message

Joseph Saddler (born January 1, 1958 in Bridgetown, Barbados), better known as Grandmaster Flash, is a hip hop musician and DJ; one of the pioneers of hip-hop DJing, cutting, and mixing. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are best-known for their single “The Message“.

“The Message” is an old school hip hop song by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released in 1982. The song’s lyrics were some of the first in the genre of rap to talk about the struggles and the frustrations of living in the ghetto. Another fuck you, I guess.

Happy 60th birthday Glenn Branca

Lesson 1 for Electric Guitar

Lesson 1 for Electric Guitar

American musician Glenn Branca turns 60 today.

Branca is an avant-garde composer and guitarist of the New York “downtown music” and “No Wave” scene. He first came to international attention with his early work on 99 Records such as Lesson 1 for Electric Guitar, his production of Theoretical Girls and his contributions to the soundtrack of The Belly of an Architect, a 1987 British film directed by Peter Greenaway.

See Branca live[1] in 1978.

See also Music of New York City.

Service your engine if you want it to function

Fritz Kahn @120

click the images for larger versions and credits

Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace) by Marc Wathieu

Fritz Kahn was a German writer and illustrator in the 1920s who specialized in illustrating the physical processes of human bodies as though they were machine powered.

Fritz-KahnNEW by raspberryteacup

This man machine trope can also be found in Lee Perry‘s “Throw Some Water In[1] with the lines “Service your engine if you want it to function” by Lee Perry, from his album Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread .

Der mensch gesund und krank by Marc Wathieu

Additionally Horace Silver and Andy Bey recorded “I Had a Little Talk,” in which the narrator has a little talk with each of his organs:

Das Leben des Menschen... (The Life of Man). Vol. 5 by Marc Wathieu

“I had a little talk with my lungs and I’ve decided to treat them right. We made a mutual agreement and I think, at last we both see the light. ” –Bey/Silver

Man as machine by densitydesign

The Andy Bey track can be found on the Blue Note kozmigroov compilation The United States of Mind.

I almost forgot The Man-Machine, the 1978 album by Kraftwerk, perhaps the ultimate cyborg manifesto.