“One finds again and again the presence of another world, like a solid ocean bottom from which the restless waves of the ordinary world have drawn back; and in the image of this world there is neither measure nor precision, neither purpose nor cause: good and evil simply fall away, without any pretense of superiority, and in place of all these relations enters a secret rising and ebbing of our being with that of things and other people.”
Robert Musil, Toward A New Aesthetic, 1925
“This is the territory of the writer, the realm in which his reason reigns. While his counterpart seeks the solid and fixed, and is content when he can establish for his computations as many equations as he finds unknown, there is in the writer’s territory, from the start, no end of unknowns, of equations and of possible solutions. The task is to discover ever new solutions, connections, constellations, variables, to set up prototypes of an order of events, appealing models of how one can be human, to invent the inner person.”
Robert Musil, Sketch of What The Writer Knows, 1918
It’s another monochrome day in the Hague.
The white lilies near my window have yet to decide if to blossom or to wither.
The glass table I’m writing on is peacefully chaotic and cold.
The French radio is playing some songs in Portugese.
This is planned to be my last diary entry/post as part of what turned out to be a half year residency at Very Small Kitchen.
What have I done? What have I written about? Where was I all this time?
I’m assuming it had to do something with writing and something with art.
But what is this something? This I do not have an answer for.
What do I know now that I didn’t know before?
Well, I have a better sense of the power of the word, the desire that writing fuels upon, its singular force, its passion and its limitations.
But one should not turn to nostalgia when one concludes. The dictionary definition of conclusion states that a conclusion is when a statement or question comes to an answer or when an idea or thought is settled. The etymological origin is taken from the latin conclusio which also means blokade and/or siege. Siege also means a seat: The place where one has his seat; a home, residence, domain, empire.
So con-clusion might also be thought of as a space where one has a seat – a chair.
I am sitting on a chair now. I always sit on a chair when I write. I almost never tried writing while standing up or running. It might be a nice exercise but something tells me that the chair has served me as an appropriate vehicle to transport without actually moving anywhere.
Something in putting your ass on a flat surface gives rise to focus and concentration. Waking up, brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, sitting down, etc. It belongs to the world of order. And it is no coincidence that siege also refers to the anus or rectum. Order. Domination. Control.
So to conclude this residency I would like to take the opportunity to thank my chair, that has served me throughout the last half year. It can now serve as both the tool (object) and the subject of this last post – the conclusion – the seat – the chair, and by both being the subject and object of this post emancipate me and lift the dualistic burden or blockade off my shoulders or ass and let me do whatever I feel like doing at this moment which is to shake that ass.
of the burden-
Allen Ginsberg, Written in My Dream by W.C Williams, 1984
The following is edited from emails between Ohad Ben Shimon and VerySmallKitchen 24-27th April 2012.
OHAD: I’m thinking we should omit the first quote, what do you say? It’s quite essential to Musil’s thinking but I’m not sure it works good with the general flow. I thought it might be nice to post it with a link which is a video work of mine from 2009. Not sure yet I want to use it. Let me know what you think. I also like the idea of a video link of Beyonce and 50 Cent doing shake that ass/naughty girl. Not sure about that.
VERYSMALLKITCHEN: There’s something good about the Musil pair – how it emphasizes that returning to, repeating, in new arrangements/ formations of words, the attempt to define the “another world” and/or the “territory of the writer.”
Reading your text I’m thinking about what Blanchot says about the writer as the figure removed from the world of action into the world of literature which then, at the works completion, excludes the writer who ends up in “essential solitude.” About this, too, from the new The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard:
You know, it’s really funny this kind of writing. This “trying to be honest” kind of writing. For several years now I’ve been doing it, and getting better and better at it. Getting closer and closer to a point (a place) in my head I call the truth.
But now I’m beginning to doubt that very point (That very place).
I mean, what I’ve been working towards just isn’t there anymore (Zap.)
Do you know what I mean?
I mean, the closer I get to the truth the less I know what the truth is.
Wish I could make myself more clear but ——– right now I can’t.” (313)
Perhaps your video dramatises what Brainard asks: as a work and a practice as a whole unfolds: what do you get closer to? And what are you thinking about the Beyonce and 50 Cent? I like its provocation, erupting into this select gathering of Musil, Ginsberg and Williams but-
OHAD: Lets skip Beyonce. It was just a dancing feeling I was in at that time. Maybe you get closer to an image. an image of your self but also an image as such.
a clear image. a crystallization of a sort. see through the clouds, the hard times, the chaos, the struggle, the life of an artist. you find out that it’s a lot about a certain image of an artist but beyond or underlining this image or myth of the artist there is something pure, something child-like something magnificent that should be cherished and I don’t care anymore about what the fuck society or my parents or whoever else thinks an artist is. an artist, and art is the essence of life. anybody can tell me differently but fuck that.
there is always this self doubt… especially in jewish traditions…do not make a sculpture..do not make an image, etc. the 10 commandments. fuck that.
you command yourself daily to sit at that fucking chair and do the job. i do not know many people who do that with such belief besides the pope and that is where art meets religion. but it just meets. it goes on to a new and yet unknown territories. and this is the quest. this is the journey. if you are a writer or painter or sculpture or whatever this is your quest. going there. to that place. figuring out. finding out what its about. focus is essential. and in a way solitude might be a consequence but you don’t choose for solitude. you chose for something bigger than yourself. you chose for life. and for the good in life.
i see the points alongside this quest in mathematical terms as i explained in my previous exhibition at 1646 in the hague. they are derivatives. you derive certain things along this time line that is called life or the process of art you are busy with and those derivatives are meaningful. somehow its like you are packing your bag along your quest and not from the get go. and these derivatives can and will serve you and others along the way.
the way is forward. art is essential and people are good and bad and both. so as i said just shake that ass.
More about Ohad’s work is here.