Saturday 16 December 2017

Recent thoughts on psychoanalysis

Personal reminders:

- I can pick and choose what resonates with me
- move beyond Freud
- feminism and psychoanalysis - read Kristeva, Irigaray
- the intellectualising of emotions, the cross between feeling and academics may assist in emotional comprehension and eventual development and change
- take an interest in oneself as an emotional case study
- explore healthy transference
- identify instances of projection
- return to one's own agency and take responsibility
- in efforts to find spirituality, return close to home. For me, this is psychoanalysis, which is something I once believed in
- start a journal
- pay attention to dreams
- find a way to bridge the personal and the academic - i.e. do not fear topics in academic work because of potential personal investment (e.g. feminism, sexuality)
- draw and write as therapy
- approach the self as always something in process/progress

Friday 3 November 2017

Quote by Sharon Hayes

"For sure, there is something to be said for a photograph that is sexy. I noticed another kind of desire when I went to the libraries of gay and lesbian centers and looked through photographic col- lections; in particular, the collections of photographers who were shooting specifically queer events from 1969–1971. There the issue of desire is completely transparent, because if you look in the files you realize one photographer is taking pictures of beefy guys he’s attracted to. Or another is fixated on collections of peo- ple who are kissing and hugging. You see the desire of the docu- menter quite plainly. So one site of a desiring encounter is between the photographer and the subject, and then there’s my desire toward that desire. Because when I look at any of those images, I’m not looking at just the body in the image; I’m looking through the desiring eye of the camera."

- Sharon Hayes

Wednesday 1 November 2017

The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James (1903)

"Yet when she finally drifted toward him, distinctly handsome, though ever so much older—older than when he had seen her before—it might have been as an effect of her guessing that he had, within the couple of hours, devoted more imagination to her than to all the others put together, and had thereby penetrated to a kind of truth that the others were too stupid for. She was there on harder terms than any one; she was there as a consequence of things suffered, one way and another, in the interval of years; and she remembered him very much as she was remembered—only a good deal better."

"To tell her what he had told her—what had it been but to ask something of her? something that she had given, in her charity, without his having, by a remembrance, by a return of the spirit, failing another encounter, so much as thanked her. What he had asked of her had been simply at first not to laugh at him. She had beautifully not done so for ten years, and she was not doing so now. So he had endless gratitude to make up."

"There was that in his situation, no doubt, that disposed him too much to see her as a mere confidant, taking all her light for him from the fact—the fact only—of her interest in his predicament; from her mercy, sympathy, seriousness, her consent not to regard him as the funniest of the funny. Aware, in fine, that her price for him was just in her giving him this constant sense of his being admirably spared, he was careful to remember that she had also a life of her own, with things that might happen to her, things that in friendship one should likewise take account of."

"If they were as unsettled as he was—he who had never been settled for an hour in his life—they would know what it meant. Yet it wasn’t, all the same, for him to make them, and he listened to them civilly enough. This was why he had such good—though possibly such rather colourless—manners; this was why, above all, he could regard himself, in a greedy world, as decently—as in fact perhaps even a little sublimely—unselfish."

"It was always open to him to accuse her of seeing him but as the most harmless of maniacs, and this, in the long run—since it covered so much ground—was his easiest description of their friendship. He had a screw loose for her but she liked him in spite of it and was practically, against the rest of the world, his kind wise keeper, unremunerated but fairly amused and, in the absence of other near ties, not disreputably occupied."

"he could only take her as she showed—as capable even yet of helping him. It was as if, at the same time, her light might at any instant go out; wherefore he must make the most of it. There passed before him with intensity the three or four things he wanted most to know; but the question that came of itself to his lips really covered the others. 'Then tell me if I shall consciously suffer'."

"The escape would have been to love her; then, then he would have lived. She had lived—who could say now with what passion?—since she had loved him for himself; whereas he had never thought of her (ah how it hugely glared at him!) but in the chill of his egotism and the light of her use."

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Sartre's preface to Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth

- “ ‘you are making us into monstrosities; your humanism claims we are at one with the rest of humanity but your racist methods set us apart’”

- “in order to fight against us the former colony must fight against itself: or, rather, the two form part of the whole”

- “you warned them that if they shed to much blood you would disown them, or say you did, in something of the same way as any state maintains abroad a mob of agitators, agents provocateurs, and spies who it disowns when caught. You, who are so liberal and so humane, who have such an exaggerated adoration of culture that it verges on affectation, you pretend to forget that you own colonies and that in them men are massacred in your name”

- “yes, terrified; at this fresh stage, colonial aggression turns inward in a current of terror among the natives. By this I do not only mean the fear that they experienced when faced with our inexhaustible means of repression but also that which their own fury produces in them. They are cornered between our guns pointed at them and those terrifying compulsions, those desires for murder which spring from the depth of their spirits and which they do not always recognize; for at first it is not their violence, it is ours, which turns back on itself and rends them; and the first action of these oppressed creatures is to bury deep down that hidden anger which their and our moralities condemn and which is however only the last refuge of their humanity”

Stuart Hall on identities

“Identities are never unified and, in late modern times, increasingly fragmented and fractured; never singular but multiply constructed across different, often intersecting and antagonistic discourses, prcatices and positions. They are subject to a radical historicization, and are constantly in the process of change and transformation”.

On Foucault and the “aesthetics of existence”: “a deliberate stylization of daily life; and its technologies are most effectively demonstrated in the practices of self-production, in specific modes of conduct, in what we have come from later work to recognize as a kind of performativity”. 

- Stuart Hall, “Who Needs Identity?”, 17, 26. 

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Richard Weller

On Monday, I attended a lecture by Richard Weller on his Landscape Works. Some key words, phrases and concepts I'd noted down include the following:

- proposals for no man's land
- framing voids
- infrastructures as sociopolitical arenas as opposed to aesthetic
- how to reconstruct communities after disasters
- resilience and sustainability
- biodiversity hotspots
- integration of industry with public transport
- urban development where city expansion is not sustainable
- new cities - how to represent the future in a way compelling but not fraudulent or alienating
- urbanism as attuned to topography
- global biodiversity and its pressures (on the planet)
- conservation communities - neocolonial?
- protected land must be representative and connected - must be applied to all 867 eco-regions of the planet
- biological hotspots
- conflict maps
- Peri-urbanism (edges of cities)
- ecological landscape restoration
- Global South and education
- global responsibility
- national ecological network
- species and linguistic complexities
- planetary garden, constant involvement

This is the link to Weller's project Atlas for the End of the World:

Weller's website:

Cities in hotspots


Tuesday 26 September 2017

A question about Moholy-Nagy's 'Lobsters' film

My query here then, with regard to Lobsters, is how this biocentrism is developed in the film, not only through an exploration into how film might affect the senses, but also on the level of subject matter and morale: what does Moholy-Nagy wish to communicate about this species, its potential capture, and the vitality of the fishermen that depend on the deliverance of lobsters as food?

Sunday 20 August 2017

Laura Kipnis 3

Summary notes on 2 podcast episodes with Laura Kipnis

Harper Academic Calling

sensitivity politics
policing sexuality
campus codes
how to define sexual assault
sexual libertine and traumatic - contradictory in their coexistence
are college students adults?
bad breakups
new vocabulary of trauma vs real life experience
to negotiate one’s own personal life and experience
sex as viewed as increasingly harmful - always the potential of hurt
different forms of power: e.g. who loves who most
victim blaming vs accountability
state of emergency - rush to war on false information
“rush to judgment in the name of security”
all women on campus should take self-defence

Public Intellectual with Jessa Crispin

fear of questioning “survivors” accounts of sexual assault
libertarian interest in free speech
leftist authoritarian tendencies and PC
how we frame female vulnerability and the predatory male (professor)
“tendency for self exoneration”
to blame others for something you participated in
online culture and being put “on trial”
what does women a disservice in the end?
Title IX tribunal as not actually making campuses more safe for women
mass alcohol consumption in order to fall back into traditional gender roles resulting in female passivity
unwatered sex - what counts as assault?
self defence and knowing how to defend yourself makes you more assertive, makes you carry yourself differently in the world
melodrama that causes harmful gender binaries

Veggies drawings

Laura Kipnis 2

I wish to bring up questions around freedom of speech and if certain efforts at sensitivity or 'keeping the peace' by way of censorship is a violation of such freedom. Questions that I have that arise from this discussion include: to what extent is hate speech a hate crime? Words hurt - so how should we address them? These thoughts come out particularly in light of recent events in Charlottesville and a growing movement of white supremacy in the United States.

Moreover, what is the role of humanities research such as art history in the maintaining of a democracy and in the fostering of an intellectual community that extends beyond the academic world? How are disciplines such as art history implicitly political and how to they encourage free speech in perhaps the most generative way? Does art history and other liberal arts disciplines fight against real racism, sexism and other forms of exclusion? 

Below are quotes extracted from her essay, 'My Title IX Inquisition', in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 May 2015.

“Much of this remains puzzling to me, including how someone can bring charges in someone else’s name, who is allowing intellectual disagreement to be redefined as retaliation, and why a professor can’t write about a legal case that’s been nationally reported, precisely because she’s employed by the university where the events took place. Wouldn’t this mean that academic freedom doesn’t extend to academics discussing matters involving their own workplaces?”

“I learned that professors around the country now routinely avoid discussing subjects in classes that might raise hackles”

“A well- known sociologist wrote that he no longer lectures on abortion. Someone who’d written a book about incest in her own family described being confronted in class by a student furious with her for discussing the book”

“what’s being lost, along with job security, is the liberty to publish ideas that might go against the grain”

“Ambivalent sex becomes coerced sex, with charges brought months or even years after the events in question. Title IX officers now adjudicate an increasing range of murky situations involving mutual drunkenness, conflicting stories, and relationships gone wrong. They pronounce on the thorniest of philosophical and psychological issues: What is consent? What is power?”

“With students increasingly regarded as customers and consumer satisfaction paramount, it’s imperative to avoid creating potential classroom friction with unpopular ideas if you’re on a renewable contract and wish to stay employed. Self- censorship naturally prevails”

Laura Kipnis

I have recently become intrigued about Laura Kipnis's views on feminism. This new interest is in conjunction with some other issues I have been thinking about regarding PC, trigger warnings, victimisation as well as certain fears reserved for women.

My view on trigger warnings so far has been the following: if it doesn't hurt anyone to do them, why not provide them? After a discussion with a friend, she suggested that no one has had a problem with the messages that prelude films, indicating any sexual scenes or aggressive language etc. This seemed compelling and viable and made me wonder why all of a sudden warnings akin to these should be considered controversial. I felt that so long as no one is excused from course material in a university class, a trigger warning may be helpful. Moreover, who am I to judge what someone else may find harmful, offensive or traumatic, as this of course differs depending not only on identity politics, but also on personal experience?

Identifying as a feminist through and through, I was interested to hear more about Kipnis's views on victimisation and female agency.

I suspect this is the first of many blog posts on these issues.

Below include some quotes from Kipnis's essay 'Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe' published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 2015.

The link to the article:

“somehow power seemed a lot less powerful back then”

“It’s the fiction of the all-powerful professor embedded in the new campus codes that appalls me”

“I’d always thought inappropriateness was pretty much the definition of humor—I believe Freud would agree. Why all this delicacy? Students were being encouraged to regard themselves as such exquisitely sensitive creatures that an errant classroom remark could impede their education, as such hothouse flowers that an unfunny joke was likely to create lasting trauma”

“Let’s face it: Other people’s sexuality is often just weird and creepy. Sex is leaky and anxiety-ridden; intelligent people can be oblivious about it. Of course the gulf between desire and knowledge has long been a tragicomic staple”

“but what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life?”

“What struck me most, hearing the story, was how incapacitated this woman had felt, despite her advanced degree and accomplishments”

“Get real: What’s more powerful—a professor who crosses the line, or the shaming capabilities of social media?”

“These days the desire persists, but what’s shifted is the direction of the arrows. Now it’s parents—or their surrogates, teachers—who do all the desiring; children are conveniently returned to innocence. So long to childhood sexuality, the most irksome part of the Freudian story”

“The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist”

“Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims”

Saturday 19 August 2017

Wallace Shawn podcast - Trump is the Boot Man

Summary notes after listening to Wallace Shawn in conversation with Adam Shatz (London Review of Books)

Trump is the Boot Man

- entertainment and violence/sadism/cruelty/darkness
- privilege
- war
unconscious and writing
- when one's writing is smarter than its author
- between dream and waking states
- political awakenings and crises
- activism, observation, participation
- rationalisations to justify ways of life and privilege
- Trump
- the human species as climactic (the best) or the worst

Tuesday 15 August 2017

The Pineal Eye

“The pineal eye, detaching itself from the horizontal system of normal ocular vision, appears in a kind of nimbus of tears, like the eye of a tree or, perhaps, like a human tree. At the same time this ocular tree is only a giant (ignoble) pink penis, drunk with the sun and suggesting or soliciting a nauseous malaise, the sickening despair of vertigo. In this transfiguration of nature, during which vision itself, attracted by nausea, is torn out and torn apart by the sunbursts into which it stares, the erection ceases to be a painful upheaval on the surface of the earth, and in a vomiting of flavorless blood, it transforms itself into a vertiginous fall in celestial space, accompanied by a horrible cry”.

Georges Bataille, “The Pineal Eye”, 84.

Sunday 13 August 2017

Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"And now, like a watchman in the depths of night, he discovered that night reveals the nature of man: those cries for attention, those lights, that anxiety. That simple star there in the darkness indicates how isolated that house is. And in another it goes out: it is a house concealing the love within it".

"At the hotel he had unpacked his case and revealed those small objects with which inspectors try to show that they can relate to the common man: a few tasteless shirts, a toiletries kit and a photograph of a skinny woman, which the inspector pinned to the wall. In this way he made a humble confession to Pellerin of his needs, his affections and his regrets. By laying out his treasures in this pathetic way he was displaying his misery to the pilot. It was a moral eczema. He was showing him his prison".

[Italics by me.]... a moral eczema...

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Night Flight (1931)

Thursday 10 August 2017

University of Rochester

Good news! I have been awarded the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) scholarship to study for 6 weeks at the University of Rochester, NY, under the supervision of Rachel Haidu. Of course, I am thrilled.

Sunday 6 August 2017

Baudrillard on atmosphere

This quote reminds me of Bill Brown's 'Thing Theory', a paper which I have come to love since my undergraduate studies.

“Objects are more and more highly differentiated – our gestures less and less so. To put it another way: objects are no longer surrounded by the theatre of gesture in which they used to be simply the various roles; instead, their emphatic goal-directedness has very nearly turned them into the actors in a global process in which man is merely the role, or the spectator”.

Jean Baudrillard, “Structures of Atmosphere”, 59.

Taiwan Season: Ever Never

Today, at the Edinburgh Fringe, I went to see the play 'Ever Never', which I thought was a fantastically creative performance not only in terms of acting, but also in its direction and choreography. Each scene flowed into the next with the utmost subtlety. The characters changed roles constantly, reflecting most strikingly family relationships and eliciting those moments where stories and/or memories are created in an effort to imagine the lives, actions, and thoughts of others.

The description of the play is as follows:

"Deeply affected by her father’s death, on her travels she found the aircraft cabin a mysterious space where the past could be intercepted and where fragments of forgotten memories were rekindled and brought to life. Following Co-coism’s guiding principle of cooperatively-devised theatre, Ever Never draws on the experiences of playwright Feng Chi-Chun and the rest of the creative team. An airport and airplane become vehicles where past and present collide; places of real and remembered, love and regrets, happiness and sadness, and loved ones and themselves."


Framing Space through Architecture and Film


5–7 APRIL 2018
Courtauld Institute of Art 

King’s College London

Framing Space through Architecture and Film

Jessica Schouela, University of York,
Hannah Paveck, King’s College London,

We experience architecture and film as media of duration that unfold in time. The encounter of an embodied spectator or inhabitant with a film or a dwelling is informed principally by motion and the succession of one frame or screen (architectonic and cinematic) to the next. These two modes of construction investigate into the three dimensional occupancy and representation of space as it relates to both bodies and objects, framed within curated and mediated spaces. Instantiating an experience of space that is far more than visual, architecture and film activate both sound and touch, the latter being a mutual and relational ‘commitment’ of the body and the world (Jennifer Barker).

Adolf Loos famously writes: “it is my greatest pride that the interiors I have created are completely lacking in effect when photographed”. Does film function differently? How have architecture and film represented each other and in which ways do they, either similarly or distinctly, frame or design space? What happens to architecture when it is filmed and how might a building be described in terms of its cinematic qualities (Beatriz Colomina)?

Moreover, how can film and architecture challenge our perceptual habits? Can film convey atmosphere of space and the built environment (Gernot Böhme)? How might the representation of urban versus domestic narratives (i.e. exterior and interior space) through film result in distinct viewing experiences?

This panel explores the mutually informing link between architecture and film in an effort to not only open up the limits of these methods of representation but also to look beyond what typically gets included within the history of art. Proposals may address the relationship between architecture and film through ontological comparisons, the framing and representation of space, and/or the phenomenological experience of mediated spaces.

Friday 28 July 2017

On what we call natural landscape:

“It is the product of human design and human labour, and in admiring it as natural it matters very much whether we suppress that fact of labour or acknowledge it. Some forms of this popular modern idea of nature seem to me to depend on a suppression of the history of human labour, and the fact that they are often in conflict with what is seen as the exploitation or destruction of nature may in the end be less important than the no less certain fact that they often confuse us about what nature and the natural are and might be”.

Raymond Williams, Problems in Materialism and Culture, 78.

Sunday 16 July 2017

Photography and abstraction

“Since they lack three-dimensionality, color and motion, black and white photographs can never be truly realistic; hence to strive for superficial realism is a waste of time. In photographs, reality is expressed through symbols: projection stands for space, gray shades represent colors, blur signifies movement, halation expresses the radiation of direct light. They are abstractions in the same sense that speech and writing are, in which specific sounds, letters, and words symbolize specific concepts”.

Jussim and Lindquist-Cock, Landscape as Photograph, 40–41.

Friday 14 July 2017


Invisible Women at Whitespace, Edinburgh

Yesterday evening, I attended a fantastic event entitled 'Invisible Women' at Whitespace in Edinburgh, which consisted of seven screenings by pioneering women filmmakers. Many films were dated from the 1930s and 40s and had ties to both the UK and Canada. The filmmakers presented included: Ruby Grierson, Marion Grierson, Mary Field, Evelyn Spice Cherry, Kay Mander, Evelyn Lambart, and Jenny Gilbertson. Each screening was truly fascinating and led me to consider the following notes:

- voice over narration is often by men (authoritative male voice?)
- docudrama as pedagogical film
- labour/leisure
- city life/rural or pastoral
- machines and industrialisation 
- the woman in the home and outside
- moral storytelling
- historical storytelling (through narratives within the larger narrative)
- natural observation (science)
- family
- women and illness
- mobility/immobility 
- media and methods for transportation / access to rural places (e.g. Highlands and Islands, Arctic Canada)
- collaboration between UK (or Scotland) and Canada
- Grierson's position with regard to his sister's filmmaking careers and women more generally 
- humour and politics
- humour and information 
- seaside / inland 
- autobiographical documentary
- journeys 
- histories of 'forgotten' filmmakers (often women) and how to recount these histories and explain for their absence in film studies/history 
- how to address the overlook of women filmmakers/artists

I hope for more events like this one!

Tuesday 11 July 2017

Mary Jacobus on Clouds

clouds draw the eye upward: to movement, distance, and height, to the dynamics of space and the overarching sky. For most of us, they provoke ideas about both transcendence and inwardness. When we look up, we lose ourselves

clouds, I want to argue, make us think not only about form and vacancy, mobility and change, but also about the peculiar realm of affectivity that we call ‘mood’… mood is like the weather, changing and unformed, yet always with us. In classical landscape painting, weather and mood tend to converge on the drama of the sky

they evoke fleeting states of mind, feeling, and atmosphere. As they mount or move across the sky, they become a language for inner activity: darkening here, lightening there, here an ascent, there a draying or an accumulation of intensity; a passage of calm before a storm or a glimpse of cerulean sky

Mary Jacobus, "Cloud Studies"

Alfred Stieglitz, Equivalents 

Monday 10 July 2017

Donna Haraway quote

no species, not even our own arrogant one pretending to be good individuals in so-called modern Western scripts, acts alone; assemblages of organic species and of abiotic actors make history, the evolutionary kind and the other kinds too”. 

- Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin”, Environmental Humanities, Vol. 6, 2015.