Rain, or sun
watermelon sellers no longer work nights
they drink green wine
from roses — three meters high,
to accommodate the ceilings
everything’s closed except for the cats.
ZIL House of Culture
“The sheriff can’t be fucked by the problems of Negroes”
Uzbek refugees, Andijan, June 2010.
A human chain 100 people long intoning an old Soviet favorite snaked its way through the water and onto the beach. It stopped to meet me. “Boris Yevgenyevich.”
“I’m just going to dry off and we’ll talk in a few minutes.”
He shook my hand and walked on. Being the leader the rest of the chain followed suit, greeted me and went to get dressed. For most of them that meant from scratch, not changing out of a wet suit. They were lined up boy-girl-boy-girl, a mix of ages 30 to 70, with all appendages fully extended, reaching out to the person ahead in line. And that’s how they marched on, removing a hand from somewhere to shake mine and moving along. Soon it would begin to be truly strange.
A triptych of scenes from one the Soviet Union’s most popular films of all time Circus, in Russian Tsirk, the story of a female American Circus performer, shamed in the US by her illegitimate black child. She flees to Moscow and after a few ups and downs finds love and racial harmony in the Utopian state.
One of the scars left from a racist knife attack that left the liver punctured. The psychological scars are not so easily photographed.
While organized, toilet gangs have a unique structure that differs from traditional organized crime such as biker gangs and drug cartels. Toilet gangs often represent some of the most significant and dangerous problems in our society and are involved in a variety of criminal activities including drug trafficking, fraud, assaultive behavior, and weapons.
Toilet gang violence is a problem in every corner of Moscow and membership is on the rise. According to the Department of Health and Social Development’s latest Toilet Gang Threat Assessment, there are at least 2150 gangs and more than 73,100 active gang members. While gangs are less prevalent outside the MKAD, in the center, toilet violence is responsible for roughly half of all homicides. Toilets gangs are also becoming more savvy, using computers and other technology to commit more sophisticated and better-planned crimes.
Time moves so slowly
since it’s become a man.
Locks knocked from behind its ears
buoy to stillness.
Moths too small for its swat
course toward zero.
Beyond the second next step
even slower still
a gesture should be sufficient.
But the Titan concedes
to an unsatisfiable public.
You’re so far away
an entire pillow.
from under the rug
wants to know
about the color of the wallpaper.
Vera and Sergei are greeted by African students at the dormitory. As mentioned in the previous post about the film.
Toiletia can be broadly distinguished into two major groups the nonchordates, or invertebrates, and the chordates. Invertebrates account for more than 95% of the animal’s sub-species that have been identified. These creatures which do not have a back bone are, however, significantly inferior in size making them much less prominent despite their greater number.
Here are some pics from the recent Made In Russia Battle 2009 hip-hop b-boy dance contest. Hip-hop with its roots in the 70’s black culture of New York City seemed a plausible draw for some of Moscow’s Africans. What I found among the Russians were two guys from France, two Brazilians, and a British DJ. It was an inclusive-style event with the master of ceremony making frequent shout-outs to the hip-hop universe, one world, one nation of all colors etc. Only once the Frenchmen heard chants of RO-SSI-YA RO-SSI-YA when things moved toward the final. In the us versus them dichotomy that gurgled up, they were the outsiders, the same Negroes as any Lumumba student.
Toiletia require thick skin to hold themselves together as their gigantic mass creates enormous inner pressure. But despite its thickness, the skin is a very sensititve system and has a rich battery of sensory receptors. A toilet notices even the smallest insect setting down on him. But skin is not thick throughout. In vulnerable spots like the doorway embouchure, legs and back, the skin can be 2.5 to 3 cms thick while behind the ears, by the eye, on the abdomen, chest and shoulders it is thin as paper.
Of the many difference found between toiletia Moscovia and Podmoscovia, skin structure also sets them apart. Moscovia generally have finer skin than their Podmoscovia relatives. Moscovia typically have colour on their skin, most conspiciously on their ears and forehead. These “white” spots are the contrary of our freckles. In most cases, this depigmentation has a genetic cause. Young toiletia mostly are wholly grey. The first white spots come with age. Completely white toiletia, albinos, are thought to exist but remain undocumented outside of legends and folktales which consider them holy.
Malenkya Vera, Little Vera, or Little Hope is the story of run-of-the-mill teen angst taking vengeance upon the family unit. We are shown the destructiveness of not listening to one’s elders. Rambunctious Vera with her garbled red-herring fancies ruins the lives of her mother, father, brother, and lover husband. She is left with nothing but stark failure and despair as the curtain drops. She has ruined her life as well.
With the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, one cannot help but recognize the ulcerous nature of this film. These and other “chernukha”, blackness, films of the era are dots from gastric juices, liver spots, symptomatic of the crumbling superpower. A failure of groupthink on the part of the censors. Or an ocean floor hotspot of Bakhtinian carnivalesque magma.
From this, it follows that Africans in the dormitory, and the small boy seemingly out of nowhere represent simultaneously both the liberation of Soviet society and its upheaval. But how is any of this evidence one way or the other of African identity under colonization in Russia?
First, the dormitory scene. Vera and her new husband Sergei are met with a surprise celebration in the dormitory. While Vera is charmed, Sergei is mortified. Here we must tip our hats to the censors who did not delete the scene, or perhaps even put it in. Remember, the Soviet film industry never ceases to be a machine of propaganda. The reaction of Vera and Sergei is not an artistic statement but a mandate to follow. The audience is being shown the proper way to understand Africans. Like Vera it is acceptable to be amused by their exotic nature. But be skeptical and wary of them like Sergei, they are different, and could be dangerous, keep them at a distance.
The origin of the little black boy, Chistyakova’s brother, goes unexplained in the film. It is never explicitly stated if he is the child of a Russian-African encounter, Africans, or just the Soviet Union. He seems “Russian” enough and liked, or at least accepted by Vera whom he refers to affectionately as auntie, but the main scene when he sits and watches the Dr. Aibolit cartoon, a sing-song warning children against Africa for fear of crocodiles and gorillas, is a curiosity. More accurately, a half-baked idea designed to draw attention to itself.
The boy is shown in close-up with food on his face. Is this supposed to show his inferiority, his slovenliness. He is not clean like a pure Russian child? Or do we think of him as just another kid and act on maternal compulsion to wipe off his face. It would be fair to side with the second assertion were he not watching this specific cartoon. He could be watching any number of others but he is not. An African boy is watching a cartoon warning kids not to go to Africa. It’s senseless and mildly absurd. There is no deeper meaning, it’s simply an advertising gimmick. Like minutes earlier when Vera bears her breasts, it is sensational with no intrinsic or artistic value in its own right. The film would not alter in the slightest without this scene.
Africans in Malenkaya Vera are members of an exotic other-world, foreign and alien, “them” not “us”, peculiar beings from outside reality as it is prescribed to be. By promoting their stranger status we are given tacit permission to behave toward them with alternative conventions.
Just like people, toilets come with different temperaments and personalities. Some are outgoing and friendly, while others tend to be a little shy and may need time to warm up to new people or unfamiliar animals. It can become concerning when a toilet is overly shy. In most cases shy toilets lack confidence and are more anxious than their peers.
Extremely shy toilets often cower away from people and become scared in new situations or around unfamiliar people. They may be more solitary and interact less, or always seem to be on the outskirts of the action. Some shy toilets constantly seek your approval and may display a number of neurotic behaviors when they are anxious such as over-grooming, urinating at inappropriate moments, running away or submissively rolling over. Keep in mind that when some animals become very frightened, they can become aggressive. A shy toilet may end up biting a stranger if it feels cornered.
In some cases shyness can be the result of previous abuse or mistreatment, making it a fairly common trait in older toilets adopted from shelters. Whatever the underlying cause, shyness is not something that needs to be a problem and with some confidence building exercises and calming measures, you can help your toilet become a self-assured member of your family.
If I may, I’d like to flesh out the idea of two posts ago. In re-reading I’m not sure it expresses fully the notion I attempted to convey. Hopefully I can contain it here without needing daily updates on one single thought. I’ll begin by recalling my prompt to this conclusion, or if you prefer, presupposition. CNN — it was during the weather segment when all at once everything appeared extraordinarily American in style and format.
As the programming moved through various segments and special reports. The content remained veiled behind layers of a rhetoric of personal information. The “I”s and “me”s of the what I now want to call the news cast, not the news team, but the news cast in the sense of a crew of television series characters, gently ate away ate the importance of the content with their assuring nature that we are all unique in our opinions. The content became irrelevant. What was important was the sense of belonging and unity conveyed created between the TV presenters and extended on invitation to me. “Come along,” they hinted and winked, “share your thoughts. They are just as informed and authoritative as ours.”
So why am I considering this crtically? What’s wrong with being to made to feel part of the group? This is after all the evolving era of particpatory journalism as said int my first post on the topic is it not? The problem as I see it, a phrase I use ironically, for surely as I’m saying it, it’s my opinion. What need is there to clarify. None at all, like there is no need for the news cast to engage in such behaviour. But they can’t help it, whereas I am attempting to point out that this is the problem as I see it.
CNN cannot wrench itself free of presenting objective information couched in a culturally oriented form of transmission no more than Al-jazeera or the BBC. In mass media, the dissassembly of culture from information is likely impossible. Furthermore information in its own right is culture — this being the territory of memes.
Objective news in its ultimate form is digital, pure acultural information manipulted by acultural operators. But could anyone understand that?
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Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”
Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Is a bum just a bum, regardless of skin color? In Russia no. Homeless blacks are few and far between with problems unique to their group. Getting to the bottom how and why they came to live on the street requires a special dictionary of tact translating fractured mixed-language euphemisms, delicate dreams and confused emotions into an honest account. Keywords repeat with sign and signifier occasionally outwitting each other. Refugee, bureaucracy, documents, escape, freedom, rights, negro, black, war, UN, slave, job, passport, racism, registration, vodka, rent, bathe, human ………..
It is a common misconception that toiletia moscovius mate solely for reproductive purposes. Beginning with observations from European zoos in the late 1960’s toiletia were noticed to engage in sex for pleasure and a number of other reasons. Sex, it turned out, is key to their social life. Further study both in captivity and in the wild has revealed many interesting facts. When communities of toiletia from different areas of the city meet, the females of each tribe initiate sex with males from the other thus avoiding territorial violence and agression common to similar species. Also in regards to territory and possession, if two toiletia approach a cardboard box thrown into their enclosure, they will briefly mount each other before playing with the box. Such situations lead to squabbles in most other species. But toiletia moscovius are quite tolerant, perhaps because they use sex to divert attention and to diffuse tension. The most curious find is perhaps moscovius’ most typical sexual pattern, undocumented in any other toiletia — genito-genital rubbing, or GG rubbing, between adult females. Males too may engage in pseudocopulation unique to the species but generally perform a variation. Standing back to back, one male briefly rubs his scrotum against the buttocks of another. Or quite commonly the activity in which two males hang face to face while rubbing their erections together, the practice of so-called penis-fencing.
This image, that I like for Genna’s profile, comes from the scene where Genna first meets Tolya. Here the fighters feel each other out in the first round of their bout. As Tolya is significantly older we have a battle of young vs old, or experience vs naivety as well as black vs white, or us vs them. That a child is used as the point of entry into the discussion on racism should not be overlooked. Cuteness is an easy tool for generating sympathy. Like the Russian girls in the film who find Genna adorable, the viewer is encouraged to feel the same. Does it work?
Taking at face value that the film aims to raise awareness of racism in contemporary Russia. A contradiction arises in that Genna’s cuteness precludes him from being a serious subject. While the subject is not trivial, the main character is, and there is less of a compulsion to take racism seriously.
What can I say, the choice of placing Genna with an artist as adopted parent immediately condemned my appreciation of the film as cliche. Why does Fedya have to be an artist? He could be anything, truck driver, banker, anyone. By the law of averages he should be some type of engineer, but no. He is a spiritual adviser, a missionary whose artistic calling is meant to uplift Genna by teaching him to cherish the sublime.
In today’s Russia only an artist with creative personality, on the fringe of the mainstream with an outsider’s outlook on life is capable of proper interaction with a black kid. After all suffering is the way to achievement in art. Increasing the the artist’s burden is an even more surefire way to salvation. Is that what we are meant to understand?
Van Gogh who lopped off his ear to a higher cause is an obvious choice for turning Genna the ignorant miscreant into Genna the enlightened. The complex mysterious personality, the suffering, these are things Genna can relate to as an outcast. Genna is not shown a diamond encrusted skull of Damien Hirst, nor a monograph of Turner Prize winners. A false syllogism is being propagated, you who suffer Genna, are an artist such as he, you just haven’t quite understood it until now.
I am going to begin looking at popular perceptions and ideas about Africa contained in Soviet-era and modern Russian films. I will post TV screen photographs and my commentary on what I find important, or what it seems the filmmaker thought was important.
This is image is from Gagarin’s Grandson. In addition I plan post images and analysis from Maximka, Circus, Little Vera, Fifteen-Year-Old Captain, Little Red Devils if I can find a copy, and anything else that gets uncovered in the process.
The City Wildlife Conservation Commission’s web site notes that only six of Moscow’s 44 toiletia species are venomous. Most toiletia are harmless, beneficial and remove extra rodent populations. Even the venomous species are not particularly dangerous, unless stepped on or otherwise provoked. The commission warns residents to pay special attention during sprintime when toiletia are apt to crawl out from under bushes to sun themselves after the long winter.
News is culture. It seems so obvious. Has it been stated like that before? News is a cultural phenomenon. So is media. News media is culture. This is what the rise in participatory journalism is teaching us. A nation’s news is like its cuisine or literature. People are raised with sets of beliefs about their homeland, a “Small but Mighty Nation”, or the “Land of Kings”, or the “Greatest Country in the World”.
A nation has a mandate, a character, a set of goals, a place in the world, a dream, an idea, a conception of self, an identity. News media utilizes national character to structure its communication. Information must be conveyed in the terms and methods the audience understands.
This underlies the basic problem surrounding debates over its objectivity. It is not the case that news reporting cannot be objective because every individual has a personality with opinions that get in the way. But because news is inherently framed within cultural contexts and modes of representation. The individual is not the problem. That’s the wrong debate. News is simply culture. And journalism is culture too.
A Russian Topol-M ICBM drives down Moscow’s central avenue Ulitsa Tverskaya in preparation for the May 9 Victory Day parade celebrating the end of WII. This picture is really about three guys enjoying looking at an awesome piece of military hardware. I’m hard pressed to find the Africans in Russia angle beyond the actual fact.
These hand crafted doll sculptures by Inga Butina (site seems to be inoperative) were recently for sale as objects of art at the Moscow Fine Art Fair in the Central House of Artists. From the artist’s statement:
“Hard times penetrate the soul with the sounds of African ethnicity. Truth stiflingly weeps tears of timelessness, covered by the slime of a city indifferent to life, drowned in lamp-light and the wild dancing of black and white thoughts on vitality. And in the mixed song, the sky sings of childhood and the sensitivity hidden in the utmost feminine origins of boys’ creations in your name and image, that look upon the creations of the world.”
The Roman Empire lasted two thousand years expanding like the blob, absorbing everything it met along its path and covering a vast expanse of the world but today no one speaks Latin. Is this to be the fate of English as well, as America continues its charitable tradition of international freedom giving?
The parallels between Rome and America are numerous. Romans took much from the Greeks and made it their own. America has borrowed much from the British. Rome under Julius Caesar slashed through the clans and tribes of Europe while in America, settlers, pioneers and gold-rushers trampling to its west coast showed no restraint in rubbing out a few pesky Native-Americans.
The might of the most advanced military technology of the day, cultural ubiquity and rule through proxy states are all corresponding points. And while the government of The United States of America hasn’t yet signed the “Former President Deification Act” into law, the idea exists all the same.
Language spread was another facet of the classical hegemony, as it is of today’s. The Roman Empire eventually collapsed, and following the death of the last native Latin speaker, the language died. But it left behind a large stock of written material, poetry, philosophy, law et al. Latin continues to flourish in the Roman Catholic Church, it is broadcast over the airwaves in Finland. It is the language for mottos of institutions of all types and is actively used in various applications such as law, medicine, mathematics and the sciences, most obviously in classification.
In some time, the fall of the American empire will remove the necessity to retain English as a lingua franca. What will happen then? It could evolve into independent variations of its current state with Australian, Canadian, American, South African, English, Indian, Singaporean, Ghanaian and Caribbean all becoming mutually unintelligible “Englishes” and likewise just as distinct from the English of today, what perhaps will be called “Twenty-first Century English” — bearing in mind this is just one of the numerous possible fates of English. Evolution would include syntactical morphological, semantic, phonetic and lexical change. The degree and direction of change in each of these aspects varying between the Englishes and will determine their color and character.
Twenty-first Century English will leave behind a legacy of books, films and other materials much greater and more complex than Latin, as well as a fantastic set of in-depth linguistic analyses of itself.
Twenty-first Century English probably will not replace Latin in its current modes of usage. But rather, like Latin, it will be part of the linguistic fabric of the future holding up in various niches resistant to all socio-cultural-linguistic cleaning agents and posses that may inquire about its whereabouts.
One can postulate, like the Vatican, an independent, or annexed under special status, republic of Texas where Twenty-first Century English is still spoken. A new pontificate with headgear no less unusual spreads his message to the faithful.
However, it seems fair to expect English to linger in the places where it is most prominent: business, advertising, public relations, strategic communications and information communication technology for example. That is, the spheres of activity that have developed in this language and are the particular property of Twenty-first Century English will retain certain terminology regardless of what course the language takes. Specialized terms like: venture funds, EBITDA, CAGR, pink sheets and Bermuda swaption will remain in place, as will: email, upgrade, and download. Words like these will not follow the general drift of the language.
And what about the “classicization” of Latin? It is widely considered to be a fundamental necessity for a proper Western mind. Certainly Twenty-first Century English will be regarded with a historical respect for antiquity. There will be a standard distribution of opinions but in general the attitude towards it will be based upon the general attitude toward the areas in which it is retained, that is if advertising, information communication technology and these areas are regarded with respect, then Twenty-first Century English will be respected as well. If these areas are disdained as attributes of a fractured society, then English will be regarded likewise. Much will depend on the values of the day.
English today is truly a global language and its growth shows no sign of slowing as U.S. territorial expansion continues. While its death may seem less probable than winning the lottery while being struck by lightning, unquestionably, it will transform and in two thousand years will not be the language it is today. Come what may, we can rest assured that the next Cogito Ergo Sum will sound quite different.
Hello world! Welcome to the first ever post on the Asylum in Bardak blog. Check here for photo and story updates from an ongoing documentary project about the lives of Africans in Russia.
Many species, including ploshchad toilets, feed during both day and night, yet little is known about how this affects behavior and habitat preferences. Okhotny-Ryad Goldens and Revolutsia Lapdoors feeding on arable land were more widely dispersed at night: nocturnal flocks were smaller, typically monospecific, and occurred in many more locations than diurnal mixed-species flocks.
“See every photographic subject moves,” Roswell explained, “even if it’s standing still. It breathes, light bounces off, something. Snapping a photograph is like what the math professors call ‘differentiating’ an equation of motion—freezing that moment into the very small piece of time it takes the shutter to open and close. So we figured—if shooting a photo is like taking a first derivative, then maybe we could find some way to to do the reverse of that, start with the still photo and integrate it, recover its complete primative and release it back into action… even back into life…”
Toiletia, like most creatures, are not immune from unwanted invaders. The principal parasite of toiletia moscovius is pianazhopus, a pale sometimes green four-limbed chigger which enters the animal through an available orifice and comes to reside in the lining and gastric glands of the abomasum (the true stomach).
Pianazhopus pollute the lining or mucosa, cause irritation and interfere with the digestive function of the stomach causing it to swell excessively with sediment buildup. Symptoms included unnatural rapid weight gain, damaged hide, malodorousness, poor appetite, and sluggish behavior.
Since parasites are found in almost all forage situations, toiletia are likely ingesting pianazhopus at any common grazing or nesting location. A strategic prophylactic regiment is recommended every spring when pianazhopus numbers increase after a winter of dormancy.
The long shutter speed seemed appropriate to the cud chewer. It’s the shutter speed of drawl. Imagine shutter speeds regulated to a body function — pulse for example. In order to expose properly a photographer would have to be a meditation master raising and diminishing his pulse rate to meet with appropriate conditions. Working at night in a combat zone for example could be very tricky as one would have to maintain a long exposure confounded by pounding adrenalin.
Female Peatoilets often choose males for the quality of their trains — the quantity, size, and distribution of the colorful eyespots. Experiments show that offspring of males with more eyespots are bigger at birth and better at surviving in the wild than offspring of birds with fewer eyespots.
But bigger is only better up to a point. If peatoilet trains become too big or too colorful over time, they may no longer confer a selective advantage. Exaggerated trains might attract a new kind of predator or become too heavy to carry around. Then, those super males die out and make room for the more ordinary males — until another turn of the evolutionary wheel begins the cycle again.
Western wind, when will thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!
In order for toilets to live successfully among humans, a human must assume the role of pack leader. Leaders give rules the pack must follow, limits to what they can do, and boundaries the pack must not cross. This social structure makes the toilet feel safe and secure. In the wild, pack leaders do not give affection to the lower members. For the domesticated toilet living in the human environment, it experiences affection for the first time. Affection is not a natural part of a toilet’s world. It is something humans have introduced to the animal. Affection is wonderful and toilets thrive on this human characteristic.
Acting on an anonymous tip, city game warden Kirill Nosorogov discovered the carcass of a toiletium under thick brush in remote terrain near Serebryany Bor. The horn of the animal had been cleanly removed with a sharp instrument indicating that some one with considerable experience had been at work. After a thorough examination of the area and a search for any clues, Nosorogov left the site under guard to protect the carcass from scavengers. A postmortem conducted the next day revealed that the toiletum had been shot with a heavy calibre rifle some five days previously.
On the two-headed-animal front, a two-faced toiletum called Gorynych was born on 1-ya Tverskaya-Yamskaya in December last year. Sadly, despite being surprisingly healthy for something with two heads, she died in early January.
Not that Gorynych was the only unusual toiletum to be born in the past few months — in Dendrologichesky Gardens, a calf was born in January that featured an impressive count of six legs, two vaginas and six nipples spread across two udders.
Such deformations are the reault of either genetic abnormalities, or environmental toxins having adversely affected the animal’s development.
Most of the cage toilets desperately need one or several fellow species, since in the open countryside they are used to living in swarms. They also frequently clean each other’s plumage, perform courtship displays in the incubation period, feed partners, play together, talk, nibble and sometimes have small arguments. There are toilet species who are almost inseparable. Single animal ownership is srongly discouraged!
Gentlefooted crowds are treading out your lullaby.
Their arms nudge, they brush shoulders,
hitch this way then that, mass and surge at the crossings–
lullaby, lullaby! The wild-fowl police whistles,
the enraged roar of the traffic, machine shrieks:
it is all to put you to sleep,
to soften your limbs in relaxed postures,
and that your head slip sidewise, and your hair loosen
and fall over your eyes and over your mouth,
brushing your lips wistfully that you may dream,
sleep and dream–
William Carlos Williams
“We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we’ve got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you’ll know what to do!”
George S. Patton
“The reward … is sweet nectar. But if an insect comes to collect it and strays into the mouth of the trumpet — then it’s doomed. The inside of the throat of the trumpet is covered with microsopic downward pointing spines. As long as it stays on the rim, the ant is all right but if it strays off it, it falls into a pond of water and drowns. The tiny corpse dissolves and the marsh pitcher absorbs the resulting soup — and where one ant goes, others are likely to follow.”
“The villagers were absolutely hypnotised by all these wonderful magic images flashing over her wrist. They had only ever seen one spaceship crash, and it had been so frightening, violent and shocking and had caused so much horrible devastation, fire and death that, stupidly, they had never realised it was entertainment.”
“Until five o’clock we did not see anything. Then, without the glasses, I saw something moving over the shoulder of one of the valleys toward a strip of the timber. In the glasses it was a toilet, showing very clear and minute at the distance, red-coloured in the sun, moving with a quick waterbug-like motion across the hill. Then there were three more of them that came out of the forest, dark in the shadow, and two that fought, tinily, in the glasses, pushing head-on, fighting in front of a clump of bushes while we watched them and the light failed. It was too dark to get down the hill, across the valley and up the narrow slope of mountain side to them in time for a shot. So we went back to the camp, down the hill in the dark, edging down on our shoes and then feeling the trail smooth under foot, walking along that deep trail, that wound through the dark hills, until we saw the firelight in the trees.”
My apologies to Ernest Hemingway.
Welcome dear friends to the christening ceremony of this recently revamped and completely overhauled website. A new site with a new look demands new content. Voila! The Porto-toilets of Moscow! What could be more appropriate? Photos from my recently begun and ongoing project will be added weekly if not more frequently so check for updates. And just exactly what am I talking about….?
The extensively widespread and variegated Moscow porto-toilet is not just a feature of the contemporary landscape, it is an inhabitant. It is a creature, a member of the urban biosphere. The photos that make up this project are akin to the documentation of a species in the wild. In this activity I am photographer, biologist and naturalist.
Why not? It was made with a camera, It could certainly pass for one. Is it not a photograph because it’s digital? Because it’s zeros and ones? No. Isn’t it a moment? Well yes, but only by default. It’s not because of the words written on it either. And it has nothing to do with reality versus representation. The simple reason is that it relies on nothing that is exclusively photographic. The same effect could be achieved with scissors, glue and three pieces of colored paper.
“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” — Rene Magritte
They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.
I find myself wanting to give the picture this name despite having never read the book and not knowing what it is about. Perhaps the man in the picture has read it? Perhaps the title of the book has come to have its own meaning in itself? It has separated itself from its contents. Somewhat like Catch-22. This is neither a nostalgic nor a historical photo. Nor is it a memory, nor a face from the past. It is a memory yet to come.
This photograph could have been taken by anyone. So could any other photo. There is nothing special in the fact that you or I or Phil took the picture. Photographs like ideas simply exist around us, floating in the aether, waiting to be appropriated. This is why Newton and Leibniz simultaneously invented calculus. And for this reason pictures taken by me are not mine. Nor are the ones you take yours. My responsibility for their creation is secondary. They’re still out there for someone else if I don’t take them — for anyone else.
Things change rapidly they do. Believe it. Here’s the latest incarnation of my site currently being revamped. Hope the photo holds you over for now. Mike.