"The metaphor of Babylon, already employed by preachers and Rastafarians, entered, in the 1960s, the vocabulary of black politics. Babylon could stand for any city-for New York, for Oakland, for California, for the United States-for capitalism, for imperialism, or simply for excess. ‘It was often an elusive metaphor,’ Robert Self writes, ‘by it captured the profound cynicism engendered by decades of liberal failure as well as the remarkably optimistic belief in rebirth, in beginning again."
– Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss
WHAT’S YOUR NAME, STRANGER?
Gwen Stefani, Blonde Tempest of The Desert
"My feeling about this weirdly inflated village in which I had come to make my home (haunted by memories of a boyhood spent in the beautiful mountain parks, the timberline country, of northwestern Colorado), suddently changed after I had lived in Los Angeles for seven long years of while. I have never been able to discover any apparent reason for this swift and startling conversion, but I do associate it with a particular occasion. I had spent an extremely active evening in Hollywood and had been deposited toward morning, by some kind sould, in a room at the Biltmore Hotel. Emerging next day from the hotel into the painfully bright sunlight, I started the rocky pilgrimage through Pershing Square to my office in a state of miserable decrepitude. In front of the hotel newsboys were shouting the headlines of the hour: an awful trunk-murder had just been commited; Aimee Semple McPherson had once again stood the town on its ear by some spectacular caper; a University of Southern California football star had been caught robbing a bank; a love-mart had been discovered in the Los Feliz Hills; a motion-picture producer had just wired the Egyptian government a fancy offer for permission to illuminate the pyramids to advertise a forthcoming production; and, in the intervals between these revelations, there was news about another prophet, fresh from the desert, who had predicted the doom of the city, a prediction for which I was morbidly grateful. In the center of the park, a little self-conscious of my evening clothes, I stopped to watch a typical Pershing Square divertissement: an aged and frowsy blonde, skirts held high above her knees, cheered by a crowd of grimacing and leering old goats, was singing a gospel hymn as she danced gaily around the fountain. Then it suddently occured to me that, in all the world, there neither was nor would ever be another place like this City of the Angels. here the American people were erupting, like lava from a volcano; here, indeed, was the place for me - a ringside seat at the circus."
– Carey McWilliams,
Southern California Country (1946)
oil on canvas
60” x 72”
"Cities like Tijuana and Los Angeles, once socio-urban aberrations, are becoming models of a new hybrid culture, full of uncertainty and vitality…In this context, concepts like ‘high culture,’ ‘ethnic purity,’ ‘cultural identity,’ ‘beauty,’ and ‘fine arts’ are absurdities and anachronisms. Like it or not, we are attending the funeral of modernity and the birth of a new culture."
– Document/Undocumented by Guillermo Gomez-Pena
Pity is my way of loving. Of hating and communicating. It is what sustains me against the world, just as one person lives through desire, another through fear. Pity for things that happen without my knowledge. But I’m tired, in spite of my cheer today, cheer that comes from goodness knows where, like that of an early summer morning. I’m tired, acutely now! Let us cry together, quietly.
For having suffered and continuing on so sweetly. Tired pain in a simplified tear. But this was a yearning for poetry, that I confess, God. Let us sleep hand in hand. The world rolls and somewhere out there are things I don’t know. Let us sleep on God and mystery, a quiet, fragile ship floating on the sea, behold sleep."
Willows never forget how it feels
to be young.
Do you remember where you came from?
Even the upper end of the river
believes in the ocean.
Exactly at midnight
yesterday sighs away.
What I believe is,
all animals have one soul.
Over the land they love
they crisscross forever.
Father, in my ignorance you brought me
through mothers’ wombs,
through unlikely worlds.
Was it wrong, just to be born,
Have mercy on me for being born
I give you my word,
lord of the meeting rivers,
never to be born again.
"Gaze we for nought in one another’s eyes?
Is not life teeming
Around the head and heart of you,
Weaving eternal mysteries
Seen and unseen, even at your side?
Oh, let them fill your heart, your generous heart,
And, when you lose your being in that bliss,
Give it what name you will-
You joy, love, heart, your God.
For me, I have no name
To give it: feeling’s surely all.
Names are but noise and smoke,
Obscuring heavenly light."
– Faust by Goethe
4 Visitors | Klaus Leidorf
5 is a crowd.
SoP | Scale of Environments
"Now, what a stupid threat! Well, really, all death threats are stupid and ridiculous. In what way can one be threatened other than with death? It would be truly clever or original to threaten someone with immortality!"
– Interviews with Jorge Luis Borges by Roberto Alifano
"Before we go any further here, has it ever occurred to any of you that all this is simply one grand misunderstanding? Since you’re not here to learn anything, but to be taught so you can pass these tests, knowledge has to be organized so it can be taught, and it has to be reduced to information so it can be organized do you follow that? In other words this leads you to assume that organization is an inherent property of the knowledge itself, and that disorder and chaos are simply irrelevant forces that threaten it from the outside. In fact it’s the opposite. Order is simply a thin, perilous condition we try to impose on the basic reality of chaos …"
– JR by William Gaddis
"People? They usually ask only stupid questions, forcing you to reply with equally stupid answers. For instance, they ask you what you do, not what you would have liked to do. They ask you what you own, not what you’ve lost. They ask about the woman you married, not about the one you love. About your name, but not if it suits you. They ask your age, but not how well you’ve lived those years. They ask about the city you live in, not about the city that lives in you. And they ask if you pray, not if you fear God.
So I’ve gotten used to answering these questions with silence. You know, when we shut up, we force others to reconsider their mistakes."
– Chaos of the Senses by Ahlam Mosteghanemi