Heidegger, Martin: Identität und Differenz (1955–1957)


Last and First Men  (2020) by Jóhann Jóhannsson
February 22nd, 2024

Via Wikipedia: "Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson directed and scored a multimedia Last and First Men, 'combining a film narrated by actress Tilda Swinton and accompanying score played by the BBC Philharmonic' at the 2017 Manchester International Festival. The 16mm black-and-white film is predominantly of memorial sculptures erected in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Jóhann collaborated with José Enrique Macián on writing the narration adapted from Stapledon's novel. [...] In 2020, a film of this work was released as Jóhann's debut and final directorial work, with composer and sound artist Yair Elazar Glotman completing the work after Jóhann's death in February 2018."

Outstanding cinematography by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen.

Via The New York Times: "Based on the 1930 science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, the film mainly consists of 16-millimeter black-and-white images of abandoned monuments, identified in the credits as being in the Balkans. No humans appear. While the camera surveys the asymmetries of the monolithic sculptures, often pondering the sky through negative space in the stonework, Tilda Swinton delivers a voice-over that begins with an epic poem-style invocation ('listen patiently') and is framed as a dispatch from two billion years from now, when our descendants, bracing for extinction, share a telepathic hive mind and have appearances that would look grotesque to us."

Via Variety: "To the accompaniment of Swinton’s measured voiceover and Jóhannsson’s alternately shiver-soft and stormy score, Grøvlen’s camera slowly and gradually explores these vast, eerie forms of stone and concrete as if they were natural wonders, sometimes opening on peculiar, unidentifiable architectural details before revealing their looming place in the landscape. That no historical or even geographical context is given for these harsh, magnificent tableaux of indestructible human folly is somehow apt: Their meaning will inevitably be as lost and open to interpretation by future generations (or, in our narrator’s wording, 'species') as they are here. The crisp, hard lines and contrasts of Grøvlen’s monochrome compositions allude to the Spomeniks’ stubborn permanence: Perhaps they’re all the eighteenth species has left of ours, after however many intervening apocalypses.
That underlying theme of what we leave, of endurance in the face of the ephemeral, is hard not to consider in the light of Jóhannsson’s own 2018 passing. Intended or otherwise, Last and First Men finally stands as a brutally beautiful memorial to his own life and artistry, ready to be reinterpreted and appropriated by any audiences who stumble upon it in years to come. That makes it a severe work, but not a bleak one:
As it prompts consideration of how and when our species will end — see it as a tactful climate change warning if you will — it also invites wonder at our capacity to evolve and invent, and a kind of zen respect for the universe that, as Swinton’s unnervingly unfazed messenger gently reminds us, will outlive us all, even when our mightiest monuments tumble."

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Students in my Visual Music class acquire knowledge of design principles and techniques by producing visualisations of sound/music – e.g. as installations, videos clips, VJ sets, installations, and computer games.

Visual Music Studies 2024

Annual show of student's Visual Music projects
January 22nd, 2024

Every year composer and assistant professor Marcus Schmickler and I host the Visual Music Studies at Dusseldorf's Filmwerkstatt. This year's class - Noah Bugalski, Anna Hummen, Vladyslav Masko, Lena Ruzicka, Meryem Saral, Konrad Simon, and Jakob Walheim - will present their final projects on February 14th, 2024.

Creating a work for this show is part of the assignment in my Visual Music class at the Institute for Music and Media at Dusseldorf Robert Schumann conservatory. Many of the students decide to concentrate on transmedia installations, others are interested in video clips, experimental film, and animation as well as audiovisual performances.

The students are supported by an amazing team of assistant professors: Prof. Ulla Barthold, Leon Monschauer, Jan Höhe, and Christian Schäfer.


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Vivienne Westwood (8th April 1941 ~ 29th December 2022). Photographed by Juergen Teller.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Dangerous Old Woman
January 8th, 2024

Via SoundsTrue: "Dr. Estés asks, 'Did you know, you were born as the first, and the last and the best and the only one of your kind, and that eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness? These are two of the crone truths I have to offer you.'
We are each born with two forces that give us every lens we need to see who we really are: the wild and ever-young force of imagination that contains intuition and instinct, and the wise elder force of knowledge that holds boundaries and carries the heart of the visionary.
Through captivating stories including Snow White, Las Tres Osas, and The Ruby Red Fox, Dr. Estés illustrates why this twofold way of being old while young, and young while old is the secret to holding and replenishing the center, thus living wildly and wisely ensouled amidst life's travails and triumphs. [...]
'If you are not free to be who you are, you are not free,' says Dr. Estés. The freedom to be different means one can continue to deepen the work of bringing your one-of-a-kind legacy into the world."

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, is an internationally recognized scholar, award-winning poet, diplomate senior Jungian psychoanalyst, and cantadora (keeper of the old stories in the Latina tradition). She is the author of the bestseller Women Who Run With the Wolves and the audio series Mother Night, Seeing in the Dark, and more.

You might want to start listening here:
Clarissa Pinkola Estés: Untie the Strong Woman
Clarissa Pinkola Estés: The Dangerous Old Woman, Part One
Clarissa Pinkola Estés: The Dangerous Old Woman, Part Two


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Do[o]mestic Bliss series by Cristina Rizzi Guelfi inspired by Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique.

End of 2023

My Gratitude List: 10 things
December 31st, 2023

Book Another role model on my path to become that dangerous, old women is larger-than-life artist Grace Jones. Her autobiography I'll Never Write My Memoirs, as told to Paul Morley, is breathtaking, surreal, and hilarious. A quote from Barbara Ellen's review for The Guardian, "Before she leaves, I ask her – what does she think helped her survive all those years in worlds that have chewed other people up? 'Again, it’s that thing of selling your soul – that would chew you up. I can’t be bought and people hate that. Everybody has their price – but not me.' "

Concert In September a friend took me to see Colombian multi-instrumentalist Lucrecia Dalt performing ¡Ay!’s contents, accompanied by the drummer/ percussionist Alex Lázaroin at Cologne's philharmonic as part of Tobias Thomas' wonderful Round series. I was blown away by the extroverted and humorous show.

Documentary Saw Saudi Runaway, directed and written by Susanne Regina Meures. The film shows a young woman in Saudi Arabia filming herself as she attempts to flee before her arranged wedding. A a suspenseful and courageous documentary. "Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is at the centre of world affairs, very few authentic images of life there exist. Muna’s story is of great urgency and relevance and essentially summarises a human rights drama at its core."

Exhibition The Ludwig Forum Aachen presented Ya Estamos Aquí [We’re Here Already], the first survey exhibition of the Cuban artist Belkis Ayón (Havana, 1967-1999) in the German-speaking world. Curated by Eva Birkenstock and Annette Lagler. Material, themes, craftsmanship, intensity, and the sublime presentation were jaw-droppingly exciting. Thank you, Sarah Sczcesny for making me go!

Film SUM is a transdisciplinary performance art project by Kelvin Kilonzo and Pablo Gīw. This year they worked with filmmaker Maurits Boettger on Dyschronia, a stunningly beautiful video questioning the notions of movement in a post-apocalyptic scenery. I had the great honour to work with Kelvin and Pablo as they prepared to premiere Dyschronia at Julia Stoschek Foundation in Berlin.

Health This year saw me reading quite some books on women's health pre, during, and post menopause. I could not believe that most of the information is not available to every women entering her forth decade. Ladies, it is ultra important to get yourself educated on this topic, and all the wonderful options you have. A good place to start is here and here [in German].

Record My favorite this year was without a doubt Róisín Murphy's album Hit Parade produced by DJ Koze. The track I still hear in a continuous loop is Free Will, and I wholeheartedly recommend to read some Alan Watts with it. Can't wait to see her perform in my hometown in March.

Talk Went to see Thomas Metzinger at phil.Cologne, was surprised about his unexpected handsomeness, and received a reminder on Immanuel Kant's Innere Redlichkeit [intellectual honesty]. Being honest with myself is necessary for me in order to stay sane and healthy. If interested you might also want to consider this 2017 essay by Thomas Metzinger.

TV Series Food might be the single most time-consuming subject of my life, in almost every way – good and bad. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to watch The Bear. But the reviews were all in favor of it, "Flawless performances, boundlessly beautiful direction and a spare, allusive script, all of which are as good in the quietest moments as the more plentiful loud ones, turn the story into something properly special." (The Guardian). I so loved both seasons.

VMD23 Colleague and friend Christian Schäfer invited Vicky Wehrmeister to perform at IMM's annual Visual Music Day. Her performance, her humble but powerful posture, singing with this incredible lightness, kindness, and inscrutability got really under my skin. We are so honored and pleased that she is now part of our fabulous faculty for the post-graduate Klang und Realität program at IMM.

So, here we are... And what is next?

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Latcho Drom (1993)

French film directed and written by Tony Gatlif

Via Wikipedia: "The movie is about the Romani people's journey from north-west India to Spain, consisting primarily of music. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

The film contains very little dialogue and captions; only what is required to grasp the essential meaning of a song or conversation is translated. The film begins in the Thar Desert in Northern India and ends in Spain, passing through Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and France. All of the Romani portrayed are actual members of the Romani community. [...]

The use of music in the film is highly important. [...] The film relies on music to convey emotion and tell the story of the Romani. Musicians include the Romanian group Taraf de Haïdouks, La Caita (Spain), Remedios Amaya and gypsy jazz guitarist Tchavolo Schmitt.

The soundtrack was composed by Dorado Schmitt, who appears in the film."

Watch Latcho Drom (1993) in good quality without subtitles.
Watch Latcho Drom (1993) in not so good quality with subtitles.

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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Untitled (Oh no! It's you!), 2013 by David Shrigley.

Become what you are

by Alan Watts
November 23rd, 2023

From Alan Watts' essay What is reality?: "So we return to the original question, What, then, is Life; what is Reality, that it may inspire us with devotion? If we regard it as a particular way of living or as a particular kind of existence and accord our devotion to that, what are we doing? We are revering its expression in great personality, in the behavior of those whom we consider real persons. But here is the snag. When we revere real personality in others, we are liable to become mere imitators; when we revere it as an ideal for ourselves, here is the old trouble of wanting to make yourself great. It is all a question of pride, for if you revere Life and Reality only in particular types of personal living, you deny Life and Reality to such humble things as, for instance, saltshakers, specks of dust, worms, flowers, and the great unregenerate masses of the human race. [...]
For Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others. They do not belong to particular persons any more than the sun, moon, and stars."

From Alan Watts' essay the Language of Metaphysical Experience: "In sum, then, the function of metaphysical statements in Hinduism and Buddhism is neither to convey positive information about an Absolute, nor to indicate an experience in which this Absolute becomes an object of knowledge. In the words of the Kena Upanishad: 'Brahman is unknown to those who know It, and is known to those who do not know It at all.' This knowing of Reality by unknowing is the psychological state of the man whose ego is no longer split or dissociated from its experiences, who no longer feels himself as an isolated embodiment of logic and consciousness, separate from the 'gyring' and 'gimbling' of the unknown. He is thus delivered from samsara, the Wheel, the squirel cage psychology of all those human beings who everlastingly frustrate themselves whith impossible tasks of knowing the knower, controlling the controller, and organizing the organizer, like ouroboros, the mixed-up snake, who dines of his own tail."

In this context you might also want to consider playing Everything by David OReilly. Here is a Let's Play (Full Game Playthrough).

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One of the first color images of Earth, a digital image mosaic taken in 1967 by the ATS-3 satellite, was used as the cover image of Whole Earth Catalog's first edition.

Whole Earth Index

A nearly-complete archive of Whole Earth publications
October 18th, 2023

Via Whole Earth Index: "Here lies a nearly-complete archive of Whole Earth publications, a series of journals and magazines descended from the Whole Earth Catalog, published by Stewart Brand and the POINT Foundation between 1970 and 2002. They are made available here for scholarship, education, and research purposes."

Thanks to the New Shelton wet/dry!

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Beverly Hills pink clown trespassers by Imp Kerr.

News is bad for you

We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be
Oktober 1st, 2023

Via The Guardian: "In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking. That's why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

News misleads.
News is irrelevant.
News has no explanatory power.
News is toxic to your body.
News increases cognitive errors.
News inhibits thinking.
News works like a drug.
News wastes time.
News makes us passive.
News kills creativity.

Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don't have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.

I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It's not easy, but it's worth it."

TED Talk Four reasons you should stop watching the news by Rolf Dobelli.

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Grace Jones at Carriageworks (Vivid) on 1st June 2015 by Bruce Baker.

I'll never write my memoirs

Fifteen lessons learned from Grace Jones's autobiography
September 22nd, 2023

From VICE: “'The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajs and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent,' she explains. Grace winds up the rant with a roll call of all her copycats. 'Gaga, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley, Kanye West, FKA twigs and… Doris.' By process of elimination you can assume that 'Doris' is Beyoncé.

And while you might be reading this thinking, 'Chill out, grandma,' Grace Jones is correct. She was first. She worked with Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, she partied at high fashion gay clubs with Karl Lagerfeld, she appeared as an androgynous demi-god on the cover of Vogue. And she is still very much first now. She's certainly the only performer I've ever seen who has finished their set singing and simultaneously hula-hooping. In stilettos. For 20 minutes. She's the only artist who's had milliner Sir Philip Tracy waiting in the wings to fix a different hat to her head for each individual song on the setlist. At one point during the headline show I witnessed at Lovebox Festival in London a few years ago, she even ordered her band to stop, calling out 'Philip, dear!' so he could change her headgear mid-song. [...]

Whatever the legend, good, bad or devilishly bad, the narrator's voice is consistently hers: matter-of-fact, uninhibited, and madly profound. It's tough to do the book justice in words other than her own because Grace Jones is one of a kind. The following are some lessons we've learned from her life thus far. Good luck applying them to your own day-to-day without getting arrested. [...]

'You can love a boyfriend too much, but you can't love yourself too much.' [...]

'We almost climbed inside each other's mouth… Obviously I was in the mood to be attracted to the baddest ass.'

'I wore roller skates as a directory assistant. My employers didn't say anything as long as I did my job. I loved roller-skating. I loved the feeling of speed.'

'I totally fell for him, [Tom, her first mentor], and, inevitably, he turned out to be gay.' [...]

'I lived as a nudist for one month in Philly—1967 or '68 or '69, whenever it was—and it was a good summer to sit naked.'

'When I am plugged in I can be scary psychic. Knowing when something is going to happen, when not to get in the elevator…'

'Shaving my head led directly to my first orgasm… I'd never had sex like that before. It was sex from another era, another solar system. It still started with the mouth but it ended up beyond the body.'

'At the exact moment that Arnold and Maria are on their knees finishing off their special, intimate ceremony, we arrive. They didn’t say anything, but you could see from the looks on their faces that they were not at all impressed.'"

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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Scenes from the Quarantrain by Jim Merullo.

What the heck happened in 2012?

On the year the modern world was invented
August 25th, 2023

Via The Intrinsic Perspective: "The point to all this is just to make explicit what I think so many already know and feel: if we were forced to pinpoint a year, 2012 appears to be a good choice for when the modern world was invented, and we’ve been living in it now for a little over a decade.

And to go back to the decade theory: certainly it’s arguable that, ten years into existence, our world feels, at least in terms of vibes, very similar to the world at the end of the previous cultural revolution of the 1960s. Even just politically, while the cultural revolution of 2012 grained a great deal of ground in institutions, it has spent much of its initial momentum, and is being combated institutionally by, e.g., the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban affirmative action. A fundamental detente has been reached. The cultural revolution that people now call “wokeness,” and the debates around it are still ever-present, but also feel somewhat spent.

The degree to which this is true can be judged by one cultural artifact in particular: Barbie. The movie. For yes, the biggest movie of the summer is about patriarchy, and its openly political plot and language and messaging would have contained a lot of academic gobbledegook for the average citizen in 2011. But, at the same time, the movie is a clear commercialization about a toy, and can be interpreted ambiguously, parodying itself; ripe for interpretation, it has been championed by liberals and conservatives alike. See how, for instance, that even within that most conservative institution, The Daily Wire, there is disagreement on whether Barbie is actually a left-leaning movie (as Ben Shapiro believes) or, secretly, a subversively right-leaning movie (as Michael Knowles believes). The confusion over the messaging of Barbie is a synecdoche for the confusion over our own post-revolution world, which now looks corrupt and run-down, much like the depressive “malaise” of the 1970s. [...]

Surely, things must be more complicated than these decade theories, no? Of course. Obviously so. As a level of analysis they are nearly mystical. But if you had used this model of [cultural revolution → inflationary period→ lasting economic and cultural malaise] back 2012 I think you’d have a claim to near-Nostradamus levels of precognition. And that third stage would predict, much like the post-1971 world, a coming permanent change in long-standing economic trends (followed, potentially, in the 2030s with the return of Big Hair, leg warmers, and cocaine).

If we are to spend the 2020s mirroring the 1970s, and therefore occupied with domestic turmoil as the post-revolution cultural tremors play out, I suppose we might as well begin to ape it as much as possible."

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