Passivity ( a text of Maurice Blanchot translated by Vadim Bystritski) — Before and After Francis Ponge

Passivity is not just acceptance, not like amorphous, inert matter ready to fit into a form, but passive as under pressure of death — death whose silent intensity does not resemble a welcome reception, leaving its imprint without a word, a body being delegated to the past, a body seen as an interval, a being in suspension, whose syncope is produced by snipping of time and which we can only see as some unarticulated savage history that presently makes no sense. Passive here is a complete absence of narrative, leaving us with an event that cannot be cited and is impossible as a recollection of a forgotten thought, because it was never forgotten, always remaining outside the field of memory.

Passivité n’est pas simple réception, pas plus qu’elle ne serait l’informe et inerte matière prête à toute forme — passives, les poussées de mourir (le mourir, silencieuse intensité ; ce qui ne se laisse pas accueillir ; ce qui s’inscrit sans parole, le corps au passé, corps de personne, le corps de l’intervalle :

[…]

Passivity ( a text of Maurice Blanchot translated by Vadim Bystritski) — Before and After Francis Ponge

Jorge Luis Borges — The Vale of Soul-Making

Two English Poems

I

The useless dawn finds me in a deserted street-
   corner; I have outlived the night.
Nights are proud waves; darkblue topheavy waves
   laden with all the hues of deep spoil, laden with
   things unlikely and desirable.
Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals,
   of things half given away, half withheld,
   of joys with a dark hemisphere. Nights act
   that way, I tell you.

[…]

Jorge Luis Borges — The Vale of Soul-Making

Death As an Imposter (a text of Georges Bataille translated by Vadim Bystritski) — Before and After Francis Ponge

I exist, around me extends the void, the real world’s darkness. I exist and continue blind, anxious, because people next to me are so obviously other beings, feeling nothing of what I feel. As I imagine my arrival in this world from the union of a man and a woman, and at the very moment of that conjunction, a unique opportunity is a decision taken about this me that I am, and without which for me, ultimately, there would not be anything. Of this small difference, I am the consequence. As far as I am concerned, without that there wouldn’t be anything, the same as in case of my death.

This tiny chance of my arrival suspended over void, seems to challenge the void, this infinite painful impossibility facing the unique being that I am.

The others’ presence near me matters little, given my unsubstentiabiliity in the midst of negligence, my awareness of my loneliness. The notion of unique chance follows me in the world where I abide, and where we both, the world and myself, are total strangers to it all.

And if the world fails to grasp this consciousness of mine, trembling, I give up all hope of logical cohesion, vowing myself to immobility, first my own, then to take it to another level, of everything else, which is a situation of some staggering drunk, who mistaking his life for a candle that he has blown out, is left screaming in the dark…

J’existe — autour de moi, s’étend le vide, l’obscurité du monde réel — j’existe, je demeure aveugle, dans l’angoisse : chacun des autres est tout autre que moi, je ne sens rien de ce qu’il sent. Si j’envisage ma venue au monde liée à la naissance puis à la conjonction d’un homme et une femme, et même, à l’instant de la conjonction — une chance unique décida de la possibilité de ce moi que je suis : en dernier ressort l’impossibilité folle du seul être sans lequel, pour moi, rien ne serait. La plus petite différence dans la suite dont je suis le terme : au lieu de moi avide d’être moi, il n’y aurait quant à moi que le néant, comme si j’étais mort.

Death As an Imposter (a text of Georges Bataille translated by Vadim Bystritski) — Before and After Francis Ponge

#1956Club – a great French artist considers his life and work… — Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

Journals of Jean Cocteau – edited and introduced by Wallace Fowlie Today’s time travelling trip to 1956 sees me considering another great French artist – the most wonderful Jean Cocteau. I first encountered his works back in the mid-1980s, when friends dragged me off to a screening in London of two of his films, “Orphee” […]

#1956Club – a great French artist considers his life and work… — Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

What I Believe by J.G Ballard — cakeordeathsite

The incantatory prose poem What I Believe from 1984 is a crystallised distillation of Ballard’s artistic credo. Here are all the signature trade-marks and obsessions: car crashes, deserted beaches and abandoned hotels as well as his extraordinarily odd musings on the real appeal of celebrities. It is, as always with Ballard, idiosyncratic, bizarre and strangely beautiful. The […]

What I Believe by J.G Ballard — cakeordeathsite

The Bunker: John Giorno and The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs

by Marcus D. Niski

During one of the most colorful and flamboyant phases of his creative life, William S. Burroughs was closely associated with his New York loft apartment at 222 Bowery both affectionately and aptly known as The Bunker. The scene of many legendary parties and encounters with fellow writers, artists, hangers-on, street urchins, fans and other innumerable dramatis personae, Burroughs somewhat reluctantly at times played the mulit-faceted role of raconteur, showman, marksman, chef, host and resident celebrity that would undoubtedly help to further cement the Literary Outlaw myth so closly associated with his persona.

In this warm and intimate film portrait below of his close relationship with William S. Burroughs, fellow writer and poet John Giorno recounts the heady days of The Bunker and the antics associated with Burroughs’ famous residency. The cast of creative and literary heroes and villains ranged from the Beats Herbert Huncke and Allen Ginsberg, to such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Terry Southern and Victor Bockris [who would assemble various conversational accounts of the goings-on at The Bunker under the title With William S. Burroughs: Reports from The Bunker], as well as various members of the rock and roll fraternity of royals including – Mick Jagger, David Bowie and punk icon Joe Strummer.

The term ‘The Bunker’ itself stems from the fact that the apartment had no windows as well as extremely thick concrete walls which isolated it from all outside noise. Burroughs saw this as the ideal circumstances for his writing – and indeed his marksmanship – and the building served as an extremely attractive location in which to unfold his daily creative and life rituals.

During a trip to New York in 2009-2010, I made a pilgrimage to The Bunker in search of the Burroughs mythos and the surrounding historic district of the Bowery. Indeed, the Bowery itself is known for its own colorful and unsavory history as a prominent site for men’s shelters that housed many of the cities homeless, poor and indigent residents and The Bowery Mission continues to operate until today as it has done since the 1870s just several doors away from The Bunker itself.

Below are some images that I took of the front entrance, the view looking up to The Bunker loft and a street view all taken on a particularity cold winter’s day. Looking closely through the wrought iron gates, it was fascinating to still see the remnants of the YMCA logo adorning the tiled floor just inside the door as the building had served as a working YMCA. Indeed, a fascinating history of the building has also been documented by the New York Times which can be found at the following link: New York Times history of 222 Bowery

Bunker[1] MN

Bunker [3] MN

Stills images copyright Marcus D. Niski 2009-2020

‘The Bunker’ undoubtedly remains an iconic and important architectural and cultural reference point to one of the great periods of New York’s 20th Century literary and cultural history. Given its proximity to CBGBs which played a seminal role in the birth of the American punk rock movement that spawned a whole generation of musicians and artists, it’s hardly surprising that a pilgrimage to The Bunker was also part of the neighborhood lore and ritual for so many of New York’s avant garde and outsider scene.

John Giorno’s (1936 – 2019) fascinating and eclectic life as a poet is also more extensively documented in the first part of the film as found on the Louisiana Channel at the following link entitled: John Giorno Interview: A Visit to the Poet