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September 25, 2005


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Patrick J. Mullins

That sounds good. What I want to know is if it is really better to worry or not. All I've figured out thus far as that people who don't worry do some things well and others horribly, and that people who do worry also do some things well and others horribly. Neither seems more happy than the other, except they are in different ways. I also don't like the way everything is so fleeting.I haven't ever gotten anything to stay, and I know I'll never stop trying to get things to stay even though I know it's impossible.



This is lovely. I feel this dilemma quite acutely as I imagine many, many others do too. I am reminded of how I misremember Zizek's discussion of Lenin's reaction to Beethoven's appassionata as being about Lenin's despair at having to forgo aesthetic pleasures for more properly revolutionary activities rather than about how aesthetic sensitivity can compromise
one's ability to fight one's enemies mercilessly. I am also reminded of Z's frequent invocation of Jameson's "cognitive mapping", (or more precisely, the lack thereof) and how this absolutely intensifies this dilemma. (You may be pleased to know that in Googling for an instance of this reference, I landed in the Matrix essay in which you are cited in the very next sentence.)
All this said, I am glad you had such a nice weekend.


Patrick and Marc, thanks for the comments. Patrick, yes, trying to get things to stay the same--a response to a society of transience and ephemera. Is yours perhaps also the impulse of the collector? or maybe even the formalist or structuralist thinker who looks for evidence of permanence and immobility.

Marc--I am tickled pink that you saw the cite in the Matrix essay. For me, that was and is very exciting.

Patrick J. Mullins

It's not so much for absolute permanence and definitely don't think immobility is quite what I'd ever be after. It's what I find on Robin's beautiful 'London Belongs To Me' site, where I've already started doing the occasional guest blogger 'New York Belongs To Me, while Reza Negarestani does 'Shiraz Belongs
To Me.' In other words, at least 'longer-lasting' than I seem to be able to stand the way everything is disappearing at such a fast rate. And Robin's own work on the Harringay Passage near where he lives in London--in his photographic/textual piece there 'Difference and Repetition: Haringay Ladder'--attests to how an old country doesn't destroy itself so fast as our much newer one does. Nearly every time I walk out now, some old thing I loved has been demolished (and much faster than even 2 years ago), or is being encroached upon, whereas Robin just walks down the street to find new wonders in an old, old city.

Formalism may come naturally as a result of a lifetime of classical music that may limit some elements of populism, I don't know. As for collecting, I don't think it's that, although I do collect experiences AFTER I've had them. I never set out to collect 'new things.' I like being well-read, knowing a lot about the fields I've chosen, and owning a few things, but even most of what I read and listen to or watch comes from NYPL. Mine's mostly a grief at the loss of all valuing of the past. That's why the destruction of New Orleans upsets me so much personally, but it's true I have a lot of repositories of tradition in me, and don't intend to do anything about them.

If you have time, look at Robin's site though, as he is a brilliant thinker, although more involved with Badiou and Deleuze than you are, as well as artist, and we are already working on 'cine-musique' projects that combine concepts in my book and his own work.


It's just that I think, as a Southerner, you'll like the way he's caught this beautiful Haringay Passage with the foliage coming over each piece of it, as much as I do. When I saw it, I realized how there's almost nothing of that left in New York.
And also, how friendships and personal ties dissolving at the end of 'business moments' is such an accepted thing by now just to keep going.


Thanks for the link and the comment, Patrick, I'll take a look. Your comments also suggest another aspect of your distaste for Las Vegas although I confess to finding it hard to see your affection for LA in them.

Patrick J. Mullins

Los Angeles is not as old as New York (much less London), but it's a lot older than Vegas. Los Angeles put together a lot of rich--and very unique--history in a very short time, it was the speculation capital of the world, it had Hollywood and developed a huge subculture within itself based on that, and it is also very varied even outside the Hollywood hypnosis; and they do protect landmarks. There are very old buildings from the early 20th century still in downtown Los Angeles, in Hollywood, there are old houses in the Hollywood Hills from the silent era still lived in, as well as the slightly later mansions that began in Beverly Hills (although Pia Zadora got rid of Pickfair, the Harold Lloyd Mansion is still atop Benedict Canyon).

Vegas was built from Mafia in the mid-20th century and its ethos has been garish from the beginning. When the early Flamingo sign was taken down in the 90's, there wasn't even interest to preserve that, so that essentially there is no Vegas tradition at all, just a weird evolution from pure gambling and low prurience to bland family-values theme-park emphasis with the gambling still very much there, but hidden away.

Los Angeles doesn't so much care about its heritage in general (although there's a real 'old money' there, with the California Club, the Valley Hunt Club, the Chandlers and Otises, Mark Taper and the rest of Pasadena quite outside the more nouveau money of Beverly Hills and the rest of the Westside), there is some continuity that makes an interesting juxtaposition with the seemingly random way the place has grown. They've been trying to 'catch up with New York' for a couple of decades now, and in some ways they have surpassed New York, in other ways they've tried but aren't anywhere near (as in the performing arts, where the quality is sometimes of the highest, but there's not nearly as much of it, because much smaller demand.) When L.A. decides to gentrify, as it has been for the last few years along Hollywood Boulevard, it still gets lost in the vastness of the spaces, meaning essentially that there's just still so much of it left. The gentrification of Hollywood Boulevard is about 1% of what has happened at Times Square. Even the original Disneyland is in neighbouring Orange County, but with everything that sprawling, you have to go in search of it--it in no way surrounds you. My impression is that people want to get immersed in the sensation of Las Vegas's elecricity and can do so.

Also, quite simply, since I live here, I am aware much more acutely of what is run over--and my impression is that Manhattan has a more and more corporate feel all over it, that everything small and intimate is getting squashed, and pretty damned fast.

But the main difference I make in Los Angeles and Las Vegas is that the former really does have an important cultural history, and the latter's history exists minimally, but with a few folk heroes like Bugsy, what Sinatra did one time at Caesar's Palace, etc., but not much, and not at all valued by its inhabitants. It's a city of Today, the big boom town barely more substantial than Orlando except in the new ways I don't understand. Los Angeles is, comparatively, 'Yesterday,' almost hoary with history by comparison.

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