alchemy and attics: even nice trash finishes last

Arousing the liveliest regret in the dreamer….

The scrap heap of history. The trash heap of history.Discarded and abandoned objects on the pile of the dustheap. Shipwrecked artifacts left to ebb and flow. So, what does ecology, the green movement and recycle and re-use really mean in its essential form. Its been appropriated and commodified: green energy, green jobs and as a green constraint to what and how we can think. The aesthetic of green, natural selection.

But, ecology is more than a compost pile in a corner of the back yard. It’s actually more a garage sale, a yard sale of the used and expired, the unwanted and unloved, the undearly departed , the unwholesome, and objects that have seemingly lost their affection, practicality, utility, and engender no status and distinction, no basis for invidious comparison. In short, they are unworthy are are sent back into nature from whence they arose. To use Viktor Frankl, they are objects that have lost their will to power, but perhaps if we look at the detritus, they still contain a will to meaning. Picking through the dustbins and scrapheaps of history, much can be discovered about ourselves and the world we live in.

---More important, it is generally thought that National Socialism stands only for brutishness and terror. But this is not true. National Socialism—more broadly, fascism—also stands for an ideal or rather ideals that are persistent today under the other banners: the ideal of life as art, the cult of beauty, the fetishism of courage, the dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community; the repudiation of the intellect; the family of man (under the parenthood of leaders). These ideals are vivid and moving to many people, and it is dishonest as well as tautological to say that one is affected by Triumph of the Will and Olympia only because they were made by a filmmaker of genius. Riefenstahl's films are still effective because, among other reasons, their longings are still felt, because their content is a romantic ideal to which many continue to be attached and which is expressed in such diverse modes of cultural dissidence and propaganda for new forms of community as the youth/rock culture, primal therapy, anti-psychiatry, Third World camp-following, and belief in the occult. The exaltation of community does not preclude the search for absolute leadership; on the contrary, it may inevitably lead to it.---( Sontag ) Read More:

Fully depreciated and non-fetishized.A bit heavy going. Like reading new music.But well explained. Mellamphy:The myth of chronological progress is thereby counteracted and juxtaposed by the symbol of messianic temporality: the ‘dialectical image’. The object that is no longer ‘useful’ or ‘productive’—the object that no longer provides us with the means or mechanics (technological advantage) of progression, advancement, et cetera—bespeaks in its silent, disused state, an entire (bygone) era, a lifework, a past lifeworld and work. But only—and here is the crux of ( Walter ) Benjamin’s argument—in its aftermath.

The materialist historian therefore performs an aftermathesis: a ‘mathesis’ or ‘algebra’ of the aftermath, in the aftermath. It is only once the object itself has become rubbish—i.e. is relegated to the trash-bin as a ‘has-been’, is dropped onto the messy ‘wreckage-pile’ of history’s ‘refuse’ (that which history in its ‘myth of chronological progress’ refuses), that its revolutionary potential ‘shines forth’. …

Harry Joy photography.---For many such people, it may come as a surprise to learn that the history of ecological politics has not always been inherently and necessarily progressive and benign. In fact, ecological ideas have a history of being distorted and placed in the service of highly regressive ends--even of fascism itself. As Peter Staudenmaier shows in the first essay in this pamphlet, important tendencies in German "ecologism," which has long roots in nineteenth-century nature mysticism, fed into the rise of Nazism in the twentieth century. During the Third Reich, Staudenmaier goes on to show, Nazi "ecologists" even made organic farming, vegetarianism, nature worship, and related themes into key elements not only in their ideology but in their governmental policies. Moreover, Nazi "ecological" ideology was used to justify the destruction of European Jewry. Yet some of the themes that Nazi ideologists articulated bear an uncomfortably close resemblance to themes familiar to ecologically concerned people today. ---Read More:

In the attics of my life
Full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know
And lights no eye can see
When there was no ear to hear
You sang to me

I have spent my life
Seeking all that’s still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune
And closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to me… ( Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia )

---The term "ecology" was invented in Germany in the nineteenth Century by the pioneering zoologist Ernst Haeckel. Via his widely influential writings and lectures, Haeckel elaborated a holistic view of man's symbiotic relationship with the natural world. To Haeckel, and those who followed his philosophy of "Monism", natural laws governed the workings of the natural world and human civilization alike. Haeckel and others of his philosophical school taught respect for nature and preached conservation. What many people do not know about Haeckel, however, is his connection to national socialism. Haeckel placed his views about nature conservation into a world view similar to that of Social Darwinism Here, only the strong (both individually and on a national scale) and those willing to fight, survived the constant upward struggle that characterized national evolutionary development. Nations, cultures, and peoples could therefore be categorized "scientifically" into those that were superior and those that were inferior, with the latter being considered expendable and even worthy of destruction. Haeckel also had racial views similar to Hitler.---Read More: image:

…In this sense the task of the historical materialist is akin not only to the algebraic operation (the work of mathesis, the algebra of the mages or
sages—that ‘magic’ of which Scholem spoke) but also to the alchemical one: the work of the alchemist-philosophers who engaged the material world in the hope of having the ‘true philosophical gold’ (the veritable philosophical ‘matter’) ‘shine forth’ from the most ‘vile’ and ‘crude’—‘base’, ‘debased’— of substances. What an engagement with historical matter means to and for the historical materialist is pre

ly “that which the ‘philosopher’s stone’ means in alchemy,” Benjamin insisted.

Fred Herzog photography. ---It is a specific set of social relations--above all, the competitive market economy--that is presently destroying the biosphere. Mysticism and biologism, at the very least, deflect public attention away from such social causes. In presenting these essays, we are trying to preserve the all-important progressive and emancipatory implications of ecological politics. More than ever, an ecological commitment requires people today to avoid repeating the errors of the past, lest the ecology movement become absorbed in the mystical and antihumanistic trends that abound today. Read More: image:

…Just as the historical materialist examines the detritus of history, takes up the forgotten and forsaken rubbish or refuse in the hope of encountering the veritable matter of her historical endeavor, so did the alchemists undertake this uncomely and unseemly task. The veritable matter (philosopher’s stone) of the alchemists was an ‘odious’, ‘uncomely’ and downright messy thing—a “gross materiality” as Jung admitted in his study, and this is precisely why it is so hard to find it.

[T]hat is precisely why it is so hard to find the lapis [philosophical matter: the ‘philosopher’s stone’, the lapsed/collapsed lapis philosophorum]: it is exilis, uncomely, it is thrown into the street or the dung-hill, it is the commonest thing to be picked up anywhere […]. But ‘the stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head and the corner’, and the intuition of this possibility arouses the liveliest regret in the dreamer.

In the book of love’s own dream
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old
When I had no wings to fly
You flew to me

to me

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets all are told
And the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me.
…It is only in confronting this odious mess, this uncomely pile of refuse, and engaging it—apprehending it, contemplating it, considering it, and calling for[th] its name—that messianic history reveals itself within immanence of present time, ‘shining forth’ like the alchemical ‘gold’ and
‘goal’ from the dung-hill or trash-heap of history. Only by these base (‘debased’) ‘messy antics’ is the ‘messianic’ mathesis and alchemical algebra
of the historical materialist made possible. The child, the alchemist, and the historical materialist (along with the ‘angel of history’ hovering over such alchemies, algebras, baby building-blocks and babble) all redeem from the refuse-pile of history, and point the way to a new understanding of the political agent and revolutionary social stratum that emerges from the work of Walter Benjamin. Read More:

Helen Levitt photography. ---Leo Durocher:How badly do I want to win? During my early years as a manager, some guy got up at a banquet after I had spoken and kept asking me that same question. Nothing I said seemed to satisfy him until, finally, the perfect illustration flashed into my mind. “If I were playing third base and my mother was rounding third with the run that was going to beat us,” I told him, “I would trip her. Oh, I’d pick her up and I’d brush her off, and then I’d say, ‘Sorry, Mom.’ But nobody beats me!” Read More: image:


Sontag:Fascist aesthetics include but go far beyond the rather special celebration of the primitive to be found in The Last of the Nuba. More generally, they flow from (and justify) a preoccupation with situations of control, submissive behavior, extravagant effort, and the endurance of pain; they endorse two seemingly opposite states, egomania and servitude. The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication or replication of things; and the grouping of people/things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader-figure or force. The fascist dramaturgy centers on the orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets, uniformly garbed and shown in ever swelling numbers. Its choreography alternates between ceaseless motion and a congealed, static, “virile” posing. Fascist art glorifies surrender, it exalts mindlessness, it glamorizes death.Read More:

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