Showing posts with label Chess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chess. Show all posts

Friday, 2 August 2019


" In considering the anxiety that consumes so much of human experience, [Petrarch] writes, “And what is the cause hereof, but only our own lightness & daintiness: for we seem to be good for nothing else, but to be tossed hither & thither like a Tennise bal, being creatures of very short life, of infinite carefulness, & yet ignorant unto what shore to sail with our ship.”

A metaphor for human existence, then, and for fate: “We are merely the stars’ tennis-balls,” in John Webster’s “Duchess of Malfi,” “struck and banded / Which way please them.” That is one tradition. In another, tennis becomes a symbol of frivolity, of a different kind of “lightness.” Grown men playing with balls. The history of the game’s being used that way is twined up with an anecdote from the reign of Henry V, the powerful young king who had once been Shakespeare’s reckless Prince Hal. According to one early chronicler, “The Dauphin, thinking King Henry to be given to such plays and light follies . . . sent to him a tun of tennis-balls.” King Henry’s imagined reply at the battle of Agincourt was rendered into verse, probably by the poet-monk John Lydgate, around 1536:

Some hard tennis balls I have hither brought

Of marble and iron made full round.

I swear, by Jesu that me dear bought,

They shall beat the walls to the ground.

That story flowers into a couplet of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” circa 1599. The package from the Dauphin arrives. Henry’s uncle, the Duke of Exeter, takes it. “What treasure, uncle?” the king asks. “Tennis-balls, my liege,” Exeter answers. “And we understand him well,” Henry says (a line meant to echo an earlier one, said under very different circumstances, Hal’s equally famous “I know you all and will awhile uphold”):

How he comes o’er us with our wilder days

Not measuring what use we made of them.

A more eccentric instance of tennis-as-metaphor pops up in Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” where the tennis court is compared with the ocean. It occurs in the part of the play that scholars now believe was written by a tavern-keeper named George Wilkins. Pericles has just been tossed half dead onto the Greek shore and is discovered by three fishermen. He says,

A man whom both the waters and the wind,

In that vast tennis-court, hath made the ball

For them to play upon, entreats you pity him.

These lines may cause some modern readers to recall David Foster Wallace’s “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley,” an essay about learning to play the game in the central Midwest, where extreme winds are an almost constant factor, but where Wallace succeeded, he tells us, in part because of a “weird robotic detachment” from the “unfairnesses of wind and weather.”

David Foster Wallace wrote about tennis because life gave it to him—he had played the game well at the junior level—and because he was a writer who in his own way made use of wilder days, turning relentlessly in his work to the stuff of his own experience. But the fact of the game in his biography came before any thought of its use as material. At least I assume that’s the case. It can be amazing how early in life some writers figure out what they are and start to see their lives as stories that can be controlled. It is perhaps not far-fetched to imagine Wallace’s noticing early on that tennis is a good sport for literary types and purposes. It draws the obsessive and brooding. It is perhaps the most isolating of games. Even boxers have a corner, but in professional tennis it is a rules violation for your coach to communicate with you beyond polite encouragement, and spectators are asked to keep silent while you play. Your opponent is far away, or, if near, is indifferently hostile. It may be as close as we come to physical chess, or a kind of chess in which the mind and body are at one in attacking essentially mathematical problems. So, a good game not just for writers but for philosophers, too. The perfect game for Wallace.

He wrote about it in fiction, essays, journalism, and reviews; it may be his most consistent theme at the surface level. Wallace himself drew attention, consciously or not, to both his love for the game and its relevance to how he saw the world. He knew something, too, about the contemporary literature of the sport. The close attention to both physics and physical detail that energizes the opening of his 1996 Esquire_ piece on a then-young Michael Joyce (a promising power baseliner who became a sought-after coach and helped Maria Sharapova win two of her Grand Slam titles) echoes clearly the first lines of John McPhee’s “Levels of the Game” _(one of the few tennis books I can think of that give as much pleasure as the one you’re holding): “Arthur Ashe, his feet apart, his knees slightly bent, lifts a tennis ball into the air. The toss is high and forward. If the ball were allowed to drop, it would, in Ashe’s words, ‘make a parabola.’ ”

For me, the cumulative effect of Wallace’s tennis-themed nonfiction is a bit like being presented with a mirror, one of those segmented mirrors they build and position in space, only this one is pointed at a writer’s mind. The game he writes about is one that, like language, emphasizes the closed system, makes a fetish of it (“Out!”). He seems both to exult and to be trapped in its rules, its cruelties. He loves the game but yearns to transcend it. As always in Wallace’s writing, Wittgenstein is the philosopher who most haunts the approach, the Wittgenstein who told us that reality is inseparable from language (“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”), and that language is inseparable from game (both being at root “part of an activity, a form of life”).

From such a description a reader might conclude that the writer under discussion was dry and abstract, and in the end only using the sport, in a convenient, manipulative way, to say other things, which he deemed more significant—but that is not the writer you’ll meet in the following pages. This is instead one who can transpose on-court sensations into his prose. In those paragraphs that describe how growing up in a windy country shaped his game, briefly allowing him to excel over more talented opponents who tended to get frustrated in unpredictable conditions, he tells us that he was “able to use the currents kind of the way a pitcher uses spit. I could hit curves way out into cross-breezes that’d drop the ball just fair; I had a special wind-serve that had so much spin the ball turned oval in the air and curved left to right. . . .” In reviewing Tracy Austin’s autobiography, he finds a way, despite his disappointment with the book, to say something about athletic greatness and mediocrity, and what truly differentiates them, remembering how as a player he would often “get divided, paralyzed. As most ungreat athletes do. Freeze up, choke. Lose our focus. Become self-conscious. Cease to be wholly present in our wills and choices and movements.” Unlike the great, who become so in part because it would never occur to them not to be “totally present.” Their “blindness and dumbness,” in other words, are not “the price of the gift” but “its essence,” and are even the gift itself. The writer, existing only in reflection, is of all beings most excluded from the highest realms.

Possibly Wallace’s finest tennis piece, certainly his most famous, is “Federer Both Flesh and Not,” an essay first published in 2006 in the Times’ short-lived sports magazine Play. The greatest tennis writer of his generation was writing about the greatest player of his generation. The sentence needs no qualifiers. Federer himself later remarked, in a question-and-answer forum, that he was astonished at what a “comprehensive” piece Wallace had produced, despite the fact that Federer had spent only “20 min with him in the ATP office.” But I doubt Wallace wanted more face time than that. He had come to Wimbledon in search of not the man Roger Federer but rather the being Federer seemed to become when he competed. What Wallace wanted to see occurred only as spectacle. In that respect and others, it is interesting to compare the Federer piece with the profile Wallace had written precisely a decade before, about Michael Joyce. I tend to prefer the earlier piece, for its thick description and subtleties, while recognizing the greatness of the later one. In the Joyce piece, Wallace had written about a nobody, a player no one had heard of and who was never going to make it on the tour. That was the subtext, and at times the text, of the essay: you could be that_ good and still not be good enough. The essay was about agony. In Federer, though, he had a player who offered him a different subject: transcendence. What it actually looked like. An athlete who appeared “to be exempt, at least in part, from certain physical laws.” One can see exactly what Wallace means in footage of the point he breaks down so beautifully—a “sixteen-stroke point” that reads as dramatically as a battle scene—which occurred in the second set of Federer’s 2006 Wimbledon final match against Rafael Nadal, a point that ends with a backhand one can replay infinite times and somehow come no closer to comprehending, struck from about an inch inside the baseline with some kind of demented spin that causes the ball to slip _over the net and vanish. Nadal never touches it. Wallace is able not only to give us the moment but to let us see the strategic and geometric intelligence that went into setting it up, the ability Federer had (has, as of this writing) to “hypnotize” opponents through shot selection.

The key sentences in the Federer essay, to my mind, occur in the paragraph that mentions “evolution.” In discussing the “power baseline” style that has defined the game in the modern era—two heavy hitters standing back and blasting wrist-fracturing ground strokes at each other—Wallace writes that “it is not, as pundits have publicly feared for years, the evolutionary endpoint of tennis. The player who’s shown this to be true is Roger Federer.” One imagines his writing this sentence with something almost like gratitude. It had taken genius to break through the brutal dictates of the power game and bring back an all-court style, to bring back art. And Federer, as Wallace emphasizes, did this from “within” the power game; he did it while handling shots that were moving at hurricane force. Inside the wind tunnel of modern tennis, he crafted a style that seemed made for a butterfly, yet was crushingly effective. What a marvelous subject, and figure, for a twenty-first-century novelist, a writer working in a form that is also (perpetually?) said to be at the end of its evolution, and an artist who similarly, when at his best, showed new ways forward.

This piece was drawn from the introduction to “String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis,” which is out May 10th from Library of America.

John Jeremiah Sullivan is a contributing writer for the Times Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. His forthcoming book is “The Prime Minister of Paradise.”

Bob, Jack Ryan here.

Good morning, Jack.

Listen, I was just thinking, maybe we got off to a bad start here.
We're going to be working together here.
Maybe we should spend some time. Get to know each other a little better.
You pIay Tennis?


You play Tennis?

Yeah, yeah, I play Tennis.

Well, how about we get together sometime?
Next week maybe. Hour before we start work or something.

Jack — 


Computer Theft is a Serious Crime.

So are crimes against The Constitution.

• "Writers would come in an say, 'What about the chaos theory?' And someone else would say, 'Well, what about it?' Everyone would struggle but nobody would devise a story. It wasn't until Jim Trombetta pitched that Michael [Piller] saw a story." 

• Michael Piller conceived Martus Mazur to be the wayward son of Guinan. Guinan herself was to appear in the episode but Whoopi Goldberg was unavailable. All the references to Guinan were removed and only Martus's status as an El-Aurian was retained. 

• "because there was this subplot of the racquetball game that they had wanted to put in a number of times and had not been able to, so they put it in this [episode] after I was gone because they felt it made the most sense since this was about games." He goes onto say, "I would have liked to have done more with the quantum-luck thing. I had the idea that if randomness could be managed, then you're in a lot of trouble. Basically, the universe is random; it's a mind boggling thing. Eventually Quark would beat [Martus] by using Mr. Randomness. We never got into that, although I would have liked to." 

Monday, 29 July 2019


Myth, chased from The Real by the violence of History, finds refuge in Cinema. 


In a violent and contemporary period of history (let’s say between the two world wars and the cold war), it is myth that invades cinema as imaginary content. It is the golden age of despotic and legendary resurrections. Myth, chased from the real by the violence of history, finds refuge in cinema. 

Today, it is history itself that invades the cinema according to the same scenario—the historical stake chased from our lives by this sort of immense neutralization, which is dubbed peaceful coexistence on a global level, and pacified monotony on the quo­ tidian level—this history exorcised by a slowly or brutally con­ gealing society celebrates its resurrection in force on the screen, according to the same process that used to make lost myths live again.

History is our lost referential, that is to say our myth. It is by virtue of this fact that it takes the place of myths on the screen. The illusion would be to congratulate oneself on this “awareness of history on the part of cinema,” as one congratulated oneself on the “entrance of politics into the university.” Same misunder­ standing, same mystification. The politics that enter the univer­sity are those that come from history, a retro politics, emptied of substance and legalized in their superficial exercise, with the air of a game and a field of adventure, this kind of politics is like sexuality or permanent education (or like social security in its time), that is, posthumous liberalization. 

The great event of this period, the great trauma, is this decline of strong referential, these death pangs of the real and of the rational that open onto an age of simulation. Whereas so many generations, and particularly the last, lived in the march of his­ tory, in the euphoric or catastrophic expectation of a revolu­ tion—today one has the impression that history has retreated, leaving behind it an indifferent nebula, traversed by currents, but emptied of references. It is into this void that the phantasms of a past history recede, the panoply of events, ideologies, retro fashions—no longer so much because people believe in them or still place some hope in them, but simply to resurrect the period when at least there was history, at least there was violence (albeit fascist), when at least life and death were at stake. Anything serves to escape this void, this leukemia of history and of politics, this hemorrhage of values—it is in proportion to this distress that all content can be evoked pell-mell, that all previous history is resurrected in bulk—a controlling idea no longer selects, only nostalgia endlessly accumulates: war, fascism, the pageantry of the belle epoque, or the revolutionary struggles, everything is equivalent and is mixed indiscriminately in the same morose and funereal exaltation, in the same retro fascination. There is how­ ever a privileging of the immediately preceding era (fascism, war, the period immediately following the war—the innumerable films that play on these themes for us have a closer, more per­ verse, denser, more confused essence). One can explain it by evo­ king the Freudian theory of fetishism (perhaps also a retro hy­ pothesis). This trauma (loss of referentials) is similar to the discovery of the difference between the sexes in children, as se­ rious, as profound, as irreversible: the fetishization of an object intervenes to obscure this unbearable discovery, but precisely, says Freud, this object is not just any object, it is often the last object perceived before the traumatic discovery. Thus the fetishized history will preferably be the one immediately preced­ ing our “irreferential” era. Whence the omnipresence of fascism and of war in retro—a coincidence, an affinity that is not at all political; it is naive to conclude that the evocation of fascism signals a current renewal of fascism (it is precisely because one is no longer there, because one is in something else, which is still less amusing, it is for this reason that fascism can again become fascinating in its filtered cruelty, aestheticized by retro).1 

History thus made its triumphal entry into cinema, post­ humously (the term historical has undergone the same fate: a “historical” moment, monument, congress, figure are in this way designated as fossils). Its reinjection has no value as conscious awareness but only as nostalgia for a lost referential.

This does not signify that history has never appeared in cinema as a powerful moment, as a contemporary process, as insurrec­tion and not as resurrection. In the “real” as in cinema, there was history but there isn’t any anymore. Today, the history that is “given back” to us (precisely because it was taken from us) has no more of a relation to a “historical real” than neofiguration in painting does to the classical figuration of the real. Neofiguration is an invocation of resemblance, but at the same time the flagrant proof of the disappearance of objects in their very representation: hyperreal. Therein objects shine in a sort of hyperresemblance (like history in contemporary cinema) that makes it so that fun­ damentally they no longer resemble anything, except the empty figure of resemblance, the empty form of representation. It is a question of life or death: these objects are no longer either living or deadly. That is why they are so exact, so minute, frozen in the state in which a brutal loss of the real would have seized them. All, but not only, those historical films whose very perfection is disquieting: Chinatown, Three Days of the Condor, Barry Lyndon, 1900, All the President’s Men, etc. One has the impression of it being a question of perfect remakes, of extraordinary montages that emerge more from a combinatory culture (or McLuhanesque mosaic), of large photo-, kino-, historicosynthesis machines, etc., rather than one of veritable films. Let’s understand each other: their quality is not in question. The problem is rather that in some sense we are left completely indifferent. Take The Last Picture Show: like me, you would have had to be sufficiently distracted to have thought it to be an original production from the 1950s: a very good film about the customs in and the atmo­ sphere of the American small town. Just a slight suspicion: it was a little too good, more in tune, better than the others, without the psychological, moral, and sentimental blotches of the films of that era. Stupefaction when one discovers that it is a 1970s film, perfect retro, purged, pure, the hyperrealist restitution of 1950s cinema. One talks of remaking silent films, those will also doubtlessly be better than those of the period. A whole genera­tion of films is emerging that will be to those one knew what the android is to man: marvelous artifacts, without weakness, pleas­ing simulacra that lack only the imaginary, and the hallucination inherent to cinema. Most of what we see today (the best) is al­ ready of this order. Barry Lyndon is the best example: one never did better, one will never do better in ... in what? Not in evok­ ing, not even in evoking, in simulating. All the toxic radiation has been filtered, all the ingredients are there, in precise doses, not a single error. 

Cool, cold pleasure, not even aesthetic in the strict sense: func­ tional pleasure, equational pleasure, pleasure of machination. One only has to dream of Visconti (Guepard, Senso, etc., which in certain respects make one think of Barry Lyndon) to grasp the difference, not only in style, but in the cinematographic act. In Visconti, there is meaning, history, a sensual rhetoric, dead time, a passionate game, not only in the historical content, but in the mise-en-scene. None of that in Kubrick, who manipulates his film like a chess player, who makes an operational scenario of history. And this does not return to the old opposition between the spirit of finesse and the spirit of geometry: that opposition still comes from the game and the stakes of meaning, whereas we are entering an era of films that in themselves no longer have meaning strictly speaking, an era of great synthesizing machines of varying geometry. 

Is there something of this already in Leone’s Westerns? Maybe. All the registers slide in that direction. Chinatown: it is the detec­tive movie renamed by laser. It is not really a question of perfec­ tion: technical perfection can be part of meaning, and in that case it is neither retro nor hyperrealist, it is an effect of art. Here, tech­ nical perfection is an effect of the model: it is one of the referential tactical values. In the absence of real syntax of meaning, one has nothing but the tactical values of a group in which are admirably combined, for example, the CIA as a mythological machine that does everything, Robert Redford as polyvalent star, social rela­ tions as a necessary reference to history, technical virtuosity as a necessary reference to cinema. 

The cinema and its trajectory: from the most fantastic or myth­ ical to the realistic and the hyperrealistic. 

The cinema in its current efforts is getting closer and closer, and with greater and greater perfection, to the absolute real, in its banality, its veracity, in its naked obviousness, in its boredom, and at the same time in its presumption, in its pretension to being the real, the immediate, the unsignified, which is the craziest of un­dertakings (similarly, functionalism’s pretension to designat­ing—design—the greatest degree of correspondence between the object and its function, and its use value, is a truly absurd enterprise); no culture has ever had toward its signs this naive and paranoid, puritan and terrorist vision. 

Terrorism is always that of The Real. 

Concurrently with this effort toward an absolute correspon­ dence with the real, cinema also approaches an absolute corre­ spondence with itself—and this is not contradictory: it is the very definition of the hyperreal. Hypotyposis and specularity. Cinema plagiarizes itself, recopies itself, remakes its classics, retroactivates its original myths, remakes the silent film more perfectly than the original, etc.: all of this is logical, the cinema is fascinated by itself as a lost object as much as it (and we) are fasci­ nated by the real as a lost referent. The cinema and the imaginary (the novelistic, the mythical, unreality, including the delirious use of its own technique) used to have a lively, dialectical, full, dramatic relation. The relation that is being formed today be­ tween the cinema and the real is an inverse, negative relation: it results from the loss of specificity of one and of the other. The cold collage, the cool promiscuity, the asexual nuptials of two cold media that evolve in an asymptotic line toward each other: the cinema attempting to abolish itself in the cinematographic (or televised) hyperreal. 

History is a strong myth, perhaps, along with the unconscious, the last great myth. It is a myth that at once subtended the possi­ bility of an “objective” enchainment of events and causes and the possibility of a narrative enchainment of discourse. The age of history, if one can call it that, is also the age of the novel. It is this fabulous character, the mythical energy of an event or of a narra­ tive, that today seems to be increasingly lost. Behind a performa­ tive and demonstrative logic: the obsession with historical fidelity, with a perfect rendering (as elsewhere the obsession with real time or with the minute quotidianeity of Jeanne Hilmann doing the dishes), this negative and implacable fidelity to the materiality of the past, to a particular scene of the past or of the present, to the restitution of an absolute simulacrum of the past all complicitous in this, and this is irreversible. Because cinema itself contributed to the disappearance of history, and to the ad­ vent of the archive. Photography and cinema contributed in large part to the secularization of history, to fixing it in its visible, “ob­jective” form at the expense of the myths that once traversed it. 

Today cinema can place all its talent, all its technology in the service of reanimating what it itself contributed to liquidating. It only resurrects ghosts, and it itself is lost therein. 

Note i. 

Fascism itself, the mystery of its appearance and of its collective energy, with which no interpretation has been able to come to grips (neither the Marxist one of political manipulation by dominant classes, nor the Reichian one of the sexual repression of the masses, nor the Deleuzian one of despotic paranoia), can already be inter­ preted as the “irrational” excess of mythic and political referential, the mad intensification of collective value (blood, race, people, etc.), the reinjection of death, of a “political aesthetic of death” at a time when the process of the disenchantment of value and of collective values, of the rational secularization and unidimensionalization of all life, of the operationalization of all social and individual life al­ ready makes itself strongly felt in the West. Yet again, everything seems to escape this catastrophe of value, this neutralization and pacification of life. Fascism is a resistance to this, even if it is a pro­ found, irrational, demented resistance, it would not have tapped into this massive energy if it hadn’t been a resistance to something much worse. Fascism’s cruelty, its terror is on the level of this other terror that is the confusion of the real and the rational, which deepened in the West, and it is a response to that. 

THE CHINA SYNDROME The fundamental stake is at the level of television and information. Just as the extermination of the Jews disap­ peared behind the televised event Holocaust—the cold medium of television having been simply substituted for the cold system of extermination one believed to be exorcising through it—so The China Syndrome is a great example of the supremacy of the televised event over the nuclear event which, itself, remains improbable and in some sense imaginary. 

Besides, the film shows this to be the case (without wanting to): that TV is present precisely where it happens is not coinci­dental, it is the intrusion of TV into the reactor that seems to give rise to the nuclear incident—because TV is like its anticipation and its model in the everyday universe: telefission of the real and of the real world; because TV and information in general are a form of catastrophe in the formal and topological sense Rene Thom gives the word: a radical qualitative change of a whole system. Or, rather, TV and the nuclear are of the same nature: behind the “hot” and negentropic concepts of energy and infor­ mation, they have the same power of deterrence as cold systems do. TV itself is also a nuclear process of chain reaction, but implo­ sive: it cools and neutralizes the meaning and the energy of events. Thus the nuclear, behind the presumed risk of explosion, that is to say of hot catastrophe, conceals a long, cold catastrophe, the universalization of a system of deterrence. 

At the end of the film again comes the second massive intru­ sion of the press and of TV that instigates the drama—the murder of the technical director by the Special Forces, a drama that sub­ stitutes for the nuclear catastrophe that will not occur. 

The homology of the nuclear and of television can be read directly in the images: nothing resembles the control and tele­ command headquarters of the nuclear power station more than TV studios, and the nuclear consoles are combined with those of the recording and broadcasting studios in the same imaginary. Thus everything takes place between these two poles: of the other “center,” that of the reactor, in principle the veritable heart of the matter, we will know nothing; it, like the real, has vanished and become illegible, and is at bottom unimportant in the film (when one attempts to suggest it to us, in its imminent catastrophe, it does not work on the imaginary plane: the drama unfolds on the screens and nowhere else). 

HarrisburgWatergate, and Network: such is the trilogy of The China Syndrome—an indissoluble trilogy in which one no longer knows which is the effect and which is the symptom: the ideolog­ ical argument (Watergate effect), isn’t it nothing but the symp­ tom of the nuclear (Harrisburg effect) or of the computer science model (Network effect)—the real (Harrisburg), isn’t it nothing but the symptom of the imaginary (Network and China Syn­ drome) or the opposite? Marvelous indifferentiation, ideal con­ stellation of simulation. Marvelous title, then, this China Syn­ drome, because the reversibility of symptoms and their con­ vergence in the same process constitute precisely what we call a syndrome—that it is Chinese adds the poetic and intellectual quality of a conundrum or supplication. 

Obsessive conjunction of The China Syndrome and Harrisburg. But is all that so involuntary? Without positing magical links between the simulacrum and the real, it is clear that the Syn­ drome is not a stranger to the “real” accident in Harrisburg, not according to a causal logic, but according to the relations of con­ tagion and silent analogy that link the real to models and to sim­ ulacra: to television’s induction of the nuclear into the film corre­ sponds, with a troubling obviousness, the film’s induction of the nuclear incident in Harrisburg. Strange precession of a film over the real, the most surprising that was given us to witness: the real corresponded point by point to the simulacrum, including the suspended, incomplete character of the catastrophe, which is es­ sential from the point of view of deterrence: the real arranged itself, in the image of the film, to produce a simulation of catas­ trophe. 

From there to reverse our logic and to see in The China Syn­drome the veritable event and in Harrisburg its simulacrum, there is only one step that must be cheerfully taken. Because it is via the same logic that, in the film, nuclear reality arises from the televi­ sion effect, and that in “reality” Harrisburg arises from the China Syndrome cinema effect. 

But The China Syndrome is also not the original prototype of Harrisburg, one is not the simulacrum of which the other would be the real: there are only simulacra, and Harrisburg is a sort of second-order simulation. There is certainly a chain reaction somewhere, and we will perhaps die of it, but this chain reaction is never that of the nuclear, it is that of simulacra and of the simula­ tion where all the energy of the real is effectively swallowed, no longer in a spectacular nuclear explosion, but in a secret and continuous implosion, and that today perhaps takes a more deathly turn than that of all the explosions that rock us. 

Because an explosion is always a promise, it is our hope: note how much, in the film as in Harrisburg, the whole world waits for something to blow up, for destruction to announce itself and remove us from this unnameable panic, from this panic of deter­ rence that it exercises in the invisible form of the nuclear. That the “heart” of the reactor at last reveals its hot power of destruc­ tion, that it reassures us about the presence of energy, albeit cata­ strophic, and bestows its spectacle on us. Because unhappiness is when there is no nuclear spectacle, no spectacle of nuclear energy in itself (Hiroshima is over), and it is for that reason that it is rejected—it would be perfectly accepted if it lent itself to spec­ tacle as previous forms of energy did. Parousia of catastrophe: substantial food for our messianic libido. 

But that is precisely what will never happen. What will happen will never again be the explosion, but the implosion. No more energy in its spectacular and pathetic form—all the romanticism of the explosion, which had so much charm, being at the same time that of revolution—but the cold energy of the simulacrum and of its distillation in homeopathic doses in the cold systems of information. 

What else do the media dream of besides creating the event simply by their presence? Everyone decries it, but everyone is secretly fascinated by this eventuality. Such is the logic of sim­ulacra, it is no longer that of divine predestination, it is that of the precession of models, but it is just as inexorable. And it is because of this that events no longer have meaning: it is not that they are insignificant in themselves, it is that they were preceded by the model, with which their processes only coincided. Thus it would have been marvelous to repeat the script for The China Syndrome at Fessenheim, during the visit offered to the journalists by the EDF (French Electric Company), to repeat on this occasion the accident linked to the magic eye, to the provocative presence of the media. Alas, nothing happened. And on the other hand yes! so powerful is the logic of simulacra: a week after, the unions discovered fissures in the reactors. Miracle of contagions, miracle of analogic chain reactions. 

Thus, the essence of the film is not in any respect the Watergate effect in the person of Jane Fonda, not in any respect TV as a means of exposing nuclear vices, but on the contrary TV as the twin orbit and twin chain reaction of the nuclear one. Besides, just at the end—and there the film is unrelenting in regard to its own argument—when Jane Fonda makes the truth explode di­ rectly (maximum Watergate effect), her image is juxtaposed with what will inexorably follow it and efface it on the screen: a com­ mercial of some kind. The Network effect goes far beyond the Watergate effect and spreads mysteriously into the Harrisburg effect, that is to say not into the nuclear threat, but into the simu­ lation of nuclear catastrophe. 

So, it is simulation that is effective, never the real. The simula­ tion of nuclear catastrophe is the strategic result of this generic and universal undertaking of deterrence: accustoming the people to the ideology and the discipline of absolute security—to the metaphysics of fission and fissure. To this end the fissure must be a fiction. A real catastrophe would delay things, it would con­ stitute a retrograde incident, of the explosive kind (without changing the course of things: did Hiroshima perceptibly delay, deter, the universal process of deterrence?). 

In the film, also, real fusion would be a bad argument: the film would regress to the level of a disaster movie—weak by defini­ tion, because it means returning things to their pure event. The China Syndrome, itself, finds its strength in filtering catastrophe, in the distillation of the nuclear specter through the omnipresent hertzian relays of information. It teaches us (once again without meaning to) that nuclear catastrophe does not occur, is not meant to happen, in the real either, any more than the atomic clash was at the dawning of the cold war. The equilibrium of terror rests on the eternal deferral of the atomic clash. The atom and the nuclear are made to be disseminated for deterrent ends, the power of catastrophe must, instead of stupidly exploding, be disseminated in homeopathic, molecular doses, in the continuous reservoirs of information. Therein lies the true contamination: never biolog­ ical and radioactive, but, rather, a mental destructuration through a mental strategy of catastrophe. 

If one looks carefully, the film introduces us to this mental strategy, and in going further, it even delivers a lesson diametri­ cally opposed to that of Watergate: if every strategy today is that of mental terror and of deterrence tied to the suspension and the eternal simulation of catastrophe, then the only means of mitigat­ ing this scenario would be to make the catastrophe arrive, to pro­ duce or to reproduce a real catastrophe. To which Nature is at times given: in its inspired moments, it is God who through his cataclysms unknots the equilibrium of terror in which humans are imprisoned. Closer to us, this is what terrorism is occupied with as well: making real, palpable violence surface in opposition to the invisible violence of security. Besides, therein lies terror­ism’s ambiguity. 


i. The incident at the nuclear reactor on Three Mile Island, which will shortly follow the release of the film

Friday, 26 July 2019

The Messenger


I know you people are caught in the middle of this. 

In a sense, we all are.

I wish there was something I could do.
The only thing left for us is to pray.
Pray for the safety of our families, for our countries, for our planet.
May God forgive us and protect us.

HAL, give me a system status report, please.

HAL-9000 :
Just one moment, please.
I'm sorry for the delay.
My voice recognition circuits are not completely restored although, as you can see, they are improving.
All systems are functional.
There is a small pressure leak in the aft heating unit. 
It is nothing serious.
I can compensate for it by using the redundant units.

Thank you.

HAL-9000 :
Dr. Floyd?


HAL-9000 :
Would you like to play a game of chess?
I play very well.

I'm sure you do. 
No, thank you.

HAL-9000 :
Dr. Floyd?

What is it, HAL?

HAL-9000 :
There is a message for you.

Who's calling?

HAL-9000 :
There is no identification.

What's the message?

HAL-9000 :
Message as follows:
It is Dangerous to Remain Here.
You Must Leave Within Two Days.


HAL-9000 :
Do you want me to repeat the message, Dr. Floyd?

Who recorded it?

HAL-9000 :
This is not a recording.

Who's sending it?

HAL-9000 :
There is no identification.

I don't understand.

HAL-9000 :
Neither do I.

Is this message by voice or keyboard?

HAL-9000 :
I don't know.

My response is:
We don't have enough fuel for an earlier departure.

HAL-9000 :
The answer is:
I'm aware of these facts.
Nevertheless, you must leave within two days.

HAL, who the hell is sending this?

HAL-9000 :
I'm sorry, Dr. Floyd. 
I don't know.

Well, tell whoever it is that I can't take any of this seriously unless I know who I'm talking to.

HAL-9000 :
Dr. Floyd?


HAL-9000 : 
The response is:
I was David Bowman.
Do you want me to repeat the last response?

No, no.
Tell Curnow that this is no time for jokes.

HAL-9000 :
Dr. Curnow is not sending the message.
He is in Accessway 2.

Well, tell whoever it is that...
...I can't accept that identification without proof.

HAL-9000 :
The response is: 
I understand.
It is important that you believe me.
Look behind you.

Hello, Dr. Floyd.
...believe me.

What are you?

This is very difficult for me.
I don't have much time.
I've been allowed to give you this warning.
You must leave here in two days.

By who?

I can't explain.
You see, something is going to happen.
You must leave.

What's going to happen?

Something Wonderful.


I understand how you feel.
You see, it's all very clear to me now.
The Whole Thing.
It's Wonderful.

Please, if--

Goodbye, Dr. Floyd.
We can have no further contact.
You have two days.

We can't leave in two days.

There may be another message after if all goes well.

What's going to happen?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Three Quark Model of Alien

The Blind Chessman: 
I don't suppose you know what "manichaean" means yet?

Dane "Jack Frost" MacGowan: 
Yeah, it's somebody from Manchester. 


There ARE No Dualities

Only Symmetries

“That's what this Manichaean Devil does. I'd like to mention an interesting side-line about Vietnam. The Vietnam escalation modestly began in the Kennedy Era, and Kennedy was said to have around him the Irish Mafia. If you are  familiar with the lore of old Ireland, you'll know that the Irish mother would tell her bothersome child, 
"If you aren't  a good boy, the cong will get you.' 

The cong was a ghost in the closet. 

In Vietnam, the word for a beggar is a kha, and they were briefing about these beggars, these trouble-makers in Vietnam, and they were calling them the Viet Kha. 

Kennedy's young Irish Mafia men who did not know much about Vietnam thought they were talking about the  Viet Cong, the devil in the closet, and the word "Viet Cong" was created by mistake, by hearing the word "kha" as a Vietnamese word and "cong" as the Irish ghost. 

It just happened that in that era, we all of a sudden got Viet Cong  phonetically out of the misapplication of the word right in an office in the Pentagon of Washington, and not out in the field. 

Ever after that, it was the Viet Cong. 

That's how we create our Manichaean Devils.

• That's how we create Our Opposition

• That's how we spend 6 trillion dollars

" Maury Gellman, Nobel Prize-winner, got his Three-Quark-Model out of Finnegan’s Wake…. The Three Quarks are major characters in Finnegan’s Wake, the two twins who are opposites —

And the third twin who is both twins combined and still a third independent character.

Thursday, 25 April 2019


Chess is a Game of War — and Pawns Linked Together can WIN a Game of Chess :

• In The Opening, We link Together and control the flow of The Board;


• In The Endgame, We Change and Elevate Our Nature to Become The NEW Leadership Cadre.