Molly Nesbit

  • Chris Marker

    Some purists rue the monkeys in Terry Gilliam’s new film, but none of them complain about seeing Chris Marker’s name again in theaters (Twelve Monkeys having been inspired by La Jetée). Marker, with Godard, one of the grand old men of revolutionary film in France, has been missed. Missing the slash La Jetée, 1962, froze in the mind, staying close, mesmerized—by Sans Soleil, 1982, wondering what he was doing, for such a man does not completely leave or go idle, even at night. Not knowing that Marker has in recent years been using video on his travels. He returns, as always, with even more

  • HIS COMMON SENSE: MARCEL DUCHAMP

    CAN YOU MAKE a thing have common sense?

    Is this the best question?

    If common sense has a form, it must be shown; if it is a sign of consensus, there must Be some agreement; if it is a solid meaning, is it a reference, like an object or a concept?

    Common sense is not something that we know, only something that we think we know or thought we had.

    A green and yellow basket.

    A-tisket.

    A-tasket.

    “Can one make works that are not «[works] of art»?”1

    Duchamp is speaking or, rather, writing himself a note, an early one for the Large Glass (1915-23). A defining note that many have brushed by, ignored in favor of

  • CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

    IT IS MY PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE Jonathan Crary, a quiet intelligence who comes with many accomplishments, Guggenheim fellow, a member of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, a founding editor of Zone, teacher first of visual art at the University of California at San Diego and now of art history at Columbia, before all that a photographer, though credentials say little about his thoughts, which return repeatedly to parse other things—more generally speaking, the odd physical politics of knowledge itself. Orders of things catch the intelligence and Crary responds, or would it be better to say, he reacts?
     
    Techniques of the Observer, his first book, took modern knowledge to be physical, an effect of sensation. It did not however try to make knowledge itself sensational, no, the quiet intelligence prefers to hammer Goethe into afterimages, truth into flight. He shows what knowledge has felt like, not just what it feels like, shows that feelings change, and shows feelings to have objective attachments.
     
    Crary is the historian-philosopher of our spectacle-lives. He writes in two directions mainly. One of them toward a present: out of the prehistory of the Debordian spectacle, where capital was accumulated to the point where it became images and attention was identified, turned, surreptitiously tunneled. And then he writes another way, toward a future: moving quickly to catch a different spectacle, call it cyberspaced, where images will have to lose their surfaces and acquire dimensions if they are to have any authority or magnetism or life at all. (The same will be true for us.)
     
    In any case, the quiet intelligence writes about the politics outside words as well as names. These are arguments based upon the assumption that those politics exist in durée and that they will continue and that we might be able to feel them too in our eyes and minds and bones.
     
    —MOLLY NESBIT

    For all the claims that our contemporary technological culture constitutes a decisive exceeding of modernity, it is striking how much critical writing on virtual reality, cyberspace, and interactive computer networks is riddled with enduring myths of modernization. In particular, there continues to be a powerful and reciprocal relation between discourses on technology and themes of universality and emancipation, and this is especially so in work that seeks to dramatize how epochal cultural shifts are driven by technological “revolutions.” Even analyses of the most local and subjective technological

  • His Lash

    SEEING-AS: HAIR.

    Miró’s line was thick in the early years, especially if he was painting away from Paris. Shouldn’t be called simply line. Was itself a figure.

    Its connection to the ground however was tangential. It sat on it, like a feather, albeit with resilience, more like a sleeping duck: the line of ink, crayon, pencil, physically different from its neighbor paint, web-footed, hovering on flow, like scum? Aragon said that it was as if he hadn’t really painted, as if the canvas below had once been the painting, making Miró’s mark an alien, late-coming something-else.1 True enough. And yet this

  • Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés

    AFFECT BEING THAT which keeps you there, that which never really becomes an object’s property or adornment, what then can it mean to hear why a work of art has stuck in the mud of another’s mind? I would never expect my affects to be yours.

    To be kept, as am I, by the Étant donnés is to be affected by something invisible. Remember saying to Teeny I’d like to write about the Étant donnés but wasn’t old enough and her saying to me I know what you mean. Affect keeps one waiting, aging, open.

    And happy. With time one sees that one has not been kept waiting for answers. For what, then?

    This is not an

  • APART WITHOUT A FACE: ORLANDO AND THE CRYING GAME

    Yet already he concludes, before the kaleidoscope of her expressions, before this face that from being all surface, smooth and waxed, passed to an almost fluid state of translucid gaiety and from the chiselled polish of an opal to the feverish black-red congestion of a cyclamen, that the Name is an example of a barbarous society’s primitivism, and as conventionally inadequate as “Homer” or “sea.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Proust, 1957

    What kind of part is Orlando?

    Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando in the fall of 1927 and finished it off that next March. It was Vita, she said to her diary, “Orlando: Vita”; others

  • HISTORY OF THE SUBURBS: A PROJECT FOR ARTFORUM

    MOLLY NESBIT

    MORTAL THOUGHTS NOW, PLEASE, the smaller things, spores, not the drone of ideas in the abstract, lives. Chase after them, the lost attentions, slack. Words will fail you. Well they should. Because faded glamour will no longer quite do, monograms slipping off handkerchiefs, lipstick off lips. Pool of feeling? puddle.

    ÉCRITURE

    a cry

    Even the noblest ideas dissipate in dirt. And yet the enlightened mind’s dear decrepit certainties can be turned over yes like some old tortoise shell, belly examined poked. Specter and hollow suggest ideas too and bring us back trudging to gaze upon heavy,