Weekly Expeditions of Spirit
Road-trip notes on pure essence, the aesthetics of silence, last humans, neglected pleasures, dust of the past, music for empty rooms, perfect mediocrity and more...
Monday | June 1st — 2020

The Sorry Entertainer: No Apologies

Another triumph of an elusive genius... The demons are unleashed! And so very timely.

Heaven knows what it all means. Hard to tell when every story from this source contains a pledge to deliver it contrary to one's common sense expectations.

To be safe, let us be reckless from the get-go – safer yet, insane: It is an expedition moving at one hundred twenty beats per minute and on its own tracks; an epic trip with its own inner poetry. Like wind, it is coming from and blowing in all directions. Largely indecipherable, it leaves ample room for all sorts of lyrical interpretations and divine revelations. Anything is possible on this symbolic voyage – perhaps even happiness.

You have only to let yourself in for it. You do not board this train – there is no station where it would be waiting for you. You hop on it zipping by, full-speed; dropping all your luggage and not looking back – the scene to be played in slow motion in your imagination. You leap in without bothering where it would transport you – always some place you have never been, near enough to the end of the world. This conveyance carries you faster than you could ever get there yourself.

It is a journey which some of your fellow travelers may easily mistake for their destiny, or for something other than their destiny, when it most certainly is. Hauled by the immense power of steam blasting from the natural heat of Sorry Entertainer, the engine in his chest, this rolling stock of sounds is anything but a cortège of rail-mounted coffins joined butt-to-butt and headed for the graveyard.

In this life-affirming double heart-beat rate tempo, your dull familiar landscapes very soon turn wonderfully strange and profoundly mysterious. Without stopping to let off any passengers, Sorry Entertainer is doing what he does best: He annihilates the past, obliterates the future and makes the present only vaguely real – all done with the apparent ease of a virtuoso sorcerer. It is real just enough for you to feel that the most blissful and fulfilling playtime is neither ahead, nor behind you – it is unfolding right now. Also known as Lotti who has no peers in his self-contained brutally delightful universe, the maestro is generously offering no apologies sharing this precious KaterCast 42 moment in exchange for only... your soul.

As the train rolls onward you never know what is coming next. With every next beat it just happens to be precisely what you want. Then suddenly it is nothing but silence. So deafening, it feels the time itself is gone and gone forever. "Sic transit gloria mundi."
Friday | May 1st — 2019

On Death as a Glitch

"With the possible exception of a handful of billionaire babies, all of us today are going to die one day. We have to own up to our transience..." — The Guardian, Will Coronavirus Change our Attitudes to Death?

The problem is not the virus. The problem is that we are gizmos with our clocks wound up for perpetuity. Or perhaps it's these two problems combined. Our finitude is no longer the main source of meaning, as it once was in the premodern world. Death is no longer the most important event in the schedule of human destiny – the master key unlocking the mystery of our being, as it used to be until the modern times and beyond into postmodernity. It's not even a prospect – whereas in the past it was deemed as the only certainty. It's a glitch in the protocol of robotic operations. Nothing metaphysical about our death: a mere technical problem requiring a technical solution. A pill, an implant, this lockdown... Once preoccupied with searching for meaning of life and death, the best minds are now busy developing gadgets to maintain and prolong our pointless functioning in the face of stupid expiration. It's been like this since a couple of centuries ago, not without some notable results: average life expectancy has jumped from under 40 years to 80. We can just go on and on forever – without knowing why or why not.
Friday | March 20th — 2019

No Cause for Panic

"The method of doubt must be applied to civilization; we must doubt its necessity, its excellence, and its permanence," as Charles Fourier would have it. The application of such method is easy these days as the existence of our civilization in all its might and grandeur is threatened by a stupid non-entity. It is put on hold by something which isn't even a fucking microbe, with its origin, as of all viruses, unclear.

And here comes Zizek: "I don't get it. All official proclamations begin with 'No cause for panic'. And then all what they proffer is an array of very compelling reasons to panic: both the health and economic consequences of it can cause severe damage to Europe. We should treat this as a war. Some kind of European coordination is needed. Maybe even wartime mobilization..."
Wednesday | September 4th — 2019

Noble Savages: We are Who we Are

A natural innocent person, the Noble Savage is a character who embodies the concept of the indigene, outsider, wild human, and other who has not been "corrupted" by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity's innate goodness. The noble savage obeys the will of nature, his kindly mother, therefore he is happy: "Guiltless men, they dance away their time. Fresh as the groves and happy as their clime..."
Friday | June 14th — 2019

Tbilisi: Thou shalt not Compare

"They always compare us with some other cities, especially with Berlin. I really don't get it and don't want to. Each place has its unique attributes. And so has Tbilisi – its character so very different. We survived four bloody wars and these wars are still with us in our most recent collective memory. We have lived through hunger, isolation, post-communism, dictatorship, terror, and so much more in the span of a mere couple of decades. All these experiences are built into the foundation of who we are as a generation. Our energies, almost animalistic, burst into being and explode into creativity – if only to break free from the past so restrictive and traumatic. This is what sets us apart from all these other places." — Naja Orashvili, co-founder of Bassiani.
Tuesday | January 5th — 2020


Scrolling through a bunch of blitz interviews with shakers of Berlin underground recalling their post-wall experiences while trying to explain the boom which followed. Ellen Allien is onto something pointing to the factor missing elsewhere. In Georgia, too, for that matter – unfortunately. It is the idea of unification, which in Germany was entertained on both sides of the divide: "Young people from East and West wanted to meet each other, and we celebrated our togetherness in the club – we became one. Without the divide in the first place, the club scene would not be what it is today. It would not be as compassionate as it is now."
Wednesday | June 12th — 2019

Their Pure Essence

Robert Bresson, I am reading, rarely, if at all, worked with professional actors. Even ordinary people, untrained in acting, were too "theatrical", "fictitious" for his films – all too conventional, let alone studied, precise and articulate, in expression of their emotional states. Displeasure, anger, hate, surprise, excitement, happiness, love... which one is almost obliged to simulate and in which everybody is so much alike: "The thing that matters is not what they show me but what they hide from me and, above all, what they do not suspect of themselves... Nine-tenths of their movements obey habit and automatism... Draw from them the proof that they exist with their oddities and their enigmas...Their pure essence." — Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson.
Robert Bresson - Cinematographer
Tuesday | mAy 28th — 2019

On Silence

Good read: "Committed to the idea that the power of art is located in its power to negate, the ultimate weapon in the artist's inconsistent war with his audience is to verge closer and closer to silence... The motion is toward less and less. But never has "less" so ostentatiously advanced itself as "more"... One recognizes the imperative of silence, but goes on speaking anyway. Discovering that one has nothing to say, one seeks a way to say that." — The Aesthetics of Silence by Susan Sontag.
Susan Sontag - Silence
Friday | MAy 24TH — 2019

If Only They Knew

O, if only they knew then what we know now :) Reading book reviews in The NY Times dating back to 1978: "In recent months three leading radical intellectuals – Michel Foucault, Christopher Lasch and Herbert Marcuse – have published new books... They all portray modern life as a prison or a fascist supermarket where docile consumers prowl the aisles listening to mental Muzak piped in by the authorities, trapped in the delusion of free choice..." — In the Cage, NYTimes, March 26, 1978.
Foucault - Books
Thursday | MAy 16TH — 2019

On Neglected Pleasure

"Talk less and we understand each other less..." Strange the book gets reviews so bad. Primarily for style being British all too British (her phraseology ain't simple enough) and for its guidance being un-bulleted (though it is in parts, suspected to be edited in by the publishers), no shortcuts to wisdom in there.

"Conversation, once a broad term for "being together," used to be considered so delicious as to be a sin. Monasteries and convents forbade it and totalitarian states monitored it, because it is unruly, fun, and seems utterly instinctive... Business disdains it because it is hard to monetarize. Worse, it guzzles airtime, face time, eye time; attention that could be consumed consuming or ogling ads..." — The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure by Catherine Blyth.
Sunday | April 7TH — 2019

The Last Humans

The setting is a mental hospital in Evreux on the eve of its demolition... Les Derniers Hommes (The Last Humans) is a morbidly beautiful piece of cinéma vérité. Sad as it gets.

Devoid of words, the film zooms on faces and the ritualized gestures of daily life. While the facility is falling into disuse inside and outside destruction is under way – wrecked walls, trees rooted out to the sound of thunderous chainsaws – we catch a glimpse of prostrate, stubbornly silent bodies. Quentin Brière-Bordier directs our gazes beyond the screen in order to – as the title suggests – remind us of a human condition from which we cannot fully extract ourselves.

Les Derniers Hommes, 55min. Vimeo.
Friday | April 5TH — 2019

Dust of the Past

Secret Order of Things. The wall of impervious concepts: Schloss Beesenstedt 1945-1989. It used to be a communist party school back then in its most dogmatic and despotic form, I gather, considering the book titles all reduced to a single name – before the gang of crypto libertines-r-us took it over. One still can breathe the dust of its antithetically multifarious past.
Schloss Beesenstedt - Verge
Wednesday | April 3TH — 2019

Who Killed Tulum

"Copal helps mask how bad the septic tank can smell..." Considering the amount of article space dedicated to James &Co in this piece (a lot!), it sounds like Gitano who are the murderers of Tulum. "Isn't that glamorous!" I think the charge flies way off target, but as a persona non-grata at that perfumed gypset establishment, I have no strong objection to this view being so unflattering.

Who Killed Tulum? Greed, gringos, diesel, drugs, shamans, seaweed, and a disco ball in the jungle. Huge article in the New York magazine. And my take on the issue here: "The troops advance not by close-order marching. They flow..."
Tulum - Environment - Festivals
Wednesday | January 23TH — 2019

You're Free, Kathy!

"Kathy Acker is a difficult subject for a biography, largely because she lied all the time. A pixie-cropped, tattooed, muscle-strapped icon of rebel literature, her confrontational autofiction broke ground, allowing other artists to make the mess of their lives into the medium of their work..." — Life as Art by Sarah Ditum / Literary Review

"As the group scrambled down a dune towards the sea, something baroque and awful happened: Frank Molinaro, the odd one out, astrologer, the one nobody liked, rushed up and grabbed the vase from Viegener's hands. He ran toward the sea tossing handfuls of ash and bone while he proclaimed – "You're free, Kathy! You're finally free!" – before Viegener [Acker's executor] wrested it back. It was bitter cold, and no matter how hard they tried, no one could toss the ashes into the waves, because the wind blew them back..." — What Does Kathy Acker Deserve? by Josephine Livingstone / The New Republic

The Blue Tape, one hour long "truth-and-sex" tape made by Acker and Alan Sondheim in 1974.
Kathy Acker - Autofiction
Thursday | January 10TH — 2019

Hidden Origins: Close as it Gets

Opening Tulum Tree House tomorrow for the next 10 days showcasing the Hidden Origins program – in half-secrecy. Given the transformation of Tulum in the last few years since we first set foot in the jungle, this new project is not exactly an emulation of Papaya Playa Project circa 2011-2013, if at all, which would simply be impossible today in the area – let alone in the peak season (not an operative notion until recently). But still it's closer to our old school PPP than, perhaps, the PPP itself these days. Closer in the sense that TTH/Hidden Origins is not in the least about busting ghosts chasing them through the jungle with lasers and phasers for the stupid spectator thrill of it. Back in the days, the ghosts of Maya – along with turtles and other near extinct indigenous fauna – were considered respectfully untouchable, not to mess with by any means, when every extra candle of illumination for human convenience (never excitement) was to be negotiated with their local guardian-mediums.
Wednesday | January 9TH — 2019

PPP in Two Parts

From my dilapidated video archive: Tulum 2010-2012 in two parts of raw footage covering from start the times when we would – in January being the peak season – hang on the beach at night under the stars and shoot generous rounds of cheap warm tequila directly from the bottle to the moon. Two of us (or three to inculcate an occasional stray backpacker) would be making up the entire occupancy at Papaya Playa for months. The times when sometimes – the sky opaque with dense low clouds permitting no celestial light for guidance – I would have to crawl on my dogie four through the jungle, to my sketchy stick'n'straw cabana, in slow precautious motion, face down, one trembling hand desperately stretching forward as a sensor tentacle probing the absolute darkness ahead for natural danger and the miracle of salvation therein, blind eyes shut deep tight in the sockets not to lose the balls in the thorny bushes and minimizing the risk of other imminent injuries, which, given the rock'n'roll terrain, could not be any less than instantly fatal. Good times!
Monday | December 24th — 2018

Music for Empty Rooms

It likes drones, monotonic synth pads, analogue sound, mumbling instead of singing... It is free not to entertain anyone other than itself. It does not have to be cute or wear a rubber smile. Here it feels being personal, a bit dark, dreamy, contemplative. Sometimes it complains or just tries to annoy you. Then it bursts into a laughter. Other times it is sentimental.. and the next moment it suddenly turns mechanical and unaware of itself. It's like a real person – manifesting numerous conflicting thoughts and the full spectrum of human emotions. Recorded one long sleepless night at Schloss Beesenstedt couple of years ago. Lost and now found.
Sunday | December 23rd — 2018

Time Machine of Manners

I would give all my fortune to read about our "delicate manners" – 500 years from now.

"It does not befit a modest, honorable man ... to wash his hands on returning to decent society from private places, as the reason for his washing will arouse disagreeable thoughts in people. It is far less proper to hold out the stinking thing for the other to smell, lifting the foul-smelling thing to his nostrils and saying, "I should like to know how much that stinks", when it would be better to say, "Because it stinks do not smell it." — Galateo: A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners by Florentine Giovanni Della Casa (1503–56).

Immensely influential courtesy book of the Renaissance exploring subjects such as dress, table manners, and conversation. It was translated into French, English, Latin, Spanish, and German. It is generally agreed that, given the popularity and impact of Galateo, the cultural elite of the Italian Renaissance taught Europe how to behave. The work set the foundation for modern etiquette writers and authorities on manners.

"One should not annoy others with such stuff as dreams, especially since most dreams are by and large idiotic."
Manners - Galateo
Thursday | December 20th — 2018

No to Perfect Mediocrity

Edward Steichen photographed two world wars. He also photographed Einstein's theory of relativity, his cat, his brother-in-law, matches, angry multi-millionaires, and the same cup and saucer set over two thousand times...

"It is an error common to many artists, who strive merely to avoid mistakes, when all our efforts should be to create positive and important work. Better positive and important with mistakes and failures than perfect mediocrity." Here is a beautiful old documentary (excerpt) in the Masters of Photography series.

Edward Steichen, 1964, 35mm, b/w, 30min. Vimeo.
Edward Steichen