Roland Barthes – Empire of Signs

Quadrangular, reticulated cities (Los Angeles, for instance) are said to produce a profound uneasiness: they offend our synesthetic sentiment of the City, which requires that any urban space have a centre to go to, to return to, to return from, a complete site to dream of and in relation to which to advance or retreat; in a word, to invent oneself. For many reasons (historical, economic, religious, military), the West has understood this law only too well: all its cities are concentric; but also, in accord with the very movement of Western metaphysics, for which every corner is the site of truth, the centre of our cities is always full: a marked site, it is here that the values of civilisation are gathered and condensed: spirituality (churches), power (offices), money (banks), merchandise (department stores), language (agoras, cafes and promenades): to go downtown or to go to the city centre is to encounter the solical “truth”, to participate in the proud plenitude of “reality”.

The city I am talking about, Tokyo, offers this precious paradox: it does possess a centre, but this centre is empty. The entire city turns around a site both forbidden and indifferent, a residence concealed beneath foliage, protected by moats, inhabited by an emperor who is never seen, which is to say, literally by no one knows who. Daily in their rapid ballet like trajectories the taxis avoid this circle, whose low crest, the visible form of invisibility, hides the sacred “nothing”. One of the two most powerful cities of modernity is thereby built around an opaque ring of walls , streams, roofs, and trees whose own centre is no more than an evaporated notion, subsisting here, not in order to irradiate power, but to give to the entire urban movement the support of its central emptiness, forcing the traffic to make a perpetual detour. In this manner, we are told, the system of the imaginary is spread circularly, by detours and returns the length of an empty subject.







To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A Dove house filld with Doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thr’ all its regions
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State
A Horse misusd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear
A Skylark wounded in the wing
A Cherubim does cease to sing
The Game Cock clipd & armd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright
Every Wolfs & Lions howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul
The wild deer, wandring here & there
Keeps the Human Soul from Care
The Lamb misusd breeds Public Strife
And yet forgives the Butchers knife
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that wont Believe
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbelievers fright
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belovd by Men
He who the Ox to wrath has movd
Shall never be by Woman lovd
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spiders enmity
He who torments the Chafers Sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night
The Catterpiller on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar
The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat
The Gnat that sings his Summers Song
Poison gets from Slanders tongue
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envys Foot
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artists Jealousy
The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags
Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags
A Truth thats told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent
It is right it should be so
Man was made for Joy & Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro the World we safely go
Joy & Woe are woven fine
A Clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine
The Babe is more than swadling Bands
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made & Born were hands
Every Farmer Understands
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity
This is caught by Females bright
And returnd to its own delight
The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of Death
The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air
Does to Rags the Heavens tear
The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun
Palsied strikes the Summers Sun
The poor Mans Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Africs Shore
One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands
Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands
Or if protected from on high
Does that whole Nation sell & buy
He who mocks the Infants Faith
Shall be mockd in Age & Death
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall neer get out
He who respects the Infants faith
Triumphs over Hell & Death
The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons
The Questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to Reply
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesars Laurel Crown
Nought can Deform the Human Race
Like to the Armours iron brace
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow
A Riddle or the Crickets Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply
The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will neer Believe do what you Please
If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
Theyd immediately Go out
To be in a Passion you Good may Do
But no Good if a Passion is in you
The Whore & Gambler by the State
Licencd build that Nations Fate
The Harlots cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old Englands winding Sheet
The Winners Shout the Losers Curse
Dance before dead Englands Hearse
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day



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Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood around 1900, Howard Eiland, trans., Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006:


The Otter

One forms an image of a person’s nature and character according to his place of residence and the neighborhood he inhabits, and that is exactly what I did with the animals of the Zoological Garden. From the ostriches marshaled before a background of sphinxes and pyramids, to the hippopotamus that dwelt in its pagoda like a tribal sorcerer on the point of merging bodily with the demon he serves, there was hardly an animal whose habitation did not inspire me with love or fear. Rarer were those which, by the location of their housing alone, already had something particular about them: inhabitants of the outskirts, mainly—of those sections where the Zoological Garden borders on coffeehouses or the exhibition hall. Among all the denizens of these regions, however, the most remarkable was the otter.  Of the three main entry gates, the one by Lichtenstein Bridge was closest to the otter’s enclosure; it was by far the least used entranceway, and it led into the most neglected part of the garden. At that point, the avenue which welcomed the visitor resembled, with the white globes of its lampposts, an abandoned promenade at Eilsen or Bad Pyrmont; and long before those places lay so desolate as to seem more ancient than the baths of Rome, this corner of the Zoological Garden bore traces of what was to come. It was a prophetic corner. For just as there are plants that are said to confer the power to see into the future, so there are places that possess such a virtue. For the most part, they are deserted places—treetops that lean against walls, blind alleys or front gardens where no one ever stops. In such places, it seems as if all that lies in store for us has become the past. Thus, it was always in this part of the Zoological Garden, when I had lost my way and strayed into it, that I was granted a look over the edge of the pool that welled up here, as in the middle of a spa. This was the cage of the otter. And a cage it was, for strong iron bars rimmed the basin in which the animal lived.  A small rock formation, constructed with grottoes, lined the oval of the basin in the background.  It had no doubt been conceived as shelter for the animal, but I never once found it there. And so time and again I would remain, endlessly waiting, before those black and impenetrable depths, in order somewhere to catch sight of the otter. If I finally succeeded, it was certainly just for an instant, for in the blink of an eye the glistening inmate of the cistern would disappear once more into the wet night. Of course, the otter was not actually kept in a cistern. Nevertheless, when I gazed into the water, it always seemed as though the rain poured down into all the street drains of the city only to end up in this one basin and nourish its inhabitant. For this was the abode of a pampered animal whose empty, damp grotto was more a temple than a refuge. It was the sacred animal of the rainwater. But whether it was formed in this runoff of the rains, or only fed from arriving streams and rivulets, is something I could not have decided.  Always it was occupied to the utmost, as if its presence in the deep were indispensable. But I could easily have passed long, sweet days there, my forehead pressed up against the iron bars of its cage, without ever getting enough of the sight of the creature. And here, too, its dose affinity with the rain is manifest. For, to me, the long, sweet day was never longer, never sweeter, than when a fine- or thick-toothed drizzle slowly combed the animal for hours and minutes. Docile as a young maiden, it bowed its head under this gray comb. And I looked on insatiably then. I waited. Not until it stopped raining, but until it came down in sheets, ever more abundantly.  I heard it drumming on the windowpanes, streaming out of gutters, and rushing in a steady gurgle down the drainpipes. In a good rain, I was securely hidden away.  And it would whisper to me of my future, as one sings a lullaby beside the cradle.  How well I understood that it nurtures growth.  In such hours passed behind the gray-gloomed window, I was at home with the otter. But actually I wouldn’t become aware of that until the next time I stood before the cage.  Then, once again, I had a long while to wait before the glistening black body darted up to the surface, only to hurry back almost immediately to urgent affairs below.


Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 11.34.02Foucault, Panopticism


On the Sociological Psychology of the Hole (Kurt Tucholsky 1931)

“The most important things are done through tubes. Proof: genitals, pens, and guns.” – Lichtenberg

The hole is a permanent companion of the non-hole;

I’m sorry, but there is no such thing as a hole by itself.

If there were something everywhere, there would be no holes, but there wouldn’t be any philosophy either, not to mention religion, which is holey in origin.

A mouse couldn’t exist without a hole, nor could man. It is the final salvation for both when they are hard-pressed by matter.

A hole is always a Good Thing.

The strangest thing about a hole is its edge.

It’s still part of the Something, but it constantly overlooks the Nothing—a border guard of matter.

Nothingness has no such guard; while the molecules at the edge of a hole get dizzy because they are staring into a hole, the molecules of the hole get… firmy?

There’s no word for it. For our language was created by the Something people; the Hole people speak a language of their own.

The hole is static.

There are no traveling holes.

Almost not .

Holes that are marrying each other become one of their own.

Separate the partition between two holes, does the right edge then belong to the left hole, or the left to

the right, or everybody to itself, or everybody to everybody ?

I’d like to have my worries.

When a hole is filled up, where does it go ?

Will it push itself to the side, right into the material ?

Or will it run to see another hole and tell him about his misery ?

Where does the filled hole remain ?

Nobody knows.

Here, our knowledge … has one.

Where something is, nothing else can be.

Where one hole is , can there be another one ?

And why aren’t there any half-holes ?

Some things lose value because of a single small hole:

because in a part of them there is a “no-thing”, all the rest isn’t worth anything anymore.

Example: a ticket, a virgin, a balloon.

The thing itself still has to be looked for:

the hole itself already is.

One that would be with one foot in a hole and the other foot with us, this one alone would be truly wise.

But no one has been able to achieve this yet.

Some megalomaniacs pretend that the hole is a negative thing. That is not right!

The human being is a not-hole and the hole is primary.

Do not laughole! The hole is the only premonition of paradise down here. When you’re dead, you’ll first realize what life is about.



Optics, from the concrete meaning — to the metaphorical and open

Space that has been emptied, deserted

Migrant — structure of society — infrastructure

Hunter and hunted

Shadow and light – seen and unseen

Devices and instruments


Waiting — orientation — voyeurism

Waiting — hunting — shadow — monster

Doubt — acceptance

We live in a bow and arrow season era, current order will break down at some point.
Bow and arrow season as title, direction, pre-apocalyptic, has tension and suspense, is scar