Category Archives: creative captures

Syria, Remember Me

photo: Addison Independent

photo: Addison Independent

Deborah Felmeth married a Syrian man and lived a life with one foot in Vermont and another foot in Damascus, Syria. She taught music and movement and yoga in both places. Then, all hell broke loose. I don’t know the status of her husband’s family in Damascus three years into the terrible civil war.

A gifted photographer, she took pictures over the twenty or so years she lived in Syria half of every year. Her documentation provides an affirming gift of spirit amidst the tragedy of pride-induced violence, criminality, and nihilism.

Deborah’s video trailer (on Facebook) for the book is heart rending.

Syria, Remember Me (web site) | Facebook

Interview Coyote Network News

November 4, 2015 interview iTunes with Mike Smith (Vt. WDEV)

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DIFFUSION from Kouhei Nakama on Vimeo.

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.

version of Rumi by Coleman Barks

Years ago at a workshop South African composer and instrumentalist Abdullah Ibrahim asked the class,

What makes the music?

Nobody had a ready answer in a classroom full of musicians. Dr. Ibrahim went on to challenge the class about the nature of the so-called instrument. What is it, really?

I also recall Alan Watts asserting:

What the planet earth does is: people. It peoples.

For my own part, I’m all over the idea that what we do in making partial sense of what we are doing with where we are at, is neatly addressed by the conception of:

interfacing contexting

Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Youtube channel

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Lin Batsheva Kahn – Attach and Leap

I met Lin at a party in 1999. It was one of those moments where a kind of mini mind-meld took place. She, like me, isn’t much for small talk, and, we both share the ability to small talk our way into more fascinating conversations. We did so.

We’ve been in dialog ever since, nowadays speaking every few weeks over Facetime. We discuss together psychology, creativity, and (what I term) the exigencies of moral relations.

She’s a great, deeply humanist, adjunct professor of dance at DePaul University. In 2014, Lin was named Jewish Chicagoan of the Year. She founded and is the director of the Tikvah Company, her dance outfit in Chicago.

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Eno On Cybernetics and Music Making

This video is new to me and it provided a big wallop.

In my framing of fortuity, contingency and fragility, I have only roughed out some of the implications for music making. B.E. helps move this forward during a really essential 15 minutes.

He mentions Stafford Beer. (He, along with Ralph Stacey, Gordon Pask, and Gregory Bateson, probably did the most to extend cybernetics to human domains in the first wave of cybernetic thinking. Largely from Beer and Stacey we gain the concept of soft systems, and from Beer we gain the Viable Systems Model (Trevor Hilder’s presentation – pdf).)

What Is Cybernetics?

Leonod Ototsky’s fond archive and research on Mr. Beer is a terrific old style web site.

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Creativity Polarities


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Reflecting on my own creative process means for me reflecting on visual creativity or musical creativity.

In doing so, I identify two different sets of dimensions, and, in doing so, I further identify the four superior dimensions for each modality, visual, audio.

AUDIO Superior Functions

VISUAL Superior Functions

What would be your four superior creative functions?

I drop into FLOW all the time while creating artistic experiments and art.

How Does It Feel to Be in Flow? (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

  1. Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
  2. A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
  3. Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
  4. Knowing that the activity is doable – that skills are adequate to the task.
  5. A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
  6. Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, our sin to pass by in minutes.
  7. Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

The bold words express the shortest version of C.M.’s theory of Flow. Creativity sometimes demands systematic or conscious sensitivity to fortuitous potentials in the creative field. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory isn’t a field theory and it isn’t particularly constructivist, so, it is improved by its becoming much more ecological–for the sake of engaging the richer context of creative ‘acting.’

(The Creative Personality – PSYCHOLOGY TODAY excerpt – Here are the 10 antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.

  1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm. This suggests a superior physical endowment, a genetic advantage. Yet it is surprising how often individuals who in their seventies and eighties exude energy and health remember childhoods plagued by illness. It seems that their energy is internally generated, due more to their focused minds than to the superiority of their genes.This does not mean that creative people are hyperactive, always “on.” In fact, they rest often and sleep a lot. The important thing is that they control their energy; it’s not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work. This is not a bio-rhythm inherited with their genes; it was learned by trial and error as a strategy for achieving their goals.

    One manifestation of energy is sexuality. Creative people are paradoxical in this respect also. They seem to have quite a strong dose of eros, or generalized libidinal energy, which some express directly into sexuality. At the same time, a certain spartan celibacy is also a part of their makeup; continence tends to accompany superior achievement. Without eros, it would be difficult to take life on with vigor; without restraint, the energy could easily dissipate.

  2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time. How smart they actually are is open to question. It is probably true that what psychologists call the “g factor,” meaning a core of general intelligence, is high among people who make important creative contributions.The earliest longitudinal study of superior mental abilities, initiated at Stanford University by the psychologist Lewis Terman in 1921, shows rather conclusively that children with very high IQs do well in life, but after a certain point IQ does not seem to be correlated any longer with superior performance in real life. Later studies suggest that the cutoff point is around 120; it might be difficult to do creative work with a lower IQ, but an IQ beyond 120 does not necessarily imply higher creativity.

    Another way of expressing this dialectic is the contrasting poles of wisdom and childishness. As Howard Gardner remarked in his study of the major creative geniuses of this century, a certain immaturity, both emotional and mental, can go hand in hand with deepest insights. Mozart comes immediately to mind.

    Furthermore, people who bring about an acceptable novelty in a domain seem able to use well two opposite ways of thinking: the convergent and the divergent. Convergent thinking is measured by IQ tests, and it involves solving well-defined, rational problems that have one correct answer. Divergent thinking leads to no agreed-upon solution. It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.

    Yet there remains the nagging suspicion that at the highest levels of creative achievement the generation of novelty is not the main issue. People often claimed to have had only two or three good ideas in their entire career, but each idea was so generative that it kept them busy for a lifetime of testing, filling out, elaborating, and applying.

    Divergent thinking is not much use without the ability to tell a good idea from a bad one, and this selectivity involves convergent thinking.

  3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. There is no question that a playfully light attitude is typical of creative individuals. But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, perseverance.Nina Holton, whose playfully wild germs of ideas are the genesis of her sculpture, is very firm about the importance of hard work: “Tell anybody you’re a sculptor and they’ll say, ‘Oh, how exciting, how wonderful.’ And I tend to say, ‘What’s so wonderful?’ It’s like being a mason, or a carpenter, half the time. But they don’t wish to hear that because they really only imagine the first part, the exciting part. But, as Khrushchev once said, that doesn’t fry pancakes, you see. That germ of an idea does not make a sculpture which stands up. It just sits there. So the next stage is the hard work. Can you really translate it into a piece of sculpture?”

    Jacob Rabinow, an electrical engineer, uses an interesting mental technique to slow himself down when work on an invention requires more endurance than intuition: “When I have a job that takes a lot of effort, slowly, I pretend I’m in jail. If I’m in jail, time is of no consequence. In other words, if it takes a week to cut this, it’ll take a week. What else have I got to do? I’m going to be here for twenty years. See? This is a kind of mental trick. Otherwise you say, ‘My God, it’s not working,’ and then you make mistakes. My way, you say time is of absolutely no consequence.”

    Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.

  4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality. Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present. The rest of society often views these new ideas asfantasies without relevance to current reality. And they are right. But the whole point of art and science is to go beyond what we now consider real and create a new reality. At the same time, this “escape” is not into a never-never land. What makes a novel idea creative is that once we see it, sooner or later we recognize that, strange as it is, it is true.Most of us assume that artists—musicians, writers, poets, painters—are strong on the fantasy side, whereas scientists, politicians, and businesspeople are realists. This may be true in terms of day-to-day routine activities. But when a person begins to work creatively, all bets are off.
  5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. In fact, in psychological research, extroversion andintroversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliably measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.
  6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead. Yet there are good reasons why this should be so. These individuals are well aware that they stand, in Newton’s words, “on the shoulders of giants.” Their respect for the area in which they work makes them aware of the long line of previous contributions to it, putting their own in perspective. They’re also aware of the role that luck played in their own achievements. And they’re usually so focused on future projects and current challenges that past accomplishments, no matter how outstanding, are no longer very interesting to them. At the same time, they know that in comparison with others, they have accomplished a great deal. And this knowledge provides a sense of security, even pride.
  7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping. When tests of masculinity/femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.This tendency toward androgyny is sometimes understood in purely sexual terms, and therefore it gets confused with homosexuality. But psychological androgyny is a much wider concept referring to a person’s ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender. A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles his or her repertoire of responses. Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.
  8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic. Being only traditional leaves an area unchanged; constantly taking chances without regard to what has been valued in the past rarely leads to novelty that is accepted as an improvement. The artist Eva Zeisel, who says that the folk tradition in which she works is “her home,” nevertheless produces ceramics that were recognized by the Museum of Modern Art as masterpieces of contemporary design. This is what she says about innovation for its own sake:”This idea to create something is not my aim. To be different is a negative motive, and no creative thought or created thing grows out of a negative impulse. A negative impulse is always frustrating. And to be different means ‘not like this’ and ‘not like that.’ And the ‘not like’—that’s why postmodernism, with the prefix of ‘post,’ couldn’t work. No negative impulse can work, can produce any happy creation. Only a positive one.”

    But the willingness to take risks, to break with the safety of tradition, is also necessary. The economist George Stigler is very emphatic in this regard: “I’d say one of the most common failures of able people is a lack of nerve. They’ll play safe games. In innovation, you have to play a less safe game, if it’s going to be interesting. It’s not predictable that it’ll go well.”

  9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well. Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:”I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”
  10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Most would agree with Rabinow’s words: “Inventors have a low threshold of pain. Things bother them.” A badly designed machine causes pain to an inventive engineer, just as the creative writer is hurt when reading bad prose.Being alone at the forefront of a discipline also leaves you exposed and vulnerable. Eminence invites criticism and often vicious attacks. When an artist has invested years in making a sculpture, or a scientist in developing a theory, it is devastating if nobody cares.

    Deep interest and involvement in obscure subjects often goes unrewarded, or even brings on ridicule. Divergent thinking is often perceived as deviant by the majority, and so the creative person may feel isolated and misunderstood.

    Perhaps the most difficult thing for creative individuals to bear is the sense of loss and emptiness they experience when, for some reason, they cannot work. This is especially painful when a person feels his or her creativity drying out.

    Yet when a person is working in the area of his of her expertise, worries and cares fall away, replaced by a sense of bliss. Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake.

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Justified Final

Justified ends, and it joins my dramatic one hour tv-in-heaven list.

1. Homicide: Life In the Streets
2. The West Wing
3. Battlestar Gallactica
4. The Sopranos
5. Justified
6. NYPD: Blue
7. Friday Night Lights
8. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
9. Firefly
11. The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor

Just as you can’t set out to make something beautiful, you can’t set out to make something spiritual. What you can do is recognise that it may be there. It normally has something to do with not having too much to say. There seems to be space for the viewer, and is sometimes something we identify as being spiritual. And it is all about space. Anish Kapoor

I received the following email:

Hi, my name is Nicholas and I work at While researching Anish Kapoor I found your website – Great site, by the way.
I actually worked on Artsy’s new Anish Kapoor page and I think it would be a great resource for your readers. The newly designed page includes his bio, over 100 of his works, exclusive articles about Kapoor, as well as his up-to-date exhibitions – it’s a unique Anish Kapoor resource.
We recently rated Anish as one of the Top 10 artists to watch at Art Basel, and want to support him especially after the recent announcement of his Versaille show.
I’d like to suggest adding a link to Artsy’s Anish Kapoor page, as I believe it would benefit your readers. I look forward to staying in touch with you about future opportunities.
“Artists don’t make objects. Artists make mythologies.” – Anish Kapoor
Bringing the world’s art to everyone with an internet connection.


The earlier post here included a quote from Mr. Kapoor. Excellent site for Anish Kapoor at Artsy

(As was Mr. Kapoor, I was born in 1954, and, as is Mr. Kapoor, I am an artist. I’m a philosopher too, but not a philosopher of art.)


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GO Cuba from Joshua Morin on Vimeo.

Our late mother Jean emphasized for decades that she believed Cuba would make a fine candidate for statehood, were we just to open up our relations all the way.

I’ve always wanted to write this poem.
I loved her but was afraid to die.
Sitting on the balcony she told me: Butterflies live for one day.
One single day of radiance and then they die.
(Marcelo Morales; translated by: Kristin Dykstra)

Poetry of Cuba, translated at BrooklynRail

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Justified Rides Off

Justified, FX channel, is my favorite TV show. It satisfies a simple prejudice: I have long loved the writing of the brilliantElmore Leonard. The show’s protagonist, Raylan Givens, was created by Leonard.


You got to know Leonard fairly well before he passed away, right? Do you feel like spending a lot of time with him helped you get a sense of who Raylan was?
All the good things about Raylan — they came directly from Elmore. You mentioned the old-fashioned manners and the stoic hero thing, but the thing about Raylan that people really responded to, if I had to guess, was that he seemed effortlessly cool. And that’s Elmore Leonard to a tee. The guy was genuinely cool. It was never a pose with him. You can go into any party or public gathering, and you’ll see lots of people trying to act cool, and then there’s always one person off in the corner, not doing much, who’s the real deal. That was Elmore. (Rolling Stone interview with Timothy Olyphant)

Leonard was so tickled by Olyphant’s characterization, and they became friends, he revived his own character for a fourth story.


The show is very violent. It also is sweet too. It often is very funny. It features as a supporting co-star, maybe among the handful of this generation’s greatest tv character actors, Walton Coggins. He plays the villainous foil to Olyphant’s US Marshall, Raylan Givens. The show benefits from its terrific consistency of writing and acting. Those two strengths have even carried it through entire streaks of plotting miscues.

Season Six | Justified Wiki

Timothy Olyphant is either famously charming, or, as Natalie Zea, Raylan’s estranged wife on Justified, has blurted out, “a dick.”

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Confessions With Becker & Fagan

Forgive the snake handler for not knowing the distinction between Steely Dan and Duke Ellington.

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Heironymus Bosch remixes


My series of experiments visually remixing Peter Brueghel the Elder by using symmetry manipulations led me to my next subject, Hieronymus Bosch.

Extraction of the Stone of Folly

Extraction of the Stone of Folly

Here are several keepers




Very little is known about Bosch, which somehow seems fitting since his work is so enigmatic. We know that he adopted the name of the Dutch town of s’Hertogenbosch (near Antwerp) as his own, that he belonged to an ultra-orthodox religious community called the Brotherhood of Mary, and that in his own day he was famous. Many of his paintings are devotional, and there are several on the theme of the Passion. He is specially famous for his fantastic, demon-filled works. (src)

Hieronymus Bosch, the Trendiest Apocalyptic Medieval Painter of 2014
The Garden of Earthly Delights is now on leggings, in children’s books, and getting name-checked by cool bands. Why?

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Game Memory

All of the assets in the game are made in Blender using free models from 3D Warehouse. The game itself was made in Unity, and runs on a server in The Netherlands. Up to four players can be on the server at once, but they never see or exist together at the exact same moment. Over the Alex has become obsessed with lag and what it means for memory and the self and this project is the result.

via Creative

Nothing of This is Ours – Multiplayer game by Alex Myers

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Crown of Creation

The Upsetter from Encyclopedia Pictura on Vimeo.


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Pagan Waterworld

Jaison deCaires TaylorUnderwater Sculpture

A must see artist’s web site.

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Andy Thomas Closes His Eyes

Nightingale and Canary from Andy Thomas on Vimeo.

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Sweetly Focused Nora Bateson

What a great two minutes!

Nora Bateson’s soulful approach to her father’s work, to his way of understanding, strikes me as being beautifully personal, ingratiating, and, most crucially, precisely formulated so as to provide a warm introductory gateway to his legacy.

The following videos help frame her brilliant film about her father, An Ecology of Mind. The interviewers are different, and there is some repetition, yet Ms. Bateson is so much deeply her father’s daughter that I find her views enchanting.

The point of the probe is always in the heart of the explorer. (Gregory Bateson)

According to the popular image of science, everything is, in principle, predictable and controllable; and if some event or process is not predictable and controllable in the present state of your knowledge, a little more knowledge and, especially, a little more know-how will enable us to predict and control the wild variables.

This view is wrong, not merely in detail, but in principle. It is even possible to define large classes or phenomena where prediction and control are simply impossible for very basic but quite understandable reasons. Perhaps the most familiar example of this class of phenomena is the breaking of any superficially homogeneous material, such as glass. The Brownian movement (see Glossary) of molecules in liquids and gases is similarly unpredictable.

If I throw a stone at a glass window, I shall, under appropriate circumstances, break of crack the glass in a star-shaped pattern. If my stone hits the glass as fast as a bullet, it is possible that it will detach from the glass a neat conical plug called a conic of percussion. If my stone is too slow and too small, I may fail to break the glass at all. Prediction and control will be quite possible at this level. I can easily make sure which of three results (the star, the percussion cone, or no breakage) I shall achieve, provided I avoid marginal strengths of throw.

But within the conditions which produce the star-shaped break, it will be impossible to predict or control the pathways and the positions of the arms of the stars.

Curiously enough, the more precise my laboratory methods, the more unpredictable the events will become. If I use the most homogeneous glass available, polish its surface to the most exact optical flatness, and control the motion of my stone as precisely as possible, ensuring an almost precisely vertical impact on the surface of the glass, all my efforts will only make the events more impossible to predict.

If, on the other hand, I scratch the surface of the glass or use a piece of glass that is already cracked (which would be cheating), I shall be able to make some approximate predictions. For some reason (unknown to me), the break in the glass will run parallel to the scratch and about 1/100 of an inch to the side, so that the scratch mark will appear on only one side of the break. Beyond the end of the scratch, the break will veer off unpredictably.

Under tension, a chain will break at its weakest link. That much is predictable. What is difficult is to identify the weakest link before it breaks. The generic we can know, but the specific eludes us. Some chains are designed to break at a certain tension and at a certain link. But a good chain is homogeneous, and no prediction is possible. And because we cannot know which link is weakest, we cannot know precisely how much tension will be needed to break the chain.

6. Divergent Sequences Are Unpredictable
II Every School Boy Knows
Mind & Nature (Gregory Bateson)

Any form of certainty we find along the way is probably transitional. (Nora Bateson)

Nora Bateson from AURA on Vimeo.

Nora Bateson’s film (Amazon DVD) An Ecology of Mind, A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson–it’s wonderful– Web Site | An Ecology of the Mind (on Facebook)

Department of Anthropology Indiana University: Gregory Bateson biography

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Explorer 2

A portrait of Eliane Radigue, produced by the Austrian IMA (Institute for Media Archeology), which observes Eliane in her workspace, operating the ARP and talking about the process of composing and recording.

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Explorer 1

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chaosmosis: the emergence of order from chaos, engendering new autopoietic entities

Aesthetic paradigm
1. In Guattari’s work, as opposed to scientific paradigms, paradigms that are schizoanalytic, rhizomatic, and chaosmic, involving processes rather than structures.

psychoanalysis, which claimed to affirm itself as scientific, […] has everything to gain from putting itself under the aegis of this new type of aesthetic processual paradigm. [CM 106 CM=Chaosmosis]

2. A schizoanalytic approach to clinical treatment which, instead of describing the psyche in terms of structures or stages, views the production of subjectivity as a creative process.

Grafts of transference […] [issue] from a creation which itself indicates a kind of aesthetic paradigm. One creates new modalities of subjectivity in the same way that an artist creates new forms from the palette. [CM 7]

3. The creative capacity of chaosmosis, the emergence of order from chaos, engendering new autopoietic entities; this ontological process is exemplified by but not limited to artistic creation.

art […] engenders unprecedented, unforeseen and unthinkable qualities of being. The decisive threshold constituting this new aesthetic paradigm lies in the aptitude of these processes of creation to auto-affirm themselves as existential nuclei, autopoietic machines. [CM 106; see also 112] – J. W.

The Deleuze and Guattari Dictionary

Tu v dome:
Ladislav Durko – piano
Ali Kobzova – voice, violin
Bronka Schragge – cello
Ozo Guttler – drums
Martin Sutovec – banjo
text original:
The Heart asks Pleasure – first –
And then – Excuse from Pain –
And then – those little Anodyness
That deaden suffering –
And then – to go to sleep –
And then – if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die –
Emily Dickinson 1830 — 1886

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Cellular Mechanics

h/t CDM/Peter Kirn

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