posted by Meredith Kooi

From Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā

Chapter I
Examination of Conditions

1.    Neither from itself nor from another,
Nor from both,
Nor without a cause,
Does anything whatever, anywhere arise.

2.    There are four conditions: efficient condition;
Percept-object condition; immediate condition;
Dominant condition, just so.
There is no fifth condition.

3.    The essence of entities
Is not present in the conditions, etc…
If there is no essence,
There can be no otherness-essence.

4.    Power to act does not have conditions.
There is no power to act without conditions.
There are no conditions without power to act.
Nor do any have the power to act.

5.    These give rise to those,
So these are called conditions.
As long as those do not come from these,
Why are these not non-conditions?

6.    For neither an existent nor a non-existent thing
Is a condition appropriate.
If a thing is non-existent, how could it have a condition?
If a thing is already existent, what would a condition do?

7.    When neither existents nor
Non-existents nor existent non-existents are established,
How could one propose a “productive cause?”
If there were one, it would be pointless.

8.    An existent entity (mental episode)
Has no object.
Since a mental episode is without an object,
How could there be any percept-condition?

9.    Since things are not arisen,
Cessation is not acceptable.
Therefore, an immediate condition is not reasonable.
If something has ceased, how could it be a condition?

10.    If things did not exist
Without essence,
The phrase, “When this exists so this will be,”
Would not be acceptable.

11.    In the several or united conditions
The effect cannot be found.
How could something not in the conditions
Come from the conditions?

12.    However, if a nonexistent effect
Arises from these conditions,
Why does it not arise
From non-conditions?

13.    If the effect’s essence is the conditions,
But the conditions don’t have their own essence,
How could an effect whose essence is the conditions
Come from something that is essenceless?

14.    Therefore, neither with conditions as their essence,
Nor with non-conditions as their essence are there any effects.
If there are no such effects,
How could conditions or non-conditions be evident?

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posted by Meredith Kooi

Joel Ross is a smartass.  In his show at moniquemeloche gallery, ROADSIDE:  A Presentation of Recent Field Experiments and Prototypes, he presents seven of his roadside signage projects.  For these projects, he generates phrases, creates signs for the phrases, and then places them in different places.  He then photographs these interventions and prints them huge (55” x 80”).

begay

The juxtapositions of the landscapes with the phrases are incredible. Be Gay, 2008 shows a red and white painted sign saying “Be Gay” beside a country road. With the photograph is a letter Ross wrote describing the story behind the sign and its placement.  One day while riding his bike, a truck full of guys drove past him shouting “faggot” and threw a beer can at his head.  My personal favorite is Jesus Said, 2009 where the sign reading “And then Jesus said:  Shut the fuck up” is standing in front of a barn with a spotlight on it in the dark.

jesussaid

The signs’ phrases are short and somewhat ambiguous, but at the same time to the point.  I mean, what does or can “be gay” really mean?  I wonder what it would be like to come in contact with the signs in person.  Would they feel like those weird signs in the Illinois countryside that talk about gunssavelives.com?  Or some advertisement?  Or would it feel like you knew it was neither and that they were talking about something else?

Joel Ross, ROADSIDE:  A Presentation of Recent Field Experiments and Prototypes

May 2 – June 13, 2009

At moniquemeloche gallery

118 N. Peoria

Chicago, IL 60607

Upanishads

May 18, 2009

posted by Meredith Kooi

What follows is an excerpt from The Upanishads:  The Wisdom of the Hindu Mystics translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester

ms2163

IX

CHANDOGYA

BRAHMAN is all.  From Brahman come appearances, sensations, desires, deeds.  But all these are merely name and form.  To know Brahman one must experience the identity between him and the Self, or Brahman dwelling within the lotus of the heart.  Only by so doing can man escape from sorrow and death and become one with the subtle essence beyond all knowledge.

May quietness descend upon my limbs,

My speech, my breath, my eyes, my ears;

May all me senses wax clear and strong.

May Brahman show himself unto me.

May I never deny Brahman, nor Brahman me.

I with him and he with me—may we abide always together.

May there be revealed to me,

Who am devoted to Brahman,

The holy truth of the Upanishads.

OM…Peace—peace—peace.

…Within the city of Brahman, which is the body, there is the heart, and within the heart there is a little house.  This house has the shape of a lotus, and within it dwells that which is to be sought after, inquired about, and realized.

What then is that which, dwelling within this little house, this lotus of the heart, is to be sough after, inquired about, and realized?

As large as the universe outside, even so large is the universe within the lotus of the heart.  Within it are heaven and earth, the sun, the moon, the lightning, and all the stars.  What is in the macrocosm is in this microcosm.

All things that exist, all beings and all desires, are in the city of Brahman; what then becomes of them when old age approaches and the body dissolves in death?

Though old age comes to the body, the lotus of the heart does not grow old.  At death of the body, it does not die.  The lotus of the heart, where Brahman exists in all his glory—that, and not the body, is the true city of Brahman.  Brahman, dwelling therein, is untouched by any deed, ageless, deathless, free from grief, free from hunger and from thirst.  His desires are right desires, and his desires are fulfilled.  As here on earth all the wealth that one earns is but transitory, so likewise transitory are the heavenly enjoyments acquired by the performance of sacrifices.  Therefore those who die without having realized the Self and its right desires find no permanent happiness in any world to which they go; while those who have realized the Self and its right desires find permanent happiness everywhere.

If the sage desires to see his fathers of the spirit-world, lo, his fathers come to meet him.  In their company he is happy.

And if he desires to see his mothers of the spirit-world, lo, his mothers come to meet him.  In their company he is happy.

And if he desires to see his brothers of the spirit-world, lo, his brothers come to meet him.  In their company he is happy.

And if he desires to see his sisters of the spirit-world, lo, his sisters come to meet him.  In their company he is happy.

And if he desires to see his friends of the spirit-world, lo, his friends come to meet him.  In their company he is happy.

And if he desires heavenly perfumes and garlands, lo, heavenly perfumes and garlands come to him.  In their possession he is happy.

And if he desires heavenly food and drink, lo, heavenly food and drink come to him.  In their possession he is happy.

And if he desires heavenly song and music, lo, heavenly song and music come to him.  In their possession he is happy.

Indeed, whatsoever such a knower of Brahman may desire, straightaway it is his; and having obtained it, he is exalted of me.  The fulfillment of right desires is within reach of everyone, but a veil of illusion obstructs the ignorant.  That is why, though they desire to see their dead, their beloved, they cannot see them.

Do we wish for our beloved, among the living or among the dead, or is there aught else for which we long, yet, for all our longing, do not obtain?  lo, all shall be ours if we but dive deep within, even to the lotus of the heart, where dwells the Lord.  Yea, the object of every right desire is within our reach, though unseen, concealed by a veil of illusion.  As one not knowing that a golden treasure lies buried beneath his feet, may walk over it again and again, yet never find it, so all beings live every moment in the city of Brahman, yet never find him, because of the veil of illusion by which he is concealed.

The Self resides within the lotus of the heart.  Knowing this, devoted to the Self, the sage enters daily that holy sanctuary.

Absorbed in the Self, the sage is freed from identity with the body and lives in blissful consciousness.  The Self is the immortal, the fearless; the Self is Brahman.  This Brahman is eternal Truth.

The Self within the heart is like a boundary which divides the world from THAT.  Day and night cross not that boundary, nor old age, nor death; neither grief not pleasure, neither good nor evil deeds.  All evil shuns THAT.  For THAT is free from impurity:  by impurity can it never be touched.

Wherefore he who has crossed that boundary, and has realized the Self, if he is blind, ceases to be blind; if he is wounded, ceases to be wounded; if he is afflicted, ceases to be afflicted.  When that boundary is crossed, night becomes day; for the world of Brahman is light itself.  And that world of Brahman is reached by those who practice continence.  For the knower of eternal truth knows it through continence.  And what is known through worship, that also is continence.  For a man worships the Lord by continence, and thus attains him.

What is salvation is really continence.  For through continence man is freed from ignorance.  And what is known as the vow of silence, that too is continence.  For a man through continence realizes the Self and lives in quiet contemplation.

What people call dwelling in the forest, that is continence.

In the world of Brahman there is a lake whose waters are like nectar, and whosoever tastes thereof is straightaway drunk with joy; and beside that lake is a tree which yields the juice of immortality.  Into this world they cannot enter who do not practice continence.

zombie/seeds

May 4, 2009

posted by Meredith Kooi


I guess the world is being taken over by zombies, or, rather, an infatuation with them.  It said so in the Tribune.  Zombies everywhere!  Today I read two articles about zombies.  Both being sorts of social commentaries, but one being more dire than the other.  Claire Pentecost’s essay, “Fields of Zombies,” produced for the exhibition Companion Planting for Social and Biological Systems:  agriART at George Mason University, talks about zombie seeds, zombie scientists, and zombie artists.I find this article to be particularly timely with the first farmers’ markets opening for the season this past weekend.

Pentecost talks about the seed bank in Svalbard, Norway.  The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a library of sorts of seeds, but no one is there to browse the stacks.  It is there in case of a global meltdown, basically – for food if there ever happens to be none.  She compares this framework of keeping seeds safe with that of Vandana Shiva’s seed collective project, Navdanya.  This project facilitates seed sharing with farmers and encourages seed saving, cultivation, and conservation. In comparing the two, the Svalbard bank seems totally sterile – seeds locked up with no farmer interaction.  How bizarre?  How does this framework keep our seeds, and thus food, safe?  Can the seeds turn into seed zombies?!  Where would we be then when the zombies do come to eat our brains?!  Could a simple push of a button activate an automon to fix the problem?  I don’t think so.  Pentecost points out that a framework that promotes an open-source sharing and exchange could survive the fall-out because there would be a greater dispersal of knowledge and seeds amongst real living people – not zombies.

She relates these contained and isolated seeds to that of the artist.  By who or what is the artist driven?  Is it the art market? the museum? or something else?  Have we become like the scientists compromising themselves to secure funding from these private corporations that dictate how seeds are produced, how food is grown, and who gets to partake?  Or, can we remain like Shiva’s project that encourages an open-source exchange between us all?  The art market cannot be the end for us artists.  It cannot be the means either.  Artists must refuse to be zombies – unless we are bitten and become one unintended.

You can find the essay “Fields of Zombies,” by Claire Pentecost – produced for the exhibition Companion Planting for Social and Biological Systems:  agriART at George Mason University, April 21 – May 15, 2009 on the exhibition’s website: http://flawedart.net/agriart.

Red Iceberg

April 30, 2009

posted by Meredith Kooi

iceburgg

Marco Evaristti

I came across an old MSNBC article a while ago about a red iceberg that cause[d] a stir in Greenland”. The article talks about artist Marco Evaristti and his seemingly lunatic projects involving icebergs and paint and goldfish and blenders. At first, his comment about the iceberg belonging to him and his then ability to do what he wanted with it disturbed me. It actually really pissed me off. How could someone actually believe that Mother Nature “belongs to all of us”? Hell, Mother Nature belongs to none of us, really. However, I went to his website to find out if that comment was as egotistical as I originally thought it to be. Turns out, it is not. I actually like it. (Damn the media! I should’ve realized more blatantly the bias!)

The iceberg project mentioned in the article is part of a larger project called Pink State – where Pink State “is a pure utopia. A state of mind.” The project questions the constructions of borders and territories, and it calls for people to become citizens in the Brotherhood Union. The iceberg, in its manifestation as the Ice Cube Project, becomes part of this overarching community of the Pink State along with Mont Blanc as The Mont Rouge Project and other places. The places are physically real, but the actual “territory” of the Pink State is not; it is broader than the geographically and politically constructed borders that surround the places.

The Pink State has a constitution, and it states in Section II that:

§ 5 As a citizen of Pink State you are required to be good to yourself

§ 6 As a citizen of Pink State you are required to be good to others

§ 7 As a citizen of Pink State you are required to be good to nature

I like the sound of that. Without borders, would there be violence?

Jane Eyre!

April 16, 2009

posted by Meredith Kooi

jane_eyre

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë

Chapter IX

But the privations, or, rather, the hardships, of Lowood, lessened.  Spring drew on; she was, indeed, already come; the frosts of winter had ceased; its snows were melted; its cutting winds ameliorated.  My wretched feet, flayed and swelled to lameness by the sharp air of January, began to heal and subside under the gentler breathings of April.  The nights and mornings no longer, by their Canadian temperature, froze the very blood in our veins; we could now endure the play-hour passed in the garden.  Sometimes, on a sunny day, it began even to be pleasant and genial; and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.  Flowers peeped out among the leaves—snowdrops, crocuses, purple auriculas, and golden-eyed pansies.  On Thursday afternoons (half-holidays) we now took walks, and found still sweeter flowers opening by the way-side, under the hedges.

I discovered, too, that a great pleasure—an enjoyment which the horizon only bounded—lay outside the high and spike-guarded walls of our garden.  This pleasure consisted in a prospect of noble summits girding a great hill-hollow, rich in verdure and shadow; in a bright beck, full of dark stones and sparkling eddies.  How different had this scene looked when I viewed it laid out beneath the iron sky of winter, stiffened in frost, shrouded in snow—when mists as chill as death wandered to the impulse of east winds along those purple peaks, and rolled down “ing” and holm till they blended with the frozen fog of the beck!  That beck itself was then a torrent, turbid and curbless; it tore asunder the wood, and sent a raving sound through the air, often thickened with wild rain or whirling sleet; and for the forest on its banks, that showed only ranks of skeletons.

April advanced to May.  A bright, serene May it was; days of blue sky, placid sunshine, and soft western of southern gales, filled up its duration.  And now vegetation matured with vigor; Lowood shook loose its tresses; it became all green, all flowery; its great elm, ash, and oak skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland plants sprung up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of moss filled its hollows; and it made a strange ground-sunshine out of the wealth of its wild primrose plants; I have seen their pale, gold gleam, it overshadowed spots, like scatterings of the sweetest luster.  All this I enjoyed often and fully, free, unwatched, and almost alone; for this unwonted liberty and pleasure there was a cause, to which it now becomes my task to advert.

Have I not described a pleasant site for a dwelling, when I speak of it as bosomed in hill and wood, and rising from the verge of a stream?  Assuredly, pleasant enough; but whether healthy or not is another question.

The forest dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of fog and fog-bred pestilence; which, quickening with the quickening spring, crept into the Orphan Asylum, breathed typhus through its crowded school-room and dormitory, and, ere May arrived, transformed the seminary into a hospital.

Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the pupils to receive infection.  Forty-five of the eighty girls lay ill at one time.  Classes were broken up, rules relaxed.  The few who continued well were allowed almost unlimited license, because the medical attendant insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise to keep them in health; and had it been otherwise, no one had leisure to watch or restrain them.  Miss Temple’s whole attention was absorbed by the patients; she lived in the sick room, never quitting it except to snatch a few hours’ rest at night.  The teachers were fully occupied with packing up and making other necessary preparations for the departure of those girls who were fortunate enough to have friends and relations able and willing to remove them from the seat of contagion.  Many, already smitten, went home only to die; some died at the school, and were buried quietly and quickly, the nature of the malady forbidding delay.

While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death its frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its walls; while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells—the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of mortality—that bring May shone unclouded over the bold hills and beautiful woodland out-of-doors.  Its garden, too, glowed with flowers; hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, dahlias and roses were in bloom; the borders of the little beds were gay with pink thrift and crimson double-daisies; the sweet-briers gave out, morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples; and these fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the inmates of Lowood, except to furnish now and then a handful of herbs and blossoms to put in a coffin.

But I, and the rest who continued well, enjoyed fully the beauties of the scene and season.  They let us ramble in the wood, like gypsies, from morning till night; we did what we liked—went where we liked; we lived better, too.  Mr. Brocklehurst and his family never came near Lowood now; household matters were not scrutinized into; the cross housekeeper was gone, driven away by the fear of infection; her successor, who has been matron at the Lowton Dispensary, unused to the ways of her new abode, provided with comparative liberality.  Besides, there were fewer to feed; the sick could eat little; our breakfast-basins were better filled; when there was no time to prepare a regular dinner, which often happened, she would give us a large piece of cold pie, or a thick slice of bread and cheese, and this we carried away with us to the wood, where we each chose the spot we liked best, and dined sumptuously.

My favorite seat was a smooth and broad stone, rising white and dry from the very middle of the beck, and only to be got at by wading through the water—a feat I accomplished barefoot.  The stone was just broad enough to accommodate comfortably me and another girl—at that time my chose comrade—one Mary Ann Wilson, a shrewd, observant personage, whose society I took pleasure in, partly because she was witty and original, and partly because she had a manner which set me at my ease.  Some years older than I, she knew more of the world, and could tell me many things I liked to hear.  With her my curiosity found gratification.  To my faults, also, she gave ample indulgence, never imposing curb or rein or anything I said.  She had a turn for narrative—I for analysis; she liked to inform—I to question; so we got on swimmingly together, deriving much entertainment, if not much improvement, from our mutual intercourse.

And where, meantime, was Helen Burns?  Why did I not spend these sweet days of liberty with her?  Had I forgotten her? or was I so worthless as to have grown tired of her pure society?  Surely the Mary Ann Wilson I have mentioned was inferior to my first acquaintance; she could only tell me amusing stories, and reciprocate any racy and pungent gossip I chose to indulge in; while I have spoken truth of Helen, she was qualified to give those who enjoyed the privilege of her converse a taste of far higher things.

True, reader, and I knew and felt this; and though I am a defective being, with many faults and few redeeming points, yet I never tired of Helen Burns, nor ever ceased to cherish for her a sentiment of attachment as strong, tender, and respectful as any that ever animated my heart.  How could it be otherwise, when Helen, at all times, and under all circumstances, evinced for me a quiet and faithful friendship, which ill-humor never soured nor irritation ever troubled?  But Helen was ill at present; for some weeks she had been removed from my sight to I knew not what room, up stairs.  She was not, I was told, in the hospital portion of the house, with the fever patients; for her complaint was consumption, not typhus; and by consumption I, in my ignorance, understood something mild, which time and care would be sure to alleviate.

I was confirmed in this idea by the fact of her once or twice coming down stairs, on very warm sunny afternoons, and being taken by Miss Temple in the garden; but on these occasions, I was not allowed to go and speak to her; I only saw her from the school-room window, and then not distinctly, for she was much wrapped up, and sat at a distance under the verandah.

One evening, in the beginning of June, I had stayed out very late with Mary Ann in the wood; we had, as usual separated ourselves from the others, and had wandered far—so far that we lost our way, and had to as it as a lonely cottage, where a man and woman lived, who looked after a herd of half-wild swine that fed on the mast in the wood.  When we got back, it was after moonrise; a pony, which we knew to be the surgeon’s, was standing at the garden-door.  Mary Ann remarked that she supposed some one must be very ill, as Mr. Bates had been sent for at that time of the evening.  She went into the house.  I stayed behind a few minutes to plant in my garden a handful of roots I had dug up in the forest, and which I feared would wither if I left then till morning.  This done, I lingered yet a little longer; the flowers smelled so sweet as the dew fell; it was such a pleasant evening, so serene, so warm; the still glowing west promised so fairly another find day on the morrow; the moon rose with such majesty in the grave east.  I was noting these things, and enjoying them as a child might, when it entered my mind, as it had never done before:

“How sad to be lying now on a sick bed, and to be in danger of dying!  This world is pleasant; it would be dreary to be called from it, and to have to go—who knows where?”

And then my mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell, and for the first time it recoiled, baffled; and, for the first time, glancing behind, on each side, and before it, it saw all round an unfathomed gulf; it felt the one point where it stood—the present; all the rest was formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the thought of tottering and plunging amid that chaos.  While pondering this new idea, I heard the front door open.  Mr. Bates came out, and with him was a nurse.  After she had seen him mount his horse and depart, she was about to close that door, but I ran up to her.

“How is Helen Burns?”

“Very poorly,” was the answer.

“Is it her Mr. Bates has been to see?”

“Yes.”

“And what does he say about her?”

“He says she’ll not be here long.”

This phrase, uttered in my hearing yesterday, would have only conveyed the notion that she was about to be removed to Northumberland, to her own home.  I should not have suspected that it meant she was dying; but I knew instantly now; it opened clear on my comprehension that Helen Burns was numbering her last days in this world, and that she was going to be taken to the region of spirits, if such region there were.  I experienced a shock of horror, then a strong thrill of grief, then a desire—a necessity—to see her; and I asked in what room she lay.

“She is in Miss Temple’s room,” said the nurse.

“May I go up and speak to her?”

“Oh, no, child!  It is not likely; and now it is time for you to come in; you’ll catch the fever if you stop out when the dew is falling.”

The nurse closed the front door; I went in by the side entrance, which led to the school-room.  I was just in time; it was nine o’clock, and Miss Miller was calling the pupils to go to bed.

It might be two hours later, probably near eleven, when I—not having been able to fall asleep, and deeming, from the perfect silence of the dormitory, that my companions were all wrapped in profound repose—rose softly, put on my frock over my night-dress, and, without shoes, crept from the apartment, and set off in quest of Miss Temple’s room.  It was quite at the other end of the house; but I knew my way; and the light of the unclouded summer moon, entering ere and there at passage windows, enabled me to find it without difficulty.  An odor of camphor and burned vinegar warned me when I came near the fever-room; and I passed its door quickly, fearful lest the nurse, who sat up all night, should hear me.  I dreaded being discovered and sent back, for I must see Helen—I must embrace her before she died—I must give her one last kiss, exchange with her one last word.

Having descended a stair-case, traversed a portion of the house below, and succeeded in opening and shutting, without noise, two doors, I reached another flight of steps; these I mounted, and then just opposite to me was Miss Temple’s room.  A light shone through the key-hole, and from under the door.  A profound stillness pervaded the vicinity.  Coming near, I found the door slightly ajar; probably to admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness.  Indisposed to hesitate, and full of impatient impulses—soul and senses quivering with keen throes—I put it back and looked in.  My eyes sought Helen, and feared to find death.

Close by Miss Temple’s bed, and half covered with its white curtains, there stood a little crib.  I saw the outline of a form under the clothes, but the face was hid by the hangings.  The nurse I had spoken to in the garden sat in an easy-chair, asleep; an unsnuffed candle burned dimly on the table.  Miss Temple was not to be seen; I knew afterward that she had been called to a delirious patient in the fever-room.  I advanced; then paused by the crib-side.  My hand was on the curtain, but I preferred speaking before I withdrew it.  I still recoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse.

“Helen!” I whispered softly; “are you awake?”

She stirred, herself put back the curtain, and I saw her face, pale, wasted, but quite composed.  She looked so little changed that my fear was instantly dissipated.

“Can it be you, Jane?” she asked, in her own gentle voice.

“Oh!” I thought, “she is not going to die; they are mistaken; she could not speak and look so calmly if she were.”

I got on to her crib and kissed her.  Her forehead was cold, and her cheek both cold and thin; and so were her hand and wrist; but she smiled as of old.

“Why are you come here, Jane?  It is past eleven o’clock; I heard it strike some minutes since.”

“I came to see you, Helen; I heard you were very ill, and I could not sleep till I had spoken to you.”

“You came to bid me good-by, then; you are just in time, probably.”

“Are you going somewhere, Helen?  Are you going home?”

“Yes; to my long home—my last home.”

“No, no, Helen.”  I stopped, distressed.  While I tried to devour my tears, a fit of coughing seized Helen; it did not, however, wake the nurse; when it was over, she lay some minutes exhausted; then she whispered—

“Jane, your little feet are bare; lie down and cover yourself with my quilt.”

I did so; she put her arm over me, and I nestled close to her.  After a long silence, she resumed; still whispering—

“I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead you must be sure and not grieve; there is nothing to grieve about.  We all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual; my mind is at rest.  I leave no one to regret me much; I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me.  By dying young I shall escape great sufferings.  I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world; I should have been continually at fault.”

“But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see?  Do you know?”

“I believe; I have faith; I am going to God.”

“Where is God?  What is God?”

“My Maker and yours; who will never destroy what he created.  I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly in his goodness; I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to me.”

“You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven; and that our souls can get to it when we die?”

“I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to him without an misgiving.  God is my father; God is my friend; I love him; I believe he loves me.”

“And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?”

“You will come to the same region of happiness, be received by the same mighty, universal Parent, no doubt, dear Jane.”

Again I questioned; but this time only in thought.  “Where is that region?  Does it exist?  And I clasped my arms closer round Helen; she seemed dearer to me that ever; I felt as if I could not let her go; I lay with my face hidden in her neck.  Presently she said in the sweetest tone—

“How comfortable I am!  That has fit of coughing has tired me a little; I feel as if I could sleep; but don’t leave me, Jane; I like to have you near me.”

“I’ll stay with you, dear Helen; no one shall take me away.”

“Are you warm, darling?”

“Yes.”

“Good-night, Jane.”

“Good-night, Helen.”

She kissed me, and I her; and we both slumbered.

When I awoke it was day; and unusual movement roused me; I looked up; I was in somebody’s arms; the nurse held me; she was carrying me through the passage back to the dormitory.  I was not reprimanded for leaving my bed; people had something else to think about.  No explanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or two afterward I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me lain in the little crib; my face against Helen Burns’ shoulder, my arms round her neck.  I was asleep, and Helen was—dead.

Her grave in Brocklebridge church-yard; for fifteen years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a gray marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word “Resurgam.”

fembot dérive?

March 20, 2009

Can robots participate in a dérive?

by Meredith Kooi

APTOPIX Japan Girl Robot
I came across this news story about a robot from Tsukuba City, Japan that can walk and facially express emotion: “Life-like walking female robot.”  So, she looks sort of like a human.  She can sort of walk like a human.  And, she can sort of show emotions like a human.  However, can she actually understand what it means to walk and can she actually feel the emotions she expresses like a human?

This robot returns me to what I have been thinking about lately: the everyday.  The lived experience and art – how do they talk to each other?  How does one inform the other?  How can they be related?  One concept of art and the everyday is the dérive formulated by Guy Debord, a founder of the Situationist International.  In thinking of the dérive, it begs the question of whether or not the walking female humanoid will be able to experience it.  If she can walk, does that inherently mean that she can navigate a landscape in any meaningful way?  Are there any rules or guidelines to determine what is a natural experience of a landscape?  If she were to be let loose in Tokyo, would that be any different than my drifting experience through Tokyo?

Does the everyday have to have an intention?  Is the ordinary always boring?  Can a robot ever be natural like me?

Video link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7946780.stm