:: Notes from Somewhere Bizarre ::

A Journal of Cultural Contamination by Ashley Benigno
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:: Monday, June 30, 2003 ::

Notes from somewhere bizarre has moved

A new, custom-built, rss-enhanced, comment-boxed version can be found at www.ashleyb.org. See you there.
:: ashleyb Monday, June 30, 2003 [+] ::
:: Monday, June 23, 2003 ::
Nearly there

Slight delay! new ETA scheduled for later this week. The new site will be live by the end of June at the very latest. Redirect info to follow.
:: ashleyb Monday, June 23, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, June 12, 2003 ::
Back Soon

Notes from somewhere bizzare is in the process of moving to new, improved lodgings.

I'll be back on line by mid next week (around 18/06).

Check back for redirect info.

:: ashleyb Thursday, June 12, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 22, 2003 ::
Tango and the Politics of Touch

"Tango, a signifier of darkness and illegitimacy, of desire and counter-culture, is more than a dance. As Horacio Ferrer writes, "before being an artistic expression, before tango came to light as such […] tango was a certain attitude, a way of life adopted by those of diverse cultures" (1995: 11). In its popular representations, Argentine tango is described as a dance that evokes illicit sexual desire through an acrobatics that often looks choreographed. But "Argentine" tango is much more than this mythic evocation of a movement of desire. Tango is everything from a dance of solitudes to a nomadic movement of cultural displacement to a fierce locator of national identity. It is a dance of encounter and disencounter, a voyeuristic embrace of repressed sensuality and a complex network of (mis)understood directions." (Negotiating Influence: Argentine Tango and a Politics of Touch)

:: ashleyb Thursday, May 22, 2003 [+] ::
:: Friday, May 16, 2003 ::
The making of Saving Private Jessica

"The American strategy was to concentrate on the visuals and to get a broad message out. Details - where helpful - followed behind. The key was to ensure the right television footage. The embedded reporters could do some of that. On other missions, the military used their own cameras, editing the film themselves and presenting it to broadcasters as ready-to-go packages. The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies, notably Black Hawk Down." (The truth about Jessica)

:: ashleyb Friday, May 16, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 08, 2003 ::
The Madonna remix project

What the fuck do you think you're doing?

:: ashleyb Thursday, May 08, 2003 [+] ::
Mobile Mutations - an interview with Sadie Plant

The latest issue of ephemera carries an interview with Sadie Plant (no direct link, "mobile mutations" can be found under "vol 3, no1" on the homepage) which ranges across a series of topics from neuro-pharmacology to mobile phones.

A taster:

"...I am also interested in a looser conception of technical processes - one that would, for example, include drugs as a kind of internal technology, changing the perceptual apparatus, just as digital technologies change our outside world. I am also always keen to demonstrate something about, for want of a better phrase, the interconnectedness of things..."

:: ashleyb Thursday, May 08, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 ::
A Western Sahara of the mind

It’s time to explain. When I first started this blog (over a year ago) I registered it with Eatonweb and gave my physical location as being Western Sahara. Since then, nearly not a day has gone by without receiving some visit through this directory. After all, it is the only one! And recently I’ve been getting traffic from a German blog, seemingly bemused to find situationist theory discussed from deep within the desert…

While these days I am both fascinated and stimulated by the potentials implicit in embedding the web in the physical plane, I also still believe in the Internet residing out of space, existing as a laboratory where gender and geography can be subverted, a (non)place of play and symbol.

When this blog began I was not interested in binding it to London E18 (where I lived at the time – I now reside in northern Italy).

But the choice of Western Sahara was not a random act. As an act of digital poetics I placed Notes from Somewhere Bizarre out in the middle of nowhere, far away from the power nodes and consumption hubs of the global ghetto, where it could claim a nomadic ancestry, on the extreme border of the Empire, sandwiched between a desert of water and an ocean of sand, in a place few have heard of, where the landmines don’t make the headlines, and its conflict is forgotten together with its refugee camps.

:: ashleyb Tuesday, May 06, 2003 [+] ::
:: Saturday, April 26, 2003 ::
Displacement (pt. 2)

Via noborder network comes news of Go NoGo The Frontiers of Europe, a photo exhibition (currently on show in Amsterdam) depicting the attempts by economic migrants and refugees to break-in to fortress Europe. Photographer Ad van Denderen captures the landings in Andalucia, those that have been captured by police and immigration officers, those on the run, those running towards a dream, the smiles, the buzz, the horror, the poverty of ramshackle dwellings, the hole in barbed wire at Callais, the refugee camps in Turkey, the Greek-Albanian border. On the website there are 107 photos looped in a Flash slide show - the images reek of empathy and despair and hope, redolent of a battered humanity, they stink of the foulness of poverty. Ultimately powerful and bloody beautiful, they leave a scent of resistance and the aroma of the will to overcome.
:: ashleyb Saturday, April 26, 2003 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 ::
An apology for Pebbles

I have always been fascinated by pebbles, not really sure why. Perhaps because they hint at the beauty, the uniqueness, the infinite variety, the richness that resides in what, at first glance, may seem like coarse landscapes of poor sameness. The warmth of a pebble that carries questions weightier than those in tomes of philosophical dissertations. Intuitions of energy… or maybe the “simple” pleasure of throwing stones in mirrors of water.

Whatever the case, stones and pebbles collected by marixxx along the shores of the river Ticino are scattered like friends and guardians across our flat in Pavia. A small wicker bowl contains the mineral memory of summer day of smoked fish and sunflowers at Aldeburgh. The remembrance of pebbles past at Kettles Yard.

And today, the smoothly crafted reflections on pebble collecting in this article here.

:: ashleyb Wednesday, April 23, 2003 [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 17, 2003 ::
Questions from Iraq

In today’s Independent there is an article that questions the events that are unfolding in a “liberated” Iraq. It asks questions involving the destruction of a nation’s cultural heritage, the looting of its archeological treasures, the burning of its archives. It asks questions about what is being done to track down and bring to trial those responsible for torture and murder under Saddam’s regime:

“I have been to many of (the torture chambers). But there is no evidence even that a single British or US forensic officer has visited the sites to sift the wealth of documents lying there or talk to the ex-prisoners returning to their former places of torment. Is this idleness. Or is this wilful?… Iraqis are right to ask why the Americans don't search for this information, just as they are right to demand to know why the entire Saddam cabinet – every man jack of them – got away.”

The article is written by Robert Fisk, one of the very few (if not the only) western reporters on the field to provide a different perspective from the official version provided elsewhere by the Anglo-American media. An award-winning journalist, he has been covering the Middle East for the last 23 years. His writing is passionate, never sanitized. Whatever your views on (this) war, to follow the dictum of technology journalist Dan Gilmor (“If you want to be informed, roam widely. Watch and read things that support your own beliefs. Then look for commentary and data that don't. It's all out there”) I strongly suggest you check out his archives here.

And then take the time to read the harsh condemnation of the war by John Pilger.

:: ashleyb Thursday, April 17, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::
Calling all digital flaneurs

Why not try calling the ghost of Guy Debord during a mobile phone derive or take a walk on the monitored side with the Surveillance Camera Players?

Whatever your taste in urban psychogeographic games and explorations, New York is the place to get lost between May 8 and 11 at the first edition of Psy-Geo-Conflux 2003.
:: ashleyb Tuesday, April 15, 2003 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::

It has left a strange feeling no longer seeing him there. Bizarre how we can develop emotions for strangers, how some faces can burn their way through our retinas to imprint themselves in our minds like the icons of successful brands.

Enveloped in a haze of carbon monoxide fumes, he stood still on green, whatever the weather, far away from the shrapnel sun of his homeland. Stranded below an exit of Milan's ring road. In the heart of Italy's industry he watched lorries rattle by and people drive to work. He belonged to the lowest link of the employment food chain. To that class that stands at traffic lights across the globe's urban sprawls cleaning windscreens with dirty rags, selling paper tissues or disposable plastic lighters or rancid red roses, or simply begging.

He did nothing of these things. When the lights turned red he simply walked between the two lanes of traffic looking at no-one, asking for nothing, as if he were an eighteenth century patrician poet out for a stroll.

The sight was close to surreal, especially as he looked like North Africa's answer to Groucho Marx. He hobbled along with the pride of a defiant gypsy woman. Tenderness in his eyes. Once, when I saw him flash a smile, he looked just like my maternal grandfather, himself the son of Russian emigrants. In a flash the vision of an emergent humanity merging as one, lost to each other through six degrees of separation.

And then one day, after months of seeing him, he was no longer there. Gone somewhere: a different traffic light, expelled for being a sans papier...missing in action without any news coverage. Peace and prosperity after all, do not reside simply in the absence of war.

:: ashleyb Wednesday, April 09, 2003 [+] ::
:: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 ::
Same old story?

A dear friend from south London sent me this quote today:

"Of course the people don't want war....that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

My first thought was that it sounded very much like one of those rare off-the-record alcohol-induced candid remark made in a Westminster boozer at closing time by some politician, maybe only last night (after all, the guy that sent it to me is a journalist)...then I read on to find out that it was uttered by Hermann Goering.

The bitter taste of those words made me wonder if those who rule believe the can always whistle the same tune, and if (wo)mankind can, in reply, sing back a totally new song?

And then another quote came to mind, something Sadie Plant once said: "Intelligence is no longer on the side of power"

:: ashleyb Tuesday, March 18, 2003 [+] ::
:: Friday, March 07, 2003 ::
Retro hobbies in mp3

Take a break: why not make a tape recorder or play a game of ping pong?

(both gems found here)

:: ashleyb Friday, March 07, 2003 [+] ::
:: Wednesday, March 05, 2003 ::
Haiku blues

Sad faces, sadder
still under artificial
light; sun shines outside

:: ashleyb Wednesday, March 05, 2003 [+] ::


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