Jeffrey Schultz – VI. Critique of Knowledge with John McCain at the Hanoi Hilton

Jeffrey Schultz

VI. Critique of Knowledge with John McCain at the Hanoi Hilton

 

… the war ended in an empty row of horse stalls …
                —Levis, roughly

Early on, in Homer, we find Thersites,
No hero we’re told but the ugliest man—
His shoulders hunched, his head come to a point—
Ever come to Troy. Thersites calls—
This briefly in Book II before the boat parade—
Into question the logic of war,
And in answer to this wise Odysseus
Cracks him royally across the shoulders
With a great scepter, sends him crashing to ground.
Here in antiquity, we see the relationship
Between pain and knowledge made transparent:
The scepter is the guarantor of truth.
At this phase of development, in the age of scepters,
Long before the processes of knowledge emancipated themselves
From the delusion that truth conferred dignity
Upon those in possession of it and its painful instruments,
No one ever thought of interrogating a Trojan,
No one ever thought the barbarians under their power
Might in their minds hold anything so valuable
As what might be looted from their storehouses
Or torn from their slaughtered bodies.
Much later on, at Abu Ghraib, for instance,
We find the system dynamics significantly complicated,
As well as, however paradoxically, clarified:
The direct power relationships of antiquity
Which, in varied form, had prevailed
In the bulk of experience up to the Enlightenment
And the ensuing revolutionary period
Were by then thoroughly mediated in the lives of individuals
By the administrative structures of the global social apparatus.
Though these structures were not yet at the time
Entirely in the hands of the robot, the apparatus
Had from inception imagined itself in the image
Of the infernal machine. And so here we witness
The persistence of the essential pain-knowledge relationship,
Though we now find it stripped of its pretensions to glory
And framed as a series of off-handed snapshots
So that it points without embarrassment to its own
Degradations: functions of their function, the lens
Compels the pose. One might even profitably
Reimagine the whole thing in terms of wave-function
Collapse: when the apparatus turns its eye
Upon an event, what is demanded is certainty,
And certainty’s price is the possibility of anything else.
The structures confer neither dignity
Nor any other wishy-washy and absurd humanism.
This simply is, certainly and simply is,
And as what is, it is rendered down into intelligence
And fed back into the apparatus for its systematic edification.
Glorious knowledge once dreamed of controlling fate
Through its own violent self-assertion against fateful actors,
And has, in the pursuit of this dream, reconstituted
The reality of fate in the life of the species,
The same fate from which it once gathered a great force
And broke free, or anyway that’s what it for so long imagined.
But then things just keep happening, and shit doesn’t heal right
So that every time you move you know precisely what you are.

 

Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:

Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.

Anthony Cody – Everywhere I sleep, 12 of 15

Anthony Cody

Everywhere I sleep, I see Dust Bowl (12 of 15)

Multimedia collage: From Dorothea Lange’s photograph “Fresno. On U.S. 99. Storefront of San Joaquin Valley town. California” (May 1939)

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Anthony Cody’s artist statement:

For 15 consecutive nights, in the summer of 2019, I would scour the public domain for images and sounds related to the Dust Bowl era. Very often, I would return to the imagery of Dorothea Lange in her efforts to document the Dust Bowl via the Farm Security Administration. My final waking moments of each day were centered on meditating upon my discoveries, and each morning I’d awaken, have a cup of coffee, and construct a poem. As an homage to the series, I decided I would create each poem on a 15 inch by 15 inch page. The series centers around my current work, which focuses upon the Dust Bowl, climate change, whiteness, capitalism, and technology.

Jeffrey Schultz – V. Stevens

Jeffrey Schultz

V. Stevens

 

…never to destroy / The earth again by flood, nor let the sea /
       Surpass his bounds…

                —Paradise Lost, XI 892-894

Milton’s problem was puritanical
But in the best parts he overcame it,
Let it all work out according to itself.
None of it adds up to much anything,
Though it’s safe to say it’s bad for Evekind.
Stevens tried to solve it all with the sun,
But imagined his way out of the problem
Of intent, and besides hadn’t a fucking clue
What it would all come to but Hartford CT.
Milton built in intent, allowed himself
To consider the sort of vermin he must be
In order that he might be justly eradicated.
Adam liked this idea; it cheered him up
As long as there would be a survivor or two.
Adam liked the whole epic thing, the idea
That all this loss is somehow gain.
And that’s certainly not the intent either,
And even if one ignores Adam’s stupidity,
It gets one no further than Kafka again and vermin.
Donne must be worked in to line it all up right,
But Milton, god bless’m, terror though he be,
Milton’s done the work of it already.

 

Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:

Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.

Anthony Cody – Everywhere I sleep, 11 of 15

Anthony Cody

Everywhere I sleep, I see Dust Bowl (11 of 15)

Multimedia collage: from Dorothea Lange’s photograph “Car trouble on west side of Highway No. 33 in San Joaquin Valley. Formerly a California cowhand and roving laborer. Now with his wife, he follows the fruit. “My uncle homesteaded here sixty years ago. I’m lower on money than at any time.”.” (1938)

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Download a PDF (1.6MB)

 

Anthony Cody’s artist statement:

For 15 consecutive nights, in the summer of 2019, I would scour the public domain for images and sounds related to the Dust Bowl era. Very often, I would return to the imagery of Dorothea Lange in her efforts to document the Dust Bowl via the Farm Security Administration. My final waking moments of each day were centered on meditating upon my discoveries, and each morning I’d awaken, have a cup of coffee, and construct a poem. As an homage to the series, I decided I would create each poem on a 15 inch by 15 inch page. The series centers around my current work, which focuses upon the Dust Bowl, climate change, whiteness, capitalism, and technology.

Jeffrey Schultz – IV. Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell

Jeffrey Schultz

IV. Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell

 

a light summer dress when the body has gone
           —Levis, maybe roughly

In the fullness of itself,
The acronym opens
Upon a woods, upon
What, within woods, lurks.
Such quiet makes its own plans.
This is one explanation
For all the noise of things.
Within the quiet wood,
The most frightful labors:
A group of what had been women,
Before the word for women
And with it what women’d known
Was disappeared, whisper
The spell under breath so low
It never makes a sound.
It is not, the spell, a matter of revenge.
That would be a misunderstanding.
It is godlike and brutal
And beyond signification.
Beyond the woods,
Everyone is still talking
About signification all these years later
As if signification meant
Any god damn thing at all.
But the world is still real. The terrors
It imagines are real terrors.
None of it represents anything.
There are no more women.
No rent garments. No gnashed teeth.
There is no one to stop it.
It is not a matter of revenge.
The woods are their ear to the ground.

 

Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:

Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.