dar es salaam      9 DEC 2010

the night after recording frogs in a flooded driveway by the Courtyard Hotel ..

you walked out along the jetty at the slipway to a booth where some fishermen were talking .. the water of the ocean always laps the jetty: you think of the histories of migrations on this coast. the slipway is half shipyard half shopping centre, with an english language bookstore and an ice cream parlour.

it is Independence Day, the 9th of December.

what is history?

Fellow citizens: today is heroes' day .. [Nyerere's speech] an inquiry into the stuff of history, beginning on a grey day in London, looking out the window. each inquiry begins with a look out the window: a look at some thing; a look away; a later look out the window : then this window : the page the mirror the window of the book, soul, machine - looking back : you look back : what do you see? Jacques Roubaud looked back: he was making jam - you're pickling wild plums : same same different - he looked back and found the abyss of amnesia quite close : behind his grandparents, he could see : nothing [ernest as a boy] [quote from making jelly; jacques roubaud in his grand parents' house; later: jacques roubaud in the famous sequence on breathing and photography] you went back to the hotel and lay awake.


one experience of reading history, not saying this is typical - I don't know - is a morass : not only can we not see beyond the threshold that divides us from direct contact with historical figures: we cannot recall in any meaningful way the tracts of historical writing to which we have been exposed. the focus on dates in the old pedagogy seems to acknowledge this conundrum: the more history you are exposed to, the less you remember: you have to have these points which you drum into your head by chanting : like banging hooks into a wall

of course the dates, all but 2 or 3, go too : to furnish a room along with the birthdates of your children, the norman invasion, valentine's day, 9/11

the situation is directly analogous to the story of camera lucida : where the author pores over the photos of his mother, who has recently died, in search of connection - until he finds the famous puncture that opens the dam

in fact our own histories are full - or they are sparsely but indelibly marked - with such perforations, intersecting with points of puncture / entry in the longer historical record: the exfenestration of the inhabitants of __________ intersecting with falls from the towers --- the arrow in the eye of Harold not Harald - Tu Fu's son biting his shoulder comes up against the starvation of Marina Tsvetaeva's daughter --- Mobutu Sese Seko triumphing over Patrice Lumumba as he is forced to eat the text of his recent speech --- the dissected building with its insides out -- the picture of throwing : where the whole body is concentrated in a projection that lifts it off the ground --

until recently these points of entry were found in the sayings of historical figures : or in the records of gestures and especially sounds in the vast books of prose and verse that occupy the workplace -

Ndugu Wananchi, leo ni siku ya Mashujaa..

in the same way, how many of the terrains of those books around you do you remember? almost none: in the same way as you omit hours of walking, hours of marching on a featureless terrain, after an indeterminate, apparently empty crossing, an event occurs: commonly triggered by a sound, a bird or a problem, a crisis, this is where the fabric splits : the surface becomes unstable and disturbed - a snag: a starting point is created

[insert: pathognomy of performance: the snagging of the dress of lady macbeth]

everywhere is a starting point in such a system because each point is linked and draws its disproportionate charge from the network of associations, rather than from causes - in some sense the more arbitrary the better - this is why the geckos in the booth on the jetty have no particular figurative significance - they do not represent historical figures or historiographers or the runs of biological time that exceed human history - so what?

why do the geckos galvanise us with their eyes and movements? they are our familiars: we see them and remember they are there: in the house; in the booth; amongst us - then we remember we are there - we have been there all this time : history begins

just as vladimir vitkin used to advocate giving things up then starting again, a contemporary history would be full of these incursions into the fort da - elicited by faults or snags

if the text that results is broken up, ragged and full of holes, notoriously ungrounded as where worms or larvae have been active, it resembles the constant readings cage made, as writings, whether of joyce or bakunin [cage on anarchy]

if causality, with etymology, is taken to be the preserve of conservation - a place we return to for old fashioned reassurances - and for a long time now we have been interested in something else - what kind of history does that leave us with? or in?

[Trotsky in the patio feeding the rabbits and the chickens.. ]

you sat in the courtyard of the Courtyard Hotel - you may remember seeing Mobutu Sese Seko triumphing over Patrice Lumumba kneeling in a white nightshirt, refusing to eat his words - he turned his head from the flunky who was feeding him the shredded speech - prior to his torture and destruction - Mobutu Sese Seko - the cock that covers the farmyard of hens - was lauding it over Lumumba, with his chest out, in a fitted jacked - after his installation by the United States..

[micro clip of lumumba from democracy now, turning his face away]

sitting in the courtyard of the Courtyard Hotel, on Independence Day in Dar es Salaam, just back from Mtwara, feeling untethered from time or place, immersed in foliage and the sounds of a hotel at work, melancholy settles about you, the puppets of history in a little window seem to loop endlessly, but silently, detached as if in illness or exhaustion ..


you picked up the Daily News from the floor by the door. various companies had placed advertisements congratulating President Kikwete on the occasion of Independence Day. a new paper is a strange landscape you you begin to take in ..

sitting in the courtyard among the shrubs and creepers, on Independence Day, the day after following wikileaks on al jazeera, you read that Britain has detained Julian Assange on sex offense allegations.
with wikileaks the fat sack slashed open
isn't it something? a few letters on a rough bit of paper, languidly passing under our eye in a pleasant courtyard, suddenly induce : those very changes: flushing, sweating, nausea .. we associate with direct experience of being caught out

cp: toxins of bathetic creatures, hunted almost to extinction in the shallow waters of Mnazi bay - once in the bloodstream -

you're boarding an airplane | suddenly one of you is in trouble : opposite of composed:

sound goes in: it permeates the person: it can't be kept out : rarely language approaches the intrusive effect of sound: o my, you realises : I am succumbing : to : this : contamination - splash! now you're : under - effluent enters all points

we can't reenact that experience, only report imperfectly: we sense a level of corruption and a descent that is hard to grasp - it's a dumbfounding experience: reading a newspaper such as The Daily News, with its news and adverts, after a breakfast of fruit at the Courtyard Hotel, in this instance delivers an experience of corruption, as you become aware, penetrating the entire mind and body and exposing each relationship in a complex web of relationships to extreme devaluation, as in the discovery that each of your fellow participants was involved in a secret scheme - causing you to review each meeting with each one of them phrase by phrase, so that each phrase emerges under scrutiny to be corrupted: any semblance of human integrity in such and such a gesture of the hand or mouth is starkly revoked

a whole process of engagement with human beings, as in swahili, is undermined ..

I want to contrast a sense of historical detachment which inhabits, in some cases, even those events impinging directly on us, with a sense of historical immersion - where the events of history - even those having a highly abstract quality and no direct impact on us that is apparent - when these events appear suddenly to swallow us : far now from floating, we are, as it seems to us, violently engulfed in these events

insert: falling into a lake of pig shit from Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

The British government, you think, is the lowest, there is: no depth: below: the corruption of the British State in relation to US aggression

insert: stains appearing on the actual hands and face of a representative, which others can only reconstruct by an act of intellect : tics and speech anomalies reconnect representatives with the the point of application of violence : their unspoken bread and butter

the tropical bystander of history is notoriously in a day to day situation when the bomb goes off: looking down, they are speechless, sickened by what they see on their garments [_______] the materials of the aggressions of states.

In a state of generalized amnesia, where it is not the forgetting of the past, but the present, that is at stake now, our windows are unpredictably punctured by little performances and slips: these slips and performances, which we defer and court, in an anxious shuttling performance of our own: break the surface tension ..

a person reels in these circumstances, they are un grounded, we recognize, the way oil is at this moment ushering in the ungrounding and corruption of the society of Mtwara and the ecology of the marine environment of Mnazi Bay

communication in those circumstances is inverted and the work of communication is rendered complicitous with the work of corruption

have a beer have a banana

tomorrow you will be so tired, you will fall asleep on the train. tomorrow you are going to Udzungwa to the forest

this is it - this is what it is like, you think - somewhere in here is the jumping off point you're after - having no idea where it is, you instinctively leave open channels, nicks, bunches as turning points - of course you don't know what you're doing,

moments as of solidarity - camping as if free - as utopian points of entry ..

sentiers - feeler paths

as opposed to these moments: - punctures / fecal immersions - as the reservoir of our dis-sent..  un-   re-   de-   ex-