About

I

As I study this age which is so close to us and so remote, I compare myself to a surgeon operating with local anaesthetic: I work in areas that are numb, dead – yet the patient is alive and can still talk.
(Paul Morand: 1900 AD)

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If you read with hindsight his inquiries carried out like pathologist’s reports on the body of a society that isn’t dying but rather already dead and with such diagnostic precision (death from Western Virus), they are more topical than ever […] A strange pathologist, one that carries out an autopsy in order to affirm that life exists beyond the disease which has dictated the breaking apart of the organism.
(Carmilla, paying tribute to Franco Lattanzi, aka Sbancor)

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According to the narrator of Aldo Nove’s Puerto Plata Market, life is what the dead watch on television.

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But passions, torments and joys have survived; they find expression in the situations, gestures and utterances of the dead.
(Erich Auerbach: Mimesis)

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This is one of the graffiti following the killing of Carlo Giuliani, 23 years old, during the G8 demonstrations in Genoa, 20 July 2001:

CARLO LIVES YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE DEAD

 

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I change TV channels constantly, I only stop when the remote jams. I don’t look at anything exactly, actually I don’t really look at anything, period…
(Carlo Lucarelli: Un giorno dopo l’altro)

II

And the bookmakers and the guys from the electric
have asked us to keep hoping
just enough time to join the wires up
plug it in
and then we can settle down in our armchairs
and wait for the final shock
and beyond the bars we’ll see
that winter has won out over summer
that winter has won out over summer

Don’t expect understanding from him
it’s been years since he last caught the tram
either he doesn’t remember what a prison’s like
or else he’s never been there
and so he makes a pretence of arguing with that other guy
but only when the light on the tv camera flashes red
nor does he even notice there’s that smell
from your beautiful body which is dying
from your exquisite body which is dying

(Gianfranco Manfredi: Il mostro è uscito dal mare, from the 1976 LP Non è una malattia)

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Then there are the songs from the radio,
which they played all day in the hospital,
which are not so clear any more.
Sometimes the songs are sort of blurred.
Like the harmony is not quite right. How can I say this?
They used to be songs…

(Robert Ashley: Dust)

III

And the monster that came up out of the sea
has destroyed the sunbeds
and now the beach is full of people
and they smile and they’ve got no clothes on
and they smile and they’ve got no clothes on
and they smile and they’ve got no clothes on

(Gianfranco Manfredi: Il mostro è uscito dal mare)

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IV

I hear marching in my legs
Overhead the dead sea waves
Child the wildness of the pier
Man the illusion imitated
In the woods pure eyes
Weeping seek the habitable head.

(René Char: Bel édifice et les pressentiments)

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The view from your attic room
or basement apartment
is as wintry as mine
from a car on the highway
skirting your street.  And like me
you’re repeating a theme, worrying
that thought is repeating you, not you
a thought.  That age or bad habits
leave simulacra of thought and you
frozen before oblivion.

(Frederick Pollack, from The Approaches)

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Oh lord, wont you buy me a colour tv?
Dialling for dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh lord, wont you buy me a colour tv?

(Janis Joplin: Mercedes Benz)

V

Who said that television just spouts rubbish? Television is sincerity fashioned into a screen. It tells the truth about itself. It shows that there’s nothing to see.
Tiziano Scarpa
: Kamikaze d’Occidente)

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The means alone, suspended and on show in the sphere of the mass media, reveals its own void, speaks only of its own nullity, as if nothing new were possible, as if no other experience … were now possible.
(Giorgio Agamben
: Profanazioni)

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Television is neither true nor false; it’s industry.
(Robert Ashley: Perfect Lives)

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‘Better something rather than nothing,’ one says to oneself, kneeling in front of the television.
(Antonio Scurati: Il bambino che sognava la fine del mondo)

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Willard, if you don’t turn that TV on when you watch it, I’m gonna throw it out!
(Robert Ashley: Atalanta)

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