(In Philadelphia! The beautiful trees on the Swarthmore campus, from a splendid tuliptree to a young red oak, as trim and neat and lively as a whippet. Drinking at a bar two floors below Madame Blavatsky’s old apartment (in the window of which was a giant furry hat). In the air: eastern phoebes and redstarts, wrens, thrushes, warblers. At the gorgeously strange Wagner Free Institute of Science: ghost crabs and blood arks, satin spar and wollastonite, cacique nests, Iceland spar and amazonstone, stibnite, and the paper nautilus, the shells of argonauts, about whom Marianne Moore wrote a wonderful poem. The Philadelphia Museum of Art: the shadows cast by Brancusi’s Bird in Space; Shaker furniture (chairs to be occupied by angels) and gift drawings; the secret world of Étant donnés; and beautiful ceramics – a Jian ware tea bowl with a “hare’s fur” glaze, from late Song dynasty, that lives where it is put like an infinitely patient creature.)
Otto Gross, compatriot of Gusto in the search for ways out of the unfolding crisis at the hinge of the century. A doctor and disciple of Freud turned renegade psychoanalyst, bohemian, sexual and cultural revolutionary, Nietzschean anarchist, matriarchal activist and drug addict, arguing at a meeting of revolutionaries in Vienna for a state ministry devoted to the liquidation of bourgeois and patriarchal family life and sexuality. His father, Hans, was a famous judge who essentially created the foundations of modern criminology and criminal psychology – a discipline exemplified by his son. Their highly public feud, reported blow-by-blow in the papers, culminated in the father having the son committed to an insane asylum.
In 1899, in his youth, Gross sailed as a ship’s doctor with the Kosmos down the coast of South America. In later life, he often referred to the experience of standing at Punta Arenas, on the southernmost tip of Chile, and looking to Tierra del Fuego in the south, a land not yet under the dominion of any state. (“Tierra del Fuego,” because Magellan could see the fires of the Yaghan from the sea.) A country for the dream of anarchism, perhaps a country of the future. On the beach at the cold sea, he looked to the open country, but never crossed the water and eventually returned home.
“Thus in December in the streets of Berlin could be seen a starving and ragged man, running through the snow flurries, who howled aloud in front of him, and then huddled himself together, to get his fingers and chest warm. People stopped to stand and laugh at him.” Gross’s last days, in 1919, as described by his friend Franz Jung.
It’s Time For JUJU Music (yes it is!), off the album of the same title by Admiral Dele Abiodun & His Top Hitters International, gorgeous pedal steel-and-synth Nigerian jùjú, long-summer-evening music.
“A stave used when making Necropants, a pair of pants made from the skin of a dead man that are capable of producing an endless supply of money.”
(On a personal note, I have a paper in The MoneyLab Reader, just released by the Institute of Network Cultures.)
(Thanks for reading, as ever.)
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