Last update
2023-01-16 08:23:31

    Happy birthday, Buster Keaton!

    Today is Buster Keaton’s 127th birthday. Usually, my birthday posts for Buster wax poetic about the impact he’s had on me, but this year I’ve decided to talk about my favorite Keaton film– which also happens to be my favorite movie of all time– The General. Perfect time too, since I watched the film again recently to celebrate Keaton’s big day.


    Ever humble and practical, Keaton would have never called himself an artist, and yet The General is undoubtedly more than a gag machine. It’s one of the most visually appealing movies ever made– Keaton and his creative team took the greatest care to replicate the Civil War photography of Matthew Brady, resulting in gorgeous compositions, evocative lighting, and a strong sense of period accuracy that outdoes most “serious” historical dramas of its time (and hell, ours too).


    The elegance of the visuals is reflected in the taut, symmetrical, perfectly paced story. Critic Imogen Smith once said of The General in her IMDB review, The General’s narrative structure is as strong and uncluttered as its look. Like a train, it stays on track, never meandering for the sake of a laugh or a stunt. All of the gags rise organically from the coherent and straightforward storyline.” On this recent rewatch, I was stunned by how quickly Keaton cuts to the chase (no pun intended). It truly is action-packed from start to finish.


    Though the thing about the action in The General is that it isn’t of the over the top variety. Keaton’s antics on that 100% real moving train are not faked and that is a thousand times more thrilling than any CG setpiece in any superhero movie made in the last twenty years. So much of what he does in this movie could have killed him even if he had made only the slightest error, and yet Keaton somehow makes it all seem effortless. He never seems to be showing off what he can do or how expensive this all was– as Imogen Smith says, even the famous shot were Keaton trashes a real train is presented with absolute understatement, something most Hollywood filmmakers would be loathe to do, then or now.


    This movie has everything you could want packed into 80 minutes– comedy, suspense, and action. I gasp and laugh every time I see it, and it’s a treat to watch with newbies, even those who wouldn’t normally take a chance on a silent film. For me, it is the finest movie Keaton ever made, one of the finest of the silent era, and one of the best movies of all time.

    Happy birthday Buster– and thank you so much.

    What sleeps in the violence we don’t address? We’re in the basement now. I skip sentences across dreams, or skip dreams across the length of my blood. Why do I keep eating my crystals and poems while dreaming? Dreaming of becoming crystal body remnant/artifact/left over. An accidental relic. I am not a relic—but writing, isn’t that how you found me? Wasn’t it writing that was so threatening—that needed to be destroyed—does this language live in me, the language of absence?

     Angel Dominguez, from “[Dear],” Desgraciado

    Dominants. If you are going to accept a person's submission, you need to be prepared for all that this entails. Yes life can get in the way. There will be ups and downs and there will be some days where one of you will be stronger than the other. But basic human needs such as communication and support should not be optional. Even more so in a d/s dynamic.

    You have told this other human that you will be their rock. You will be there to lead and guide and support them. It's totally unacceptable to then disappear off the face of the planet when times get rough or you are not feeling it that day.

    Tell them you are busy but thinking of them.

    Tell them that your anxiety is up and you may be less conversational but still contactable.

    Tell them that you're going to be out of contact for a few hours but set a time to re-establish communication.

    Set boundaries, communicate your needs and your level of activity for that day, let them know what you can realistically give.

    Please don't leave their messages unanswered. Please don't tell them that they are bothering you or that you don't have time for them. Please don't tell them that they can't message you.

    You are just as human and susceptible to the same ups and downs as everyone else but that doesn't give you free reign to be an asshat. All you are doing is teaching your submissive that they can't trust or rely on you.

    And to all you submissives out there, yes, everybody's relationship is different and levels of communication vary massively. But please don't accept this kind of behaviour. A dominant making you feel bad or too much for the basics such as keeping in touch throughout the day is a big flappy red flag. If they don't have the capacity to message "good morning" and "good night" then they don't have the capacity to be a dominant. You deserve more.

    It takes 30 seconds to send a text saying "I'm swamped with meetings today. I'm thinking of you and we will make time for us when I finish work".

    Your submissive will always be your biggest support. You need to be ready to give the same amount of effort in return.

    In all of this, I haven’t made the faintest mention of the Father. I consider that people have already said enough and explained enough about the Father to show you that it’s around him who unigates, him who says no, that all that is universal can be grounded, must be grounded, and alone can be grounded. When we come back to the root of the body, if we reassert the value of the word brother, it will return full sail at the level of fine sentiments.

    Since, nevertheless it’s not just about painting a rose-tinted future, you should know that what is on the rise, the ultimate consequences of which we have still not seen, and which is rooted in the body, in the fraternity of bodies, is racism.

    You have not heard the last of this.

    J. Lacan, “Bodies Captured by Discourse” Seminar XIX, … Ou Pire, (1972)

    Alain Badiou: Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art

    1. Art is not the sublime descent of the infinite into the finite abjection of the body and sexuality. On the contrary, it is the production of an infinite subjective series, through the finite means of a material subtraction.

    2. Art cannot merely be the expression of a particularity (be it ethnic or personal). Art is the impersonal production of a truth that is addressed to everyone.

    3. Art is the process of a truth, and this truth is always the truth of the sensible or sensual, the sensible qua sensible. This means†: the transformation of the sensible into an happening of the Idea.

    4. There is necessarily a plurality of arts, and however we may imagine the ways in which the arts might intersect there is no imaginable way of totalising this plurality.

    5. Every art develops from an impure form, and the progressive purification of this impurity shapes the history both of a particular artistic truth and of its exhaustion.

    6. The subjects of an artistic truth are the works which compose it.

    7. This composition is an infinite configuration, which in our own contemporary artistic context is a generic totality.

    8. The real of art is ideal [Èelle] impurity conceived through the immanent process of its purification. In other words, the raw material of art is determined by the contingent inception of a form. Art is the secondary formalisation of the advent of a hitherto formless form.

    9. The only maxim of contemporary art is: do not be imperial. This also means: do not be democratic, if democracy implies conformity with the imperial idea of political liberty.

    10. Non-imperial art is necessarily abstract art, in this sense: it abstracts itself from all particularity, and formalises this gesture of abstraction.

    11. The abstraction of non-imperial art is not concerned with any particular public or audience. Non-imperial art is related to a kind of aristocratic-proletarian ethic: it does what it says, without distinguishing between kinds of people.

    12. Non-imperial art must be as rigorous as a mathematical demonstration, as surprising as an ambush in the night, and as elevated as a star.

    13. Today art can only be made from the starting point of that which, as far as Empire is concerned, doesn’t exist. Through its abstraction, art renders this in-existence visible. This is what governs the formal principle of every art: the effort to render visible to everyone that which, for Empire (and so by extension for everyone, though from a different point of view), doesn’t exist.

    14. Since it is sure of its ability to control the entire domain of the visible and the audible via the laws governing commercial circulation and democratic communication, Empire no longer censures anything. All art, and all thought, is ruined when we accept this permission to consume, to communicate and to enjoy. We should become the pitiless censors of ourselves.

    15. It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognises as existent.

    According to this point of view, poetry—an expression that conceives the world verbally or artistically, but not through explanation—is the appropriate instrument for experiencing the erotic. Indeed, the erotic (in the broad meaning that I have offered in this book, as an embodied experience of being on the Earth) might be thought of as the bodily component of poetic experience. Octavio Paz expresses this idea when he writes: "The relationship between eroticism and poetry is such that it can be said, without affectation, that the former is a poetry of the body and the latter an eroticism of language." Both modes of experience are based in the sensory logic of a flesh-and-blood existence, an existence as relationship. Both are intensive experiences of how it feels, as a body and thus as a part of the world, to be in a state of constant exchange with the rest of the world. Both are sensory experiences that cannot be had without a sensing body, because an abstract description is not sufficient—it requires an expression that can be sensed by the eye, the ear, or the skin. A kiss is softness sensed on the skin; a poem is that same tenderness, provided with a body by the velvet of a melody of words.

    Andreas Weber, Matter & Desire: An Erotic Ecology, trans. Rory Bradley