Lear's
Shadow

Produced by Douglas Ord

A reading of events and patterns, whose title comes from Shakespeare's King Lear, Act I Scene 4, when the King is slipping into madness:

Lear: Who is it that can tell me who I am? 

The Fool: Lear's shadow.

With the inauguration on January 20, 2017 of  the figure at right as U.S President, global civilization locked into a vortex of radical unpredictability. 

There is no way back from this paradox: of being locked into a vortex of unpredictability.

Yet this is what has happened.

The ether has become charged, with an immense volatility.

Concerning what you will find here:

Lear's Shadow began with Columbine, just after Columbine, when Columbine's horror -- its sense that an abyss had opened -- was omnipresent.

Columbine was a benchmark, a threshold, a generative event, in the way of reverberations.

Lear's Shadow is a record of an attempt to track these reverberations, as they reverberated, from a perspective.

This perspective begins, in "From Absolute Other to Eric and Dylan," as individuated.  But it is as much as swamped and taken over by the sheer associational intensity of Columbine, as an event both paradigmatic and dynamic: the scale of drama, of suffering, of horror, of theatre, of complexity, of weird coincidence ... of resonance.

Lear's Shadow is a record also of an individuated life's being drawn into this, and an attempt to put into words and, to some extent, images, the hurricane of re-made thought and feeling that followed. 

These words and images invite a reader into a making of connections, and into a species of thought that may not be reassuring, but that yet may be helpful.

Request is made that such a reader try to bear with stylistic flaws, of which undoubtedly there are many.  But as these texts and visuals date from particular times and places, incorporating into themselves nuances of these, it seems imprudent to tamper with them retroactively.

A practical note:

Currently in process is a downloadable pdf that consolidates eight of the early Lear's Shadow Columbine texts.  These include the five that are available below, and that have been,  over the period of the site's existence, its most widely read pages, by some margin.  The anticipation is to provide this pdf gratis, along with that for The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation, the 2012 e-book that followed and further developed these texts over 335 pages and 33 images. 

There seems little point to limiting access to this material, in its cultivation -- perhaps in places clumsy and stuttering -- of a form of thought, and of "principles of association of ideas" (to adapt David Hume via Gilles Deleuze) that may be of some assistance in reading pattern, including in relation to direct experience. 

Some reformatting, however, remains to be done. This link goes to a pdf of A Riddle with Many Sides, as the eighth of these early texts, which is available for reading and/or download.

Internal page links, and description from a different angle:

Much of what is here, in the way of content, dates from, derives from, or comments on a peculiarly eruptive and transformative period in the recent but receding past: each of whose three developed phases began with a convulsive event or cluster of events.

The first phase, Lear's Shadow suggests, began with the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, in Jefferson County, Colorado; this was the event that prompted Lear's Shadow's own coming into existence. 

The second phase began, on a massively enhanced level of intensity, with the airliner attacks of September 11, 2001 on New York and Washington. 

The third phase began, and went off a precipice in terms of global impacts, with the "Shock and Awe" invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, by the armed forces mainly of the United States.

The backwash of the last of these was, much evidence suggests, so immense as to be globally transformative, making not only for a destabilized Middle East, but for a changed world geopolitically. 

The improbable inauguration of Donald J. Trump  as President  of the United States of America, on January 20, 2017,  perhaps itself begins a fourth phase, on potentially global scale.

Lear's Shadow offers maps of relations among events within the context of this changed world, and as they interpenetrate between a macro scale of emblematic events conveyed via media, and a micro scale of direct experience. 

There seems a remote possibility that Lear's Shadow may actually help you, whoever "you" may be, to recognize and navigate what's coming.

Phase One material: 
Lear's Shadow Columbine texts and images (2000-2003)
 
 

From Absolute Other to Eric 
and Dylan

Calvin and Eric, Dylan and Hobbes I

Calvin and Eric,
Dylan and Hobbes II

Calvin and Eric,
Dylan and Hobbes III

Kurtz's Children
Littleton Diary, January 20, 2001

Memento
(figure)

A Riddle with
Many Sides

The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation (2012 e-book)

Phase Two material: stereopticon (2001)

Phase Three material: 

Of Sky Signs, Avalanches, and the Synchronity Fuse (2003, with updates)

Not just "the average civilian casualty episode" (2003)

Deliverance Comes to Iraq (2004)

Earlier books 

 
---
A Schizo-Philosopher's Colouring Book has found a publisher, with publication scheduled for Fall, 2018, if indeed there proves to be a Fall, 2018.  There are fifty two (or perhaps fifty three) composite drawings, with capsule descriptions of the figures on the facing page for each drawing.

Probably it should remain confidential, for now, who is doing the publishing.

This is the working version of a cover design:

---
This visual essay introduces one of the era's most resonant quasi-causal systems: emblematic events linked not through cause and effect, but through resemblance and contiguity in time and place (terminology thanks to Gilles Deleuze and David Hume)

Of Sky Signs, Avalanches, 
and the Synchronicity Fuse

February 1, 2003
(Seven weeks before the invasion of Iraq)

The collage at right melts together separate images from a newspaper of the following day

---
Availability of The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation 

The Lear's Shadow e-book The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation, as published in January, 2012, has been made available free of charge here in both PDF and EPUB formats.  This was done without consultation or permission, but by someone who has sought to provide access to as many perspectives as possible on Columbine, as an event of April 20, 1999.

The goal seems worthy, so Lear's Shadow makes no objection to the e-book's being freely offered.  Anyone who, out of courtesy to the effort that went into the e-book's development, wants to pay the asked price of $5.99, can go to the Amazon Kindle site, or the iBookstore site, or to some other, more familiar platform where it is available.  This will be appreciated.  But if the perceived choice is between paying for the e-book, and not reading it or even venturing into it, then please feel free to download it, and its perspective on the resonance of an event.

A couple of points to clarify, however:

First: whoever made the files available states at the linked page, "Much of this book was originally posted on Lear’s Shadow’s website here: http://home.eol.ca/~dord/."  In fact, none of what's in The strangeness of Columbine was "originally posted" at this website.  As has for some time been stated below, on the part of this page to do with the e-book:

The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation, e-published in January, 2012, does not duplicate Lear's Shadow as a website. What it does do, via new material including photographs, is further develop some of the themes introduced here.
"The themes introduced here" are primarily via five texts that date from the period 1999-2001, and that in the site's early years were grouped, for a time with some others, under the heading "An Inquiry into Columbine's Iconic Profile in Five Levels."

So as to make things simple, here are the links to these five pages as they exist in 2016, with associated images.  There was a period during which these texts and images were withdrawn from circulation.  While down, however, they were retrieved anonymously from the internet archive, re-assembled, and made available on an aggregate site.  Also while they were down, rumour circulated that Lear's Shadow had claimed that Calvin and Hobbes "caused Columbine." Lear's Shadow never claimed anything of the sort, and the texts were restored in part so that this could be emphasized, and so the texts themselves could be situated in relation to The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation.  The five texts are, with the visual images that introduced them in 2000-2001:

 

FROM ABSOLUTE
OTHER TO 
ERIC AND DYLAN

CALVIN AND ERIC,
DYLAN AND HOBBES I

CALVIN AND ERIC,
DYLAN AND HOBBES II

CALVIN AND ERIC,
DYLAN AND HOBBES III

KURTZ'S CHILDREN

The strangeness of Columbine: an interpretation is where this sequence goes after "Kurtz's Children," as well as after the three additional texts noted above ("Littleton Diary, January 20, 2001," "Memento," and "A Riddle with Many Sides").

For those who do opt to download (or buy) the e-book, then, please be clear: what you will find in it does not duplicate what is at the above pages.  It is a different kind of mapping, including visually.  The e-book is introduced below, via the image that appears on its cover. 

Secondly: whoever made the PDF/EPUB files available raises the question of authorship of "Just A Day," as an unsigned, single-page text found among Eric Harris's papers, and reprinted at page 870 in the 900-page Jefferson County Sheriff's Office document release of July 6, 2006, which -- just to mention a third relevant six  that intersected across this date -- was then-President George W. Bush's 60th birthday, as well as in the midst of the Iraqi civil war. 

In the e-book, "Just A Day" is attributed to Eric Harris.  But a case has also been made, since the e-book's publication, for its ascription to Dylan Klebold, mainly on account of the repeated presence in the text of ampersands and of the word "halcyon."  It even seems possible, as someone on a Columbine forum once suggested, that it was written by both of them.

The e-book, however, makes a case, that pre-dates awareness that a case might need to be made, that "Just A Day" bears qualities of relation to multiple aspects of Eric Harris's background and sensibility.  By way of stylistic and tonal comparison, the oddly titled personal essay "Pioners," at page 858 in the document release is suggested.  The presence of ampersands in "Just A Day" renders probable, but not certain, Dylan Klebold's involvement.  Worth noting, perhaps, is that Eric Harris could be not so much an imitator, as a tryer-on, a keeper or discarder, an inhabiter: in the way, for example, he appropriated and inhabited three songs by KMFDM on his website, keeping only parts of them, or the way he came to inhabit the game Doom.  It is not inconceivable that he "tried on" Dylan's relationship to ampersands, or just tried on ampersands.   And while the word "halcyon" certainly figures in Dylan's texts, there is also a memorable trance song called "Halcyon" by Orbital, that Eric Harris named as one of his favourite bands.  Simply considering "Just A Day" in conjunction with this song might be helpful.

An effort also was made, through Brooks Brown, to ascertain which family owned "a 1974 Dodge Ram," as described in "Just A Day."  He could not recall that either had owned one.  Perhaps this detail was fictional.

As for the text of The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation: it can be described in retrospect as a study in resonance.  It does not pretend to be scientific.  There is no element of repeatable experiment or of study controlled for variables.  There is encounter with  an event, and with traces of this event as they circulated, and continue to circulate, in virtuality.  Series intersect and make for resonance, and in making for resonance, produce sense, of a kind that seems to merit close study.

Of help in this process of reading have been the works of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995).   Conceptual background to Lear's Shadow's involvement with Deleuze can, if a reader so desires, be accessed via the 2014 Interdisciplinary Humanities Master's thesis  Differenciations of "enfant" / "child" in the Achievement of Gilles Deleuze.  This is available online. 

A conceptual familiarity with Deleuze is not assumed in The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation; nor is this conceptual background explicitly referred to.   But earlier reading of Deleuze, and of Deleuze and Guattari, informed the approach. 
 

-----
A tale of fascist magicalism set  on an afternoon in late October, 1939, in the unlikely location of an isolated lake in Muskoka, Canada.

The cover shows stamps on a postcard sent from Munich, Germany to University College, Oxford on May 1, 1939, and a bonfire in 2007, as the year  a study of documents mutated into story. 

The franking on the stamps describes Munich as "Hauptstadt der Bewegung," which translates as Capital City of the Movement.

In e-book format because this was easiest.

Available on various platforms for $4.99. 

The amazon.com page is here, and is mentioned only because it's easiest also.

 


 
The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation
At left is the cover of the Lear's Shadow e-book published in January, 2012.  It presents, as surface, a slice of space-time as a rectangle: a kind of map.

Spatially, this rectangle shows central and eastern Colorado, via adaptation of a NASA satellite image  made by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), aboard the satellite Terra.  Distance above the Earth's surface was 440 miles / 700 kilometers.  The NASA image has been cropped and rotated.  Unlike with most maps, west is up The site of Columbine High School is indicated by a white dot.

Temporally, the rectangle maps October 26, 2001, as the date when MODIS recorded the image.

Just a day.

Within whose twenty four hour time frame also, in Washington DC: 1) President George W. Bush signed the USA-PATRIOT Act into law, increasing U.S. Government surveillance by orders of magnitude; and 2) the Pentagon awarded the military contract, the biggest in U.S. history, to Lockheed Martin Corporation for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Lockheed Martin also built the Atlas rocket that carried Terra-MODIS into Earth orbit, thus enabling the image at left. 

Indeed, assembly of this very rocket took place at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Astronautics Operations on West Deer Creek Canyon Road in Littleton, Colorado.

This being the road along which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold broke into an unoccupied white van on January 30, 1998, setting in motion their involvement with the juvenile justice system.  The Lockheed Martin facility can be seen as a long white edifice, alone amid the foothills scrubland, from the big red rock above and behind the house where Dylan Klebold grew up.

Perhaps it is correct to assert, as David Hume did, that inference can be drawn only from cause and effect, most convincingly through repeatable experiment, and not from "Resemblance" or "Contiguity of time or place", as principles of association of ideas.

But if one cannot infer, one can still marvel.

The adaptation of the NASA photograph is repeated at right, without lettering.  It shows central and eastern Colorado  not only at an instant of October 26, 2001, but also as never before seen by human eyes.  It is used, as per the terms on NASA's website, with acknowledgment that NASA owns it, and credit to Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.

The NASA version of the image is here

The NASA caption  reads:   “An early season snowfall accents the Rocky Mountains through western and central Colorado.”

Try considering this image as you might a Rorschach ink blot, but without the symmetries, on gigantic scale, and via a different filter from the psychological, in terms of singular patterns that are nevertheless clearly the product of chance and natural forces at a precise moment.

And try also referencing what Gilles Deleuze might call a virtual aboriginal perspective, paradoxically via a physical perspective never available to "an aboriginal":

How many animal spirit-figures in the mountains?


The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation, e-published in January, 2012, does not duplicate Lear's Shadow as a website. What it does do, via new material including photographs, is further develop  some of the themes introduced here.

Because of continued interest in early Lear's Shadow Columbine texts,  and so that rumours do not circulate as to what they might say, as happened before when they were taken down, links to some of them are at the bottom of this page.

The strangeness of Columbine, an interpretation is $5.99 via Amazon Kindle, the iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.  The preface and first chapter can be read at the Amazon Kindle site, or at the iBookstore site.  Total length is 335 pages, with 33 images.

Lear's Shadow is not and never has been a for- profit enterprise.  The $5.99 cover price is just an attempt -- likely for various reasons ludicrous -- to recover even a portion of expenses.

Dylan Klebold's house, 
with Fountain Formation rocks,
January 23, 2001

Mapping temporal layers of theatricalized massacre in the USA
1864/1999/2012 and 1637/2012

These strange young males make for disturbing reading.  But such correlations among and between temporal plateaux, as are suggested in the sequencing of dates, and in terms of common elements in the events themselves, exist.  And in doing so, they make, to quote Deleuze of Logique du sens (1969), for "an ensemble of non-causal correspondences, forming a system of echoes, of reprises, and of resonances, a system of signs, in brief, an expressive quasi-causality, not at all a necessitating causality."    This text is an experiment in how to read in these terms.


 
September 2012 restorations
to Lear's Shadow

Two binocular chapters of the same story: an empire sent hurtling into precipitous decline, after plunging over a precipice.

 


stereopticon

Named site of the week for the 6-month anniversary of September 11 2001 by the Guerrilla News Network, which called it “one of the most thought-provoking and profound examinations of the events and images of 9-11, its precedents and aftermath, we have seen.”


One of the most hubristic documents in human history, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, published by the Bush White House in September, 2002, begins: 

"The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom—and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise. " 

Seven months later, in March, 2003, the United States of America invaded Iraq. 
 


Not just "the average civilian casualty episode"

On September 2, 2012, former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa called for former President George W. Bush of the United States and former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain to be tried for war crimes on account of their involvement in the non-U.N. sanctioned invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.  As a reminder of just one aspect of that invasion, and of its media atmospherics, here is "Not just 'the average civilian casualty episode,'" that appeared at Lear's Shadow in April-May, 2003.



 
 

Binocularity #3 

Deliverance
Comes to Iraq

May 2004


 
Earlier books by Douglas Ord
Comments or inquiries: dord@eol.ca.
Tommy's Farm

Novel, 204 pages, The Mercury Press, Toronto, Canada, 1998

"Ord’s strange and wonderful novel is going on my shelf between two other works of philosophical fiction: Samuel Beckett’s Watt, that work of great formal brilliance and indeterminable purport (to quote Beckett himself), based on Cartesian logic, and Raymond Queneau’s The Bark Tree, a hilarious French new wave novel, also inspired by Descartes. Going right inside a character’s head, as Ord does here, is one of the great delights of the novel form."

                                                        -- Mark Frutkin, The Globe and Mail

Oscar and Jeannie

Novel, 208 pages, The Mercury Press, Toronto, Canada, 1999

"Ord uses [Oscar’s] losses to examine the crux of humanity.  In Oscar’s case, though, his humanity is obscured by his derailment from anything resembling a normal life.   Therein lies Ord’s genius: He makes us see Oscar as a man worthy of consideration even though he has made some huge mistakes, and he has lost all the trappings of modern society... Ord is a highly sophisticated writer dealing with profound issues."

                                            --  Candace Fertile, The Globe and Mail
 


Navigating without a Compass

Essays on contemporary art, 176 pages, Oberon Press, Ottawa, Canada, 2000

"The title is a metaphor for art writing and its battle with preconceptions. Canadian art writing also has the added hurdle of negotiating a general cultural intolerance towards most things avant-garde. Ord finds his way easily, however, with essays that insist on the significance of contemporary art to the well being of our cautious public domain."

                                                             – Canadian Art

 

The National Gallery 
of Canada, Ideas Art 
Architecture

Critical history / institutional biography, 496 pages, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, Canada, 2003

"Douglas Ord’s book constitutes a major contribution to the field of museum studies in Canada, and a landmark in publishing on the topic... [His] integration of theory with practice makes this the first book of its kind... Here is a book with the potential of changing Canadian art history forever and becoming one of a handful of essential documents in the field."

         – Reesa Greenberg (peer reviewer), Concordia University, 
            author of Thinking About Exhibitions

"A brilliant piece of research and analysis, overwhelming in its scholarship, insightful in its interpretation."

– Donald Kuspit, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 
   author of The Cult  of the Avant Garde Artist
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About Lear's Shadow

An experiment in the reading of events and patterns, whose title comes from William Shakespeare's King Lear, Act I Scene 4, when the King is slipping into madness:

Lear: Who is it that can tell 
          me who I am? 
The Fool: Lear's shadow.
Drawing at right from 
A Schizo-Philosopher's Colouring Book

Comments or inquiries can be sent to dord@eol.ca.