"Steve Azula"


     Later that day after we had ascended that long scree and set up the tent among the tussock, I was thinking of the impulse itself, that impulse to make the move to go out and look for the lost something. The impulse to ‘return’ itself. Bataille seemed to be saying that well the sacrificer (the tramper – for now my body was tired) must be ‘separated’, be modern[1], be apart from and recognize this loss – a re-cognition through the partaking of the impulse to ‘return’, most often experienced as a sense of a loss of time allied with a surfeit of reality. Sitting on some rocks overlooking the lake from our tops camp site he did mention: “The sacrificer’s prior separation from the world of things is necessary for the return to intimacy, of immanence between man and the world, between the subject and the object”[2]. Now this entire trip had been the exercise of a separation seeking a return, in a sense. And in good modern form, it is a return ‘for the weekend’, so so structured. This short duration of the return to intimacy is important to note because of the separation between the sacred and the other world that for the sake of duration/production is there to hold the sacred ‘in check’; it is from a state of prior separation from the sacred world (modernity) that the sacrificer seeks to ‘break’ into and also to maintain the separation. ‘Yes!’ cried Bataille, because if  “man surrendered unreservedly to immanence, he would fall short of humanity; he would achieve it only to lose it and eventually life would return to the unconscious intimacy of animals”[3]. For now a return to the unconscious intimacy of animals was hard to grasp, but tomorrow we would perhaps peek into its true meaning.

1 Impliments at Koropuku Creek.jpg1 Matt crossing Otehake swingbridge focus bridge.jpg

    Around 2am the rain began and by morning we were quite wet as the rain was pooling up on the surface around the tussock, and some of it was seeping in. After packing up in the wet and cold my hands were numb by the time we had reached the bush edge, the big descent was next and the track was a waterfall. Chuzz and I it turns out, at this point were wondering how big the Otehake River was going to be if all this liquid was running down hill with us. We ended up crossing that river using a rusty old swing bridge, which spanned the huge brown mess that was the Otehake[4]. After continuing for ‘forever’, past the lake where we camped on the way in, we were stopped by a flooded creek and camped. In the morning we continued as the rain had eased a little, and once at the Otira River, realised that it was uncrossable and had to carry on around a sidle track, we could see and hear cars on the highway but were still 3 hours away. This whole episode in the rain has a weird effect on memory and understandings of time. The rain had made the previous sunny days seem so remotely far away that, even though we had experienced them – on a calendar they were 2 days ago, they were so unreal and so very far from the current reality that they were more like a memory of a few weeks ago. Like animals I was thinking.

    While climbing up and down through the sidle, Baker was mentioning, that this was clearly a “form of what Zizek calls trauma and Benjamin a “standstill”: the sudden, miraculous cessation of all happening”[5]. For those moments, while we were in the rain there is a sense of being out of time as such, it happens to me sometimes where each day you need to get your fingers out and figure out if today is Friday or is it today that is Saturday – and you do this every day because these day names mean nothing when it is raining. Rather than this being something experienced it could be seen negatively as not experienced[6] and glimpsed at occasionally[7] – like now on the sidle track. This is the menacing feeling that people get in the mountains sometimes, the brooding feeling that makes people want to ‘get out’ – and where they lose their sense of judgement unable to sleep because of anxiety. If all goes to plan, in distinctly modern form this rupture for the weekend will be contained within the weekend and everything is as it is supposed to be, but occasionally this feeling of rupture is more than you would anticipate[8]. We had reached the bridge and left our packs in the bushes before crossing and walking back down the road to the car. In around 25 minutes we were at the car, amazing I thought because on the other side of the river we had walked up then down, up then down, to travel what now could be done in 25 min by the cutting of a road. As we whizzed down the road, to stop and recross the footbridge and get our packs, within the space of a minute, Marinetti, who was until then leaning out of the window listening to the whir of the wheels on the road, came back in to say, “Time and Space died yesterday”[9]. No, I corrected him – Time and Space died today. But yes the collapse from 3 hours and the unimaginable energy spent doing so, to what can now be achieved - within a minute and in comfort too – structures the whole enterprise. This hut is not visited and kept ‘alive’ because it is useful and in a ‘good’ place for utilitarian purposes (such as for a hunting base), and indeed this is why it was tagged for removal. It is therefore, kept because it is seen as useless, which is the antimodern impulse to maintain a place (the wilderness) where they can go and enjoy the uselessness as a way to help newly appreciate the usefulness of Modern society. In this way the useless wilderness is quite useful and inherently and characteristically modern.







Baker jr, J.M., (2008) “Vacant Holidays: the theological remainder in Leopardi, Baudelaire and Benjamin”, MLN, No. 121, pp. 1190-1219

Bataille, G., (1989) “Sacrifice, the Festival, and the Principles of the Sacred World” in G. Bataille Theory of Religion, Zone Books: New York.

Baudrillard, J., (1996) Cool Memories II: (1987-1990), Duke University Press: Durham. Trans. Chris Turner.

Loos, A., (1966) “Ornament and Crime” in L. Munz & G. Kunster Adolf Loos. Pioneer of Modern Architecture, London: Thames & Hudson, pp. 226-231. Originally, 1908.

Marinetti, F.T., (1972) “The Founding & Manifesto of Futurism” from A.W. Flint (ed.) Marinetti: Selected Writings, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, pp. 39-44. Originally, 1909.

Nancy, J., (1991) The Inoperative Community, Minnesota Press: Minneapolis.

Versluis, A., (2006) “Antimodernism”, TELOS, Winter: 137, pp. 96-130

[1] But also separated from modern society itself…a kind of double separation.

[2] Bataille, 1989, 52

[3] Bataille, 1989, 53

[4] It was postcard blue and tame when we crossed it on the way in, we did not even have to link up it was mid thigh.

[5] Baker jr, 2008, 1213

[6] This understanding of time as such is interesting as many trampers operate within a ‘post-Taylor’ time frame, which is much like a workplace. Chuzz and I were meeting up once on a trip and when we met he told me of a guy who upon approaching him beeped his watch to stop the ‘clock’. They discussed a bit. Then Chuzz told him where he was going and ‘that took me 3 hours and fourteen minutes’…He then restarted his watch as he left Chuzz for the road. Another example of someone working at play, not that time constraints don’t weigh our plans down, but that is precisely the point I try to make.

[7] Hone Tuwhare’s poem Rain captures I think the relationship: I can hear you…making small (w)holes in the silence Rain…but if I should not see, hear, smell or feel you – you would still define me, disperse me, wash over me, Rain. In these terms and while in the rain, it is possible to realise that you may be (re)experiencing a fundamental ‘experience’ of being modern. The rains of modernity washes us of our fixedness and in this way while ‘defining’ (defined by our alienation?) us also ‘disperses’ us…a pointed made by Mike Grimshaw.

[8] As Curnow might point out…it was something nobody had counted on…

[9] Marinetti, 1972, 41