A Blog Post About Blog Posts

from: Kevin B Lee
to: Volker Pantenburg
date: Sun, Jan 8, 2017 at 11:15 AM
subject: Re: blog

Dear Volker,

I want the next entry to speculate on what a blog is good for.

You mentioned around the time of my arrival that you had experienced disillusionment with blogs several years ago. However it seems that in every chat we have you mention that something we discuss would make for a good blog entry.

If you wouldn’t mind taking a moment to ruminate on what you think this blog’s true purpose is, it would be helpful. Especially with the knowledge that every endeavor takes effort from other endeavors and so its true value shouldn’t be assumed. I say this as someone who is in the process of disassociating myself from the most significant endeavor of the last several years of my career and who now must reflect on what that was all for.

Personally I haven’t visited a blog in several years (I’m on instagram, Facebook and twitter, in that order) and my own personal blog is in ruins since I switched to a new host. For me this word brings to mind an online culture that feels out of place in the present.

On the other hand I’m not too pleased about some aspects of contemporary online culture.

And wasn’t it Farocki who said that when a medium loses its utility, it is then liberated to do other things. So what might those other things be?

Look forward to your reply. Perhaps a good blog entry could be made from it.


from: Volker Pantenburg
to: Kevin B Lee
date: Sun, Jan 8, 2017 at 10:05 PM
subject: Re: blog

Dear Kevin,

you asked me „to ruminate on what you think this blog’s true purpose is“. It’s not an easy task, so I’ll just start with what comes to my mind and see where it takes me.

When the date of your residency approached, I realized that – for the time being and for different reasons – the Institut has no real online presence that could document your stay. I somehow assumed that there should be a platform that shows that you’re there and gives you the possibility to use it in any which way you like. An act of politeness and respect, like providing the basic tools for someone you invite to work together. Setting up a blog seemed the easiest thing to do.

I now see that the word „blog“ might be a burden since you seem to associate a whole history, milieu and standard of an online culture with it. Since I’m not really immersed in these things, except for „new filmkritik“, but in this case mostly in the years 2003 to 2010, I had a much more naive notion in mind. „Blog“ as a synonym for „piece of paper“ or „container“. Something to write notes, to jot down a quote you come across, record an impression.

I also realize now that I never really asked you if a blog would be something you would like to use, which is quite mindless – sorry. It probably happened out of an egoistic impulse: I would be curious to know your perspective on the things and events that you encounter here.

But then again, that probably wouldn’t necessarily need to be public. (Something to negociate with each blog entry: Where does the public realm start? A nice description of the cinema situation – by Heide Schlüpmann – is: Öffentliche Intimität, public intimacy).

I like Harun’s phrase in WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE: „Producing material to investigate the present, the future past.“ Maybe that’s something that inevitably happens in a blog? Or could happen?

Maybe some kind of dialogue would also be a possibility? (Not necessarily with me.)

But of course, I also see your point „that every endeavor takes effort from other endeavors“. I think – or hope – that it need not be an endeavor, but something that just happens. Or doesn’t (I do like the silence of blogs, the times when nothing happens).

It should by no means put any pressure on you, if it turns out that a blog is not a good idea, nobody forces us to maintain it.

I need to watch Sami Frey’s documentary on JEANNE DIELMAN for tomorrow’s class now; the book on my desk is „Nothing happens“ by Ivone Margulies.

Hope you’re having a good time in Munich,


from: Kevin B Lee
to: Volker Pantenburg
date: Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 10:43 AM
subject: Re: blog

Hi Volker – finally have time to reply to this, and I think it’s quite telling that it took me so long to do so, but understandable given all that has happened with Fandor, Frankfurt, performances and lectures, projects, adjustment to Berlin life, and now jury duty in Stuttgart. It’s a bit of a crazy paradox, that the more things there are to blog about, the less time there is to do so. I feel like my next blog entry should be “things I would have blogged about this month had I the time.”

So much of this month has been a process of major reorganization of my life priorities, plans and routines, so this may account for the extra and maybe excessive sensitivity on my part to how my time is being spent. And with each passing day, there are more amazing things I experience yielding an even larger subset of things to think (and blog) about. But hopefully responding to this gets the ball rolling. (And the Stanford exercise is somewhat helpful in facing this task – there’s something radically mind-clearing about having to generate 60 words, and then eliminate 95% of them to focus on the 5% that really matter).

But I am continuing to make mental adjustments to my life here, and I am happy to say that I desire to blog, because it does provide a great space to report and reflect. It’s like a new exercise regimen – I just need to make time for it.

In the meantime, would it be okay to post the last two emails on the blog? I think together they have a nice “documentary” like quality to this (and it saves me from having to regurgitate). If you feel any of your email needs to be edited, let me know – but I think that basically it is fine as it is.

I also want to post Farocki’s one and only email to me, as it brings up so many of these issues of work, time, relationships, and the value we assign to them.

Also want to embed the YouTube video from Frankfurt, and things from my Instagram (which basically has served as my de facto Residency blog up to this time)