241 Things

1000 Things is a subjective encyclopedia of inspirational ideas, things, people, and events.

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

241 Things

Walking past a traffic light in Larkhall reveals a hatred for green. While in other cities the red light would turn to green, in Larkhall it changes to clear when the cars rush off. There is no option for green since the lights have been smashed. Again.

The first time I was confronted with this – most likely – urban myth I was shocked. But a little research reveals that everything in the city is about blue and the hatred of green. Hatred is revealed itself in many common phenomena, and in Larkhall it’s green that provokes so much revolt. The city of Larkhall is situated close to Glasgow. It is the only city where the sandwich chain Subway doesn’t have a green front but a black one, where the pharmacy doesn’t have the usual green sign and the fences are blue. Not to forget that they “pish” on the grass due to it’s green colour.

So from where does this hate actually originate? The main reason lies in football. When the blue protestant football club ‘The Glasgow Rangers’ play against the green catholic club ‘Celtic’ – ‘The Old Firm’ - riots always ensue. It’s the moment where hooligans fight against the green in Larkhall and traffic lights get smashed.

The Glasglow Rangers in revolt!

I managed to get in touch with a ‘wee’ Scottish woman that used to work as an english teacher in Larkhall. When asked, she told me that everything in this town revolves around sectarianism. When students find out your Celtic preference they often are outraged and sometimes even throw chairs at you. However, that’s not the worse thing that can happen. A fellow colleague was evenstabbed because of this sectarianism. No wonder there is a uniform fear within the town, with companies also following the colour preferences and attempt to eradicate green, possibly in fear of being stabbed.

Heliographer-in-chief Nelson Miles

America 1886

In pursuit of the wily Geronimo and his small band of Chiricahua Apache, General Nelson Miles suffered from a lack of high quality intelligence regarding the movement of hostiles through his geographically complex theater of operations. Chiricahua knowledge of the terrain combined with their high levels of skill in evasion made “hunt and kill” tactics difficult if not impossible to apply, and intelligence gathered by scouts (some of whom were Apache themselves) proved inadequate to the task, or unreliable.

If he was to succeed where General Crook had failed, Miles would need to see and anticipate enemy motion with greater precision and with a perspective as sweeping as the landscape. Thus he set out to establish a regional system of aerial reconnaissance, accomplished by means of the solar-powered heliograph or “sun telegraph”: The signal detachments will be placed upon the highest peaks and prominent lookouts to discover any movements of Indians and to transmit messages between the different camps.

Solar-powered intelligence station circa 1886

Net for catching hostiles

According to a newspaper account written by former signal operator William Niefert:

From the peak in that clear atmosphere we had an interesting view that covered many miles, even beyond the International Border. Nogales 50 miles away, was plainly visible, and away to the eastward one could see a surprisingly distance. The heliograph, or sun-telegraph as it was often spoken of on the frontier, is an instrument for signalling by sunlight reflected from a mirror. Metallic mirrors were originally used, but in service, they were hard to keep bright, and hard to replace if broken in the field. Consequently glass mirrors were adopted and much successful work was accomplished by using this method of signalling. We used two 5-inch mirrors, mounted on heavy wooden posts, that were firmly set between the rocks. Vertical and horizontal tangent screws are attached to the mirrors by which they can be turned to face any desired direction and keep the mirrors in correct position with the suns movement. As the flash increases about 45 times to a mile, it could be read with the naked eye for at least fifty miles.

Equipped with a powerful telescope and field glasses, we made frequent observations of the surrounding country so that any moving body of troops, or other men, as well as any unusual smoke or dust, might be detected and at once reported by flashing to Headquarters. Troops in the field carried portable heliograph sets that were operated by specially trained and detailed soldiers, by this means communicating through the mountain stations with Headquarters.


For all the effort invested, there is little evidence that any of the information gathered and relayed by the heliographs had any direct result on Geronimo’s capture, which was eventually secured by boots on the ground; boots under the command of Lieut. Charles A. Gatewood, a man Geronimo knew and respected as a brave adversary. General Miles traveled to Skeleton Canyon for the official surrender on September 4, 1886.

The most significant lessons of the Apache Wars had more to do with physical fitness and tactical preparation than with theater intelligence. Counterinsurgency concepts such as flexible response, quick reaction with emphasis on mobility, body counts and small unit actions were all conceived and refined during the Apache campaign, from tactical necessities dictated by both the harsh terrain and by the character of the enemy. For aerial reconnaissance to be effective in the context of counterinsurgency, there must be a more rapid and dynamic relationship between intelligence and the delivery of force. The heliograph system of General Miles had far too many dots (and dashes) to connect: from binoculars into code; then from code to mirror communication; then from decoding to command; and then from command to the pursuit force, via the same cumbersome circuitry. Radio would of course eventually significantly reduce these gaps, but the most pure expression of Shock & Awe would not be achieved until intelligence itself became weaponized, in the form of Predator drones.

Sky Mirror, Anish Kapoor

The capture of Geronimo resulted in the removal of most Chiricahua from the desert landscape that provided the basis for their entire culture; they were placed in rail cars and transported to Florida, into an environment so foreign that it may as well have been Madagascar. Exposure to new diseases compounded by the shock of a climate and landscape antithetical to their culture and experience, many of the captive Chiricahua died within the first year. Such dynamic relationships among intelligence, identification, cryptography, rail transport and death would become more fully articulated in years to come.

The “High School Shooter movement” comprises a number of students who at some point decided to shoot their classmates, teacher, and other personnel at their high schools and colleges, before committing suicide. A key element in defining the movement is that all of them have left a significant amount of written, photographed, videotaped, or otherwise recorded material contextualizing and commenting on their actions. This material can take the form of photographs, movies, diary entries, manifestoes, poems, etc. The list of former high school shooters, which is by no means complete, includes Eric Harris (1981-1999) and Dylan Klebold (1981-1999), Jeff Weise (1988-2005), Cho Seung-Hui (1984-2007), Pekka-Eric Auvinen (1989-2007) and Matti Juhani Saari (1986-2008).

Harris and Klebold are generally considered to be the founding members of the movement, killing 13 and injuring 24 on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado USA. This event has sparked a number of artistic reflexes and reflections, such as Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine (2002), Dennis Cooper’s novel My Loose Threat (Canongate, 2002), and Gus Van Sant’s movie Elephant (2003) which is stylistically based Alan Clarke’s Elephant (1989), depicting a series of anonymous murders in Northern Ireland.

More recently, writer Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and artist Jonas Staal have contextualized the High School Shooter movement within the history of (artistic) resistance, arguing for a reading through the work of French Situationist Guy Debord. In the same way that Debord included and refuted all criticism beforehand in his work Réfutation de tous les jugements… (1975), while at the same moment targeting the “society of the spectacle,” the high school shooters claim their actions as fully their own, as an ultimate and inappropriable possibility of resistance.Van Gerven Oei and Staal’s publication Follow Us or Die (Atropos Press, 2009) offers a survey of the writings, movies, and pictures produced by the high school shooters, contextualized within their own work.

Miniscule soldiers on a massive quest.

The weapon holds a great power of attraction.

And not only for those hungry for power. The weapon is beautiful. Whether it’s a Roman catapult, a Indian axe, or an American fighter-bomber. I know of ugly paintings, deplorable cars, but an ugly weapon? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single one. Even the most murderous weapon is beautiful. How is this possible? Shouldn’t evil automatically be ugly? A landmine is ugly. Especially those embellished with Mickey Mouse dolls.

Little children pick them up and – boom – they’ve lost their hands. These mines find their market because there is nothing that upsets the enemy as much as sick, wounded, wailing children. But fighter jets are so beautiful.

The MacDonnel F-4 Phantom fighter-bomber is beautiful, despite being guilty of more mutilation and deaths than all the landmines in the world during its long career in the American air force.

Fighter jets are beautiful thanks to their organic form and their advanced technology. There's absolutely nothing I can about feeling this way. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. The capitalist Americans retreated and left the communist Vietnamese at peace. I’m not sure how long the American army was stationed in Vietnam. All I know is that it was a long time. The carpet of bombs released by the F-4 Phantom set the country ablaze. What remained were ashes. I was in high school at the time. I sent letters to American airplane factories. I expressed my interest about certain types of fighter planes. I wrote to MacDonnel, Douglas, Northrop, Boeing, Lockheed, North American, Convair. They always responded.

Then the folders came, full of wondrous colour images. I’d cut them out and paste them in an album on which I’d written in large, fat letters: “American Fighter Planes in Vietnam.” The album is nowhere to be found.Under each photo, I’d write how the particular airplane was armed. Which kind of bombs it could carry. Its range. Its cruising speed. And so forth. Strange hobby. Strange boy. I must have been fourteen. I lived in Amsterdam, it was the late sixties. The Spui was two kilometres from my home, where each Saturday evening the Provo’s would organise themselves around het Lieverdje to perform their socio-critical happenings. Huge demonstrations passed through the city. Thousands of voices shouted that the Americans must retreat from Vietnam and that Johnson, the American president at the time, was a murderer. A police regulation became enforced: anyone who shouted that the American president was a murderer could expect to be arrested for insulting a befriended head of state. And so, a thousand voices shouted that he was a gardener instead. And everyone heard what they wanted to hear. Except for me, I heard nothing. I cycled from home to school with a bag full of books, and from school to home again. When I’d finished my homework, I assembled plastic models of airplanes.
Boeing B17 Flying Fortress/North American P51 Mustang: Queen of the Sky/Messerschmitt ME 109/Lockheed F104 Starfighter/Convair F102 Delta Dagger. I read comics with star pilot in the lead role like Buck Danny and Dan Cooper. In class I sat next to a boy, airplane-crazy like me. Without fail, at the sight of a plane we’d turn to each other and whisper: Tupolev 114, Douglas DC 10, BAC One-eleven, Boeing 707, Caravelle. After a while, we didn’t even need to look, and the sound of the engine was enough. My deafness to the cries from streets against the American president certainly wasn’t due to a lack of hearing.
At a certain age, the world makes its entrance into the lives of boys. The real world of flesh and blood. Then, the cool beauty of the thing; the thing for the sake of being a thing, must step aside. I won’t divulge which girl first broke the spell. One day I stood on the rear balcony of my parents’ house, a pile of model airplanes at my side, a catapult in hand. Instead of flying them, I shot them, one by one, into a wall bordering the yard. They flew into the air like cups and saucers and were smashed to bits.