Reaching For Shore

To paraphrase Stephen Scobie from The Rooms We Are

The rocks are not the sea
The waves are not the land

This is dialogue
Frank O'Hara Meditations in an Emergency "On Seeing Larry Rivers' 'Washington Crossing the Delaware' at the Museum of Modern Art"
of a crossing by water in winter to a shore
other than that the bridge reaches for.
And Scobie again "another" from The Rooms We Are
All that is long past.     Blank pages
filled with the finest lines will not recover
what we gained in our loss.
I like how in O'Hara the words inspired by a painting carry us beyond considerations of pigments and pictures to poetry itself seeking the unbridgeable and it is with Scobie that we find that writing will not suffice. Not suffice for the paradox of living while at every moment slowly dying. Inarticulate. Impossible crossing.

Forever in dialogue.

And so for day 1222

Narrativity and the Open

Elsewhere I have argued that narrativity is always at hand whether it is the the possibility of weaving a narrative or embroidering narration — as a species humans are in touch with how objects yield events and events become reified; we play with names and sequences interchangeably.

Kristjana Gunnars Reading Marcel Proust in far more elegant style makes a similar case.

It is perhaps impossible to exist without something taking place. To be outside of story would be to not exist.

What confuses is that stories never end. Fictions are false because they provide false endings. There is always a next day: just as the idea of the end of the universe can never gain currency, since it is forever trailed by the question of what is behind the end of the universe.
Earlier in the book there is a passage that provides an example of continuation at work/play. Proceeding a contrario, we follow the next twist...
[The character from Kierkegaard] knows the verity of his own feelings by his reluctance to articulate them. The more he speaks of his feelings, the less real they will be. Love will be spent in the speaking. Transferred out of the nervous system into language, where it will exist in a disembodied form.

But perhaps his trepidation results from the opposite: what he fears is the possibility of bringing his feelings to life by naming them. In language there is self-invention. The fear of creating a relationship where there was none before. Of making a fleeting evanescent relationship, which like all human affairs drifts in the smoke of time, permanent. By writing something you make it eternal.
And open to tagged on interpretations, extrapolations and other sundry extensions.

And so for day 1221

Marking Time Passing

One line from Brian Fawcett Permanent Relationships

dewwet morning
What is amazing here is the simplicity of the means (rearranging the inter-word spacing) and the richness of the suggestiveness thus generated. "Dewwet" evokes that moment where the droplets have begun to slide and form larger wholes — think of the slick on grass or the pattern of the condensation on a windshield of a car — the dewwet is a moment observed from later in the morning — at least, it is so if the new compound word is an image of what it describes. And by its precise attention to a moment in time it is attuned to process and the passage of time.

Another example from Whisk by Yoko's Dogs (a writing collective composed of Jan Conn, Mary di Michele, Susan Gillis and Jane Munro)
all day snow falling
falling into the night
The reduplication of "falling" echoes the continuous movement of the snow and the carry over from ending one line and beginning the next adds to the continuous movement. It just doesn't stop. Day and night are stretched.

And so for day 1220


Lipogram: a text in which a given letter or set of letters is deliberately left out (Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics)

Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) by Nathanaël (Nathalie Stephens) preserves the French in its Englished form and presents the following lipogrammatic play

fa ille
"FA ILLE" stands as the title of a section of the book. And at first seems to be a simple illustration of "broken" [faille] by placing a space like a missing link in the chain of letters. It is only later that the reader comes to understand the omitted is "m". "Not so long ago, I pointed to the minute distance between la famille (family) and la fa ille (fault line ... flaw ... rift)."

To render in English is a challenge. And in the end it is by substitution rather than subtraction that we arrive at some semblance of a cognate.
bro ken
bro kin
So the first step was to take the breaking to the visual aspect of the word which yields "bro ken" which semantically exposes the "bro" of bromance and brotherhood along with the "ken" of knowing. We bring back the family with "kin" and use italics to mark the break in "brokin". And so we skim the skin of language.

Trying another poet and going from English to French: Harryette Mullen
Supermarket with the dropped "u are". Almost impossible. There are two directions tugging...
Vous êtes
Reduplications may come close to the effect of overlay of S*PeRM**K*T and SUPERMARKET.
And if one is to enter wholly the neologism phase, one can tack on the verb "to be" (être) one comes close to the suffix for shop (boulangerie, bijouterie).
Not quite satisfying. We are far from the procedures of the lipogram. And still missing the sperm element. We begin again taking advantage of some mirroring effects: giving the supermarket a proper name...
Supermarché Spermeville
We have lost the inflection towards being. It is almost impossible to bury the "tu es" in the "supermarché". And so we turn bilingual and bring back the English in abbreviated form "u r"
Spe salvi. By hope in markets we are saved. But the sperm has wiggled away again.

And so for day 1219

Idioms: Jazz & Blues

Legitimation. Appropriation. Acculturation.

Processes. Signposts. Ways.

Norma Cole in To Be At Music: Essays & Talks quotes and demonstrates in her style ...

"A rhythm which cuts and defines another rhythm must leave room for the other rhythm to be heard clearly." (John Miller Chernoff, African Rhythm and African Sensibility: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms)
Gregory Ulmer. "Choramancy: A User's Guide" in Mind Factory edited by Louis Armand identifies a melded sensibility (jewgreekcreole) and relies on jazz & blues traditions to do so ...
"The questions of how Haitian Voodoo came to the continental United States, and the question of why jazz originated in New Orleans, are in fact parts of the same question. Jazz and rock 'n' roll would evolve from Voodoo, carrying within them the metaphysical antidote that would aid many a twentieth-century Westerner from both the ravages of the mind-body split codified by Christianism, and the onslaught of technology. The twentieth century would dance as no other had, and through that dance, secrets would be passed." [Michael Ventura, "Hear That Long Snake Moan" in Shadow Dancing in the USA] Jazz is exemplary for us of "possibility," the modality of "perhaps" organising the temporality of the event. What happened in music may continue in consulting and in every other discourse and institution, as "we" become jewgreakcreole. Syllogism may become syllojazz.
On the next page
The emergAgency goal is to fashion a consulting practice from the lessons of "blutopia," combining the two major impulses of African-American music: "a utopian impulse, evident in the creation of imagined places (Promised Lands), and the impulse to remember, to bear witness, which James Baldwin relates to the particular history of slavery" [Graham Lock, Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton] "Blues" is not feeling "bad," but what you do about bad feelings.
Acculturation. Appropriation. Legitimation.

And so for day 1218

Pedestrian Pleasures

After a period of being incommoded one turns to the papers to reconnect with the world and learns of a new footbridge. Marcus Gee in the Globe and Mail devotes a column to the opening of the footbridge that crosses under the Gardiner Expressway. The creation of architect John White is quite remarkable.

It is designed so it can be winched sideways on beams to allow for maintenance on the Gardiner, which lies just 200 millimetres above. [...] Look up and you see the concrete underbelly of the expressway, a unique view of that colossus. Look down through the tall glass walls and you see the traffic on Lake Shore Boulevard streaming by.
Toronto has its very own bridge of sighs.

And so for day 1217

Miracle Mile Plus

Worth a field trip: Canoe Landing Park

Attractions conceived by Douglas Coupland: Tom Thomson's Canoe and the installations around the Terry Fox Miracle Mile which are erected as way-stations around the perimeter of the park. Photos mounted out of reach of would be vandals; photos of iconic items or moments in the life/run of Terry Fox function as reliquaries particularly the "Lucky Sock" worn and stained and described by the plaque at the foot of the installation. Searching for images of the Lucky Sock installation, I came across charmgirl13's Flickr album from winter 2010 which documents another of the the installations "Food Fight" that registers the teenage exuberance by displaying an impressive array of diner food that would have been ingested to fuel the run — burgers and such — (the image is almost an advertisement) and the accompanying plaque relates the stories of decorous food fights to relieve stress.

Words and images in public space... within a walkable round.

And so for day 1216

Little Billboards

Over the years, I have changed the signature block on email messages. They often contain a witty saying and a url.

Here is one from the close of the last century, anticipating an active century to come

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
20th : Machine Age :: 21st : Era of Reparation
Earlier I struck a Kantian note:
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

Wondering if...

mnemonic is to analytic
mimetic is to synthetic
And here's a twist on the hocus-pocus of the art of persuasion:
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

Skill may be the capacity to manipulate perceptions of knowledge.
Magic is.
And with the usual continuity of the moniker "Scholar-at-large" with a tag from a brief intellectual itinerary.
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks
Who knows what permutations are to come?

And so for day 1215


We have a record of the discussion of the second session at the 1970 colloquium at Cluny on "literature and ideology" [Littérature et idéologies. Colloque de Cluny II. 2, 3, 4 avril 1970. La nouvelle critique. spécial 39 bis]. These discussions are as interesting as the presented papers and sometimes quite revealing as to the intellectual roots of some critical concepts.

Julia Kristeva quotes the first of Marx's Theses on Feuerbach to introduce a notion of text as activity or practice.

Le défaut de tout matérialisme passé (celui de Feuerbach compris) c'est que l'objet, la réalité, la matérialité ne sont pris que sous la forme de l'objet ou de l'intuition, mais non comme activité sensible humaine comme pratique. C'est pourquoi le côté actif est développé de façon abstraite en opposition au matérialisme, par l'idéalisme — qui naturellement ne connait pas l'activité réelle, sensible, comme telle. Feuerbach veut des objets sensibles — réellement distincts des objets idéaux — mais il ne saisit pas l'activité humaine elle-même comme activité objective. Il considère donc, dans l'essence du christianisme, le rapport théorique comme étant le seul vraiment humain, tandis que la pratique n'est saisie et fixée que sous sa vulgaire et judaïque forme phénomenale. Ainsi ne comprend-il pas la signification de l'activité révolutionnaire, critico-pratique.
After citing this, Kristeva invites us to consider these remarks in the context of signifying practices:
Transposons cette réflection sur le terrain de la pratique signifiante — nous trouverons le texte
Marx's Theses on Feuerbach seeks to establish due regard to practice.
The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism — that of Feuerbach included — is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism – which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such.

Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity.
Practice occurs in a zone of strife. That zone is within and beyond the reading subject. See "Textuality" entry by Manina Jones in the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars, Terms (1993).
[...] subversion of the principle that any text can function as an object whose meaning is coherent and self-contained. [...] Textuality in this context describes the tendency of language to produce not a simple reference to the world "outside" language but a multiplicity of potentially contradictory signifying effects that are activated in the reading process.
Kristeva's "transposons" makes it sound so easy. And it is if one remembers the collective notion of "let us transpose".

And so for day 1214

Frye Reading Delany

Northrop Frye's annotations to Samuel R. Delany's Neveryóna consist mainly of marking passages of interest with a vertical line in the margin. There is one comment of note. Under the epigraph from Shoshana Felman (Turning the Screw of Interpretation), Frye [p. 77] writes "he reads the damnedest books".

Here then is a selection of the selection curated by Northrop Frye.

[p. 56]

for you know that the very gods of our country are represented as patient, meticulous craftsfolk, who labor at the construction of the world and who may may never be named till it is completed
We skip ahead and we quote a bit beyond the bar in the margin to give a flavour of the passage.
[p. 245]

"sometimes I think there must be nothing to the world except stories and magic!" (She'd never thought anything like that before in her life!) "But I guess stories are more common — while magic is rare.
[p. 338]

and all speech is, after all, about what is absent in the world,
A few more marks in the pages that follow to references to the empty and the absent. Let us retrace some earlier marked passages.
[p. 156]

No wonder the Empress and the Liberator both decry slavery, when this is such a far more efficient system. You know where most of the iron for these little moneys come from, don't you? It's melted down from the old no-longer-used collars once worn by —

[p. 166]

My dear, sometimes I believe we shall lose all contact with magic. When that happens, civilization will have to be written of with other signs entirely.
[p. 198] Inline correction of a typographic accident [Frye adds the "l"]: "lest she be thought less wor[l]dly than she was". But the context is about words and irony and yes a certain worldliness.
  • camel driver curses: "The brutal repetition of their invention and invective alone keeps such curses from being true poetry."
  • same men in the arms of women: "beg their mistresses to whisper these same phrases to them, or plead to be allowed to whisper them back, phrases which now, instead of conveying ire and frustration, transport them, and sometimes the women, too, to heights of pleasure"
  • the paragraph with the wordly/worldly crux
  • the conversation continues about what might mean the "use of terms of anger and rage in the throes of desire"
And so for day 1213