gluk glak gleek

Anthony Burgess on the semantic and sonorous creativity of James Joyce (Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce) and its limitations (as poetry)

A mark of Joyce's genius was to recognise the smallness of his poetic talent and to see how a fine ear and a weak lyrical impulse could revolutionise the prose of a whole era.
We will resist here the attraction of search grinding to find mentions of "lyrical impulse" and will instead offer this description from the introduction to Post-structuralist Readings of English Poetry edited by Richard Machin and Christopher Norris.
Just as we can never write exactly what we intend, so we can never write and intend nothing at all. Language has its own inbuilt intention to mean, which we can at best only attempt to harness in a way that seems to suit our present needs.
Neither glak nor gluk nor gleek appear in Finnegans Wake. Check the online concordance and find the instances of "intend" which in one occurence the glossers relate to the Italian "intendere" to undertand which I fail to understand because the form "intend" matches none of the conjugated forms of the Italian verb. It takes a very fine ear... or a fine again eye.

And so for day 1302
07.07.2010

Orbiting the Obelized

Epicurus

On Happiness

Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus (341-270 B.C.)

Translated by Robert Drew Hicks

Who, then, is superior in your judgment to such a person? He holds a holy belief concerning the gods, and is altogether free from the fear of death. He has diligently considered the end fixed by nature, and understands how easily the limit of good things can be reached and attained, and how either the duration or the intensity of evils is but slight. Destiny which some introduce as sovereign over all things, he laughs to scorn, affirming rather that some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency. For he sees that necessity destroys responsibility and that chance or fortune is inconstant; whereas our own actions are free, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach. It were better, indeed, to accept the legends of the gods than to bow beneath destiny which the natural philosophers have imposed. The one holds out some faint hope that we may escape if we honor the gods, while the necessity of the naturalists is deaf to all entreaties. Nor does he hold chance to be a god, as the world in general does, for in the acts of a god there is no disorder; nor to be a cause, though an uncertain one, for he believes that no good or evil is dispensed by chance to people so as to make life happy, though it supplies the starting-point of great good and great evil. He believes that the misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool. It is better, in short, that what is well judged in action should not owe its successful issue to the aid of chance.
      Translated by Xavier Bordes

D’après toi, quel homme surpasse en force celui qui sur les dieux nourrit des convictions conformes à leurs lois? Qui face à la mort est désormais sans crainte ? Qui a percé à jour le but de la nature, en discernant à la fois comme il est aisé d’obtenir et d’atteindre le summum des biens, et comme celui des maux est bref en durée ou en intensité; s’amusant de ce que certains mettent en scène comme la maîtresse de tous les événements – les uns advenant certes par nécessité, mais d’autres par hasard, d’autres encore par notre initiative –, parce qu’il voit bien que la nécessité n’a de comptes à rendre à personne, que le hasard est versatile, mais que ce qui vient par notre initiative est sans maître, et que c’est chose naturelle si le blâme et son contraire la suivent de près (en ce sens, mieux vaudrait consentir à souscrire au mythe concernant les dieux, que de s’asservir aux lois du destin des physiciens naturalistes : la première option laisse entrevoir un espoir, par des prières, de fléchir les dieux en les honorant, tandis que l’autre affiche une nécessité inflexible). Qui témoigne, disais-je, de plus de force que l’homme qui ne prend le hasard ni pour un dieu, comme le fait la masse des gens (un dieu ne fait rien de désordonné), ni pour une cause fluctuante (il ne présume pas que le bien ou le mal, artisans de la vie bienheureuse, sont distribués aux hommes par le hasard, mais pense que, pourtant, c’est le hasard qui nourrit les principes de grands biens ou de grands maux); l’homme convaincu qu’il est meilleur d’être dépourvu de chance particulière tout en raisonnant bien que d’être chanceux en déraisonnant ; l’idéal étant évidemment, en ce qui concerne nos actions, que ce qu’on a jugé «bien» soit entériné par le hasard.
Lacking skill in Greek, I am unable to these judge these versions. I can but triangulate with other versions.
And he does not consider fortune a goddess, as most men esteem her (for nothing is done at random by a god), nor a cause which no man can rely on, for he thinks that good or evil is not given by her to men so as to make them live happily, but that the principles of great goods, or great evils are supplied by her; thinking it better to be unfortunate in accordance with reason, than to be fortunate irrationally; for that those actions which are judged to be the best, are rightly done in consequence of reason.
C.D.Yonge
And such a man holds that Fate is not a god (as most people believe) because a god does nothing disorderly, and he holds that Fate is not an uncertain cause because nothing good or bad with respect to a completely happy life is given to men by chance, although it does provide the beginnings of both great goods and great evils. And he considers it better to be rationally unfortunate than irrationally fortunate, since it is better for a beautiful choice to have the wrong results than for an ugly choice to have the right results just by chance.
Peter Saint-Andre
http://www.monadnock.net/epicurus/letter.html
il n’admet pas, avec la foule, que la fortune soit une divinité – car un dieu ne fait jamais d’actes sans règles –, ni qu’elle soit une cause inefficace : il ne croit pas, en effet, que la fortune distribue aux hommes le bien et le mal, suffisant ainsi à faire leur bonheur et leur malheur, il croit seulement qu’elle leur fournit l’occasion et les éléments de grands biens et de grands maux ; (135) enfin il pense qu’il vaut mieux échouer par mauvaise fortune, après avoir bien raisonné, que réussir par heureuse fortune, après avoir mal raisonné – ce qui peut nous arriver de plus heureux dans nos actions étant d’obtenir le succès par le concours de la fortune lorsque nous avons agi en vertu de jugements sains.
O. Hamelin
En ce qui concerne le hasard, le sage ne le considère pas, à la manière de la foule, comme un dieu, car rien n’est accompli par un dieu d’une façon désordonnée, ni comme une cause instable. Il ne croit pas que le hasard distribue aux hommes, de manière à leur procurer la vie heureuse, le bien ou le mal, mais qu’il leur fournit les éléments des grands biens ou des grands maux. Il estime qu’il vaut mieux mauvaise chance en raisonnant bien que bonne chance en raisonnant mal. Certes, ce qu’on peut souhaiter de mieux dans nos actions, c’est que la réalisation du jugement sain soit favorisé par le hasard.
Maurice Solovine
The plethora of diverging translations is attributable to variations in the source text. As explained by Tiziano Dorandi, editor of Diogenes Laertius: Lives of Eminent Philosophers where the Letter to Menoeceus is preserved, there is a rich history of reconstruction:
In 1925, Robert Drew Hicks published an 'eclectic' edition accompanied by an English translation and a few critical and exegetical notes for the Loeb Classical Library. Hicks started out from the Cobetiana, but he retouched its text with some conjectures of his own and above all by taking into account more recent and reliable editions of single books or champtes of Diogenes' Lives. [Cobetiana = edition produced by Carel Gabreil Cobet and published in Paris in 1850]
Diogenes Laërtius Lives of Eminent Philosophers, edited by Tiziano Dorandi, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013 (Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, vol. 50)
Dorandi reserves in the outline of the principles to his edition a section to the "Epicurea" and the problem of desiring to restore the words themselves (ipsa verba) of Epicurus editing Laertius with a view to the witnesses of the secondary tradition. But "[t]he editor of the Lives as a whole must follow a different path so as to avoid tampering with the evidence and publishing a text that has little or nothing to do with that written by Diogenes." The task is daunting: "the centuries-old chain of transmission of Epicurus' writings, not free of errors, corruption, interpolations and modifications of language, content and perhaps even thought" and the task of the editor is to correct wisely where possible and in "other cases [where] the text is irremediably corrupt and no proposed correction seems fully convincing, even if one is not going beyond the 'traditional' aim of getting back to the manuscript of Epicurus used by Diogenes; these passages have been obelized."

History offers us Cyril Bailey Epicurus: The Extant Remains with Short Critical Apparatus, Translation and Notes (Oxford, 1926) who in his commentary reviewed the editorial choices of predecessors and set out his own conjecture "I believe that once again homoeoteleuton has caused a loss of some words and that Epicurus wrote something like [...]" and his attention to the Greek gives us this English...
For it is better in a man's actions that what is well chosen (should fail, rather than that what is ill chosen) would be successful owing to chance.
A little aside on homeoteleuton "As the scribe was reading the original text, his eyes would skip from one word to the same word on a later line, leaving out a line or two in the transcription. When transcripts were made of the scribe's flawed copy (and not the original) errors are passed on into posterity." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeoteleuton

Back to the passages at issue. Russel M. Geer follows Bailey, finessing the parenthesis to make it more mobile (i.e. makes the surround text readable without):
for it is better that what has been well-planned in our actions (should fail than that what has been ill-planned) should gain success by chance.
I am still entranced by the balanced beauty of Peter Saint-Andre's rendition "it is better for a beautiful choice to have the wrong results than for an ugly choice to have the right results just by chance." And in this I am aided by chance (and a library).

And so for day 1301
06.07.2010

Chained to Change

I was reading an entry at jill/txt about generations to come. "Can you imagine that the world will change?" broaches the topic of a "future deficit" and the consequences of the "broad present" [Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. The Broad Present: Time and Contemporary Culture] and I found myself commenting:

An open question: how does one go from the concept of future deficit or broad present to musing about the futility of activisim? I ask because the always available past along with a “closed future” might lead one to favour local engagement and/or a politics of sustainibility. Reparation need not be stagnation.
And by pure serendipity, I read from the last century, a sign of hope:
Barry eschews the old fashioned rhetoric of alienation as well as the slick gloss of postmodern simulation both of which produce passivity; one through a freezing of the will in the face of futility; the other through a belief that there are no successful strategies for intervention. By contrast, her work continues to argue passionately for attention, criticism and action within the social sphere.
Johanna Drucker, “Spectacle and Subjectivity: the work of Judith Barry,” Public Fantasy: an anthology of critical essays, fictions and project descriptions. London, 1991
Still the question remains, what propels?
However, if this flood of success were to miraculously occur tomorrow, if I were then easily able to pay my few bills and no longer had to read these endless letters of rejection, I also fear it would make little difference to my mood or to my life. My life might improve, might even improve considerably, but I suspect I would feel more or less the same. I get home and I check the mail. Today the mailbox is empty, there is nothing. I unlock my apartment and go inside.
The final lines of a story by Jacob Wren. "Four Letters from an Ongoing Series" in If our wealth is criminal then let's live the criminal joy of pirates
The title is a phrase echoed in the book, in the self-same story we have quoted from here. But in the story the sentence, authored by an intern in the body of a rejection letter to our narrator, continues "If our wealth is criminal then let's live the criminal joy of pirates or fight to the death to bring a sliver of more justice into being."
Change. Will. Imagination.

Not always connected.

Not always connected to each other.

Connected, all of them, to carrying on.

And so for day 1300
05.07.2010

Marking: A Gain

Alerted by the work of Jim Andrews (http://vispo.com/bp/jim.htm), Lori Emerson [Reading Writing Interfaces alerts further readers of the remarks in the code of bp nichol's First Screening

[...]
116 REM FOR FURTHER RE-MARKS LIST 3900,4000
[...]
3900 REM ARK
3905 REM BOAT
3910 REM AIN
3915 REM RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN RAIN
3920 REM BOAT
3925 REM ARK
3930 REM BOW
3935 REM ARC
4000 END
Arc-en-ciel = rainbow

After 40 occurrences (as pointed out by Lori Emerson) of RAIN recalling forty days and forty nights of the stuff falling in the Biblical tale of Noah.

Off-screen. Centre of mind.

<!-- ACCESS HTML Source -->
<!-- LOOK -->
<!-- SEE -->
<!-- Earth Washing -->
<!-- http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/dwr.htm -->
<!-- SAW -->

And so for day 1299
04.07.2010

Rage & Ridicule

Joseph Addison places a quotation from Menander at the head of his essay on the "Uses and abuses of ridicule". The quotation in translation reads: "Ill-timed laughter is a grave evil among mortals."

Addison remarks that "Laughter is indeed a very good counter-poise to the spleen ´[...]" which brings me to present this excerpt from a satiric poem by Lionel Kearns who observes that rich kids get more toys than the poor and who calls for a switching of colours.

CHRISTMAS POEM

Santa Claus, having considered
your distribution policy in detail
we have at last discovered
your true political colour.
[...]
and as far as we're concerned
you can take your red suit
and cram it, because we prefer green.
It's Robin Hood's colour
Kearns here reminds be of Gwen Hauser at her best. In both there percolates the not so hidden injuries of class. Laughter doesn't always chase away spleen.
Then all the bells at once ring out in furious clang,
Bombarding heaven with howling, horrible to hear,
Like lost and wandering souls, that whine in shrill harangue
Their obstinate complaints to an unlistening ear.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Flowers of Evil (1936)
Des cloches tout à coup sautent avec furie
Et lancent vers le ciel un affreux hurlement,
Ainsi que des esprits errants et sans patrie
Qui se mettent à geindre opiniâtrement.

Charles Baudelaire Spleen
"Geindre" has connotations of recrimination ... a hurling back of insults and accusations. More complaint than plaint.

Ill-timed for the listening ear: a flowering of evil.

And so for day 1298
03.07.2010

Prognostication

From an old journal entry, copied in letters to friends, a fascination meteorological.

Cool Weather Ahead.

Slowly with the cool weather signs of spring unfold. Very happy to see the tips of tulips but sad that the snowdrops, those hardy harbingers, are gone. And the tiny cups of crocuses are already battered by the rains. One pleasure fades, another arises.

And a whole week of showers to come!
There followed hellebore and sanguinaria.

And so for day 1297
02.07.2010

Infinity Interrupted

Out of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a passage describing the blockages.

It is interesting to note that the these two societal obstacles to flow, anomie and alienation, are functionally equivalent to the two personal pathologies, attentional disorders and self-centredness. At both levels, the individual and the collective, what prevents flow from occurring is either the fragmentation of attentional processes (as in anomie and attentional disorders), or their excessive rigidity (as in alienation and self-centredness). At the individual level anomie corresponds to anxiety, while alienation corresponds to boredom.
And a few pages later we are presented with a potential antidote
Music, which is organized auditory information, helps organize the mind that attends to it, and therefore reduces psychic entropy, or the disorder we experience when random information interferes with goals. Listening to music wards off boredom and anxiety, and when seriously attended to, it can induce flow experiences.
Cue Metal Machine Music and a locked groove.

And so for day 1296
01.07.2010

Ungodly Zero Devilish One

Lionel Kearns.
1969.
The Daylight Press. Vancouver, B.C.
By the Light of the Silvery McLune: Media Parables, Poems, Signs, Gestures and Other Assaults on the Interface.

which is rendered on the half-title page along the vertical

by
the
light
of
the
silvery
mc
lune
:
media
parables
poems
signs
gestures
and
other
assaults
on
the
interface
The first poem in this book is called "The Birth of God" and is a concrete poem consisting of the figure 1 composed of zeros encompassed by the figure 0 composed of ones. The poem is reproduced in white on the black of the book's cover which of course gets reversed (black print on white page) inside. There is a distinct yin-yang feel to the piece. This yoking of opposites is underscored by the note at the end of the table of contents on the page facing the poem.
Note: THE BIRTH OF GOD is a mathematical mandala embodying the perfect creative/destructive principle of the mutual interpenetration and balanced interdependence of opposites: one and zero, something and nothing, substance and void, being and oblivion, positive and negative, good and bad, spirit and flesh, black and white, yin and yang, male and female, thesis and antithesis, this and that — and all possible dynamic relationships of these polarities, the simultaneous representations of which are immediately obvious in the icons of sex, childbirth and death.
Jim Andrews has created a meditation on the work of Lionel Kearns which appears to begin with a reproduction of "The Birth of God" http://vispo.com/kearns/index.htm Interestingly, Andrews uses reverse video display to construct the inner figure of the 1 out of an assembly of ones. It is not an exact reproduction of the Kearns text. It is a meditation upon it. Clicking through the animation produced by Andrews one arrives at a sierpinski triangle which with more clicking fades.

The Andrews meditation reproduces an email message addressed to the author by Nan Yake and a response from Kearns which elucidates, for me, the sexual congress in the figure (which I failed to grasp without this helpful hint).
There are other ideas that can be drawn from the poem as well. Because of its shape, the 1 suggests the male, just as the shape of the 0 suggests the female. With the 1 inside the 0 we have the idea of sexual activity, or conception. Then again, the roundness of the 0 suggests the womb, with the 1 as the embryo contained within it, giving us the idea of birth. Finally the 0 can be interpreted as a coffin which contains a body. And so we have reference to the three principal points on the wheel of existence: conception, birth, and death.

I composed this poem many years ago, long before I had given much thought to computers, or their workings. However, I have been happy to discover that the poem anticipated today's ubiquitous presence of the binary code that is the basis of digital programming (the play of 1s and 0s).
I first thought that the work was the ironic mark of an iconoclastic gesture against the false god of the computer as all-mighty gadget. I now cherish its undecidability: a 10 in decimal or a 2 in binary base [by another reading of the binary 01 we have one which is also one in decimal notation]. Representation as such. Not the thing in itself.

Yeah, and that McLune is a sure reference to the sometimes lunatic McLuhan of Wychwood Park. Exit singing %% the moon in June %%

And so for day 1295
30.06.2010

Browsing at Brown

This description of the collections at the John Carter Brown Library from a 1968 publication is so inviting...

The Library has sought to emphasize not only the textual content of its books but also their characteristics as material objects. We have felt it important, where possible, to assemble data on the economic, legal, social and intellectual aspects of printing and publication. We like to feel that a person using the Library will find its books set among congenial companions which suggest insights and points of view leading to fresh understandings of the role which the Americas played in the history of Western civilization.
What an ingenious way of describing finding aids and allied publications as "congenial companions". The authors of Opportunities for Research in the John Carter Brown Library point out that "In addition to the basic collection [in closed stacks] described in this handbook, there are some 6,000 reference books, offprints, and reprints. This material is on open shelves." We may now in this century count among the "congenial companions" the Library's electronic publications including a wonderful series "I Found It at the JCB" (One of my favourites is the brief piece by Caroline Cox "Tuning of the Fifes: The Life of a Boy Soldier in the Eighteenth Century".)

The colophon of the 1968 handbook is a treasure too "HAEC OLIM MEMINISSE JUVABIT" — "one day, this will be pleasing to remember" — neatly drops the "perhaps" part in this quotation from Book I of Virgil's Aeneid. Pleasing it is, no perhaps about it.

And for good measure a link to another of the I Found It at the JCB items wherein Jesse Cromwell relates "coming across a slim 1662 volume by Henry Stubbe entitled The Indian Nectar, or a Discourse concerning Chocalata" and provides a recipe for An Obscenely Delicious Seventeenth-Century Hot Chocolate Recipe. Jesse's Stubbe "was an Oxford educated scholar of Latin and Greek and a physician, who lived in both England and Jamaica." My Stubbe is a chocolatier in Toronto. http://www.stubbechocolates.com/history/ And no perhaps about it, I will remember its pleasures.

And so for day 1294
29.06.2010

Independent Observations on Interactivity

From a message with the subject heading "Good Stimulating Questions" sent to Ger Zielinski after a presentation to his class at Ryerson in March 1999.

In recapping the enter-hold-exit example I suggested that it is modelled on a narrative and that narratives have middle, beginnings, and ends that can be shifted in the telling and presenting. I also suggested that the on/off yes/no decision process is not centred in the middle but distributed throughout. [...]
enterholdexit
y/ny/ny/n
Any decision point depends not only upon the history of previous decisions at that point but also the activity of other decision points. This is a rather abstract way of expressing a network model for hum eating, savouring and digestion. Of course this is just to say that microhabits come to form larger cultural patterns.
Then many years later I came across a quotation in Lori Emerson Reading Writing Interfaces: from the digital to the bookbound (2014) which quotes a 2005 interview with Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries about their piece Traveling to Utopia: With a Brief History of the Technology.
The spectator is far from powerless. She is still the one who decides whether or not she will watch the piece, or having clicked on it, whether she'll click away from it. That's the same power that she has when she considers any other art and literature. Clicking away is one of the essences of the Internet. It's no different from deleting. It's rejection, it's saying "no." That's ultimate power.
A few pages later Emerson remarks "The reader/viewer cannot fast-forward or rewind; they can only click away from the piece and end the experience altogether." There exists screen recording software that would make a re-reading or reviewing of the work controllable for fast-forward or rewind or pause. In a sense Emerson overlooks using software to reproduce a copy of the piece and then assert control over flow because she buys into a restrictive view of interactivity — interactivity is pushed to a consumer (instead of applied by a user).
[...] YHCHI's dislike of interactivity is partly derived from the emptiness of interactive features in most pieces, which may be touted as offering the reader a liberatory freedom but that in fact simply allow the reader to choose between several predetermined directions. Rather than foster the illusion that their work is an exemplar of democratic literature, they choose to accentuate the absence of freedom in their work.
A wider view of interactivity that equates it with hacking would circumvent this view of limited possibilities. Mash-ups anyone? One of my favourites was posted in 2009 and features excerpts from lectures and presentations given at UC Berkeley and includes among others the poet Robin Blaser. The poster provides a transcript (very handy for search engines) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAKAGMtZ6BM
Lectures:
* Advancing Integrative Psychological Research on Adaptive and Healthy Aging - Session 3: Decision Making in Aging - May 21, 2009
* David Lynch: Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain - November 6, 2005
* Memristor and Memristive Systems Symposium - November 21, 2008
* 2009 Frickey Symposium - Plendary Session 1 - April 24, 2009
* The Dawn of Creation: The First Two Billion Years - Steven Beckwith - April 23, 2008
* Lunch Poems - Robin Blaser
* Conversations with History - The rise of asia and the decline of the west - Kishore Mahbubani


Script:

good morning
good evening
i'd like to welcome all of you here today

allright, so the beginning of all this was 1997
the early universe was almost all hydrogen and helium
in this roaring extend feathered wing to feathered wing
the universe is beginning to clump up and build galaxies from scratch
like an ocean of solutions, you dive in there, and these solutions come
this was the period in which you assembled the mass into galaxies
streets, subways, window, ledges
in fact the stars only account for 1/2 a percent

gods and stars and stars or totems are not game animals
incidentally i've kind of switched on you

we don't know when it hits us, but we become seekers, we start asking questions, we start getting curious
what next, you know
you can choose where to work, you can choose to buy television sets, you can choose to travel

this all turns out to be wrong
it's very very unusual to want it if you don't like it

so you see the galaxy in the center there, that doesn't look like a spiral or an elliptical, it's kind of chaotic
what you're seeing is two phases of forms of social integration
finally you see constitutional law evolving in response to political, social, and constitutional pressure
the same people who had been unproductive you know, for 100 years plus, suddenly became very productive and very dynamic
ahh, the people, the people, merely they are flesh of my flesh

but I think it's a question with more than one context

what would you do if all the lovers of your years passed by at midnight, dressed in the flesh that they wore when you last loved them
you'd be able to see the charactaristic size of these waves in an otherwise chaotic ocean
that's, that's actually kind of profound
And all that set to music: Grace by Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma.

And so for day 1293
28.06.2010