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

Revisiting Rapunzel

Stanley Kunitz in his forward to Beginning With O by Olga Broumas helpfully points out that the poems inspired by fairy tales also pay homage to Anne Sexton. As Kunitz remarks they "pay Sexton the tribute of imitating, though not without significant variation, her adaptations of fairy tales".

Take Sexton's lesbian take on Rapunzel

Give me your nether lips
all puffy with their art
and I will give you angel fire in return.
By the end of Sexton's poem the lesbian liaison is broken up. Broumas's speaker ends with the figure of a multiplication and ever more Sapphic coupling:
[...] I'll break the hush
of our cloistered garden, our harvest continuous
as a moan, the tilled bed luminous
with the future
yield. Red

vows like tulips. Rows
upon rows of kisses from all lips.
Broumas pegs as her beginning, an epigraph, the opening lines from Sexton: "A woman / who loves a woman / is forever young." Perennial. And for this I take as my text this bit from Stanley Kunitz 1977 forward
Because of their explicit sexuality and Sapphic orientation, Broumas's poems may be considered outrageous in some quarters, but I believe they are destined to achieve more than a succès de scandale. We shall all be wiser and — who knows? — maybe purer when we can begin to interpret the alphabet of the body that is being decoded here.
And so for day 1212

Anybody's Everybody

Juliana Spahr based on her reading of the autobiographies and the multilingual context of the composition of Stein's work argues that

It is not that Stein's fragmentation is in itself necessarily revolutionary, but rather that her alignment of it with immigrant and other nonstandard Englishes provides a new perspective on the ramifications of fragmentation. And most importantly, it points to the importance of linguistic patience and respect in a country where everyone might not be fully fluent.
From "'There Is No Way of Speaking English' The Polylingual Grammars of Gertrude Stein" in Everybody's Autonomy: Connective Reading and Collective Identity.

And it so happens per chance that I come across in the same day's reading a quotation from Denise Riley (The Words of Selves) as selected by Norma Cole in a talk collected in To Be At Music
Any I seems to speak for and from herself; her utterance comes from her own mouth in the first person pronoun which is hers, if only for just so long as she pronounces it. Yet as a human speaker, she knows that it's also everyone's, and that this grammatical offer of uniqueness is untrue, always snatched away. The I which speaks out from only one place is simultaneously everyone's everywhere; it's the linguistic marker of rarity but is always also aggressively democratic.
Last word to Spahr on Stein
It [Stein's work] turns populist speech patterns into art. It argues that this art which appears strange and unusual to some can have roots in the common, the everyday, can include everybody. [...] We cannot afford to overlook works that suggest alternate ways of speaking English. Or, in other words, if Stein is not the democrat that I am arguing her work suggests she could be, still there is much to be learned from the anarchic democracy of the works themselves.
One can. Learn. One did. And does.

And so for day 1211

Not Choreography

Some one sitting there could invite ghosts to dance. He was sitting there almost like being a ghost himself. Almost ascending in a wheelchair. He had switched from composition by interrogation. Almost such a lovely word. A dip from the universal all to the democratic majority of most. A peninsular word. See he was making them no inviting them to dance. To believe in some sort of fluidity even the flash of an eye lid closing upon the egregious share of every blunder. Blunder bladder it swells a dip. To be believed. That's why he would issue invitations. Who would see those invitations. Sway of hand. Mire of a conductor then dance master. Choreography is by tradition off stage. Presto.
And so for day 1210

Mapping Echoes

Jay MillAr "Author Photos" False Maps for Other Creatures.

a landscape is a line one understands
and how one stands
echoes for me bp nichol

A / LAKE / A / LANE / A / LINE / A / LONE

which is engraved in bpNichol Lane near Coach House Press.

And I am sure there is an allusion in the poem by Nelson Ball


from the chapbook published by Stuart Ross under the Proper Tales Press imprint.

And we come back to Jay MillAr who reminds us we are always
skimming a fraction
of some structure
from "Hovercraft" in False Maps for Other Creatures.

And so for day 1209

Weak Ties

Clive Thompson in Smarter Than You Think: How technology is changing our minds for the better in the chapter on "Ambient Awareness" rehearses the sociological literature on the strength of week ties; he does so along with compelling anecdotes from social networking. Let him explain:

Granovetter pointed out, your friends have an informational deficit. They're too similar. This is the principle of homophilly: Socially, we tend to be close friends with people who mirror us demographically, culturally, intellectually, politically, and professionally. This makes it easy to bond, but it also means that we drink from the same informational pool. [...] Weak ties are different. These people are, as Granovetter pointed out, further afield, so they're soaking in information we don't have and moving among people we don't know at all. [...] The ties are weak, but they are rich conduits for information.
I wonder how might this apply to the intellectual ecology of discussion lists where time and again one experiences the synapse effect — a subscriber asks someone off-list about a particular question which answer then gets reported back to the list. The human interaction "jumps" the medium. The social in social media is not in the network or platform per se but in the discussion triggered by the traces. Cloud Chambers.

And so for day 1208

Doing Things

Notes made on June 23, 2003, and now brought forward — a bringing forward, a thing we do with things.

Read a piece by Stevan Harnad "Categorization as Cognition" in which he lists five things we can do with things.

Seeing (Perceiving)
I wonder how such a typology could be made dynamic. The list can easily be shuffled. For example, in the hand written transcription that I had made earlier today I placed "manipulating" after "seeing". I can imagine manipulation in the mind's eye. Harnad's piece seems to imply an evolutionary path from sensation to language use. I think it may be off in terms of missing out on multimodal comparisons and in terms of the missing aspect of time — how before & after is accompanied by a during. I might even venture that we as humans are hard-wired for process-processing. [This is the remark that I find really interesting.] Worth revisiting Harnad's thoughts as a conversation by the four cardinal virtues.

And so for day 1207

Over Observation

Open Mind, 2014
Yoan Capote

From a blurb:

A labyrinth based on a drawing of the human brain in which people can walk through. As they walk around the maze, participants are metaphors for neurons transmitting information. This work inspires dialogue on the interrelation among people.
The Yoan Capote "brain" might be interesting from way high up from some window in the surrounding high rises — you would then see its layout. It is worth noting that from the ground, you are able to come in and wander around in any direction — the "brain" didn't have the traditionally preordained paths of a labyrinth. The cerebral part done in silver sat above the anchoring poles. I suspect that given the appropriate mass of people milling about with the requisite illumination from cellphones one could be led to reflect upon firing synapses. (I offer pictoral evidence of the crowd-brain analogy but even this documentary evidence of moving people as firing neurons would benefit from a crane shot.)

And so for day 1206

Under Observation

he would wander the halls not sure if the humming he was producing was for himself or some audience he would find beyond the doors the doors at the end of the hall a pair of doors would swing outwards into the light of another hall another hall running perpendicular to the one along which his feet now shuffled

he felt as if he never would come to the T to the junction and yet the humming matched the white noise of the fluorescent and he knew yes he knew that there was "to bend the puppet" he had shuffled down the long fluorescent hum of hall to come upon that phrase just how does one bend a puppet it's not the puppet that bends it bows the bend is in the flick of wrist a hand puppet without strings a Punch and Judy show of precarious costuming constricting a subject self by the really only means possible in an act of objectification

Makeup: he wanted to have blue nails.


And so for day 1205


Thanks to the generosity of Myrna Levy a copy of the Nelson reader Magic and Make-Believe is housed in the Lillian H. Smith Collection. Within its pages I found a delightfully engaging list of possible pets. Tagged as enriched content, the poem by Judith Lawrence of puppet fame (Casey and Finnegan from Mr. Dressup) has me hankering to inhabit the fictional world spun out of the work of Anne McCaffrey of the Dragonriders of Pern fame and there is of course that most marvellous tribute to McCaffrey by Samuel R. Delany in Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand where the hunt turns out to be connecting one's consciousness with the flying dragon which is followed afterward by the appropriate response: singing of the experience. Mind blowing. Well before all this sci-fi, I apparently soaked up an appreciation for dragons from my school reader via Judith Lawrence's poem.

The Pet for Me

Some people like a dog
To play around the house.
Some people like a kitten,
A hamster, or a mouse.
Some people keep a fish
In a bowl made of glass.
Some people like a bird
That whistles when they pass.

But I would like a dragon
With red, shinning eyes —
A friendly green dragon,
Just my size!
Wouldn't you?!

And so for day 1204