Spectral Hours Ghost Days

Jill Walker Rettberg.
Blogging

To really understand blogs, you need to read them over time. Following a blog is like getting to know someone, or like watching a television series. [...] A blog consists of more than words and images. It cannot be read simply for its writing, but is the sum of writing, layout, connections and links and the pace of publication.
Time Stamp Fiction

In short, it helps to consider timestamps as cueing devices. Timestamps begin to make sense in a series. [...]

The book Kari recommends has some very suggestive divisions. _Revolution in Time_ is divided into three parts : Finding Time, Keeping Time, Making Time. This threesome might also provide an analogy for the psychosocial aspects of those timestamps you are studying in relation to the practice of blogging. Initially they assist the blog writer (and readers) in marking the phases of an intentional practice of recurring composition. Blogging once a day in the morning or in the evening etc. The ritual becomes incorported hence finding time — the hour of the timestamp is key. Keeping Time — the timestamp helps organize the archive and retrieve entries. The day and month of the timestamp are key. Making Time — timestamps become labels for a number of traversals through a blog [...]
Accessions
Blog entries are often time stamped and dated. It is assumed by many readers that the displayed time stamp corresponds to event of composition. However the resourceful author could be publishing from a store of pre-written texts. As well, time stamps can be fudged for a variety of purposes. [...] If accounting is to telling, could collecting be to accessing? In a sense blogging is a redistributive activity. By playing with the partitions, the user, be they writer, reader or viewer, affect the nature of redistributive activity. [...] Gives new expression to the phrase "blogging on borrowed time."

http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/jardin/html/invertTEIblog.htm#user111


Blog as TARDIS

Any room can become a time machine. A lesson taught to us by reading Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.

First series of never ending looks future-wards 1, 2, 3, ...
Then as I child I learnt of integers and the doubleness of lines ... -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...
And then the numbers between 3.2, 3.3, ... 4.0

Each day then has many more than 24 hours.
It has mine, yours and theirs.
There are hours within hours.
Work. Series. Work.
Stories.

And so for day 383
31.12.07 23:59
01.01.08 00:01

Signs Signs Signs

Inspired by Words in the Wild at Words in the Wild here are some intriguing examples of Toronto signage and in once case graffiti.

I like the name of the shop and the round gear-wheel motif of the Bikes on Wheels sign.
Night club for vampires? BITE overhanging the entrance

A new take on getting close: "Pedestrians Must Adhere To Traffic Personnel"

A banner for a lounge with literary allusions (No one writes to the Colonel)

A dentist in the market under a rainbow sign of united smiles

Doughnuts with graphic flare

Wallful of Frankfurter fun

Skull and Bones coffee in an appropriately named Grindhouse

A bit flared by the light coming through the trees on this side street which boasts a unisex hair design under the moniker of Hairsay

Lilliput Hats for all sizes and styles

For a different head trip, head to Head 2 Head

The stylized K of Hooked, the fish shop, catches the eye

On a fence in a park, this ode to the Maple Tree

Transcription = "My maple tree / Is neat to climb, / And there's a special / Branch of mine / Where I can perch / And not be seen, / And watch the world / Go by, and dream."
Back to the coffee theme with the Moonbean

If you know your Latin, you will connect image and word for the Mosca Boutique

The juxtaposition of a Dollarama sign with the graffito on the next building brings to mind filthy lucre. Got to love the spelling: PHILTH

Poetry, a jazz cafe, deserves two shots. One for the mural and one for the name.


Rasta Pasta for Jamaican and Italian fare

Book and record store whose name is inspired by lyrics by Fifth Column: She Said Boom!

Industrial drinking? at Thirsty & Miserable, Purveyors of Fine Ales

Vicki'z at ease with possessive marks


Some are gone some still there. Signs everywhere.

And so for day 382
31.12.2007

The Company They Keep

On the hunt for Queer Art in Public Space (Outside Galleries) in Toronto.

Andy Fabo in response to a query about queer art in public spaces referenced Douglas Coupland's Monument to the War of 1812 (2008) in Toronto, which enlarges toy soldiers to monumental scale. It certainly can be given a camp reading.

Next on the list is perhaps obvious. The statue of Alexander Wood (unveiled in 2005) sculpted by Del Newbigging (1934-2012).

A whole parkette is devoted to Frances Loring & Florence Wyle. It features four works, including a bust of Loring by Wyle, and one of Wyle by Loring. The The Girls live on in the lesbian imagination of Toronto and Canada.

And the Public Studio team of Tamira Sawatzky & Elle Flanders launch in June 2014 Full Spectrum, a three-dimensional wall mural for World Pride 2014.

Full Spectrum is a three-dimensional mural that changes depending on the angle from which it is viewed. It incorporates a spectrum of colours on one side referencing both the LGBT community rainbow as well as the full spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Viewed from the opposite end, Full Spectrum becomes a midnight blue with reflective elements, representing the candlelight vigils held in the memory of members of the LGBT community who died from AIDS in the city in the 1980s.
Sometimes the celebratory and commemorative take on a permanent form such as the AIDS Memorial. Sometimes the interventions have been of an ephemeral in situ pop-up nature (one thinks of General Idea's AIDS poster referencing Robert Indiana's LOVE which at once time blanketed the city).

The lines between commercial art, agit-prop and street art blur when one considers the Valentine's Day display in 2011 at Holt Renfrew. Pucker Up was its theme.

Not just Toronto. Consider the 2003 window display at Riverwalk Comme Ça store in Kitakyushu that featured according to the accompanying text representations of families with same sex parents (documented by Ed Pas). As ever much depends upon the reading and context building.

And so for day 381
30.12.2007

Resetting Three Pieces by Robert Kroetsch

These three passage from two separate articles from Robert Kroetsch's The Lovely Treachery of Words tell a story about story telling and the English-Canadian experience.

First from "The Exploding Porcupine"

That contribution [Ondaatje's] is story. But story of a special sort. For if the ceremonies of death are diminished, if we are, in some strange way, archaeologists, grave-robbers, then we must make of that violent act a new kind of story. A story that honours the mystery.
Then from "Learning the Hero from Northrup Frye"
It was Frye who articulated (in every sense) my suspicion that no story can be told only once, that a story to be a story at all must be a retelling of itself, and, at the same time, a retelling of a story that it can no longer be, because of that very retelling. At the impossible centre of this maze of story is the impossible story that once and forever decentres all story into periphery.
And again from "Learning the Hero from Northrup Frye" where Kroetsch contrasts the situations where the American begins in rupture; the Canadian starting ever again in continuity
But at its best, this same unrevolutionary predicament, this absence that destroys the metaphor of birth and its attendant narrative, frees us from the appalling ignorance celebrated by that birth, celebrates instead our life-inspiring decadence. Coming always to the end, we are free, always, to salvage ourselves, not by severance, but by the lovely treachery of words.
A new kind of story deserves a new type of decadence and both turn round the decentring centre. Paradox as productive. Strange expansion from the diminishing of ceremony.

And so for day 380
29.12.2007

Tergiversation

John Ashbery in "The Bungalows" in The Double Dream of Spring announces

We shall very soon have the pleasure of recording
A period of unanimous tergiversation in this respect
And it so happens he ends the poem thus
For standing still means death, and life is moving on,
Moving on towards death. But sometimes standing still is also life.
And this is how we breathe life into poetry, by our pauses.

And so for day 379
28.12.2007

Gratitude & Attitude

It was part of a work-related self-esteem workshop. We were asked to write down five things we are grateful for in life. I tend to resist being social-worked but once I wrote the first the others came swiftly.

my lover
our house
our garden
our 30 something years of memories
years ahead
Then we shared. Ah, coming out all over again. (Not sure everyone in our little group knew or wanted to know.)

Coming out again and again. Every mention is like a little bit of flaunting. So be it. It is a struggle to be unselfconscious. Sometimes delivery is smooth. Sometimes there's an edge.

Regardless, I am brought to meditate upon questions of style and the accommodations of another generation.

W.H. Auden begins "Dichtung and Wahrheit (An Unwritten Poem) with the following observation and wish:
Expecting your arrival tomorrow, I find myself thinking I love You: then comes the thought: — I should like to write a poem which would express exactly what I mean when I think these words.
He continues with a self-directed demand:
of any poem written by myself, my first demand is that it be genuine, recognizable, like my handwriting, as having been written, for better or worse, by me.
For me pronouns matter. He-to-he. Or is it words like "lover"? Marking a relationship as sexual and passionate. Definitely claiming our own terms.

And so for day 378
27.12.2007

Image Machine Book

No pagination. No one expects a graphic novel to be quoted. Pagination would ruin the layout and design.

Coach House Books is reissuing The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James.

The disposition of the pages is important not only to the images but also to the flow of the words... For example, this greets the reader. I quote from the left-side of a two page layout:

erupting yet again against that featureless facade ... repeating all its infinite convulsions slowly, as if each tiny splash had been halted in its course, pinned down, examined and dissected ...
and the imaginative space occupied by this observation seems to continue on the right-side, almost as if by way of an answer...
its flight meticulously recorded in the hope that, when assembled, these fluctuating observations would somehow serve to reconstruct and ultimately illuminate that thing whose very nature defied examination ...
One almost thinks that what is being described is the object at hand: oneiric layers captured in codex form. Later one comes across this pair. Again beginning with the left-side of a two page spread (though there is no reason to begin with the left except custom).
... wooden framework skilfully constructed with a craftmanship almost excessively meticulous considering the brutality of its purpose ... all joints precisely dove-tailed (where nails would suffice), reinforced with polished metal plates (square, as always) (themselves engraced with labyrinthine patterns) and all its surfaces lacquered like a gleaming brittle sheath ...
And again an almost answer from the right side.
less an actual machine than an odd and enigmatic abstraction, totally unnatural, its utility obscured and isolated from the encroaching vegetation ...
Abstract machine?

And so for day 377
26.12.2007

Intestinal Intertextuality

A whole chapter of Saints and Scholars by Terry Eagleton is devoted to a description of Dublin. This bit might remind you of James Joyce's Ulysses.

The Irish style of defecation would be regular and efficient, brief in duration to avoid anal eroticism; children would be taught to regulate their bowels like Gaels, not shit as Sassenachs.
For some reason, I thought of the scene at the conclusion of Chapter Four of Ulysses where Bloom is relieving himself in the privy while reading. And as Eagleton continues the description of Dublin and its inhabitants, we get the wink:
Each morning Finbar would watch one of his neighbours in Eccles Street, a jowlish shabby-genteel Jew much berated by his blowsy wife, set off in bowler hat and stiff white collar to circle the city as some kind of commercial agent, before returning each evening to be insulted again.
All this in passing ...

And so for day 376
25.12.2007

Delicate Declining

Getting turned down in literary fashion...

At Andrebrook Alice at last found a friend who shared her intellectual and artistic passions. She and Janet sometimes stayed up all night together, talking and painting. One night they got illicitly drunk and Janet let Alice put an arm around her. But when Alice tried to kiss her, she pushed her away and wrote on a scrap of paper, "No, no, go not to Lethe, neither drink ..."

It was years before Alice read Keats and recognized the quote, but the words haunted her. [She made a watercolour incorporating the words.]
Interesting to note that the word "drink" doesn't appear in Keats Ode on Melancholy though it is implied in all the references to sipping and imbibing. What makes this misquotation interesting in the context of a pass and its refusal is the word that "drink" occludes — "twist". And the sentence continues on the next line in which reference is made to the poisonous wolfsbane (aconite or monkshood) ...
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
        Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
For more on Alice's adventures and her writing career, see Julie Phillips, James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon.

And so for day 375
24.12.2007

Trigger Words

Seamus Heaney devotes one of his Oxford lectures (The Redress of Poetry) to Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. It is an honest assessment of the poem's aesthetic merits and faults. However one sentence glistens for me.

Wilde's own public humiliation is recalled with great economy in his invocation of the 'black dock's dreadful pen', and his preference for 'the holy night' over 'the shameful day' maintains a defence of the homoerotic life in face of the world's total rejection.
On the surface this appears as a simple description of parti pris but the gorgeousness in which the observation is couched must perforce lead the reader to side with Wilde. There is something generous here especially for those fighting the world's rejection. So much pivots on seeing that word "homoerotic" in print, in an Oxford lecture.

I am not alone in experiencing Heaney's generous spirit. Witness the American poet Henri Cole's as he records another moment of surprise
Over the years, I took many things he said under advisement. When I published my fourth collection of poetry, The Visible Man, I was worried it would be narrowly defined by its gay content, but Seamus objected, using the word “arena” — the arena of human emotion, he called it — which is where all good poems must operate, rather than catering to special interests. I didn’t expect this from the son of an Irish cattle dealer.
Cole's piece about his friendship with Heaney first appeared in Death by Pad Thai: And Other Unforgettable Meals. A later version appeared in the New Republic as a tribute.

And so for day 374
23.12.2007

Marlene Creates

She lives up to her name. I am simply entranced by the description of one work. You get the feel of it.

Text from the Signs of Our Times exhibition catalogue, 2005. The exhibition was a retrospective traveling show of Marlene Creates's work.

My project is a photo-installation inspired by the geography and diversity of current land use around the edge of St. John's Harbour.

[...] Around St. John's harbour the range of human activity is quite remarkable. Some the features represented in the photographs include: the generating station; the fish plant; the fuel storage tanks; the dockyard; the downtown; the fishing village with its domestic architecture and fishing stages; and, overlooking the entrance to the harbour, the headland which is now a national historic park.

[...] Each pair of photographs is mounted on a plexiglass panel the size of a door and lit from behind. The seven panels stand in the shipping container leaning against the walls, three on each long side and one at the end. A map of St. John's Harbour, with the surrounding land and sea, is centred on the floor, oriented to the photographs. The order of the photographs around the shipping container coincides with the contour of the harbour so that the visitor standing in the container is presented with a coherent portrait of many natural and human features that encircle St. John's Harbour.
Around the Water's Edge, St. John's Harbour, Newfoundland 1995 for Container 96 - Art Across Oceans, Copenhagen, Cultural Capital of Europe, 1996.

What is entrancing (enticing?) is the use of the shipping container and the panorama display with the map orientations. The quotidian landscape is given a scaled dimension which for me is a source of enchantment. It is a testament to the clarity of the description. I haven't seen the piece in person.

And so for day 373
22.12.2007

Perception Reproduction

On aesthetic objects and their production/consumption in a world saturated by digital artefacts and traces:

consider that the manipulation of an object, digital or otherwise, can be witnessed by others synchronously either in person or at a distance.

consider that the moves of the manipulating can be recorded and thus affording a measure of asynchronous sharing.

consider that manipulations and records of manipulation serve to open to study alternative paths (undo a number of steps and follow a different set of manipulations)...

we can go backwards and forwards. this is where the virtual resides: in the set of interpretations (moves) that are attached to the object of interpretation regardless of its digital status.

we might now ask how does the change in the quantity of records (as well as metadata) affect the shape of the social space in which the records circulate in particular the deployment of expertise and authority...
This set of notes arose out of a contribution to a thread on Humanist. What began as an inquiry into modelling and the thing represented has morphed into a meditation on the aesthetic object.

And so for day 372
21.12.2007

Honouring

Mona Oikawa writes towards the end of "My life is not imagined: Notes on writing as a Sansei lesbian feminist" about her father's experience of loss and how it informs her practice.

I remember a story told to me by my father. He is standing in the empty room of his old boarding house in Vancouver. He has come to look for his belongings that were left in this room before the Canadian government forced him to go to a work camp in Ontario in 1942. 'Clothes do not matter,' he says to himself. 'But my writing. My composition of music and lyrics, where did they go?' 'Losing my writing was one of my greatest losses,' he told me over and over again.

I can never retrieve those writings for my father. But in my mind I return to that room and others like it, where creative searching spirits tell stories and give me comfort and support.
There is quietly a possible temporal shift here in imagining creative searching spirits at work and play in a time before trauma if we think that the return is to a time before the father's return to a site of loss and yet even if it is a return to emptiness there is the speaking of story. But the lesbian Sansei feminist does not leave us to dwell here long for in the next paragraph she is marking time: "1992 marks the five hundredth year of resistance by First Nations people to the invasion of their land."

To be found in All Names Spoken poetry and prose by Tamai Kobayashi and Mona Oikawa.

And so for day 371
20.12.2007

Flight Arrested and Prolonged

It is a splendidly gorgeous title. Tell Me Again How the White Heron Rises and Flies Across the Nacreous River at Twilight Toward the Distant Islands — a collection of poems by Hayden Carruth in which there appears this ending to a poem entitled "Of Distress Being Humiliated by the Classical Chinese Poets" ...

Reality is an impasse. Tell me again
How the white heron rises from among the reeds and flies forever
         across the nacreous river at twilight
Toward the distant islands.
In situ, the lines have the heron rising "from among the reeds"; the title simply has the white heron rise. And in the poem the heron flies "forever". In the title the motion takes place in space towards the distant islands but there is no hint that the action takes an untoward time.

We are not asked to ascertain which is better: the title or the poem's concluding lines. But are we to arrive at some arresting image of flight? Are we to remember Keat's Ode on a Grecian Urn and be reconciled to the heron as a beloved depiction in a scene of some imagined ekphrasis? Lending thereby all the more freight to that echoing "how".

And so for day 370
19.12.2007

North Never Lost

Robert Kroetsch in "The Canadian Writer and the American Literary Tradition" collected in The Lovely Treachery of Words: Essays Selected and New makes the case for a pervasive and flexible idea of north.

This silence — this impulse towards the natural, the uncreated, if you will — is summed up by the north. The north is not a typical American frontier, a natural world to be conquered and exploited. Rather, in spite of inroads, it remains a true wilderness, a continuing presence. We don't want to conquer it. Sometimes we want it to conquer us. And we don't have to go there literally in order to draw sustenance from it, any more than the American had to go literally to the west. It presses southward into the Canadian consciousness.
Reminds me of the 1967 radio piece by Glenn Gould The Idea of North where approximately 49 minutes in, one of the informants muses
[...] in the North we can find out so much [...] The North is universal. It's a universal environment, you know. The North makes you look at things on the global scale.
Some twenty minutes earlier (at mark 29) we were treated to the notion of north as process: not so much finding as seeking. It is a theme that recurs not in so many words but in the attitude that our informants come to represent.

Mary Jo Watts has produced a very useful transcript of most of The Idea of North. See https://sites.google.com/site/ggfminor/home/idea-of-north-transcript.

And so for day 369
18.12.2007

Cross-Referencing the Competition

David Trinidad has a section near the end of "Essay with Moveable Parts" (collected in Plasticville) which converts the author into a doll which in a piece devoted to commenting on collections of Barbies and Troll Dolls is not surprising but the allusion to this particular author brings obsession of collecting close to pill (doll) popping addiction ...

This is the doll,
JACQUELINE SUSANN,
who wrote

VALLEY
OF THE
DOLLS

which has been Number One on The New York Times
bestseller list for 28 consecutive
weeks — 8 weeks longer than The Group or
Exodus — 10 weeks more than Peyton Place or
Hawaii — 15 weeks longer than Marjorie Moringstar!
Everything you've heard about it is true!
The Group is by Mary McCarthy
Exodus is by Leon Uris
Peyton Place is by Grace Metalious.
Hawaii is by James A. Michener
Marjorie Moringstar is by by Herman Wouk

I make no claims as to what may happen once ingested.

And so for day 368
17.12.2007

Reading the Index Finding Treasure

In these days of full text searching, the reading of indices is no longer an habitual activity. It is not however difficult to appreciate the indices prepared with the care and preserved in tomes such as The Book of Knowldge: The Children's Encyclopedia Volume XX (1929).

Following on the standard alphabetical index and the poetry index (by author and first lines), is the "School-Subject Guide" which has an "Applied Science and Industry" section which has as its first subsection one devoted to "Food and Its Sources". Its listing reads like a found poem.

A Grain of Salt
How Coffee Comes to Us
How Fish and Oysters are Taken
How Flour is Made
The Story in a Tea-cup
Where Sugar Comes From
The Worlds' Bread and Butter
Bees and Wasps (The makers of the purest sugar)
Crabs, Lobsters and Their Kin
The Great Cattle Family (Animals that feed and clothe us)
[...]
The "Food and Its Sources" subsection continues with a list of Things to Make which references recipes and experiments found throughout the volumes of the encyclopedia and that listing is followed by Wonder Questions.
What makes us hungry?
Does the brain need food?
Why do we cook our food?
[...]
Trolling through the index is like reading a map, imagining where to go. With Volume and Page Number functioning like a URL. And easily absorbing time and attention.

And so for day 367
16.12.2007

Convivium

"By the River Cousin"
in Death by Pad Thai and Other Unforgettable Meals ed. by Douglas Bauer.

Claire Messud doesn't remember the details of the food served (it was good) but she does recall with warmth the harmonious intercourse of the guests.

We sat at a table beneath an old and spreading tree at the river's edge. The cloth was pristine, the crystal sparkling, but the birds twittered over our heads and the burble of the water ran constant at our backs. As we ate, the night slowly fell around us, and our features were melted, simplified, in the flickering candlelight: we became kinder, easier, more benevolent. Delighted by the novelty and grace of it all, we simply, unselfconsciously enjoyed ourselves together. The river, in the dark, sounded louder, our voices softer, more mellifluous. The evening air had not a hint of chill, nor was it too warm. It did not blow, but breathed, like an intimate. It was as you would wish a summer evening air.
Much of this description is based on atmospherics but the thrust is the gentle accord of the party. Sensuality and sociability both contributing to communal pleasure.

And so for day 366
15.12.2007

Service

Propaganda of sorts. Projection in the labour force dynamics of the future.

But is was still good work. A man wasn't a Luddite because he worked for people instead of abstractions. The green technologies demanded more intelligence, more reason, more of the engineer's true gift. Because they went against the blind momentum of a dead century, with all its rusting monuments of arrogance and waste. . . .
[ellipsis in original] invitation to ponder ...
Bruce Sterling. "Green Days in Brunei" in Crystal Express. (1989).

And so for day 365
14.12.2007

Imagining Endings with Wriggling

"At Thomas Merton's Grave" by Spencer Reece in The Road to Emmaus begins....

We can never be with loss too long.
And now an ending...
It is disagreeable, to tend your garden, on your knees,
With the sensation of tending millions of graves.
Douglas Dunn concluding "A European Dream" in The Year's Afternoon.

I like how the one brings us into a meditative space of lingering while the other promptly introduces an ick-factor. Although nothing in the words explicitly points to the dead (insect?) life found in rich humus and fertile soil I have seen many sowbugs and centipedes crawl so that any graves mentioned in a garden context are strangely animated.

And so for day 364
13.12.2007

Annotating Double Takes

Natty Bumppo is a name I first encountered in John Bruner's The Shockwave Rider where a very intelligent dog is so named. That dog at one point encounters a mountain lion named Bagheera whose name I recognized from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. It is only a long time after reading Bruner's novel that I came across the mention of Natty Bumppo in Salman Rushdie's Tanner Lectures (collected in Step Across This Line). The passage in the Rushdie lecture is about the American West and the name Natty Bumppo appears without explanation and one can determine from context (the name appears in the company of the name Davy Crockett) that we are dealing with a hero of some sort. And so curiosity piqued I was rewarded by a revisioning of the encounter between dog and mountain lion as between Kipling and James Fenimore Cooper, author of the novels collective known as Leatherstocking Tales. As a Canadian Wolf Cub in my youth, it is not surprising I got the reference to Kipling and perhaps excusable that the Leatherstocking reference eluded me. Obviously there's been a gap in my education which I must mend. If not for Bruner my reading of Rushdie would not have resulted in a wee bit of research — all the more power to the checking-it-out reflex triggered by the I've-seen-that-before moment.

And so for day 363
12.12.2007

Hugo on Voltaire and in passing on Christ

I had somehow come to know of the shortest verse in the Bible. It is only much much later that I have learnt of the rejoinder.

The shortest verse in the King James Version of the Bible is only two words long. Here, in its intense entirety, is the Gospel According to St. John, 11:35: "Jesus wept." Victor Hugo, taken with the image of the tearful Christ, elaborated in 1878: "Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization." It is said that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus smile.
John Robert Colombo in the preface to Worlds in Small. One of course must be careful not to read that Voltaire smiled because Jesus wept.

And so for day 362
11.12.2007

urban cubes

Approaching Montreal from the Maritimes, the speaker of "from the ocean, inland" in Matt Robinson's A Ruckus of Awkward Stacking reminds me of Frye encountering the contours of Quebec City.

on approach montreal is a spilt pallet
of cardboard boxes, bleaching in the sun.
This recalls for me views of Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67.

Image Source: Wladyslaw


And so for day 361
10.12.2007

Apostate Beetles

There are two poems some pages apart but both touching upon the theme of consuming or eating in Mary Di Michele's first book of poetry Tree of August. The first poem describes the labours and predation of the buffalo beetle (dermestes vulpinus). These particular specimens are at work in the Royal Ontario Museum where in the opening stanzas they eat the carcass of a camel and are considered "prized employees". But they are ravenous and this is how the poet describes the turn to other feeding.

But some grow greedy on camel grease
and acquire a more exotic taste
for mummies, well aged and smoked
beyond the steel doors.
They attack other "delicacies"
until they are force-fed fumigation
and die, professionals.
And we come some pages later to "Sunday Dinner" where a father berates a daughter and the scene gets caught up in the ironies of transubstantiation.
I remember how the eucharist
used to stick to the roof
of my mouth, a gummy wafer
I had to peel back with my tongue.

Some things will not be swallowed.
From the depiction of the spoils of omnivorous scavenging to the gesture of refusal, the theme of appetite bites and deserves to be digested.

And so for day 360
09.12.2007

Gathering Flowers

Its etymology partakes of the botanical. Its practice, of specimen gathering. Who cares why?

Michael McFee in "Anthologizing" (Epoch, Volume 62, Number 1 - 2013) does.

One of Robert Pinsky's excellent pieces of advice for young writers is: "Make your own personal anthology." This exercise requires you to (1) read widely and carefully; (2) select thirty to fifty of your absolute favorite poems; (3) type each one of them out—a lot to ask, in these online copy-and-paste days, but a great manual way to learn things about how the poem's words work on the page; (4) figure out how to organize them.

I've used this assignment a few times with my students, and added a fifth requirement: (5) write an introduction to your anthology that gives the reader an idea of why you chose and arranged as you did. The results have been most enlightening, for anthologist and teacher. Could and should "Anthologizing" be a course in creative writing programs, at whatever level, an extended and very instructive lesson in how this corner of the literary garden is tended?
Blogging differs from anthology making because of the open set nature of the serial. A blog seems more open to the aleatory. At any point there may be a divergence or the introduction of innovations (meatless recipes once a week, a run on biographies of Canadian poets, a set of notes on the art of translation, pictures of favourite bookmarks from defunct bookstores). An anthology seems closed by nature. There is an air of exclusivity hence McFee's calls for justification of principles. Blogging demands persistence; anthology making demands insistence.

And so for day 359
08.12.2007

Little Breeze Lifting Hair

Robyn Sarah in The Essential Don Coles has collected one of his marvels — a portrait of a young son at play at the seashore and the play of the breeze in his hair. All by itself the image is conveyed with lightness and gentle repetition however Coles's pretty picture gains by a telescoping of time in the last lines:

a little breeze passing by
on its way to oblivion —
as this day is on its way there too,
and as that day, twenty years ago,
was, too.
Go see how Coles captures the child's laughter. The whole poem, "My Son at the Seashore, Age two", is available online at http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/coles/poem2.htm along with others.

And so for day 358
07.12.2007

Twist Turn Buzz

Epictetus may for a single passage in The Enchiridion sport the title of camp philosopher. As proof here I quote from the translation by Thomas W. Higginson in the Liberal Arts Press edition.

If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone."
What looks like a trick of rhetoric that leads to some sage advice is also a theme of Ricardo Sternberg's "The Bees" collected in Some Dance. The poem ends with these lines:
Teach your vengeful bees
the trick (or is it wisdom?)

that allows them to distill
from the thorn of grievance,
the sweetest honey.
Certainly a stoic take on apiary business which may not align with the facts of pollen and nectar yet is sweet nonetheless.

Sugary camp acid.

And so for day 357
06.12.2007

Glass Box Towers

Matthew Holmes concludes the four part "Starling's Law of the Heart" in Hitch with a contemplation of the human and the urban condition.

Inside, the hiss of the air was on, circulating something warm through the building. Down the street he could see a few people in other offices: standing at their windows, walking by. Each building housing its own season, opposite to the one outside. Each person somewhere else, or in another time.
Bringing to mind last lines from John Ashbury in the fourth (but not last) of his "French Poems" in The Double Dream of Spring.
And finally and above all the great urban centers, with
Their office buildings and populations, at the center of which
We live our lives, made up of a great quantity of isolated instants
So as to be lost at the heart of a multitude of things.
And be found again by the tenuous link of words.

And so for day 356
05.12.2007

Visual and Biological

One imagines festivals like Burning Man. One imagines the lost world of labyrinth walking. Tracing a path as a means not to forget.

These thoughts were inspired by Bruce Brown "Memory Maps and the Nazca" in Reframing Consciousness where he revisits the landscape of ancient Peru to draw us into a practice of cultural transmission formidable in its scope ...

The most dramatic example example of this process can be seen in the gigantic drawings made by earlier Nazca cultures on their desert pampas. These enormous images of birds, animals and fish were not intended to be looked at by some other being. They were intended to be transported from desert surface into the memory landscape of each person. A closer look will show that each drawing is made from one continuous line. Each a processional route to be walked, not to be looked at or seen. And the proportions of each line conformed to the digital mnemonic of all other structures in the culture. By walking over the surface of each symbol, the digital information it contained would be transported into the memory of each person with the images finally being held within the landscape of memory.
The explanation of the Nazca lines bolsters the take later in the article on the transition from oral to literate culture in the west (a take that eschews that brand of technodeterminism that one associates with McLuhan).
The invention of the printing press also saw the end of a tradition whereby objects and buildings were seen as texts. For example, it was no longer necessary for the side of a bowl or the wall of a church or cathedral to visualise a story from the Bible when it could be read in book form. So the role of objects and images as carriers of knowledge began to decline. And this gradual loss of our capacity to handle visual language resulted in a progressive erosion of our ability to design and navigate biological memory.
Pattern recognition, implanting information in the pattern, retrieval. What seems to mediate visual language and biological memory is tactile or kinesthetic manipulation. Famous slogan: "Let your fingers do the walking". Automatism. Even stronger associations can be built with tactile and sonic processing of visual material. Mantra. Mandala. Mala. (Keyboard, screen, speakers). A constant sensory translation to register what is not to be forgotten.

And so for day 355
04.12.2007

Parts, Patches, Processes

Nathalie Stephens At Alberta.

We are invited to partake of the morcellement of language.

Translation, from the Latin, translates, for 'carried across'. What we carry must be lifted and borne. What we carry risks further disintegration in the course of its passage. (Further because, before even we arrive at the threshold of the text, on a verge of translation, the process of decay is already begun. It precedes us and exceeds us). None of it remains intact. Not the text from which we borrow, not that which we maim. Nor the body, our own, and the many others, that fall to pieces as we come into contact with them.
How out of this falling to pieces, this disintegration to dust, is one to come upon an ethics of translation (as is the goal of the essay)? Stephens introduces a self-organising element. The pieces trace a circuitry.
However ironically, these dislocations, these strange temperaments and temptations, actually enable encounter; they enable the expression of desire, which traverses the body into the text, through innumberable interchangeable intersecting circuits that entangle one with other, such that in touching through text to the other, we touch, not just ourselves — onanistically, sometimes self-destructively — but the untouched untouchable part that awaits, seductively, undecidably.
And I am left to ponder the links between infinite regression, apophenia and the emergence of consciousness. How very like a piece is a connection. Object relations.

And so for day 354
03.12.2007

On Sharing

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples built its report around four principles: Recognition, Respect, Sharing and Responsibility.

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1307458586498/1307458751962

The description of "sharing" harkens to discussions of sustainability and good stewardship.

During the nineteenth century, the prevailing viewpoint held that relations of economic co-operation can evolve and be maintained through calculations of immediate self-interest alone. This outlook stands in contrast to an older view, held by Aboriginal people and early administrators alike, that forms of economic co-operation can evolve and be sustained only with a strong element of sharing. In this view, the participants in an economic exchange see themselves not only as calculators of immediate advantage but also as partners engaged in relations of mutual benefit and reciprocity over time.
The report moves from historical considerations and continues with a description of a modern outlook:
The partners lookout for their long-term shared interests and shape their conduct accordingly. If this dimension of sharing is overlooked, the acid of ingratitude may corrode the social fabric. In more recent times, the dimension of "sociability", as it is called, has once again come to be recognized as an essential aspect of the highly complex relations involved in modern forms of economic and political co-operation.
Ecosystem view of relationships...

And so for day 353
02.12.2007

Embedded Interactivity

The encyclopedia entry (Americana, Canadian Edition 1960) contains its own how to instructions. How to build a table to illustrate seasons and months.

Revolutionary Calendar, a calendar adopted during the French Reign of Terror. It was decreed on Nov. 24, 1793, to commence from the foundation of the French republic, Sept. 22, 1792. The 12 months were Vendémiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire, Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose, Germinal, Floréal, Prairial, Mesidor, Fervidor or Thermidor, and Fructidor. The first three constituted autumn, the second three winter, the third spring and the fourth three summer. Napoleon I restored the old system Dec. 31, 1805.
Notice how the entry writer avoids "third three".
Autumn:Vendémiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire
Winter:Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose
Spring:Germinal, Floréal, Prairial
Summer:Mesidor, Thermidor, Fructidor
I like how the suffix indicates season. And no traces of Roman emperors (July and August).

And so for day 352
01.12.2007

Eroding Emergence

From The Islands by Louise Cotnoir translated by Oana Avasilichioaei.

Place can't escape
Weathering
Words no longer write
On cave walls
To azure lakes
They float on the screen
Take this poetic excerpt which seems to evoke digital decay and bit dust and most importantly a sort of reassembly. Set it beside this description of modelling in AI and you almost get a plateau effect à la Deleuze and Guattari.
The model for artificial intelligence was altered from one based on thinking processes to one grounded in behaviors. Rather than creating a system that would move through a 'sense-model-plan-act' (consciousness emulation) sequence, a number of rudimentary but tightly coupled sensor-actuator behaviors were run in parallel with simple asynchronous communications between them. This is a stroke of pragmatic brilliance for it allowed for the testing and debugging of a number of simple behaviors which, once perfected, could be left untouched while attention was turned to higher order structures that are concerned with the mediation or coordination between simple behaviors in order to produce a more complex activity. It was assumed that there would be conflicting information, missed communications, and the occasional failure of a mechanism or behavior module. But, the failure of a single element wouldn't bring the whole robot to a halt, although it may have to revert to a more primitive level of behavior or adjust itself to the loss of a sensor. Modularity and robustness are central to this approach.
Ted Krueger "Like a Second Skin" (c. 1996) originally accessed from http://comp.uark.edu/~tkrueger/metadermis/meta.html where it was housed when he was the E. Fay Jones Visiting Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture, University of Arkansas- Fayetteville. Now Lost ... but one conducts a search and finds a similarly named piece by Ted Krueger appearing in Integrating Architecture Spiller, Neil (ed.) Architectural Design Profile no. 131, December 1996. This bibliographic detail is to be found in Reframing Consciousness: Art, mind and technology edited by Roy Ascott. If it were not for erosion of one resource I would not have stumbled upon what appears to be a very interesting collection. Dancing in the particles of the screen.

And so for day 351
30.11.2007

Beyond the Light Pollution

D.G. Jones gave us stars by fire

Li Bai (Li Po) gives us stars by water.

In sunshine, Censer Peak breathes purple mist.
A jutting stream, the cataract hangs in spray
Far off, then plunges down three thousand feet —
As if the sky had dropped the Milky Way.
"The Waterfall at Lu Shan" rendered into English by Vikram Seth in Three Chinese Poets.

The enjambement "hangs in spray / Far off" gives to the piece the added frisson of proximity to the precipice.

And so for day 350
29.11.2007

Sidereal Aspirations

Robin Skelton ends the last of the four sections of "Four Inscriptions" in Landmarks with an appeal beyond the vagaries of posterity.

No-one is listening.
It does not matter.

I am making something
for far stars.
This reminds me of a poem by Li Bai (Li Po) "Drinking Alone with the Moon" where the speaking voice is left by itself when moon and shadow depart and in this rendering by Vikram Seth (Three Chinese Poets) left to anticipate a meeting far off among the stars of the Milky Way.
Let's pledge — beyond human ties — to be friends,
And meet where the Silver River ends.
Tone between the two poets is different but the sentiment to look to the future despite prospects is the same.

And so for day 349
28.11.2007

Micro-Pangs

The one side of the layout is a micro-narrative. On the other side is a brief sartorial description and a note about what the spotted person is reading. At times the micro-narraitve offers a pastiche of what the spotted person has been seen reading.

Of my favourites is this "After Joe Brainard" rifting on Brainard's I Remember and whose micro-narrative ends with a contemplation of the signs of loss

He remembers his bare toes touching the cold floor, how once it would be followed by a warm hand on the back of his neck.

He remembers the empty drawers, one less toothbrush, and the extra set of keys taking up space in his loose change bowl.
And Wilson is adorable in playing with Nabokov's Lolita with a sighting of a 60 year old paired with micro-narrative entitled "Of Age" [which title offers me a hint of a Francis Bacon Essay "A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time."] and Wilson turns with a note of herzschmerz to this end
He thinks of him like a little brother, these first few months out of the closet so crucial. He considers himself Trevor's life coach — save for that first fumble in the back seat before he knew how young he was.
Julie Wilson. Seen Reading.

And so for day 348
27.11.2007

Designing for Mutability

The imperative is identified.

the need to make design as fluid as possible so that it can pour across the wires into the unpredictable receptacles, rhythms, and ultimately the lives of others.
Alan Liu is here referencing material accessed through the Web. What he here describes in The Laws of Cool can also be valid if in a more limited sense for print and television. The key is the accommodation of rhythm. And this design principle can even be extended to theatre hacking by Olivier Choinière or imagine a stroll through the Oakville Galleries in the Gariloch Gardens with the Janet Cardiff's A Large Slow River (2000). Life presents us with opportunities to resize, delay, pause, in short mashable moments, and as the description of the Cardiff piece says "Our attention is fixed on listening and imagining. Synchronistic events also play with our understanding of reality as events and scenes described on her CD coincidentally come together in the physical world." And as any meditator can tell you — sounds occur in one's head often unbidden.

And so for day 347
26.11.2007

Slack

Looseness in the system is what allows work to get done.

In his authoritative Information Payoff: the Transformation of Work in the Electronic Age (1985), Paul A. Strassmann observes that there is an enormous amount of invisible slack in routine knowledge work. On the one hand, such slack is clearly inefficient: "The real world of the office is full of delays, miscommunications, errors, and changes. ... For instance, tracking a simple four-page bulletin informing the field sales force about a minor change in pricing policy can reveal a surprisingly complex train of events." But on the other hand, Strassmann argues, trying to rationalize all office work to the point where even complex tasks are programmed into information technology is "an unreasonable objective" because many tasks are unprogrammable. Indeed, unprogrammability is crucial to "informality," which amounts to no less than a whole parallel work flow that gets things done precisely by circumventing unrealistic or inappropriate standards, procedures, protocols, and programs. In one office Strassmann studied in minute detail, for example, only 12 percent of transactions could be accounted for as part of the formal system of work; 53 percent "were part of a formal system but required a great deal of discretion, training, and experience"; and 35 percent "were not systematized at all and required a great deal of initiative and personal skill." [Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool (2004) 297-298]
Work in other words gets done thanks to social capital.

And so for day 346
25.11.2007

Avijk

It's a whale of a story.

And a story about a whale.

Here's how it ends.

The third time Avijk phones, my roommate answers. The line is dead, so she knows it's Avijk and calls for me. But the line is dead for me too. I know she's there but I can't hear her. Something is terribly wrong. I leave immediately to go and see her — taking my boat out to the spot where we usually meet. Finally, she comes. Moving so slowly. She's very sick — dying. I cry, embrace her, stroke her. She cries a little, too. We say our goodbyes, and I go home feeling very sad.

I sit alone in my living room. I can feel something coming but I don't know what it is. I close my eyes — and for a moment, just a moment — I'm five years old. My grandmother is making Danish pancakes for me in the kitchen of her tiny apartment in Copenhagen. Suddenly, a tremendous force pushes open the kitchen shutters, reaches me in the next room and slams me, pinning me against the wall.

It's Avijk.

Avijk has died and her spirit has come here, faster than the subway, faster than the wind, and entered me. And I am filled with such tremendous joy and peace that I can barely contain it in my body.
Sonja Mills with "Avijk" in desire high heels red wine shows us what happens to cetacean-human relations when you start off a story with "My best fried is Avijk the whale."

And so for day 345
24.11.2007

Piltdown Mashup

Exhibit A
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_Man

Exhibit B
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodtimes_virus

"Good Times" virus, a hoax or mere performance of a virus in the mid 1990s that uncannily created an effect very much like a real "worm" virus: it prompted users to pass on warnings about the fake virus that in themselves, through their sheer number created wormlike effects. [Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information p. 360.]
The timelines... Piltdown skull (some 40 years to expose) versus the viral speeds of the Internet propagation of an urban myth... seems like time to read Contagious Metaphor by Peta Mitchell. I've caught the bug.

And so for day 344
23.11.2007

less-slower-worse

At first I was taken by this tack to the lifestyle of rush. Then I read more slowly and realized that what is proposed is less about "taking time" and more about "controlling rhythm". Try to read this not as a list of activities that cannot be speeded up and more as an invitation to linger and savour.

“Of course, everything can’t speed up,” says David Levy, a professor at the Information School of the University of Washington. “You can’t speed up the time needed to be intimate with one another. Thinking is not an activity you can speed up. It needs time to muse and reflect, and some of the things we need to do in order to think, like walk, or read deeply, or even take naps, simply don’t fit into this globalizing idea of more-faster-better.”
As quoted by Erin Anderssen in "Digital overload: How we are seduced by distraction" in the Globe and Mail

And so I come to the conclusion that a variety of rhythms in one's life is vital to protect against slow degeneration induced by constant rushing. Along with the brisk tempos one benefits from a moderato pace ... and even a good nap after running about.

And so for day 343
22.11.2007

Forest Sorcery

Robin Skelton, particularly in Landmarks, offers us poetry which is laden with wonderful West Coast atmospherics and sly transmogrifications. One striking passage describes flora in a manner attuned to how simple particulars seize imagination all the while making us brave as danger is inscribed with familiarity. We find a tree:

tattered with green hanging moss,
and roped with vines,
and fanged with shaking fern
I do like that injection of animal incisors and the trembling motion. Short space. Big story.

And so for day 342
21.11.2007

Sentence Slavery

Margaret Webb.
desire, high heels, red wine.

understand the slavery of sentences [...] breaking out of control shit like this the critics say women writers have no control over our sentences give us an inch of white space and we charge off like a bunch of lesbians forgetting who invented the line that proper restraint would keep our looser halves from violating poetry with repetitive multiple orgasms repetitive multiple orgasms taste sweet as spilled wine to my lips [...]
a sentence is to an orgasm as a line of poetry is to a caress of foreplay ???

And so for day 341
20.11.2007

X-rated Season

Dionne Brand in Winter Epigrams & Epigrams to Ernesto Cardenal in Defense of Claudia provides us with a remarkable take on the endless pounding of the cold in a season that almost never ends. The epigram is place-specific but its ironic touch travels well.

snow is raping the landscape
Cote de Neige is screaming
writhing under
winter's heavy body
any poem about Montreal in the winter is pornography
I like the hint that the heavy body is not just the layers of snow upon snow but also the long johns, sweaters, coats and all the gear that weigh us down. There is a strong identificatory moment between the listening subject and the landscape subject of the poem.

And upon further reflection we are made to wonder about the blanket-effect of pornography.

And so for day 340
19.11.2007

Cubicle Chronicles

Once upon a time there was a big bad employer (short-sighted employer who wanted to gut the collective agreement provisions for job security and merit pay -- clawbacks which attacked the younger workers and would hobble the employer's attempt to recruit and retain the best and the brightest).

So what were the knowledge workers to do? They were distributed in various and sundry work places connected by computer-mediated communication. There in lay the key to their resistance.

The knowledge workers replaced "shock and awe" with "share and ask". They were a clever bunch.

They were going to flood the email system.

Some of the outspoken senior members at the top of their pay scale with nothing to loose commandeered the @allstaff distribution lists and

  • Urged work-life balance through a recipe swap (with lots of posts and debate about ingredients, methods, pictures, results of taste tests, acceptable substitutes) and collectively planned a collection of the best recipes (which led to discussion about printing versus electronic version, etc. etc.)
  • Engaged in minute analysis of geopolitical trends and what scenarios could be expected to emerge in their corner of the globe (lots of true cost accounting and reconciling divergent views of the evidence-base).
  • Competed to see who could sent the biggest spread sheet to the most people; contrived to send a spreadsheet cell by cell in timed bursts.
  • Posted worried messages about viruses that ate vowels.
Some of the more timid members turned off printers, fax machines, scanners and photocopiers — which took a little while to power up again. But no one was ever sure that their print job would still be in the queue.

Info Tech Support was bombarded with requests for pings to servers to check connectivity...

Others hoarded the paper envelopes (now rare) for interoffice mail.

Workers asked that all transactions go manager-to-manager before they hit their desks — they argued there was no other way of ensuring their messages would not be caught up in the new etiquette of reply all and copy more. The slack in the system by which work was accomplished was significantly reduced.

Outside the organisation, allies asked for information about programs, services, policies, directives and asked about access to data. And asked again. Moreover they shared detailed plans and asked for feedback.

The data stream was relentless. And what was the result of this little exercise in signal to noise ratio manipulation? Glee. Empowerment. Sharing. And lots of profound asking about the fragile cultures of the workplace.

Inspired by Alan Liu The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information and John Brunner The Shockwave Rider.

And so for day 339
18.11.2007

Circuit

Deep geography.

One follows a horizontal river run. That is Joyce's "A way a lone a lost a last a loved a long the" which is the end of Finnegans Wake which famously links back to the riverrun opening.

The other is oriented on a vertical axis and follows a slope both in its run and situation.

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

The photo by Stefan Powell conveys a little of the slight incline in the alley where this inscription from bpnichol is to be found. (There is audio at the Murmur project of Christian Bök reading the inscised words.)

Both whatever their orientations play on vowel currents and waves, float as easily as place names here brought in proximity — Dublin's River Liffey or Toronto's Lake Ontario.

And so for day 338
17.11.2007

Cinders Rising

There is in D.G. Jones A Throw of Particles a poem called "Heavens". It is a short poem but it opens up to words beyond. It begins with stars and carries on in opportunities of conversation that are ironically circumscribed.

The ferocious stars
keep their distance, become
a conversation piece
The phrase "ferocity of the stars" has been encountered in "Dance Steps" earlier in the collection. There one is treated to the cliche image of sparks flying from a fire into the night sky yet the reader is left with more than the canopy of stars to contemplate.
[...] Dance
then, the bonfire whirling
fossils to the black stars
One recalls Joni Mitchell's Woodstock and its reference to billion year old carbon

And so for day 337
16.11.2007

Addressing Rhythm

A passage in a review at intercapillary space suggests reading Lisa Robertson The Men besides Djuna Barnes The Book of Repulsive Women. Edmund Hardy writes

"A man is another person - a woman is yourself," as Nora observes in Nightwood. Barnes subtitled her first book "8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings", & Robertson's books could also perhaps be called rhythms: each one has a different rhythmic texture, or syllabic knobbling.
From early on in The Men (the last two lines to the opening "rhythm")
Young men of sheepish privilege becoming
Sweet new style
From late in The Book of Repulsive Women
Until her songless soul admits
      Time comes to kill:
You pay her price and wonder why
      You need her still.
It is Nora's observation as reported by Edmund that here plays in my little sandbox of quotation, serving as a cypher, gliding through the genders of the the game of identification and projection. And precisely because it is mapped onto the polarities of man and woman only contingently (the polarities can be reversed) the rather unmarked place of the interlocutor becomes a complex question not only of gender but also of singleness versus plurality. A you can be two or more. And how then does the configuration of the interlocutor affect the rhythm?

And so for day 336
15.11.2007

Inoculated

Jason Taniguchi
VERY SENSIBLE STORIES AND POEMS FOR GROWN PERSONS
from "The Plague" entry to "The Genre in Brief (100-word stories)"

Even those few individuals who did manage to panic were met with equanimity by their neighbours; for it had always been assumed that the end of the world must torment some people. They were simply playing an expected role in a long-awaited script.
Part of the charm here is the indirectness offered by the indefinite articles. It underlines the restricted nature of "some".

Some people want to get their hands on the Kelp Queen Press issue of Mr. Taniguchi's stories. Some people have been infected by the few they have read in The Stars as Seen from this Particular Angle of Night edited by Sandra Kasturi. Some are ready for more exposure. Some are already vectors.

And so for day 335
14.11.2007

Niggle Nibble

You take a bite out of the poem and swallow these delicious rhymes.

We build great ships
plan great, precise, arcing journeys,
yearning,
yearning to change,
fly out of our green, nibbling little lives,
to touch,
enter
be
that brightness.
You digest the delicacies that are these "nibbling little lives" and realize solar power on a different scale.

And you thank Peter Bloch-Hansen for "Why Starships Should be Named for Moths" collected in The Stars as Seen from this Particular Angle of Night edited by Sandra Kasturi.

And so for day 334
13.11.2007

Finding Loss

Trish Salah Wanting in Arabic has a piece the opens with a fateful sentence.

She awoke to an appetite for narrative.
Notice she awoke "to" not "with". Notice also "narrative" not "narration" (the story vs the telling). The appetite might just devour her. A diegesis spoken by another threatens.

What is not told here has been shown earlier in the book with a poem sequence ending:
how like a boy
to take the long view.
Note the period marking ending.

The long view may not find its ending until the very end of mortal coil. Which serpentine path may contain transformations. A life lived is not lived until it ends.

As a boy reader, I have been remembering lines from a song on The Pretenders album Get Close "Hymn to Her" and wondering how it is a boy can identify with the tripartite maid-mother-crone. And part of the answer is in the lyrics — an openness to continuity and change.
And she will always carry on
Something is lost
But something is found
They will keep on speaking her name
Some things change
Some stay the same
We are at once cut off from the "they" and imaginatively linked. Just as Salah's "she" is, via memory over pages of text, linked to the "boy" who by virtue of the poetic voice and its ironic inflection has but a long view in a longer sequence. Again we are called to notice not so much the narrative (the told) but the narration (the telling) which sets us, the readers, into intimate relation with what is an ongoing sequence that carries us away from the text into a consideration of our relations with other readers including ourselves at some future point. Lost and found.

And so for day 333
12.11.2007

Mortal Musings

Robin Romm's narrators interject into the telling miniature meditations on the nature of dying and the consequences of death for the surviving. These are not just of the memento mori variety. The story "The Tilt" which gives its name to the collection for example draws a fine distinction between fury and defeat and in so doing describes the pitch and range of emotion that is elicited from the situation and the niceties lead into the pain of interrogation.

But she's still here. She still makes jokes about the dog and gets angry with the doctors. She can't figure out how to use her cell phone or get the stains out of the grout in the kitchen. But when I touch her skin, the heat is different. There's a defeat and a fury right below the coolness of it and it's a frightening combination — defeat that won't do you in and fury that can't save you. And sometimes I try to imagine the silence that will fall everywhere after she dies. I call her now with offhanded questions about taxes or recipes and I think that soon there will be no answers. And the question mark will lose its curve, will grow and straighten inside of my ribs, getting so large and sharp and unwieldy that it finally splits my body in two.
Split we are led stylistically to believe between fury and defeat.

The mother is also the source of wisdom in "Fluency".
In your body when you're dying, my mother told me, there is a lot of talking. It gets stranger and stranger, she said, the talking, until you seem to know anther language. And when you are fluent, you have to leave.
Robert Glück in the back cover blurb to The Tilt reads this collection of stories as posing a question: "How can we contain loss and harm, so that we can live, when loss and harm are where we live most deeply?" Part of the answer lies in reading words shaped to a sharp fluency.

And so for day 332
11.11.2007

Elevator Speech

This is a a snapshot of the type of work I do in my day job in the civil service and in the domain of relationship management and partnership development.

The what:

Sustaining Social Capital
  • Connecting People for Knowledge Exchange
  • Fostering Networks of Supportive Relationships
  • Hosting Open Dialogue
The how:
  • We ask questions
  • We connect people with questions with answers
  • We connect, often by disentangling (we help clarify requests and resposnes)
In essence we are experts in informal and formal facilitation.

And so for day 331
10.11.2007

Stellifications

Dr. Selia Karsten marries the world of art and pedagogy. She has a keen design interest in stars. See http://www.astralsite.com/.

With her in mind I collect mentions of stars in the poems I read. For example Amy Lowell's epithet "comrades of the stars" to describe primroses. Here are two others that sit nicely side-by-side. The first is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is fitted with stars, invisible by day
And something more recent is the conclusion to "Quails" by Meg Kearney
the sailor who sees farthest
bows before the bevy of quails

rising reluctant but steady
toward their memories of stars.
And with that phrase "memories of stars" I am reminded of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" and its lines about being stardust.

And so for day 330
09.11.2007

Sex & Language

The context is an examination of the resources of lyric poetry. We are proposed to consider the genesis of the erotic zones and not simply the acquisition of language but the situatedness of the linguistically-inflected subject and the development of phenomenological intention. It is worth pondering the pedagogical dynamic that works both ways between teacher and learner:

The teaching and learning of desire in the erotogenization of the body is not simply analogous to but is inseparable from the concurrent teaching and learning of intention in the acquisition of language.
Mutlu Konuk Blasing. Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words.

I like how the reader is brought along from analogy to inseparability through to concurrence.

And so for day 329
08.11.2007

Unseverable

Juliana Schiesari put me onto Kathleen Woodward and her insights as to how the mourning process may vary with age.

The notion of attachment to life is commonly cast metaphorically in terms of bonds, ties, and threads. When we speak of detachment in old age, of loosening of bonds to life, I think we may mistake the process at work. It may be not that we are detaching ourselves from others but that we have refused to untie the bonds which have attached us to those we have lost. We may begin to live with the dead.
"Between Mourning and Melancholia: Roland Barthes's Camera Lucinda" in Aging and Its Discontents. Note how this passage is cast in the idiom of a "we" that invites identification and acceptance that this the way things are for "us". We become tied to the point of view.

And so for day 328
07.11.2007

Elevations versus Liberations

After a chapter that anatomizes the gender politics of Ficino's meditations on melancholia and which provides an incisive alternative by way of Hildegard von Bingen, we come across this conclusion.

Hildegard also traces a crucial difference when she speaks of those who resist melancholia as potential "martyrs." Yet nothing seems to emblematize the ruses of male melancholia as a discursive practice better than the figure of the martyr, whose woeful suffering is merely the price to be paid for entrance into the immortal pantheon of heroes, philosophers or artists. But in Hildegard's revisionist sense, the martyr's suffering is not the call of something higher but the call to struggle for something better. Suffering is not something to withstand or passively "enjoy" but something to alleviate and overcome.
Our emphasis. Juliana Schiesari. The Gendering of Melancoholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature.

And so for day 327
06.11.2007

Snow in the City

In and Out A Confessional Poem by Daryl Hine opens its second section with a description of the less than pristine melting of accumulated snow and debris.

Instantaneous Spring had attacked
Montreal overnight like a laxative,
loosening snow from the slopes
of the mountain, from rooftops and side walks
and streets, where it piled up in barricades
during our annual siege,
till the city began to resemble
a dissolute snowball dissolving,
while under the mud and the mess
deliquescent and delicate music,
a faint, subterranean gurgle
of muttering rivulets sang
a disturbing, subversive refrain.
I like how the "mud and mess" — appealing to a visual mode of disgust cedes to an aural enticements — "deliquescent and delicious music."

And so for day 326
05.11.2007

Bridges

In Mobility of Light: The Poetry of Nicole Brossard we find the French:

la poussière. On la disait de Pékin de Palmyre
ou de Pompéi
nous la paratagions à plien poumon
on parlait de physiquement posséder
la poésie
Which Robert Majzels and Erine Moure give as
particles of dust. Say it's from Peking or Palmyra
or Pompey
we partook in its plenitude
proposed to physically possess
poetry
I wonder why "Pompey" and not "Pompeii". I admire the partaking in plenitude.
motes and motes of dust. They say it's from Peking from Palmyra
from Pompeii
lung full by lung full we shared it
speaking of physically possessing
poetry
There is a wee distance between "speaking of" and "proposing to" and that little preposition "de" deserves to be repeated in the rendering with "from". And there just is no equivalent for the definite "la poésie" the unarticled "poetry" will have to suffice. As we hope the dropped "or" will do.

And so for day 325
04.11.2007

Famished

Honor Moore included this short poignant piece in the American Poets Project selected poems by Amy Lowell.

A Decade

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.
Acquaintance with bread and wine. Hints of transubstantiation.

And so for day 324
03.11.2007

Tulip Temptations

Anna Pavord in The Tulip relates the strange and wonderous story of William Pegg.

Derby's star flower painter was William Pegg (1775-1851) whose father had been a gardener at Etwall Hall, near Derby, a hotbed of societies devoted to the English florists' tulip. By the age of ten, Pegg was already working in the potteries and after three years, became apprentice to a china painter, working fifteen hours a day in the factory. In 1796 he was offered a five-year contract at the Derby China Works, which was booming after taking over the illustrious Chelsea Pottery. But Pegg, who had heard John Wesley preach in Straffordshire in 1786, began to worry about the morality of decorating expensive porcelain with sinfully beautiful flowers for the tables of rich clients. In 1800 he became a Quaker and abandoned his paint box to start a new and spectacularly unsuccessful life as a stocking maker. Stockings may have satisfied the inner man but did little to sustain the outer one. Starving, Pegg was forced to return in 1813 to his former work at the Derby China Works, filling pages of a sketchbook with elegant florists' tulips which later found their way onto Derby's porcelain. After seven years, plagued once more by religious scruples, he left the Derby factory for good and died destitute in 1851.
A sad story but one not likely to be repeated in the era of mass reproduction and knock-offs. At least, it is difficult to image another such case of renunciation.

And so for day 323
02.11.2007

Word Associations

On the talker Madhouse there is a game of word association that reminds one of the practices of renga. Days will go by before a response comes forward. Sometimes within one day there will be a run.

(Jul 5 18:20) From Yred: team
(Jul 12 20:39) From Light: mate
(Jul 13 08:53) From Durmitt: ship
(Jul 14 10:36) From Yred: shape
(Jul 14 15:06) From Light: shift
(Jul 14 23:58) From Mav: gears
(Jul 17 17:10) From Yred: landing
(Jul 17 17:19) From Durmitt: crash
(Jul 18 10:48) From Light: burn
(Jul 19 14:24) From Durmitt: sun
(Jul 19 16:52) From Yred: shine
(Jul 22 01:34) From Mav: gloom
(Jul 22 19:31) From Durmitt: doom



(Sep 21 17:51) From Light: float
(Sep 27 18:01) From Yred: boat
(Sep 29 05:30) From Razor: titanic
(Sep 30 00:57) From Mav: sink
(Sep 30 19:56) From Yred: kitchen
(Oct 6 22:54) From Mav: cook
(Oct 8 17:40) From Yred: book
(Oct 9 15:55) From Light: worm



(Jan 25 17:55) From Light: delivery
(Jan 26 17:03) From Yred: midwife
(Jan 31 22:16) From Mav: nanny
(Feb 2 19:35) From Yred: goat
(Feb 5 16:56) From Light: cheese
(Feb 6 18:09) From Yred: sticks
(Feb 8 17:00) From Light: stones
It is sometimes fun to read the sequence in reverse from bottom up.

And so for day 322
01.11.2007

Song and Bloom

Amy Lowell "Lilacs" reminds me of Walt Whitman ("When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd") in its reach but its far shorter lines betoken a far different relation between botany and geography than Whitman's lament. Lowell has us on a whirlwind tour.

Maine knows you,
Has for years and years;
New Hampshire knows you,
And Massachusetts
And Vermont.
Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island;
Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea.
You are brighter than apples,
Sweeter than tulips,
You are the great flood of our souls
Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,
You are the smell of all Summers [...]
New England is Lowell's purview. Whitman's is the continent.
Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I’ll perfume the grave of him I love.
Lowell claims a country; Whitman, comrades.

And so for day 321
31.10.2007

Is Tugging

At first I thought there was a missing "d" so strong was the tow of the next line and the speeding eye — an avoidance of where we find ourselves.

as if the thinking could bring me
where death is not an is
instead of where I found myself
I thought that the speaker was trying to negate the condition of death and hope himself to the place where death is not. But there is no accident. "where death is not an is" is not the condition of the dead speaker — he is where death is.

is not and is

Caught in the poetry of Brian Henry and the opening to his Quarantine. Mesmerized by the tension of being and not-being.

And so for day 320
30.10.2007

Kiss Without Substitution

In the poem it is first introduced as a transcription of graffiti. By poem's end it is sitting like a manifesto - set off in its own section - the concluding words to "The Protestant" in Tin Can Tourist by Scott Hightower.

there can be no substitutions
for the metaphysics of our senses,
no substitution for the poetry of our lives
I like how the no substitution observation gets repeated. It is as if we are at some universal grill and must choose from the menu and we have few options for customization. And yet the phrases "poetry of our lives" and "metaphysics of our senses" point to great variety — it's the plurals at play that intimate a certain richness.

It's not just a celebratory recipe for hedonism. Hightower is quite capable of making us register pain's particularities. For example, in a poem about his mother's polio he concludes with her at her dressing table and conveys how what may be ordinary to most becomes an ordeal.
Morning she cried brushing
Her hair. The pain was simple.

Her perfume bottles glimmered:
"There will be pains that will not
Leave you with a kiss."
"Polio and Counting" in Part of the Bargain

Whose pain is on display here? Mother's obviously. The poet-child too? What timelines hover in the mention of kiss... no easy cure for the "petit bobo". Here a kiss is but a point; pain is persistent. And the bottles continue to glimmer, a sign not of the limits of poetry in our lives but its ever changeable valence influenced by the metaphysics of our senses.

And so for day 319
29.10.2007

Fluidities and Agitations

May Swenson has a line somewhere about "unconceived / fluidities and agitations" which put me in mind of Mary di Michele's Mimosa and other poems where slight but significant variations take place under the sign of water which is fitting as the poet plays with her name relating it back to its meaning "of the sea".

"So It Begins" begins identically to a poem that appeared earlier in the book "Full Circle". Indeed it is only when you get to the last lines does the difference come to the fore and then only if you are diligent and flip back to review what you had read earlier. This ends "So It Begins"

for the greater song of the sea to sing in,
whatever the water gives me, I give back,
with my open and singing mouth.
This is what ended "Full Circle"
for the greater song of the sea to sing in,
whatever the water gave me, I gave back,
with an open and singing mouth.
Slight change in tense and possessive adjective.

It is a similar attention to shifting perspective that animates the title poem which is constructed in three sections: father's story told in the third person; monologue by one daughter; monologue by the other daughter. Here are the conclusions that offer shifting variations on a picture of family dynamics.
I. Mimosa
[...]
The good life gave him a house and money
in the bank and a retirement plan,
but it didn't give him fruitful daughters,
his favourite makes herself scarce
and the other looks like her mother.

II. Martha's Monologue
[...]
Disappointment is the unthinking brush
bloated with chalk dust and the promise of a better life.
I only want my fair share.
I want what's mine and what Lucia kicks over.
I want father to stop mooning about her
and listen to my rendition of Mimosa.

III Lucia's Monologue
[...]
I have his face, his eyes, his hands,
his anxious desire to know everything,
to think, to write everything,
his anxious desire to be heard,
and we love each other and say nothing,
we love each other in that country
we couldn't live in.
Martha's "want" and Lucia's "love" come to the reader like small waves. There is no such motion in the third person view of the father. His are not the rhythms of waves but those of a gardener tending a vegetable patch and yielding seasonal offerings of zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, tender peas and Italian parsley. With eye on produce and his concern for fruitfulness, Vito, the father, misses the rhythms of Martha and Lucia, fails to see them moving as persons.

And so for day 318
28.10.2007

Exit Exceptionalism

It is like a dream journal meets a glossary complete with cross-references and see also suggestions.

After you, dearest language. Marisol Limon Martinez. (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005)

Let's take a trip, shall we?

AMERICA: BANDE A PART
A little group distinct in its positioning ... and what does "BANDE A PART" reveal?
BANDE A PART: The end of the FILM. No one dies. They drive to SOUTH AMERICA. A RED LINE traces their movement around the WORLD on a GLOBE. The SCREEN reads Fin.
So we have intimations of closure. One more hop through the references.
FILM: [an extensive two and half page entry]

SOUTH AMERICA: BANDE A PART

RED LINE: [no entry for RED LINE but an entry for RED: BANDE A PART, BIRD, BLOOD, BLUE, CARE, CHANDELIER, CLASSROOM, DRESS, FUNERAL, HEXAGON, LAST SUPPER, MADRID, MAKEUP, MAN, MIRROR, PINK, PORNOGRAPHY, SCROLL, STAIRS, STAR, THEATRE, UNDERWEAR and an entry for LINE: BANDE A PART, FUNERAL, METRO, PINK, ROOM, SCROLL, STREET]

WORLD: BANDE A PART

GLOBE: BANDE A PART

SCREEN: BANDE A PART, CHAIR, COSTUME, FILM, HEXAGON, HOUSE, ISLAND, PORNOGRAPHY, SCROLL, VIDEO
Only through FILM and SCREEN and the RED [broken] LINE does the story continue. Otherwise it circles back upon itself. Overdetermination at work.

And so for day 317
27.10.2007