To make, to hold.

observation from The Wabi-sabi House: the Japanese art of imperfect beauty

They provide a tactile meditation almost impossible to find anywhere else.

"They" are "[t]he arts of spinning wool, making pottery, and weaving baskets". They are "more than just wabi-sabi items for your house." They provide.

Something here is elevated: process. Such elevation makes meditating upon the found item such as a simple stone a sort of challenge to involvement. That which I have made, that which I have placed. The difference vanishes in the meditation.

And so for day 168

Ergonomics of Continuous Listening

The poet's voice in Robert Kroetsch's The Hornbooks of Rita K invites us to contemplate acts of audition.

The poets of Canada learn to sing by walking barefoot on gravel beaches. This makes for a fascinated listening. A constricted listening.

Any way to redeem that straightend word "constricted"? Perhaps in some understanding of the role of compression in comprehension. That which can be held like a snowball.

And so for day 167


Reproduced from the back cover of Volume 4, Perspectives and Realties, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1996

I have no written speech. Everything that I have said I have been carrying in my heart, because I have seen it, I have experienced it.

Without a name the statement stands emblematic. Elsewhere the attribution is made to Mary Lou Iahtail, Cree educator, Moose Factory, Ontario.

To carry in the heart. To witness.

I am missing the gestures that would help me parse that "because". The commas look out of place.

And so for day 166

Two French Verbs or Three

There are two French verbs, s'attarder and s'attacher that make me think of the semantic ground covered by linger awhile, dwell upon and brood over. Yet the valence is different and can be set in the key of "mindfulness" or that of "inattention" and "habituation". To become delayed and to grow attached. Time and roots. Easy to spend. Hard to eradicate. But that is another verb, s'enraciner, almost German in its insistence. Attachments need not have depth; the clinging can be all surface.

And so for day 165

Woolf II

In the back matter of Woolf by Madalyn Eastus is an epigraph drawn from Michel Foucualt.

The human intellect, from its peculiar nature, easily supposes greater order and equanimity in things than it actually finds; and while there are many things in nature unique, and quite irregular, still it feigns parallels, correspondents, and relations that have no existence.

To make believe is the source of making do.

Foucault is quoting Bacon. And the keyword is "equanimity".

The range and ambit of the term "equanimity" may have shifted since the Renaissance, still this excerpt from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius gives a flavour of what Bacon is signifying:

Country houses, retreats in the mountains or by the sea — these things men seek out for themselves; and often thou, too, dost most eagerly desire such things. But this does but betoken the greatest ignorance; for thou art able, when thou desirest, to retreat into thyself. No otherwhere can a man find a retreat more quiet and free from care than in his own soul; and most of all, when he hath such rules of conduct that if faithfully remembered, they will give to him perfect equanimity, — for equanimity is naught else than a mind harmoniously disciplined.
[from the Project Gutenberg transcription of Volume 3 of Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern]

The passage continues and in the perennial vein of Max Ehrmann's Desiderata "Go placidly amid the noise and haste [etc.]"

Cease not then to betake thyself to this retreat, there to refresh thyself. Let thy rules of conduct be few and well settled; so that when thou hast thought thereon, straightway they will suffice to thoroughly purify the soul that possesses them, and to send thee back, restless no more, to the things to the which thou must return.

The human intellect supposes and feigns. The power to form, shape or alter is the very power to stabilize and bring rest.

And such movement is exactly what this dynamic picture book of textile echoes does entrain.

And so for day 164

Woolf I

Madalyn Eastus has designed a picture book in which "a series of images made only of paper — cut, folded, and woven […] rely upon each other to create multilayered" offerings. It is evocatively titled Woolf. In the back matter is a set of principles set out in verse form. They are reproduced here with regard to the spacing:

no narrative – only pattern

no glue – just friction

reflection over horizontal
& vertical axes

cropping, symmetry,

A set of predictable actions; a set of unpredictable outcomes. The story is universal: to be charmed by pattern coming back again. Such a character pattern is!

And so for day 163

On the authentic

A page from Judith Martin's Miss Manners' Basic Training: Communication

[Etiquette provides] a whole catalogue of things to say on every occasion: congratulations, thank you, I'm so sorry, happy birthday, I love you, happy holidays, best wishes and I offer you my sympathy. None of these, it will be noticed, is funny, insightful or original. Surprisingly enough, that is not what is wanted. On important occasions, people don't necessarily want to be lectured, enlightened or kidded; they just want to bask in the ideal that people who care about them are sharing their pleasures or sorrows.

But the commonplaces are not meant to not be personalized (hence my championing Erasmus's De Copia) and Ms. Martin obliges with a reminder of obligations:

Signing one's name to such a statement is supposed to convey that. Actually putting it into one's own handwriting suggests that there was some thinking going on, as opposed to mere acquiescence in someone else's statement.

Leaving traces in the appropriate fashion is the polite thing to do.

And so for day 162

Bedtime: think time

John Stands in Timber in Cheyenne Memories concludes a tale about the seven stars of the big dipper thus

It was a story supposed to make us go to sleep, but I would lie awake thinking about those seven brothers for quite awhile, and what happened to them. I never did hear what became of the girl.

And so we are left to wonder too.

And so for day 161

Costume, Person, Role

Tony Peake in Derek Jarman: a biography offers a description of an aspect of the film The Tempest:

For the costumes, a sense of timelessness was aimed at [...] Jarman was equally keen that the costumes reinforce character. The way Miranda's dress is festooned with shells and feathers, so that it looks as if she carries the island about her person, is a precise indication of her upbringing, just as Prospero's rumpled but once magnificent velvet waistcoat and breeches hint at a richer, more cosmopolitan past.

There is a touch of Jungian treatment here as character, theatrical, slides into character, psychological. French has "caractère" for psychological character and "personnage" for the theatrical role and both are different from personality.

Costumes may reinforce character but they also make role codable.

And so for day 160

Personality, Role, Function

The narrator of Robert Silverberg's Those Who Watch describes the mores of the Dirnan:

Vorneen was by nature a seducer. That was his role in the sexual group: he was the predator, the aggressor who initiated the matings. Mirtin would never take an active role, while Glair provoked sexual activity only in the feminine facet of the healer, the consoler, the soother. Vorneen sought passion for its own sake. That was acceptable, and moreover necessary to the continuity of the group. Within the group he kindled, he galvanized. If
sometimes he found it needful to go outside the group, neither Glair nor Mirtin objected. Why should they?

1967 science fiction offering a mirror to remind 2007 readers that primate behaviour can be quite complex even within its simple bounds.

And so for day 159

Humans as Tale Chasers

Somewhere I culled this anecdote because it reminded me of Jerome Bruner's concept of "going meta". In the 1980s Scientific American included some practical joke in the April issue. One went like this:

The AI lab at MIT was working on a computer that engaged in conversations and imitated human intelligence. After several years of training and improvements to the software and hardware, the system improved to the point where the researchers debated whether it really thought like a human. They decided to ask the computer, and typed in (voice recognition was not available at the time) "Do you think like a human?" The computer responded after a pause "That reminds me of a story!"

The pause adds such a human touch :)

And so for day 158


In December 1999, I sent out to a distribution list the following wintery lines

Through and past the powdery snow
Through and past the wet slush

Kathleen Beall responded:

into the spring and the returning songbirds
into the spring and the persistent blackflies

Two lines for summer and fall each and one line for a timeless moment and the circle of call and answer will achieve a poetic completeness.

And so for day 157


Artist Alastair MacLennan:

Art is the demonstrated wish and will to resolve conflict through action, be it spiritual, religious, political, personal, social or cultural.

I read and reread the sentence and if I am correct all those adjectives are modifying "conflict" not "action". I think that is what the comma is doing there: guiding the interpretation. Or maybe the "it" refers to the wish and will and sets all modifiers to a characterizing.

Art in a non conflictual perspective may just be about the demonstration of the undemonstrable. No enumeration suffices.

That there is tension between the expression and what escapes expression granted. That that tension is a conflict. Not. Conflicts imply termination. Art is unending.

And so for day 156


Brent Ledger in a column about collecting culture (a review of an anthology of Canadian gay poetry) in Xtra! May 10, 2007, invites us to meditate on the means of self-creation:

As much as history creates us, we create history. It's an act of force, determination and imagination. We make ourselves exist.

The last paragraph of the column references an anecdote about a missing library book but it can serve to reference the above paragraph about making ourselves exist:

It's a valuable reminder that culture doesn't happen by accident and a single careless accident can cause a major loss. If you want a culture and a space in which to belong, you have to coddle, curate and even create it.

Incubating, transplanting, and selecting are other tropes for the coming into being of cultural selves.

And so for day 155


In his 1970 Turing Lecture, "Form and Content in Computer Science" (Journal of the ACM 17.2 April 1970), Marvin Minsky makes a number of observations which I like to gather under the rubric "the social impact of the how".

It will help the student to know something about computational models and programming. The idea of debugging itself, for example, is a very powerful concept — in contrast to the helplessness promoted by our cultural heritage about gifts, talents, and aptitudes. The latter encourages "I'm not good at this" instead of "How can I make myself better at it?"

I like to read this less as a call for continuous improvement (which partakes in large part of the discourse of grace and the wages of sin) and more as as an invitation to honest engagement. Sometimes making oneself better at a given task or activity involves breaking away from that given task or activity for a little while. And "going meta" to use the parlance of Jerome Bruner is a skill to be acquired and renewed.

And so for day 154


I have been basking in the pleasant prose of the The Cluetrain Manifesto. The following segment sums up both the horror and beauty of being human – the joys and tribulations of being open to information overload.

I am reminded of the central insight from my doctoral dissertation (that at a certain level of abstraction the operations of perception and communication can be modelled by machines… apparatus, sense, orientation…)

We of genus Homo are wired to respond to each other's noise and commotion, to the rich, multi-modal deluge of data each of us broadcasts as we wade through life.

Rick Levine "Talk Is Cheap" chapter from The Cluetrain Manifesto

And so for day 153


Augustine's Rule Chap 8.5

Should anyone conceal a gift bestowed upon him he shall be judged guilty of theft.

Begs for an ontology of gifts. They are concealable. Not necessarily so. Gifts unbestowed are not yet open to concealment. There is a greater evil concealed in the rule. Bestow: to confer, to devote. To burden without consent?

The to-be-given has to be carved out of the continuum. The having-been-given will return to that continuum. Theft is an interruption. Or it is experienced as so.

And so for day 152


From Asobi: The Sensibilities at Play by Yoshida Mitsukuni
published in 1987 from two places and partners (Tokyo: Cosmo Public Relations Corp. Hiroshima: Mazda Motor Corporation)

Gambling emerged as a form of play in which the players gave themselves up entirely to the almighty power of chance. The lure of gambling lies in the apparent promise that all men have an equal chance of good fortune; talent, skill, and experience count for nothing. The promise, of course, is not necessarily fulfilled, for only a fortunate few win, while the majority are destined for disappointment. Despite the high risk, people cannot resist the thought that chance might miraculously favor them, and the excitement of expectation can make them feel intensely the sensation of being alive. Even if briefly, it has the power to overshadow all the hardships that are man’s lot in life.

Note: the democratizing power of lottery and the invigourating aspects of contemplating good luck.

And so for day 151


The metaphor works its way through time in Wanda Campbell's poem "Family Tree" from Haw [Thorn]

my father's family is as clear

as the sap his father

squeezed from the trees

each sweet spring

his mother only four

at her mother's sickroom door

kids farmed out after the funeral

like maple keys in the wind

Squeezing a living; the living squeezed.

And so for day 150


<a name="uzitor" href=">

Spammers collect email addresses. The more bogus email addresses they collect, the less clean data they have to ply their trade.

From the poetic prose of Patti Smith:

in the wall is a hole. duchamp thumbprint pin light fraction. an iris opening. gradually we see the whole thing. everything opens unfolds like a breugal. it’s a holiday...

a breugal — no capital B — it’s in my lexicon and perhaps someday in the common lexicon a small bagel and a big hole —— a breugal

perfect name for an upstream tech anti-spammer device.

And so for day 149


It is worth sometimes to revisit the passages copied out for placement in a gathering of commonplaces. For example this snippet from the C.K. Scott Moncrieff translation of Cities of the Plain "The Heart's Intermissions" seems a tad melancholic:

The images selected by memory are as arbitrary, as narrow, as intangible as those which imagination had formed and reality has destroyed.

I wonder why I had selected the quotation with that terminus in mind, why I had dwelt upon the link between arbitrariness and destruction, as if necessity were otherwise.

The paragraph continues:

There is no reason why, exisitng outside ourselves, a real place should conform to the pictures of our memory rather than to those in our dreams. And besides, a fresh reality will perhaps make us forget, detest even, the desires that led us forth upon our journey.

Proust’s narrator is refecting upon a second arrival at Balbec; I as a reader am stationary, a point vis-a-vis the panorama of the narration. The journey is not mine and hence easy to see afresh and remember the difference between destruction and annihilation. Those destroyed memories are still there however much their valence shifted, however much their correspondence is belied. Their destruction is out of time just as the after-image is through time.

And so for day 148

Bright beginnings

Sentiments have their destiny.

Jules Barbey D'Aurevilly translated by Douglas Ainslie.
It's the opening sentence to Dandyism

Just one destiny. Perhaps multiple destinations.

And so for day 147


A fictional account of reading James

At the Metropolitan Museum sunlight had cleared the apartment towers and was gracing the upper steps by the museum entrance. In the 1970s I’d sat on those steps with Pimm. We’d discovered early on that we could not do museums together. He couldn’t stand before a painting or a Greek vase for more than a few moments. While I lingered, he was always drifting on, seeking the next room. He needed people and events -- if not actual motion, then talk, or plot. Novels could satisfy him, but not potboilers. He had an ongoing affair with Henry James. A maroon hardcover of The Ambassadors sat for years by his chair in the living room. Every so often he’d pick it up and re-enter. On other nights he’d be out on the prowl, seeking James’s deeply buried subtexts. Later on, when he couldn’t read (or prowl) I read the book aloud to him, and I often felt I got the rhythms wrong, lost the nuance of those sinuous, gathering sentences. But he didn’t complain. Just lay there with his brow knitting now and then.

from Drina Bridge by Jim Bartley

And so for day 146







And so for day 145

Reverse Transcript Ease

DNA is "and" backwards.

lortnoc is “control” bkwds

sounds like a lord of night

And so for day 144


Barbara Godard in the introduction to Tessera Volume 9 observes

This position for the feminine as the spoken subject, rather than the subject of enunciation or subject of the utterance, poses difficulties for the woman writer.

The French version differs slightly

Cette position pour le féminin comme le sujet parlé, plutôt que comme le sujet de l’énonciation ou le sujet de l’énoncé, consitute une impasse pour l’écrivaine.

It is the claim in an earlier passage that jars

le sujet de l’énonciation est toujours excessif par rapport au sujet de l’énoncé.

the subject of the enunciation always exceeds the subject of the utterance.

The classic passage on three subjects is found in Kaja Silverman The Subject of Semiotics

[...] to distinguish between the the speaking subject (i.e. the agency of the discourse); the subject of speech (i.e. the discursive element); and the spoken subject (i.e. the subject produced through discourse). The first and third subjects may or may not coincide. The linguistic example tends to obscure the last of these categories since it projects a protagonist who functions simultaneously as speaking and spoken subjects.

Impasse and excess. Coincidence.

A speaking subject and a subject of speech can be localised. A spoken subject has other coordinates.

A translating subject, a storyteller. A translated subject, a story told. A translation subject, a virtual teller and told.

And so for day 143


On lag, from Humanist

action in computing. A step by step method can be halted. There is always a lag. Obviously hardware response time and control of peripheral devices is a case in point. There is also some space to think about lag in the reiterative nature of steps. the social shape of lagging is a marker for the tolerance for contemplation as a valued form of action.

From elsewhere, on animation

animation is not about movement it’s about synchronisation it’s a game of I believe I think I believe.

Thinking lag, animating animation.

And so for day 142


riddle: charm filter

charm: riddle feeder

And so for day 141

On Music's Power

From Syncope by Catherine Clement as translated by Sally O'Driscoll and Deidre M. Mahoney

By forcing the limits of the self, music follows the rhythm of the creative act as Anton Ehrensweig understood it so well. It contradicts the visceral rhythms, penetrates subjectivity, disperses identity from there by submerging subjectivity with emotions: it is the "schizoid" phase in which one is separated from the world, not without feeling a subtle and familiar aggression. However pianissimo a piece of music may begin, it compels one to leave without moving from the spot where one is, and to come back to oneself where one already knows that one will no longer find oneself. Once this moment has passed, one has crossed over the disharmony with reality, and one has found, with music, fundamental harmony. From then on the equivalents of unconscious "scanning" come into play, along with a sovereign invasion in which music is queen, absolute queen.

One up on Alice treading place in Wonderland.

And so for day 140

Roots of Truth

Alain Badiou in Deleuze: The Clamour of Being translated by Louise Burchill

Who could maintain that the myth of Er the Pamphylian, at the end of the Republic, is a transparent narrative? It consists entirely of traps and bifurcations. I would add that, personally, I have always conceived truth as a random course or as a kind of escapade, posterior to the event and free of any external law, such that the resources of narration are required simultaneously with those of mathematization for its comprehension. There is a constant circulation from fiction to argument, from image to formula, from poem to matheme — as indeed the work of Borges strikingly illustrates.

"What if..." is an equivalent invitation to "let x ...".

There is a truth in suspension of disbelief.

And so for day 139