As a person deeply interested in narrative sequences and multi-modal sensory translation, I recorded this in a little notebook back on September 8, 1997.

Mihailo Markovic Dialectical Theory of Meaning D. Reidel Publishing 1984. Preface to the English Edition xxviii n. 18

"According to Lotze, a universal concept is a rule that articulates sensory impressions into a series (Rudolf Lotze Logik Leipzig 1880, pp. 14, 29)."

I have never followed up but I have found a slip of paper within the same notebook with the following written around its edge "the ontology of mind --> global village <-- plural?" and it strikes me here and now that a series can be read along its two directions, i.e. there is some reversibility built in. This may tie the consideration of logic with those of narratology.

And so for day 565

Chance Catches

A note book entry dated July 30, 1997, produced under the rubric of DICE INCISIONS

In trying to explain [...] to [...] I've come across an interesting if not highly intriguing formulation: the producting [sic] of randomness in a literary (machine) text is a safeguard against entropy. In one sense this is a homeopathic theory of semiotics. A certain degree of nonsense is incorporated in a text to make it travel... self incorporated enigmas power the vehicle.... Also the invitation to play a game of chance functions as an attraction. I almost want to say that REGs [Random Event Generators] capture audiences.

Producting? A type of multiplication at play, perhaps.

And so for day 564

Streaming Off Screen

On a Dusty Shelf in the Library at LambdaMOO I took and read

A glimmering of sunlight, a candle in the rain,
Just enjoy my company, I don't want to give you pain.
Like alfvar or faerie, I have no heart to give.
I cannot truly love you, for I do not truly live.

from "Mirage" a piece attributed to StarDancer

And so for day 563

Russian Signals

Allen S. Weiss Phantasmic Radio has in the preface this fine set of enumerations:

There is no single entity that constitutes "radio"; rather, there exits a multitude of radios. Radiophony is a heterogeneous domain, on the levels of its apparatus, its practice, its forms, and its utopias. A brief, and necessarily incomplete, sketch of some possibilities of non-mainstream concepts of radio will give an idea of this diversity: F.T. Marinetti: "wireless imagination" and futurist radio; Velmir Khlebnikov: revolutionary utopia and the fusion of mankind; Leon Trotsky: revolutionary radio; Dziga Vertoz: agitprop and the "Radio-Eye"; Bertolt Brecht: interactive radio and public communication; Rudolf Arnheim: radiophonic specificity and the critique of visual imagination; Upton Sinclair: telepathy and mental radio; Glenn Gould: studio perfectionism and "contrapuntal radio"; William Burroughs: cut-ups and the destruction of communication; Marshall McLuhan: the primitive extension of the central nervous system; and the labyrinthine radio narratives of Hörspiel; the diversity of community radios; free radio; guerilla radio; pirate radio; radical radio.

It is this passage that makes me wish for a comparative study of Khlebnikov and McLuhan. Just imagine what that might sound like

And so for day 562

Emoting, Experiencing, Describing

Alain de Botton How Proust Can Change Your Life Chapter 5 "How to Express Your Emotions" on clichés

The problem with clichés is not that they contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of very good ones. The sun is often on fire at sunset and the moon discreet, but if we keep saying this every time we encounter a sun or a moon, we will end up believing that this is the last rather than the first word to be said on the subject. Clichés are detrimental insofar as they inspire us to believe that they adequately describe a situation while merely grazing its surface. And if this matters, it is because the way we speak is ultimately linked to the way we feel, because how we describe the world must at some level reflect how we first experience it.

Somewhere some when someone has put forth the by now cliché defense of surfaces.

Note de Botton is not against the use of cliché per se but opposed to over use.

And so for day 561

Swamped and Swallowed

From July 1997, two entries that at this remove in time echo each other nicely — they have a common theme of arrangement and its consequences.

First an entry about car culture:

Heard this on the radio recently: Walt Disney didn't like what happened to L.A. in the 40s & 50s with the advent of a car culture re the transformation from city to carpolis therefore Disney World was planned so that you walk or take public transit.

And now this bit about media:

Felix Stadtler said at the Monday night McLuhan Seminar (21/07/97) "media don't swallow society. they rearrange it."

nice antidote to any surfeit of thinking of media in terms of prosthetics

And so for day 560

Interlocking Interactivity

Sometimes thought processes are just weird. This bit comes from a long rambling entry in the main about freelancing and various projects

I want to write a quick popular guide to a concept I call "interlocking interactivity" — basically planning for learning. I want it to be something in the vein of Rheingold or Turkle: telling tales to make a big picture emerge.

and then pages and pages later after a longish section about translating an abstract for Liss Jeffrey's dissertation (on McLuhan), the concept of "interlocking interactivity" comes up again but I am still puzzled by what it might mean

[...] going over the abstract for Liss's dissertation I found that "literacies" implies levels of skill. I had suggested "savoir-faire médiatiques" but Liss's revisor suggested "maîtrise des médias" which for me is mastery which would include papermaking i.e. for me mastery implies actual construction of the channel — this comes from an appreciation of telecommunications engineering TCP HTTP etc. and the expertise it takes to run a server or a press even. So I suggested to Liss something which she really liked maîtrise de l'utilisation des médias which nicely expresses know-how at the level of accomplished user. This reminds me of the levels used to assess skill level in a learning organisation
: exposure
: proficiency
: teacher
I want to work more with this in terms of interlocking interactivity. Bks to consult: Breaking Thru the Glass Ceiling, Intelligent Organization. I'll be taking a peek at the business section again.

catchy phrase but still I believe in search of meaning

And so for day 559


I suspect the following is from an article about the construction of the Music Garden in Toronto. The quotation, like a healthy bulb, it transplants well.

"I've been struggling all my life to define what a piece of music is," says Ma. "Though it's abstract, music is about something. But in code, like DNA."

from "It's Bach to Nature for Yo-Yo Ma" Toronto Star May 10/97 K3

And so for day 558

Image and Concept

Words by Austin Warren from his book Richard Crashaw: A Study in Baroque Sensibility

All imagery is double in its reference, a composite of perception and conception. Of these ingredients, the proportions vary. The metaphorist can collate image with image, or image with concept, or concept with image. He can compare love to a rose, or a rose to love, or a pine grove to a cathedral, or religious ecstasy to intoxication.

He now introduces a concern with the pictorial and visualization.

Then too, the metaphorists differ widely in the degree of visualization for which they project their images. The epic simile of Homer and of Spenser is fully pictorial; the intent, relative to the poet's architecture, is decorative. On the other hand, the "sunken" and the "radical" types of imagery — the conceits of Donne and the "symbols" of Hart Crane — expect scant realization by the senses.

I like how the syntax complicates itself as the paragraph moves on to the other hand examples. Where Homer and Spenser shared epic simile, Crane and Donne have their conceits and symbols respectively. The difference is made palpable.

And so for day 557

Found Pieces


pleated gears and acceleration sequences

images combine when reading quickly readily recombine that is

Phyllis Webb in Sunday Water: Thirteen Anti Ghazals invites the reader to

Hear the atoms ambling, the genes a-tick
in grandfather's clock, in the old bones of beach.

driftweed is perhaps what the beach washes up but wave upon rushing wave yields the homophony of beech, the tree, the grandfatherly tree, an appropriate chronometer planted for generations to ponder and could perhaps as felled timber be lost at sea, driftweed indeed.

Robert Priest: Sky Sea Night and Skin provokes an urge to reverse some of the sequence: Sea Sky Night Skin.

Lorna Crozier: transposing as transplanting for The Garden Going On Without Us: a flight plan rearranged "like direction and distance" from "Wild Geese"

[...] sadness
passed through generations
like distance and direction
and the longing
for a nesting ground.

Gathered together the refound lines give

like direction and distance
sea sky night skin
in the old bones of beech

A drift in pilfering, rearranging continues in some gnawing sea sky direction.

And so for day 556

CMC Old-style

There are some keen pleasures for the telnet set ...

Yred played mute on Stingray. no .talk but lots of actions [.emote] and .think It was rather delightful. Pleased arora & midnite nicely.

A quick May 5, 1997 jotting in a notebook.

Yred, a regular on Philly, now hangs out at Madhouse. 5550

And so for day 555

Bonds and Bindings

Totally lifted out of context to sharpen the image of being bound:

My own feeling is that as we interact with any artifact, any device, we become bound to it.

Mark Pesce, co-creator of VRML, in an interview Meme 2.14

A shade of McLuhan and the prosthetic theory of technology but subtly different since being bound to is not the same as being bonded to.

And so for day 554

Links versus Pointers

From a journal entry dated 15/09/96

Spent about two hours yesterday with David Findlay reviewing the on-line version of [...] What struck me is the importance of storyboarding a site: taking account of the possible paths through the site and indeed making sure one does not succumb to the desire to link everything to everything. The adage you "can't get there from here" is very apt for Web development.

You can get to a place that will get you there. A pointer is sometimes more valuable than a link because the effort to follow a pointer involves an investment greater than following a link.

And so for day 553


Andrew Holleran's narrator in The Beauty of Men finds himself waiting behind a school bus and musing

He regards the school bus now with a certain awe — even if he knows it's filled with bullies and brats trying to inflict pain on gentler children — as he watches them get off the bus at the dirt road that leads into a pool of trailers among the pine trees o the shores of Lake Sampson. Nothing has changed: Some kids get off by themselves, walk over to a mailbox, open the lid, then flip it back in disgust. (They need mail too, he thinks. Perhaps I can spend the rest of my life writing children letters.)

Note the sharp shift in pronouns. It provides some poignancy. No matter how many letters get written few arrive except for the novel that one is reading if that counts as a letter and we the readers as expectant children. We can turn in disgust from a novel not meant for us.

And so for day 552

Neighbouring Vitality

There is this novel written in the genre of memoir. What I like about the narrator's voice is that he presents as a person who is beloved — surrounded by people who care about him. He is rarely describes moments of being alone. Yet this from whence flows the narration, a place of connectedness, a desire to not be alone.

He [Daniel] and I talked for a while longer and then he left and later, when I was alone, I thought about Teddy and I missed him and I sat at my desk with a pad and a pen and began to write.

And a few paragraphs later the focus is future-directed with the same yearning for the image of a group of people delighting in each other's company.

[Our narrator has been to the park.] When we reached the meadow I watched two shirtless youths, both short, brown, and muscular, passing a soccer ball between them and the sight of the outline of one of their penises made me smile. After I watched them play for a while I spread my jacket on the grass and lay back on it and looked at the clouds passing by in stately order, and gradually I fell asleep to the sounds of the kicking and bumping of the soccer ball and the calls of the young men using it, and just before I slept I wished that death could be like that: falling asleep on spicy-smelling grass with the warm sun on my face while nearby life, youth, vitality, live on.

It is always amazing how a wish becomes a book, how a wish is a source of vitality.

At least it is true for one book: Valley of the Shadow by Christopher Davis.

And so for day 551

Generous Spirit

I have always been struck by the border between generous comment and irony. Take for example, Northrop Frye in a lecture on Oswald Spengler for CBC radio in the series Architects of Modern Thought

Spengler's book [The Decline of the West] is a vision rather than a theory or a philosophy, and a vision of haunting imaginative power. Its truth is the truth of poetry or prophecy, not of science. A good deal of Spengler's mind was second-rate, and he continually misunderstood and misapplied his own thesis. So there are many attacks upon him that miss the real point of his book, but still they're attacks that Spengler really asked for.
But I think myself that trying to understand Spengler is a fine exercise in intellectual tolerance.
There is probably not a statement in Spengler that has not been regarded as scientific absurdity or mystical balderdash by some critic or other. But Spengler has the power to expand and exhilarate the mind as critics of that type usually have not, and he will probably survive them all even if all of them are right.

I like how Frye positions the reader. Initially we are asked to indulge in "a fine exercise in intellectual tolerance" which although it might strike a note of condescension is an invitation to be a good critic. In the end we are implicitly asked to concur with the remark about survival which builds a lasting estimation. Frye wants us to be on the side of the critics with power.

And so for day 550

Teaching Tip

An entry in a small notebook dated September 96. Jill Scott was teaching a course at Carleton on postmodern theory and wrapping up her thesis.

Jill asked for advice for the 1st time teacher. Told her not to be afraid of silence. Pauses permit cogitation.

Of course one learns to judge the quality of silences. Some of them signal befuddlement. Others, attuned audience.

And so (pause) for day 549

Touch, Vision and Re-vision

A not very generous assessment from 1996 (though I'm struck by that the concessive "mind you" apostrophe to the reader) ...

Read Richard Shiff's piece in Public 13. Interesting take on Benjamin's notion of aura being implicated in touch and vision. Lots of restatement and little analysis. I did like the use of De Anima. Fun to find two texts that I used in my thesis used here also but somewhat different[ly]. Shiff seems to be totally unaware of Adorno's critique of Benjamin. In particular the stuff on the dialectical image. This I believe would not allow [him] to place Benjamin as an unquestioned authority at the head of an essay that essentially develops a typology. I'm not opposed to typologies per se but would love to know how & why a particular one operated. There is something a bit imperialistic about a typology that starts out from a collapse of touch & vision. Mind you I'm the one who argues for narrativity as the abstract level necessary for translation between all sensory modalities. I don't fetischize physicality & materiality which at some level Shiff does.

Makes me want to reread the piece to see if my mini-critique holds up.

And so for day 548

From the Little Red Book

On your own but not alone...

Each of us, grown-ups and young people, often get so overwhelmed with our own problems that we often think we're alone, that no one wants to help or even cares. It's important to remember two things about that: that we all need to offer help when we think it's wanted, and that none of us be afraid to ask when we need it. [...] so we all know a little of each other's problems. We are not alone.

Wallace Roberts, the American edition editor of The Little Red Schoolbook by Soren Hansen and Jesper Jensen with Wallace Roberts trans. from Danish by Berit Thronberry (New York: Pocket Books in association with Lawrence Handel Books, 1971).

And so for day 547

Semantic Field: schema, figura, habitus

M.A. Screech Ecstasy and the Praise of Folly

In the Annotations on the New Testament he [Erasmus] points out that the original Greek word, schema, may be translated by habitus (state, condition) or by figura (fashion, structure).

I find this conjunction of terms very suggestive. The annotation is to a verse concerning the world and what passes away.

I Corinthians 7: 31: praeterit enim figura hujus mundi: 'For the fashion of this world passeth away.' He himself preferred to render the Greek not by figura but habitus.

Apart from the theme of what passes away, I am intrigued by the relations between figura and habitus as they may pertain to descriptions of acts of perception.

And so for day 546


A meditation upon childhood play with twigs, channels and dams.
Ross Leckie "Breakwaters" in Descant 92/93 (Spring and Summer 1996) Volume 27, Numbers 1 and 2, page 92 ... the poem's final lines:

Currents change and breakwaters erode, slide, suspend,

submerge — the street returns to its routine. It's time

to turn from this river, this local run-off

and its parish curriculum. I'm late for school.

I like how the word "time" is suspended (and the word "suspend" too) at the end of the line.

And so for day 545

A Smile at A Smile in His Lifetime

Joseph Hansen has his lead character visit a home from his past, a home that time has ravaged.

He steps into the room where he slept. Damp trash lies in the corner where his bed was. There are books without covers. They can't have belonged to him, but he picks one up. It feels at the same time gritty and wet. Even the title page is gone. He reads a phrase, a smile in his lifetime. Something crawls on his hands. He drops the book. Sowbugs have nested in the moist back. He shakes his hands, wipes the crawly feeling off them. He nudges the book with the toe of his clean blue-and-white shoe. So much for the immortality of print.

And the novel where this memento mori is located is called A Smile in His Lifetime.

And so for day 544

Translation and of Modals

Take four modal categories

Alethic (possible, impossible, necessary)
Deontic (permitted, prohibited, obligatory)
Axiological (good, bad, indifferent)
Epistemic (known, unknown, believed)

And think about their intersection through the lens of ekphrasis and the consideration of visual-verbal translations. I would like to recast the epistemic in terms of "known, knowable, unknowable". This seems to align better with questions of iconoclasism.

I am still not clear as to how I got to known-knowable-unknowable from the destruction of images or the ban on images which operates on a valence of shown/unshown. Perhaps it was more so through the notion that there exists a relation between the verbal and visual and that relation is one of translatability: translated, translatable, untranslatable.

If I go back to the July 9, 2003 blog comment at Calamity Jane Takes Aim, I find this began as a remark about the status of the object of ekphrasis (exists, doesn't exist, might exist).

And so for day 543

Notes on Improvisation

Entry from a 1996 notebook recording a conversation with Craig Squires.

Risks of Improvisation

know people well    danger of falling into old habits

when you don't know the people well     you can't "hear" because you don't know their vocabulary

for people you know well    touch those buttons you "can't" touch

Aleatory aspects more present with people you don't know well

but with people you know the aleatory is mapped onto the emergence of novelty in the relationship

control of adequate redundancy in communication situations

with performance with people you know the third. is there, a sensing of other participants sensing ...

— without risk improv doesn't work.

the punctuation is odd and so is the spacing - familiar and yet disjunctive

And so for day 542

The Maternal is not One

A boy body (not subject to reproduction) runs through the blogmire attentive to the rustling ruptures:

She is now famous for the distinction between what she calls the "semiotic" and the "symbolic," which she develops in her early work including Revolution in Poetic Language , "From One Identity to the Other" in Desire in Language, and Powers of Horror. Kristeva maintains that all signification is composed of these two elements. The semiotic element is the bodily drive as it is discharged in signification. The semiotic is associated with the rhythms, tones, and movement of signifying practices. As the discharge of drives, it is also associated with the maternal body, the first source of rhythms, tones, and movements for every human being since we all have resided in that body.
Center for Digital Discourse and Culture @Virginia Tech

Read carefully. Too quick a jump to the maternal association skips over the social & other associations with "rhythms, tones, and movement of signifying practices." Marking a "first source" is like counting with natural numbers. The set of whole numbers brings to mind an origin beyond the source: the rain that feeds the spring. There is some laughter around the bend.

And so for day 541

Locution Locution Locution

M.A. Screech in his book on Erasmus, Ecstasy and the Praise of Folly, provides this intriguing look into the tradition of a playful expression:

The soul of Paul, says Erasmus, in gloss on II Corinthians 5:13, like the anima of all lovers, 'is not where it animates but where it loves' (anima non est ubi animat, sed ubi amat). This famous phrase which does not occur in the Moira but is implied there, links the ecstatic love explained in the Annotations and praised by Folly, with a millenium and a half of Christian mysticism.

The Latin is special. And to continue reading Screech is in part to learn why.

The standard expression is Verius est anima ubi amat quam ubi animat — the soul, that is, more truly belongs where it loves than where it simply animates. The expression was coined by St Bonaventura (Solioquium II. 2, no. 12, in Opera VIII, Quaracchi 1898, 49, col. 1). Bonaventura took the notion over from St Bernard, where it is less memorable since it is applied to the spiritus, not the anima (ibid. note 5); so in St Bernard there is no play on the words anima and animat. As Bonaventura coined it, it is one of those powerful expressions which was so widely used that its source was sometimes lost to view; Aquinas even attributed it to St Augustine. In the history of mysticism the idea which it embodies constitutes a bridge by which Platonic rapture passed through Pseudo-Dionysius to Bernard, Bonaventura and mediaeval mysticism generally, then on to high Renaissance ecstatics like John of the Cross, as well as to a scholarly saint like François de Sales.

And so for day 540

Accidental: New Roses

Page 415 in the 2000 paperback edition of China Miéville's Perdido Street Station blooms this piece of typesetting magic which snags my attention like a thorn:

"I do not dream, der Grimnebulin. I am a calculating machine that has calculated how to think. I do not dream. I have no neu-roses, no hidden depths.

The hyphenation is a product of the layout and it somehow is like a dream element that triggers a reverie of associations.

And so for day 539

Form of a Bifurcation

In Every Force Evolves a Form there is an essay on the painter Balthus, an essay structured as a series of aphoristic paragraphs. In one of those paragraphs, Guy Davenport draws what could be characterized as a distinction between experience and description. He affixes labels to both sides of the distinction and places the subject of the essay in one of the camps:

Where in Greek writing you always find a running account of all the senses in intimate contact with the world, in Latin you find instead a pedantry accustomed to substituting some rhetorical convention for honest and immediate perception. Balthus has Greek wholeness.

Ironic that Davenport is accomplishing the comparison through a trope sketched via a rhetorical dichotomy — a very Latin move.

And so for day 538

Principles and Stories

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples advanced four principles for engaging in meaningful relationship building. They are: Recognition, Respect, Sharing and Responsibility. They are presented in that order. I believe that the order matters. A relationship progresses through these stages. The listing of the principles presents a narrative and the narration matters. It's an ongoing story that can be represented as a mandala. In the centre of the square are three principles that are often invoked in models in the design of effective organizations. They do not immediately tell a story, at least not from the point of view of the individual actor, yet they represent, like the RCAP principles, states that are desirable. However, in this mandala formation, one might think that "responsibility" is reached through a cycle of claiming "ownership" and giving an "account" or that responsibility is manifested through owning and accounting. What do you make of this arrangement?

For the complete RCAP report see

And so for day 537

Within and Between

Justice Bastarache wrote in the Supreme Court of Canada decision in M. v. H. (1999)

It would be consistent with Charter values of equality and inclusion to treat all members in a family relationship equally and all types of family relationships equally.

For me the social ideal of equality within and between families resonates with a 1994 vision statement "All people, including youth, determine for themselves their personal relationships. This is based upon the ability to move in and out of relations. This requires the recognition of both formal and substantial rights, both in law and in government policy."

And so for day 536