Spume and Veil

Susan Howe appends a note to Where Should The Commander Be* and the note reads *A preliminary exploration of the hidden feminine in Melville and Olson. And the patient reader is treated to a finale drawing not only on skill in etymological exposition but also an astonishing assurance in navigating the canon. A small taste of the bravura. She sets the stage for a quotation from Moby Dick juxtaposed with a quotation from Hamlet thus:

In the dream of murderous union between fathers and sons, pieces of a Past are broken and eaten. Pushed backward through time, Man's hierarchical position is a recent invention. What lies under? Is the human universe definable if you have left women out of the definition? Where is the mother then?
And surprise — there follows this crossed-pronoun bit from Melville: "There she breaches! There she breaches!" was the cry, as in immeasurable bravadoes the White Whale tossed himself salmon-like to Heaven. (Moby Dick, Chapter 134). And then some dialogue from Hamlet between the Prince and the players (of the play within a play) where there is the question of who has seen "the mobled Queen". And then this which I label as a triumph:
Mobled, that is, veiled, with face muffled; past participle of the verb to mob(b)le.
These extracts are from an essay published in Writing 19 November 1987. In case you missed it: a queen played by a boy actor in a play within a play and a whale referenced once in reported speech as of feminine gender and referenced by the narrator as masculine. And we are not sure to have found what lies under or where the mother might be.

And so for day 992
31.08.2009

Triples

From an old signature block

*If pastry making is to chemistry
**and if bread baking is to biology
Then gardening is to physics ***
And another
"structure, content, format"
-- not just nouns --
And why not a third?
"cohorts become a matter of ecology"
Interesting to see brought together these elements of signatures gone by and to entertain reflexive relations between them.

And so for day 991
30.08.2009

After Duncan

red
write
rite
read
write
rite
read
red
rite
read
red
write
read
red
write
rite
red
write
rite
read
read
rite
write
red
red
read
rite
write
write
red
read
rite
rite
write
red
read
read
rite
write
red


This is inspired by Garry Thomas Morse. Petroglyph. Which led me back to a long ago reading of matrices from Robert Duncan "The Fire Passages 13" from Bending the Bow.

read
rite
write
red
red
read
rite
write
write
red
read
rite
rite
write
red
read
read
rite
write
red
red
write
rite
read
write
rite
read
red
rite
read
red
write
read
red
write
rite
red
write
rite
read


And so for day 990
29.08.2009

Same Same

Read on Twitter:

"the difficult territory where eros and grief overlap...where the absence of the body is...an evocation of the vanished and lingering soul"
Sounded awfully familiar. Ran a search. It's from Mark Doty's intro to James L. White's The Salt Ecstasies. And thanks to the ellipsis marks, one's curious — what got left behind?
It's an elegiac mode that recognizes and identifies the difficult territory where eros and grief overlap, where tenderness is charged with physical fellow-feeling, where the absence of the body is inscribed as a charm for and an evocation of the vanished and lingering soul
The dear love of comrades - fellow feeling. Inscription. Charm.

What we quote and what we leave out are telling. That is obvious. In the context of queer poetics this has been on my mind of late. I noted in Not Fully There that Clint Burnham quotes from Alan Davies's review "Steve/steve" of Steve McCaffrey's critical writing collection, North of Intention [Writing 25, (1990) p. 57] Here is Burnham quoting Davies:
In light of the consistent attention that McCaffery pays to the visual, the "bar" also brings to mind how the signifier (S) and signified (s) are separated. As Davies notes in "Steve/steve" (the title, of course, plays with the Saussurean diagram), "It's troubling to me that the Signifier and signified have been made to assume the missionary position. ... [M]eaning is inherent in discernible differences. ... [T]he thesis seems homophobic in extremis" (57). He charges that the bar is that of conventional heterosexuality, which schematic is reproduced in Saussurean linguistics; Shifters, then, while formally akin to the gay strategies that Chadwick identifies, is still complicit with compulsory heterosexuality. Although the lyric is being deconstructed, the lyre is still powerful.
Here is Davies's restored (with my emphasis):
It's troubling to me that the Signifier and signified have been made to assume the missionary position and that Sausure's thinking doesn't ever depart them from it. Also significant among his theses is the one that ordains that meaning is inherent in discernible differences, chiefly of one sign from another. I don't know what it means for minorities in general, but the thesis seems homophobic in extremis." (57).
"depart them from it" And so I return to Davies for some clarification. (Burnham isn't quite accurate in laying upon "Steve/steve" his fascination with the bar / Davies makes no mention at all of heterosexuality, conventional or otherwise — he takes issue with positioning: how in the discourse Signifier is displayed over signified.) Far from questions of separation or the dividing bar, what is at stake is the status of the same, its ability to produce. The next sentence after the observation of homophobic thesis is less about the bar of separation as about the privileging of difference.
Really: to find signification only in the relationship of Signifier to signified, to look for meaning almost exclusively in the areas of such signs, to privilege difference as the actor of meaning, these ideas limit the spheres of our thinking, and much of the work of semiotics and the like that has been generated in their vicinity has been at the expense of better work that might have been done afield.
"Really"

And so for day 989
28.08.2009

Carriage

Jeanette Winterson. Weight.

Autobiography is not important. Authenticity is important. The writer must fire herself through the text, be the molten stuff that welds together disparate elements. I believe there is always exposure, vulnerability, in the writing process, which is not to say it is either confessional or memoir. Simply, it is real.
[from the Introduction]

I can hear the world beginning. Time plays itself back for me. I can hear the ferns uncurling from their tight rest. I can hear pools bubbling with life. I realise I am carrying not only this world, but all possible worlds. I am carrying the world in time as well as in space. I am carrying the world's mistakes and its glories. I am carrying its potential as well as what has so far been realised.
[from Weight of the World]
This is more than a simply retelling of the Atlas story. It is an invitation to think about destiny. And the ends we uphold.

And so for day 988
27.08.2009

Imperfections

Leonard Koren. "Exquisite Decay" Utne Reader Sept.-Oct. 2001. p. 52

All things are imperfect. Nothing that exists is without imperfections. When we look closely at things, we see the flaws. The sharp edge of a razor blade, when it is magnified, reveals pits, chips, and variegations, And as things begin to break down and approach the primordial state, they become even less perfect, more irregular, and perhaps more lovely.
Note the hesitation "perhaps more lovely." The passage about imperfection is sandwiched between "All things are impermanent" and "All things are incomplete." Transitory becoming. Beauty is passing but also returning. Maybe.

The excerpt published in the Utne Reader is taken from the book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.

And so for day 987
26.08.2009

77-78

It is a coincidence that the text is discussing changes in situation and the sentence necessitates a page turn to continue on and complete the transition. And a further co-incident is the theme of chance.

For Cage, the composer is like the hero of the legend, chance composition is like the rolling of the metal ball, and the resulting musical form is the passage from [pb] one situation to another.
James Pritchett. The Music of John Cage (Cambridge University Press, 1983; rpt 1996) pp. 77-78.

And in case you were wondering about the legend and the metal ball. It's Irish.
A story from Irish folklore that Cage refers to in his lectures and writings is useful analogy to this model. The story deals with a hero who goes on a quest with the aid of a magical horse — a "shaggy nag" — that gives him advice along the way. The horse gives the hero a metal ball and instructs him to cast it in front of them and to follow it wherever it leads. The hero does this, and thus, by abandoning himself to chance, passes safely through his various trials.


And so for day 986
25.08.2009

Stoned Glyph

You pay careful attention and are rewarded. "No comment" in Discovery Passages by Garry Thomas Morse rings the changes on elements such as the tiny word "gives" — all drawn from Indian Agent reports and petitions to practice ancient ways of potlach. And then later in the book one comes across a poem entitled "Petroglyph" and it seems a simple variation on three words aligned in a 3 x 2 grid.

 hard
love
 live
But if you look closely, you will see that the justification varies. And so the stone writing is not on stone but more like pebbles laid out on the beach and open to the next wave, washing all away and reminding that the layout requires song to continue on and utter the word "live" with a long or a short "i" and make choices as subtle as the shifts in the indentations of the lines. Taken in at a glance 3 X 2 and entranced. Given to the giving.

In case you are having some difficulty in visualing the complete poem, consider how the schema was generated. (Imagine if you will the simple procedure: produce a list of words, generate the various combinations, layout the result. Of course, the layout of the combinations involves further generations and choices.) I have taken to quote the poem in full. However, it is best viewed in in its published context: all on the right page facing a picture of a petroglyph from Quadra Island, British Columbia.
 hard
love
 live
 live
hard
love
love
 hard
live
love
 live
hard
live
 love
hard
hard
 live
 love

As in all good poems, form is only a pretext. And what Morse succeeds in doing is not only to focus on the words but also their relations. It's a gift.

And so for day 985
24.08.2009

Drawing Writing

Generating complexity. From Andrew Piper "Of Note" chapter in Book Was There. [ Can you spot the complex sentence? ]

But in learning to write with our hands, we are also learning a different kind of knowledge altogether. When we write with our hands we are also learning how to draw, just as when we learn to draw we are learning to think more complexly with words. Research suggests that early elementary school students who draw before they write tend to produce more words and more complex sentences than those who do not. And as historians of writing have shown, writing makes drawing more analytical. It allows for more complex visual structures and relations to emerge. As Goethe remarked, word and image, drawing and writing, are correlates that eternally search for one another. handwriting is an integral means of their convergence.
[our underlining]
This can be converted into a meditation in praise of flip charts and smartboards and picture taking and tagging.

And so for day 984
23.08.2009

Lukewarm Releases Umami

It's technical and precise but the process is simple to follow.

Another point is that the enzymes that break down the ribonucleotides into guanylate work most effectively at a temperature of between 30 and 40ºC, and when subjected to high temperature they become inactive. Thus if the dried shiitake is soaked in boiling water, the enzymes are inactivated and no more guanylate can be released. By contrast, if the shiitake is soaked in lukewarm water around 30-40ºC, then the enzymes can continue to produce guanylate from ribonucleotides, increasing the umami taste.
Advice from Dashi and Umami: The heart of Japanese cuisine

And so for day 983
22.08.2009

A Summit of Summation

Your trust in the independent scholar increases as you read the article and come across a beautifully constructed sentence that carries you further along:

While futurism discarded mimetic representation in favor of fragmentation and wordplay, and symbolism depicted objects as vehicles to a higher sphere, acmeism espoused a poetics of palpability and precision: the acmeist poet depicts the earthly object with heightened clarity, attempting to view it as if for the first time, like Adam.
From Kirsten Blythe Painter, "Acmeism" in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics. Informing in a beautiful fashion.

And so for day 982
21.08.2009

Order of Words

Northrop Frye on what we do when we read in a certain way...

Everyone who has seriously studied literature knows that he is not simply moving from poem to poem, or from one aesthetic experience to another: he is also entering into a coherent and progressive discipline. For literature is not simply an aggregate of books and poems and plays: it is an order of words. And our total literary experience, at any given time, is not a discrete series of memories or impressions of what we have read, but an imaginatively coherent body of experience.
The passage is from Frye's essay on Milton's Lycidas collected in Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology. It is not surprising that as he goes on to develop his theme, Frye links this "imaginatively coherent body of experience" to an archetypal structure.
It is literature as an order of words, therefore, which forms the primary context of any given work of literary art. All other contexts — the place of Lycidas in Milton's development; its place in the history of English poetry; its place in seventeenth-century thought or history — are secondary and derivative contexts. Within the total literary order certain structural and generic principles, certain configurations of narrative and imagery, certain conventions and devices and topoi, occur over and over again. In every new work of literature some of these principles are reshaped.
And so we come to the myth of the protean universe alive with repeating patterns. Configurations constantly reconfigured. Old friends in new guises. What is remarkable is how much hinges on the simple phrase "order of words." And how that phrase is cast in parallel to another "body of experience." The latter makes the former shimmer and move. And yet somehow underneath, the rebellious spirits of seriality, of historicization, and a deep appreciation of flux, are complicating the timeless apprehension of structure. The derivative drives if not the reading then the reshaping.

Frye is correct. It takes progressive discipline to discern configurations.

And so for day 981
20.08.2009

Catch and Release Something Lucretian

From VII in the sequence "Migrant" in The Lease by Mathew Henderson. The foxes have lapped the water from sloughs contaminated by cow shit and they are later

retching rabbit from their stomachs in the field
And even this water brings your mind to trout:
the first one you caught, slapped down, scales on sink,
and cut, still gulping, from belly to tail. Your fingers
probing like your father's, hard against the gentle insides,
and finally the quiet as you felt a little salamander, still living,
wriggle his head free of the guts. Placed him gently
on the lawn, found him frozen the next morning.
For some reason (the mention of trout? the poetic use of technical vocabulary?) the poem in this part of the sequence and as a whole reminds me of Earle Birney's "David".

And so for day 980
19.08.2009

Colophon Quibbles

This reads as a parody by its excess and by the fact that it's the colophon to a work of poems infused with the jargon of the oil patch. Someone at the Coach House Press was having fun with Mathew Henderson's The Lease.

Typeset in Roos.

Printed in August 2012 at the old Coach House on bpNicol Lane in Toronto, Ontario, on Zephyr Antique Laid paper, which was manufactured, acid-free, in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, from second-growth forests. This book was printed with vegetable-based ink on a 1965 Heidelberg kord offset litho press. Its pages were folded on a Baumfolder, gathered by hand, bound on a Sulby Auto-Minabinda and trimmed on a Polar single-knife cutter.
Wine snobs could not be more elegant. Except the accent is missing on "Québec" which would not be noticed if they were not present on "Saint-Jérôme".

And so for day 979
18.08.2009

Learning Patience

I want to be a FARMER by Carla Greene, illustrated by Irma and George Wilde (Childrens Press, 1959). The beginning sets out the mindset of the young protagonist:

Jim did not like
to make a garden.
Dig, dig, dig.
Work, work, work.
Wait, wait, wait.
Through the course of the story after a visit to Uncle Dick's farm, the hero grows more appreciative. It helps that the narration is supported by good design from the front cover on.



And so for day 978
17.08.2009

Out Bound

In French one observes the link between to read ("lire") and to bind ("lier"). Spellbinding. Leads one to ponder the etymology of "read". And of course how one's experience with the act of reading may be conditioned by one's participation in a given linguistic community. Take the German expression for to learn by heart "auswendig lernen". It is about uttering whereas growing up with the French equivalent "apprendre par coeur" was to store near one's heart — very much an ingathering exercise. And the German is closer to the Latin "ediscere" where learning (discere) and saying (dicere) are close. And there is Brian Stock's book that deals in part with forms of subjectivity fostered by the advent of silent reading (Augustine the Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge and the Ethics of Interpretation).

And I come to wonder how reading aloud is connected to speaking about. Are these transferable skills? A great actor may give a great reading but is it a great interpretation? Some languages have "interprétation" for both reading aloud and interpretation. "Lecture" (reading) is a usually solitary act which may lead to a "conférence" (a lecture).

Now I am thinking of the role of audience and how the presence of the other whether virtual (in the echo chamber of our mind) or actual in the reading group or seminar breaks the bindings and sets us free — as if reading were a type of willing enslavement, a disciplinary passage to freedom. And Wikipedia offers this piece of information about voluntary slavery:

In ancient times one of the most direct ways to become a Roman or Greek citizen was by means of a self-sale contract. For the laws surrounding Roman and Greek manumission made it quite possible for such erstwhile slaves to then become citizens or near-citizens themselves. See Citation Note 3.
Every binding is broken. Not breakable. But broken. In the mindset of manumission we come to the act of reading as menders. The book as broken object in need of repair. And ironically the only way to repair the binding spell is by unwinding the bound. But if the book is not a codex how do we apply our metaphorics? The game becomes one of intersecting at the boundaries, keeping the play in bounds. That is in the circle of awareness, within the attention. Or caching. Through one's heart towards that of a future reader.

And so for day 977
16.08.2009

"Making Love to Myself"

"Bleak," he said. What about the poem where he plays with himself? Actually it's called "Making Love to Myself". And it is poignant — which is not the same as "bleak." Indeed in his introduction, Mark Doty devotes considerable space to this poem. He sums up for me something that my friend who cried "bleak" perhaps overlooks — the soothing aura of elegy:

Earlier, I called "Making Love to Myself" a proto-elegy. I'd like to suggest that it provides a sort of template for the sorts of poems that gay men were compelled to write a decade later, when the epidemic began to send a generation of lovers irrevocably to the Laramies of Elysium. It's an elegiac mode that recognizes and identifies the difficult territory where eros and grief overlap, where tenderness is charged with physical fellow-feeling, where the absence of the body is inscribed as a charm for and an evocation of the vanished and lingering soul.
Bleak is the wrong word. Wrong for five reasons: 1) too short 2) too close in association with "blank" 3) it pecks at the poem from an outside perspective like a cruel beak 4) sadness is not the same as depression 5) i once gathered a number of poems under the title Tracking the Rememberance of Touch long before I found a kindred spirit in James L. White and The Salt Ecstasies (where "Making Love to Myself" can be found) and it takes a certain boldness to as the French say "afficher".

My how feisty we have grown... Time to modulate and review what we wrote about Anne Carson and Paul Monette.

And so for day 976
15.08.2009

Printing Out and Slowing Down

Marie-Laure Ryan on reading Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce.

During my first pass through Twelve Blue I was so preoccupied with restoring a semblance of order in its informational chaos that I hardly took the time to slow down and properly savor a passage. The twelve lines on the left of each screen kept urging me to make use of my freedom to click, to move on and find out what lay beyond the screen. When I encountered passages that tempted me to take a deep breath and inhale the flavor of language. I cheated the electronic medium by printing them out. This allowed me to postpone their rereading and to move on in my elusive quest for narrative coherence. (Without printouts, and without a map of the network, who knows if I would ever get another look at a given screen?)
from Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media

And so for day 975
14.08.2009

In Praise of Handwriting

Arthur Cooper in his notes to his translation of a poem by Tu Fu provides additional information about General Wang, a calligrapher of note.

It was said of him that his writing was "as light as floating clouds and as vigourous as a startled dragon."
For a wonderful way to while away time -- consider the Heilbrunn Timeline Of Art History offered by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Searching for "calligraphy" nets not only Chinese but also Islamic and Coptic examples. The Heilbrunn Timeline also contains thematic essays such as the one by Dawn Delbanco on Chinese Caligraphy which provides a link to one of the items mentioned for further reading -- Barnhart, Richard M. "Chinese Calligraphy: The Inner World of the Brush." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 30 (April–May 1972), pp. 230–41. And then there is a host of sites devoted to Chinese calligraphy video. Slow Motion and Lightening Fast.

And so for day 974
13.08.2009

In Praise of Consistency

Ned Rorem in what can be described as a cat and mouse interview with Lawrence D. Mass (published in Queering the Pitch: the new gay and lesbian musicology) is confronted with a passage from Walt Whitman. It appears that Mass is banking on the fact that Rorem has set some of Whitman's poems to music and wants to illicit some sort of avowal.

Mass: I think the following statement by another very outspoken gay American artist might well apply to you: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." Am I wrong?

Rorem: Of all the silly statements Whitman ever made, that's the most irresponsible. Even poets should not give themselves a loophole by saying they are so complicated that they think all sorts of different things. Of course, they do ... But the contradictions need to be organized and then frozen into art. For people to use their complexity as an excuse for laxity is too easy an out. I don't approve of it, not for Walt Whitman, not for me nor anyone else. In the guise of being contradictory, evil things can happen.
End of interview

And so for day 973
12.08.2009

Epic Impossibilities

Segments of this appeared in Text Tiles and here it takes on another flavour.

I have travelled too far I have not enough of enough
to write epic or species of ace
even my arrows and heroes salted by ink's apings
cannot tapestry fill to cradle cup
24.12.2002
I do like the echo of "scraping" in "ink's apings". I also like the parallelism between the unfinished and impossible tapestry and no force to complete the gesture of raising a glass as in a libation.

I wonder for what project might be served by the gathering of strength from withdrawal.

And so for day 972
11.08.2009

Paying the Piper

The political cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin) in a short Globe & Mail piece remembering May Cutler publisher of the children's imprint Tundra.

This being brand new territory for me, [...] I would run these drawings by my own children and their friends in order to get their reactions. I mentioned this to May when I arrived at her Westmount offices with my first sketches. Well, May looked at me with a not untypical look — one that suggested I might just be bordering on idiocy. "Terry," she said bluntly, "you don't draw children's books for children. You draw children's books for the parents of children ... the ones who pay for them!"

Life lesson learned.
Ah! Marketing driving content...

And so for day 971
10.08.2009

Gallic Genealogy

French distinguishes half brothers by type. A "demi-frère" can be either

de même père - consanguin

de même mère - utérin
Blood brothers through the father... womb siblings through the mother.

And so for day 970
09.08.2009

Bilingual Lesbian Arousal

Writing 16 (October 1986). Nicole Brossard translated by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood. "Her Hand On A Book Resting While Our Bodies Obliquely". Brava for the French and Brava Encore for the English. But a brief impression of the delicate tensions held in place by language and image...

Rien n'est prévu sinon que la respiration, la répétition des sons entre les chairs. Fricatelle* ruiselle essentielle aime-t-elle dans le touche à tout qui arrondit les seins la rondeur douce des bouches ou l'effet qui la déshabille?
Look how "ruiselle" got rendered with perfect pitch for its place in the three adjectives all with the same ending and the deliberate control of the assonance. Astounding.
Nothing is foreseen other than the breathing, the sounds resounding from flesh to flesh. Does she frictional she fluvial she essential does she in the all-embracing touch that rounds the breasts love the mouths' soft roundness or the effect undressing her?
I have long searched for an equivalent to the French "cyprine" which is very specific to a woman's vaginal secretions. Lotbinière-Harwood is simply amazing in how she conveys the nuances.
aime-t-elle l'état du monde dans la flambé des chairs pendant que les secondes s'écoulent cyprine, lutines, marins.
does she love the state of the world in the blaze of flesh to flesh as seconds flow by silken salty spritely.
In how a note is worded (the intimacy of first names) we read and gain further appreciation of the work of the translator and her collaboration with the writer...
*fricatelle — from fricarelle the rubbing together of women's thighs. Thirties slang for lesbian. Nicole explains, via Marie-Jo Bonnet, Un choix sans équivoque, and Nicolas Blondeau Le Dictionnaire Érotique Latin-Français. Blondeau's dictionary was written in the 17th but not published until the 19th century. S. de L.-H.
And in the 20th the words were set in a different matrice to travel on to the 21st.

And so for day 969
08.08.2009

Smooth Striations

Almost like a reminder of the room as time-machine in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency [and for this reader: the metaphor of the book in hand as time-machine], the potential of language as a transportation device is referenced by Marie-Laure Ryan as being close at hand.

Life is lived in real time, as a succession of presents, but through its ability to refer to physically absent objects, language puts consciousness in touch with the past and the future, metamorphoses time into a continuous spread that can be traveled in all directions, and transports the imagination to distant locations.
Eerie that in a web search after typing in the first four letters of the keyword TARDIS a neurological disorder (tardive dyskinesia*) is offered up as next in line ... and the association may yet shift over time.

Ryan's marvellous book, Narrative as Virtual Reality, can account for such hypertextual transitions by reference to the suggestion from Mark Nunes ("Virtual Topographies: Smooth and Striated Cyberspace" in Cyberspace Textualit) that Deleuze and Guattari's distinctions between the smooth and the striated have some use in describing types of ... let us pick up Ryan's words:
The spatial metaphor supports different scenarios, depending on whether textual space is conceived as a "smooth" expanse that the reader cruises for the pleasure of the trip or as a "striated" space of freeways whose sole purpose is to lead to a destination. [...] In a smooth-space environment, the reader is driven by an obsession to get further, either fortified or dampened in this drive by the thought that her desire to exhaust all the links cannot be satisfied. In a striated space, the reader gives herself a goal, such as reaching the center of a labyrinth, or finding the exit, and her relation to the text is very much that of a player who hopes to beat a computer game.
Back to Nunes. His note 7
Guattari in later writing has addressed how computer-mediated communication can "not merely convey representational contents, but also contribute to the fabrication of new assemblages of enunciation, individual and collective” (19). See “Regimes, Pathways, Subjects” (Incorporations, New York: Zone, 1992) for a discussion of machines, assemblages of enunciation, and the production of subjectivities.
And to Guattari's note 3 (trans. Brian Massumi) which concludes
What we need to conceptualize is a continuum running from children's games and the makeshift ritualizations accompanying attempts at psychopathological recompositions of "schizoid" worlds, through the complex cartographies of myth and art, all the way to the sumptuous speculative edifices of theology and philosophy, which have sought to apprehend these same dimensions of existential creativity (examples are Plotinus's "forgetful souls" and the "unmoving motor" which, according to Leibinz, preexists any dissipation of potential).
*This neurological disorder frequently appears after long-term or high-dose use of antipsychotic drugs.

And so for day 968
07.08.2009

Interactively Immersed

Good beginnings state the stakes. And this is the case with the conclusion of the introduction to Marie-Laure Ryan Narrative as Virtual Reality

But why should the synthesis of immersion and interactivity matter so much for aesthetic philosophy? In its literal sense, immersion is a corporeal experience, and as I have hinted, it takes the projection of a virtual body, or even better, the participation of the actual one, to feel integrated in an art-world. On the other hand, if interactivity is conceived as the appreciator's engagement in a play of signification that takes place on the level of signs rather than things and of words rather than worlds, it is a purely cerebral involvement with the text that downplays emotions, curiosity about what will happen next, and the resonance of the text with personal memories of places and people. On the shiny surface of signs — the signifier — there is no room for bodies of either the actual or virtual variety. [...] What is at stake in the synthesis of immersion and interactivity is therefore nothing less than the participation of the whole of the individual in the artistic experience.
I like how this moves from the memory-body to the cerebral engagement. In short we don't check our brains at the door — they come with us on the expedition.

And so for day 967
06.08.2009

The Culinary and the Typographic

One of the joys of reading Robert Bringhurst is the analogies he draws between the world of typography and other world practices. Like archery for Zen, it is a guide to life that is provided along with instruction in a particular art.

If there is nothing for dinner but beans, one may hunt for an onion, some pepper, salt, cilatnro and sour cream to enliven the dish, but it is generally no help to pretend that the beans are really prawns or chantrelles.
6.2.3 The Elements of Typographic Style Version 2.5

And so for day 966
05.08.2009

The Placement of the Hat

In one of the small songs in Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences Jan Zwicky creates in a minimal space an evocative scenario that shimmers with reflection upon the passage of time. Here are the opening and closing which look a lot alike and yet their differences are telling:

When summer ends,
I'll hang my straw hat on the wall.

[...]

The window will fill up with stars. My straw hat
will hang upon the wall.
"hang" is what we do. suspend.

And so for day 965
04.08.2009

Insets

It is a prolonged meditation and puzzling over the relation of insets and calendars that has led me to lay down the following tracks.

Third stanza of "In The Country Where They Have No Maps" by Sandra Kasturi in The Day I Ate Jupiter (and other poems) Kelp Queen Press, 2002.

in a stone room scattered with crumpled parchment
the king strives to know his land
he tries to map the transmogrifying coastline
while telling me of tourist attractions of note
and landmarks that must be visited
his directions are always found to be wrong
And for some reason this excerpt from Sandra Kasturi resonates with a passage in Charles Bernstein's essay "Optimism and Critical Excess" in A Poetics
Maps — these schema so many of us love to create — have their primary value as imaginary constructions. Since art is not a fixed subject, it does not have a fixed group or series of objects, such as land masses, to chart. Our critical maps make various possible configurations seem real; it's almost as if the dynamic, shifting field of the works is frozen by our icy projections unto them. Potentiality is taken for actuality.
And so I taken back to try and understand what used to appear in a signature block. (E.g. see this posting to the Humanist discussion list.
A calendar is like a map. And just as maps have insets, calendars in the 21st century might have 'moments' expressed in flat local time fanning out into "great circles" expressed in earth revolution time.
"Calendars" and "insets" are not terms that mesh well. The Great Circles reference hints at time zone and one can well imagine an "insert" or pop-up window that provides information about conversions. The revolutions in time can also follow lunar tracking. Some calendars have useful insets showing the phases of the moon. And there is the trusty legend: a calendar marked up for the city's schedule of recycling, compost and garbage pick up — similar to pay day calendars. Still the notion of inset seems static for a rendering of the passage of time. And it seems to easy to confuse inset with legend. Yet there is a potential of different scales sitting side by side in the view that appeals to certain aspects of calendrical practice: "time fanning out" equivalent to an ecological concern where all directions transmute into preoccupations, and insets are always in step.

And so for day 964
03.08.2009

Dedication Deciphering

Adam Gopnik. Winter: Five Windows on the Season. The Massey Lectures.

For Gudrun Bjerring Parker

Filmmaker, feminist, lover of the world,
woman of the north,
who raised and loved and nurtured and then
let go of my own true love,
and, knowing too well how Demeter felt, never let her heart
grow cold to the borrower.
There is a lot packed into this little sequence shifting from the factual to the mythic. And it all falls into place for this bewildered reader when some helpful soul points out somewhere on the World Wide Web that the dedicatee is the author's mother-in-law. And now one appreciates the statement that is being made by the reference to borrowing.

And so for day 963
02.08.2009

unbodylike objects

Giles Deleuze's Logique du sens brought me to Émile Bréhier. La théorie des incorporels. 1962. p. 44.

Ce qui fait le fond des arguments d'Aristote contre le vide, c'est que dans le vide en lui-même, on ne peut arriver à découvrir aucune déterminative positive, ni haut, ni bas, ni la vitesse d'un mobile qui le parcourrait. L'infini n'est donc pas placé en dehors, de la réalité, mais s'installe au sein même de la réalité sensible, comme principe de changement, de corruption et de mort.
My translation: What is at the root of Aristotle's arguments against the void is that we cannot through the void in and of itself uncover any positive determination, neither height, nor depth, nor the speed of a mobile object that would traverse it. Infinity is thus placed on the outside, outside of reality, yet occupies a place within tangible reality as a principle of change, of corruption, of death.

p. 60
L'exprimable, le vide, le temps et le lieu, telles sont donc les quatre espèces d'incorporels admis par les Stoïciens. Ce n'est pourtant pas le néant absolu, puisque ces choses sont des objets de pensée; mais comme l'être véritable est ce qui agit ou subit l'action d'un autre être, on ne peut ranger dans les êtres ni les événements, ni le temps, ni le lieu puis qu'ils restent à la fois inactifs et impassibles.
You can easily run the paragraph through a machine translator. And arrive at "the expressible" for "l'exprimable" which is quite good. And a bit of further research with search engines and strings such as "Stoics void incorporeal four" and you will discover that John Sellars in Stoicism offers "sayables" and provides the Greek lekta. And the Greek term opens a door to a rich literature on Stoic philosophy and beyond to such texts as Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language.

And so for day 962
01.08.2009