Regressions and Leaping

Helen Humphreys "Postscript" in the "Souvenirs" section of Nuns Looking Anxious Listening to Radios — these are the concluding words pointing to an event or space beyond words…

When language has abandoned us
and we can say
perhaps just one thing
that will be understood,
what do we choose
to say of ourselves?

What sound will tell
of who we are?
Let us travel beyond the border of what may be communicated with or without language to the ever present nothingness. This is the telling sound of who we are.
Ants

Nothing exists, yet fascinating
The ants scurrying in moonlight.

It is the eye deceives:
The ants—they are but moonlight.

The idea of being's impossible:
There's neither moon nor ants.
Shinkichi Takahashi Afterimages: Zen Poems translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto.

And so for day 1479
31.12.2010

PRODiGiOUS

BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST.

prodigious
adjective
prodigious quantities of food: enormous, huge, colossal, immense, vast, great, massive, gigantic, mammoth, tremendous, inordinate, monumental; amazing, astonishing, astounding, staggering, stunning, remarkable, phenomenal, terrific, miraculous, impressive, striking, startling, sensational, spectacular, extraordinary, exceptional, breathtaking, incredible; informal humongous, stupendous, fantastic, fabulous, mega, awesome, ginormous; literary wondrous. ANTONYMS small, unexceptional.

from Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus
Some modesty in a well-turned epigram:
for as lavish prodigality is brutish, so miserable covetousness is hellish.
This reads as a nice and succinct motto for which to guide oneself. Our author, Gevase Markham, uses it to close an extensive period.
She must be temperate.

Next unto this sanctity and holiness of life, it is meet that our English housewife be a woman of great modesty and temperance as well inwardly as outwardly: inwardly, as in her behaviour and carriage towards her husband, wherein she shall shun all violence of rage, passion, and humour, coveting less to direct than to be directed, appearing ever unto him pleasant, amiable, and delightful; and though occasion, mishaps, or the misgovernment of his will may induce her to contrary thoughts, yet virtuously to suppress them, and with a mild sufferance rather to call him home from his error, than with the strength of anger to abate the least spark of his evil, calling into her mind that evil and uncomely language is deformed though uttered even to servants, but most monstrous and ugly when it appears before the presence of a husband: outwardly, as in her apparel and diet, both which she shall proportion according to the competency of her husband's estate and calling, making her circle rather strait than large, for it is a rule if we extend to the uttermost we take away increase, if we go a hair breadth beyond we enter into consumption, but if we preserve any part, we build strong forts against the adversities of fortune, provided that such preservation be honest and conscionable; for as lavish prodigality is brutish, so miserable covetousness is hellish.
A prodigious set of instructions from Gervase Makham The Well-Kept Kitchen Penguin Great Food series — excerpts from The English Housewife (1615)

And so for day 1478
30.12.2010

Postcolonial Posey

Take the ending of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
Recall the foreignness of the flower and the impositions of empire when verbally transplanted to tropical shores.

J. Edward Chamberlain "Dances with Daffodils: Wordsworth and the Postcolonial Cannon" [in Canon Vs. Culture: Reflections on the Current Debate edited by Jan Groak]
Nobody in England much liked Wordsworth's Daffodil poem (as he occasionally called it) when it first appeared, and nearly two hundred years later, nobody much likes it still, certainly nobody with post-colonial credentials, and yet there are few poems in the English language as familiar. Most people who know any poetry at all can recite some of its lines; and there are a lot of poets would love to write as unlikable a poem as that.
See how these preoccupations travel through Julie Joosten Light Light from BookThug.

the light losing our words


Once in a filed of abandoned hives.

Once with my eyes I, ghostly, felt a river dry to clay, lay quiet beneath a blank sky.

Once there was a field, a river, there were mountains. I saw reflections like phantoms, a surface of forgotten water, said take the curve of a daffodil

bending toward snow, but leave the field.

They took nothing, left a memory of river, wild raspberry, and honey.
The poem seems to close in on itself with a return to the hive-honey connection. And the reader experiences an expansion of the palette through an appeal to the sense of taste and smell. Unlike the canonical press of "ten thousand dancing in the breeze" we have the minimalism of the curve of a single daffodil image jumping the stanza to bend towards snow. But the poem sequence will metaphorically stomp on…
the light gentles the daffodil upward


honours daffodils broken from the stem, daffodils frozen before
flowering, daffodils stepped on, driven over, eaten, ignored

honours days without light, ground without water, plants that flower
too early and those that flower too late, bulbs that never sprout

and light at different angles touching other grounds.
writerly ecology honoured mud-splattered trampled

And so for day 1477
29.12.2010

Forgot Begot

reconstructions: gathering sparkling lines

Julie Joosten
Light Light

A slip — an epithet binding —

I debt unsung
fragile and yet strong
life ventures on a thread of song
song cancelling out debt
I didn't know who I was or where I was. The wonderful calm of forgetfulness. Each time I recall it there is nothing to compare it to. Remembering forgetting as an incomparable delight and calm.
the incomparable but not unfulfilled

And so for day 1476
28.12.2010

Hartshorn

Penguin has a series called Great Food in which is Gervase Markham The Well-Kept Kitchen which is collection of excerpts from the The English Housewife (1615).

Advice is dispensed on keeping the kitchen garden.

In February, the new of the moon, she may sow spike, garlic, borage, bugloss, chervil, coriander, gourds, cresses, marjoram […] The moon old, sow holy thistle, cole cabbage, white cole, green cole, cucumbers, hartshorn, dyer's grain, cabbage-lettuce, melons, onions, parsnips, lark-heal, burnet, and leeks.
If the reader were to rely upon the Glossary one would be perplexed because :"hartshorn" is given as "the horn or antler of a a hart or wild deer". Used as a leavening agent as exemplified in the other instances of the occurrence of the word in the recipes. So what is this "hartshorn" that grows in the garden?

In the McGill-Queen's University Press edition, Michael R. Best gives one the following gloss:
A name given to several wild plants, most commonly Plantago coronopus, hartshorn plantain; the mystery as to why such a plant should be cultivated in the housewife's garden is solved by reference to Markham's source. In Maison Ruistique the plant is "corne de boeuf"; hartshorn is given by Cotgrave (1611) as the translation of "corne de cerf." "Corne boeuf" is translated by the more probable "herb fenugreek."
And ever faithful Wikipedia gives (bringing one away from fenugreek and back towards plantain)…
Le plantain corne de cerf (Plantago coronopus) encore appelé pied de corbeau ou plantain corne de bœuf est une plante de la famille des Plantaginacées.

Son nom lui vient de la forme de ses feuilles.
Which leaves find their way into salad: Rediscovered Salad Green: Buckshorn Plantain. By William Woys Weaver, Mother Earth News, April/May 2007.
The succulent, crunchy leaves are best when harvested young, and taste a little like parsley, spinach or kale, but sweeter and nuttier. The flavor is best before the plant begins to flower.
Does sound enticing.

And so for day 1475
27.12.2010

Homophonics

What we eat, we are... I found this one. Envious that I did not invent it.

oat of elegance
for
oath of allegiance
This intralinguistic homophonic translation reminds me of these interlinguistic examples:
Mots D'Heures: Gousses, Rames: The D'Antin Manuscripts
Guillaume Chequespierre and the Oise Salon
Morder Guss Reims: The Gustav Leberwurst Manuscript
N'Heures Souris Rames: The Coucy Castle Manuscript

There is in the higher brow atmosphere:
Louis et Celia Zukofsky, Catullus
bpNichol, Translating Translating Apollinaire
Robert Kelly, Celan

And other examples provided by Charles Bernstein in a listing of "experiments" on the Electronic Poetry Center WWW site, all of the utmost haute élégance..

And so for day 1474
26.12.2010

Old Words and Ancient Smells

Robert Kelly on old words: "They store the power of long attention to things in the world […]" (introduction to Thomas Meyer The Umbrella of Aesculapius)

Maybe this is a bit of what lead him to those reflections

Sun & wind
      the smell, estragon, of another country
& the field
      spread with shit
The leafy greenness of tarragon is evoked — a scent really only released in close up - gives way to the ripe earthiness of manured fields. A circle of life and decay is honoured.

And so for day 1473
25.12.2010

Nostalgic Risks

Having been taught long ago to live in the present, I find fondness for nostalgia puzzling. It has always been seen by me as a benign appreciation of the past. Or so it was until I read a story by Kim Stanley Robinson "The Lucky Strike" in The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century edited by Harry Turtledove. The protagonist, a reluctant soldier, looks upon the future of men whose most vital experiences were honed by war.

His mind spun forward and he saw what these young men would grow up to be like as clearly as if they stood before him in businessmen's suits, prosperous and balding. They would be tough and capable and thoughtless, and as the years passed and the great war receded in time they would look back on it with ever-increasing nostalgia, for they would be the survivors and not the dead. Every year of this war would feel like ten in their memories, so that the war would always remain the central experience of their lives — a time when history lay palpable in their hands, when each of their daily acts affected it, when moral issues were simple, and others told them what to do — so that as more years passed and the survivors aged, bodies falling apart, lives in one rut or another, they would unconsciously push harder and harder to thrust the world into war again, thinking somewhere inside themselves that if they could only return to world war then they would magically be again as they were in the last one — young, and free, and happy. And by that time they would hold the positions of power, they would be capable of doing it. […] And to what end? To what end? So that the old men could hope to become magically young again. Nothing more sane than that.
Ah, sanity. I think I will stick with my present madness for the present.

And so for day 1472
24.12.2010

To Keep a Diary

Thomas Meyer. "Isis' Memory" in The Umbrella of Aesculapius

Practice attunes one.

At first the diary of day &/or dream does no more than record, but in its persistence & dullness it instills the keeper with a certain & previously unknown link to matter or hyle. These elements, fundamental matters, are oddly enough not par of personal perception; they come upon us unawares. They are sought indirectly by the heart.
*
Ears, thoughts, words & the day echoes
Shakespeare by way of T.S. Eliot "This music crept by me upon the waters"

Why now? Why here? A fil conducteur … the bare thread of a connection in the simple preposition "upon" and the souffle of a constant "w".

always upon us unawares

And so for day 1471
23.12.2010

Who?

Thomas Meyer is a master of the epigrammatic form. His condensations open up and waft like honeysuckle.

Ghost stories have all the facts
& none of the
                   answers.
from The Bang Book

And so for day 1470
22.12.2010

Con Stellations

Souvankham Thammavongsa in Small Arguments has a number of portraits of fruit. This one is not there. It shines in another galaxy. It comes from an earlier chapbook Still Life and provides a lovely coda to the suite of poems gathered therein.

"A Starfruit" has an epigraph from Nietzsche: "One must still have chaos within oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."

Its constellation is bounded / to ground / where you can reach / without the earn of sky // When you do this / time will be no birds / who will lose their navigation, / no boat will run off course, / no light lost to some farmer // There is no consequence / when you offer to plate / the stars / that do not come / from sky, from a chaos within

The "earn of sky" — one yearns for it. Like a debt balanced out.

And so for day 1469
21.12.2010

Pet Metaphors

Robert Kelly introduction to Thomas Meyer The Umbrella of Aesculapius.

Each age of poetry seems to have a pet metaphor drawn from other arts for an inward vision of its own nature; so in the sixteenth the stage, seventeenth the choir, eighteenth the senate or the coffee-house, so in our century [20th] we seem to have toyed with the image of ourselves as dancers and our shared work as a most complex dance. […] Writing the poem, then, is discovery, trobar, finding the music and cooperating with the linguistic event — a dance sometimes of standing aside. [dated Feb. 1974]
And would the informing metaphor for this our 21st century be the network? Link to link, node to node.

To borrow and extrapolate Jane Gregory's blurb to Julie Joosten's Light Light, poetic practice involves putting
the hive back in archive, the source in the resource
Net Work - the great task of knitting the knots. That is poetry for our time.

And so for day 1468
20.12.2010

Matériel

Monique Wittig on the challenge from "One is not born a woman" (1981) in The Straight Mind and Other Essays

This operation of understanding reality has to be undertaken by every one of us: call it a subjective, cognitive practice. The movement back and forth between the levels of reality (the conceptual reality and the material reality of oppression, which are both social realities) is accomplished through language.
Which va-et-vient leads me to Claude Beausoleil Promenade Modern Style (Montréal: Éditions Cul-Q, 1975) — the text is gathered on cards in a small portfolio, each card carrying handwriting and on the verso a different picture of Marlene Dietrich. The elements of course in good modernist style can be shuffled and read in any order.

l'épiderme le rose toujours en murmures dans la voix rauque du décor artificiel des alliances temporaires ces coalitions de chair the devil is a woman au flanc de l'écriture qui se déplace comme seule profondeur de l'extériorité élaborée sans utopie en travaillant le support ténu des lèvres
an attempt to transfer the works
epidermal pink always murmuring in the husky voice set in an artificial decor of temporary alliances and carnal coalitions - the devil is a woman - flanked by writing displacing itself as the only depth (response) to the elaborated exteriority without utopiques while working the thin frame of the lips
it deserves another reworking, perhaps softer lighting

And in case you are wondering about the pairing of Beausoleil and Witting, Promenade Modern Style has an epigraph from Rose poussière by Jean Jacques Schuhl which reads "Marlène Dietrich notre seule déesse avec Karl Marx". Simply nowhere but in the coming and going of language.

And so for day 1467
19.12.2010

In the Mode of Overheard

John Adams on the meaning of transmigration [from an interview was originally posted on the New York Philharmonic web site in September of 2002], a meaning the matches well with his intent to create a "mind space" for meditation.

And I don’t just mean the transition from living to dead, but also the change that takes place within the souls of those that stay behind, of those who suffer pain and loss and then themselves come away from that experience transformed.

http://www.earbox.com/on-the-transmigration-of-souls/
His goes on to caution against a simple reception.
I am always nervous with the term “healing” as it applies to a work of art. I am reminded that we Americans can find a lot of things “healing”. These days a criminal sentenced to death is executed and then we speak of “healing”. It’s perplexing. So it’s not my intention to attempt “healing” in this piece. The event will always be there in memory, and the lives of those who suffered will forever remain burdened by the violence and the pain. Time might make the emotions and the grief gradually less acute, but nothing, least of all a work of art, is going to heal a wound of this sort. Instead, the best I can hope for is to create something that has both serenity and the kind of “gravitas” that those old cathedrals possess.
Perhaps the gravitas is also related to scale. As David Schiff writes in the liner notes to the CD [On the Transmigration of Souls] reprinted from an essay that appeared in the April 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly
In the months that followed the catastrophe, 9/11 became a source more of civic pride than of nationalism. The heroes were policemen and firemen, not soldiers; a mayor, not a president. The names read on television and the short biographies in the Times reminded New Yorkers of their diversity and their commonality. […] He has created a music the mirrors and exalts the public wisdom.
In an NPR interview Adams likens the naming of names in his piece to the AIDS quilt (The Names Project). This lead be back to a "mind space" of my own and finding the Canadian quilt online and remembering Chris Ingold "chemist, leatherman, dead by his own hand, fighting" and I now learn that there is a bursary in his honour at Queen's. And Tubular Bells just came into my sound stream - Chris would have loved that.

And the recitation of names as a form dates back to long ago…
A calendar, or obituary register, was maintained, in which the names of all those entitled to commemoration were entered on the appropriate day. As the years went by the number of anniversaries naturally multiplied, but it was enormously increased by agreements between monastic communities for mutual commemoration, and one of the attractions of such great confederations as the Order of Cluny was precisely the interchange of names for commemorative purposes. The result was that by the twelfth century some of the registers of names contained thousands of entries, ranging from kings and bishops to ordinary monks and laity. (p. 152) [With a marked impact on the distribution of food to the poor that was the custom to mark these anniversaries…] By the middle of the twelfth century the great abbey of Cluny itself was overwhelmed by its cumulative obligations to the dead and was obliged not only to abandon the attempt to commemorate every monk and benefactor individually, but also drastically to cut down its distribution of food to the poor. (p. 153)

Howard Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life
Of mourning there shall be no end… Mark 14:7 "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always."

I return to listening to Tubular Bells and remembering Chris.

And so for day 1466
18.12.2010

Wink Wink

The limitations of flirtation.

IX

our winks
waste a good thing
Thomas Meyer, from "Ten love notes"
in The Umbrella of Aesculapius

The flirtations of limitations.

And so for day 1465
17.12.2010

A Viral N

Jim Smith.
Virus
Underwich Editions, 1983

A truncated alphabet (each section being labelled with a letter and the series ending at O)

N is distinguished by its line breaks (the others have run on prose).

You wake up one morning and you've never seen the colour blue. No one told
you. You realize they all felt sad.
One hundred years of solitude sits on your beside table.
Blake lies on the floor by your bed.
The Spicer book is beside the bottle of Canadian Club.
It is still life. With or without blue.
Your penis was larger last night.
Technological terrorism.
This reads like a set piece that could be updated with a pastiche swapping out the authors and titles but not the Canadian Club. The one book presiding but unmentioned is William H. Gass On Being Blue.

And so for day 1464
16.12.2010

States of Denial

This seems to be a call against stringent skepticism.

Science can no more deny that there is something to "know" and that knowledge stands for a worth, than can religion deny that there is something to worship.
from Robert Duncan, As Testimony (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1964)

But it seems to invoke for this reader Francis Bacon's categorization of Idols (and hints at a serpentine return of skepticism were is not for the divine idols).
According to Aphorism XXIII of the First Book, Bacon makes a distinction between the Idols of the human mind and the Ideas of the divine mind: whereas the former are for him nothing more than “certain empty dogmas”, the latter show “the true signatures and marks set upon the works of creation as they are found in nature” (Bacon IV [1901], 51).

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/francis-bacon/#NatTheIdoSysSci
Could it be that two senses of "deny" cover different domains? Deny: contradict. Deny: reject, rebuff. The one action belonging to science and the other to religion, respectively.

And so for day 1463
15.12.2010

Small Argument with Small Arguments

There are two versions of "Water"

2001 - Still Life
2003 - Small Arguments


takes shape / uncertain of its own / in the palm, in glass / lifting to drain

and takes shape / uncertain of its own: // in the palm of a hand / a glass lifted to drain

I like the version better from the chapbook Still Life which was

Distributed in Canada by the author
Published without assistance
Typeset Book Antiqua, 6 point, photocopied
in the palm, glass

is succinct and evocative — an envious combo
the version in Small Argument seems by contrast cluttered
the version in Still Life wavers on the theme of uncertainty and succeeds in conveying stillness in the midst of movement; an accomplishment

In 2002 "Water" won the Lina Chartrand Award. One wonders in which version. in palm, in glass

And so for day 1462
14.12.2010

Thermometer Metrics

It's been animated by Kat Burns.
http://souvankham-thammavongsa.com/thermometer.html

What I miss in viewing the animation is the columnar display of the poem on the page.

Thermometer, A Diagram of


The human body
is marked

between
two points

The point
water boils

The point
water freezes

This
is where

it lives
and how

Somewhere
between two points
Who & Where: Souvankham Thammavongsa. Residual (2006, Greenboathouse Books, Victoria, B.C.)

What I admire in this poem is the restraint and the ghosting of "where". See the two points. These stanzas omit the expected "where": The point/ water freezes. Its omission here gives added strength to its appearance later: This / is where. Its an effect trained by attentive staring at a thermometer and the meniscus of the mercury. And how.

And so for day 1461
13.12.2010

Genetic Litterbug

If you find yourself referring to babies as sperm sculptures, you might like section four ("The First-Born") in James Merrill's Peter where you can find a beautiful line about the subject of the poem who is no slouch in the paternity department. "Fact is, you've children everywhere." The subject is not inclined to muster ongoing support for the products of procreation. "But figure you help them more in the long run / By not helping now." The poet late in the poem exclaims "Genetic litterbug!" Apt turn of phrase for the man uninterested in curating his output.

And so for day 1460
12.12.2010

Cadence

Robert Creeley in conversation with Ekbert Faas (Towards a New American Poetics: Essays & Interviews) reminisces about Beckett — his voice and his way of speaking, selecting words while moving along with pauses etc.

He spoke in this very, not tentative way, but at times there'd be pauses, he'd begin to say something and then he'd sort of test it in his mind, then return to its continuance, say a little more, check it out, you see. He spoke, not haltingly as though he were impeded in some physical way, but constantly checking what he was saying so that I had no idea what time it was. I mean I realized finally it was six in the morning, so the thing I most specifically remember is that extraordinary creation of a word that should have no other cause but itself.
A passage in Thomas Meyer "Isis' Memory" in The Umbrella of Aesculapius captures a similar pitch…
& the most astonishing fact on which poetry thrives is that every sentence (or projected unit of utterance) once begun CAN stop, not complete itself & begin again as a new sentence related or unrelated to its own initial impulse or sound. No where else in the cosmos is this aspect of will & magic so clearly & precisely manifest.
Intriguing to note that the option of carrying on depends totally on the ability to not carry on. Leave off.

And so for day 1459
11.12.2010

Precision Proofing

Billy Bragg "Rotting on Remand" on Workers Playtime 1988

I said there is no justice
As they led me out of the door
And the judge said, "This isn't a court of justice son
This a court of law."
Interesting that the liner to the CD elides the "is" in "This a court of law" but it pops up again in the lyrics available all over the World Wide Web. The missing copula is indeed pronounced on the sound track. I kind of relish the magistrate swallowing a word. But it would spoil the beat. And that would not be doing justice to the song.

And so for day 1458
10.12.2010

Feline Escapades

The Peripheral. William Gibson.

Voice being piped from within. A bone voice.

It made dragging your fingernails across a chalkboard seem like stroking a kitten.
A kitten with claws of course. And this test run of a cognitive bundle implant that produces art world jargon.
West's oeuvre obliquely propels the viewer through an elaborately finite set of iterations, skeins of carnal memory manifesting an exquisite tenderness, but delimited by our mythologies of the real, of body. It isn't about who we are now, but about who we would be, the other.
Designed to make you want to scratch — and fitting for describing an artist who gets tattoos and collects flayed epidermis to exhibit the narratives captured by those very tattoos. Quite the coup to produce the discursive inflections of a neoprimitivist curator with just the right dose of bafflement and believability.

I have been quoting these in reverse order from their appearance in the novel. All the better to sharpen a set of claws on this take on periodization and historical awareness.
Eras are conveniences, particularly for those who never experienced them. We carve history from totalities beyond our grasp. Bolt labels on the the result. Handles. Then speak of the handles as though they were things in themselves.
Of course the character listening to this states having no idea how anything could be otherwise. The kitten has grown into a Cheshire cat.

And so for day 1457
09.12.2010

Reader as Camera

George Steiner expresses with beautiful precision "At their finest, the criteria of orality and the cinematographic fuse perfectly" in his review of Christopher Logue's War Music [Times Literary Supplement 15 February 2002]. The directions emerge from the action.

[Achilles has just made his speech about withdrawing his forces.]

Silence.

Reverse the shot.

Go close.

Hear Agamemnon […]
That first "silence" could be a description of the reaction to the speech of Achilles. It comes to assume the force of an injunction to be quiet on set as the directions unfold.

The deliciousness of the passage is underscored by the fact that what is being exchanged are shots albeit verbal.

And so for day 1456
08.12.2010

Go Little Book

Zines are even more ephemeral than chapbooks. I wonder how this from Jes Walsh made its way from Berlin to Toronto. Jes uses Etsy to get product out — this may be a route for these small [approximated 4 inches by 5 1/2 inches ] creations to have reached our shores.



One even comes with a seed packet taped in with instructions to plan indoors Mar-Jul accompanied by a wish of Good Luck!

Myra Phan proves more illusive. Some online presence relating to OCAD. The URL artfully inscribed by hand on a small piece of tape on the cover her zine sketchbook is now defunct. The WayBackMachine at the Internet Archive records a posting from Dec 10 (2008) presenting and promising "Another anatomically incorrect drawing: I’m going to make a series of them and bind them all together". Myra's zine comes with a strip of paper wrapping round the covers providing the only words to accompanying photoreproduced sketches inside.

drawing has taught me that rewards come after
persistency and patience.

repetition has taught me to appreciate
the most subtle differences in everything.

The fate of small books let loose into the world has inspired poets since at least Martial to apostrophize and wish them well. One of my favourites is Byron at the end of Canto 1 of Don Juan quoting Southey [and satirizing him by the way].
'Go, little book, from this my solitude!
I cast thee on the waters—go thy ways!
And if, as I believe, thy vein be good,
The world will find thee after many days.'
Little books have a long history. See the online exhibition Go, Little Book: Portable Medieval Manuscripts from the Beinecke Library which nicely puts hands in the picture to give a sense of scale.

And so for day 1455
07.12.2010

Global Joke

Play on an expression figée nets an interesting double take.

GAME VS. REAL

There are typos
all over the word.
Jason Christie. Canada Post. (Snare Books, 2006)

And so for day 1454
06.12.2010

Deictic Delights

It's a typographic joy with all its whitespace and judicious mix of fonts.

Sparrow 66
Black Sparrow Press, March 1978

It features a poem by Gerard Malanga "This Will Kill That". As with many paratextual matters, not sure if the frontispiece is meant to be part of the poem. It can certainly stand alone.

The triangle, hemicircle and the square remind me of the three base shapes of kindergarten gifts. [See Inventing Kindergarten by Norman Brosterman: sphere, cylinder, cube].

The last page turns from architecture to mirrors. Floating on the page are two simple but forceful lines:
This will kill that.
You are that.
Challenging to evade the threat. Not however impossible. Casuistry to the rescue.

The "you" is part of the "that" if one takes as referent of "that" to be the two lines on the page. The day will arrive when this is indeed the case. And on that day "this" will die. Of course the dead this may be made more lethal by its dying.

And so for day 1453
05.12.2010

GMO Enviro

Next entry will be devoted to translation as trafficking

This is the next entry.

In her Translator's Preface, Catherine Porter indicates that Avital Ronell had a hand in revising the English-language draft. She "frequently made small changes in the language." I thought these were limited to her part in the interviews collected in Fighting Theory. Turns out that she also tampered with the rendering of the interventions by Anne Dufourmantelle.

It took me a long time to understand why such prohibitions were established, for genetically modified plants, for example. Beyond the fact that they are tampered with (but everything is tampered with, and this has been true for a very long time — in antiquity plants were already being tampered with), why does this cause such anxiety all of a sudden? I finally understood that, if transgenic corn is planted in ordinary soil, the harvest is twice as resistant, and it's certain that no disease will attack it, but the seeds don't reproduce themselves, and the next crop has to be started from newly purchased seed. The plant exhausts the soil and doesn't reproduce itself. Something may be gained, but at what price? When one begins to think about it philosophically, it seems completely terrifying.
"Tampered" is a strange, somewhat mutant, rendering for "trafiquer" which means to trade in. Commerce is the target. Its short-sightedness particularly.
Il m'a fallu longtemps avant de comprendre pourquoi, par exemple pour les plantes transgéniques, de telles interdictions étaient posées. Outre le fait qu'elles soient trafiquées (mais on trafique tout et depuis très longtemps, depuis l'Antiquité on trafique les plantes), pourquoi tout à coup cela soulève une telle angoisse? J'ai fini par comprendre que, si on plante du maïs transgénique dans une terre normale,la récolte est deux fois plus résistante, on est sûr qu'aucune maladie ne l'attaquera, mais les graines ne se reproduisent pas, et on est obligé de tout replanter. La plante épuise le sol et ne se reproduit pas. Si on y gagne quelque chose, c'est à quel prix? Quand on se met à y penser philosophiquement, cela semble tout à fait effrayant.
"Effrayant" also means "dreadful" which in its etymology is indeed close to "terrifying" but also connotes an aesthetic reaction as in "extremely bad, unpleasant, or ugly".

And so for day 1452
04.12.2010

Moon Sun Owl Crowing

Avital Ronell first brought this Wordsworth poem to my attention in a conversation with Anne Dufourmantelle (Fighting Theory].

[T]his corrosive "thing" that was not legible before and then abruptly emerges or is provoked out of its hiding place. Wordsworth's texts on idiocy are a perfect example. In his time, these were marginal texts that distressed his friend Coleridge, the eminent drug addict. The later, the great philosophical erectus, tried to convince Wordsworth not to write such indigestible texts; he said that such writing was pure regression, and he was sincerely horrified by poems like "Idiot Boy," the one of which Wordsworth was fondest and which those around him found altogether disgraceful. […] However, one day, something in them is going to become readable, for all sorts of reasons and historical availabilities. And Wordsworth for his part adored his own poem on idiocy, though we don't know why. He could never let it go; he never regretted having written it. Worse still, he chose to publish it.
The Idiot Boy ends with in the voice of boy himself relating what he heard and saw after spending the night outdoors amid owls and moonlight. The addressee is the boy's mother.
(His very words I give to you,)
"The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,
And the sun did shine so cold!"
— Thus answered Johnny in his glory,
And that was all his travel's story,
Inversion. At play. Nocturnal transmissions. Daylight images. What's the potential for corrosion? Finding poetry?

And so for day 1451
03.12.2010

Auden on Audacity

From one experience, an astute set of observations on college life.

AJA: I didn't know that you had taught a Bennington

WHA: Yes, for one term, while someone else was away on a Guggenheim fellowship. Bennington is positively a brothel, you know. Around eleven o'clock one night I heard a knock on my door. A girl came in and simply refused to leave — insisted on staying the night. Oh, they're nice girls, all right. But they talk. The next morning they rush to the telephone and tell everyone all about their night. It used to be that people were more reluctant to tell than to do. Now it's the other way round.

At this point I rose to take leave.
From The Table Talk of W.H. Auden by Alan Ansen.

And so for day 1450
02.12.2010

after life traces

Four Ages of Man: The Classical Myths by Jay Macpherson is a tour through Greek and Roman mythology for high school students. The last chapter is devoted to "The Passing and Afterlife of the Gods" and ends thus — almost as an invitation to study nursery rhymes.

The Pied Piper who can draw rats by his piping is ony one of many magical musicians whose gifts recall those of Orpheus. Psyche's task of sorting a heap of seeds occurs in many familiar stories, and she herself and her mysterious lover meet us again in the tale of Beauty and the Beast. And where was it that we first met Endymion, the sleeping shepherd?
Little boy blue, come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn.
Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?
He's under the haystack, fast asleep.
Will you wake him? No, not I;
For if I do, he's sure to cry.
The disposition of the lines is a bit different in the example collected by Iona and Peter Opie in The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book illustrated by Joan Hassall.

With a magnifying glass one can make our the cow on the right in the corn (grain) and on the left foreground the sheep and behind on the left the little boy asleep near a haystack.

Jay Macpherson chose an illustration that proves her point about longevity and transmutation of stories.

In her notes she explains: "The sleeping shepherd (illustration): this is actually a French mediaeval illustration to the tale of Hermes and Argus. Both are dressed as peasants, and Hermes plays, instead of the classical shepherd's pipe, a simple form of bagpipe." These two different visual treatments of the same poem remind me of emblem books where there is also much borrowing and lasting life.

And so for day 1449
01.12.2010

Word and Ding

Avital Ronell intro to Verso edition of Valerie Solanas SCUM Manifesto.

Valerie Solanas, who took no prisoners, took pleasure in the injurious effects of language and, with Lacanian precision, understood that words are bodies that can be hurled at the other, they can land in the psyche or explode in the soma.
Later
Before one becomes overly confident about arresting her outrageous development in terms of psychotic aberration, it is important to note that psychosis speaks, that it often catches fire from a spark in the real, it is fuelled and fanned and remains unsettling because, as wounded utterance, it is not merely or solely demented.
Ronell points out the Solanas was taking aim at women too — as collaborators. This is a point she also expresses in an interview with Anne Dufourmantelle and serves as a bridge to talking about Catharine MacKinnon [American philo].
Elle est très radicale, parfois un peu comme Valerie Solanas, mais plus universitaire et même raffinée — elle pourrait donner l'impression d'être puritaine, mais elle ne l'est pas. […] Elle a mené dernièrement une étude sur la peur du viol dans la guerre, où elle dit que, bien qu'on ne puisse pas nier que les femmes soient violées pendant la guerre, on ne dit jamais, en revanche, à quel point les hommes se violent entre eux.
In Fighting Theory where the interviews are translated by Catherine Porter, there is a bit more offered to contemplate. Porter notes in her translator's preface: "As Avital Ronell read through my final English-language draft, she occasionally added material to clarify or extend an argument, once in a while deleted passages she had come to deem superfluous, and frequently made small adjustments in the language." And this collaboration nets the following result:
She is gripping, sometimes in terms of insight even a bit like Valerie Solanas, but more academic and even refined — she could come across as a puritan, but that's not what she is. […] Recently, she carried out a study on the fear of rape in war. In it she says that, even thought it is undeniable that women are raped during wars, in contrast no one ever mentions the extent to which men rape one another, performing rituals of mutual or hierarchized debasement that remain hidden from discourse of view.
In light of the revelations about Abu Ghraib, the keyword here is "extent".

And so for day 1448
30.11.2010

To V.W.

It comes to me in the form of a pamphlet put out by The National Trust in 1972 with a lovely frontispiece photograph of the author by Cecil Beaton. In it she holds a garden implement and a cigarette holder with a German shepherd looking on. The photograph is dated 1958 and was given to the National Portrait Gallery by Sir Cecil himself in 1969.

She is of course Vita Sackville-West. And the pamphlet in question reproduces a poem first published by the Hogarth Press in 1931. The poem is called "Sissinghurst" and is dedicated to Virginia Woolf.

It opens

A tired swimmer in the waves of time
I throw my hands up: let the surface close:
Sink down through centuries to another clime,
And buried find the castle and the rose.
Time travel by near drowning.

And so for day 1447
29.11.2010

Theory of Punctuation

Laurie Anderson. Homeland "Another Day in America"

And by the way here's my theory of punctuation. Instead of a period at the end of each sentence there should be a tiny clock that shows you how long it took you to write that sentence.
Notice the subtle pronoun shift from a speaking I to an addressed you. And the responsibility of the sentence creation is off-loaded to the reader. Read/write become synonymous.

And we can bring to the fore the Irish influence. Refer to Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West by M.B. Parkes [see page 23]. The Irish in adopting Christianity pursued a vigorous study of the Latin language. They tended to regard Latin as primarily a written or "visible" language. And introduced innovations in the display of texts.
These graphic conventions were derived from the processes by which the Irish had acquired their knowledge of the Latin language. They relied heavily on the works of ancient grammarians, which were based upon the perception of the word as an isolable linguistic phenomenon, and employed morphological criteria to establish a set of word-classes (which the grammarians called 'parts of speech'). When Irish scribes copied Latin texts they soon abandoned the script continua which they had found in their exemplars. Instead they adopted as the basis for their scribal practices the morphological criteria which they had encountered in the analysis of the grammarians: they set out the parts of speech by introducing spaces between words.
Someneattrick!

And so for day 1446
28.11.2010

bad boys cont'd

In the nineties while the sex wars were raging, those of us on the pro-sex side tried our hand at writing erotica.

a hand reached for the frayed crotch. it was a gnarled hand. rough. it met soft denim faded and weakened so often had hands and faces rubbed there. it was an experienced hand. forefingers slid down behind the buttons of the fly and using the powerful square thumb as a guide parted the cloth brushed knuckles against the curls. no underwear. cock still trapped in the jeans. heat rising. the hand was steady sure and in no hurry to tackle the belt buckle.

yanking gently but firmly his pubes twisting and coiling them round his fingers he moved to ensnare more. his eyes rose to meet the fluttering eyelids and the lips slightly tensed of the man he held entwined. the tugging stopped. the eyes opened more fully. a recognition and a beckoning.
This reads like Andy Warhol (Blow Job) meets Samuel R. Delany (Neveryóna, or: The Tale of Signs and Cities). But that might be wishful thinking given that I have crossed a 1964 film with a 1983 novel around the kernel an email timestamped Sat, 12 Mar 1994. As the title of this blog entry reproduces the subject line of the email, there may be more, but this is all the archive yields. cont'd elsewhere. teasing like Warhol and like Delany, detourné.

And so for day 1445
27.11.2010

Shrapnel

An Exploded Sestina
Myrmurs
by
Shannon Maguire

Post-plague reading, reassembling the Myrmidons — a selection of ant troops/tropes

winter is a virus that July hosts in her blue moon software


jostling syllables not like not at all like collagelision


each word
is an individual fruit
with her own seed

the best tasting
are grown wild
For "fruit" I almost read "form". And so is effected a "collage & elision" as I almost read "jousting" for "jostling". Almost. At most.

And so for day 1444
26.11.2010

Law

Robert Duncan in an interview with Ekbert Faas (Towards A new American Poetics: Essays and Interviews) is talking about his teaching at Black Mountain College and relates this little tale In response to the question "What do you mean by law?"

Well, that was exactly the question they were to address. And that poem, The Law I Love Is Major Mover, came because Jon [sic] [Joe] Dunn, who had that project felt that the law was just the law, you know, cops and robbers. I remember one day going into the library at the school there and he was pouring [sic] [poring] over everything trying to get it into his head. And nothing could have been more garbled than the account he finally gave. And when he finished I said to him: Well, Joe, when you write a sentence beginning with the word "the," aren't you already under the law of "the"? No matter what you do from here on, you are under its law. And I think that's part of what a law is. In other words, lawful action to me is total responsibility to what is present. So I began to realize that at the time.
In the poem referenced above, Duncan writes: "Responsibility is to keep / the ability to respond." ** It's Joe Dunn. According to memoir by Martha King in Jacket Magazine "Three Months in 1955: A Memoir of Black Mountain College" which reproduces a class list, on which appear the names "Joe Dunn — with wife Caroline" which I understand is spelt "Carolyn".

And so for day 1443
25.11.2010

Garden Views

Joseph Addison
Spectator No. 63
[The forms of wit: an allegorical analysis]
edited by John Loftis

The essay outlines in a Spenser-like fashion the domain of the goddess of Falsehood and the minions of mixed wit to culminate. At the essays end the domains left behind. The essay culminates in what is a descriptive passage that could serve as the locus classicus of enumeration of the aspects of the English garden and countryside.

As at the rising of the sun the constellations grow thin and the stars go out one after another till the whole hemisphere is extinguished, such was the vanishing of the goddess, and not only of the goddess herself but of the whole army that attended her, which sympathized with their leader and shrunk into nothing in proportion as the goddess disappeared. At the same time the whole temple sunk, the fish betook themselves to the streams and the wild beasts to the woods, the fountains recovered their murmurs, the birds their voices, the trees their leaves, the flowers their scents, and the whole face of nature its true and genuine appearance. Though I still continued asleep, I fancied myself, as it were, awakened out of a dream when I saw this region of prodigies restored to woods and rivers, fields and meadows.
As Addison gives us sunrise on domestic empire, we do well to recall that plant collecting amassed in imperial expeditions provided the foundation.
The collection of plants, as indeed of other categories of exotica, was contingent upon wealth and leisure, and was motivated by curiosity, novelty, exoticism and rarity. Those who established notable gardens were royalty and aristocracy, merchants, bishops, people with independent incomes. The act of collecting was part of the commercial exchange with, and exploitation of, other cultures. It is not surprising therefore that the collection, study and depiction of plants in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was focused on Holland, Germany, northern France, and England — the great centres of trade and colonial power. Sometimes plants were traded as a commodity — as with the tulip during the great speculative mania of the 1630s — or they themselves became the currency of exchange between botanists and collectors. Images were also exchanged, or produced in one locale and sent to another to be reproduced in books, as in the eighteenth century many of [Georg Dionysus] Ehret's works were made in England and sent to Trew for publication in Nuremberg.
Gill Saunders. Picturing Plants: An Analytical History of Botanical Illustration

The bridge here the importation of plant materials from the colonies as is as documented in The Planters of the English Landscape Garden: Botany, Trees, and the Georgics by Douglas C. Chambers.

And so for day 1442
24.11.2010

Cross Words

Wordplay is a documentary about the New York Times crossword puzzle setters and solvers. A little aghast. One of the talking heads claims that English is the greatest language.

Interested in comparing greatness by number of speakers? Check out the listing at ethnologue.com which gives the top Languages with at least 50 million first-language speakers. And for rhetorical good measure is Latin a greater language than English? Consider A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World and Robert Bringhurst's appeal that the work of Skaay and Ghandl ranks among the greatest literature of the world. On the dynamics of fame and literature see Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages entry for Samuel R. Delany's Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, a novel that plays with cultural forgetting and memory. The Encyclopedia provides readers with a quick reference to the language and work of Vondramach Okk.

[J]ust as curious, is the "made-up" language of Vondramach Okk, a tyrannical matriarch who decided that "since nobody ever took the poetry of political leaders seriously, it didn't matter what language she wrote it in". The language of Okk's poetry employs "both a phonetic and an ideographic writing system" and complex letters called "shiftrunes". Shiftrunes represent a structured sequence of changing pronunciation, a writing technique that allows the poet to contrast visual and phonetic relations (Delany's theme of difference sounds again in microcosm here). Okk's works include the epics the Oneirokritika and the Energumenika and collections of lyrics such as Lyroks and Hermione at Buthrot. No samples of her poetry appear in the novel.
Focussing on the question of crosswords, Quora collects some interesting replies to the question: Is there a written language in which it is impossible to create crossword puzzles? If not, replace "impossible" with "really hard".

And so for day 1441
23.11.2010

From Sulby Auto-Minabinda to Hand Sewn

I recall recording a few colophon quibbles with the folding and binding information in a book issued by Coach House 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.
I thought such a statement was an ironic inflection of technicity. I have since looked for images of the machinery, even located a few videos. I was prompted by the colophon found in the publications of Short Stack Editions.
Many copies of this edition were hand sewn with baker's twine by participants of YAI, a network of agencies that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find work opportunities and receive job training. Learn more at yai.org

Sewn by : [name signed]
Having wrapped an elastic round a perfect binding rendered useless by dried glue and a crumbling spine, lends a greater appreciation for all the paper products that I handle whether bound, folded, clipped or stapled. Celebrate the technicians and their merry ways at the Waysgoose: they work hard to keep it together. In this vocation they are bound.

And so for day 1440
22.11.2010

Apprivoiser: to call a scan a facsimile

I recently found myself writing about the various versions of Archibald MacLeish's "Ars Poetica" and described the Poetry Foundation's digital image scan of the June 1926 Poetry magazine pages as a "facsimile". I realize that is technically that inaccurate — page size being the main factor that distinguishes a digital image viewed on screen from a print facsimile edition held in the hand. Still part of me wanted strongly to use the word "facsimile" to apply to the digital image. I am wondering if this were not an attempt to apprivoiser (tame) in the vein of Le Petit Prince.

- Non, dit le petit prince. Je cherche des amis. Qu'est-ce que signifie "apprivoiser" ?

- C'est une chose trop oubliée, dit le renard. Ca signifie "créer des liens..."
Creating new links using old words.

And so for day 1439
21.11.2010

Cancellations and Blanks

The paratext indicates a "scrapbook" but some of the entries/poems would indicate a "diary". Found by Souvankham Thammavongsa.

Observe in the corner of the cover a simple diagonal line, almost decorative. But it is very declarative. It "takes out the month".

That very same graphic is found inside the book to mark time marked off for whatever reason. Months have the line drawn through. And there follow months that are blanks. A series of cancellations followed by blanks would lead one to believe that the recording had been abandoned. The effect of fading is almost perfect except that the series ends with a poem, "Warning". However the poetic voice in this last poem is no longer describing the "scrapbook" but is recounting the actions of the father whose scrapbook has been mined for the book the reader holds in their hands.

Brittany Kraus reading the same paratext gloms onto the refugee status of the father (I, onto the fact that the "scrapbook" is thrown away) and from there frames the whole book as a waiting for.
Thus, the reader becomes a participant in the refugee’s experience of waiting—for a letter, for a visa, for permission to enter.

Unmarked, Undocumented and Un-Canadian: Examining Space in Souvankham Thammavongsa’s FOUND Postcolonial Text, Vol 10, No 2
But the final poem appears to have nothing to do with waiting but with warding off. Its principle image is of a gutted pigeon tossed back as a warning. What being found was not always there. And not always being there can be found elsewhere. No need to wait.

And so for day 1438
20.11.2010

Revisiting a Neighbour

Kim Kutner used to be a neighbour. A very pleasant neighbour she was. I am lucky to have some of her bookwork. I have discovered that she has since branched out to work in fabric. Some of her art is viewable at Kim's Suitcase and in a Flicker stream.

I still treasure a tiny book Rachel Wholebloom's Coming of Spring (1995) It is hand lettered and stitched. It's a gem.

I am particularly fond of a particular page because of where the narrative focalization chooses to rest its gaze. It's a unique perspective, there for just a moment, and the page turns and the story moves on and we are never to dwell upon "Rachel's middle hair parting". The image is exquisite because the reader is also parting with this instant of the story as the page turns.
[Rachel is in a video store. You, gentle reader, may remember those.]

She chose something she
had heard about, something
that looked familiar, something
advertised in an old newspaper
she had been rereading. She
took the video to the counter.
The clerk a man in his mid-
forties, smiled a gold toothy
smile as his eyes fell on
top of Rachel's middle hair
parting.
There is something iconoclastic about this little book. Although there are illustrations, none depict our protagonist. We are left to imagine her. All through telling details are told and tiny pictures are shown: the rubber boots, the city bus ride, the toast, the video cassette, and of course the buds beginning to open. Like the coming of spring an image forms of Rachel Wholebloom.

I, in holding the book, remember a good neighbour and wish her well wherever she may now be — somewhere where springtime comes cutting a pretty caper.

And so for day 1437
19.11.2010

Lucent Lunacies

At the heart of stasis is repetition. À l'image-temps.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

[…]

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs
This is what having seen the loop of planes crashing into skyscrapers has revealed again — there is a standing still in the jetztzeit. For us, finding Benjamin's notion in the repeated lines Archibald MacLeish's Ars Poetica.

How very interesting about the punctuation (or lack thereof). In the anthology The Imagist Poem edited by William Pratt, the lines quoted above from "Ars Poetica" have no punctuation marks at line ending. This for me lends more of the arresting effect when the identical lines are re-encountered in the reading. However, the Poetry Foundation serves a version from the Collected Poems 1917-1982 (copyright 1985) which version groups the stanza in sections and offers variant punctuation.
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
The Poetry Foundation also offers a facsimile of its publication in the June 1926 edition of Poetry magazine where the lines are punctuated differently (and no grouping of the stanzas) …
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs;

[…]

A should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
Pratt included in the Imagist anthology a version from Collected Poems by Archibald MacLeish 1917-1952 (copyright 1954).

So my stasis-as-repetition comment rests on but one version of a poem that exists in multiple versions. One tiny moment caught in the aperture of criticism.

And so for day 1436
18.11.2010

C R Y S T A L

Roland Barthes
Empire of Signs
trans. Richard Howard

"The Interstice" is about food preparation (tempura) and makes reference to the Branch of Salzburg. Which is a reference to Stendhal on the crystallization of love.

In the summer of 1818 Stendhal took a recreational trip to the salt mines of Hallein near Salzburg with his friend and associate Madame Gherardi. Here they discovered the phenomenon of salt “crystallization” and used it as a metaphor for human relationships. "In the salt mines, nearing the end of the winter season, the miners will throw a leafless wintry bough into one of the abandoned workings. Two or three months later, through the effects of the waters saturated with salt which soak the bough and then let it dry as they recede, the miners find it covered with a shining deposit of crystals. The tiniest twigs no bigger than a tom-tit’s claw are encrusted with an infinity of little crystals scintillating and dazzling. The original little bough is no longer recognizable; it has become a child’s plaything very pretty to see. When the sun is shining and the air is perfectly dry the miners of Hallein seize the opportunity of offering these diamond-studded boughs to travellers preparing to go down to the mine."
Stendhal (1822). On Love. New York: Penguin Books
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystallization_(love)
A different selection from the Stendhal source, crystallized around the branch of a French Wikipedia article and with a link to an optical scan of a 1906 edition.
C'est dans le chapitre 2 de De l'amour, intitulé « De la naissance de l'amour », qu'il décrit les étapes par lesquelles l'amoureux pare l'être aimé de toutes les qualités, certaines imaginaires : « Aux mines de sel de Salzbourg, on jette dans les profondeurs abandonnées de la mine un rameau d'arbre effeuillé par l'hiver ; deux ou trois mois après, on le retire couvert de cristallisations brillantes (…) Ce que j'appelle cristallisation, c'est l'opération de l'esprit, qui tire de tout ce qui se présente la découverte que l'objet aimé a de nouvelles perfections »
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5550781f/f73.image
And so via Barthes and throwing a branch into the salt mines of the World Wide Web we capture the crystal of a reference to Gallica and its publicly-available treasures from the Bibliothèque nationale de France which into its search engine we throw "tempura" and become acquainted with the traces of French acquaintance with Japanese cuisine.

And so for day 1435
17.11.2010

parseabilities

word image text - be mindful of the order

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum wrote (March 11, 2005) under the title "Being Read" a brief blog entry on the reviews to his "The Word as Image in an Age of Digital Reproduction" which has been published in Eloquent Images http://lte-projects.umd.edu/mgk/blog/archives/000762.html

In the comments I speculate…

It seems that in some fashion there is a lucid dream at work in the writing. It is a dream of parsing. A dream that unites the realms of production and reception, that plays with the fluid identities to which [Johanna] Drucker points. In the field of resistance and rapture that the electronic form of word, image, text, graphic engender, parseable pixels exist and are manipulable. But as in the classic dreamwork of Freudian psychoanalysis, the parseable pixel is neither a word nor an image yet it is inherently textual. The parseable pixel functions almost like computing's unconscious. Almost like a hint of irreducible materiality as the other face of textuality. Almost at most.
only just struck me that dreams are parseable too

And so for day 1434
16.11.2010

Circling the Scan

This intriguing illustration appeared in a booklet put out by Worldstage at Harbourfront Centre. The design reminds me of the organizational development charts that track the factors at play in good institutional interaction. This isn't that.

It is almost unreadable on paper due to the colour bleed from blue to purple and from the selection of the type. Scanning however proves wonderful.

Here is the whole view.

And now the elements orbiting the centre core.
Dimensionality
Refractivity
Multiplicity
Translucency
Spectrality
Fragility
And the core

Intrapersonal, Ecological, Political, Personal, Cultural

And so for day 1433
15.11.2010

Kiwi Attitudes

On engagement:

"typically at the core of the their motivation is a wish for their ideas to prevail"

State Services Commission. The Policy Advice Initiative: Opportunities for Management. (Wellington, New Zealand, 1993; rpt. 1995). page 41.
On detachment:
"analysts need to internalize the value of mobilising knowledge held by many, and that displaying advice to robust scrutiny is a good practice."

State Services Commission. The Policy Advice Initiative: Opportunities for Management. (Wellington, New Zealand, 1993; rpt. 1995). page 45.
http://www.ssc.govt.nz/policy-advice-initiative

And so for day 1432
14.11.2010

Realms of the Real

Kant. Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by Lewis White Beck. P. 55, n. 17.

Teleology considers nature as a realm of ends; morals regards a possible realm of ends as realm of nature. In the former the realm of ends is a theoretical idea for the explanation of what actually is. In the latter it is a practical idea for bringing about that which is not actually real but which can become real through our conduct and which is in accordance with this idea.
Somehow this mapping of a realm of ends from the actual to the possible may be a way of broaching the appearance of the "force" entity in the possible world semantics of fiction as explained by Doležel (See Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds). Needs some thought but there is something here to consider about a relation between actual and fictional: the real.
Doležel places discussion of these felicity conditions and performatives under the heading "World Construction as Performative Force". World construction is inflected towards questions of authority and authentification.

It is the characterization of a process, world construction, in terms of force that attracts my attention. I am intrigued by this aspect of the model. And I recall earlier in the monograph, a certain tension between the chronological and the logical is played out in the presentation of force as entity and its appearance in the catalogue of entities in the construction of a world. In a "starter terms" section, Doležel introduces first a world of states "where nothing changes, nothing happens". Then appears the nature force as a new entity and the result is that "[w]e have now constructed a dynamic world, where changes orginate in one, inanimate source." Finally, "[i]n the third stage, the world is augmented by a new category, the person". (Doležel 32)

Possible Intersections - Poeticity, Theatricality, Narrativity
Would it be possible to mediate the move from "force" to "person" via Kant?

And so for day 1431
13.11.2010

Eventualities

word route or math path

lotto = taxed dreams
biodestiny = you die
And so for day 1430
12.11.2010

Abstractable Time Lines

Seymour Chatman. "What Can We Learn from Contextual Narratology?" Poetics Today 11:2. p. 312

[Chatman is arguing against an undermining the discourse-story distinction.]

All that narratology argues is the difference between the act of telling (or showing) and the object told, and between their different temporal orders. All that it presumes is that these time-orders are abstractable for discussion.
This distinction, for me, can be considered as one of the theory-building primitives (as in not developed or derived from anything else) of systems of interpretation. I tend to think that such a split is not merely a feature of story telling but also a metadiscursive dimension of language applicable to other contexts:
As demonstrated by Émile Benveniste in his essay "Sémiologie de la langue", the sign system of verbal language possesses not only a communicative function, it exists also in a relation of interprétance to other semiotic systems. He links the metalinguistic element of verbal language to its ability to form interpretative relations between semiotic systems.
Whatever is presented is open to interpretation: analysable.

And so for day 1429
11.11.2010

Cinema Capturing Chance: Constructing the Event

From the 1995 English Institute Conference, Language Machines (1997) Editors Jeffrey Masten, Peter Stallybrass & Nancy J. Vickers, in which appears Mary Ann Doane, "Screening Time", from page 147 of which I quote

What comes to be known eventually as "deceptive" in the reenactment is made harmless as "illusion" in the narrative film. Clearly, the progressive domination of the industry by narrative is overdetermined (culturally, economically, technologically), but from this point of view, narrative would constitute a certain taming or securing of the instability of the cinematic image. In the same way, narrative becomes the model for the apprehension of the legal unity of film.
The role of "narrative" in taming (I almost wrote "training" in transcribing the passage) is set up by the thematic of event earlier in the piece. See p. 141
The confusion of construction and contingency around the concept of the event is crucial in the historical elaboration of a cinematic syntax. At the turn of the century, contingency is both lure and threat, and this double valence is played out in the rapid representational transformation of the cinema. The embarrassment of contingency is that it is everywhere and that it everywhere poses the threat of an evacuation of meaning. The concept of the event provides a limit — not everything is equally filmable — and reinvests the contingent with significance — The contingent is in effect, tamed.
Story. Shot. Cut.

And so for day 1428
10.11.2010

Twinnings

From Coach House Press. Both from 1988. Cover designs by Gordon Robertson.

from p. 76 from p. 62
someone stopped suddenly    someone dreamed

you're somewhere less than perfect
but reading the story
the white boletus
grows like a cherub, scented
with defunct cedar
from the back cover: from the back cover:
These poems follow a principle of randonnée ‐ the random and the given of the hunt, the game, the tour. the lyric impulse, suspends

the machine of the real
to feed on the possible
Robin Blaser D.G. Jones


And so for day 1427
09.11.2010

Armenian as Lingua Franca

Mary Catherine Bateson
With a Daughter's Eye: a memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson
New York: William Morrow & Company, 1984
pp. 85-86

She worked for years to improve international and cross-cultural communication, so at one time she was interested in the adoption of a world language and organized a conference on the question. At that time, it was becoming increasingly clear that two or three languages would emerge as the principal vehicles of cross-cultural communication, on the United Nations model. She worried that whether we relied on one or several major world languages, this would still enforce a line between those who were using their own native language and those who were trying to follow and express themselves in a second language learned in school, a continuation of colonialism. Instead, she argued, one of the world's minor languages, not associated with any great power, should be taken as a common world second language. In this way, all the effort of translation could be channeled in a single direction and the task of language learning distributed equally, while the other languages of the world would continue to be treasured as carriers of cultural diversity instead of being swamped.

When she produced this theory, my husband and I suggested that Armenian would make a good candidate because there are reservoirs of cosmopolitan and multilingual Armenian speakers all over the world and in both Eastern and Western camps. Afterward she referred to the idea in several speeches, along with other possible candidates. This made her a great favourite of the Armenian community who did not realize how their language would be changed in such a process and what it would mean for Armenian culture if the language ceased to be a private refuge.

In any case, the key element in her thinking was the notion that a real natural language would have to be used — not Esperanto, not Interlingua, not some computer construct — for only a real human language has the redundancy necessary for human communication. Artificial languages are designed by taking a set of abstract principles, observed universals or logically necessary components, and then using these as the basis for an efficient, consistent, and unambiguous system. In general, the task has been done badly, with the logic flawed and the characteristics of particular languages or language families treated as if they were logically necessary. The mistake is in the enterprise itself, however, as if human communication could be served by a system with no puns, no ambiguities, no lullabies, as if a human pattern could be constructed from first principles. In New Guinea she had observed the use of Pidgin English, now properly called Neo-Melanesian, which serves as a vehicle of communication among many different peoples who learn it as a second language, as Swahili does in Africa. She was more sympathetic to Pidgin than to artificial languages for it does provide an effective common ground, but it carries far to many of the marks of servitude and lacks the historical resources for nuanced communication.
Only a real human language has the redundancy necessary for human communication - puns, lullabies and historical resources - and variations on refuge.

And so for day 1426
08.11.2010

Dream Source, Dream Process

From Richard Howard, "Oracles" in No Traveller.

       but who knows how such décor,
queer as it is, affects us? Between
       "it came to me in a dream"
and "I dreamed" lie ages of the world,
       but which is truer: spirits-
who-send-dreams or an-ego-that-dreams?
       We are not awake because
we have done away with the dream but
       only when we have swallowed
the dream once more, and digested it. . . .
interesting oneiric take on interior design

And so for day 1425
07.11.2010

Writing Face Painting

Malinda Lo. Ash.

There's a scene where daughter and mother are preparing for festivities. It involves costuming and the application of make-up. And of course questions.

"But how will I know if I see a fairy?" Ash asked again. "If they look like ordinary people, I won't be able to tell."

"You'll be able to tell," her mother told her, "because wherever they touch, they'll leave a bit of gold dust behind." She put down the brush and turned her daughter to face the mirror. "Now look — there's the prettiest fairy I've ever seen." Ash stared at herself, spellbound. Her eyes had been outlined in silver paint, and the color trailed down her cheeks in wondrous curls of gleaming light.

"It is like magic," Ash whispered.

Her mother smiled at her, her hand touching her hair. "Yes, my love, it is."
Perfect mise-en-abyme. For here we have a flashback that could very well be a commentary on the art of storytelling itself.

And so for day 1424
06.11.2010

Cardio Amplification

Helen Guri
Microphone Lessons for Poets
Illustrated by Cara Guri
Book Thug

They look ordinary and are — the seagulls of the stage, the squirrels of the lectern If a poetic mode, the male nostalgic. Please do not feed them or let them feed you back.

They are sensitive, but, as you might expect, only in the narrowest sense. They gather sound in a heart shape. (Of course.) This makes things simple: if you speak to the heart, you will speak to the microphone.

Testing, testing. 1, 2, 3, testing.

And so for day 1423
05.11.2010

Memento Pronto

Did you remember to floss?

Avoidance and its affordances

Reminded by phone, I let the answering machine pick up; by email, I wisely haven't given an address. I do like receiving a piece of postcard art that can grace the refrigerator door or perch in an appropriate spot to remind me to make the appointment.

Scaling and polishing — almost like a spa day.

And so for day 1422
04.11.2010

A Field Day with the Field Guide

Lesbian National Parks and Services Field Guide to North America: Flora, Fauna & Survival Skills (Pedlar Press, 2002)

It looks like a filed guide: strong stock, rounded corners, right shape and size to fit into the pocket of cargo pants. In it, Ranger Shawna Dempsey and Ranger Lorri Millan treat the reader to layered prose full of double entendre and designed to cultivate a respect for nature and safeguard lesbian presence. They drop names of famous lesbians like Charlene Nero and Clare Lawlor — they appear alongside other similarly named rangers to dispense advice.

Three morsels of their divine humour. On what to pack for snacks (p. 41).
Also pack snacks and water to maintain your energy level. Chocolate, dried fruits and nuts provide high caloric value and are easy to carry. Other foodstuffs, such as cucumbers, zucchini and Chinese eggplant often come in handy.
On naturalism veering into a sociological bent (p. 97).
Few among us can resist the roly-poly antics of romping Bear cubs, the startling grace of Prairie Antelope or the sullen pose of nocturnal Bar Rats.
On root systems and the analogy to lesbian networks (p. 224).
Junior Ranger Megan Richards has no trouble envisioning this underground support system. She knows that her emotional well-being depends upon a complex tangle of relationships, to girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-girlfriends' girlfriends, ex-girlfriends' ex-girlfriends and girlfriends's ex-girlfriends (not to mention their pets). Together, these women nourish and anchor J.R. Richards and are the basis of an often unacknowledged chosen-family "tree". Likewise, the root structure of a stately Live Oak or gnarled Pitch Pine, though unseen, is an integral and essential component of its being.
The best of the in-jokes is the dedication to Anne Murray, Canada's Songbird.

And so for day 1421
03.11.2010

July 27, 2006 Eye Weekly review

Buried & Submerged

Fire of London. 1666. Samuel Pepys buries cheese in his garden. We don't know the specifics of the quantity laid into the ground. Whatever the amount, the cheese (parmesan) was esteemed enough to take precautions.

September 4, 1666

Sir W. Batten not knowing how to remove his wine, did dig a pit in the garden, and laid it in there; and I took the opportunity of laying all the papers of my office that I could not otherwise dispose of. And in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another, and put our wine in it; and I my Parmazan cheese, as well as my wine and some other things.
We know that Pepys house did not go up in smoke. We do not know the fate of the parmesan. His diary is silent on that matter.

We do know the results of a Canadian experiment with underwater cheese.
Letting it sit 50 metres underwater was supposed to produce a cheese that would taste unique, but the company had major trouble finding its sunken cheese.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/quebec-firm-abandons-lost-cheese-1.538773
I'd rather my cheese near a fire than drowned. Rather relish a bit of Welsh Rarebit.

And so for day 1420
02.11.2010

Uncoupling Suffocation

Parked in a car looking out on a body of water. A man and a woman think back. Well one of them thinks.

'Remember,' he says,
'we'd walk by this lake
in the evenings,
when we were first married.'

The woman thinks
of the mornings
before she married
when she would run on the sand,
pushing her anxious silence raw
and breathless, stop
cradled by sky,
alive.
Helen Humphreys. "The Dock" in Nuns Looking Anxious Listening to Radios.

And so for day 1419
01.11.2010

Past Smoldering

My paternal grandfather smoked a pipe. Perhaps this is why the empty bowl leaves a trace in my mind of a clear image of not only emptiness but coolness as well as the lingering aroma. We take the poem beyond its still smoking ending into our experience of the object mindful of a kind of imitative follow-through of the poem's hints.

When I woke, everything seemed cut off.
I was pipe, still smoking,
Which daylight would knock empty once again.
Shinkichi Takahashi. Afterimages: Zen Poems translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto.

And so for day 1418
31.10.2010

Sunwards Sandwards

Concurrent reading makes certain passages glow more. Take for example Stewart Brand's The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility (advertised on its cover as "The Ideas Behind the World's Slowest Computer") still fresh in mind when encountering these lines from Richard Howard "Colored Stones" in No Traveller.

(WISCASSET)

Braided black and white, the waves repeat
or imitate the rocks of Pemaquid;
these are the interferences of quartz
with granite, some archaic violence
garish as light on water. Stone to sand,
sea to sun, identical returns.
Identical in cycling but different in duration. In any event, the observation of the resemblance between the action of grit upon grit and the evaporation of water is neatly summarized in the motto: Stone to sand; sea to sun. Ah, now I see how the parallel is askew. Metonymy introduces a slippage. Sand and sun are not mere equivalents. This is not solely about the phenomena of erosion and evaporation. There is a turn of the cycle that is intimated but unstated: sedimentation. Sand turns to stone just as water returns. Long now indeed.

And so for day 1417
30.10.2010

Of Mamas and Moments

Bless YouTube and Michael McKay.

The 1994 production of Brad Walton's Baroque-style opera The Loves of Wayne Gretzky as performed and recorded on February 13, 1994 at Symptom Hall in Toronto is available for viewing. In it, Gretzky leaves his wife for Mario Lemieux. Lovely tongue-in-cheek warning on the site *WARNING: DEPICTIONS (ALBEIT CHASTE AND CAMPY) OF HOMOSEXUALITY. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

Kept the program as a keepsake.

I recall a spectacularly hilarious scene with David James as Mama Gretzky. As the program notes state: The role of Mama Gretzky was written with a special view to exploiting David's peculiar talents.

Nice to be able to have access to a recording of a classic event.

And so for day 1416
29.10.2010

A Temporal Take on Vegetation Observation

Forest for the trees.

Ilona Bell on gardening as reported in the Harvard Magazine:

She does have some advice, though, for those seeking a perennial philosophy. "If you want a garden to look good," she says, "you have to pay more attention to the leaves than the flowers, as they are there all season long." No matter the season, the endless project never loses its allure. "I like the imaginative complexity of the challenge it poses," she says. "There are so many elements in play."
http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/07/literary-gardening

Many elements in play, even in winter, there is attention to evergreens as well as the denuded branches. And seed heads. And the architectural features. And animal tracks in the snow.

And so for day 1415
28.10.2010